NFL Power Rankings: Week Ten

What the hell happened on Thursday Night Football? Scratch that: What happened on every night of football, all week long, every week, for the entire season? This year has made writing a series of Power Rankings damn near impossible, but at least we’re starting to get a good idea of the NFL’s playoff picture so far. As we try our hardest to decipher this mess, let’s get into TSW’s NFL Power Rankings: Week Ten.

(1) Tennessee Titans 1

Curiously enough, despite taking the top spot, the Titans still don’t instill a great deal of confidence. They’re winning, sure, but relying on opponents mistakes and favourable field position isn’t how you sustain success. These things are advantages, not ingredients. Their failure to move the ball effectively will be their undoing if they don’t figure it out. That being said, they’ve won six in a row, against some great teams, and deserve recognition.

(2) Buffalo Bills 3

It’s a long way to the top if you wanna rock and roll, and Buffalo might just rock after all. A brief stumble against Jacksonville had many thinking that the sky was falling, but as it happens that’s just a little early snow, something they’ll be familiar with as they play all the way through January. Stefon Diggs has one of the best game of his illustrious career so far, last year’s standout rookie Gabriel Davis made his presence known, and a suspect offensive line got right back on track. Happy hunting, and the AFC East title race has the potential to be an interesting one.

(3) Arizona Cardinals 2

It seems as though no team in the NFL right now wants to hold onto the top spot for more than a week, and Arizona are no different. Murray and Hopkins were out, but surely the same team that toppled a Rodgers-less Green Bay have the chops to be the P.J. Walker-led panthers? Evidently not. This roster oozes talent but without Murray at the helm, and on top of his game,they’re rudderless. No team in the league right now looks as good as they should look.

(4) Tampa Bay Buccaneers 1

Is anyone in the top five really that good? Each and every team in this supposedly-elite bracket has embarrassing losses under their belts this season, and the Buccaneers are no exception. After a bye week, Brady threw two interceptions in the first quarter in a span of seven attempts, and we’d be lying to say that it didn’t make all the difference. Washington beat them, but Tampa Beat themselves just as much.

(5) Dallas Cowboys 4

Dallas stubbed their toe last week against Denver, and spent all week letting out a blood-curdling scream. It must have been cathartic, because they were as cool as a cucumber against Atlanta, and feasted in all aspects of the game. The NFL has just been weird lately, but the Cowboys got it together to compile the most complete game they’ve shown us all season. This offensive line might be the best in the league, but to dominate the Falcons’ pass-rush like they did brought a single tear to the corner of my eye.

(6) Green Bay Packers

If Green Bay didn’t have a great game defensively, all anyone would talk about this week was Aaron Rodgers’ mysterious and sudden decline in quality of play right after he returned from his Covid-related absence. Perhaps it was a lack of practice, as much as anything else, but his constant miscommunications and poor ball placement would have seen him crucified if the result was different. His offense had only 3 points after 3 quarters. Still, Rodgers had a championship roster around him to save the day, and save it they did.

(7) Los Angeles Rams 3

The Rams should, by all accounts, be the best team in the league. Things have gone wrong a few times too many for them this season to have earned that particular moniker, and their free-fall out of first-place contention has been embarrassing and swift. Von Miller and Odell Beckham Jr. were non-factors in their debuts, and a mix of drops and mistakes plagued the usually-consistent and disciplined team.

(8) Los Angeles Chargers 1

The Chargers were supposed to be the belle of the ball, but instead three blind mice showed up on gameday. It’s been a month since their legendary shootout against the Browns and they’ve done nothing but disappoint us since. The early-season runaway favourites for the AFC West crown have floundered, and their dip is no longer a one-game slip. They’re 1-3 in their last four games and have let go of the ownership in their division that Kansas City so kindly gifted to them.

(9) Baltimore Ravens 1

Was it really so simple? All it took to beat Lamar Jackson was a comfortable blitz and five men in coverage, and Baltimore had no answer. The score may not have show it, but the Ravens were truly dominated on Thursday by the previously 2-7 Dolphins to start off a weird week in NFL football.

(10) Indianapolis Colts

A little close for comfort, but the Colts snuck away with the win after a dominant start fizzled out. This defensive line is getting better all the time and the unit as a whole is making turnovers happen with impunity, hopefully they can outdo their offense, which seems to stall out for most of the game each week, with moments of true brilliance sprinkled in. Carson Wentz didn’t play with confidence, and his hesitancy was almost this team’s undoing.

(11) Cleveland Browns

Evidently, the Browns are nothing without their run game. Sure, Baker Mayfield and company can put together a masterclass when they need one, but if you take away the dominant run-blocking offensive line performance and skull-crushing ball carriers, defenses don’t have to be honest. Nick Chubb’s absence may have been massive, but was it so significant that it cost them a difference of 38 points? Probably not. Trouble is brewing in Ohio, and their division is as close as any. Uncharacteristic losses like this one will make all the difference down the line.

(12) New Orleans Saints

Alvin Kamara is possibly as important to his team as any other running back in the league, and his absence was noted as they fell just short against a red-hot Titans team. Many mistakes marred this should-have-been victory, such as two missed extra points, a fumble kickoff, some tough sacks and a six-play goal line stallout. Trevor Siemian was adequate, but it took him a while to find his groove and he’s clearly a step down as a signal-caller from the legendary Jameis Winston. If Taysom Hill isn’t the answer either, New Orleans is in serious trouble.

(13) Kansas City Chiefs 2

This game was encouraging for a lot of people in Kansas City, but it isn’t a tale of overcoming adversity and beating impossible odds. K.C. did the same thing they’ve done all year so far but instead of being countered and beaten, they were left open in space, able to work as they wanted to. A huge bounce back and something to be pleased with, but none of it was indicative of them figuring out whatever went wrong in the first place.

(14) New England Patriots 2

There’s one man who deserves all the credit for the Patriots recent streak of success, and we all know who it is. Bill Belichick is a masterful schemer, putting together successful complementary game plans that take away what you’re good at, just like he always has. Mac Jones has been impressive, but most of what he’s done this season has been simple. Belichick’s offense is designed to favour the rookie well, with easy reads and checks across the board. Still, Jones is arguably the Defensive Rookie of the Year after ten weeks.

(15) San Francisco 49ers 3

Well, colour us all impressed. The 49ers made a statement on Monday Night Football, and it couldn’t have come at a better time. Kyle Shanahan was undoubtedly on the hot seat as his team was falling to pieces only two years removed from a Superbowl appearance, but it’ll be hard to justify his removal when he can call a game like the one we just saw. Patient play-calling and a well-designed offense who was willing to stick to it’s guns and do it’s job cohesively brought San Francisco the ‘W’, and there’s still plenty of season left to make that playoff push; Don’t count them out yet.

(16) Pittsburgh Steelers 3

In 2016, the Cleveland Browns were 0-15, and looked prepared to resign themselves to a winless season until the San Diego Chargers embarrassed themselves by becoming the only team to lose to Cleveland in a two-year span. That was almost the Steelers on Sunday and, even though they managed to survive Detroit with a 16-16 tie, they’re going right back to the drawing board this week to make sure it never gets that close again.

(17) Cincinnati Bengals

Bye Week

(18) Minnesota Vikings 2

The Vikings are 4-5, but very much alive within the wild card race: Something that can’t be said for their fans, who have passed away of cardiac arrest about seven times so far this season. We woke up on Sunday morning expecting a good game, and we got it, but we also witnessed a highlight reel of playmakers making plays. Credit to Justin Jefferson, Adam Thielen, Dalvin Cook, and even Kirk Cousins (not a joke) for pulling this one out.

(19) Las Vegas Raiders 5

The Raiders have had their fair share of issues this season, and then some, but the problems they faced on Sunday were of their own making. Other NFL teams have played Kansas City the same way and beaten them, but the Raiders look undisciplined and careless; Extremely out of character for one of the more cohesive units in the league. The Chiefs are good, but they should have been beatable last weekend.

(20) Philadelphia Eagles 1

Perhaps we’ve been too harsh on the Eagles, because so far this season they’ve playing second-fiddle in a forgettable NFC East race, but they still have what they need to beat better teams as often as they see fit. Jalen Hurts is fun to watch, hard to root against, and leading a team with a good chunk of young talent who are learning to shine at the professional level. This isn’t their season, but perhaps next year is. They’re closer than you think.

(21) Seattle Seahawks 2

Seattle expected more on Sunday, but were sorely disappointed after the return of Russell Wilson. He fired passes in all directions, but not many of them actually went towards his playmakers, as the team that was expected to begin their mid-season playoff push failed to materialize so much as a single point. If they intend to right the ship they’ll need everyone at 100%, something they just don’t have yet.

(22) New York Giants

Bye Week

(23) Carolina Panthers 1

After losing Sam Darnold for potentially the rest of the season, Carolina swallowed their pride and extended a hand towards Cam Newton. It might have been the right choice. As he works towards becoming the pure starter, instead of some weird Taysom Hill-type hybrid, Newton will do what he can to bring this team back to the fore. A great defense, mobile QB, top-tier running back, and more? This could be extremely fun to watch.

(24) Washington Football Team 1

The WFT can hang their heads high at the win, and hang them low at the loss of Chase Young for the rest of the season. The combination of these two things doesn’t make for level heads as you might think, but rather large overreactions. They’re not competing for the division and the season isn’t over, but they’ve left a lot to be desired this year. TSW’s own Deonta Saleem gave us a good idea of their actual outlook here.

(25) Miami Dolphins 2

The Dolphins aren’t really that good, but are they as bad as we thought? Also no. Their performance against an AFC title-contending Ravens team gives them a lot more respect than they’d had all season so far, but it’ll still take a miracle run to keep them from elimination from playoff contention. Still, Tua is clearly the best option at quarterback for now and Brian Flores needs to commit to him, which we’ve been saying since the beginning. The defense is still scary, even if they took a step back from 2020.

(26) Denver Broncos 3

Oh how the mediocre have fallen, again. Denver is as bad as they are good, and they can be very good sometimes. Fans didn’t have high expectations, but they weren’t so low as to think they were going to lose this one. Their interior defensive line was decimated by the Eagles’ run game, which no-one saw coming, and their red zone offense was abysmal. Still, we could all be in for a long AFC West title race as all four teams are within one game of each other right now.

(27) Atlanta Falcons 1

This was always going into the loss column for the Falcons, but perhaps they should have at least decided to play, instead of rolling over belly-up at the first sign of trouble. Matt Ryan having a bad game is all it takes to give this team nothing to play for, as every bit of hope they have resides on his arm, poorly supported and unable to do it all. Lets just hope that they send him somewhere nice next offseason, because he deserves more than they’re offering him.

(28) Chicago Bears

Chicago was ready to enjoy a quiet bye week, and take on the Ravens this weekend.

(29) Jacksonville Jaguars

Balance is restored in the universe. Jacksonville’s uncharacteristic win against the Bills last week has been mitigated, and their return to the race for the number one overall pick is in full swing. That being said, the defense put on another great day despite their early troubles. Despite the best efforts of Urban Meyer, there’s still some young talent on this team that could serve as building blocks for future success. Certainly not now though.

(31) Houston Texans –

Bye Week

(30) New York Jets

This offense allowed a turnover to every member of the Bills’ starting secondary in the same game, and the defense didn’t have any answers all game. New York sure were bad, that part can’t really be stressed enough, but the worst part of it all for all those poor fans down in the meadowlands? The brutal, crushing knowledge that Mike White wasn’t some miracle cure-all for their woes, and that if Zach Wilson doesn’t work out then they really are right back to the drawing board.

(32) Detroit Lions

The Lions did not lose. They didn’t seem to want to win, but they’re officially not going to go 0-17, though we’ll concede that 0-16-1 doesn’t sound much better. Detroit remains good enough to upset any team in the league on a bad day, but perhaps instead of waiting for that day, they should make it happen. Dan Campbell has been a bust so far.

 

Don’t forget to check out last week, and come back next time to see how another week of NFL action changes the board.

Iestyn Harris
One of the owners at The Sports Wave, I live in Canada and follow the NFL and NBA closely. Check out my articles regularly here.

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