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First and 10: Monday afternoon NFL power rankings

By Matt Vensel

1:00 PM EST, December 19, 2011

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Because doing a full, 32-team list of power rankings is too much work for a Monday afternoon, I will rank the top 11 teams in the NFL after each exciting football Sunday (that's where the "first and 10" comes in).

Here are my rankings heading into the huge Monday night game between Pittsburgh and San Francisco:

1. Packers: The loss to Kansas City was unexpected, but this is still hands-down the best team in football.

2. Patriots: It’s looking like the road to the Super Bowl for AFC contenders will go through snowy Foxborough.

3. Saints: Like the Pats, the Saints have won six in a row. They are rooting for the Steelers on Monday night.

4. Steelers: The only tough game remaining on their schedule is Monday night’s game out on the West Coast.

5. Ravens: It will be such a shame if the Ravens don’t win the division after sweeping the Steelers this season.

6. 49ers: That first-round bye slips out of their grasp if they can’t beat up Big Ben and the Steelers on “MNF.”

7. Chargers: After watching the Bolts dismantle the Ravens, the rest of the AFC is hoping they miss the playoffs.

8. Lions: What a breakout season for Matthew Stafford, who is only 23 years old. He has elite QB potential.

9. Texans: Don’t sweat not getting a first-round bye, Houston. Just worry about getting as healthy as possible.

10. Falcons: We’ll learn a lot about this Falcons team next Monday night when it travels to the Superdome.

11. Broncos: Tim Tebow isn’t as good as Tom Brady right now? We already knew that. No need to compare.

Biggest riser (not on this list): Dan Orlovsky and the Colts, who finally won a game. Break out the bubbly!

Biggest fall (not on this list): The Giants, who followed their win over the Cowboys with a loss to the ‘Skins.