THE FINE 15
1. Dallas (9-1). LW: 1. Tony Romo’s return was going to be a distraction for Dak Prescott? Ah, nope.
2. Seattle (7-2-1). LW: 2. You know things are going well when the No. 1 receiver can flip off the offensive coordinator while breaking the huddle, and it’s hilarious instead of troubling.
3. New England (8-2). LW: 3. One aspect of Tom Brady’s game that doesn’t get enough attention is his feet. After a rocky start in San Francisco, it was his ability to slip and slither around the pocket that really saved the day.
4. Oakland (8-2). LW: 4. The Raiders were on the right side of a few officiating gaffes Monday night. Regardless, that was a gutsy “home” win in Mexico City to keep them atop the AFC West.
5. Denver (7-3). LW: 6. That would have been quite the bye if both the Chiefs and Raiders had lost. It was still pretty good for this reason: The Broncos are getting critical pieces of their defense (Talib, Ware, Wolfe) back from injuries just in time for the home stretch.
6. Kansas City (7-3). LW: 5. Watching the Raiders eke out a win against the Texans on Monday night was salt in the wound of Sunday’s home loss to the Bucs. Interesting schedule quirk to keep in mind for the division race: The Chiefs play the Broncos twice in the final six weeks, starting with this Sunday night.
7. Atlanta (6-4). LW: 7. While the Falcons were on bye, the Bucs inched closer. They have two home games in a row, but the Falcons are just 2-2 at home this season.
8. Washington (6-3-1). LW: 10. There is no mistaking the meaning of Kirk Cousins’ “How you like me now?!” bellow aimed at GM Scot McCloughan. The team hadn’t seen enough from Cousins last season to sign him to a long-term deal. Cousins is certainly changing that with games like Sunday night’s.
9. Detroit (6-4). LW: 8. The Lions beat the Vikings three weeks ago. If they do it again on Thursday, they’ll gain hold of the division.
10. Giants (7-3). LW: 11. The only kind of game the Giants know how to play is a close one. But, unlike last year’s team, they’re closing these games out.
11. Pittsburgh (5-5). LW: 9. Mike Tomlin took out his frustration on the officials. More than anything else, he looked like a guy who’s frustrated with the entire season.
12. Miami (6-4). LW: 15. OK, the offense didn’t score until the last four minutes. But last year’s Ryan Tannehill couldn’t be counted on for that kind of late-game rally. Credit to Adam Gase for playing to win, rather than overtime, on that final drive.
13. Minnesota (6-4). LW: 15. Mike Zimmer’s team stopped its skid with—what else?—defense.
14. Baltimore (5-5). LW: 13. Joe Flacco’s confidence, even after a loss in Dallas, sounded a lot like a salvo at Ray Lewis, who’d questioned the QB’s passion. Who knows if the Ravens are any good, but in this year’s AFC North race, one team will just have to be good enough.
15. Philadelphia (5-5). LW: 12. Carson Wentz is going to be a really good one. But he just doesn’t have enough around him right now. Sunday’s loss in Seattle was another reminder of that.
Also receiving consideration:
16. Houston (6-4). LW: 16.
17. Tampa Bay (5-5). LW: UR.
18. Buffalo (5-5). LW: UR.
19. Indianapolis (5-5). LW: 20.
20. Carolina (4-6). LW: UR.
Question? Comment? Story idea? Let us know at email@example.com