Another week in November, another week closer to the playoffs.
Since we last met, home teams went on a huge run, with only the Dallas Cowboys winning on the road out of every game played on Sunday and Monday (and to start Week 10). For a season where road teams had been rather successful, it was a regression to the mean. Enough statistics, onto the football.
Biggest rise: Baltimore Ravens, Los Angeles Chargers (up 4 spots)
Biggest fall: Cleveland Browns (down 4 spots)
1. San Francisco 49ers (PR: 2)
Record: 8-0 | Week 10 opponent: Seattle Seahawks (home)
There’s a new king in town. Move over Brady, Jimmy G has taken the throne… for now. The 49ers are the only undefeated team left in the NFL, and will get due credit in these rankings. They have an elite defense, top running game, and Jimmy G looks like he might be ready to take his game to another level. As I said last week, if he can do what he did against Arizona the rest of the season… watch out.
2. New England Patriots (PR: 1)
Record: 8-1 | Week 10 opponent: none (bye week)
The Patriots finally lost. The defense got a wake up call against Lamar Jackson and the Ravens, and some uncharacteristic mistakes put New England in a hole. Tom Brady has said in the past you either win or learn, and no one is better at learning from defeat than the Patriots. I honestly thought there were some positive signs from the passing game, especially with Mohamad Sanu, but moving forward, the unit needs some stability in order to find some consistency. The end is not here, the Patriots will be fine.
3. New Orleans Saints (PR: 3)
Record: 7-1 | Week 10 opponent: Atlanta Falcons (home)
I contemplated moving the Saints up to second, but whether you like it or not, the Patriots have the stronger body of work this season (which could of course change). The Saints are still legit, with Drew Brees back, Michael Thomas on fire, and the defense playing really strong, this is a complete team, and one on a mission. I’d be stunned if they didn’t get a bye week in the playoffs.
4. Baltimore Ravens (PR: 8)
Record: 6-2 | Week 10 opponent: Cincinnati Bengals (away)
Last week I said the Patriots game would be a test of how legit the Ravens are… folks, the Ravens are legit. Baltimore knows what they’re doing on offense, and they’re getting their swagger back on defense (I see that chain, Wink Martindale). Offensive coordinator Greg Roman is the same purpose who unlocked Colin Kaepernick and the 49ers offense in 2012, and the same magic seems to be taking place now. I’m intrigued with this team, both this season and moving forward.
5. Seattle Seahawks (PR: 5)
Record: 7-2 | Week 10 opponent: San Francisco 49ers (away)
The Seahawks won last week, but it was obvious yet again their defense is not the same as the days of old. They unit reminds me of the Patriots’ defenses between 2010 and 2012 (pre-Talib) when they gave up a bunch of yards and it felt like Tom Brady needed to put up a ton of points just to stay in games; in Seattle, that Russell Wilson has assumed that responsibility. As a result I’m now a bit hesitant to put them in the class of the Saints and 49ers, but with Wilson and Pete Carroll, they could absolutely prove me wrong.
6. Green Bay Packers (PR: 4)
Record: 7-2 | Week 10 opponent: Carolina Panthers (home)
I think the Packers simply faced a team that wanted, and needed, a win more than they did. That, combined with a lazy effort, let to a convincing lost. Long term I’m not worried, but the Packers need to figure out what was working the first month of 2019 and replicate it, because the current reliance on the offense, similar to Seattle, can get you to the playoffs, but being a complete team wins you championships.
7. Kansas City Chiefs (PR: 7)
Record: 6-3 | Week 10 opponent: Tennessee Titans (away)
I didn’t move the Chiefs, but that’s mostly due to Baltimore jumping up in the rankings. Their resilience these past few weeks has not gone unnoticed to me, and with all indications pointing to Patrick Mahomes being back, there could be a run in this team. Another note: that lackluster run defense has been much better the past few games, which will help moving forward too.
8. Minnesota Vikings (PR: 6)
Record: 6-3 | Week 10 opponent: Dallas Cowboys (away)
In hindsight, their loss to KC stings because the Packers lost, but it’s not the end of the world. Kirk Cousins was not as accurate as weeks past, but he still had 3 TDs and no turnovers. There seems to be some concern with their secondary, and obviously the defense let the Chiefs rip off a 91-yard running score, so there’s some things to clean up here. I have faith in Mike Zimmer and the foundation of this team, but there’s room for improvement.
9. Houston Texans (PR: 10)
Record: 6-3 | Week 10 opponent: none (bye week)
Another great game for my second favorite QB, Deshaun Watson. I am disappointed because their win came at the cost of exposing Gardner Minshew (to the people of London no less), but it showed the Jags aren’t yet ready to compete at the top of this division. The Texans will make the playoffs, the question just is if they can compete with the best teams in the conference. With their next 3 games against the Ravens, Colts and Patriots, we should have an idea of what the answer will be soon (but after their bye week).
10. Indianapolis Colts (PR: 9)
Record: 5-3 | Week 10 opponent: Miami Dolphins (home)
The Colts suffered a tough blow during their game against the Steelers when Jacoby Brissett went down with an injury, but Brian Hoyer was able to keep the team in the game. They were in position to win, but a bad hold helped lead to Adam Vinatieri missing a very makeable GW kick. Will this loss come back to bite the Colts? It remains to be seen, but it’s fair to question the special teams unit moving forward.
11. Buffalo Bills (PR: 11)
Record: 6-2 | Week 10 opponent: Cleveland Browns (away)
The Bills beat Washington… which is exactly what they were supposed to do. The offense wasn’t too special, but they didn’t make any mistakes, and let the defense lay the groundwork for a win. Once again, they let up over 100 rushing yards, something to keep an eye on, but a win is a win. That unit will get a test against Nick Chubb and the Cleveland Browns, which should be interesting.
12. Dallas Cowboys (PR: 12)
Record: 5-3 | Week 10 opponent: Minnesota Vikings (home)
Well, it was close, but the Cowboys got a win in New Y-Jersey, moving to 5-3. The running game looked better, and I believe that will be the key to this team’s success in the postseason. They’ll get a chance to show how legit they are at home against the Vikings tomorrow night in primetime, a game that will be interesting in the NFC pecking order.
13. Carolina Panthers (PR: 13)
Record: 5-3 | Week 10 opponent: Green Bay Packers (away)
The Panthers got some redemption against the Titans, a team that had come off of two straight wins. They were able to rattle off some turnovers, something that has become a strong suit of the unit, and on the other side of the ball, Kyle Allen did his job… which is letting Christian McCaffery go off. It was announced this week Cam Newton will be out the remainder of 2019, so the questions of who will lead the offense are answered for this season. Does this Panthers team have enough to make the playoffs? I think so, but they have some tough games to finish the season, including tomorrow against the Packers, so they’ll have to earn it.
14. Los Angeles Rams (PR: 14)
Record: 5-3 | Week 10 opponent: Pittsburgh Steelers (away)
How will the Rams adjust in the second half after a somewhat slow start to their season? What might have seemed like an easier game a few weeks ago will be more challenging tomorrow, as the Rams travel to Pittsburgh, who is now 4-4 and in playoff contention. The offensive line has been questionable all season, and Jared Goff has proven to be vulnerable if schemed correctly. Will Todd Gurley be taken off his pitch count? Will Jalen Ramsey help solidify the defense? Questions that will define their fate.
15. Oakland Raiders (PR: 18)
Record: 5-4 | Week 10 opponent: Los Angeles Chargers (home); won
As each week goes by I am becoming more and more impressed with the Raiders. They survived their last 5 games being away from home (one “home” game from London) by going 2-3, and their last 2 games they’ve gone 2-0. Their offense has done really well this season, with Derek Carr doing enough, Josh Jacobs being awesome, and Darren Waller emerging as one of the better TEs in the league. After beating the Chargers, the Raiders are 5-4 and in a very good position to make the playoffs (not guaranteed, but a chance). For Year 2 of the Gurden 2.0, this is excellent.
16. Philadelphia Eagles (PR: 15)
Record: 5-4 | Week 10 opponent: none (bye week)
The Eagles go into their bye week coming off two straight wins, but they have some questions that need answering. Can Carson Wentz elevate this team? Can the secondary figure out a way to compete? Will the running game be strong enough to compensate for Wentz? Under Wentz a year ago, the Eagles biggest issue was he did not seem able to lead them to wins in close games, and nothing has changed that narrative this season. Well, it will define 2019, and his first chance to change the narrative will be against the Patriots next week.
17. Detroit Lions (PR: 16)
Record: 3-4-1 | Week 10 opponent: Chicago Bears (away)
It was a close game, but the Lions lost to the Raiders last week. Matthew Stafford looked really good, but with basically no running game and an awful defense, any chance the Lions have of winning will yet again fall on Stafford’s shoulders. If the defense makes some adjustments, things could change, but I don’t see it. As a result, they’ll probably be on the outside looking in this postseason.
18. Pittsburgh Steelers (PR: 21)
Record: 4-4 | Week 10 opponent: Los Angeles Rams (home)
The Steelers were able to pull off a huge win last Sunday, even if it wasn’t their own doing, but a win is a win. From 0-3 to 4-4, the Steelers have rallied from what seemed like a grim fate after Big Ben went out for the season. Minkah Fitzpatrick has been awesome, and they’re coming together as a team. They absolutely have a chance to make the playoffs, which I thought was impossible… I never said my analysis was perfect.
19. Jacksonville Jaguars (PR: 17)
Record: 4-5 | Week 10 opponent: none (bye week)
Folks, Minshew Mania is over. I’m not angry, I’m just disappointed. They owe a lot to the late round rookie QB for even being 4-5, because their season could’ve been as good as over after Nick Foles went down Week 1. It will be interesting to see what happens with Minshew moving forward, but the Jags are still in the race for a Wild Card spot this season.
20. Los Angeles Chargers (PR: 24)
Record: 4-6 | Week 10 opponent: Oakland Raiders (away); lost
After falling to 2-5 with a loss to the Titans a few weeks back, the Chargers beat Bears and Packers, and suddenly looked like they were about to go on a huge run. That run needed to include beating the Raiders on Thursday, and the Chargers absolutely failed. Philip Rivers was awful, and even then LAC had a 24-20 lead with 4 minutes left… then they let the Raiders walk down the field and take the lead with a TD, and that was that. They had a chance to prove me wrong, but after Thursday, they have their work cut out for them.
21. Tennessee Titans (PR: 20)
Record: 4-5 | Week 10 opponent: Kansas City Chiefs (home)
Tannehill’s comeback tour came to a halt as the Titans lost to the Panthers. He had 2 interceptions and looked like Miami Tannehill. Still, the Titans are 4-5 and still have a chance to make the playoffs. They’ll have their work cut out for them against the Chiefs tomorrow, but following that game, two divisional matches against the Jags and Colts will likely define their season.
22. Chicago Bears (PR: 19)
Record: 3-5 | Week 10 opponent: Detroit Lions (home)
The Bears continue to fall, and Mitchel Trubisky continues to disappoint. He’s in competition with Baker Mayfield and Sam Darnold for the title of “2019’s worst staring QB,” which is a shame. I have no idea how he made the Pro Bowl a season ago, that will be one of life’s great mysteries. The Bears should do whatever they can to acquire Cam Newton or Teddy Bridgewater this offseason.
23. Arizona Cardinals (PR: 23)
Record: 3-5-1 | Week 10 opponent: Tampa Bay Buccaneers (away)
With Gardner Minshew being benched, there’s one lest competitor for offensive rookie of the year, which bodes well for Kyler Murray (not to say he needs the helping hand, but it doesn’t hurt). As always, he’s the reason to watch, and he’s been getting better week-by-week. Expect some good numbers against the Bucs tomorrow.
24. Denver Broncos (PR: 26)
Record: 3-6 | Week 10 opponent: none (bye week)
The Brandon Allen Era… well, they won, so that’s something. I’m sticking to my point from last week and don’t plan on watching any of their games… sorry. Onto 2020.
25. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (PR: 25)
Record: 2-6 | Week 10 opponent: Arizona Cardinals (home)
Jameis Winston had his best game in a month, and the Bucs got to overtime in Seattle, but it wasn’t enough to pull off an upset win. Mike Evans continues to be awesome, as he put up 12 receptions and 180 receiving yards… imagine if he was in a big market? One of the best WRs in the league, but he’ll never get enough respect in Tampa. First true home game in 6 weeks for the team.
26. Cleveland Browns (PR: 22)
Record: 2-6 | Week 10 opponent: Buffalo Bills (home)
If you want to see my thoughts on the state of the Cleveland Browns under Freddie Kitchens, click here. Just a disappointment, plain and simple. There are better days ahead, but they won’t be in 2019. Onto 2020.
27. New York Giants (PR: 27)
Record: 2-7 | Week 10 opponent: New York Jets (away)
Their game against the Cowboys on Monday was close, but the Cowboys ran away with it in the 4th quarter. Not a good night for the offense. The Giants have now lost 5 straight games after winning their first 2 games with Daniel Jones as the starting QB. It’s still a rebuild, and this is part of the process. Onto 2020.
28. Atlanta Falcons (PR: 29)
Record: 1-7 | Week 10 opponent: New Orleans Saints (away)
Nothing to see here. Onto 2020.
29. Washington (PR: 30)
Record: 1-8 | Week 10 opponent: none (bye week)
Still livid about Trent Williams. Haskins got a start, and they lost… the end.
30. Miami Dolphins (PR: 32)
Record: 1-7 | Week 10 opponent: Indianapolis Colts (away)
The Dolphins had been cleaning up their act the past few weeks, getting closer and closer to this moment, and last Sunday it finally paid off. This is a long rebuild, but they have the right coach for the job.
31. New York Jets (PR: 28)
Record: 1-7 | Week 10 opponent: New York Giants (home)
The biggest mystery of 2019 remains to be how the Jets beat the Cowboys a few weeks ago. Did Sam Darnold make a deal with the devil? I’m not ruling it out.
32. Cincinnati Bengals (PR: 31)
Record: 0-8 | Week 10 opponent: Baltimore Ravens (home)
Congratulations, the last undefeated team in the NFL is… the Cincinnati Bengals. They will now throw a rookie QB into the fire, and well… it might not lead to wins. Onto 2020.
Photo above via Raiderswire
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