9. Cincinnati Bengals (5-4)
Last week: 6 (-3)
Another team that we were just starting to believe in fell flat against the Houston Texans. Now, the Texans might be a team to reckon with in the future, but for now, that is a game that you have to have if you are the Bengals. They are fighting for the division and a spot in the playoffs. They have given themselves even less wiggle room. This was the year for the Bengals. If they don't get to the Super Bowl this season, it should be considered a failure. Those chances look slimmer now than ever.
10. Seattle Seahawks (6-3)
Last Week: 9 (-1)
Seattle is going to be hampered by their quarterback. Geno Smith is a game manager and nothing more. They have incredible wide receivers across the board, a solid offensive line, and a good running game to boot. I like Seattle to be a potential playoff spoiler by the end of the year, but I am out on them being able to come out of the NFC as the winner.
11. Cleveland Browns (6-3)
Last Week: 12 (+1)
Cleveland is such a weird team. They have some real talent on both sides of the ball, but they vastly overpaid their quarterback, which becomes clearer by the week. If the Browns are to be a real challenger in the AFC, they will need their defense to be the best unit in the NFL. Luckily for them, at times, they have looked that good. The AFC North is not out of reach for them.
12. Houston Texans (5-4)
Last Week: 14 (+2)
The Texans got their statement win. Even though it was not long ago that they lost to the Carolina Panthers, they find themselves the winner in a key AFC matchup with the Bengals. CJ Stroud is beginning to look like he is the real deal and that defense has some serious, young talent. Houston is going to be one of the top teams in the NFL in a few years' time with some good offseasons.
13. Pittsburgh Steelers (6-3)
Last Week: 11 (-2)
The Steelers continue to find ways to win tough games. At this point, they have to be the least sexy team in the NFL. Their games are always close. They don't do anything special and are not great at any one thing. They are, however, coached by one of the NFL's best coaches with Mike Tomlin. Pittsburgh will have a winning season because they always do, but I would be stunned if they won a game in the playoffs.
14. Minnesota Vikings (6-4)
Last Week: 21 (+7)
The Vikings have something cooking right now. In a weird way, they have become more dynamic with Joshua Dobbs at the helm than they were with Kirk Cousins. Yes, this is an extremely small sample size, but if they can keep it rolling, they may be in a real shootout for the NFC North.
15. Buffalo Bills (5-5)
Last Week: 13 (-2)
The Bills not only fell to the Broncos in primetime, they did so in embarrassing fashion. After a late field goal miss, they lost because they had twelve men on the field and the Broncos made the subsequent field goal. The Bills are very close to a complete and total meltdown if they aren't already. The schedule from here on out is a murderer's row. This season is finished.
16. Indianapolis Colts (5-5)
Last Week: 18 (+2)
Gardner Minshew showcased why he is clearly not a starter in the NFL. In his matchup with the New England Patriots, he went for 194 yards and a pick. The Colts offense put up just ten points. While they are not this year's darling, there is a scenario in which the Colts start to look more like the Eagles in a few years, with a big, strong, and mobile quarterback and a strong running game in short-yardage situations. If they can build up that defense, they could be even better.