NFL Power Rankings Week 11

1. Kansas City Chiefs

Not exactly the kind of lights out game you want from the top team, but they did enough. Mahomes looked great, Pacheco ran well in place of Edwards-Helaire, and Kadarius Toney got more involved, which can only help open things up more for Smith-Schuster when he clears concussion protocol. Next week is a rematch with the Chargers at Sofi in prime time. Bolts defense gave Mahomes some fits last time, so we’ll see if they can hold this spot longer than a week.

2. Philadelphia Eagles

That’s a bit of a bad beat. The missed facemask call on Goedert wasn’t just about the missed facemask, but the fact that the facemask very likely played a significant role in causing the fumble. He probably would’ve been able to concentrate a bit better if his neck wasn’t being yanked. Then the personal foul that sealed the game was, of course, the correct call that just sucked. That said, Philly was 8-0 by dominating the turnover battle, and even if you take out the Goedert fake news fumble, they still lost the turnover battle. More importantly, they got steamrolled on the ground, so much so that Miles Sanders had 1 carry in the 1st half. If you can’t stop the run, you’ll only get the ball for 1/3 of the game and points become premium.

3. Minnesota Vikings

We’re gonna go back a bit so I can set up my gloating in the proper order, block by block. Here is what I’ve said over the weeks:

Week 5 – They really need to focus on getting it to Jefferson. I don’t care if he’s triple teamed, get him the ball.
Week 6 – Cousins and O’Connell realized how important it is to get the ball in Jefferson’s hands as much as possible.
Week 7 – They struggled to move the ball, then suddenly took off once they got Jefferson involved. He’s the key to this offense and they have to know it by now… Cousins should focus on him only.
Week 8 – I assume they used their bye week to figure out how to triple Justin Jefferson’s touches. Maybe give him some 1st team reps at QB. Can he pitch?
Week 9 – Jefferson needs 10 targets minimum per game.
Week 10 – How many times do I have to say your offense needs to revolve around Justin Jefferson? First drive, he had 4 catches and a touchdown. Then he got 1 more catch the rest of the way through the 1st, 2nd, and 3rd quarters. They didn’t score again until the 4th quarter… and guess what happened then! He got 2 more catches and a run in the 4th and they put together 3 scoring drives to win. FORCE. IT. TO. HIM. I don’t care how. Have him take the snap. When he touches the ball, you win.

Cool, now we have that set up, let’s see what last week’s win over the Bills has to say on this topic:

And so I repeat, and will continue to repeat: FORCE. IT. TO. HIM. He’s as special as they come. Don’t waste that trying to be clever and use him as some kind of decoy. This is Midwest Cooper Kupp and he better finish with a WR Triple Crown.

4. Baltimore Ravens

Always nice to have a bye week and watch other top 5 teams drop. They have a chance to get Mark Andrews and Gus Edwards back this week, which would be a huge boost for Lamar and the offense he’s been carrying.

5. Miami Dolphins

Tua is not playing around. This offense has put up over 30 a game for 3 straight weeks heading into their bye. And now Mad Genius McDaniel (not sold on that name… we’re trying stuff out) has a bye week to scheme. Jeff Wilson, Jr. and Raheem Mostert are perfect to run McDaniel’s scheme. Tua is an MVP candidate. This team is really good.

6. Buffalo Bills

Did they deserve to drop this far? Maybe not. But did they deserve to be as high as they were in the first place? I’m not entirely sure. They were crowned before the season started, then came off the blocks hot, then cooled considerably these past few weeks. Granted, it’s probably not fair to blame their secondary for getting torched by Justin Jefferson given the ridiculousness of his catches, but that excuse some huge late game mistakes from Allen and an extremely questionable 4th down decision from McDermott. They’re trying to play with the confidence of the ‘07 Pats and they aren’t good enough for that. This cooldown could be good for them, however. This is the perfect time to shore up any weaknesses and get ready for a late season run. Speaking of run, do more of it. Like, with actual running backs. They have enough wins to let a few slip midseason, but Browns next week and Lions on Thanksgiving are get right games that they need before playing their 3 division opponents, all of whom have a winning record, in a row.

*I originally wrote this block before the weather forecast came out. Orchard Park is looking at potentially 2 to 4 FEET of snow. So again, run with actual running backs. This is when you’ll need it, especially playing against a dominant running game (when they use it) like Cleveland.

**Hey, I’m back, and the game got moved to Detroit. So never mind about the snow, but the running game with actual running backs is still important, especially so Josh Allen doesn’t have to risk his ACL on every run and scramble on Ford Field’s slit film turf. (<– Google look at my keyword!)

7. Dallas Cowboys

I still think they’re top 5 talent and I have no problem with McCarthy’s decision-making. The play calls could’ve been better. Still though, they faced a backed-into-a-corner defending back-to-back MVP. And it’s hard to blame the secondary for not keying on Christian Watson, who’s done practically nothing to this point. I don’t think it’ll take much for Dallas to find their way back. But sooner would be better than later with the Vikings and Giants coming up.

8. San Francisco 49ers

There are so many weapons on this offense. Jimmy G’s limitations actually make me wonder what the team would be right now with Trey Lance. Jimmy is great at managing the group, but Lance would be another weapon himself. Guess we won’t know anymore this season. In any case, those weapons pair well with a dominant defense. Niners are now just a half game out of 1st in the NFC West and a fairly weak schedule the rest of the way.

9. Cincinnati Bengals

They unfortunately won’t be getting Chase back this week, but it’s a rematch against the Steelers who keep trotting Kenny Pickett out there, so hopefully Chase can recover another week and watch a win. The important thing is they showed their running game in that blowout before their bye, so Burrow may just survive this season if teams have to respect their run going forward.

10. New York Jets

Bye weeks are always more fun when you go into it after beating a division rival and the team everyone crowned as the preseason Super Bowl winner. Pats rematch this week, and they need this one. Time for Zach to turn a corner. Maybe throw a few in Elijah Moore’s direction and just see what happens.

11. Seattle Seahawks

Much like the Cowboys, the Seahawks faced a HOF QB backed into a corner. And they almost pulled it off. The different, weird energy of Germany can explain some of the early jitters, but they never got the running game going and the comeback started just barely too late. On the other side, the defense struggled to contain a Bucs running game that hasn’t been great this year. Definitely something Seattle has to key on during their bye this week. Great to see Kenneth Walker III involved in the passing game.

12. Tennessee Titans

I don’t get how they work. Their last 3 wins were 19-10, 17-10, and 17-10, against the Colts, Texans, and Broncos, respectively. They haven’t scored more than 24 points in a game all season. But they’re winning the games they’re supposed to and losing the games they’re supposed to, therefore a weak schedule puts them at 6-3 and leading the worst division in football. But now they get the potentially resurgent Packers, then Bengals and Eagles. 6-6 at the end of that run isn’t that much of a stretch. But if they’re 8-4, I’ll start believing in Vrabel’s bizarre wizardry.

13. New England Patriots

Two strong wins and a bye week is a nice way to roll into a Jets rematch at home. Winning this game would give them head-to-head over NYJ, which could be very important come late season playoff races. I can’t imagine Mac Jones is inspiring a ton of confidence in Pats fans yet, but Judon and that defense are for real. Just get to 20, Mac.

14. New York Giants

I think my stance is clear, and beating the worst team in the league by 1 score isn’t about to change it. Now they have to beat the Lions, ideally by double digits if I’m ever to be convinced they’re legitimate.

15. Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Is Brady back? They started hot but almost blew it against Seattle. Still, he managed the game well and looked alive on most plays other than when he tried to run a route and Fournette got hurt trying to throw it to him. What a disaster that was. But it gave us this tweet, so I’ll allow it.

16. Washington Commanders

4 NFC East teams in the playoffs? Only if Taylor Heinicke keeps the job. Under him, they won 2 straight, then gave the 1 loss Vikings a serious run for it, then beat the undefeated Eagles. Not only is he winning, but he’s a feel-good narrative and this team badly needs more of those. He clearly has the locker room, and they have enough talent in the running game to keep things rolling. Brian Robinson is a beast, Terry McLaurin runs immaculate routes and can win 50/50 balls, and the D-line is made of nightmares. There are pieces here, and those pieces were buried under Carson Wentz branding that made them perpetually 25th-in-the-league boring. Heinicke is just too much fun, as a player and person. Jamaal Williams, Lamar Jackson, Taylor Heinicke… just need one more for my Rushmore of favorite football people. I’ll accept nominations.

The heart that he plays with is infectious

Terry McLaurin on Taylor Heinicke

17. Los Angeles Chargers

Throw. The Ball. Down. The. Field. I know there are a lot of angry fan bases right now and for good reason, but LAC has to be up there with Denver and Vegas. Literally the entire AFC West except KC has underperformed. And I know the Bolts have had injuries, but again, your QB has a cannon. Get Everett and McKitty to throw some chip blocks to give Herbert time and tell him to wing it.

18. Green Bay Packers

It’s amazing what can happen when your QB gets over himself and starts throwing it to guys who maybe haven’t earned his trust yet. The thing people forget about Christian Watson’s breakout game last week is the two bad drops he had earlier in the game. Aaron kept going to him, and it paid off. These kids need time, real game reps, and a QB to stop talking about them on McAfee and start showing them a little faith on the field.

19. Arizona Cardinals

Congrats on winning the Battle of the Backup QBs. Kyler better have spent his resting time watching film. Unfortunately, it’s not yet known if Kyler will play, and it’s not even known if Colt McCoy will play.

… Jesus. Don’t worry Mexico City, we’ve got Trace McSorley here to put on a show! Sounds like Murray and McCoy practiced Thursday, so they should be fine. But that response just threw me.

20. New Orleans Saints

Still only 2 games out, but the Bucs are on the upswing and may not be so easy to catch anymore. Also, maybe Dalton isn’t the answer. Sounds like he’ll be run out there again this week, however, which tells me the Saints are engaging in a bit of light tanking to make sure they get a shot at an early/mid-1st round QB.

21. Atlanta Falcons

Another team determined to stick with the vet at QB. Although in this case, I get it. Ridder is the future, and no one in their right mind puts the future behind this offensive line. I would be surprised if they don’t address that with the majority of their picks next year. Defense needs help, too, but it doesn’t matter if your QB has half a second on every dropback.

22. Detroit Lions

Now go beat up those Giants. Make me look good.

23. Chicago Bears

On the list of things I never thought I’d see this season, the Bears and Lions ahead of the Rams in my power rankings is near the top. They’ve got all the pieces they need on offense, but traded away their defense. This year is mostly out of the question for playoffs, so it’s time to get those defensive scouts working overtime. Oh, and bring in some more accountants, cause Justin Fields is gonna need A LOT of money.

24. Los Angeles Rams

Things were already rough before losing Cooper Kupp for the year. They have absolutely no running game. And the defense… I mean, I know Colt McCoy is one of the better backups in the league, but you can’t let him put up 27 on you. It’s tough out here in a league where repeat champs is now unheard of, but you at least hope to defend the title with a disappointing playoff run. This is tough to watch, and I say that as a Packers fan. One Rams fan described watching it to “spending the weekend in a rainstorm with an ex-girlfriend that you particularly despise.” An apt analogy.

25. Indianapolis Colts

So we’re back to will he or won’t he Matt Ryan. Congrats on beating the most disappointing team in the league. Going for 2 in a row might be tough against the pissed off Eagles coming off their first loss. Let’s see which Colts team shows up. I think 25 might be their spot now until they either win 2 in a row or Taylor Heinicke gets benched and I have to move the Football Team back here.

26. Cleveland Browns

How hard is it to run the ball? Let’s be clear, the final score against Miami was a blowout, but this was not a blowout. Cleveland was up 14-10 at halftime. They have a dominant run game, maybe the best in the league, and they don’t seem willing to use it. I’ve stated time and time again, Chubb and Hunt need to combine for at least 30 carries. How many last week? 17. Pathetic. 17 carries for the best back and the best backup back in the league while Brissett slings it 35 times. That’s backwards. Do better.

27. Pittsburgh Steelers

They won and Najee Harris finally looked good. That’s nice. Now put Trubisky back in.

28. Jacksonville Jaguars

Kept it seemingly close against the Chiefs, but it felt more like KC was toying with them. I kinda like seeing Lawrence toss it 40 times. This team is good, but it’s designed to be built around his arm, not the running game. I like their future, and now at 3-7, they’ve got very little pressure and plenty of time to build on their early success heading into next year.

29. Carolina Panthers

Come on, Baker! I liked him more before the weird headbutt thing, but I still think he’s a good QB. It’ll be interesting if he puts together some good games down the stretch and Carolina has to decide whether to pay him.

30. Las Vegas Raiders

What a disaster. Derek Carr’s postgame presser really got me. I like Carr as a person and player. But the Raiders offense suffers from having one of the best backs in the league and nothing behind him, and one of the best receivers in the league and nothing behind him. And don’t tell me about Waller and Renfrow. Waller is made of glass and Renfrow has been terrible this year. I still think they’ll beat the Broncos this week, which is why they’re here and not down there.

31. Denver Broncos

In the “worst game of the year” category, Denver is gonna have like 6 entries. Russ cooked up a whopping 50% completion percentage and looked as lost as usual. I’m now 300% sure Nathaniel Hackett never wanted Russ because he was 200% sure Rodgers would follow him. I’m not at all convinced they can beat the Raiders this week. Vegas is in full-on Middle Finger Mode, and Russ still thinks he can win the fans over this year with a well-placed smile. Russ, meet Toilet.

32. Houston Texans

I feel like I’m just gonna keep saying the same things about Pierce and their young talent. Really wish they could’ve beat the Giants last week. But the Giants gave Saquon 35 carries and the Texans gave Pierce 17 carries, and when those are the two best offensive players on the field, that difference in touches will lead to the difference in score. Not that I’m blaming the Texans on that. Saquon is trying to make a comeback and this could be his only chance… but for Houston, there’s no sense adding tread to a rookie RB when the season is all but over. This was just a case of two teams in different places in development. All part of the plan. Which I hope they actually have.

4 thoughts on “NFL Power Rankings Week 11”

  1. I am a huge fan of your power rankings and of the fact you’re smartest and most talented of the Bille brothers but c’mon, you can’t seriously put the Chiefs and Eagles ahead of the Vikings. I do acknowledge that the Vikings only loss was at the Eagles and they have equal records. Having said that, the loss was in September and losing at home to the Commanders in November certainly in my view gives the Vikings the edge on current form. As for the Chiefs, Vikings have a better record and the whole “losing to the Colts” should disqualify them from the top spot.

    Bitter Packer fans may claim the Vikings are winning due to luck or simply one player but as Vince Lombardi/Mike Holmgren/Mike Sherman/Ray Rhodes probably said, “winners create their own luck.” Just like how Frank Kaminsky when he was at UW through his sheer fundamental offensive brilliance created all those fouls that were called on his opponents.

    1. I’ll admit, this top 3 is as close as it’s been all year. If I ever decide to back to my tier system, those 3 would be a tier together and barely distinguishable. I’m also not trying to imply JJ is their only player… just that he’s the most important player, and that differentiates them from the other 2 whose most important player is the QB.

      Vikes and Philly are more like 2a and 2b. I actually really like this Vikings team, by which I mean I despise everything about them, which is a compliment. I work my bias through that lens with NFC North teams. The more they piss me off, the better they must be. And I know I’ve been hyperfocused on JJ, but I very much wish Hunter and Harrison Smith would go away on that defense. I’ve hated seeing the Packers play Smith since he was drafted (and because I very vocally wanted the Packers to draft him).

      Now, the QB… “creates his own luck” isn’t far from it, but I do think it’s more than that. He was always too safe before (Rodgers was, too), and last week he shrugged that off. I feel like he took a big step just trusting JJ, and that’s why I focus on JJ. He’s the best in the league, and it’s not close. Running an offense through I receiver is so uncommon, but I hope they continue exploring it.

  2. I do need to clarify, my insistence on the Vikings being #1 in your power poll was simply based on evidence to date. It was in absolutely no way a prediction of future success (or failure) for the Vikings.

    1. My #1 team (different every time) lost the first 4 weeks in a row 😂 There are so many ways to create a list like this. That’s why I’m trying to write down and build out the methodology I’ve been using.

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