The Pickswise NFL Power Rankings: Packers back on top after Week 10
Sometimes I’m grateful that I’m just here to talk through the computer’s rankings and I don’t have to produce them myself. This is one such week.
What the heck happened in Week 10? We had a bunch of teams we previously thought were pretty good who provided more evidence they might not be (hello Ravens, Browns, Buccaneers, Cardinals and Rams!) plus a group of teams we had previously labelled as trash came up with big wins (apologies to the Dolphins, Football Team, Panthers, Vikings and 49ers). Figure that out, my microchipped buddy, and good luck!
This season, we’ve handed over control of our NFL power rankings to the Pickswise supercomputer. Our data science team has created a predictive machine learning model that makes use of a proprietary dynamic rating system. In addition to analyzing in-house derived metrics, the model also adapts to situational factors such as rest weeks, home-field advantage, and time-zone differentials.
Let’s take a look at how the computer ranks all 32 teams heading into Week 11.
1 Green Bay Packers (8-2)
Aaron Rodgers was the clear winner over Russell Wilson in the Week 10 battle of returning QBs and Green Bay’s shutout against Seattle has taken them back to top spot. The Packers have valid excuses for both their losses (still on the beach mentally in Week 1, Jordan Love in Week 9), but they don’t otherwise have the wild form dips other teams do, which must be why the computer loves them.
2 Buffalo Bills (6-3)
Talking of wild form dips, the Bills scored 39 more points against the Jets than they had in their baffling loss to the Jaguars in Week 9. After a soft recent schedule, things get tougher now with the Colts, Saints, Patriots and Buccaneers coming up.
3 Kansas City Chiefs (6-4)
I thought I was supposed to be the emotional, knee-jerk reaction, recency-bias half of this partnership, but maybe not. One decent performance by Patrick Mahomes and the computer has the Chiefs right back in the top 3, up 4 places for beating the Raiders. It seems a little overcooked to me, but then again we’ve got quite a few Week 10 flops coming up soon.
4 Tennessee Titans (8-2)
To be fair to the computer, it does have the Titans right behind the Chiefs and a fair distance ahead of 5th place. That’s valid after their impressive run of wins over the Bills, Chiefs, Colts, Rams and Saints. They couldn’t lose as a double-digit favorite against the Texans after that could they? This is the 2021 NFL season, people. Anything can happen!
5 Tampa Bay Buccaneers (6-3)
Bruce Arians seems understandably displeased with his Super Bowl winners after back-to-back losses to the Saints and the Football Team. There was some good news at least with week as it seems DT Vita Vea’s knee injury is not as serious as it seemed on Sunday.
6 New Orleans Saints (5-4)
The Saints have lost 2 in a row but probably-should-have-beaten-the-Titans ranks way better than actually losing to the Falcons, so there’s progress, despite Alvin Kamara missing the Tennessee game.
7 Arizona Cardinals (8-2)
Colt McCoy’s second start in place of Kyler Murray didn’t go as well as the first and the Cardinals were crushed by Carolina. There has been talk of the Cards not rushing Murray back from his ankle injury before their Week 12 bye, and the Rams’ defeat at least meant they didn’t lose any ground in the NFC West race this week.
8 Los Angeles Rams (7-3)
Talking of the Rams, here they are fresh off back-to-back losses. They’ve got a bye week to regroup before tackling the Packers, but it also gives OBJ’s dad time to produce a YouTube compilation of all the passes Matthew Stafford threw against the 49ers that he didn’t like.
9 New England Patriots (6-4)
The Patriots cracked the top 10, but they have a strong case to be higher after a dominant display against the Browns. Mac Jones is looking much better than advertised and Bill Belichick can still identify and ruthlessly exploit opponents’ weaknesses.
Be sure to check out our full game preview for TNF Patriots vs Falcons
10 Dallas Cowboys (7-2)
The Cowboys emulated the Bills by reacting to a humbling defeat with a crushing victory, trampling all over the Falcons. They’re a 2.5-point underdog for their visit to the Chiefs, which should be fun to watch.
11 Baltimore Ravens (6-3)
The Ravens had a bad week which started on Thursday Night Football with a shock loss to the Dolphins, who also showed the league an effective way to shut down the Ravens’ offense. I’m sure no teams will copy that approach. Baltimore may also have lost defensive end Derek Wolfe to injury.
12 Indianapolis Colts (5-5)
Well, the Colts beat the Jaguars, which is more than Buffalo managed, but they didn’t cover, scored only 3 points in the second half and were grateful for a rare blocked-punt-return TD. Still, that’s 4 wins in their last 5 after a 1-4 start and the Bills and Bucs up next.
13 Pittsburgh Steelers (5-3-1)
I don’t know. Maybe the computer awards extra points for a home tie against a terrible team in a terrible game? Whatever, the Steelers are up 3 places for managing not to lose with Mason Rudolph at quarterback.
14 San Francisco 49ers (4-5)
That was much more like it from the 49ers on Monday night. Where has that defense been all season? With the Jaguars next, the 49ers have a chance to stay relevant.
15 Los Angeles Chargers (5-4)
I’m starting to think that the epic 47-42 game between the Chargers and Browns last month took too much out of both teams, as they’ve both fallen off a cliff since. The Chargers have turned a 4-1 start into a 5-4 record and Justin Herbert seems to have lost his mojo.
16 Cleveland Browns (5-5)
The Browns had no Nick Chubb against the Patriots but they also had no clue on offense after a great first drive and no defense throughout the game. The last thing they would have wanted was to next face a red-hot Detroit team fresh from picking up its first non-loss of the season!
17 Seattle Seahawks (3-6)
Into the bottom half of the rankings we go, and Seattle can’t complain about being here having 2 losses for each of their 3 wins this season. They’re close to being out of it, but could catch a break this week if Arizona doesn’t want to risk bringing back Kyler Murray.
18 Minnesota Vikings (4-5)
The Vikings’ 2-game road trip went pretty well with a narrow loss to the Ravens and a win over the Chargers, and their NFC North clash with the Packers is one of the most interesting games of Week 11. The Vikings’ improvement can be seen by the Packers giving less than a field goal on the early lines.
19 Las Vegas Raiders (5-4)
The Raiders still have a winning record but a lowly ranking after back-to-back losses and they could keep heading in this direction with the rested Bengals and rampant Cowboys coming up next.
20 Carolina Panthers (5-5)
This might look a little low, but it’s a 7-place jump from where the Panthers were last week. Carolina brought in Cam Newton to replace the guy who replaced the guy who replaced Cam Newton and it’s all looking good again. Football, huh?
21 Cincinnati Bengals (5-4)
The Bengals had a pretty good bye week, with the Ravens and Browns both looking awful in losses and the Steelers looking awful in a tie.
22 Philadelphia Eagles (4-6)
The Eagles had a good week, running all over Denver, and they’ll be moving up if they can repeat that against the Saints this week.
23 Denver Broncos (5-5)
The Broncos’ revival was pretty short-lived and now they face two crucial AFC West games against the Chargers and Chiefs. Equilibrium has been restored though, and they again have the same record as the Panthers, having matched their results almost all the way through the first half of the season.
24 Miami Dolphins (3-7)
It’s only a 2-spot raise for the Dolphins, who registered the first of several upsets in Week 10 against the Ravens. With the Jets coming up this week, there’s a real chance the Fins can make it 3 wins in a row.
25 Washington Football Team (3-6)
Just when you’d given up on the WFT after 4 successive losses, they return from their bye and beat the Super Bowl champions by 10, as we all expected. The loss of Chase Young is a big blow for a defense that finally had the kind of performance we expected from them in September.
26 New York Giants (3-6)
The Giants got some good news on their bye week as running back Saquon Barkley practised for the first time in a month on Monday. Tampa Bay lost to an NFC East team coming off a bye this week — could it happen again?
27 Chicago Bears (3-6)
The Bears got RB David Montgomery back before their bye and they have the defensive pieces to give Baltimore problems when they return to action this week. They’re owed a few make-up calls from the officials after their narrow loss in Pittsburgh.
28 Atlanta Falcons (4-5)
Beat the Saints one week, lose by 40 to the Cowboys the next. Things aren’t dull in Atlanta, at least. And as if there weren’t enough jokes when they trailed 28-3 mid-game last Sunday, it’s the Patriots next…
29 New York Jets (2-7)
The computer has a huge gap between the top 28 teams and the hell-hole that is the bottom 4, and I suspect most humans do too. The Jets have allowed 45+ points in 3 of their last 4 games. At least they can’t do that against the Dolphins. Can they?
30 Jacksonville Jaguars (2-7)
The Jags have strung together two performances of merit, despite losing to the Colts and they have a case to at least be ranked the best of the last 4. With games against the Jets and Texans still to come, the battle for top picks in the draft could get interesting late in the season.
31 Houston Texans (1-8)
This was the Texans’ 2nd-best week of the season as it was only the 2nd week in which they didn’t lose. They come back from their bye against the Titans, so the normal service should be resumed.
32 Detroit Lions (0-8-1)
It’s 3 weeks since the Lions lost! Bye-Tie is a sensational sequence for Dan Campbell’s team, who have avoided being the first team to go 0-16 AND 0-17. Not putting in a waiver claim for Odell Beckham Jr. when they had first priority was justified for boring cap reasons, but they have nothing at wide receiver and seeing OBJ have to go there would have been low-key absolutely hilarious. Be more fun next time, Lions.