NFL Power Rankings Week 11: Surging Chiefs charge into top 10
The NFL playoff race is wide open as Thanksgiving approaches, and so is the Power Rankings pecking order. A four-loss team leapfrogging the Packers? A five-loss team in the top 10? Believe it. It's happening.
Here's how they stand after Week 10:
OT Nate Solder is out for the season (and our thoughts are with him as his young son battles kidney cancer). So, too, is RB Dion Lewis. And now WR Julian Edelman could be sidelined until the playoffs with a foot injury. It's like Tom Brady is playing one of those “pick three things to survive on a desert island” games and he chose LeGarrette Blount, Bill Belichick and Rob Gronkowski.
With an OT win against the Rams in Week 9, and a huge home game vs. Green Bay looming in Week 11, the Vikings easily could have been caught sleeping Sunday, during a tough road trip to Oakland. Instead, they turned in arguably their most complete performance of the season.
Moving Buffalo up the rankings just in time for a two-game road trip to New England and Kansas City, so Rex Ryan's club either will justify this promotion or floor it in reverse. Odds are it will be the latter, but Ryan might dump a Gatorade bucket over his own head if he can pull off an upset in Foxborough.
Don't look now, but the Chiefs are charging, led by a defense that has allowed 18 points or fewer in five straight games. They're still just 4–5 but could be favored in all of their remaining games. Just one team since the merger has started 1–5 and reached the postseason. Will this be No. 2?
Tom Coughlin left himself open to some second guessing with his strategic approach late vs. New England. Let's give him the benefit of the doubt in choosing to stay aggressive over running clock because of this: His pass defense is horrendous. Whether New England had 1:40 or 1:10, Coughlin could not have trusted his secondary to get a stop.
The Jeff Fisher era has become a bit like making plans for New Year's Eve. Every year you think you've found a good spot and convinced yourself it's going to be a great time, only to wind up disappointed and $100 lighter. The 2015 Rams just feel destined to finish 8–8, no matter how many times they seem on the verge of breaking out.
The Texans and Jaguars actually have managed to win a couple games here and there, so the Colts can't just back their way into the division crown at, like, 5–11. Once again, they need Hasselbeck to bail them out. (Side note: two Hasselbeck references within a span of three teams is a Power Rankings record.)
Having Rex Ryan in the building last Thursday made the Jets play as if Ryan still was coaching them. They still could have escaped with a win over Buffalo had they converted on a late fourth down, or had they kicked a field goal on an earlier fourth down.
Per Pro Football Focus's win probability chart, the Raiders had a 60.4% chance to knock off Minnesota as of the 1:52 mark of the first half Sunday—that's when Derek Carr hit Andre Holmes to hand Oakland a 14–13 lead. Thirteen seconds later, their number dropped to 32.7%, as Cordarrelle Patterson delivered a gut punch via kick-return touchdown.
Kirk Cousins is completing a staggering 75.7% of his passes at home this season, with 10 touchdowns, two interceptions and a 112.8 QB rating. Away from Fed Ex Field, he's at a 59.8% completion rate and a 66.3 rating.
OK, so J.J. Watt has the comedic repertoire of Fozzie Bear. Big deal. He and his fellow Houston defenders got it done when it counted Monday, and they're rolling a bit—the Texans have allowed 12 points total over their past two games.
Welcome back to the Mark Sanchez Show, a program carrying all the excitement of a late-night Roomba informercial. Year One of Chip Kelly's grand experiment at calling all the personnel shots continues to be a non-event.
Rob Ryan is out in New Orleans after his defense gave up an average of 43.3 points the past three weeks. That's barely a serviceable performance in the Arena Football League, let alone the NFL.
Lovie Smith might be sticking around for a bit, after all. His seat was starting to heat up at the start of the season—Tampa Bay stumbled to 1–3 after finishing 2–14 a season ago. But all of a sudden, the Bucs find themselves on the fringe of wild-card contention, which qualifies as progress enough.
A comedy of errors helped the Jaguars pull off a last-second win (or whatever we call it when a team gets an extra play because of a penalty). Believe it or not, that was a huge result in the AFC South race. Jacksonville is just a game back, with four of its next five at home.
Jim Tomsula was asked this week if he planned to meet with his quarterbacks each week to reveal the starter. His answer: “Yes. Well, yes. I mean, yes and no.” How can anyone not love this guy? He constantly sounds like he's trying to talk his way out of a lie.
It's always something. The Lions won in Green Bay for the first time in more than two decades, then Jim Caldwell spent his Monday press conference answering why his team only had 10 guys on the field for the Packers' potential game-winning kick. Better than having 12 out there, I suppose.
This team clearly is not tanking on purpose. Its repeated late-game stumbles are proof instead that the 2–7 record is not really a fluke. Good teams make their own luck; bad teams help make other teams lucky.
Their leading rusher, Antonio Andrews, ranks 43rd in the league in yards, behind several quarterbacks. The Titans' offense has 46 points total in its past five losses, the only respite coming when it hung 34 on the aforementioned New Orleans “defense.” There's a long way to go here.
Really odd schedule for the Chargers this season, as they'll play five of their six intra-division games between Weeks 11 and 17. So at the very least, they can try to play spoiler—the participation trophy of roles for pro sports teams.