Like nearly everything in 2020, the NFL season has been pretty outrageous. 15 teams have at least six wins through ten weeks, and the Week 11 power rankings could easily be switched around a considerable amount in the top half.
1. Pittsburgh Steelers (9-0) | Last week: 1
Ben Roethlisberger missed practice last week but looked sharp in the Steelers’ rout of the Bengals, which led to the veteran quarterback inquiring about potentially skipping more practice time moving forward. As we’ve come to expect from Mike Tomlin, the response was subtly hilarious.
Ben Roethlisberger didn't practice last week, threw 50 balls Fri, then had his best passing outing of year. He asked Mike Tomlin abt repeating that sked.
Tomlin: "We did have that conversation. I'll acknowledge it was a very brief one and I will see him at practice on Thursday."
— Aditi Kinkhabwala (@AKinkhabwala) November 17, 2020
Tomlin, Roethlisberger and the Steelers will remain at No. 1 as long as they remain unbeaten—they’ve earned it.
2. Kansas City Chiefs (8-1) | Last week: 2
The Chiefs come off the bye and will look to get a little redemption from their lone loss of the season to the Raiders. While Andy Reid and Jon Gruden are friends, it was interesting to hear Reid’s comments about Vegas celebrating their victory earlier in the year, claiming that’s not the Chiefs’ style. Kansas City is likely going to have a chip on its shoulder as they return to action.
3. New Orleans Saints (7-2) | Last week: 4 (+1)
The Saints could certainly be lower than this after Drew Brees’ rib/lung issue that figures to force him to miss multiple games, but they are up to No. 3 in the power rankings after winning their seventh consecutive game. If nothing else, Jameis Winston in the starting lineup will be entertaining, and we’ll see if he can get receiver Michael Thomas going more after Thomas’ quiet return over the past two weeks.
4. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (7-3) | Last week: 5 (+1)
That was more like it for the Buccaneers, who rode a balanced offense and a bounce-back defensive performance to a convincing win over a tough Panthers team. Ronald Jones ripped off just the fourth run of 98+ yards in NFL history in the victory, and it was great to see Bruce Arians stick with the young back after an early fumble on a reception. Tampa Bay is at its best when they can run the ball well with Jones and set up play-action to the elite weapons Tom Brady has at his disposal.
5. Buffalo Bills (7-3) | Last week: 3 (-2)
It’s a game of inches, and the Bills just barely lost to the Cardinals on the unlikely drive and Hail Mary completion—it’s not enough to drop them out of the top-five of the power rankings. Early, the Bills did as good of a job of anyone at containing Kyler Murray as a runner, but they couldn’t keep it up for whatever reason and gave up a couple of red-zone scores. Anyway, I don’t think anyone doubts Josh Allen and the Bills are legit at this point, and they’ll now get the bye week to recharge for a likely playoff run.
6. Las Vegas Raiders (6-3) | Last week: 7 (+1)
The Raiders are also looking like a team that people won’t be able to deny is a contender this year (and likely into the future). With the way Jon Gruden and Mike Mayock structured things and built the team, it was only a matter of when they would push for a championship—dominating against the Broncos was a promising sign for how close they are. Maybe they are still a year away from being top-tier Super Bowl threats, but Vegas is currently knocking on the door of the top five.
7. Green Bay Packers (7-2) | Last week: 10 (+3)
The performance wasn’t particularly pretty, and the game was closer than they would have liked, but the Packers were able to beat the Jaguars to improve to 7-2 in a crowded NFC playoff race. In a week with several excellent matchups, I am intrigued by Green Bay taking on Indianapolis in a battle of first-place teams in opposite conferences. The return of receiver Allen Lazard will boost the Packers receiving corps just as Marquez Valdes-Scantling has started to heat up in the past couple of weeks.
8. Los Angeles Rams (6-3) | Last week: 11 (+3)
Sean McVay’s Rams had another successful outing following a bye, and it was a huge win in the division over Seattle ahead of a difficult matchup versus the Buccaneers on Monday night. The Los Angeles defense gave Russell Wilson some trouble, including cornerback Jalen Ramsey’s strong outing against star receiver D.K. Metcalf. The Rams suffered a difficult loss with veteran left tackle Andrew Whitworth out several weeks due to a knee injury, but thankfully he could be back for a potential playoff run.
9. Seattle Seahawks (6-3) | Last week: 6 (-3)
An early frontrunner for MVP, Russell Wilson has had a recent slide that’s included three straight losses for his team. But Wilson has gone through stretches like this throughout his career and always bounces back—the defense is the bigger concern for Seattle. I thought the unit might have been a strength this year after acquiring Jamal Adams (who has missed time due to injury), but that has not been the case thus far in 2020.
10. Baltimore Ravens (6-3) | Last week: 9 (-1)
The heavy rain conditions likely impacted things a bit, particularly at the end of the game when it really came down, but Lamar Jackson and the Ravens were again unable to erase a double-digit deficit in their loss to the Patriots. And with the run defense struggling (granted, Calais Campbell was out and Brandon Williams got hurt) versus New England, there could be a major problem for Baltimore moving forward—not being able to stop the run and falling behind is not the formula for success for them. This Sunday against the Titans will obviously be a huge test.
11. Miami Dolphins (6-3) | Last week: 12 (+1)
The Dolphins keep rising in the power rankings, this time jumping one spot to No. 11 after handling the Chargers over the weekend. Tua Tagovailoa is now 3-0 as a starter for Miami, including wins over the six-win Rams and six-win Cardinals; and they should be favored the next three weeks when they play the Broncos, Jets, and Bengals. With Buffalo on the bye, a victory this Sunday puts the Dolphins in a tie for first in the AFC East.
12. Indianapolis Colts (6-3) | Last week: 13 (+1)
These next three or four teams could all easily be ranked in the top ten, and the Colts are coming off a critical win to take the lead in the AFC South (with the tiebreaker) after nine games. Philip Rivers is obviously in full control of the Indianapolis offense, and—despite a good outing by the unit including running back Nyheim Hines last week—I’d like to see rookie Jonathan Taylor get more opportunities in power run sets, which he exceled with at Wisconsin and the Colts have had success with in the past.
13. Tennessee Titans (6-3) | Last week: 8 (-5)
I originally had the Titans a few spots higher than this despite their loss to the Colts, but it was difficult to keep them ahead of Indy after losing to them at home (even on Thursday Night Football, which typically can be wacky). Tennessee had a decent number of errors last week, so expect Mike Vrabel and his team to get that cleaned up as they get set to face the Ravens in a playoff rematch from last January.
14. Arizona Cardinals (6-3) | Last week: 14
With a 4-1 record including wins over the Seahawks and Bills and the lone loss coming to the Dolphins over the past five games, the Cardinals being at No. 14 is an indicator of the serious depth around the NFL this season. I thought they may have been forcing things to DeAndre Hopkins too much early last week, but it kept the All-Pro receiver’s head in the game, and he came through on the receiving end of the Hail Mary to win it. Arizona should move way up the rankings if they can get another win at Seattle tomorrow night.
15. Cleveland Browns (6-3) | Last week: 16 (+1)
The Browns don’t mind winning games that stay below 20 points total. They might actually prefer it. The offense looked completely different with stud runner Nick Chubb and guard Wyatt Teller back in the lineup, and they asserted their will and broke chunk runs against the Texans—also, Kareem Hunt has performed much better as a devastating complement facing worn-down defenses behind Chubb.
16. New England Patriots (4-5) | Last week: 19 (+3)
Last year was sort of a redshirt year for Damien Harris, but the former Alabama back has been a bit of a revelation in 2020 after reportedly having a very good training camp before missing the start of the season due to a hand injury. Harris looks big, fast, and physical, and he’s been helping set the tone for the Patriots over the past couple of games, putting less on the plate of Cam Newton. After a slow start versus the Jets two Mondays ago, the defense has also played strong lately—they would benefit from getting All-Pro cornerback Stephon Gilmore back in the lineup. J.C. Jackson now has an interception in five consecutive games.
17. Minnesota Vikings (4-5) | Last week: 21 (+4)
As has been the case in previous matchups, it was tough sledding for Dalvin Cook on the ground against the Bears (though he did end up nearing 100 yards on 30 carries); but Kirk Cousins came through with some key throws, including to rookie Justin Jefferson for first downs and to veteran Adam Thielen for a couple of touchdowns. We’ll see where Minnesota goes from here, but Mike Zimmer is again proving that he’s one of the best coaches in the league with the improvement the Vikings have made after an ugly start to the year.
18. Chicago Bears (5-5) | Last week: 15 (-3)
I actually think Allen Robinson’s agent encapsulates what many Bears fans are feeling about the offense:
Throw 12 the Damn Ball in the Redzone! JUST ONCE! My goodness..
— Brandon Parker (@B_Parker21) November 17, 2020
Should he not be the first read in the redzone 99% of the time? Only team in the league that won’t throw it to the WR1 in the redzone. Same guy who’s leading the league in contested catches.. What’s really going on?
— Brandon Parker (@B_Parker21) November 17, 2020
For the record.. I think Nick Foles is a good QB! 12’s lack of redzone targets has been a head scratcher to me for awhile now.
— Brandon Parker (@B_Parker21) November 17, 2020
I typically don’t agree with agents making public statements like this, and it could put Robinson in a tough spot with some of his teammates. It probably shouldn’t have been tweeted out. But Parker is correct in his assessment in my opinion.
19. Philadelphia Eagles (3-5-1) | Last week: 17 (-2)
The discontent in Chicago probably doesn’t match the sour feelings in and around Philadelphia through ten weeks. The Eagles haven’t been great since their 2017 championship season aside from the late-season run Nick Foles took them on in 2018 and the run Carson Wentz took them on by beating up on a poor division at the end of 2019. With the Eagles now losing by ten points to a Giants team they’ve dominated, there are clearly issues that must be corrected. The best this team can do now is ten wins, and that means winning out—it is not the expectation many put on them ahead of the season.
20. Detroit Lions (4-5) | Last week: 24 (+4)
Matt Prater was extremely clutch with a 59-yard game-winning field goal to erase the late defensive collapse by the Lions in the win over Washington. Offensively, rookie running back D’Andre Swift was a difference-maker, with 149 total yards and a touchdown in the Week 10 victory, and continuing to get the ball into Swift’s hands as a receiver adds another element to the offense. Hopefully Kenny Golladay (hip) can return to the field soon for a Detroit team looking to make a move in the NFC.
21. Atlanta Falcons (3-6) | Last week: 20 (-1)
The playoff hopes are slim, but the enormously critical stretch for the Falcons as they come off their bye week begins this Sunday in New Orleans. Atlanta plays New Orleans twice in the next three weeks, so who knows what’ll happen if they can win both of those games?
22. San Francisco 49ers (4-6) | Last week: 18 (-4)
Kyle Shanahan did a nice job of helping the Niners to a fast start against the Saints, but his team was probably ultimately too undermanned with so many injuries to starters. San Francisco now must face Los Angeles after the bye, and it’s pretty close to a must-win (without actually being a must-win mathematically) if a playoff run is to be a decent possibility.
23. New York Giants (3-7) | Last week: 27 (+4)
Putting the record aside for a moment, the Giants have arguably been playing like a top-20 team this season—for now, they move up to No. 23 after getting a second straight win in the NFC East. Daniel Jones was tough to stop on Sunday, putting passes on the money to his receivers in tight coverage and doing notable damage on the ground. Also, former Clemson running back Wayne Gallman isn’t putting up highly efficient numbers in terms of yards per carry, but he’s showing what he can do when given the opportunity for New York.
24. Carolina Panthers (3-7) | Last week: 23 (-1)
The Giants and Panthers feel like similar teams to me moving forward, as both first-year head coaches Joe Judge and Matt Rhule are getting their teams to play hard every week and every snap. The chances of Carolina making a push as surprise playoff contenders has fallen off a bit in recent weeks, but the future is bright. It’s unfortunate that Christian McCaffrey (shoulder) will miss another game this weekend, but the franchise is playing it smart with him.
25. Denver Broncos (3-6) | Last week: 22 (-3)
Drew Lock has dealt with some rough injury luck himself, but it sounds like he might push through his rib issue and play for a Broncos team that desperately needs to get back on track with a win to remain somewhat in the AFC playoff picture. Vic Fangio must quickly sort out the team’s run defense after Denver was absolutely gashed by Josh Jacobs and Devontae Booker last week.
26. Los Angeles Chargers (2-7) | Last week: 25 (-1)
Justin Herbert and the Chargers couldn’t get a ton going through the air versus a stingy Dolphins secondary, but Kalen Ballage has put together two consecutive strong showings for Los Angeles, taking advantage of the opportunity head coach Anthony Lynn has given him. Ideally, Joey Bosa (concussion) will be good to go this Sunday against the Jets to give the defense a lift.
27. Cincinnati Bengals (2-6-1) | Last week: 26 (-1)
Joe Burrow and the Cincinnati offense have struggled in Burrow’s first two games against the Ravens and Steelers, but he’s the type of player that should learn a lot from these rookie experiences and progress as he gets more playing time and grows as a quarterback (and while the Bengals improve as a team around him). A more consistent rushing attack would help, and perhaps Joe Mixon (foot) can help give that if he can get back on the field for Week 11.
28. Washington Football Team (2-7) | Last week: 28
The defense was unable to hold Detroit off the board to potentially complete the comeback, but it was awesome to see Alex Smith lead the charge for Washington after falling behind to the Lions—and it was cool that head coach Ron Rivera declared that Smith is “back” from his life-changing leg injury suffered in 2018. Washington remains in the playoff mix because of the division they play in, and it’ll be inspiring to watch Smith lead the offense—potentially into 2021 and beyond, too.
29. Dallas Cowboys (2-7) | Last week: 29
Andy Dalton is back at quarterback for the Cowboys after the bye week, and the time off likely gave Ezekiel Elliott time to get closer to 100%. Dallas might be under the radar heading into Week 11, which is usually crazy to say for a 2-7 team; but they must start putting together wins starting this Sunday versus the Vikings.
30. Houston Texans (2-7) | Last week: 30
It looked like the Texans were going to get shut out by the Browns, but a late touchdown avoided that in a three-point loss. Early on, Houston’s run defense was solid for the second consecutive week, but the cracks started to show as Nick Chubb and Kareem Hunt ran all over them when they got going. It’s going to be tough, but if I were the Texans my message and goal would be to get to at or above .500—while keeping in mind the one-week-at-a-time mindset every team should have.
31. Jacksonville Jaguars (1-8) | Last week: 31
I’m not sure it’ll matter at the end of the year, but good for Doug Marrone getting the Jaguars to play close games recently with sixth-round rookie quarterback Jake Luton at quarterback. Jacksonville can try to rally around the possibility of knocking off the NFL’s lone remaining undefeated team this Sunday when they face Pittsburgh.
32. New York Jets (0-9) | Last week: 32
Sam Darnold (shoulder) will not play coming off the bye, but Joe Flacco looked good a couple of weeks ago against the Patriots, and he should give New York a chance to get on the board with a victory. Gregg Williams and the Jets defense had an extra week to prepare for stud rookie quarterback Justin Herbert, so we’ll see what he has cooked up on Sunday.