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Colts make biggest jump; Panthers replace Eagles in Top 12

Updated October 22, 2019 - 6:43 pm

Projecting the playoff teams in each conference, and then ranking them heading into Week 8.

1. New England (7-0)

After humiliating Adam Gase and Sam Darnold on national television, the Patriots’ defense is served up Freddie Kitchens and Baker Mayfield. The Ravens game Nov. 3 can’t get here quick enough.

This week: vs. Browns (2-4). Last week’s ranking: 1.

2. San Francisco (6-0)

Nobody’s going to give them style points for that 9-0 win in the slop against the Redskins, but it’s another W. Could be another low-scoring affair in a good test against a tough Carolina defense.

This week: vs. Panthers (4-2). Last week’s ranking: 2.

3. New Orleans (6-1)

Drew Brees (thumb) wants back in, but with lowly Arizona visiting the dome and Teddy Bridgewater having won five straight games, better to leave Brees on the bench another week.

This week: vs. Cardinals (3-3-1). Last week’s ranking: 3.

4. Kansas City (5-2)

The loss of Patrick Mahomes shouldn’t show up this week because this is all about the defenses. If the Chiefs can slow down a hot Aaron Rodgers, KC can score on Green Bay.

This week: vs. Packers (6-1), SNF. Last week’s ranking: 4.

5. Green Bay (6-1)

Prepare yourself for a bombardment of Amazin’ Aaron articles after he rips through another porous defense that can’t hold serve for its own offense.

This week:at Chiefs (5-2), SNF. Last week’s ranking: 6.

6. Baltimore (5-2)

That sound you hear is Ravens offensive coordinator Greg Roman working away at his game plan for the Patriots’ defense during a well-timed bye week.

This week: Bye. Last week’s ranking: 8.

7. Minnesota (5-2)

Vikings have scored an average of 36 points during their three-game win streak and now face the Redskins and Chiefs back-to-back. That average might go up.

This week: vs. Redskins (1-6), Thursday. Last week’s ranking: 9.

8. Indianapolis (4-2)

After an impressive win over the Texans to take control of the AFC South, the Colts have a chance to go on a run. They only face one team over .500 (Houston again) in their next seven games.

This week: vs. Broncos (2-5). Last week’s ranking: 11.

9. Seattle (5-2)

Seahawks have been far from formidable at home, with just a 2-2 record after the Ravens loss. Both wins, over the Bengals and Rams, came by one point. This could do them in by the end.

This week: at Falcons (1-6). Last week’s ranking: 7.

10. Houston (4-3)

We pretty much predicted the Texans would have a letdown vs. the Colts, so we’ll offer another — DeShaun Watson and the offense will go off on the Raiders in a game with big AFC wild-card implications.

This week: vs. Raiders (3-3). Last week’s ranking: 5.

11. Carolina (4-2)

The Panthers have gone 4-0 with Kyle Allen at QB since Cam Newton was injured. They should be bold and sell high on Cam Newton by dealing him to the Bears at the trade deadline. Would be win-win for both teams.

This week: at 49ers (6-0). Last week’s ranking: Unranked.

12. Buffalo (5-1)

Our friends at FootballOutsiders.com have declared the Bills to be the worst 5-1 team ever in their DVOA efficiency ratings. We won’t argue with that.

This week: vs. Eagles (3-4). Last week’s ranking: 12.

Dropped out: Eagles (3-4).

Knocking on the door: Dallas (4-3), Rams (4-3), Raiders (3-3), Chicago (3-3), Detroit (2-3-1).

Greg Bedard covers the NFL for the Review-Journal. He can be reached at gbedard@reviewjournal.com. Follow @GregABedard on Twitter.

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The only thing keeping the defense from an “F” was the interception from cornerback Trayvon Mullen near the end of the first half.