These Week 10 NFL Power Rankings are not based on the value of each team but instead the team's odds of making the playoffs.
Some teams will appear to be ranked too high based on their actual talent, but it is probably because of their schedule and competition.
While the New York Jets and Dallas Cowboys are in serious peril of not making the postseason, teams like the Houston Texans and San Francisco 49ers seem ready to punch their playoff tickets.
The division that a team plays in greatly influences its ranking on this list. Additionally, there are more legitimate challengers in the NFC than in the AFC for the final two playoff spots.
So remember these nuances when reading the following slides.
Surprisingly, the Indianapolis Colts have not been eliminated from playoff contention. Officially, that is.
It has been a quick fall from grace for the Colts without franchise quarterback Peyton Manning. It is uncertain how well they would have done with him in the lineup, but it is clear that they may challenge the 2008 Detroit Lions' record of futility without him.
Although if the Colts can luck out and draft Andrew Luck, it may be worth it in the end.
Nothing has followed the script for Sam Bradford and the St. Louis Rams. The Rams have yet to win a game that the defending Offensive Rookie of the Year has started this year.
The defense is dead last in the league against the rush, and their No. 12 ranking against the pass is inflated because of that. The offense has not helped offset the defensive deficiencies, having failed to score in double digits on three separate occasions.
St. Louis was not eliminated until the last game of the regular season a year ago, but they could realistically be eliminated by Week 11 this year.
Kevin Kolb hasn't been the savior that the Arizona Cardinals expected when they paid such a hefty price to the Philadelphia Eagles. He has thrown as many touchdowns as interceptions but has played a relatively difficult schedule.
The rest of the team has not done anything to help out the pricey acquisition. The defense gives up almost 400 yards per game, and the rushing attack ranks near the bottom of the league.
Unless the Cardinals can run off eight straight wins, it is probably safe for Arizona fans to make vacation plans for January.
The Miami Dolphins have withdrawn their name from consideration for the Andrew Luck sweepstakes. They have shown a spark in the last few weeks, coming up just short two weeks in a row before notching their first win.
It still will not be enough to save Tony Sparano's job. The loss of starting quarterback Chad Henne definitely hurt any momentum that could have been built throughout the season.
It has been somewhat inspiring to see the fight that these players have played with. The playoffs are not an option, but they refuse to "suck for Luck."
Tarvaris Jackson is busy leading the Seattle Seahawks back to the land of mediocrity. Reaching the playoffs last year may be the last bit of success they have for quite awhile.
The Seahawks cut ties with linebacker Aaron Curry, their first-round pick from a few years ago. Yet, they still are probably the second-best team in the NFC West.
That isn't an encouraging statement considering the best they can do this season is 6-10.
Cam Newton and Steve Smith have led a resurgence for the Carolina Panthers. They may not be ranked too highly at this time, but they have shown improvement over last season.
They have been competitive in almost every game, as evidenced by only one double-digit loss. There is a lot of hope for the future, but they won't make noise this season save for spoiling a season or two.
When you consider they are in a division with the New Orleans Saints and Atlanta Falcons, their final record will be reflective of a team on the rise.
The Jacksonville Jaguars gave up on the 2011 playoffs before the season started when they released David Garrard. It doesn't make too much sense considering their defense is Top 10 quality and running back Maurice Jones-Drew is as talented as they come.
Rookie Blaine Gabbert hasn't turned the ball over too often, but he has refused (probably because of coaching) to take any real chances. This has led to a predictable offense that cannot take the pressure off the defense.
The decision to scrap this season is extremely curious since the AFC South is finally out of Peyton Manning's shadow.
The Minnesota Vikings have ample reason to be excited about next year. Had they won more than two games during the first half of the season, they would have had a chance this season.
Adrian Peterson still has three or four high-quality years left, but his carries should be limited for the remainder of the season. Rookie quarterback Christian Ponder has shown real promise in his few starts, and the defense needs an injection of youth.
The tough NFC North will keep things difficult moving forward and has completely foreclosed any and all possibilities for the postseason in 2011-2012.
Cleveland Browns fans had high hopes for Colt McCoy, but reality may be starting to set in. They have struggled under lukewarm expectations, and Colt hasn't capitalized on the momentum he appeared to build last year.
Running back Peyton Hillis has been a distraction, as he has sat out apparently on the advice of his agent. There may have been a legitimate reason for him to miss the game, but the damage has been done.
President Mike Holmgren is going to need a couple more offseasons to build up the talent base of a team in a difficult division. The Browns won't challenge this year and probably not for the foreseeable future.
Tim Tebow still doesn't appear to be the answer for the Denver Broncos, but they have won two out of the last three games. Granted, the loss was a 45-10 whooping at home from the Detroit Lions.
The Broncos are only one game removed from the logjam at the top of the AFC West. However, Denver isn't a threat since they play four of the next five games on the road and welcome the New England Patriots and Chicago Bears to Mile High.
One isn't supposed to bet against the "magic" of Tim Tebow, but the odds are extremely long that the Broncos make the playoffs.
Mike Shanahan's tenure with the Washington Redskins has not improved during his second term. The Redskins started off the season hot but have foundered since.
The NFC East is talented but inconsistent, so there remains a chance if they can regain their early-season form. However, the lack of a true quarterback or receiving threat should doom them to last place in the division.
The schedule doesn't do them any favors moving forward, as they still must travel to Philadelphia and New York. The Redskins must also play the New York Jets and New England Patriots.
Chris Johnson's return to earth after three highly successful years has left the Tennessee Titans mired in mediocrity. In fact, the team is dead last in the league in terms of running the ball.
The acquisition of Matt Hasselbeck was intended to take pressure off Johnson, but Hasselbeck has been forced to carry the team without starting wide receiver Kenny Britt.
The AFC South appeared up for grabs once Peyton Manning was ruled out for a large portion of the season. The Titans have not stepped up into the power vacuum and have been content to watch the Houston Texans make a run at it.
Josh Freeman led the Tampa Bay Buccaneers to the cusp of the postseason in 2010. Unfortunately, the front office felt that the young squad would add enough through the draft to stay competitive in the NFC South.
The Bucs are ranked No. 11 passing the ball, but the rest of the team has not contributed. The defense is ranked in the last third of the league against both the pass and the rush.
Tampa Bay is still only a game off the division lead. The schedule isn't unbearable, and the final game against the Atlanta Falcons could determine the final playoff entrant in the NFC.
The Philadelphia Eagles have struggled thus far, just as the Miami Heat did in the NBA. The problem is that the Eagles only have eight more games while the Heat had a few months.
Philly is two games behind the New York Giants for the NFC East lead and only a game out of the wild card. The Eagles have the top rushing attack and a Top-10 passing game, so there may be just enough time to get it together.
The schedule isn't prohibitive if they can get through the next three weeks when they play the New York Giants and New England Patriots.
Todd Haley's beard appeared to be doing a masterful job of turning around the Kansas City Chiefs after they lost their first three games. The Chiefs reeled off four straight wins, but promptly laid an egg at home to the formerly winless Miami Dolphins.
The Chiefs have a more favorable division than the Philadelphia Eagles. Regardless of the talent level disparity, Kansas City has an easier road to the postseason.
The schedule down the stretch is incredibly difficult. The AFC West will most likely come down to the Oakland Raiders and San Diego Chargers.
The Oakland Raiders appeared to be on the right track under Hue Jackson, but the past couple of weeks could prove to be their unraveling.
Darren McFadden's injury set the team back, as he was having a stellar year, averaging 5.4 yards per carry. The Raiders have ridden him and Michael Bush to the third-best rushing attack in the NFL.
The trade for Carson Palmer indicates that the team is going all in this season. That has so far seemed like an inadvisable gamble.
The final eight games provide some real challenges for Raider Nation, and Palmer has yet to look worthy of the bounty exchanged for him.
The Cowboys appear to have found a gem in rookie running back DeMarco Murray. Defensive end DeMarcus Ware has taken his game to another level this year and is a legitimate challenge to Michael Strahan's single-season sacks record.
The schedule provides some relief in the coming weeks before the stretch run. Dallas could very well be 8-4 headed into the final month when they play the entire division as well as the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
The San Diego Chargers are the most talented team in the AFC West every year but usually fall behind early. This season, the Chargers won four of their first five games and appeared to finally be putting it all together.
However, the schedule hid some glaring problems. Philip Rivers threw seven interceptions in those five games and has now thrown seven more in the past three games.
They will get the nod over their AFC West competition in these rankings based on talent and their annual late-season run. If Rivers can stop turning the ball over at his current pace, the Chargers will host a first-round playoff game.
The Buffalo Bills and Ryan Fitzpatrick are the first of the feel-good stories in these rankings. Few saw the Bills coming on as strong as they have to start the season.
Unfortunately, it will not last much longer. Buffalo has only one win over a team with a winning record, although that squad was the New England Patriots.
The loss to the New York Jets was telling, as they never threatened to win the game. Considering at least one of the wild cards will go to the AFC North, the Bills will probably have to wait until next season to break their playoff drought.
The Cincinnati Bengals are another team that has surpassed preseason expectations. If the postseason began today, the road to the Super Bowl in the AFC would run through Cincinnati.
The season does not end today, and the Bengals will not be sitting in first place in the conference or the AFC North at the finish. The schedule gets much tougher with so many division games left to play.
The next two weeks will be crucial as they play both the Pittsburgh Steelers and Baltimore Ravens. The Bengals boast a top-five scoring defense, but it will not be enough to overcome a rookie quarterback against the AFC North stalwarts.
The New York Jets have quietly put together a three-game win streak to put themselves in the driver's seat in the AFC East. Although, to be fair, the only team with no shot at the division is the Miami Dolphins.
The Jets have regained their identity by playing suffocating defense. After giving up an average of almost 33 points a game the three games prior to the winning streak, New York has given up only 38 points total during said streak.
This week's clash with the New England Patriots will go a long way toward determining the division champion. The rest of the schedule sets the Jets up nicely to realistically win six of their last seven games.
The Atlanta Falcons have finally strung together two victories in a row heading into a pivotal matchup with the New Orleans Saints.
The Falcons are a difficult team to peg since they don't do anything extraordinarily well. In the playoffs, it is important to be able to push your advantage on another team.
These rankings are only concerned with their likelihood of making the postseason. Atlanta generally doesn't make many mistakes, as they have a plus-two turnover differential.
If Julio Jones can continue to build upon the last game (he scored his first two touchdowns), the offense will finally display the explosiveness the front office envisioned when trading up for the right to draft him.
Their run of dominance may be coming to a close, as both of their main AFC East competitors are closely ranked behind them. They have now lost two straight—albeit to the Pittsburgh Steelers and New York Giants.
The underlying concern has been how they have lost. Brady has been making terrible decisions, and the defense has been so bad that Belichick's status as a defensive guru is in question.
The buzz around the Detroit Lions has been deafening this year as evidenced by the amount of tweets about the young upstarts.
Matthew Stafford has delivered on the promise of being a No. 1 overall draft pick, throwing 19 touchdowns against only four interceptions. He has aided wide receiver Calvin Johnson in his quest to break Randy Moss' single-season touchdown receptions record.
Ndamukong Suh and Kyle Vanden Bosch have helped head coach Jim Schwartz forge a defense that is predicated on being nasty and getting after the quarterback. They must control that chaos, though, as unnecessary penalties have kept opponents' drives alive.
Even if they cannot maintain their lead on the next team on this list, the NFC North sits in a good position to put three teams in the postseason tournament.
Jay Cutler doesn't hear anybody questioning his toughness anymore. The Chicago Bears quarterback hasn't always been consistent but has yet to be offered any protection by his patchwork offensive line.
The defense hasn't carried the team as in previous years considering they are in the middle of the pack in terms of points given up per game. Luckily, Matt Forte has been spectacular and is on pace to challenge the single-season record for total yards from scrimmage.
There isn't much that separates the Bears from the Detroit Lions. The only reason Chicago is ranked a spot above the Lions is a more favorable schedule closing out the season.
The Pittsburgh Steelers are coming off a soul-crushing loss to the Baltimore Ravens, their bitter divisional rival. But this is a veteran team that knows not to get too high or too low.
Ben Roethlisberger has transformed the team from a grind-it-out running team that plays great defense to a modern passing offense. He is on pace to throw 30 touchdown passes, which would be two off his career high.
The defense is still a top-five scoring defense but has been dealing with injuries. The return of James Harrison (three sacks against Baltimore) provides a boost, but the Steelers need LaMarr Woodley to make a speedy recovery if they are going to hold on to a playoff spot.
The Baltimore Ravens swept the Pittsburgh Steelers and exorcised some demons in doing so. Much-maligned quarterback Joe Flacco put the team on his back and came up with the big plays needed down the stretch to secure the road win.
No team may be as capable of overcoming their quarterback's miscues as the Ravens. Despite only three games with a quarterback rating above 80, Baltimore is still tied for first place at 6-2.
The Ravens have few challenges remaining on the schedule and should coast to the division title. If they should falter against the Cincinnati Bengals, the Ravens will likely have enough wins to grab a wild-card spot at the minimum.
Drew Brees lost the best-quarterback-in-the-league title to Aaron Rodgers, but he is still mounting his own assault on the record books. He has already racked up over 3,000 yards passing and 21 touchdowns.
The New Orleans Saints are steady as always on offense, but their defense has not produced the turnovers they have in the past. Their minus-six turnover differential also illustrates that Brees needs to cut down on his interceptions, as he already has thrown 11 this year.
The Saints have a difficult schedule down the stretch, and the NFC South is as competitive as any division in football. However, New Orleans has consistently put up points this season; so as soon as the defense gets back to their attacking way, this team will find itself on top of the division.
The New York Giants still have a pass rush that strikes fear in opposing quarterbacks. Justin Tuck and Osi Umenyiora have continued the tradition that Lawrence Taylor began and Michael Strahan built on.
The biggest aide to that pass rush is the ascension of Eli Manning into the elite class of quarterbacks. Any MVP discussion must include the younger Manning, who is just shy of a 100.0 quarterback rating for the season.
With an offense able to put up points and get teams down early, the defensive line can stop worrying about the run (ranked No. 25 against the rush) and get after the quarterback. So long as running back Ahmad Bradshaw's foot heals quickly, this team will be able to jump out ahead quickly and then salt away victories behind Bradshaw and their defensive line.
The rest of the NFC East is too inconsistent to pose any real threat to the Giants this year.
It seems as if the Houston Texans have been flying under the radar all season.
Running backs Arian Foster and Ben Tate anchor the second-best rushing attack in football and have found some fantasy football fame. Other than those two, few people could probably name five more starters on the team.
It's shocking then to realize that the Texans defense is among the best units in the league. The additions of Johnathan Joseph and J.J. Watt have helped transform the defense into an intimidating and skilled unit.
The loss of superstars Mario Williams and Andre Johnson has not slowed this team down. The weak AFC South has no chance of catching these guys on their march toward Houston's first playoff berth in franchise history.
Aaron Rodgers has been having a season for the ages, averaging a ridiculous 9.88 yards per attempt. His leadership is the main reason that Charles Woodson has spoken out about the Green Bay Packers' goal of going undefeated.
The defense has been concerning, but the offense has hidden these holes by scoring 30 or more points in five games. Still, the defense is ranked second-to-last against the pass.
The defense and the NFC North are the reasons the Packers are not in the No. 1 spot in these rankings. The Detroit Lions are capable of throwing the ball all over this team and have only two losses. While Green Bay is assured of making the playoffs, they aren't as much as the next team on this list.
Jim Harbaugh has completely turned around the San Francisco 49ers in a little more than a couple months. The physical style his Stanford Cardinal teams embodied has been carried over to the NFL with great success.
The defense has led the way thanks to linebackers Patrick Willis and NaVorro Bowman. While the pass defense hasn't been great, it is nearly impossible to run against the stout front seven.
The main reason that the 49ers occupy the top spot is the lack of competition in the NFC West. They already have as many wins as the division winner last year and only have three tough games left on the schedule.
San Francisco can be permanently inked into a playoff spot today and plan its first-round bye schedule.