NFL Week 10 Power Rankings: Red-hot Chargers, Panthers are legit Super Bowl contenders

The Carolina Panthers and Los Angeles Chargers haven't received a lot of attention the first two months of the NFL season, but they should now.

They are legitimate Super Bowl contenders.

The Panthers have won three straight games to get to 6-2, one game behind the New Orleans Saints in the NFC South. The Chargers have won five straight games to get to 6-2 as well, one game behind the Kansas City Chiefs in the AFC West.

The Chiefs and Saints have rightfully been getting a lot of notoriety so far this season, but the teams directly behind them in the standings should be as well. The Chargers are now fifth in my Power Rankings, while the Panthers are up to the seventh spot.

Each team has a quarterback playing at a high level in Philip Rivers for the Chargers and Cam Newton for the Panthers, and each has been their respective team's MVP and also potential league MVPs. That's how good they are playing.

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The Panthers play a marquee game Thursday night against the Steelers, while the Chargers have a soft spot in their schedule coming up, starting with a road game against the Raiders.

As the young players on each team improve by the week, these two could be making noise come playoff time, even in divisions that have teams who are getting all the attention.

They might not be the Saints and Chiefs just yet, but you can bet those teams can feel them right behind them.

Biggest Movers
6 Titans
8 Redskins
Rk
Teams
 
Chg
Rcrd
1 Saints They earned this spot by beating three good teams in successive weeks, including the Rams last week. They are the team to beat in the NFC right now. 18-1-0
2 Patriots Ho-hum, it's November and the Patriots are getting better. Haven't we seen this script before? 17-3-0
3 Rams The defense has suddenly become a major issue. It's time to they tighten up on that side of the ball. 29-1-0
4 Chiefs They have to keep winning with the Chargers playing so well. The improved defense will decide how far they go. --9-1-0
5 Chargers They are on a roll right now and have a real chance to push the Chiefs in the division. Philip Rivers continues to play well. --7-2-0
6 Steelers After the slow start, they are playing well. The division is theirs to lose, but they have a tough one this week with Carolina on Thursday. --6-2-1
7 Panthers They have ripped off three consecutive victories to turn their season around. Are they ready to push the Saints in the division? 16-3-0
8 Vikings The defense is starting to play like expected. The 10 sacks against the Lions were impressive. 15-3-1
9 Texans Six straight victories have put them atop the AFC South looking like a playoff team. They are playing well now. 46-3-0
10 Bears They are atop the NFC North at the halfway point. Big props to coach Matt Nagy. 56-3-0
11 Bengals The injury to A.J. Green could impact their season in a big way. They have a big game this week with the Saints. 15-4-0
12 Eagles They come off their bye with a big division game with the Cowboys. They have the look of a team ready to make a big second-half push. 44-5-0
13 Packers They are in a hole in the division race, trailing two teams. If they are to be a playoff team, they have to beat Miami this week. 24-4-1
14 Falcons At 4-4, they are playing great on offense. Matt Ryan has been sensational. They have a chance to be a playoff team. 34-5-0
15 Redskins The offensive line injuries might doom this team. They just aren't good enough up front anymore. 86-3-0
16 Dolphins At 5-4, they are over. 500 and basically overachieving. We will know more about them after their game against the Packers. 45-5-0
17 Ravens They head to their bye on a three-game losing streak. Is John Harbaugh's job really in jeopardy? 74-5-0
18 Seahawks The loss at home to the Chargers last week sets them back in their quest to be a wild-card team. And now they face a tough road game against the Rams. 44-5-0
19 Titans That was an impressive performance by Marcus Mariota against the Cowboys. Now he has to string a few more in a row. 65-4-0
20 Colts They come off their bye with a division home game against the Jaguars. It's crucial for both teams. 24-5-0
21 Lions If they can't protect Matt Stafford - giving up 10 sacks to the Vikings last week - nothing else will matter. They have issues. 23-6-0
22 Cowboys That was a bad home loss to the Titans. Now they have a must-win game against the Eagles on the road if they are to be a playoff team. 14-5-0
23 Broncos How long before coach Vance Joseph gets let go? Does he make it until the end of the season? 13-6-0
24 Buccaneers The defense has reverted back to being terrible after a brief improvement. That puts too much pressure on whoever plays quarterback. 13-6-0
25 Jaguars They come off the bye with their season on the line against the Colts. A loss, and it's pretty much over. 13-6-0
26 Jets Sam Darnold is going to have growing pains like he did in Miami with his four-interception game. It's part of the process. --3-7-0
27 Browns The change in coaches didn't matter. They just don't have enough players yet. But they're getting there. --3-6-1
28 Cardinals They come off their bye with a tough road game at Kansas City. The good news is Josh Rosen got it going in the last game. 12-7-0
29 49ers Nick Mullens was impressive in his start last week, and it looks like he will get another. Can he continue the magic? 12-8-0
30 Bills Their offense is terrible right now. Nathan Peterman should not be starting - anywhere. 23-7-0
31 Raiders This team is awful right now. Was Jon Gruden worth it? The answer right now is no. --1-8-0
32 Giants How much longer can they go with Eli Manning? Is the change coming? --2-7-0
CBS Sports Senior Writer

Pete Prisco has covered the NFL for three decades, including working as a beat reporter in Jacksonville for the Jaguars. When he's not watching game tape, you can find Pete on Twitter or dreaming of an... Full Bio

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