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Packers continue surge; Cowboys climbing in Top 12

Updated October 29, 2019 - 6:05 pm

Projecting the teams most deserving of the playoffs, then ranking them heading into Week 9.

1. New England (8-0)

After coasting against the league’s weakest strength of schedule (.259 winning percentage of opponents), Patriots finally get a real test on Sunday night.

This week: at Ravens (5-2). Last week’s ranking: 1.

2. San Francisco (7-0)

The 49ers were mighty impressive as they ripped apart a good Panthers defense in a 51-13 victory.

This week: at Cardinals (3-4-1), Thursday. Last week’s ranking: 2.

3. New Orleans (7-1)

It’s good to be the Saints. They got Drew Brees back, beat the Cardinals, have a bye and return against the Falcons and Bucs.

This week Bye. Last week’s ranking: 3.

4. Green Bay (7-1)

A West Coast game feels like a trap, but the Chargers haven’t scored more than 20 points against a non-winless team since Week 1 in overtime.

This week: at Chargers (3-5). Last week’s ranking: 5.

5. Kansas City (5-3)

Despite playing well, the Chiefs have lost three of their last four and can’t afford another against the Vikings, who have won four straight.

This week: vs. Vikings. Last week’s ranking: 4.

6. Baltimore (5-2)

Ravens are rested and prepped coming off a bye, but we’re waiting to see which rule loophole Bill Belichick uses to make John Harbaugh blow a gasket.

This week: vs. Patriots (8-0). Last week’s ranking: 6.

7. Minnesota (6-2)

Stefon Diggs’ 453 receiving yards in the previous three games set a franchise record. Vikings will need more to keep pace with KC.

This week: at Chiefs (5-3). Last week’s ranking: 7.

8. Indianapolis (5-2)

The Colts will need to play much better against a hard-playing Steelers team than they did against the Broncos.

This week: at Steelers (3-4). Last week’s ranking: 8.

9. Seattle (6-2)

A shaky offensive line got even worse with center Justin Britt (ACL) out for the year. Look out, Russell Wilson.

This week: vs. Buccaneers (6-2). Last week’s ranking: 9.

10. Houston (5-3)

Texans lost J.J. Watt for the season and might not have left tackle Laremy Tunsil (shoulder) in London. That’s rough.

This week: at Jaguars (4-4), London. Last week’s ranking: 10.

11. Dallas (4-3)

The addition of Michael Bennett will help the pass rush, but his mouth may cause headaches.

This week: at Giants (2-6), Monday. Last week’s ranking: Unranked.

12. Buffalo (5-2)

Got a dose of reality as the Eagles ran the ball down the Bills’ throats. Won’t matter with Washington, Cleveland, Miami and Denver up next.

This week: vs. Redskins (1-7). Last week’s ranking: 12.

Dropped out: Panthers (4-3).

Knocking on the door: Eagles (4-4), Rams (5-3), Jaguars (4-4), Raiders (3-4), Detroit (3-3-1).

More Raiders: Follow at vegasnation.com and @VegasNation on Twitter.

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

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