Projecting the teams most deserving of the playoffs and ranking them heading into Week 10.
1. San Francisco (8-0)
49ers look to stay the lone unbeaten with the aid of 11 days off while Seattle is coming off an overtime game.
This week: vs. Seattle (7-2), Monday. Last week’s ranking: 2.
2. New England (8-1)
Not a good showing by the defense in Baltimore, but even the 1985 Bears had a stinker in a 38-24 loss at Miami.
This week: Bye. Last week’s ranking: 1.
3. New Orleans (7-1)
With 73 catches so far, receiver Michael Thomas is on pace to break Marvin Harrison’s NFL record of 143.
This week: vs. Atlanta (1-7). Last week’s ranking: 3.
4. Green Bay (7-2)
The upstart Packers face their first adversity after road wreck vs. Chargers with Panthers and Niners up next.
This week: vs. Carolina (5-3). Last week’s ranking: 4.
5. Kansas City (6-3)
The undermanned Chiefs earned a lot of respect by gutting out a win over Vikings, and the defense is improving.
This week: at Tennessee (4-5). Last week’s ranking: 5.
6. Baltimore (6-2)
Ravens looked like contenders in knocking off the champs, but — upset alert — many teams have hangovers after playing Patriots. Even the Dolphins won last week.
This week: at Cincinnati (0-8). Last week’s ranking: 6.
7. Seattle (7-2)
They add receiver Josh Gordon, but defense has allowed sixth-most points in league (230). Pass rush, not passing game, needs improvement.
This week: at San Francisco (8-0). Last week’s ranking: 9.
8. Houston (6-3)
Texans need to get a lot of rest because they return to face Ravens, Colts and Patriots. Yikes.
This week: Bye. Last week’s ranking: 10.
9. Minnesota (6-3)
Toughness questions continue to dog Kirk Cousins after Vikings blow 23-20 lead at KC. Final six plays: minus-7 yards.
This week: at Dallas (5-3). Last week’s ranking: 7.
10. Indianapolis (5-3)
Not a surprise Jacoby Brissett (MCL sprain) may play. He once won a game for Patriots with a busted thumb that later needed season-ending surgery.
This week: vs. Miami (1-7). Last week’s ranking: 8.
11. Dallas (5-3)
Michael Bennett had a sack and six quarterback pressures in debut. Might be putting the D in Dallas.
This week: vs. Minnesota (6-3). Last week’s ranking: 11.
12. Buffalo (6-2)
Free Devin Singletary. After getting 29 touches in the previous four games, the rookie back had 23 for 140 yards vs. Redskins.
This week: at Cleveland (2-6). Last week’s ranking: 12.
Dropped out: None.
Knocking on the door: Rams (5-3), Eagles (5-4), Raiders (4-4), Panthers (5-3), Chargers (4-5), Jaguars (4-5).