Superstorm Sandy left me with no real way to follow the NFL for nearly two weeks, and thus these power rankings signal somewhat of a restart of the season for yours truly. A new team has made its way into the top spot of this week’s list, and one could argue that the worst franchise in the league today no longer comes out of Kansas City. Perhaps most surprising about the state of the NFL is that the worst division in the league may be the NFC East.
2012 Week 11 NFL power rankings
32. Jacksonville Jaguars (1-8): I’ve seen some analysts claim that this is the worst Jacksonville team in franchise history. Does anybody still think Blaine Gabbert is capable of starting for a contender?
31. Kansas City Chiefs (1-8): You know things are bad when having a lead is considered a moral victory. Neither Matt Cassel nor Brady Quinn is saving KC this fall.
30. Carolina Panthers (2-7): All things considered, I’d say that Carolina and not New Orleans continues to be the most disappointing team in the league.
29. Cleveland Browns (2-7): Everybody but Trent Richardson could be playing or coaching for their jobs over the next month and a half. That could prove to be either a good or bad thing.
28. New York Jets (3-6): Unless the Jets unexpectedly turn their season around, multiple people in the organization are going to have to answer some tough questions come this January.
27. Oakland Raiders (3-6): The Oakland defense somehow manages to get worse as the season goes on. I think Oregon would give the Raiders a game right now.
26. Buffalo Bills (3-6): Speaking of disappointing defenses. Add that unit with a shaky quarterback, and you get a roster that finds some impressive ways to lose football games.
25. Philadelphia Eagles (3-6): “We are gathered here today to remember the Andy Reid era…”
24. Arizona Cardinals (4-5): Not playing may have been Arizona’s only way to avoid another loss. Too bad they are away to Atlanta this coming weekend.
23. St. Louis Rams (3-5-1): Silly mistakes cost them a road win that would have put them back into the playoff picture. Sunday’s game at San Fran was the definition of “a tie that felt like a loss” for the Rams.
22. Washington Redskins (3-6): Washington will follow the much-needed Bye week with games against Philly, Dallas, and the Giants. Don’t count the Redskins out just yet.
21. Miami Dolphins (4-5): What the heck happened, Miami? Geez.
20. Detroit Lions (4-5): Another team that hasn’t nearly been as good as advertised. At least they don’t have to host a rested Packers side on Sunday. Oh, wait.
19. Tennessee Titans (4-6): This may not last long, but the Titans earned a big bump in NFL power rankings after beating the Dolphins in Miami by 34 points.
18. San Diego Chargers (4-5): It seems like only yesterday that the Chargers were a player or two away from winning it all. Boy, are those days long gone.
17. Cincinnati Bengals (4-5): The Giants didn’t even pretend to show up at Cincy, but the win counts all the same for the Bengals. With the Ravens and Steelers both dealing with significant injury concerns, Cincy still has a chance to sneak into a Wild Card spot.
16. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (5-4): Several gifts from San Diego helped TB get back on the right side of .500. Maybe Schiano really does know what he’s doing.
15. Dallas Cowboys (4-5): As long as they avoid tripping over themselves, the Cowboys have the goods to win the division.
14. New Orleans Saints (4-5): The Saints have won four of their last five, and they continue to climb up NFL power rankings. Don’t think they can overcome that horrendous start to the season? Ask the Falcons about that.
13. Indianapolis Colts (6-3): Perhaps the best story in all of North American sports this fall continues to keep things interesting in the AFC South. Andrew Luck and company can make a big statement in New England.
12. Seattle Seahawks (6-4): The Seahawks have a great defense and they’re 5-0 at home, but the road to the Super Bowl won’t be going through Seattle. They have to play better away from CenturyLink if they’re going to do anything of note.
11. New York Giants (6-4): New York has lost two straight heading into a November Bye week. In other news, water is wet.
10. Minnesota Vikings (6-4): Adrian Peterson is defying the odds, but Minnesota’s upcoming schedule is an absolute nightmare; at Chicago, vs. Green Bay, vs. Chicago, at St. Louis, at Houston and vs. Green Bay. Yikes.
9. Pittsburgh Steelers (6-3): Can’t put the Steelers any higher in this week’s NFL power rankings without first knowing the status of Big Ben. All indications as of the typing of this sentence are that he will miss at least one game.
8. New England Patriots (6-3): Insert your standard “defense must play better” statement here. Even Tom Brady isn’t leading the Pats to another title unless the team’s d’ improves.
7. San Francisco 49ers (6-2-1): The scariest thing about Sunday’s tie is that it really should have been a loss. Alex Smith may go on to be the ultimate “don’t know what ya got” player of the season if he’s sidelined for multiple weeks because of a concussion.
6. Chicago Bears (7-2): Another team that you can’t fully trust until the starting quarterback is again fully healthy. Jay Cutler means more to the Bears than many realize.
5. Denver Broncos (6-3): Everything appears to be coming together for the Broncos. You have to like them at home against the Chargers this Sunday.
4. Green Bay Packers (6-3): Yes, the Packers are beaten up, but they still have Aaron Rodgers. That alone makes them one of the most dangerous teams in the NFL.
3. Baltimore Ravens (7-2): In theory, now is a great time for Baltimore to have to face the Steelers in Pittsburgh. The Ravens should still be ready for a fight.
2. Atlanta Falcons (8-1): A loss at New Orleans isn’t reason to panic, but it’s enough to knock Atlanta out of the top spot of NFL power rankings. Expect the Falcons to rally back from that defeat when they host Arizona.
1. Houston Texans (8-1): They’ve been the best team in the AFC since the start of the season. Now they’re the league’s best.