NFL Power Rankings for Week 11 are going to provide some of the most scattershot results you’ve ever seen this late in the season. The NFL continues to provide us with some of the most entertaining games we’ve seen in quite some time. The sheer randomness of outcomes makes this season feel like college football with NFL quality play.
NFL Power Rankings Week 11 | Tier 5: Let’s pack it up and start NFL Draft prep
These teams have been at the bottom of the barrel for a while, but they’ve at least been competitive the past few weeks — aside from Houston.
32) Houston Texans
The Texans are dead last in offensive efficiency — by a whole lot. They also rank 27th in defensive efficiency, at least in expected points added per play. Houston possesses a depleted roster and horrific quarterback play, which didn’t appear to change much as Tyrod Taylor returned before the bye week.
31) Detroit Lions
In a year where we’ve seen some awful quarterback play, no one has sustained their awfulness like Jared Goff. Still, the Lions continue to compete, this time in a 16-16 tie against the Ben Roethlisberger-less Pittsburgh Steelers.
Goff threw for 54 yards in regulation. He’s not a functional NFL QB at this point, but he’s still probably a better option than David Blough. Although, I’m not sure about that.
I wish I could say the Lions deserved to beat the Steelers, but both teams played this game as if they were actively tanking for draft position. A tie continues Detroit’s winless streak!
30) Jacksonville Jaguars
I must admit, it’s been fun to watch the Jaguars compete. Unfortunately, there was too much to overcome against the Colts. A Trevor Lawrence fumble was the finisher. It was a brutal end to a hard-fought contest.
The Jaguars are one of the better running teams in the NFL. They need to become even more run-heavy because they do not find pleasing results when passing.
Depending on the play, the Jaguars either fail to protect, fail to catch, or fail to accurately throw. There is so much that can and does go wrong in their passing attack. So, they should simply avoid it.
Jacksonville’s defense stepped up on Sunday. In particular, their passing defense is outstanding. This is the second week in a row they’ve appeared to improve on the back end. That’s something to monitor going forward.
29) Miami Dolphins
We’re all still confused about what transpired on Thursday, right? Tua Tagovailoa wasn’t healthy enough to start, but he was healthy enough to take over after some awful quarterback play from Jacoby Brissett?
The Dolphins are lost, but if Tua gets healthy and somehow remains healthy enough to finish the season, Miami could do enough offensively to stay in games. The issues are offensive and defensive, but the defense wasn’t supposed to be such a struggle.
The Dolphins rise in the NFL Power Rankings this week after an impressive performance against Baltimore, but they must continue to improve on both sides to become consistently competitive.
NFL Power Rankings Week 11 | Tier 4: Bad teams, but “Any Given Sunday”
We’re keeping the tier name for another week because this is truly a group of teams that can blow up for a week and beat darned good clubs before losing their next game by 30 points.
28) New York Jets
This team is boom or bust. The Jets might be the worst team in football when things misfire, but they’ve won two games against top-10 teams in the NFL Power Rankings.
Mike White’s run as a surprisingly good young backup quarterback came to an end against the league’s most superior defensive unit, the Bills. If you bet on anything other than this happening after Buffalo laid an egg against Jacksonville, I hope you at least got outstanding odds.
The inconsistent highlight wins for a team with a roster this bad is a good sign. New York is throwing everything they have at teams, and they’re either being destroyed or winning. The Jets are at least another full year away from competing, so any positives this season should be applauded.
27) Chicago Bears
I hate seeing Justin Fields taking a sabbatical just as he’s heating up in his rookie campaign, but that is the world’s timing for us! The Bears will return against the Ravens, which is a bit unfortunate, except it gives them two weeks to look at how Wink Martindale will attack their young signal-caller.
The Bears have been downright bad on offense this year, but what looked to be a surprising defense has turned to dust before their eyes over the past few weeks. What started as a nearly top-10 unit through the first four weeks turned into the 30th-ranked defense from Weeks 5-9. As Fields improves, Chicago’s defense must find their center, or this team won’t compete in many games moving forward.
26) New York Giants
The Giants have been bad on both offense and defense through their first nine games, and there is little hope of improvement in the final half of the season, at least offensively.
They have the talent to improve defensively, but they don’t possess a consistent pass rusher on the edge. Azeez Ojulari has flashed as a pass rusher, but on a per-rush basis, many of the other rookie edge defenders have been similarly — or more — effective in smaller samples. But it’s been poor linebacker play that’s hurt the Giants the most on defense.
Offensively, they have weapons, but an atrocious offensive line and a bad offensive coordinator limit their efforts. Even when Daniel Jones plays well and takes care of the ball, his supporting cast leaves a lot to be desired. New York can’t run the football at all, making things more difficult for the young quarterback.
25) Washington Football Team
For some odd reason, Taylor Heinicke is a competent NFL QB against the Buccaneers and the Buccaneers alone. Washington wasn’t explosive on Sunday, but they were potent on third down, finishing 11-for-19 on the day. They were also 2-for-2 on fourth down.
The Football Team dominated possession, and a long fourth-quarter touchdown drive sealed the deal. Don’t be fooled; this is still an awful football team. Thanks in part to the loss of Chase Young and Montez Sweat, the production they found won’t be replicable over multiple weeks.
We often see teams play out of their skulls when key players go down. We’ve seen the Saints beat the Buccaneers with Trevor Siemian, and we’ve seen Mike White play like an MVP for a week. Heck, the Cowboys beat the Vikings without Dak Prescott! Maybe that will happen in Washington.
24) Seattle Seahawks
Maybe Russell Wilson should have rehabbed for 20 hours a day. That hour could have been the difference between a win and a loss against the Packers, whose offense struggled in a bad weather game in Green Bay.
At 3-5, I fully expected the Seahawks and a returning Wilson to win this game and get back into the playoff hunt. But the offense looked terrible against what’s continually looking like a dominant Green Bay defense.
The Seahawks must correct their offensive woes, or they’ll have a losing season for the first time in Wilson’s career. Not just overall, but with him as a starter — Wilson is currently 2-4 in 2021.
23) Atlanta Falcons
The Falcons ran into a talented team that returned a crucial offensive piece in WR Michael Gallup. It doesn’t help that the Cowboys’ offense looked completely inept against the Broncos, which should never happen.
Dallas was very, very mad, and they took it out on Atlanta. We shouldn’t be surprised. Defensive coordinator Dan Quinn came from Atlanta. The Cowboys came back in dramatic fashion last season against a bad Falcons team they should have stomped. Dallas wanted to win this one big.
They decided to put up 29 points on this Atlanta defense in the second quarter alone. The Falcons aren’t a terrible football team, but they’re not great, either. They’ve beaten the Saints, but their other wins are against the Giants, Jets, and Dolphins. Atlanta has a lot to prove against the Patriots, who are rolling in the AFC.
22) San Francisco 49ers
I want to believe in this team, but I simply can’t. If George Kittle and Deebo Samuel can be consistently efficient targets, this offense can suffice. Elijah Mitchell struggled against the Rams but has been a spark otherwise.
It’s tough to get a feel for how good this team might be because they got a lead so early they were able to practically run the clock out, particularly with their outstanding third-down performance.
In what has been an incredibly weird season, it wouldn’t surprise me to see this team make a small run and be a playoff contender late. But that could be me putting unwarranted faith in Kyle Shanahan.
NFL Power Rankings Week 11 | Tier 3: Flawed teams winning games
It wouldn’t surprise me to see any of these teams in the playoffs, but none of them are serious enough contenders to do more than a week of damage should they get there.
21) Pittsburgh Steelers
The Steelers lost Ben Roethlisberger to a positive COVID-19 test result, and they also lost some playoff position in a tie to the Lions. They didn’t deserve to win, but the Lions didn’t either.
It was the most engaging dumpster fire I’ve seen in quite some time. The weather was ugly, the quarterback play was worse, and the randomness of the overtime period was comical.
I’ve felt Pittsburgh was fraudulent for a while, but this wasn’t the game to prove it. They probably win this game with Roethlisberger. As ugly as it has been for him in 2021, he’s still markedly better than Mason Rudolph. The Steelers need to make a move in the offseason to acquire Big Ben’s heir apparent.
20) Philadelphia Eagles
This might be a “hot take,” but I don’t think this is necessarily a bad football team. Philadelphia’s losses are against Dallas, Kansas City, Tampa Bay, Las Vegas, and the Los Angeles Chargers.
Recently, the Eagles showed they could employ multiple offensive game plans depending on the opponent. They’ve gone incredibly run-heavy at times and thrown the ball quite a bit at others.
But it’s clear this offense has taken a step forward as they’ve leaned on allowing Jalen Hurts to play to his strength as a runner. Now, sustainability will always be a question, simply because you don’t want your QB getting hurt running 10+ times a game. However, as Hurts continues to progress as a passer, he gives them the ability to compete in games.
Against a strong Broncos secondary, Hurts played well for the most part, aside from one decently unattractive interception when the game was already out of hand.
19) Carolina Panthers
There was a ton of emotion surrounding the Panthers this week, so it’s tough to gain much of anything from their dominant win against the Cardinals. If Kyler Murray had been healthy, this could have been a statement. Yet, Carolina’s first three scores were aided by Arizona turnovers.
This defense, however, is fun. They’re a top-10 unit on paper, and the Panthers are top-three in defensive EPA/play. Furthermore, they’re just outside the top five in DVOA.
It’s a talented bunch, and if Cam Newton can actually come in and play sufficiently, this team could win a few tightly contested defensive games down the stretch and make a playoff run.
But we aren’t there yet. Let’s see them do it for the next few weeks against Washington and Miami. Then we can talk about possibly making a postseason run.
18) Minnesota Vikings
Minnesota needed a win against the Chargers to save their season, and they got just that. It’s hard to imagine this team being bad enough to be 3-6, and luckily for us, we don’t have to see it.
Their five losses are all to teams with a good chance of making the playoffs in 2021. Now, they have a win against such a squad after beating the Chargers. Justin Jefferson is ridiculous, and it looks like Kirk Cousins took my advice and the advice of everybody watching him — he just went out and slung it.
At least it felt that way during portions of the game. Losing Danielle Hunter is tough for Minnesota’s defense, but if the offense can get back to their old ways, the Vikings are strong enough on defense to earn a Wild Card berth later in the season. I got the score wrong, but I felt this win coming.
17) Indianapolis Colts
The Colts are a bit boom-or-bust defensively at times, and that inconsistency shows quite often. They’re one of the best run-defending teams in the league. That is the reason I didn’t expect this game to be as close as it ended up. It’s not often that good defense beats good offense, but it can often end that way in the running game.
On Sunday, the Jaguars’ rushing attack carried them to a close loss while their passing attack continued to flounder. Indianapolis edge rusher Kwity Paye has been a fun addition to this defense, and DeForest Buckner is a monster on the interior. The boom-or-bust nature of this team is best seen in their linebacker and quarterback play.
Carson Wentz and Darius Leonard try to make the play every time they step foot on the field. The Colts will need them to play outstanding football going forward if they want a shot at the playoffs, as their schedule isn’t as favorable as most contenders.
16) Denver Broncos
Although I don’t necessarily believe the Broncos are an utterly fraudulent team, it is disappointing that they looked so good against Dallas and so bad against the Eagles. They moved the ball decently enough on a per-play basis, but they were almost wholly blanked on third downs (1-of-9).
It was Denver’s short-field effort that was pedestrian enough to show a blowout on the board. The Broncos went 1-for-5 in the red zone. They scored a touchdown on their first possession, and that was it. Denver followed that up with a FG, a blocked FG, a FG, and a fumble that was returned for a touchdown by Darius Slay.
I believe the Eagles are better than their 4-6 record may suggest, which keeps the 5-5 Broncos from sliding too far after the loss.
15) Cleveland Browns
At this point, it’s impossible to rank the Browns high in the NFL Power Rankings. They are a talented team held back by complete inconsistency at the quarterback position. Baker Mayfield is either too physically broken to play well, or he’s both mentally and physically broken enough not to play solid football week in and week out.
Either way, he’s missed out on his lucrative payday in 2021. Now, all he can hope for is a possible Wild Card birth depending on his injury status. The thing is, with as inconsistent as the AFC has looked so far, Cleveland still has a chance — not just at the division, but the top seed in the conference.
They won’t get there because of their inconsistent play, but the talent is there to go on a playoff run.
14) New Orleans Saints
The Saints didn’t necessarily play badly. They simply didn’t play quite well enough to win. Trevor Siemian survived against the Titans. Heck, if the Saints don’t miss two extra points, they might win this game 24-23.
Looking at the rest of their schedule, 10-7 shouldn’t be ruled out. I expect 9-8 or 10-7, which gives New Orleans a good shot at a Wild Card spot in a top-heavy NFC. Their defense continued their solid per-play production, allowing only 4.6 net yards per play to the Titans, which is more than a full yard lower than the league average. It was a loss, but it was a good “style points” loss for the NFL Power Rankings.