2016 NFL Power Rankings Week 11: Los Angeles Rams Finally End Losing Streak
Here’s a look at the 2016 NFL Power Rankings Week 11 with the Los Angeles Rams putting an end to their losing streak.
After four weeks of frustration, the Los Angeles Rams finally moved up in the 2016 NFL Power Rankings for Week 11.
In a game featuring two offenses that ranked near the bottom of the league, it was the Rams that came through with the 9-6 victory over the New York Jets. For the second time this season, Los Angeles somehow managed to win a game without finding the end zone as the victory put an end to the team’s four game losing streak.
As enjoyable as this win was for the Rams, it’s clear Jeff Fisher‘s squad still has plenty of adjustments that need to be made before this team can even come close to being seen as contenders in the NFC. Their record may be 4-5 heading into Week 11, but there’s still plenty of football left for Los Angeles to possibly make a late run in the division.
Now that the Rams have won a game to take a little pressure off Fisher at the moment, how much does it help them in this week’s rankings? Without wasting any more time, here’s a look at where Los Angeles stands along with the other 31 teams in 2016 NFL Power Rankings for Week 11.
32. Cleveland Browns 0-10 (32)
Leave it to the Cleveland Browns to be competitive in the first half against the Baltimore Ravens, only to fail to show up in the second half as they continue to be the league’s only winless team heading into Week 11. Not only did the Browns fail to show up, but they went the entire second half against the Ravens without scoring a single point.
Quarterback continues to be an issue for Cleveland as Hue Jackson made the questionable decision to replace Cody Kessler with Josh McCown midway through the game, even though it didn’t really make much of a difference. As if an 0-10 record wasn’t already embarrassing enough for Cleveland, the sad thing is they may actually finish the 2016 season without winning a single game when taking a closer look at their remaining schedule.
Not only do the Browns have two tough games against the Pittsburgh Steelers, but they still have to face the Cincinnati Bengals one more time along with the New York Giants in Week 12. Obviously, the last thing Jackson wants to do is make the wrong side of history during his first season with the Browns, but it’s not looking good for the head coach after another disappointing loss.
31. San Francisco 49ers 1-8 (31)
When considering nobody was really giving them much of a shot on the road against the Arizona Cardinals, the San Francisco 49ers have to be kicking themselves for falling just short of what would have turned out to be quite the upset win. Instead, the team continues to search for their first win since opening weekend as the 49ers have now lost eight games in a row.
As mentioned numerous times over the last couple of weeks, there’s only so much Colin Kaepernick can do on his own with this terrible offense as the quarterback led the team in passing and rushing once again. Unless someone else decides to step it up on offense to help Kaepernick out, the 49ers most likely won’t see that losing streak come to an end any time soon.
Chip Kelly knew he was taking over a terrible team when he joined San Francisco in the offseason, but not even the head coach could have predicted things would be this bad in 2016. And if the last eight games wasn’t already frustrating enough for the 49ers, chances are high that streak is going to increase to nine with a game against the New England Patriots scheduled for next Sunday.
With all due respect to Kelly and his team, there’s no chance San Francisco is going to find a way to win that one.
30. Jacksonville Jaguars 2-7 (30)
Another week, another frustrating loss for the Jacksonville Jaguars as Gus Bradley continues to see his hot seat heating up after his team fell to the Houston Texans 24-21. Once again, a majority of the points scored by the Jaguars came in the fourth quarter when the team’s chances of winning were already slim as Blake Bortles has established a reputation for himself of being the King of fantasy points in garbage time.
Bradley was already under the microscope at the beginning of the season as he was entering his fourth year with the team without recording more than five wins in a single season. At 2-7, it looks like that unfortunate streak is going to continue for Bradley and the Jaguars as this team just keeps finding new ways to disappoint fans each week.
With an upcoming road matchup against the Detroit Lions in Week 11, don’t be surprised if Jacksonville extends their losing streak to five games to put even more pressure on Bradley as head coach. The talent is certainly there for the Jaguars on offense, but for some reason this team just can’t figure out a way to use it to their advantage in games.
When stuff like this happens, the head coach is always going to be the first one to blame, which is why Bradley is taking the most heat.
29. New York Jets 3-7 (28)
The good news for the New York Jets is Bryce Petty showed some potential during his first career NFL start, even though the quarterback didn’t do anything in particular to make himself standout. The bad news for the Jets is the offense hit a new low for the 2016 season after falling to the Los Angeles Rams on Sunday 9-6 to drop to 3-7 on the year.
Nothing against the Rams’ defense, but the Jets should have easily been able to score more than six points against a team that entered Sunday’s game on a four game losing streak. This year has already been a major disappointment for New York when looking at the high expectations from the beginning of the season, and Sunday’s horrendous performance against Los Angeles may have been the official dagger for this team.
On a positive note, at least the Jets don’t have to worry about losing next weekend since they have their bye week scheduled before facing the New York Patriots in Week 12. If their first 10 games are any indication of what’s in store, expectations shouldn’t be high for that battle against the Patriots when looking at how well they’ve been playing this season.
28. Chicago Bears 2-7 (27)
Remember two weeks ago when the Chicago Bears were receiving plenty of praise following a surprise win over the Minnesota Vikings on Monday Night Football? Unfortunately, it looks like nothing has truly changed for the Bears when looking at how bad they looked against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in Week 11.
As if the three turnovers recorded by Jay Cutler weren’t already frustrating enough, the fact that Chicago’s offense only put up 10 points against Tampa Bay may end up being one of the most embarrassing headlines of the weekend. There’s a reason why the Buccaneers’ defense ranks near the bottom of the league, and to see Cutler’s Bears go from their performance against the Vikings to this is a tough pill to swallow.
The only positive takeaway from this outcome on Chicago’s end was the solid performance on the ground by rookie Jordan Howard, who finished the game with 100 rushing yards on 15 carries. The Bears may not make the postseason, but at least the surprise production of Howard will help owners making a push for their fantasy football playoffs.
On another note, don’t be surprised if Cutler’s future with the organization comes back into discussion as Chicago has every reason to feel frustrated over their quarterback.
27. Los Angeles Rams 4-5 (29)
For the second time in 2016, the Los Angeles Rams found a way to win a football game without scoring a single touchdown. But when looking at the team’s recent struggles, Jeff Fisher will take a win in any way he can at this point, especially since his future with the organization could be determined over the next few games.
In a game where Case Keenum only threw for 165 yards and Todd Gurley was held to just 64 rushing yards, the fact that Los Angeles found a way to pull off a win against New York on the road is simply amazing. The Rams had entered Sunday’s game with a four game losing streak, so it was good to see this team finally get back on the winning track to give fans the slightest bit of hope when it comes to the possibility of making a run.
Even if their offense ranks near the bottom of the league, don’t forget this is the same Los Angeles team that started the season off with a 3-1 record with two impressive wins over the Seattle Seahawks and Arizona Cardinals. Of course, with the offense only scoring 29 points over the last three games, it will be up to the defense to carry the Rams if they’re going to put together some sort of winning streak.
26. Cincinnati Bengals 3-4-1 (25) (Play Monday Night)
What’s the saddest part about the disappointing 3-4-1 record of the Cincinnati Bengals heading into Monday night’s showdown against the New York Giants? Despite their horrendous record, the Bengals are still in the hunt for the AFC North title thanks to some help from the Pittsburgh Steelers and Baltimore Ravens over the last couple of weeks.
Two weeks after settling for a tie against the Washington Redskins in London, the Bengals look to get back on the winning track to keep up with their division rivals in the AFC North standings. On paper, Cincinnati certainly has the talent on offense to make this a competitive football game, but they should be concerned over how well New York’s defense has been playing over their last couple of games.
Once again, the key factor for the Bengals in this one will come down to A.J. Green in the passing game. As long as Andy Dalton manages to take advantage of his favorite weapon in the passing game, Cincinnati may actually come up with the win on the road to get back to .500 on the season.
If the Bengals fail to win, let’s just say the hot heat is only going to continue heating up for Marvin Lewis.
25. Buffalo Bills 4-5 (22)
After having a week to think about all of the controversy surrounding the officiating crew from their Week 9 game against the Seattle Seahawks, it’s time for the Buffalo Bills to focus on their next opponent in the Cincinnati Bengals. With three losses in a row, Rex Ryan‘s squad understands how important a win on Sunday against the Bengals will be if they have any intention of making a late run for a Wild Card spot in the AFC.
Keep in mind Buffalo was considered one of the hottest teams in the league after a surprise 4-2 start before their recent losing streak, and there’s every reason to believe they can still turn things around went looking at how well Tyrod Taylor has been playing at quarterback. After the Bills gave Taylor a hefty extension in the offseason, there were plenty of football fans wondering if the team jumped the gun on the move, but the quarterback has proven in 2016 that he is in fact the right man for the job.
If Taylor can continue finding ways to help this offense put up points on a weekly basis, be sure to keep an eye on Buffalo over the next few weeks.
24. Carolina Panthers 3-6 (18)
Before Sunday’s game against the Kansas City Chiefs, the Carolina Panthers seemed to have finally turned their season around after a disastrous 1-5 start following back-to-back wins over the Arizona Cardinals and Los Angeles Rams. A victory over the Chiefs would have been the perfect statement win over a playoff-caliber team, but the Panthers missed out on this major opportunity thanks to a collapse in the fourth quarter.
The fact that it took Carolina until the clock read zero to be trailing Kansas City for the first time all game is the perfect example of how frustrating this loss truly was. Not only were the Panthers holding on to a 17-3 lead heading into the fourth quarter, but the defense prevented the Chiefs’ offense from scoring a single touchdown for the entire game.
A win over Kansas City would have gave Carolina a 4-5 record along with the New Orleans Saints and Tampa Bay Buccaneers to place them right behind the Atlanta Falcons in the NFC South. Instead, the Panthers just dug themselves a deeper hole at the bottom of the division as this team is even more at risk of missing out on the playoffs one year after representing the NFC in the Super Bowl.
23. Arizona Cardinals 4-4-1 (24)
It was closer than expected at the end, but the Arizona Cardinals found a way to escape with a win against the San Francisco 49ers to get back to .500 on the season after failing to win in their previous two games. Despite the win, Carson Palmer continues to struggle at quarterback for the Cardinals, even if they did come out on the winning end against the 49ers.
Palmer completed 30 of 49 passes for 376 yards with one touchdown, but the two interceptions stood out the most as Arizona continues to wait for their quarterback to have that big breakout game. At the beginning of the season, the Cardinals were expected to be one of the top teams to beat in the NFC with Palmer under center after the veteran displayed a career year in 2015.
Instead, Palmer has struggled to get anything consistent going on offense as Arizona has turned into one of the biggest disappointments of the 2016 season.
Arizona should consider themselves lucky for holding on to this one as this team needs every win they can get to stay close to the Seattle Seahawks in the NFC West standings. The weapons have always been there for Palmer on offense, but let’s hope he figures out an effective way to help this team record more points on a weekly basis before it’s too late.
22. Tampa Bay Buccaneers 4-5 (26)
For a team that had gone the entire season without a single win at home, it was good to see the Tampa Bay Buccaneers finally earn that first victory against the Chicago Bears on Sunday. And thanks to some help from the Philadelphia Eagles defeating the Atlanta Falcons, the Buccaneers are closer to first place in the NFC South than people realizes.
In a game that many expected to be high scoring due to two poor defenses, it was Tampa Bay that actually came up big after limiting Chicago to 10 points during their 36-10 win. Jameis Winston led the way for the Buccaneers on offense after completing 23 of 33 passes for 312 yards to go along with two touchdowns and an interception. With 10 touchdown passes over his last four games, Winston seems to be doing all of the right things to keep the Buccaneers in the division hunt, but there’s still plenty of areas in need of improvement.
Still, the fact that Tampa Bay is even still in the race for the NFC South at this point in the season is simply amazing when looking at how dominant Atlanta’s offense has been at times. When looking at the upcoming schedule and seeing some of the opponents that happen to be playoff contenders, let’s hope the Buccaneers’ defense can find a way to continue playing like they did against the Bears.
21. Pittsburgh Steelers 4-5 (17)
When looking at all of the potential surrounding the high-powered offense at the beginning of the season, Mike Tomlin has to be feeling the frustration over how the Pittsburgh Steelers let another important game against the Dallas Cowboys slip away. The fact that three touchdowns were scored in the game’s final two minutes shows just how close this game was as the Steelers suffered their fourth loss in a row to fall below .500 on the season.
While the defense failed to come up big at the end of the game with a few costly penalties, the one positive factor to take away from this one is Ben Roethlisberger looked much better than he did one week ago at quarterback. Rusty was the best way to describe Big Ben’s performance against the Baltimore Ravens, but after throwing for 408 yards with three touchdowns against the Cowboys, it’s safe to say he looking normal again.
As much as the loss hurts, Pittsburgh isn’t in terrible shape when looking at how the AFC North is shaping up, even if they currently trail Baltimore by one game in the standings. When looking at all of the talent on offense, the argument can be made the Steelers are still the most dangerous team in the division.
20. Indianapolis Colts 4-5 (19)
When it comes to the most inconsistent teams in the NFL, the argument can be made the Indianapolis Colts rank near the top of that list when looking at the way their first eight games have gone. One week, the Colts look like one of the most pathetic teams in the league, only to look like contenders the following game.
After a surprise road win over the Green Bay Packers in Week 9 in which they completely dominated from the start, it’s safe to say the Colts belong in the conversation of contenders, but the true test will be in their first game following the bye week against the Tennessee Titans. The AFC South may be looked at as one of the weakest divisions in football, but the Titans are slowly becoming one of the hottest teams in the NFL over the last couple of weeks.
Luckily for Indianapolis, Andrew Luck is 8-0 in his career against Tennessee, including a key 34-26 victory a few weeks ago. If the Colts want to have any shot at eventually taking over first place in the division, a win over one of their AFC South rivals would be another big step in the right direction.
Otherwise, Indianapolis is never going to escape the inconsistency conversations.
19. San Diego Chargers 4-6 (14)
Any hope of the San Diego Chargers continuing their impressive play from the last couple of weeks while getting back in the hunt in the AFC playoff picture quickly disappeared on Sunday thanks to Philip Rivers choosing the wrong time to have one of the worst games of his career. Not only did Rivers throw four costly interceptions against the Miami Dolphins, but the final one he threw came towards the end of the game in when Kiko Alonso went 60 yards for what turned out to be the game-winning touchdown.
When looking at how competitive he’s been throughout his career, this loss is going to take Rivers a while to get over when considering how much it ruined the momentum of what’s already been a disappointing season for San Diego. As mentioned before, the Chargers already knew it would be a long shot to find a way to get back in the playoff hunt, but with three wins in four games prior to Sunday, it certainly still seemed possible.
If only San Diego didn’t lose four of five games to start the season, this loss against Miami wouldn’t have been so costly. It’s tough to blame one individual for a loss, but it’s hard to look past the four interceptions thrown by Rivers.
18. Baltimore Ravens 5-4 (23)
A few weeks ago, the Baltimore Ravens were struggling to receive the credit they deserve when it comes to being contenders in the AFC. Thanks to two wins in a row, the Ravens are in the driver’s seat of the AFC North as the team is coming off another impressive victory, even if it was against the Cleveland Browns.
At this point in the season, there’s nothing any team would love more than to receive a home matchup against the league’s only winless team as the Ravens overcame their early struggles for a strong second half against the Browns before going on to win 28-7. It’s been a roller coaster season for this Baltimore squad when considering they started off the year 3-0 before going on lose four in a row.
Now, the Ravens sit on top of the AFC North with a 5-4 record, but the key for this team continuing their recent success is to receive stellar play from Joe Flacco. For a quarterback that was underperforming for most of the first half of the regular season, it was a relief to see Flacco complete 30 of 41 passes for 296 yards with three touchdowns on Thursday against the Browns.
Keep in mind Flacco previously had just one game with multiple touchdowns heading into Week 10, so this type of performance has to make Baltimore feel much better about their quarterback situation.
17. Green Bay Packers 4-5 (11)
Is there anyone out there who still believes the Green Bay Packers shouldn’t be worried about the way they have been playing this season? Once again, Aaron Rodgers and company continue to prove they’re far from the dominant team the rest of the league is used to seeing after another surprise loss on the road to the Tennessee Titans.
The Packers dug themselves a deep hole early on after allowing the Titans to score 21 points in the first quarter alone before eventually going on to lose the game 47-25. What was even more surprising is Green Bay’s rushing defense that ranks near the top of the league allowed DeMarco Murray to break loose for a 75-yard touchdown on the first offensive play of the game for Tennessee.
Despite all of the struggles this team has been dealing with, the Packers are still in decent shape in the division thanks to the recent collapse of the Minnesota Vikings, who are on a four game losing streak of their own. Don’t forget, Green Bay ends the season with their final three games against division rivals, which means there’s no reason to even consider them out at this point heading into next weekend’s game against the Washington Redskins.
16. Minnesota Vikings 5-4 (6)
What on earth has happened to the Minnesota Vikings over the last four games? For a team that seemed to have it all figured out following a 5-0 start, the Vikings have lost each of their last four games after falling short against the Washington Redskins on Sunday.
When considering all of the injuries Minnesota has been dealing with this season, it’s tough not to give them a little benefit of the doubt, but that’s not going to mean anything if they fall short of the playoffs. The Vikings made a bold decision prior to the start of the regular season by giving up a first-round pick to acquire Sam Bradford from the Philadelphia Eagles, and unless this team figures out a way to turn things around, that trade is going to end up being a waste.
To see Minnesota go from being the final undefeated team to falling into second place in the division behind the Detroit Lions thanks to their head-to-head loss is nothing short of frustrating for Mike Zimmer‘s team. Obviously, there’s still plenty of time for the Vikings to get back on the winning track, but when looking at how awful this team has looked over their last four games, it’s tough to imagine things improving any time soon.
15. New Orleans Saints 4-5 (13)
Despite all of the controversy surrounding the blocked extra point returned by the Denver Broncos, the New Orleans Saints deserve some credit for keeping it close with the defending Super Bowl champions. In a game that featured one of the league’s top offenses in the Saints going against a top-rated defense, the Saints proved to the rest of the NFL they have what it takes to keep it close with playoff caliber teams.
Once again, Drew Brees was simply amazing for New Orleans after completing 21 of 29 passes for 303 yards with three touchdowns, although he did throw two interceptions as well. After Sunday’s performance against the Broncos, Brees has now thrown for at least three touchdowns in six of nine games this season, which makes a strong case for the veteran quarterback to be in consideration for MVP.
Of course, the most important thing for Brees is doing whatever it takes to help the Saints make the playoffs as the team still has a shot at making a run for the NFC South title thanks to another loss by the Atlanta Falcons on Sunday. Who would have thought New Orleans would be playing this well heading into Week 11 after starting off the year with a 0-3 record?
14. Tennessee Titans 5-5 (21)
Don’t look now, but the Tennessee Titans are quickly emerging as one of the hottest teams in football thanks to the impressive play of Marcus Mariota at quarterback. After Sunday’s big 47-25 win over the Green Bay Packers, it’s time to start believing in the Titans as they seem capable of making a run for a playoff spot in the AFC, or even their division title.
Mariota was simply phenomenal against the Packers on Sunday as the second-year quarterback completed 19 of 26 passes for 295 yards to go along with four touchdowns. While there were some issues surrounding Mariota at the beginning of the season due to his turnovers, the Titans quarterback has made a ton of progress over the last couple of weeks to get this team in playoff conversation.
Who would have thought Tennessee would be entering Week 11 with four wins over their last six games? What’s even crazier to think about is each of the five losses by the Titans this season has come by single digits.
In other words, Tennessee has kept it close in each game this season, and seems to be more confident than ever when it comes to proving they deserve to be considered playoff contenders.
13. Philadelphia Eagles 5-4 (20)
When looking at all of the questionable play calls over the previous two games, who would have thought the Philadelphia Eagles would look this good on defense against the Atlanta Falcons? As crazy as it sounds, Doug Pederson‘s team seems to have just as good of a shot as the other three teams in the NFC East when it comes to winning the division.
While Carson Wentz failed to find the end zone, the rookie did come up big running the offense as the Eagles continued their dominance at home with a 24-15 win over the Falcons. Believe it or not, Ryan Mathews turned out to be the surprise hero on offense after rushing for 109 yards with two touchdowns on 19 carries as the ground game made a huge difference in this one. Even rookie Wendell Smallwood had one of his best games of the season by recording 70 rushing yards on 13 carries.
Philadelphia missed out on two key opportunities over the last two weeks with losses to the Dallas Cowboys and New York Giants, but with the way the defense played against Atlanta, this proves they should be a team to keep an eye on in the NFC. If only the Eagles were more consistent with their style of play after seeing them shutdown two of the league’s top offenses in the Falcons and Pittsburgh Steelers this year, yet are only 5-4 on the season.
12. Miami Dolphins 5-4 (16)
In a game that featured two of the hottest teams on the rise in the AFC, it was the Miami Dolphins that ended up on the winning end against the San Diego Chargers thanks to a late interception returned for a 60-yard touchdown by Kiko Alonso with just over a minute left in the fourth quarter. After losing four of five to start the season, the Dolphins have put together an impressive four game winning streak as they continue to inch closer to the battle for a Wild Card spot.
Nothing against the Dolphins, but it seems highly unlikely that any team in the AFC East is going to overtake the New England Patriots in the standings when seeing how well Tom Brady and company are playing these days. However, that doesn’t mean Miami can’t at least make things interesting in the race when considering four of their remaining seven games are against teams with losing records.
One of the reasons why the Dolphins were able to overcome the Chargers on Sunday was due to the play of Ryan Tannehill in the passing game. For a quarterback that’s been the focus behind this team’s struggles over the last couple of years, it was good to see Tannehill lead Miami to an important road win in this one.
11. Washington Redskins 5-3-1 (15)
With five wins in seven games, the Washington Redskins continue to stay in the hunt when it comes to the NFC playoffs thanks to another key win over the Minnesota Vikings on Sunday. Even if it was ugly at times, the Redskins will take a win any way they can get it, especially since their previous game against the Cincinnati Bengals ended in a tie.
Kirk Cousins and the Redskins knew it would be difficult on offense playing without DeSean Jackson, but it was good to see players like Pierre Garcon and Vernon Davis step up in the passing game. While Garcon led the way for Washington with six catches for 81 yards, Davis happened to finish with three catches for 66 yards, including a key 38-yard touchdown catch in the second quarter.
Teams sometimes tend to look rusty when returning from their bye week, but the Redskins seemed to have no issues against the Vikings to keep pace with the rest of the teams in the NFC East. When looking at how this division race is turning out, every win for Washington is going to be important moving forward as Cousins looks to continue proving he’s worthy of the long-term deal he spent a majority of the offseason fighting for.
10. New York Giants 5-3 (10)
Thanks to three wins in a row, the New York Giants are all of a sudden one of the hottest teams in the NFC heading into their key Monday night game at home against the Cincinnati Bengals. In a battle between two of the league’s top wide receivers, the Giants will need all of the help they can get from Odell Beckham Jr. in the passing game if that winning streak is going to improve to four games.
After a rough start to the season in which he went four games without a touchdown, Beckham has come alive for New York over the last four games by finding the end zone five times as the wideout looks to stay hot against Cincinnati. Normally, the Bengals’ defense tends to rank near the top of the league, but that’s been far from the case in 2016 when looking at how many times they’ve struggled to contain their opponents.
Not only are the Giants in solid position to make a run for a Wild Card spot in the conference, but they still have a great shot at winning the NFC East since they already have one head-to-head win over the Dallas Cowboys. However, before even looking down the stretch at the remaining schedule, let’s see how New York does against Cincinnati on Monday night.
9. Houston Texans 6-3 (12)
Even though the Houston Texans came up on the winning end against the Jacksonville Jaguars, there’s still plenty of reason for concern when it comes to the play of Brock Osweiler at quarterback. When looking at how much money the Texans have invested in their hopeful franchise quarterback, Osweiler should be displaying much better numbers than he has been in 2016. Not to mention he has one of the league’s top players at wide receiver to throw the football to in DeAndre Hopkins.
So what went wrong with Osweiler on Sunday against the Jaguars? Luckily, turnovers weren’t an issuer, but the fact that Osweiler completed just 14 of 27 passes for 99 yards with two touchdowns is painful to even think about.
How does a quarterback in the NFL fail to break the 100-yard mark when completing 14 passes against one of the league’s worst defenses? Houston may be sitting on top of the AFC South at the moment, but it’s tough to picture them as serious contenders in the AFC if Osweiler continues to play at this low level.
Unless Osweiler magically begins to play better at quarterback, the Texans won’t go far at all if they hang on to win the division title.
8. Detroit Lions 5-4 (8)
Throughout his entire career, Matthew Stafford has always been considered one of the most underrated quarterbacks in the league. In his first season without Calvin Johnson as his No. 1 option at wide receiver, Stafford has the Detroit Lions on the rise in the NFC.
The most impressive part about the 5-4 record of the Lions is each of their five wins have come by single digits, with their latest coming in Week 9 in which they pulled off a thrilling overtime victory against the Minnesota Vikings. With three remaining division games on the schedule, Detroit seems to have just as good of a shot as the Vikings and Green Bay Packers to take home the NFC North title, especially when looking at how inconsistent the other two teams have been as of late.
To top it off, three of the next four games for the Lions will be played at Four Field, beginning next Sunday against the Jacksonville Jaguars. As long as Stafford continues to be effective on offense with his weapons in the passing game like Golden Tate and Theo Riddick, Detroit should continue to be one of the hottest teams in the NFC heading into Week 11.
7. Atlanta Falcons 6-4 (4)
For one of the hottest offenses in football, the Atlanta Falcons took a major step back during Sunday’s game against the Philadelphia Eagles after scoring just 15 points. When considering the lone touchdown for the Falcons came on a 76-yard catch by Taylor Gabriel, it’s a real eye opener just how much this offense truly struggled against the Eagles.
Prior to Sunday’s game, Atlanta had combined for 76 points over their last two games as it’s easy for a team to put up points when they have one of the league’s top duos in Matt Ryan and Julio Jones. Even though Jones came up big against the Eagles with 10 catches for 135 yards, it still wasn’t enough for the offense as the Falcons dropped to 6-4 on the season.
Despite the loss, Atlanta is still in good shape when it comes to leading the NFC South as they’re currently hanging on to a slim lead over the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Ryan tends to enjoy playing in Philadelphia since he grew up in the area, but this turned out to be a forgetful trip for the MVP candidate.
With the Arizona Cardinals coming to town in Week 11, let’s hope the Falcons’ defense makes the necessary adjustments to perform better.
6. Denver Broncos 7-3 (9)
In what may go down as the craziest ending to Week 10, the Denver Broncos returned a blocked extra point for the go-ahead score in the final two minutes against the New Orleans Saints to pull off the amazing 25-23 win. Even if the play by Will Parks was controversial, there’s nothing that can be done about it now as the Broncos improved to 7-3 on the season to stay close with the Kansas City Chiefs and Oakland Raiders in the division.
This was one of the most highly anticipated games of Week 10 with Denver’s defense squaring off against one of the league’s top offenses in New Orleans, and it certainly didn’t disappointment when seeing how this game turned out. The quarterback play continues to be an issue for the Broncos, but the team should feel a little better about Trevor Siemian‘s performance after he completed 25 of 40 passes for 258 yards with two touchdowns and an interception.
Hopefully, Siemian continues to get better with experience as the second-year quarterback only has nine career starts under his belt. With that being said, a second-year quarterback with the type of weapons Siemian has to work with in the passing game should be able to display better numbers on a weekly basis, which is why it’s so frustrating to watch the Broncos quarterback sometimes.
5. Seattle Seahawks 6-2-1 (7)
If the Seattle Seahawks can find a way to play like they did against the New England Patriots on a weekly basis, there’s a good chance they will end up as one of the top teams in the NFC when the end of the regular season rolls around. It’s never easy to win on the road in New England, but Seattle managed to do so on a short week of rest when considering they just played in the Monday night slot in Week 9 against the Buffalo Bills.
While there’s plenty to discuss from this epic win, the one takeaway from the Seahawks was the dynamic duo of Russell Wilson and Doug Baldwin in the passing game. All three of Wilson’s touchdown passes went to Baldwin as the wideout finished the game with six catches for 59 yards.
After struggling at the beginning of the season due to multiple injuries, Wilson is finally playing like the quarterback that dominated opponents in the second half of the 2015 season. Seattle knew it would only be a matter of time before their offensive woes were fixed, and if Wilson continues to play at this high level, this is going to be a very dangerous offense to contain.
4. Kansas City Chiefs 7-2 (5)
If there were anything to takeaway from the Kansas City Chiefs in 2016, it would be this is a team that is never officially out of a game until the clock strikes zero. Just look at what the Chiefs had to overcome in Week 10 against the Carolina Panthers, and it’s clear this team finds some of the most amazing ways to win football games.
When looking at how bad things looked over the first three quarters, nobody could have predicted Kansas City would score 17 unanswered points in the fourth quarter to go on to win the game 20-17. While the offense struggled for the most part as the Chiefs were forced to settle for four field goals, it was Eric Berry that sparked the comeback after the safety returned a 42-yard interception for a touchdown early in the fourth quarter.
Defense has been key for the Chiefs all season as this team has now won five games in a row to quietly move up the AFC rankings. Keep in mind Kansas City did the same thing last year when they got hot at the right time following a disappointing start to the season.
With the way this team has been playing, nobody in the AFC wants to play the Chiefs at the moment.
3. Oakland Raiders 7-2 (3)
The Oakland Raiders could not have asked to have their bye week at a better time after emerging as one of the hottest teams in football from the first half of the season. Now, the challenge for Jack Del Rio‘s squad becomes making sure they continue to stay hot heading into next weekend’s showdown against the Houston Texans.
It’s been a long time since Oakland fans have seen their team record a winning season, and they have every reason in the world to be excited when looking at some of the team’s win so far in 2016. Not only are the Raiders coming off a statement win against the Denver Broncos, but five of their seven wins have come by single digits.
In other words, Oakland is finding ways to pull off wins in these close games, which they will need every one they can get when looking at how the AFC West is shaping out. Derek Carr has been one of the main reasons behind the team’s 7-2 start to the season, and if the third-year quarterback continues to play at this high level, it wouldn’t be a surprise to see his name in MVP talks towards the end of the season.
Of course, Carr and the Raiders realize they need to take the second half one game at a time before jumping to any conversations like that, especially since the Kansas City Chiefs currently own the tiebreaker over them in the division standings.
2. New England Patriots 7-2 (1)
Unfortunately for the New England Patriots, it was only a matter of time before Tom Brady ended up throwing his first interception of the season after it happened in Week 11 against the Seattle Seahawks. To top it off, Brady failed to throw a single touchdown as the quarterback lost his first game of the 2016 season following the team’s 31-24 loss to the Seahawks.
In Brady’s defense, all three of New England’s touchdowns went to LeGarrette Blount in the ground game after the running back finished with 69 rushing yards on 21 carries. It’s not every day that Brady is going to finish without a touchdown, but it has to be frustrating for the future Hall of Famer knowing he should have been able to find the end zone towards the end of the game when the Patriots were in perfect position to tie the game up.
The good news for New England is this is only one loss against a very talented Seattle team as there’s obviously no reason to panic. If anything, losing this game may take a little pressure off Brady since he no longer has to worry about his perfect numbers for the remainder of the season.
1. Dallas Cowboys 8-1 (2)
Just how big was Ezekiel Elliott for the Dallas Cowboys against the Pittsburgh Steelers in Week 10? Not only did the rookie record 209 yards from the line of scrimmage, but Elliott found the end zone three times as well, including what turned out to be the game-winning touchdown from 32 yards out with nine seconds remaining in the game.
With the win, the Cowboys have now won eight games in a row as they continue to make a strong case for being the team to beat in the NFC. While Elliott continues to make a strong case for both Offensive Rookie of the Year and MVP, the other star rookie Dak Prescott deserves plenty of credit as well for looking like a true veteran under center.
Nobody could have predicted the Cowboys to be this successful in a million years with two rookies leading the offense, but this team continues to prove each week they can win any game, whether it’s at home or on the road. Forget all of the questions surrounding Tony Romo as it’s clear Prescott deserves to be the starter at quarterback and Dallas would be foolish to even consider making a switch at this point in the season.
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