NFL Power Rankings – Week 11

November 11, 2008 | Thyrl Nelson

With each passing week, we seem to get more and more clarity as to the likely playoff picture. When it comes to power, sitting atop a mediocre division at this point in the season is probably a much better place to be than to have just one or two losses in a tightly packed division full of playoff proven talent. Once the playoffs arrive however, power shifts again, based on match ups, home field advantages and fist round byes. But the first key is getting there.


The Titans and Cardinals both enjoy the biggest divisional leads, while the Giants, as impressive as anyone only sit 2 games in front of their ultra competitive division. The Chargers, Broncos and Cardinals all owe a lot of their high rankings to a still very good chance at making the playoffs. While the Bucs, Falcons, Eagles, Redskins, Bills, Dolphins and others find themselves a bit lower than they would have been if not for the competitive landscapes of their divisions.


There wasn’t a great deal of shake up in the rankings this week, but there are many divisional races still very much in the balance. As I said, more and more clarity seems to come to the playoff picture with each passing week, and teams seemingly trending in opposite directions are starting to find themselves getting closer and closer together in the rankings.


NFL Power Rankings Archive34567 – 8 9 – 10


Week 11 NFL Power Rankings (last week’s rankings in parentheses)


1. Tennessee Titans (1) – 9-0 – They’ve certainly found themselves a home at the top of the rankings, and at 9-0 who’s going to argue? There hasn’t been a lot of talk of another challenger to the Dolphins perfect season, but with 7 games left, and the Jags, Lions, Browns and Texans in 4 of them, it could be up to the Steelers, Colts or Jets to try and end their chance before the playoffs begin. Next Week: @ JAX


2. New York Giants (2) – 8-1 – The Giants are proving that last year’s playoffs weren’t lightning in a bottle, but rather a glimpse of the machine that they were to become. They survived a tough one last week, but it looks like they’ll have mostly punishing physical defenses to face on the remaining schedule. Next Week: vs. BAL


3. Carolina Panthers (4) – 7-2 – They in themselves in control of one of the most competitive divisions in the league, and still look like they’re capable of playing much better football. The Panthers are taking winning ugly to another level, but winning is winning. They’ll get a chance to get rolling against Detroit this week before a big divisional rematch with the Falcons. Next Week: vs. DET


4. Arizona Cardinals (3) – 6-3 – The Cards dodged a bullet on Monday night, but sometimes it’s better to be lucky than good. With a 4 game division lead with 7 games to go, the Cards are sitting even prettier than Tennessee when it comes to controlling their division. Once the playoffs start, anything can happen, the Cards look all but assured to be there. Next Week: @ SEA


5. Pittsburgh Steelers (5) – 6-3 – Injuries, a brutal schedule and a short week all appear to be wearing on Pittsburgh just a bit, and let’s give the Colts a little credit too. Although the Ravens are too close for the Steelers comfort, they are in still in the driver’s seat, at least for now. Next Week: vs. SD


6. New York Jets (10) – The AFC East may not wind up being quite as competitive as it looked just a couple of weeks ago. The Jets have a schedule that could work to their favor down the stretch, and a win this week could put them squarely in the front of the division. Next Week: @ NE


7. Chicago Bears (6) – 5-4 – There’s no such thing as a good loss, but you could call their performance against the Titans a respectable loss none the less, especially without their starting QB. If the Bears can stay the course, they’ll be in good shape, consistency seems to be sorely lacking throughout the NFC North. Next Week: @ GB


8. Baltimore Ravens (11) – 6-3 – You can’t call them rookies anymore. Joe Flacco and John Harbaugh have started the second half of their shared rookie season, looking savvier than many of their counterparts around the league. The schedule provided Flacco and this offense a chance to get themselves on track before getting into the make or break part of the string. The coming weeks will tell us all a lot about what type of team this is going to be when the going gets tough. Next Week: @ NYG


9. New England Patriots (12) – 6-3 – It may be a new cast of characters, but it’s the same old story for Bill Bellichick and the “no-name” Patriots. The rest of the AFC has to be holding their breath and hoping that the Pats simply fade away before the playoffs roll around. Next Week: vs. NYJ


10. Denver Broncos (9) – 5-4 – Let’s face it, they’re not that good, but at times, at least on offense they can be deadly. In any other division in the AFC, the Broncos would likely be looking ahead to next year already, but in the AFC West they are in firm control. If they can find a spark through either the defense or the running game, they could be dangerous once the playoffs roll around. Next Week: @ ATL


11. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (7) – 6-3 – The Bucs dropped 4 spots in a bye week? It’s mostly because all of a sudden, this division looks like the most dangerous in football from top to bottom. And although the Saints may have played themselves out of contention already, picking a winner in this division could be impossible as we head down the stretch. Next Week: vs. MIN


12. Washington Redskins (8) – 6-3 – They’ve been efficient but not flashy in their wins, and have looked really bad in their losses. Just when it looked like this team had finally figured out that they needed more substance and less flash, they go out and grab DeAngelo Hall. The NFC East is looking more and more like the AL East these days. Next Week: vs. DAL


13. Atlanta Falcons (17) – 6-3 – Okay, I’ve been down on them all year, and they continue to simply go out and execute. At this point, in 6 of the other 7 divisions in football, I’d be ready to count them in the playoffs, but things are still pretty scrambled up in the NFC South, and the Falcons just keep rolling along. Next Week: vs. DEN


14. San Diego Chargers (16) – 4-5 – Injuries and more likely Norv Turner will probably be too much for this team to overcome this season, but they’ve played with their backs to the wall before, and gotten into the playoffs. Since the Broncos haven’t been able to build any distance in the race, the Chargers are still in the hunt. Next Week: @ PIT


15. Minnesota Vikings (20) – 5-4 – They picked up a big divisional win last week, and evened their season series with the Packers in the process. They’ll have a chance to do the same against the Bears in a couple of weeks. The schedule sends lots of run oriented teams their way down the stretch, this could play right into the Vikings’ hands. Next Week: @ TB


16. Philadelphia Eagles (13) – 5-4 – They may be better than their record indicates, but they still don’t seem to be able to keep it together consistently. This is a team that has to win games when everyone is healthy if they hope to have a shot at the playoffs. Next Week: @ CIN


17. Indianapolis Colts (19) – 5-4 – I’m finished predicting that the Colts finally look like they’ve rounded into form, They can’t consistently run the ball or stop the run on defense. Occasionally they’ll be able to throw enough to beat teams and look good doing it. Without a consistent running game though, Peyton Manning looks surprisingly human. Next Week: vs. HOU


18. Miami Dolphins (18) – 5-4 – With their wildcat offense, Sparano and these Dolphins have injected a new brand of excitement into the league this year. They’ve also quietly inserted themselves into the AFC East race in the process. Next Week: vs. OAK


19. Green Bay Packers (14) – 4-5 – The Packers have had opportunities to beat good teams, and they simply haven’t been able to do it. They have enough talent to be a factor in the race, but they’d better get rolling pretty quickly. Next Week: vs. CHI


20. Dallas Cowboys (21) – 5-4 – Maybe a week of rest, and the likely return of Tony Romo can rescue this team from their freefall. If not the soap opera that is the Dallas Cowboys will certainly get a lot more interesting. Next Week: @ WAS


21. Buffalo Bills (15) – 5-4 – Three straight losses can bring to light a lot of the issues that were already there, but overlooked because of the Bills’ success. Not only are the Bills in crash and burn mode at this point, but they’re being dominated in their division too. That will make it tough to be a factor in an already tight divisional race. Next Week: vs. CLE


22. Cleveland Browns (24) – 3-6 – Perhaps we are finding out that it’s more than just a deficiency of talent that’s holding the Browns back. We all remember the offense from last season, and the defense is clearly improved this season. So why can’t the Browns seem to win? Perhaps a heart transplant is in order, or possibly an enema. Next Week: @ BUF


23. New Orleans Saints (22) – 4-5 – There may be no bigger disappointment in all of football than this year’s Saints. Injuries seemingly have a lot to do with it, but there’s more to it than that. The Saints just haven’t seemed to be able to figure out how to win. They’re running out of time to do it this year. Next Week: @ KC


24. Jacksonville Jaguars (26) – 4-5 – A win against the Lions is hardly a good reason to declare this team back. But the talent that they showcased in that win should serve as a reminder of why the Jags can be dangerous. Spoiler is likely all they can hope to be at this point. Next Week: vs. TEN


25. Houston Texans (23) – 3-6 – Regardless of how these Texans wind up in the win column, the job that they’ve done under the circumstances that they’ve been dealt has been admirable. There wasn’t an abundance of talent on this team to begin with; the fact that they’ve kept fighting when seemingly more talented teams look like they’ve packed it in is refreshing. Next Week: @ IND


26. San Francisco 49ers (27) – 2-7- They put up a valiant effort on the road on Monday when the chips were way down and they appeared greatly overmatched. Although Mike Singletary is entertaining, and clearly passionate, what type of effect he’ll actually have on this team is yet a mystery. Next Week: vs. ST.L


27. Seattle Seahawks (29) – 2-7- They performed well after a daunting cross-country trip last week, but still came up short. The Seahawks look like they’re phoning it in after the frustration of a slow start, and a number of injuries. They’ll get up to play a few more games this season, the ones that hey believe they can win, but an overhaul is in order in Seattle. Next Week: vs. AZ


28. Kansas City Chiefs (28) – 1-8 – They’re beaten up and battered, undermanned and may have lost confidence in their ability to win. But the Chiefs just keep on trying, and growing and fighting. They’ll be overmatched in most weeks, but the Chiefs are no easy draw, by any means. Next Week: vs. NO


29. St. Louis Rams (25) – 2-7 – A few weeks ago it looked like Jim Haslett was the answer to what was troubling the Rams. Now, it looks more like Scott Linnehan was offered as a scapegoat, and the Rams did their best to make it look like he had been the problem. Obviously there are a number of problems to be dealt with in St. Louis. Next Week: @ SF


30. Cincinnati Bengals (30) – If the bye week didn’t kill their momentum, then they’ll have something to build on this week. The Bengals have too much individual pride to just mail it in, but until they put their individuality on the back burner, they’ll likely have a lot more challenges ahead. Next Week: vs. PHI


31. Oakland Raiders (31) – 2-7 – A rebuilding effort appears to be in order in Oakland, but it appears it will have to happen from the top down, and not the other way around. That won’t likely happen until Al Davis becomes too old to be such a nuisance. Next Week: @ MIA


32. Detroit Lions (32) – 0-9 – The Lions are running out of chances to pick up their first win. Even the Thanksgiving Day Game, which is usually a good show for Detroit will be against the Titans this year. If things get really bleak after that, maybe they’ll forfeit their week 15 match up with Indy and put everything they have into getting ready for the Saints in Week 16. Next Week: @ CAR