NFL Power Rankings
11NFC Week 17 Power Rankings: Seahawks, Panthers, 49ers, Eagles, Cardinals, Saints, Packers and More
With one week left to play in the NFL season, things are finally coming into focus in the NFC, so let’s take one last crack at the NFC power rankings.
1. Seattle – It turns out the Seahawks aren’t unbeatable at home, but they’re still the top team in the NFC. Seattle may have lost two of their last three games, but their defense is still playing well and will be hard to score against in the postseason, while Russell Wilson has made game-winning plays when he’s needed to more times than not this season, and that’ll make them tough to take down in the playoffs.
2. Carolina – The Panthers have two things that make them the second best team in the NFC and a contender in the postseason: first, they have a top-5 defense that will play well whether they’re at home or on the road; and second, just as he did on Sunday against the Saints, Cam Newton has been great at driving the ball down the field in the final minutes to win games, and that clutch play will make them dangerous in the playoffs.
3. San Francisco – The 49ers have made it into the playoffs behind a top-notch defense, a defense that will make them tough to beat when they get to the postseason, even if the have to win three road games to get back to the Super Bowl. Colin Kaepernick has been a little inconsistent this year leading the offense, but he’s capable of doing some incredible things, and if he comes close to playing the way he did in the playoffs last year, San Francisco is a dangerous team.
4. Philadelphia – Who would have thought when the season began that the Eagles would end up being the fourth best team in the NFC, but they are. The offense is really clicking, which should be enough to get them past Dallas this week and into the postseason as a 10-win team. Philadelphia is for real, and they’ll be an interesting matchup for most of the teams in the NFC playoffs.
5. Arizona – If the Cardinals don’t make it to the playoffs, it’ll only be because they play in the toughest division in football. Arizona has won 10 games this season and they’re the only team to beat Seattle on the road this season, which is an impressive feat. Regardless of if they make the playoffs or not, the Cardinals are a top-5 team in the NFC.
6. New Orleans – The Saints have really slipped heading down the stretch, losing three of their last four games, albeit against quality teams. They simply aren’t reliable playing on the road and it looks like they’re going to be playing every game of the playoffs on the road, so unless they can find a way to get their offense going outside of the Super Dome, they may not last long in the playoffs.
7. Green Bay – The Packers are still overwhelmed with injuries, and there’s still no guarantee Aaron Rodgers will be back by the season finale, but they’ve managed to put themselves in position to get to the postseason with a win this week, and that’s quite an accomplishment for a team that’s been missing its starting quarterback for more than half the season and endured a five-game winless streak. It hasn’t been easy or pretty, but Green Bay has survived a tough stretch and over the last few weeks they’ve looked like a playoff-caliber team, even without Rodgers at the helm.
8. Chicago – The Bears have some serious issues on defense, which could ultimately keep them out of the postseason, but they’re going to be able to score against most teams with a balanced offensive attack that’s better than most of the offenses in the NFC. They probably don’t deserve a spot in the playoffs, but they’ve overcome an injury to their starting quarterback and have a chance to get to the postseason, and that’s something to be proud of.
9. Dallas – Tony Romo’s injury is meaningless, because the Dallas defense is going to be what keeps the Cowboys out of the playoffs. They may have stopped the Eagles back in week 7, but that’s unlikely to happen again the way the Philadelphia offense is playing. Looking back on the season, it’s hard to believe the Cowboys have lost as many games as they have, especially when they had a chance to runaway with the NFC East early in the season, but they have and the biggest reason for their struggles has been a terrible defense.
10. St. Louis – If they only had a quarterback, there’s no telling how good the Rams could have been this year. Even in the NFL’s best division, they still have a chance to finish .500, with wins over at least three playoff teams, possibly five. Regardless of their record, the Rams were one of the toughest teams for opposing teams to play all season with their vicious pass rush, and for that they deserve some recognition.
11. New York Giants – It wasn’t a good season for the Giants, but after starting the season 0-6, they have a chance to finish with a 7-9 record, which doesn’t sound all that bad, especially considering the number of times they turned the ball over this season. Things could have spiraled out of control for the Giants, but with a win this week they will have won seven of their final 10 games, which is a nice silver lining to such a disappointing season.
12. Detroit – Even though several of their losses came in close games, Detroit’s collapse over the second half of the season has been one of the worst in the NFL in recent memory, and it’ll likely cost Jim Schwartz his job. Considering that Chicago and Green Bay played without their starting quarterbacks for significant chunks of the season, there’s no excuse for the Lions not winning the division with all of their talent, as they might be the most disappointing team in the NFL.
13. Minnesota – The Vikings have suffered some close losses this season and they’ve played fairly well towards the end of the season, but with little clarity at the quarterback position, this wasn’t the season Minnesota was hoping for, and that’ll likely mean a new head coach and a new quarterback for the Vikings next season.
14. Atlanta – Some key injuries and an ill-equipped defense hurt the Falcons this season after they had high hopes for a Super Bowl run coming into the year. Atlanta has played much better down the stretch and stayed competitive with playoff-caliber teams, which isn’t much, but it’s something.
15. Tampa Bay – At times this season, the Bucs looked competitive and played like a team you wouldn’t want to face, but they hurt themselves in close games and didn’t show much consistency throughout the season. Tampa was terrible at the start of the season and they haven’t been much better towards the end of the season, showing little growth or improvement over the course of the season.
16. Washington – The Redskins have actually looked better with Kirk Cousins at quarterback than RG3, which should make for an interesting offseason, but ultimately it’s hard to argue against Washington being the worst team in the NFC this season, as they’ve been a disaster from beginning to end and could close out the season on an eight-game losing streak.
There’s just two weeks left to play in the season, but there’s still plenty left to settle in the NFC. Let’s try to make sense of everything with the week-15 power rankings.
1. Seattle – The Seahawks were quite impressive on Sunday against the Giants, and they didn’t even need to be home to do it. It was a perfect dress rehearsal for a possible return trip to Met Life Stadium for the Super Bowl in a couple months, and the way things have gone this season, it’s hard not to think that’s how things will end up going for the Seahawks.
2. San Francisco – The 49ers deserve to be in the two-spot heading into the final two weeks of the season after a dominating effort on Sunday against a Tampa Bay team that can be tough to play. The San Francisco defense is as good as they’ve been all season, and the offense is becoming more dangerous by the week, as the 49ers are finally starting to look like the team we thought they’d be when the season started.
3. Carolina – The Panthers bounced back nicely from their loss the previous week, which helps them maintain their position as one of the top teams in the conference. Carolina does have to do a better job in the red zone, especially since their offense isn’t always able to create big plays, but their defense is going to ensure that they have a chance to win just about every week. They now get a rematch with the Saints, along with an opportunity to take a lead in the NFC South if they can win. It’s the biggest game the franchise has had in years, so it’ll be interesting to see how they play, especially after getting blown out by the Saints just a couple weeks ago.
4. New Orleans – The Saints had an abysmal effort on Sunday for the second time in three weeks. New Orleans can really struggle against teams that can put pressure on the quarterback, and they are not always reliable on the road, which are two rather big concerns for them as the postseason approaches, especially if they can’t win in Carolina next week and guarantee themselves a home playoff game.
5. Arizona – The Cardinals are the team in the NFC that just won’t go away; they keep hanging around and hanging around. By winning six of their last seven games, Arizona has taken care of business against less teams and given themselves a chance to make the playoffs in their final two games against the top two teams in the conference, so if they get to the postseason they’ll have earned it.
6. Philadelphia – The Philadelphia defense from early in the season showed up on Sunday against the Vikings, putting a stop to their five-game winning streak. The Eagles blew an opportunity to take full control of the NFC East and showed some vulnerability on Sunday, which is not what they want to do heading into the final two weeks of the season. At this point in the season, the Eagles need to prove that they can bounce back from a loss and get back on track quickly.
7. Chicago – The Bears were able to make a fairly seamless transition from Josh McCown to Jay Cutler, and having Cutler at quarterback without any controversy will make their offense even better than it’s been. Even though they still have a world of problems defensively, they look rather formidable heading into the final two weeks of the season.
8. Green Bay – Against all odds, the Packers are still alive in the NFC North playoff race. They pulled off an amazing comeback against the Cowboys and bought Aaron Rodgers another week to get back on the field. If Rodgers can make it back for the final two games, Green Bay will have a great chance to win both games and could sneak into the postseason.
9. Detroit – The Lions are in real trouble after losing four of their last five games. Detroit is capable of winning their final two games, but they’re also in freefall mode, so nothing is guaranteed and now they need outside help to get into the postseason when a few weeks ago they were in complete control of the division, which is a huge drop off in a short period of time.
10. Dallas – The Cowboys have really embarrassed themselves the past two weeks. There are no excuses for being that inept against the Bears defensively, and then for blowing a 23-point halftime lead against the Packers, especially when they had a chance to run down the clock instead of throwing the ball and turning it over. There’s incredible chaos in the organization right now, and that could make it difficult to win the games they need to win the final two weeks, even this weekend against the woeful Redskins.
11NFL Week 13 Power Rankings: Seahawks, Panthers, 49ers, Saints, Eagles, Lions, Cowboys, Cardinals and More
There are just four weeks left in the NFL season and things are starting heat up throughout the NFC. As we prepare for the final month of the season, let’s take a look at how every NFC team stacks up heading down the stretch.
1. Seattle – After what happened Monday night there is no doubt that the Seahawks are the best team in the NFC, and will be a difficult team to beat in the postseason, when they will certainly have home-field advantage. Seattle dominated the Saints on both sides of the ball, and look head and shoulders above nearly every other team in the NFL, especially at home.
2. Carolina – The Panthers just keep on rolling, even in what could have been a pair of trap games the last two weeks with a showdown with the Saints on the horizon. Carolina finally had a dominating outing on Sunday against Tampa Bay and that moves them up to the second spot in the power rankings with a trip to New Orleans coming up this week.
3. San Francisco – The 49es are definitely starting to peak, and while Colin Kaepernick is far from where he was this time last year, he is showing signs of breaking out of his slump. San Francisco is not far behind the two teams ahead of them in the power rankings, and they have a chance to prove that they should be on equal footing with everyone else when they host the Seahawks this week.
4. New Orleans – The Saints have been sputtering for a while, but they fall hard after being humiliated on Monday night. Not only is home-field advantage in the postseason all but lost, New Orleans is now tied in the NFC South with a red-hot Carolina team that they will see twice over the next three weeks, and if they don’t start to play better, the Saints may have to settle for a wildcard spot.
5. Philadelphia – The Eagles aren’t quite an elite team, but they’re definitely better than the pack in the NFC, as four straight wins displays a level of consistency that most teams in the NFL lack. Philadelphia seems to have an identity, as well as a formula for winning games: the offense gets a lead early and the defense does just enough to hang on. It’s not a flawless philosophy, but it’s certainly working for the Eagles, especially with the way Nick Foles is playing.
6. Detroit – The Lions jumped back in control of the NFC North with a convincing win on Thanksgiving. The defense came to play, albeit against an under-manned Green Bay offense, and their offense was spectacular. However, they also committed four turnovers in that win, which is a concern, as is their lack of consistency, which is what’s holding them back from being in the same category as the top-tier teams in the NFC.
7. Dallas – Once again, the Cowboys showed how good they’re capable of being on offense when they run the ball effectively. If Dallas can keep on running the ball the way they have the past couple of weeks, there aren’t too many defenses that can keep them contained on four quarters, but finding that consistency is still as issue for them. The Cowboy’s other problem is their pass defense, which struggles against mediocre teams, and could hold them back against several of the teams they’ll face down the stretch.
8. Arizona – We may have jumped the gun on the Cardinals just a little, although they only lost to the Eagles by a field goal on the road, and that was with a -3 turnover ratio. Arizona is definitely on the outside looking in when it comes to the playoff picture, but they’re still alive and good enough to make a strong push during the final month of the season.
9. New York Giants – It may be too little too late for the postseason, but the Giants have won five of their last six games and are playing better than nearly half the teams in the NFC. At the moment, they’re almost on a level playing field with Detroit, Dallas, and Arizona, but their 0-6 start is too much to overcome, even though they’re playing like a team that should be in contention.
10. St. Louis – For a team that’s played with Kellen Clemens at quarterback for much of the season, the Rams are hanging in there. They held San Francisco’s running game to less than three yards per carry on Sunday and are doing what they can on offense, despite being limited at quarterback. They won’t sniff the postseason, but they’ll be a hard team to play the final four weeks of the season.
11. Chicago – It’s a shame Jim Mora isn’t the coach of the Bears, because the phrase “playoffs? I just hope we can win a game” is starting to come to mind. They’ve only been blown out once while losing three of their last four games, but a team with such great weapons on offense needs to be able to find a way to win close games, and they haven’t done that over the past month, even though they had plenty of opportunities to take control of the NFC North.
12. Green Bay – Five straight weeks without a win and Aaron Rodgers still questionable to come back with four games left to play puts the Packers toward the bottom of the power rankings. Without Rodgers they may not be able to win another game the rest of the season and could plummet further in the power rankings by season’s end.
13. Minnesota – The Vikings are tougher to play than people think, and they showed that on Sunday against the Bears. Minnesota has just one loss in their last four games, and they’re going to enjoy playing the role of spoiler down the stretch, as Leslie Frazier fights to keep his job.
14. Tampa Bay – It was a nice three-week winning streak for the Bucs, but they’re back to being a terrible team that needs to make a coaching change after getting completely dominated by a division rival.
15. Washington – The Redskins have only held an opponent to less than 24 points once this season; even with a healthy quarterback that’s not going to give you a winning record. Things are really bad in Washington right now.
16. Atlanta – Don’t get too excited about the Falcons ending their five-game losing streak because they did not deserve to win that game; the Bills gave the game away with two late fumbles. Atlanta is still a bad team, and probably the worst in the NFC right now.
We’re 11 weeks into the NFL season and things are far from settled in the NFC, as we’re still having plenty of shakeups in the weekly power rankings. Let’s take a look at this week’s top 10 in the NFC:
1. Seattle – After a couple shaky weeks the Seahawks appear to be back on track heading into the stretch run, and that puts them back in the top spot in the NFC power rankings. The return of Percy Harvin is a huge boost to an offense that needs a spark, and even though he had just one catch on Sunday, Harvin should grow more comfortable and become more productive over the next few weeks, which will make the Seahawks a far more formidable offense to face, making them an even more difficult team to beat.
2. New Orleans – The Saints slip behind the Seahawks this week because they didn’t look so unbeatable at home this week, as they needed a little good fortune late in the game in order to get past the 49ers, although the way they played late in the game and manipulated the clock was quite impressive to watch. The Saints better enjoy their trip to Atlanta Thursday night, because it could be their last easy win for a while, as their schedule is real tough heading down the stretch, beginning with a showdown against the Seahawks the following Monday, and New Orleans has looked a little more vulnerable the past few weeks; their game against Dallas notwithstanding.
3. Carolina – For the second week in a row the Panthers pulled out a close win against one of the NFL’s top teams, leaving little doubt that they’re for real. Cam Newton orchestrated a few masterful drives, including one in the 4th quarter that ended up producing the game-winning touchdown. He also played turnover free football while the Carolina defense slowed down Tom Brady just enough to secure victory. With six straight wins under their belt, the Panthers look like a team to be reckoned with, and should have a pair of easier games the next couple of weeks before a showdown in New Orleans.
4. San Francisco – The 49ers got a tough break in the Super Dome on Sunday, but despite the loss it was a far more promising performance than the one they had the previous week against Carolina. Mario Manningham is back on the field and Michael Crabtree isn’t far behind, so perhaps the addition of those two guys will make things easier for Colin Kaepernick, who needs to pick it up if the 49ers are going make another deep playoff run this year. The good news is that after games against Carolina and New Orleans, the schedule gets easier this week with a game against the Redskins, which should help San Francisco get back on track after back-to-back losses.
5. Philadelphia – The Eagles keep moving up the power rankings, and why shouldn’t they after their third straight win. Philadelphia still isn’t great at playing with a big league, as they struggle when they try to slow things down, but when they get going they can be tough to stop, as Nick Foles continues to play well. The Eagles are now the team to beat in the NFC East after taking over first place from the Cowboys. They also got the monkey off their back with regard to winning at home, which is important with three of their final five games being played at Lincoln Financial Field.
6. Detroit – The Lions drop a spot this week after a pitiful defensive effort by their secondary against the Steelers. Even against a team with no running game to speak of, Detroit’s pass defense was torched by a team whose offensive playmakers aren’t all that impressive, while they’re offense only managed to score points in one quarter and were completely shut out in the second half. The Lions could have taken complete control in their division with a win; instead, they are once again tied atop the division with the Bears, and continue to struggle to put together a complete game on both sides of the ball.
7. Chicago – Nothing about the way the Bears play is pretty these days, but playing ugly seems to work for them, as they’re still hanging around after their overtime win against the Ravens. Chicago now has to hit the road for four of its next five games, which will be tough for them, especially if their defense doesn’t give the offense a little more support.
8. Arizona – The Cardinals fell behind early against the lowly Jaguars, but they got their act together and eventually took care of business against Jacksonville to win their third straight game. Now it’s time for Arizona to make a statement, as they host Indianapolis this week, and a win against a division leader would not only boost their playoff hopes but also move them up in the power rankings, as there’d be no denying that the Cardinals are for real.
9. Dallas – The Cowboys better hope they fixed some things during their bye week, because they’ve lost hold of first place in the NFC East and a loss this week against the Giants would further deplete their playoff hopes and almost certainly knock them out of the top-10 in the power rankings.
10. Green Bay – The Packers barely edge out the Giants for the final spot in the top-10 this week, despite losing to the Giants this past weekend. What saves the Packers is the fact that Aaron Rodgers should be back soon and that they return home this week to play the Vikings, which is a team Green Bay should be able to beat regardless of who’s playing quarterback for them. As long as the Packers can get back on track this week, they should be in decent shape heading into December as long as Rodgers returns from injury the following week.
11NFL Week 10 Power Rankings: Broncos, Chiefs, Patriots, Colts, Titans, Chargers, Jets, Ravens and More
The AFC went 0-4 against the NFC last week, while the Colts and Bengals both suffered disappointing losses, what does that mean for the week 11 power rankings? See below:
#1 Denver Broncos
Here for now, but haven’t been very impressive as of late; Big test against Kansas City on Sunday.
#2 Kansas City Chiefs
The Chiefs are undefeated, but have had a soft schedule and they play the Broncos this weekend. The Chiefs pass rush better be locked in.
#3 New England Patriots
Bill Belichick has always loved Ed Reed, but will they take a flyer?
#4 Indianapolis Colts
I have thought this team was slightly overrated and last week’s 38-8 loss to the Rams didn’t help change my mind.
#5 Cincinnati Bengals
This team continues to confuse everyone. Extremely impressive one week, sub par the next.
#6 Tennessee Titans
Now that Jake Locker is out, this team will likely be sliding out of the top 10 very soon. However, the AFC is so weak that they are still alive for a wild card.
#7 San Diego Chargers
It was pretty surprising how little success the Chargers had throwing the ball, but they are still in the think of a playoff berth.
#8 New York Jets
The Jets have the 3rd worst point differential in the AFC, but they are still in the drivers seat for the second wild card.
#9 Baltimore Ravens
As much as I do not care for Joe Flacco, the Ravens’ win over the Bengals was both impressive and might have saved their season…for now.
#10 Cleveland Browns
Browns remain in good position since they boast the only winning record within the AFC North.
#11 Pittsburgh Steelers
Somehow, this team has put themselves in a position to get back in the divisional race… don’t hold your breath though Steelers fans.
#12 Houston Texans
It’s hard to find anything going right in Houston right now… Case Keenum might help some Aaron Rodgers owners though.
#13 Buffalo Bills
The Bills continue to look worse and worse somehow. What a tough NFL start for their new head coach.
#14 Oakland Raiders
What started as a promising season for Pryor has ended up with the Raiders having the 4th worst offense in the NFL.
#15 Jacksonville Jaguars
Good new Jags fans, with the Bucs winning, the Jags are still in the hunt for the #1 pick.
#16 Miami Dolphins
Has any team ever had a worse sequence of events while losing 4 out of 5?
Tell me how wrong I am on twitter @Cole_Stevenson
There were a few surprising results during week 10 of the NFL season, and that has caused a significant shake up in the NFC power rankings. Let’s take a look the top 10:
1. New Orleans – The Saints sure know how to respond from a loss, as they just decimated the Cowboys Sunday night, putting up 625 yards and collecting 40 first downs, which reminded everyone why they’re the class of the NFC. New Orleans will play three of its next four games against the other top teams in the NFC, so they’ll have to fight to hang onto their top spot in the power rankings while also trying to solidify home field throughout the playoffs, but based on everything we’ve seen, the Saints should be up to the challenge.
2. Seattle – The Seahawks looked sketchy for a couple of weeks, but they responded to a pair of subpar efforts with a strong performance against the Falcons on Sunday. Although it was against the lowly Falcons, it was a dominating effort that reminded us why Seattle is one of the top teams in the NFC. If they can avoid a slip up this week against Minnesota, they’ll enter their bye week on a six-game winning streak, with their showdown against the Saints coming up after that.
3. Carolina – It’s officially time to buy into the Panthers, as they pulled out a win at San Francisco over the weekend thanks to their suffocating defense. They will need Cam Newton to play better against quality opponents, as their schedule is tough down the stretch, but they have the defense that will keep them in games. All the top teams in the NFC appear to have good defenses, and Carolina is definitely one of them.
4. San Francisco – A loss to Carolina is a small step back for the 49ers, but it is definitely a step back, as their offense should have been better prepared and more effective coming off a bye week. Colin Kaepernick has been unsteady this year, and not at all like the guy we saw the second half of last season, and as long as that’s the case, the 49ers are going to have trouble competing with the other top teams in the NFC, and that includes this week’s road trip to New Orleans.
5. Detroit – The Lions escaped Soldier Field with a win after a goal-line stand on a two-point conversion, and now they sit alone atop the NFC North. It may be just a one game lead in the division, but with a season sweep of the Bears and the Packers continuing to deal with injuries, Detroit has to feel good about where they stand and how they’re playing heading down the stretch.
6. Philadelphia – The Eagles make a big leap up in the power rankings in part because other teams are struggling, but also because Nick Foles played well and led the offense to a lot of points for the second week in a row, and that consistency is great to see. The Philadelphia defense has also played well over the past month, and the Eagles have a schedule that sets up well for them well down the stretch. However, the Eagles play their next three games and four of their final six games at home, where they have yet to win this season, and that’s a trend that they can’t allow to continue.
7. Chicago – The Bears don’t feel like the 7th best team in the NFC, as they have some serious problems, but they’re still in better shape than the teams below them. The Chicago defense is one of the worst in the NFL against the run, and with Charles Tillman done for the rest of the regular season, the secondary isn’t in good shape either. Even with a bad defense, the Bears do have an offense that can keep them in games, and Josh McCown has played well, but the uncertainty between him and Jay Cutler, who’s dealing with injuries, isn’t helping matters.
8. Green Bay – The Packers fall back several spots in the power rankings, as they are in real rough shape at the moment. Scott Tolzien is not the guy they need to get them back atop the NFC North; Seneca Wallace and Matt Flynn may not be the guy they need either. Even if Aaron Rodgers only misses a couple more games, Green Bay still has some tough games down the stretch and may not be able to climb back into contention. Somehow, the Packers have to find a way to win without Rodgers, but right now that looks like a tough task.
9. Arizona – The Cardinals continue to hang around on the periphery of the NFC wild card race, as for the most part they’ve taken care of business against weaker opponents this year. Arizona also has a convincing win over Carolina in week 5 that looks pretty impressive right now. If the Cardinals can keep it up this weekend in Jacksonville, they’ll continue to put pressure on the teams above them and remain a factor in the playoff hunt down the stretch.
10. Dallas – It’s like the Cowboys don’t want to be in the top-10 of the power rankings. There’s no excuse for their pitiful performance Sunday night in New Orleans, and now winning the NFC East looks like it’ll be a lot harder for them to do than it should be. Injuries are beginning to pile up on the defensive side of the ball, which was the biggest problem they had last year, and could become a major issue for them this year. The bye week comes at a good time for them, but they have a lot of work to do if they’re going to get back on track after that embarrassing loss to the Saints.
We’re moving into the second half of the NFL season, but there are still plenty of changes being made in the weekly power rankings. Let’s check out the top-10 in the NFC following week 9:
1. New Orleans – Despite a loss to the Jets, there still aren’t enough reasons to remove the Saints from the top spot. The team obviously isn’t perfect, as the Jets managed to put a lot of pressure on Drew Brees, the Saint’s rush defense was exposed a bit, and Jimmy Graham isn’t fully healthy, but as long as they bounce back at home next week against Dallas, there’s no reason to worry too much about New Orleans, as they still look like the top team in the NFC.
2. San Francisco – The bye week was good to the 49ers, as not only do they move up in the power rankings, but they also look to be getting healthier with cornerback Eric Wright coming off the PUP list and wide receiver Michael Crabtree getting closer to returning to the field. They have a tough game against Carolina this week, but they ride a five-game winning streak and had an extra week to prepare coming off their trip to London, so the 49ers should be in good shape, especially after looking better every week throughout the month of October.
3. Seattle – The Seahawks may not have lost to Tampa Bay, but they drop in the power rankings because their issues nearly caught up with them, doing so at home and against a winless team, which should not have been the case. The comeback was impressive, but they got gashed on the ground and were -3 in the turnover ratio, and that’s not going to fly against playoff-caliber teams. After the way Seattle has played the last two weeks, they definitely deserve to be knocked down from the number 2 spot in the NFC, and they definitely have issues that need to be resolved.
4. Green Bay – For now the Packers stay at number four following their loss to the Bears Monday night. However, if Aaron Rodgers has to miss significant time, it could cause Green Bay to plummet in the power rankings. The Packers have been able to survive a slew of other injuries because they still had Rodgers running the show, but without him it’s a whole different story.
5. Detroit – The Lions stay at number 5 during their bye week, but things are about to get interesting for them with road trips to Chicago and Pittsburgh the next two weeks. Detroit is talented, but they haven’t been the most consistent team this season, and in the NFC North this year, there could be a thin line between being the division champion and being out of the playoffs, so it’ll be interesting to see if they can start showing more consistency, especially on defense.
6. Carolina – A convincing win over the mediocre and under-manned Falcons isn’t enough to push the Panthers any higher in the power rankings, but a win in San Francisco this weekend would almost assuredly move them up. Carolina has won four straight games against sub-.500 teams, and now it’s time for Cam Newton and company to prove that they can compete against on the NFC’s top teams.
7. Chicago – The Bears got a little lucky against the Packers, as the injury to Aaron Rodgers helped them pull off the upset in Lambeau Field. But regardless of who played and who didn’t play, Chicago played an impressive game Monday night, showcasing great balance on offense and a solid defensive effort. Josh McCown did a fine job in relief, but now it looks like Jay Cutler will be back on the field this week against Detroit, and could provide a spark for the Bears moving forward.
8. Arizona – The 4-4 Cardinals enjoyed their bye this past weekend, and now opportunity is knocking for them with games against Houston and Jacksonville the next two weeks, giving them a chance to put themselves into the heat of the wild card race. Their schedule during the second half of December is brutal, so they really need to get hot in November if they’re going to make the playoffs.
9. Dallas – The Cowboys are lucky to be anywhere in the top-10, just as they should feel lucky that they were able to squeak out a home win against the Vikings. Finishing a game with nine total rushing attempts is not a formula that’s going to work late in the season and in the playoffs, if they can get there. Dallas now has a trip to New Orleans this week, and they play three of their next four games on the road, giving them a tough schedule head, meaning it’s time for them to prove themselves.
10. Philadelphia – The inconsistencies are maddening, but every time we try to write off the Eagles, they come storming back with an absurd offensive effort. Oakland isn’t the hapless team they were last year, so putting up 49 points against them on the road is nothing to scoff at, especially with another change at the quarterback position. Of course, winning in Oakland is much different from winning in Green Bay, which is the task the Eagles take on this week, as they’re still searching for more week-to-week consistency on both sides of the ball.
It was another week of shakeups in the NFC, as a few of the better teams were able to shake off a sloppy September and start to look like the teams we thought they would be. Let’s take a look at the NFC’s top 10 teams five weeks into the season.
1. New Orleans – The Saints move to the head of the class, as the lone undefeated team remaining in the NFC. The Seahawks loss allows the Saints to move up, but beating Chicago on the road was impressive as well. New Orleans continues to look like a whole different team than last season now that Sean Payton is back on the sidelines and Rob Ryan is running the defense. They now have a chance to go into their bye week at 6-0 if they can get a road win against the Patriots this week.
2. Seattle – There’s no shame in a road loss to the Colts, who look like they could be one of the top teams in the AFC, but Seattle’s defense couldn’t quite contain Andrew Luck for four quarters, as the Seahawks took a lead into the 4th quarter but couldn’t close out the game. Offensively, Seattle played better than they have in recent weeks, especially at the wide receiver position, but they definitely took a half step back with the loss to Indianapolis.
3. San Francisco – The 49ers have played the last two weeks more like the team we thought they would be this year. Even without Aldon Smith, San Francisco is clamping down defensively and winning games even when Colin Kaepernick isn’t giving them a lot of production with his arm. The NFC is loaded with good defenses at the top of the conference, and San Francisco appears to have one of them.
4. Chicago – The Bears shouldn’t feel too bad about back-to-back losses against the Lions and Saints, especially since they were within one score of each team. Of course, their biggest win of the season is a three-point win over the Bengals at home, and that’s not terribly impressive five weeks into the season. A loss against either the Giants or Redskins in the next two weeks would send them plummeting down the power rankings, but for now they remain close to the top.
5. Green Bay – Coming out of the bye week the Packers put together a complete game, shutting down the Lions defensively and showing a balanced offensive approach with 99 rushing yards from rookie Eddie Lacy and a solid day from Aaron Rodgers. The question becomes whether Green Bay can play like that on a consistent basis. Beating the Ravens on the road this week would be a nice way to prove that they can.
6. Detroit – The Lions appear to be a little too dependent on Matthew Stafford, who gets a bit of a pass for only getting nine points on the board in Green Bay without Calvin Johnson. Detroit stays on the cusp of the top-5 in the power rankings because they still have a lot of talent and potential, but they can expect to drop considerably if they lose to the Browns this week, even on the road.
7. Dallas – Despite the loss, the Cowboys showed what they’re capable of doing offensively, and a lot of credit goes to a much-improved offensive line, which has given Tony Romo a lot of time to find his receiving targets. However, Dallas also showed how weak it is on defense, especially in the secondary. They have two close losses to two teams that are still undefeated after five weeks, but their only two wins are against the Giants and Rams, so there’s still reason to be skeptical about the Cowboys.
8. Arizona – The Cardinals are a little Jekyl and Hyde this season, but they do have a win over Detroit on their resume, and they’ve only allowed 16 points over their last two games, albeit against Tampa Bay and Carolina. Arizona can definitely stuff the run, which works to their advantage, especially with division foes San Francisco and Seattle on the schedule the next two weeks. However, the Cardinals need to get it going offensively, because the defense isn’t going to hold up forever and they’re far too talented at wide receiver to have only five passing touchdowns in five games.
9. Atlanta – It’s going to be a long bye week for the Falcons, who fell to 1-4 after their Monday night loss to the Jets. Matt Ryan and the offense did well to erase a 13-point deficit in the 4th quarter, but the defense let them down once again. Atlanta is barely hanging on to a spot in the top-10 in the NFC, but what saves them is that all four of their losses have been close and all four losses have been against good teams (yup, even the Jets are considered a good team right now). The Falcons aren’t that far from everything coming together, but they have dug quite a hole for themselves at 1-4, especially with the 5-0 Saints at the top of the division.
10. Philadelphia – The Eagles are another team that you don’t know what to expect from week to week, but more times than not they’re going to move the ball and score points. No one’s saying Philadelphia is going to make the playoffs just yet, but they’ve won both of their games within the division and they have winnable games in each of the next four weeks if the offense can keep it going, even with Michael Vick nursing an injury, but at some point the defense is going to have to give them support.
Week 5 in the NFL brought even more parity to the already wide-open AFC. The Broncos obviously hold on to the top spot, but where does your team rank? Here are your week 6 power rankings:
#1 Denver Broncos
Defense took a step backwards and the offense showed signs of being human in the 4th quarter, but this team is still in a class of their own.
#2 Kansas City Chiefs
Wasn’t a very impressive win over a Ryan Fitzpatrick led Titans team, but the Chiefs got it done again on the road in week 5. This might be the most balanced team in the AFC.
#3 Indianapolis Colts
Putting up 34 points against the Seahawks is no easy task no matter where they are playing. Maybe this team can give Peyton a rude homecoming in a few weeks.
#4 New England Patriots
I don’t think anyone is ready to panic in New England yet, but putting up only 6 points is a big red flag for the Pats. Defense continues to be solid though and Gronk should be back next week (although we’ve heard that before).
#5 Baltimore Ravens
I am shocked. The Ravens really did follow through and give the ball to Ray Rice more. If they continue to do this and not allow Joe Flacco to prove his insufficiencies week in and week out, this team might actually be a playoff factor.
#6 Miami Dolphins
Sunday was a tough home loss coming off a beat down in New Orleans. Tannehill showed again that he is for real though and I still think this team will be a factor in the Wild Card race.
#7 Cleveland Browns
As surprised as I am to be writing this, it is time to give the Browns some respect. They may not be beating the best teams in the league, but they have now won 3 in a row since their much-maligned trade of RB Trent Richardson.
#8 Cincinnati Bengals
The more Bengals games I watch, the more I realize that Andy Dalton is not the answer. He has far too many weapons to only be putting up the 23rd most points in the league.
#9 Tennessee Titans
I have this team in the top 10, but with Jake Locker out, I could see them falling very quickly. Chris Johnson has not been effective and Ryan Fitzpatrick looked inept on Sunday.
#10 New York Jets
I believe this Jets defense is the real deal. However, Geno Smith is still a streaky rookie prone to the bad decision, so I would be pretty surprised if this team peaks anymore than they already have.
#11 Houston Texans
After a heart breaking home loss to the Seahawks, the Texans went out west and got pounded by the 49ers. Now there is a QB competition and based on what we have seen, neither competitor gives this team a great shot to do anything special.
#12 Buffalo Bills
Thad Lewis is starting for this team in week 6. That should tell you the shape that they are in.
#13 Oakland Raiders
I was extremely impressed with Terrelle Pryor on Sunday night and would not be surprised if this team wins 5/6 games if he stays healthy.
#14 San Diego Chargers
This team continues to give false hope to their fan base. It’s been nice to see Antonio Gates healthy though.
#15 Pittsburgh Steelers
Hard to see a way out of the mess the Steelers are in. Antonio Brown has been good for my fantasy team though.
#16 Jacksonville Jaguars
Tebow rumors continue to swirl….Shoot, even Mark Brunell rumors should be swirling at this point.
Tell me how wrong I am on twitter @Cole_Stevenson
Rounding out the offseason power rankings are the teams ranked 22-32:
#22- Tampa Bay Buccaneers
This team found a stud in Doug Martin, but the Jury is still out on Josh Freeman. Freeman, after a very promising rookie campaign, looked completely and utterly lost for stretches of the 2012 season. The fate of the Bucs 2013 season rests in his hands at this point.
#23- Detroit Lions
If the Lions can find a more consistent running game and offensive line to surround Matthew Stafford and Calvin Johnson with, this team might be able to accomplish some things. Otherwise their drives will continue to look like this: penalty, sack, Johnson reception, penalty, short run, incomplete to Johnson in triple coverage, punt.
#24- Cleveland Browns
Not sure what I think of Brandon Weedon yet, but this team has more questions that him. New coaches, a new defensive scheme, and a lack of LB are more critical question marks right now.
#25- Buffalo Bills
If this team continues to realize what a playmaker they have in C.J. Spiller and continue to get him the ball, I think Ryan Fitzpatrick will be ‘good enough’. If the defense would keep the opposing team from dropping 30 points in a half, that might help too.
#26- Philadelphia Eagles
Who is NFL newcomer Chip Kelly going to go with at QB? Well, it’s not really going to matter unless they can get their offensive line straightened out. As bad as Michael Vick was last year, to be fair, he was running for his life almost every play. With that being said, I cannot wait to see how Chip Kelly’s offense will fare at the NFL level.
#27- Arizona Cardinals
While the Cardinals offense was absolutely embarrassing last season, the defense fared okay (5th ranked passing defense). Especially when you consider that they were on the field probably more than every other defensive unit in the league. The QB situation is still a mess and it doesn’t appear that they are close to finding an answer, so don’t expect too much more than last year, but it has to be a little bit better… right?
#28- New York Jets
Words cannot even describe the debacle in New York anymore. There isn’t much (if anything) to like about this team as of right now. Revis is most likely leaving and the league’s worst QB over the last 2 years will be starting week 1. On the bright side, at least Tebowmania should be gone so we don’t have to hear about their ineptness every week.
#29- Tennessee Titans
The Titans have plenty of cap space and some decent options in the draft to bolster their O-line. They should just ask Chris Johnson who he wants blocking for him and then give him the ball 35 times a game.
#30- Kansas City Chiefs
The Chiefs are only ahead of the Jaguars because they had more overall talent last year, and have better draft picks. Otherwise, it’s a toss up. We are about to find out how good Andy Reid really is.
#31- Jacksonville Jaguars
Until this team realizes that Blaine Gabbert is not the answer, they won’t be much higher than this. MJD could carry this team to 2 or 3 wins, but I would be SHOCKED at anything more than that at this point. Maybe they will draft well for a change though.
#32- Oakland Raiders
After losing 8 of their last 9, the Raiders didn’t even leave us hope for 2013. What’s next? Well, players will be running the 40-yard dash at the combine this week….other than that, not a whole lot to be excited about in Oakland.
Follow Cole Stevenson on twitter: @Cole_Stevenson