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.