Bye-bye, bye weeks! Now that Week 10 is in the rearview mirror, so are vacation days for NFL players. And just like the players, the fans won’t get another day off for the rest of the season, because they’ll be spending all of their spare time trying to figure out who’s in the playoffs and who isn’t. 18 teams are above .500 right now, which means plenty of fans still have hopes and dreams of the playoffs. It makes for wonderful drama…and a real headache when it comes to sorting out the power rankings. Keep reading to see who landed where. And of course, let me know what you think in the comments below.
Last Week: 6
New York Jets (7-2)The Jets are here by default. I certainly do not like how they’ve had to eke out overtime wins against the Lions and Browns in consecutive weeks. What I do like is their resilience and their undefeated road record (5-0).
Last Week: 7
New England Patriots (7-2)Going into Pittsburgh and knocking around the Steelers reminded us of two things. One: the Patriots do not go on two-game losing streaks. (Since 2003, the Pats are 25-2 following a loss.) Two: even when he’s angry, like when he was yelling at his o-line on the sideline in the first half against the Steelers, Tom Brady is hard to take seriously with that ridiculous haircut.
Last Week: 5
Philadelphia Eagles (6-3)If Michael Vick can keep playing like this, the Eagles will represent the NFC in the Super Bowl. That’s a big “if,” because Vick puts himself at injury risk every time he scrambles, but man does this offense look unstoppable with #7 behind center. The Eagles have won every game Vick has started and completed, and the team is averaging 37 points per game in those wins.
Last Week: 8
Atlanta Falcons (7-2)The Wiz says the Falcons are playing situational football, meaning they make the plays they need to make to win games. And while I rarely agree with the Wiz, it’s hard to argue with the results they’re getting in Atlanta. Still, we’ll learn a lot more about the Falcons in the next month, because four of their next five games are on the road, where the Falcons are averaging 11 fewer points per game than they are at home.
Last Week: 2
Baltimore Ravens (6-3)What’s happening to this once-vaunted defense? The Ravens have allowed three game-tying or winning drives in the last two minutes of regulation…in their last four games.
Last Week: 1
Pittsburgh Steelers (6-3)Speaking of once-vaunted defenses, the Steelers looked a little lost against Tom Brady on Sunday night. In fact, they’ve been in disarray since defensive end Aaron Smith went down with a triceps injury. Pittsburgh is 1-2 and giving up nearly 27 points per game since Smith’s injury.
Last Week: 4
Green Bay Packers (6-3)Health will play a big factor in their second half success, but their three straight wins heading into the bye week look awfully reminiscent of last season’s 7-1 second half. The only road block? The Pack has to travel to Minnesota, Atlanta and New England in their last seven games.
Last Week: 9
Indianapolis Colts (6-3)I’m all about praising the otherworldly exploits of Peyton Manning, but the Colts pulled out their Week 10 win over the Bengals as a team. And that’s a great sign. Manning had a season-low 185 passing yards and no touchdown passes, yet the Colts managed to force five turnovers and pull out the win.
Last Week: 3
New York Giants (6-3)My goodness, that was an ugly loss for the G-Men. Now we need to figure out if it’s a one week breakdown or a sign of things to come. In the past two seasons, the Giants are 4-7 after November 1st. Heading into the Cowboys game, the Giants were a huge force to be reckoned with in the NFC. Now they’re just a huge question mark.
Last Week: 10
New Orleans Saints (6-3)Last year, the Saints were a revelation. This year, their division is a revelation. The NFC South has the most combined victories in the NFC, which means the Saints aren’t going to be able to stroll to a division title like they did last year. However, with four straight games against the AFC/NFC West coming up, the Saints can still position themselves nicely for a first-place finish.
Last Week: 12
Oakland Raiders (5-4)Oakland jumped into first-place during their bye week. Now that’s what I call a productive vacation.
Last Week: 16
Miami Dolphins (5-4)Two quarterbacks and a franchise left tackle went down in Week 10. Since the Dolphins have specialized in winning ugly all season, maybe that means they’re right where they want to be heading into their Thursday night match-up with the Bears. (Seriously, I don’t think it’s possible NOT to win ugly when Tyler Thigpen is your quarterback.)
Last Week: 13
San Diego Chargers (4-5)Another team who’s situation only improved over the bye. San Diego is one game closer to getting game-changing receiver Vincent Jackson back and one game closer to first place after the AFC West went topsy-turvy in Week 10.
Last Week: 11
Tennessee Titans (5-4)Two straight losses have dropped the Titans right back into the middle of AFC South. Luckily, the schedule is in the Titans favor. After Week 11’s match-up with the struggling Redskins, five of the Titans last six games are against division opponents, so they’ll be able to control their own fate.
Last Week: 15
Tampa Bay Buccaneers (6-3)I like watching the young guys on the Bucs, from Josh Freeman to Mike Williams to LeGarrette Blount. The fact remains, however, that they haven’t beaten a winning team yet this season. With four of their next seven opponents currently sitting above .500, they’ll have to change that to keep their magical season going into the playoffs.
Last Week: 21
Chicago Bears (6-3)Speaking of tough closing schedules, three of the Bears final four road games are division match-ups, while their three remaining home games are against the Eagles, Patriots and Jets, who have a combined record of 20-7.
Last Week: 23
Jacksonville Jaguars (5-4)Their Hail Mary prayers were answered in Week 10 and now the Jags are only one game out of first place. Still, their overall point differential sits at -54, which doesn’t bode well for the Jags’ three remaining divisional match-ups, all of which take place on the road.
Last Week: 14
Kansas City Chiefs (5-4)A couple weeks ago, I thought the Chiefs had the defense and the running game to capture the AFC West crown. After giving up 72 points in two straight losses, I think the Chiefs might be lucky to finish above .500.
Last Week: 17
Houston Texans (4-5)If you think this current three-game losing streak is bad, you might want to avert your eyes from the upcoming schedule. At Jets, Titans, at Eagles, Ravens, at Titans. After that terrifying stretch, Houston might look back at this three-game losing streak as a highpoint of the season.
Last Week: 20
Cleveland Browns (3-6)Another week, another valiant effort against a heavily favored team. These Browns are way better than their record suggests. Too bad being better than your record doesn’t get you into the playoffs. One thing is for sure, it looks like Colt McCoy has no problems playing in pressure situations.
Last Week: 26
Seattle Seahawks (5-4)Fun fact #1: Seattle is in first place in the NFC West despite being outscored by 33 points so far this season. Fun fact #2: no team in the NFC West has a positive point differential. Fun fact #3: the NFC West is not a very talented division.
Last Week: 28
San Francisco 49ers (3-6)Our second of three straight NFC West teams sits at 21 and seems to be surging with Troy Smith at quarterback. Smith is 2-0 as a starter and is completing nearly 62 percent of his passes with no INTs. No, those aren’t gaudy numbers, but in the NFC West, they’re practically MVP-type numbers. With four more division games left, the Niners still have a shot at claiming the NFC West.
Last Week: 18
St. Louis Rams (4-5)Bringing up the rear of our NFC West trio is the Rams, who just can’t win on the road. That’s not good news, because after this week’s home contest against the Falcons, they go on the road for three straight.
Last Week: 19
Minnesota Vikings (3-6)I think we’ve officially hit the point in the season where Brett Favre can admit he made a mistake coming back. Favre has more than twice as many interceptions this year (16) in nine games than he had all of last year (7).
Last Week: 29
Denver Broncos (3-6)It’s hard to predict what will happen every Sunday with Denver, but one thing is for sure: there will be a lot of points on the scoreboard. Only a couple weeks after giving up 59 points to the Raiders, the Broncos went out and dropped 49 on the Chiefs in a division win.
Last Week: 24
Washington Redskins (4-5)It only took a couple of simple steps for the Redskins to go from a 4-3 record and a chance at the playoffs to 4-5 and complete chaos. Step #1: bench your new franchise QB. Step #2: sign your benched franchise QB to a huge extension. Step #3: get absolutely destroyed by a division rival at home.
Last Week: 32
Dallas Cowboys (2-7)If you don’t think a football coach makes a big difference, talk to a Cowboys fan. Even with their back-up quarterback in the game, the Cowboys went on the road and trounced the hottest team in the NFC. Sadly, it’s going to be too little, too late for America’s Team this year.
Last Week: 30
Buffalo Bills (1-8)The Bills are on the board! It wasn’t easy, but Buffalo finally nabbed its first win of the season. Now Buffalo shifts its attention to nabbing that first pick of the 2011 draft.
Last Week: 22
Detroit Lions (2-7)Detroit has its building blocks on both sides of the ball. Problem is one of those blocks keeps crumbling. With Matthew Stafford once again out for the season with a shoulder injury, Ndamukong Suh is on pace to finish his rookie year having played more career games than the Lions second year quarterback.
Last Week: 25
Cincinnati Bengals (2-7)Just looking at the numbers, things look OK for Carson Palmer this year. The Cincy QB is in the top six in the NFL for both passing yards and passing touchdowns. Unfortunately, he hasn’t taken good care of the ball (4th in the league in INTs) which has led to the Bengals sinking to last place in the AFC North .
Last Week: 27
Arizona Cardinals (3-6)The lack of stability at the quarterback position in Arizona has undermined everything else going on out in the desert. Four straight losses have knocked the Cards to the back of the weakest division in football.
Last Week: 31
Carolina Panthers (1-8)We have a new last place team! Sure, it’s not as exciting as having a new first place team, but it’s something new, right? With the Ravens coming up this week and two straight roadies after that, I don’t see Carolina relinquishing this spot for a while.