Dave Carney 11/3/2020
1. Kansas City Chiefs (up from 3)
The Chiefs lone loss to the Raiders at home in Week 5 seems to be a distant memory now as Kansas City just keeps rolling by teams with ease. Sunday the Chiefs made easy work of the New York Jets, a club that barely represents a professional outfit, but beat them handily non the less. Mahomes is so darn good its hard to quantify, but let’s try. Through 40 starts, Mahomes has the all-time lead in yards thrown, and touchdowns. This dude is the man and keeps his team pumped up and ready to pounce like few have ever been able to do. This past week Le’Veon Bell also made his Kansas City debut, and while his numbers don’t jump off the page, you can tell Andy Ried is licking his chops (for more than just burgers this time) for a chance to fully unleash Bell..whatever he has left. Kansas City is back in the driver’s seat in my Top 5, and a looming match up versus the Panthers should find them in good shape to keep this spot come Week 9.
2. Pittsburgh Steelers (same)
Wow, the Steelers escaped one in Baltimore this past Sunday didn’t they?! The Ravens out gained Pittsburgh, won the time of possession battle, and made Big Ben look average at best for most of the game, and they still won 28-24. The Steelers beating the Ravens the way they did, coming back from an early deficit and holding on late, showed this team is the real deal. Every spot on the field Pittsburgh seems to have a great (or good) player there. The weakness of the Steelers might actually be Big Ben, even though you don’t hear much about that, but you can tell based on the numbers. Pittsburgh’s defense is amongst the league’s best, but Big Ben needs a lot of help now and fortunately the Ravens and Lamar Jackson did that on Sunday. Credit that defense once again however, and understand THEY are the reason for keeping this spot, as they thoroughly confused John Harbaugh, Lamar Jackson, and the Ravens offense into giving the Steelers a chance to win that game, Oh yea, and how can Mike Tomlin not already win Coach of the Year? I mean, C’mon, the Steelers are the ONLY undefeated team left at 7-0.
3. Seattle Seahawks (back in Top 5 – out last week)
Statistically the Seahawks play in the toughest division in football. Statistically Russell Wilson is having the greatest start to an NFL season at quarterback we’ve ever seen. Statistically the Seahawks defense is one of the worst in the league giving up more yards per game than the lowly Dallas Cowboys, and yet here they are, back in my Top 5 after a 37-27 win over the 49ers. Wilson was again superb throwing 4 TD’s to no INT’s and leading a Seahawks team past a reeling 49ers squad who lost both Jimmy G and George Kittle to injury but are still a handful on D. Wilson’s 26 TD’s through 7 games put him on pace to throw for what would be a league record 59 this season, and he is single handily gutting this Seattle team to wins each week. Add in a dose of DK Metcalf, a soon-to return Jamal Adams at safety, a newly acquired Carlos Dunlap and suddenly you’re looking at a much more complete team with the game’s best player at the moment Russell Wilson, and NFC beware. If Seattle’s defense improves, they get a bit healthier at the running back position, watch out…this might be your NFC Super Bowl representative.
4. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (down from 1)
I should have seen last night (MNF) versus the Giants coming. Brady rarely plays his best against the Giants, the Bucs are facing the Saints this Sunday for division lead, and the spread *(-12.5)* for the Bucs was too big….but I took the bait and got caught. Watching Tom Brady struggle for 2 and a half quarters against a one-win Giants team once again made me realize Tom Brady is 43. That is inescapable. He looks it sometimes too, but then he pulls out a win (with some help from the refs) and the Bucs sit at 6-2. Last week I had Tampa Bay in my number 1 spot after two dominant wins over the Raiders and Packers, but watching this team limp through the game on MNF gave me pause, and made me reconsider their spot in my rankings this week. Coming up in Week 9, the Bucs will get to see what Antonio Brown can do, and if he’s anything like his old self no doubt Tampa Bay will be competing for my top spot again next week.
5. Indianapolis Colts (NEW in Top 5)
They’ve finally made it in after hovering in my Top 10 throughout the season. The Colts don’t seem like a “sexy” pick in this spot, and even at 5-2 many in the NFL community don’t even have them in the top 10. After watching the Colts undress the semi-hot Lions 41-21 on Sunday however I was reminded of the fantastic job Frank Reich does as head coach, how stabilizing it is to have a veteran QB like Phillip Rivers under center, and how wonderful it is to have one of the NFL’s best defenses. In the Colts seven games this season they’ve allowed the third fewest points of any team (136) and are starting to improve each week on the offensive side of the ball, Rivers limiting turnovers a big reason for that. The other thing I really like about Indianapolis is that offensive line. When you have solid line play like the Colts, a stud rookie running back in Johnathon Taylor, a wide-out like T.Y. Hilton and a smart QB, I’ll take my chances against most teams each week. The Colts schedule however is getting really tough, and the upcoming four games will likely determine their season. Games versus the Ravens, Packers, and Titans twice should tell us whether or not this 2020 Colts team is the real deal, or just a one-week visitor in my Top 5.