Robert Saleh, NY Jets, Power Rankings, Schedule, 2021
Robert Saleh, New York Jets, Getty Images

Week 8’s opener features two teams in the top six

With seven weeks of football in the books, the NFL’s playoff picture is starting to take shape. Jets X-Factor stacks up all 32 teams, featuring a disappointing placement for the New York Jets.

1. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (6-1)

Last Week: 38-3 W vs. Chicago
Top Performer: WR Chris Godwin (8 receptions, 111 yards, 1 TD)
This Week: Sunday @ New Orleans (4:25 p.m. ET, Fox)

When the fate of Tom Brady’s 600th touchdown pass ball is the biggest problem in the organization, you know you’re doing something right.

2. Green Bay Packers (7-1)

Last Week: 24-21 W @ Arizona
Top Performer: CB Rasul Douglas (9 tackles, 1 INT)
This Week: 11/7 @ Kansas City (4:25 p.m., Fox)

Ending the Cardinals’ streak of perfection while missing three of their top receivers is a horrifying warning sign to bestow to the rest of the league.

3. Buffalo Bills (4-2)

Last Week: Bye
Top Performer: N/A
This Week: Sunday vs. Miami (1 p.m. ET, CBS)

Fresh off their bye and with matchups against the Dolphins, Jaguars, and Jets immediately looming, the Bills could have the AFC East wrapped up by Thanksgiving.

4. Arizona Cardinals (7-1)

Last Week: 24-21 L vs Green Bay
Top Performer: QB Kyler Murray (293 total yards)
This Week: 11/7 @ San Francisco (4:25 p.m. Fox)

With the Cardinals’ streak of perfection finally over against an undermanned Packers squad, they’re probably grateful for 10 days to focus on their exposed flaws before returning to divisional action.

5. Dallas Cowboys (5-1)

Last Week: Bye
Top Performer: N/A
This Week: Sunday @ Minnesota (8:20 p.m., NBC)

The Cowboys’ formation of a showstopping run game (Ezekiel Elliott and Tony Pollard) and ability to force turnovers means that a potential weekend without Dak Prescott doesn’t have to be a disaster and has created a healthy lead in the woeful NFC East.

6. Tennessee Titans (5-2)

Last Week: 27-3 W vs. Kansas City
Top Performer: WR A.J. Brown (8 receptions, 133 yards, 1 TD)
This Week: Sunday @ Indianapolis (1 p.m. ET, CBS)

The Titans’ loss to the Jets would probably eliminate them from College Football Playoff consideration but one can argue that they’re the class of the AFC after healthily handling its defending finalists in each of the last two weeks.

7. Cincinnati Bengals (5-2)

Last Week: 41-17 W @ Baltimore
Top Performer: WR Ja’Marr Chase (8 receptions, 201 yards, 1 TD)
This Week: Sunday @ Jets (1 p.m. ET, CBS)

The emergence of Ja’Marr Chase has likely been a godsend to the infamous Freezing Cold Takes Twitter account, which is packed to the brim with calls for Penei Sewell after the LSU receiver’s problems with drops.

8. Los Angeles Rams (6-1)

Last Week: 28-19 W vs. Detroit
Top Performer: WR Cooper Kupp (10 receptions, 156 yards, 1 TD)
This Week: Sunday @ Houston (1 p.m. ET, Fox)

There’s something a little off about the Rams, who certainly hope that Sunday’s Jared Goff reunion says more about the Lions’ stubbornness and grit than it does about their own group.

9. Baltimore Ravens (5-2)

Last Week: 41-17 L vs. Cincinnati
Top Performer: QB Lamar Jackson (345 total yards, 1 TD)
This Week: Bye (Next: 11/7 vs. Minnesota)

The bye arrives at the perfect time for the achy Ravens, who have an extra week to analyze a shockingly one-sided home loss to the resurgent Bengals.

10. Las Vegas Raiders (5-2)

Last Week: 33-22 W vs. Philadelphia
Top Performer: QB Derek Carr (31-of-34, 323 yards, 2 TD)
This Week: Bye (Next: 11/7 @ NY Giants)

Not only have the Raiders kept things rolling at the onset of the Rich Bisaccia era, but their last two games have probably been their most consistent start-to-finish showings of the year.

11. Los Angeles Chargers (4-2)

Last Week: Bye
Top Performer: N/A
This Week: Sunday vs. New England (4:05 p.m. ET, CBS)

The Chargers emerge from their league-mandated break looking to not only avenge a 45-point beating from the Patriots in 2020 but also a 28-point loss in their most recent showing against Baltimore two weeks ago.

12. Minnesota Vikings (3-3)

Last Week: Bye
Top Performer: N/A
This Week: Sunday vs. Dallas (8:20 p.m. ET, NBC)

Trapped in a division with the mighty Packers, no one’s really sure what to make of the Vikings, who have a big opportunity to make a statement in prime time against the Cowboys.

13. New Orleans Saints (4-2)

Last Week: 13-10 W @ Seattle
Top Performer: RB Alvin Kamara (179 total yards, 1 TD)
This Week: Sunday vs. Tampa Bay (4:25 p.m. ET, Fox)

As a matchup with the defending champions looms, the Saints have enjoyed pleasant surprises on defense (i.e. rookie Paulson Adebo) but the non-Kamara offense has left much to be desired.

14. Cleveland Browns (4-3)

Last Week: 17-14 W vs. Denver
Top Performer: RB D’Ernest Johnson (168 total yards, 1 TD)
This Week: Sunday vs. Pittsburgh (1 p.m. ET, CBS)

While Johnson, an AAF holdover, held the fort in the absence of Nick Chubb and Kareem Hunt, the Browns have a major decision to make when it comes to the status of Baker Mayfield as a crucial divisional set with the Steelers and Bengals looms large.

15. Indianapolis Colts (3-4)

Last Week: 30-18 W @ San Francisco
Top Performer: WR Michael Pittman Jr. (4 receptions, 105 yards, 1 TD)
This Week: Sunday vs. Tennessee (1 p.m. ET, CBS)

With three wins in their last four (and a worthy challenge in the Ravens as the outlier), the Colts have quietly mounted a divisional challenge to the Titans, setting up a crucial home showdown on Sunday.

16. Kansas City Chiefs (3-4)

Last Week: 27-3 L @ Tennessee
Top Performer: LB Nick Bolton (15 tackles, 4 TFL)
This Week: Monday vs. NY Giants (8:15 p.m., ESPN)

As Kansas City’s fingers inch closer toward the panic button, the Chiefs can only hope that the Giants spell relief on Monday night.

17. Pittsburgh Steelers (3-3)

Last Week: Bye
Top Performer: N/A
This Week: Sunday @ Cleveland (1 p.m. ET, CBS)

Having recovered from a 1-3 start, the Steelers have a prime opportunity to get back into the thick of the playoff conversation with a divisional matchup on Sunday followed by home showdowns against weak interconference competitions (Chicago, Detroit).

18. Atlanta Falcons (3-3)

Last Week: 30-28 W @ Miami
Top Performer: QB Matt Ryan (25-of-40, 336 yards, 2 TD)
This Week: Sunday vs. Carolina (1 p.m. ET, Fox)

If the Falcons, who have taken advantage of a weak schedule with three wins in a row, somehow stage a playoff comeback, Ryan (1,204 yards, 10 touchdowns, 1 interception over the last four games) could well warrant some MVP consideration.

19. New England Patriots (3-4)

Last Week: 54-13 W vs. Jets
Top Performer: QB Mac Jones (24-of-36, 307 yards, 2 TD)
This Week: Sunday @ LA Chargers (4:05 p.m. ET, CBS)

Though most remnants of the Tom Brady dynasty have moved on, one unfortunately remains: of the 10 wins the Patriots have earned since the arguable GOAT left, four of them have come against the Jets.

20. San Francisco 49ers (2-4)

Last Week: 30-18 L vs. San Francisco
Top Performer: WR Deebo Samuel (7 receptions, 100 yards, 1 TD)
This Week: Sunday @ Chicago (1 p.m. ET, Fox)

The temperature is slowly starting to rise on Kyle Shanahan’s seat, though he probably could’ve used any form of warmth after Sunday night’s Santa Clara monsoon.

21. Carolina Panthers (3-4)

Last Week: 23-5 L @ NY Giants
Top Performer: DE Brian Burns (4 tackles, 3 TFL, 1 sack)
This Week: Sunday @ Atlanta (1 p.m. ET, Fox)

Those seeking a cheap laugh at the Jets’ expense will have to look elsewhere, as an unceremonious benching and lingering in the Deshaun Watson sweepstakes have put the Sam Darnold era in serious jeopardy.

22. Denver Broncos (3-4)

Last Week: 17-14 L @ Cleveland
Top Performer: QB Teddy Bridgewater (23-of-33, 187 yards, 2 TD)
This Week: Sunday vs. Washington (4:25 p.m. ET, Fox)

Another Week 3 darling that has fallen into hard times, as even the mighty, reliable defense hasn’t been able to pick up the slack for a mediocre offense.

23. Chicago Bears (3-4)

Last Week: 38-3 L @ Tampa Bay
Top Performer: RB Khalil Herbert (18 carries, 100 yards)
This Week: Sunday vs. San Francisco (1 p.m. ET, Fox)

Everyone knew that the Justin Fields era was going to open with growing pains, but that doesn’t make a five-touchdown shellacking at the hands of the defending champions any easier to bear.

24. New York Giants (2-5)

Last Week: 25-3 W vs. Carolina
Top Performer: QB Daniel Jones (247 total yards, 1 passing TD)
This Week: Monday @ Kansas City (8:15 p.m. ET, ESPN)

It’s just nice to win one, as Kevin Malone once said, but cold hard reality comes on Monday night against an undoubtedly very angry Chiefs squad.

25. Washington Football Team (2-5)

Last Week: 24-10 L @ Green Bay
Top Performer: QB Taylor Heinicke (367 total yards, 1 passing TD)
This Week: Sunday @ Denver (4:25 p.m. ET, Fox)

The Football Team isn’t going anywhere, but one can fully admit that there were times where they looked like the better team on Sunday in Green Bay.

26. Philadelphia Eagles (2-5)

Last Week: 33-22 L @ Las Vegas
Top Performer: QB Jalen Hurts (297 total yards, 2 passing TD)
This Week: Sunday @ Detroit (1 p.m. ET, Fox)

As if things weren’t bad enough for the reeling Eagles, some feel like a quarterback controversy could emerge between Hurts and Gardner Minshew.

27. Seattle Seahawks (2-5)

Last Week: 13-10 L vs. New Orleans
Top Performer: WR D.K. Metcalf (2 receptions, 96 yards, 1 TD)
This Week: Monday @ Kansas City (8:15 p.m. ET, ESPN)

Winless at home and unable to pick up the offensive slack against the mediocre Saints, Monday felt like a de facto elimination game for the reeling Seahawks, whose nine-year winning season streak is also in jeopardy.

28. Jacksonville Jaguars (1-5)

Last Week: Bye
Top Performer: N/A
This Week: Sunday @ Seattle (4:05 p.m. ET, CBS)

With a win under their belts and the easily distracted football-loving public bored with the Urban Meyer situation, a Sunday visit to Seattle’s reeling defense is a prime opportunity for Trevor Lawrence and Co. to prove that their breakout in London was no fluke.

29. Detroit Lions (0-7)

Last Week: 28-19 L @ LA Rams
Top Performer: RB D’Andre Swift (148 total yards, 1 TD)
This Week: Sunday vs. Philadelphia (1 p.m. ET, Fox)

At least the Lions, who gave the might Rams all they could handle in the Goff Bowl, seem to somewhat resemble a competent football team unlike several teams that have managed to sneak into the win column.

30. Houston Texans (1-6)

Last Week: 31-5 L @ Arizona
Top Performer: CB Lonnie Johnson Jr. (9 tackles, 1 INT)
This Week: Sunday vs. LA Rams (1 p.m. ET, Fox)

With Mark Ingram sent back to New Orleans, all eyes in Houston turn toward a quarterback – the cleared-to-practice Tyrod Taylor, of course.

31. New York Jets (1-5)

Last Week: 54-13 L @ New England
Top Performer: RB Michael Carter (104 total yards)
This Week: Sunday vs. Cincinnati (1 p.m. ET, CBS)

If anything, the trade for serviceable veteran quarterback Joe Flacco at least gives the Jets’ beleaguered offense something to play for until the injured Zach Wilson gets back – if/when Flacco is ready, that is.

32. Miami Dolphins (1-6)

Last Week: 30-28 L vs. Atlanta
Top Performer: QB Tua Tagovailoa (32-of-40, 291 yards, 4 TD)
This Week: Sunday @ Buffalo (1 p.m. ET, CBS)

The Jets are somehow not the most embarrassing story in the AFC East, as questions swirl around the Dolphins’ quarterback situation in a year where their losing “efforts” won’t even yield a top pick.

Geoff Magliocchetti is on Twitter @GeoffJMags

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Geoff Magliocchetti is a veteran football writer with years of credentialed experience with the Jets and Giants. Email: geoffmags90@gmail.com

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