Here is our Football Relativity comparison after Week 11. We’ve noted where we have moved teams up or down from the Week 10 comparison.
10 – Indianapolis Colts, New Orleans Saints – The Colts somehow pulled out a win in Baltimore, as we detailed in this post. It was Indy’s sixth win by four points or fewer this year, and their fourth in a row by such a narrow margin. It’s unlikely for a team to win all their close games like this, but then again Peyton Manning has a habit of accomplishing the unlikely. The Saints had a more conventional win in a 38-7 laugher in Tampa Bay, and now they gear up for a Monday-night clash with New England. That’ll be a great test for both teams.
9 – Minnesota Vikings, New England Patriots – The Vikings beat down the Seahawks in a home game, once again showing a level of certainty against a bad team. Next week’s game against Chicago shouldn’t be a big test, but the Week 13 matchup in Arizona will be. New England exacted revenge against the Jets for an earlier loss with a convincing 31-14 win. New England hasn’t gotten major props, in part because of its three road losses, but a win in New Orleans next week will change that. And the Pats are capable of putting such a skin on their wall.
8 – Arizona Cardinals (UP A LEVEL), Cincinnati Bengals (DOWN A LEVEL), Pittsburgh Steelers (DOWN A LEVEL), San Diego Chargers – The Cardinals once again took care of business on the road with a win in St. Louis, but Kurt Warner’s concussion could put a real damper on their long-term hopes. If Warner can stay healthy, though, the Cards look to be a team no one wants to play – not even Minnesota or New Orleans. The Chargers took control of the AFC West by stomping the Broncos 32-3. San Diego has now won five straight and is in terrific form. With games against the Chiefs and Browns the next two weeks, the Bolts could quickly make that a seven-game win streak to put the division away. Pittsburgh and Cincinnati both had embarrassing losses to sorry teams, with the Steelers dropping a game at Arrowhead against the Chiefs and the Bengals blew a late lead in the Black Hole against the Raiders. Since both teams lost, it doesn’t affect the AFC North division race too much, but both teams must prove they can bounce back if they want to remain among the strong playoff contenders.
7 – Atlanta Falcons, Dallas Cowboys, New York Giants, Philadelphia Eagles – The Falcons lost an overtime game at the Giants, which was a desperately needed win for Big Blue. The Giants aren’t a perfect team, but they have enough going to remain a strong NFC East contender. Atlanta lost again to fall to 5-5, but they have four home games in the next five, and the Falcons have been much better in the Dirty South than on the road this year. Dallas played poorly but pulled out a win against Washington to stay ahead in the NFC East, while Philly kept pace with a road win in Chicago. Dallas, Philly, and the Giants will take this race all the way to the end of the season. The Giants need a win on the road in Denver on Thanksgiving night to keep up with the Cowboys, who have the Raiders at home, and the Eagles, who host the Redskins.
6 – Baltimore Ravens (DOWN A LEVEL), Denver Broncos (DOWN A LEVEL), Green Bay Packers, Houston Texans (DOWN A LEVEL), Jacksonville Jaguars (UP A LEVEL), Miami Dolphins – The Ravens suffered a crushing loss against the Colts. The loss was crushing because the Ravens did so many things well but were in the end stifled by a few mistakes. The Broncos are plummeting after their fourth straight loss, a blowout vs. San Diego. Denver needs a win on Thanksgiving night against the Giants to stem the tide and remain playoff-relevant. At least for the Broncos’ sake, they’re at home. The Packers won their second straight game by beating the Niners at home. Green Bay isn’t a great team, but there is talent there, and if the Packers continue to improve they are a little scary. Houston blew a golden opportunity on Monday Night Football to jump headlong into the playoff hunt. Now they’re at .500, which is a mark the franchise just can’t seem to jump. The Jaguars pulled one out against the Bills to move to 6-4. Although Jacksonville isn’t a perfect team, the Jags are capable of winning most weeks, and if they can gain consistency they are a threat to at least make the playoffs. Miami won at Carolina in a Thursday-night affair to even their record at 5-5 and get in playoff position. They’ll have a hard time jumping New England in the division, but the Dolphins are squarely in the playoff hunt.
5 – Carolina Panthers, Chicago Bears, New York Jets, San Francisco 49ers, Tennessee Titans (UP A LEVEL) – The Titans were the only team in this bunch who won. It was Tennessee’s fourth straight win, and the Titans now have something to play for despite their horrific 0-6 start. Carolina lost a tight game against Miami, but the Panthers continue to show that they’re no pushover. The Bears played close, but they continue to make critical mistakes in prime-time games. Chicago fans are apoplectic, but the Bears still could make a run to 8-8. The Jets got stomped in New England, and Mark Sanchez continued to show rookie growing pains. But the bigger problem is that Rex Ryan’s vaunted defensive scheme seems to have been solved to some degree in the last month or so. San Francisco tried to rally in Green Bay, which is a positive sign of not giving up, but they just don’t have enough talent to keep up with the Cardinals in their division.
4 – Seattle Seahawks, Washington Redskins (UP A LEVEL) – We moved the Redskins up despite their loss in Dallas because they finally look like a team that’s at least competitive. Seattle has a hard time competing against top teams like Minnesota, but the Seahawks have done a good job of beating inferior teams this year.
3 – Buffalo Bills, Kansas City Chiefs (UP A LEVEL) – The Chiefs won at home against Pittsburgh, and they’re starting to establish a home-field advantage that makes them a threat even against good teams. That’s a positive step. Buffalo played valiantly in Jacksonville, but ultimately fell short. That team competes, but it doesn’t have enough on the offensive or defensive line to be a real contender.
2 – Detroit Lions, Oakland Raiders (UP A LEVEL), Tampa Bay Buccaneers – The Lions got their second win against the Browns, and Matthew Stafford showed both toughness and talent. That’s something to build on. Tampa Bay got shellacked after two solid performances, but we’ll leave them in place now as we see if the Bucs can return to competitives. Oakland got a surpising last-minute win against Cincinnati, marking the Raiders’ third win of the year. When the Raiders don’t care, they play terribly, but they have the talent to compete when they’re in the mood to do so.
1 – Cleveland Browns, St. Louis Rams (DOWN A LEVEL) – The Browns lost to the Lions, which was one of their few good shots at a win left. The Rams lost at home to Arizona, and now the Rams look like the leading contender for the No. 1 overall pick.