It's the halfway point of the NFL season, and so far it's been eight weeks filled with plenty of surprises and not too much great football.
Among the surprises:
- The Buffalo Bills were supposed to be tanking, and yet they're 5-2 heading into a brutal stretch of their schedule the next five weeks.
- The Los Angeles Rams come out of their bye tied for first place in the NFC West.
- The Minnesota Vikings lead the NFC North with their starting quarterback playing two games and Case Keenum taking over as the starter.
- The Oakland Raiders, a preseason Super Bowl pick by many, are now 3-5 heading into the second half of the season.
- The New Orleans Saints lead the NFC South and may actually have a defense. Yes, the Saints have a defense.
Will all these things stay this way as we head to the second half? Probably not, but November is a month for separating from the pack and showing growth as a team. The teams that do that will be playoff teams.
For now, the Rams, Saints, Vikings and Bills are top-10 teams in my Power Rankings. How many are still there come December? I say at least two, but you try and guess which ones it will be. In this wacky season, we really have no idea about this league. Do we?
|They have a quarterback and pass rushers. That's usually a good combination. They are rolling.||--||1-4-1|
|The defense is getting better, even without some key players. That's a good sign moving forward. The trade of Jimmy Garoppplo was the smart thing to do.||--||2-3-0|
|They are peaking now and might be the most-balanced team in the league. Will it be that way come January?||--||5-0-0|
|They bounced back in style against the Broncos Monday night to take command of the division race. They face a tough one at Dallas this week.||--||5-1-0|
|They come off their bye with a long road trip to play the Giants. But they've had some long ones already, including at London two weeks ago. Are they ready to push for a division title?||--||4-2-0|
|The offense is explosive with the way Russell Wilson is playing. He is carrying this team right now.||--||5-0-0|
|Is the defense for real? It sure looks like it is for now. Dennis Allen is doing a heck of a job with that side of the ball.||--||3-2-0|
|The defense continues to carry this team, but Case Keenum is doing a nice job. Can it continue?||--||1-5-0|
|Sean McDermott is in the conversation for Coach of the Year. He's done a heck of a job, but the next five weeks will define this team. The schedule gets tougher.||1||4-2-0|
|Was that a season-saving victory against the Jets? They face a brutal division game this week on the third of three straight road games against Carolina.||1||1-5-0|
|They've won two straight, both on the road, to get back on track. But now comes word that star runner Ezekiel Elliott is likely gone for the next six games -- pending an appeal of his suspension.||1||2-4-0|
|They traded to get defensive tackle Marcell Dareus from the Bills during the bye. It's obvious they think they can make a playoff push.||3||1-5-0|
|The offense still isn't clicking, but they found a way to beat the Bucs behind the defense. They will need to score more this week against Atlanta.||4||3-3-0|
|That was an impressive showing against Miami last Thursday night. The defense looked to be back.||13||5-1-0|
|That was really ugly at Baltimore. Coach Adam Gase was wise to call out his offense because it's offensive.||6||3-3-0|
|The bye came at a good time for Marcus Mariota and his ailing hamstring. They face a tough Ravens defense this week.||2||5-0-0|
|Deshaun Watson has made this an offensive team. With the way the defense is playing, it needs to be.||4||1-5-0|
|The bye had to help to get them healthy, and give Brett Hundley more time as the starting quarterback. Can he get them to the playoffs?||2||4-1-0|
|At 3-4, with two straight losses, they face an almost must-win this week at Seattle. That won't be easy with a banged-up offensive line.||1||1-5-0|
|Is it time to make a change at quarterback? They just aren't good enough on offense with Trevor Siemian right now.||1||2-3-0|
|They've lost four of their last five games and face a big division road game this week.||1||2-3-0|
|They continue to lose close games, which they did at New England. At some point, they have to change that.||1||1-4-0|
|They made it interesting against the struggling Colts, and now must go to Jacksonville and face that good defense. That won't be easy.||5||1-4-1|
|This season is going bad. They have major defensive issues, which show up every week. That puts too much pressure on the offense.||2||3-2-0|
|The defense shows up every week, which helps keep them in games. But they aren't good enough on offense yet.||2||5-1-0|
|They are a feisty team, but two straight losses have them at 3-5. They face a big division game against the Bills Thursday night.||2||0-6-0|
|They come out of the bye with Drew Stanton as their starting quarterback with Carson Palmer out. That will be a challenge for this team.||2||4-2-0|
|At 2-5, a season that seemed so promising in the preseason looks to be going off the rails. They have to win this week at New Orleans -- or else.||2||4-2-0|
|With news that Andrew Luck will get his shoulder looked at again, they might be without him all season long. It's going to be a long season.||--||4-2-0|
|They come out of their bye hoping to turn things around. But the reality is they are playing for next year.||--||1-5-0|
|They aren't getting much production from rookie passer C.J. Beathard, which probably led to the trade for Jimmy Garoppolo. Now they have to pay him.||--||3-3-0|
|Is there any reason to think they won't be in this spot at the end of the season? They just aren't good enough to win right now.||--||4-2-0|