1) New England Patriots (Last week: 2 = +1)
For the first time since my NFL week 2 Power Rankings the Patriots have regained the top spot. This all begins and ends with Tom Brady who leads the league in passing yards by 300 over the next closest and has now thrown 54 touchdowns and five interceptions in the 23 games since the deflategate suspension was served.
If that wasn’t enough to stop, Brandin Cooks and Rob Gronkowski are on pace to catch over 1,000 yards receiving. Plus, their defense is gaining confidence against bad teams.
Do I still have concerns? Absolutely, their offensive line is still allowing Brady to get hit a lot and the defense is still a question mark when going up against a good team. However, they are still going to be able to role through the AFC and into the Super Bowl.
2) Philadelpiha Eagles (Last week: 1 = -1)
Losing the top position has nothing to do with them and everything to do with the Patriots. Carson Wentz still looks like the second best quarterback in the NFL this season and the offensive as a whole is tough to defend.
What really has me excited is their defense. Sure they held the a bad Bears’ offense to three points, but they also held Mitchell Trubisky to a QBR of 0.3; and no that isn’t a typo. I said two weeks ago they needed to go 3-1 over their next four games to impress me against tough opponents and they are 2-0. Over the next two weeks they travel to Seattle and LA to the play the Rams which is exactly the test I need to see them put through to believe they are more than just a playoff team.
3) Los Angeles Rams (Last week: 4 = +1)
People are eventually going to buy in on the Rams, right? Last week they lost to the Vikings and all of sudden everyone was off the bandwagon. Just for them to comeback this week and handily beat the Saints while holding their top-scoring offense to just 13 points until garbage time.
Everything remains the consistent about this team: a top 10 QB (Goff), a top 5 running back (Gurley), a top 10 defense and a top 5 coach. When you have the better quarterback, defense and coach in most matchups, that is a true threat in the playoffs.
Don’t believe in the Rams yet? You will have a chance to do just that when they get tested by the Eagles, Seahawks and Titans in weeks 14 through 16.
4) Pittsburgh Steelers (Last week: 3 = -1)
Let’s set the record straight, in order to beat an Aaron Rodger-less Green Bay Packers team, the Steelers had to have Antonio Brown carry the offense and Chris Boswell kick a historic kick at a non-kicker friendly environment in Pittsburgh. This is exactly the reason they lost to the Bears and Jaguars earlier in the season. For the Mike Tomlin lead team, when they get punched in the face they believe it isn’t their day and that’s a problem.
A bigger problem is Tomlin saying this when asked about their week 15 matchup against the Patriots:
What a moron, seriously. I mean could you have said anything worse. This is exactly why they will end up doing exactly what I have said for the beginning of the season: being the punching bag for the Patriots in the AFC Championship game.
5) Minnesota Vikings (Last week: 7 = +2)
At this point I am convinced Case Keenum has a horseshoe stuck up you know where, but it’s hard not to buy in on the Vikings. If you beat the Rams and Lions (a team they have struggled against this decade) on back-to-back weeks you have my attention.
Look, they are going to finish with 11+ wins and maybe even a first-round bye, but I just don’t see this team wining a playoff game and I admittedly have nothing to base that on other than my pure instincts and what I think this team really is.
The rest of my top 10:
6) New Orleans Saints (Last week: 5 = -1)
7) Carolina Panthers (Last week: 9 = +2)
8) Atlanta Falcons (Last week: NR)
9) Seattle Seahawks (Last week: 6 = -3)
10) Tennessee Titans (Last week: 10 = E)
-Article by Nick Friend
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