Free Press sports writers Dave Birkett and Carlos Monarrez play Monday morning quarterback and look ahead to this week’s Bears game. Recorded Monday, Nov. 13, 2017.
Carlos Monarrez, Detroit Free Press
This week in the NFL didn’t seem as wacky as a few before it this season. Not many upsets. No real surprises. The teams that have proclaimed “we’re good” showed just why and the teams that have struggled continued to do so.
To be honest, it made for an easier than normal compilation for the power rankings. Take a look:
32. Cleveland Browns (0-9, last week: 32): Man, if they aren’t going to sneak up on the Lions, whom will the Browns beat this season? To be fair, after a closer than normal look at Ford Field, they just don’t feel like worst-ever.
31. New York Giants (1-9, last week: 30): This team, on the other hand, feels like they’re gonna all out quit on head coach Ben McAdoo, if they haven’t already. Handing the 49ers their first win. Wow, and they were in the playoffs last season.
30. San Francisco 49ers (1-9, last week: 31): Not so fast, Niners. They scored Win No. 1 on Sunday, and have yet to use their secret weapon – quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo.
29. Indianapolis Colts (3-7, last week: 28): Welcome to QB Purgatory. These next three teams don’t have their starters in place, and their records show it. For the Colts, having Andrew Luck may have helped them finish the deal against the Steelers on Sunday.
28. Denver Broncos (3-6, last week: 20): The Broncos have lost five straight and have tried a couple of QBs. Still, they’d probably prefer to have Paxton Lynch under center to help this still more-than-decent defense.
27. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (3-6, last week: 29): Another team, another QB with a bum shoulder. To be fair, they were struggling with Jameis Winston. And look at there, they won this week against the Jets. Coincidence?
26. Houston Texans (3-6, last week: 25): Houston struggled to keep up with the Rams in the second half. And, we’re still in QB Purgatory (i.e. Deshaun Watson).
25. Chicago Bears (3-6, last week: 27): The Bears have turned to the future under center and Mitchell Trubisky showed a glimmer of hope for Chicago in the loss to the Packers.
More on Lions:
Lining up Lions’ excuses vs. Chicago Bears at Solider Field
Dissecting Lions’ competition in race for NFL playoffs
24. Miami Dolphins (4-5, last week: 24): Go figure. Jay Cutler is slightly ahead of his former team, though the ex-Bear is the quarterback of the worst offense in football. Offense wasn’t the problem Monday in the 45-21 loss at Carolina, though.
23. Cincinnati Bengals (3-6, last week: 26): And unexpected tough stretch left Cincinnati 0-2 after losses at Jacksonville and Tennessee. Can No. 30 scoring offense in NFL score enough against Denver on Sunday?
22. New York Jets (4-6, last week: 22): A much-deserved bye after losing four of their last five, the most recent at Tampa Bay. Things don’t get easy after the break: vs. Panthers, at Chiefs.
21. Los Angeles Chargers (3-6, last week: 18): It’s not even surprising anymore. They lost yet another close game, this time in Jacksonville in overtime. And now, Philip Rivers has a concussion. Hard to imagine them not falling further next week.
20. Arizona Cardinals (4-5, last week: 23): They lost on a Thursday, but are propped up by the teams below them. Sure, Adrian Peterson has been a revelation, but this team will likely start Blaine Gabbert in the next game.
Green Bay Packers quarterback Brett Hundley (7) and quarterback Aaron Rodgers (12) shake hands after the Green Bay Packers’ win over the Bears. (Photo: USA TODAY Sports)
19. Green Bay Packers (5-4, last week: 21): A mini-bump up after the win in Chicago, ending a three-game losing streak. If you play the schedule game, there’s a path to 8-8, not too shabby without Aaron Rodgers.
18. Oakland Raiders (4-5, last week: 17): Had a bye this past week to get ready for the Patriots in a game to be played in Mexico. Might David Carr be able to pull of a fun finish like they did against the Chiefs?
17. Baltimore Ravens (4-5, last week: 19): Here’s how rough the AFC has been this season: the Ravens are a game out of the sixth playoff spot right now. May get a boost with their next two games: At Green Bay, vs. Houston.
16. Buffalo Bills (5-4, last week: 16): They hold tight after the Bills scored 30 but couldn’t keep pace with the Saints at home. Good luck predicting this team, in the bottom third in total offense and defense.
15. Washington (4-5, last week: 14): We won’t punish D.C. that much for losing to the Vikings, another seemingly good team. If they finish .500, do they then back up the Brinks truck for Kirk Cousins?
14. Dallas Cowboys (5-4, last week: 8): They certain aren’t the same team without Ezekiel Elliott, but he’s not an offensive lineman. Dak Prescott was sacked eight times in the loss to Atlanta. And now linebacker Sean Lee (hamstring) will miss some time.
13. Detroit Lions (5-4, last week: 18): Spare us the “win is a win” argument. They maintain their position for stumbling out of the gate against the Browns. They’re favored again this week at Chicago. But last week’s performance won’t cut it in the Windy City.
12. Atlanta Falcons (5-4, last week: 15): Another tough team to figure out. Might Sunday’s performance turn things around for the defending NFC champs? Well, it better, because they’re in the toughest division in the NFL.
11. Seattle Seahawks (6-3, last week: 9): Yes, they won at Arizona, but the bigger loss came in the way of cornerback Richard Sherman (Achilles). Next up for Seattle is a home date with the aforementioned Falcons on Monday night.
10. Jacksonville Jaguars (6-3, last week: 12): Let’s go ahead and call them the surprise team of the AFC. The Jags have won three straight, this time with Blake Bortles throwing 51 times. But they should be careful. Sunday at Cleveland screams “trap game.”
9. Tennessee Titans (6-3, last week: 11): The other pretty good AFC South team, which also took care of business at home against Cincinnati. But here’s the smoke and mirrors alert: They are the 17th-ranked offense and the 18th-ranked defense.
8. Kansas City Chiefs (6-3, last week: 5): A case of out of sight, out of mind. They lose three spots because of the teams ahead of them. The good news: they have No. 5 offense in the NFL. The bad news … there is no bad news. They play the Giants on Sunday.
7. Minnesota Vikings (7-2, last week: 6): Lions fans are probably wondering when the other shoe will drop. But, it just hasn’t yet. Now, they do have a tough stretch ahead: hosting the Rams and then the quick turnaround on Thanksgiving in Detroit.
6. Carolina Panthers (7-3, last week: 10): Call it recency bias, but they looked a lot like two years ago on Monday night against the Dolphins. They’ve now won three straight, but still have to play the Saints, Vikings and Falcons this season.
5. Los Angeles Rams (7-2, last week: 7): Look, we’re right there with you. We can’t understand how the Rams’ offense has gone from incompetent to unstoppable. But is the reckoning upon them? Their next five games: at Vikings, vs. Saints, at Cardinals, vs. Eagles, at Seahawks.
4. New Orleans Saints (7-2, last week: 4): New Orleans holds steady after their seventh straight win, Sunday at Buffalo. But again, a tough stretch ahead (after Sunday against Washington): at Rams, vs. Panthers and the Falcons twice.
3. Pittsburgh Steelers (7-2, last week: 2): See, we don’t reward the “win is a win” theory. The Steelers take a step back after a narrow win in Indianapolis. And interesting test for the No. 2 defense in the NFL as they host Tennessee on Thursday.
2. New England Patriots (7-2, last week: 3): The win at Denver was a little more impressive, and so they get the second slot here. But, they still have the worst total defense in the NFL, giving just the slightest of pause.
1. Philadelphia Eagles (8-1, last week: 1): These Eagles just can’t lose. Especially when they don’t play. They’re coming off their bye and now visit Dallas with a chance to, in effect, kill off the Cowboys’ playoff chances on Sunday night.
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