By the Dozen
Picking out the playoff teams in each conference, and then ranking them heading into Week 7.
1. New England (6-0): The run to 8-0 continues before the defense-first, offensively-challenged Patriots faces the mettle of their schedule — at Baltimore, at Philadelphia, vs. Dallas, at Houston, vs. Kansas City — in consecutive games around a Week 10 bye.
This week: at Jets (1-4), Monday night.
2. San Francisco (5-0): Coming off a very impressive and dominating 20-7 victory at the Rams, the 49ers are now for real. It shouldn’t surprise that the teams with the best two defenses are 1-2.
This week: at Washington (1-5).
3. New Orleans (5-1): There’s a decent chance that the Saints, who have more than stayed afloat without Drew Brees (shoulder), could be without RB Alvin Kamara (knee) against the stingy Bears. That could be a bridge too far.
This week: at Chicago (3-2).
4. Kansas City (4-2): The Chiefs are scuffling after back-to-back home losses because their defense can’t get off the field against ball-control offenses. They need to get through the short week and figure some things out before facing the Vikings and Packers.
This week: at Denver (2-4), Thursday night.
5. Houston (4-2): It would be just like Bill O’Brien’s outfit to come off a huge victory in KC and then fall on their face and into second place in the AFC South with a loss at Indy.
This week: at Indianapolis (3-2).
6. Green Bay (5-1): Was lucky to escape the better-coached Lions with a victory thanks to some key calls. A rested Raiders team off a bye could give them that loss right back.
This week: vs. Raiders (3-2).
7. Seattle (5-1): Russell Wilson has been the MVP to this point as he’s navigated shoddy line play. This is a tough test at the Ravens.
This week: at Baltimore (4-2)
8. Baltimore (4-2): We’ll know just how legit Lamar Jackson and a porous secondary (which just traded for CB Marcus Peters) are after facing the Seahawks, Patriots, Texans, Rams and 49ers out of their next seven games.
This week: vs. Seattle (5-1).
9. Minnesota (4-2): Kirk Cousins seems to have satisfied his loud-mouthed receivers, Adam Thielen and Stefon Diggs, in back-to-back wins. Lions are good. They better not relax.
This week: at Detroit (2-2-1).
10. Philadelphia (3-3): It feels like this team hasn’t played its best ball yet, but it better start soon as the Eagles start a stretch against five teams that are .500 or better.
This week: at Dallas (3-3).
11. Indianapolis (3-2): If the Colts, who have played great team ball around QB Jacoby Brissett, can translate the bye week into a win over the Texans, they have have four straight games against teams with losing records.
This week: vs. Houston (4-2)
12. Buffalo (4-1): If this team only had a quarterback, you could make the argument they could contend against the Patriots. Alas, Josh Allen is their guy, and he’s not good enough. Dolphins give the Bills the rare double bye week.
This week: at Miami (0-5).
Knocking on the door: Dallas (3-3), Carolina (4-2), Chicago (3-2), Detroit (2-2-1), Rams (3-3), Raiders (3-2).