Just one unbeaten team remains in the NFL, but where do the 49ers rank after improving to 8-0 last Thursday night? The Week 10 power rankings start with the Patriots despite the team coming off their first loss of the year.
1. New England Patriots (8-1) | Last week: 1
You don’t want to overreact to one game, and the Patriots remain at No. 1 despite their ugly loss at Baltimore on Sunday night. Bill Belichick’s team made uncharacteristic mistakes, including a few preventable defensive penalties and a Julian Edelman fumble that was returned for a touchdown by the Ravens; but they’ll certainly bounce back from the performance and will have the bye week to reflect on their first loss of the year. The Pats are still in control for the top seed in the AFC, and they’re getting healthier with left tackle Isaiah Wynn getting close to his return.
2. New Orleans Saints (7-1) | Last week: 2
The bye week gave Drew Brees more time to build up the strength in his thumb, with other offensive players like Alvin Kamara also getting healthier. New Orleans plays four consecutive NFC South games, starting this Sunday in the Superdome when they host the Falcons with a chance to basically deliver a knockout blow to any long shot playoff hopes for Atlanta.
3. San Francisco 49ers (8-0) | Last week: 3
Last Thursday night on Halloween, Jimmy Garoppolo probably had as good of a game as any quarterback in the league this season, dropping a number of dimes—including with pressure right into his face when he could barely step into throws—to lead the 49ers to a 28-25 win while the defense struggled to shut down the Cardinals. Garoppolo might have been rusty to start the season coming off last year’s torn ACL, but he’s rounding into form, which is a scary sight for the rest of the league if San Francisco’s rushing attack and defense perform like they did over the first seven games.
4. Baltimore Ravens (6-2) | Last week: 5 (+1)
As stated for the Patriots earlier, bad games happen, so that’s my explanation for the Ravens (sans defensive lineman Brandon Williams) losing at home to the Browns at the end of September. Since that game, Baltimore has gone 4-0 with victories at Seattle and versus New England in their past two games. It was interesting to hear during the Sunday night broadcast that it was head coach John Harbaugh that basically convinced the Ravens they should draft Lamar Jackson, and they’ve come through on Harbaugh’s desire to build the team and the offense around the former Heisman Trophy winner. Jackson’s success as both a runner and a passer is not a surprise to me.
5. Seattle Seahawks (7-2) | Last week: 6 (+1)
Russell Wilson torched Tampa Bay’s defense for 378 yards and five touchdowns—152 yards and two scores to Tyler Lockett and 123 yards and one score to D.K. Metcalf—and now the Seahawks add Josh Gordon to the mix for an offense that’s a headache to stop. Chris Carson recorded another 100-yard rushing performance despite facing a run-stuffing Buccaneers team, and it’s so far so good for Seattle after unfortunately losing center Justin Britt for the season. Obviously, the defense giving up 34 points is an issue, but the Buccaneers have one of the most talented offenses in the league.
6. Green Bay Packers (7-2) | Last week: 4 (-2)
The Packers’ performance was one of the most surprising things that happened in Week 9, as they were shut down by the Chargers, disappointing many of the Green Bay fans that made the trip to the West Coast. Matt LaFleur’s offense just couldn’t get the run game going and sustain drives, but the entire unit should be due for a bounce back this Sunday against the Panthers. Also, star receiver Davante Adams should be more in the swing of things after returning to action last week.
7. Kansas City Chiefs (6-3) | Last week: 11 (+4)
While LeSean McCoy started the game at running back, the Chiefs finally featured Damien Williams again, and it paid off with a 91-yard touchdown run in the team’s 26-23 win over the Vikings. Matt Moore did a very good job of running Andy Reid’s offense again versus a tough defense, and it certainly helps having all those dynamic weapons to work with (and while Patrick Mahomes is awesome, his coaching and weapons have been a huge factor in his early career success). Aside from giving up some chunk plays to Aaron Jones as a receiver, I like the way Kansas City’s defense has played over the last few weeks.
8. Los Angeles Rams (5-3) | Last week: 7 (-1)
The Rams are coming off the bye, and unfortunately it looks like Brandin Cooks is going to miss more time with another concussion despite the time off. Hopefully Cooks is feeling better soon and can get back on the field with his teammates. Sean McVay’s passing attack was getting on track entering the bye, so it really might start clicking moving forward after a week to just prepare. The upcoming schedule of defenses that LA must face is difficult on paper, though.
9. Buffalo Bills (6-2) | Last week: 8 (-1)
The No. 7 through No. 9 spot was difficult to rank, and the Bills only move down from last week’s ranking because the Chiefs are set to get Patrick Mahomes back. The Bills are in middle of a promising part of their schedule, and this weekend at Cleveland might be their biggest challenge of November until Thanksgiving at the end of the month. Sean McDermott must get his run defense sorted out, as they’ve been giving up too many big plays recently. I’d like to see rookie defensive tackle Ed Oliver start making more of an impact both against the run and pass moving forward.
10. Indianapolis Colts (5-3) | Last week: 9 (-1)
A laces-in missed field goal attempt by the legendary Adam Vinatieri dropped the Colts to 5-3, but they battled well against an underrated Steelers team at Heinz Field. Brian Hoyer stepped in for Jacoby Brissett and made some strong throws throughout the game, and Indy is in good shape with Hoyer as the backup; but hopefully Brissett doesn’t miss any more time with his knee sprain. The Dolphins are not playing poorly, but the Colts should take care of business no matter who is under center this Sunday.
11. Minnesota Vikings (6-3) | Last week: 10 (-1)
The Vikings have just been unable to get outdoor road wins against top teams, and you’d think their playing style would travel well—I’d say it doesn’t help that Minnesota plays their home games in a dome. Regardless, Kirk Cousins played pretty well despite the Chiefs shutting down Dalvin Cook on the ground, but the Vikings need to come through with a win over a team with a winning record—this Sunday, in primetime at Dallas, is an excellent opportunity to do so and get to 7-3 while jumpstarting a second-half run.
12. Houston Texans (6-3) | Last week: 13 (+1)
Houston’s defense had been struggling a bit and lost J.J. Watt for the season, but they answered with their best performance of the season to this point, holding the Jaguars out of the end zone in London. Deshaun Watson continues to be a magician in the pocket for the Texans, and the defense probably feeds off the play of their quarterback. The Texans now enter their bye week before a difficult stretch starting at Baltimore.
13. Dallas Cowboys (5-3) | Last week: 12 (-1)
After already getting beat by the Jets earlier in the season, it looked like this wasn’t going to be the Cowboys’ year at MetLife Stadium after falling behind the Giants on Monday night. But Dallas took control at the end of halftime and went on to run away with the Week 9 victory, scoring 21 fourth-quarter points. The Cowboys don’t face any NFC East foes over the next six weeks, but they have one of the toughest schedules in that stretch.
14. Philadelphia Eagles (5-4) | Last week: 14
Two consecutive wins got the Eagles in a position to be tied for first place in their division when they emerge from their bye week, pending the results of the Cowboys game this Sunday. The offensive line continues to open huge rushing lanes for Jordan Howard and Miles Sanders, and the defensive line has woken up over the past couple of games. The bye comes at the right time for the Eagles, as they face the Patriots (also off the bye) in Week 11. Trading for him was one thing, but I still don’t understand why the Eagles gave DeSean Jackson a contract extension after trading for him—it made zero sense and looks even worse now.
15. Oakland Raiders (4-4) | Last week: 15
Marcus Allen had nine games in a shortened season, but Josh Jacobs (in eight games) already broke Allen’s franchise rookie record for rushing yards this season. Jacobs and Oakland’s powerful offensive line sets the tone for Jon Gruden’s team, and Derek Carr—who hit Hunter Renfrow on the run for the game-winning score versus the Lions—has been playing really well at quarterback over the past few weeks. Defensively, while they’ve given up big plays early, the Raiders have made great in-game adjustments this season.
16. Carolina Panthers (5-3) | Last week: 17 (+1)
Cam Newton is done for the season, and while it’s unfortunate to lose a former league MVP for the year, it eliminates any potential distraction (i.e. questions regarding Newton’s status posed to the players and coaches) and allows second-year quarterback Kyle Allen to be the guy moving forward as Carolina looks to make a playoff run. D.J. Moore and Curtis Samuel made plays for their quarterback against the Titans, and Christian McCaffrey is pretty much a lock for the weekly highlight reel every Sunday. The run defense is probably the main concern for the Panthers right now.
17. Pittsburgh Steelers (4-4) | Last week: 19 (+2)
It’s crazy there’s been talk in the past about Mike Tomlin’s job security; the Super Bowl-winning head coach always finds a way to make his team competitive, and he’s helped Pittsburgh rally to three straight victories and a 4-1 mark over their last five games after a 1-3 start. Since Week 1, the Steelers’ three losses are to the Seahawks by two points, the 49ers by four points, and the Ravens by three points (in overtime). The offense went back to a quick-hitting style that included Jaylen Samuels recording a franchise-record 13 receptions for a running back, but the unit can attack in vastly different ways each week.
18. Los Angeles Chargers (4-5) | Last week: 22 (+4)
Perhaps aside from the Ravens, the Chargers had the best overall performance of Week 9 in their 26-11 win against the Packers. In the past two weeks, the defense has looked more like the group most people expected to see coming into the year; and Melvin Gordon looked like the superstar running back he’s been over the past few seasons. The offensive coordinator change (firing Ken Whisenhunt) felt like a scapegoat move, but it was good to see LA had a clear plan to feed Gordon the ball to create more balance on offense. We’ll see how the offense fares against a tougher Raiders run defense. I disagreed with the franchise moving to LA in the first place, but good for owner Dean Spanos for calling out a fake news report that his team is interested in moving to London.
19. Detroit Lions (3-4-1) | Last week: 16 (-3)
The Lions were in a tight game in Oakland, and it was a crushing loss considering all the NFC North teams lost yet they were unable to gain ground in the division. Matthew Stafford continues to light it up without a potent rushing attack complementing him, and his arm gives Detroit a chance every week—but the pass defense must improve, and this Sunday against a struggling Chicago aerial attack is a good opportunity to get things turned around a bit.
20. Chicago Bears (3-5) | Last week: 18 (-2)
The Bears turned it on and played pretty well in the second half of their fourth consecutive loss, but it was too late against an Eagles team—that’s been starting slow most games this season—they allowed to jump ahead. Mitchell Trubisky is really struggling as a passer, and it still appears that he might just be trying too hard or thinking too much; he’s an athletic player that should probably run around more than he has this season. The run defense for Chicago remains a concern after allowing over 100 yards in three of the past four games.
21. Jacksonville Jaguars (4-5) | Last week: 20 (-1)
While he’s gotten more comfortable with more playing time, Gardner Minshew’s head has probably been spinning enough this season as a rookie quarterback thrust into action—playing a game in a different continent cannot be easy. The London games are a bit like Thursday games in that they seem to sometimes play out weird, but Minshew’s struggles at least made it a non-controversial decision to go back to former Super Bowl MVP Nick Foles as the team’s starting quarterback after the Week 10 bye. Foles has shown he can lead late-season runs in the past, and the Jags are in the thick of the AFC South race.
22. Arizona Cardinals (3-5-1) | Last week: 23 (+1)
The Cardinals lost in Week 9, but they move up a spot in the power rankings after their promising performance versus the 49ers. New addition Kenyan Drake immediately played a huge role as a versatile playmaker with David Johnson and Chase Edmonds out, and now DJ is likely to return to the lineup this Sunday against the Buccaneers; Kliff Kingsbury’s rushing attack has been promising, and he’s not just having his rookie quarterback throw the ball 40-50 times every week. But Kyler Murray played well against one of the league’s top defenses, and he’s shown he won’t get rattled when his team is down.
23. Tennessee Titans (4-5) | Last week: 21 (-2)
Penalties and not staying ahead of the sticks played a role, but that’s no excuse: Derrick Henry receiving two carries in the first half is mind-blowing and cannot happen again. When the Titans got Henry going in the second half, they climbed back into the game against the Panthers—and it looked like the monster running back was playing with an edge after he said he wanted to elevate his game in the second half of the season. The kicking situation has been an issue for Tennessee this year, and they’ll struggle to make a run if they do not improve there.
24. Atlanta Falcons (1-7) | Last week: 25 (+1)
Hopefully the bye week allowed Matt Ryan to get to 100% after missing his first game since 2009 with his ankle injury from a few weeks ago, as Atlanta probably needs to go on an eight-game winning streak in the second half to have any chance at a playoff spot. The Falcons made some changes to the coaching staff during the bye, with wide receivers coach Raheem Morris moving to the defensive side of the ball, where they could really use the help.
25. Denver Broncos (3-6) | Last week: 28 (+3)
The Broncos weren’t able to sustain a bunch of long drives, but they played strong defense and hit a few big plays to key their 24-19 win over the Browns. Brandon Allen played well in his first career start, and rookie tight end Noah Fant flashed the ability that made him a first-round prospect on his 75-yard touchdown. Denver now has its bye week, but the upcoming schedule after the break is brutal, which will make it tough to make a push in the AFC.
26. New York Giants (2-7) | Last week: 26
Daniel Jones had three more turnovers as the Giants lost their fifth consecutive game, but these struggles are not surprising for an undermanned team led by a rookie quarterback. The main disappointing aspect during the Monday night loss to the Cowboys was probably the team’s run defense; Dallas has a great offensive line, but the Giants have the players up front—including new addition Leonard Williams—to play stout run defense. The battle of New York could get heated this Sunday, with both struggling franchises looking to get another win.
27. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (2-6) | Last week: 27
The young secondary of the Buccaneers continues to struggle this season, and it’s going to take time and patience for defensive coordinator Todd Bowles to get the group to play well. Tampa Bay has struggled to put together a consistent all-around game, as Jameis Winston had one of his best performances of the season, but his team gave up 40 points in the Week 9 loss. The play of second-year running back Ronald Jones has been a positive for the Bucs this season after some people declared him a “bust” after just one season.
28. Cleveland Browns (2-6) | Last week: 24 (-4)
I had the Browns so low in the power rankings to start the year because it was obvious they had major downside given all the volatile personalities on the roster; and so far, most of the star players are just social-media stars this season, with colored cleats and sporting three different facial hair styles on one gameday grabbing attention instead of stuff on the field. Cleveland needs something to wake them up, but the body language and attitudes do not lead to optimism. Deciding not to have Nick Chubb out there on third-and-short and fourth-and-short situations is pretty crazy, and the Browns would be foolish to take away more touches from their best player just because Kareem Hunt is back from his eight-game suspension.
29. Miami Dolphins (1-7) | Last week: 32 (+3)
To open the year, I thought the Dolphins might remain at No. 32 all season, but they have been trending upward recently, and they jump three spots all the way to No. 29 after getting their first victory of the season. Going 0-16 would have been just embarrassing for the franchise with the lone undefeated season in NFL history, and I’m glad it isn’t going to happen. A 95-yard performance by second-year tight end Mike Gesicki in the win was a major positive; the Penn State product has huge upside at the position.
30. Washington Redskins (1-8) | Last week: 30
His team fell behind 10-0 and ultimately lost by 15, but Dwayne Haskins avoided big mistakes in his first career start. However, the Redskins haven’t scored a touchdown in three consecutive games, which is stunning; but at least Washington is playing strong defense in that stretch. It was cool to see Adrian Peterson, at the request of fellow future Hall of Famer Frank Gore, instill some wisdom into Buffalo rookie runner Devin Singletary after last Sunday’s game:
After Frank Gore greeted Adrian Peterson postgame, he made sure AP took a moment with Devin Singletary.
Peterson was more than happy to do it.
— Thad Brown (@thadbrown7) November 4, 2019
31. New York Jets (1-7) | Last week: 29 (-2)
Dropping the Jets all the way to No. 32 was under serious consideration after their loss to the Dolphins. He flashed his potential in the team’s Week 6 win over the Cowboys, but the play of Sam Darnold is an obvious concern; the turnovers were a problem at USC, and that’s continued at the next level. The hope is that Darnold’s intangibles help him become a top quarterback in the league, but he cannot have more mishaps like when he didn’t go after a fumble in the end zone on a snap he wasn’t ready for.
32. Cincinnati Bengals (0-8) | Last week: 31 (-1)
It doesn’t feel right to put the Bengals down at the very bottom after they were off last week, but the team is the lone winless team this season and made the switch to rookie quarterback Ryan Finley during the bye. Finley will get Pro Bowl receiver A.J. Green in the lineup for the first time all season, so Zac Taylor’s offense is getting closer to full strength—but the offensive line must play well before we can really get an idea of where things stand for Cincinnati moving forward.