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.