Chris Simms' NFL Power Rankings Ahead of Week 10

Chris SimmsNFL Lead AnalystNovember 7, 2016

Chris Simms' NFL Power Rankings Ahead of Week 10

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    “Quality control” is NFL talk for entry level. Its a way for young coaches to dip their foot in the professional ranks to see if they can handle the position. 

    That was never a question for my second-year offensive quality control coach down in Tampa Bay. Sure, he ate game film for breakfast, lunch and dinner to help coach Jon Gruden (a former OQC coach himself) chart opposing defenses. But on the side, he’d always pick coordinator Monte Kiffin’s brain and sit in defensive meetings. Then he’d go back to his offense and draw plays up to counter what Warren Sapp, Derrick Brooks and Co. were running.

    Kyle Shanahan was ready to coach offenses a decade ago. Now, he’s coordinating the most high-flying group we’ve seen in some time. His name should be at the top of any team’s want list; his Falcons are still rising up my weekly power rankings. Check this slideshow to find out how many spots they jumped. (Note: The Bills and Seahawks wont appear until after Monday Night Football.)

    Atlanta isn’t a perfect team, but after Shanahan’s offense laid a 43-point smackdown on Thursday Night Football, they have to be considered a top one.

32. San Francisco 49ers

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    Brian Bahr/Getty Images

    Current record: 1-7

    Last week: 32 (same)

    Some pundits claim Chip Kelly’s uptempo offense is a huge defensive disadvantage.

    I’ll kindly point those so-called experts in the direction of Sunday’s 41-23 trouncing. The 49ers defense couldn’t have been tired after 30 minutes of play and still surrendered 344 yards.

    New Orleans averaged seven yards per play against this defense. The Saints ran for 248 yards on 42 carries too. Until Kelly gets a double doctorate in defensive football, nothing he draws up—not a big DuJuan Harris run or deep sideline throw to Vance McDonald—will matter.

    Looking forward: David Johnson against this Niners rush defense might be the biggest mismatch of 2016.

31. Cleveland Browns

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    Current record: 0-9

    Last week: 31 (same)

    Do you want to win a football game?

    Hue Jackson needs to answer that question. By sitting Josh McCown—the superior quarterback—he’s signaling to his team it’s all about 2017.

    Cleveland’s defense needs to ask itself the same question. It was undoubtedly outclassed Sunday against Dallas’ physical attack. I’m surprised coordinator Ray Horton didn’t come up with something new or different to plug all the Cowboys running lanes.

    Looking forward: It's Browns-former Browns on Thursday Night Football. If Cleveland can't beat Baltimore, 0-16 might be a reality.

30. Jacksonville Jaguars

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    Peter Aiken/Getty Images

    Current record: 2-6

    Last week: 30 (same)

    The running game was back under new offensive coordinator Nathaniel Hackett.

    But so were the turnovers. And Blake Bortles’ bad mechanics. And the crippling turnovers—one by Bortles (interception), Chris Ivory (fumble) and T.J. Yeldon (fumble). Ivory’s was the worst; Jacksonville was knocking on the door with a touchdown chance.

    Add in a fourth turnover on a Bryan Walters’ fumbled punt and you have a recipe for disaster. Gus Bradley’s team won’t beat many others if it spots them 13 points, let alone one as talented as Kansas City.

    Looking forward: Bortles won't have much time to correct his throwing motion when Jadeveon Clowney is coming straight at him.

29. New York Jets

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    Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images

    Current record: 3-6

    Last week: 28 (-1)

    The Jets hired Todd Bowles to be the disciplinarian Rex Ryan never was.

    That’s all well and good, but the NFL is a results-driven league, and Bowles’ brand of discipline isn’t getting results.

    Case in point: Bowles sat both Sheldon Richardson and Muhammad Wilkerson for the entire first quarter for what sure looked like disciplinary issues. He watched from the sidelines as two personal fouls drove the Dolphins deep in Jets territory. Then, Jay Ajayi ran in the end zone untouched.

    Is this season about sending a message? I wonder if it's starting to fall on deaf ears in New York.

    Looking forward: Bryce Petty might get his shot. So should Christian Hackenberg. Gang Green needs to figure out what it has in either signal-caller before the draft.

28. Tampa Bay Buccaneers

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    Don Juan Moore/Getty Images

    Current record: 3-5

    Last week: 28 (-3)

    Look for Mike Evans!

    But spread the ball around!

    But also hand it off to a new running back every week! But please do it all behind a beat-up offensive line.

    Tampa Bay’s heaping loads of unrealistic expectations fell right on Jameis Winston’s shoulders. We saw the end result on Thursday Night Football, and it wasn’t pretty.

    Winston can’t give this offense the perfect game it needs. He can’t even make the right decisions down close to the goal line. His fumble was a killer, and he refuses to protect himself.

    Tampa’s defense held early, but it can’t hold onto a lead with an offense that’s this discombobulated.

    Looking forward: Winston should have an easier time against Chicago's secondary. Then again, the same could be said for Jay Cutler against Tampa Bay.

27. Los Angeles Rams

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    Harry How/Getty Images

    Current record: 3-5

    Last week: 29 (+2)

    The Rams left their proud history of offensive football back in St. Louis.

    All that remains is a wandering group of 11 guys. There’s no cohesion. There’s hardly even a game plan. Case Keenum and Co. went nine drives before scoring. His third-quarter interception was the play that decided a defensive struggle.

    Jeff Fisher is clear in his decision not to use Jared Goff. But in doing so, he’s wasting a Defensive Player of the Year-caliber season from Aaron Donald and any playoff hopes his team might harbor in 2016.

    Looking forward: Donald should be a menace for the Jets' line to handleespecially if that line is blocking for an untested Bryce Petty.

26. Chicago Bears

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    Current record: 2-6

    Last week: 27 (+1)

    The Monsters of the Midway took Week 9 off. It was their bye week.

    Looking forward: Jordan Howard might still be running—if his team suited up in Week 9. We’ll see the blossoming star suit up against a Tampa Bay defense that’s nothing special. I’ll say this: I like his chances for an encore performance on the road.

25. Arizona Cardinals

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    Grant Halverson/Getty Images

    Current record: 3-4-1

    Last week: 20 (-5)

    The preseason darlings for Super Bowl 51 were off in Week 9.

    Looking forward: Carson Palmer and Co. now face a schedule packed with must-win games. Arizona has no room for error off the bye. It’ll take on the 49ers in Week 10 before back-to-back road games in Minnesota (still a tough one) and Atlanta (yikes!). David Johnson’s legs better be well-rested.

24. Carolina Panthers

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    Harry How/Getty Images

    Current record: 3-5

    Last week: 26 (+2)

    Cam Newton is going to be sore this week.

    Los Angeles’ physical defense delivered body blows on body blows. By game’s end, the reigning MVP looked less concerned with completing passes than he was with self-preservation.

    Carolina’s low yards-per-play average (3.9) doesn’t surprise me, especially when Aaron Donald bursted through the offensive line on every other snap.

    The team that beat opponents up last season wouldn’t let those breakdowns happen. Cam and Co. still have work to do before they climb into the top half of my rankings.

    Looking forward: Is Carolina's comeback for real? We'll find out when the equally tough Chiefs pay the Panthers a visit.

23. Tennessee Titans

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    Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images

    Current record: 4-5

    Last week: 15 (-8)

    When Marcus Mariota is rolling, there’s not a scarier offense in football to face.

    It’s a blessing and a curse for Tennessee. Mariota is undoubtedly talented, but he’s unable to consistently keep production up for four quarters of every game. And when he hits a lull, turnovers happen. His two give-aways in Week 9—a fumble and interception—went back the other way for touchdowns.

    It gets worse. The Titans’ usually-stout defense was carved up by Melvin Gordon to the tune of 196 rushing yards. Dick LaBeau’s front seven is better than that.

    Looking forward: Aaron Rodgers will make Tennessee pay for any more Mariota turnovers.

22. Indianapolis Colts

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    Dylan Buell/Getty Images

    Current record: 4-5

    Last week: 24 (+2)

    Indianapolis sunk into a prevent defense when it grabbed a three-score lead in the fourth quarter.

    Read that sentence again. Indianapolis’ defense—the same one that looked like the NFL’s worst on more than one occasion—was in a position to back off and let a team waste its own clock. That’s a major victory inside of a major victory.

    In fact, Indianapolis dominated in all three phases. This version of Chuck Pagano’s team is one that no opponent wants to see on its late-season schedule.

    Looking forward: Catch your breath, Andrew. It's going to take more heroics after a Week 10 bye to get your team in the playoff field.

21. New Orleans Saints

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    Brian Bahr/Getty Images

    Current record: 4-4

    Last week: 22 (+1)

    New Orleans will attempt to put up points on the reigning Super Bowl champions next week.

    It won’t be a mismatch. Drew Brees and Co. are every bit as elite as the Broncos title-winning defense. We should recognize it for the scoring juggernaut it is.

    Sean Payton isn’t just leaning on Brees any longer. The updated version of this Saints attack features a redeemed Mark Ingram (158 yards on only 15 carries) and Tim Hightower. They can pull off all the runs and downfield throws because the offensive line is so dominant.

    Question marks remain on the defensive side. NOLA is getting healthier there, though, and that should scare the rest of the NFC.

    Looking forward: Speaking of those Broncos...they'll be in the Superdome in Week 10. Drew Brees against that defense is must-see stuff.

20. Buffalo Bills

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    Current record: 4-5

    Last week: 14 (-6)

    It’s easy for the NFL to admit fault and issue corrections on a Tuesday.

    How about doing it right after kicker Dan Carpenter got leveled by Richard Sherman—with no personal foul call to show for it? An end-of-half field goal would’ve changed the complexion of Monday Night Football. That no-call, coupled with Walt Anderson’s failure to reset the play clock, cost Buffalo at least a shot at overtime.

    Rex Ryan has a right to be furious, especially after the effort his now-sub-.500 team put forth on the road. Tyrod Taylor had one of the best passing games of his career. LeSean McCoy did an amazing job to eek out extra yardage. The defense didn’t lock down Jimmy Graham on two great throws, but it still did enough to win.

    Looking forward: It’ll be a long flight home for Rex and Co. and an even longer bye week. These are the kind of losses that sink a season.

19. Pittsburgh Steelers

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    Current record: 4-4

    Last week: 11 (-8)

    I had plenty of words to describe Pittsburgh’s passing game before the season started.

    Here’s one I thought I'd never use: predictable. The Ravens could sit safely back in zone and defend anything Ben Roethlisberger threw at them in Week 9. Coordinator Todd Haley’s play calling consists of deep throws to Antonio Brown, Sammie Coates or someone else and…not much else.

    Pittsburgh’s 13 penalties deducted nearly a full football field’s worth of yards from its total. It’s tough to even execute the game plan with all those mistakes. Big Ben took bad snaps and threw a costly interception. Then, there was a big blocked punt.

    Looking forward: Mike Tomlin will find it tough to spark a turnaround with Dallas up next.

18. Cincinnati Bengals

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    Current record: 3-4-1

    Last week: 16 (-2)

    The Bengals didn't suit up after a London trip. They'll be back in Week 10.

    Looking forward: Cincinnati’s offense got its much-needed second target back before its bye. We’ll see the full impact of Tyler Eifert’s return in Week 10. That’s when the Bengals offense needs to come alive in a road game against the Giants. A.J. Green can’t do it all himself. Cincinnati needs help to come back from the brink.

17. Baltimore Ravens

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    Current record: 4-4

    Last week: 23 (+6) 

    Baltimore’s special teams has been consistently inconsistent through the first half of the season.

    Then Chris Moore arrived. The rookie out of Cincinnati has scored back-to-back special teams touchdowns, including a 14-yard punt-block scoop and score in Week 9.

    That play—and a 95-yard touchdown from Joe Flacco to ex-Steeler Mike Wallace—prevented the Ravens from throwing away another winnable game. That’s not putting an opponent away, but it’s a start.

    Looking forward: The Browns are up next on a short week. That means Baltimore can add a little padding in the AFC North race.

16. Miami Dolphins

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    Current record: 4-4

    Last week: 21 (+5)

    That fourth-ranked Jets run defense?

    Still no match for Jay Ajayi. Miami’s power back didn’t eclipse the 200-yard mark, but he dig drag Gang Green defenders with him on some smart, efficient runs. It’s encouraging that he can come right back off the bye and still put numbers up.

    Also encouraging: Ryan Tannehill’s day behind center. I know the yards (149) and touchdowns (just one) weren’t there against a down-and-out defense. But the kid made a handful of impressive throws and avoided the backbreaking interception. Miami will take that.

    Looking forward: Miami is out on the West Coast for a big showdown in San Diego. Can Ryan Tannehill keep pace with Philip Rivers?

15. San Diego Chargers

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    Current record: 4-5

    Last week: 18 (+3)

    Show me the draftnik who’d still take Todd Gurley over Melvin Gordon.

    I’ll show you a draftnik who isn’t watching his game tape. Gordon’s output from scrimmage in Week 9 (261 yards!) trails only Julio Jones (300) this season. He just so happens to lead the league in rushing touchdowns too (tied with LeGarrette Blount).

    Philip Rivers doesn’t have to carry this offense alone. He can move the unit with pinpoint throws—especially over the middle—and if need be, punt. San Diego’s defense just let up 51 rushing yards to DeMarco Murray and the Titans offensive line; it is capable of dictating a game from start to finish.

    Looking forward: San Diego handled one big running team. It will look to handle another when Miami comes to town.

14. Green Bay Packers

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    Dylan Buell/Getty Images

    Current record: 4-4

    Last week: 10 (-4)

    It’s time to start picturing Green Bay outside of the playoff field.

    Why? Because postseason-caliber teams win with above-average defense and special teams play when the offense struggles. Green Bay’s second and third phases aren’t capable of picking up the slack.

    Take Week 9 as a warning sign. The Packers opened up the game by surrendering a kick-return touchdown. Then, Mason Crosby pushed a 48-yard field goal that Andrew Luck and Co. drove all the way back. Just like that, it was 14-3.

    Aaron Rodgers continued to be a one-man band, but if he makes one mistake—as he did on third down when his offense reached field-goal range—it's over.

    Looking forward: Green Bay's run defense against Tennessee's rushing attack? Too close to call.

13. Detroit Lions

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    Current record: 5-4

    Last week: 19 (+6)

    Detroit’s offense pulled off two nearly impossible feats on a football field in Week 9.

    The first: Matthew Stafford’s game-tying march with 30 or so seconds remaining. I’ve come to expect a jaw-dropping drive from No. 9 this season, but come on. Only a few passers can nail a 27-yard throw through three tight windows and still clock the ball.

    The second: A 17-play drive that ate up the last 10 minutes of the second quarter and ended with a touchdown. Stafford might be playing at another level, but that kind of ball dominance requires all 11 guys on the same page. Detroit can do that right now.

    Looking forward: The Lions head into the bye with a winning record. They'll exit with a healthier defense. Watch out for Detroit.

12. Minnesota Vikings

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    Current record: 5-3

    Last week: 7 (-5)

    I was quick to compare Minnesota’s defense to Denver’s last month. And for that, I apologize.

    Would Denver’s defense surrender a 17-play touchdown drive? Would it leave a must-win rivalry game with only one sack? I take it all back; Mike Zimmer’s defense is on a precipitous decline after three weeks in the loss column.

    Of course, it doesn’t help when Sam Bradford and Co. move backward as much as they move forward. This Vikings offense lacks A) any sort of pass protection and B) a running back who has speed to make opposing defenses at least a little concerned.

    So why is Minnesota still ranked ahead of Detroit? I can't give up on this team's talent, despite its issues. And I still believe Mike Zimmer can right the ship on both sides of the ball (plus whatever's going on inside Blair Walsh's head) in time to save their season.

    Looking forward: Minnesota's pass defense looked hapless against Matthew Stafford. It will face a similar test in Washington this weekend.

11. Philadelphia Eagles

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    Current record: 4-4

    Last week: 8 (-3)

    Make up your mind, Doug Pederson.

    Is your Eagles team the kind that’ll kick a field goal when it's trailing by a touchdown? Or is it the kind that’ll roll the dice on fourth down and try to move the sticks?

    Answer those questions before a critical divisional game against a hated rival. Then, if you plan on pushing the envelope, make sure you have better plays on tap than a weak Carson Wentz sweep. That’s how you force rookies to make mistakes.

    Philadelphia lost its edge because of poor coaching, not poor overall play. Pederson needs to turn his season around before his team can.

    Looking forward: Philly let one slip away. Now, its defense squares off against Matt Ryan and Co.

10. Washington Redskins

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    Current record: 4-3-1

    Last week: 13 (+3)

    Captain Kirk wasn’t called upon for any heroics this week. His Redskins were on a bye.

    Looking forward: A bout against the reeling Minnesota Vikings. Can Cousins and his group of receivers pounce on this team while it's circling the drain? I'll be interested to see if Washington can establish the run too.

9. Houston Texans

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    Current record: 5-3

    Last week: 12 (+3)

    Houston didn't hit the field in Week 9. They were on a bye week.

    Looking forward: Say what you will about Brock Osweiler’s play. His Texans remain in first place in the AFC South, even after a Week 9 bye. We’ll watch them resume play in Week 10 against the downtrodden Jaguars. My question: Will coach Bill O’Brien hand the reins of this offense over to Lamar Miller? Houston’s offense is far more dangerous when it's centered around the run game and a tough, physical defense.

8. New York Giants

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    Al Bello/Getty Images

    Current record: 5-3

    Last week: 17 (+9)

    Do I think this Giants team is a well-oiled machine?

    Not really. I’m starting to see the new and expensive pieces fit together, though. The old pieces are starting to produce as well. That's why they jumped so high in the rankings this week.

    Take Victor Cruz and Jason Pierre-Paul, for instance. Both guys are holdovers from the Giants’ last Super Bowl run, and both are clicking within the confines of a new team. Cruz caught a huge third-down throw. Pierre-Paul had an even bigger blocked field goal.

    This team can run the ball better. It can target Odell Beckham Jr. more. It can give up fewer deep balls. But it has the pieces to accomplish all those things.

    Looking forward: Cincinnati has an extra week of preparation. Big Blue has momentum. Which side wins on Monday Night Football?

7. Denver Broncos

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    Current record: 6-3

    Last week: 3 (-4)

    This is what parity feels like, Denver.

    The Broncos can receive a 60-minute whupping just like everyone else in football these days. That long span of physical dominance is no more.

    Oakland revealed this team’s kryptonite is strength and size. Denver’s front seven was pushed aside by a bigger, stronger Raiders front all night long. That negated the impact of Von Miller and eliminated this team’s biggest strength: its pass defense.

    The Broncos were also worn down. Trevor Siemian’s latest subpar outing left an Aqib Talib-less group gassed. Save for one quick drive, Emmanuel Sanders and Demaryius Thomas were afterthoughts.

    Looking forward: Denver's defense was exposed a little in Week 9. Drew Brees might expose it a lot in Week 10.

6. Seattle Seahawks

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    Otto Greule Jr/Getty Images

    Current record: 5-2-1

    Last week: 9 (+3)

    Richard Sherman’s end-of-half kicker controversy might bury the playoff implications from Monday Night Football.

    So let me unearth them. Seattle is a two-loss team heading into Week 10 with tons of momentum. It won despite a huge time-of-possession discrepancy and without its top two defensive stars. It won by allowing Tyrod Taylor to move the chains 12 times out of 17. Few teams could dig themselves out of those disadvantages, kicker controversy or not.

    Few teams have the advantage of a Russell Wilson-to-Jimmy Graham connection, though. Seattle’s potent passing duo keeps masking pass-protection and run-game issues. The Seahawks only need to make a few plays—as they did against Buffalo’s secondary—and let the defense do its job to seize the NFC West.

    Looking forward: Just a Super Bowl rematch in New England. No big deal.

5. Kansas City Chiefs

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    Peter Aiken/Getty Images

    Current record: 6-2

    Last week: 4 (-1)

    Andy Reid’s team isn’t built to win pretty, but it is built to win.

    Without its starting quarterback and running back and best pass-rusher and…the list goes on. Travis Kelce can earn an early ejection, and the team just calls up its next contributor. Credit Reid and general manager John Dorsey for that.

    Credit them for finding Nick Foles too. The former Eagle and Ram was efficient in reserve duty and stayed away from the game-turning mistake. That’s all you can ask from Alex Smith’s backup.

    Meanwhile, check my All-22 team later this week. I have a hunch you’ll see Dee Ford’s name there for the second consecutive week. He’s unstoppable in pass-rushing duty.

    Looking forward: Chris Ivory gave K.C.'s defense fits in the run game. Better believe Carolina will try to exploit that too.

4. Atlanta Falcons

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    Current record: 6-3

    Last week: 5 (+1)

    Matt Ryan was solid for the first two quarters.

    Then, he started connecting with Julio Jones. It took Atlanta’s offense from “great” to “unstoppable.” Good luck slowing the Falcons down when that duo connects on a few mid-range patterns; Kyle Shanahan mixes run and pass better than any coordinator not named Josh McDaniels.

    You’ll never confuse Atlanta’s secondary for Denver’s. With Ryan and Co. on point, it doesn’t have to be. Vic Beasley and a host of Falcons rushers can get after teams once they’re forced to play one-dimensional ball.

    Just ask Jameis Winston.

    Looking forward: Up next on the Matt Ryan dime-dropping tour? The Eagles. This could be the first of two meetings Atlanta will have against Carson Wentz's crew.

3. Oakland Raiders

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    Current record: 7-2

    Last week: 6 (+3)

    These aren’t your older brother’s Raiders.

    They’re your father’s Raiders. Theyre your grandpa’s Raiders. These Raiders bully a team from snap to whistle and add an extra shove in for good measure.

    Regardless of opponent, Jack Del Rio’s team wins in the trenches. It opens holes up for Latavius Murray to burst on through. And it protects Derek Carr so well that even a pass-rushing giant such as Denver can’t touch him.

    Meanwhile, Del Rio’s defense is curbing its big-play susceptibility. Oakland is a team to be reckoned with and one that should scare the traditional AFC powers.

    Looking forward: Derek Carr and Co. get a breather. They're off duty in Week 10.

2. Dallas Cowboys

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    Current record: 7-1

    Last week: 2 (same)

    Dallas could’ve played down to the level of a winless opponent.

    That’s not what great teams do, though. Great teams blow out inferior teams, and Dallas proved its place in Week 9.

    We know how dominant the run game is. We know how accurate Dak Prescott can be. But those two work perfectly together to produce bootlegs and draws and other massive plays. Prescott always has the advantage of one-on-one coverage on the edges too.

    This Cowboys team is the class of the NFC. It’d take a special run-stuffing opponent or a horrific day from Prescott to knock them off their perch.

    Looking forward: Want to see what Dallas will be like in the playoffs? Tune in to watch the Cowboys against a desperate Steelers squad.

1. New England Patriots

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    Current record: 7-1

    Last week: 1 (same)

    The NFL’s kings still reign supreme, even in an off week.

    Looking forward: We’ll see if the Patriots can stay at the top. In Week 10, the Seattle Seahawks come to town in what could be a Super Bowl preview. I want to see Bill Belichick’s defense with Elandon Roberts in the middle. My guess? It won’t miss a beat with Jamie Collins in Cleveland.