By Angelo Inglisa
Alright, I’m ready to admit that this NFL season is a joke.
Truly, this is a sad time to be an NFL fan who doesn’t actively root for the top three teams of these rankings. With the exception of those 3 teams, the entire NFL is horribly mediocre or worse. Let’s start with Number 4 Denver. The Broncos defense is still one of the best in the NFL but lacks the depth that has made it terrifying in recent years, which resulted in Latavius “May/May Not Be Good” Murray gashing them for 100 yards and 3 TDs. And that’s before the offense that looks like they’re playing in cleats made of cinder blocks.
Moving down the list, last year’s Super Bowl runner-up, the Panthers, struggle to cover any wide receiver and can’t keep Cam Newton upright. Heck, their NFC South brethren, the New Orleans Saints, who would be better off not sending out a defense at all, are .500 and very much alive in the NFC after starting off 1-3. A whopping 20, yes, 20 teams are between 3-5 and 5-3. Now while that sounds great, the “elite” teams aren’t spread out. The AFC West houses 3 teams 6-3 or better. The AFC North lacks a team better than 4-4. The Texans lead the AFC South. The perennial Packers and Cardinals are a combined 7-8-1.
Oh yeah, we’ve had two ties this season! I love the NFL, but something needs to be done. Having a bunch of 7-9 to 9-7 teams isn’t fun for anyone. Combined with the numerous penalties, ridiculous fines, and the botched handling of nearly every off-field issue, the parity of the NFL is fueling competition, it’s killing the sport we love. Now while I go grab a tissue, here are Week 10 Power Rankings
1.) New England Patriots (+/-0)
What hasn’t been said already? The Pats are the best team in the NFL, with Dion Lewis coming back this week (possibly). The Raiders and Cowboys just don’t have the experience to compete long-term with New England.
2.) Dallas Cowboys (+1)
The biggest thing that no one is talking about: the Cowboys defense. They have quietly ranked in the top 10 in yards and points. With Ezekiel Elliott grinding opponents to dust, the defense has been allowed ample time to rest, and Dallas has reaped those rewards.
3.) Oakland Raiders (+1)
That was a statement victory for the Raiders Sunday night. Oakland just force-fed Latavius Murray down the Broncos throat, and it paid off to the tune of 114 yards and three touchdowns. With the defense stepping up in the past few weeks, Oakland only has to figure out discipline to be a serious contender.
4.) Denver Broncos (-2)
It’s shocking to see Denver unable to run the ball or stop the run. Free agency took away a lot of their depth in the trenches, and it shows. Two games without CJ Anderson, Devontae Booker has 29 carries for 76 yards. Meanwhile, the defense has surrendered 334 yards on 64 attempts.
5.) Seattle Seahawks (+2)
While Buffalo isn’t a particularly good team, they sure tried to be one last night on the legs of LeSean McCoy and the arm of Tyrod Taylor. Richard Sherman’s play warranted more than a 5-yard penalty, but the big story is that Russell Wilson looks healthy and Jimmy Graham looks determined.
6.) Atlanta Falcons (+/-0)
I cannot wait for Falcons-Saints Part 2. So much offense is going to happen in this game it’ll be a joy to watch. Atlanta’s defense has been better than last year’s nonexistent unit, and Matt Ryan has done an amazing job bouncing back from last year’s disappointing season.
7.) Kansas City Chiefs (+4)
The more I watch the Chiefs, the less I believe in them. That was an ugly victory over the Garbage Time Jaguars, granted Nick Foles was at the helm and Spencer Ware was dealing with a concussion. Still, 6-2 is 6-2.
8.) Minnesota Vikings (-3)
Turns out you need at least a semblance of offense to be a truly dominant team. The defense is a top 5 unit, but the offense is 25th in the NFL in DVOA. They can’t run, they can’t throw and they can’t block, but they still lead the NFC North after a 3 game losing streak.
9.) New York Giants (+5)
The Giants have neutralized their 3 game slide by winning their past 3 games over 3 teams with offensive DVOA’s in the bottom 10 of the league. Even with Eli Manning struggling, with the Bengals, Bears, and Browns on the docket, the G-men can go into a huge matchup with Dallas at 8-3.
10.) Philadelphia Eagles (-2)
Can someone get Carson Wentz a valuable offensive player? The o-line is average, they lack a true number 1 WR, and Darren Sproles is their best RB. Sproles is a great complimentary player, but he can’t be Wentz’s saving grace at age 33.
11.) Pittsburgh Steelers (-1)
Big Ben really needs to let himself heal fully. Roethlisberger is now 2-6 in games following injury, which makes you think are the better with a hobbled Ben or a healthy Landry Jones. A too little, too late comeback which boosted the stats of Roethlisberger and Antonio Brown ultimately came down to an onside Rabona, which failed miserably.
12.) Green Bay Packers (-3)
Any time your team gets punched in the mouth by the Colts is reason for concern. The fire in this team has gone out, which Aaron Rodgers has acknowledged, and a change needs to happen for the Packers to capitalize on the Vikings shortcomings.
13.) Washington Redskins (-1)
Washington has one of the most complete offenses in the NFC. They have a deep core of WRs and RBs, and a good to great offensive line, even if quarterback play can be shaky at times. If the defense can force some more turnovers (only 10 on the season), they should be able to put the clamps on a Wild Card spot.
14.) Carolina Panthers (+2)
Do not let the 2 game winning streak fool you. This isn't the same team as last year. The offense was held to 13 points by an overhyped Rams squad. Even if they can get by the Chiefs this week, they have the Saints, Raiders, Seahawks, Chargers, Redskins and Falcons afterwards. Those teams are all 4-5 or better.
15.) Arizona Cardinals (-2)
I hope Bruce Arians can figure how to get out of this mess. This team is too talented to miss the playoffs, with offensive juggernauts like David Johnson and Larry Fitzgerald, and defensive studs such as Tyrann Mathieu and Patrick Peterson. Hopefully sacrificing the 49ers to them this week get Carson Palmer out of his funk.
16.) New Orleans Saints (+2)
No one should want to play the Saints. Sure, their brand of defense allows offenses to waltz into the endzone, but their offense will do same to yours. Drew Brees ranks second in yardage, touchdowns and completion percentage.
17.) Houston Texans (-2)
The Texans need literally anything out of Brock Osweiler from here on out. If he can even just pretend to be a poor man’s Joe Flacco, the Texans have the skill positions and defense of a team that can put a stamp on the AFC South.
18.) Baltimore Ravens (+4)
Losing Kelechi Osemele has really hurt the Ravens this year. The run game has been non-existent, ranking 28th in the NFL. With no running game, Joe Flacco has been forced to throw the ball at an alarming rate, especially considering how banged up he’s been this year.
19.) Detroit Lions (+2)
I can never get a read on these guys. Golden Tate had the grittiest, game-winning play I’ve seen in recent memory, an almost Marshawn Lynch-esque play. If the Lions can string together a few games of quality play, they could be in the driver’s seat of the NFC North.
20.) Buffalo Bills (-3)
Bravo to the Buffalo Bills. They made the Monday night game interesting, with Tyrod Taylor and LeSean McCoy playing their hearts out. Buffalo’s 6-year, $92 million extension for Taylor looks like one of the best in the NFL, and this Bills team has a ton of potential.
21.) Cincinnati Bengals (-2)
The Bengals have to be counting their lucky stars that even after their slow start, they are only half a game back of a playoff spot. I think this team has the most all-around talent in the AFC North, and with Eifert back, that offense should be humming the rest of the way out.
22.) San Diego Chargers (+1)
The Chargers are the AFC Saints, with defense. San Diego is one of 4 teams with a top 16 offense and defense in terms of DVOA, and Philip Rivers refuses to quit, even while his team is 2 games back of the Broncos with only 2 more division games left.
23.) Indianapolis Colts (+3)
So that’s what this offense can look like when Andrew Luck has help. Frank Gore had one of his most productive games as a Colt, finding the endzone twice. Luck was a little gung-ho with the ball in this one, but the Colts defense did a good job holding the Packers to 13 until buckling towards the end.
24.) Miami Dolphins (+1)
I was wrong about Jay Ajayi. He, along with that underrated offensive line just tire you out until you submit. Which is great for the Dolphins, considering Ryan Tannehill can’t win them a game even when it is handed to him.
25.) Tampa Bay Buccaneers (-5)
So who had the TItans looking better than the Bucs this year? Tampa Bay is either hurting for talent or experience, and I have no idea which helps them the most. The defense, while talented, isn’t as good as they should be, and the same could be said of the offense. Jameis Winston, meanwhile, hasn’t taken any steps towards improvement, which is the biggest concern.
26.) Tennessee Titans (-2)
Oh, if only Marcus Mariota could diagnose coverage. This year’s Brian Hoyer, Mariota leads the league with pick-sixes. Despite this, the defense and running game have made this Tennessee team fun to watch, and has the Titans well ahead of schedule
27.) Chicago Bears (+1)
Remember when I said there are 4 teams with top 16 offenses and defenses in the NFL? Well, the Bears are one of them, oddly enough. Maybe John Fox has done a better job than we’re giving him credit for. If Jay Cutler can pretend it’s Halloween from here on out, who know? Maybe Chicago can play spoiler.
28.) Los Angeles Rams (-1)
#FreeToddGurley. Seriously, this should be crime, forcing someone so talented to toil away on an offense run by Jeff Fischer. I’m struggling to comprehend why Goff isn’t playing, but Case Keenum should look passable against a struggling Jets secondary.
29.) New York Jets (+/-0)
Todd Bowles has to have a serious crush on Ryan Fitzpatrick. How else can you explain starting him after he threw his 12th interception in the 2nd half? Bilal Powell has been potent when he gets touches, but he hasn’t gotten enough, especially considering the age of Matt Forte.
30.) Jacksonville Jaguars (+/-0)
The one thing that has been really prevalent this year is that there isn’t that one coach you know is going to end up fired. Gus Bradley might change that. Jacksonville was supposed to be a respectable 6-10 team, but they are well on their way to another 4-12 season of disappointment.
31.) Cleveland Browns (+/-0)
Cody Kessler continues to impress, even though the Browns passed on a better prospect in Wentz. The Browns just have to patient, good times are possibly on the horizon.
32.) San Francisco 49ers (+/-0)
It’s still hard to believe that the Niners destroyed the Rams Week 1. Granted, the Rams don’t have much of an offense, but neither do the Niners. San Francisco’s defense is also devoid of established talent outside the linebacker spots. But hey, at least Chip Kelly looks like he’s sticking around.