Many teams are starting to separate themselves into their positions this season. We are learning who the true contenders and pretenders are.
The Wild Card races will also be extremely entertaining over the next eight weeks. In the AFC, the two teams in the current Wild Card spots have three losses. There are eight other teams with four or five losses that are within two games of being in their shoes. In the NFC, the two Wild Card teams also have three losses, and there are seven teams with three, four or five losses.
The picture should become more clear each and every week. For now, here are the 2017 NFL power rankings: Week 10.
32. Cleveland Browns (0-8)
Last week: 32 (no change)
Next game: away vs. Detroit
Cleveland had a bye week, but nothing happened in Week 9 to prove there is a team worse than them.
Yes, the 49ers are also winless and sit at 0-9 rather than at 0-8, but if the two teams played, who would you pick to win? Cleveland will likely win at least one game at some point this season because going 0-16 is hard to do.
Either way, the Browns are still the Browns and will end up with a top three pick that they will find a way to mess up.
31. San Francisco 49ers (0-9)
Last week: 31 (no change)
Next game: home vs. New York Giants
The 49ers are not a team with talent that should be winless. They lack a quarterback, and everyone can tee off on the run game. The defense is young and just needs time to grow.
This week, they play another horrible team and have a shot at a win. Last week, I picked the 49ers to upset the Cardinals, and it didn’t happen. This week though, they will beat the Giants and move up in the rankings.
30. New York Giants (1-7)
Last week: 30 (no change)
Next game: away vs. San Francisco
New York was completely overwhelmed and annihilated by the Rams. New York needs to hit the reset button and rebuild this franchise. It is time to trade Eli Manning and fire Ben McAdoo.
This offense needs to build around Odell Beckham Jr. Defensively, they need to build around Landon Collins.
New York can look to OBJ and Collins to lead a new era of Giants, but this season is done. McAdoo has already proven to be incapable of leading this team to success.
29. Indianapolis Colts (3-6)
Last week: 29 (no change)
Next game: home vs. Pittsburgh
Indy beat a Houston team that just lost all hope after Deshaun Watson tore his ACL. Beating Tom Savage is not an impressive feat. This team also shut down Andrew Luck for the season, which basically tells the world they are throwing in the towel for the season.
Jacoby Brissett has looked decent, but his team has little talent on either side of the ball. Three wins are decent for what they have, but they will be lucky to win three more games this season.
28. Denver Broncos (3-5)
Last week: 22 (-6)
Next game: home vs. New England
Denver got manhandled by the Philadelphia Eagles, so badly that the Broncos have now moved into the top 10 of the NFL draft. They will stay at the top of the draft and likely finish fourth in the AFC West.
This team went from a juggernaut defense that could carry an offense to a team that needs a rebuild. They have nothing on offense that can help a quarterback. A whole new offense is needed. On defense, Von Miller is still a stud, but the secondary has been split up and is getting old.
Vance Joseph looks lost as a head coach. He doesn’t challenge things he should, but then challenges things he shouldn’t. In his press conferences, he keeps talking about how good practice was. The man is straight up overwhelmed. The future looks bleak at best in Denver.
27. Miami Dolphins (4-4)
Last week: 27 (no change)
Next game: away vs. Carolina
So Miami is the epitome of an average NFL team. One week they look like world beaters, and the next they look like the Browns.
Two weeks ago, the Ravens slaughtered them 40-0. This week they gave the Raiders all they could handle, but fell short. Jay Cutler threw for a season-high 311 yards. It still wasn’t enough to get a win, which says all you need to know about the Dolphins.
Even if Jay Cutler plays like an MVP, this team can’t make the playoffs.
26. Baltimore Ravens (4-5)
Last week: 25 (-1)
Next game: Bye
Baltimore is playing good defense, ranking in the top 10 in points allowed per game. The one issue they have is stopping the run, as they allow 125.9 yards per game.
On the other hand, the offense runs the ball well for an average of 120.9 yards per game. This only results in the team scoring 21.1 points per game. The Ravens are competitive, but won’t make the playoffs.
25. Arizona Cardinals (4-4)
Last week: 28 (+3)
Next game: home vs. Seattle
Despite losing Carson Palmer, the Cardinals were able to win behind Drew Stanton and Adrian Peterson. Peterson had a career-high 37 carries for 159 yards. Stanton threw for 201 yards and two touchdowns. That was all it took to beat the San Francisco 49ers, who are going through a rebuild.
When Arizona plays better teams, they won’t be able to give Peterson nearly 40 carries that often. He is way too old and injury prone to rely on this much.
Next week, Arizona faces Seattle, and the Cardinals will fall back to reality.
24. Chicago Bears (3-5)
Last week: 24 (no change)
Next game: home vs. Green Bay
The Bears are coming off a bye and face their biggest rival. Because the Bears are at home, they have a real shot to win with Aaron Rodgers out. Chicago’s defense is much better than anyone realizes.
The Bears will continue to run the ball to take pressure off of rookie quarterback Mitch Trubisky. For the first time in a long time, the Bears will not have to outscore the Packers to win.
They may not make the playoffs this season, but the Bears might be building something special in the windy city.
23. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (2-6)
Last week: 23 (no change)
Next game: home vs. New York Jets
Tampa already has six losses, but are not as bad as their record. There is too much talent on this team for them to have this record, but sometimes that is the way the cookie crumbles.
When you look at the Bucs, the burning question is, what is their identity? The problem is they don’t have one.
Until Tampa can find their identity, they will continue to underachieve.
22. Cincinnati Bengals (3-5)
Last week: 21 (-1)
Next game: away vs. Tennessee
Cincinnati just can’t get above .500, and every time they get close, they run into a really good team. This team is on the brink of a complete implosion, and it showed when one of their most level-headed players, A.J. Green, threw Jalen Ramsey into a chokehold.
The Bengals offense will not help the defense out, who is holding up their end of the bargain. Until the offense can get rolling, the Bengals will remain in this downward spiral.
21. Houston Texans (3-5)
Last week: 14 (-7)
Next game: away vs. Los Angeles Rams
The Texans have lost their season with the loss of Deshaun Watson. He was the sole reason this team still had a shot to be competitive and possibly earn a playoff berth. Watson was not only leading the NFL in touchdown passes, but he had the Texans as the highest scoring team in the NFL.
An optimistic Texans fan should hope that the Texans tank the season to earn a high draft pick. If they get a great college player, then when Watson and the others who were injured and lost for the season return, the team will have enough talent to possibly win a Super Bowl.
20. Green Bay Packers (4-4)
Last week: 20 (no change)
Next game: away vs. Chicago
The Packers’ flaws are being exposed due to the injury to Aaron Rodgers. Green Bay’s defense can’t stop a nosebleed, and an offense led by Brett Hundley can not outscore other teams.
It is time for a change of scenery in Green Bay. It is evident that the success of the Packers is solely due to the greatness of Rodgers.
Green Bay needs a new general manager who will bring in more talent around him. They also need a new coach who can help build a respectable defense.
19. New York Jets (4-5)
Last week: 26 (+7)
Next game: away vs. Tampa Bay
The Jets are stuck in the middle of the NFL. At 4-5, they have a shot at making the playoffs, but aren’t truly contenders for a spot or even a run.
At 4-5, they also won’t be getting a high enough pick to really change the team around. The Jets are stuck in Mediocreville, and there is no way out. Just when you expect them to win, they lose and vice versa.
We will see what they do this week, but whatever you expect to happen, the exact opposite will unfold.
18. Los Angeles Chargers (3-5)
Last week: 18 (no change)
Next game: away vs. Jacksonville
The Chargers are a competitive team, but aren’t quite ready to be a playoff team. The defense is young but making good strides. The Chargers are only giving up 19 points per game.
Part of the defensive success is coming from their ability to pressure the quarterback. Los Angeles averages the third most sacks per game at 3.3.
If the offense can just protect the ball, they will have a shot to win any game they play.
17. Oakland Raiders (4-5)
Last week: 19 (+2)
Next game: Bye
The Raiders are down but not out. Their bye comes at a great time to give them a chance to regroup.
Derek Carr is beginning to heat up, throwing for over 300 yards in three straight games. During Carr’s hot streak, the Raiders are putting up 24 points per game.
The problem with Oakland is the defense. As crazy and fictional as it might sound, the Raiders have yet to record an interception. The defense is also giving up 23.8 points per game.
If they can fix the defense during their bye, they can make a run in their second half of the season.
16. Atlanta Falcons (4-4)
Lst week 15 (-1)
Next game: home vs. Dallas
The Falcons are seriously hungover from the Super Bowl. This is true and a bit lazy to say, but it is fun to say a team is hungover.
Atlanta’s true problem is that the offense is no longer lighting up scoreboards. Matt Ryan is not playing at an MVP level and is really missing offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan. Ryan has just 11 touchdowns this season.
Dan Quinn was hired for his defensive genius, but Atlanta is ranked in the middle of the pack defensively. The road doesn’t get easier either, as their remaining opponents have a combined record of 38-27.
15. Buffalo Bills (5-3)
Last week: 7 (-9)
Next game: home vs. New Orleans
Buffalo has improved this season and might still make it to the playoffs. But they are still not a true contender.
The loss to the Jets shows that more than anything. Buffalo is building a great defense behind Sean McDermott. The offense, however, is a middle of the pack ranked offense, and that is what is going to hold them back.
They can’t lose games to teams like the Jets if they want to be considered a true contender.
14. Detroit Lions (4-4)
Last week: 16 (+2)
Next game: home vs. Cleveland
Beating Green Bay without Aaron Rodgers isn’t all that impressive, but any win in the NFL is tough to come by. The Lions were able to get back to .500 and are just two games back of the Vikings for first place in the NFC North.
The Lions will go as far as Matthew Stafford can take them, and typically that means 8-10 wins. 8-10 wins won’t be enough to beat out the Vikings for the division or even earn a Wild Card berth.
Detroit will sit perfectly in the middle of mediocrity for the rest of the season.
13. Seattle Seahawks (5-3)
Last week: 8 (-5)
Next game: away vs. Arizona
Seattle is going to be held back by their offensive line. Just when you think they are still going to be one of the best teams in the NFC, they lose at home to the Washington Redskins, who will finish as a .500 team.
The Seahawks can win a bunch of games due to the great defense and playmaking ability of Russell Wilson. However, they will not make it deep into the playoffs if they even make it.
12. Washington Redskins (4-4)
Last week: 17 (+4)
Next game: home vs. Minnesota
The Redskins are a better version of the Miami Dolphins. They look great one week and incompetent the next.
For now, they deserve the high ranking because they went on the road and beat the Seattle Seahawks. They will likely finish 8-8, but if they end up beating Minnesota, it will prove that they might be better then they have looked up to this point.
11. Tennessee Titans (5-3)
Last week: 12 (+1)
Next game: home vs. Cincinnati
Few are looking at the Titans as a serious threat, but they are quietly moving along this season. They are tied for first place in their division, and the three-team race has come down to a two-team race.
Marcus Mariota isn’t doing anything eye-popping, but has thrown only five interceptions in three games. Tennessee will continue to run the ball, and once Mariota gets hot, the Titans will have an unstoppable offense.
10. Carolina Panthers (6-3)
Last week: 13 (+3)
Next game: home vs. Miami
Cam Newton gets so much hate, but his receivers were dropping balls left and right last week. When it mattered most though, Cam took over the game and led Carolina to a win against a division rival.
For as bad as people say Cam is, he has the Panthers sitting at 6-3 and still in a prime position to earn a playoff berth. Carolina can get hot at any moment. Before you know it, they could end up with a first-round bye. Now, that probably won’t happen but anything is possible.
9. Jacksonville Jaguars (5-3)
Last week: 11 (+2)
Next game: home vs. Los Angeles Chargers
The Jaguars defense is really good and is the backbone of the team. From top to bottom, the Jaguars defense is elite. Jacksonville has the best scoring defense (14.6 points per game allowed), best pass defense (156.4 passing yards allowed per game) and are third in total defense (281.2 total yards allowed per game).
Jacksonville must continue to run the ball effectively to keep up their winning ways. It can be done, and Jacksonville is marching toward the playoffs with a championship caliber defense.
8. Dallas Cowboys (5-3)
Last week: 10 (+2)
Next game: away vs. Atlanta
Dallas got a season-changing win against Kansas City. Two weeks ago when they faced the 49ers, I mentioned it was the perfect time for them to get on a roll. Now they have won three straight.
The rest of the schedule remains challenging, but the Cowboys are back to the formula that gave them a ton of success last season. As long as they continue to run the ball well, they will stack up wins.
7. New Orleans Saints (6-2)
Last week 9 (+2)
Next game: away vs. Buffalo
After an 0-2 start and terrible defense, the Saints’ season looked like it was over. However, after winning their next six games, they are considered one of the best teams in the NFC.
Drew Brees continues to play at a high level, and they are getting help in the running game. The key to the Saints six-game winning streak is the improvement of the defense. Over their last five games, New Orleans is allowing just 15.4 points per game, including one shutout.
If they maintain this level of play defensively, then a Super Bowl run is possible.
6. Kansas City Chiefs (6-3)
Last week: 3 (-3)
Next game: Bye
Kansas City is in a rut with three losses in their last four games. They have cooled off mightly since their 5-0 start.
This is more due to the fact they are playing some tough opponents and losing close games. The Chiefs will still finish as one of the best teams in the AFC and will be a threat to the Patriots.
Their bye week comes at a good time to regroup for a run at a Lombardi Trophy.
5. Minnesota Vikings (6-2)
Last week: 5 (no change)
Next game: away vs. Washington
A bye week came at the perfect time for the Vikings. They played exactly half their season and got a chance to evaluate how they must finish in order to win the division. At 6-2, the Vikings are on pace for a 12 win season.
Minnesota fans should be cautious though because last season the Vikings went 5-0 before finishing 8-8. The second half of the Vikings schedule is much tougher than the first half was, but they should still find their way to 10 wins. They still have to face the Bears, Lions, Bengals and Packers, all games that they can and should win. The other four games against Washington, Carolina, Atlanta and the Los Angeles Rams could go either way.
Minnesota should finish between 10-12 wins, and if they do so, will finish as one of the top teams in the NFL.
4. Los Angeles Rams (6-2)
Last week: 6 (+2)
Next game: home vs. Houston
The greatest show on turf seems to have returned, but this time they are performing in Hollywood. Sean McVay is the leading candidate for coach of the year for what he has done with the Rams and their offense.
Jared Goff has made amazing strides in his second year. Goff has thrown for 2,030 yards, 13 touchdowns and just four interceptions in eight games. For comparison, in seven games last season, Goff threw for 1,089 yards, five touchdowns and seven interceptions.
McVay has also revitalized Todd Gurley, who has 1,024 yards from scrimmage and 10 total touchdowns. Los Angeles will continue to win games, and the playoff drought will end.
3. New England Patriots (6-2)
Last week 4: (+1)
Next game: away vs. Denver
Time to sound like a broken record. The Patriot way continues to bring about wins to the franchise. With Bill Belichick and Tom Brady, the Patriots will put up 12 or more wins and make it to the AFC Championship.
The only question is who will be their challenger and will it actually be a challenge. Speaking of challenges, they won’t have one this week because Denver isn’t very good.
The Patriots will be 7-2 in the next rankings, and if the Steelers falter, they can move up to No. 2.
2. Pittsburgh Steelers (6-2)
Last week: 2 (no change)
Next game: away vs. Indianapolis
The Steelers had the week off thanks to their bye week right at the halfway point of their season. Pittsburgh is back to getting it done on the defensive end. The Killer B’s (Ben Roethlisberger, Le’Veon Bell and Antonio Brown) started to warm up before the bye, averaging 417 yards per game in their last three games.
Just like the Patriots, the Steelers will be playing deep into January with hopes of winning the Super Bowl.
1. Philadelphia Eagles (8-1)
Last week: 1 (no change)
Next game: Bye
Is there any doubt in anyone’s mind that the Eagles aren’t? They are one of the most balanced teams in the league, which is the reason they are 8-1. They average over 30 points per game with success in both phases of the offense. Philly throws for 240 yards and rushes for 136 yards per game.
Defensively, the Eagles are giving up less than 20 points per game and are 11th in total defense. Philly gets a break this week so they will remain at the top for at least another week.
Featured image from Getty Images
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