If Thursday night is any indication of how the rest of the week will unfold, then fans are in for an exciting ride.
The Indianapolis Colts edged past the Tennessee Titans 30-27. It was quite the turnaround after Indy was down 17-6 at halftime. For a Colts team coming off the back of a 38-8 loss to the St. Louis Rams, it was important to get back into the win column, especially against a division foe.
With that in mind, here's a look at where each team stands heading into Week 11. The three teams underlined have the most to prove in big games.
1. Denver Broncos (8-1)
Win or lose, the Broncos will remain a Super Bowl contender. Their matchup with the Chiefs is a good litmus test for that defense. Kansas City doesn't have a great offense but one that knows how to move the ball and work the clock. Can Denver do enough to slow down Jamaal Charles?
2. Kansas City Chiefs (9-0)
Plenty of people are arguing that the Chiefs are the worst 9-0 team in history. While they haven't had the toughest schedule in the league, they've still won their first nine games of the season. What more can you ask of them?
Maybe a win over the Broncos.
Beating Denver would cement Kansas City as the team to beat in the league. If you want to prove you're a Super Bowl contender, go on the road and beat the Broncos.
There's also the aspect of Alex Smith proving to any doubters that he's good enough to lead the Chiefs to the promised land. While he won't have to match Manning yard-for-yard, one-upping him on the scoreboard would be huge for Smith's confidence.
3. Seattle Seahawks (9-1)
It should be business as usual for the Seahawks. Seattle gets the Minnesota Vikings, who are firmly planted as one of the worst teams in the NFC North. The only question is whether Seattle will be the lone team with 10 wins come next Monday.
4. New Orleans Saints (7-2)
New Orleans recovered well from that Week 9 loss. The Saints decimated the Dallas Cowboys. Now they get the chance to do the same to the San Francisco 49ers. It will be interesting to see how that defense holds up.
5. Carolina Panthers (6-3)
The Carolina Panthers are scorching. With that win on Sunday, they proved that they've become one of the best teams in the league. Beating the New England Patriots will only build more momentum. The Panthers should keep relying on that defense and not let Cam Newton turn the ball over.
6. New England Patriots (7-2)
Another year, another Patriots team hovering near the elite of the league. New England is also helped out by an AFC East that is otherwise mediocre. When your best competition is the New York Jets, you have to feel safe.
7. Indianapolis Colts (7-3)
Boy that was a close one. The Colts nearly dropped a gimme against the Titans. Following Indianapolis' 38-8 loss, a game like this makes you wonder if this team is ready for prime time. While the Colts look like a playoff contender, can they make that next step?
8. San Francisco 49ers (6-3)
Although this isn't a must-win game for the San Francisco 49ers, it's pretty darn close. By losing to the Saints, the Niners would likely only increase the gap between themselves and the Seahawks. They could also see their wild-card spot slip away.
More importantly, Colin Kaepernick has to look somewhat like the Colin Kaepernick of old. He bottomed out last week, throwing for just 91 yards on 11-of-22 passing. His completion percentage is down six percent from last year, and he's got nine touchdowns to six interceptions. New Orleans will be a tough defense, so San Francisco can't afford to have Kaepernick take a back seat again.
9. Detroit Lions (6-3)
What's this? We're going into Week 11 and the Detroit Lions are on top in the NFC North? In a way, it's about time. Detroit has had good teams but had been unable to go beyond just being a team with a lot of potential. Now the evidence points to the Lions finally putting it all together.
10. Chicago Bears (5-4)
The Chicago Bears took a big step backward when they lost at home to the Lions. Now the division is out of their hands. Even worse, they're on the outside looking in on the NFC Wild Card picture. It will be a nice test on Sunday against the Baltimore Ravens.
11. Dallas Cowboys (5-5)
The Dallas Cowboys are poised to have yet another season of bitter disappointment. While they're looking good for the time being, the Cowboys still have plenty of issues. Among them are that the defense is below-average, and Tony Romo looks to be reverting to late-season form.
12. Cincinnati Bengals (6-4)
Coming into the season, the Bengals offense was the biggest question mark. Now it all focuses on Andy Dalton. He's made little progress since being drafted by Cincinnati in 2011. If anything, he's taken a step back from last year, as he's almost already hit his interception total from 2012. Maybe it's better if the Bengals look elsewhere in the offseason.
13. New York Jets (5-4)
Little else needs to be said about the New York Jets. They're playing so well that it's hard to remember why people wanted Rex Ryan fired in the first place.
14. Philadelphia Eagles (5-5)
Could Chip Kelly lead the Eagles to the playoffs? In the morass that is the NFC East, you can't count them out. Philadelphia is tied with the Dallas Cowboys but loses the tiebreaker after that 17-3 loss back in October.
The Eagles welcome in the Redskins this Sunday. Since this is a division game, it's important for Philadelphia to get the win here. Falling below .500 this late into the season could be troublesome, even in the NFC East. Plus, the Eagles' misfortunes would be coming at Washington's gain. This is a chance for Philadelphia to keep pace with the Cowboys and essentially end any hopes the Redskins still have at making the playoffs.
15. Baltimore Ravens (4-5)
The Ravens are one of those teams you can't put your finger on. Baltimore looked bad at times last year and ended up winning the Super Bowl. While this team isn't as good as the 2012 version, it could be good enough to win a division that hasn't had one team break away from the pack.
16. Arizona Cardinals (5-4)
While the Arizona Cardinals have a great defense, they don't have a great quarterback. I can't be too confident in a team that has Carson Palmer taking the snaps. I've seen too many Bengals games to think that Palmer is the kind of guy who can take a team to the playoffs again.
17. Green Bay Packers (5-4)
Aaron Rodgers can't return soon enough. Getting him back from injury will be the only thing the Green Bay Packers can do to stem the tide and remain in the hunt for the NFC North title. With Rodgers off the field, the Packers defense can't cover the offense's deficiencies.
18. Cleveland Browns (4-5)
If Brian Hoyer was under center, maybe you could get behind the Browns. The fact that I wrote that sounds crazy. But there's also some truth to it. Cleveland won't be going anywhere with Jason Campbell or Brandon Weeden as the starting QB.
19. San Diego Chargers (4-5)
Maybe in a different division the San Diego Chargers could challenge for a postseason spot. In the AFC West, they're relegated to a battle for third. And as long as that defense remains one of the worst in the league, the Chargers won't be able to make any progress.
20. Tennessee Titans (4-6)
If there's anything like a moral victory in the NFL, the Titans got it on Thursday night. Getting that close to beating the Colts might as well be a win. When your starting quarterback is Ryan Fitzpatrick, you can't have high hopes.
21. St. Louis Rams (4-6)
Could the St. Louis Rams remain competitive after the loss of Sam Bradford? Probably not. That 38-8 win over the Colts was more likely a fluke than a sign of things to come. On the plus side, the running game is still performing well.
22. Miami Dolphins (4-5)
What has happened to the Miami Dolphins? They start out 3-0 and then lose five of their next six games. That loss to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers was particularly galling. In the aftermath of the Richie Incognito/Jonathan Martin affair, it's clear why the entire franchise has lost its way.
23. New York Giants (3-6)
Don't look now, but the Giants may be able to get their fourth win in a row. The Green Bay defense has been really bad, and without Aaron Rodgers, the offense hasn't been able to compensate. New York is doing everything it can to make that NFC East race interesting.
24. Washington Redskins (3-6)
How in the world did the Redskins lose to the Vikings? Washington had over 100 yards more than its opponents. Perhaps it was the fact that Minnesota averaged 0.3 yards a play more and that decided the game. The Redskins can't take steps forward until that bad defense is addressed.
25. Pittsburgh Steelers (3-6)
It's always bad to watch a team that has been so good for so long begin to head downward. The Pittsburgh Steelers are in that transition phase. They need to get younger on both sides of the ball and move out the deadwood before they can start thinking of the Super Bowl again.
26. Minnesota Vikings (2-7)
Poor Adrian Peterson. Surely he's going to be the next Barry Sanders—the best running back of his era stuck on an otherwise bad team. Even with a win over the Redskins, the Vikings would remain near the bottom of the standings.
27. Buffalo Bills (3-7)
Things could be much worse for the Buffalo Bills. Expectations were pretty low before the season started, so a 3-7 record isn't all that bad. And nobody can be all that surprised that E.J. Manuel is going through some growing pains. At the very least, he's shown some promise.
28. Houston Texans (2-7)
What's the perfect tonic for a seven-game losing streak? The Oakland Raiders, of course. The Texans are at least showing signs of progress with Case Keenum under center. They've been playing a lot of close games, so it's only a matter of time before things starting falling their way.
29. Oakland Raiders (3-6)
The bad news is that Terrelle Pryor has been awful in his last three games. The good news is that Raiders fans have already come to expect complete failure. You knew Pryor was going to hit a wall. The fact that it's already happened this year is a bit surprising. If anything, you would've guessed that would've happened in his second year as a starter, as it has for Colin Kaepernick.
30. Atlanta Falcons (2-7)
That Falcons defense is so bad. Yes, injuries have had a big impact, but that doesn't explain everything that has gone wrong in Atlanta. Just forget about this year and start focusing on 2014. Look toward the draft and free-agent class. The Falcons aren't going anywhere this year.
31. Jacksonville Jaguars (1-8)
The Jaguars are still a terrible team, but at least they won't be a historically terrible team. You had to figure Jacksonville would get at least one win this season. Now let's see if the Jags can have a second-half resurgence. Is anyone else sensing a Super Bowl contender here?
32. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (1-8)
Take your pick between the two 1-8 Florida teams. While the Buccaneers have more talent, Tampa Bay also has Greg Schiano. That trumps everything else for the time being.
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