Week 6 NFL Power Rankings
by Robert Ferringo - 10/09/2008
Here is a look at Doc's Sports Week 6 NFL Power Rankings:
1. Tennessee Titans (5-0) -I'm not sure if someone has worked with Kerry Collins or if it was just a conscious decision, but he has taken a lot of zip off of his passes and it has made him extremely more accurate. That--as much as his decision making--has made the biggest difference in his resurgence. He's showing some touch instead of rifling rocks at his receivers. This is also the perfect week for a bye for this hard-hitting group because they would have been primed for a letdown.
2. New York Giants (4-0) -Plaxico Burress is not done trying to be a distraction for the Giants. And in case he didn't notice, they played just fine without him last week. Remember that this is the same group that won a Super Bowl basically in spite of Tiki Barber and Jeremy Shockey, two supposedly "integral" members of the G-Men.
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3. Dallas Cowboys (4-1) - Pac Man Jones is in trouble again?!?!?!? What? No handicapper in the world could have seen that one coming! More importantly, the Cowboys appear to be losing Terrance Newman for at least six weeks to a sports injury. The Cowboys have been a great road bet (9-4-1 ATS) lately, but they are just 1-7 ATS in NFC games and are just 2-6 ATS on grass.
4. Pittsburgh Steelers (4-1) -Just a gutsy win by the Steelers last Sunday night prior to their week off. That is a reflection of a great coach and a lot of pride. Pittsburgh should be rewarded with both Willie Parker and Casey Hampton on the other side of their bye week.
5. Washington Redskins (4-1) -The Redskins are 5-2 ATS in their last seven meetings with the Rams, but those were mainly as the underdog. The home team and the favorite in this series are just 2-5 ATS. Keep in mind that Jim Zorn is used to scheming against the Rams defense, as he did twice a year with the Seahawks. The two touchdowns the Skins are laying this week represent the largest chalk they've been since 1992.
6. Carolina Panthers (4-1) - It's been nine quarters since the Panthers defense has allowed a touchdown. A big reason why is the fact that they are allowing jut 5.4 yards per pass attempt. Carolina is 10-4 ATS in the last 14 meetings, the underdog is 8-2 ATS, and the road team is 5-2 ATS. All of this suggests Carolina is the play, and they are taking 73 percent of the action.
7. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (3-2) -I truly don't expect the Garcia-for-Griese switch to have much of an impact on the Bucs offense. In fact, Jeff Garcia's improvisation around the goal line may help improve Tampa's pathetic red zone offense. The Bucs have been inside the 20 the second-most of any offense in the league (21) but they are 28th in touchdown percentage (.381).
8. Chicago Bears (3-2) -I'm certain that this positioning may raise some eyebrows, but if you look at the schedule Chicago has played, who they've beaten, and how they've lost, this is clearly one of the Top 10 teams in the league. They blew double-digit, fourth quarter leads in both of their losses (by a combined six points) and their defense has shown signs - at least in the first 55 minutes of games - of being back. They are No. 4 in the league in rush defense and will have to be up to task this Sunday to stop Michael Turner. Chicago is just 5-4-1 ATS as a road favorite over the last five years.
9. Buffalo Bills (4-1) -Buffalo came back down to earth a bit last weekend. But you have to continue to give them credit. Their starting quarterback, Trent Edwards, left with a concussion in their first series and the Bills didn't flinch. Edwards is still feeling post-concussion symptoms and is questionable to return on Oct. 19.
10. Denver Broncos (4-1) -You all know that I don't think the Broncos are THAT good, but you have to give them a lot of credit for grinding out a win over Tampa Bay last week on a day when the offense wasn't very sharp. Last year Mike Shanahan said that the Jaguars "manhandled" the Broncos at Mile High. But, as we've seen, this isn't the same caliber of Jags team. Denver is 7-21-1 ATS in its last 29 games and is 4-12-1 ATS at home.
11. New England Patriots (3-1) - I will say that I was less than impressed by the Patriots in the first 25 minutes of their game at San Fran last week. They dominated the second half and the game stats make it look like they controlled the game. But they didn't, and I am still VERY skeptical of Matt Cassel, who has very little game presence. The Patriots are 20-8 ATS on the road and the underdog is 5-1 ATS in their series with San Diego.
12. San Diego Chargers (2-3) - I'm done. Norv Turner blows and is running this team into the ground. I don't care if they run off 12 straight wins, this isn't a Top 10 team. They have Top 10 talent, but they are garbage because they can't be counted on. I expect them to be 'up' for this rivalry game with the Patriots
13. Philadelphia Eagles (2-3) -This is the weekend that Philly's secondary needs to earn its money and its reputation. Brian Westbrook is not going to play for the Eagles. And if Philly tries to go one-dimensional and pass their way through the Niners they are going to lose. Philly is 7-1 ATS in its last eight road games and is 6-2 ATS after a loss against the spread.
14. Indianapolis Colts (2-2) - Bob Sanders is still out and is likely three more weeks away from returning. But now the Colts will be without one starting corner (Kelvin Hayden) and could be down another (Marlin Jackson) this week. The line on this game is sinking like a stone and has seen as much movement - seven to 4.5 - as any game this year that hasn't had a key injury occur in the lead up.
15. Atlanta Falcons (3-2) -I really, really, really like this Falcons team. They are tough, they are rugged, and they are smashing people in the face. Had a line on their game been posted before Friday last week I would have been all over them. However, if you look at the defenses that have shut Atlanta down - Tampa Bay, Carolina - the Bears bring the same type of speed, experience, and run defense to the table this week. Matt Ryan will have to continue to be careful with the football but he has to take shots up the field against the Bears.
16. Arizona Cardinals (3-2) -There is a reverse line movement at work in Arizona's game with the Cowboys this week. Dallas is taking two of every three bets on this game, but the line has already dipped a full point and is falling. Arizona will have to stand up to the run and will have to commit Adrian Wilson to covering Jason Witten if they want a chance in this one. Arizona is 0-4 ATS in this series and the underdog is just 1-4 ATS. However, the home team has taken the cash in five of seven meetings.
17. Jacksonville Jaguars (2-3) -Over the last two or three years the Washington Redskins defense was one of the worst pass rushing defenses in the NFL. Right now the once-potent Jaguars pass rush (eight sacks) is one of the worst in the NFL. The common denominator: Gregg Williams as defensive coordinator. And that lack of pass rush is hanging their secondary out to dry.
18. Minnesota Vikings (2-3) -Big win in New Orleans for the Vikings on Monday Night - a potential season-saver. But it came at a big price. Starting MLB, leading tackler, and defensive captain E.J. Henderson had season-ending foot surgery this week.
19. Green Bay Packers (2-3) -I had been saying that this team is soft on the interior of their offensive and defensive lines and they were exposed as exactly that last week against the Falcons. The Packers are No. 27 in rushing defense and are allowing 5.1 yards per rush. Seattle is allowing a stunning 8.4 yards per pass attempt and have allowed 17 plays of 20-plus yards passing. Look for the Packers wideouts to have a field day.
20. New Orleans Saints (2-3) -Critical game this weekend for the Saints. They are setup perfectly for a letdown after their tough loss on Monday Night. But Marques Colston and Jeremy Shockey just returned to practice this week. While I don't expect both to play this weekend, the Saints really need to just hold on for a couple more weeks before they get their top playmakers back. More bad news though: rising secondary star Tracy Porter was placed on injured reserve this week. That means more Jason David - and more long TD passes for opponents.
21. Baltimore Ravens (2-2) - I'm still very unsure of what to do with this team. On one hand, coming into the season I thought they were in serious trouble and that they had the look of a six-win team. And their two wins were both at home against the Bengals and Browns. Not impressive. But the Ravens pass the eyeball test. They look nasty and have played two of the Top 5 teams in the league down to the wire in the last two weeks. And consider me sold on Joe Flacco. He is like Big Ben Jr.
22. New York Jets (2-2) -I am very unsure of what to do with the Jets. I do think that they are much better than this ranking. But I haven't seen it yet. New York is 6-0 ATS coming out of a bye week and they need to kick the Bengals while they are down.
23. San Francisco 49ers (2-3) -Mike Nolan sees that his time as a head coach could be coming to an end if the Niners don't turn things around. And he promptly went on to blame the players for last week's loss to the Patriots. Awesome. I do know that the Niners have to keep splitting Frank Gore out wide and throwing him the ball. They did it once against New England and scored a TD. But then they never went back to him in the passing game.
24. Miami Dolphins (2-2) -I just cannot say enough about how well the Miami offensive and defensive lines have played over the last two weeks. They were paper mache last year. But now the Fins are running the ball at will and their stout front seven is helping them get off the field. Last year the Fins were dead last in the league in yards per rush allowed (4.5) and right now they are No. 7 (3.3).
25. Seattle Seahawks (1-3) -Mike Holmgren didn't think he'd go out like this. This season was supposed to be his swan song and his last shot at the Lombardi Trophy. Right now he's trying to catch the 49ers. This is a season-defining weekend for the Seahawks, but they have way too many problems to have any confidence in them. The home team has won six of seven in the Green Bay series, and six of nine have been decided by double-digits.
26. Houston Texans (0-4) -I do not know how the Texans will bounce back from that devastating loss to the Colts last week. I do know that a lot of prognosticators have been quick to just hand the Texans four straight wins (Miami, Detroit, Minnesota, and Cincinnati) and I have no idea why. The Texans barely beat Miami last year (22-19) and I think the Fins are going to take them to the limit. Matt Schaub is the right choice to lead this team. Houston is just 4-10 ATS against AFC teams.
27. Oakland Raiders (1-3) -If the Vikings weren't able to run the ball against the Tampa Bay front seven I wouldn't expect much from Oakland's bread-and-butter this week either. That puts the game in the hands of JaMarcus Russell. And considering that the Saints secondary is banged up, and not very good, I think this is a game where Russell has to step up. Remember, he has a lot of experience in the Superdome, where he played several times while at LSU.
28. Cleveland Browns (1-3) -Until they find a suitable No. 2 wideout their offense will continue to stall. And before you get too convinced that the Browns are primed for an upset, remember that the Giants first- and second-teamers managed a 30-3 lead when these teams met in the preseason. Also, Cleveland is just No. 22 against the rush and you can expect a lot of pounding to be done by the G-Men this Monday night.
29. Cincinnati Bengals (0-5) -The Bengals move out of the basement here because they have at least been competitive in their last two defeats, coming at the hands of two of the better teams in the league. Word around the camp fire is that the defense is responding well to defensive coordinator Mike Zimmer.
30. Detroit Lions (0-4) -Same old Lions. This team is a mess. And look for Dan Orlovsky to build off last week's horrific performance this Sunday. Jon Kitna is likely out (quitting?), which should make Roy Williams even happier about the Lions passing game.
31. Kansas City Chiefs (1-4) -I really have nothing to say about this disaster of a team. They have not even attempted to compete in their last two road games, which they have lost by a combined score of 72-14. Ouch. But hey, they put Tom Brady out for the year so even if they go 3-13 they would have had as big of an impact as anyone on the 2008 season!
32. St. Louis Rams (0-4) -Before you go thinking that the Rams got their act together on their bye week and are ready to come out and compete, remember that they are 4-17 ATS against teams with a winning record and 3-7 ATS on the road.