Minnesota has won five games in a row and taken control of the NFC North
We’ve officially passed the halfway mark for the NFL season and parity might be the operative word this year given how many teams still look like they can make a second-half surge toward a Lombardi Trophy.
Doing as much as one can to sort through all that and 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
1. Philadelphia Eagles
Last week: 1
The best bye weeks are ones where you have a week off as the best team in the league. Given events elsewhere in the NFL on Sunday, the Eagles may even be able to all but wrap up the division with a win over Dallas next week.
2. New England Patriots
Last week: 3
Those defensive woes seem to be a thing of the past as they’ve run off five straight and not given up more than 17 points at the same time. Given how weak the schedule is coming up, the biggest concern for the Pats might be not getting tested much late in the year outside of that trip to Pittsburgh.
3. New Orleans Saints
Last week: 5
The hottest team in the NFL has a good case that they are the best one and right there with the Eagles as the NFC favorites. Being able to play defense and run the ball always translates when the pressure of January rolls around and that’s not even bringing up the veteran quarterback who must enjoy being part of this ride.
4. Los Angeles Rams
Last week: 4
At this point, the NFC West is the Rams’ division to lose but we’ll find out if the team is capable of more in the postseason with fellow NFC contenders Minnesota, New Orleans and Philadelphia upcoming. Those are measuring stick games and L.A. looks a lot more dangerous in them than most expected.
5. Minnesota Vikings
Last week: 6
The interceptions put a damper on the win but that was still a heck of a performance from Case Keenum on the road at Washington. Even with Teddy Bridgewater back on the sidelines, it’s pretty clear who should be under center as the starter going forward for one of the heavy division favorites.
6. Pittsburgh Steelers
Last week: 2
Was Pittsburgh looking way ahead to that meeting with the Titans on Thursday night? Seemed like it given how they simply showed up expecting to roll over the Colts but did nothing of the sort. At least they eked out the victory in the end but that’s not an encouraging look given how the rest of the playoff contenders keep getting better.
7. Kansas City Chiefs
Last week: 8
The bye week came at the perfect time for the Chiefs to regroup after losing three of their last four. The next month offers a great opportunity to get back in the home-field advantage race, but Kansas City will need to play better if it wants to secure the wins needed against a week slate.
8. Carolina Panthers
Last week: 9
Not sure we learned much from that Monday night game against an already lackluster Miami team but it was certainly important for the Panthers to keep pace in the NFC South and in the win column. The passing game doesn’t seem like it’s still firing on all cylinders, which is a concern down the stretch for Cam Newton and company even if the defense looks to be Super Bowl-caliber.
9. Tennessee Titans
Last week: 11
Seemed like the team took its foot off the pedal a little in the second half but it’s a good thing Marcus Mariota (above, right) has ice in his veins to lead that comeback in the final minutes. The Titans will need to be much more consistent on Thursday night if they want to remain atop the division however.
10. Jacksonville Jaguars
Last week: 12
Jaguars fans probably weren’t thinking about a win the way things were trending late against the Chargers but somehow this team gutted out a victory to remain in the AFC South race. Their plus-92 point differential is fourth best in the league.
11. Dallas Cowboys
Last week: 14
It was coaching malpractice what Jason Garrett did against the Falcons. Tyron Smith is clearly a much bigger loss than the Cowboys’ star tailback but not making any adjustments to that fact is a lot worse than that loss.
12. Seattle Seahawks
Last week: 10
That win over Arizona was a costly one in terms of personnel, with the biggest blow being Richard Sherman is lost for the year. We’ll find out if this team can rally and remain in the thick of the NFC chase the next two weeks against two of the league’s best.
13. Detroit Lions
Last week: 13
It kind of felt like the Lions were sleepwalking early on against the Browns before finally taking control. They’ve got several chances the rest of the month to get back into the division and wild-card races but Detroit needs a much better effort than what it had at home on Sunday.
14. Atlanta Falcons
Last week: 17
That game against the Cowboys was the best performance all season for the defending NFC champs and the Falcons’ most complete win in ages. While they probably won’t get that kind of performance from Adrian Clayborn ever again, the pass rush coming alive is a good sign going forward.
15. Washington Redskins
Last week: 14
You have to admire the way the team continued to battle in the second half against the Vikings but it’s pretty apparent that the depth chart is just too depleted to keep pace with some of the league’s best.
16. Oakland Raiders
Last week: 16
The bye week offered a nice opportunity to break ground on the new stadium in Las Vegas before heading to Mexico City. Whether that little bit of extra rest will be enough to slow down the Patriots next Sunday seems like a stretch though.
17. Baltimore Ravens
Last week: 18
We’ll see if the bye week provided any answers or, more importantly, any more healthy bodies for John Harbaugh’s squad. The next few games are winnable and it seems like the AFC is open enough that a turnaround to reach the postseason isn’t quite out the picture yet.
18. Buffalo Bills
Last week: 15
It’s one thing to lose to the hottest team in football, it’s another to get trucked by them after having extra rest. Now that once likely playoff spot is looking quite perilous, especially with a tough road stretch coming up out west.
19. Green Bay Packers
Last week: 26
That was a tricky spot for the Packers and their fresh-faced quarterback but Brett Hundley looked like old No. 12 against the Bears to keep this team afloat and possibly looking for more going forward. The injuries at tailback are starting to mount however and running the ball is a must for this team to win.
20. Miami Dolphins
Last week: 19
Somehow this team is still in the playoff hunt despite having precious little offense and a defense that is getting worn down each game. That probably says more about the middle of the AFC than the Dolphins.
21. Denver Broncos
Last week: 20
We know the offense — especially the quarterback — has provided no relief but what has happened to that once fearsome Broncos defense? That’s back-to-back games of giving up 40-plus points, to say nothing of the special teams woes that have become a part of this awful five-game losing streak.
22. Los Angeles Chargers
Last week: 22
It’s almost like it’s in the Chargers’ DNA to find ways to lose. Getting an interception with less than 90 seconds left in a game would normally result in a win but this team somehow managed to lose in overtime and get quarterback Philip Rivers into the concussion protocol.
23. Arizona Cardinals
Last week: 21
Larry Fitzgerald remains an ageless wonder and you could see that clear as day as he caught passes from Drew Stanton. Adrian Peterson’s resurgence seemed to hit a speed bump on Thursday night but the Cardinals can only hope that’s a one week thing on short rest.
24. Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Last week: 27
The Ryan Fitzpatrick revenge game was ugly and borderline unwatchable but when you’re on a five-game losing streak, you’ll take wins any way you can.
25. New York Jets
Last week: 23
It’s not every week when New York has an opportunity to capture a road win but that game down in Tampa was an opportunity the team allowed to slip out of their hands with some bad play in the second half.
26. Chicago Bears
Last week: 24
Coming off a bye, at home, against your rival and a backup quarterback is the definition of a must-win game. The Bears instead laid an egg and showed why the coaching staff is likely out at the end of the year.
27. Houston Texans
Last week: 25
The good news is DeAndre Hopkins remains fun to watch play football. The bad news is the rest of the Texans, especially the quarterback, are not at all fun to watch play football.
28. Cincinnati Bengals
Last week: 28
Another game the Bengals should have won, but didn’t down in Nashville. Add in some mounting injuries and there’s just not a ton to enjoy about watching this team every Sunday.
29. Indianapolis Colts
Last week: 29
You could just tell that the Steelers were going through the motions and were going to eventually mount a rally to beat the Colts. While you can’t fault Indy’s energy every Sunday, the fact is this roster (and coaching staff) just isn’t any good.
30. San Francisco 49ers
Last week: 31
Kyle Shanahan finally picks up that elusive first victory and it was an all-around solid performance across the board to beat the Giants. The only downside is the 49ers now lose the tie-breaker with the Giants when it comes to the draft.
31. New York Giants
Last week: 30
If it wasn’t clear before Sunday, this is a team that has flat out quit on their coaching staff. That was some of the worst effort you will see in professional football players against the 49ers and the only bright side is that the upcoming housecleaning will have high draft picks to work with.
32. Cleveland Browns
Last week: 32
A surprisingly solid effort for three quarters but plays like that one right before halftime and down the stretch in the fourth quarter indicate that this team may have to hit the reset button once again after the season.
— 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.