Matt Vensel's Monday morning NFL power rankings

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 York Giants (last week -- 2): The Giants made things more interesting than they should have been Sunday against the Dallas Cowboys, but they now have a three-win cushion in the division.

2. Houston Texans (1): They had a bye week after their 30-point win over the Ravens. I bet the week is a lot more enjoyable when you are on the winning end of a lopsided game like that.

3. Atlanta Falcons (3): After a week of inactivity, the Falcons got off to a fast start in Philly and handed it to the Eagles. Their offense gets all of the pub, but their defense is pretty strong, too.

4. San Francisco 49ers (4): They play the Arizona Cardinals tonight. No offense to the 49ers, but I'm not sure I would choose to watch that if a hurricane wasn't trapping me inside the house.

5. Chicago Bears (5): Another game, another interception returned for a touchdown. What's that? Six in seven games? This is getting ridiculous. The latest came at the expense of Cam Newton.

6. Denver Broncos (8): Peyton Manning is back, but so is the Denver defense. If the Broncos can play stout defense like they did during Tebow Time, the Broncos will be hard to beat in January.

7. Green Bay Packers (6): Despite being without their top two wide-outs, they beat the Jacksonville Jaguars. They have depth, but they need Greg Jennings and Jordy Nelson to get healthy.


8. New England Patriots (7): Tom Brady and the Patriots put on an offensive showcase for the fans in London. But I think the London Silly Nannies would have put up a better fight than the Rams.

9. Baltimore Ravens (9): The bye week came at a good time for the Ravens, who have some nagging injuries and a bunch of issues to address before traveling to Cleveland this weekend.

10. Pittsburgh Steelers (NR): After shutting down Robert Griffin III, Alfred Morris and the Washington Redskins running game, the Steelers trail the Ravens by just one game in the division.

11. Minnesota Vikings (11): The Vikings are 5-3 after Thursday's loss, and things are about to get tougher in the next five weeks with upcoming games in Seattle, Chicago and Green Bay.

On the rise: Miami Dolphins. The Dolphins are quietly 4-3 after winning three games in a row. And they have done it with rookie Ryan Tannehill averaging just 193.4 passing yards per game.

Free-falling: Philadelphia Eagles. They have lost three games in a row and are in danger of falling out of the playoff hunt. But I think they need to stick with Michael Vick and hope he gets hot.