Wow, Week 10 was really, really good.
We might have saw the game of the year on Monday night (even if it was ugly at times), Lamar Jackson continued to dominate, and the Dolphins, Jets, Browns, AND Falcons won… oh yeah, and we had some football in the snow. Week 11 began with some unfortunate theatrics that will have repercussions on how this season ends.
These rankings were challenging for me. I had difficulty with the top teams, and I had difficulty with the sudden abundance of 5-4 teams. You might disagree with where I put everyone, but that’s the beauty of these rankings: they’re just my opinion!
Let me know what you think!
Biggest rise: Raiders (up 5 spots)
Biggest fall: Lions (down 8 spots)
1. New England Patriots (PR: 2)
Record: 8-1 (1st in AFC) | Week 11 opponent: Philadelphia Eagles (away)
The top 4 was a challenge for me, and I considered San Francisco and Baltimore for this spot, but ultimately I went with the team boasting the best defense and coach in the NFL. If you want to play the schedule game, New England has beaten 3 teams currently in the playoff race.. if you don’t want to play that game, well, they boast a defense that has allowed 77 points this season (21 came from other units allowing points). I still view them as the most complete team in the NFL.
2. Baltimore Ravens (PR: 4)
Record: 7-2 (2nd in AFC) | Week 11 opponent: Houston Texans (home)
Once again, it was close for this spot, but the Ravens are just on a roll right now, and they’ve beaten the Patriots and Seahawks very recently. They have the best scoring offense in the NFL, and Lamar Jackson continues to produce in ways we’ve never seen before… oh yeah, and he’s 13-4 as a starter (including postseason). This is a scary team.
3. San Francisco 49ers (PR: 1)
Record: 8-1 (1st in NFC) | Week 11 opponent: Arizona Cardinals (home)
The 49ers played an extremely close game against the Seahawks, and you can argue the fact they lost in OT by only 3 points with a rookie kicker playing his first game, without George Kittle, and with 9 drops by receivers means they fared really well… but you can also argue Jimmy G was not ready for this moment and made many pickable passes. I saw a team with a great defense, but one that needs their QB to step up in these moments, and didn’t. Still a great team, but left something to be desired.
4. Seattle Seahawks (PR: 6)
Record: 7-2 (5th in NFC) | Week 11 opponent: none (bye week)
Well, it took a week to prove me wrong… right? Winning in San Francisco was Seattle’s best win of the season, but it was also very ugly. Wilson didn’t have his best game, but at the end of the day, a team with flaws came on the road and battled out a victory in prime time. I’m still not sure if their peak is as high as the 49ers and Saints peaks can be, but those teams also have to reach them, and based on last week, that’s still a work in progress.
5. New Orleans Saints (PR: 3)
Record: 7-2 (3rd in NFC) | Week 11 opponent: Tampa Bay Buccaneers (away)
Wow. Chalk it up to playing a divisional opponent I guess, but losing to a 1-7 team that had showed very little fight all season… this one stings. This is still a good team, but they’ll need to move on from their performance against Atlanta fast… if I were Sean Payton, I’d burn the film of this game and act like it never happened.
6. Green Bay Packers (PR: 6)
Record: 8-2 (2nd in NFC) | Week 11 opponent: none (bye week)
Snow football! Green Bay’s defense bounced back against the Panthers, limiting Christian McCaffery to 131 yards from scrimmage (knowing CMC, it could’ve been worse). They also had a nice distribution between run and pass plays, relying on Aaron Jones and Jamaal Williams, a formula that worked very well to start the season. Room for improvement, yes, but Green Bay is suddenly the second seed in the conference.
7. Minnesota Vikings (PR: 8)
Record: 7-3 (6th in NFC) | Week 11 opponent: Denver Broncos (home)
In a game of proving who was legit, the Vikings edged out a victory against the Cowboys, moving to 7-3 on the season. Similar to Green Bay, Minnesota is finding a balance between the run and pass game, and if you have someone as dynamic as Dalvin Cook, you should be giving the ball as much as possible. I’m still concerned about their secondary, but this is a well-coached team I expect to be able to play well in-spite of it.
8. Houston Texans (PR: 9)
Record: 7-2 (3rd in AFC) | Week 11 opponent: Baltimore Ravens (away)
Houston sat out during Week 10, which gives us time to recap their first half. The offense is really strong behind Deshaun Watson, and an improved running game and offensive line. This is a talented group (even without J.J. Watt), but they still need to prove they can consistently win against teams at their level… If they can, you’re looking at a sleeper Super Bowl contender (hint: the secondary might ultimately hold this team back).
9. Kansas City Chiefs (PR: 7)
Record: 6-4 (4th in AFC) | Week 11 opponent: Los Angeles Chargers (away, Mexico)
We need to have an honest discussion about this team. Yes, Patrick Mahomes is a generational talent, but during his past 15 full starts (excluding the Denver game), the Chiefs are 8-7… it’s not Mahomes fault, but even if they can score a ton of points, their opponents are figuring out ways to beat them. They’ll never be out of a game with Mahomes, but right now they aren’t the team we saw start 2018 going 9-1.
10. Oakland Raiders (PR: 15)
Record: 5-4 (6th in AFC) | Week 11 opponent: Cincinnati Bengals (home)
The Raiders are suddenly the final Wild Card team in the AFC, and a result, have made a big jump. It’s a story of what have you done for me lately, and Oakland is 4-2 in their last 6 games, and they’re finding ways to win close contests. The only outlier in this stretch was their loss to Green Bay, but that was a game they were close for a half before it spiraled out of control. They’ve put themselves in position not only to make the playoffs, but to win the division, and have shown me more than the other 5-4 teams below.
11. Buffalo Bills (PR: 11)
Record: 6-3 (5th in AFC) | Week 11 opponent: Miami Dolphins (away)
Even at 6-3, things look like they’re starting to trend in the wrong direction for the Bills. Their defense had an off day, and with this offense, they cannot win when that happens. The offense wasn’t awful, but simply not good enough to win you a game when you need it. It’s been the theme all season, and if it continues, it could be the reason this team doesn’t make the playoffs.
12. Carolina Panthers (PR: 13)
Record: 5-4 (9th in NFC) | Week 11 opponent: Atlanta Falcons (home)
Carolina lost a close game to the Packers, and the early season shine of Kyle Allen has begun to wore off. His biggest strength was the lack of mistakes he made, but in recent weeks he can no longer make that claim. Christian McCaffery is doing all he can, and the Panthers always stay competitive, but they’ll need to figure out how to work with Allen’s abilities moving forward.
13. Dallas Cowboys (PR: 12)
Record: 5-4 (4th in NFC) | Week 11 opponent: Detroit Lions (away)
Dallas continued its trend of under-performing against good teams by losing to the Vikings at home last Sunday night. Everyone has all but written them off, but I think that’s premature. Their schedule isn’t easy moving forward, but I’d argue their opponents are more on their level than the games they’ve lost thus far (minus whatever that Jets game was). They need to prove themselves, but I’m not counting them out yet.
14. Pittsburgh Steelers (PR: 18)
Record: 5-5 (8th in AFC) | Week 11 opponent: Cleveland Browns (away); lost
If the Steelers had beat Cleveland, they would have been even higher. I was very impressed with the team after their win against the Rams, which had made them winners in 5 of their last 6 games, but they lost Thursday to a desperate Browns team trying to save their season. Injuries hurt the offense, and Mason Rudolph did not have a good game (and as we know, his night did not end well either). They still boast a strong defense, but Thursday was a bit of a regression to reality.
15. Indianapolis Colts (PR: 10)
Record: 5-4 (7th in AFC) | Week 11 opponent: Jacksonville Jaguars (home)
You can put part of the blame on losing Jacoby Brissett, but even then, this team should be good enough to beat Miami at home. They were winning close games under Brissett, and this should serve to show how good he was playing, and the gap between he and Brian Hoyer. Really have to hope he’s back for their next game against Houston.
16. Philadelphia Eagles (PR: 16)
Record: 5-4 (8th in NFC) | Week 11 opponent: New England Patriots (home)
This has quickly become a huge point of annoyance for me: why is everyone convinced the Eagles are set to run away with the division? They still have games against the Patriots and Seahawks, and they face the same Cowboys team in Week 16 that exposed them in Week 7. Yes, they have an easier schedule, but this team has also been very inconsistent this season, and has yet to show me any sign of being up to the task of doing what they should. I won’t be surprised if they do, but I’m not going to give them the benefit of the doubt when they haven’t earned it (and that includes moving them up in these rankings).
17. Tennessee Titans (PR: 21)
Record: 5-5 (9th in AFC) | Week 11 opponent: none (bye week)
I’m riding high on Titans fever… well, Tannehill fever. Since taking over as the starting QB, Tannehill has been playing out of his mind, and he saved the Titans season. Tennessee faces divisional opponents in 3 of their next 4 games, and if they can continue to play at this level, they have a genuine shot at not only stealing a playoff spot, but stealing the division… See what Tannehill fever does to you.
18. Los Angeles Rams (PR: 14)
Record: 5-4 (7th in NFC) | Week 11 opponent: Chicago Bears (home)
I’m sorry, but the Rams are frauds. I’m not going to sit here and give them points based on last season when they’ve been shells of themselves this season. Their 3-0 start was suspect to me, and since then they’ve gone 2-4, and their 2 wins were against the 2-7 Atlanta Falcons and 0-9 Cincinnati Bengals. Not being able to rely on Todd Gurley has helped exposed Jared Goff (he’s also to blame for sucking), and it’s held the whole team back. Sean McVay is a good coach, but this has been a down year for his team; it’s time people accept that.
19. Jacksonville Jaguars (PR: 19)
Record: 4-5 (10th in AFC) | Week 11 opponent: Indianapolis Colts (away)
Sunday will be Nick Foles’ second start as a Jaguar, and his first start since Week 1. The Jaguars are at 4-5, and still have a chance at the playoffs. If Foles replicate his finishes in 2017 and 2018 this season, the Jaguars might have a chance for some magic… easier said than done, but Foles has been here before (note: I still miss Minshew)
20. Chicago Bears (PR: 22)
Record: 4-5 (10th in NFC) | Week 11 opponent: Los Angeles Rams (away)
Someone woke up Mitch Trubisky, and it might have been just in time. The Bears play some winnable games over the next few weeks (Rams, Giants, Lions). If they can get to 7-5, they then face the Cowboys, Packers, Chiefs and Vikings to finish 2019. I think they’d need to run the table to even have a chance at making the playoffs. Stranger things have happened, but hey, what they needed all season was competent QB play… now we just need to figure out if Mitch can replicate it moving forward.
21. Los Angeles Chargers (PR: 20)
Record: 4-6 (12th in AFC) | Week 11 opponent: Kansas City Chiefs (home, Mexico)
The Chargers had some believing a huge run was on the table, but after their loss to the Raiders, the wind was taken out of their sails. They won’t get any breaks the rest of the season (even at Denver), and at 6 losses, they’ll need to be nearly perfect if they want a shot at the postseason… The talent is there, the question is does this team have what it takes to make it happen?
22. Cleveland Browns (PR: 26)
Record: 4-6 (11th in AFC) | Week 11 opponent: Pittsburgh Steelers (home); won
The Browns kept their season alive with a win, but at what cost? Myles Garrett’s actions (however you may or may not want to justify them) have resulted to an end to his season. As Baker Mayfield articulated, if the Browns ever want to move forward as a franchise, what Garrett did cannot happen. This is yet another clear example the culture around this team is not what it needs to be, and I blame that on the coach and the front office (I mean there were other players making unacceptable hits to Steelers players as well). They might finish the season at/above .500, but there are still major philosophical changes that need to take place if the organization wants to be in the class of winners in the NFL.
23. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (PR: 25)
Record: 3-6 (13th in NFC) | Week 11 opponent: New Orleans Saints (home)
The Bucs season has been a roller coaster. It has confirmed Jameis Winston is ultimately not the QB of the future, but even so, every game they play seems to be wild and worth tuning into. They won’t make the playoffs, but hey, they give you more to work with as a viewer than other teams in the league.
24. Arizona Cardinals (PR: 23)
Record: 3-6-1 (12th in NFC) | Week 11 opponent: San Francisco 49ers (away)
Kyler and the Cardinals were solid most of their most recent game at Tampa Bay, but they choked it away in the 4th quarter. It’s a sign of a young team that’s still learning, but it stinks when they could’ve been 4-5-1… it was never about 2019 anyway, and they’ll learn from this game in the future… onto 2020.
25. Detroit Lions (PR: 17)
Record: 3-5-1 (11th in NFC) | Week 11 opponent: Dallas Cowboys (home)
After beginning their season 2-0-1, the Lions have lost 5 of their last 6 games, with each loss arguably more embarrassing than the last. They played the Chiefs, Packers and Vikings close (and you can argue they were screwed against the Packers), but they’ve regressed this season, plain and simple. Losing Matthew Stafford didn’t help, but Detroit was trending in the wrong direction even before he got hurt… his injury only further amplified the flaws of this team, and the work that remains… onto 2020.
26. Denver Broncos (PR: 24)
Record: 3-6 (13th in AFC) | Week 11 opponent: Minnesota Vikings (away)
Coming off a bye week, Denver gets to travel to Minnesota to face the 7-3 Vikings… sounds like a recipe for disaster.
27. Atlanta Falcons (PR: 28)
Record: 2-7 (14th in NFC) | Week 11 opponent: Carolina Panthers (away)
Who saw that coming!? The Falcons went into the Superdome and beat who many considered the most complete team in the NFC. That might end up being the highlight of their season… unless they keep winning…
28. Miami Dolphins (PR: 30)
Record: 2-7 (14th in AFC) | Week 11 opponent: Buffalo Bills (home)
Don’t look now, but Miami has won 2 straight games. The Dolphins have been competitive for over a month, and Brian Flores should get a raise for even having this team at 2 wins… they’ve got the right coach.
29. New York Jets (PR: 31)
Record: 2-7 (15th in AFC) | Week 11 opponent: Washington (away)
In the battle of New Jersey dumpster fires, the Jets came out on top… only if they knew losing this game would’ve helped them more… onto 2020.
30. New York Giants (PR: 27)
Record: 2-8 (15th in NFC) | Week 11 opponent: none (bye week)
What happened to the team that beat the Bucs in Week 3? Daniel Jones has shown he can tear apart good defenses, but the issue still remains the same: this team sucks, and the coach sucks. Onto 2020.
31. Washington (PR: 29)
Record: 1-8 (16th in NFC) | Week 11 opponent: New York Jets (home)
Washington should ask Atlanta what they did during their bye week. Haskins is in for a lot of “fun” the remainder of 2019… onto 2020.
32. Cincinnati Bengals (PR: 32)
Record: 0-9 (16th in AFC) | Week 11 opponent: Oakland Raiders (home)
I gave Miami crap all season, but the Bengals might really go 0-16. Their next two games are against the Raiders and Steelers, and they still have a game against the Patriots… that leaves games against the Jets, Dolphins and Browns (2x). I think they’ll steal a win, but this is the worst team in the NFL. Onto 2020.
Credit to photo above goes to Isaiah J. Downing of USA TODAY Sports
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