Ken's Note: These rankings are the views of the author, and may/do not reflect the views of any other Windy City Gridiron contributor.
Welcome to the Week 10 Power Rankings.
Power rankings are kind of silly and entirely meaningless, and they are also completely subjective... what one person sees as a strength another might see as a weakness. I get that. My reason for doing this feature isn't "I think I know better," but rather to entertain, hopefully amuse and also to generate friendly discussion and debate (within the site rules, of course).
My feature comes out later in the week than pretty much everybody else's on the web because I actually watch every single game I talk about BEFORE posted my rankings (as far as I know, I am the ONLY person doing this in the online media). Gamepass condensed games are the greatest tool ever made for the NFL football junkie. By doing this instead of just watching the highlights (if that) or browsing the box score, I suspect my list looks significantly different than most.
My rankings include an occasional "Anointed Factor" (or AF) reference. The AF is the amount of "BS" or "out of the blue" calls that a team receives in their favor, and the amount of "yeah they did it but I won't call it because they are the Chosen Ones" they get. These factors are combined into a secret mathematical formula known only to Vince and myself. An example of what increases or decreases a team's AF? Clay Mathews spears Brian Hoyer with his helmet and clearly in front of everybody breaks the quarterback's arm. Was penalty called? No. Was Play recognized by the league as illegal later, when nothing can be done about it? Yes. This adds to the Green Bay AF and reduces Chicago's AF. The AF scale reads from 1-10, with 5 being league average. Some teams, however, are even more anointed than 10, so the scale can go into AF-Spinal Tap readings, up to 11. Most teams can't, though, because... well, they are not so anointed.
Although it may seem unfair to some fans, I include how anointed a team is in my Power Rankings because, frankly, if they are going to get a majority of the calls, it will help them win games.
Here's how I have the league shaking out after Week 10:
1) Patriots - (Last week's rating #1 ) Patriots get the bye-week push.
2) Cowboys - (Last week's rating #3 ) On the one hand, the Cowboys beat the living sludge out of the boys from the banks of the (currently non-flammable) Cuyahoga River, but putting the hurt on the Browns doesn’t move the needle much. Still, Dak Prescott and Ezekiel Elliot continue to impress.
3) Falcons - (Last week's rating #4) Atlanta’s defense is starting to show up, and the way that Matt Ryan and his corps of receivers are playing, it may be enough for the birds to make a deep playoff run.
4) Raiders - (Last week's rating #11 ) Oakland, right now, is where Chicago wants to be. Young, winning and in contention for a legitimate shot at the ‘ship. Derek Carr didn’t have his best game ever this week (that was last week) but he still continues to impress. The best thing about this week's game, however, and what really shoots the Raiders up the ranking, is that the did a complete switch up on offense. Last week featured an air assault by Carr & the receiving corps, whereas this week it was ground pounding by Latavius Murray & company. They took it to Denver, at Denver, and ran around, over and through that defense. Impressive indeed.
5) Chiefs - (Last week's rating #5 ) Kansas City put running back Jamaal Charles on IR this week, and nobody noticed. The combination (when healthy) of running back Spencer Ware and Charcandrick West is as good as any we have seen in the league in a long time. Jeremy Maclin is playing well, and Travis Kelce (when not throwing towels at refs and getting ejected) is as good of a tight end as there is in the league (at least those not named Rob Gronkowski). Everybody knew that losing starting quarterback Alex Smith and replacing him with Nick Foles was going to hurt the Chiefs, but I don't think many expected Kansas City to have to hang on by their fingernails on the last drive of the game to pull out a close home win over a very bad Jacksonville team. Ugly game to watch.
6) Giants - (Last week's rating #13 ) Not only was this a huge win over a rival for New York, it showed some explosiveness that they have been lacking and some creativity in the offense that had yet to be seen. New York grabbed a critical tiebreaker over the Eagles, and stayed in the hunt for the NFC East (along with the AFC West, one of the two best overall divisions in the league). I guess it's time to give the Giants defense some credit for confusing rookie Eagles quarterback Carson Wentz, because Wentz made a couple of very, very bad throws that basically decided the game (14 NYG points came from those two turnovers). When you get a 14 point lead in the first 5 minutes of the game, you need to put the opponent away. Didn't happen, in fact a late Eli Manning interception opened the door for Carson Wentz to nearly pull it out for Philly. Still, it's a win and it's a tiebreaker.
7) Broncos - (Last week's rating #2 ) Denver’s defense needs to play lights out, shut down football. They didn’t and they aren’t. Turns out, even a team as good as Denver has it’s breaking point on D if you lose enough guys. Malik Jackson gone? No problem. Danny Trevathan? No problem. Akib Talib out with a bad back? BIG PROBLEM. On offense, Denver Gary Kubiak says that he’s sticking with Trevor Siemian but insists that Siemian ‘has to get better.’ Perhaps somebody should introduce Kubiak to the scientific principle that ‘needs are not mechanisms’, and that saying somebody ‘needs to get better’ does absolutely nothing to actually improve the guy’s game...
8) Seahawks - (Last week's rating #9 ) The Seahawks AR rating is now over 10, having hit 10.1 after the outrageous favoritism (or stunning incompetence) of the reffing crew from this week’s Monday night game. Getting a ref-gifted win against Buffalo at home doesn’t move the needle up for me, and their offensive line is still horrible. I’m still not buying that this is a top-5 type team, not with that glaring hole on offense. I don't even want to talk about this game, it annoys me.
9) Ravens - (Last week's rating #20 ) Baltimore put together a nice game plan and took it to Pittsburgh this week, and they did one thing that was actually different than they have been doing in recent weeks... they became actually interesting to watch. I can’t really say exactly what it was, but this was the first Ravens game in a while that actually was more entertaining than watching paint dry.
10) Lions - (Last week's rating #15 ) On the one hand, the Lions are surging and now and coming off a huge win in Minnesota. On the other hand, the only reason they beat the struggling Vikings is because Matt Prater can hit a 58-yard field goal with the game on the line whereas Minnesota’s Blair Walsh can’t hit an extra point or a non-pressure 46-yarder. With players such as Golden Tate, who would rather showboat than secure the ball for the game winning touchdown, I just can’t buy into the Lions. Sorry.
11) Chargers - (Last week's rating #18 ) The Chargers A) Can score a boatload of points and B) still can’t stop anybody. Antonio Gates is the best 107-year-old tight end to ever play in the NFL.
12) Steelers - (Last week's rating #10 ) The Ghost Of Ben Roethlisberger returned after missing 20 days with a knee surgery, but it wasn’t nearly as good a the real Big Ben. Pittsburgh really didn’t play all that well in any phase of the game, although thy weren’t really horrible either. Look for them to improve once Big Ben gets his groove back.
13) Bills - (Last week's rating #12 ) Yes, Rex Ryan, you were Robbed (see what I did there?). I’m not going to punish you for losing a game where the NFL was already admitting multiple officiating "errors" just minutes after the game. Will officials be suspended? Don’t hold your breath. The Bills did a good job on the road in a hostile environment, and are a slightly above average but not top-10 team right now. BTW any time your OL has Jordan Mills and Ryan Groy playing against Clif Avril & the boys, this is what we call a "bad thing".
14) Cardinals - (Last week's rating #14 ) Cardinals get the bye-week push.
15) Redskins - (Last week's rating #17 ) Bye, but the Redskins move up because of the Eagle’s loss. Washington has the tiebreaker at the moment over Philly, which drops the Eagles way down the list.
16) Texans - (Last week's rating #16 ) Texans get the bye-week push.
17) Eagles - (Last week's rating #6 ) Carson Wentz is a rookie. He’s a very, very good rookie with a world of promise, but let’s not forget that he’s a rook. In the past, it seemed like he was channeling his inner Dan Marino. In this game, he seemed to be channeling his inner Rex Grossman, two bad throws that directly cost his team the game. The Eagles seem to forget that Wentz is a rookie, a lot. The Eagles lost on the road to the Giants, and there’s not much difference in talent between all of these NFC East teams. This game was crushing, though, because Philly is killing themselves on their tiebreakers. Losers of 4 of their last 5, the Eagles managed to give tiebreakers (as of now) to all of their division rivals. Hard to make the playoffs that way, green. Spotting the Giants a big early lead was bad, but Philly hung in there and were in a spot to win the game at the end. Having said that, the difference between winning and losing this game is a lot of spots, because of that tiebreaker.
18) Packers - (Last week's rating #8 ) The Packers got absolutely smashed by a bad Colts team for most of the game, and even their amazing 10.4 AF producing favorable officiating calls time and again couldn’t save them, True, Green Bay came back at the end, but bottom line this team is 4-4 and just lost to the Colts, at home. They’ve now lost two in a row, and we had them close into the fourth quarter with our 7th stringers before that. This Packers team is injured, and their backups are both young and not very good.
19) Bengals - (Last week's rating #19 ) Bengals get the bye-week push.
20) Panthers - (Last week's rating #21 ) The Panthers are winning now, and are not yet out of the hunt. I expect this team to be the biggest upwards mover in the second half of the season (with the possible exception of Chicago). Aaron Donald and company ate the Panthers for lunch, but quarterback Cam Newton did just enough (and by that I mean just BARELY enough to win this week). Didn't impress anybody.
21) Saints - (Last week's rating #22 ) The Saints beat the snot out of
Cleveland San Francisco. Water is wet, ice is cold but good bourbon is best served neat. While all of these are true, beating Frisco isn't all that impressive. Drew Brees looked really good again, and the record improved, but it's hard to imagine the Saints in the playoffs.
22) Vikings - (Last week's rating #7 ) How a team with a defense this good can play as bad as they played the last couple of weeks, honestly? I don’t know. The wheels haven’t fallen off the wagon, it’s more like the wagon slipped and went over the rim of the Grand Canyon. Panic abounds in the land of Skol. Before you bash me for putting a 5-3, division leading team this low, I ask you. Does Minnesota hands down beat any of the following teams. New Orleans, Carolina, Cincy, Green Bay, Philly, Houston, Washington, Arizona. No, they don’t. I wouldn’t pick them in any of those games, not the way the Vikings have played the last three weeks. SO... here they sit.
23) Titans - (Last week's rating #23 ) Marcus Mariota is very, very good... perhaps the best young quarterback in the game not named Derek Carr. The Titans were able to score a lot of points on the road in San Diego. The problem for the ugly-uniformed men from Tennessee is that 43 points they gave up. The Titans are a respectable 16th in overall defense, but that was against teams that can’t do what San Diego does. Still, the arrow is pointing upwards for Tennessee.
24) Dolphins - (Last week's rating #24 ) It took Ryan Fitzpatrick being worse than Jimmy Clausen and a late fourth quarter 96-yard kickoff return to beat the Jets in Miami. Not really the type of win that will move you up in the rankings much. This game was brutal to watch from a "style" standpoint.
25) Colts - (Last week's rating #27 ) The Colts beat the crap out of Green Bay for most of the game, and held on to win. Bless them. Bless them all. I could say more but... the Colts are still really, really bad, and they proved that Green Bay is pretty bad right now too.
26) Bears - (Last week's rating #28 ) The Bears are getting healthier, and the rest of the division looks really iffy right now. We go up a bit for both reasons, but until we win some more games, we are staying near the bottom of the heap.
27) Rams - (Last week's rating #25 ) Would somebody please explain to me why/how Jeff Fisher still has a job? He has one of the top defenses in the league, one of the very best team leaders on defense, and on offense the Rams have one of the most dynamic runners in the NFL... not that anybody would notice him. Let me help the Rams. Find ways to get Todd Gurley the ball in open space, then rinse and repeat. They posed ZERO threat until a little late game magic let them creep close at the end. Note to Rams special teams coordinator: You should be very, very thankful that Pittsburgh's kicker did that zero-inch kick thing, it's the only thing that saved you guys from being mocked for that horrid on-side kick you tried at the end of the game.
28) Buccaneers - (Last week's rating #26 ) Tampa has some pieces (Jameis Winston, Mike Evans) but that defense is looking really, really sketchy. Look for Chicago to attack the Bucs this week. Bottom line, if the Bears don’t come out firing for this game, stick a fork in us.
29) Jaguars - (Last week's rating #29 ) Remind me again how the Bears lost to this team? Oh yeah, we were playing 7th stringers on defense. Talk about your "if only we could have a do-over with a healthy team" game...
30) Jets - (Last week's rating #30 ) Brandon Marshall meltdown alert!!! Screaming at the "best QB" he’s ever played with, another sub-par game on the field for just about everybody on that team’s offense not named Matt Forte. In Marshall’s defense, Ryan Fitzpatrick did just throw an interception to a nose guard, so... there’s that... Fitzpatrick is channeling Bad Rex big time, and is in danger of moving on into Cade McNown territory. Is it bad when the Jets fans yearn for the halcyon glory days of the butt fumble? I guess you could consider the fact that if they hadn’t given up a big return for TD they would have beaten the Dolphins on the road a positive? Sorta? But, then again, they DID give up that return, so... yeah, not good.
31) Browns - (Last week's rating #32 ) The Cleveland Browns are the best 0-9 team I have ever seen. That doesn’t mean they are actually any good though... well, not at the moment. I still see the glimpses of what this team may well be in two to three seasons... I think it’s safe to say that Cleveland has bottomed out... they may continue to bounce along the bottom for a while, but there is hope in the land where the water burns.
32) 49ers -(Last week's rating #31 ) What a hot mess. Not much else to say, they got whooped again at home, they looked really really bad. This franchise is in such a disarray that I think Cleveland beats them, so I am bumping Cleveland up one.
So what do you think? Am I close? Am I entirely wrong? Spill the beans, let us know what you think.