Wayne Larrivee's Week 11 NFL Power Poll: Packers make big jump after win in Chicago

There is very little change in this week’s top ten as the NFL finally settles in. The good teams are setting themselves apart from the bad and those maimed by injuries.

We thought the Jets and Bills might be better than we thought; what we have found in the last couple of weeks is they are not.

The Jaguars, Eagles, Saints and Rams are the surprise contenders this season and they apparently are for real. The Patriots “are who we thought they were” after a slow start (lost to KC in the league opener); the Vikings have found a passing game with a third string quarterback while the Steelers are the Steelers.

It is amazing on a 53-man roster how much of a difference one or two players can make. Aaron Rodgers injury has changed EVERYTHING in Green Bay, while Zeke Elliott’s suspension (along with the occasional injury absence of linebacker Sean Lee) dramatically turns the Cowboys from contender to just another team.

More teams are without their key stars than those who have their playmakers on the field. The Eagles and Vikings have survived so far despite some key absences, while the Saints continue to be the healthiest club in a league ravaged by injuries. 

Some things never change. The Cleveland Browns are still winless, but most seasons things change “big-time” in the week-to-week year-to-year business that is the NFL.

Games to watch this weekend: 
- Thursday night will be worth a look for a change as Tennessee visits Pittsburgh in a meeting of division leaders.
- The Los Angeles Rams at the Minnesota Vikings is another “hook up” of division leaders in the early window Sunday afternoon. 
- The Cowboys host the first place Eagles on Sunday Night Football.
- The Falcons travel to Seattle in a playoff rematch with the Seahawks on Monday Night Football.

Here is my week 11 NFL Power Rankings.  

1. Philadelphia Eagles (8-1, last week 1) - The Eagles were off last week and return with a huge game at Dallas on Sunday Night Football. We are now going to start to see how good the Eaglets really are!

2. New Orleans Saints (7-2, last week 2) - They are blasting people away, seven straight wins after pummeling Buffalo 47-10.  This is by far the Saints best team since their Super Bowl squad of 2009.

3. New England Patriots (7-2, last week 3) - Destroyed the Broncos in Mile High where Brady and the Pats almost never win! My only question: If Tom Brady suffers a collarbone injury and is lost for the season, will Martellus Bennett scam the system again and engineer a transaction to Philly?  After all, we know Marty didn’t show up in Foxboro to play with Brian Hoyer! Right?

4. Minnesota Vikings (7-2, last week 5) - The Vikings put 38 on the board behind a career day by Case Keenum (4 touchdown passes and 304 yards passing), but their great defense gave up 30 to the Redskins. Remember, the Vikings win on defense.

5. Los Angeles Rams (7-2, last week 6) - Buried Houston 33-7 at the half-empty Coliseum. Coming up is a big game at Minnesota Sunday. This will tell us a lot about both the Rams' offense and the Vikings' defense.

6. Pittsburgh Steelers (7-2, last week 4) - Played down to the competition in a 20-17 comeback win at Indianapolis; that’s why we’ve dropped them a bit in our poll.

7. Jacksonville Jaguars (6-3, last week 7) - The Jags win again this time over the Los Angeles “Super” Chargers, but by just 3 in overtime. They’re tied atop the AFC South with Tennessee. Apparently the Jacksonville defense is for real and it had better be going forward; after all, Blake Bortles quarterbacks their offense.

8. Carolina Panthers (7-3, last week 9) - Cam starting to heat up in an impressive 45-21 win over the Dolphins Monday night.

9. Kansas City Chiefs (6-3, last week 10) - The Chiefs get a double bye; they were off last week they go to the Meadowlands to face the Giants this week. Yes, that’s like a double bye!

10. Detroit Lions (5-4, last week 11) - Matthew Stafford and the Lions do just enough to get by the Browns. So often in this league, good teams “play-down” to really bad teams.

11. Seattle Seahawks (6-3, last week 12) - Won the Thursday night game at Arizona 22-16, but lost so much more when All-World cornerback Richard Sherman blew out his Achilles.

12. Atlanta Falcons (5-4, last week 15) - Spotted the Zeke-less Cowboys a 7-0 start, then blew them out of the Mercedes Benz Dome with 27 unanswered points.

13. Tennessee Titans (6-3, last week 18) - Titans tied with the Jags for the top spot in the AFC South.

14. Dallas Cowboys (5-4, last week 8) - Without Zeke and middle linebacker Sean Lee, the Cowboys are a mere shell of themselves as the 27-7 drubbing at Atlanta will attest. The 'Pokes are now three games back of the Eagles heading into a must win at Jerryworld Sunday night against the NFC East leaders.

15. Washington Redskins (4-5, last week 13) - Couldn’t outscore a Vikings team led by Case Keenum losing 38-30 at home. This is what failure looks like!

16. Oakland Raiders (4-5, last week 20) - Coming off a bye week the Raiders get to scale President Trump’s wall and travel to Mexico City to face the New England Patriots. Oakland really needs this one! There is a wall down there isn’t there? Trump said there would be a wall and Mexico would pay for it. 

17. Green Bay Packers (5-4, last week 24) - Brett Hundley made big plays in the fourth quarter; are we witnessing the birth of a first-rate NFL quarterback?  Only time and the Baltimore Ravens (Sunday’s opponent) will tell. I know this is a big jump in one week off one win snapping a three game losing streak, but the Packers are 5-4!

18. Buffalo Bills (5-4, last week 12) - After a surprising 5-2 start, the Bills have been trounced 34-21 in the Meadowlands by the Jets and last week 47-10 at the hands of the Saints. Being outscored 81-31 in the last two games means the NFL’s longest playoff drought will probably stay intact for another year.

19. Denver Broncos (3-6, last week 16) - The once-great defense has given up 40-plus points in back to back outings.  It is over in Denver.

20. Los Angeles Chargers (3-6, last week 19) - Gave the Jaguars all they wanted before falling in overtime 20-17.

21. Houston Texans (3-6, last week 16) - See Denver.

22. Arizona Cardinals (4-5, last week 21) - Looked battered and beaten in a home loss to the Seahawks last Thursday.  They are at Houston this week where both teams are looking for, and expecting a break from, their misery.

23. Baltimore Ravens (4-5, last week 25) - Coming off a bye week, it will be interesting to see what Ravens team comes to Green Bay.  This club has won 40-0 and lost 44-7 this season. 

24. New York Jets (4-6, last week 22) - Just when you thought they had a chance at break even, they fall to the struggling Tampa Bay Buccaneers 15-10. The more you see of the NFC East, the Bills, Jets and Dolphins ,the more you understand the easy road to the playoffs the Patriots travel EVERY YEAR!!! No wonder they make so many Super Bowl appearances; they might have to play one tough game to get their each January.  The AFC really, really does stink! I would use a stronger word but this is a family power poll.

25. Chicago Bears (3-6, last week 23) - Beating the Rodgers-less Packers was a must for the Bears who fell short once again. These days the Packers lose more often to the Bears in Green Bay than Chicago where the Pack has won seven straight.  

26. Cincinnati Bengals (3-6, last week 26) - The clock is ticking on this Bengals team.  Is head coach Marvin Lewis in his final days running the football operation on the shores of the Ohio river?

27. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (3-6, last week 27) - Used a former Jets signal caller Ryan Fitzpatrick to orchestrate a 15-10 win over his former team.  Neither team deserved to win that game.

28. Miami Dolphins (4-5, last week 28) - Gave up in the second half in Charlotte.

29. Indianapolis Colts (3-7, last week 29) - There is no way Chuck Pagano survives this; is there?

30. San Francisco 49ers (1-9), last week 31) - Got the first win of the Kyle Shanahan era over a 1-7 team, but that didn’t stop them from popping the champagne in Silicon Valley.

31. New York Giants (1-8, last week 30) - Helped the Niners to their first win. There is no way Ben McAdoo survives this; is there? We talk all the time about teams that go from the depths of the league to the top like the Rams and Eagles this season; they fall just as fast, as is the case with the Giants who won 11 games just last year!

32. Cleveland Browns (0-9, last week 32) - They dragged the Lions down to their low level for most of the game Sunday in Detroit, but unfortunately for them, the cream eventually rose to the top and the Browns lost again.

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