Good luck trying to figure out where teams stand in the NFL this season. I’ve said this year how the league looks as deep as ever, and the parity has been evident at a little over the halfway point in the season. So, power rankings shuffle a ton every week, but we’ll do them anyway. For more on all 32 teams, listen to The Wolf Sports Show (Apple, Spotify, Google Podcasts).
1. Green Bay Packers (8-2) | Last week: 4 (+3)
I feel all the top five teams still have a case for No. 1 in the power rankings, but the Packers defense is what has Green Bay in the top spot for Week 11. The Packers are fifth in the NFL in points allowed per game (17.8), and the team would arguably be riding a nine-game winning streak if it wasn’t for Aaron Rodgers being forced out due to COVID-19 a couple of Sundays ago.
2. Tennesseee Titans (8-2) | Last week: 3 (+1)
Again, the Titans come ready to play every single week. As expected, it was a defensive type of game against the Saints, but Tennessee does what it takes to win games. Julio Jones (hamstring) finally going on injured reserve isn’t good to hear, but at least the All-Pro will hopefully finally be able to get healthy for the end of the year and into January.
3. Buffalo Bills (6-3) | Last week: 5 (+2)
Josh Allen and the Bills offense got back on track in a blowout win over the Jets, and Stefon Diggs had a performance reminiscent of his second half in 2020—Diggs’ production should only open things up for everyone else. Buffalo is first in the NFL in points allowed per game and second in points scored.
4. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (6-3) | Last week: 1 (-3)
It was just one of those games for the Buccaneers last week. The offense was out of sync thanks to early mistakes (a fumble—currently called an interception but it should change in the final official statistics—and an interception where I thought Mike Evans wasn’t ready to go up for the ball over the middle), and then late in the game the defense could not make a stop. Tampa Bay needs to get healthier. There’s no reason to panic.
5. Arizona Cardinals (8-2) | Last week: 2 (-3)
Playing without Kyler Murray and DeAndre Hopkins for a second consecutive game, the Cardinals came back down to earth a bit in their big loss to the Panthers. The Seahawks are up next, and we’ll see if Murray in particular can return. Keep in mind that Arizona has their bye coming up next week.
6. Dallas Cowboys (7-2) | Last week: 8 (+2)
The Cowboys bounced back about as well as you could expect from the embarrassing Week 9 loss to the Broncos. The Falcons simply could not stick with Dallas’ firepower on offense. Trevon Diggs also recorded another interception, adding to his superb campaign. This Sunday versus the Chiefs should be fun.
7. New England Patriots (6-4) | Last week: 11 (+4)
I had the Patriots in the top five of my Week 1 power rankings before the season, and they’ve climbed back up into that range after a relatively slow start. Rhamondre Stevenson almost looks like a different player than at Oklahoma, as he cut weight and used his all-around skillset to rush for 100 yards for the first time in his career last week. And rookie quarterback Mac Jones already looks like a stud quarterback, silencing all the haters and doubters in the media.
8. Baltimore Ravens (6-3) | Last week: 6 (-2)
While the Ravens drop a couple of spots in the power rankings, you probably shouldn’t look too much into last week’s loss to the Dolphins. Thursday night games can be funky, and the Ravens just couldn’t get going offensively. However, the concern would be that more teams will relentlessly blitz Lamar Jackson, so we’ll see what happens with that after Miami had major success bringing the heat.
9. Los Angeles Rams (7-3) | Last week: 7 (-2)
The past couple of weeks the Rams offense has looked like… the Lions offense when it struggled under Matthew Stafford? It doesn’t look like a Sean McVay offense to me. A path forward might be establishing the run more with Darrell Henderson Jr. and Sony Michel. Hopefully he can get incorporated nicely into the offense, but there’s a chance the move to sign Odell Beckham Jr. might bring more pressure and hype than production. I agree with Troy Aikman’s assessment of the OBJ situation:
Troy Aikman told @dfwticket that #Rams QB Matthew Stafford may be feeling what #Browns QB Baker Mayfield felt in having to force the ball to Odell Beckham. Aikman also wonders if the Rams' recent acquisitions have shaken the team's foundation. pic.twitter.com/WgpVYABj9j
— Mark Lane (@therealmarklane) November 16, 2021
It’s funny to hear people criticize Aikman, who maybe knows a little something about playing quarterback in the NFL, for the comments. You’re crazy if you don’t think it’s in the back of Stafford’s head that he could/should try to get Beckham the ball.
10. Pittsburgh Steelers (5-3-1) | Last week: 10
It’s strange having to fill in the tie for the records whenever they happen. The Steelers were in a tough spot after losing Ben Roethlisberger (reserve/COVID-19) on Saturday night, but they simply found themselves in a slugfest type of game against the Lions, which no team could pull out in the end. Now Minkah Fitzpatrick has also landed on the COVID list and is uncertain for Week 11.
11. Los Angeles Chargers (5-4) | Last week: 9 (-2)
The Chargers now have COVID-19 issues, too, with Joey Bosa and Jerry Tillery landing on the list, and they’re both also in jeopardy for the Sunday night matchup with the Steelers. On offense, LA has seemingly been in somewhat of a lull these past four games—again, getting the ball to Mike Williams might be a formula to snap out of it.
12. Kansas City Chiefs (6-4) | Last week: 16 (+4)
I’m not quite ready to say the Chiefs are “back” after one game, especially because the Raiders did not play well at all. However, Patrick Mahomes might have realized that hitting the checkdown and taking what the defense gives him will allow things to be opened up later in the game on down-the-field plays—even if they aren’t 50-yard bombs, throwing a 20-yard touchdown when the defense creeps up is fun. The story for Kansas City is the defense, as they have kept them in the mix and out of the bottom of the standings while the offense struggled.
13. New Orleans Saints (5-4) | Last week: 13
Not having Alvin Kamara (knee) in the lineup hurt, but Mark Ingram played well as the lead back for the Saints in their tough loss to the Titans. Trevor Siemian has shown poise late in games, and look for New Orleans to try to get off to faster starts with him at quarterback.
14. Cleveland Browns (5-5) | Last week: 12 (-2)
Nick Chubb missing last week because of COVID-19 was a huge blow to the Cleveland offense. It might not have made a huge difference in a 38-point loss at Foxboro, but the Browns are a different team with Chubb in the lineup. Baker Mayfield remains very banged up, but he must make better decisions with the ball.
15. Cincinnati Bengals (5-4) | Last week: 14 (-1)
The Bengals had the bye week, and it was a good one for them. They were able to gain ground on all three teams in the division. Now, they’ll face a reeling Raiders squad.
16. Indianapolis Colts (5-5) | Last week: 18 (+2)
I can’t wrap my head around the Colts’ usage of Jonathan Taylor. He was on fire with nearly 100 yards rushing early in the game, but he always seems to be phased out of the gameplan to some extent in close games. The Colts held on against the Jaguars anyway to get back to .500, but it’s a concern against top teams. Furthermore, Carson Wentz needs to take the check down to Taylor way more than he does—just get the ball in his hands if he’s wide-open underneath instead of forcing the ball down the field into double coverage.
17. Minnesota Vikings (4-5) | Last week: 21 (+4)
Quietly, the Vikings had one of the best wins of Week 10 by beating the Chargers. This defense has made noticeable strides since their poor 2020, and Minnesota remains squarely in the NFC playoff picture. The Vikings still face the Packers twice this season, starting this Sunday.
18. Carolina Panthers (5-5) | Last week: 22 (+4)
Cam Newton was back like he never left last week against the Cardinals, quickly scoring two total touchdowns (one passing, one rushing) in a situational type of role as Carolina handled Arizona. Now, the former league MVP is set to be the starting quarterback for a Panthers team with a dynamic defense and legitimate playoff aspirations. The Panthers being this low is another indication of the depth and parity of the NFL.
19. Seattle Seahawks (3-6) | Last week: 17 (-2)
Russell Wilson is not the type of person to make excuses, and I don’t think the finger did impact him—but I think the rust factor did. However, Green Bay has played outstanding defense this season, and Lambeau Field is not an easy place to play. Overall, look for the Seahawks to run the ball more and set up play-action to D.K. Metcalf (who needs to do a better job of controlling his emotions) and Tyler Lockett.
20. San Francisco 49ers (4-5) | Last week: 24 (+4)
You can just say that the Rams didn’t play well for a second consecutive week, but the Niners had one of the best defensive performances of any team in the Monday night win. An electric, versatile offense and a top defense was the hope for San Francisco entering the season, and maybe they’ll keep that going down the stretch.
21. Philadelphia Eagles (4-6) | Last week: 23 (+2)
The progression of Jalen Hurts as a passer and quarterback has been great to see. He’s stepping up in the pocket and making pinpoint throws to the intermediate and deep parts of the field, and based on the TV tape he seems to be doing a good amount at the line of scrimmage for a second-year quarterback. The Eagles getting the run game going with Jordan Howard has helped a ton, including taking pressure off the improved defense.
22. Las Vegas Raiders (5-4) | Last week: 15 (-7)
Based on the past two games, the Raiders are just a different team without the presence of Henry Ruggs’ speed. DeSean Jackson (who had a strange deep reception in his debut) might be able to make a difference, but he does not yet have the chemistry with Derek Carr and is still getting acclimated to the Vegas offense. Defensively, they were the first team in a while to allow the Chiefs to get going.
23. Denver Broncos (5-5) | Last week: 19 (-4)
Teddy Bridgewater is under fire for not making a play on the pick-six by Eagles cornerback Darius Slay last week, and that moment was a big swing in the game. But Denver just didn’t play well, as they were unable to follow up their awesome showing against Dallas a couple of weeks ago. They’ll take the bye to recharge at 5-5.
24. Atlanta Falcons (4-5) | Last week: 20 (-4)
As bad as the Falcons played last week, they have a chance to make up for it on a quick turnaround this Thursday against the Patriots. The entire team should be anxious to play again so quickly and have a little redemption. Keep an eye on the status of Cordarrelle Patterson (ankle), as he’s obviously been critical for the Atlanta offense this season.
25. Washington Football Team (3-6) | Last week: 28 (+3)
If Taylor Heinicke plays like he has against the Bucs in the past two outings, Washington has their answer at quarterback long-term. Seriously, while Tampa Bay didn’t play well on defense, Heinicke deserves credit for putting the ball on the money to his receivers in the upset victory. A win this Sunday at Carolina would get Washington right back in the playoff picture. Losing Chase Young to a torn ACL is very unfortunate, but it gives an opportunity for other guys to step up on defense.
26. Miami Dolphins (3-7) | Last week: 29 (+3)
I loved the play from the Dolphins defense last Thursday night, and over the past two weeks, the unit has looked like most of us expected them to entering the year. Tua Tagovailoa is not getting enough credit for doing a nice job at quarterback when he’s been on the field this year in my opinion. I also must mention how Dolphins guard Robert Hunt had one of the funniest and most memorable non-plays in NFL history:
— Wolf Sports (@wolfsports) November 12, 2021
27. New York Giants (3-6) | Last week: 25 (-2)
The bye week hopefully gave Saquon Barkley enough time to return from his ankle injury. The Giants will face old adversary Tom Brady again after a close game last November (a 25-23 win for Tampa) when New York had just one win.
28. Chicago Bears (3-6) | Last week: 26 (-2)
The Bears also had the bye week, and I’m looking forward to seeing how Justin Fields fares with the extra time to prepare for an aggressive Ravens defense. Over the past few games, Fields has showed definite improvement from his first starts.
29. Jacksonville Jaguars (2-7) | Last week: 27 (-2)
The Jaguars drop a couple of spots in the power rankings, but they easily could have remained where they were. Urban Meyer’s squad battled back to make it close against Indy, and Meyer refuses to believe the team is far off from success.
30. New York Jets (2-7) | Last week: 30
It has not been a good first season for Robert Saleh to this point. The defense has not played well, which led to questioning from former Jets head coach Rex Ryan, and Saleh responded in a war of words. Just not great all around. New York will start veteran Joe Flacco this week against the Dolphins.
31. Houston Texans (1-8) | Last week: 31
The Texans just had their bye week, but I don’t think it came at an ideal time. Tyrod Taylor was probably rusty in his return to the lineup in Week 9, and the time off might make it difficult for him to get in a rhythm.
32. Detroit Lions (0-8-1) | Last week: 32
At least the Lions won’t go 0-17, but 0-16 (and one) is a real possibility still. Detroit must get tight end T.J. Hockenson more involved on offense after he inexcusably had just one target last week.