Jerry McDonald's NFL power rankings: Rams still at top, Gurley strengthening MVP credentials – The Mercury News

Nhat V. Meyer/Bay Area News Group

Rams running back Todd Gurley (30) is a front-runner for the NFL MVP award for front-running Los Angeles.


1. L.A. Rams (8-0)

Last running back to be NFL MVP was Adrian Peterson (Minnesota) in 2012. Before that it was LaDainian Tomlinson (Chargers, 2006) and Shawn Alexander (Seahawks, 2005). Todd Gurley could be in line to join that club. Giving up TD to kill clock only helps.

Last week 1: Next: at New Orleans

2. Kansas City (7-1)

Chiefs are a blast to watch, but if they can succeed this way, what’s the point of ever drafting for defense or looking for defenders in free agency? Gave up 189 yards rushing and 222 passing against Denver. No problem. Won anyway.

Last week:Next: at Cleveland

3. New England (6-2)

Tom Brady hosts Aaron Rodgers at Foxborough. It’s a quarterback clinic. Drew Brees wonders why he wasn’t invited. Derek Carr, Jimmy Garoppolo should pay close attention and take good notes.

Last week:Next: Green Bay

4. New Orleans (6-1)

Sean Payton is no dummy. Went into first game he coached with Saints in 2006 with Drew Brees as his quarterback. Going into to upcoming showdown against Rams with Drew Brees as his quarterback. So he’s always got a chance.

Last week:Next: at L.A. Rams

5. Carolina (5-2)

Don’t rule out another MVP run for Cam Newton. The Newton-Norv Turner union is doing wonders for the Panthers offense, and their defense is solid under Ron Rivera every year.

Last week: 5 Next: Tampa Bay

6. L.A. Chargers (5-2)

Defensive end Joey Bosa won’t face Seahawks, but finally addresses foot injury and is optimistic he’ll return soon. Have a good enough roster (hint, Raiders) and you can compete without your top edge player.

Last week: 6 Next: at Seattle

7. Washington (5-2)

With his next run of 50 or more yards, Adrian Peterson will tie Barry Sanders for the most in NFL history. When both were available, thought for sure Marshawn Lynch would last longer than Peterson. Thought wrong.

Last week:Next: Atlanta

8. Houston (5-3)

Things are setting up nicely for Texans in the AFC South. Not only have they won five in a row to assume first place with Deshaun Watson looking healthy and explosive, but only one of their remaining opponents (Washington) currently has a winning record.

Last week: 8 Next: at Denver

9. Pittsburgh (4-2-1)

Will always respect any NFL player’s decision to use the only leverage they have and hold out, but this one backfired on Le’Veon Bell. James Conner has nine rushing TDs.

Last week: 13  Next: at Baltimore

10. Seattle (4-3)

Surging Seahawks’ commitment to the run continues. They had 176 yards on the ground in win over Detroit and it’s doing wonders for the health of quarterback Russell Wilson. Could be postseason bound. Wouldn’t have thought that a few weeks ago.

Last week: 14 Next: L.A. Chargers

11. Cincinnati (5-3)

Defensive indifference? Bengals had big lead, squandered it and then prevailed against Tampa Bay. However, they gave up 576 yards and TD passes of 60 and 72 yards in the process.

Last week: 15  Next: Bye

12. Minnesota (4-3-1)

How is Kirk Cousins working out? He’s one of three NFL quarterbacks to rank in top 10 in completion percentage, passing yards and touchdowns. The other two are Jared Goff and Matt Ryan.

Last week:Next: Detroit

13. Chicago (4-3)

Don’t look now, but Mitchell Trubisky has 15 touchdown passes. That ties the career high of Jim McMahon, one of the most popular Bears in Windy City history. Trubisky has a ways to go in terms of the popular vote.

Last week: 16 Next: at Buffalo

14. Philadelphia (4-4)

Don’t rule out another NFC East title after prevailing over Jacksonville in London, Carson Wentz rounding into form and the addition of wide receiver Golden Tate.

Last week: 18 Next: Bye

15. Green Bay (3-3-1)

Bad week for Ty Montgomery. First ripped anonymously in his own locker room for kickoff return fumble which helped cost Packers the Rams game, then shipped off to Baltimore.

Last week: 10  Next: at New England

16. Baltimore (4-4)

Lamar Jackson gets first TD pass of his career. If Ravens slide, expect the rookie quarterback’s role to expand beyond gimmick player.

Last week: 11 Next: Pittsburgh

17. Miami (4-4)

Having gone from 3-0 to 4-4, coach Adam Gase issued a vote of confidence to defensive coordinator Matt Burke after giving up 44 to the Houston Texans.  So he’s got another week at least.

Last week: 12 Next: N.Y. Jets

18. Dallas (3-4)

Along comes wide receiver Amari Cooper in exchange for a first-round draft pick to provide a downfield threat. Someone should tell the Cowboys it doesn’t happen every week.

Last week: 20  Next: Tennessee

19. Detroit (3-4)

Acquired a run-stopping defensive tackle in `Snacks’ Harrison, then were promptly feasted upon by the Seahawks running game.

Last week: 17 Next: at Minnesota

20. Tampa Bay (3-4)

After latest big-yardage, turnover-laden game by Jameis Winston and frantic comeback by Ryan Fitzpatrick, Bucs must be close to bailing on the former No. 1 overall pick following the season. If not, they should be.

Last week: 19  Next: at Carolina

21. Atlanta (3-4)

Bizarre stat: Wide receiver Julio Jones has 141 receptions for 2,256 yards in his last 23 games. And three touchdowns. None this season on 53 receptions for 812 yards.

Last week: 22  Next: at Washington

22. Denver (3-5)

The kind of streak you never want — Broncos quarterback Case Keenum has at least one interception in every game this season. Yes, even against the Raiders. (Hello, Rashaan Melvin).

Last week: 24 Next: Houston

23. Jacksonville (3-5)

Guessing that the $60,000 bill four Jaguars players ‘mistakenly’ walked out on in London wasn’t nearly as troubling to exec Tom Coughlin as the fact that it happened at 4 a.m.

Last week: 21 Next: Bye

24. Indianapolis (3-5)

The battlefield reports are true — @CaptAndrewLuck is on target with his trusty sidearm. Not only that, but his fellow troops on the offensive line are protecting him from the enemy.

Last week: 27 Next: Bye

25. N.Y. Jets (3-5)

If Jets can get past Dolphins, there’s a shot Sam Darnold can get them to .500 10 games into the season – something nobody expected. Jets host Buffalo the following week.

Last week: 23  Next: at Miami

26. Tennessee (3-4)

One of only four teams to average less than five yards per play. It’s as if there is an organizational philosophy of making sure the offense is boring and ineffective.

Last week: 26 Next: at Dallas

27. Cleveland (2-5-1)

The Hue Jackson-Todd Haley power struggle ends with both of them losing. Only in Cleveland. Bounty hunter Gregg Williams the perfect interim choice for dysfunctional organization. Hell, give him the job in perpetuity.

Last week: 25 Next: Kansas City

28. Buffalo (2-6)

After latest loss behind anemic offense, Bills fans still pine for Jim Kelly but at this point would probably settle for Joe Ferguson J.P. Losman.

Last week: 28  Next: Chicago

29. Raiders (1-6)

Derek Carr’s rushing touchdown was the first for a Raiders quarterback since Terrelle Pryor had one against the Steelers in 2013. Carr’s run was 1 yard and came on replay review. Pryor’s was 93 yards and came on the first snap of the game.

Last week: 32  Next: at 49ers

30. N.Y. Giants (1-7)

Kyle Lauletta’s road rage virtually ensures that Eli Manning will still be the quarterback when Giants face the 49ers on Nov. 12.

Last week: 29  Next: Bye

31. Arizona (2-6)

When Chip Kelly coached the 49ers, the only team he beat was the Rams. First-year Cardinals coach Steve Wilks may finish is first season having only beaten the 49ers.

Last week: 30  Next: Bye

32. 49ers (1-7)

Just what everyone expected. Nick Mullens as the latest placeholder to the Montana-Young legacy heading in to last ever “Battle of the Bay” with the Raiders.

Last week: 31 Next: Raiders

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