1. New England Patriots (9-0; Last Week- No. 1)
A Stephen Gostkowski 54-yard field goal in the final seconds vs the Giants prevented the Patriots from their first loss of the season.
Here’s the Patriots’ remaining schedule: vs Bills (MNF), at Broncos (SNF), vs Eagles, at Texans, vs Titans, at Jets, at Dolphins.
Anybody can beat anybody in the NFL as we saw in Week 10 with the Lions beating the Packers in Green Bay, and the Texans beating the Bengals in Cincinnati. But the Patriots will be favored in all of their remaining games — and favored by a touchdown+ in most of them — and the game in Denver all of a sudden doesn’t look nearly as intimidating.
The injuries to wide receiver Julian Edelman and running back Dion Lewis could make things difficult, but it seems like every time the Patriots have such injuries, the replacements step in and do the job just fine. As long as they have Tom Brady, Rob Gronkowski, and Bill Belichick, they’re in pretty good shape.
2. Carolina Panthers (9-0; Last Week- No. 3)
The Panthers are averaging 28.3 points per game, the third-best scoring average in the NFL. They have scored at least 27 points in seven straight games.
Cam Newton has done an incredible job without great weapons on offense.
3. Arizona Cardinals (7-2; Last Week- No. 6)
A massive win by the Cardinals in Seattle on Sunday night. They made it clear they’re the team to beat in the NFC West, and proved they can handle extremely difficult road environments in primetime. That win will give them confidence for situations they may run into in January.
4. Cincinnati Bengals (8-1; Last Week- No. 2)
What the heck was that game? After everyone had finally started buying into the Bengals, they had the kind of letdown performance we’ve seen all too much of in recent years.
But it’s just one loss, and their only loss. And they need to get over it immediately with a Sunday night game at Arizona coming up next.
5. Minnesota Vikings (7-2; Last Week- No. 8)
Here is what we said about the Vikings in our Week 7 power rankings:
3-2, and their next four games are against teams that are all currently below .500. The Vikings still seem to be overlooked when people talk NFC playoff contenders, but they won’t be if they can take advantage of this favorable stretch of games.
Welp, they’ve done just that.
The Vikings’ ultimate ceiling may be limited, but they’re a high floor team at the same time, thanks to Adrian Peterson and a very good defense.
6. Denver Broncos (7-2; Last Week- No. 4)
It will be interesting to see how much the foot injury factored into Peyton Manning’s overall awful season, although Sunday was of course another world of awful. Like, “worst NFL quarterback performance in years” awful.
It may seem crazy to say, but Brock Osweiler gives the Broncos a better chance to win right now than 2015 Peyton Manning does.
7. Green Bay Packers (6-3; Last Week- No. 5)
Stunning loss at home to the Lions.
The Packers’ offense is off right now and that’s something rarely said in the Aaron Rodgers era. The absence of Jordy Nelson is starting to stand out.
8. Pittsburgh Steelers (6-4; Last Week- No. 10)
Ben Roethlisberger and his sprained foot came out of the bullpen to throw for 379 yards and three touchdowns.
This offense is still highly explosive even with Le’Veon Bell out for the year.
9. Buffalo Bills (5-4; Last Week- No. 15)
A very impressive win over the Jets on the road, and now 5-2 with Tyrod Taylor at quarterback.
Unfortunately, they have to play at New England next on Monday Night Football.
10. New York Jets (5-4; Last Week- No. 9)
Over the first four games, the Jets allowed an average of 13.75 points per game.
In their last five games, the Jets have allowed an average of 24.4 points per game.
They need to get the defense back on track, especially with quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick’s effectiveness up in the air following thumb surgery.
11. Atlanta Falcons (6-3; Last Week- No. 13)
The Bye Week came at a great time for a Falcons team needing to figure things out after losing three of four, following a 5-0 start.
12. New York Giants (5-5; Last Week- No. 14)
That loss won’t soon be forgotten, especially if the Patriots go on to have an undefeated season. But there is plenty of good to take away from that game, and they’re still in sole possession of first place in the NFC East.
13. Seattle Seahawks (4-5; Last Week- No. 7)
A devastating loss at home to the Cardinals. That likely kills their chances at the NFC West crown, and they’re two games back for a Wild Card spot with just seven games remaining.
We kept expecting the Seahawks to figure things out and still be one of the main teams to fear come January, but they have notable flaws and time is running out.
14. Chicago Bears (4-5; Last Week- No. 20; Biggest Riser)
An absolutely dominating 37-13 win over the Rams in St. Louis. The Bears are 4-2 over their last six games, with one of the losses coming in overtime in Detroit, and the other on a last-second field goal to the Vikings.
Jay Cutler has thrown six touchdowns and just one interception over the last three games. On the season, Cutler has a career-best 95.3 QB Rating (85.8 career avg) and 1.8 interception percentage (3.3 career avg).
15. Oakland Raiders (4-5; Last Week- No. 12)
Tough loss to the Vikings; it was a much closer game than the 30-14 score would lead you to believe.
The Raiders’ defense is struggling, but that unit may be able to get some momentum going over the next four weeks against some below average offenses (Lions, Titans, Chiefs, Broncos).
16. Kansas City Chiefs (4-5; Last Week- No. 21)
Yes Peyton Manning basically handed them the ball four times, but it was still an eye-opening blowout win in Denver.
Charcandrick West has done an excellent job in replacement of Jamaal Charles at running back.
17. Indianapolis Colts (4-5; Last Week- No. 16)
Matt Hasselbeck was great earlier in the year in relief of Andrew Luck, but can the 40-year-old keep playing at that level over the next month?
18. Miami Dolphins (4-5; Last Week- No. 19)
It’s so hard to get a read on this team. We know they’re inconsistent, at least.
19. St. Louis Rams (4-5; Last Week- No. 11; Biggest Faller)
All of the talk this week is about their quarterback switch (from Nick Foles to Case Keenum), but that was a pretty awful defensive performance at home against the Bears.
But yeah, that quarterback situation is a mess.
20. Washington Redskins (4-5; Last Week- No. 23)
The Saints’ defense is trash, but putting up 47 points is very hard to do in the NFL.
Washington is only a half game out in the wide-open NFC.
21. Philadelphia Eagles (4-5; Last Week- No. 17)
Going from Sam Bradford to Mark Sanchez may not be a downgrade. And this isn’t an endorsement of Sanchez.
22. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (4-5: Last Week- No. 22)
It’s hard to think of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers being very much alive in the Wild Card race through Week 10, but the Tampa Bay Buccaneers are very much alive in the Wild Card race through Week 10.
23. Houston Texans (4-5; Last Week- No. 28)
Taking down the previously undefeated Bengals on Monday Night Football in Cincinnati? Nobody saw that coming.
Tied for the AFC South lead and with Andrew Luck likely to miss at least a few games for Indianapolis… the Texans really have a great shot at the division title.
24. New Orleans Saints (4-6; Last Week- No. 18)
It’s hard to win games in the NFL with that defense, even when you have Drew Brees at quarterback.
25. San Diego Chargers (2-7; Last Week- No. 27)
No team has been bitten harder by the injury bug than the Chargers, so the Bye Week was very much needed. They could be a dangerous team to play down the stretch if they can get some of these injured players healthy and back on the field.
26. Jacksonville Jaguars (3-6; Last Week- No. 31)
Only one game out in the miserable AFC South. They probably have as much upside as any team in that division too.
27. Dallas Cowboys (2-7; Last Week- No. 24)
Tony Romo for MVP.
28. Detroit Lions (2-7; Last Week- No. 32)
A team that came into the game 1-7, at Lambeau Field, against Aaron Rodgers… winning?
29. Baltimore Ravens (2-8; Last Week- No. 25)
The Ravens are ready for this season to be over. A 2-8 record, but all of their losses have been by eight points or fewer. Nothing is going right.
30. San Francisco 49ers (3-6; Last Week- No. 30)
Blaine Gabbert looked surprisingly competent in the 49ers’ win over the Falcons before the Bye Week. He’ll have a much tougher test this week at Seattle.
31. Tennessee Titans (2-7; Last Week- No. 26)
It’s okay, Marcus Mariota. Everyone struggles against the Panthers’ defense. Things should be a little easier offensively over the next three weeks (at Jaguars, vs Raiders, vs Jaguars).
32. Cleveland Browns (2-8; Last Week- No. 29)
The Browns have finally decided to go with Johnny Manziel the rest of the year. The season is lost so you might as well see what he can do.
And if he stinks, oh well. That will just mean a better shot at the No. 1 overall pick in the 2016 draft.