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NFL Power Rankings: Patriots, 49ers and Browns vying for a spot

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Continuing our updated NFL power rankings, it's time for the playoff chasing teams, numbers 16 to 9.

16) New York Giants

After three wins on the bounce the New York Giants were starting to look a little frisky. Maybe the Ben McAdoo offense was bedding in and Eli was about to prove all the
doubters very wrong. Then they went to Philadelphia and got hammered 0-27.

The Giants are now 3-3. They have lost to the Lions, Cardinals and Eagles. They have beaten the Texans, Washington and the Falcons. There is a trend there the Giants beat
poor teams and lose to the good teams.

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15) Cleveland Browns

I'm not getting on board the Brian Hoyer hype train but it is impossible not to be impressed by the Cleveland Browns so far this season. Outside of the Cowboys the
running game and the offensive line has been the best in the business.

If they beat the Bengals at least once this season then the rest of schedule affords them a legitimate shot at the playoffs. Week 16's game in Baltimore against the Ravens could be the divisional decider.

14) Chicago Bears

Will the real Jay Cutler please stand up? When he looks good he looks very good and he beats the Falcons and 49ers on the road. When he looks bad he looks terrible and loses to the Bills and Panthers.

The Bears should improve as Brandon Marshall and Alshon Jeffrey get back to full fitness but right now a weak run defense and a propensity to throw away winnable games means the Bears have a lot of work to do.

13) Baltimore Ravens

The Ravens have lost to the best two teams they have played this season but have beaten up on weaker opponents to head into week 7 with a 4-2 record.

They are not higher in the rankings though because, there is a sense about Baltimore that they have already hit their peak. Steve Smith Snr is playing like a man ten years his younger but how much longer can this continue for? Whilst Joe Flacco may have excelled against Tampa Bay with those five first half touchdowns but he is still, well, Joe Flacco.

12) Cincinnati Bengals

The Bengals should win the AFC North. They have the most talented defense. When A.J. Green is fit they have the most talented wide receiver corp. They have a solid offensive line and they have, on paper, the best defense.

However, they also have Andy Dalton. Some players, great players rise to the occasion when the attention gets put Dalton though he gets blinded by the lights. Witness the
game against Patriots two weeks ago.

11) San Fransisco 49ers

Another team that has fallen down the power rankings is the San Fransisco 49ers. Right now the 49ers have a lot of question marks hanging over them in terms of the Head Coach and in terms Frank Gore and how much they want to run the ball.

They may be 4 and 2 but something is rotten in San Fransisco and this can only hold them back. Given the strength of both the Seahawks and the Chargers I worry about whether the 49ers make the playoffs.

10) Indianapolis Colts

After six games Andrew Luck is just short of 2000 passing yards as he averages 331.2 yards per game. With Luck racking up those sort of numbers the Colts are always going to be competitive.

Not only is Luck playing fantastic but the defense is showing signs of having some pass rush ability and Bradshaw is giving them a decent rushing attack. The only cloud on
the horizon is that with Bradshaw's injury history. Given Bradshaw's fragility the Colts are in constant danger of having to give snaps to Trent Richardson who we can safely say now is a below average NFL back.

Ultimately, the Colts aren't higher because there are doubts over their ability to win against the best teams. Wins against the Jaguars, Titans, Ravens and Texans are all
well and good but defeats to the Broncos and Eagles are troubling.

9) New England Patriots

You know, maybe this Tom Brady guy is still a half decent quarterback. You can almost feel the media narrative changing the Patriots aren't finished they have gotten past their annual September jitters are over and now they are going to tear their way through teams and into the playoffs. The AFC East that just a week ago looked like it was wide open is now once again a New England lock.

There is some truth in this line of thinking but I'm going to inject a note of caution into proceedings. The Patriots don't make the top eight power rankings because, the talent on the roster isn't quite what it once was. The running game wasn't great heading into week 6 and the injury to Stevan Ridley is not going to help. The receiver corp isn't truly elite either and the defense have given up 22 points to Kyle Orton, 41 to Alex Smith and
33 to Ryan Tannehill.

On top of this the Patriots schedule is brutal. After what should be a Thursday night blowout against the Jets in a few days time New England face the Bears and Broncos, then the Colts on the road, then the Lions at home followed by consecutive away trips to Green Bay and San Diego. They could easily go 2-4, 3-3 out of that sequence and suddenly the playoffs are far from a mortal lock.

For now though things are looking up in New England.

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Topics:
San Francisco 49ers
NFL
AFC
Chicago Bears
Cincinnati Bengals
Cleveland Browns
New York Giants
Tom Brady
New England Patriots
NFC
Baltimore Ravens
Indianapolis Colts

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