Every Monday morning, the day after my favorite day of the week but still hours before that week’s slate of games officially wraps up with “Monday Night Football,” I will bring you my weekly premature NFL power rankings.
Why Monday? Because who wants to wait until Tuesday or Wednesday for power rankings?
Why 11 teams? I don’t really have a good answer for that one. I’ve always liked odd numbers.
What am I basing them on? Who my gut tells me are the toughest teams to beat that week.
Why isn’t my team on the list!?!?! Take a deep breath and try not to take these too seriously.
1. New England Patriots (last week -- 4): The Patriots have won five games in a row, and they averaged 47.5 points in their past four games, outscoring teams 190-81 over that span.
2. San Francisco 49ers (6): The insertion of second-year QB Colin Kaepernick into the starting lineup has given them a spark. He played well in a pair of wins over quality opponents.
3. Denver Broncos (3): The Kansas City Chiefs slowed down Peyton Manning and the Broncos offense a bit, but the Denver defense continues to dominate. They’ve got a top-five defense.
4. Houston Texans (1): The Texans showed a little moxie in winning two overtime games in a span of five days, but their defense, beset by key injuries, has been showing cracks.
5. Atlanta Falcons (5): The Falcons haven't soundly beaten an opponent since late October, but they improved to 10-1 with Sunday's one-point win over the streaking Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
6. Green Bay Packers (2): They had been on a roll, but their lopsided loss to the New York Giants on Sunday night brought back to light the concerns about their offensive line and defense.
7. Baltimore Ravens (8): The Ravens have won four games in a row, and they have done it in large part with defense and special teams. The AFC North is theirs. Can they get a first-round bye?
8. Chicago Bears (7): The Bears bounced back from a bad loss to the 49ers to beat the fading Minnesota Vikings. A showdown with the Packers, maybe for the division, looms in three weeks.
9. New York Giants (10): Think the Ravens are tough to figure out? What about the Giants? They bounced back from back-to-back losses to thump the Packers, who were one of the NFL’s hottest teams before Sunday.
10. New Orleans Saints (9): They lost to a better squad in the 49ers, but the Saints are still very dangerous.
11. Indianapolis Colts (NR): The Colts, who are the NFL’s best story this season, are closing in on the playoffs.
On the rise: Washington Redskins. They have won two straight after their coach waved a white flag in Week 9.
Free-falling: Pittsburgh Steelers. Their worst-case scenario for life without Ben Roethlisberger is playing out.