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2015 NFL power rankings, Week 11: Steelers, Chiefs climb; Bengals, Broncos and Packers drop

Sorting out another wild week in the NFL.

There's a little bit of a shakeup among the power ranking elite this week after the Bengals' primetime loss to the Texans at home. Cincinnati drops out of the second spot with a feeble offensive performance while the the Patriots, Panthers, Cardinals and Vikings all took care of business.

New England narrowly defeated the Giants in New York with the help of a Stephen Gostkowski 52-yard field goal as time ran out. Danny Amendola stepped in for an injured Julian Edelman, Rob Gronkowski continued to do Rob Gronkowski things and Tom Brady benefited from a little bit of luck as Landon Collins dropped what would've been a game-sealing interception on that pivotal drive. Meanwhile, the Panthers rolled the Titans on the back of a strong Cam Newton performance (and endzone celebration), and stayed perfect on the year.

Arizona jumped all over Seattle in the first half before the Seahawks mounted a big comeback, taking the lead in the fourth quarter with a fumble-recovery touchdown by Bobby Wagner. Carson Palmer and the Cardinals weathered that storm, then marched back downfield on the subsequent drive and hit Jermaine Gresham for a 14-yard touchdown to re-capture the lead with 8:45 remaining. This time the team would not relinquish it.

After the Panthers, Arizona looks like the NFC's other top contender for the Super Bowl right now. The Cardinals can score points in bunches. They can play defense. They are a complete team and are always aggressive. The Vikings are close behind, though, after blowing out the Raiders this week, and with Adrian Peterson looking like he's still in his prime, they've got an identity to win with.

Outside of that top five, there are some interesting battles brewing as a host of teams jockey for playoff positioning. There should be a few interesting divisional races this season, but the wild card tiebreakers will be pretty intense: there are 12 teams currently sitting at four wins, all just a game or two behind the six teams with either five or six wins right now. In other words, outside of a few sure shots, it's looking wide open in both conferences as we get into the second half of the season.


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Moving on up:

The Steelers weren't supposed to have Ben Roethlisberger for a few weeks as he recovered from a foot sprain, but when Landry Jones went out with a leg injury of his own, Big Ben came in and looked exactly like himself in leading Pittsburgh to victory over the Browns. Roethlisberger ignited the offense by passing for 379 yards and three touchdowns. Antonio Brown and Martavis Bryant continue to prosper with Ben under center and the Pittsburgh defense continues to play better than people might give it credit for.

Meanwhile, Kansas City won its third straight game, this week against the Broncos, and as it moves to 4-5, the team has made quite a few people sit up and pay attention. The Chiefs posted 29 points on a very good defense (with a little help from five interceptions by their defense) and Charcandrick West has done an admirable job replacing Jamaal Charles in that offense. Kansas City fell off of a lot of radars after starting 1-5 but it has stormed back into relevancy.

The Bills won their second straight in outlasting the Jets on Thursday Night Football, putting themselves in a great spot for a playoff run at 5-4. With Tyrod Taylor, LeSean McCoy and Karlos Williams all healthy, the offense is finally getting back on track.

Look out for these Texans. Against all odds -- even with T.J. Yates stepping onto the field in relief of an injured Brian Hoyer -- they pulled off a huge upset on Monday Night Football, ruining the Bengals' shot at a perfect season. The Houston defense confounded Andy Dalton all night, intercepting him once while sacking him four times. The Texans now share the lead in the AFC South. Go figure.

In Chicago, Adam Gase has done some really cool things with Jay Cutler and the offense, and the passing game is clicking. Jeremy Langford and Ka'Deem Carey have done a good job in relief of an injured Matt Forte and Zach Miller has emerged as a weapon with three touchdowns over the past two weeks. At 4-5, the Bears are certainly a dark horse in the NFC, but there's plenty of season left for them to stay in the hunt for a wild card spot.

Still in the hunt:

Miami got a big win on the road in Philadelphia this week to keep pace in the tough AFC East. The Dolphins have been inconsistent over the last few weeks but still have enough talent on offense with Ryan Tannehill, Lamar Miller and Jarvis Landry to make things interesting. The emergence of Jay Ajayi as a weapon for Miami could be a boon for the team down the stretch and keep Miller fresh.

Washington put a smack-down on the Saints at home and Kirk Cousins' perfect 158.3 quarterback rating tells the story of the ease with which he picked apart New Orleans' defense. Cousins ended the game 20 of 25 for 324 yards and four touchdowns and his performance may have been the straw that broke the camel's back for Rob Ryan. The Saints fired their defensive coordinator Monday afternoon and while both teams now have four wins, they're trending in different directions.

Tampa Bay is quietly playing some better football of late as well. This one certainly wasn't pretty and Jameis Winston threw two picks to regress to his turnover-prone ways, but the Bucs did enough to beat the Cowboys at home. With the way the Falcons have been playing of late, could Tampa Bay challenge them for the second spot in the division?


The Broncos are weathering some adversity right now and big changes could be in store. The same game in which he broke the all-time passing yards record, Peyton Manning was benched in favor of Brock Osweiler. It looks like Osweiler is going to get a crack at it again next week. Will it be a big enough spark? That's the major question, but this Denver offense really has no where to go but up. It has been probably the worst offense in the NFL this year, and it doesn't help that Manning has thrown 19 picks, but the Broncos' run game has been awful as well. The defense may be great, but they still need to get more from their offense. We'll see if Osweiler can help them do that.

The Packers took a step back this week as well, losing their third straight, this time to the Lions at home. They've struggled to move the ball and score points, and a team that looked pretty unstoppable early in the year has gone through a few weeks of real struggle.

SB Nation presents: The wild, unexpected ending of the Packers-Lions game

The Seahawks continue to play inconsistently and simply do not look like the team that's gone to the Super Bowl two seasons in a row. Russell Wilson is struggling behind a porous offensive line, Marshawn Lynch has yet to get going in the run game and the defense continues to let big plays happen in the worst possible moments. They'll have to turn things around quickly in order to make the playoffs.

Jockeying for that first pick

Tony Romo returns to the Cowboys this week so they're not likely to be so close to the bottom of these rankings all year, but without him they've lost seven in a row. Will his return change things in Dallas? We'll see. Otherwise, it's looking like the Browns and Titans might be favorites to "earn" that No. 1 overall pick in 2016.

1 New England Patriots, 9-0 (Last Week: 1) Pats Pulpit
2 Carolina Panthers, 9-0 (Last Week: 3) Cat Scratch Reader
3 Arizona Cardinals, 7-2 (Last Week: 4) Revenge of the Birds
4 Minnesota Vikings, 7-2 (Last Week: 5) Daily Norseman
5 Cincinnati Bengals, 8-1 (Last Week: 2) Cincy Jungle
6 Pittsburgh Steelers, 6-4 (Last Week: 9) Behind the Steel Curtain
7 Kansas City Chiefs, 4-5 (Last Week: 19) Arrowhead Pride
8 Denver Broncos, 7-2 (Last Week: 6) Mile High Report
9 Buffalo Bills, 5-4 (Last Week: 16) Buffalo Rumblings
10 Green Bay Packers, 6-3 (Last Week: 7) Acme Packing Company
11 New York Jets, 5-4 (Last Week: 12) Gang Green Nation
12 Atlanta Falcons, 6-3 (Last Week: 12) The Falcoholic
13 Seattle Seahawks, 4-5 (Last Week: 10) Field Gulls
14 St. Louis Rams, 4-5 (Last Week: 11) Turf Show Times
15 New York Giants, 5-5 (Last Week: 14) Big Blue View
16 Oakland Raiders, 4-5 (Last Week: 13) Silver and Black Pride
17 Miami Dolphins, 4-5 (Last Week: 20) The Phinsider
18 Indianapolis Colts, 4-5 (Last Week: 17) Stampede Blue
19 Washington, 4-5 (Last Week: 21) Hogs Haven
20 Houston Texans, 4-5 (Last Week: 24) Battle Red Blog
21 Tampa Bay Buccaneers, 4-5 (Last Week: 22) Bucs Nation
22 Philadelphia Eagles, 4-5 (Last Week: 15) Bleeding Green Nation
23 Chicago Bears, 4-5 (Last Week: 25) Windy City Gridiron
24 New Orleans Saints, 4-6 (Last Week: 18) Canal Street Chronicles
25 San Francisco 49ers, 3-6 (Last Week: 30) Niners Nation
26 Baltimore Ravens, 2-7 (Last Week: 26) Baltimore Beatdown
27 San Diego Chargers, 2-7 (Last Week: 27) Bolts from the Blue
28 Detroit Lions, 2-7 (Last Week: 32) Pride of Detroit
29 Jacksonville Jaguars, 3-6 (Last Week: 27) Big Cat Country
30 Tennessee Titans, 2-7 (Last Week: 28) Music City Miracles
31 Dallas Cowboys, 2-7 (Last Week: 30) Blogging the Boys
32 Cleveland Browns, 2-8 (Last Week: 29) Dawgs by Nature