A confession: putting together NFL Power Rankings this season is impossible on a week-to-week basis. You have 10 or so teams that look like legitimate, top-of-the-mountain contenders, but no one's separating themselves in that group. Then there are about a dozen teams that are just mediocre, flat-out bad teams. And then there's a handful of teams hovering around the .500 mark that aren't particularly good or bad.
So where do we land this week? With the Patriots back on top, following an emphatic thumping of the Steelers in Pittsburgh on Sunday night. Right behind them is Philadelphia, which crushed Washington on Monday night. The lesson: win big in prime time and you get to move up the rankings.
Check out where everyone else landed in our Week 11 Power Rankings:
- 1. Patriots (7-2 | Last Week: 4
Tom Brady put on a clinic at Pittsburgh on Sunday night. But more encouraging than that for the Patriots was that their line won the battles in the trenches almost all night against a physical Steelers team. Brady had time, Ben Roethlisberger did not, and that was one of the differences in the game.
- 2. Eagles (6-3) | Last Week: 10
Be afraid of Michael Vick. Against the Redskins, Vick threw for three touchdowns and ran for two more -- and that was before halftime. The Eagles set a franchise record for first-quarter and first-half points, and did everything right while trashing division foe Washington Monday night. A date with the Giants next week gives the Eagles a chance to solidify themselves as the class of the NFC East, if not the entire conference. -- Michael Katz
- 3. Falcons (7-2) | Last Week: 3
The Falcons finally got that big win against an elite team in Week 10, when they drove the field with 65 seconds left to play to top the Ravens. The next hurdle for the Falcons comes with four of their next five games on the road. Get through to Week 16 unscathed and the sky is the limit. -- Knox Bardeen
- 4. Jets (7-2) | Last Week: 7
This isn't exactly an emphatic jump in the rankings from last week. The Jets' two-game win streak over Detroit and Cleveland, both games that went to overtime, isn't exactly the stuff of legends. On the other hand, winning two in a row on the road this season is a major accomplishment.
- 5. Packers (6-3) | Last Week: 6
The Packers enjoyed an off week, perhaps got a couple guys healthier, and now need to get ready for a big portion of their schedule. Sunday at Minnesota won't be any kind of picnic, and roadies to Atlanta and New England are coming up, too. The tight playoff race means the Packers better find a way to win a couple of these. -- Bruce Ciskie
- 6. Giants (6-3) | Last Week: 1
Last week, the Giants moved into the top spot in our power rankings and looked poised to run away with the NFC East. After losing to the formerly hapless Cowboys, they will have to fight the Eagles for the division during a Week 11 showdown in Philadelphia. But if Eli Manning stops giving the ball away (two interceptions vs. Dallas, 13 this season), they should be in good shape. -- MK
- 7. Colts (6-3) | Last Week: 8
You look at Indianapolis' banged-up roster, and watch the Colts struggle with Cincinnati one week after losing to Philadelphia, and think that the Colts might not be that dangerous. Yet, there they are at 6-3 on top of their division. If they make the playoffs, this will still be a team no one wants to play.
- 8. Ravens (6-3) | Last Week: 2
There was something troubling about how Baltimore lost Thursday night -- there's no shame, of course, in losing at Atlanta. But watching the Falcons march down the field in the final seconds for a game-winning touchdown showed that there are some flaws in the Ravens' defense.
- 9. Steelers (6-3) | Last Week: 5
Sunday night, the Steelers couldn't block, couldn't generate a pass rush, couldn't cover anyone and couldn't make a kick. That is, obviously, not a great combination. A visit from Oakland Sunday either will help the Steelers turn things back around or push their season to the brink of falling apart.
- 10. Saints (6-3) | Last Week: 9
The Saints just won three of their last four games against teams with a combined 10-13 record. It gets even better over the next four weeks with matchups against Seattle, Dallas, Cincinnati and St. Louis -- teams with a combined 13-23 record. New Orleans will also start to get its stable of running backs healed over the next few weeks. -- KB
- 11. Raiders (5-4) | Last Week: 12
What a bye week for the Raiders, who moved into first place -- remember, their Week 9 win over the Chiefs gives them the tiebreaker. Is this team legit? Well, they gave the 49ers their first win four weeks ago. So which is the real team? We should know after this week's contest with the Steelers. -- R.J. White
- 12. Bears (6-3) | Last Week: 16
People keep sleeping on the Bears, and they keep winning football games. They were dominated for large parts of the Vikings game, but kept Minnesota out of the end zone when they needed to, and got some plays from Jay Cutler to make people forget about his horrifying end-zone interception. -- BC
- 13. Buccaneers (6-3) | Last Week: 15
The Buccaneers became the first team since 2002 to start seven rookies and win a game. Not only are their young starters flourishing, but rookies like LeGarrette Blount are pitching in in dramatic fashion. Look at the youth movement and skill level of this team and try to convince yourself they aren't going to be a force to be reckoned with very soon. -- KB
- 14. Seahawks (5-4) | Last Week: 25
Sunday's game against the Cardinals could have been the one that ultimately decides the NFC West, and the Seahawks did everything they needed to do to become the clear favorite in the division. Matt Hasselbeck and Mike Williams picked up where they left off a few weeks ago, and Justin Forsett may be legitimizing the ground game. -- RW
- 15. Jaguars (5-4) | Last Week: 19
This may be the perfect team for this crazy NFL season. Jacksonville has still been outscored by 54 points this season, but with a Hail Mary victory over Houston Sunday, is still very much in the thick of both the playoff and AFC South race. The schedule's about to kick up a notch, though.
- 16. Dolphins (5-4) | Last Week: 13
Yeah, the Dolphins won in Week 10, but they still drop three spots in our rankings -- one for each quarterback they had to use against Tennessee. This is now the Tyler Thigpen Show, which may not wind up being that much worse than the Chad Henne and Chad Pennington Show, but it can't really be any better.
- 17. Chargers (4-5) | Last Week: 17
The Chargers got back into the AFC West pictures with two wins against good teams in Weeks 8 and 9, and they gained another half-game during their bye with the Kansas City loss. Remember, the Chargers tend to get it going at this point of the season. They play Monday night this week, and Sunday night next week, so we'll all see if they can do it again soon. -- RW
- 18. Titans (5-4) | Last Week: 11
"They beat us with basically no quarterback," Jovan Haye moaned after Miami's victory over Tennessee Sunday. That's a frustrating truth for Tennessee. The good news? The Titans can make or break their own season over the next five weeks -- a stretch that includes four games at home and four matchups with division rivals.
- 19. Chiefs (5-4) | Last Week: 14
At least now we know Matt Cassel can put up big fantasy stats when he has the opportunity. Unfortunately for the Chiefs, they're at their best when the running game is dominating the box score. Now losers of two straight division games, the Chiefs will look to re-establish themselves against Arizona. -- RW
- 20. Texans (4-5) | Last Week: 20
It was already starting to feel like this (again) wasn't Houston's year to break through and grab a playoff spot. A last-second, Hail Mary loss in Week didn't do anything to quell those fears. A trip to New York to play the Jets in Week 11 has become a virtual must-win for Houston.
- 21. Broncos (3-6) | Last Week: 29
The embarrassee becomes the embarrasser. After getting totally annihilated by the Raiders three weeks ago, the Broncos reversed the script against division-leader Kansas City on Sunday. The offensive line is playing better than it has all season, which bodes well for an offense that has been living and dying on Kyle Orton's arm. -- RW
- 22. Rams (4-5) | Last Week: 22
Throw out the blowout loss to the Lions in Week 5, and the Rams haven't lost by more than four points this season, with the margin of defeat in their four non-Detroit losses totaling only 10 points. Flipping it around, the Rams haven't topped 20 points but once this season, and that'll have to change with games against Atlanta and Denver on tap. -- RW
- 23. Browns (3-6) | Last Week: 21
Cleveland had a couple of chances to knock off the Jets Sunday before falling in overtime. The Browns also had one chance to run out the clock in OT and take the tie, but instead opted to try and ... well, it's hard to say exactly what they were doing late. Whatever it was resulted in a heartbreaking loss that may kill any positive momentum Cleveland had rolling.
- 24. Redskins (4-5) | Last Week: 18
Um, where to begin? Uh oh -- while we were figuring that out the Redskins defense just allowed another 28 points. The defense was shredded by the Eagles Monday, and Donovan McNabb looked shaky in his first game since signing a mega-extension that included $40 million guaranteed. It was a sad display for the Skins on national television – luckily most of the fans at FedEx Field didn't stick around for the second half. Washington isn't done, but they've lost two straight to move below .500 and appear headed in the wrong direction -- MK
- 25. 49ers (3-6) | Last Week: 28
The 49ers won going into their Week 9 bye, then topped the Rams in a hard-fought overtime game Sunday, putting them just two games back in the NFC West. Troy Smith is cementing his position as the team's starting quarterback -- and he gets another home game to prove himself in Week 11 against Tampa Bay. -- RW
- 26. Vikings (3-6) | Last Week: 23
They're simply not that good. At 3-6, and with six NFC teams sitting at 6-3 -- plus Atlanta at 7-2 -- it looks almost beyond any realistic hope for the Vikings to make the playoffs. Now, it's all about Brad Childress' job and Brett Favre's consecutive-games streak. Then again, you could argue it's been all about that most of the season. -- BC
- 27. Cardinals (3-6) | Last Week: 26
Yes, the passing game looks like it's clicking, but the Cardinals must get their act together on the ground, where Tim Hightower looks like a far cry from a lead running back. The defense should get most of the blame for the team's current four-game losing streak, as teams are scoring over 30 points per game during the Cardinals' last four. -- RW
- 28. Cowboys (2-7) | Last Week: 32
Jerry Jones gave Jason Garrett the game ball after the win against New York, and Garrett deserved it. In his first game since taking over for Wade Phillips, the Cowboys looked, well, how the Cowboys were supposed to look from the beginning. At 2-7, it's too late for Dallas this season, but Garrett will have time to compile a compelling case for losing the interim tag in Big D in 2011 and beyond. -- MK
- 29. Bills (1-8) | Last Week: 30
Bust out the champagne, 2008 Detroit Lions, your 0-16 mark is safe. Buffalo finally got into the win column with a victory over -- who else -- the Lions, and turned in a pretty stout defensive effort to do it.
- 30. Lions (2-7) | Last Week: 24
Just another close, gut-wrenching loss for Detroit. They might not win more than three or four games total, but there's no question the Lions are a lot better than they were in 2008 or 2009. Of course, another long-term injury to Matthew Stafford means their development could suffer a real setback. -- BC
- 31. Bengals (2-7) | Last Week: 27
Somewhat amazingly, Terrell Owens and Chad Ochocinco appear to be working harder and harder as Cincinnati's season falls apart faster and faster. Will that continue? Or will they eventually snap amidst the weight of this team's overwhelming flop?
- 32. Panthers (1-8) | Last Week: 31
With a 1-8 record and an anemic offense that has been blasted by injuries, it's obvious that a change needs to be made. Is John Fox a lame-duck coach that will keep his job through the end of the season, or will he be ousted earlier for an interim coach? -- KB