Our NFL Power Rankings didn’t need much shuffling from last week, and I think that any shifts over the last two months of the season here will be nominal.
Indianapolis dropped down to No. 10 and was the biggest mover of the week. However, that was as much a function of good wins by the Packers, Falcons and Saints as it was anything that the Colts have done. Other than that I flopped Houston down a bit, swapped Jacksonville and Dallas, and moved the Giants up to the No. 3 slot ahead of the Jets and Patriots.
However, other than that not much maneuvering was required. So I’ll try to keep it straight and simple in this week’s NFL Power Rankings and I’ll leave all of the gossip and girl-talk to the mainstream monkeys.
Here are my Week 10 NFL Power Rankings:
1. Pittsburgh Steelers (6-2) – This is Pittsburgh’s first home game after three straight road games. This is also Pittsburgh’s third straight primetime game and the Steelers are on a 5-2 ATS rush under the bright lights. However, Pittsburgh is getting more and more beat up each week and their offensive line won’t push around the Patriots front. The Steelers have been worked over by the Patriots, going just 2-7 ATS in the last nine meetings and just 1-5 ATS at home against New England.
2. Baltimore Ravens (6-2) – That was a dominating effort last Sunday and just what Baltimore needed to reassert itself. It’s odd to say, but the Ravens defense needs to figure out how to get some pressure. They have just 14 sacks in eight games. They are 4-1-1 ATS as an underdog and 18-6-2 ATS as an underdog of less than a field goal.
3. New York Giants (6-2) – Is there a better receiving corps in the league right now than the three receivers that the Giants are trotting out each week? There may be some bigger names but right now Smith, Nicks and Manningham are simply doing work and taking advantage of anyone that is shading the running game.
4. New York Jets (6-2) – This team looks worse each week. They should have lost to both Denver and the Lions. On the one hand, it’s impressive that they were able to hold it together and win a pair of games they shouldn’t have. But the reality is that Detroit and Denver are a combined 4-12 and “Super Bowl favorites” shouldn’t need miracle comebacks against clubs like that.
5. New England Patriots (6-2) – I said it at the start of the year: this is a soft New England defense that is going to play infinitely better at home than on the road. They have given up an average of 24 points per game on the road – which isn’t that much more than the 22 they have allowed at home. But the bottom line is that they are No. 29 in the league, both of their losses were away from home, and were it not for some late-game magic at San Diego and against Baltimore this club would be 4-4 right now. The Patriots are 5-0 as an underdog off a loss.
6. Atlanta Falcons (6-2) – Bad news for the Falcons as it looks like Roddy White won’t be available this week. He is doubtful, as is Sean Weatherspoon and Todd McClure. Without White this Falcons team becomes completely one-dimensional on offense and that one dimension is not going to be that successful against the Ravens. The Falcons are 17-1 SU and 12-5-1 ATS at home and will be amped for this game. But without White they are in some trouble.
7. New Orleans Saints (6-3) – It’s a good time for the bye for the defending champs. They get to heal up, get their heads right, and then get focused for a stretch run. I think that they have struggled at times this year because they have been a little bored and waiting for games to “mean” something. But that might not exactly be the case after the break, as none of their next four games will be against teams above .500.
8. Green Bay Packers (6-3) – I was ready to throw dirt on this team when the injuries started cropping up. But I will admit that this team is much better than I expected. I was not on the Packers Super Bowl Bandwagon to start the season, but they are winning me over. However, four of their next five games are on the road and they come off the bye with tricky back-to-back road trips to Minnesota and Atlanta.
9. Tennessee Titans (5-3) – Tony Dungy was one of the first people to really hone in on why the Titans are getting a steal with Randy Moss. His true value won’t be in his own numbers, but with the attention that he’s going to draw away from Chris Johnson. It’s a shame that Kenny Britt is going to miss “ an extended period of time” because of his hamstring since he has just started to break out. Vince Young is back under center this week and the Titans are just 1-4 ATS as a road favorite.
10. Indianapolis Colts (5-3) – The Colts will rally at home again this week, and at just 5-3 Indy is in a rather tenuous position in the AFC South. But they are 3-0 this year at home with blowout wins (well, double-digit wins anyway) over quality teams in the Giants, Chiefs and Texans. They are 4-1-1 ATS overall and they are an excellent 10-4-1 ATS in conference games.
11. Kansas City Chiefs (5-3) – The Chiefs lost that Oakland game twice last week. The first time was in the last two minutes of the first half when they pissed away two opportunities to add to their lead and drive a nail into the Raiders. The second was when Dwayne Bowe dropped a critical pass in the last two minutes that hit him in the chest. That can’t happen. Neither can happen. It is going to be tough for the Chiefs to bounce back after two straight tough overtime games.
12. San Diego Chargers (4-5) – Here come the Chargers. This team has to be feeling great about itself for the way they have dug deep and performed without several key players. The bye couldn’t have come at a better time and an excellent offense will get even better once Vincent Jackson is back in a couple weeks. Also, the best news for them last week was Oakland beating Kansas City. They get both rematch games at home in the last half of the year.
13. Washington Redskins (4-4-) – Donovan McNabb has always seemed to play his best amidst controversy, and I think he will answer the bell this week. Of course, it might help him out if Washington wasn’t ranked No. 30 in the league in rushing attempts, despite a solid 4.1 yard-per-carry average. Maybe Kyle Shanahan is the one without a grasp of offensive concepts. Mike Shanahan was always brilliant off a bye week in Denver and it will be interesting to see how this team rallies (or not) around McNabb. They are 3-1-1 ATS as an underdog this year and the puppy is 6-1-1 ATS in this series.
14. Philadelphia Eagles (5-3) – Philadelphia looked sharp last week, but that was against a very soft Indianapolis defense that was coming off an inspired Monday Night Football performance. However, while everyone is back on the Mike Vick bandwagon I can guarantee you that he is going to put up a clunker in one of the next two or three games. It is what he does. The Eagles are 10-4-1 ATS in their last 15 trips to Washington and the road team is 6-1-1 ATS in this series. However, the Eagles are just 1-4 ATS overall against the Skins and they were pushed around in the first meeting this year.
15. Miami Dolphins (4-4) – I am still really unsure what to make of this team. I want to like them, but I’m not nearly as high on them as a lot of media members. They have an excellent system, but I really think that their inexperience and youth is going to be a killer down the stretch. Bottom line: they have to figure out how to defend the home field. They are a horrendous 16-41-1 ATS in their last 58 home games. But they are 9-2 ATS as an underdog and should be able to push around a more speed-oriented Tennessee defense this week.
16. Minnesota Vikings (3-5) – Every week is make-or-break for this team and I have to think they are going to run out of steam pretty soon. I also can’t understand how this team is still getting so much respect from the oddsmakers. How are the favorites on the road this week? I understand that Chicago is awful, but the Vikings are 1-4 ATS in their last five games and have failed to cover in three straight. They are one loss away from going into “Dallas Mode” and quitting on this season. Six of the last eight meetings with Chicago have gone ‘over’ the total and this has become a consistently high-scoring series.
17. Chicago Bears (5-3) – Chicago showed great balance last week in its win over Buffalo, running the ball 31 times and throwing it 30 times. Of course, it’s easy to do that when you are facing the Buffalo defense. This team is still somewhat of an enigma. Their last two losses were by just three points apiece, and that 14-point loss at New York against the Giants doesn’t look so bad – on paper – now that the G-Men have been wrecking people. But I still have very little faith in this coaching staff and its systems. Five of the last six games have gone ‘under’. And while the Bears defense isn’t the overwhelming, dominant group it was five years ago, they are still better than the mess we’ve seen the last three years.
18. Houston Texans (4-4) – Here we go again with this mediocre squad. At least this week the Texans get to match up with one of the few secondaries in the NFL that may actually be worse than their own. Houston is 9-4 ATS as an underdog and this is really a make-or-break game for a lot of reasons. Unfortunately, they are running into a team that is off rest and the Texans are just 1-4 ATS in divisional games. I don’t know how they are going to do it, but this team needs to figure out how to get some stops.
19. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (5-3) – I think that this is a dangerous spot for the Bucs. I always like to fade teams that are consistently listed as an underdog but then are thrust into the role of favorite. That is the situation here as the Bucs have been dogged in six of their last seven games (and they didn’t cover as a three-point favorite against St. Louis). Four of five wins this year have been by a field goal or less, with the fifth being a 13-point win at Carolina. Tampa Bay is just 3-14 ATS at home.
20. St. Louis Rams (4-4) – This week is the first of four road games in five weeks for the Rams, so we’re going to find out exactly how far along this group is over the next month. They are just 1-5 ATS in their last six trips out to San Francisco and this offense simply must find a way to score points on the road (and on grass). I will keep saying it until I’m blue in the face: the Rams have to start throwing the ball down the field – at least a little bit – or teams are going to adjust and make Bradford pay.
21. Cleveland Browns (3-5) – I am impressed with how poised Colt McCoy has looked in his outings this year. He has looked confident and hasn’t looked at all overwhelmed. This team just keeps cashing tickets. They are 11-4 ATS in their last 15 games overall and they continue to push people around with their massive offensive line and powerful front seven. That trick play they pulled last week for a touchdown was brilliant. The Browns are 9-3 ATS as an underdog and 6-2 ATS at home.
22. Oakland Raiders (5-4) – The best thing to come out of Oakland’s win over the Chiefs was that maybe now they realize that Jacoby Ford is their best playmaker at the receiver position. This team has to feel great about itself heading into the bye week and I expect them to stay focused. However, they have a brutal stretch after the bye: at Pittsburgh, Miami, at San Diego and then a cross-country trip at Jacksonville in a letdown spot, then Denver and Indianapolis at home. There is still a lot of work to do.
23. Cincinnati Bengals (2-6) – That is now five straight losses on the field and at the window for this talented team. But none of this should be surprising at all because, after all, it’s the Bungles. I don’t see how this team picks itself up off the mat after getting bounced at home by its bitter rival. They still can’t pressure a quarterback and if they give Peyton Manning time in the pocket he will tear this team to shreds.
24. Jacksonville Jaguars (4-4) – The Jaguars are just 2-6 ATS after a bye and just 5-15 ATS at home. They are also just 5-11 ATS in their last 16 games against the Texans and the favorite is just 3-8 ATS in this series. Jacksonville has to be pretty confident after their pre-bye performance in Dallas. And the home team has won five of six in this Houston series. This game will come down to turnovers and which front four can put more pressure on the quarterback to help out its horrendous secondary.
25. Dallas Cowboys (1-7) – I still don’t even want to waste words discussing this abortion of a team. Shockingly, the Cowboys have gone ‘over’ five straight times. That is tough to do with oddsmakers so willing to overcorrect. But they have allowed 35.8 points per game in their last five outings. Turnovers by the offense haven’t helped, but if those numbers aren’t indicative of this team rolling over I don’t know what is.
26. Seattle Seahawks (4-4) – Last week’s blowout loss wasn’t a fluke. That game was more representative of the talent level on this team. It also should have proved once again what a magician Matt Hasselbeck is to even have this team competitive. Further, as I have said in this space before, if the Seahawks aren’t getting turnovers or making big plays with special teams their offense isn’t scoring.
27. Arizona Cardinals (3-5) – This team simply can’t get out of its own way and, maybe stubbornly, I still think they are better than they have played. The Cardinals had five turnovers in their trip to Seattle and most of them were unforced (like the four fumbles, two of which were on kicks). Seattle converted all of the turnovers into points and that was the key to their win. The Cardinals are 6-2 ATS in their last eight against the Seahawks and, had they not choked away games the last two weeks, they would be rolling at 5-3.
28. Detroit Lions (2-6) – The Lions are 0-23 SU in their last 23 road games. I really don’t think that losing Matt Stafford is that big of a deal. What has he accomplished? Shaun Hill had solid numbers “filling in” and this offense is still more about the line and Calvin Johnson than it is who is under center. Detroit has covered five straight games and is 3-1-1 ATS as a road underdog.
29. San Francisco 49ers (2-6) – I just still don’t get it. San Francisco was gone for a week and it’s as if the first half of the season never happened. They are nearly a touchdown favorite and diluted bobbleheads are still talking about how this team has a shot at the playoffs. San Fran is just 1-5 ATS as a favorite but they have dominated this series with the Rams, going 20-8-2 ATS in the last 30 meetings.
30. Denver Broncos (2-6) – The Broncos have had two weeks to regroup and they are catching Kansas City in a letdown spot. But does anyone have any faith in Josh McDaniels? Denver’s defense has given up an average of 154.6 yards rushing per game and an average of 4.6 yards per run. The Broncos are 9-24-1 ATS at home after enjoying one of the top home field advantages in the league for the 15 years prior. Denver is also just 7-18-1 ATS in divisional games.
31. Buffalo Bills (0-8) – The Bills defense is an absolute horror show. Not only are they giving up nearly 5.0 yards per carry, but they have also allowed 17 touchdown passes to just one interception. And the secondary was supposed to be the strength. Unfortunately, Roscoe Parrish is done for the year right when they were finally starting to effectively use him in the offense. The Bills are just 5-15-1 ATS at home, but they are 27-11-1 ATS against a sub-.500 team.
32. Carolina Panthers (1-7) – I just don’t see how things can get any worse for Carolina. Matt Moore was a clown – but he is still significantly better than Jimmy Clausen. Clausen, who I said was going to be a disaster when he was drafted, is not even close to being ready to play in the NFL. But to make things worse they will likely be without DeAngelo Williams and Jonathan Stewart this week against the Bucs.
Robert Ferringo is a writer and a professional sports handicapper for Doc’s Sports. He has banked profit for his clients after five of seven winning football weeks and is rolling out more predictions this week. You can sign up for his college football and NFL picks and get more information here.