Here are my power rankings through 11 weeks of the season. This will be a weekly feature going forward, so let us know what you think.
1. New England Patriots (7-2) – After a 39-26 win over the Steelers, it’s hard to make a case for any team to be ranked above the Patriots. Tom Brady is the only quarterback in the league I’d take over Michael Vick in the “one must win game” scenario. Up next for New England are Peyton Manning’s Colts.
2. Philadelphia Eagles (6-3) – Michael Vick is back and better than ever, and he’s got the Eagles thinking about the Super Bowl. Their showdown with the Giants on Sunday Night Football will decide who the best team in the NFC is at this point in the year. I’m not sure if there’s a defense in the league that can stop the Eagles high powered offense. In the four games Vick started and finished, the Eagles averaged 37 points.
3. Pittsburgh Steelers (6-3) – They’ve got the best rushing defense in the league, one of the top five quarterbacks and their three losses came to New England (7-2), Baltimore (6-3) and New Orleans (6-3). Their lack of a true dud keeps them above the next few teams, who are closely packed.
4. Atlanta Falcons (7-2) – It’s a tough call between the Falcons, Jets and Ravens, but like the Steelers, the Dirty Birds haven’t lost bad all year. Their two defeats came to the Eagles and Steelers. I’ll also take Matt Ryan over Mark Sanchez or Joe Flacco with the game on the line, thus Atlanta gets the edge.
5. New York Jets (7-2) – They’ve laid three eggs in a row, but won two of them none the less. Their defense is as good as any in the league and has the potential to be the best. If their offense can get it going at all, the Jets can be every bit as scary as the top three teams.
6. Green Bay Packers (6-3) – The Packers defense has given up the fewest points per game in the league, allowing just over 15 per outing. Without Ryan Grant for the year, though, their running game might not be good enough to take them from good to great.
7. Baltimore Ravens (6-3) – Some would argue that Baltimore deserves a higher ranking, but the Ravens margin of victory (31) is lower than each of the teams ranked above them. That said, the Ravens have the type of makeup that wins games in December and January: a good defense and a tough running game.
8. New York Giants (6-3) – For awhile, the Giants looked like a top-five team. Then they laid an enormous egg against the now 2-7 Cowboys. They have a huge opportunity to rebound this week against the Eagles though, with first place in the NFC East on the line.
9. Indianapolis Colts (6-3) – The fact that Indianapolis can crack the top 10 this year is a testament to Peyton Manning, who is lifting the likes of Jacob Tamme up and making them look like legitimate offensive weapons.
10. New Orleans Saints (6-3) – The defending champs need to show more consistency before they are considered legitimate contenders again this year, but with a bye week and then games against the Seahawks, Cowboys and Bengals, 9-3 is certainly within reach.
11. Tennessee Titans (5-4)
12. Chicago Bears (6-3)
13. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (6-3)
14. Oakland Raiders (5-4)
15. Kansas City Chiefs (5-4)
16. Jacksonville Jaguars (5-4)
17. San Diego Chargers (4-5)
18. Houston Texans (4-5)
19. Seattle Seahawks (5-4)
20. St. Louis Rams (4-5)
21. Cleveland Browns (3-6)
22. Detroit Lions (2-7)
23. Washington Redskins (4-5)
24. Minnesota Vikings (3-6)
25. Miami Dolphins (5-4)
26. San Francisco 49ers (3-6)
27. Arizona Cardinals (3-6)
28. Denver Broncos (3-6)
29. Dallas Cowboys (2-7)
30. Buffalo Bills (1-8)
31. Cincinnati Bengals (2-7)
32. Carolina Panthers (1-8)
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