NFL Nation: 2013 NFL Week 10 Power Rankings

A weekly examination of the Cardinals' ESPN.com Power Ranking:

Preseason: 26 | Last Week: 17 | ESPN.com Power Ranking since 2002

All is calm on the Western Front.

The Cardinals exit a bye week in the same place they entered it, at 17th in the ESPN.com Power Rankings. They start the second half of the season with a stretch that could put them in prime position for a run at the playoffs. Four of Arizona's next eight opponents are sitting behind it in the Power Rankings, but that means little unless the Cardinals can build on their last game before the bye -- a 27-13 win over the Atlanta Falcons.

It wasn’t so much the outcome that could propel the Cards into the second half as it was the means in which they earned the victory. For the first time this season, Arizona looked like a true offense. Its running game came to life, ate up yards and gave the passing game the time it needed.

But with Cardinals coach Bruce Arians saying this week that starter Rashard Mendenhall is looking healthy after the bye, rookie Andre Ellington -- who starred in the Atlanta game -- may not see as many carries.
A weekly examination of the Vikings' ESPN.com Power Ranking:

Preseason: 17 | Last Week: 30 | ESPN.com Power Ranking since 2002

The Vikings continue to be stuck at No. 30, but as they lose more and more games, one could make the argument they'd be better served by dropping to one of the bottom two spots in the rankings. They are 1-7 after a 27-23 loss to the Dallas Cowboys on Sunday -- during which they allowed a last-minute touchdown for the third time this year -- but if the season ended today, the Vikings would pick third in the draft behind the Jacksonville Jaguars and Tampa Bay Buccaneers. In a year when two or three of those teams could be delving into a deep quarterback class, it might help the Vikings to be picking first or second so they would have a better chance of getting the top guy on their draft board.

Minnesota has a quick turnaround this week, with a Thursday game coming up against the Washington Redskins. Then, the Vikings go to Seattle and Green Bay (though the latter game could look markedly different with Aaron Rodgers expected to be out) before returning home to face the Chicago Bears. There doesn't appear to be much hope of turning things around in the next few weeks, but it's worth noting the Vikings played one of their more complete games of the year on the road in Dallas before melting down in the final minutes. After defensive linemen Brian Robison and Kevin Williams criticized the defensive scheme the Vikings used during the final minutes on Sunday, coach Leslie Frazier's biggest task the rest of the way might be trying to keep the team together.
A weekly examination of the Panthers’ ESPN.com Power Ranking:

Preseason: 23 | Last Week: 12 | ESPN.com Power Ranking since 2002


Quarterback Cam Newton says the Carolina Panthers are getting into the meat of their schedule, and ESPN.com's Power Rankings are all the proof he needs.

Over the next seven weeks the No. 12 Panthers (5-3) have four games against teams ranked in the top seven, including two against NFC South rival New Orleans (6-2), ranked No. 6.

They have two more games against teams ranked in the top 20 -- the No. 14 New York Jets (5-4) and the No. 19 Miami Dolphins (4-4).

That's strong when you consider Carolina's five wins came against No. 31 Tampa Bay, No. 30 Minnesota, the No. 29 New York Giants, No. 26 Atlanta and No. 25 St. Louis.

Those teams are a combined 8-33, which is why a lot of eyes will be on Sunday's game at No. 5 San Francisco (6-2) and the following week's game at home against No. 7 New England (7-2) to see whether Carolina is for real.

The combined record of the four upcoming opponents ranked in the top seven is 25-8. That's strong. But the combined record of Carolina's second-half schedule doesn't look quite so intimidating at 36-30 thanks to games against 0-8 Tampa and 2-6 Atlanta.

If the NFL playoffs started today, the Panthers would be a wild card and the No. 6 seed in the NFC. Coach Ron Rivera believes this team has playoff potential.

The meat of the schedule will determine that.

"You play who you are supposed to play," Rivera said. "You sit there and you look at Atlanta, and you can’t tell me they’re a 2-6 team. There are a lot of good football players on that team, a lot of Pro Bowlers and All-Pros and future Hall of Famers, so you play who you play.

"Am I excited about the [upcoming] challenge? Yeah, because it’s the next biggest one. It’s the 49ers and I look forward to that challenge. We’ll get a good indication as to where we are."
A weekly examination of the Raiders' ESPN.com Power Ranking:

Preseason: 29 | Last Week: 22 | ESPN.com Power Ranking since 2002

The Raiders entered last weekend with the No. 10-ranked defense, and after getting shredded, gashed and everything else in between by Nick Foles and his NFL record-tying seven touchdown passes, their ranking fell to No. 18.

There was no such precipitous fall in our Power Rankings, though, as Oakland dropped only two spots at the midway point of its season. Yes, the manner in which the Raiders were embarrassed was a wake-up call. The question, then, is whether Oakland actually gets up this time or continues to hit the snooze button as it did a year ago when the Raiders, then as now, were sitting at 3-4.

Last year, the Raiders were steamrolled by Tampa Bay’s running game to fall to 3-5, and the blowout was the start of a six-game losing streak. Coach Dennis Allen insists this is a different team. We’ll find out soon enough.

The Raiders already ended one ignominious streak by winning their first game immediately after a bye since 2002 in beating the Pittsburgh Steelers. Now, Oakland is looking to halt an 0-for-11 skid in games played in the Eastern time zone. Paging the New York Giants.

Power Rankings: No. 25 St. Louis Rams

November, 5, 2013
11/05/13
2:00
PM ET
A weekly examination of the Rams' ESPN.com Power Ranking:

Preseason: 15 | Last week: 25 | ESPN.com Power Ranking since 2002

For the second consecutive week, the St. Louis Rams didn't take a hit after suffering a loss, though they didn't actually move up this time. This week, it was a 28-21 loss to the Tennessee Titans that kept the Rams exactly where they were last week. Once again, the Rams' position was helped by the ongoing struggles of the teams behind them.

Jamison Hensley, Kevin Seifert and Ashley Fox offered direct hits on their rankings with each placing the Rams at No. 25. ESPN Insider Mike Sando had the lowest number on the team again, placing them at No. 29, a spot lower than he had them last week. Dan Graziano thinks the most of the Rams, placing them at No. 22 for the second straight week.

At 3-6, it's hard to argue with the Rams' current spot in the Power Rankings. A legitimate argument could be made that they should be lower but for the struggles of the teams behind them. In fact, every team ranked 26-32 has fewer wins than the Rams and none have been as competitive as St. Louis in the past two weeks. A couple of plays in each of those games and the Rams could easily be 5-4 and sitting on a much better perch. For now, they are what their record says they are and their position in the Power Rankings is pretty much spot on.

Power Rankings: No. 2 Indianapolis Colts

November, 5, 2013
11/05/13
2:00
PM ET
A weekly examination of the Colts’ ESPN.com Power Ranking:

Preseason: 10 | Last Week: 3 ESPN.com Power Ranking since 2002

It appeared that the Indianapolis Colts were going to take a drastic fall in this week’s Power Rankings when they trailed the Houston Texans 21-3 after the first 30 minutes on Sunday. Then quarterback Andrew Luck and receiver T.Y. Hilton took over. Luck was 15-of-28 for 215 yards and three touchdowns in the second half. Hilton, stepping into Reggie Wayne’s role as the go-to receiver, had six catches for 115 yards and three touchdowns in that same span. And that’s why the Colts are No. 2 in this week's ranking. They have a chance to remain in one of the top spots in the second half of the season because Kansas City and Cincinnati are the only two teams currently with a winning record remaining on the Colts' schedule. What about the Colts being able to survive without Wayne the rest of the season? Never doubt them as long as Luck is back there taking the snaps. His whatever-it-takes-to-win mindset is off the charts.

Here’s where the voters ranked the Colts:

Ashley Fox: 2
Mike Sando: 1
Kevin Seifert: 4
John Clayton: 2
Dan Graziano: 4
Jamison Hensley: 4

Power Rankings: No. 20 Philadelphia

November, 5, 2013
11/05/13
2:00
PM ET
A weekly examination of the Eagles’ ESPN.com Power Ranking:

Preseason: 25| Last Week: 26 | ESPN.com Power Ranking since 2002

Quarterback Nick Foles’ record-tying seven touchdown passes helped the Eagles move up six spots in ESPN.com’s weekly Power Rankings. That’s the biggest jump on the list, a week after the Eagles had the biggest drop. A graph of the Eagles’ rankings would look like an EKG readout with sharp spikes in both directions. That seems like an accurate reflection of coach Chip Kelly’s first season. The Eagles have looked very good or very bad, with Sunday’s 49-20 romp in Oakland an example of the former.

Can it be the start of a steadier climb up the rankings? If Foles can provide consistency at quarterback, it just might.

Power Rankings: No. 15 Chargers

November, 5, 2013
11/05/13
2:00
PM ET
A weekly examination of the Chargers’ ESPN.com Power Ranking:

Preseason ranking: 23 | Last Week: 11 | ESPN.com Power Ranking since 2002

With a disappointing loss at Washington, the San Diego Chargers dropped four spots to No. 15 in this week’s ranking. The Chargers (4-4) are now 2-3 on the road this season, with five of their last eight remaining games at Qualcomm Stadium.

Even though San Diego is just a half-game behind the New York Jets for the final AFC wild-card playoff spot, the Chargers have perhaps the toughest road of any fringe playoff team in earning a postseason berth. The Chargers’ remaining opponents have a combined record of 31-19.

Defensively, the Chargers have to regroup after giving up 500 total yards and four rushing touchdowns in an overtime loss to Washington. Defensive coordinator John Pagano is tasked with devising a scheme to slow down Peyton Manning and Denver’s high-powered offense. The Chargers are 0-2 against Manning since he arrived in Denver last season.

Power Rankings: No. 32 Jaguars

November, 5, 2013
11/05/13
2:00
PM ET
A weekly examination of the Jaguars’ ESPN.com Power Ranking:

Preseason: 29 | Last Week: 32 | ESPN.com Power Ranking since 2002

Even when they don’t play a game, things don’t go well for the Jacksonville Jaguars.

The team found out on Friday that receiver Justin Blackmon, their best offensive player, has been suspended indefinitely by the NFL for violating the league’s substance abuse policy a third time. That’s a huge blow because the Jaguars’ offense had put together its best games since he returned from a four-game suspension to begin the season.

Blackmon’s suspension is another thing the team will have to overcome in order to get its first victory -- and to also climb out of the cellar in the ESPN.com Power Rankings.
A weekly examination of the Bengals' ESPN.com Power Ranking:

Preseason: 9 | Last Week: 7 | ESPN.com Power Ranking since 2002

The Cincinnati Bengals avoided a possible free fall in the ESPN.com Week 10 Power Rankings released Tuesday. Instead of dropping dramatically, they slipped only from seventh to eighth five days after losing at Miami 22-20 in overtime. The four-person voting panel agreed with most who cover the team: that while the loss wasn't good, for now, it wasn't a death knell on the season, either.

It will be interesting to track what impact injuries will have on the Bengals. With a pair of tough division games looming before a bye, one would have to imagine that wins will help them rise through the rankings, particularly given how beaten up they are. Then again, the injuries -- four players have been lost for the season since it began -- could eventually be held against them. It could be a question of, as well as the Bengals have fought through their ailments lately, how much will they be able to keep doing the same by season's end?

Cincinnati has already beaten three of the current top-10 teams and will face a fourth, No. 2 Indianapolis, later this season.
A weekly examination of the Lions' ESPN.com Power Ranking:

Preseason: 24 | Last Week: 10 | ESPN.com Power Ranking since 2002

The Lions didn’t move at all during their off weekend -- and they probably shouldn’t have anyway. On the edge of the top 10, Detroit will have ample chances to climb the rankings, starting this weekend at No. 9 Chicago, but for right now this team still has some questions to answer when it comes to its long-term stability within the division.

The Bears are one of two teams that currently have .500 records or better on the remainder of the Lions' schedule; the other is Green Bay. Both have ailing quarterbacks that may or may not be ready to return when the Lions face them. The opportunity is there for Detroit to win the division and finish the season with a sterling record along with a playoff berth, and a win against the Bears would go a ways toward solidifying that.

Power Rankings: No. 22 Washington

November, 5, 2013
11/05/13
2:00
PM ET
A weekly examination of the Redskins' ESPN.com Power Ranking:

Preseason: 10 | Last Week: 24 | ESPN.com Power Ranking since 2002

The Washington Redskins moved up in ESPN.com’s Power Rankings. But the Redskins lost ground in the NFC East, thanks to an impressive win by the Philadelphia Eagles.

The Redskins were 22nd, their highest ranking since Week 2, when they were 19th after opening the season at No. 10. This season is about minor victories thus far, and this one qualifies as minor. The Eagles moved from 26 to 20 after an impressive win at the Oakland Raiders (which included seven touchdown passes from quarterback Nick Foles).

Meanwhile, Washington had a momentum-building finish against San Diego -- the goal-line stand and a nice drive to win in overtime. But those doing the rankings were more down on what the Chargers did than impressed by the Redskins -- San Diego went from 11 to 15 in the rankings.

The good news for the Redskins is that Thursday’s opponent, Minnesota, is ranked 30th -- the Vikings' close loss at Dallas coupled with the fact that Tampa Bay and Jacksonville are still in the NFL meant they didn’t drop a spot.

If Washington really wants to make a move, not in the rankings but in the standings, then it will have to win at Minnesota. It’s not about beating a struggling team, it’s about playing well in consecutive games, something Washington has not done. If the Redskins can play well and win a second straight game, then talk of a turnaround will be more legitimate.

The Redskins have won three of their past five games and showed positive signs Sunday. Quarterback Robert Griffin III had his best game throwing the ball. His impact in two of the last three games has been strong, though in that third game Griffin played one of his worst games. Until he, and the passing game in general, show consistency, it’ll be hard for the Redskins to do the same. But if he does, a playoff push is definitely doable.

Power Rankings: No. 23 Buffalo Bills

November, 5, 2013
11/05/13
2:00
PM ET
A weekly examination of the Bills' ESPN.com Power Ranking:

Preseason: 30 | Last Week: 20 | ESPN.com Power Ranking since 2002

The Buffalo Bills outgained the Kansas City Chiefs by more than a 2-to-1 ratio on Sunday, coming one game-changing interception away from toppling the No. 1 team, which remains undefeated.

However, those expecting the loss to give the Bills a boost in the rankings will be disappointed. One week after reaching their season-high at No. 20, the Bills slid three spots to No. 23.

And quite frankly, that's the right territory for a 3-6 team.

With EJ Manuel possibly returning Sunday, and the rest of the roster as healthy as it's been all season, this is the time for the Bills to make a run. Besides their date with the New York Jets in two weeks, four of the Bills' next five opponents are ranked lower than Buffalo.

If the Bills can't emerge from games against the No. 27 Steelers, No. 26 Falcons, No. 31 Buccaneers and No. 32 Jaguars with three or four wins, then they deserve whatever ranking they receive.

Power Rankings: No. 13 Dallas Cowboys

November, 5, 2013
11/05/13
2:00
PM ET
A weekly examination of the Cowboys' ESPN.com Power Ranking:

Preseason: 20 | Last Week: 13 | ESPN.com Power Ranking since 2002

A last-minute 27-23 win against the Minnesota Vikings did nothing for the Dallas Cowboys in the ESPN.com Power Rankings; they remain at No. 13 for the second straight week.

Good thing they play in the NFC East, where they have a one-game lead on the Philadelphia Eagles, because the voters have the Cowboys as the No. 8 team in the conference now, while just two weeks ago they were No. 5. The Seattle Seahawks, San Francisco 49ers, New Orleans Saints, Detroit Lions, Chicago Bears, Green Bay Packers and Carolina Panthers rank above the Cowboys.

John Clayton actually dropped the Cowboys a slot in his weekly ranking to No. 13. Ashley Fox moved the Cowboys to No. 12.

The Cowboys cracked the top 10 in the ESPN.com Power Rankings for the first time on Oct. 22, but their 31-30 loss to the Lions stopped their momentum and moved them back to a familiar No. 13 spot the following week. Mike Sando, Jamison Hensley, Kevin Seifert and Dan Graziano checked the Cowboys in at No. 13.

The NFC is a jumbled mess right now, so the Cowboys could move up pretty quickly, especially with a win at New Orleans on Sunday. They also have December games against the Bears and Packers.

But who are we kidding? The Saints have a winning record, and the Cowboys have yet to beat a team with a winning record this season.

Power Rankings: No. 14 New York Jets

November, 5, 2013
11/05/13
2:00
PM ET
A weekly examination of the Jets' ESPN.com Power Ranking:

Preseason: 32 | Last Week: 16 | ESPN.com Power Ranking since 2002

Hey, Calvin Pace, how do you like your ranking now?

The veteran linebacker hasn't stopped chirping about the infamous Week 1 poll (you know, the one in which the Jets were ranked No. 32), but he can't complain about the current ranking. With their upset of the New Orleans Saints, the Jets moved up two spots to No. 14, their season high.

The Jets are sixth in the AFC, which makes sense. If the playoffs started now, the Jets would be the No. 6 seed. The most interesting wrinkle in the new rankings is that, of their seven remaining opponents, only one is ranked ahead of them -- the Carolina Panthers at No. 12. If the Jets don't make the playoffs, they can't blame a tough schedule.

SPONSORED HEADLINES

NFL SCOREBOARD

Thursday, 10/16
Sunday, 10/19
Monday, 10/20
WEEKLY LEADERS