Week 11 of the NFL Power Rankings brings an interesting bit of shakeup to the Top Ten, particularly in the NFC North. The Chicago Bears have made quite the surge as of late, beating their conference rival Detroit Lions handily on Sunday. The 37-13 beatdown pissed off the Lions so badly that QB Matthew Stafford found himself in the middle of a skirmish before the game was done. Oh, and the Green Bay Packers and San Francisco 49ers continued to win.
1. Green Bay Packers (9-0): Aaron Rodgers continued his brilliant season with a fantastic crushing of the Minnesota Vikings at Lambeau Field. The Packers this season are looking a lot like the New England Patriots circa 2007. Hopefully theirs will end differently, though.
2. San Francisco 49ers (8-1): Jim Harbaugh's Bay Area Brawlers continue to win unprettily, but effectively. Alex Smith didn't have a great game and 2011 super stud Frank Gore had only six carries for zero yards before leaving the game with a knee injury. But the Niners stopped a late Giants rally and secured their seventh straight win.
3. Pittsburgh Steelers (7-3): The Steelers won the way the Steelers are rumored to win: with hard running and hard defending. Rashard Mendenhall helped down the Cincinnati Bengals with two touchdown runs and the defense twice picked off rookie phenom Andy Dalton late in the game to create some divisional separation.
4. New Orleans Saints (7-3): Thanks to a baffling overtime desperation "go for it on fourth" play call from Atlanta head coach Mike Smith, the Saints escaped with a victory over the thoroughly disappointing Falcons. This season, the Saints are having perhaps the quietest success ever.
5. Houston Texans (7-3): The good news for the Texans: they're on a nice little four-game roll, even without star receiver Andre Johnson, thanks to the two-headed running beast that is Arian Foster and Ben Tate. Now the bad news: QB Matt Schaub is out for the season with a foot injury. Cue Checkdown Chief Matt Leinart to get the Texans to their first playoff berth. Yes, that will happen.
6. Chicago Bears (6-3): The Bears' drubbing of the Lions was impressive, and Jay Cutler continues to keep the killer turnovers to a minimum. He did not play well on Sunday, however. But thanks to two pick-sixes from Stafford, Chicago's D made up for the offensive woes.
7. New England Patriots (6-3): Though Tom Brady and company still don't look like the Super Bowl-caliber team they normally are, they pulled out a win against their arch enemies, the New York Jets. Brady looked fairly unstoppable, while the Jets seemed unable to sustain much of anything.
8. Detroit Lions (6-3): Stafford had perhaps the worst game of his career, throwing four interceptions to only one TD, while completing just slightly more than 50% of his passes. And while Detroit's passing game was treading water, their rushing game was non-existent. Not a good recipe for Ws, my friends.
9. New York Giants (6-3): The Giants admirably lost to a tough San Fran team that seems just about unbeatable this season. Eli Manning's penchant for turnovers didn't help matters much, but he had his team in position for a comeback win, in the red zone with under two minutes left. Alas, the magic was spent by that point.
10. Cincinnati Bengals (6-3): Andy Dalton didn't lead his team to a commanding win against their toughest in-division competition, and he threw two interceptions in a critical fourth quarter. But, despite all that, his play has been encouraging, and that has to be welcome for a Bengals fan base that hasn't had much to cheer about for a while.
In local news, the Arizona Cardinals ended their 11-game road losing streak with an impressive win over the Philadelphia Eagles, who are in a chaotic tailspin. Backup QB John Skelton is making a bid for a quarterback controversy, leading a couple of ballsy fourth quarter touchdown drives to secure the win. However, he'll likely be relegated to bench duty again once Kevin Kolb conquers his turf toe.