Each week, we will bring you staff NFL Power Rankings. The overall rankings are a combination of polls submitted by Justin Rozzero, Marc Clair, Chad Campbell, Greg Phillips, Andrew Flanagan & Maurice Pogue. Each team is assigned points based on rank and then compiled and ranked overall based on total points. Managing Editor Brad Woodling has the power to break ties.
- Kansas City Chiefs (189 pts): The Chiefs return from bye as the lone undefeated team in the league and are well rested for their biggest game of the year as they head into Denver for a huge Sunday Night showdown. The Chiefs can put themselves in the pole position to win the AFC West and lock up a first round bye as well as earned the full respect of the league if they can knock off the Broncos.
- Denver Broncos (186 pts): Denver took care of business against a feisty San Diego team but their title hopes may have been dinged a bit thanks to an ankle injury to Peyton Manning. Manning has vowed that he will be good to go come Sunday night, but with KC’s ferocious defense bearing down, he may be in for a very long night. Denver needs to win this game to grab control of the division.
- Seattle Seahawks (181 pts): The Seahawks went down to Atlanta and curb stomped the wounded Falcons, which was something that many needed and wanted to see from Seattle. After a few shaky wins, it was good to see them dominate a weaker opponent on the road. With the 49ers loss, Seattle now has some breathing room in the NFC West. They should be able to keep on the winning track as the Vikings trek to the Pacific Northwest on Sunday afternoon.
- New Orleans Saints (175 pts): The Saints returned to form on Sunday night, running the Cowboys out of the Superdome to keep pace in the NFC South. This week brings the 49ers to town in what will be a critical game on many levels, including staying ahead of the surging Panthers and for potential playoff seeding. When the offense is clicking, there is no better. And if the defense can continue to make big plays as they did against Dallas, this may be the most complete team in the conference.
- New England Patriots (169 pts): The Patriots are in fairly good shape, sitting at 7-2, having a week to rest up and prepare for a home stretch in which they look to lock up a first round bye. With their offense back at full strength, they are in for an interesting matchup against a stout Panthers defense on Monday night.
- Detroit Lions (153 pts): With their top competition reeling from injuries, the Lions have taken advantage and established themselves as the class of the NFC North. By knocking off the Bears, they wrested away sole control of the division. The offense is playing well and they have had a big turnaround in close games from a year ago, which is spurred their turnaround. This Sunday they travel to Pittsburgh in what could be a trap game if they aren’t careful.
- Carolina Panthers (153 pts): The Panthers have completely turned their season around and all of a sudden their close week one loss to Seattle doesn’t look like much of a fluke. The defense is very legitimate and Cam Newton has been playing well and leading this team in the right direction. They can stamp themselves as a big boy contender by knocking off the Patriots at home on Monday night.
- San Francisco 49ers (153 pts): Normally, we would say there is no shame in losing a hard fought defensive war to a quality opponent, but the 49ers need to be seriously concerned about their passing offense. It was embarrassing to see a legitimate Super Bowl contender post sub-50 yards through the air in an important game. The Niners are a curious case as they had been playing well as of late, but it was clear they were beating up on a softer schedule. This week will be a very good barometer as they head into New Orleans for what will likely be a high scoring game, at least on one side of the field.
- Indianapolis Colts (152 pts): My, oh my. The Colts ugly blowout loss to the Rams on Sunday is what we tend to call a “snowball game”. They just never had a chance and things kept getting worse and worse as the game edged along. Luckily for them, the rest of the division sucks and they get to quickly erase the bad taste out of their mouths with a Thursday night tilt in Tennessee. A win in Music City should all but lock up the division and give Indy a chance to figure out what type of team they need to be.
- Cincinnati Bengals (134 pts): The Bengals are such an enigma. This is a team that should already have the AFC North sewn up, but injuries and miscues have kept them closer to the pack. After receiving a miracle from the Ravens on Sunday, they couldn’t capitalize, losing a key divisional game in overtime. Coming off two consecutive losses, the Bengals must win at home this week or else things are going to get a lot tighter than they envisioned two weeks ago.
- Chicago Bears (130 pts): Just when the Bears seem to be back on track, things fall apart. Despite a monster game from Brandon Marshall, Jay Cutler was again injured and the Bears couldn’t pull off a much needed comeback. With Cutler out again, Josh McCown will need to play efficiently against an opportunistic Baltimore defense. If the Bears can stay focused and play a smart game, the Ravens are beatable. With the Packers fading, Chicago can still be a player in the division with a win.
- New York Jets (122 pts): The Jets have to be feeling very good about themselves as they come off their bye at 5-4. Thanks to some big losses by their cwild card competition, this team is suddenly in control of their playoff destiny. If they want to be taken seriously, they must defeat the Bills in Buffalo on Sunday. If they blow this opportunity we will all be saying “Same Old Jets” once again.
- Green Bay Packers (115 pts): With Aaron Rodgers on the shelf, the Packers playoff hopes are quickly fading into the darkness. Clearly unprepared in case of emergency, the Packers need to hope Matt Flynn can come back to town and regain some of that magic he showed a few years back. They have a winnable game in the Meadowlands Sunday, but a loss here would be crippling.
- Dallas Cowboys (114 pts): Similar to the Bengals, the Cowboys have let the rest of the division right back into the race, a race that should have been over weeks ago. I won’t ding them too much for running into a pissed off Saints team on the road, but it was just further proof that this team is not in the upper echelon of the conference. They have a week off to clean things up and prepare for some big division games that are on the horizon.
- Baltimore Ravens (105 pts): The Ravens overcame a major gaffe to pull out a must win game and stay afloat in the division race. Now would be a good time for multi-multi-million dollar man Joe Flacco to step up and lead this team down the stretch because they are on the cusp of turning the season around and getting right into the hunt. Oh, and has anyone seen Ray Rice?
- San Diego Chargers (103 pts): After a strong surge, the Chargers are now reeling with two straight losses, one bad and one expected. They now have a big showdown in South Beach as they face the Dolphins in what could amount to a playoff elimination game between the two. The Chargers showed a lot of heart in the second half against Denver. With Miami’s wrecked OL, the defense needs to be aggressive and take advantage of a glaring hole.
- Philadelphia Eagles (95 pts): Nick Foles is red hot and the suddenly confident Eagles are sitting in a first place tie with the Cowboys. Coming off two big wins and tons of points, the Eagles have a chance to keep tossing up lots of crooked numbers against a porous Washington defense. With Dallas on bye, the Eagles can pull into sole position of first place with a win at home.
- Arizona Cardinals (88 pts): The Cardinals continue to hang around, sitting at 5-4 and on the periphery of the playoff hunt. They still have a strong chance to control their destiny with two games left against the 49ers still. They can continue to bank wins as they travel to Jacksonville this weekend. Bruce Arians should consider using Andre Ellington just a little bit more considering he is their second best offensive weapon.
- Cleveland Browns (80 pts): Amazingly enough, the Browns are in position to actually pull into a first place tie on Sunday if they can defeat the reeling Bengals. Despite all of the injuries and tough luck, here they stand, a chance to make this a legit division race. You know the defense will be ready to go, but Jason Campbell will need to limit the mistakes and take advantage of any openings by the stingy Bengals D.
- Miami Dolphins (75 pts): Miami may be in some serious trouble. With all of the off-field issues bleeding onto the field via a massive sieve on the offensive line, the Dolphins are going to find it hard to stave off some of the tough defensive lines they will be facing down the stretch. Ryan Tannehill has been OK this season but the team needed him to really take that next step in order to be a contender. As of now they are more likely to be facing an offseason house cleaning as opposed to playing January football.
- Tennessee Titans (63 pts): Things have caved in quickly on the Titans in what was looking to be a surprisingly promising season just a few weeks ago. A brutal home loss to the pitiful Jaguars combined with a season ending injury for Jake Locker have all but sealed their fate. Outside of an upset win over the Colts on Thursday night, the fork may be in the back of the Titans sooner rather than later.
- St. Louis Rams (57 pts): Just when they look dead, the Rams pounce up out of the grave with a dominant performance and slaughter the Colts on the road. This defense has looked great at times but they just don’t have the offense to consistently rack up wins. They would be better off losing games at this point in the season.
- Washington Redskins (56 pts): Just when it looked like Washington was getting up off the mat, they lay an egg and lose a bad game in Minnesota. The Cowboys have left the gate swinging open for them, but they have a lot of work left to do, starting with a huge game in Philadelphia on Sunday.
- Buffalo Bills (55 pts): The Bills continue to play hard but are just outmanned week in and week out. With EJ Manuel back, they have a chance to play spoiler and land a big blow to the rival Jets’ playoff hopes at home Sunday.
- New York Giants (51 pts): The Giants have proven they should never be officially buried until they are absolutely eliminated. The game was ugly early but they turned it around and chalked up another W. They are also benefiting from some luck as they draw the Packers at a time when they are very vulnerable.
- Pittsburgh Steelers (49 pts): Pittsburgh got back on the winning track at home last weekend despite a sluggish day in the air. Things better change quickly for them as they welcome the high scoring Lions into the Ketchup Bottle on Sunday. This may be their last chance to turn things around.
- Houston Texans (43 pts): The Texans are just about cooked as they lost another close game and also saw Arian Foster hit the IR. The rest of the season needs to be spent on developing Case Keenum and working to decide if he can be their QB of the future before they hit the draft.
- Oakland Raiders (35 pts): Oakland played hard in Jersey but came home with another loss. Questions have arisen whether Terrelle Pryor is as good as he looked earlier in the season or if Oakland needs to make other QB plans in the offseason (yet again).
- Atlanta Falcons (33 pts): Atlanta officially needs to turn the page and figure out how to fix this mess before 2014. With their sights clearly at a top draft pick and being set at QB, they may be in good position to rebuild the defense quickly. The other lingering question: does Mike Smith stay or go?
- Minnesota Vikings (25 pts): The Vikings are another team that has no business winning. They need a franchise QB desperately and every win they pick up takes them further out of that hunt for the best in class.
- Tampa Bay Buccaneers (12 pts): Tampa showed some fight and knocked off a Dolphins team in clear disarray. Everyone knows the Bucs aren’t nearly as bad as they have looked but Tampa still needs to clean house and develop a solid plan for 2014.
- Jacksonville Jaguars (7 pts): The Jaguars continue to fight and it paid off as they got their first win of the year in Tennessee. Now, stop winning.
Biggest Rise: Carolina Panthers (+6)
Biggest Fall: Indianapolis Colts (-5)
PTB Game to Watch: Kansas City @ Denver, Sunday Night, 8:30PM, NBC
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