AFC power rankings, No. 9-6:
9. New England Patriots (Last week: 11)
The LA Chargers Week 8 opponent checks in as the ninth-ranked team in our AFC power rankings, making them a team that could logistically make a push for the playoff as the season goes along. They are going to need a statement win over the Chargers in Week 8 to make that run, though.
I get that two of the Patriots' three wins over are against the Jets but this is a classic case of a team being better than its record. It lost in Week 1 to Miami solely because Damien Harris fumbled while in field-goal range down one. That is a Charger-style loss. The Pats also could have beaten Tampa Bay if Nick Folk hits the game-winner and took the Dallas Cowboys to overtime.
They have played every team besides the Saints and quite frankly, they should at least be a 4-3 football team if not a 5-2 team.
8. Las Vegas Raiders (Last week: 8)
The Raiders proved that they are a playoff contender with two straight big wins over the Denver Broncos and Philadelphia Eagles. Those are two teams that will be picking in the top 10 of the 2022 NFL Draft and the Raiders are going to have to prove it against good teams as well.
The Raiders have a bye week in Week 8 and don't have a tough task in the New York Giants in Week 9. However, they then enter the toughest slate of the year and could easily go 1-4 in the following five games.
7. Kansas City Chiefs (Last week: 4)
Talent-wise the Chiefs can beat any team in the league but at some point, we have to stop giving them the benefit of the doubt and rank them based on what is actually happening. The Chiefs were just blown out by the Titans, showing little to no heart.
The Chiefs are still going to beat up on the bad teams and they are too talented to miss the playoffs but Chiefs fans should be worried. This is not the unbeatable juggernaut from the last two years and if they don't turn it around we could see a first-round playoff exit in the cards.
6. Cleveland Browns (Last week: 6)
The beaten-up Browns beat the Denver Broncos in a game that does not really increase the team's stock. When healthy, this is a bonafide playoff team but with all of the injuries, there is a chance we start to see Cleveland plummeting down this list.
Next up, the top five teams in the AFC