NFL Power Rankings: Predicting Post-Week 10 Standings

Timothy RappFeatured ColumnistNovember 6, 2013

Nov 3, 2013; Houston, TX, USA; Indianapolis Colts quarterback Andrew Luck (12) looks for an open receiver during the second quarter as Houston Texans defensive end J.J. Watt (99) applies pressure at Reliant Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports
Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports

The NFL is full of surprises. We've now seen Nick Foles throw for seven touchdowns in a game, Marvin Jones catch four touchdown passes in a game and rookie running backs like Zac Stacy and Andre Ellington absolutely blow up.

We never quite know what twists and turns the NFL will throw our way, but that doesn't mean we shouldn't try to project what happens next. Thus, I've done my NFL power rankings this week with a twist: The rankings take into account my predictions for this week's action, ranking the teams accordingly.  


32. Jacksonville Jaguars  

Current Record: 0-8

Opponent: at Tennessee Titans

Record Next Week: 0-9

Analysis: The Jaguars were easily one of the worst teams in recent memory going into their bye, and then they lost Justin Blackmon for the season to suspension. Yikes. At least Gus Bradley will have his pick of the litter in this year's NFL draft. 


31. Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Current Record: 0-8

Opponent: Miami Dolphins

Record Next Week: 0-9

Analysis: What's so astonishing about the Bucs is that there is talent on this roster. Even with Doug Martin out with a torn labrum, this team has players. This isn't like Jacksonville, where the lack of talent is obvious. 

But pretty much everything has gone wrong for this team, and things won't get better against Miami. At least Mike Glennon has played well, Tampa fans. He'll be a nice building block for whomever takes over as the team's head coach next year. 


30. Minnesota Vikings 

ARLINGTON, TX - NOVEMBER 03:  Running back Adrian Peterson #28 of the Minnesota Vikings carries the ball during the game against the Dallas Cowboys at Cowboys Stadium on November 3, 2013 in Arlington, Texas.  (Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images)
Jamie Squire/Getty Images

Current Record: 1-7

Opponent: Washington

Record Next Week: 2-7

Analysis: The Vikings have Adrian Peterson, and they are pretty tough against the run (104 rushing yards allowed per game, 11th in the NFL). And that's about it. 

Christian Ponder came through with a terrific performance to beat the Redskins on Thursday, but he left with a dislocated shoulder, paving the way for Matt Cassel again. It was a nice win for the Vikes, but things aren't about to get much better. 


29. Atlanta Falcons

Current Record: 2-6

Opponent: Seattle Seahawks

Record Next Week: 2-7

Analysis: It's over, Atlanta fans. It doesn't matter if Roddy White returns, or if Steven Jackson regains his form, or if Matt Ryan can overcome the loss of Julio Jones

The Falcons still have to face the Seahawks, New Orleans Saints, Green Bay Packers (in Week 14, when Aaron Rodgers should be back in action), San Francisco 49ers and Carolina Panthers.

The season is over, Atlanta fans. See ya next year.


28. Oakland Raiders 

Current Record: 3-5

Opponent: at New York Giants

Record Next Week: 3-6

Analysis: Darren McFadden can't stay healthy, Terrelle Pryor took a step back on Sunday—has there ever been a player more in love with spinning and booting out of the pocket rather than stepping up in it?—and the defense basically rolled over and died against the Philadelphia Eagles. 

There are some things to get excited about in Oakland, but not for this season. 


27. St. Louis Rams

Current Record: 3-6

Opponent: at Indianapolis Colts

Record Next Week: 3-7

Analysis: The Rams have lost two straight games by one possession, bringing them to three on the year. The emergence of Zac Stacy has been a huge development, while the secondary and dangerous pass-rushers like Chris Long and Robert Quinn have made the Rams difficult to beat through the air.

Unfortunately, Kellen Clemens just isn't very good, and thus, neither are the Rams. 


26. New York Giants 

Current Record: 2-6

Opponent: Oakland Raiders

Record Next Week: 3-6

Analysis: The biggest turnaround for the Giants in their two-game winning streak has been the play of the defense, which has given up just 14 points total in those games. If the defense keeps it up—and if Eli Manning protects the ball—it isn't crazy to think that this Giants team could make a push for an 8-8 record.

Look at the schedule: Oakland is beatable, the Green Bay Packers may be without Aaron Rodgers, Dallas and Washington (twice) are inconsistent, San Diego doesn't play defense, and Seattle and Detroit are probably losses.

It's unlikely, but not impossible.


25. Buffalo Bills

Current Record: 3-6

Opponent: at Pittsburgh Steelers

Record Next Week: 3-7

Analysis: Hey, at least C.J. Spiller returned to form in Week 9, accumulating 155 yards from scrimmage. But with the quarterback position remaining in flux and the defense being decent but certainly not great, it's hard to get too excited about Buffalo this year.

Even with a winnable game against the Steelers up next.


24. Pittsburgh Steelers

Current Record: 2-6

Opponent: Buffalo Bills

Record Next Week: 3-6

Analysis: It's obvious the Steelers aren't very good, but after being absolutely embarrassed by the New England Patriots—and losing to the Raiders the week before—the Steelers will be playing for their pride at home against Buffalo.

Oh, and considering it remains up in the air who might start for the Bills in Week 10—even if E.J. Manuel returns, he'll surely be rusty—I like the Steelers in this one. 


23. Houston Texans 

Nov 3, 2013; Houston, TX, USA; Houston Texans quarterback Case Keenum (7) attempts a pass during the fourth quarter against the Indianapolis Colts at Reliant Stadium. The Colts defeated the Texans 27-24. Mandatory Credit: Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports
Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports

Current Record: 2-6

Opponent: at Arizona Cardinals

Record Next Week: 3-6

Analysis: In Case Keenum they trust. 

The Texans gunslinger was excellent against Indy, completing 20 of his 34 passes for 350 yards and three touchdowns. The health of Arian Foster will continue to be a concern—as will a surprisingly vulnerable run defense—but Keenum, Andre Johnson and others won't lose two in a row. 


22. Baltimore Ravens

Current Record: 3-5

Opponent: Cincinnati Bengals

Record Next Week: 4-5

Analysis: Last season, the Ravens won nine of their first 11 games before slumping badly down the stretch, losing four of five. 

They went on to win the Super Bowl. 

The point is, this Ravens team can be pretty darn streaky. There are obvious concerns—for starters, Ray Rice hasn't looked good at all this year—but keep in mind that four of their five losses have been by six points or fewer. 

If Joe Flacco and Co. can start winning some of their tight games, they are certainly capable of getting hot and making a run at the playoffs. Expect them to get started with an upset of Cincy this weekend.


21. Cleveland Browns

Current Record: 4-5

Opponent: Bye

Record Next Week: 4-5

Analysis: Jason Campbell is the new Brian Hoyer. He nearly led the Browns past the Kansas City Chiefs two weeks ago before knocking off the Ravens in Week 9. 

The Browns defense is legit—fourth in total yards allowed per game (315.7)—and Josh Gordon and Jordan Cameron are excellent weapons for Campbell.

So much for tanking, huh? 


20. Arizona Cardinals 

Current Record: 4-4

Opponent: Houston Texans

Record Next Week: 4-5

Analysis: Arizona is quietly 4-4, but there isn't a lot to get excited about here outside of perhaps youngster Andre Ellington or Larry Fitzgerald making a few highlight-reel catches. Keenum has the Texans offense humming, and a Houston team more talented than its record suggests will knock off the Cardinals at home. 


19. San Diego Chargers 

Current Record: 4-4

Opponent: Denver Broncos

Record Next Week: 4-5

Analysis: San Diego doesn't have a good enough defense to take away any one aspect of the Broncos offense, and while the Chargers are excellent on offense, they don't have the weapons to match Denver in a shootout. 

An overtime loss to Washington was not only disappointing coming out of the bye, but it could be the difference between a playoff spot and an early golf trip. Down the stretch, the Chargers face the Broncos and Chiefs twice and also have to play Miami and Cincinnati—a brutal slate of games.


18. Washington Redskins

Current Record: 3-5

Opponent: at Minnesota Vikings

Record Next Week: 3-6

Analysis: After an 0-3 start, Washington was just one win against the awful Vikings away from officially being back in the NFC East race, but they couldn't do it. The defense has been pretty poor, but the offense has been excellent, with 407.6 yards per game (fifth in the NFL) and 25.4 points per game (12th) entering the week. 

Another great offensive effort wasn't enough, though, as they fell to the Vikes and are now back to two games behind the Cowboys in the loss column. 


17. Philadelphia Eagles

Current Record: 4-5

Opponent: at Green Bay Packers 

Record Next Week: 5-5

Analysis: Raise your hand if you predicted Nick Foles would throw seven touchdowns last week, Riley Cooper would have five receptions for 139 yards and three touchdowns, or that the Eagles would score 49 points in three quarters against the Raiders. 

If you are raising your hand, I'm guessing you are related to Foles or Cooper. 

The Eagles have a golden opportunity in front of them. They face the Packers likely without Aaron Rodgers this week, Washington the next, and then they go on a bye and have the Cardinals, Detroit Lions, Vikings, Chicago Bears and Dallas Cowboys after that. 

It's not crazy to think that this team could finish 8-8 and win the NFC East behind one of the league's most explosive offenses. There is hope again in Philadelphia. 


16. Miami Dolphins

Current Record: 4-4

Opponent: at Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Record Next Week: 5-4

Analysis: The Dolphins remain at the center of the NFL universe for all the wrong reasons, but that didn't prevent them from earning a crucial 22-20 overtime win on Thursday night against the Bengals this past week.

Without question, the talent is there to make a late push for the playoffs. There's no reason they can't beat the hapless Bucs, who have plenty of their own issues to deal with. 


15. New York Jets  

Current Record: 5-4

Opponent: Bye

Record Next Week: 5-4

Analysis: Unbelievably, the Jets have alternated wins and losses every week this season. Is it simply a function of the ups and downs that accompany a rookie quarterback? Are the Jets making great adjustments one week and becoming stagnant the next? Are they simply trying to keep the hounding New York media interested?

The Jets face just one team with a winning record (the Carolina Panthers) down the stretch, so a wild-card berth isn't out of the question. The passing game remains a concern, but good defense and a grinding rush attack should be enough to lead this team through a weak schedule the rest of the way.


14. Dallas Cowboys

Current Record: 5-4

Opponent: at New Orleans Saints

Record Next Week: 5-5

Analysis: The Cowboys are so wonderfully inconsistent and dysfunctional, aren't they? They have just one two-game winning streak on the season, while their victories are generally clouded by other controversies. 

This week? Well, how about the fact that they essentially made themselves one-dimensional on offense, rushing just nine times for 36 yards against the Minnesota Vikings? 

That won't fly against the Saints' fifth-ranked pass defense. Dez Bryant can scream and holler for the ball all he wants; if Dallas doesn't establish a running game this week, things won't end well for Tony Romo and the Cowboys.


13. Tennessee Titans

Current Record: 4-4

Opponent: Jacksonville Jaguars

Record Next Week: 5-4

Analysis: Boy, did the Titans need their Week 8 bye. They went in having lost three straight and came out with a big win over the Rams. Chris Johnson looked reborn, rushing 23 times for 150 yards and two touchdowns. 

Now, the team has a chance to go 5-4 against the Jacksonville Jaguars and enter its name into the muddled AFC Wild Card race. Behind Jake Locker and a solid defense, expect the Titans to handle the Jaguars with ease.


12. Green Bay Packers 

Current Record: 5-3

Opponent: Philadelphia Eagles

Record Next Week: 5-4

Analysis: While no timetable has been established for Aaron Rodgers' fractured collarbone, it would be surprising if he suited up this week against the Eagles. And it would be just as surprising if Seneca Wallace could guide this offense to a win against the streaky but dangerous Eagles. 

As long as Rodgers is out, the Packers will continue to slide down the rankings. Yes, Eddie Lacy and the running game are dangerous, but one of the league's best passing attacks will sink without Rodgers. Wallace is not a good backup quarterback, plain and simple. 


11. Carolina Panthers 

Current Record: 5-3

Opponent: at San Francisco 49ers

Record Next Week: 5-4

Analysis: Few teams in the NFL come into Week 10 hotter than the Carolina Panthers, who have won four straight behind their nasty defense and a rejuvenated Cam Newton under center. Unfortunately for Carolina, their opponent this week, the 49ers, are even hotter, having won five straight.

Both teams are in the top 10 in yards and points allowed on defense, as well as rushing yards on offense, but at home, the Niners get the edge here. Still, this is a Carolina squad that looks the part of a playoff team, especially if it can steal a few wins against elite opponents down the stretch, including New England in Week 11 and two matchups against the Saints.


10. Detroit Lions

Current Record: 5-3

Opponent: at Chicago Bears

Record Next Week: 5-4

Analysis: The Lions have had five of their games decided by one possession or less, going 3-2 in those contests. Matt Stafford and his team certainly like to live on the edge. 

They face a Chicago franchise that is banged up defensively but on top of its game offensively, even with Jay Cutler hurt. In a game that seems destined to become a shootout, Stafford, Calvin Johnson and Reggie Bush will be a handful for Chicago, but I expect the home team to sneak away with a narrow win.


9. Cincinnati Bengals

Current Record: 6-3

Opponent: at Baltimore Ravens

Record Next Week: 6-4

Analysis: The loss of Geno Atkins cannot be understated. He's the league's most disruptive interior lineman, and his loss paired with that of Leon Hall downgrades this defense from one of the league's best to simply a pretty good unit. 

Remember, the Bengals have won just once in their past five trips to Baltimore. Unless Andy Dalton and the offense absolutely blow up, I expect they'll lose this time around, too. 


8. Chicago Bears

Current Record: 5-3

Opponent: Detroit Lions

Record Next Week: 6-3

Analysis: Whether it is Jay Cutler or Josh McCown leading it, this Bears offense has become a force to be reckoned with. The unit has legitimate game-changers in Matt Forte and Brandon Marshall, while Alshon Jeffery and Martellus Bennett give the Bears a dangerous array of weapons in the passing game. 

The Bears are tough to beat at home (3-1), while Detroit isn't as dangerous on the road (2-2), which seems to be just enough to tilt arguably the week's most evenly matched game toward Chicago. 


7. New Orleans Saints

Current Record: 6-2

Opponent: Dallas Cowboys

Record Next Week: 7-2

Analysis: The Saints need to get over a disappointing loss to the Jets rather quickly, with games against the Cowboys and 49ers up next. Luckily for the Saints, both games are at home, where the team is a perfect 4-0 this season. 

It's hard to imagine that a Dallas defense currently 31st in pass defense will have an answer for Drew Brees or Jimmy Graham. Look for the Saints to get back to their winning ways this weekend. 


6. New England Patriots

FOXBORO, MA - NOVEMBER 03:  Tom Brady  #12 of the New England Patriots throws a pass against the Pittsburgh Steelers in the first quarter at Gillette Stadium on November 3, 2013 in Foxboro, Massachusetts.  (Photo by Jared Wickerham/Getty Images)
Jared Wickerham/Getty Images

Current Record: 7-2

Opponent: Bye

Record Next Week: 7-2

Analysis: Good to see you again, Mr. Brady. 

After a pretty mediocre statistical start to the season—his fantasy owners have more than a few gray hairs—Tom Brady exploded against the Pittsburgh Steelers, throwing for 432 yards and four touchdowns. With Rob Gronkowski and Danny Amendola fully integrated back into the passing attack, the Patriots offense finally looked up to snuff. 

It's the offense that will have to carry this team now, with key injuries to defensive players like Vince Wilfork and Jerod Mayo weakening a defense that started so strongly. With Stevan Ridley running like a man possessed and Gronk giving defenses headaches once more, it will be the offense that dominates the headlines in the second half of the season. 


5. San Francisco 49ers 

Current Record: 6-2

Opponent: Carolina Panthers

Record Next Week: 7-2

Analysis: You wonder if the 49ers would have been happy saving their bye week for later. After all, the team won five straight games heading into the break, and quarterback Colin Kaepernick was starting to really heat up.

On the other hand, the team surely appreciated a bye week to prepare for a tough Carolina side in a game that should be a physical and defensive struggle. And things won't get easier next week, when the Niners travel to New Orleans.

Still, this team has hit its stride, and the 49ers are getting healthy as a unit. The team that started the year as the Super Bowl favorite in many circles now looks the part.  


4. Indianapolis Colts 

Current Record: 6-2

Opponent: St. Louis Rams

Record Next Week: 7-2

Analysis: While Peyton Manning appears to be running away with the MVP award, at what point does Andrew Luck enter the conversation?

Sure, his stats aren't overwhelming (1,845 passing yards, 13 touchdowns, 58.3 completion percentage), but he's thrown just three interceptions, led his team to wins over the Broncos, 49ers and Seahawks, and orchestrated an impressive second-half comeback against the Houston Texans despite missing his top weapon, Reggie Wayne.

T.Y. Hilton and Coby Fleener stepped up in that contest, but if Trent Richardson could play up to his potential, this team could be really hard to stop. The AFC is pretty stacked at the top of the standings, but the Colts can hang with anyone they face.


3. Seattle Seahawks 

Current Record: 8-1

Opponent: at Atlanta Falcons

Record Next Week: 9-1

Analysis: Seattle can run the ball with the best of them, and the secondary is arguably the league's best, but the Seahawks have shown real vulnerabilities in the past two weeks.

The passing game really, really needs Percy Harvin—and he's unlikely to play this week—while the defense has been surprisingly friendly to opposing rushing attacks, allowing 116.2 yards on the ground, 19th in the NFL. 

Give the Seahawks credit; they didn't play well at all against the Rams and Buccaneers but still came away with a win. Against a struggling Falcons team that has a shoddy defense and has been beat up on offense, the Seahawks should get their ninth win, even if it isn't always pretty.  


2. Denver Broncos 

Current Record: 7-1

Opponent: at San Diego Chargers 

Record Next Week: 8-1

Analysis: Denver's schedule has been pretty favorable, but it's about to hit a tough patch, with games against San Diego, Kansas City (twice) and New England in the next four weeks. 

We know the league's top offense can put points on any opponent it faces, but can the defense step up, especially against good offenses in San Diego and New England? The Broncos are currently 30th in pass defense—if they don't tighten up in that department, they could be in trouble against Philip Rivers and Tom Brady. 

Then again, San Diego is 28th in total yards allowed per game (393.8), so Manning and his arsenal of weapons may simply run up the score this week. 


1. Kansas City Chiefs

Current Record: 9-0

Opponent: Bye

Record Next Week: 9-0

Analysis: For a long time I've resisted putting Kansas City atop this list, both because the Chiefs have played just one team with a winning record and because I think both Denver and Seattle have better teams. 

But take a close look at Denver's schedule—it's been pretty darn easy as well, and the one elite opponent the Broncos faced (Indianapolis) beat them. Meanwhile, Seattle needed a red-zone stand on the last play of the game to beat St. Louis and needed overtime to take down woeful Tampa Bay. 

Do I think this is a Super Bowl team? No. Do I think, after nine straight wins, the Chiefs have earned the right to top this list with a legit defense?

Yes, yes I do. 


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