Week 7 NFL Power Rankings
by Robert Ferringo - 10/17/2008
Here is a look at Doc's Sports Week 7 NFL Power Rankings:
1. Tennessee Titans (5-0) -It will be interesting to see how the bye week effected the momentum of this club, which had been rolling. The road team is 4-1 ATS in their series with the Chiefs, but the underdog has covered four of five. Word around the campfire fire is that the Titans spent their off week putting in some packages for Vince Young. Even some that have Young and Collins on the field at the same time. I think it's key that Tennessee get him some confidence and a taste of success before the inevitable switch back to being the QB.
2. Pittsburgh Steelers (4-1) -Pittsburgh's defense has kind of quietly been one of the best units in the league. They are No. 2 in the league and is the only unit allowing less than four yards per rush. They have dominated their series with Cincinnati, and the Bengals should expect no quarter. Pittsburgh is 4-1 ATS in the last five meetings and the road team is 6-1 ATS. Don't expect Willie Parker to play a big role this weekend. His knee injury is delicate and Mike Tomlin doesn't want to risk him long term against a team they should handle.
3. New York Giants (4-1) -The G-Men got caught with their pants down on Monday Night Football against a team that was playing for its life. And if Eli hadn't made an awful decision near the goal line early in the fourth quarter I would have liked to see how Cleveland handled the clutch. It's been ten-and-a-half months since the Giants actually lost a game. It will be interesting to see how they handle it. Shaun O'Hara may be out this week (toe) but other than that the G-Men are still pretty healthy.
4. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (4-2) -Last week I made a big deal out of Tampa Bay's red zone offense, and stated that I thought Jeff Garcia would actually be better for the attack inside the 20. The Bucs responded by scoring a touchdown in two of three trips into the red zone against Carolina. Tampa can't afford a letdown - like the one the Panthers suffered - this Sunday night against wounded Seattle. I am also wary of that large number on them. This is just the sixth time in the last 10 years that Tampa has been a DD chalk. They are 4-1 ATS in the last five dating back to 2000.
5. Dallas Cowboys (4-2) - It looks like the crystal palace in Dallas is starting to break down a bit. And I couldn't be happier. Everywhere you turn analysts, play-by-play men, and media bobbleheads have been speaking of this Dallas team in reverential tones, as if they were some great team. This team is pretty good. That's it. Pretty good. The Roy Williams trade is nice. But it doesn't offset the issues that they are having in their secondary, at quarterback, and on their offensive line. Also, count me amongst those that thinks Brad Johnson will be very good under center.
6. Washington Redskins (4-2) -Is Washington one of the best five or six teams in the league? No way. Not even close. And neither is Carolina. But the Redskins are still dominating people up front and have the No. 3 rushing attack and the No. 6 run defense in the league. If you can dominate people at the line of scrimmage you can stay among the elite. I am wary of them as a large chalk this week though. They are just 2-10 ATS against teams with a losing record and they have a troubling tendency to play down to the level of their competition.
7. Carolina Panthers (4-2) - The Panthers have regained some of their mojo at home, covering six straight in Charlotte. But their sinking rushing attack is cause for concern. Their whole sales pitch as to why they were a contender this season was based around their re-commitment to a power running game. After six games they are just 19th in yards per game and 27th in yards per carry. I do think the Carolina defense will be up to the task of containing Reggie Bush. John Fox's units always smothered Mike Vick when he was running wild on the NFC South.
8. Buffalo Bills (4-1) -Trent Edwards and Roscoe Parrish will both be back in action this week for the Bills. I think this is a critical game for Buffalo, whose schedule gets appreciably more difficult the rest of the season. Their wins have come against a less-than-impressive lot this year. Buffalo is 11-4 ATS at home and 10-4-1 ATS after a blowout loss of 14 or more points.
9. Philadelphia Eagles (3-3) -There's a lot of buzz about the fact that the Eagles didn't make a move for Tony Gonzalez or Roy Williams this week. And I believe that sentiment is a huge red flag that most people don't think that the Eagles are good enough to win this division. At least that's what I took from it. Andy Reid is automatic after a bye week, posting a 19-5 SU and 17-7 ATS record.
10. Chicago Bears (3-3) -I just cannot say enough about what a disaster Love Smith is, and about how his pooch kick decision has completely altered Chicago's season. The Bears are still emotionally stunned right now and I expect that horrific Atlanta loss to carry over into this week's game with Minnesota. That is now three losses - ALL IN WHICH THE BEARS HAD LEADS IN THE LAST FIVE MINUTES - by a combined eight points. It is very conceivable that this team could be 6-0 or 5-1 and among the two or three best in the NFL. Now they are just hanging on to the bottom rung like everyone else in the NFC North. But I'm not bitter.
11. Indianapolis Colts (3-2) -The fact that the John McCargo trade fell through (he failed his physical) is a blow to the Colts, who really need some big bodies up front. They simply aren't strong enough to hold up against Tennessee and Jacksonville. I'm not sure if I'd be in a hurry to lay points on the road with Indy considering how badly they played at Houston and at Minnesota, despite their misleading final scores. Indy has covered seven straight games in October.
12. Atlanta Falcons (4-2) -Much like Arizona, this is a good time for a bye for the Falcons. It's doubtful with either team that the momentum of their ultra-emotional home wins would have carried over to this week. Instead, one or both of them may have come out flat. Atlanta still has some issues - their red zone offense, some defensive situational stats - but they are winning tough and have looked great through six games. It is no fluke that they are in this spot. They also got snubbed by Tony Gonzalez this week when Tony G. said he only wanted to play for "contenders".
13. Arizona Cardinals (4-2) -Arizona's defensive line absolutely decimated a powerful Dallas offensive line last week. And the play of the Cardinals front has really been at the heart of their defensive Renaissance. Thy are presently No. 2 in the NFL with 18 sacks.
14. San Diego Chargers (3-3) - This weekend is a prime letdown spot for the Chargers after their peak performance at home against the Patriots. On top of that, West Coast teams traveling to the East Coast for 1 p.m. kickoffs are 0-6 SU and 1-5 ATS so far this season.
15. Jacksonville Jaguars (3-3) -The Jags still aren't getting off the field on third down. Teams are converting 49 percent of their third downs against what was a stout Jaguars defense. Look for a more potent running game out of the Jags on the other side of their bye week. They welcomed back two key linemen - center Brad Meester and guard Chris Naeole - this week.
16. New England Patriots (3-2) -Randy Moss looks like he's rapidly going into Operation Shutdown. The guy I saw playing on Sunday night looked like the guy I saw in Oakland. And since he knows he isn't playing for a Super Bowl this year he couldn't care less. The loss of Asante Samuel is having nearly the same effect on defense as Brady's loss is having on the offense. Stats say the Pats are No. 12 in pass defense. But they are No. 22 in completion percentage against and No. 26 in average yards per pass (8.0). That's trouble with Cutler and Co. coming to town.
17. Denver Broncos (4-2) -That is four straight losses against the spread for the Broncos who, as I suggested weeks ago, simply are not as good as people are treating them. They are just 3-11 ATS against teams with a winning record. However, Mike Shanahan has had Bill Belichick's number, going 5-1 ATS in the last six meetings and winning three straight since 2005. Denver's defense has definitely picked up (33 points in the L2 games) but they are still the worst pass defense in the league.
18. Minnesota Vikings (3-3) -That makes back-to-back weeks in which the Vikings have won games in which they probably shouldn't have. That's actually a stark contrast between this week's opponent, Chicago, which kees finding ways to lose. Minnesota swept the season series last year but they never play well at Soldier Field, going just 1-4 ATS in their last five trips. However, the underdog is 17-8 ATS in the last 25 meetings.
19. Green Bay Packers (3-3) -The Packers are one of the week's biggest underdogs - even though they are just -1 at home against the Colts - in the respect that nearly three of every four wagers on this game, which to this point is the most heavily bet NFL game, have gone on Indy. The Packers will still be without injured corner Al Harris this week against Peyton Manning. Since 2002 the Packers have been home dogs just 10 times. They are 3-7 ATS in those 10 games.
20. New Orleans Saints (3-3) -Do not sleep on this team. They have already lost 31 games due to injury this season. In 2007 they lost 36 starts and in 2006 they lost just 35 starts. They have been particularly battered on the defensive side of the ball. The Saints are 6-0 ATS in their last six games against the Panthers and the road team is 14-2 ATS in this series.
21. New York Jets (3-2) -The most impressive thing about the Jets to this point in the season has to be their defensive front line. They are No. 3 in the league against the run and they are tied for No. 2 in the league with 18 sacks. They have won three straight over the Raiders and are 3-1-1 ATS in the last five. I think this squad is better than No. 21 in the NFL. But they haven't beaten anyone and have to prove it.
22. Baltimore Ravens (2-3) -Can you call this a revenge game for the Ravens? They were the lone team that Miami beat last year and that loss came in overtime. Joe Flacco's TD-to-INT ratio is now 1-7 after last week's three-INT performance. The loss of Marshal Yanda at right guard, coupled with the uncertain status of Adam Terry, who would likely fill in, has put the Ravens offensive line in a very vulnerable position.
23. San Francisco 49ers (2-4) -This is going to sound a little crazy, but I kind of like the Niners as a second-half-of-the-year sleeper. They are 2-4 right now but they have played tough in their last three losses, which have come against New Orleans, New England, and Philly. Each loss was a bit closer even than the score indicated. They are still just 2-7 ATS in their last nine road games and 4-11 ATS in their last 15 conference games though. And their sack-prone offense could be exposed against a sack-generating defense this week.
24. Miami Dolphins (2-3) -Remember that the Dolphins are facing former (disastrous) head coach Cam Cameron this week. This game is the proverbial stoppable force (Baltimore is 7-22 ATS on the road) moveable object (Miami is 11-28-2 ATS at home). However, Miami is 8-2 ATS in the last 10 meetings, inlcuing three of four wins since 2002. Also, Chad Pennington has been a stud recently. He's completed nearly 80 percent of his passes in the last three games.
25. Houston Texans (1-4) -Hey, I was the driver of the Houston bandwagon over the last couple of years. But even I am surprised how everyone is already granting them wins over Detroit, Cincinnati, and Baltimore. This is a decent little team, but they can't stop ANYONE. Also, they will likely be going against desperate, winless teams in each of the next two weeks and they should expect those clubs' best efforts.
26. Cleveland Browns (2-3) -The most important thing that I noticed out of the Browns on Monday is that they finally have some other options in the passing game besides Braylon Edwards. And that little tidbit comes after one of his best games of the year. Dante Stallworth was finally healthy and was getting some looks. And that also let guys like Steptoe and Cribbs slide into the slot where they can be effective. Now they are in a position where if they get Kellen Winslow back from his mysterious, Fringe-style illness they should go back to ringing up points again.
27. Seattle Seahawks (1-4) -Chuckles Frye will be under center Sunday night when the Seahawks stroll into Tampa Bay. One positive about this game is certainly that it is an 8 p.m. kickoff. That could help limit some of the issues that the Seahawks have had playing in the Eastern Time Zone. Seattle is 3-11 ATS on the road playing east of the Mississippi.
28. Oakland Raiders (1-4) -You will never guess who has the least amount of defensive penalty yards against them this year. If Oakland were to finish the year in this spot I think there might be a tear in the space-time continuum. This team is still an automatic 'play against'. They have done something that every handicapper dreams of: they have hit nearly 70 percent over a five-year period. They are an astoundingly bad 28-57-1 ATS in their last 86 games. That includes an 8-24 ATS run at home.
29. Kansas City Chiefs (1-4) -How would you like to be Tony Gonzalez today? Apparently Carl Peterson screwed Gonzo, who has been the consummate Chief during his tenure in K.C., by hijacking a trade to Green Bay. That really can't be good for morale in an already shaky locker room. Brace yourselves for the Brodie Croyle experience this week. He is back under center.
30. St. Louis Rams (1-4) -I had said at the start of the year that I thought Josh Brown would be good for two victories this year. Last Sunday was one. And I'm glad all the warm and fuzzies are flying around this team now after picking up its first win. But they are still 5-17 ATS against teams with a winning record and are still matched up with a team that completely dominated them last year in Big D. I am definitely not buying into the Rams "turnaround" just yet.
31. Detroit Lions (0-5) -I will say that the Lion made a good deal in getting rid of Roy Williams. He did not want to play for this team and was not going to play hard for the rest of the year. They sold while his value was high. Good show. That's one point for the front office. But they take -5 points for trying to trade Jon Kitna and then putting him on IR. It's poor form to try to trade a guy who is injured. The Lions are 1-6 ATS on the road.
32. Cincinnati Bengals (0-6) -The Bungles are playing hard. I will give them that. And losing Carson Palmer was a tough break. But that is not the reason that this team is in this predicament and its now a crutch for Marvin Lewis. The Bengals are just 2-5 ATS at home and they are last in the league in time of possession. That's not a good thing when you only have two guys on your team that can tackle.