NFL Power Rankings Week 11: Ranking The AFC
With another weekend officially gone, another weekend of football is on the horizon.
Once again, the AFC was completely shaken up this week. Now there are a couple of teams that likely don't know where they stand.
Fear not teams with identity crises! I am hear to clarify.
Here are all 16 AFC teams and where they lie as we enter the thick of the season in Week 11.
16. Buffalo Bills
First and foremost, hearty congratulations are in order.
Well done Buffalo! You finally earned your first win of the season!
Unfortunately, you are still at the bottom of the AFC in practically every capacity.
The Bills are on the rise and you can quote me on that. They have a capable quarterback (I have faith in Ryan Fitzpatrick), a young, talented running back (CJ Spiller), a developing receiving corps and a defense that has some potential. The future is looking bright(er).
For now though, the Bills are still the bottom of the pecking order.
15. Cincinnati Bengals
This is a hard one for me, mostly because of all of the talent that the Bengals have. They have the potential to be at the top of the AFC, but I suppose talent doesn't get you anywhere if you execute like the Bengals do week after week.
Some of you probably think that this is a little harsh. Sure, the Bengals record is bad, but they've kept a lot of games close, right?
But that's the worst part.
The Bengals keep coming so close to pulling off wins, but mistakes continue to keep them from getting there. That is why they are in the doghouse right now.
14. Houston Texans
The Texans are another team that I find completely confusing.
They have a great running game, a normally proficient passing game, and a defense spotted with superstars. Yet they seem to be completely falling apart.
Some could lay the blame on Matt Schaub, saying that he doesn't quite come through when the pressure is on.
Really the blame has to fall on the defense. They are the worst defense in the league (statistically), and they keep giving up big plays every week (see last week against Jacksonville, two weeks ago against San Diego, etc.).
When the Texans can prove that they can put all that talent towards a win, they will move up. For now they rest right alongside the Cincinnati Bengals in the painfully under-performing category.
13. Jacksonville Jaguars
I'm sure all of you know that there is a play—a single play—every year that everyone knows about. It is one that ends up deciding a game and that drives the commentators (Gus Johnson) insane. It is one that is the perfect representation of why we all love football.
Mike Thomas' catch off of a 66-yard Hail Mary deflection was that play.
It even came with a miniature Gus Johnson freakout (not quite as good as his commentary on Brandon Stokley's catch against Cincinnati last year, but good enough).
All that aside, Jacksonville is still a sub-par team. Sure, they beat the Houston Texans, but the Texans are struggling right now. It took an act of god for the Jags to pull it out.
Jacksonville has the potential to travel up this list, but it needs to post some more meaningful wins (without the bad losses) first.
12. Denver Broncos
Well, well, well, it appears there is life in the Denver Broncos yet.
They deserve a lot of respect after opening up a total clinic against the Kansas City Chiefs on Sunday.
Denver looked good in all aspects of the game (not including garbage time of course), and the Broncos could pose a serious threat to teams down the stretch. They may be more or less out of the playoff hunt, but they can still finish with a respectable record and the recognition as being one of the best teams out there.
It's more of a consolation prize, but hey, it's something.
11. Miami Dolphins
All I can say at this point is that I am excited to see how Tyler Thigpen plays as the starting quarterback in Miami (I am assuming that Chad Pennington's season is over and that Chad Henne will sit out at least one week).
Back when he played for the Chiefs, I was under the impression that he wasn't half bad. I still don't think I was wrong. Miami fans should feel (relatively) safe in the hands of Thigpen.
The Dolphins have done a lot well this season, but they've also given up some bad losses and they are really hurting now with a rash of recent injuries. How they bounce back from all of that will determine whether this is a playoff-worthy team or whether it needs to head back to the drawing board.
10. San Diego Chargers
As a fan, the hardest thing to do is to swallow your pride and admit that your team is not as good as you think they are.
It is hard for me to admit this about the Chargers, but they are bad.
Sure, they have the No. 1 offense and No. 2 defense in the league. And they have won their last two games. But even in their wins they commit bad, game-threatening mistakes, especially on special teams.
The Chargers are on the rise right now, but they will continue to get docked major points every week if they can't clean up their act.
9. Cleveland Browns
There is a part of me that wants to believe that the Cleveland Browns deserve to be higher on this list, and that part of me is probably right.
Sure, they lost to the Jets. But they brought it into overtime and, had it not been for a dumb fumble, they probably would have won.
Unfortunately they lost and that is what is keeping them down here.
The Browns have a bright future and they still have a couple of wins left in them this season. But I think this is where they have to be and where they will likely stay for the rest of the season.
8. Kansas City Chiefs
After two losses in a row (the first in overtime, the second not even near being close), it's starting to look like the wheels might be coming loose in Kansas City.
The worst part about their last two losses? They were both to division opponents.
The Chiefs are still a good football team and they still have the potential to head into the playoffs as the AFC West champions. But they really need to clean up their act if they actually want that to happen.
7. Oakland Raiders
Who would've thought that the Oakland Raiders would become a competitive football team once again?
Oakland has looked very good in the past few weeks, especially with the resurgence of the running game, and it now finds itself tied for first place in the AFC West. The Raiders are looking down on their biggest rivals, the San Diego Chargers.
There is still a long season ahead for the Raiders but, right now, they are playing great football and are starting to look like the powerful football team that they were once upon a time.
6. New York Jets
There must be a part of me that really enjoys bothering New York Jets fans.
Yes, I know what their record is.
Yes, I know the stats.
No, Mark Sanchez is not a good quarterback.
No, you don't deserve the top 5 and I'll tell you why. The Jets of old seem to have magically disappeared. The Jets have needed two overtime periods and some major luck to pull out their last two wins. Their loss against Green Bay three games ago was simply embarrassing (despite the fact that the score was only 9-0).
The Jets earn this spot by virtue of their record. But they better start showing some actual potential or they will start sinking on this list, win or lose.
5. Tennessee Titans
The Titans' game against the Miami Dolphins was less than spectacular, but this is still a good football team and it should thrive with Vince Young under center and CJ2K rolling. Yes, those are the only two major factors in this one. Randy Moss is persona non grata to me.
The Titans have a less-than-competitive schedule remaining for them this season, and you should expect nothing less than 10 wins.
Unfortunately, you never know how these Titans are going to play, so no promises.
4. Pittsburgh Steelers
Don't let the score fool you. The Pittsburgh Steelers were completely embarrassed by the New England Patriots on Sunday Night, which was made even worse by the fact that the game was played in Pittsburgh.
The key with that game was the offensive line of New England. I don't think there is any other team in the league that can protect the quarterback better than the New England Patriots. That is a killer for the Steelers, especially considering their less-than-spectacular secondary.
I fully expect them to bounce back from this, but a killer loss like this merits a bit of a drop in the rankings.
3. Indianapolis Colts
This is when the rankings get really close and the margin between the top three teams becomes very thin. The reason why the Colts are here instead of the Patriots is simply because they seem to have a tendency to play down to their competition.
They have dropped games against weak opponents and make games close that should be blowouts (see last week against Cincinnati).
The Colts are still a playoff (and potentially Super Bowl) caliber team, but they have some weaknesses that will continue to hamper their progress through the postseason.
2. New England Patriots
If the Patriots could play the kind of defense they played for most of their game against Pittsburgh all season, I would be saying that they might as well start printing the papers, making the t-shirts, and prepping the Lombardi Trophy housing, because the Super Bowl would be all but locked up for New England.
As it stands, the Patriots still have a good shot at getting there. They have one of the best offenses in the league, with Tom Brady at the head and running backs BenJarvus Green-Ellis and Danny Woodhead helping to remake the Patriots running game.
The defense, however, has not followed suit. Some weeks it seems like it would be better off taking the day to study its playbooks.
The Pats are still a dangerous team nonetheless. They are poised to take home the AFC East title on their way to a championship run (Yes, Jets fans, I am assuming that the Patriots will beat the Jets. Such is life).
1. Baltimore Ravens
As far as I am concerned, the Ravens did not lose to the Falcons last Thursday.
Sure, the final score would imply that they did. But the Ravens put up a great effort and they were robbed by a few questionable calls.
The Ravens are playing great defensively, great offensively and they are looking close to unstoppable right now. I only question whether or not they can match teams like New England, Indianapolis and San Diego if the game were to come down to an offensive shootout.
Questions? Comments? Concerns?
You know the drill.
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