Week 1 is in the books and I have to say that with few exceptions there were very few surprises in the NFL’s opener. In fact, things seemed just a little too easy last week. But since this sport is The Beast, I can assure you that there will be more upsets and insanity this Sunday when the pros tee it up.
With that in mind, here is a look at my Doc’s Sports Power Rankings:
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1. Pittsburgh Steelers (1-0) – The Steelers did win their opener but they didn’t cover and they didn’t look particularly good while doing so. They keep leaning on Big Ben and that defense though. And until something changes they’ll keep winning. I also think that Big Ben could have a field day against the Bears secondary. Troy Polamalu is keeping up the Madden curse and will miss 3-6 weeks. The defense can withstand the loss, but without Polamalu I will say that they definitely aren’t the best unit in the league. Pittsburgh is 8-3 ATS in its last 11 against the NFC and 5-1 ATS on the road. However, Super Bowl champions as road favorites in Week 2 are just 3-8 ATS in the last 11 attempts.
2. Minnesota Vikings (1-0) – As it stands right now, weaknesses are in short supply with the Vikings. You win in the NFL by being physical, by pounding the ball on the ground and by playing great defense. The Vikings have the best running back, the best guard-tackle combo, and a top five defense. That’s cool by me. They can’t overlook a desperate Lions team this week. But there is no way that Matt Stafford will make them pay. Brett Favre is just 5-11 ATS against Detroit while Brad Childress is just 8-15-1 ATS off a win.
3. Baltimore Ravens (1-0) – Concussions abound after Baltimore’s win last Sunday. Terrell Suggs, Tom Zbikowski and Ed Reed were all limited or missed practice this week due to concussions. In my Ferringo Report I said that Kansas City backers took a tough beat in that game. I was wrong. Baltimore absolutely dominated. The Ravens are 0-4 ATS in their last four West Coast games. However, they were 8-3 ATS on the road last year and are on a 5-2 ATS run as a road dog.
4. New York Giants (1-0) – The Giants are back on the road, where they have been brilliant. New York is an astonishing 17-2 ATS on the road. They are also 6-3-1 in their last 10 against the Cowboys but just 2-2-1 ATS at Dallas. The Giants go into this game banged up in the secondary, with two starting corners and both safeties on the injury report. I think both safeties will play and they may get Kevin Dockery back. The Giants didn’t have either starting corner last week against the sorry ‘Skins passing game.
5. Green Bay Packers (1-0) – Aaron Rodgers was irked this week about Green Bay’s offensive production and I expect him to be sharper against Cincinnati. The physical pounding from the Bears definitely rattled him. And between drops and missed throws down the field the Packers probably missed 10-13 more points. The Pack did lose starting safety Atari Bigby for a month to a knee injury. Despite the cover, the Pack is still just 4-8 ATS at home.
6. Tennessee Titans (0-1) – The Titans lost last week but made a nice move up my board here. How does that happen? Well, I have been impressed with this team’s physicality and their execution all preseason and I’m not going to hammer them for losing in Pittsburgh to the defending champions. But this week is key. Tennessee is 5-2-1 ATS against the Texans, 14-4 ATS in their division, and Tennessee is 11-3 ATS following a straight-up loss. However, Tennessee is now just 3-8 SU in games without Albert Haynesworth suiting up for them.
7. New Orleans Saints (1-0) – The big news for this team is about the status of Charles Grant and Will Smith, who had their suspensions, um, suspended by The Commish. It looks like they will be able to play the whole season and it was smart of New Orleans not to sit them last week. The Saints are a big “buzz” team right now, so be wary. They are talking about 80 percent of the action on the road this week. New Orleans is 11-5-1 ATS on the road against non-divisional teams.
8. Indianapolis Colts (1-0) – Ugly running game and now, despite the fact that it would be a perfect fit and serve a need, the Colts aren’t filling their receiver void (Anthony Gonzalez out at least a month) with Marvin Harrison because of money issues. Colts really struggled running the ball and are now facing a Miami team that bottled up Michael Turner last week. Indy is 2-0 ATS on MNF as a road chalk and they are 6-1 ATS on Mondays against nondivisional teams. The road team is 8-2 ATS in the last 10 meetings in this series.
9. Philadelphia Eagles (1-0) – If I were a betting man (and I am) I would be surprised if D-Nab doesn’t play this weekend. Very surprised. And despite what any analysts say – Kevin Kolb is a wreck. He won’t hold up for four quarters without at least a pair of meltdowns. The Eagles are 8-1 ATS against the Saints in the last nine meetings. And Philly is a great backs-against-the-wall team. But can they muscle up on the Saints on both sides of the ball? We’ll see.
10. San Diego Chargers (1-0) – Norv Turner is 2-9 ATS in home openers and after how the Bolts looked in the road opener I would say Norv has some work to do. LT is beat. Merriman is slow. Their offensive line is in shambles. And once again I have to wonder if the “talent” on this team is overrated a bit because the Chargers have been playing in a Keystone Kops division over the last few years.
11. New England Patriots (1-0) – I know that a lot of people still have New England at or near the top of their power rankings. But are you kidding me? I couldn’t have been less impressed by their win at home over Buffalo. And other than a half-dozen really, really good players I just don’t see a really good team here. They get bailed out playing the schedule that they have, but I’m not at all sold on this team. The Patriots are 8-0 ATS as divisional road favorites of 4.0 or more and they are 17-6 ATS overall as an away favorite. Finally, they are 6-3 ATS on a short week.
12. Atlanta Falcons (1-0) – Hands down, one of the biggest surprises of the weekend was how physical Atlanta was. I mean, I was stunned. They punched Miami in the mouth, and the Dolphins were a pretty rugged team themselves last year. If Atlanta’s front seven can keep that up then the sky is the limit. The Falcons are 7-1 ATS in their last eight home games, but they are also a pathetic 0-11 ATS at home again after a home win.
13. Dallas Cowboys (1-0) – I thought that the final score in this game was as misleading as any in Week 1. Dallas was getting absolutely run over in the first half and couldn’t handle the physical play of the Bucs. They allowed 174 yards and a 5.6 yards per carry average to Tampa, so what are they going to do against the brutish Giants rushing attack?
14. Miami Dolphins (0-1) – I think that we can expect to see less Wildcat and more pound-the-rock football this weekend from the Dolphins. Their defense actually played really well last week against an Atlanta offense that can be just as – if not more – explosive than what Indianapolis brings to town. Miami is 8-3 ATS as a MNF home dog.
15. Seattle Seahawks (1-0) – Lofa Tatupu is expected to play this Sunday in San Francisco. However, they lost starting linebacker Leroy Hill for at least six weeks. Also, Walter Jones and Chris Spencer are practicing but neither of the key offensive linemen will be on the field this Sunday. This is still a beat-up team. Also, St. Louis absolutely handed Seattle that game so don’t be fooled by what looked like a dominating performance. It was a “soft” 28-0, if there can be such a thing. Seattle has won four of its last five trips to San Fran.
16. Chicago Bears (0-1) – Not only did the Bears lose team leader Brian Urlacher, but they also lost starting LB Pina Tuiasosopo last week. Chicago’s secondary and their receivers – which are two of the weakest units in the NFL – were almost as bad as Cutler last week. Cutler’s immaturity once again shined through during and after last Sunday’s game. That’s going to be a problem all year. Chicago is 3-7-1 ATS against nondivisional teams. However, I will say that I’m hearing that there is a lot of wise guy action on the Bears this week to spring the upset. Also, this is two straight games for Bears OC Ron Turner against 3-4 defenses.
17. Washington Redskins (0-1) – If Washington can’t come out and dominate St. Louis – I mean, I’m looking for a 14- or 20-point victory – then they might as well pack it in. This team is desperate for something good to happen. And for the first time this season (preseason or season) they won’t be lining up on offense facing a Top 10 defense. Washington lost a stunner (19-17) at home to St. Louis last year as a 13-point home chalk. Four turnovers negated the fact that the ‘Skins outgained St. Louis 368-200. The ‘Skins are 1-5 ATS as a favorite.
18. San Francisco 49ers (1-0) – San Francisco is 8-19-1 ATS as a favorite. I will say that they are going to have plenty of momentum coming into this game and they are again facing a team that, in my opinion, is very soft. The Niners secondary had a brilliant game last week. And if they can play that well against the Cardinals attack they should at least be able to hang with the Seahawks. Singletary called out his offensive line this week, which got rocked by Arizona and managed just 0.8 yards per carry.
19. New York Jets (1-0) – I have to say that I am starting to be a believer. I know it’s only one game, but like I mentioned before: Rex Ryan made a point to WIN every preseason game that his team played. It’s a small thing. But for this team it makes a difference. The Jets should absolutely be able to move the ball against this weak Patriots defense. The question will be if New York can slow down New England’s offense. However, the Jets have a better defense than the Bills and Buffalo had no problem making plays last Monday.
20. Arizona Cardinals (0-1) – Last year the Cardinals went 0-5 in the Eastern Time Zone, losing by an average of 20.0 per game. Also, Super Bowl losers in nondivisional road games are just 49-72-3 ATS. People have jumped off the bandwagon very quickly. However, I like the Cards this week. I won’t play them because of the EST stats but I do believe that the way they dominated San Fran up front they’ll be able to carry over against an incredibly wobbly Jacksonville line.
21. Carolina Panthers (0-1) – Don’t forget that this week is John Fox’s best role: he is 28-14-1 ATS as a road dog and 10-2 ATS off an ATS loss of a touchdown or more. Fox always seems to get his teams to play well on the road and as dogs. And even though it’s early this game is quickly turning into a more desperate situation than most. Carolina simply needs to keep pounding the ball on the ground against Atlanta and try to protect a defense that is banged up and looking soft, and a quarterback that is completely shaken.
22. Houston Texans (0-1) – Houston is a friggin’ mess in September. I won’t take them seriously until they can win games when they count and not just make garbage time December runs to make their records look more respectable than it actually was. Last year the Texans lost 31-12 in Tennessee, but that game was played one week after Hurricane Ike ripped up Houston. But can the Texans hold up to Tennessee’s physicality? They certainly didn’t against the Jets.
23. Cincinnati Bengals (0-1) – I touched on it in the Ferringo Report but it bears mentioning again: the Bengals cannot generate big plays if they can’t take 5- and 7-step drops in the passing game. And right now, with that offensive line, they can’t. The Bengals defense is legit and I think that they could hold up just fine against the Packers this week. Also, Green Bay’s 3-4 defense isn’t going to rattle Cincy – who sees it a lot – like it did the Bears.
24. Cleveland Browns (0-1) – You have to be able to score points to win. I know it sounds simple, but the Browns just can’t do it. Jamal Lewis is nursing a neck injury this week and I think that might be the best thing to happen to this offense. James Davis was explosive this preseason. Get the kid in there. I think he’s a better option than a washed-up Lewis, who should only be a short-yardage guy at this stage.
25. Jacksonville Jaguars (0-1) – Having a pair of rookie tackles is just really, really going to be an anchor around this team’s neck all season. The two offensive linemen – Eben Britton and Eugene Monroe actually weren’t THAT bad against one of the best pass rushes in the league last week. But as the season wears on teams are going to exploit that. And a pretty soft Colts run defense managed to hold the Jags down on the ground. Jacksonville is still a tough team to read. But with that offensive line I know I won’t be quick to throw down some loot on them. The Jags are 10-4 ATS against the NFC.
26. Denver Broncos (0-1) – Denver was definitely one of the worst teams that I saw play last week. Granted, their quarterback was playing with only four fingers on his throwing hand and their “star” receiver had just gotten back with the program after his time spent girl-beating, pouting and being suspended. Also, I’m not going to say I was as impressed with the defense as everyone else. The Bengals had at least four gains of 15 or more yards called back due to Bengal-esque penalties. Denver is 8-0 SU in its last eight games against the Browns (Byner Curse) and – I can’t believe this – they have a chance to be 2-0 this year. However, Denver is 3-17 ATS as a home favorite.
27. Buffalo Bills (0-1) – Every time you think it can’t get worse, or that the Bills can’t possibly find a more clownish way to piss away a potential “turn the corner” game they manage to top themselves. Good stuff. Have to say that I thought Trent Edwards was outstanding. But will he have the consistency? And I think the Bills are going to try to force the ball to T.O. this week, but he’ll be locked up with one of the best in the game: Ronde Barber. Watch that matchup. Buffalo is 14-4 ATS after facing New England. But, teams that opened the year on MNF and then turn around to play a nondivisional opponent are just 4-12 ATS. How does Tricky Dick Jauron get his boys back up off the mat?
28. Tampa Bay Bucs (0-1) – The Bucs gave up nine plays of 18 or more yards to the Cowboys. That right there is a new group of guys playing a new form of defense. The one thing I will say is that the effort was there for a team with not much talent. The key thing about this week is that it’s the first road game for the new coach. Raheem Morris got smoked when it came to halftime adjustments last week. Now how does he handle The Road? Tampa Bay is 6-19 ATS on the road against a non-divisional foe.
29. Kansas City Chiefs (0-1) – I was really surprised by some of the conservative play calls from Todd Haley. There were several third-and-eight or third-and-six draw plays instead of letting his quarterback throw. Hey, it nearly worked for him (somehow) and K.C. had a shot in that game. However, since 2007 the Lions actually have more wins (7) than the Chiefs (6). I have no inside info, but I don’t see Matt Cassel lining up for at least another 2-3 weeks. The guy was such a big investment that I don’t see K.C. rushing him back out there with a bum knee. Chiefs are 2-24 SU in their last 26 games and 4-11-1 ATS at home. No more Arrowhead advantage.
30. St. Louis Rams (0-1) – Wow, did these guys look pathetic. The fumble on the opening kickoff was bad enough but it just got so much worse from there. I don’t see how this team can compete. They simply don’t have the talent anywhere on offense or defense. Oh, and chalk up -35 more yards in penalties for Richie Incognito. I can’t believe that guy hasn’t killed someone yet or been involved in some manner of domestic violence. If he is that violent of a person and show that terrible of judgment on the field, what must he be like off of it? Long, long way to go for this group. St. Louis is 5-12-1 ATS as an underdog of 7.5 or more. They are also 11-24-1 ATS on grass and 14-30 ATS on the road against nondivisional opponents.
31. Oakland Raiders (0-1) – Oakland played great on Monday night. But they lost. And how will this team, this year, handled such a crushing defeat. They are on the right track though. They are trying to run the ball and play good defense, which is the right course of action. But I don’t see them being able to win with JaMarcus Russell. I just don’t. And they clearly need to get Darren McFadden more touches. Go to the well! Oakland is 5-1-1 ATS in Arrowhead and the visitor in that series is a stunning 11-1 ATS.
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32. Detroit Lions (0-1) – If Dante Culpepper was starting this week – he and Scott Linehan would have revenge over their old team – I would be ALL OVER the Lions. But Matt Stafford is starting. And the kid is a train wreck. This is a good offense, but Detroit is screwing the pooch by starting the kid. Can’t tell you how disappointed I am (I’ve mentioned it in about everything that I’ve written about the NFL, so I’m sure you are getting the point) because Detroit, with Culpepper at the helm, could have won four or five games this year and would have been a sweet ATS team. They only lost by two points and four points against the Vikings last year. Detroit is 9-5 ATS against the Vikings and they are 11-4-1 ATS as a DD dog. Start Culpepper, damn it!
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