The rookie backfield of Ezekiel Elliott and Dak Prescott has powered the Cowboys to eight straight wins and the best record in the league
After all that talk about ratings and drama and suspensions and injuries, the NFL finally delivered its best weekend yet. Whether it was classics like the Steelers/Cowboys, Patriots/Seahawks or a half dozen others, it was a great slate of games that delivered in every way imaginable. Thankfully for some and unfortunately for others though, the week also shook up the standings and several division races.
Factoring in everything from overall roster strength, to quarterback play, to the coaching staff, here is the latest edition of NFL power rankings and where every team stacks up from 1 to 32.
Week 11 NFL Power Rankings
Last week: 2
How ‘bout them Cowboys? The offensive game plan of running the ball, controlling the clock and not turning the ball over is one that can beat any team in the league and they proved that at Pittsburgh. The biggest question now might be whether Ezekiel Elliott and Dak Prescott split Rookie of the Year/MVP votes.
2. Seattle Seahawks
Last week: 3
It may not have been for a Lombardi Trophy but stopping the Patriots at the goal line with the game on the line had to be so, so satisfying for Seattle fans. If the offensive line plays like it did in Foxborough, another Super Bowl run seems very likely given how stingy that defense is.
3. New England Patriots
Last week: 1
The first loss with Tom Brady back is not the end of the world and, if anything, the team has only been enhanced as the favorite out of the AFC this season. But the game against Seattle did expose the defense a little and pump the brakes a tad on some of the MVP talk for their quarterback.
4. Oakland Raiders
Last week: 6
The bye week was a perfect time for the Raiders to catch their breath before heading to Mexico City to take on the Texans.
5. Denver Broncos
Last week: 7
You figured the Broncos were in for a half step back playing on the road for the second straight week and in one of the more hostile environments of the league. Luckily they had Will Parks’ wild scoop-and-score to thank for the win but even better news might come this week when Aqib Talib returns to practice.
6. Kansas City Chiefs
Last week: 5
Don’t look now but the Chiefs are rolling once again and had an incredible comeback on the road to win their fifth straight. They should make it six in a row at home next week before we really figure out if this team is a threat to get home-field advantage with games against Denver, Atlanta and Oakland looming.
7. New York Giants
Last week: 8
It hasn’t been pretty for Eli Manning and company at times but wins are wins and they have probably exceeded expectations with six of them at this point in the season. Even bigger for the club is they’re winning close games and closing out opponents, just like they did on Monday night against the Bengals.
8. Atlanta Falcons
Last week: 4
How shocking was it to see Julio Jones drop passes in key moments like he did in that close loss to Philadelphia? The team still has a comfortable lead in the division but will have to hope that was just a one-off bad performance by the offense on Sunday.
9. Philadelphia Eagles
Last week: 17
That was an impressive win by the Eagles’ defense in bottling up Atlanta’s offense, especially in limiting Matt Ryan down the field. Things don’t get any easier from here on out but at least Carson Wentz showed encouraging signs with a nice bounce-back game.
10. Detroit Lions
Last week: 12
That might have been the best bye week the team has ever had with everybody else in the division losing (and struggling mightily). Suddenly the Lions are in first place and the playoff talk isn’t so far-fetched given how well Matthew Stafford has been playing.
11. Baltimore Ravens
Last week: 18
Let’s face it, this team is going to play good defense and win ugly given the offensive problems. That’s one reason the Ravens are in first place in the division but will have a huge challenge on their hands at Dallas next week.
12. Pittsburgh Steelers
Last week: 19
That’s four straight losses for the Steelers and just about every one of them has been close. We saw flashes of Ben Roethlisberger being fully healthy against Dallas in that classic on Sunday however and that bodes well with a schedule that still sets up a run at the division.
13. Buffalo Bills
Last week: 9
The past few losses don’t look too bad at all but the schedule isn’t going to let up from here on out. If they can get some guys healthy, the Bills have enough firepower to remain on the fringe of the playoff discussion.
14. Washington Redskins
Last week: 16
Washington continues to keep things interesting in the NFC East as they are one of several teams chasing the Cowboys after a big win over a struggling Minnesota team. If the team wants to rise even higher though, the Redskins need to convert those second half field goals into touchdowns while still playing a high level of defense.
15. Arizona Cardinals
Last week: 15
The Cardinals are a much more talented team than the 49ers but it didn’t look like it for long stretches of a game they were lucky to escape with. Maybe that’s a sign of rust but whatever it is, the team needs to shake it off quick if they harbor any hopes of making a run.
16. New Orleans Saints
Last week: 13
The Saints went from euphoria at a big win to despair at a tough loss in record time at the Superdome on Sunday. Even so, this team isn’t out of the running for a surprise wild card spot but will need a much better all-around effort next week.
17. Houston Texans
Last week: 20
This team is going nowhere if the quarterback play doesn’t improve and that will be very evident next week against Oakland. At least they got their first win on the road this season.
18. Indianapolis Colts
Last week: 21
Their upcoming game against Tennessee could be for a playoff spot, as strange as it is to say. But that’s the state of the AFC South right now and by default it falls on Andrew Luck’s shoulders to get a win.
19. Miami Dolphins
Last week: 22
That’s four straight to get above .500 and it looks like rookie head coach Adam Gase finally has everybody on the same page. The next two are very winnable, especially if the defense continues to play like it did against San Diego.
20. Tennessee Titans
Last week: 24
If you had to buy stock in a young quarterback, how many folks would take Marcus Mariota? If he doesn’t turn the ball over, he gives the Titans a chance in every game and their upcoming road trip could help deliver a surprising division title if they continue to play like they did against Green Bay.
21. Green Bay Packers
Last week: 14
The offense has been largely broken outside of Aaron Rodgers and it appeared as though the defense was smashed in half against Tennessee. Not a good combination for the most disappointing team in the NFC.
22. Minnesota Vikings
Last week: 10
About the only bright spot for Vikings fans is they’re still somehow in the division race despite dropping four straight.
23. San Diego Chargers
Last week: 11
Four interceptions are unacceptable for somebody like Philip Rivers, especially tossing a pick-six to seal a loss. Now there’s no margin for error if the team wants to make any kind of noise in 2016.
24. Cincinnati Bengals
Last week: 23
Does anybody know what has happened to Cincinnati? The Bengals have just two wins the past two months and look like a shell of themselves on both sides of the ball.
25. Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Last week: 29
You wanted to see the Bucs bounce back from a rough stretch and they left no doubt against Chicago. The question is whether they can build on the victory or revert back to form.
26. Carolina Panthers
Last week: 25
The Panthers move down in the rankings just a spot mostly because of what the teams below them did in Week 10. Blowing a loss like that to Kansas City is a killer for a team needing any sort of momentum they can get.
27. Los Angeles Rams
Last week: 26
The upcoming schedule is brutal so if Jeff Fisher wants to give Jared Goff any sort of hope, getting reps now is the only way to build for the future.
28. New York Jets
Last week: 27
If Bryce Petty doesn’t show any signs of life against New England, it might be time to throw Christian Hackenberg to the wolves and see what he can do. The team certainly doesn’t have anything to play for but draft position and have to figure out if one of their two young quarterbacks is worth keeping next year.
29. Chicago Bears
Last week: 28
General manager Ryan Pace has been a regular at college football games every Saturday and he’ll need to put all those scouting skills to the test given what the roster looks like now.
30. Jacksonville Jaguars
Last week: 30
It does not appear that a midseason coaching change is coming in Jacksonville but it remains hard to see Gus Bradley getting another year given how poorly the team starts every game.
31. San Francisco 49ers
Last week: 31
Maybe it was familiarity with a division opponent, but the 49ers had one of their better stretches under Chip Kelly against Arizona. It wasn’t enough, of course, but at least somewhat encouraging on the road.
32. Cleveland Browns
Last week: 32
It still doesn’t seem like a winless season is going to be in the cards but the wait might take longer than the team wants.
— Written by Bryan Fischer, an award-winning college football columnist and member of the Athlon Contributor Network. You can follow him from coast-to-coast on Twitter, Instagram and Snapchat at @BryanDFischer.