As this odd NFL season continues, plenty of division races remain tight with no clear favorites. With the season almost at the halfway point, some teams need to kick it into high gear if they want to be playing meaningful football come December.
1. New England Patriots (6-0)
Last week: 1
The Patriots defense came up huge once again on Thursday night with two touchdowns. Their offense has struggled behind a fatigued offensive line and a beat-up WR core. They’re still the team to beat in the AFC by a longshot.
Week 7: @ NYJ; Monday 8:15pm ET
2. New Orleans Saints (5-1)
Last Week: 2
The Saints continue to win under Teddy Bridgewater. Their defense has been tenacious, and their offense has plenty of playmakers to live without Drew Brees. It will be a tough test in Chicago this week for Teddy, but once Brees comes back, the Saints are legit NFC title contenders.
Week 7: @ CHI; Sunday 4:25pm ET
3. San Francisco 49ers (5-0)
Last week: 6
The 49ers went into Los Angeles and took down the defending NFC West champion Rams on Sunday. In their toughest test of the season, the 49ers dominated the Rams from start to finish to prove they are a legitimate threat in the NFC.
Week 7: @ WSH; Sunday 1:00pm ET
4. Seattle Seahawks (5-1)
Last Week: 3
The Seahawks just keep winning under the direction of MVP candidate Russell Wilson. Wilson threw for two TDs and ran for another one in against Cleveland to push his TD total for the season up to 17. The Seahawks and 49ers still play twice the rest of the year, so look for those matchups to help determine the NFC West champion.
Week 7: vs BAL; Sunday 4:25pm ET
5. Green Bay Packers (5-1)
Last Week: 5
The Packers came out sluggish Monday night at home against Detroit. However, their defense held the Lions to five field goals, and Aaron Rodgers erased a nine-point fourth-quarter deficit on a last-second field goal to win. The NFC North is still anyone’s, but Green Bay has set themselves up nicely.
Week 7: vs Oak; Sunday 1:00pm ET
6. Houston Texans (4-2)
Last Week: 10
This was the second week in a row that an AFC South team has come into Arrowhead and beat the Chiefs. Deshaun Watson and the high-powered Texans offense came to play on Sunday, while the shaky defense played well enough. Houston’s offense is good enough to go all the way, and if the defense can continue to get better, the AFC needs to watch out.
Week 7: @ IND; Sunday 1:00pm ET
7. Kansas City Chiefs (4-2)
Last Week: 4
Patrick Mahomes and the Chiefs fell again on Sunday at home. Kansas City’s defense was roughed up again while their offense didn’t play up to potential yet again. The Chiefs are still one of the best teams in the AFC but will need to fix some things on defense and even on offense to make it to Miami in February.
Week 7: @ DEN; Thursday 8:20pm ET
8. Buffalo Bills (4-1)
Last Week: 9
The Bills have a top defense to keep them in any game, but where they can go all falls on QB Josh Allen. His running ability and strong arm give the Bills a chance to win every week. Buffalo’s schedule is light, which should provide the Bills a chance to fight for the division and fall back on a wild card.
Week 7: vs MIA; Sunday 1:00pm ET
9. Baltimore Ravens (4-2)
Last Week: 14
Lamar Jackson is a dual-threat QB the NFL hasn’t seen in some time. He carries the ball so well and can make anyone miss while he continues to show off his impressive arm. The mix of Jackson and a formidable defense gives the Ravens a major advantage in a weak AFC North.
Week 6: @ SEA; Sunday 4:25pm ET
10. Carolina Panthers (4-2)
Last Week: 19
Kyle Allen continues to impress as Panthers QB. The Panthers defense has also impressed and forced six turnovers by Jameis Winston in London. Cam Newton is on his way back, but with the way Allen has played there really is no reason to put Cam in there. Carolina is one of the better stories of 2019 and they have a legit shot at the postseason.
Week 7: BYE
11. Chicago Bears (3-2)
Last Week: 11
The Bears defense seems to be unstoppable at home, and with a showdown against New Orleans on the horizon, the Bears will need that continue. With Mitchell Trubisky looking like he will be back in time for Sunday, the Bears will need him to take the next step as soon as possible. Even with the league’s best defense, winning games with an offense looking the way Chicago’s does is very difficult.
Week 7: vs NO; Sunday 4:25pm ET
12. Minnesota Vikings (4-2)
Last Week: 17
The Vikings’ offense was impressive again on Sunday when Kirk Cousins threw all over the Philadelphia defense. If Cousins can emulate that performance consistently, there is no reason why they shouldn’t be fighting for a wild card spot in December.
Week 7: @ DET; Sunday 1:00pm ET
13. Indianapolis Colts (3-2)
Last Week: 13
Indianapolis has played well with Jacoby Brissett. Their defense has shined as well through five games. A pivotal matchup looms on Sunday against Houston, which should go a long way in determining the AFC South.
Week 7: vs HOU; Sunday 1:00pm ET
14. Oakland Raiders (3-2)
Last Week: 16
The Raiders have looked pretty good in year two under Jon Gruden. Derek Carr has been playing better, and there is a lot more talent in Oakland than a year ago. With more wins like last week in London, the Raiders can set themselves up for an intriguing year.
Week 7: @ GB Sunday 1:00pm ET
15. Detroit Lions (2-2-1)
Last Week: 15
Some missed calls by the referees hurt the Lions on Monday night, but settling for five field goals and only one touchdown will not get you far. The Lions continue to play good football and can be a threat for a playoff spot in the NFC, but they will need some key victories in the coming weeks.
Week 7: vs MIN; Sunday 1:00pm ET
16. Los Angeles Rams (3-3)
Last Week: 7
Another rough day for Jared Goff and co. resulted in the Rams losing their third straight game. A once dynamic offense has come to a screeching halt, and a promising defense has not performed well. There is a lot of time to fix what ales the Rams, but being in a tough division will only make things harder.
Week 7: @ ATL; Sunday 1:00pm ET
17. Philadelphia Eagles (3-3)
Last Week: 8
Philadelphia’s defense has been pretty awful all year. They spotted Minnesota a 24-3 lead that the Eagles offense could not dig themselves out of. Even with Carson Wentz having a solid year, the Eagles will not be able to match up with NFC’s best without a turnaround from its defense. The good news is the NFC East is wide open for the taking.
Week 7: @ DAL; Sunday 8:20pm ET
18. Dallas Cowboys (3-3)
Last Week: 12
The Cowboys lost a tough one against the Jets in New York on Sunday. The defense gave up too many big plays, and the offense got going too late. A do-or-die matchup looms on Sunday night against the Eagles, and if Jason Garrett wants to keep his job, a win is necessary.
Week 7: vs PHI; Sunday 8:20pm ET
19. Arizona Cardinals (2-3-1)
Last Week: 28
Kyler Murray has been really impressive over the last couple weeks, and in my mind has overtaken Gardner Minshew as offensive rookie of the year. The offense under Kingsbury and Murray continues to grow and will be a threat to any defense in their way the rest of the season.
Week 7: @ NYG; Sunday 1:00pm ET
20. Pittsburgh Steelers (2-4)
Last Week: 27
Without Ben Roethlisberger or Mason Rudolph for the Steelers in Los Angeles, Devlin Hodges played well enough to win. It will be tough for Pittsburgh to make a playoff push this season, but you can tell Mike Tomlin has his team playing tough week in and week out.
Week 7: BYE
21. Los Angeles Chargers (2-4)
Last Week: 18
The Chargers continue to be the most underachieving team in the NFL. With some pretty rough losses already this year, the Chargers will need to turn it around fast. If they don’t, a once promising season will turn out to be Anthony Lynn’s last in Los Angeles.
Week 7: @ TEN; Sunday 4:05pm ET
22. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (2-4)
Last Week: 20
Jameis Winston threw five interceptions and had a fumble to go along with that. Tampa Bay has looked better this year, but they don’t seem destined to find themselves in a playoff race. Bruce Arians will continue his attempts to fix Winston, but it is looking like his time with the Buccaneers will be up after 2019.
Week 7: BYE
23. Denver Broncos (2-4)
Last Week: 26
Denver won their second game in a row, shutting out an abysmal Titans offense by a score of 16-0. Their defense forced seven sacks on Sunday after only having five the previous five weeks combined. Vic Fangio has seen his team come back from a rough start and will hope it continues on Thursday at home against Kansas City.
Week 7: vs KC; Thursday 8:20pm ET
24. Jacksonville Jaguars (2-4)
Last Week: 21
Jacksonville has a lot of questions surrounding their team. Even with a stellar defense, their offense is just not good enough to win 8+ games. With hopes that Jalen Ramsey returns, the Jaguars could be playing for something in December, but neither of those scenarios seem likely.
Week 7: @ CIN; Sunday 1:00pm ET
25. Cleveland Browns (2-4)
Last Week: 23
The Cleveland offense looked better against the Seahawks, but the Browns fell yet again. With their biggest win coming against the division-leading Ravens, the Browns should have some confidence they can still take the AFC North crown. It could happen, but it is a difficult road for the Browns.
Week 7: BYE
26. New York Jets (1-4)
Last Week: 29
The Jets finally got starting QB Sam Darnold back and torched the Dallas defense early and often. New York held off a comeback effort by the Cowboys to earn an impressive first victory of the year. If Darnold can continue to play the way he did on Sunday, the Jets’ future will be looking bright.
Week 7: vs NE; Monday 8:15pm ET
27. New York Giants (2-4)
Last Week: 24
Even with an injury-depleted offense, the Giants stayed close with the Patriots most of the game on Thursday night. Their defense played very well, but it was too much to handle for the Giants. They will continue to help Daniel Jones grow as the season continues.
Week 7: vs ARI; Sunday 1:00pm ET
28. Tennessee Titans (2-4)
Last Week: 22
The Titans benched Marcus Mariota for backup Ryan Tannehill on Sunday in Denver. Mariota was once again running for his life but also didn’t make very good decisions or throws. The Titans defense continues to keep the team in games, but with an offense that cant do anything, Tennessee will be looking at an early draft pick in 2020.
Week 7: vs DEN; Sunday 4:25pm ET
29. Atlanta Falcons (1-5)
Last Week: 25
The Falcons offense came to play on Sunday, but a missed extra point kept them from sending the game to overtime. Their defense continues to be a liability, and it seems Dan Quinn will be the next coach to be fired in the NFL.
Week 7: vs LAR; Sunday 1:00pm ET
30. Washington Redskins (1-5)
Last Week: 31
The Redskins picked up their first win of 2019 in Miami on Sunday. Terry McLaurin caught a pair of touchdowns as he continued to impress as a lone bright spot for Washington. Up next, they look to pull off an upset over undefeated San Francisco.
Week 7: vs SF; Thursday 1:00pm ET
31. Cincinnati Bengals (0-6)
Last Week: 30
The Bengals continue to stay close in games, but don’t have the playmakers to finish. It is a rebuilding year in Cincinnati as the Bengals look to the 2020 draft for their next quarterback.
Week 7: vs JAX; Sunday 12:00pm ET
32. Miami Dolphins (0-5)
Last Week: 32
The Dolphins went for two against Washington with six seconds left looking for their first win. The attempt was unsuccessful and the Dolphins continued a rough season. The loss does help their chances of securing the number one overall pick along with the choice of drafting Tua Tagovailoa.
Week 7: @ BUF; Sunday 1:00pm ET
Featured Photo: AP Photo/Ben Margot