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WEEI NFL Power Rankings, Week 11: Patriots climb into top 5

11.12.13 at 11:28 am ET
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The Seahawks continue to soar high above the rest in the WEEI NFL Power Rankings. As fellow NFC teams suffer injuries and decline, Seattle seems to be getting stronger, and its big offseason acquisition, Percy Harvin, is set to debut in Seahawk green. The Broncos stand pat at No. 2 as they survived a health scare to their franchise QB. The Chiefs are proud owners of a perfect record and jump the their highest spot all year at No. 3. They sat back and enjoyed their bye week as the Colts (6) and Niners (8) suffered losses and fell in the rankings.

The difference a year makes continues to be the story across the league. Playoff teams in 2012 like the Texans (28), Vikings (27), Redskins (26) and Falcons (25) continue to plummet in 2013. It seems highly unlikely any of those teams will make a return to the postseason. On the other hand, the Chiefs, Panthers (7) and Jets (11) all have exceeded expectations and are in the thick of the playoff race after being completely out of it at this time last year.

Week 11 will deliver one of the most anticipated matchups of the year as the league’s best offense clashes against one of the league’s best defenses in an AFC West battle. The Broncos and Chiefs will duke it out to maintain their position in the NFL’s elite. It should be an exciting week of football.

1. (1) Seahawks (8-1) — Last year Seattle owned a 3-5 record on the road; this year the Seahawks boast a 5-1 record away from CenturyLink Field. As Harvin nears a return to the field following hip surgery, the Seahawks’ lead in the NFC continues to grow.

 2. (2) Broncos (8-1) — Peyton Manning re-aggravated an ankle injury, but that won’t sideline him when the Broncos take on the first-place Chiefs. Denver needs to be extra cautious with Manning. It may be even worth considering shutting him down for a week or two. Their chance for a Super Bowl title could be on the line.

3. (5) Chiefs (9-0) — The time finally has arrived for the Chiefs to prove to the rest of the league they are as good as their record indicates. It’s quite simple why Kansas City is at the top of the standings. The defense has been ferocious. The Chiefs have forced a league-high 23 turnovers.

4. (6) Patriots (7-2) — The Patriots are an astonishing 87-24 coming off their bye week since 2001. They’re 26-4 over the last three years alone. There’s no reason to believe Bill Belichick and Tom Brady won’t lead the Patriots to another impressive post-bye week performance when they take on the Panthers on Monday night.

5. (8) Saints (7-2) — It’s amazing how big of an impact a productive run game can be on an offense. The Saints set an NFL record with an astonishing 40 first downs against the Cowboys. Mark Ingram enjoyed a breakout game with over 140 yards on the ground. 

6. (3) Colts (6-3) — They beat the good teams but lose to the inferior ones. Indy has taken down the Niners, Broncos and Seahawks but lost to the Rams, Chargers and Dolphins. The Colts need a more consistent run game, as that would help alleviate some of the pressure Andrew Luck has faced from defensive linemen.   

7. (14) Panthers (6-3) — The Panthers’ 12.8 points allowed per game is second only to the undefeated Chiefs. Carolina has won five straight, but the last win over the 49ers holds the most merit because it is the first against a team above .500.

8. (4) 49ers (6-3) — In each of the Niners’ three losses, the offense can be blamed as the sole contributor. In those three defeats, San Fran’s offense has averaged a woeful 6.3 points per game.

9. (12) Lions (6-3) — No, you’re not dreaming. We’re heading to Week 11 and the Lions sit alone atop the NFC North. The last time the Lions won their division was 1993. 

10. (10) Bengals (6-4) — Andy Dalton‘s handling of the clock during the final drive of regulation highlighted his lack of experience and readiness in those situations. The Bengals had no business sending that game into overtime. Marvin Lewis needs to teach his players how to play a smarter brand of football if they want to be a playoff team.

11. (11) Jets (5-4) — Rex Ryan, Coach of the Year? He’s certainly in the mix. Expectations couldn’t have been any lower before the season began. Now as the Jets come out of their bye week, they are in the middle of a playoff race.

12. (7) Bears (5-4) – The seesaw ride of a season for the Bears continues. Jay Cutler clearly was not ready to return, and you have to question the Bears coaching and training staffs for allowing him to play. If the Bears are going to go anywhere in the playoffs, they need a healthy Cutler.

13. (13) Cowboys (5-5) — The Cowboys are at the bottom of the league in third-down conversion rate. On Sunday they were an astonishing 0-for-9 on third down.

14. (9) Packers (5-4) — If the Packers can withstand the plethora of injuries they’ve had to endure this season and make the playoffs, it will be one of the most impressive performances in NFL history. This team has been ravaged with injury and still is in the playoff hunt.

15. (15) Chargers (4-5) —  The Chargers were able to walk away from Sunday’s loss knowing that they are capable of beating one of the best teams in the NFL. If they can improve in the red zone (22nd) and tackle better on defense, they will be in the playoff hunt.

16. (20) Eagles (5-5) — Great production from the run game is the main reason the Eagles have stayed in the race in the NFC East. Philly is averaging over five yards per carry. Chip Kelly‘s squad could be in first place Sunday if it can take care of the reeling Redskins. 

17. (21) Cardinals (5-4) — The only thing holding this team back is the offense. Lately, that offense has been operating smoothly. The production from the ground game has done wonders for Carson Palmer and friends.

18. (18) Browns (4-5) — After snapping an 11-game losing streak to the Ravens, the Browns will look to build on what can be called a successful start to the year — at least by Cleveland standards. This franchise has not won more than five games since 2007.

19. (19) Ravens (4-5) — The Ravens would have at least asked for a fifth-round pick for Anquan Boldin had they known Ray Rice would be averaging a minuscule 2.5 yards per carry 10 weeks into the season.

20. (26) Rams (4-6) — This young team has shown a tremendous amount of potential and has talent all over the roster. Tavon Austin is a player the Rams hope will be a game-changer for years to come.

21. (16) Dolphins (4-5) – A promising start has unraveled quickly in Miami. The loss to a winless Buccaneers team following a volatile in-house situation could cause the Dolphins to go spiraling downward.

 22. (28) Steelers (3-6) — It’s no coincidence Steelers’ wins have come when the offense is balanced. The run game is key to Pittsburgh’s success. The Steelers have yet to win a game when Ben Roethlisberger passes the ball more than 30 times. He doesn’t need to when the ground game in contributing. 

23. (24) Giants (3-6) — It says a lot about the NFC East when the 3-6 Giants are the hottest team.

24. (17) Titans (4-5) — Jake Locker is out for the year, thus ending a promising season for the Titans. The organization finally was getting a chance to see if the third-year QB is capable of being a franchise player.

25. (23) Falcons (2-7) — The Falcons are a prime of example of how much of a difference a year can make in the NFL. Atlanta’s once-potent offense has averaged a mere 11 points over the last three weeks.   

26. (22) Redskins (3-6) — The loss to the Vikings is the biggest sign that the Redskins are just not a good football team. This was a game against a bad team that they should have won. There were many opportunities, but Washington failed to close.

27. (30) Vikings (2-7) — Christian Ponder is a tease to all the Vikings fans out there. He shows glimpses of promise, and there are other times where he looks like nothing more than a backup.

28. (25) Texans (2-7) — The situation in Houston continues to unravel. Arian Foster is out for the year, and Ed Reed is publicly criticizing the coaching staff. The veteran safety picked the absolute wrong time to rip the coaching staff. Wade Phillips has just one game under his belt as interim coach.

29. (29) Bills (3-7) — Better now than later for EJ Manuel to go through the growing pains of being a young quarterback in the NFL. As long as Manuel is gaining experience and learning from his losses, the Bills should accept the result.

30. (27) Raiders (3-6) — The Raiders do a lot of things we usually see from losing teams. That consists of penalties, turnovers, not converting on third down and not scoring in the red zone. 

31. (31) Buccaneers (1-8) — Few people would’ve predicted at the beginning of the season that the Bucs would be the last team in the league to put a mark in the win column after a promising year in 2012. This isn’t the popular opinion in Tampa, but a case can be made that Greg Schiano deserves another year. 

32. (32) Jaguars (1-8) — The Jaguars secured their third win in their last 22 games.   

Which NFL teams are in your top 10? Leave your opinions/comments below or send via Twitter to @JoeZWEEI.

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