- CLEVELAND BROWNS (0-7)**
Per-possession efficiency rankings --Offense: 26 - Defense: 28
If you include the versatile Terrelle Pryor, six different quarterbacks have thrown passes for the Browns this season. The Broncos have never had that many quarterbacks throw passes in a single season -- not even in the replacement-squad 1987 campaign. Further, that also means the Browns have had as many quarterbacks throw passes in seven games as the Broncos have in the last seven seasons, dating back to 2010 (Trevor Siemian, Paxton Lynch, Peyton Manning, Brock Osweiler, Tim Tebow, Kyle Orton).
31. SAN FRANCISCO 49ERS (1-6)
Per-possession efficiency rankings --Offense: 32 - Defense: 19
Since the Week 1 shutout of the Rams, the 49ers have used the Gandhi defense. Passive resistance has seen them rack up a minus-103 point differential during their losing streak, good for an average margin of defeat of 17.2 points.
30. CHICAGO BEARS (1-6)
Per-possession efficiency rankings --Offense: 20 - Defense: 23
They're averaging 5.0 fewer points per game than they did last year, and their 15.9-point average ranks dead last. They move the ball well enough; they rank 12th in net yards per possession and 13th in first downs per possession. But only three teams are worse on a net-points-per-possession basis.
29. NEW YORK JETS (2-5)
Per-possession efficiency rankings --Offense: 25 - Defense: 24
I'm not sure that the Jets really solved any problems, in spite of their win. They had to go back to Ryan Fitzpatrick because of Geno Smith's torn ACL, and they got just 10 of a possible 21 points from three possessions that began inside the Baltimore 25 -- two of which saw the Jets start at the Baltimore 3- and 5-yard lines after Ravens giveaways. You'll never give back a win, but there is no indication this is the start of a Jets revival, and they still provide Cleveland a good opportunity for its first win.
28. LOS ANGELES RAMS (3-4)
Per-possession efficiency rankings --Offense: 31 - Defense: 18
The defense is only mediocre, ranking 19th in net yardage allowed per possession and 24th in first downs allowed per possession. Mediocre defense with a bad offense is how you fall from a 3-1 start to being on track for, well, 7-9.
27. JACKSONVILLE JAGUARS (2-4)
Per-possession efficiency rankings --Offense: 22 - Defense: 22
Their annual post-London surge didn't last long.
26. TENNESSEE TITANS (3-4)
Per-possession efficiency rankings --Offense: 17 - Defense: 9
On a day where their offense awakened, their defense buckled and collapsed.
25. INDIANAPOLIS COLTS (3-4)
Per-possession efficiency rankings --Offense: 7 - Defense: 30
Clearly the 1983-model WOPR computer in my basement, relocated from Cheyenne Mountain and reprogrammed for peace-time purposes to compile this ranking, doesn't think too much of the AFC South.
24. CAROLINA PANTHERS (1-5)
Per-possession efficiency rankings --Offense: 11 - Defense: 15
It seems hard to believe for a 1-5 team, but with the Falcons suddenly fading -- especially on defense -- Carolina isn't out of this thing yet. But this is the moment the Panthers must pounce. Three of their next four games are at home; the other is at skidding Los Angeles. The season can be salvaged, but the Panthers can't dilly-dally.
23. MIAMI DOLPHINS (3-4)
Per-possession efficiency rankings --Offense: 31 - Defense: 16
Adam Gase helped then-offensive coordinator Mike McCoy overhaul the Broncos' offense in 2011 to drain every drop out of usefulness out of Tim Tebow's skill set, so it should come as no surprise that he was able to effectively recalibrate Miami's attack to feed his most reliable weapon, Jay Ajayi.
22. BALTIMORE RAVENS (3-4)
Per-possession efficiency rankings --Offense: 29 - Defense: 3
Baltimore went five consecutive possessions in the second half Sunday without mustering even a first down. No team could use a bye more to recalibrate itself.
21. NEW ORLEANS SAINTS (2-4)
Per-possession efficiency rankings --Offense: 4 - Defense: 31
No one is giving up more net points per possession than the Saints, who are surrendering 2.72 points per series.
20. CINCINNATI BENGALS (3-4)
Per-possession efficiency rankings --Offense: 9 - Defense: 21
Cincinnati is one of the numerous cities called the "Queen City" -- including Denver, which is the "Queen City of the Plains" -- but I don't think the Bengals will receive an audience with Her Majesty at Buckingham Palace when they visit London this week. But she would be wise to invite the splendid A.J. Green for high tea; he's on a blistering pace with 50 catches and 775 yards already this season.
The Bengals are where we begin the tightly-packed bunch of teams that goes all the way into the top five.
19. TAMPA BAY BUCCANEERS (3-3)
Per-possession efficiency rankings --Offense: 21 - Defense: 11
Their desultory performance against the Broncos in Week 4 was the kick in the pants they needed, although their two October wins have come against teams that were a combined 2-11. A win over Oakland on Sunday will stamp the Bucs as contenders and revive the validity of my Bucs-to-the-playoffs prediction.
18. BUFFALO BILLS (4-3)
Per-possession efficiency rankings --Offense: 16 - Defense: 12
With the Patriots and Seahawks lurking in the next fortnight, the stench of the Bills' 28-25 loss at Miami will linger for some time to come.
17. NEW YORK GIANTS (4-3)
Per-possession efficiency rankings --Offense: 23 - Defense: 10
With six of seven games decided by seven or fewer points, the Giants deliver drama, if not consistent play.
- DETROIT LIONS (4-3)**
Per-possession efficiency rankings --Offense: 2 - Defense: 32
With a Houston-Minnesota road swing coming up before a Week 10 bye, we'll find out if the Lions can take it on the road after three home wins by a combined seven points revived their season.
15. OAKLAND RAIDERS (5-2)
Per-possession efficiency rankings --Offense: 13 - Defense: 26
The Raiders are 4-0 on the road and 1-2 at home. Of course, the combined record of their home foes is 11-9, and for their road opponents it's 10-16, so that probably has something to do with it. And if you're wondering why a 5-2 team is so low, it's because their net point differential of plus-6 is 14th and all of their wins have come against teams that currently have sub-.500 records, knocking down their strength of schedule.
14. SAN DIEGO CHARGERS (3-4)
Per-possession efficiency rankings --Offense: 10 - Defense: 14
San Diego has moved the ball well all season and now has a disruptive force up front, with Joey Bosa seeking to show the world that training camp and the preseason are overrated -- at least for a player with talent and athleticism to make himself a beast right away. It's a bit odd to have them above the Raiders based strictly on head-to-head, but their Week 5 game was in Oakland, and per the number-crunching, the Chargers would be a good bet to beat the Raiders at home or on a neutral field.
- HOUSTON TEXANS (4-3)**
Per-possession efficiency rankings --Offense: 28 - Defense: 3
Injuries are piling up on defense, and the Texans have lost their three road games by a combined 85-22 margin. Of course, their foes were three Super Bowl contenders (New England, Minnesota and Denver), but that's what the Texans fancied themselves before the season. Right now, they only appear to be the best in a shaky division.
12. PITTSBURGH STEELERS (4-3)
Per-possession efficiency rankings --Offense: 12 - Defense: 20
Three of their first four games after this week's bye are against clubs with losing records, but the first will be at desperate Baltimore -- which will also be coming off a bye.
11. WASHINGTON REDSKINS (4-3)
Per-possession efficiency rankings --Offense: 5 - Defense: 27
Washington missed Josh Norman in giving up a last-minute touchdown to the Lions, and now he's in the post-concussion protocol. If Washington has to play without him, its defense will have trouble keeping pace with Cincinnati's A.J. Green.
- ARIZONA CARDINALS (3-3-1)**
Per-possession efficiency rankings --Offense: 19 - Defense: 1
No one expected this week's rematch of last season's NFC Championship Game with Carolina to feature two teams with just four combined wins in what promises to be the most desperate game of the weekend.
9. KANSAS CITY CHIEFS (4-2)
Per-possession efficiency rankings --Offense: 14 - Defense: 13
A plus-7 turnover differential so far this season has helped the Chiefs, particularly at home, where they haven't lost since their 1-5 start last year. Overall, the Chiefs are 14-2 in their last 16 regular-season games.
8. GREEN BAY PACKERS (4-2)
Per-possession efficiency rankings --Offense: 6 - Defense: 16
Four of their next five games are on the road, and seven of their next opponents are teams that are currently in the middle of the pack at 3-4 or 4-3. No gimmes, but no games that the Packers should be decided underdogs, either, and their two toughest foes remaining -- Seattle and Minnesota -- come to Lambeau Field in December.
7. ATLANTA FALCONS (4-3)
Per-possession efficiency rankings --Offense: 3 - Defense: 29
Falcons head coach Dan Quinn called his decision to go for it on fourth-and-1 in overtime against San Diego a "gut feeling." Usually a "gut feeling" also precedes indigestion.
6. PHILADELPHIA EAGLES (4-2)
Per-possession efficiency rankings --Offense: 15 - Defense: 7
Three of their next four games are on the road, and they don't see a team that currently has a losing record until Dec. 4 at Cincinnati (and the Bengals have a good chance to be above .500 by then).
5. SEATTLE SEAHAWKS (4-1-1)
Per-possession efficiency rankings --Offense: 24 - Defense: 5
Dialing 4-1-1 will get you information, which the Seahawks could use to figure out how to apply duct tape and baling wire to a collapsing offensive line.
- DENVER BRONCOS (5-2)**
Per-possession efficiency rankings --Offense: 18 - Defense: 6
You'd still like to see more consistency; five of 12 Denver drives ended in three-and-outs. Still, the power on the ground and the balance with play-action and downfield passes is what the Broncos want to see going forward.
Further, the Broncos are holding opponents to an average of 9.16 points below their season-long averages. Last year, that figure was 4.31 points below their opponents' average.
3. MINNESOTA VIKINGS (5-1)
Per-possession efficiency rankings --Offense: 28 - Defense: 2
Only the 1-6 49ers generate fewer net yards per possession than the Vikings, who average just 26.5 yards per series.
2. DALLAS COWBOYS (5-1)
Per-possession efficiency rankings --Offense: 1 - Defense: 25
The Cowboys' status: quo.
1. NEW ENGLAND PATRIOTS (6-1)
Per-possession efficiency rankings --Offense: 8 - Defense: 8
Improving on both sides of the football, the Patriots look like a juggernaut.