There hasn't been much shifting in the NFL landscape in Week 10. There is some shift at the top of the standings, where the league's best isn't the same as it was a week ago.
The Atlanta Falcons went down 28-27 to the New Orleans Saints, spoiling a perfect regular season, reminding folks of the mortality of the NFL and that the Saints can still play some quality football.
Jay Cutler injury aside, the Texans went into the snake pit that is Chicago and beat the Bears at their own game. They now sit atop the power rankings for the foreseeable future and supplant the Falcons as the league's best team.
Elsewhere, the New England Patriots took care of business, as did the Baltimore Ravens and Denver Broncos. Things are getting as muddy at the top of the AFC as they once were in the NFC, and it's going to get even worse with seven weeks still on the schedule.
Here's a look at the biggest winners and losers from Week 10.
1. Houston Texans
The Texans are the big winners this weekend. Arian Foster, JJ Watt and the rest of this roster proved yet again the loss to Green Bay wasn't as big of a deal as people once thought.
They play their own style and brand of football, and answered all questions of toughness when punching Chicago straight in the mouth all night long. Here's to a speedy Jay Cutler recovery, but it was the Texans who sent him to the locker room, not a freak accident.
With two divisional games against the Colts and a showdown with the Patriots still on the schedule, it's not crazy to think this team could go 15-1.
2. Atlanta Falcons
After suffering their first loss of 2012, the Falcons don't drop too far down the list. Their 8-1 mark is still tied for tops in the league, and they continue to play close games in almost every contest. That will bode well for the postseason, when just one play can change the course of a season.
They have to be considered a winner, despite the loss. They had to drop a game sometime this season, and doing so in the middle of the year could be the kind of extra motivation that breeds champions.
3. Denver Broncos
The Broncos are the biggest winners on Sunday. They completed a dominating performance against the Panthers, doing whatever they wanted in all three phases of the game.
Trindon Holliday had a punt return for a touchdown, Peyton Manning continues to prove his worth and this front seven is one of the scariest in football. Just ask Cam Newton.
They are the biggest threat to the Texans, Patriots and every other team looking to make the playoffs in the AFC.
4. Chicago Bears
They lost Jay Cutler, the game against the Texans and a lead on the Packers in the NFC North. The Bears are most definitely big losers on this Sunday night, as Jason Campbell steps in to take Cutler's place in the middle of an NFC North race.
Defense and experience will have to carry this team from here on out, especially with Cutler on the shelf and Green Bay lurking on the schedule.
5. Green Bay Packers
Green Bay is off this week. They continue to push for the top spot in the NFC North, and have another chance against the Bears coming up to help make their case for the top spot.
6. San Francisco 49ers
The 49ers are still one of the NFL's best teams, dangerous for anyone in the postseason. The loss over the Rams is a huge setback, no doubt about it. However, it appears QB Alex Smith will be out for a period of time, after sustaining a concussion on Sunday, marking the real story for the 49ers.
Alex Smith out for the game.— Sports Illustrated (@SInow) November 11, 2012
They have the running game and defense to survive, but still have a rough road ahead with key divisional games remaining. However, Colin Kaepernick managed to lead his team to a comeback, quieting doubters for now.
The Niners neither are winners nor losers on Sunday, in the most literal sense of the word. Time will tell what kind of impact this weekend will have on their chances in the AFC.
7. New England Patriots
The Pats took care of business against the Bills, but teams continue to expose a weak secondary and defense overall. Bill Belichick has to figure out where this defense is headed, or the Pats will wind up in the "Loser" category next weekend.
8. Baltimore Ravens
Baltimore continues to feast on inferior opponents. Oakland proved no match for the suddenly potent offense of Joe Flacco and Co., but the Steelers await next Sunday night. We'll know a lot more about Baltimore, and their defense, after next week.
9. Pittsburgh Steelers
Pittsburgh gets Kansas City on Monday night. We'll update their rank after the game, should anything convincingly change.
10. New York Giants
Another bad loss leaves the Giants in that November funk they always seem to encounter. Lucky for them, divisional relief is still around in the form of the Redskins and Eagles, though neither will be easy to knock off.
Eli Manning and the passing offense looked lost against the Bengals, but it's hard to take the Giants out of the top 10 with past history and the current roster still blaring in our ears.
11. Minnesota Vikings
The Vikings stopped a potential collapse against the Lions, picking up a big win in the process by extending a lead in the wild card race. At 6-4, the Vikings control their own destiny. Adrian Peterson is doing things on his knee that normal humans could never accomplish, and continues to carry the load for young Christian Ponder.
12. Indianapolis Colts
Looky-looky, the Colts win again. The feel-good team of the year gets another win over Jacksonville, putting their impressive Andrew Luck Year One total to six.
Surprisingly, it looks like they'll have a good shot to get to nine wins and the playoffs. It will be tough to beat Houston even once, but the rest of the schedule bodes well (Lions, Bills, Chiefs) for the final three wins.
13. Seattle Seahawks
Seattle may be responsible for Tim Tebow's return to the starting lineup. They dismantled the Jets in front of their home fans, and now sit pretty in the very tough NFC West.
It's looking like the final playoff spot could come down to Minnesota and Seattle, with Tampa Bay, New Orleans and Dallas as dark-horse candidates.
14. Tampa Bay Buccaneers
A head-to-head loss to the Saints could put the Bucs lower down the list, but another win against the Chargers puts them in position to make a playoff run.
Rookie RB Doug Martin finally came back down to earth on Sunday, but the team still put up 34 points en route to a victory. This team may be the biggest roadblock for Atlanta down the stretch, and Greg Schiano is my candidate for Coach of the Year from the NFC.
15. New Orleans Saints
As swiftly as New Orleans was out of the postseason talk, they are now back in the mix. A win over former undefeated Atlanta is now the highlight of a season marred by suspensions and the lack of quality defense, but the Saints can still smell blood in the water all over the league.
Make no mistake—this team is as dangerous as any the NFL has to offer. The rematch against Atlanta should tell us even more about this Drew Brees-led team.
16. Dallas Cowboys
Dallas got back on track after a big win over Philly. DeMarco Murray is expected back in the next week or so, and only then will we know if this team is capable of pushing for a playoff berth.
The defense still looks great, even without emerging star Sean Lee, so it's safe to say Dallas has a good shot at making the dance with a quality 4-5 weeks.
17. Cincinnati Bengals
The Bengals played inspired football on Sunday, sending the Giants home losers for the sixth time in six tries when playing in Cincy. It's the kind of performance that puts them on equal footing with division rivals Pittsburgh and Baltimore, but they'll have to continue to play that kind of grind-it-out game.
18. San Diego Chargers
San Diego took another step back on Sunday, and it puts Norv Turner back on the hot seat for his job. The Chargers dropped a tight one to the Buccaneers, and yet again put themselves in a hole for the rest of the season. Is it time to start over in SD?
19. St. Louis Rams
St. Louis finally got a big play late in the game from an offense that has been starving for those kind of plays all season. However, it wasn't big enough to keep the 49ers from tying a back-and-forth matchup at Candlestick Park.
Still, the Rams played a good game, yet again proved they aren't an easy out and should be an early favorite for comeback team in 2013. It's not often a team moves up in the rankings after a loss/tie, but this is an exception.
20. Tennessee Titans
Tennessee might be the biggest enigma in the NFL. They won a big game against Miami to stay alive in the playoff race, and did so on the strength of a huge running game. Who knows what to make of these Titans? The future appears bright with a healthy Jake Locker.
21. Miami Dolphins
Miami was in the same boat as Indy two weeks ago, but after dropping two straight games to fall to second in the AFC East at 4-5, they now will play spoiler for the rest of the season. Ryan Tannehill and Reggie Bush have both cooled off after hot starts to 2012.
22. Detroit Lions
Detroit was favored to win in its NFC North matchup but couldn't knock off the Vikings to keep pace in the division. The playoff hopes aren't over in Detroit, but they sure did take a near-final blow after this week.
After a promising offseason and big expectations, the Lions continue to be one of the NFL's biggest disappointments.
23. Philadelphia Eagles
The Eagles are in a no-win situation now. Big losers of this weekend, they lost their QB and maybe their head coach in a matter of hours.
Nick Foles is installed as the starter with Vick out via concussion and as he showed on Sunday, he's not ready for all that comes with an NFL defense. It's going to get worse in Philly before it gets better, and that might start with Reid on Monday morning.
24. Buffalo Bills
Buffalo couldn't get the last score against the Patriots on Sunday, and that's a direct picture of what the season has been for Chan Gailey's team. Now 3-6, the Bills go back to the drawing board with little hope of making the postseason.
25. Washington Redskins
The Redskins were off in Week 10, but still have Robert Griffin III running the show. It's a bright future, but this season is over (as confirmed by Mike Shanahan).
26. New York Jets
The Jets continue to find ways to lose football games, and they refuse to make Tim Tebow the starter despite Mark Sanchez coming in No. 33 (that's right, both Arizona QB's are better) in completion percentage.
They'll be losers on this list until something changes in the locker room and on the field. Sanchez threw another interception and managed just seven points on the day. It's Tebow time in New York.
27. Arizona Cardinals
Off in Week 10, the Cards still have John Skelton at QB. Kevin Kolb, who had a hand in all four wins before this five-game slide, isn't any closer to returning, per Darren Urban of the team's website. It will only get worse for the Cards.
QB Kevin Kolb (ribs) said he still plans on returning. Said throwing today it "wasn't great." "I'm just trying not to get frustrated."— Darren Urban (@Cardschatter) November 6, 2012
28. Carolina Panthers
The Panthers have been competitive, have a great front seven and despite multiple injuries to key players, continue to play good football. But it's the little mistakes that keeps them from being in the same class as Atlanta and Chicago, two teams that they should have beaten early this season.
29. Oakland Raiders
Oakland, like Carolina, has played competitive games without the results. A win over the Steelers remains the highlight of the season, but allowing 55 points to the Ravens is a low spot. Oakland continues to lose in the NFL.
30. Cleveland Browns
The fighting Brandon Weeden's were off this weekend, but haven't been able to have sustained success in Year One of their new rookies. They aren't a true loser after no significant expectations, but this franchise will have to have a breaking point soon.
31. Jacksonville Jaguars
The Jaguars have plenty of talent, but continue to struggle to win games with what they have. Cecil Shorts has emerged as a nice third option opposite Justin Blackmon and Laurent Robinson. The question remains—do they draft a QB?
32. Kansas City Chiefs
There's no bigger loser this season than the Chiefs. Regardless of the result on Monday night against the Pittsburgh Steelers, they've been the worst team in football this year.
It's time for a rebuilding project in Kansas City, and that could mean fundamental changes in all aspects of this organization.
Ethan Grant is a featured columnist for B/R's Breaking News Team.
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