Last week's rankings in parentheses.
1. Ravens 7-2 (3)
Lamar Jackson is on pace to pass for 3,620 yards and 27 touchdowns and to rush for 1,248 yards and 11 touchdowns. Those numbers might not be sustainable, especially if Ravens coach John Harbaugh has occasion to rest his starters in Week 17. But the projections are mind-boggling just the same. Jackson will be the MVP favorite if he can put up something approaching those. More games like the one he had in a 49-13 win in Cincinnati will help. Jackson rushed for 65 yards and a touchdown and completed 15 of 17 passes for 223 yards and three touchdowns for a perfect passer rating of 158.3.
2. Patriots 8-1 (4)
The Patriots had a week off to assess the first half of the season and obsess, if desired, over their loss to the Ravens in Week 9. But now it's on to the stretch run. The Patriots had a schedule crammed with cream puffs before the Ravens visited, but things are about to get a little more challenging. They face the Eagles, Texans, Cowboys and Chiefs in the next four weeks. That's before getting the Dolphins and Bengals in the final three weeks. So we'll know how prepared Bill Belichick's team is for a Super Bowl defense by the middle of December.
3. Packers 8-2 (7)
The open date comes at a good time for Preston Smith. The outside linebacker declared Sunday that he was buying Rolex watches for the entire defense as he became the first player on the team to reach double-digit sacks after getting two in a 24-16 win over the Panthers. That means a trip to the jewelry store is in order for the free-agent addition. He had made a bet with Za'Darius Smith, another free-agent addition, that whichever one got to 10 sacks first would pony up for some gifts. No one knew what the gifts would be or who would be receiving them. Sounds like Preston Smith could use some playoff checks in January to help cover his expenses.
4. Seahawks 8-2 (8)
The Seahawks answered questions about their defense and Jason Myers drilled a 42-yard field goal as time expired in overtime for a gritty 27-24 victory Monday night over the 49ers. The win puts the Seahawks in position to challenge the 49ers for supremacy in the NFC West and sends Pete Carroll's team into its week off on a huge upswing. Jadeveon Clowney was dominant off the edge, and the maligned Seahawks defense limited the powerful 49ers ground attack to 87 rushing yards. With Russell Wilson at quarterback, the Seahawks are a real threat in the NFC.
5. 49ers 8-1 (2)