2015 NFL Power Rankings Week 11

houston-vs-cincinnatiThere’s a lot of shifting in our Week 11 NFL power rankings thanks to some big upsets, like the Houston Texans ruining the Cincinnati Bengals’ perfect record. See where both of these teams now sit in our power rankings, and check out last week’s rankings here.

1. New England Patriots (9-0); beat NY Giants 27-26, same spot – The Patriots survived their toughest test of the season thanks to a field goal by Stephen Gostokowski, who’s now 21-for-21 on the season.

2. Carolina Panthers (9-0); beat Tennessee 27-10, up 1 spot – Only after going 9-0 to start the season does it feel like Carolina has finally silenced the critics.

3. Cincinnati Bengals (8-1); lost to Houston 10-6, down 1 spot – The Bengals’ offensive collapse was unexpected, but not unprecedented when considering Andy Dalton’s 1-4 record against Houston.

4. Arizona Cardinals (7-2); beat Seattle 39-32, up 2 spots – Arizona has blown the NFC West wide open, now holding a 3-game lead over Seattle. They haven’t won the division since 2009.

5. Minnesota Vikings (7-2); beat Oakland 30-14, up 3 spots – Minnesota carries their five-game win streak against Green Bay, Atlanta, Seattle and Arizona over the next four weeks.

antonio-brown-steelers6. Pittsburgh Steelers (6-4); beat Cleveland 30-9, up 6 spots  – Antonio Brown definitely likes Big Ben in the lineup: he has 27 catches for 423 yards since Roethlisberger’s return.

7. Green Bay Packers (6-3); lost to Detroit 18-16, down 2 spots – It’s hard to tell where Green Bay is going after losing at Lambeau to the lowly Lions.

8. Denver Broncos (7-2); lost to Kansas City 29-13, down 4 spots – Starting for the injured Peyton Manning will be garbage-time specialist Brock Osweiler.

9. Atlanta Falcons (6-3); bye week, same spot – That 5-0 start seems like forever ago. Can Atlanta end the slide at home against the Colts?

10. Seattle Seahawks (4-5); lost to Arizona 39-32, down 3 spots – Seattle lives and dies by defense. Want evidence? They’re 0-12 since 2012 when allowing 25+ points.

11. Buffalo Bills (5-4); beat NY Jets 22-17, up 6 spots – Rex Ryan doesn’t get long to celebrate a revenge victory against his old team. The undefeated Patriots are next.

12. New York Jets (5-4); lost to Buffalo 22-17, down 2 spots – New York has now lost three out of four games, allowing 27.3 PPG in this span.

alex-smith-kansas-city13. Kansas City Chiefs (4-5); beat Denver 29-13, up 6 spots – The Chiefs record doesn’t do them justice. They’ve outscored opponents by 29 points total and have a +8 turnover differential.

14. St. Louis Rams (4-5); lost to Chicago 37-13, down 2 spots – It’s little surprise why Nick Foles has been benched, given that he has the league’s lowest QBR at 34.1.

15. New York Giants (5-5); lost to New England 27-26, down 2 spots – New York has now lost four games where they led in the final two minutes of regulation.

16. Oakland Raiders (4-5); lost to Minnesota 30-14, down 2 spots – Oakland just can’t seem to get over the hump in crucial games, but the franchise has definitely made progress.

17. Indianapolis Colts (4-5); bye week, up 1 spot – If any team has an inside track to the AFC South title based on schedule, it’s the Colts. So despite the Andrew Luck injury, they still have a chance.

18. Miami Dolphins (4-5); beat Philadelphia 20-19, up 2 spots – In what looked like it was going to be a blowout, Ndamukong Suh took over on defense and helped shut Philly down after the first quarter.

19. Philadelphia Eagles (4-5); lost to Miami 20-19, down 4 spots  – Sam Bradford (concussion, separated shoulder) might be out, so Mark Sanchez (4-4 last season) could be stepping in.

tj-yates-texans20. Houston Texans (4-5); beat Cincinnati 10-6, up 2 spots – Houston is now on their third quarterback of the season, T.J. Yates, who led them to their only playoff win in franchise history.

21. Chicago Bears (4-5); beat St. Louis 37-13, up 1 spot – The Bears are now 4-2 since Jay Cutler’s return from injury – despite Matt Forte missing extended time with an injury.

22. Washington Redskins (4-5); beat New Orleans Saints 47-14, up 1 spot – Kirk Cousins has been magnificent in wins with 9 TD’s, zero interceptions and a 77% completion rate.

23. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (4-5); beat Dallas 10-6, up 1 spot – The Bucs are actually tied for the seventh-best record in the NFC, which is something few could’ve predicted at this point.

24. New Orleans Saints (4-6); lost to Washington 47-14, down 8 spots – New Orleans is on pace to smash the record for largest passer rating allowed (110.9) since they’re allowing a 116.6 QBR.

25. Dallas Cowboys (2-7); lost to Tampa Bay 10-6, same spot – Dallas might be getting Tony Romo back, but is he enough to cover for a mediocre defense and little run game?

26. San Francisco 49ers (3-6); bye week, same spot – The prospects look grim for Blaine Gabbert to go 2-0 this season with the Niners traveling to Seattle.

allen-hurns-jaguars27. Jacksonville Jaguars (3-6); beat Baltimore 22-20, up 5 spots – Both Allen Robinson and Allen Hurns are on pace to go for over 12 touchdowns and 1,200 receiving yards.

28. Detroit Lions (2-7); beat Green Bay 18-16, up 2 spots – The Lions may be out of the playoff hunt, but at least they ended a 23-game losing streak at Lambeau Field.

29. Baltimore Ravens (2-7); lost to Jacksonville 22-20, down 2 spots – Baltimore could just as easily be on the other side of the equation since every game has been decided by eight points or less.

30. San Diego Chargers (2-7); bye week, down 2 spots – San Diego looks to end a five-game losing streak against the red-hot Chiefs this week.

31. Cleveland Browns (2-8); lost to Pittsburgh 30-9, down 2 spots – The Browns will finally give Johnny Manziel a real chance to show if he’s a franchise quarterback.

32. Tennessee Titans (2-7); lost to Carolina 27-10, down 1 spot – Tennessee might have an advantage on the road since they’re 2-2 away from Nissan Stadium.

2015 AFC North Betting Preview: Three-Team Race for First

Ben Roethlisberger, Pernell McPheeFrom top to bottom, the AFC North was definitely the league’s most-contested division last season. Three North teams went to the playoffs last year, and there’s a decent chance that the same thing could happen again in 2015. The big question, though, is who will emerge this year following Pittsburgh winning the division crown. And can the Cleveland Browns be more competitive this season to challenge the Steelers, Baltimore and Cincinnati? Let’s discuss all of these matters below.

4th in Division: Cleveland Browns; 5-11 W/L Projection

joe-hadenStrengths: While Seattle’s “Legion of Boom” secondary may grab all the headlines, Cleveland also has one of the NFL’s top secondaries. Joe Haden headlines this group, as he’s one of the best corners playing the game today. Safeties Donte Whitner and Tashaun Gipson are also excellent after making the Pro Bowl last season. Either Justin Gilbert or Pierre Desir has the potential to play great at the other cornerback spot, making this secondary a nightmare for opposing quarterbacks.

Weaknesses: Cleveland exceeded expectations last year after going 7-9, with all nine of their losses being by just one score. This season figures to be worse, though, namely because the QB and wideout situation is so dismal. Josh McCown will take the reigns after a terrible season in Tampa Bay, while Johnny Manziel is waiting in the wings should McCown play badly again. Dwayne Bowe leads an uninspiring group of wide receivers that won’t give McCown or Manziel much help.

3rd in Division: Baltimore Ravens; 9-7 W/L Projection

joe-flaccoStrengths: For well over a decade, the strength of Baltimore has been their all-around defense. 2015 should see more of the same coming off a season where they ranked second in sacks at 49. Elvis Dumervil (17 sacks) and Terrell Suggs (12 sacks) led this effort, while C.J. Mosley and Timmy Jernigan were also instrumental in pressuring quarterbacks. Adding D-lineman Carl Davis and inside linebacker Za’Darius Smith should also bolster this defense.

Weaknesses: Receiver is the glaring weakness here, especially with deep threat Torrey Smith going to the San Francisco 49ers. Steve Smith had another solid 79-catch campaign; but how much of the load can you place on a guy who’s 36? First-round pick Breshad Perriman was supposed to help shore up the problems at receiver; but he hasn’t had much practice time after spraining his PCL early in camp. Overall there are enough good players on this Baltimore team to potentially make the playoffs, but probably not enough to win the division.

2nd in Division: Cincinnati Bengals; 10-6 W/L Projection

giovani-bernard-rookie-1Strengths: Cincinnati will have one of the NFL’s toughest running back duos to stop. Both Jeremy Hill and Giovanni Bernard are coming off seasons where they gained over 1,000 yards from scrimmage – something made even more impressive when considering that Hill didn’t play regularly until mid-way through the season, and Bernard sat out three games due to injury. Hill, the power back, and Bernard, the speedy receiving back, can give the Bengals so many different looks out of the backfield that it’s ridiculous.

Weaknesses: Andy Dalton did not play well in 2014, despite having a number of weapons to help his cause. The fifth-year player threw just 19 TDs against 17 interceptions last season, which is pretty bad when you have A.J. Green to toss the ball to. Even worse is his 1:6 TD-INT ratio in the postseason, which fairly places the blame on his shoulders if Cincinnati can’t get out of the divisional playoff round.

1st in Division: Pittsburgh Steelers; 12-4 W/L Projection

antonio-brown-steelersStrengths: Pittsburgh may have more offensive weapons than any other team in the league. Ben Roethlisberger is coming off a season where he tallied over 5,000 yards and 32 touchdowns, while his favorite target, Antonio Brown, had 129 catches, 1,698 yards and 13 touchdowns. Add in emerging wideouts Markus Wheaton and Martavis Bryant and it’s easy to see the Steelers passing offense being even more prolific in 2015. RB Le’Veon Bell will also get plenty of targets out of the backfield.

Weaknesses: The secondary is full of holes, beginning with outside corners William Gay and Cortez Allen, neither of whom are great. Mike Mitchell is an average free safety while the raw Shamarko Thomas will battle the aging Will Allen for the starting strong safety slot. Slot corner Brandon Boykin may be the only truly solid commodity here.