National NFL writer Mark Maske provides this week’s ranking of the league’s 32 teams. The Bills, Falcons, Redskins, Steelers and Cardinals fall from the top 10, giving way to a new rotation in the upper tier.

Tom Brady passes during the first half of Sunday's game against the Steelers. Jared Wickerham

Tom Brady passes during the first half of Sunday’s game against the Steelers. The Patriots, which never trailed in its 27-16 victory in Pittsburgh, is the only team in the NFL not to throw an interception this season and has a league-best 115.9 passer rating. Associated Press/Jared Wickerham

1. New England Patriots (6-1) | Last Week’s Rank: 1

Tom Brady’s passing production in his three games since returning from his suspension would translate to these numbers over a full 16-game season: 5,355 yards, 43 TDs, no interceptions. So yes, he’s playing well.

2. Denver Broncos (5-2) | Last Week’s Rank: 7

The Broncos got a running game going Monday night, which opened up some things in the passing game for QB Trevor Siemian. And the defense simply dominated the Texans’ Brock Osweiler, who made no one in Denver wish that he’d stayed.

3. Dallas Cowboys (5-1) | Last Week’s Rank: 4

The bye week is over and Dak Prescott remains the Cowboys’ QB. Going back to Tony Romo is not an option yet. And, really, it shouldn’t be a realistic option as long as Prescott keeps playing like this. The Prescott-led offense could have WR Dez Bryant back Sunday night against the Eagles.

4. Seattle Seahawks (4-1-1) | Last Week’s Rank: 3

How in the world did the Seahawks not lose that game Sunday night in Arizona? Then how in the world did they not win it? In the end, the tie probably hurts the Cardinals more than it hurts the Seahawks. But the bigger issue for Seattle could be QB Russell Wilson. Anyone who applauded the decision for Wilson to play through his ankle and knee injuries might need to reassess. He didn’t take time to heal and now his mobility clearly remains affected.

5. Minnesota Vikings (5-1) | Last Week’s Rank: 2

The focus was on QB Sam Bradford for his three-turnover performance in the loss at Philadelphia. But the bigger worry going forward is the state of Bradford’s patchwork offensive line.

6. Kansas City Chiefs (4-2) | Last Week’s Rank: 11

The Chiefs have things moving in a positive direction again and now play four straight games against teams (Colts, Jaguars, Panthers, Buccaneers) currently at or below .500.

7. Green Bay Packers (4-2) | Last Week’s Rank: 13

Aaron Rodgers’s performance Thursday night against the Bears eased the concerns about his play, at least temporarily. Now the Packers play an interesting game Sunday in Atlanta, with the winner being able to consider itself a real NFC contender.

8. Oakland Raiders (5-2) | Last Week’s Rank: 14

Suddenly, it’s a good time to be the Raiders, with Las Vegas trying to become the new home of what appears at this point to be a very good team.

9. Philadelphia Eagles (4-2) | Last Week’s Rank: 15

The Eagles are establishing themselves as a dominant team at home. They’re 3-0 this season at Lincoln Financial Field and have outscored the Steelers and Vikings, 55-13, in their last two games there. But now they must take that level of play on the road, with their next two games at Dallas and at the Meadowlands against the Giants.

10. Detroit Lions (4-3) | Last Week’s Rank: 17

Matthew Stafford, MVP candidate? Get used to it. He’s having a terrific season. And if the Lions keep winning, he’ll be at least in the conversation. Somehow, he has gotten better in the season after Calvin Johnson’s retirement. Stafford was at his best with the game on the line against the Redskins, calmly directing the game-winning drive to push the Lions over .500.

11. Arizona Cardinals (3-3-1) | Last Week’s Rank: 10

Yes, it’s easy to blame the tie against the Seahawks on kicker Chandler Catanzaro. And yes, those are kicks that must be made, particularly the one in OT. But the offense simply has to be better in a game of that importance at home.

12. Pittsburgh Steelers (4-3) | Last Week’s Rank: 8

The Steelers remained about as competitive as they could have hoped to have been against the Patriots with Landry Jones at QB. Now it’s all about the healing process for Ben Roethlisberger’s surgically repaired knee. Can he be back following the bye for the Steelers’ Nov. 6 game at Baltimore?

13. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (3-3) | Last Week’s Rank: 21

So the Buccaneers just might fulfill their pledge to be a playoff contender after all. They’ve climbed back to .500 with two straight wins following their 1-3 start. Up next is a three-game home stand, but the competition is difficult at the outset with first the Raiders and then the Falcons coming to town.

14. Houston Texans (4-3) | Last Week’s Rank: 12

It took the $72 million QB, Brock Osweiler, until the fourth quarter to reach 72 passing yards Monday night in his return to Denver.

15. Buffalo Bills (4-3) | Last Week’s Rank: 5

Isn’t it just like the Bills to lose in Miami right when things were going so well? Now they must try to regroup Sunday by hosting the Patriots and they very well could be without RB LeSean McCoy because of his hamstring injury.

16. Atlanta Falcons (4-3) | Last Week’s Rank: 6

It’s up to Coach Dan Quinn to hold things together now with the Falcons on a two-game losing streak following a 4-1 start, calling to mind last season’s 3-8 finish after a 5-0 beginning.

17. Washington Redskins (4-3) | Last Week’s Rank: 9

The defense actually had been pretty reliable in game-on-the-line situations this season. But Sunday in Detroit, not so much. Now it’s off to London and the ever-lengthening list of injuries to key players is a major concern.

18. New York Giants (4-3) | Last Week’s Rank: 18

The off-field issues involving kicker Josh Brown clearly are significant. But the Giants have managed to improve their situation on the field with two straight victories on the heels of a three-game losing streak.

19. Miami Dolphins (3-4) | Last Week’s Rank: 24

Arian Foster announced his retirement Monday. But the Dolphins don’t seem to have any issues these days at RB, with Jay Ajayi coming off back-to-back 200-yard rushing performances.

20. San Diego Chargers (3-4) | Last Week’s Rank: 25

The Chargers spent the early stages of this season perfecting the come-from-ahead loss. But they managed to come back from a 17-point deficit to win in overtime Sunday in Atlanta. Their season once more has possibilities.

21. Cincinnati Bengals (3-4) | Last Week’s Rank: 26

Even with everything that has gone wrong so far, the Bengals find themselves only one game off the division lead. If they can regroup, they still can be a major factor in the AFC playoff chase.

22. Indianapolis Colts (3-4) | Last Week’s Rank: 27

The Colts’ three victories have come against the Chargers, Bears and Titans. There’s no way to take them seriously until they beat a team of consequence. They have their chance Sunday against the Chiefs.

23. Tennessee Titans (3-4) | Last Week’s Rank: 16

Cue the “hide your eyes” jokes with Titans-Jaguars on tap for Thursday Night Football this week. But, really, there will be some very good young talent on the field.

24. Los Angeles Rams (3-4) | Last Week’s Rank: 19

Seriously, Jeff Fisher can’t actually be planning on sticking with Case Keenum at QB, can he? The move to rookie Jared Goff is blatantly obvious at this point.

25. Jacksonville Jaguars (2-4) | Last Week’s Rank: 20

Coach Gus Bradley was right when he said that having DE Malik Jackson and CB Jalen Ramsey ejected against the Raiders is a reflection on him and the discipline of his team. Those kinds of things can’t happen. It’s a trying week for Bradley, who also is being asked about the possibility of benching mistake-prone QB Blake Bortles. He says he’s not doing so.

26. New York Jets (2-5) | Last Week’s Rank: 30

Ryan Fitzpatrick fully deserved his demotion and he’s delusional if he truly doesn’t realize that. The QB job is his again, thanks to Geno Smith’s torn anterior cruciate ligament. But the Jets would be wise to go to a young QB, either Bryce Petty or Christian Hackenberg, relatively soon.

27. New Orleans Saints (2-4) | Last Week’s Rank: 22

Drew Brees is piling up the passing yards. But it really doesn’t matter since the New Orleans defense simply cannot slow anyone down.

28. Baltimore Ravens (3-4) | Last Week’s Rank: 23

There are some serious problems here with the Ravens on a four-game losing streak. This isn’t like last season, when the brutal early schedule and then the mounting injuries could be blamed. This is a team that simply isn’t good enough right now, from the coach to the QB to other areas of the roster. The Ravens are fortunate they haven’t been left way behind in the AFC North race.

29. Carolina Panthers (1-5) | Last Week’s Rank: 28

The Panthers return from their bye to host the Cardinals on Sunday in a rematch of last season’s NFC title game. Who would’ve guessed it would mean so little?

30. Chicago Bears (1-6) | Last Week’s Rank: 29

Jay Cutler returns from his thumb injury to reclaim the QB job. Is that a good thing?

31. San Francisco 49ers (1-6) | Last Week’s Rank: 31

The Niners are on a road to nowhere. Colin Kaepernick does not appear to be an upgrade at QB over Blaine Gabbert. They could be sellers at next week’s trade deadline, with multiple reports that they’d be willing to part with WR Torrey Smith.

32. Cleveland Browns (0-7) | Last Week’s Rank: 32

With another season (and perhaps another decade) lost, it might make sense for the Browns to listen to trade offers for their superb left tackle, Joe Thomas. But if Coach Hue Jackson is to be believed on the subject, the Browns aren’t parting with him.


Only subscribers are eligible to post comments. Please subscribe or to participate in the conversation. Here’s why.

Use the form below to reset your password. When you've submitted your account email, we will send an email with a reset code.