10-1 playoff contenders

20. Kansas City Chiefs (5-6) Just about the only good thing about losing a defensive player of the year candidate named Justin Houston. But cornerback Kendall Fuller looks like a steal. 19. New England…

10-1 playoff contenders

20. Kansas City Chiefs (5-6)

Just about the only good thing about losing a defensive player of the year candidate named Justin Houston. But cornerback Kendall Fuller looks like a steal.

19. New England Patriots (5-6)

Not exactly a juggernaut, but it’s tough to get a read on Tom Brady. Should they lose their next two, it’ll be more challenging for Bill Belichick to keep Brady’s leash.

18. Philadelphia Eagles (5-6)

Move up two spots after getting to the edge in the NFC East. A 9-7 record looks more possible than a 10-6 one, though.

17. Pittsburgh Steelers (6-5-1)

So much for a seamless transition to second-year coach Mike Tomlin, who’s now 9-9 against quarterback Ben Roethlisberger.

16. Dallas Cowboys (6-5)

Goodbye Dak Prescott, hello Nick Foles. Thanks for nothing, Dez Bryant.

15. Miami Dolphins (6-5)

Fish are still scrappy enough to win games against what appears to be a rising Tampa Bay squad. Have no illusions that a playoff run is realistic.

14. Denver Broncos (6-5)

Offense isn’t flashy, defense isn’t elite, but the guys up front give Case Keenum’s squad a chance to win and for now, is that enough?

13. Carolina Panthers (6-5)

Even more surprising to see them not among the top 10 given that road games to face Super Bowl contenders are always tough.

12. New Orleans Saints (7-4)

Win on the road at Dallas will be a tough game, but they seem capable of maintaining their status as AFC playoff contenders.

11. Seattle Seahawks (6-5)

Streak will be snapped, finally, as it is Week 11 without a win at home. Still a long shot for playoff make.

10. Detroit Lions (6-5)

Nine wins would be a 10th and their future looks bright if they can hold off Jacksonville for the division.

9. Baltimore Ravens (6-5)

It’s a testament to the leadership and efforts of rookie quarterback Lamar Jackson that his play is still a topic of conversation.

8. Chicago Bears (6-5)

Given how close a playoff appearance could be, they’re clinging to the postseason. Quarterback Mitchell Trubisky will need to step up against Seattle.

7. Los Angeles Chargers (7-4)

Win the next two, and they look like the talk of the league. Losing one of the next two, and they get in a free-fall.

6. Cincinnati Bengals (6-5)

There’s still the one-game division lead, but if you lose a few in a row, you need to be concerned.

5. Green Bay Packers (6-5)

Reminded me a lot of that trap game Chicago played against Dallas – which Green Bay did. A victory Sunday will bring them back.

4. Atlanta Falcons (8-3)

NFL version of the University of Arkansas baseball team – always have a strong enough core to win in spite of much of a talent gap.

3. Detroit Lions (8-3)

Keep traveling from city to city to take down weak schedules, and they’ll get it done over and over again.

2. Seattle Seahawks (9-2)

Read the tea leaves and suggest they’re still in the mix as far as the division title, but the game against Arizona coming up is one the NFC playoff picture will follow.

1. New Orleans Saints (11-0)

What’s the point of starting an MVP candidate if he doesn’t win a big one? Taking a serious look at him.

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