NFL Power Rankings: B/R's Expert Consensus Rank for Every Team Entering Week 11
Week 10 was a reminder that you can't take anything for granted in the NFL.
Sure, many of the things we expected to happen did. The New Orleans Saints and Kansas City Chiefs kept winning. The Oakland Raiders and Arizona Cardinals kept on losing.
But not everything went according to script. Week 10 started with what was supposed to be a titanic struggle but what instead turned into a rout. The Buffalo Bills opened a can.
And in the surprise of the week, the New England Patriots had a can opened on them.
At the conclusion of yet another wild NFL weekend, Bleacher Report NFL analysts Gary Davenport, Brad Gagnon and Brent Sobleski have come together to re-rank all 32 teams from the bottom to the top.
The outer edges didn't change. But in-between?
32. Oakland Raiders (1-8)
Last Week: 32
Week 10 Result: Lost vs. Los Angeles Chargers, 20-6
On Sunday, the Oakland Raiders travel to Glendale to face the two-win Arizona Cardinals. It's going to be a big game for Jon Gruden's project in putrid.
Because it may well represent their best chance to win another game this year.
After getting handled with bored disinterest by the Chargers in Week 10, the Raiders are 1-8. By rights the team ought to be 0-9—its lone win was a zebra-assisted overtime victory against Cleveland.
If the Raiders don't beat the Cardinals, they might lose out. They aren't likely to win on the East Coast at Baltimore in Week 12. Oakland's last five games include two meetings with the Chiefs that may lead Roger Goodell to consider instituting a mercy rule in 2019.
These Raiders are redefining the word nadir on a weekly basis. Every week is a new low for a team that was 12-4 in 2016.
The coach who was supposed to save the Raiders has wrecked them. And it may be a long time before the light is visible at the end of this tunnel.
31. San Francisco 49ers (2-8)
Last Week: 28
Week 10 Result: Lost vs. New York Giants 27-23
You can say this for the San Francisco 49ers—despite a litany of injuries that have destroyed what began as a promising season, the Niners continue to play teams tight. Of San Francisco's eight losses, four have been by four or fewer points.
The problem is that in those close games, the 49ers keep coming up short.
That this team is competitive at all is a testament to the coaching of Kyle Shanahan. The 49ers are starting an undrafted rookie at quarterback who was playing scout team safety not that long ago. The big free-agent signing at tailback (Jerick McKinnon) never saw the field in a game that counted. The receiving corps and linebackers have been hit hard by injuries.
However, Week 10 also wasn't the first time these scrappy 49ers have had a fourth-quarter lead and couldn't hold it. It wasn't the Green Bay Packers or L.A. Chargers that squeaked this game out—it was a one-win Giants team that has spent most of the season playing worse than San Francisco.
That's not a good look.
Draft position, baby.
30. New York Giants (2-7)
Last Week: 30
Week 10 Result: Won at San Francisco 27-23
Of the nine games the New York Giants have played this year, seven have been decided by seven points or fewer. Heading into Monday night's matchup at Levi's Stadium, the Giants were 1-5 in those close ones—a Week 3 win at Houston was New York's only win of the year.
The question now is what eking out another in San Francisco means for the team.
Yes, it no doubt felt good to win one after five straight losses. And Eli Manning's performance should quiet (at least temporarily) the calls in the Big Apple for his head on a plate.
At least until Wednesday.
But a lone win over a bad 49ers team starting a third-string quarterback isn't going to spur some miraculous turnaround. Even if the Giants use it as a springboard to get their first home win of the year next week against the Buccaneers, a three-game stretch that follows (at Philly, Chicago, at Washington) will all but certainly stick a fork in the 2018 G-Men—if it isn't already in there.
If the Giants really do plan to move on from Manning in 2019, all this win did was make it harder to land his replacement in the draft.
29. New York Jets (3-7)
Last Week: 27
Week 10 Result: Lost vs. Buffalo, 41-10
It's hard to look worse than the Buffalo Bills. It's next to impossible to look significantly worse.
The Jets made it look easy in Week 10. At home, no less.
This is a game it looked like the Jets should be able to win. New York's biggest problem this year has been turnovers, and with Sam Darnold out and Josh McCown starting, the thought was the veteran would take care of the football.
So much for thinking.
The Jets were, for lack of a better descriptor, stinky poo in every way. McCown was a disaster, completing just half of his passes and throwing two picks. The defense was a dumpster fire, allowing 451 yards to a Buffalo team starting a quarterback who hasn't been with the team two weeks.
In case you were wondering, the Jets had 199 yards of offense, because stinky...poo.
The Jets' effort was equal parts embarrassing and horrifying. Losers of four straight, Gang Green roared past the Bills into the AFC East basement.
28. Buffalo Bills (3-7)
Last Week: 31
Week 10 Result: Won at New York Jets, 41-10
This is the first of several results that's bound to inspire a double take.
The 2018 season has been an unending nightmare at quarterback for the Buffalo Bills. When Matt Barkley drew the start for the Bills in New York, it marked the second time this year that Nathan Peterman was benched in favor of a player who was on his couch two weeks before.
If Sunday's game was any indication, Peterman will be manning a sofa now.
In routing the hapless Jets on Sunday, Barkley played very well for a guy who just got to town—232 passing yards, two scores and a passer rating of 117.4. That, coupled with another strong effort from Buffalo's defense and the best game of the season from tailback LeSean McCoy, was enough to give the Bills Mafia their best day since Buffalo stunned the Vikings in Minnesota back in September.
"The Bills are still a mess," Davenport said, "and will be until they sort out the quarterback position. But in shellacking the Jets the Bills at least offered a tease of what the team could be if they had consistently competent play there."
"The Bills were left for dead and came back to life against the Jets," Sobleski added. "This probably says more about the Jets, but Buffalo deserves credit for being prepared and playing hard despite all of the team's issues, particularly on offense. Matt Barkley injected some life into that side of the ball with a strong initial performance. The Bills just need a little offense since their defense is quite good."
27. Arizona Cardinals (2-7)
Last Week: 28
Week 10 Result: Lost at Kansas City, 26-14
It wasn't all bad for the Arizona Cardinals in Week 10.
Arizona tailback David Johnson had easily his best game of the season, racking up 183 yards and two scores on 28 touches in a performance that made many fantasy owners happy.
The Arizona defense held the Chiefs in check about as well as anyone has in 2018, limiting the Chiefs to 26 points and quarterback Patrick Mahomes under 250 passing yards for the first time this season.
The Cardinals even covered the spread of 16 points.
However, the one positive the Cardinals really would have liked to get they didn't. Against a Chiefs defense that has not been good in 2018, rookie quarterback Josh Rosen struggled. Rosen was just 22-of-39 passing for 208 yards and a pair of interceptions. His passer rating was just 58.5.
Developing Rosen should be the team's primary goal.
And if Sunday was any indication, he still has a long way to go.
26. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (3-6)
Last Week: 23
Week 10 Result: Lost vs. Washington, 16-3
Per the Elias Sports Bureau (via Benjamin Hoffman of the New York Times), prior to Sunday no NFL team had ever amassed 500 (or even 450) yards of total offense in a game and scored three points or fewer.
Behold the record-breaking bad that is the 2018 Tampa Bay Buccaneers!
Against the Washington Redskins, the Buccaneers piled up 501 total yards, including 406 passing yards by quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick. However, the Buccaneers were also held out of the end zone, largely because Fitzpatrick also committed three of Tampa's four turnovers.
That's the kind of year it's been for the Buccaneers. If the team scores 40, they give up 42. On the rare occasions that the defense isn't awful (like Sunday), the offense can't seal the deal and get the ball into the end zone.
The Buccaneers have been a fun team to watch much of the season, but they've lost six of their last seven after the starting the year 2-0.
There's little reason to believe a turnaround is coming any time soon.
"First team in NFL history to score just three points on 450 or more yards of offense," Gagnon wrote. "Thanks for coming out, Dirk Koetter. This team needs a complete overhaul, which is astonishing considering how it started the season."
25. Miami Dolphins (5-5)
Last Week: 22
Week 10 Result: Lost at Green Bay, 31-12
The Miami Dolphins are the 2018 masters of winning with smoke and mirrors. Miami has tallied five wins by either playing worse teams than it is or playing mistake-free, old-school football.
Run the ball, play defense, keep the score close and try to steal it late.
Of late though, the act has been exposed. Since shocking the Bears in Week 6, the Dolphins have dropped three of four—allowing over 30 points in all three losses. The only win was a squeaker over the same Jets that just got blown out by the Bills.
Miami's run defense has gone from spotty to bad to nonexistent. The Packers gained 195 yards on the ground and averaged eight yards a carry, and Green Bay is not exactly known as a running team.
The Dolphins are getting gashed and falling behind, which puts pressure on Brock Osweiler to play catch-up with one of the league's weakest receiving corps.
That's working out about how you'd expect.
24. Detroit Lions (3-6)
Last Week: 20
Week 10 Result: Lost at Chicago, 34-22
It's becoming more difficult by the week to believe that these Detroit Lions beat both the Green Bay Packers and New England Patriots in 2018.
Because these Detroit Lions are bad.
The final score of Sunday's loss in Chicago doesn't reflect how badly the Lions got their butts kicked. The Bears scored the first 26 points in a game that was effectively over before halftime.
One week after allowing 10 sacks against the Minnesota Vikings, the Lions gave up six more to Khalil Mack and the Bears. When Matthew Stafford wasn't flat on his back, he was misfiring on throws or tossing interceptions. Detroit's running game has again evaporated—the Lions averaged just 3.2 yards a carry and lost a fumble.
When the Lions traded Golden Tate, it signaled that the front office realized this team wasn't going anywhere this season. After watching Detroit lose three in a row by almost 14 per game, even the most diehard Lions fans aren't disagreeing anymore.
23. Denver Broncos (3-6)
Last Week: 24
Week 10 Result: Bye week
Welcome to the NFL head coach hot seat, 2018 edition.
With the Broncos mired at 3-6 for a second straight year and given a career mark as the head coach in Denver of 8-17, Vance Joseph may not have a job for much longer.
As the Associated Press reported (via CBS Denver), cue the dreaded vote of confidence from Broncos general manager John Elway.
"At this point in time, we're going to stay the course. I think there's enough good things that are going on ... and the way that we’re playing," Elway said. "I'm much more encouraged this year than I was last year."
Granted, there are some causes for optimism. The Broncos are playing teams much closer this year than last, and the team's rookie class has been impressive.
However, if the Broncos don't rack up some wins on the back half and end the season 5-11 or worse again, the odds of Joseph surviving Black Monday aren't good.
22. Cleveland Browns (3-6-1)
Last Week: 26
Week 10 Result: Won vs. Atlanta, 28-16
In the Super Bowl era, there have been three winless teams in non-strike years—the expansion Buccaneers of 1976, the 2008 Detroit Lions and the 2017 Cleveland Browns.
The Bucs and Lions both won two games the following year. After Sunday's surprisingly impressive win over the Atlanta Falcons, the Browns have already surpassed that total with six games yet to play.
Whoever winds up coaching the Browns next year is going to be given some tools to work with. Cleveland's defense put the clamps on one of the league's most potent offenses Sunday. Baker Mayfield continued to make the Browns look good for drafting him first overall, posting the first three-TD game of his career. And fellow rookie Nick Chubb rolled for 176 yards on the ground—including a 92-yard touchdown that set a franchise record for longest run.
"Baker Mayfield is rolling under the direction of interim offensive coordinator Freddie Kitchens," Sobleski wrote. "The No. 1 overall pick has completed 74.2 percent of his passes for 513 yards, five touchdowns and an interception over the last two games. The Browns were fun to watch Sunday...unless you were rooting for the Atlanta Falcons."
In recent years, opponents smiled when they saw the Browns on the schedule. Chalked up an easy "W."
If the Cincinnati Bengals have that mentality two weeks from now when the Browns travel to the Queen City, this Cleveland team will punch them right in the mouth.
21. Jacksonville Jaguars (3-6)
Last Week: 18
Week 10 Result: Lost at Indianapolis, 29-26
The Jacksonville Jaguars—once upon a time—ranked inside the top five in these power rankings.
Given how they've played over the last month-plus, that's hard to believe.
Sunday's loss to the Indianapolis Colts completes a five-game implosion that has taken the Jaguars from a 3-1 Super Bowl contender to a 3-6 pretender who now sits three games back of the Texans with a head-to-head loss to Houston.
The Jaguars are done. There isn't going to be any trip to Atlanta. Or a trip to the playoffs.
The offense has been wildly inconsistent and prone to mistakes and turnovers. The supposedly stout defense has allowed at least 24 points in four of their last five games.
"This was it," Davenport said. "Jacksonville's last stand. A final chance to revive their lagging playoff hopes. Instead, Rashad Greene's fumble in Indianapolis territory late was the perfect metaphor for this mess of a season. One more turnover. One more mistake. One more unforced error by a team that refuses to get out of its own way."
Now, the Jaguars slot outside the top-20.
And they earned that ranking.
20. Atlanta Falcons (4-5)
Last Week: 13
Week 10 Result: Lost at Cleveland, 28-16
If the Atlanta Falcons fail to make the playoffs this year, Week 10 may well be the straw that broke the camel's back.
The Falcons came to Cleveland smoking hot—winners of three straight that got Atlanta back to .500 and back in the wild-card hunt.
They'll leave Northern Ohio wondering what the heck happened after getting smacked around by a Browns team that had lost four in a row.
This is a game that wasn't as close as the score. The Atlanta offense couldn't generate any momentum against a Cleveland defense that has scuffled of late. Defensively, the Falcons were gashed for 211 yards on the ground and 427 yards overall by a Browns offense no one is going to confuse with the Chiefs or Rams anytime soon.
Throw in a couple of turnovers and a failed 4th-and-goal at the 1-yard line, and you have a listless performance that squandered every bit of momentum the Falcons had built up over the last few weeks.
19. Indianapolis Colts (4-5)
Last Week: 25
Week 10 Result: Won vs. Jacksonville, 29-26
Don't look now, but the Indianapolis Colts are on the fringe of NFL relevance.
After hanging on to beat the Jacksonville Jaguars in Week 10, the Colts have won three in a row to ger back to within a game of the .500 mark. Granted, it hasn't come against the league's best (teams with a combined record of 9-15), but that winning streak has the team within two games of the division-leading Texans.
The Colts will have a chance to insert themselves even more into the conversation in the division over the next month. Sunday's win marked the beginning of a five-game stretch that includes four divisional games—including a home date with the red-hot Titans next week and a trip to Houston in Week 14.
"What quarterback Andrew Luck and tight end Eric Ebron are doing deserve far more credit," Sobleski said. "Due to their current performance, it's easy to forget Luck missed all of last season with a shoulder surgery, while Ebron was considered a full-blown draft bust. Now, Luck is second in the league with 26 passing touchdowns, and Ebron leads all tight ends with nine receiving touchdowns. Not too shabby."
"Andrew Luck has been sacked 10 times in nine games! Think about that," Gagnon wrote. "The Colts have finally found a way to protect Luck, who has put together strong performances in three consecutive victories. Indy's defense still has a long way to go, but with Luck this team truly has a shot at the playoffs in the AFC."
The Colts are generating more than a little run, but there's precious little margin for error.
That's what happens when a team starts a campaign with five losses in six games.
18. Dallas Cowboys (4-5)
Last Week: 21
Week 10 Result: Won at Philadelphia, 27-20
It was a tumultuous week for the Dallas Cowboys.
After being throttled at home by the Tennessee Titans, team owner Jerry Jones offered a vote of confidence in head coach Jason Garrett.
You know how that usually turns out.
Former Cowboys great and current Fox analyst Troy Aikman called for an "overhaul" of a team he labeled "dysfunctional."
You can't spell Drama without a Big D.
However, a week that started off about as bad as one could had flipped completely by its end—compliments of a potentially season-saving win over the Eagles in Philly.
It was the best performance by these Cowboys all season. Tailback Ezekiel Elliott had a huge two-touchdown game. Dak Prescott took care of the ball and was efficient in the passing game. The Dallas defense didn't miss a beat without linebacker Sean Lee.
One win isn't going to fix all that ails Dallas. The team still faces an uphill climb if they're to return to the playoffs.
But the Cowboys still have a pulse—a stronger one than just seven days ago.
17. Baltimore Ravens (4-5)
Last Week: 17
Week 10 Result: Bye week
Things are rather falling apart for the Baltimore Ravens.
After jumping out to a 3-1 start, the Ravens fell in surprising fashion to the Cleveland Browns in overtime. That loss appeared to be a blip—an aberration—after the Ravens blasted the Tennessee Titans the following week.
Since that 21-0 win in Week 6, the Ravens have dropped three straight games to playoff contenders. The offense scored fewer than 24 points in all three contests. And as the Ravens went into the bye, grumbles grew about Joe Flacco.
And as those grumbles grew, news broke that Flacco has an injured hip that may keep him from playing next week against the Bengals.
Funny coincidence, that.
Week 11 will be do-or-die time for both the Ravens and Bengals. Neither can afford to fall any further off the pace in an AFC North that looks to be Pittsburgh's to lose.
16. Cincinnati Bengals (5-4)
Last Week: 12
Week 10 Result: Lost vs. New Orleans, 51-14
The Cincinnati Bengals are officially in trouble.
Without top wide receiver A.J. Green (toe) against the Saints, the Cincinnati offense wasn't nearly as effective as it had been in recent weeks. The Bengals were held to just 284 total yards in a 37-point blowout, and they failed to convert a single third down in the game.
A Bengals defense that had struggled mightily in recent weeks was also shredded—again. Cincinnati ranked at or near the bottom of the league in a number of defensive categories entering the game, and after allowing over 500 yards of total offense and 51 points, that's not going to change.
After opening the season 4-1, the Bengals have now dropped three of four, including a pair of blowouts first at the hands of the Chiefs and now the Saints.
This team's looking a lot like most of the Bengals teams of the Marvin Lewis/Andy Dalton era.
OK but not much more than that.
Gagnon discussed a harsh reality for Cincinnati:
"Say goodnight to the Bengals, who were pretenders way back when they were 4-1 and haven't really played a complete game since Week 2 against Baltimore. How do you lay an egg like that at home against a tired Saints team? It's just unfortunate that a fool's gold start and a weak schedule will likely cause them to keep Marvin Lewis around for yet another doomed season."
15. Seattle Seahawks (4-5)
Last Week: 16
Week 10 Result: Lost at Los Angeles Rams, 36-31
Just as they did back in Week 5, the Seattle Seahawks gave the Los Angeles Rams all they could handle in Week 10. The Seahawks racked up an incredible 273 rushing yards in the game, averaging a jaw-dropping eight yards a carry.
Those stats are bonkers—especially in a loss.
Seattle's biggest problem Sunday was that it had no more success stopping the Rams on the ground than L.A. did Seattle—the Rams gained 6.5 yards a carry, and you just can't beat L.A. when the Rams are in 2nd-and-3 all day long.
The Seahawks aren't a great team, but they aren't a bad one, either. They just have limitations—mainly a passing game that picked up just 141 yards in Week 10.
It's not impossible for the Seahawks to still make a run at a wild-card spot, but there's both no margin for error and an unforgiving schedule coming up. The Packers come to town on a short week Thursday, and then comes a trip to Carolina to face the Panthers.
Somehow, Seattle needs to sweep those games and get back above .500.
14. Philadelphia Eagles (4-5)
Last Week: 9
Week 10 Result: Lost vs. Dallas, 27-20
The Philadelphia Eagles—and their title defense—are officially in big trouble.
It's not solely a matter of the team's seven-point home loss to the Cowboys, although that's a big problem in and of itself. The Eagles have already lost two more games than all of last season, and Philly finds itself two games back of the Redskins in the NFC East.
There are even bigger issues.
The pass defense has become a serious liability, with top corner Ronald Darby going down against the Cowboys. The running game has all but been abandoned for a simple enough reason: The Eagles can't run the ball with any consistency.
Then there's the schedule. My oh my, the schedule.
Of the seven games the Eagles have left, five come against teams that are currently in first place, including two meetings with Washington and trips to L.A. and New Orleans to face the Rams and Saints.
At this point, it looks like a long shot for Philly to even make the playoffs.
13. Tennessee Titans (5-4)
Last Week: 19
Week 10 Result: Won vs. New England, 34-10
Yes, you read that right. If you find the fact that the Tennessee Titans just blew out the defending AFC champions, join the club.
We meet on Wednesdays. Bring your own snacks.
These Titans are impossible to figure out—the same team that has, and I kid you not, downed the defending world champs in an overtime thriller, gotten annihilated by the Baltimore Ravens and lost to both the Dolphins and Buffalo Bills just took Tom Brady and the Pats behind the woodshed.
Nothing makes sense anymore.
Davenport was at a loss after Sunday's slap-around.
"The Titans are all over the place," he said. "As soon as you start to believe in them, they lay an egg against a bad team. Write them off (as we had a couple of weeks ago), and they put up two straight emphatic wins. I still have my doubts, but over the last two games Marcus Mariota's making plays and the defense has been lights-out. Trips to Indy and Houston over the next two weeks just became a lot more important in the race to win the AFC South—a race the Titans are back in."
12. Washington Redskins (6-3)
Last Week: 14
Week 10 Result: Won at Tampa Bay, 16-3
The Washington Redskins are not an especially entertaining team to watch. They aren't exactly piling up style points and highlight clips this season.
But somehow, the team keeps piling up wins.
In no small part because of an offensive line and wideout corps that's been ravaged by injuries, the Redskins were held under 300 yards of total offense Sunday in Tampa. Washington had just 15 first downs for the game and was merely 5-of-13 on third down.
But thanks to a ball-control offense and an opportunistic defense that forced four turnovers, the Redskins scored the game's only touchdown Sunday and maintained their pace atop the NFC East.
Davenport can't quite figure them out:
"The Redskins are hard to get a bead on. I want to dismiss them as any real threat in the NFC; the offense just isn't good enough to hang with teams like the Rams and Saints (who blew Washington out earlier this year). But Washington's defense keeps it in games week after week. This team isn't going to Atlanta, but it may just be able to win a postseason game and spoil some wild card's fun in January."
11. Green Bay Packers (4-4-1)
Last Week: 15
Week 10 Result: Won vs. Miami, 31-12
After facing a two-week scheduling stretch that the Marquis de Sade would call overkill and losing in Los Angeles and New England, it was desperation time in Titletown. The Green Bay Packers had to get a win against the Dolphins on Sunday. Just had to.
They did—just not in the way one might expect.
On a day when Aaron Rodgers failed to throw for 200 yards, the Packers cruised to a three-score win thanks to their ground game.
That's right. The ground game.
Against a woeful Dolphins run defense, Aaron Jones gained 145 yards, scored twice and averaged just under 10 yards a carry—a strategy Davenport endorses:
"If the Packers are going to make any noise in the postseason, this is how to do it. When Green Bay gets going running the ball, it opens up play-action and draws the safeties closer to the line of scrimmage. Balance offensively is just going to make Rodgers that much more dangerous and keep Green Bay's defense off the field. Hopefully, Mike McCarthy will remember that."
Gagnon broke it down by the numbers:
"Among backs with at least 150 carries in modern NFL history, Aaron Jones ranks first at 6.1 yards per attempt. The next-highest-ranking back on that list is Bo Jackson...at 5.4! This Packers team has a ceiling when it's relying too heavily on Aaron Rodgers, but if its other Aaron can stay this hot, they'll be in the Super Bowl conversation in January."
10. Houston Texans (6-3)
Last Week: 11
Week 10 Result: Bye week
Generally speaking, most NFL teams love having a Week 10 bye. The later bye provides an opportunity for banged-up players to get some badly needed rest.
However, you can't really blame the Houston Texans if they preferred to keep playing.
Before their week off, the Texans were one of the hottest teams in football—winners of six straight to vault into first place in the AFC South after losing three in a row to start the season.
The bye will at least give newly acquired wideout Demaryius Thomas a chance to settle in with his new team, and Houston needs Thomas to pick things up quickly. The Titans and Colts are both hot right now, putting pressure on the Texans to keep the wins coming.
Houston will see those Titans soon enough. Tennessee comes to town at the beginning of a three-game homestand that kicks off in Week 12 after a trip to Washington to face the first-place Redskins.
9. Carolina Panthers (6-3)
Last Week: 6
Week 10 Result: Lost at Pittsburgh, 52-21
The Carolina Panthers headed to Pittsburgh on Thursday with an opportunity. Beat a surging Steelers team in the Steel City, and the Panthers would earn consideration alongside the Rams and Saints as one of the best teams in the NFC.
That is so not what happened.
It looked for a moment like it might. Carolina drove the length of the field on its opening series and punched it into the end zone for a 7-0 lead.
On the next play from scrimmage, Ben Roethlisberger threw a 75-yard touchdown pass to tie the score. On the play after that, Cam Newton threw a pick-six on one of the most ill-conceived throws of the 2018 season.
Things went downhill from there.
Davenport believes this team has a limited ceiling:
"Some will chalk this up as just a bad night, and Lord knows everything that could go wrong did. But this was also a whuppin' that exposed Carolina's flaws. The offense is one-dimensional and can't challenge defenses downfield with consistency. The defense is prone to surrendering chunk plays outside. And the O-line was a hot mess against the Steelers. The Panthers may be a playoff team, but it's hard to view them as a Super Bowl contender after that beating."
8. Chicago Bears (6-3)
Last Week: 10
Week 10 Result: Won vs. Detroit, 34-22
A few weeks ago, after the Bears dropped a heartbreaker to the New England Patriots, Chicago looked like a decent but flawed team headed for nine or 10 wins and maybe a playoff spot.
Now, after peeling off their third straight win by double digits, the surging Bears are 6-3 and starting to generate some Super Bowl buzz.
This is a team that appears to have the ingredients for a deep playoff run. After a two-game absence, edge-rusher Khalil Mack returned Sunday to key a Bears defense that was all up in Matthew Stafford's business.
Chicago didn't run the ball especially well in Week 10, but in Tarik Cohen and Jordan Howard, the Bears have a solid young "thunder and lightning" backfield.
And most importantly, given how he played against the Lions, Mitchell Trubisky appears to be thriving in his second NFL season.
Amazing what having an offensive head coach can do for a quarterback.
"Chicago has very quietly won three straight games by at least 12 points, and Mitchell Trubisky has been tremendous for much of that stretch," Gagnon said. "This team has the defense and the weapons to make a run in January, especially if Trubisky is finding a real groove midway through his second season."
7. Minnesota Vikings (5-3-1)
Last Week: 8
Week 10 Result: Bye week
It's already been a wild ride for the Minnesota Vikings.
The Vikings entered the 2018 season as a Super Bowl favorite in many eyes and the No. 1 team in these power rankings. The latter lasted as long as it took the Vikings to lose at home to Buffalo. After losing to the Rams the following week, Minnesota ended September a disappointing 1-2-1.
However, of late, the Vikings appear to be figuring it out. Minnesota's 15-point win over the Lions in Week 9 was the Vikings' fourth win in five games, with the only blemish being a Week 8 setback against the Saints. Three of those wins were by double digits.
Even more importantly, as the Vikings prepare to meet the Bears in Chicago in a huge NFC North showdown, one of their best offensive playmakers is back in the fold. Tailback Dalvin Cook returned to action in the Lions game after a lengthy absence, gaining 109 total yards on 14 touches.
With the additional week off to rest, Cook should be at or near 100 percent for the Bears game.
6. Los Angeles Chargers (7-2)
Last Week: 7
Week 10 Result: Won at Oakland, 20-6
The Los Angeles Chargers are without question the best team in the NFL that no one really talks about.
Yes, beating the worst team in the NFL isn't exactly a feat of prowess. And the Chargers got off to a slow start in Oakland—they didn't find the end zone until just before the half.
But the Bolts did what they were supposed to do in Week 10 en route to their sixth straight win—cruise to victory over an inferior opponent. It sounds easy enough to do, but it's an area in which we've seen these Chargers struggle in recent years.
Keep in mind, L.A.'s losses are to the Chiefs and Rams—and the Chargers were in those games. They continue to put pressure on the Chiefs in the AFC West, and Kansas City must itself contend with the Rams next Monday night.
Los Angeles has two winnable games coming up before a three-game stretch that will go a long way toward establishing the team's legitimacy as a possible Super Bowl contender—at Pittsburgh, home against the Bengals and then that all-important rematch with Kansas City.
5. New England Patriots (7-3)
Last Week: 2
Week 10 Result: Lost at Tennessee, 34-10
There is absolutely no question what the biggest surprise of Week 10 was: a Patriots team that had won six straight getting its head kicked in in Nashville by the Jekyll-and-Hyde Titans.
The Patriots didn't just get beaten—they got absolutely flattened. New England was outgained by over 100 yards. Tennessee had more first downs. More time of possession. New England was held to a 20 percent conversion rate on third down, and Tom Brady managed just 21-of-41 passing without a touchdown.
The last time the Patriots lost by more than 14 points in November or later was 2010.
Now, we're not going to take the bait and start throwing dirt on the Patriots. This is a team that time and time again has righted the ship following a setback.
But you have to wonder if the injuries to players like Rob Gronkowski aren't having an effect and if a porous defense isn't becoming a big problem.
"Just when everyone thought it was safe to anoint the Patriots an elite team again, Bill Belichick's squad laid an egg against the Tennessee Titans. The Titans thoroughly out-schemed, outcoached and outplayed New England. Every NFL team has a game it'd rather forget during the regular season. This one may portend something a little more for the aging and injured Pats."
4. Pittsburgh Steelers (6-2-1)
Last Week: 5
Week 10 Result: Won vs. Carolina, 52-21
For the past several weeks, talk of the NFL's biggest Super Bowl contenders has focused on the "Fantastic Four"—the New Orleans Saints, Los Angeles Rams, Kansas City Chiefs and New England Patriots.
Better switch that to the "Fabulous Five," because after absolutely waxing a good Panthers team Thursday night, the Pittsburgh Steelers have to enter that conversation.
The Steelers laid it on Carolina in a way that had to be seen to be believed. Ben Roethlisberger had just three incompletions, five touchdown passes and a perfect passer rating of 158.3. Pittsburgh scored two touchdowns in a span of 14 seconds in the first quarter and scored on seven of their first eight drives.
"Make no mistake," Davenport said. "Thursday's stomp-job was a message to the rest of the AFC. The Steelers that pitched and lurched their way to a 1-2-1 start are gone. The team that replaced them and peeled off five straight wins is every bit the threat to represent the AFC in Atlanta as the Chiefs and Patriots."
"The Steelers have won five straight games by at least seven points each, which is a hell of a feat in this day and age. This team is in one of its best grooves in years, and the rest of the AFC is vulnerable. Considering that the Patriots haven't been impressing, Pittsburgh is probably the better candidate to challenge Kansas City in that conference."
3. Kansas City Chiefs (9-1)
Last Week: 4
Week 10 Result: Won vs. Arizona, 26-14
With a huge Week 11 matchup with the Rams in Mexico City looming, it wasn't unreasonable to wonder if the Kansas City Chiefs might look past the Arizona Cardinals a bit Sunday. The game was in Kansas City, and the Cardinals haven't beaten anyone in the NFL this year not named the San Francisco 49ers.
Frankly, given how the game unfolded, it rather appeared they did. The Chiefs managed just 330 yards of total offense against the Redbirds. Quarterback Patrick Mahomes threw for a season-low 249 yards, although he also set the franchise record for touchdown passes in a season…
With six games to spare.
The Cardinals even had one more first down than the Chiefs. That none of that mattered even a little shows the different stratospheres these two teams are operating in.
Now that this tune-up is out of the way, attention can turn to next week's south-of-the-border Super Bowl preview—a game that promises to feature offensive fireworks galore.
The key for the Chiefs—just as it will be in the playoffs—will not be Mahomes and the offense but whether the Chiefs defense can get a few stops at key points in the game.
2. Los Angeles Rams (9-1)
Last Week: 3
Week 10 Result: Won vs. Seattle, 36-31
Sunday's home date with the Seattle Seahawks was an important game for the Rams. It was both a tune-up for next week's Mexico City brouhaha with the Kansas City Chiefs and a gut check after the Rams lost their first game of the season a week ago in New Orleans.
It was a success on both counts.
Yes, the Seahawks gave the Rams all they could handle. That's to be expected in a division game. But the combination of Todd Gurley (160 total yards) and Jared Goff (318 passing yards) on offense and Aaron Donald (2.5 sacks) on defense was just too much for Seattle—as it's been for most of L.A.'s foes this year.
However, it wasn't all good news for the Rams. Wide receiver Cooper Kupp went down in the second half with a knee injury and, per Nick Shook of NFL.com, the team fears he tore his ACL.
It's a big blow—even for an offense as loaded as the Rams'.
1. New Orleans Saints (8-1)
Last Week: 1
Week 10 Result: Won at Cincinnati, 51-14
It was fair to wonder if the New Orleans Saints might be due for a bit of a letdown in Week 10. After all, the team was on the road after a thrilling win over the then-undefeated Rams last week.
Shame on us for considering that possibility for even a moment.
All the Saints did Sunday was outscore a pretty good Cincinnati Bengals team, 44-7, over the game's final three quarters. It was absolute dominance on both sides of the ball.
Davenport was more than impressed by the showing—he was blown away:
"The Saints are leaving very little doubt about who the NFL's best team is. The offense is loaded with skill-position talent, has one of the best lines in football and a quarterback who may finally get an MVP award this year. The defense gets outshined by that offensive onslaught, but it may well be the best of any of the league's marquee teams. I knew these Saints were good, but they're proving to be even better than I thought. That's kinda scary."