NFL Power Rankings Week 10: A new top dog?

Rams, Bills slide after bad losses.

Green Bay Packers cornerback Kevin King (20) intercepts a pass intended for Seattle Seahawks wide receiver DK Metcalf (14) during the second half of an NFL football game, Sunday, Nov. 14, 2021, in Green Bay, Wis. (AP Photo/Kamil Krzaczynski)

Welcome to Week 10′s NFL Power Rankings. After Monday night’s game each week, I’ll be evaluating the week’s games and ranking the top 10 teams in the NFL.

Before we begin, here are a few things to keep in mind that I take into consideration when making my choices:

1. I do take a team’s record into account; the games have to matter to some degree. However, a team with a good record will not always land in my top 10, and vice versa. Remember, these are power rankings.

2. One team beating another team does not automatically mean they are the better team in my eyes. For example, the Jets beat the Titans in Week 4, but I don’t believe for a second that they’re the better team right now.

3. The direction that teams are trending is a factor. A team that started slow but has been hot for the last couple of weeks will be evaluated more favorably than one that won their first few games and has cooled off since.

So, let’s begin!

1. Green Bay Packers (↑1), 8-2, W 17-0 vs. Seattle Seahawks in Week 10

Green Bay doesn’t appear to have any weaknesses at the moment. Running back Aaron Jones is out for a week or two, but that shouldn’t create any long term problems for the Packers. Star cornerback Jaire Alexander should also return before the playoffs, which will help out a defense that has been surprisingly strong up to this point.

My only criticism of this team is that it feels a bit too Aaron Rodgers dependent, needing him to play at an elite level in order to win. However, there are worse quarterbacks to lean on, and now that the reigning MVP’s COVID-19 situation is behind him, the Packers should be in good shape for the rest of the year. They’ve won eight straight games with Rodgers, only dropping a winnable game to the Chiefs in Week 9 without him.

2. Tennessee Titans (↑8), 8-2, W 23-21 vs. New Orleans Saints in Week 10

Tennessee hasn’t missed a beat without Derrick Henry in the backfield. If you ignore their Week 1 loss (a benefit of the doubt I’m also extending to Green Bay and Buffalo), the Titans’ only loss is to the Jets, which can perhaps be written off as a trap game in which they were without receivers Julio Jones and A.J. Brown. Not to use excuses as a means for bumping the Titans to the top of this list, but the rest of the league’s top teams also have inexplicable losses. The Titans are rolling right now with six straight wins, their defense has been strong and they comfortably handled the Rams on the road in Los Angeles two weeks ago. Tennessee is the team to beat right now in the AFC.

3. Dallas Cowboys (↔), 7-2, W 43-3 vs. Atlanta Falcons in Week 10

The Cowboys were slated to drop a fair amount in the rankings after getting blown out at home by Denver in Week 9, a game not fully explained by the 30-16 final score. That is, until a wild Week 10 in the NFL rendered my prior beliefs about the NFL’s best teams moot.

Dallas bounced back with a strong 40-point victory at home, appearing to return to the form we’ve seen throughout this season. The Cowboys recorded three interceptions, forced a fumble and blocked a punt, which they recovered for a touchdown. On top of that, the offense was firing on all cylinders again, with wide receiver Michael Gallup’s presence back in the lineup greatly appreciated. Although he only grabbed three catches, having another deep threat on the field helped out quarterback Dak Prescott, who looked like himself again after a shaky return from injury in Week 9.

4. Arizona Cardinals (↑2), 8-2, L 34-10 vs. Carolina Panthers in Week 10

The Cardinals are moving up mainly due to other teams’ failures rather than their own recent successes. However, in the absence of injured quarterback Kyler Murray, Arizona has held its own. Colt McCoy led this group to an impressive win in San Francisco in Week 9, also without the help of receivers Deandre Hopkins and A.J. Green. Carolina rolled the Cardinals on Sunday, but I didn’t feel like that loss was consistent with this group’s identity. With Murray returning soon, I still feel like the Cardinals will win the NFC West and be in contention for the No. 1 seed in the conference.

5. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (↔), 6-3, L 29-19 @ Washington Football Team in Week 10

The Bucs have suffered losses in back-to-back games, with Tom Brady looking less than his usual self. Tampa Bay’s rushing game has slowed, as Leonard Fournette led the team with only 47 rushing yards in Week 10, although he did haul in seven catches for another 57 yards against a strong Washington defense. This team is still banged up defensively and is without Antonio Brown and Rob Gronkowski. Still, this roster is very strong, and Brady remains one of the league’s best quarterbacks. They should easily win their division and compete for an NFC title in January.

6. Los Angeles Rams (↓5), 7-3, L 31-10 @ San Francisco 49ers in Week 10

The Rams have also lost two consecutive games, both of which were bad losses. They were easily controlled by the Titans in Week 9 and looked terrible on both sides of the ball Monday night in San Francisco. New linebacker Von Miller’s presence was not felt against the 49ers, and new wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr. caught just two passes. The loss of Robert Woods due to an ACL tear may outweigh the addition of Beckham Jr., who has not proven to be a significant threat this season coming off of last year’s ACL injury. This team has looked unprepared and has been flat-out outplayed the last two weeks, despite having one of the best rosters in the league. The Rams have a bye week coming up, and head coach Sean McVay will have some work to do in order to get his team back on track.

7. Buffalo Bills (↓3), 6-3, W 45-17 @ New York Jets in Week 10

The Bills still haven’t fully proved they can go toe-to-toe with some of the league’s better teams, with losses to the Titans and Steelers this year, but the remainder of their schedule should provide some more insight into how legitimate of a contender the Bills really are. They play the Colts, Saints and Buccaneers coming up and also have two divisional matchups against the Patriots.

Buffalo’s defense remains the best in the NFL, although that might be inflated by some of the weaker matchups they’ve faced, including shutouts against the Dolphins and Texans. Although they handled another weak team in the Jets on Sunday, Week 9′s loss against Jacksonville causes them to take a hit in the rankings. A team with Super Bowl ambitions cannot be held to six points by a team as bad as the Jaguars.

8. New England Patriots (↑1), 6-4, W 45-7 vs. Cleveland Browns in Week 10

The Patriots feel like a team that has been unfairly written off by a lot of people. They don’t have any flashy deep threats or top-of-the-line running backs, but they’ve appeared to put it all together recently. Behind rookie quarterback Mac Jones, New England obliterated Cleveland, a strong defensive team, at home this week, holding a banged-up Browns offense to just seven points.

Jones continues to improve and has looked like the best rookie quarterback so far, something head coach Bill Belichick, the greatest coach in NFL history, deserves more credit for. New England’s defense is strong, and the Patriots could certainly give Buffalo trouble in those two divisional matchups mentioned earlier. I expect the Patriots to make the playoffs, although they might not have enough offensive firepower to really make noise once they get there.

9. Baltimore Ravens (↓2), 6-3, L 22-10 @ Miami Dolphins in Week 10

After a very strong start to the year, the Ravens have dropped two of their last three games to inferior opponents, including Thursday night’s matchup with Miami, which was an ugly game all around. The Dolphins are not a good team, yet their defense completely neutralized Baltimore’s offense with a very simple game plan. They just played man coverage and rushed six defenders all night, creating enough pressure to contain Ravens quarterback Lamar Jackson’s explosive playmaking ability. Baltimore’s defense held strong for most of the game, but this is a game they should have won, and the lack of adjustment by head coach John Harbaugh and offensive coordinator Greg Roman was a bit concerning. The Ravens have looked like a strong team overall this season, but they’ve slipped a bit in recent weeks.

10. Kansas City Chiefs (unranked), 6-4, W 41-14 @ Las Vegas Raiders in Week 10

Patrick Mahomes and the Chiefs are back in the mix after stringing together a couple of wins. Has Kansas City looked very ugly at times this season? Yes. Is Mahomes third in the NFL in interceptions? Yes. But the Chiefs are also quietly first-place in their division and have as many wins as any AFC team except for the Titans.

So, are they really having that bad of a season? This defense that was putrid early on in the season has given up just 15.6 points per game in its last five games. The Chiefs have gone 4-1 during this stretch. Mahomes just threw for 406 yards and five touchdowns on the road in Las Vegas, so I think it’s still too early to say NFL defenses have “figured him out,” and he hasn’t turned the ball over in either of his last two games. Kansas City’s offense ranks fourth in yards per game, and Mahomes ranks second in both passing yards and touchdowns to Matthew Stafford and Tom Brady respectively. Don’t count this group out yet.

Dropped from rankings: Las Vegas Raiders (8)