NFL Power Rankings: 2008 Week 10 Edition
The AFC East already is the type of horse race Triple Crown organizers long for, and we barely are past the midway point of the NFL season.
There's a three-way tie for the division lead, and the team among the leaders with the most impressive intradivision record is perhaps the club that invites the most skepticism.
They went to Orchard Park, N.Y., and scored a 26-17 victory over the suddenly stumbling Buffalo Bills. For the sometimes-underachieving Jets, it was their second victory in three AFC East matchups so far this season -- and both victories came on the road.
For their efforts, the Jets were rewarded an eight-place vault to No. 11 in the latest edition of ESPN.com's NFL Power Rankings. At 5-3 overall, the Jets and the Bills share the AFC East lead with the New England Patriots. But like the Bills, who fell eight spots to No. 14 in the poll of our experts, the Patriots suffered for their Week 9 setback.
Our voters did not look kindly upon the Patriots after their 18-15 loss at the Indianapolis Colts. New England tumbled five spots to No. 12.
The Miami Dolphins, the AFC East's "last-place" team at 4-4 overall, jumped an impressive seven spots in the rankings to No. 17. The Dolphins beat the AFC West-leading Denver Broncos 26-17 on the road. Like the Jets, the Dolphins are 2-1 in the AFC East.
The Power Rankings' top 5 residents from Week 9 have yet to move out, with the idle Carolina Panthers (now No. 4) swapping positions with the Pittsburgh Steelers (now No. 3). The Steelers' impressive 23-6 romp at the Washington Redskins on ESPN's "Monday Night Football" was enough to give Pittsburgh a promotion, but the home team's lackluster showing did nothing to its standing. The Redskins remain our No. 5 team.
The Tennessee Titans needed a 19-16 home overtime victory over the Green Bay Packers to remain unbeaten and our No. 1 team. Unfortunately for the Packers, their valiant effort did not impress the voters. Green Bay fell five spots to No. 16.
The New York Giants remain on the Titans' heels at No. 2. They romped over quarterbacks Brad Johnson and Brooks Bollinger and the rest of the Dallas Cowboys 35-14. The Cowboys, who reigned as our No. 1 team for Weeks 2 through 4, fell 11 spots to No. 19.
Other big tumblers this week include the Broncos, who fell seven spots to No. 22 after their home loss to the Dolphins.
We've called upon some of our voting members to provide team-by-team commentary. Thus, for your reading pleasure, you'll have:
• Tim Graham on the AFC East
• James Walker on the AFC North
• Paul Kuharsky on the AFC South
• Bill Williamson on the AFC West
• Matt Mosley on the NFC East
• Kevin Seifert on the NFC North
• Pat Yasinskas on the NFC South
• Mike Sando on the NFC West
You don't need our rankings to know the NFC East showdown between the Giants and the Philadelphia Eagles promises to be a Week 10 highlight. The Giants swept the Eagles last season, including a dramatic 16-13 victory in their Dec. 9 visit to Philly. Eagles kicker David Akers' potentially game-tying 57-yard field goal attempt bounced off an upright with one second remaining. The Eagles are No. 6 this week after mauling the lowly Seattle Seahawks.
There are other intriguing games as well. The Titans visit the No. 9 Chicago Bears, who rallied to keep the Detroit Lions winless but lost quarterback Kyle Orton to injury. Replacement Rex Grossman could make his return to the starting lineup a memorable one if he can hand the Titans their first loss, an outcome that might dictate vaulting the Bears into our top 5 next week.
On the next edition of ESPN's "Monday Night Football" (8:30 p.m. ET), the No. 8 Arizona Cardinals host the No. 28 San Francisco 49ers. For the Cardinals, a victory would increase their stranglehold on first place in the NFC West. For the 49ers, a victory would provide new coach Mike Singletary his first career triumph and a chance to put his Week 8 escapades, er, behind him.
(Editor's note: LW indicates each team's ranking last week.)