Here are the Rankings for Week 10:
1.) Houston (8-1) [+1]
The Texans claim the first spot in the Rankings for the first time ever. It's a year of firsts for the team and only took the last unbeaten finally losing to move up. Their effort against the Bears wasn't what I would call praiseworthy; however, they survived and got the W, so that's all that really matters. They have yet another cupcake team on the schedule as 1-8 Jacksonville comes in to hopefully challenge for a few minutes. I foresee Matt Schaub rollouts turning into long TD's.
2.) Atlanta (8-1) [-1]
Now that the Falcons are undefeated no more, they can really get to work. First up, salt away the NFC South (as if they hadn't already). Then get the top seed in the conference and the bye that comes with it. Then show up at home instead of putting up 2 points. Ideally, the Falcons will continue to play well while making the necessary changes to get better as the season progresses. For now, that would appear to include getting Michael Turner more involved in the offense (according to various pundits). Losing to this New Orleans team (esp. their worst in NFL History defense) is really inexcusable, but there is a silver lining. Mike Smith can point to that loss for the rest of this season and use it as a "teaching point" (a popular phrase in Fall 2012) to guide his men to the Lombardi Trophy.
3.) Baltimore (7-2) [+2]
55 points and one awesome beatdown mean little if Joe Flacco lays an egg this weekend against the Steelers. Of course, without Ben Roethlisberger, the Steelers are hardly even the same team. What's important here is that Flacco &co. take their Week 10 success and somehow make it happen again this week. It's a tough task, to be sure, especially given Flacco's immense inconsistency. If he's really serious about being considered an "elite" QB, he absolutely must perform well on Sunday night.
4.) San Francisco (6-2-1) [no change]
First tie since 2008 coming on the heels of the QB getting knocked out. Are we still jive turkeys?
5.) Chicago (7-2) [-2]
A humbling loss in addition to having the QB knocked out. Now the Bears have to go to San Francisco and maybe face another backup QB. They'll be relying on their defense even more if Jason Campbell can't get the job done.
6.) Green Bay (6-3) [no change]
Coming off a late bye, the Packers get Detroit. Not a bad way to get back to action, really. It looks like the Packers are back on their way up. As long as Rodgers is ambulatory, he should be able to guide this team to the playoffs, despite their injuries.
7.) New England (6-3) [+1]
It looks like the defense just might keep Tom Brady from getting his fourth ring. Playing a Buffalo team with defensive issues of their own, the Patriots just couldn't close the deal last Sunday. Luckily, Ryan Fitzpatrick was in a giving mood. I'm still high on this team, mostly because of Brady + Belichick. I've been high on the team for the last few years as well. So my confidence isn't shaken, but I do know that when you play a team like Buffalo, who they've traditionally knocked the crap out of, you want to win handily, not at the last second.
8.) Denver (6-3) [+1]
Peyton Manning is most likely the Comeback Player of the Year. But will he win MVP as well? I don't know yet...but it looks like Denver has a strong hold on a very weak division. I don't think anybody expects San Diego to come from behind to catch them, except maybe Philip Rivers and Norv Turner.
9.) Indianapolis (6-3) [+1]
It wasn't spotless against Jacksonville, but Andrew Luck and his teammates got it done. They have the benefit of an extra couple days off as they prepare to play New England. Tough sledding, but that's how it goes in the NFL: out of the frying pan, into the fire.
10.) Pittsburgh (6-3) [-]
Obviously, this is temporary; without Roethslisberger, few expect the Steelers to take out Baltimore (me included). Someone had to come into the Rankings to cover an empty spot, though, and Pittsburgh was the team to do so. It's too bad they can't stay a while longer, but hey, that's how these things go sometimes. Of course, if they DO pull off the upset, it just makes me look all the worse. So really, everyone wins.
That's all for this week. See you next week.
Three Games to Watch (Week 11):
Indianapolis @ New England (Sunday, CBS)
Baltimore @ Pittsburgh (Sunday, NBC)
Chicago @ San Francisco (Monday, ESPN)