With four of our NFL Power Rankings’ top-seven teams on a bye (Eagles, Bills, Vikings, Rams), Week 7 figured to be uneventful. The struggles of Aaron Rodgers and Tom Brady continued, but that really wasn’t a surprise. And then the excitement over Christian McCaffrey’s 49ers debut was muted by a torrent of Patrick Mahomes-led touchdown drives in the Chiefs’ methodic 44-23 annihilation of San Francisco’s formerly top-ranked defense.
Out of the slumber of Sunday afternoon’s games, one of the season’s best success stories — if not the least talked about in the NFL — took center stage.
At palatial SoFi Stadium in Inglewood, plays were being made all over the field. An absolute dime for a TD. An electrifying 74-yard house call. Turnovers being forced on defense. And the Chargers could do nothing but watch the Seahawks savor every minute of a 37-23 road stomping that improved Seattle’s record to an unexpected 4-3.
If you recall, the Seahawks were at a crossroads this offseason after a disappointing 7-10 record, their lowest win total since Pete Carroll’s second season in Seattle. They finally parted ways with quarterback Russell Wilson, sending the franchise’s all-time leading passer and a fourth-round selection to Denver for a package of picks and players that included QB Drew Lock and tight end Noah Fant.
A trade for a proven starting quarterback (namely San Francisco’s Jimmy Garoppolo) never materialized, so when Carroll announced journeyman Geno Smith as his No. 1 QB, well, it seemed pretty easy which way to bet on Seattle’s over/under for wins (5.5). Carroll’s decision to ride with Smith was mocked in all corners of the media landscape.
Seven weeks in, the Seahawks are anything but laughingstocks — or, as Carroll told Sports Illustrated’s Albert Breer, “all (bleeped) up.” While the 29th-ranked defense doesn’t remind anyone of the Legion of Boom, Seattle is gaining momentum by the week behind the league’s No. 12 offense that’s fueled by the home-run speed of rookie running back Kenneth Walker III and the freakish accuracy of Smith, a career 61.4% passer who’s completing an NFL-best 73.5% of his attempts.
A two-game win streak has placed the Seahawks atop the NFC West, a half-game ahead of a champion Rams squad dealing with severe offensive-line issues and one game ahead of a San Francisco team battling inconsistency despite its Super Bowl-caliber roster. And, right now, they’re winning the Wilson trade, as their former QB looks a shell of himself in Denver trying to figure out Nathaniel Hackett’s offense.
After an emotional season-opening victory on Monday night over Wilson’s Broncos, Smith reminded everyone how he’s continually been written off. “I ain’t write back though,” he hilariously added.
No need to write, Geno. You’re saying plenty with the way you’re playing — and no one is in position to talk back.
Seattle made the biggest jump in this week’s rankings, rising seven spots to 13th. To push for the top 10, they’ll have to beat another surprising club — the sixth-ranked Giants — at home on Sunday.
Here’s a closer look at this week’s rankings.
NFL Power Rankings
1. Philadelphia Eagles (6-0, Last week: 1): Getting to 9-0 seems doable with three consecutive sub-.500 opponents (Pittsburgh, at Houston, Washington) next on the schedule.
2. Buffalo Bills (5-1, LW: 2): Yes, there’s a strong argument they should be No. 1 with the top-ranked offense AND top-ranked defense thanks to K.C.’s demolition of the 49ers’ previously No. 1 D. But the Bills stay put at No. 2.
3. Kansas City Chiefs (5-2, LW: 3): The way Andy Reid’s offense effortlessly moved the ball through San Francisco’s defense was football art.
4. Minnesota Vikings (5-1, LW: 4): Even with the week off, they extended their NFC North lead to 2 1/2 games.
5. Dallas Cowboys (5-2, LW: 5): A healthy Dak Prescott was back, and not coincidentally, so was a healthy and productive Dalton Schultz.
6. New York Giants (6-1, LW: 6): They just find a way to win, and Sunday’s last-second, goal-line tackle in Jacksonville was the latest example.
7. Los Angeles Rams (3-3, LW: 7): They took a huge L on their bye week by losing the McCaffrey sweepstakes to the rival Niners.
8. Baltimore Ravens (4-3, LW: 8): Progress was made — they came close to blowing another fourth-quarter lead ... but didn’t.
9. Cincinnati Bengals (4-3, LW: 9): Suffice it to say that, over back-to-back offensive explosions, Joe Burrow (six TD passes, zero INTs, two rushing TDs) and Ja’Marr Chase (four TD receptions) are heating up.
10. New York Jets (5-2, LW: 10): These Jets are different and they mean business, as evidenced by their immediate trade for James Robinson after Breece Hall’s season-ending injury.
11. Miami Dolphins (4-3, LW: 12): It was good to see Tua Tagovailoa back on the field.
12. Tennessee Titans (4-2, LW: 16): They completed the season-series sweep of the Colts, the closest thing resembling competition in the AFC South.
13. Seattle Seahawks (4-3, LW: 20): After rushing for 168 yards and two TDs, Kenneth Walker III is the new favorite for Offensive Rookie of the Year.
15. San Francisco 49ers (3-4, LW: 14): Buckling under the repeated body blows from Patrick Mahomes showed that the Niners have a long way to go to fulfill their Super Bowl potential.
16. Green Bay Packers (3-4, LW: 11): Aaron Rodgers speaks for all Packer fans when he wondered out loud about Green Bay’s game plan.
17. Arizona Cardinals (3-4, LW: 21): Yes, DeAndre Hopkins (14 targets, 10 catches, 103 yards) makes a difference.
18. Indianapolis Colts (3-3-1, LW: 17): Jim Irsay spoke, and Chris Ballard and Frank Reich listened in benching Matt Ryan for Sam Ehlinger.
19. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (3-4, LW: 15): Amid all the off-field drama involving his quarterback, Todd Bowles’ defense has gotten beat by Mitch Trubisky and P.J. Walker in back-to-back defeats.
20. Chicago Bears (3-4, LW: 25): Did they turn a corner with Justin Fields? Bears fans hope so.
21. Washington Commanders (3-4, LW: 24): Why were they able to beat Green Bay on Sunday? Two words: Backup quarterback.
22. Las Vegas Raiders (2-4, LW: 22): They’re 2-1 since owner Mark Davis had a postgame chat with Josh McDaniels about their 0-3 start.
23. Atlanta Falcons (3-4, LW: 18): They’re still in the hunt to win an absolutely putrid NFC South. No seriously, they are.
24. New England Patriots (3-4, LW: 19): Bill Belichick sure has one quick hook when it comes to Mac Jones these days.
25. Denver Broncos (2-5, LW: 23): Different quarterback, same struggling offense under Nathaniel Hackett.
26. Jacksonville Jaguars (2-5, LW: 26): Making winning plays is a learning process, like knowing not to throw short of the end zone with time expiring and no timeouts.
27. Cleveland Browns (2-5, LW: 27): The silver lining of what’s looking more and more like a lost season is their four one-possession defeats.
28. Pittsburgh Steelers (2-5, LW: 28): T.J. Watt, out since Week 1 with a pectoral injury, warmed up Sunday but is “highly unlikely” to return this weekend in Philly.
29. Carolina Panthers (2-5, LW: 32): Life after Christian McCaffrey begins with an uplifting upset of Tom Brady and the Buccaneers.
31. Houston Texans (1-4-1, LW: 30): They were so bad Sunday that they made the Raiders look good.
32. Detroit Lions (1-5, LW: 31): Yes, they own their 2023 first-round pick.