Week 11 NFL Power Rankings: Panthers/Patriots get routed
The hierarchy of the NFL was rocked a bit over the weekend with the lopsided losses suffered by New England at Tennessee and Carolina at Pittsburgh.
Both the Patriots and the Panthers lost to quality teams but nobody saw New England losing 34-10 or Carolina getting blown out 52-21.
The meanings of these two events are two-fold. First, the lopsided losses seem to indicate that the Panthers have no chance of contending with New Orleans or the Los Angeles Rams in the NFC race. Secondly, they indicate that the Patriots, even though they defeated Kansas City at home, could be facing a potential rematch in the AFC Championship game at KC, and right now the AFC West leaders would be heavy favorites.
All of this also means that the Titans and Steelers must be taken seriously as both have demonstrated dramatic improvment in recent weeks.
1. New Orleans Saints (8-1). Last week: 1.
Fentress says: The Saints, who destroyed Cincinnati 51-14 on Sunday, have scored 96 points in two weeks. Offensive lineman Jermon Bushrod, who lost his newborn daughter on Oct. 18, made an emotional return to action during the team’s win at Cincinnati on Sunday.
2. Los Angeles Rams (9-1). Last week: 2.
Fentress says: QB Jared Goff calling an audible against Seattle with a call of "Halle Berry" is the greatest thing ever and should replace Peyton Manning's "Omaha" as the most widely recognized audible in NFL history. At least, that's my opinion.
3. Kansas City Chiefs (9-1). Last week: 3. Fentress says: K.C. looked vulnerable in a 26-14 win over Arizona. It’s not unusual for high-powered offenses to slow down a bit come November after opposing teams figure them out. Could this be the case here? Big showdown Monday against the Rams.
4. New England Patriots (7-3). Last week: 4.
Fentress says: When the Patriots lose they don’t mess around. New England fell 34-10 at Tennessee on Sunday. The team’s first two defeats were 31-20 at Jacksonville and 26-10 at Detroit. Still, this remains at least the fourth best team in football.
5. Los Angeles Chargers (7-2). Last week: 6.
Fentress says: The Chargers continue to role but I can’t bring myself to move them ahead of the Patriots only because L.A.’s best two wins have come against Seattle and Tennessee. Others have come against Oakland (twice), San Francisco and Buffalo.
6. Pittsburgh Steelers (6-2-1). Last week: 7.
Fentress says: The Steelers have taken control of the AFC North with five consecutive wins, including impressive showings against the Ravens and Carolina (52-21). At this point, Pittsburgh should not want Le’Veon Bell to return.
7. Houston Texans (6-3). Last week: 8.
Fentress says: With New England appearing less than invincible, the Texans, off last week, could be a sleeper Super Bowl contender after having won six consecutive games. However, their list of victories could use a boost by a win this week at Washington.
8. Carolina Panthers (6-3). Last week: 5.
Fentress says: It’s tough to figure out what to make of that beat down Carolina received at Pittsburgh. The Panthers have a soft schedule coming up to help them get right with games against Detroit, Seattle, Tampa Bay and Cleveland.
9. Chicago Bears (6-3). Last week: 11.
Fentress says: The Bears have taken over the NFC South but did so with wins over the New York Jets, Buffalo and Detroit. In fact, by far the best win the Bears have this season came against Seattle. Chicago could finally prove itself worth of being atop a division by defeating Minnesota on Sunday.
10. Minnesota Vikings (5-3-1). Last week: 9.
Fentress says: Off last week, the Vikings can climb back into first place in the NFC South with a win over Chicago on Sunday night. Minnesota added RB Ameer Abdullah to add depth at that position.
11. Washington (6-3). Last week: 10.
Fentress says: Washington is winning despite its offense, which ranks 27th in the NFL and has produced just 93 points in the teams last five games. However, Washington won four of those five games. Eventually, in order to contend, the offense must improve.
12. Tennessee Titans (5-4). Last week: 18.
Fentress says: Two weeks ago, some were wondering of QB Marcus Mariota was holding back this team. After wins at Dallas two games ago and a 34-10 over New England on Sunday, it appears that the former Oregon QB is indeed a catalyst. That said, Tennessee’s defense is its more important entity at the moment.
13. Green Bay Packers (4-4-1), Last week: 16.
Fentress says: Green Bay must win Thursday at Seattle in order to keep pace in the NFC North.
14. Seattle Seahawks (4-5). Last week: 14.
Fentress says: Seattle is even more desperate for a win Thursday against Green Bay.
15. Cincinnati Bengals (5-4). Last week: 12.
Fentress says: The Bengals gave up a combined 96 points to the Saints and Kansas City. But they are above .500.
16. Indianapolis Colts (4-5). Last week: 21.
Fentress says: Don’t look now but the Colts have won three consecutive games and play at the Titans this weekend.
17. Dallas Cowboys (4-5). Last week: 22.
Fentress says: Good win at Philadelphia keeps the Cowboys alive. For now.
18. Baltimore Ravens (4-5). Last week: 19.
Fentress says: Losers of three straight, the Ravens must win next two games over Bengals and Raiders to have a shot at the postseason.
19. Atlanta Falcons (4-5). Last week: 13.
Fentress says: Inexplicable loss at Cleveland could ultimately end the Falcons’ playoff hopes.
20. Miami Dolphins (5-5). Last week: 15.
Fentress says: Miami has won just two of its last seven games.
21. Philadelphia Eagles (4-5). Last week: 17.
Fentress says: QB Carson Wentz is playing well (108.5 passer rating) but the rest of the team is not responding.
22. Cleveland Browns (3-6-1). Last week: 26.
Fentress says: Rookie RB Nick Chubb went for 176 yards in win over Atlanta.
23. Denver Broncos (3-6). Last week: 24.
Fentress says: Undrafted rookie RB Phillip Lindsay is outplaying third-round pick Royce Freeman.
24. Buffalo Bills (3-7). Last week: 30.
Fentress says: Who knew that QB Matt Barkley was still in the NFL let alone capable of leading a team to a 41-10 win at the Jets. Good for him.
25. Detroit Lions (3-6). Last week: 20.
Fentress says: QB Matthew Stafford was sacked six times at Chicago.
26. Jacksonville Jaguars (3-6). Last week: 23.
Fentress says: A five-game losing streak has not convinced the Jaguars that they are out of it.
27. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (3-6). Last week: 25.
Fentress says: Coach Dirk Koetter called the plays for the first time this season and the team lost 16-3 to Washington. Not good for job security.
28. New York Jets (3-7). Last week: 27.
Fentress says: Coach Todd Bowles might have lost his job with that 41-10 loss to the Bills, at home.
29. Arizona Cardinals (2-7). Last week: 28.
Fentress says: Regardless of what coach Steve Wilkes says, losing 26-14 to Kansas City was indeed a moral victory.
30. New York Giants (2-7). Last week: 31.
Fentress says: WR Odell Beckham had two touchdown grabs in win over the 49ers to double his season total.
31. San Francisco 49ers (2-7). Last week: 29.
Fentress says: San Francisco is better off losing every game remaining.
32. Oakland Raiders (1-8). Last week: 32.
Fentress says: Owner Mark Davis is acting as if he expected to win right away with Jon Gruden.