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NFL Power Rankings, Week 10: Saints hit top five; Cowboys rise

Week 10 is here, which means we've officially, officially hit midseason -- i.e., every team in the league has played at least eight games.

Yet, even at the halfway point, how much do we really know? For example, can you say there is a dominant team? No. We think we know the top shelf from the well drinks, but in all the years I've covered this sport, I can't remember more of a pro football mosh pit than in 2017. Last week maintained this theme right off the bat, when the haven't-they-turned-the-corner Billslost by double digits to the Jets on "Thursday Night Football." All of which makes it harder to keep the league hierarchy in place. Thus, way more movement in these rankings than in last week's edition.

I don't know about that, broham. You play who is on your schedule. And beat them.


For the fully updated pecking order, take a gander below. If you have a few thoughts via the Twitter, we might show them on the "NFL Power Rankings" show Tuesday evening. We're mean that way. Let fly your football thought bubbles: @HarrisonNFL is the place.

Let the dissension commence!

PROGRAMMING NOTE: For more in-depth analysis on the updated league pecking order, tune in to NFL Network every Tuesday night at 6 p.m. ET for the "NFL Power Rankings" show. Want to add YOUR voice? Provide your thoughts at the bottom of this page or tweet @HarrisonNFL, and your comments could be featured on air.

EDITOR'S NOTE: The lineup below reflects changes from our Week 9 Power Rankings.

The first quarter of Sunday's blowout of the Broncos told you all you needed to know about these Eagles. Carson Wentz led them on three scoring drives in three possessions. The third was set up by a mid-tier free-agent acquisition who has proven himself to be another contributor, if not star, for Doug Pederson's team: Patrick Robinson, whose interception of Brock Osweiler in Denver territory made that scoring march rather short. It was paid off by another unheralded player in running back Corey Clement. The dot on the previous Eagles possession was provided by kicker Jake Elliott, who has been absolutely huge for Philly this season. Can't imagine anyone would argue with this ranking.

Nothing like a slot receiver screen on third-and-33, huh? The most gnarly feedback received on Twitter and the "NFL Power Rankings" show this past week came as a result of the Rams being second in last week's rankings. When a team is off for a week, like Los Angeles was in Week 8, and everyone around that team wins, fans want me to drop said team automatically. Cool. So that was 51 points on the road for a team that "ruined" my credibility here. Think there's more upside, too, specifically for coordinator Wade Phillips' defense as we enter the back half of the season. This group is going to the playoffs.

The Steelers were off in Week 9, which means maybe Ben Roethlisberger had extra time to figure out why he's been, well, off most of the season. The offensive coaching staff can figure out why JuJu Smith-Schuster has been off the field as much as he has; that guy, who is putting up 17.7 yards per catch but has played just 65.2 percent of Pittsburgh's offensive snaps, needs to be out there getting even more targets. When are the wheels gonna fall off Le'Veon Bell? The guy is averaging more than 28 touches per game. In this era, that's like doing Chuck Norris' Total Gym 85 nights in a row.

Was at a hotel bar the other night, trying to right -- sorry, write; had a couple margs -- New England's blurb. Anyway, was trying to think what to write for the Patriots' off week. Then this cheesy-synthesizer Steve Winwood song (that I secretly like) came on: "Valerie," which includes this indelible lyric: "I'm the same boy I used to be." Made me think of Tom Brady. I'm not sure any of us who cover the sport, or the fans at large, realize how much better the NFL is with Brady in it. That's no glorified B.S., either. Brady makes the NFL better, whether you root for or against the Patriots -- the point is, you do one or the other. Secondly, he's played for the same franchise his entire career. You can't say that about almost any "franchise" player anymore. And forget the fact that Brady is the greatest quarterback of all time. Does the guy act like it? Hell no. Brady wants to win as badly as that 23-year-old late-round pick in 2000 who just wanted a chance to get in the game, garbage time or not. He's never done a lot of commercials ( Tommy, you're my favorite accountant ... Real comfortable jeans ...), save for a creepyish one in 2016. He's just a dude playing a dude disguised as another dude who refuses to lose. OK, I'm done. But I could write 2,000 words here.

That's six wins in a row, for those scoring at home (or abroad). Maybe it's time for folks (the world!) to notice what the Saints are accomplishing. Your hack writer covered the defense way back in the Week 1 Power Rankings, but even the most ardent proponents of New Orleans' prospects must be a smidge surprised at this performance. Offensively, Alvin Kamara's rookie campaign has been overshadowed by those of Deshaun Watson and Kareem Hunt, but the Saints back was integral to yet another win, providing 16 touches, 152 yards and two touchdowns against the Bucs on Sunday. That's 9.5 yards per touch, man.

Love that the Vikings are flying well under the radar. Let them sneak up on everybody. I covered this in the "Closing Arguments" segment during the "NFL Power Rankings" show, but who's going to topple this group in the NFC North? While we're at it, which team in the NFC can Minnesota NOT take down? "I'd like the number zero for $500, Alex." The defense has been balling out since, well, Day 1. Remember what they did to the Saints in Week 1? (New Orleans was held to 19 points and 344 yards, both season lows.) The Vikes haven't given up more than 17 points since the Twins were still in it.

When Jalen Ramsey wasn't brawling, he and his secondary 'mates were shutting down the Bengals' passing game. This was most relevant on third down, when Cincy couldn't buy a conversion, going 1 for 8 in the contest. That one first down came on a meaningless third-and-3 in the first quarter that led to a Kevin Huber punt. By the way, the run defense stymied the Bengals over and over, limiting Cincinnati to 29 yards on 17 carries. Which means no one is asking Blake Bortles to win games right now. Found a video on the downlow of what Ramsey spouted off to make A.J. Green so mad. Take a look.

Tamba Hali's Power Rankings have the Cowboys at the top. Hard to say Dallas is the premier team in the league, given the uncertain status of Ezekiel Elliott, and the fact that both Dez Bryant and Terrance Williams limped out of the stadium Sunday. Bryant draws a safety to his side quite often, allowing the Cole Beasleys of the world to make a living on those shallow crossers. Putting that aside, this front four the Cowboys boast changes the landscape of the NFC East. That is, if Elliott stays active. Those long second-half drives help the defensive linemen stay active when it matters most, because they are getting long breaks in between possessions. The thrill of the big win over Kansas City was muted by Sunday's horrible breaking news in Texas. As a native Texan, one who knows the area around San Antonio well, it hit close to home. It's shocking and heart-rending how commonplace these events have become. Something has to change.

Kansas City kicked off this season with five straight wins, but Sunday's defeat in Dallas marked a third loss in the past four games. The Chiefs are still Super Bowl contenders. It's far from panic time. Kansas City has played a very difficult schedule to this point. In fact, four of the Chiefs' past opponents are in the top eight of these rankings -- and they've also played Nos. 13, 15 and 18. That's not counting the win over the Deshaun Watson-led Texans. (Houston plummeted this week in the wake of the QB's season-ending injury.) Think a healthy Tamba Hali will help tremendously, especially with Dee Ford in and out of the lineup. Hali gave All-Pro LT Tyron Smith some trouble late Sunday. #ChiefsKingdom

The mystique of playing in Seattle ain't much anymore, with the depleted Redskins being the latest team to take it to the Seahawks at their place. Yes, the Texans lost there the previous Sunday, but not before putting 38 points on the board. Even way back in Week 2, if then-Niners QB Brian Hoyer doesn't throw a ball straight to Seahawks linebacker Bobby Wagner, who knows what would've happened in that 12-9 Seattle win? Many teams have played Pete Carroll's group in Seattle over the years, but it used to be that making a drive on that defense with the game on the line wasn't going to happen. Houston moved 75 yards in two plays to go up in Week 8. On Sunday, Kirk Cousins took over at the 30 with his team down, 14-10. Thirty-two ticks and three plays later, Washington was at the Seattle 1-yard line, whereupon Rob Kelley plunged into the end zone for the go-ahead score. On another note: Vikings fans don't feel bad about those Blair Walsh misses Sunday.

Very quietly, Carolina has put together two straight wins on the strength of its defense and jussst enough offense to get by, with 20 points against the Falcons on Sunday, 17 the week before. Cam Newton reprised the role of his 2012 self (or resurrected Bobby Douglass from 1972), piling up 86 yards and a touchdown on nine carries. He threw for only 137 yards, which wasn't even good enough for 1972. That's OK, because the defense stonewalled the Falcons' run game -- and Matty looks like he's running on Ice when he takes off. Next up: Dolphins.

A move downward for the Bills, who disappointed everyone with the loss to the Jets on "Thursday Night Football." Maybe those of us who thought this team could make the postseason were overrating its start and underestimating the luck involved with (and effect of) takeaways. Feel for the fans, who have waited longer than any base of any sports team to make the playoffs. Think about it: A 25-year-old fan working in downtown Buffalo for three years post-grad from MFC would have been 7 years old the last time this group even made it to the postseason. That fan was 3 the last time the Bills won there. The next four games -- vs. Saints, at Chargers, at Chiefs, vs. Patriots -- are tough, no doubt. My thinking is that 10 wins gets any AFC team in the postseason.

It was gut-check time for the Redskins ... and they passed with flying colors! (Namely, blue, gray and lime green.) Washington blew past Seattle on an afternoon in which about a third of its team was hurt or playing hurt. Per the usual, Kirk Cousins was the leader on the field. Yet, as my colleague Charles Davis astutely pointed out while serving as the analyst on the broadcast of this game, showing resilience when all the (healthy) chips are down speaks to coaching, too. Jay Gruden certainly deserves a mountain of credit for having this group at .500 despite the brutal schedule Washington has played, amplified by the lack of a healthy roster. Also notable: Ryan Kerrigan. That dude is all motor, all the time. On the Seahawks' last drive, Kerrigan managed to pressure Russell Wilson despite the fact the Redskins were playing essentially a 2-9 front.

Not pretty by any stretch of the imagination, but another win for the resilient Titans. Tennessee has now won three games in a row to pull to 5-3. Remember, one of those losses was with Matt Cassel in the driver's seat ... which made the offense motor like an '86 Nissan Sentra. Even with a healthy Marcus Mariota, call the offense a '79 white Pacer with wood-grain siding and maroon accents. The run game stunk. Mariota's mobility came into play, however, like on this touchdown pass to Eric Decker. Mariota couldn't move half that distance three weeks ago. Watch that big play right cher'.

The Chargers were in sleep mode this past weekend. I used to keep my PS2 Mini in sleep mode until I realized I could resume play faster if I just put my "Black Kat" game on pause. Of course, if you do that too much, your PlayStation is going on IR. Which gets me to the Bolts, who are healthier than they've been at this point in the season than at any time over the last three years. The game at Jacksonville is going to be a beast, especially for Philip Rivers. Uber imperative: get an early lead and split 35 carries between Melvin Gordon and Austin Ekeler.

Can Theo Riddick play all the time, maybe? With Ameer Abdullah being sent to the bench Monday night after fumbling twice, it must make Lions fans ponder how may running backs this team has gone through since Barry Sanders suddenly hung 'em up (... and not wonder about Matthew Stafford's worth to this offense). Off the top of my head, there's the disappointing Abdullah, Joique Bell, Reggie Bush, Kevin Smith, Olandis Gary, James Stewart, Reggie Rivers ... and wasn't there another Kevin? Kevin Jones? Wait, it was Ron Rivers. Who was your favorite? ( @HarrisonNFL) Hey, glad Detroit got back in the win column. The Lions are better than the October they put forth. Now, here's hoping they can score from the 1 without going five wide.

What would the Bears' record be if they had closed the deal on a few of these close affairs? I keep asking the question, only because I want my readers (outside of Chicago) to know how competitive this team has been. Not sure anyone has noticed Akiem Hicks' season, either. The defensive end has racked up seven sacks and 26 tackles. Meanwhile, "The Pretty Boy Assassin" hasn't had to carry too much of the offensive burden, but when the game slows down for him, look out. That nickname reminds of "Assassin's Creed" and Michael Fassbender. Interestingly enough, Fassbender plays a robot who seduces Fassbender (yup) in the latest "Alien" flick. I miss Sigourney Weaver. #byeweekblurbs

With the road win in Miami, the Raiders are slowly pulling their season out of the trash compactor of the Death Star. Sunday, they conquered Vice City with a blend of timely defense and third-down conversions. Two newbies figured prominently in the win: tight end Jared Cook and Marshawn Lynch. The latter brought his vaunted jump-cut straight out of a 2011 Thursday nighter against the Eagles, using it effectively on his long touchdown run. Cook was a machine, converting six first downs on eight catches. That's not fantasy production -- that's real impact.

Not many folks thought the Falcons would be playing .500 ball with this schedule. Not after a narrow loss in the Super Bowl, and not with all the young talent this organization has assembled. In fact, some football fans seem to be in complete denial, as I took a little guff after suggesting Atlanta was the definition of a mediocre team on the "NFL Power Rankings" show. With a home game against the Cowboys followed by a trip to Seattle, there is a strong possibility this non-Super Bowl hangover will read 4-6.

Moving on up. The Jets proved something Thursday night. They beat a hot team -- decisively -- making it impossible to write off this outfit's other three wins (over the Dolphins, Jags and Browns). Most importantly, where are all those trolls who wanted Todd Bowles to get fired because he lost the team? While I'll agree that last year ended ugly for New York, I've never wanted to comment on who's getting fired. Why root for people to be without work? Great job: How about Matt Forte racking up more than 20 fantasy points after everyone dropped him last month? Not gonna write about Josh McCown again. You know.

Yes, I know the Ravens beat the Raiders -- and are behind them here. EJ Manuel started that game on his way to Canton. Moving on: A few folks thought Baltimore could be higher after their 40-nothing win over the Dolphins a couple Thursdays ago, but this feels like an 8-8 team at best. The defense continues to keep the Ravens afloat. On Sunday, that group completely shut down Tennessee's weekly ground assault. They allowed the Titans a grand total of 257 yards. Yet, when it takes Joe Flacco 52 pass attempts to get 261 yards though the air -- with two picks -- you see the problem.

Not sure anyone foresaw the Broncos getting absolutely throttled in Philadelphia on Sunday. Losing? Sure. But my Twitter feed suggested that my prediction of the Eagles winning 27-13 was off because there was no way Philly would score that many points on THAT defense. Right. The Eagles didn't -- they scored 51, almost doubling the way-off prediction. Also way off: Brock Osweiler, who showed plenty of mobility to go with his inaccuracy. Saw where a guy who covers Denver said the season is over. Sounds harsh. So is playing the Patriots this week.

During a weekend of mixed results from backup quarterbacks, Drew Stanton drove the bus effectively enough. That, and leaning on the old legs of Arian Peterson for what was (shockingly) his career high in carries, proved to be enough to down the 49ers in San Francisco. A.D. chugged all day, pounding the 49ers' front 37 times for 159 yards in a let's-control-the-clock approach from Bruce Arians, who isn't really known for that kind of game plan.

Rough week for the Colts in the social media/internet stratosphere. Or the gutter of the internet, depending on your feelings about certain web-based platforms. Shutting down a franchise quarterback -- after several years of failing to protect him -- will engender that kind of response. Yet, behind it all, this 2017 team keeps fighting. Jacoby Brissett, in particular. The second-year QB continues to get pub in this space because of the way he competes. Minus a sack where the gutsy quarterback got lambasted -- and coughed up the football, giving the Texans a scoop-and-score -- he was brilliantly effective: 20 for 30, 308 yards and two scores. Last thought: Bet you a Mountain Dew that GM Chris Ballard builds the cohesive support system around Luck that his predecessor never did.

The free-fall here represents both the loss of Deshaun Watson as well as losing at home to the 2-6 Colts in front of the Texans faithful. Houston clearly isn't nearly the same football team without Watson (who was injured after last week's Power Rankings ran). Tom Savage did yeoman's work Sunday -- if the yeomen were Ryan Fitzpatrick, Ryan Mallett and Brandon Weeden. In fairness, Savage didn't have a whole week of preparation, as Watson went down in Thursday's practice. The Texans' offense as a whole produced 288 yards and seven points, which was more 30 points fewer than their average with Watson chucking the ball the previous five games. Maybe the Texans can bridge the gap with defense, kick returns and field goals. Like 10 field goals per game.

Mike McCarthy has time invested in Brett Hundley -- going on three years, as a matter of fact. That doesn't mean he has faith in Hundley throwing more than 3 yards down the field. How will Green Bay adjust going forward? Maybe picking up the pace -- a la the two-minute drill or in garbage time against the Lions -- is the ticket. Hundley has the arm and can throw rolling out (somewhat) like his predecessor. Let him sink or swim. Hundley certainly knows the system. Unfortunately, everyone else knows the Pack can't get a pass rush without blitzing. (When they actually do, they should call it the "Pack rush!" Like Sacksonville!! Never mind.)

These Bengals scarcely resemble the squad that was one of the AFC's elite a couple of seasons ago -- or the team that made the postseason in five straight years. It's almost as if, ever since the implosion on that Saturday night in January of 2016, Marvin Lewis' team has been locked in a tailspin that can't be reversed. The Bengals are 9-14-1 since that dreadful loss to the Steelers. Of course, the main takeaway from Sunday was that Joe Mixon's rendition of Le'Veon Bell is limited solely to dress, not play. Oh, and what got the chill A.J. Green so fired up that he was throwing haymakers at Jalen Ramsey? Maybe Ramsey called Green a dipstick.

Well, the Jay Ajayi trade sent a message. Not sure what message, but at least the Dolphins looked somewhat effective on offense Sunday night. Jay Cutler enjoyed his best performance of the 2017 campaign by faaaaaaaar, throwing for 311 yards and three touchdowns. Cutler's previous high for this year? A whopping 230. In games where he threw at least two touchdown passes, the bar was set at 151 yards. Having no run game will force adjustments, as Miami did little on the ground (outside of a lone Kenyan Drake scamper that went for 42 yards). Guess Adam Gase really wanted to be rid of Ajayi.

Who would've thought the Bucs' campaign would go this south, this fast? So south they're parked in Havana, Cuba, right now. At least Mike Evans' priorities are straight ... Tampa historically has endured terrible follow-up seasons to the surprisingly good years. Remember when the Raheem Morris Bucs went 10-6 with Josh Freeman under center? Yeah, then they went 4-12 in 2011. The year after winning the first Super Bowl in franchise history? Tampa Bay plummeted to 7-9. How about after the Bucs' first playoff appearance, when they went all the way to the 1979 NFC Championship Game? They swashbuckled their way to 5-10-1 in 1980.

Jimmy Garoppolo Watch started for real Sunday night, after the 49ers fell to the Cardinals, only managing to score 10 points in the process. C.J. Beathard was asked to throw the football, and then throw some more, attempting 51 passes (the second-most of Week 9) with only 24 completions and no touchdowns. Could Niners brass really sit on Jimmy G the rest of the schedule, as Kyle Shanahan has discussed? Doubtful. While the move certainly made sense, it was still a bold one by a first-year GM in John Lynch. Folks are gonna want to see some ROI sooner than later -- or at least get a peek at the shiny new toy. Oh, and better QB play could've beaten Arizona. So could holding onto possession for more than 23 minutes. Or deciding that penalties are not conducive to wins.

At 1-7, the season is over. So, what do some folks on Twitter do? Throw more blame at Odell Beckham Jr., of course! I must admit, I wondered why Beckham couldn't tackle Robert Woods on that third-and-33. He really needs to hustle on that play. And why can't he get Todd Gurley down near the goal line? You know what? Beckham should've never gone on that boat trip.

Hey, several folks have pointed out that OBJ gets too much blame. I'm not the first. But it does get ridiculous. At least not too many fans were forced to witness the full force of 51-17 in person.

Much negativity surrounding this franchise right now ...

 *Why didn't the Browns get the deal in for AJ McCarron? Why didn't they trade for Jimmy Garoppolo this spring? How dumb is Cleveland for not drafting Deshaun Watson?* 

Enough already. We get it. The Browns stink right now. Moneyball isn't winning in the NFL. You know what? Nor has McCarron. Jimmy G has thrown 94 passes at this level. Total. How does anyone know that Watson would've enjoyed the same success with different coaches, different complementary players and a completely different environment? To quote Brad Pitt (from, ironically enough, "Moneyball"): You don't. You don't.

*Follow Elliot Harrison on Twitter @HarrisonNFL. And be sure to tune in to the "NFL Power Rankings" show on NFL Network every Tuesday night at 6 p.m. ET. *

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