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NFL Power Rankings Week 10: 49ers fortify top-two status with Monday's dominating victory

If you haven't heard, that Colin Kaepernick fellow is so hot right now. Oh yeah, and the 49ers ain't too bad either.

Ezra Shaw

1. Houston Texans (9-1) - The Texans hardly resembled a top team Sunday as they allowed the Jaguars to accumulate 37 points with their second string quarterback and third string running back leading the assault. Even though it was a little too close for comfort, it was quite encouraging to see that Matt Schaub and Andre Johnson can still win this team some games when Arian Foster and the defense are defective. Previous Ranking: 1

2. San Francisco 49ers (7-2-1) - Don't look now but we have a budding quarterback controversy in the bay, folks. Colin Kaepernick befuddled the Bears' defense Monday evening while adding an unprecedented explosive element to the Niners' offense. At the very least, he earned himself a couple more snaps out of their wildcat package which San Francisco has coined "the Wolf Pack." Radical. Previous Ranking: 3

3. Atlanta Falcons (9-1) - Much like the Texans, Matt Ryan Falcons seemingly did everything in their power to lose Sunday but still came out victorious. I don't if that says more about Atlanta's resiliency or Arizona's futility. Previous Ranking: 4

4. Baltimore Ravens (8-2) - After scooting by in Pittsburgh with a narrow victory, the Ravens are in the driver's seat for an opening round bye in the playoffs provided they can take care of business against the Broncos at home in Week 15. Previous Ranking: 5

5. New England Patriots (7-3) - Sure, Bill Belichick finally got bit in the ass for refusing to take his foot off the pedal when TE Rob Gronkowski got hurt Sunday but it shouldn't affect their overall outlook. The defense still looked greatly improved with Aqib Talib in the mix and the Patriots should be getting Aaron Hernandez back this week to pick up where Gronk left off. Previous Ranking: 6

6. Denver Broncos (7-3) - The Broncos have quietly put together the longest winning streak in the NFL and now essentially have a four game lead in the division with six left to play. But just when everything looked all rainbows and butterflies, Willis McGahee had to go derail the hype train with his knee injury. It won't hurt their playoff chances but it could kill their Super Bowl aspirations if he's a bit out of shape when he returns. Previous Ranking: 7

7. Green Bay Packers (7-3) - The Pack Attack are tied with the team above for the longest winning streak in all of football at five consecutive but Sunday's victory was hardly what you'd call pretty. Kicker Mason Crosby needs to get back on track so the Packers aren't forced to go the length of the field on every drive with little to no run game to speak of. Previous Ranking: 8

8. Chicago Bears (7-3) - Turns out no one else can force to the ball to Brandon Marshall quite like Jay Cutler can. The Bears might want to consider giving their franchise quarterback some extra pocket protection when he returns because it's clear they're going no where without him. Previous Ranking: 2

9. Pittsburgh Steelers (6-4) - Note to Pittsburgh: do not let Byron Leftwich run with the ball ever again. It may have gotten you your only touchdown but is it really worth the god awful play for the rest of the game when he injures himself? Previous Ranking: 9

10. New York Giants (6-4) - Eli Manning claims his arm has "a little bit more pop to it" coming out of the bye. Let's hope he's now closer to a twelve gauge than the pea shooter we've seen the last couple weeks. Previous Ranking: 11

11. Seattle Seahawks (6-4) - As strange as it may sound, there's truly not a lot the Seahawks needed to work on during the bye week. This team is overachieving right now if anything but they still have more than enough talent to get into the playoffs and steal an upset or two. Previous Ranking: 12

12. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (6-4) - The Buccaneers were 62 seconds away from being behind the eight ball in the NFC wild card hunt. Instead, they're squarely in the thick of things should continue to be as long as this offense doesn't lose its rhythm anytime soon. Previous Ranking: 13

13. Indianapolis Colts (6-4) - The Colts visited New England Sunday and were given an impromptu clinic on what a real contender looks like. While their story is easily the most memorable in the NFL this year, it's pretty clear that they're looking like a one-and-done team if they do manage to sneak in the playoffs. Previous Ranking: 10

14. Minnesota Vikings (6-4) - Behind the Colts, the Vikings have to be the most pleasant surprise of 2012. But it's going to pretty damn difficult to get a wild card with Buccaneers and Seahawks owning the head-to-head tiebreaker. Previous Ranking: 14

15. New Orleans Saints (5-5) - With the way that Mark Ingram and Chris Ivory have been running lately, I think it's safe to say that the Saints have regained their perch as the top offense in the NFL. All the pressure their atrocious defense puts on them might be a good thing after all. They're striving for perfection and getting dangerously close. Previous Ranking: 17

16. Cincinnati Bengals (5-5) - Don't get too excited about all the damage that Benjarvus Green-Ellis and Cedric Peerman did against Kansas City. The Chiefs have a tendency to make opposing ball carriers look like the 2003 version of Priest Holmes. Previous Ranking: 15

17. Dallas Cowboys (5-5) - Why won't the Cowboys just die already!?! It took them an extra quarter to get past the Brownies but the Cowboys are now only a game behind the Giants for the NFC East lead. Gross. Previous Ranking: 16

18. Detroit Lions (4-6) - Laterz Lions. Sunday was essentially a playoff game for Detroit and Matthew Stafford and the offense responded by face-planting. And with five of their remaining six teams on their schedule owning a winning record, the Lions could be looking a top-10 draft pick. Previous Ranking: 18

19. Washington Redskins (4-6) - For the past two days, I've been trying to come up with a word that adequately describes Robert Griffin's performance against the Iggles (14-of-15, 285 total yards, four touchdowns). But as usual, the man has left me speechless. It's gotta be the hair, Cotton. Previous Ranking: 23

20. Miami Dolphins (4-6) - I doubt anyone remembers but a few week ago I claimed that you could make an argument that Ryan Tannehill has been the second best rookie QB in the NFL considering what he's working with. Yeah, well I'd just like to formally announce that I was wrong. So, so wrong. Previous ranking: 14

21. San Diego Chargers (4-6) - Norval gone yet? Previous Ranking: 20

22. Buffalo Bills (4-6) - C.J. Spiller' agility is the CEO of the United Global Agility Corporation. On a related note, I miss Steve Nash. Previous Rankisng: 25

23. New York Jets (4-6) - Calm down Jets fans. Let's see how you hang with the Patriots before we start making "this is like 2009!" proclamations. Previous Ranking: 28

24. St. Louis Rams (3-6-1) - Someone please tell me how you hang with the 49ers for 75 minutes of action in Candlestick then come out and then lose to the Jets by two touchdowns at home. St. Louis: where illogical happens. Previous Ranking: 21

25. Arizona Cardinals (4-6) - The Cardinals showed some fight Sunday yet still came up short despite Matt Ryan's best efforts to hand them the upset on a silver platter. If Ray Horton's defense brings the same intensity against the Rams though, they might actually be able to get in the endzone a couple times to assist that hopeless offense. Previous Ranking: 26

26. Tennessee Titans (4-6) - It will be interesting to see how Jake Locker conducts this offense coming off a solid performance against the Dolphins two weeks ago. Previous Ranking: 27

27. Philadelphia Eagles (3-7) - This tune goes out to all those Philly fans who were clamoring for Nick Foles on a weekly basis. Previous Ranking: 22

28. Oakland Raiders (3-7) - What's the over/under on how many more passes it will take before Carson Palmer's arm falls off? Previous Ranking: 24

29. Cleveland Browns (2-8) - I'm beginning to think the Browns aren't as bad as their record suggests. Don't get me wrong, they're a lot closer to mediocre than great but five of their eight losses have come by one score or less. They'll give you a run for your money more times than not. Previous Ranking: 30

30. Carolina Panthers (2-8) - I don't think any team in the NFL has the same tenacity for winning as the Panthers do for losing. No matter the circumstances, they'll find a way to crash and burn. Previous Ranking: 29

31. Jacksonville Jaguars (1-9) - Who need a first round quarterback and franchise running back when you have Chad Henne and Jalen Parmele? Championship! Previous Ranking: 32

32. Kansas City Chiefs (1-9) - Rumor on the street is that Matt Barkley injured his own shoulder so he wouldn't have to go play for the Chiefs. Or at least that's what Lane Kiffin told me. Previous Ranking: 31