NFL power rankings, Week 11: Titans rise, Packers tumble
In the Week 11 NFL power rankings, we see the Tennessee Titans make their move while the Green Bay Packers have proven they are broken.
Last week: L, 28-7, at BAL
Last rank: 32nd
Next Week: At least this team has some extra time to prepare for the visiting Pittsburgh Steelers, who are now riding a four-game losing streak and struggling badly on defense. The Browns haven’t had much success in this series in recent years but Hue Jackson knows this club from his days in Cincinnati and Baltimore.
Playoff hopes: None. The Browns are currently in the lead to grab the first overall pick in the 2017 NFL draft. And even that’s not a certainty with the way the San Francisco 49ers are playing these days. At 0-10 this year, this is a Cleveland team that has now posted double-digit losses in 14 of its last 18 seasons dating back to 1999.
San Francisco 49ers
Last week: L, 20-13, at AZ
Last rank: 31st
Next Week: Tom Brady and the Patriots arrive in San Francisco next week for what should be a blowout win for New England. With a close game on Sunday Night Football, Brady will be looking to feast off the 49ers defense, which will be on the field for nearly 40 minutes once again.
Playoff hopes: If Chip Kelly is retained after one season, he will have the opportunity to do something he never could in Philadelphia. That will be to mold a quarterback to his liking straight out of college. If Deshaun Watson comes into San Francisco and can run some of the zone-read plays that made Kelly and Marcus Mariota famous at Oregon, Kelly’s future in the NFL could be saved after missing the playoffs once again.
Last week: L, 24-21, vs. HOU
Last rank: 30th
Next Week: Gus Bradley’s struggling club travels north to the Motor City to face the surging 5-4 Detroit Lions, now tied atop the NFC North. Jacksonville will see a familiar face in one-time Indianapolis Colts head coach Jim Caldwell. Dating back to 2015, the Jaguars own a 2-10 road record – including a 1-3 mark this year.
Playoff hopes: You can never say never these days because the NFL has seen its share of streaky teams (both good and bad) over the years. But this is a lifeless Jacksonville team that doesn’t look like it has a lot of fire or confidence these days. And climbing above three teams in your own division is never an easy task.
Last week: L, 36-10, at TB
Last rank: 29th
Next Week: The Bears have yet to win on the road this season, and are 2-7 heading into East Rutherford to face the Giants. New York will be coming off a short week after playing Monday Night Football, but that will provide little advantage for this horrendous Bears squad.
Playoff hopes: Chicago is well out of the playoff race, and will be looking at quarterbacks with the possibility of having a top five pick next spring. Deshaun Watson, DeShone Kizer, and Mitch Trubisky will be the names to watch in the first round when the draft returns to Philadelphia.
New York Jets
Last week: L, 9-6, vs. LA
Last rank: 26th
Next Week: Following their 9-6 loss to the Rams, Todd Bowles’ club now has the week off. That will give them some extended time to prepare for the AFC East leading New England Patriots, who invade MetLife Stadium on a Sunday night in Week 12. The Jets managed a home overtime victory over Bill Belichick’s club late last season.
Playoff hopes: The Jets remain at the bottom of the division standings and have already lost more games than they did all of last season. A 9-7 finish could still get you an invitation to the postseason party but that means New York has to run the table. And the way the team is playing these days that seems highly unlikely.
Los Angeles Rams
Last week: W, 9-6, at NYJ
Last rank: 28th
Next Week: The Rams return home to face the Miami Dolphins, and fans are hopeful that Jared Goff will start in front of the Los Angeles faithful. No official announcement has come from Jeff Fisher, but this could be the best-case scenario to start Goff with New Orleans on the schedule the week after.
Playoff hopes: With just four wins and the rest of the division floundering, the Rams are still in position to make a playoff run in their first season back in Los Angeles. The chances of that happening are low, but if Goff starts his career hot, you can not count the Rams out with their defense.
Last week: L, 20-17, vs. KC
Last rank: 23rd
Next Week: Thursday Night Football and the Saints roll into Carolina to face a Panthers team that has lost three of five home games this year. Facing a horrendous New Orleans defense, the Panthers should have an opportunity to put up points in primetime. They still need to find a way to stop the Saints aerial attack, led by Drew Brees and Brandin Cooks.
Playoff hopes: Less than a year removed from their Super Bowl appearance, the Panthers are already looking towards next season. When you have a defense allowing more points than the offense can score, playing in January becomes nearly impossible.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Last week: W, 36-10, vs. CHI
Last rank: 27th
Next Week: The Buccaneers travel to Kansas City for a tough matchup against the Chiefs in a raucous stadium. Doug Martin finally made his return, and will be needed against a Chiefs defense that has allowed nearly 1,000 rushing yards this year, which ranks among the worst in the NFL.
Playoff hopes: Sunday;s home win helped the Buccaneers chances of sneaking into the playoffs, but it might be too little too late. They sit two games behind the Falcons, who lost to the Eagles on the road and were held to 15 points. Luckily, Tampa Bay was the only team in the division to walk away with a win.
Green Bay Packers
Last week: L, 47-25, at TEN
Last rank: 15th
Next Week: Rodgers and the Packers travel to Washington D.C. to play on Sunday Night Football against the Redskins. The Packers are 1-3 outside of Lambeau Field this season, and have lost three straight games. Washington is finding ways to win lately, and could stand to be a viable threat to the Packers season.
Playoff hopes: Green Bay falls to third place in the NFC North behind the Lions and Vikings. With Minnesota continuing to slide thanks to countless injuries, you can not rule out the Packers just yet. Rodgers has an opportunity to save this season, but he needs to figure something out sooner than later.
Last week: BYE
Last rank: 22nd
Next Week: The Colts are looking to get back to the .500 mark and will try to do that against a team they have defeated 10 straight times. But these are not your usual Tennessee Titans, a club that Indianapolis defeated in Week 7 at Nashville (34-26). It’s a club that has scored an imposing 118 points in their last three contests.
Playoff hopes: They are still in the postseason race but now find themselves behind both the Texans (6-3) and Titans (5-5) in the AFC South. The defense remains a major question mark and with any luck (no pun intended) the Colts were able to fix some things during their off week. Still, they face a bit of a climb in terms of the playoffs.
Last week: BYE
Last rank: 23rd
Next Week: The Bills make the short trip to the Queen City to face the struggling Cincinnati Bengals, who will be coming off a short week due to their Monday night road tilt with the New York Giants. While Ryan’s team has had its issues on defense, it’s Marvin Lewis’ club that has struggled even more when it comes to this side of the ball.
Playoff hopes: Buffalo still has a shot to end the longest active playoff drought in the league. They’re the only franchise that hasn’t been to the postseason this century. But the team’s shaky conference record (1-4 at the moment) may eventually prove to be extremely costly to Ryan and the club’s chances when it’s all said and done.
San Diego Chargers
Last week: L, 31-24, vs. MIA
Last rank: 14th
Next Week: No doubt head coach Mike McCoy and his snake-bitten team will be looking for a few V-8s during their off week. When they return to action in Week 11, the Chargers will make their first trip to Houston since 2010 to face the AFC South leading Texans. Bill O’Brien’s team has yet to lose at home (5-0) in 2016.
Playoff hopes: We keep hearing how good the Chargers are despite their record. But the bottom line is that they are two games under .500 and the remainder of the AFC West features the 7-2 Raiders and Chiefs and 6-3 Broncos. And the Bolts already own a 3-5 record within the conference, damaging their wild card chances a bit more.
Last week: L, 35-30, vs. DAL
Last rank: 13th
Next Week: The Steelers will play four of their next five games on the road. Up next are the 0-10 Cleveland Browns, who have actually lost 13 consecutive games dating back to the 2015 season. Including a playoff encounter way back in 2002, Pittsburgh has prevailed in 28 of the last 32 encounters between these longtime rivals.
Playoff hopes: Fortunately for the Black and Gold, the division is certainly still within reach. But you can’t continue to play defense the way the Steelers have for the last month or so and remain in the playoff chase. The Steelers still have four divisional games remaining on the schedule and AFC encounters with the Colts and Bills. But this team is slowly but surely digging itself a tricky little hole.
New Orleans Saints
Last week: W, 25-23, vs. DEN
Last rank: 12th
Next Week: New Orleans will travel to face the Panthers, who have fallen off the map since making a Super Bowl run last year. Carolina’s defense has improved over the past month, allowing no more than 20 points over their last three games. Brees will have a chance to challenge that streak with his powerful arm.
Playoff hopes: New Orleans is one loss away from essentially being eliminated from the playoffs with six losses. They need to start a major win streak in Carolina to rack up more division wins, and it certainly won’t be easy. Carolina may be down, but it showed life on offense with Cam running the ball once again.
Last week: W, 23-20, vs. SF
Last rank: 20th
Next Week: Arizona travels to Minnesota to face another underachieving team looking to stay in the playoff hunt. Minnesota has seen nearly all of its starters from the preseason roster go down, providing the Cardinals an opportunity to rebound on the road.
Playoff hopes: Arizona is still trailing Seattle in the NFC North, but are still in playoff contention. A tie early in the season between the two rivals carries a lot of weight, and the two will square off on Christmas Eve in the second to last game of their regular season.
Last week: Mon. night at NYG
Last rank: 17th
Next Week: Following their Monday night visit to New Jersey and a date with the New York Giants, the Bengals have a short week to prepare for a visit from the explosive Buffalo Bills. Rex Ryan’s club is coming off its mini-vacation and features a ground attack that could give Cincinnati’s defense fits.
Playoff hopes: The Bengals have been a postseason participant each year since 2011 but that streak could definitely be in jeopardy this season. Then again, Cincinnati still has two cracks at the first-place Baltimore Ravens this year and games remaining with the Steelers and Browns. There’s no reason for panic at all.
Last week: W, 28-7, vs. CLE
Last rank: 24th
Next Week: The Ravens head south to face the Dallas Cowboys. It’s the team’s first road tilt in this series since 2008, when then first-year head coach John Harbaugh came up with a win in the final game at Texas Stadium. The Ravens own a perfect lifetime record in this interconference setting.
Playoff hopes: At 5-4 and with a perfect 3-0 divisional mark, the Ravens are currently the only team in the AFC North with a winning record. Harbaugh’s club has been far from impressive but they seem to be developing a little momentum. And with defense scarce in their division these days, they have a chance to make amends for last season’s disappointing showing.
Last week: W, 24-15, vs. ATL
Last rank: 19th
Next Week: The Eagles make a tough trip up to Seattle to face the Seahawks, who are undefeated at home. Philadelphia’s offense will have a tough time playing on the road against the Seattle defense, but the defense has proved itself multiple times this season. They shut down Pittsburgh and Atlanta, and have the tools to fight a Seahawks team that has struggled to run the ball.
Playoff hopes: Philadelphia throws itself back into the playoff race, despite having the lowest winning percentage in the NFC East. All four teams are above .500, but having three of their final four games at home against division opponents bodes well for it down the stretch.
Last week: W, 47-25, vs. GB
Last rank: 25th
Next Week: The Titans get another crack at the Colts (off in Week 10), who came away with a 34-26 win at Nashville back in Week 7 when last these clubs met. But it’s worth noting that Tennessee has dropped 10 straight in this divisional series and haven’t won at Indianapolis since 2007.
Playoff hopes: The team is certainly in the mix and within striking distance of the first-place Houston Texans. But the Titans had better start doing better in their head-to-head matchups within the division. A win at Indianapolis next Sunday would be a huge step in the right direction when it comes to the muddled AFC.
Last week: L, 26-20, at WSH
Last rank: 8th
Next Week: Minnesota welcomes in the Cardinals, who are coming off a close win against the 49ers. Both teams are in close division races and will be desperate for a win as the season heads into its later half. The Vikings have only lost once in their new stadium, and will look to protect their house once again.
Playoff hopes: Once thought to be a a division only one team could win, the NFC North is up for grabs. Minnesota, Green Bay, and Detroit are all in the race, but right now only one is heading in the right direction.
Last week: W, 31-24, at SD
Last rank: 18th
Next Week: Gase’s revitalized club is back on the west coast for the second straight Sunday as they travel to Los Angeles to battle the Rams. Jeff Fisher’s club won another ugly game this past weekend, kicking three field goals in a 9-6 triumph over the New York Jets at MetLife Stadium.
Playoff hopes: Who would have thought this to be the case five games into the season? The Dolphins are alive and well in the AFC East and the conference playoff race as well. They’ve moved up to second place in the division and are playing much more inspired football these days. Are they truly a threat to the New England Patriots? That may be pushing it a bit. But things are looking much better at the moment.
Last week: W, 26-20, vs. MIN
Last rank: 16th
Next Week: Washington hosts Green Bay on Sunday Night Football next week as the Packers continue to fall off the face of the earth. The Redskins have a great opportunity to prove to the world they can still contend this year, and holding off Aaron Rodgers will be their biggest test yet.
Playoff hopes: Washington remains in a four-way race for the NFC East title with a majority of their remaining division games at the end of the year. They have a New Years Day game to finish the season against New York, and will travel to Philadelphia next month. Dallas however looms in the coming weeks as the best team in the NFC.
Last week: BYE
Last rank: 11th
Next Week: Coming off their bye week the Lions welcome the Jaguars to Detroit. Starting the season with playoff aspirations, Jacksonville has failed to find what made it click late last season. Gus Bradley is likely gone after this season, and the Jaguars will most likely be looking for an offensive guru to help develop Blake Bortles. Kyle Shanahan makes a lot of sense, and he will certainly be available after the way Atlanta has played this year.
Playoff hopes: Detroit sits atop the NFC North thanks to the collapses of Minnesota and Green Bay. With three of its last five games on the road, Detroit will have a major test to finish the season. It has been incredibly lucky to have very few players on injured reserve, and the late bye will help during that final stretch of the season.
Last week: W, 24-21, at JAX
Last rank: 10th
Next Week: After waiting half the season to win away from home, can the Texans come away with a surprise victory outside of the country. There will be a battle of teams both in the playoff mix on a Monday night in Mexico City as the Oakland Raiders play host to O’Brien’s club.
Playoff hopes: At 6-3, the Texans are the only team in the AFC South above .500. But there’s still a lot of football to be played and this Houston club is still trying to find itself, especially on offense. But Osweiler and his teammates have put themselves in a good position to repeat as division champions should they continue to play consistent football.
New York Giants
Last week: Mon. night vs. CIN
Last rank: 9th
Next Week: Following their Monday night game against Cincinnati, the Giants host the weary Chicago Bears. Jay Cutler is another rough performance, and the Giants defense will take advantage of his recent struggles. With Kyle Long and Jordan Howard most likely out, the Giants have a big opportunity they must take advantage of.
Playoff hopes: New York remains in the hunt along with their three NFC East counterparts. All four teams have a winning record, and the race will come down to the wire. New York has a late game against the Eagles and Cowboys in primetime, then finish their season against the Redskins.
Last week: L, 24-15, at ATL
Last rank: 5th
Next Week: The Falcons go on their bye week heading into Thanksgiving, and will return on the 27th against the Arizona Cardinals at home. Having the opportunity to rest and get some of their playmakers healthy will payoff for a Falcons team that can’t stay on the field. A refreshed Tevin Coleman and Desmond Trufant will be major pieces for the Falcons down the stretch.
Playoff hopes: The Falcons control their own destiny sitting atop the NFC South with six wins. Carolina is virtually eliminated already, while the Saints and Buccaneers look to scratch their way back into the conversation. A New Years Day game between the Falcons and Saints could be the deciding game at the end of the season.
Last week: W, 25-23, at N0
Last rank: 7th
Next Week: Time for the defending champs to take a little time off. When they return, they will host the Kansas City Chiefs in what will be one of the biggest games of the season for both clubs. It’s one of two remaining meetings with Andy Reid’s team, which is currently riding a five-game winning streak.
Playoff hopes: It was another close call for the Broncos. But the team sits at 7-3 and remains just one-half game behind both the Oakland Raiders and Kansas City Chiefs in the formidable AFC West. Siemian and the offense have had its recent issues but the run defense looked a lot better this week. There’s a long way to go and the champs won’t go away easily.
Last week: BYE
Last rank: 4th
Next Week: While the Raiders have been perfect on the road this season (5-0), they have split their four home games to date. So what do we make of the fact that Del Rio’s squad is actually the host team in a Monday night clash with the AFC South leading Houston Texans at Mexico City?
Playoff hopes: This is a club that hasn’t seen the postseason since reaching Super Bowl XXXVII in ’02. But they are tied atop the AFC West with the Kansas City Chiefs and the Denver Broncos are nipping on both of their heels. For the Raiders, it all depends on how the defense responds the rest of the season.
Last week: W, 31-24, at NE
Last rank: 6th
Next Week: Philadelphia travels cross country after a satisfying win at home over the Atlanta Falcons. The Eagles defense has proven to not be a mirage, holding off Matt Ryan and the Falcons offense to just 15 points. Seattle struggled to maintain consistency in the red zone against New England, and the Eagles will look to take advantage of those struggles.
Playoff hopes: Seattle is beginning to wake up, which should scare the entire NFL. In typical Seahawks fashion, a second-half run will propel them deep into the playoffs and towards another championship run. With Arizona lacking any punch on both sides of the ball and Los Angeles still not having played their first round pick, Seattle is on the road to another playoff appearance.
Kansas City Chiefs
Last week: W, 20-17, at CAR
Last rank: 3rd
Next Week: The red-hot Chiefs, winners of five straight, return home to face the very-dangerous Tampa Bay Buccaneers and second-year quarterback Jameis Winston. It’s interesting to note than the Bucs’ signal-caller (2015) and Kansas City’s Alex Smith (2005) were the first overall picks in their respective drafts 10 years apart.
Playoff hopes: Reid’s offense couldn’t find the end zone at Carolina and still the Chiefs found a way to come up with a fifth straight win. Once again, this is a team playing solid and efficient football and one very much in the AFC West title chase. They play four of the final seven games within the division and have their first meeting of the year with the Denver Broncos in Week 12. A very intriguing team indeed.
New England Patriots
Last week: L, 31-24, vs. SEA
Last rank: 1st
Next Week: After falling to an NFC West foe on Sunday night at home, the Patriots will head cross country for a date with the 1-8 San Francisco 49ers. Chip Kelly’s club has dropped eight straight games since a 28-0 Week 1 victory over the Los Angeles Rams – including five consecutive contests at Levi’s Stadium.
Playoff hopes: It sounds like a broken record, but the Patriots are right on course for an eighth straight AFC East title. That would be a record, breaking a tie with the Los Angeles Rams (1973-79). But Bill Belichick’s team now owns just a two-game lead in the division over the resurgent Miami Dolphins.
Last week: W, 35-30, at PIT
Last rank: 2nd
Next Week: The Ravens travel to Dallas for a game that should be one-sided. No one has stopped Elliott this season, and that will not change at home against Baltimore. Even with the Ravens coming off a long week after beating the Browns on Thursday Night, the Cowboys should have no problem on offense.
Playoff hopes: An NFC East title looks to be set for Dallas, although with all four teams still above .500 you can not rule anyone out just yet. We have seen teams such as Minnesota go from first to worst after an injury or two, but for now Dallas is in the right place.