TJ Watt and the Pittsburgh defense has them on top

Photo Credit to Steelers via Twitter

The NFL has reached the halfway point in the season, and we have a clearer picture of who are contenders and who should be turning their attention to 2021 already.

The Chiefs, Ravens, Seahawks, and Packers have justified being favorites to win the Super Bowl going into this season. Drew Brees and Tom Brady have the Saints and Buccaneers positioned to be in a battle for the NFC South title all year. The Bills and Cardinals have gotten MVP caliber performances from Josh Allen and Kyler Murray, which has resulted in both teams exceeding expectations in 2020. The Steelers look damn near unbeatable so far, and head coach Mike Tomlin made it clear that "we do not care" about anything standing between them and a championship.

Let's take a look at the Week 8 power rankings based on what we've seen so far this year.


32. New York Jets (0-7, Last Week 32 +/- 0) - For the second week in a row there isn't a lot to say about the Jets. Until they fire Adam Gase this franchise has no chance to turn things around.


31. Jacksonville Jaguars (1-6, Last Week 29, -2) - Three bad losses in a row and they just don't seem to have enough players on the current roster to win. Still have Packers, Steelers, Browns, Titans, and Ravens on their schedule.

30. New York Giants (1-6, Last Week 30, +/- 0) - Daniel Jones continues to show flashes of what could be next year when Saquon Barkley returns from injury.

29. Dallas Cowboys (2-5, Last Week 25, -4) - Jerry Jones this past week reinforced that Mike McCarthy is their guy which should tell you where this season is going for the Cowboys. Time to jump ship on all Dallas players in fantasy including Ezekiel Elliott.


28. Washington Football Team (2-5, Last Week 31, +3) - Antonio Gibson and Terry McLaurin are really good position players for Washington. They cut up a porous Dallas defense in a Week 7 win, and once the Football Team has a new name and quarterback their fortunes could be changing in D.C.

27. Denver Broncos (2-4, Last Week 21, -6) - Denver has been ravaged by injuries this year most notably with Von Miller and Courtland Sutton sidelined for the season. They don't have the depth on their roster to compensate and should continue to fade even with starting quarterback Drew Lock back with the team.

26. New England Patriots (2-4, Last Week 23, -3) - New England is coming off an embarrassing 33-6 loss to the 49ers one of the worst in Bill Belichick's tenure, and things look bleak for the Patriots for the first time in nearly two decades. Cam Newton was benched in the whooping, but Belichick has confirmed that Newton is still the starter there. Unless Julian Edelman can wind the clock back five years there simply isn't enough left in the cupboard for chef Bill to cook with.


25. Cincinnati Bengals (1-5-1, Last Week 26, +1) - All the Bengals need is a defense because Joe Burrow is already a bona fide stud. He's thrown for 300 or more yards in five of his seven career games and thrown for three touchdowns now twice. Cincinnati is much better than their record indicates and adds yet another team in the AFC North you don't want to face.


24. Houston Texans (1-6, Last Week 22, -2) - Should get on track this week against Jacksonville although the playoffs may be out of reach already for Houston.

23. Atlanta Falcons (1-6, Last Week 24, +1) - The Falcons should've came out of Week 7 with a win, instead their strange season rolls on as it feels like a matter of time before they start to add some games in the wins column.

22. Philadelphia Eagles (2-4-1, Last Week 28, +6) - A big jump by Philadelphia this week as any resemblance of a football team playing football should be enough to win the NFC East this year. Travis Fulgham has settled into a good chemistry with Carson Wentz and has them looking better going into Week 8.

21. Los Angeles Chargers (2-4, Last Week 27, +6) - Justin Herbert gave the Chargers over 400 yards of total offense and four touchdowns last week. They have a favorable schedule the rest of the season and could surprise us by grabbing a wild card spot.


20. Minnesota Vikings (1-5, Last Week 20, +/- 0) - Coming off a bye week, unfortunately for them they'll be welcomed back by Green Bay this week.

19. Las Vegas Raiders (3-3, Last Week 17, -2) - The Jekyll and Hyde for me the in the first half. They've beaten the Saints and Chiefs, but got crushed by the Patriots, who we thought were good, and the Bucs, who we know are good. Should know more after this week. TBD for Gruden's Raiders.

18. Chicago Bears (5-2, Last Week 11, -7) - I was looking for a reason to fade the Bears this week and I got it with another flat performance by them against the Rams in Week 7. Expect them to continue to trend down until their offense looks like they have a pulse.

17. Carolina Panthers (3-4, Last Week 18, +1) - Christian McCaffrey a longshot to comeback this week, but is back from IR and should be back on the field in the next few weeks. Teddy Bridgewater has kept them competitive picking up a few wins and adding in CMC could turn them into legit playoff contenders.


16. Indianapolis Colts (4-2, Last Week 15, -1) - Coming off a bye week, they get a surging Detroit team this week.

15. Miami Dolphins (3-3, Last Week 13, -2) - Tua Tagovailoa will make his first NFL start against the Rams this week. A head scratching move by head coach Brian Flores not only to replace Ryan Fitzpatrick who had the offense clicking, but to put a rookie in front of Rams' defensive superstar Aaron Donald in their first start is asking a lot of the young prospect.


14. Detroit Lions (3-3, Last Week 19, +5) - The Lions look like a different team with Kenny Golladay in the lineup. His long reception setup the eventual winning touchdown in Week 7 against the Falcons.

13. Los Angeles Rams (5-2, Last Week 12, -1) - The Rams have beaten every NFC East team and the Bears to comprise their five wins on the year. YOU'RE STILL ON NOTICE RAMS at least until you get a good win.

12. San Francisco 49ers (4-3, Last Week 16, +4) - The 49ers have dealt with more injuries than anyone this year and coach Kyle Shanahan has done an excellent job keeping his team focused on winning. If they can get healthier down the stretch the division crown isn't out of the question.

11. Cleveland Browns (5-2, Last Week 14, +3) - A career performance from Baker Mayfield who tossed five touchdowns against the Bengals in their Week 7 win made up for the fact that they lost receiver Odell Beckham for the season. Beckham tore his ACL on the team's first drive and will join Nick Chubb on IR.


10. New Orleans Saints (4-2, Last Week 10 +/- 0) - The Saints have been playing great in the absence of Michael Thomas. New Orleans gets the Bears this week before two tough matchups against the Buccaneers and 49ers.

9. Buffalo Bills (5-2, Last Week 8, -1) - Tyler Bass made six field goals against the Jets, but those were the only points the Bills could muster against the league's worst team. Josh Allen has played like an MVP at times this season, but needs to reduce the turnovers for them to make a deep playoff run.

8. Baltimore Ravens (5-1, Last Week 5, -3) - The Ravens drop three spots here, but only because they're coming off their bye. Lamar Jackson is going to have to be great over the next five weeks as they play the Steelers twice, the Colts, Patriots, and Titans. This will be a true test of whether Lamar is the same guy we saw last year or if he has in fact regressed.


7. Arizona Cardinals (5-2, Last Week 9, +2) - It feels like Arizona should be moving up more than two spots here, but the competition at the top of this list is fierce. Kyler Murray is one of the most exciting players to watch in this league, and although they will be missing Kenyan Drake for a couple weeks Chase Edmonds has proven to be a reliable fill in.

6. Green Bay Packers (5-1, Last Week 7, +1) - Even without Aaron Jones the Packers continue to put up points. Jamal Williams filled in admirably with 77 yards and a TD. Aaron Rodgers and Davante Adams stole the show though. Adams finished with 196 yards and 2 TDs against the Texans. They get the 1-5 Vikings in Week 8.


5. Seattle Seahawks (5-1, Last Week 4, -1) - The Seahawks' schedule does them no favor coming off a heartbreaking overtime loss to the Cardinals. They will play another tough divisional game against the 49ers this week, but that might be just what Russell Wilson needs to get his team refocused and back on track.

4. Tennessee Titans (5-1, Last Week 2, -2) - In the battle of the undefeated in Week 7, the Steelers appeared to be on track to blow out the Titans jumping out to a big first half lead. Tennessee came roaring back however and nearly completed a comeback, falling just short. Pittsburgh has the best defense in the league and did an adequate job of limiting Derrick Henry throughout the game. The Titans will continue to be the favorite to win the AFC South.

3. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (5-2, Last Week 6, +3) - Coming off a convincing win against the Raiders, they will get the Giants on Monday night. Antonio Brown has agreed to terms with the team and could make his debut Week 9. The Bucs are for real and Tom Brady could be raising a Lombardi trophy again, and not for the Patriots. Sooo 2020.


2. Kansas City Chiefs (6-1, Last Week 3, +1) - The Chiefs are so good that Patrick Mahomes can throw for 200 yards and a touchdown and they still put up 43 points in Week 7. Le'Veon Bell made is Kansas City debut and he will add yet another weapon to that offense to give defensive coordinators nightmares far past Halloween.

1. Pittsburgh Steelers (6-0, Last Week 1, +/-0) - They're a team that just looks the part. Along with the Packers, Chiefs, Seahawks, Bucs - they just look like a SB contender in all aspects of the game. Well coached, talent at every position group, next man up mentality. Best defense in the league. The AFC North will be a gauntlet, but everyone else adopted the dark, the Steelers were born in it.



THE DARK KNIGHT RISES - Bane Blows Up A Football Stadium www.youtube.com

© Scott Galvin-USA TODAY Sports

Unless you're the Pittsburgh Steelers, chances are your team is still uncertain about making the playoffs.

The Packers lost, yet the Saints won. The Seahawks won, but so did the Rams. The NFC is in a frenzy, while the Steelers sit atop the AFC waiting for everyone else to catch up. With only five weeks left, the playoff picture is a little fuzzy, but it clarifies with each game.

Likewise, fantasy playoffs are just on the horizon, and unless you're undefeated, there's a strong chance you're still clamoring for a spot.

If you need to make some moves for a playoff berth, here are some suggestions in this week's drops, swaps and shops.

Note: For ESPN Leagues, all public leagues must submit trades before the trade deadline on Wednesday, November 25th at 12 ET. Rules vary within leagues, but this could be your last week for swaps.


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Top draft picks Joe Burrow and Chase Young during Sunday's game that saw Burrow go down with a season ending injury

Geoff Burke - USA TODAY Sports

As Ferris Bueller might say: The world of sports moves pretty fast; if you don't stop and look around at least once a week, you could miss it.

Here we'll review what you might have missed in the past week all in one place. Why spend hours scrolling through Twitter to catch up on the news you want? We've already done that for you, so remember to check back every Monday to get your dose of weekly sports review.

Taysom Hill, Andy Dalton, and P.J. Walker all lead their teams to Week 11 victories filling in for injured starting QBs. Cleveland moved ahead of the Ravens in the AFC North with their win over the Eagles while Baltimore fell to the Titans. The Steelers continued to roll and now sit at 10-0 atop the NFL. The Colts outlasted the Packers in an overtime thriller as Indianapolis is now positioning themselves as a team nobody wants to see come playoff time as they boast the best defense in the NFL.

Joe Burrow was injured in the Bengals' game against Washington and he miss the remainder of the season with a knee injury. This should make Justin Herbert the odds on favorite to win Rookie of the Year if you're interested in a futures bet.

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Russell Wilson scrambles in a win against the Arizona Cardinals.

Joe Nicholson/USA Today

At this point, I may never bet on the NFC West again.

Week 10 Vibe Check (2-2)

At this point, I may never bet on the NFC West again. After losing to the Rams last week, Seattle turned around and beat the Cardinals on Thursday night. Every matchup in that division is a heavyweight bout and it's hard to justify betting on one when they can all throw a haymaker at any time. Meanwhile, the Bengals weren't ready for a D like the Steelers and the QB of the future looked stuck in the present reality for the time being.

As for our wins, in a shocking turn of events, betting against the Chargers WORKED! Or, perhaps, I should say betting on the Dolphins worked. Brian Flores looks more and more like he was the true key to the Patriots defensive success in recent years. He took on two NFC teams back to back and cruised against the poor, befuddled Chargers. Tua coming into his own has certainly helped, as well.

Brandon Aiyuk tallied a whopping seven catches down in New Orleans, even as the 49ers completely sputtered and blew a chance to upset a Drew Brees-less Saints. This continues a month long streak of calling player props, which is almost certain to end this week after pointing out its existence. *Fingers crossed* *No jinx* *Reverse jinx*


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