NFL Power Rankings: Week 10
The more games that have been played this season, the less I feel I know about football. There’s just so much parody in the NFL these days and it has been harder and harder to predict the outcome of games each week. Anything can and will happen and the saying “Any given Sunday” has never been more accurate. As we get further into the season, teams will reveal themselves as either true contenders or frauds. I’ll do my best to rank them. Here we go.
1. New England Patriots, 7-1 (last week’s ranking: 1) – The Patriots had their bye this week and they’ll likely remain in the top spot until they lose. They’ve got a great matchup with the Seahawks next week.
2. Dallas Cowboys, 7-1 (last week’s ranking: 3) – In one of the least exciting games of the week, the Cowboys absolutely dominated the Browns. Shocker. Until other teams can find a way to stop Ezekiel Elliott, there will be no stopping this offense. Their offensive line is simply too dominant. Dak Prescott has benefitted heavily from the Cowboys’ strong run game and pass protection. Their defense has as well. The Cowboys are among the league leaders in time of possession, meaning their defense doesn’t spend much time on the field, keeping them healthy and well-rested. Now, they’ll travel to Pittsburgh to face the Steelers next week.
3. Oakland Raiders, 7-2 (last week’s ranking: 7) – What a game for the Oakland Raiders. They beat the defending champion Broncos 30-20. Latavius Murray had struggled for much of the season, but he stepped up in this one. He ran for 114 yards and three touchdowns and if he can keep playing like this, look out. Already equipped with a stellar offensive line, an excellent young quarterback in Derek Carr, and two stud receivers in Amari Cooper and Michael Crabtree, the Raiders’ offense has been top tier. It’s scary to think what they could do with a good running game. The Raiders’ defense is nothing special, but it’s good enough for them to win games like this. They’ll get an extra week to enjoy this hard fought victory.
4. Seattle Seahawks, 5-2-1 (last week’s ranking: 4) – After watching Monday night’s matchup between the Seahawks and the Bills, one thing was clear: Russell Wilson is back. He has been hampered by a knee strain for much of the year, but he looked healthy in their win over the Bills. When Wilson is healthy and playing well, this team becomes one of the best and most complete teams in football. Their defense has been great all year and they have no real weaknesses on that side of the ball. Offensively, their passing game had struggled, but if Wilson can continue to play the way he did on Monday, this team has a much better chance to win a title. The Seahawks will face a real test next Sunday when they face the Patriots in Foxborough.
5. Atlanta Falcons, 6-3 (last week’s ranking: 5) – On Thursday night, the Falcons demolished the Buccaneers. They took a 40-14 lead early in the fourth quarter and, obviously, never looked back. Their offense continues to be the most dominant in football. They currently lead the NFL in points per game at 33.9 and they’re second in yards per game at 429.2. Matt Ryan and Julio Jones are absolutely tearing it up, as they both lead the league in yards for their position. You also can’t count out the Falcons’ run game, as Devonta Freeman and Tevin Coleman form one of the better running back duos in football. While the Falcons’ defense isn’t great, it’s improving. They’ve got some talented, young players like Vic Beasley, Deion Jones, Keanu Neal, and Desmond Trufant. This team is certainly playing better than I expected them to, but it’s clear that they’re true contenders. Next week, they’ll travel to Philly to face the struggling Eagles.
6. Denver Broncos, 6-3 (last week’s ranking: 2) – After suffering a tough loss to the Raiders on Sunday night, the Broncos are going to slip down the rankings a bit. While they still have one of the best defenses in football, especially against the pass, they are being held back by their offense right now. Trevor Siemian has looked terrible in recent weeks, showing a severe lack of arm strength and accuracy. Their offensive line isn’t bad and they have two great receivers in Demaryius Thomas and Emmanuel Sanders, so Siemian should be able to have success with what’s around him. He’s just bad. The Broncos have an amazing defense, but without a quarterback who’s at least competent, they’re going to lose games like this. Their next matchup with the Saints will provide Siemian a good opportunity to turn his season around.
7. Kansas City Chiefs, 6-2 (last week’s ranking: 6) – The Chiefs are just continuing to go about their business. They beat the Jaguars despite missing both Alex Smith and Spencer Ware. Their offense struggled mightily against the Jags, as they managed just 231 total yards, ten first downs (including going just one of 14 on third down), and they were forced to kick three field goals in their three red zone possessions. They couldn’t do anything on the offensive side of the ball, but their defense continued to dominate, forcing four turnovers and holding the Jags to just 14 points. Their defense is starting to hit their stride as Dee Ford has emerged as a legitimate pass rush threat and Justin Houston will be returning next week. Next week, they face the Panthers in what should be a great defensive matchup.
8. Buffalo Bills, 4-5 (last week’s ranking: 11) – The theme of the season for the Bills has been close losses. Their game is Seattle was a tough game to lose, but there were a lot of positives for Buffalo. Their offense was great, considering they were facing the league’s top scoring defense and playing them in the league’s toughest environment. Tyrod Taylor has taken the next step as a quarterback. He’s done a great job avoiding turnovers and making plays, both with his arm and his feet. He doesn’t have much to work with in the passing game without Sammy Watkins, but he’s making due. Their run game has been strong with LeSean McCoy now healthy. Their defense was certainly disappointing, especially the secondary, but overall, this has been a good season on that side of the ball for these Bills. They’ve lose their last few games, but now they have a bye week to rest up and turn their season around.
9. Arizona Cardinals, 3-4-1 (last week’s ranking: 9) – I might be the only person in the world that is still this high on the Cardinals, but I just think they’re too talented to keep losing the way they have. Their schedule has been pretty tough, but they have an easy matchup lined up against the 49ers next week.
10. Minnesota Vikings, 5-3 (last week’s ranking: 8) – I was very tempted to put the Vikings lower, but regardless, they’re a team that’s slipping. After a hot 5-0 start, they’ve dropped their last three games. Their defense has been outstanding this season, but in their last few games, they’ve been failing to make big plays when the team needs them. While the defense hasn’t been at its best recently, it is still among the top units in football. The Vikings’ problem is on offense. Sam Bradford is simply not the quarterback he was playing like early in the year. It’s not all his fault though. The talent around him is lacking, especially the offensive line. Unless the Vikings can turn their offense around and figure out how to start putting points on the board, they’re going to continue to fall down the rankings. They’ve got a big game with the Redskins coming up next week.
11. New York Giants, 5-3 (last week’s ranking: 16) – It may still be early in the season, but the Giants got a win they badly needed. They need every win they can get, especially within the tough NFC East. The Giants are certainly a talented team. I’m not sure how I feel about Ben McAdoo as the head coach, but this roster is loaded. The Giants’ offense hasn’t been able to run the ball very well, but their passing attack is as good as ever. This may be the best pass blocking offensive line that Eli Manning has had in his career and his receiving core is top notch as well. Now, Eli nearly allowed the Eagles back into the game with his poorly timed interception, but his defense bailed him out. Speaking of the Giants’ defense, they’ve been playing some great football in recent weeks. They’ve been getting after the quarterback and forcing turnovers. Their secondary play has been much improved, the pass rush has been excellent, and they’ve done a good job stopping the run as well. The Giants need to take this win and build off of it. They’ve got a good opportunity to do so when the host the Bengals on Monday night.
12. Houston Texans, 5-3 (last week’s ranking: 12) – The Texans had their bye week, so they stay in the same spot. Next week, they’ll travel to Jacksonville to face the lowly Jags.
13. Green Bay Packers, 4-4 (last week’s ranking: 10) – I knew the Packers where having a tough year, but this loss to the Colts has to be the lowest they’ve felt all season. While the Packers have a lot of injuries, the Colts do too, so that’s no excuse for losing at home to an inferior team. The Packer’s losses before this game came to the Falcons, Vikings, and Cowboys, all of which are not losses to feel terrible about. This loss however, can’t feel good. While the score seemed close at 31-26, the Packers scored a pair of touchdowns late to close the gap and it wasn’t enough. They trailed 31-13 early in the fourth quarter and Aaron Rodgers did all he could to bring his team back, but the defense failed to get a stop when they needed it. Rodgers is starting to hit his stride, but the rest of the team needs to pick it up, especially the defense. Their game in Tennessee next week is a must-win for the Packers.
14. Detroit Lions, 5-4 (last week’s ranking: 20) – Is it just me, or are the Lions starting to look like legitimate playoff contenders? This win over the Vikings in Minnesota was huge, especially considering the way the Lions came back in the game. They led 13-9 when the Vikings went down the field and scored a touchdown with just 23 seconds left in the game. Following that touchdown, the Lions got 35 yards on four plays in those 23 seconds and Matt Prater made an insanely clutch 58-yard field goal as time expired, tying the game and sending it to overtime. The Lions won the toss and Golden Tate made a great play to score the game-winning touchdown. This team is riding its offense right now, but in this game, their defense was excellent. If they can keep playing like this, they’re certainly a dangerous team. Hopefully they can hang on to this momentum after their bye this week.
15. Cincinnati Bengals, 3-4-1 (last week’s ranking: 15) – The Bengals had a much needed bye week as they have struggled this season. Their schedule has been very tough, but this is still a pretty good team that can win games. A win against the Giants on Monday Night Football would go a long way in proving that they can compete.
16. Pittsburgh Steelers, 4-4 (last week’s ranking: 14) – Ben Roethlisberger miraculously returned for the Steelers, but they lost to the Ravens and it was mainly because of their offense. Roethlisberger struggled mightily in his first game back. The Steelers didn’t score until the 8:38 mark in the fourth quarter and they trailed 21-0 before that touchdown. The made the final score look respectable at 21-14, but they were never in this game. Their defense played well, but it was against the Ravens’ not-so-impressive offense and they allowed a pathetic 95-yard touchdown to former Steeler Mike Wallace. The Steelers don’t have a great defense, but if the offense can play better than they did on Sunday, they have a good chance to rise up these rankings. They might have a hard time doing that this week against the red hot Cowboys.
17. Washington Redskins, 4-3-1 (last week’s ranking: 17) – Another team on bye this week, the Redskins now find themselves behind the Giants in their division, but they’re still ahead of the Eagles. The bye week came at a good time for the Skins, as they host the Vikings next week.
18. San Diego Chargers, 4-5 (last week’s ranking: 18) – In a high scoring game with the Titans, the Chargers came out on top. Melvin Gordon tore it up, gaining 261 total yards (196 rushing, 65 receiving) and scoring a touchdown. The Chargers’ game plan was obviously to feed Gordon and it worked. However, the Chargers would’ve lost this game if not for a pair of defensive touchdowns, including a pick-six by Brandon Flowers and a fumble recovered for a touchdown by Dwight Lowery. Other than those two plays, the Chargers’ defense was actually rather unimpressive, allowing 35 points and not registering a single sack. This was a game the Chargers needed to win in order to stay in play for the AFC West and they won it. Now they have another winnable game against the Dolphins next week.
19. Philadelphia Eagles, 4-4 (last week’s ranking: 13) – If you’ve been reading my rankings every week, you know that I’ve never been very high on the Eagles. Even after their 3-0 start, I was still very skeptical of them. Now, they’ve dropped four of their last five games and they sit in last place in the NFC East. The main reason I never bought in on the Eagles’ success was because of their offense. They simply don’t have the talent offensively to score a lot of points. Their receivers are young and inexperienced. They haven’t had much of a run game this season. They’re also starting a rookie quarterback to expectations need to be tempered. Carson Wentz received a lot of hype in the Eagles first three games, but his play has fallen off since. Now the Eagles will host the high flying Falcons.
20. Indianapolis Colts, 4-5 (last week’s ranking: 24) – It wasn’t looking good for the Colts. They were 3-5, coming off a blowout home loss to the Chiefs, and now they were traveling to Lambeau field to face Aaron Rodgers and the Packers. I didn’t think they would be able to stop Rodgers from scoring once, but their defense was outstanding in this game. They took advantage of the Packers’ lack of running game and used a dime defense for much of the game, allowing them to play man coverage against their talented receivers and slow down their passing game. The Colts’ secondary certainly came to play, as it has in recent weeks. Andrew Luck didn’t have his best game, but he made the plays the Colts needed to win. The Colts had a 31-13 lead late in the fourth quarter and nearly coughed it up, but Luck’s clutch final drive iced it. As long as Luck is playing, the Colts have a chance to win any game. Now they have an extra week to enjoy this huge victory as they’re on bye.
21. Carolina Panthers, 3-5 (last week’s ranking: 21) – Don’t look now, but the Panthers are coming back. While they still sit at just 3-5, they’ve won their last two games after a terrible 1-5 start. While I didn’t move them up this week, it was only because most of the teams above them won against better teams, but that doesn’t mean that the Panthers haven’t been impressive. Their defense is starting to get back to how they played last season. Their front seven has been absolutely dominant in their last two games and while their secondary is still a problem, they’ll be fine as long as they can continue to pressure the quarterback. Offensively, they weren’t as good against the Rams as they were against the Cardinals last week, but they did enough to win. Cam Newton is still a great quarterback and they have good enough weapons around him. They just need their offensive line to play well and they’ll continue to win and move up these rankings each week. Their next game is a tough matchup against the Chiefs.
22. Baltimore Ravens, 4-4 (last week’s ranking: 23) – The Ravens were another team that had a great start to their season, but I was never really high on them. They then proceeded to lose four straight games, proving that the hype was unprecedented. They’ve shown the ability to beat weak teams as well as keep games close with better ones, but for the most part, they just haven’t been that impressive. This win over the Steelers, however, was a good win. Their defense was phenomenal, shutting down Le’Veon Bell as well as containing Antonio Brown for much of the game. They took advantage of Ben Roethlisberger playing his first game since having knee surgery and held the Steelers’ offense scoreless for the first 51 minutes of the game. Offensively, they still have a lot of work to do. They certainly need more weapons around Joe Flacco and they need to improve their offensive line play. This team has a defense that can compete for sure, but otherwise, they’re simply an average team. They play Thursday night against the winless Browns.
23. New Orleans Saints, 4-4 (last week’s ranking: 19) – To no one’s surprise, the Saints absolutely lit up the 49ers this week. Drew Brees and Mark Ingram were both unstoppable as the Saints repeatedly moved up and down the field. There’s no doubt that the Saints have one of the top offenses in football, but there’s still plenty of concern regarding their defense. They allowed the 49ers to score 23 points as well as rack up 486 total yards. If not for the four turnovers they forced, their performance may have been even worse. The Saints will be in plenty of high scoring games this season, but their next matchup is against the Broncos. It should be an incredibly interesting game.
24. Miami Dolphins, 4-4 (last week’s ranking: 26) – I still don’t think the Dolphins are that good, but they have now managed to win three straight games. While their first two wins over the Steelers and Bills were very impressive, this recent win against the Jets is just simply another win. The Jets haven’t been good at all this season, so I’m just not that impressed by this victory. However, the emergence of Jay Ajayi is certainly something for the Dolphins to be excited about. Ajayi has been absolutely on fire lately, racking up 529 yards and four touchdowns in the Dolphins last three wins. If the Fins continue to ride him, their offense will continue to have success. Defensively, the Dolphins have been solid. They have a really good defensive line, but without Reshad Jones, the back end of their defense is vulnerable. I’d still give them a decent chance to win next week in San Diego.
25. Tennessee Titans, 4-5 (last week’s ranking: 25) – The Tennessee Titans’ up and down season continues. Marcus Mariota continues to be one of the most inconsistent quarterbacks in football. He makes plenty of great plays, but always has terrible plays to counter them. He put up big numbers against the Chargers, throwing for 313 yards and three touchdowns, but his three turnovers (two interceptions and a fumble) led to 17 points for the Chargers. The Titans have the ability to put up points, but Mariota needs to play better. Defensively, the Titans have struggled to stop the run in recent weeks. They allowed Melvin Gordon to have a field day and they won’t win many more games playing like that. They’ve got a tough matchup against the Packers next week.
26. Los Angeles Rams, 3-5 (last week’s ranking: 22) – If you want to look at the bright side, the Rams have a pretty good defense. Their defensive line is among the NFL’s best. They have pretty good playmakers outside of the defensive line as well. The problem for the Rams is that they have the league’s worst offense. It is so bad it would make your eyes bleed if you had to watch an entire game of it. I understand why Jeff Fisher has been hesitant to play Jared Goff, but I don’t agree with it. Goff needs to be out there right now. This team really has no chance at the playoffs despite the fact they they’re not technically out of it. Sure, if Goff goes out there he’ll probably get hit a lot and make a lot of mistakes, but that’s all part of growing into a starting NFL quarterback. He’s not going to learn anything from watching Case Keenum make bad plays on a regular basis. He needs to just be out there and get experience. It feels like this is already a lost season for the Rams so they might as well get ready for the future. Next week, they travel to the Meadowlands to face the Jets in what should be a low scoring, defensive struggle.
27. Tampa Bay Buccaneers, 3-5 (last week’s ranking: 27) – It’s pretty clear that the Bucs have a long way to go before they are taken seriously as playoff contenders. Jameis Winston has a lot of improving to do and the rest of the team around him simply isn’t talented enough. They were annihilated by the Falcons on Thursday night. Their defense couldn’t stop a nosebleed in the second half and they have struggled as a unit for much of the season. There are some good, young players on this defense, but they have a ways to go before they would be considered one of the NFL’s better groups. They can certainly make some plays offensively. Mike Evans is having a monster season and he is quickly becoming one of the best receivers in the NFL. This team is still very young and has a lot to build on, but it’ll be a couple years before they talk about the playoffs. They do have a winnable game against the Bears next week.
28. Chicago Bears, 2-6 (last week’s ranking: 29) – While the Bears were on bye this week, they moved up a spot because the Jets moved down. I actually think the Bears aren’t that bad of a team. If Jay Cutler can continue to play the way he played against the Vikings, the Bears can actually win some games. I actually like their chances against the Bucs next week.
29. New York Jets, 3-6 (last week’s ranking: 28) – The Jets are supposed to be better than this. They have a lot of talent, but it isn’t showing on the field. They continue to make crucial mistakes late in games, including costly turnovers and bad defensive plays. I used to think that the Jets were a team that could turn their season around, but each week, it becomes more and more clear that that isn’t going to happen. In a league that us seeing teams start quarterbacks like Blake Bortles, Case Keenum, Brock Osweiler, and Cody Kessler, it is none other than Ryan Fitzpatrick who is leading the NFL in interceptions with 13. In nine games, he’s thrown just eight touchdowns and has not only thrown 13 picks, but he’s also fumbled seven times (fortunately for him, the Jets recovered all of them). Until he starts playing better, the Jets are going to continue to sit among the NFL’s bottom dwellers. Next week they host the Rams.
30. Jacksonville Jaguars, 2-6 (last week’s ranking: 30) – This Jaguars team was supposed to be a young, up-and-coming team that was going to make some noise in the AFC South this season. They have so much potential, but it isn’t turning into wins on the field. This proves that potential does not equal production. The Jags could be very good in a couple years, but there’s much development to be done here. Blake Bortles has been the primary reason why this team hasn’t taken a step forward. He has regressed mightily this season and unless he turns his season around, this team will keep losing. Their next game against the Texans provides them with a good opportunity to get back into play for the division.
31. San Francisco 49ers, 1-7 (last week’s ranking: 31) – Nothing changes here. The 49ers are still the second worst team in football. They aren’t winless, but they might as well be. Their defense seems to be getting worse each week, as they couldn’t stop the Saints on Sunday. Offensively, there just isn’t much there outside of Carlos Hyde and Joe Staley. They need to move on from Colin Kaepernick, and maybe Chip Kelly too, after this season. This is a team that just needs to start over. They’ll travel to Arizona to face a tough Cardinals team coming off a bye next week.
32. Cleveland Browns, 0-9 (last week’s ranking: 32) – The only bright side for Cleveland is that they still have the Cavaliers. While the Indians did lose in the World Series, at least they made it that far. It’s clear that this Browns team is going nowhere. They have a pretty good chance at becoming the second team in NFL history to go winless for a whole season. I certainly don’t anticipate them getting a win this season. While they’ve had a couple close games against other bad teams, there still isn’t much to get excited about for this team. They stood no chance against the Cowboys this Sunday and they have very little chance at upsetting the Ravens in Baltimore on Thursday night.