NFL Power Rankings: Sorting out League's Pecking Order Before Week 10

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NFL Power Rankings: Sorting out League's Pecking Order Before Week 10
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The only thing that I can say with certainty is that these NFL Power Rankings will certainly change again in a few days.

Not a vote of confidence for this list, but that's the nature of the beast during this unpredictable 2013 season. Teams fool us into thinking we've collected enough data to make informed assumptions, and then they demolish everything with a performance that shatters the projections into thousands of tiny pieces.

So why bother trying to figure out if the New York Jets are for real or if the New York Giants are done stinking? Well, what else are we supposed to do? 

Here's an updated snapshot of where each team stands on the NFL totem pole heading into Week 10.

 

1. Kansas City Chiefs (9-0)

The defense has already amassed 36 sacks, 12 interceptions, 11 fumble recoveries and six defensive touchdowns through nine wins. Can Andy Reid's squad keep riding game-changing defensive plays to an undefeated record? Probably not, but a playoff appearance is a near-sure thing at this point.

 

2. Denver Broncos (7-1)

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Secondary problems feel a lot less significant when you score 42.9 points per game. Peyton Manning's high-octane offense and Kansas City's dominant defense will finally get a chance to prove which unit can thrust its team closer to a Super Bowl run when they clash in Week 11.

 

3. Seattle Seahawks (8-1)

The eventual returns of Percy Harvin and Russell Okung could invigorate this middling passing offense, but the Seahawks have had to overcome close calls against significantly inferior teams. Just imagine the chaos that would have ensued had Seattle not escaped with an overtime victory over the winless Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

 

4. New England Patriots (7-2)

The Patriots were lucky to overcome a putrid offensive stretch by their standards to remain atop of the AFC East, but Rob Gronkowski and Danny Amendola are back, at least for now. Two tough tests in Carolina and Denver await New England after its Week 10 bye.

 

5. Indianapolis Colts (6-2)

Thomas B. Shea/Getty Images

Constantly salvaging late victories is a double-edged sword. Yes, the Colts perform well in fourth-quarter situations, but they also allow opponents to keep the score tight. Four of their six victories have come by six points or less.

 

6. San Francisco 49ers (6-2)

Someone should probably acknowledge that Colin Kaepernick is essentially filling the Alex Smith game manager role for the NFL's least fruitful passing offense. Since his 412-yard outburst to start the season, Kaepernick has averaged 167.4 yards per game through the air.

 

7. New Orleans Saints (6-2)

Arguably the NFL's most complete squad after a scorching 5-0 start, the Saints now must find someone to keep defenses honest in the ground game while stopping opponents from pounding the ball down their throat. Drew Brees and Jimmy Graham can't do it alone.

 

8. Cincinnati Bengals (6-3)

The Colts are the only team remaining on the Bengals' schedule with a record above .500. Then again, the Bengals have already lost to the Cleveland Browns and Miami Dolphins while beating four clubs with winning records. Don't hurt your head too much by trying to figure out the Bengals.

 

9. Carolina Panthers (5-3)

Either they beat the 49ers and gain respect as a legit contender or lose and plummet down the ladder as another meager team looking to steal a precious playoff spot. The Panthers haven't just beaten easy opponents; they've demolished them with a 24-point average margin of victory.

 

10. Detroit Lions (5-3)

Aaron Rodgers' fractured collarbone turns the entire NFC North upside down. If Detroit collects its second win of the season over Chicago this weekend, it has to like its chances at riding a friendly schedule to a division title. If not, the Lions have already exceeded their win total (four) from last season.

 

11. Chicago Bears (5-3)

Well, that evening worked out perfectly for the Bears. Not only did they beat the Packers, but their rival lost its superstar quarterback. Even if Jay Cutler makes a rapid recovery from his own injury, Chicago's 26th-ranked defense is still a major concern when not facing a second-string quarterback.

 

12. Green Bay Packers (5-3)

Rodgers' injury aside, the Packers still allowed 272 passing yards and two touchdowns to Josh McCown. The secondary has little room for error with Seneca Wallace at the helm and the NFC North mired in a three-team tie for first.

 

13. Dallas Cowboys (5-4)

The Cowboys entered Sunday's matchup against Minnesota with a game plan to throw, throw and throw some more. Tony Romo attempted 51 passes against the Vikings while providing DeMarco Murray with just four rushes. That strategy won't fly against the Saints, who rank fifth against the pass and 25th against the run.

 

14. New York Jets (5-4)

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Maybe the Jets' win-loss pattern is a foolproof formula that will sustain throughout the rest of the season. After beating New England and New Orleans, their playoff chances cannot be ignored any longer.

 

15. Tennessee Titans (4-4)

The Titans get the Jaguars and Raiders twice each, but they also have to deal with the Colts twice and travel to Denver. This is a big second half for Jake Locker, who followed an impressive return against San Francisco with two interceptions against the Rams.

 

16. Miami Dolphins (4-4)

Off the field, Jonathan Martin and Richie Incognito have become the case of the week for pundits that need something to fill the airwaves. On the field, the offensive line is a major problem, having given up 35 sacks this season.

 

17. San Diego Chargers (4-4)

Losing to Washington in overtime is a tough blow for a San Diego team that plays half of its remaining schedule against Denver and Kansas City. The revived Philip Rivers will struggle to offset a defense that surrenders 393.8 yards per game. 

 

18. Philadelphia Eagles (4-5)

Out of Riley Cooper's 453 yards and five touchdowns, 347 yards and four touchdowns came in games played by Nick Foles. It's clear that the two have developed a rapport in Philadelphia.

 

19. Cleveland Browns (4-5)

Cleveland can throw a major wrench into the AFC North race by beating Cincinnati again next weekend. Possessing the league's fourth-best defense, a Browns' victory wouldn't be the craziest outcome.

 

20. Baltimore Ravens (3-6)

With a nearly identical completion percentage this season (59.4) as last season (59.7) and on pace to garner his first 4,000-yard campaign, a losing Joe Flacco is no different than the "elite" winner from Baltimore's Super Bowl run. Does that mean other players actually matter?

 

21. Arizona Cardinals (4-4)

A fierce front seven led by Daryl Washington and Karlos Dansby has the Cardinals allowing just 88.3 rushing yards per contest. If only the secondary and offense could make those efforts mean something more.

 

22. Washington Redskins (3-5)

Only in the NFC East does a 3-5 squad sit in prime striking distance. Washington is not out of this if the defense mimics last year's revival.

 

23. Buffalo Bills (3-6)

Jason Miller/Getty Images

Filed under the "Probably Meaningless Stat" department, the Bills scored 20-24 points in each of their first seven games. They lost four of those games by single digits before recently faring worse to the Saints and Chiefs, but now E.J. Manuel will return at quarterback this weekend (via NFL.com's Greg Rosenthal). Don't be surprised to see them end the season on a hot streak.

 

24. St. Louis Rams (3-6)

Frank Gore entered Week 4 in a rotten slump, and then he discovered the Fountain of Youth against the Rams. Chris Johnson limped into Week 9 without a single 100-yard performance this season, but CJIfHe'sLucky1K garnered 150 rushing yards at St. Louis. Attention all battered running backs, St. Louis' run defense can fix your woes!

 

25. Houston Texans (2-6)

Historians will struggle to encounter a more bizarre season than Houston's 2013 campaign. After narrowly winning their first two games as the heavy favorites, the Texans have lost six straight despite amassing 120.4 more yards per game than their opponents this season. If they don't panic and blow the team up, the Texans will be right back in the playoff picture next year without a slew of pick-sixes holding them back.

 

26. Oakland Raiders (3-5)

During a humiliating defeat, the Raiders stumbled upon lightning in a bottle with Rashad Jennings, who gained 176 total yards against the Eagles. That could give Oakland a formidable rushing attack alongside Terrelle Pryor.

 

27. Pittsburgh Steelers (2-6)

Ezra Shaw/Getty Images

Let's go ahead and eliminate all hope of a resurgent run to a playoff spot. The Steelers allowed 610 yards and 55 points to a Patriots offense that has not been themselves all year, closing the door on this season unless the Steelers can win out.

 

28. Atlanta Falcons (2-6)

Thanks for the Falcon...is now what teams are saying when seeing Atlanta pop on the schedule. Matt Ryan just has to grind out this season and hope the team manages its high draft picks well and nurses Julio Jones back to health.

 

29. New York Giants (2-6)

Uh oh. The Giants now face the Raiders, who just allowed seven touchdowns to Foles, and the Packers without Rodgers before Dallas comes to visit. Let the false hope linger just a little bit longer.

 

30. Minnesota Vikings (1-7)

Jamie Squire/Getty Images

After a year where everything went right, everything has gone wrong for the Vikings this season. An unforgiving schedule and three losses decided by four points or less have not helped Minnesota prove last season was more than a fluke.

 

31. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (0-8)

Can Jon Gruden's presence propel Tampa Bay to its first victory of the season on Monday night? Let's just say he'll probably help this team just as much as Greg Schiano. 

 

32. Jacksonville Jaguars (0-8)

I'm tired of relentlessly darting insults in Jacksonville's direction. Hang in there buddies! You can do it! And by "it," I mean maybe win one game, or at least enter the fourth quarter with a reasonable chance to win. Sorry, it's hard to be nice to a team that never officially gave up on Blaine Gabbert.

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