The New York Jets’ surprising victory against the Buffalo Bills didn’t create too much upheaval in the AFC East standings, as the Bills remain in first place at 6-2 despite Sunday’s 20-17 defeat to the Jets, who trail Buffalo by just a half-game at 6-3.
The same can’t be said for the stunning upset’s havoc on this week’s NFL Power Rankings.
The Jets’ statement win earned them the right to be ranked somewhere among the league’s elite — but where? Do the Jets, ranked 13th last week, receive a golf clap and the modest bump into the 10 spot? Or should they be rewarded with a massive jump into the top four as their division’s biggest disrupter with victories over the Bills and the Miami Dolphins?
The outcome was the latter. Because it’s time to give Robert Saleh and his gritty group of young, energetic overachievers their due.
In this week’s rankings, the Jets rose nine spots — all the way to No. 4 behind the top-ranked Philadelphia Eagles, No. 2 Kansas City Chiefs and No. 3 Minnesota Vikings and just ahead of the No. 5 Dolphins and No. 6 Bills. The Jets’ green but talented offense is catching up to their playmaking defense, and their recent run to relevancy with four victories in their last five games has started spreading optimism across New York not seen since Rex Ryan led the franchise to back-to-back AFC championship games.
Bills Mafia won’t be happy with Buffalo’s slide from No. 2 to six, because the surface stats (No. 1 offense, No. 4 defense) still back the Bills as a top-four team in the NFL. But the truth is that they’re not playing their best ball right now.
The troubles started in the second half of the Week 8 victory against the Green Bay Packers when the Bills' defense got gashed for 208 rushing yards and Josh Allen threw two interceptions. Against the Jets, Allen threw two more picks, and he has completed just 47.9% of his passes (23 of 48) for 298 yards in his last six quarters.
Even more concerning is the severity of the elbow injury Allen suffered on Sunday. He’s still undergoing tests, but if the league MVP candidate has to miss any games, Buffalo must find a way to move the ball without the man who represents 84% of the team’s offensive yards (2,403 yards passing and a team-leading 392 yards rushing).
Other noteworthy developments in the rankings: The unintentional generosity of the Los Angeles Rams allowed the Tampa Bay Buccaneers to pull out a 16-13 comeback win that put the Bucs back on top of the less-than-stellar NFC South at 4-5. As a result, they rose nine spots to 16th, which is more of an indication of just how mediocre the bottom half of the league has been. (Thursday night hasn’t been the only time bad football has been played this season.)
Let’s take a closer look at this week’s rankings.
NFL Power Rankings
1. Philadelphia Eagles (8-0, Last week: 1): If you think Jalen Hurts warrants serious MVP consideration, you’ve obviously been paying attention. Good for you.
2. Kansas City Chiefs (6-2, LW: 3): Not to nitpick, but do you really want Patrick Mahomes throwing the ball 68 times as he did against Tennessee?
3. Minnesota Vikings (7-1, LW: 4): Five days after being acquired at the trade deadline, tight end T.J. Hockenson looked right at home in Kevin O’Connell’s offense.
4. New York Jets (6-3, LW: 13): After this week’s bye, they’ll have important divisional grudge rematches (at New England on Nov. 20, at Buffalo on Dec. 11) with tough NFC North tests in between (Chicago at home on Nov. 27, at Minnesota on Dec. 4).
5. Miami Dolphins (6-3, LW: 6): Tyreek Hill has repeatedly said Tua Tagovailoa is the NFL’s most accurate passer, a not-so-subtle slight of his old QB in Kansas City, but now there’s significant data supporting the Cheetah’s bold claim.
6. Buffalo Bills (6-2, LW: 2): If Josh Allen is sidelined by an elbow injury, 10-year veteran Case Keenum would take over at QB.
7. Baltimore Ravens (6-3, LW: 8): The defense is working its way back to respectability. Adding a linebacker like Roquan Smith surely helps, but the turnaround began with a resurgent pass rush led by Justin Houston, who’s tied for second in the NFL with 8 1/2 sacks.
8. Seattle Seahawks (6-3, LW: 10): Geno Smith has been a revelation, but also fueling the surprising success in the Pacific Northwest is the playmaking and depth of an exceptional draft class, namely RB Kenneth Walker III and CB Tariq Woolen.
9. Dallas Cowboys (6-2, LW: 5): Jerry Jones is lobbying hard for Odell Beckham Jr. to sign with the Cowboys when he’s recovered from a torn ACL. But is Dallas the best team for OBJ to chase another ring?
10. New York Giants (6-2, LW: 7): If they’re going to make a playoff push, it must begin with home wins over two sub-.500 teams — Houston on Sunday and Detroit the following week.
11. San Francisco 49ers (4-4, LW: 11): One more week of incorporating Christian McCaffrey into the offense should prevent the type of letdown that’s plagued their season. Then again, Kyle Shanahan is just 2-3 coming off a bye in his Niners tenure.
12. Cincinnati Bengals (5-4, LW: 12): A five-touchdown day by Joe Mixon is one way to make up for the absence of Ja’Marr Chase.
13. Tennessee Titans (5-3, LW: 9): Normalcy has returned with a comfortable lead in the AFC South and Derrick Henry’s NFL-best 870 rushing yards.
14. Los Angeles Chargers (5-3, LW: 14): What’s not new: their rash of injuries. What’s new: their ability to find a way to win without key players.
15. New England Patriots (5-4, LW: 19): Even with the weird offensive play-calling dynamic and the unexpected QB musical chairs, Bill Belichick has the Patriots at 5-4 going into their bye week. Don’t count them out in the AFC East.
16. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (4-5, LW: 24): The late drive to beat the Rams could very well be the impetus that turns around the Bucs’ season and, more importantly, reenergizes Tom Brady.
17. Los Angeles Rams (3-5, LW: 15): The fall from grace has been abrupt and shocking, and the late collapse of the offense and defense in Tampa was just the latest damning evidence that the Super Bowl champs have serious issues.
18. Washington Commanders (4-5, LW: 16): All right, all right, all right — Matthew McConaughey reportedly is “actively exploring” a bid for the Commanders.
19. Atlanta Falcons (4-5, LW: 17): They could still contend for the NFC South title. Seriously. Four of their next five games are against teams currently with three or fewer wins.
20. Cleveland Browns (3-5, LW: 20): The same question will loom over their next three games: Can they at least keep their playoff hopes alive until Deshaun Watson returns in Week 13?
21. Arizona Cardinals (3-6, LW: 21): As if the inconsistency on offense wasn’t bad enough, they continue to be one of the NFL’s most penalized teams, committing 12 in last Sunday’s 31-21 loss to Seattle.
22. Indianapolis Colts (3-5-1, LW: 22): Frazier Park is a small mountain community about 75 miles northwest of Los Angeles. Parks Frazier is the Colts’ new 30-year-old offensive coordinator who’s never called plays before but was promoted by first-time head coach Jeff Saturday anyway.
23. Denver Broncos (3-5, LW: 23): Their No. 2-ranked defense, which gives up the second-fewest points in the NFL (16.5 per game), can’t do much more to turn around the season. The onus is on Nathaniel Hackett, Russell Wilson and the offense.
24. Green Bay Packers (3-6, LW: 18): Just more numbers to show how bad things are — Aaron Rodgers’ passer rating (89.0) and QBR (36.3) are both career lows.
25. New Orleans Saints (3-6, LW: 25): Hey, at least Pelicans star Zion Williamson has stayed healthy through 10 games.
26. Chicago Bears (3-6, LW: 26): The biggest development of the season is the sudden rapid growth of second-year QB Justin Fields.
27. Jacksonville Jaguars (3-6, LW: 27): Las Vegas did all it could to hand the Jags a victory. Give them credit for capitalizing.
28. Detroit Lions (2-6, LW: 32): Their win over Green Bay ended a five-game losing streak and raised the spirits of the league’s worst defense and its much-maligned coordinator.
29. Pittsburgh Steelers (2-6, LW: 28): The worst news all season was the Week 1 injury to T.J. Watt. The best news all season came Tuesday when coach Mike Tomlin expressed optimism about the return of the reigning Defensive Player of the Year this Sunday against New Orleans.
30. Carolina Panthers (2-7, LW: 29): Sam Darnold has been activated from the IR, but PJ Walker gets another shot as QB1.
31. Las Vegas Raiders (2-6, LW: 30): Sunday’s collapse in Jacksonville was the third blown 17-0 lead this season. And safety Johnathan Abram, who was released on Tuesday, became the fourth of six first-round picks from 2019 to 2021 to be released. Mark Davis owns this disaster.
32. Houston Texans (1-6-1, LW: 31): They lost to the pathetic Raiders by 17 points in Week 7, so clearly Houston is the worst team in football.