Defensive Rookie of the Year candidate safety Eric Berry and the Kansas City Chiefs are looking to stay at the top of the AFC West as the 2010 NFL Season enters it’s 4th quarter
With only six weeks left in the NFL Season, the intensity has surely picked-up around the league. With America’s holiday, Thanksgiving , upon us there are 23 teams with records ranging from 4-6 to 8-2 hoping to be thankful for one of the NFL’s 12 coveted playoff berths come this January.
But there is still is a lot of football left to be played and nothing has been guaranteed in a season where “perfection” left the door in Week 5. If nothing else, this has been one topsy-turvy season that has many scratching their heads (can you say Cleveland Browns thumping the New England Patriots in WK9). So every NFL team better be prepared weekly as our separation of teams into “Contenders” and “Pretenders” continues.
In looking at the current NFL standings here’s the breakdown: The “Elite” – Patriots (8-2), Falcons (8-2), NY Jets (8-2), Eagles (7-3), and Saints (7-3); The “Contenders” — Bears (7-3), Packers (7-3), Ravens (7-3), Steelers (7-3), and Bucs (7-3); “Stuck in the Middle” inconsistent teams, who are caught in the NFL’s large parity-filled middle and need to either join the playoff hunt or fall back — Colts (6-4), Chiefs (6-4), Seahawks (5-5), Raiders (5-5), Redskins (5-5), Chargers (5-5), Browns (4-6), Texans (4-6) and Rams (4-6); The “Pretenders”, who are only a shade away from the league’s bottom rung – Vikings (3-7), Cowboys (3-7), Broncos (3-7) and Niners (3-7); and lastly the “Ugly” (See at the 2011 NFL Draft) – Cardinals (3-7), Lions (2-8), Benglas (2-8), Panthers (2-8), and Bills (2-8)
The division standings also are very tight heading into the 4th quarter of the 2010 NFL Season. Philadelphia Eagles (NFC East — 1 game lead over NYG), Atlanta Falcons (NFC South — 1 game lead over NO/TB), Green Bay Packers/Chicago Bears (NFC North — 4 game lead over MIN), Seahawks (NFC West — 1 game lead over STL), Indianapolis Colts/Jacksonville Jaguars (AFC South — 1 game lead over TEN), Pittsburgh Steelers/Baltimore Ravens (AFC North — 3 game lead over CLE), New England Patriots and NY Jets tied (AFC East — 2 game lead over MIA), Kansas City Chiefs (AFC West — 1 game over OAK/SD)
Now on to the rankings for this week.
1. Patriots (8-2) – Even after their hiccup in Week 9 against the Browns, Bill Belichick’s team continues to look like the NFL’s top playoff contender. In Week 11, the Brady Bunch followed-up a solid win over the Steelers by doing just enough to get by the scrappy Colts in an AFC playoff type game. This week on Turkey Day, the Pats will hope to feast on the better than their record host Detroit Lions.
2. NY Jets (8-2) – Don’t give me that this team is “Living on a Prayer”. There is no way that Rex Ryan’s team is not one of the NFL’s best, especially with the way QB Mark Sanchez is playing. In Week 11, it was the Houston Texans turn to experience the ice-water in WR Santonio Holmes veins. In the Thanksgiving nightcap, the J-E-T-S will host the floundering Bengals in a 2009 playoff game rematch.
3. Falcons (8-2) – Though I saw my hometown Eagles beat the Falcons earlier this year, Mike Smith’s team is starting to make a believer out of me. In an entertaining game, the NFL’s new triplets (Ryan, Turner, and White) led Atlanta to a solid win over the pesky St. Louis Rams. In a game that could have huge playoff implications, the Falcons will look to go 19-1 under Ryan in the Dome as they take on the NFC North leading Green Bay Packers.
4. Eagles (7-3) – Head Coach Andy Reid continues to ride the MV7 Express as QB Michael Vick’s redemption story is getting more compelling by the day. In an NFC East slugfest, the Birds fed off NY Giants’ turnovers (5) to sloppy home win that put them in first place. In a crucial road game that could have playoff implications, the Eagles will go back to Chicago – this time without McNabb – looking for a big win over the NFC North leading Bears.
5. Saints (7-3) – The champs have overcome a ton adversity in their title defense season – including using 9 different RB’s – and they are still right in the middle of the NFC South division race. QB Drew Brees continued his comeback from some early season interception woes by leading the Saints over the reeling Seahawks. In Week 12, the Saints will travel to Dallas on Thanksgiving looking for some revenge from last season.
6. Steelers (7-3) — Even though Roethlisberger’s jaw is not looking that stout, the rest of Pittsburgh’s team is looking like they are ready to fight to get back in the playoffs in 2010. In Week 11, the Steelers dominated their former 70’s rival, the Oakland Raiders, in a good home win. Next up for the Men of Steel is a potential “Trap Game” special as Mike Tomlin’s bunch shuffles off to Buffalo to take on the rising Bills.
7. Ravens (7-3) – As the weeks click by, the anticipation is growing toward the Ravens-Steelers grudge match in Week 13 that could decide the AFC North crown. After a slow start, QB Joe Flacco led Baltimore to an easy win over the putrid Carolina Panthers. In Week 12, Head Coach John Harbaugh will need to get the ball more to WR Anquan Boldin as the Ravens host the looking-for-respect Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
8. Packers (7-3) – Wow that was easy!! In a tale of two teams headed in separate directions, the Packers moved into an NFC North first-place tie by humiliating their host, the Minnesota Vikings. Green Bay QB Aaron Rodgers will look to continue his march toward the 2011 Pro Bowl as the Pack heads to Hotlanta to face the Falcons in a possible playoff battle.
9. Bears (7-3) – Though I am still not sold on Lovie Smith’s team, the Bears continue to maul whomever is in front of them. In an extremely ugly Thursday Night Football Game, Chicago’s defense showed their teeth in a dominating win over the floundering Dolphins. In a sure to be Black-and-Blue special, the Bears will host the rising Philadelphia Eagles and SI Cover player, QB Michael Vick.
10. Colts (6-4) – I find it absolutely incredible, what QB Peyton Manning is doing with probably the NFL’s most beat-up team. The Colts more than held their own in a tough road loss to their old nemesis, the New England Patriots…BTW bad pick at the end of the game, Peyton. However I caution everyone to not bury No. 18 and his team just yet as they will look to rebound against resurgent San Diego Chargers in a huge NBC Sunday Night Football game.
11. Bucs (7-3) – Sorry Raheem Morris, but I still need more evidence to think that your young team is a playoff contender. However right now, you have to think Morris is a leading candidate for NFL Coach of the Year. The Bucs stayed in the exciting NFC South race with the Falcons and Saints by embarrassing the host Niners. In one of Week 12’s most anticipated games, Tampa wants some R-E-S-P-E-C-T as they travel to the Charm City looking for respect against Ray Lewis and Ravens.
12. Chiefs (6-4) – Another team that is battling the Nation’s impression that they are not a fraud. KC currently leads the AFC West after a rather easy win over the struggling Cardinals. If the Chiefs want to continue to show their mettle they will need in Seattle against former AFC West rival, the Seahawks
13. Chargers (5-5) – Don’t look now, but Norv Turner’s team is making their usual late season run. In Week 11, San Diego further buried the underachieving Broncos. Next up is huge road game against the playoff tested Colts.
14. Jaguars (6-4) – Another week, Another win but the questions abound about Jack Del Rio’s team. The Jaguars outlasted the tougher than their record Browns. Next up is a huge respect battle with the host New York Giants.
15. New York Giants (6-4) – The NFC East is no longer solely the G-Men’s playground as the Philadelphia Eagles took control of the division’s top spot in a big SNF win. Next up is a Contender/Pretender match-up with the Jaguars.
16. Raiders (5-5) – Still trying to prove their awful play from the 2000’s is behind them. Next up Oakland hosts the .500 Dolphins
17. Redskins (5-5) – Don’t bury Shanahan and McNabb just yet. The .500 ‘Skins will look to stay in the playoff hunt as they host the Vikings
18. Texans (4-6) – The not ready for Prime Time Texans lost another close one, this time to the NY Jets. Next up is a huge AFC South showdown with the Titans.
19. Dolphins (5-5) – On Thursday Night football, Miami was awful as they were embarrassed at home by the Bears. Next up are the Raiders in a “Get Over .500” Special
20. Seahawks (5-5) – Probably the NFL’s most inconsistent team as they were thumped by the Saints. Next up is a surprise division leader battle the Seahawks host the Cheifs.
21. Browns (4-6) – Cleveland now has a quarterback but not much else. Next up is a Toilet Bowl special with the equally putrid Carolina Panthers.
22. Titans (5-5) – No more V.Y to kick around (thumb surgery), but Tennessee has bigger problems. Next up is an AFC South “Loser Leaves Town” match with the Texans
23. Rams (4-6) – What a resurgence for Steve Spagnuolo’s squad!! Next up is road test against the struggling Broncos
24. Cowboys (3-7) – Jason Garrett looks like the real deal after two consecutive wins. But now the Nation’s Eyes will be focused on Big D on Thanksgiving as the Cowboys host the Saints.
25. Vikings (3-7) – Bye, Bye Brad Chidress as the Vikings lockerroom got their wish to remove their unpopular former head coach. Now Leslie Frazier takes over and his first game will be against the upstart Redskins in DC.
26. Niners (3-7) – After an ugly home shutout loss to the Bucs, everyone is wondering if Iron Mike Singletary will be the next head coach out. It will be incumbent on QB Troy Smith to lead his team as the Niners face the Cardinals on Monday Night Football.
27. Lions (2-8) – What a season so far in 2010 and things should only get better as players like Suh continue to mature. You know the drill, since it is Thanksgiving then the Lions should be giving you indigestion as they lose on Turkey Day to the Patriots
28. Cardinals (3-7) – What a disappointment for Arizona! Not even in the very bad NFC West, can the Cardinals stay above a .500 winning pct. Next is a Monday Night Football stinker as Arizona meets the Niners.
29. Broncos (3-7) – This team looks to be sinking fast as the Chargers dominated Broncos on MNF. Next up is a potential season changer against the St. Louis Rams.
30. Bills (2-8) – Great stats for QB Fitzpatrick and WR Stevie Johnson or not… the Bills have a ton of work to do in the off-season. You know that Buffalo would love to get a shot at “possible” 2011 first-overall pick, Stanford QB Andrew Luck. Next up is a home battle with the “angry” Steelers.
31. Bengals (2-8) – Marvin Lewis’ team truly are the Bungles as their 2009 season success is long over. Look for the NY Jets to make the Bengals, the main course as they host Cincy in Thanksgiving’s last match-up.
32. Panthers (2-8) – You are next John Fox!! The Panthers are putrid and it will take a miracle for them to win more games in 2010. Next up is a game with the Browns on the road in Cleveland, which I am dubbing the “Toilet Bowl”.
Lloyd Vance is a NFL Writer for Taking It to the House and Sports Journey Network , who is also an award-winning member of the Pro Football Writers of America (PFWA)
Filed under: 2010 NFL Power Rankings, 2010 NFL Season, 2010 NFL Week 12, NFL | Tagged: 2010 NFL Power Rankings, 2010 NFL Season, 2010 NFL Week 12, 2010 Playoff Contenders, Eric Berry, Football, Kansas City Chiefs, NFL, Parity, Sports | Leave a comment »