Each week of the NFL season, The Baltimore Sun will rank all 32 NFL teams. The rankings will not only take into account weekly performance, but also measure how well each team ranks as Super Bowl contenders, regardless of win-loss records.
Here are the rankings after week 11:
1. Arizona Cardinals (9-2; No. 1 last week)
2. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (7-3; No. 4)
3. Green Bay Packers (8-3; No. 2)
4. Tennessee Titans (8-3, No. 3)
5. Baltimore Ravens (7-3; No. 7)
6. Kansas City Chiefs (7-4; No. 9)
7. Dallas Cowboys (7-3; No. 5)
8. Los Angeles Rams (7-3; No. 6)
9. New England Patriots (7-4; No. 10)
Without star quarterback Kyler Murray and wide receiver DeAndre Hopkins there is no doubt the Cardinals can claim the top spot after winning two of three games. A 23-13 road win over the Seahawks behind backup colt McCoy is the latest example that coach Cliff Kingsbury’s team is a force to be reckoned with in the NFC. 1 seed and a 47% chance of securing a first round bye, according to FiveThirtyEight, which shows how far the Cardinals have separated from the pack.
Of course, the Books and Packers will be right on their heels. Tampa Bay returned from two straight defeats on Monday night with an impressive 30-10 win over the Giants, with Tom Brady engulfing New York’s defense and the Bux’s front seven hitting the Giants’ offensive line and two Daniels. Jones forced out. Green Bay, on a last-second field goal from the Vikings, lost 34–31, but Aaron Rodgers played one of his best games of the season in bringing the Packers back from a 23–10 deficit. As long as those two quarterbacks are healthy, there is a clear hierarchy at the top of the NFC.
Not so much in AFC. The Chiefs’ 19-9 win over the Cowboys was the latest example of a defensive resurgence under coordinator Steve Spagnuolo, but Patrick Mahomes is still struggling to find his groove, throwing another interception on Sunday. Ryan Tanhill threw four picks to the last-placed Texans in the Titans’ 22-13 loss, ending Tennessee’s six-game winning streak. After Lamar Jackson was sidelined due to an illness, the Ravens needed a game-winning drive from backup quarterback Tyler Huntley in the final minute to beat the Bears 16-13. With none of those teams breaking away from the pack, each week is creating more uncertainty about the AFC hierarchy.
This has opened the door to the hottest team in the NFL. Many expected the Patriots to spend big money in free agency this season, but relying on a rookie quarterback often doesn’t lead to success. Mack Jones exceeded expectations by maintaining a timely offense with his perfect accuracy during this five-game winning streak. With the AFC in flux, it is not unreasonable to consider coach Bill Belichick’s team a Super Bowl contender.
on the cusp of controversy
10. Los Angeles Chargers (6-4; No. 11)
11. Indianapolis Colts (6-5; No. 16)
12. Minnesota Vikings (5-5; No. 13)
13. Buffalo Bill (6-4; No. 8)
The Chargers appeared destined for one of their signature heartbreaking losses after a 14-point fourth-quarter lead against the Steelers on Sunday night, but Justin Herbert finished with 2:09 for a 53-yard touchdown with Mike Williams. Left to give to Los Angeles. Wild 41-37 win. This team may not be reliable, but Herbert continues to establish himself as one of the best quarterbacks in the league. His brilliance was the only thing that could have taken the Chargers to the deep end of the season.
Meanwhile, the Colts and Vikings have shown how confusing the first few weeks of the season can be. After starting United 2-6, they are back in the race for the playoffs. Indianapolis is doing it behind running back Jonathan Taylor, who took the NFL lead in both rushing yards and rushing touchdowns with a 185-yard, five-touchdown performance in the Bills’ 41-15 route. Minnesota is riding the hot hand of Kirk Cousins, who threw 341 yards and three touchdowns in a win over the Packers. Say what you want about the Cousins’ ability to score Super Bowl runs, but he trailed Aaron Rodgers for the second most games in the quarterback’s first 10 seasons with 300 or more passing yards and three or more touchdown passes. left. If he and Taylor continue to play at this level, the Colts and Vikings will find it difficult to beat in the playoffs.
Bills are trending in the opposite direction. Buffalo’s second loss in three games was ugly, raising concerns about how effective the offense could be if Josh Allen couldn’t get back to his 2020 form. The Bills struggled to find any downfield success in the passing game, and the defense was pushed forward by Indianapolis. What seemed like an easy path to a second straight AFC East title, but now the Patriots look like a contender. Buffalo needs to find answers, and fast.
14. Cincinnati Bengals (6-4; No. 17)
15. Pittsburgh Steelers (5-4-1; No. 14)
16. Cleveland Browns (6-5; No. 15)
17. Philadelphia Eagles (5-6; No. 20)
18. San Francisco 49ers (5-6; No. 21)
19. New Orleans Saints (5-5; No. 12)
Good luck trying to predict the order of the finish in the AFC North. The Bengals ended their two-game losing streak with a 32-13 win over the Raiders on Sunday, but they look like a far cry from the team that blew up the Ravens a few weeks ago. The Steelers have kept themselves afloat despite multiple injuries, but they are not as dangerous on defense as they have been in years past and are relying on Ben Roethlisberger to commit the dunk-and-dunk offense. Brown groans to Mayfield, an avid baker, hoping he can stand still long enough to keep her in contention. Judging by the shaky play of the other three contenders, it looks like the Ravens lost the division.
Meanwhile, the race for the NFC playoffs is heating up. The Eagles have three wins in their last four games and can find quarterback to build in Jalen Harts, who continues to perform on the ground and through the air alongside some talented young playwrights. The 49ers may be in quarterback limbo with Jimmy Garoppolo and rookie Trey Lance, but for now, Garoppolo gives them the best chance of winning. Will San Francisco let its recent boom determine Lance’s development for the rest of the season? If coach Kyle Shanahan is anything to go by, Garoppolo will have a chance to take this team to the playoffs in what is likely his final year with the team.
20. Las Vegas Raiders (5-5; No. 18)
21. Carolina Panthers (5-6; No. 19)
22. Denver Broncos (5-5; No. 22)
23. Washington Football Team (4-6; No. 25)
24. Atlanta Falcons (4-6; No. 23)
Cam Newton’s return to Carolina provided some must-see moments, but it still ended in a 27-21 loss to Washington. The Panthers get the rest of the season to decide Newton’s future with the team, and given options in the draft and free agency, he could be their best bet in 2022. This is the Sam Darnold experiment and an $18 million indictment. The Panthers chose the fifth-year option earlier than anything else for the first round.
Washington has quarterback questions of its own to answer, but for now, it’s happy to ride Taylor Heinicke’s hot hand. Back-to-back victories over Tampa Bay and Carolina have revived the team’s playoff hopes, just like last year’s four-game winning streak that began around this time. Strange things have happened, especially in this unpredictable season.
25. Miami Dolphins (4-7; No. 28)
26. Seattle Seahawks (3-7; No. 24)
27. Chicago Bears (3-7; No. 26)
28. Houston Texans (2-8; No. 31)
29. New York Giants (3-7; No. 27)
30. New York Jets (2-8; No. 29)
31. Jacksonville Jaguars (2-8; No. 30)
32. Detroit Lions (0-9-1; No. 32)
At least there is no vacation in Miami. The Dolphins have won two straight against current and former Ravens quarterbacks (Lamar Jackson and Joe Flacco) to garner some respect after a miserable start. Tua Tagovailoa has shown minimal signs of improvement, and has enough talent on both sides of the ball to get excited. We’ll see if that’s enough to save coach Brian Flores’ job.
Pete Carroll and Matt Nagy couldn’t be so lucky. Carroll was so frustrated after Sunday’s loss to the Cardinals that he left his news conference early, a sign that this nightmare season is thin on the longtime coach. A clearly limited Russell Wilson isn’t enough to make up for many of Seattle’s shortcomings, and there isn’t much hope of improvement after the Seahawks picked up their first round in the Jamal Adams trade. Nagy, meanwhile, is refusing to commit to a starting quarterback after giving rookie keys to Justin Fields on veteran Andy Dalton. His work depends on Fields’ development, and yet he is unwilling to do everything he can to build the best support system around his young star. This could be his downfall.
The Giants could also be headed for a change in coaching. Joe Judge is 9-17 years old with New York, and apart from a few weeks of brawling at the poor NFC East last season, it’s been a disappointing stint. Daniel Jones hasn’t taken a step forward in his third season, and much of the blame for the team’s inability to employ offensive coordinator Jason Garrett and build a competent offensive line falls at the judge’s feet. If New York cannot show improvement over the past seven weeks, major changes may be necessary.