The following are this week’s power rankings. In parenthesis you will find last week’s rankings. Enjoy!

The Power Ten-

  1. New England Patriots: 10-1 (1)

The Patriots are going to be fine. Yes, they are banged up right now, and yes, they blew a two score lead in the fourth quarter on Sunday, but there isn’t a doubt in my mind come January, the Patriots will be the most dangerous team in the NFL.

According to Ian Rapoport of NFL Network, Rob Gronkowski’s MRI shows no structural damage and just a minor knee strain. At most Gronkowski will miss two games, but more than likely will only miss next week’s game against the Eagles. Danny Amendola, one of the team’s top targets, will most likely be back for week 13. The team’s number one receiver Julian Edelman will be back for the playoffs. Jamie Collins will be back soon enough and Dont’a Hightower will be back within the next two weeks.

The Patriots will be healthy by the time the playoffs roll around and that is the only thing that matters to this organization. When healthy, they are hands down the best team in the NFL and when the time comes, when it matters most, the Patriots will be healthier than they currently are right now.

 

  1. Arizona Cardinals: 9-2 (2)

The Cardinals managed to win an ugly game on Sunday 19-13 despite losing their top two running backs to injury. Chris Johnson and Andre Ellington are banged up, Johnson will be out for a few weeks, and Ellington is listed as day to day.

Even with these injuries to their to two running backs, the Cardinals are still the best team in the NFC. These injuries might actually be a blessing in disguise for Arizona, as the replacement for these two is the rookie David Johnson, who’s upside is much greater than the other two. Johnson is a better pass catching back and a better athlete. He adds a dynamic to this offense that will thrust them to the next level.

At 9-2, with the best offense in the NFL, a top five defense in the NFL, and one of the best coaches in the NFL, the Cardinals are by far one of the best teams in the NFL.

 

  1. Carolina Panthers: 11-0 (3)

The lone unbeaten team left in the NFL sits at number three in my power rankings. Yes, they’re undefeated, but that doesn’t mean they are necessarily the best team in the league.

Cam Newton is playing at an MVP caliber level. What he has done with the receivers he has is extremely rare in the NFL. Thanks to his strong arm and pocket presence he’s making the likes of Ted Ginn JR and Devin Funchees look like above average NFL receivers. In addition to that his ability to scramble in the pocket, evade pass rushers, and extend plays are things only a few other quarterbacks posses. Combine that with the prolific Panthers’ defense and you got yourself an outstanding NFL team.

At 11-0 with a favorable remaining schedule, an undefeated season seems to be well in the grasp of the Panthers’ claws.

 

  1. Cincinnati Bengals: 9-2 (4)

After two straight losses, the Bengals bounced back in a big way, defeating the St. Louis Rams 31-7. The defense held Todd Gurley to a mere 19 yards on nine carries and intercepted Nick Foles three times.

The Bengals are an extremely dangerous team in the AFC. They rank in the top ten in both total offense and defense. The biggest reason for the success of the defense is Geno Atkins. He has been outstanding this season. He leads all defensive tackles this season in sacks with eight. He is the first guy offensive linemen have to worry about when playing the Bengals. He draws double teams, which open’s the floodgates for his teammates to get to the quarterback. Even when the Bengals only rush four guys they still bring pressure to quarterbacks, and successfully stop the run.

At 9-2, the Bengals have a three and a half game lead in the AFC North. With five games left to play, including one against Denver and Pittsburgh, the Bengals cannot afford to take their foot off the gas.

 

  1. Denver Broncos: 9-2 (9)

Who would have thought that Brock Osweiler would be the savior for the Broncos’ season?

With Osweiler at quarterback the Broncos are averaging 5.15 yards per carry, almost 1.5 more yards than with Peyton Manning was at quarterback. What does that mean? Simple: The offense is better with Osweiler at quarterback because right now he is the better quarterback.

In his second career start he led the Broncos back from a 14 point fourth quarter deficit against Tom Brady and the Patriots. With Osweiler under center the Broncos are clearly a Super Bowl contender, something I didn’t think they were when they were led by Manning.

This team is finally running the prototypical Gary Kubiak offense and it is working. By relying on the run and attacking down the field on play action passes, the Broncos offense is and will continue to click well into January. With the best defense in the NFL, all’s the offense has to do is not lose them the game, something I think they can do. They don’t have to win the game; they just have to do enough to not lose.

 

  1. Seattle Seahawks: 6-5 (7)

Don’t look now, but here come the Seahawks.

The Seahawks are one of the hottest teams in the NFL right now. Russell Wilson played the best game of his career on Sunday, throwing for five touchdowns and zero interceptions. The offense has become the identity of this team and that is all thanks to Russell Wilson.

Despite their 6-5 record, Wilson is arguably having the best year of his career. He is staying the pocket and making throws that only elite quarterbacks make. He is showing poise in the pocket that I have not seen from Wilson at all during his career. He has progressed so much so, that in my opinion, his arm is now a more dangerous option than his legs, which is extremely scary for opposing teams, as he is still the second best running quarterback in the NFL.

Seattle is going to have to go on the road come playoff time, but that won’t stop me from thinking this team is a legitimate threat to win the Super Bowl. They have the championship pedigree and a swagger around him that puts fear in their opponents.

 

  1. Pittsburgh Steelers: 6-5 (5)

Despite a 6-5 record, it wouldn’t shock me if the Steelers end up representing the AFC in Super Bowl 50.

They have one of the best offenses in the league. Their wide receiver duo of Antonio Brown and Martavis Bryant are arguably the most dynamic one two punch in the NFL. Outside of Tom Brady, Ben Roethlisberger has been the most consistent quarterback in the entire league.

The biggest question mark with this team is the defense. Before Sunday’s game, the defense seemed to be on the rise, but after Sunday they are right back to square one. They allowed five passing touchdowns to Russell Wilson, including two to Doug Baldwin and Jermaine Kearse.

Their prolific offense will carry them far, but if their defense continues to struggle they might have trouble advancing far into the playoffs, considering they will most likely be the road team in all of their playoff games.

 

 

  1. Kansas City Chiefs: 6-5 (10)

Five straight wins and zero turnovers since week three. The Chiefs are one of the hottest teams in the NFL right now.

Over their last five games the Chiefs have given up a total of 61 points, while their offense has scored a remarkable 160 points. That’s a 99 point differential; one of the best in the NFL during that span.

It seems to not matter who is at running back for the Chiefs, as they find success in running the ball in every game. Whether it is Spencer Ware or Charcandrick West the Chiefs have successfully run the ball against their opponents eclipsing 95 rushing yards in four of their four of their last five games. But what has impressed me the most during their five game winning streak, is Alex Smith.

As I mentioned before, Smith hasn’t thrown an interception since week three, and it’s not like he’s not throwing the ball down the field. On Sunday, I counted a handful times in which Smith attacked the Bills defense by throwing the ball 20 or more yards. This was very un-Alex Smith like, but it is necessary if the Chiefs want to win the Super Bowl.

If Alex Smith and the offense can continue to play the way they are, the Chiefs are one of the most dangerous teams in the AFC.

 

  1. Minnesota Vikings: 8-3 (7)

After a disappointing loss to the Packers, the Vikings bounced back with a 20-10 win over the Falcons. Adrian Peterson continued to dominate, rushing for 158 yards and two touchdowns.

The strength of the Vikings continues to be their running game and their defense. They make their opponents play their style of football, which is a throw back to the 70’s and 80’s smash mouth style. They’ll run it down their opponent’s throat and only way their opponent will beat them is if they manage to stop Peterson. In the team’s three losses Peterson averages 52.3 yards per game, as opposed to in their wins in which he averages 125.8.

 

 

  1. Green Bay Packers: 7-4 (6)

The Packers are an absolute mess right now. After a much needed win against the Vikings, they laid an absolute dud against the Bears at home, losing 17-13. In that game Davante Adams and James Jones were a big reason for the Packers struggles, each of them registering multiple drops including a few key drops in the end zone.

The team has lost four of their last five and just watching them, you get the sense that Aaron Rodgers and his receivers are not on the same page. As I mentioned earlier Jones and Adams have had some key drops this season, but on top of that, it seems like the receivers don’t finish running their routes, and when they do, they fail to create separation between themselves and their defenders.

If Aaron Rodgers and his receivers fail to create some type of consistency, than this season will be over fairly quickly come January.

  1. Chicago Bears: 5-6 (13)
  2. Indianapolis Colts: 6-5 (14)
  3. Houston Texans: 6-5 (24)
  4. Buffalo Bills: 5-6 (11)
  5. New York Jets: 6-5 (15)
  6. Oakland Raiders: 5-6 (16)
  7. New York Giants: 5-6 (12)
  8. Washington Redskins: 5-6 (19)
  9. Tampa Bay Buccaneers: 5-6 (17)
  10. Atlanta Falcons: 6-5 (18)
  11. Miami Dolphins: 4-7 (20)
  12. Detroit Lions: 4-7 (27)
  13. New Orleans Saints: 4-7 (21)
  14. San Diego Chargers: 3-8 (29)
  15. St. Louis Rams: 4-7 (26)
  16. Jacksonville Jaguars: 4-7 (23)
  17. Philadelphia Eagles: 4-7 (25)
  18. Baltimore Ravens: 4-7 (27)
  19. Dallas Cowboys: 3-8 (22)
  20. San Francisco 49ers: 3-8 (31)
  21. Tennessee Titans: 2-9 (30)
  22. Cleveland Browns: 2-9 (32)

 

Sean Mason

Spark Sports NFL Analyst

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