NFL Week 11 power rankings: Brees-less Saints hang on; ‘Tua Time’ Dolphins, miracle Cards move up

1. Pittsburgh Steelers (9-0) | Last week’s rank: 1 Ben Roethlisberger threw four TD passes after spending five days in quarantine as ...

1. Pittsburgh Steelers (9-0) | Last week’s rank: 1

Ben Roethlisberger threw four TD passes after spending five days in quarantine as a high-risk close contact and not rejoining the Steelers on the practice field until Saturday. It’s the latest evidence not to listen to any NFL coach who drones on about the need for a good week of practice.

2. Kansas City Chiefs (8-1) | Last week’s rank: 2

The Chiefs were busy Monday as they emerged from their bye week by announcing contact extensions for Coach Andy Reid and GM Brett Veach and placing offensive tackles Eric Fisher and Mitchell Schwartz on their covid-19 reserve list. The immediate post-bye schedule is interesting with consecutive road games at Las Vegas and Tampa Bay.

3. New Orleans Saints (7-2) | Last week’s rank: 3

Just when everything was coming together for the Saints, Drew Brees exited Sunday’s triumph over the 49ers with rib injuries that, along with a collapsed lung, reportedly will keep him sidelined for several weeks. The QB duties now fall to Jameis Winston and Taysom Hill. Coach Sean Payton probably can patch things together temporarily with that duo, just as he made things work last season with Teddy Bridgewater filling in for Brees. But the Saints need Brees healthy and back in the lineup down the stretch.

4. Green Bay Packers (7-2) | Last week’s rank: 6

The Packers struggled Sunday at Lambeau Field against the lowly Jaguars. Punter JK Scott was ridiculed for his tackle non-attempt on the 91-yard TD by Jacksonville returner Keelan Cole. But at least the Packers found a way to win. Everyone can just relax and move on.

5. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (7-3) | Last week’s rank: 8

Can Tom Brady keep all his receivers happy? He targeted Mike Evans 11 times, Antonio Brown eight and Chris Godwin six in Sunday’s big win over the Panthers. So all was fine, it seemed, this week. But it could be a delicate balance. Brown’s latest off-field issue, meanwhile, did not result in criminal charges but raises further questions about his status with the team and the league.

6. Miami Dolphins (6-3) | Last week’s rank: 11

The Dolphins are thriving with three straight wins since Coach Brian Flores’s switch to Tua Tagovailoa at QB and five consecutive victories overall. Tagovailoa won Sunday’s rookie-QB duel with Justin Herbert, and the Dolphins have every reason to believe they’re capable of overtaking the Bills and winning the AFC East.

7. Arizona Cardinals (6-3) | Last week’s rank: 12

Everything about the winning Hail Mary touchdown was fantastic, from Kyler Murray’s throw to DeAndre Hopkins’s catch. Stop debating whether the throw or the catch was better. They were both tremendous. But there’s little time for the Cardinals to savor it, with the quick turnaround for Thursday’s meeting with the Seahawks. That’s a rematch of another dramatic Cards triumph this season.

8. Baltimore Ravens (6-3) | Last week’s rank: 4

The Ravens didn’t handle the sloppy conditions well Sunday night in Foxborough, Mass. The offense still doesn’t resemble last season’s dominant version. The Ravens are left playing for a wild-card spot, with their AFC North deficit to the Steelers now three games. The loss of TE Nick Boyle to a season-ending knee injury could be a bigger loss than many realize.

9. Buffalo Bills (7-3) | Last week’s rank: 5

Stefon Diggs’s superb TD catch looked like it was going to give the Bills a dramatic victory in Arizona. But the Cardinals one-upped the Bills for drama with their magical play.

10. Las Vegas Raiders (6-3) | Last week’s rank: 10

The Raiders are formidable. Coach Jon Gruden has them back to contender status. Can they actually match up with the AFC heavyweights? They already have a win over the Chiefs, and the rematch comes Sunday night in Vegas.

11. Indianapolis Colts (6-3) | Last week’s rank: 13

The defense is legitimate, and there are some effective play-makers around QB Philip Rivers on offense. He doesn’t need to be a Pro Bowl-level player. If he can just manage the game and limit mistakes, the Colts can be tough to beat.

12. Tennessee Titans (6-3) | Last week’s rank: 7

The special-teams breakdowns that led to Thursday night’s loss to the Colts must be addressed. It’s particularly galling to lose an important game that way. The Titans are struggling, with three losses in four games. But there’s no time to brood. They play at Baltimore this Sunday before heading to Indianapolis for the rematch with the Colts a week later.

13. Los Angeles Rams (6-3) | Last week’s rank: 14

The Seahawks were the attention-grabbing team in the NFC West early in the season. Now that distinction belongs to the Cardinals. But the Rams just might find a way to emerge as the division winner. The absence of left tackle Andrew Whitworth with a knee injury could be significant, though.

14. Seattle Seahawks (6-3) | Last week’s rank: 9

Few are talking about Russell Wilson as top league MVP contender at this point. The Seahawks are unraveling, with losses in two straight and three of four games. The Thursday night game against the Cardinals feels rather important.

15. Cleveland Browns (6-3) | Last week’s rank: 15

It was a strange Sunday in Cleveland, from the weather delay at the outset to the 3-0 score entering the fourth quarter to Nick Chubb running out of bounds at the 1-yard line to allow the Browns to run out the clock. But the Browns and their fans weren’t about to complain about the oddities of a win. It was, after all, still a win.

16. Minnesota Vikings (4-5) | Last week’s rank: 21

17. New England Patriots (4-5) | Last week’s rank: 22

There’s still a long way to go for the Patriots to put this season back together. But the win over the Ravens was impressive and undoubtedly gratifying. Don’t ever give up on a Bill Belichick-coached team. Cam Newton played well, and RB Damien Harris remained productive.

18. Detroit Lions (4-5) | Last week’s rank: 24

The Lions squandered a big lead at home against Washington but were bailed out by Matt Prater’s long field goal, just when some were wondering what such a crushing defeat would mean for Coach Matt Patricia’s job security.

19. Atlanta Falcons (3-6) | Last week’s rank: 19

The Falcons, returning from their bye, become the first team to face the Drew Brees-less Saints. They play Sunday at the Superdome and the Falcons surely sense an upset is possible, given their improved level of play just before the bye.

20. New York Giants (3-7) | Last week’s rank: 26

It’s entirely possible that the Giants are the NFC East’s best team. That’s not saying very much at all. But the Giants and their fans will probably take it at this point. QB Daniel Jones was reliable with his no-turnover performance in the victory over the Eagles.

21. Chicago Bears (5-5) | Last week’s rank: 17

The offense was no better with coordinator Bill Lazor calling the plays than it had been with Coach Matt Nagy as the play-caller. The loss Monday night to the Vikings leaves the Bears with four straight losses and a .500 record entering their bye. Nick Foles’s injury could leave Nagy turning back to Mitchell Trubisky at QB after the bye, provided that Trubisky’s shoulder injury has healed.

22. San Francisco 49ers (4-6) | Last week’s rank: 18

The injuries have taken their toll and there’s simply no way for the 49ers to salvage much from this season, with the depleted lineup they’re now putting on the field.

23. Philadelphia Eagles (3-5-1) | Last week’s rank: 16

So much for the notion that the Eagles would emerge from their bye healthier and ready to provide the NFC East with a somewhat respectable division winner. The loss to the Giants was a huge step backward and there’s no longer any reason to suspect that the Eagles are anything other than just another NFC East lightweight.

24. Cincinnati Bengals (2-6-1) | Last week’s rank: 20

The Bengals are a greatly improved team this season with rookie Joe Burrow at QB. It just didn’t look that way Sunday against the Steelers.

25. Denver Broncos (3-6) | Last week’s rank: 23

Drew Lock had a four-interception calamity in Sunday’s loss to the Raiders and now his playing status is questionable because of a muscle strain around his ribs. Things are not exactly looking up for the would-be solution to Denver’s longstanding QB issues.

26. Carolina Panthers (3-7) | Last week’s rank: 25

The Panthers are reeling with five straight losses and are dealing with injuries to their two most important offensive players, QB Teddy Bridgewater and RB Christian McCaffrey. The outlook has turned decidedly gloomy in Coach Matt Rhule’s first season.

27. Houston Texans (2-7) | Last week’s rank: 27

It’s not like the Texans needed DeAndre Hopkins or anything. It sure is a good thing they traded him away, isn’t it? Is Bill O’Brien eligible to be named NFL executive of the year for what he did to build the Cardinals’ roster?

28. Los Angeles Chargers (2-7) | Last week’s rank: 28

At least the Chargers, this time, didn’t lose in stomach-churning fashion in the game’s final seconds. But they still lost.

29. Washington Football Team (2-7) | Last week’s rank: 29

Alex Smith put up big numbers in Detroit, and his personal story remains remarkable. But can you really rebuild around a 36-year-old QB? Can you really say that you haven’t given up on a young QB that you’re not playing when you’re 2-7? Perhaps the new regime should have taken Tua Tagovailoa on draft night if it was so unconvinced about Dwayne Haskins’s potential to be a franchise QB.

30. Dallas Cowboys (2-7) | Last week’s rank: 30

The Cowboys return from their bye week because, well, the NFL pretty much requires that they play the rest of their schedule.

31. Jacksonville Jaguars (1-8) | Last week’s rank: 31

The Jaguars made things interesting against the Packers even with rookie QB Jake Luton struggling. That qualifies as a highlight for the Jaguars at this point.

32. New York Jets (0-9) | Last week’s rank: 32

The Jets didn’t fire Coach Adam Gase on their bye week and return to play the tough-luck Chargers on Sunday in L.A. Joe Flacco gets another start at QB as Sam Darnold remains sidelined by his shoulder injury.

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Newsrust: NFL Week 11 power rankings: Brees-less Saints hang on; ‘Tua Time’ Dolphins, miracle Cards move up
NFL Week 11 power rankings: Brees-less Saints hang on; ‘Tua Time’ Dolphins, miracle Cards move up
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