NFL Power Rankings Week 11: Which Slow Starters Are Coming on Strong?

Brian DezelskeCorrespondent IIINovember 16, 2011

NFL Power Rankings Week 11: Which Slow Starters Are Coming on Strong?

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    Aaron Rodgers and the Green Bay Packers (9-0) held on to the No. 1 spot in this week’s NFL Power Rankings with a 45-7 win over the struggling Minnesota Vikings (2-7) on Monday night.

    While that’s no real surprise, other teams like the Denver Broncos, who started out slow, have begun to climb the ranks over the last few weeks.

    So, where does Tim Tebow have his Broncos ranked this week? What’s happening with Tony Romo and the Dallas Cowboys?

    These are just some of the questions to get answered as we break down and analyze the NFL Power Rankings for Week 11.

1. Green Bay Packers (9-0)

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    Last Week: 1

    It doesn’t look like any team out there can stop the Green Bay Packers right now.

    Aaron Rodgers is playing the highest level of quarterback any of us has ever seen and the team looks to be turning a corner defensively.

    I know it’s unlikely that a team goes a whole season undefeated, but you won’t find me placing any wagers against them.

2. San Francisco 49ers (8-1)

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    Last Week: 2

    The San Francisco 49ers kept pace with the Green Bay Packers with a great 27-20 win over the New York Giants.

    Patrick Willis and Co. continued doing their thing on defense—still not allowing a rushing touchdown this season.

    They also managed to dodge a huge injury hurdle.

    Matt Miaocco is reporting that Frank Gore’s knee injury was just a bruise and he should be ready to go this Sunday against the Arizona Cardinals.

3. New Orleans Saints (7-3)

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    Last Week: 4

    Perhaps they were given a gift-wrapped 26-20 overtime win on Sunday against the Atlanta Falcons—either way they still won and move up a spot this week.

    Struggles on defense allowed for the Falcons to get back into this game. After having a 23-13 lead with less than five minutes left, the Saints allowed 10 unanswered points, including a game-tying field goal as time ran out.

    A much-needed bye this week will be needed to help this team figure out their defensive woes in time for their Monday night showdown with the New York Giants.

4. Pittsburgh Steelers (7-3)

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    Last Week: 5

    An impressive divisional win against the Cincinnati Bengals (6-3) bumps the Pittsburgh Steelers up one spot from last week.

    Ben Roethlisberger is playing at an elite level after his slow start to the season and the offense has responded in kind.

    A bye in Week 11 comes at a perfect time for this team to rest players, before they surge down the stretch towards the playoffs.

5. Chicago Bears (6-3)

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    Last Week: 9

    Speaking of slow starters, the Chicago Bears make their first appearance of 2011 in the top 5.

    They were sitting down around 20th after the first month on most Power Ranking lists, but have continued to creep up the ladder since.

    The Bears impressed everyone with a 37-13 win over the slumping Detroit Lions.

    It should be noted here that the offense did only score 16 points, with the defense tallying two scores and Devin Hester extending his NFL record for combined-kick return TDs to 17.

6. New York Giants (6-3)

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    Last Week: 6

    The New York Giants suffered a tough 27-20 loss at the hands of the San Francisco 49ers.

    Eli Manning and the rest of the team should build confidence knowing they're able to hang with the best teams in the league right now.

7. New England Patriots (6-3)

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    Last Week: 12

    Tom Brady and the New England Patriots seem to have righted the ship with their 37-16 win and sweep of the New York Jets.

    With the Pats remaining schedule having a combined .328 winning percentage, things look to be lined up for this team to go on a big run.

8. Baltimore Ravens (6-3)

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    Last Week: 3

    A devastating 22-17 loss at the hands of the Seattle Seahawks sent the Baltimore Ravens plummeting down three spots this week.

    Here’s a number for you stat nerds (like me) out there: 52. That’s the number of times Joe Flacco threw the ball in this game.

    I have another stat for you: five. Just so happens to be the number of carries that Ray Rice had in this game. Am I missing something here? Ray Rice is a Pro Bowl running back, right?

    What's just as startling is that two of their three losses have come at the hands of the Seahawks and Jacksonville Jaguars.

9. Houston Texans (7-3)

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    Last Week: 9

    This team seems to be on a mission, despite losing Mario Williams for the season and Andre Johnson for the last seven weeks, however, the loss of Matt Schaub for the season will prove to be too much to handle.

    Arian Foster and Ben Tate can only put this team on their backs for so long.

    Would the Texans dare make a call to Brett Favre?

10. Cincinnati Bengals (6-3)

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    Last Week: 8

    The Cincinnati Bengals may have dropped a couple spots this week, but they still showed us all something—they can hang with the upper-echelon teams of the NFL.

    If Andy Dalton continues to improve every week, this team will find themselves with a wild-card playoff berth.

11. Detroit Lions (6-3)

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    Last Week: 7

    Sloppy quarterback play from Matt Stafford and sloppy special teams play were the main reasons the Detroit Lions let their game with the Chicago Bears get out of hand.

    We’ll have to wait and see if Stafford’s fractured index finger on his throwing hand continues to be a problem moving forward.

12. Dallas Cowboys (5-4)

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    Last Week: 15

    The “Romocoaster” continues to play out this season as the Dallas Cowboys defeated the Buffalo Bills, 44-7.

    Tony Romo was firing on all cylinders Sunday, throwing for 270 yards and three touchdowns.

    They face the Washington Redskins this Sunday, who are a weak team overall, but pretty solid against the pass.

    Will the “Romocoaster” continue its upward assent, or will it come racing back down?

13. Atlanta Falcons (5-4)

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    Last Week: 13

    Oh, Mike Smith. What did you do?

    If you haven’t already heard, Atlanta Falcons head coach, Mike Smith, went for it on 4th and 1 from their own 29-yard line and came up short, eventually costing them the game.

    The New Orleans Saints kicked the game-winning field goal right after to seal the victory.

    You wonder if a tough loss like this will affect this team down the stretch.

14. New York Jets (5-4)

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    Last Week: 11

    It looks like Rex Ryan won’t be talking about winning AFC East titles until next year, after getting swept by the New England Patriots.

    If the Jets do make it into the playoffs, they will have to land a wild card berth.

    That remains to be a huge question mark, however, as this team will only go as far as the inconsistent Mark Sanchez will take them.

15. Tennessee Titans (5-4)

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    Last Week: 20

    Chris Johnson recorded his first 100-yard game of the 2011 season and scored only his second touchdown this year as the Tennessee Titans crushed the Carolina Panthers, 30-3.

    Johnson makes this a very well-balanced offense for Matt Hasselbeck, if and when he gets it going.

    I continue to remain skeptical of Johnson and his selfish attitude until I see more out of him, as this was just against the Carolina Panthers.

16. Oakland Raiders (5-4)

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    Last Week: 21

    Michael Bush totaled 242 yards, the most by an Oakland Raiders running back since the merger, as the Raiders squeezed out a tough 24-17 division win against the San Diego Chargers.

    Carson Palmer seems to be coming along nicely and is forming a nice little bond with Denarius Moore who caught two TDs in the win.

17. Buffalo Bills (5-4)

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    Last Week: 14

    After the Buffalo Bills hot 3-0 start, they went and dropped four of their next six games, including a 44-7 dog-walking at the hands of the Dallas Cowboys this past Sunday.

    A large percentage of the Bills’ recent failures on offense fall directly on Ryan Fitzpatrick.

    He averaged a 105.0 QB rating in their five wins and only a 66.7 rating in their four losses.

18. San Diego Chargers (4-5)

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    Last Week: 17

    The struggles continue for the San Diego Chargers and Philip Rivers after a 24-17 loss to the Oakland Raiders.

    Vincent Jackson only had one catch for 22 yards following a three-touchdown performance the week before.

    The coaching staff didn’t help themselves out any either by only running the ball 15 times for 75 yards—a five yard average per carry.

19. Denver Broncos (4-5)

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    Last Week: 23

    Tim Tebow is 3-1 as a starter this year and the Denver Broncos have won three of their last four games.

    Coincidence?

    I’m not going to sit here and dissect that right now. All I know is that the Raging Tebows are one game out of first place in the AFC West and slowly climbing up everyone's Power Rankings.

20. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (4-5)

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    Last Week: 18

    What the hell happened to Tampa Bay?

    What once was a team with so much promise at the beginning of the season, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers just don’t seem to be able to get any sort of rhythm on offense.

    The downward slide will continue unless they can find a way to get Mike Williams involved in the offense.

21. Kansas City Chiefs (4-5)

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    Last Week: 19

    The Kansas City Chiefs season can be summed up in one word—crazy!

    They start out 0-3 then win four in a row, only to lose their last two games.

    As if losing Jamaal Charles wasn’t bad enough, now it looks like Matt Cassel is done for the year with a right-hand injury.

22. Philadelphia Eagles (3-6)

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    Last Week: 16

    Losing Michael Vick to broken ribs plus an embarrassing loss at home to John Skelton and the Arizona Cardinals equals a fast and painful downward spiral.

    Andy Reid needs to figure something out.

    LeSean McCoy with only four rushes combined in the last two fourth quarters—how are you supposed to protect leads with this kind of play calling?

23. Arizona Cardinals (3-6)

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    Last Week: 29

    John Skelton seems determined to get Larry Fitzgerald involved in the offense.

    In two games, he’s targeted Fitz 25 times with three touchdowns. I don’t think its coincidence that the Arizona Cardinals have won two games in a row, either.

    He only has two TDs in seven games with Kevin Kolb as the starter for a 1-6 record over that span.

24. Seattle Seahawks (3-6)

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    Last Week: 28

    Let’s not get all crazy after the Seahawks' big 22-17 over the Baltimore Ravens, because we all know that anyone can win on any given Sunday.

    They do deserve credit for turning around their run game, however.

    Marshawn Lynch has recorded back-to-back 100-yard games and scored in five straight.

25. Jacksonville Jaguars (3-6)

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    Last Week: 27

    It’s been a rough season for Maurice Jones-Drew and the Jacksonville Jaguars.

    Blaine Gabbert has shown some signs of why they drafted him 10th overall, but with no legitimate receiver and now the loss of Rashean Mathis for the year on defense makes it real tough for this team to gain any traction.

26. Minnesota Vikings (2-7)

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    Last Week: 24

    It looked as though the Minnesota Vikings were headed in the right direction after their win against the Carolina Panthers, but their 45-7 blow-out loss on Monday Night Football at the hands of the Green Bay Packers proves otherwise.

    Adrian Peterson and Jared Allen are pretty much the only good things they have going on offense and defense, respectively.

    With three starts under his belt now, Christian Ponder should be starting to get more familiar with the offense. Only time will tell.

27. Cleveland Browns (3-6)

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    Last Week: 25

    Colt McCoy throwing for only 218 yards and no touchdowns against a sub-par St. Louis Rams defense says volumes about where he’s at in his progression as a quarterback.

    Not having Peyton Hillis and no real threat at the receiver position doesn’t help out either, though.

28. Carolina Panthers (2-7)

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    Last Week: 26

    I have to admit that I didn’t expect the Cam Newton and the Carolina Panthers to struggle that bad against the Tennessee Titans.

    I think it’s just one of those learning-curve moments in his young career.

    That offense is too potent to keep down two weeks in a row like that.

29. Miami Dolphins (2-7)

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    Last Week: 31

    After starting out the season 0-7, the Miami Dolphins managed to string back-to-back wins together—all but ruining their chances at Andrew Luck.

    If this team is playing for their coach, Tony Sparano, it’s a little too late now.

30. St. Louis Rams (2-7)

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    Last Week: 30

    Steven Jackson is a beast and it looks like they found a No. 1 receiver in Brandon Lloyd to go with him and Sam Bradford.

    The St. Louis Rams have won two of their last three and have to feel like things are looking up.

31. Washington Redskins (3-6)

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    Last Week: 22

    I’ve pretty much decided that Mike Shanahan is clinically insane. He benches Rex Grossman for John Beck, who then gets benched for… Grossman. Really?

    Personally, I feel he plays the running-back shuffle solely to piss off fantasy football nation and really no other reason.

    I mean, why else would a coach pull back the reigns on Roy Helu this past week against the Miami Dolphins, after the solid game he had against the San Francisco 49ers just a week before?

    It makes no sense and neither does him coaching this team.

    It’s all proof that Shanny is just a terrible coach and the main reason for this team losing their last five in a row.

    He never did anything as the coach of the Los Angeles Raiders, either.

    The only reason he won anything as the coach of the Denver Broncos was because of John Elway and Terrell Davis.

32. Indianapolis Colts (0-10)

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    Last Week: 32

    Now we all understand why they made such a big push to bring Kerry Collins in to play quarterback.

    Curtis Painter, to no fault of his own, just isn’t ready to be a starter in an offense as complex as this one.

    Good news for the Indianapolis Colts and their fans though—they can’t lose this week, since they’re on a bye.

     

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