The top two teams stayed the same, but there was movement seemingly everywhere else in these rankings. With an overhaul happening in the middle of the pack, it is getting hard to separate the contenders from the pretenders. For now, let’s just dive into how the league stands after Week 10.
1. Pittsburgh Steelers: 9-0 (Last Week: 1)
Won 36-10 vs. Cincinnati
Pittsburgh flexed its collective muscles in a dominant win over the Bengals. Ben Roethlisberger had no problem playing in windy, cold conditions, tossing four touchdowns. The defense continues to look like the best in the league. Joe Burrow deserves credit for getting up given that he was hit eight times in the game and sacked four times. It would be good to see this running game get back on track at some point. The Steelers are going to need to control the clock and move the sticks in bad weather as the season wears on.
2. Kansas City Chiefs: 8-1 (Last Week: 2)
Kansas City got to take a week off to recharge before the home stretch. Sure, the Chiefs would like to earn home field advantage and a first-round bye, but they travel well. Kansas City ranks second in yards per game and points per game offensively. Its point differential is best in the league. The often overlooked defense ranks in the top 10 in points and yards allowed. Giving Andy Reid an extra week to prepare for the one team in the league to beat his side this year feels unfair. Topping the Raiders would be a nice revenge game for the Chiefs.
3. Green Bay Packers: 7-2 (Last Week: 4)
Won 24-20 vs. Jacksonville
Winning by only four, at home, against the Jaguars is not a great week. Green Bay slogged to a win in an ugly contest. The Packers once again struggled to stop the run and needed the defense to shut down Jacksonville’s potential game-winning drive to seal the contest. In short, this was way too close for comfort. Still, Green Bay extends its lead atop the NFC North and currently holds the top spot in the conference. There is still a lot of room for improvement, but the Packers have to be happy about where they stand.
4. New Orleans Saints: 7-2 (Last Week: 5)
Won 27-13 vs. San Francisco
Don’t panic! Yes, Drew Brees is out for a few weeks, turning things over to Jameis Winston. This also happened last year and Teddy Bridgewater went 5-0 as the fill-in starter. It is far from a guarantee Winston has the same success, but the Saints are finally healthy, outside of Brees of course, and have just one game remaining on the schedule against a team with a winning record. Winston looked solid as well in his limited duties in the second half. This is where Michael Thomas, Emmanuel Sanders and Jared Cook need to step up to make life easier on their new quarterback.
5. Tampa Bay Buccaneers: 7-3 (Last Week: 8)
Won 46-23 at Carolina
Tampa Bay bounced back in a big way. Tom Brady took care of the football and tossed three touchdowns. Ronald Jones made his presence felt by ripping off the longest run of the season by any player en route to a 192-yard performance. The Buccaneers’ defense was far from perfect, but made key stops to allow the offense to pad the lead. It was nice to see this team bounce back after a terrible Week 9 loss. The Bucs now head into a Monday night showdown with a tough Rams defense. If Tampa is going to win the division, it is going to build a lead while Drew Brees is out for New Orleans.
6. Miami Dolphins: 6-3 (Last Week: 10)
Won 29-21 vs. Los Angeles
The Tua Tagovailoa hype train has to be closed to full if it isn’t full already. Miami’s rookie quarterback led the Dolphins to a fifth-straight win and third in a row with him under center. The Fins continue to get big plays from their special teams. A blocked punt and big returns from Jakeem Grant sparked the offense. Defensively, Miami continued it’s bend, don’t break approach. Xavien Howard came up with a crucial interception to flip momentum. Overall, this Dolphins team is extremely well coached and looking like a tough team to beat. It will be interesting if this group is just happy to be here or has its eyes set on a division title.
7. Arizona Cardinals: 6-3 (Last Week: 11)
Won 32-30 vs. Buffalo
Oh my goodness! DeAndre Hopkins made the catch of the year to deliver one of the most thrilling finishes we have seen in quite some time. Kyler Murray deserves credit for making an incredible throw as well. Arizona might not be at the top of the contender heap, but this offense is one that no team wants to face right now. The Cardinals lead the league in rushing, thanks in large part to Murray scrambling. If the defense can step up down the stretch, there is no reason Arizona can’t win a division title and more this season.
8. Buffalo Bills: 7-3 (Last Week: 6)
Lost 32-30 at Arizona
That was a heart-breaker. Buffalo seemed like it had pulled off a stunning, game-winning drive of its own. Stefon Diggs continues to excel in this Bills offense and deserves a lot of credit for helping Josh Allen take the next step in his development. His touchdown to put the Bills up 30-26 with just 32 seconds remaining seemed like the dagger. You have no doubt seen the DeAndre Hopkins catch by now. It is a tough pill to swallow and it doesn’t make this loss count any less, but Buffalo still played a really good game on the road after a cross-country flight. It is hard to find two teams much further apart than the Bills and Cardinals. Sean McDermott needs to refocus his team quickly though and build on the positives with the red-hot Dolphins closing in on a the Bills’ division lead.
9. Baltimore Ravens: 6-3 (Last Week: 3)
Lost 23-17 at New England
What happened to this offense? Baltimore still ranks second in rushing yards per game, but only the Jets are averaging fewer pass yards per game. The Ravens are outside the top ten in scoring as well. Something just seems off about the unit as a whole. Poor weather in New England did not help, but Lamar Jackson continues to look shaky throwing the football. The offensive line has not played great either, with Matt Skura in particular having a really bad game on Sunday. There is still plenty of time to right the ship, but with the AFC loaded up with six-win teams, Baltimore’s margin for error is small.
10. Los Angeles Rams: 6-3 (Last Week: 14)
Won 23-16 vs. Seattle
Defense wins championships and possibly division titles for the Rams. Los Angeles accounted for six sacks and three turnovers as it shut down Seattle’s high-scoring offense. The running game did the scoring while Jared Goff put up some solid numbers, even if he didn’t find the end zone. Los Angeles heads into a tough stretch of games, starting with the Buccaneers on Monday Night Football. The defense has proven it is championship caliber. If the offense can reclaim its 2018 form, the Rams are Super Bowl contenders.
11. Seattle Seahawks: 6-3 (Last Week: 7)
Lost 23-16 at Los Angeles
For the second time this year, Russell Wilson has imploded in a critical NFC West matchup. He tossed two interceptions and lost a fumble. Those turnovers were likely the difference in a one-score game. Los Angeles had its way with the Seahawks offensive line as well, racking up six sacks. The return of Chris Carson and Carlos Hyde should help, but the level of concern is rising in Seattle. Since starting 5-0, the Seahawks have dropped three out of four and seem to be slowly falling apart. The place to start is taking care of the football. Wilson has ten turnovers in Seattle’s three losses this year. With a rematch against the Cardinals coming up on a short week, a solution needs to emerge fast.
12. Indianapolis Colts: 6-3 (Last Week: 13)
Won 34-17 at Tennessee
While it has been a bit of a rocky season for Indy, this definitely qualifies as a high point. The Colts move atop the division following a convincing win. Philip Rivers bounced back with an efficient outing. Nyheim Hines stepped up to lead the backfield. Rookie receiver Michael Pittman had his best game yet with 101 yards through the air. Indianapolis’ defense did not really have an answer for Derrick Henry, but after building a big lead, Henry was out of the equation. Ryan Tannehill had little success completing passes as the Titans tried to chase this game. Indy had a clear gameplan and executed it to perfection.
13. Las Vegas Raiders: 6-3 (Last Week: 12)
Won 37-12 vs. Denver
This felt very much like a Raiders style win. Las Vegas pounded the rock to the tune of 203 yards and five yards per carry. Not to mention the four touchdowns Josh Jacobs and Devonte Booker punched in. Derek Carr didn’t do much, but he wasn’t asked to do much. Meanwhile, the defense made Drew Lock’s life miserable, intercepting four of his passes and sacking him twice. The Raiders offensive line had a stellar game, clearing massive holes to run through and not allowing Carr to be hit let alone sacked when he dropped back to pass. If Jon Gruden can replicate this style of play, the Raiders will be tough to beat.
14. Tennessee Titans: 6-3 (Last Week: 9)
Lost 34-17 vs. Indianapolis
Tennessee was truly beaten in all three phases to open Week 10. Special teams gaffes, defensive errors and lackluster offensive production led to a long night. The Titans have had their identity rooted as a hard-nosed, grind it out team, but the defense has not lived up to that. Tennessee is giving up nearly 400 yards per game and it’s 26.1 points allowed puts them in the bottom half of the league. If the defense is going to continue to flounder, Ryan Tannehill must step up. The former Dolphins quarterback accounted for 5.7 yards per attempt on just 27 passes against Indy. He needs to start playing like the franchise quarterback they are paying him to be.
15. Cleveland Browns: 6-3 (Last Week: 15)
Won 10-7 vs. Houston
Kevin Stefanski is already reshaping the Cleveland Browns just nine games into his tenure as head coach. Nick Chubb and Karrem Hunt ran the ball 38 times and totaled 258 yards of offense in an old-school affair. The Browns’ defense got an assist from the weather, but held the Texans in check. Deshaun Watson managed only 163 yards passing as the whole team was held under 250 yards of offense. It was not pretty, but it kept Cleveland level in the playoff race.
16. Minnesota Vikings: 4-5 (Last Week: 20)
Won 34-20 vs. Detroit
Minnesota ground out a vital victory on Monday Night Football to stretch it’s winning streak to three. The Vikings have a real chance of making a playoff push, sitting two games back of a potential wildcard spot. Even though Dalvin Cook had an off night, the offense did just enough to eke out a win. It was another strong showing from this defense, despite all the missing players in the secondary. Chicago has a tendency of making every opposing defense look good, but it was still important for Minnesota to execute. With three home games against the Cowboys, Panthers and Jaguars up next, it is very possible the Vikings continue this run to a 7-5 record.
17. New England Patriots: 4-5 (Last Week: 23)
Won 23-17 vs. Baltimore
After almost needing overtime to beat the winless Jets, the Patriots told everyone to calm down about the death of the dynasty by beating the Ravens. This game far from erases every doubt surrounding the team, but New England showed grit and determination to pull off the upset. Damien Harris led the running game as he continues to emerge as a feature back. Cam Newton took care of the football again to help his defense out. Not being forced into any sudden change situations, New England’s defense played lights out. They held the league’s leading ground attack well below its season average and limited big plays. A loss would have effectively ended this team’s season, but now, the Patriot’ playoff hopes have new life.
18. Atlanta Falcons: 3-6 (Last Week: 17)
It is still a long shot, but the Falcons are not out of the playoff picture. The road to get there will be tough, but it might have gotten a little easier. Atlanta is set to face New Orleans twice in the next three weeks. Drew Brees is out for at least one and possibly both of those contests, meaning the Falcons will face Jameis Winston instead. They split their two meetings with Winston’s Buccaneers in 2019 and intercepted him four times. Atlanta is likely going to need to win both those games and beat the Raiders to have any shot at playing meaningful games in January.
19. Chicago Bears: 5-5 (Last Week 16)
Lost 19-13 vs. Minnesota
Bad just got worse for the Bears. In what was already a rough offensive showing, Nick Foles was carted off the field in the final minute of Chicago’s loss. His status for Week 11 and beyond is unclear. Tyler Bray stepped in with Mitchell Trubisky still dealing with a shoulder injury. It did not go well. The Bears’ losing streak is at four now as the offense continues to sputter. Even with a chance to still reach the postseason, I believe the team’s focus has shifted to finding its quarterback of the future this offseason.
20. Carolina Panthers: 3-7 (Last Week: 19)
Lost 46-23 vs. Tampa Bay
Thankfully, Teddy Bridgewater’s injury is not serious. That was about the only good news to come out of this game. Carolina got pushed around by Tampa. Tom Brady picked apart the young defense and Ronald Jones gashed them for a 98-yard touchdown run. The offense missed Christian McCaffrey, who has already been ruled out for Week 11 vs. the Lions. It is important to remember this is a rebuilding year for the Panthers, but five-game losing streaks are hard no matter what your season expectations.
21. San Francisco 49ers: 4-6 (Last Week: 21)
Lost 27-13 at New Orleans
San Francisco dragged it’s injury-decimated roster to New Orleans and lost in disheartening fashion. Nick Mullens threw two interceptions, the running game was nonexistent and the defense could not contain Alvin Kamara. At this point, the 49ers are just evaluating their depth and aiming to give playing time to younger players. This has been a lost season with all the injuries. The fact that San Francisco has four wins is remarkable and speaks to the talent throughout this team. Still, it is hard to see things turning around with so many key players missing.
22. Detroit Lions: 4-5 (Last Week: 25)
Won 30-27 vs. Washington
Detroit almost blew another massive lead, but Matt Praeter’s heroics likely saved Matt Patricia’s job. He nailed a 59-yard field goal as time expired to win the game. It almost distracts you from the fact the Lions led this game 24-3 before giving up 21 unanswered points. Matthew Stafford had a stellar performance, hooking up with Marvin Jones Jr., D’Andre Swift and Marvin Hall on touchdown passes. Obviously, the blown lead is cause for concern, but Detroit can feel better trying to solve that issue after a win.
23. Denver Broncos: 3-6 (Last Week: 22)
Lost 37-12 at Las Vegas
Denver had another slow start and this time never actually got going at all. Drew Lock had a day to forget with four interceptions. The defense got bowled over by the combo of Josh Jacobs and former Bronco Devonte Booker. This was a dud across the board and it raises some serious questions about this team. The team has faced some crucial injuries and opt outs, but the Broncos’ recent sluggish starts are concerning. It seems like this team is not learning from the mistakes it is making, instead, repeating them each week. If this slump continues, Vic Fangio’s seat could get pretty warm.
24. Philadelphia Eagles: 3-5-1 (Last Week: 18)
Lost 27-17 at New York
Just when it seemed like the Eagles were ready to coast to an NFC East title, they laid an egg in a crucial game. Philly still leads the division by virtue of having two fewer losses than New York, but this does not bode well for the team’s future. Carson Wentz was horrible, the defense could not stop the run and the offensive line still didn’t play well. The excuses for the Eagles’ shortcomings are getting old. No one in this division truly deserves a playoff spot at this stage, but it is becoming clear Philly has a lot of work to do in order to even fall into a division title.
25. New York Giants: 3-7 (Last Week: 28)
Won 27-17 vs. Philadelphia
Don’t ask me how, but the Giants have a legitimate shot of reaching the playoff. This win swung the whole divisional race. Dropping to 2-8 while the Eagles moved to 4-4-1 might have felt insurmountable. Now, New York is right in the hunt. Daniel Jones is FINALLY playing some turnover-free football. Wayne Gallman and Alfred Morris formed a solid tandem in the backfield. Meanwhile, the defense suddenly looks pretty good. The Giants have allowed more than 26 points only twice this season. New York’s upcoming schedule is tough, even with Cincinnati up next. Just because the Giants have a chance to reach the playoffs doesn’t mean it is likely.
26. Los Angeles Chargers: 2-7 (Last Week: 27)
Lost 29-21 at Miami
I could probably leave most of the Chargers recap from last week in place considering how predictable they have become. Los Angeles lost another one-possession game in which it felt like it could have come out on top if not for a crucial mistake or two. A blocked punt and a poorly timed interception doomed the Chargers this time around. Justin Herbert struggled a bit in his worst outing of the season, failing to top 200 yards passing. No one’s job should be in jeopardy, but it would relieve a lot of pressure if L.A. could just win a close game.
27. Cincinnati Bengals: 2-6-1 (Last Week: 24)
Lost 36-10 at Pittsburgh
The growing pains for this young team were on full display in smackdown in Pittsburgh. Joe Burrow struggled to find open receivers and spent much of the game picking himself off the dirt. Defensively, Cincinnati was a mess. Big Ben had his way with the secondary even though the Steelers had no established running game. As this season drags on, the Bengals must identify other ways to measure success, because games like this are discouraging. This team is on the right path though and simply needs to stay the course.
28. Washington: 2-7 (Last Week: 29)
Lost 30-27 vs. Detroit
Alex Smith came very close to engineering one of the comebacks of the season. Smith threw for 390 yards and took care of the ball this week, but it was not enough to overcome Washington’s poor start. The team had to abandon the run game after trailing by 21 points, but that is something Ron Rivera needs to prioritize going forward. Washington is way more focused on the future than any success this year. That being said, they are still in the playoff conversation given how weak the NFC East is.
29. Houston Texans: 2-7 (Last Week: 26)
Lost 10-7 at Cleveland
This might have been the most painful weekend Texans fans have experienced in quite some time. Their team managed just seven points in a depressing loss to the Browns. A few hours later DeAndre Hopkins made one of the best catches in recent memory to seal an improbable win for the Cardinals. The infamous Hopkins-David Johnson trade already looks like one of the worst in NFL history. For Hopkins to be second in the league in receiving yards on a 6-3 team while David Johnson sits on IR as Houston’s offense flounders is particularly agonizing.
30. Dallas Cowboys: 2-7 (Last Week: 30)
Dallas faces one of the most interesting offseasons of any team in recent memory. Heading for a top-five pick in a quarterback-rich draft, the Cowboys could easily draft their quarterback of the future. However, the team already believes it has its long-term answer at quarterback in Dak Prescott. He is a free agent after the season and the two sides already had one rocky summer of negotiations. Keeping Prescott and trading down is likely the more popular option here, but this is one of the teams to watch when the season ends.
31. Jacksonville Jaguars: 1-8 (Last Week: 31)
Lost 24-20 vs. Green Bay
It was quite the fight from Jacksonville, but ultimately the Jaguars could seal the deal. Jake Luton was decent in his first start. James Robinson continued his campaign to win offensive rookie of the year. The defense played surprisingly well against what is usually one of the best offenses in the NFL. If that Jaguars team shows up more consistently, Jacksonville could be in for a turnaround as early as next year.
32. New York Jets: 0-9 (Last Week: 32)
New York took a week off from disappointing their fans to get healthy for the home stretch. At this point, there are several fans rooting for the Jets to lose out, ensuring they land Trevor Lawrence. The Jets would be hard pressed to pick up many wins heading into a second half where it has the fourth-highest strength of schedule of any team in the league. Given the inept coaching and overall lack of talent on the roster, I fully expect for the Jets to lose every time they take the field.