2022 B/R NFL Power Rankings: Where Does Every Team Stand Entering Week 11?
A goal-line stand. A fumble recovery for a touchdown. A frenetic comeback. A last-second field goal. Sunday's instant classic between the Minnesota Vikings and Buffalo Bills had a little bit of everything—and that was just in the final minute of regulation.
Minnesota's overtime win may have been the biggest highlight
of Week 10 in the NFL. But it was hardly the only thing that happened. The
Tampa Bay Buccaneers got back to .500 with a victory over the Seattle Seahawks in
the first-ever NFL game in Germany. The Green Bay Packers halted their five-game
skid with an overtime win over the Dallas Cowboys. The New York Giants
outlasted the Houston Texans to move to 7-2 and claim sole possession of second
place in the NFC East. The G-Men are just a game back of the Eagles after the league's last unbeaten team was knocked off by the Commanders.
And that was just on the NFC side of the bracket.
As is the case every week, Week 10 brought with it both the predictable and the surprising—and a shake-up to the NFL's pecking order. Just as they have every week this year, Bleacher Report NFL Analysts Gary Davenport, Maurice Moton and Brent Sobleski have come together to review Week 10 and slot the league's teams from No. 32 to No. 1.
32. Houston Texans (1-7-1)
Last Week: 32
Week 10 Result: Lost at New York Giants 24-16
In terms of victories (or lack thereof), the Houston Texans are the worst team in the NFL. If the 2022 season ended today, the Texans would pick first and ninth. That first overall pick is a coveted asset given how highly regarded the 2023 class at quarterback is. Houston's current quarterback told reporters after Sunday's loss to the New York Giants that he's sick and tired of losing.
"Obviously, the frustration is there," Davis Mills said. "No one likes losing, especially me. That's probably the worst feeling I can ever imagine, is losing something when you're putting in all the hours to go out there and win games and it's just not happening."
However, head coach Lovie Smith continued to insist that the Texans aren't far off from being competitive.
"We realize what the problem is and what the results say a little bit, but we are close," Smith said. "Eventually I do feel like we're going to get over the hump. So far, we just finished the first half of the season but we still can see promise for the second half."
"The Texans can talk about 'getting closer' until they are red and blue in the face," Davenport quipped. "But numbers don't lie. The numbers say that the Texans possess the fourth-worst offense in terms of yards. The fifth-worst offense in terms of points. The third-worst defense in terms of yards. And the 12th-worst defense in terms of points. The Texans may well have their choice of the quarterbacks in the 2023 draft. But they also need to build a team around that signal-caller."
31. Las Vegas Raiders (2-7)
Last Week: 30
Week 10 Result: Lost vs. Indianapolis 25-20
Things just keep getting better and better for the Las Vegas Raiders.
Week 10 brought a new low in a loss to a team that had fired its head coach earlier in the week. And as Moton said, Josh McDaniels' first year as head coach has been...less than ideal.
"This season, the Raiders have blown multiple three-possession leads and lost to the 3-7 New Orleans Saints in a 24-0 shutout. They added an embarrassing loss to the Jeff Saturday-led Colts on Sunday," he said. "Saturday hasn't coached at the collegiate or pro level, and he's working with a 30-year-old first-time offensive coordinator in Parks Frazier. They came together to right the ship after the team fired Reich last week.
"A couple of weeks ago, Raiders owner Mark Davis expressed his support for head coach Josh McDaniels, but Vegas' loss to Indianapolis should concern him, especially with quarterback Derek Carr indirectly calling out teammates who may not be fully dialed in to the new regime's program. Even with Carr, Davante Adams, Josh Jacobs and Maxx Crosby healthy, the Raiders have fallen to the bottom of the power rankings as one the league's worst teams."
With McDaniels' hold on the locker room publicly
being questioned, things appear like they are about to go from bad to worse to
whatever comes after that—Mark Davis' continued support of McDaniels notwithstanding.
30. Carolina Panthers (3-7)
Last Week: 31
Week 10 Result: Won vs. Atlanta 25-15
The 2022 season has been short on things to cheer for for the Carolina Panthers. But for one week at least, the Panthers are smiling—after losing a heartbreaker to the Falcons in Atlanta in Week 8, Carolina exacted a measure of revenge Thursday night in Charlotte.
The engine that powered the Panthers to victory was running back D'Onta Foreman, who took over as Carolina's lead back after the team traded Christian McCaffrey to the San Francisco 49ers. Foreman carried the ball 31 times for 130 yards and a score, but despite that heavy workload, Foreman told reporters you couldn't have dragged him off the playing field.
"When the game is on the line there is no coming out," Foreman said. "You have to continue to grind, continue to pound it. That's what I wanted to do. I wanted the ball in my hands."
It was the third 100-yard performance that Foreman has posted since the McCaffrey trade, and his 31 carries were the most since Nick Goings had 36 in 2004.
In the grand scheme of things, the win doesn't mean much. In fact, it could wind up costing Carolina draft position. But in a season where victories have been few and far between, the Panthers will take what they can get.
29. New Orleans Saints (3-7)
Last Week: 19
Week 10 Result: Lost at Pittsburgh 20-10
Not that long ago, New Orleans Saints head coach Dennis Allen was adamant that Andy Dalton was the team's quarterback. However. After Dalton struggled mightily against the Pittsburgh Steelers, Allen wasn't quite so emphatic.
''I know we're all looking for answers there, but I'm not going to go there right now,'' Allen told reporters. ''We'll evaluate where we're at, and we'll have a plan for the upcoming week.''
For his part, Dalton was the first to admit he and the Saints didn't play well in Pittsburgh.
"At the end of the day, we didn't make enough plays,'' Dalton said. ''That's what it came down to. We weren't able to sustain drives, and that led to us not scoring enough points.''
The question becomes what (if anything) the Saints can really do about it. The offense didn't look any better under Jameis Winston, and he was even more prone to turning the ball over than Dalton. The reality is that whoever the Saints roll out under center is going to be more liability than asset.
And in the 21st century NFL, it's next to impossible win with any consistency if you have to overcome poor QB play on a weekly basis.
28. Detroit Lions (3-6)
Last Week: 29
Week 10 Result: Won at Chicago 31-30
Break up the Lions!
Not only did Sunday's wild win over the rival Bears give the Lions a victory in consecutive games for the first time since 2020, but the win also snapped a 13-game road winless streak.
This was a game the Lions trailed 24-10 in the third quarter, but where other Lions teams would have folded, these Lions rallied. A pleased Dan Campbell told reporters after the victory that it's simply a matter of the Lions learning how to win.
"You want to learn to win in close games, you win in close games," coach Dan Campbell said. "That's two now. Once you've been in there and you start to figure out what you've got to do and the focus and the intensity and the detail and the hustle and everything that it takes to finish out a game, it's highly important."
The Lions still aren't a good team—the defense in particular continues to struggle. But back-to-back wins are cause for optimism—and that's an emotion that has been in short supply in the Motor City since…well, it's been a while.
However, the honeymoon may not last all that long—in Week 11 the Lions travel to face a very good New York Giants team before hosting the Buffalo Bills in Week 12.
Want to really impress people?
Win one of those.
27. Pittsburgh Steelers (3-6)
Last Week: 28
Week 10 Result: Won vs. New Orleans 20-10
Over the first nine weeks of the 2022 season, good news has been few and far between for the Pittsburgh Steelers. One win over a mediocre (at best) Saints team isn't going to fix all that ails the Steelers this season.
But it still had to feel good to win for just the second time since the season opener.
For 60 minutes at least, many of the issues that have plagued the Steelers were resolved. The run game finally got untracked, with Pittsburgh gaining over 200 rushing yards and averaging five yards per carry. With star edge-rusher T.J. Watt back on the field, Pittsburgh's defense was dominant, surrendering less than 200 yards of offense.
Quarterback Kenny Pickett had a modest 199 passing yards and didn't throw a touchdown pass. But he also didn't turn the ball over.
"It was a step in the right direction," Pickett told reporters. "It's not where we need to be or where we want to be but it's a good start."
Now the question becomes whether Sunday's win was a one-off, or if the Steelers can use this as a springboard to turn their season around.
26. Jacksonville Jaguars (3-7)
Last Week: 26
Week 10 Result: Lost at Kansas City 27-17
The 2022 season for the Jacksonville Jaguars was never about the playoffs. It was about one thing—growth from second-year quarterback Trevor Lawrence.
That growth hasn't been linear, but as Gene Frenette wrote for the Florida Times-Union, Hall of Fame coach Tony Dungy likes what he has seen from Lawrence this season.
"Remember what people were saying about Josh Allen and Tua 25 games into their careers? There was uncertainty there," Dungy said. "People expected Trevor to be Peyton Manning, dysfunctional the first year and then light things up the second year, thinking now he’s not going to have any more hiccups. Well, you’re seeing hiccups, but I think he’ll start to get rid of the head-scratcher [games] and grow and grow. The other quarterbacks had a chance to grow in the same system. I’m going to give Trevor a grace year. I think he’s going to develop with Doug [Pederson]. He’ll take things out [of the playbook] Trevor doesn’t like and that will help him grow.”
It came in defeat Sunday, but that growth was evident in Kansas City—Lawrence threw for 259 yards and two scores without an interception and posted a passer rating of 106.1.
Frankly, at this point, games like that from Lawrence are more important to Jacksonville's long-term prospects than wins.
25. Cleveland Browns (3-6)
Last Week: 20
Week 10 Result: Lost at Miami 39-17
Deshaun Watson is back…sort of.
It's still two weeks before Watson can play for the Cleveland Browns. But Watson is now cleared to rejoin the team on the practice field.
As Sobleski wrote, the problem is that after getting waxed in Miami, by the time Watson does get on the field the Browns are likely just going to be playing out the string.
"The Browns banked on backup quarterback Jacoby Brissett and a talented roster to keep their head above water until Watson entered the starting lineup," he said. "Well, Watson has been cleared to practice this week as part of the conditions set forth for his suspension, but the Browns are 3-6 with the Buffalo Bills and Tampa Bay Buccaneers next on the docket. Realistically, Cleveland could be 3-8 with a season basically down the drain before Watson ever officially steps onto the field. Even if the team splits those contests, a 4-7 start will be difficult to overcome for an organization with playoff aspirations.
"To be fair, this mess is of Cleveland's own making," he continued. "Ownership and the front office knew Watson faced a lengthy league suspension. General manager Andrew Berry also chose to overlook certain aspects of the roster—particularly defensive tackle and linebacker—which has come back to repeatedly hurt the team's overall effectiveness. As such, the team isn't good at the moment, and it's only going to get so much better with Watson behind center."
24. Chicago Bears (3-7)
Last Week: 23
Week 10 Result: Lost vs. Detroit 31-30
The good news for the Chicago Bears is that one week after setting the regular-season record for rushing yards in a game by a quarterback, Justin Fields was once again electrifying on the ground—147 yards and two touchdowns on 13 carries.
The bad news for the Bears is that Fields also continues to struggle at times as a passer—he threw an ugly pick-six against the Lions that played a big part in Detroit's comeback.
It was in defeat, but Fields made quite a bit of history Sunday. Per Cody Benjamin of CBS Sports, Fields has the most rushing yards by a quarterback in the Super Bowl era over a five-game span. He is the only quarterback in the Super Bowl era with multiple rushing touchdowns of 60-plus yards. He has the two longest touchdown runs by a quarterback in Bears history. He is the only NFL player with two passing touchdowns, two rushing touchdowns and over 100 rushing yards in the same game. Fields has the most carries reaching 20+ miles per hour in NFL this season (per NextGen Stats). He leads the NFL in rushing yards by a quarterback. And he's tied for NFL lead in rushing scores by a quarterback.
Other than that, he hasn't really done much.
The Bears may not be winning. But it appears they have their quarterback of the future.
"Fields has developed into must-see television," Sobleski said. "The rest of the Bears roster remains stuck in the Friday p.m. time slot that nobody wants to watch. The second-year quarterback has been unreal with his most recent performances. Fields is breaking records while getting better with each contest. In the last three games alone, the 2021 11th overall draft pick posted 385 rushing yards and 11 total touchdowns. The Bears lost all three. Chicago's supporting cast simply isn't good enough. This was true before the start of the season. It's true now. It'll continue to be true until the organization has another full offseason to build around what looks like every bit of a franchise quarterback."
23. Denver Broncos (3-6)
Last Week: 25
Week 10 Result: Lost at Tennessee 17-10
Remember when the Broncos were filled with excitement and optimism about the arrival of quarterback Russell Wilson?
Those were good times.
Since then, times haven't been so good. Sunday's loss to the Titans in Tennessee was in many ways a microcosm for Denver's season as a whole. Wilson wasn't terrible, throwing for 286 yards and a touchdown. But as has been the case all season, the Broncos struggled to put points on the board—for the seventh time in nine games, the Broncos were held under 20 points.
It also marked another close loss for the team—five of Denver's defeat have come by a combined 21 points. It was an unfortunate fact bemoaned by beleaguered head coach Nathaniel Hackett after the game.
"It's another close game, another one-score game," Hackett said. "We feel like the defense stepped up to the challenge with Derrick Henry. I mean, the offense has to find a way."
That Denver offense ranks dead last in the NFL in scoring. It's fair to wonder whether the franchise has buyer's remorse about mortgaging the future to trade for Wilson. And whether (at this rate) Hackett in going to make it to year two.
22. Indianapolis Colts (4-5-1)
Last Week: 27
Week 10 Result: Won at Las Vegas 25-20
It was quite the week for the Indianapolis Colts.
First, the Colts fired Frank Reich and named longtime center Jeff Saturday interim head coach. Then Saturday benched quarterback Sam Ehlinger and turned the offense back over to veteran Matt Ryan. And then the floundering Colts went into Las Vegas and beat the Raiders.
Ryan played arguably his best game as a Colt, completing three quarters of his passes and posting a passer rating just south of 110. Indianapolis also got a big game from star running back Jonathan Taylor, who picked up 147 yards and a touchdown on 22 carries.
Much was made of Saturday's lack of coaching experience heading into his debut. But he told reporters that he was confident that the Colts would answer the bell.
"In truth, I felt very at peace," Saturday said. "I felt like we had a very good plan in place. I felt like all the men who I had talked about empowering and giving them the ability to do what they could do exceptionally well, they all stepped up. It's an incredible day. It's one win but, heck, they're hard to get in this NFL."
"The NFL is weird. Just when something seems obvious, the opposite happens," Sobleski said. "The Colts had no right to win a game after firing Reich on Monday and inserting the completely unproven Saturday as interim head coach. Yet Indianapolis played a more sound and physical brand of football for its new leader, albeit against the floundering franchise that is the Las Vegas Raiders.
"However," he continued, "A short-term bump isn't the same as sustained improvement. Let's see how the Colts fare when the schedule becomes far more difficult with the Philadelphia Eagles and Dallas Cowboys as two of the team's next three opponents before its bye.":
21. Atlanta Falcons (4-6)
Last Week: 18
Week 10 Result: Lost at Carolina 25-15
The grumbling has begun in earnest.
As Falcons quarterback Marcus Mariota bumbled his way through a brutal effort against the Carolina Panthers, social media was abuzz with calls from disgruntled Falcons fans who wanted to see rookie signal-caller Desmond Ridder get a shot.
After the game, Falcons head coach Arthur Smith defended both Mariota and his decision to leave him in there while talking to reporters.
“I know those are popular narratives, those are the easy questions to ask,” Smith said. “But as a whole football team, we’ve got to do a better job, starting with myself. So, we look every week to make sure we’ve got the right guys in the right spots. You can make it about the quarterback; how about the team? We had an opportunity at the end of the fourth quarter the last two weeks, and a lot of different ways, and a lot of different phases where we’ve got to get better. And we’ve got an opportunity to do that with seven games left.”
Smith isn't wrong—Mariota's performance wasn't the only reason the Falcons lost, and Atlanta remains in the mix in the NFL's weakest division. But Mariota was brutally bad against Carolina, and if that continues at some point Smith will have little recourse but to see what he has in the rookie.
20. Los Angeles Rams (3-6)
Last Week: 17
Week 10 Result: Lost vs. Arizona 27-17
It just gets better and better for the Los Angeles Rams.
It wasn't bad enough that the Rams were in the midst of experiencing one of the worst Super Bowl hangovers in recent memory. Or that the Rams had one of the worst offenses in the league. Or that starting quarterback Matthew Stafford missed Week 10 with a concussion.
Now star wide receiver Cooper Kupp is hurt—and it's bad enough that the Rams are hoping it's a high ankle sprain.
To say that's a worst-case scenario for a Rams offense that was already struggling mightily to score points is an understatement. Despite the fact that there's almost half a season left, at least one of our analysts has seen enough.
"The Kupp injury is the final straw," Davenport said. "The last nail in the coffin of an offense scoring the fourth-fewest points and second-fewest yards per game. Kupp was the only member of that offense who has been even semi-reliable to this point in the season, and now that he appears set to miss multiple games, it's next to impossible to imagine these Rams doing anything but fall further off the pace in the NFC West. Maybe the Rams can get past a mediocre Saints team in Week 11. But in Week 12, these Rams have to go to Arrowhead to face the Chiefs in a game that could get ugly quickly."
19. Arizona Cardinals (4-6)
Last Week: 22
Week 10 Result: Won at Los Angeles Rams 27-17
On some level, it's problematic to read too much into Arizona's Week 10 win over the Los Angeles Rams. Both teams were without their starting quarterbacks. But in this battle of backups, Colt McCoy got the better of John Wolford—and the Redbirds were able to avoid falling any further off the pace in the NFC West.
McCoy told reporters after the win that he was glad to be able to step up for his team when needed—but he'll be as glad as anyone when Kyler Murray gets back.
"As a backup, you just never know when your opportunity is going to strike," McCoy said. "Quite honestly, I want K-1 [Murray] to be healthy. He's a phenomenal player. But in this situation, with linemen out, our backs against the wall, in a division game on the road, I dug deep and was proud to go out there and play as hard as I can."
Arizona head coach Kliff Kingsbury endorsed his team's grit and determination in overcoming adversity.
"It's been a struggle, there's no doubt, this season," Kingsbury said. "We haven't played up to our standards yet, or coached. But against another team that was struggling and trying to find an identity, to come here ourselves and find a way to get it done is a good step in the right direction."
The next step will be trying to build on the victory next week against San Francisco and do something the Redbirds haven't in 2022—win consecutive games.
18. Green Bay Packers (4-6)
Last Week: 24
Week 10 Result: Won vs. Dallas 31-28
The Green Bay Packers were in uncharted territory entering Week 10.
The Aaron Rodgers Packers just don't lose five games in a row. This is a team that hadn't lost four games in a season since 2016. To say that Green Bay was reeling doesn't do it justice.
But the Packers rallied Sunday at Lambeau Field. And in earning a critical win over the Dallas Cowboys, the Packers may have found what they desperately needed in 2022—a go-to wide receiver.
Rookie Christian Watson looked the part of the No. 1 wideout the Pack hoped they were drafting in April, torching Dallas for 107 yards and three scores on four receptions. After the win, the small-school standout said the Packers knew they were a better team than their record, and it was just a matter of playing to their potential.
"We've seen what we can be, and we've seen it was only us getting in our own way," Watson told reporters. "All we had to do was believe."
One win doesn't reverse all of Green Bay's struggles. But Davenport thinks the Packers may have also stumbled on a recipe for success.
"These Packers aren't going to light up the scoreboard through the air," he said. "But Aaron Jones and AJ Dillon combined for 203 rushing yards against Dallas. The Packers can use that two-headed rushing attack to set up play-action. And if Watson can string a few good games together, the Packers have the defense and quarterback to potentially get back into the wild-card race in the NFC."
"If the Green Bay Packers didn’t beat the Dallas Cowboys this past Sunday, the Minnesota Vikings may have clinched the NFC North title shortly after Thanksgiving, but they won a must-have contest to snap a five-game losing streak," Moton said. "The Packers beat the Cowboys 31-28—their highest scoring output of the 2022 season.
"With fellow rookie wideout Romeo Doubs out (ankle) and veteran receiver Randall Cobb also on the sideline (ankle), Watson broke out at a time in which the Packers desperately needed another perimeter playmaker to take some pressure off Allen Lazard," he continued. "Maybe Rodgers has a new go-to receiver."
17. Washington Commanders (5-5)
Last Week: 21
Week 10 Result: Won at Philadelphia 32-21
The Washington Commanders just might be kind of good. Maybe.
On Monday night, the Commanders did something that no other team has done this season: defeat the Philadelphia Eagles. In Philadelphia, no less.
The way Washington did it is where the "maybe" comes in.
The Commanders piled up 152 rushing yards. But it took 49 carries to get there. Quarterback Taylor Heinicke threw for 211 yards with an interception and a passer rating of just 66.9.
But while the offense might not have played the cleanest of games, the defense was lights-out. Playing an offense that had been firing on all cylinders, Washington held Philadelphia to just 264 yards. The Commanders forced four turnovers, allowed just 18 first downs and held the Eagles to 94 rushing yards.
With Washington set to visit the one-win Texans and then host the beatable Falcons, there's a chance it will climb two games above .500. The following game against the Giants in Week 13 could be pivotal.
With real stakes now on the line, Washington has a tricky decision to make. Should it give the reins back to Carson Wentz once he's healthy or stick with Heinicke?
16. New England Patriots (5-4)
Last Week: 16
Week 10 Result: Bye Week
In some respects, the 2022 Patriots are similar to last year's team. No one is really talking about New England as a playoff threat, but the team is lurking at the fringes of contention. The Patriots are running the ball. Playing defense. And winning games old-school style.
However, New England's offense remains an in issue. The Patriots are 26th in total offense and 23rd in passing, and veteran tight end Hunter Henry admitted to WEEI Radio that the Patriots have to improve on that side of the ball to make a serious push for the postseason.
“We have a lot of strides we need to make; I’m not going to lie,” Henry said. “The bye comes at a good time. We really need to look at ourselves in the mirror, as an offense especially, and need to be better. We have to be more accountable.”
When asked by reporters about the team's offensive struggles, head coach Bill Belichick gave a very Darth Hoodie answer.
“Every week’s its own week in terms of game-planning, practicing, preparing for that team and then moving on to the next week,” Belichick said. “It’s the way it is on offense, defense, special teams—for our entire team. It’s what we’ll keep doing, just grinding away here. Consistency in all three phases of the game is definitely something that we need to be better at. So we’ll start with that.”
Thanks for clearing that up, Coach.
15. Los Angeles Chargers (5-4)
Last Week: 14
Week 10 Result: Lost at San Francisco 22-16
The Los Angeles Chargers have problems. Plural. Actually, it's one problem…that keeps happening over and over and over.
The Chargers went into Sunday night's showdown with the San Francisco down their top two wide receivers (Keenan Allen and Mike Williams). And their No. 1 cornerback (J.C. Jackson). And their best pass-rusher (Joey Bosa). And Los Angeles lost tight end Gerald Everett during the game.
Good luck moving the ball against one of the league's best defenses with a cadre of nobodies catching passes from a quarterback in Justin Herbert who has himself battled a rib injury much of the season.
Head coach Brandon Staley made no excuses after the loss, crediting San Francisco's defense for putting the clamps on in the second half.
"They did a good job against the run in the second half," Staley said. "We couldn't get anything going in the run game, and in the passing game it was tight. The rush was coming, and there wasn't a lot of air in the second and third level to take advantage of."
The loss puts the Chargers' backs against the wall, at least where the AFC West is concerned. Fall to the surging Chiefs at SoFi Stadium on Sunday, and the division race could be all but over before Thanksgiving.
And with the Chargers all kinds of beat up, that seems more likely than not.
14. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (5-5)
Last Week: 15
Week 10 Result: Won vs. Seattle 21-16 (Munich)
Sunday's first-ever NFL game in Germany wasn't exactly a "must-win" for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. But it was pretty close. And after downing the Seahawks, the Buccaneers are back at .500 heading into the bye week and all alone atop the NFC South.
The game was a raucous affair, and after the win Tampa quarterback Tom Brady lauded the atmosphere in Munich while speaking to reporters.
"It felt very electric from the time we took the field," Brady said. "The end of the game with them singing ‘Sweet Caroline' and ‘Country Roads'—that was pretty epic."
Brady has now won NFL games in four different countries—the United States, Mexico, the United Kingdom and now Germany. But as Davenport pointed out, Brady's play wasn't the biggest story in the game.
"For most of this season, the Buccaneers have fielded the worst run game in the league. But against Seattle, Leonard Fournette and rookie Rachaad White combined for 162 rushing yards on 36 carries. Getting some balance on offense would be a big plus for the Tampa offense, but there could be a ton of pressure on White moving forward if the hip injury that forced Fournette from the field in Munich causes the veteran to miss time."
"For the first time since Week 1, the Buccaneers eclipsed 75 rushing yards, which is a good sign for an offense that went into Week 10 with the fewest yards on the ground," Moton added. "With a balanced offensive attack and a top-10 scoring defense, Tampa Bay could rattle off a string of victories to separate from its competition in an unimpressive NFC South division."
13. Tennessee Titans (6-3)
Last Week: 13
Week 10 Result: Won vs. Denver 17-10
The Tennessee Titans keep finding a way.
In recent weeks, with quarterback Ryan Tannehill on the shelf with an ankle injury, the Titans had been riding Derrick Henry to victory. But with Henry held in check Sunday by a stout Denver defense, it fell back to Tannehill to lead the team to a win. Tannehill answered the call, throwing for 255 yards and two scores in a seven-point victory.
The Titans were also down a handful of starters on defense, and after the win head coach Mike Vrabel applauded his team's ability to overcome adversity while speaking to reporters.
"For us to go out there and keep battling in all three phases, it is absolutely huge," Vrabel said. "I thought [the guys] never quit, and they tried to pick each other up and support each other. When the offense needed a play, the defense was able to come and help. And when we gave up a touchdown on defense, we needed a drive offensively, we needed a big play [and our offense came through]. And I thought our special teams kept us in there. Guys took advantage of their opportunities. They battled."
As has so often been the case this year with the Titans, the win wasn't pretty. But it still counts the same, and Tennessee appears to be far and away the top team in the AFC South.
12. Seattle Seahawks (6-4)
Last Week: 8
Week 10 Result: Lost vs. Tampa Bay 21-16 (Munich)
Sunday's game in Germany was something of a litmus test for the Seattle Seahawks—an opportunity to establish themselves as not just a first-place team but also a real threat in the NFC.
Seattle lost the game in the trenches. Facing a Buccaneers team that entered the game dead last in the league in rushing, the Seahawks allowed a whopping 161 yards on the ground. Meanwhile, the Seahawks struggled to get rookie Ken Walker III going—he managed just 17 yards on 10 carries.
Seattle head coach Pete Carroll admitted to reporters after the game that he was disappointed in Seattle's inability to stop the run.
"They have not been running the ball very consistently, so coming into the game, we were hoping we could just keep it under wraps and be able to deploy for the throwing game," Carroll said. "They finished running the ball in the fourth quarter, which kills me."
Seattle still enters the bye in first place in the NFC West—a
position few expected the Seahawks to be in 10 weeks into the season. But as Sobleski pointed out, some warts are evident.
"As good of a story as Geno Smith and the Seahawks are this season, it's not hard to find flaws in the team's performance," he said. "Statistically, the offense sits in the middle of the pack. Defensively, the Seahawks rank among the league's bottom 10. Sure, plenty of excitement can be found around certain players. Smith's reemergence is the stuff of Disney movies. Walker and Tariq Woolen are firmly in the Offensive and Defensive Rookie of the Year conversations, respectively. Yet Seattle is only half a game up on the San Francisco 49ers in the NFC West as it enters its bye. Hopefully, this unexpected season continues in the Great Northwest. But the Seahawks may have trouble holding off a surging Niners squad to claim the division."
11. Cincinnati Bengals (5-4)
Last Week: 12
Week 10 Result: Bye Week
The Cincinnati Bengals headed to the bye week fresh off arguably their best performance of the season—a beatdown of the Carolina Panthers in which running back Joe Mixon set a franchise record with five touchdowns.
But while the Bengals hit the off week at 5-4, there are concerns for the defending AFC champions.
Wide receiver Ja'Marr Chase remains on the shelf with a hip injury. The retooled offensive line in Cincinnati might actually be worse than last year's sieve of a unit. The pass rush has sputtered, with the Bengals amassing just 14 sacks—third-fewest in the league.
The schedule doesn't do the Bengals any favors, either. While the Baltimore Ravens have one of the easiest schedules the rest of the way, Cincinnati has one of the hardest. In addition to what could be a critical Week 18 meeting with the Ravens, the Bengals still have to face the Tennessee Titans. And the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. And the Kansas City Chiefs. And the Buffalo Bills. And the New England Patriots.
"It's going to be next to impossible for Cincy to catch the Ravens in the AFC North," Davenport said. "The schedule is brutal, and three of Cincinnati's four losses have come inside the division. In fact, given the problems in the trenches on both sides of the ball, the Bengals making the postseason at all doesn't appear especially likely."
10. New York Jets (6-3)
Last Week: 11
Week 10 Result: Bye Week
The last time the Jets were 6-3 at the bye, players wore leather helmets and Woodrow Wilson was president.
OK, so that might be a slight exaggeration. But it has been a while since the Jets had twice as many wins as losses nine games into the season. New York ended its first half of the season in emphatic fashion as well—a stunning win over the Bills. After years as a punchline, no one is laughing at the Jets now.
With that said, the Jets have been winning more in spite of quarterback Zach Wilson than because of him, and as Ted Nguyen wrote for The Athletic, some of Wilson's numbers are cause for real concern.
"According to Next Gen Stats," he wrote, "Wilson ranks 35th of 39 qualifying quarterbacks in completion percentage above expectation, which measures the success of a pass relative to the difficulty of the throw. The consensus according to multiple metrics is that Wilson is one of the least accurate passers in the NFL.
"... Playing for a defensive team, he simply can’t be as careless with the ball as he has been. The Jets’ 13 turnovers tie them for sixth-most in the NFL, and Wilson is responsible for six of those in just six games."
The Jets have quite a bit going for them. And the optimism level surrounding the franchise is at a level we haven't seen in years.
But if New York is going to make the postseason, Wilson has to play better down the stretch.
9. New York Giants (7-2)
Last Week: 9
Week 10 Result: Won vs. Houston 24-16
The New York Giants limped into the bye week with a loss at Seattle. But on Sunday against the Houston Texans, they got back to winning by doing what they do best.
The Giants' victory over Houston was all about running back Saquon Barkley. While quarterback Daniel Jones attempted only 17 passes, Barkley carried the ball a whopping 35 times, picking up 152 yards and a touchdown.
That's a heavy workload by modern standards, but head coach Brian Daboll told reporters after the win that he had confidence that Barkley could handle it.
"What did he have? Thirty-five for 152? The thing, I think, with him is [he] takes a lot of shots," Daboll said. "So, we try to do the best job we can—the medical staff, the sports science—of practicing him the right way. And this week, he was fresh. So, he had a really good week of practice. We were handing him the ball at the 20 and he was running the ball to the end zone, 80 yards, and then coming back and doing it again. So, I thought that the stuff he did during the week carried over. Obviously, he's having a good season for us. He had a good day."
No team in the NFL has surpassed expectations more in 2022 than the Giants. And with the Dallas Cowboys falling Sunday in Green Bay, the G-Men are now all alone in second place in the NFC East.
8. San Francisco 49ers (5-4)
Last Week: 10
Week 10 Result: Won vs. Los Angeles Chargers 22-16
The San Francisco 49ers are as healthy as they have been since the regular season began. They looked it against the Los Angeles Chargers.
The 49ers showed off what will likely their M.O. for the rest of the season on Sunday night. With Elijah Mitchell back from injured reserve, he and Christian McCaffrey combined for 127 rushing yards and a touchdown. The Niners had more run plays (41) than pass attempts (28). San Francisco dominated time of possession, holding the ball for almost 37 minutes.
However, it wasn't the sharpest of efforts. While quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo is glad to be at the helm of an offense that can move the ball in different ways, he told reporters after the game that the team needs to sharpen its execution offensively.
"There's different ways to win this league," Garoppolo said. "We definitely made it hard on ourselves, that's for sure. But a lot of resilient guys, a lot of mature guys. It wasn't pretty early on and they were doing some things that gave us trouble, but we stuck with it."
If the Niners can clean things up, they're built to do real damage over the second half of the season. The Niners have arguably the best backfield in the league, one of the best defenses, an excellent offensive line and passing-game talent. The ingredients are all there.
Head coach Kyle Shanahan just needs to mix them up properly.
7. Dallas Cowboys (6-3)
Last Week: 5
Week 10 Result: Lost at Green Bay 31-28
Heading into Week 10, the Dallas Cowboys had never blown a 14-point fourth-quarter lead. They had piled up 195 such leads and closed the deal 195 times.
The Green Bay Packers brought that streak to an end on Sunday.
The Cowboys got a big game from running back Tony Pollard, who tallied 115 rushing yards and a touchdown on 22 carries. Dallas got an even bigger game from wide receiver CeeDee Lamb, who caught a career-high 11 passes for 150 yards and two scores.
But Dallas' vaunted defense allowed 415 total yards—including 207 on the ground—and a pair of costly turnovers helped pave the way for a Packers comeback.
The loss spoiled Cowboys head coach Mike McCarthy's return to Green Bay. After the game, he admitted that letting this one slip away was frustrating.
"I'm very frustrated with the end of the game, obviously," McCarthy said. "I think just the biggest thing for us is we need to just go out here and just learn from these games. I love these kind of games. That's what I told these (guys), ‘You need these tight games to get to where you want to go.'"
The Cowboys have no time to lick their wounds, though. They're heading to Minnesota next week to take on the surging Vikings, followed by a critical NFC East battle against the New York Giants on Thanksgiving.
6. Baltimore Ravens (6-3)
Last Week: 6
Week 10 Result: Bye Week
There's arguably no better time for a bye than Week 10. It's almost directly in the middle of the season.
While speaking to reporters, Ravens edge-rusher Justin Houston said the off week came at an ideal time for Baltimore.
“I think it’s a great time to go into the bye. We could use this rest,” said Houston. “A lot of guys are banged up and we are missing a couple of key guys. So, if we can get those guys back and we come back rested and focused, we will keep rolling.”
The bye week has an added benefit for the Ravens. After acquiring linebacker Roquan Smith at the trade deadline, the bye should have afforded him an opportunity to better acclimate to his new team. And make no mistake—a healthy Ravens team with an improved defense could be extremely dangerous.
The Ravens rarely get mentioned with the Buffalo Bills and Kansas City Chiefs as the AFC's top Super Bowl contenders, but that could be about to change. The Ravens' run game is humming. Smith should be a big boost to the defense. And the Ravens have the NFL's easiest remaining schedule. They play a team with a winning record until Week 18, when they face the Cincinnati Bengals.
If the Ravens take care of business, they could hit that game vying for not just a division title but also the AFC's No. 1 seed.
5. Buffalo Bills (6-3)
Last Week: 4
Week 10 Result: Lost vs. Minnesota 33-30, OT
Not that long ago, the Buffalo Bills looked unstoppable.
In Week 6, they rolled into Kansas City and beat Patrick Mahomes and the Chiefs. Buffalo was the best team in the AFC. Maybe the entire NFL. Josh Allen was playing like an MVP candidate.
However, the last two weeks have been a different story.
Over the past two games, Allen has thrown four interceptions in the red zone—including a game-ending one in overtime Sunday against the Vikings. Buffalo has now dropped two straight and fallen out of first place in the AFC East.
While talking to reporters after the loss, Allen put the responsibility for the defeat squarely on his own shoulders.
"Losing sucks. It sucks this way even more. Horrendous second half," Allen said. "It comes down to my shoulders and my shoulders only. Making the right decisions, making the right throws. This one's going to suck, watching it."
It's hardly panic time in Buffalo. The Bills were in each of those two losses late but just couldn't seal the deal. An upcoming home date with the floundering Cleveland Browns and a trip to Detroit should afford them a chance to get right for the stretch run.
But Buffalo's margin for error is shrinking by the week. It's also fair to wonder how much Allen's elbow is bothering him.
"The Bills must talk to Allen about his decisions in critical moments of games," Moton said. "Over the past three weeks, he’s thrown six interceptions, including four in the red zone. In Week 10, Allen threw a couple of red-zone interceptions that allowed the Vikings to close the gap on a 10-point fourth-quarter deficit and seal the win in overtime.
"Of course, Allen’s aggressive nature has worked out in Buffalo’s favor in the past, but he must be more careful with the ball against playoff contenders. Over the last two weeks, the Bills signal-caller has thrown for one touchdown and four interceptions, and Buffalo lost both games (to the New York Jets and Vikings)."
4. Miami Dolphins (7-3)
Last Week: 7
Week 10 Result: Won vs. Cleveland 39-17
You name it, the Miami Dolphins did it well in their lopsided win over the Cleveland Browns on Sunday.
Tua Tagovailoa, who remains undefeated in games he both started and finished, threw for 285 yards and three touchdowns without an interception. Wide receivers Tyreek Hill and Jaylen Waddle combined for 110 receiving yards and a score on nine catches. And Miami's new-look run game was firing on all cylinders.
"The Dolphins already have a high-powered aerial attack with Tagovailoa throwing downfield Hill and Waddle," Moton said. "Moving forward, they might start beating opponents with a more balanced offense. Ahead of the Nov. 1 trade deadline, the Dolphins acquired running back Jeff Wilson Jr., who’s registered 26 carries for 170 yards and a touchdown in two games with the Dolphins. He ran for 119 yards and a touchdown in Sunday's win over the Browns.
"Wilson didn’t generate as much buzz at the trade deadline as edge-rusher Bradley Chubb, whom the Dolphins also acquired, but he’s quickly become an integral part of a top-10 scoring offense that’s on the rise."
Add in a defense that allowed less than 300 yards of offense to the Browns, and you have a complete team that now sits in first place in the AFC East.
3. Minnesota Vikings (8-1)
Last Week: 3
Week 10 Result: Won at Buffalo 33-30, OT
The Minnesota Vikings entered Week 10 riding a six-game winning streak. But what they didn't have was a statement win over a quality opponent, a victory that legitimized them as legitimate Super Bowl contenders.
After their 33-30 overtime victory against the Buffalo Bills, they now have one.
Sunday's win in Buffalo had a little of everything. The Vikings trailed by 17 points in the second half before roaring back to take the lead with less than a minute left. But the Bills scored to force overtime and were driving toward a game-winning touchdown in OT before a Patrick Peterson interception squashed the comeback.
Peterson told reporters after the game that the win sent a message to everyone who doubts these Vikings.
"We're not trying to prove them wrong. We just want to continue to prove ourselves right each and every time we step on the field," Peterson said. "I believe the largest margin was 13, 14, 17? So if we're not a good football team, how could you come back from that deficit? Look at us now."
"The Vikings have become the kings of living dangerously," Davenport said. "They fall behind time after time, but they keep finding ways to gut out a win. Say what you will about Kirk Cousins. Or a defense allowing the fourth-most yards per game in the league. But peeling off seven wins in a row isn't easy, and neither is going into Buffalo and beating the Bills. If there was any doubt as to whether the Vikings are for real, the matter was settled Sunday."
"Can we talk about how good Justin Jefferson is?" Sobleski added. "If not for him, the Vikings wouldn't have beaten the Bills. His 193-yard performance, including the most ridiculous one-handed, contested stab of a catch ever seen on 4th-and-18 late in the fourth quarter, is the stuff of legend. He caught nine passes against the Bills with a completion probability of less than 50 percent, according to NFL Next Gen Stats. No other receiver has had more than six in a game since the stat began.
"Jefferson is HIM, and he'll drag the Vikings toward legitimate Super Bowl contention. "
2. Kansas City Chiefs (7-2)
Last Week: 2
Week 10 Result: Won vs. Jacksonville 27-17
The Kansas City Chiefs are humming along.
Since losing a close call to the Buffalo Bills back in Week 6, the Chiefs have peeled off three straight wins. The most recent was a victory over the Jacksonville Jaguars that wasn't as close as the final score might suggest.
Patrick Mahomes was outstanding against the Jags, topping 300 passing yards with four touchdowns. When top wide receiver JuJu Smith-Schuster went out with a concussion, newcomer Kadarius Toney stepped up in his place, hauling in four passes for 57 yards and a score.
The Chiefs outgained the Jaguars by more than 170 yards. Combined with the Los Angeles Chargers' loss to the San Francisco 49ers on Sunday night, the Chiefs are now two games up in the AFC West.
They might nearly end the division race with a road victory over the Chargers in Week 11.
"The Chiefs weren't perfect in Week 10," Davenport wrote. "They turned it over three times, and the Jaguars were able to hang around as a result. But the outcome of this game was never really in doubt. I don't know that Kansas City's defense can be fully trusted, but the offense hasn't missed a beat without Tyreek Hill, and Mahomes is playing at an MVP level. With the Bills faltering a bit as of late, the Chiefs look the part of the AFC's best team."
1. Philadelphia Eagles (8-1)
Last Week: 1
Week 10 Result: Lost vs. Washington 32-21
Well, the 1972 Dolphins can pop the Champagne. The NFL's last unbeaten team is perfect no more.
Actually, that's exactly why the Eagles are no longer undefeated. They were miles away from perfect—which was doubly surprising given that Philly was off last week.
Philadelphia was sloppy with the football, turning it over four times. A team that had seemingly moved the ball at will managed just 264 yards. One of the league's best ground games failed to break 100 yards. Star wide receiver A.J. Brown was shut down, managing just one reception for seven yards.
It was a shaky performance all around. The offense was inconsistent. The defense couldn't get off the field. Make no mistake. This was no fluke. The Eagles just got beat. On both sides of the ball.
Still, Davenport didn't read too much into it.
"It's a little unsettling to see a team play so flatly coming off a bye," he said. "But if the Eagles went into Monday night a little complacent, they didn't come out that way. Philadelphia wasn't going to run the table, and sometimes getting your butt kicked can help a team refocus. If the Eagles look like this again against the Colts, then you can worry. But they are still deserving of the top spot in these rankings since they beat the brakes off the league's only other one-loss team."