Once again, the FanIQ NFL Power Rankings are here. With ten weeks down, the field has narrowed a bit more and we are beginning to see a more clear-cut playoff picture. The Packers are beginning to run away with the #1 spot, and the difference between #2 and #3 is becoming much larger.
1. Green Bay Packers (9-0): The Packers may not lose this season. Sure, their win this week came against a terrible Vikings team, but this is the type of momentum booster teams like the Packers eat up and use to their advantage. At this point, it looks like the Giants and red-hot Bears may be their biggest challenge; but the Bears can definitely cool down by the time they meet, and the Giants are mistake-prone.
2. San Francisco 49ers (8-1): Are you ready to believe in the 49ers? After beating the Eagles, everyone claimed the Eagles were simply overrated. After beating Detroit, the Lions were simply “due to lose”, but the 49ers have beaten a respectable Giants team now, and head into the easy part of their schedule. If they can sweep the NFC West, a simple task, they can end the season with at least 13 wins and a first round bye.
3. New York Giants (6-3): True, the Giants lost this week and should probably not be occupying the 3rd overall spot. Here’s my argument though: through the first two games of a deadly 6-game stretch, the Giants have looked great. Eli Manning, although he threw two picks Sunday has looked strong especially in the clutch. The Giants simply allowed Offensive Coordinator Kevin Gilbride to lose the game for them. Delayed handoff running straight at Patrick Willis? I said two weeks ago if the Giants could go 3-3 this stretch, they will be okay. So far, they’re on pace.
4. Chicago Bears (6-3): The Bears are easily the hottest team outside of the Packers and 49ers right now. They embarrassed the Lions on Sunday, and have an easy schedule from here on out. They have to be a lock for a wild card spot with four games against teams from the AFC West.
5. New England Patriots (6-3): I’ll give credit where it’s due: the Patriots a very good defense’s stadium and embarrassed them. That 0-2 stretch two week prior could easily be erased with a three game stretch against the Chiefs, Eagles, Colts, Redskins, Denver and Miami. Talk about a cake walk to the playoffs. They finish their season against a Bills team that has really fallen off. 12 wins is certainly not out of the question, and they will probably wrap up the AFC East.
6. Baltimore Ravens (6-3): They had a huge letdown game against the Seahawks this week, but it’s impossible to put the Steelers at 7 and not put the Ravens in front of them. The Ravens hold the tiebreaker against the Steelers and have a much easier schedule to wrap up the season. A win against Cincinnati this week can put them in a great spot in the AFC North, and then the Harbaugh bowl will be a great test in week 12. With two games against Cleveland and a game against Indianapolis, they can easily reclaim the AFC North.
7. Pittsburgh Steelers (7-3): After losing to the Ravens the prior week, the Steelers are right back on track. They will meet up with Cincinnati again in week 13, and play the 49ers in week 15. Other than that, they can definitely win 10 games.
8. New Orleans Saints (7-3): New Orleans Saints featuring Mike Smith. Thanks to Mike Smith the New Orleans Saints remain in the top 10. That’s not to say that the Saints offense would have scored after getting the ball back, but giving them that field position was not smart.
9. Houston Texans (7-3): The Texans have been great even without Andre Johnson. Their run offense has been seemingly unstoppable with Foster and Ben Tate. Unfortunately, the loss of Matt Schaub may be too much to handle now as Matt Leinart will step in and take over. They earn a top 10 spot because of their play until now, but that spot can be gone by next week.
10. Dallas Cowboys (5-4): Getting embarrassed by the Eagles may have been the spark this team needed. They shut down a solid Bills offense and embarrassed them on defense. With games against Washington, Miami and Arizona, the Cowboys can get the momentum they need heading into a game at home against the Giants.
11. Cincinnati Bengals (6-3): They showed that they may not be able to run with the big boys just yet. Still at 6-3, they are still in the race for the AFC North. They will face the Ravens twice, and Pittsburgh once more. Other than that, they will face a Texans team whose stock has plummeted with the loss of Schaub, the Browns and two NFC West teams. They can still fight for a playoff spot in what appears to be a weak AFC.
12. Detroit Lions (6-3): The Lions got a reality check this week against a team they will be fighting for a playoff spot against. The Bears are one of the hottest teams in football right now and a loss like that to a division rival is always tough to swallow. Their schedule does not get any easier with two games against the Packers and a week 13 game against the Saints. They need to right the ship against the Panthers before hosting the Packers on Thanksgiving or that Lions game can be as hard to watch as the past Thanksgivings.
13. New York Jets (5-4): It’s gut check time for Rex Ryan and the Jets (no pun intended). Embarrassed by the Patriots, Rex Ryan will seek revenge in the playoffs. Rex better watch out, because it appears for now that the two wild card spots will be occupied by the AFC North and the Jets may not have the chance to play the Patriots again this season.
14. Tennessee Titans (5-4): Suddenly the Titans have a breath of fresh air. Only one game behind a Texans team that just lost Matt Schaub, the Titans may be back in the hunt of a playoff spot and an AFC South title.
15. Atlanta Falcons (5-4): Going for it on fourth down when you’re deep within your own territory is not smart. Luckily for the Falcons the Buccaneers have fallen back to Earth, and the Saints are still within reaching distance. It does not appear the Wild Card will come from the NFC South this season, however, so they must capitalize when they play the Saints the Monday after Christmas.
16. Buffalo Bills (5-4): The perfect example of why contracts should be signed after the season. Fitzpatrick is 0-2 with the Bills and has thrown 5 picks since signing.
17. Oakland Raiders (5-4): Carson Palmer looked solid this week and suddenly the AFC West is the Raiders’ for the taking.
18, 19, 20. Kansas City Chiefs, San Diego Chargers, Denver Broncos (4-5): One of them has to step up and challenge the Raiders right? Okay fine, this was laziness on my part, but believe it or not all three of these teams are still on pace for a playoff spot (as sad as that may be). Regardless of completions, Tebow has found ways to win, the Chargers are soft, and the Chiefs just lost Cassel, so I’m going with Denver to make the race interesting (if you can call it that).