Each week, we compare all 32 NFL teams using our Football Relativity comparison. On the comparison, the 10 level is reserved for the best teams, and the 1 level for the worst. We’ll note throughout where teams have moved up or down from last week.
RB Mark Ingram and the Saints beat the Texans in a shootout. Photo via nola.com
10 – Green Bay Packers -The Packers won at Chicago, which is never easy given the state of the rivalry. So far, the defending champs have taken on all comers and lived to tell about it – even with two road games.
9 – Baltimore Ravens (UP A LEVEL), New England Patriots – The Ravens bounced back from a bad loss in Tennessee to whip the Rams in St. Louis. That’s a statement that they’re for real. Getting rookie WR Torrey Smith loose down the field adds a dimension to the offense that the Ravens haven’t had in years. The Patriots lost in Buffalo, showing that their defense is a question mark. But the offense is plenty good for the Patriots to make the playoffs comfortably.
8 – Houston Texans, New Orleans Saints (UP A LEVEL), Philadelphia Eagles (DOWN A LEVEL), Pittsburgh Steelers, San Diego Chargers, Tampa Bay Buccaneers (UP A LEVEL) – We covered the Steelers’ narrow win in Rise/Sink/Float, and we covered the Buccaneers’ win in more detail in this post. The Saints beat the Texans 40-33 in a shootout. Both teams have elite offenses, but their defenses raise questions. The Texans need to rebound from the come-from-ahead loss to avoid falling into their patterns of past years. The Eagles fell a level after losing to the Giants. QB Michael Vick’s injury is a concern, but the offensive line struggles may be a bigger issue. The Chargers didn’t play great, but they won at home against the Chiefs. That’s the kind of game the Chargers have lost in previous Septembers.
7 – Atlanta Falcons (DOWN A LEVEL), Detroit Lions (UP A LEVEL), New York Jets – The Falcons fell a level as they fell to 1-2. Atlanta faces a crisis now in a tough division, and now they must travel across the country to face the Seahawks. That’s now a must-win. The Lions move up as they move to 3-0. Falling behind 20-0 keeps us from moving Detroit up another level, but kudos to the Lions for coming back on the road. The Jets lost in Oakland, but that’s not a shocking result given the Raiders’ talent. The Jets are good but not great, which means we expect another loss in Baltimore Sunday night.
6 – Buffalo Bills (UP A LEVEL), Chicago Bears (DOWN A LEVEL), Dallas Cowboys, New York Giants (UP A LEVEL), Oakland Raiders (UP A LEVEL), Washington Redskins – We covered the Bills’ ascent in Rise/Sink/Float. The Bears lost to the Packers to fall to 1-2. Chicago needs to take care of business against Carolina at home this week to avoid falling into a bigger hole. The Cowboys, Giants, and Redskins are all 2-1 (as are the Eagles), which means the NFC East will be a struggle once again. None of those teams are great, but all are good enough to compete against each other. The Raiders beat the Jets at home, and it’s becoming clear that Oakland’s offensive and defensive lines are elite.
5 – Cleveland Browns (UP TWO LEVELS) – The Browns, who moved to 2-1, end up on their own level. We believe that they’re not a great team, but they have a good enough system and coaching to be competitive against a favorable schedule. It’ll be interesting to see if they maintain it.
4 – Arizona Cardinals, Jacksonville Jaguars (DOWN A LEVEL), San Francisco 49ers (UP TWO LEVELS),Tennessee Titans (UP TWO LEVELS) – We covered the Jaguars’ loss in Blaine Gabbert’s first start in this post. The 49ers won in Cincinnati, showing that while their offense isn’t great, the defense has some ability. The Titans also moved to 2-1 with a home win against Denver. They would have moved further up if not for the season-ending injury to WR Kenny Britt. The Cardinals lost to the Seahawks, but we won’t dock them for a road loss in a tough venue.
3 – Carolina Panthers (UP A LEVEL), Cincinnati Bengals, Denver Broncos, Indianapolis Colts, Kansas City Chiefs, Miami Dolphins (DOWN A LEVEL), St. Louis Rams (DOWN TWO LEVELS) – We covered the Rams’ collapse in Rise/Sink/Float. Like the Colts and Chiefs, we still believe St. Louis has talent, but all three teams are 0-3, so they can’t move higher than this. We covered the Panthers’ monsoon win in this post. The Bengals lost at home to San Francisco, showing once again that their defense is decent but the offense needs work. The Broncos lost at Tennessee, showing that they are not going to be real contenders. The Dolphins fell to 0-3 with another tough loss. This is a team with talent but no identity right now.
2 – Seattle Seahawks (UP A LEVEL) – The Seahawks beat the Cardinals, but we’re not buying. Maybe the return of WR Sidney Rice will add oomph to the offense going forward, but we’ll have to see it to believe it.
1 – Minnesota Vikings (DOWN A LEVEL) – The Vikings lost a double-digit lead for the third straight week. While they’re competitive, they fall to the bottom of the league.