Week 8 NFL Power Rankings
by Robert Ferringo - 10/23/2008
Here is a look at Doc's Sports Week 8 NFL Power Rankings:
1. Tennessee Titans (5-0) -After six straight losses ATS to the Colts, the Titans have covered four straight in this series. This is a great matchup on Monday night for the Titans, but a really tricky spot. Tennessee is 10-1 ATS in divisional games and have covered four straight against the Colts. This is a chance for a breakout game on a national stage and a spot where they can almost eliminate the Colts from the division title. However, that's what worries me. Things are setting up almost too perfectly.
2. Pittsburgh Steelers (5-1) -It's almost odd to see the Steelers playing in Heinz Field. They have seized control of their division despite the fact that they have played four of their last five games on the road. Pittsburgh has won three of those four games, including SU and ATS wins in their last two at Cincinnati and at Jacksonville. They key for Pittsburgh is for the offensive line to hold up better against the Giants than it did against the Eagles' blitz-happy attack. If Pitt can't protect Big Ben they can't win.
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3. New York Giants (5-1) -The Giants are a sensational 20-8 ATS on the road over the last few years so don't think for one second that they can't go into Pittsburgh and beat the Steelers. The Giants are averaging an amazing 5.6 yards per carry and are matched up against the No. 2 rushing defense in the league in Pittsburgh (2.9 yards per carry). Again, the team that controls the line of scrimmage in this one is the team that will win.
4. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (5-2) -Tampa's running game just got another boost this week with the return of Cadillac Williams. Caddy won't be on the field any time soon (I say he plays Week 10) but his presence, along with the eventual return of Joey Galloway (ankle) in a couple weeks means this team is good and only getting better. The Bucs have not played very well on the road this year, losing at New Orleans and Denver, and managing kind of a fluke win at Chicago in a game in which they were dominated.
5. Washington Redskins (5-2) -Is anyone else incredibly nervous about the Redskins being a huge favorite on the road this week? The Skins are taking 80 percent of the action against the hapless Lions this week and Washington should be able to run through one of the worst rush defenses in the league. But their home loss to St. Louis two weeks ago still lingers and then there's the fact that they couldn't put Cleveland away last week. Washington has played four of six games at home and this is actually their first non-divisional road game. We have to see some maturity out of them this week and a blowout would justify this ranking.
6. Carolina Panthers (5-2) - In case you hadn't realized, there are three reasons why the Panthers are better this year. First, they actually have a quarterback. Second, their secondary is infinitely better. And third, they are playing better at home. Jeff Otah and Ryan Kalil are both out this week. The Panthers have a bye next week so they would like to give their linemen extra rest. The Panthers played press coverage last week against the Saints, and could get away with it because their wideouts aren't that great. But if they try that against Arizona there could be trouble.
7. Buffalo Bills (5-1) -I think the Bills could be walking into a trap this week. Buffalo has been the beneficiary of a very easy schedule to this point in the year. Yes, a win at home over San Diego is impressive. But it's not that impressive. Now they are just road favorites against a divisional opponent that's been pretty spry this year. The Bills are taking 80 percent of the action this week - the second-largest public play on the board - but the line is moving against them. That's a huge red flag.
8. Chicago Bears (4-3) -Lovie. The Bears were up 10 points facing fourth-and-1 at the goal line in the fourth quarter last week against the Vikings. Lovie should have kicked the field goal (I will go over the math at Doc's Sports Blog) but instead went for it and got bailed out by a phantom pass interference call. This is a Top 3 team in terms of talent, but a Bottom 10 team in terms of coaching. The Bears offense has been so tough to stop because they don't have a go-to guy. While most thought that was a problem, I think it's their greatest strength because, other than Forte, you can't key in on anyone.
9. Dallas Cowboys (4-3) - The fact that the Cowboys simply did not compete last week in St. Louis shows that they have absolutely no heart, and that the coaching staff - surprise, surprise - has no control over this team. And that is why they are always a sucker bet to win a Super Bowl. Their biggest problem right now is not the Romo injury. Brad Johnson can lead them to 20 points per. But the secondary is now missing three of four starts and will be easy pickings.
10. Philadelphia Eagles (3-3) -It's Andy Reid - after a bye week. The Eagles are 8-0 after a bye under Andy Reid and a stellar 17-7 ATS after a week off (8-3 ATS as a home favorite). Philadelphia welcomes back Reggie Brown and Kevin Curtis to an offense that, with the exception of a 23-point, defensive-aided eruption in the fourth quarter in San Francisco, has managed just 59 points in its last 15 quarters. That's just 16 points per game.
11. Atlanta Falcons (4-2) -It will be interesting to see if any momentum for their amazing win over Chicago two weeks ago carries over into Philly this weekend. The Falcons already managed to beat Green Bay in Lambeau, and the Eagles favor a similar pass-wacky offense. However, the road team is 2-8 SU in this series and the Falcons are just 2-6-1 ATS in their last nine games against the Eagles.
12. Arizona Cardinals (4-2) -Much like Atlanta, it's going to be interesting to see how the Cards come out after a tremendous win two weeks ago. The Cards are averaging three sacks per game and are running into a Carolina offensive line that will likely be missing two starters. Anquan Boldin will play this week, but the key for the Cardinals is to continue to find touches for Tim Hightower. Arizona is 0-2 SU and ATS in its last two trips to the Eastern Time Zone this year, losing by seven at Washington and by 21 in New York to the Jets.
13. San Diego Chargers (3-4) - More travel for a team that has been pathetic on the road this year. The issue that the Chargers seem to have is that LT does not look like the LT we are accustomed to. He's averaged just 64 yards rushing in his last four games and hasn't scored a touchdown in three weeks. He will have to be at his fighting best because there are reports of 23 mile-per-hour winds in London this weekend.
14. New England Patriots (4-2) - Let's not get carried away by Matt Cassel's performance last week. Yes, he is improving as he finds a comfort level in the offense. But it was still the Denver defense. Also, it's funny to hear people opine about Rodney Harrison now that his career is likely over. Here's my take: yes he was a great player and I do think he should eventually - maybe Veteran's Association - make it into the HOF. But the guy was one of the dirtiest, cheapest, chippiest players I've ever seen. He was an absolute scumbag and he was the type of player that did try to intentionally injure the opponent. He is not "a great guy". He is a dick. But he could play ball.
15. Jacksonville Jaguars (3-3) -This is a big week for the Jaguars, who were able to restore some key pieces to their offensive line over the last two weeks. The home team is 0-4 ATS in their series with the Browns. Losing Matt Jones for three games is also just about the worst thing that could happen to this offense. He is their leading wideout and really has been the only reliable target for David Garrard this year.
16. Green Bay Packers (4-3) -Greg Jennings has to get some MVP love. The guy is just dominating people. It's a good thing the Packers have off this week. Mike McCarthy's wife gave birth to a baby girl this week (congrats) and there is no way that his head is 100 percent into football right now.
17. Indianapolis Colts (3-3) -Indy suffered the largest drop of any team this week, mainly because were it not for a total collapse by Houston and another by Minnesota the Colts would be 1-5 right now. The Colts are 5-0 ATS in their last five games on Monday Night Football but they are just 3-9 ATS in their last 12 divisional games.
18. Denver Broncos (4-3) -Just remember who was the first one off the Broncos bandwagon. I've been saying for five weeks that this team isn't that good and I've cashed against them for four straight weeks. But here is the rub: now it's time to buy low on this team. Despite their deficiencies the Broncos are in the hunt in the AFC West. Leading the charge, in fact. I think that Mike Shanahan will do some tinkering over the bye week and get this team back on the right track.
19. Minnesota Vikings (3-4) - Free agent pickup Madeiu Williams will make his first start on the other side of the bye week for Minnesota. That can only help what has been one of the worst pass defenses in the NFL over the past two years. But the biggest problem for the Vikings is that they are sloppy. They have the third-most giveaways in the league (15) and the sixth-most penalties (49). Hate to point to the coaching again, but it always starts at the top.
20. New York Jets (3-3) -I don't know about you but I don't want any part of the Jets laying double-digits to anyone, anywhere, in the NFL. If they can't handle the Raiders then what's to say they are going to overwhelm the Chiefs? This game always has a bit more meaning because of the Herm Factor, and the Chiefs have covered six of eight in this series. Apart from their 56-point eruption against Arizona, the Favre-led Jets offense is averaging just 19.6 points per game.
21. Baltimore Ravens (3-3) -This weekend is a big game for Joe Flacco, who has looked strong in his first season under the helm. The Ravens are big favorites for the first time this year and they are expected to roll over an inferior opponent. It's a different mindset being the underdog, and now Flacco has to thrive on the confidence of knowing you are better than your opponent. Also, there is a developing rift between John Harbaugh and Chris McAllister, who was benched last week. Keep an eye on that one.
22. Houston Texans (2-4) -Still love the Texans. Built my fantasy team around Matt Schaub and Andre Johnson and everything. But for the Texans to be laying these huge numbers to fellow third- and fourth-tier teams is crazy. Houston can't stop anyone on defense, as evidenced by the fact that they are 28th in the league in yards per play against. Tough to lay big numbers to teams when you can't stop people.
23. New Orleans Saints (3-4) -Losing Reggie Bush is obviously a big blow to this offense. However, they managed to put up points without him last year, averaging 28.3 points in the four games that he missed. The Saints will certainly miss him in the return game, but I actually think that their rushing attack will be more potent without the pussy-footing scat back. Also, the return of Shockey and Colston should help mitigate his loss in the passing game. The Saints really need to pick it up on the back seven of their defense if they have any chance of getting back into the NFC South race.
24. Miami Dolphins (2-4) - Losing Jason Ferguson is a really tough blow for this defense. He is the fulcrum of the 3-4 and the Fins really don't have anyone on the roster to replace him. There are some free agents on the market that are worth a look (Anthony McFarland and Ed Johnson come to mind). In Miami's two wins this year they have averaged nearly 192 yards rushing per game. In their four losses they've managed just 77 per. Miami is a pathetic 6-22-2 ATS against the AFC East, 11-29-2 ATS at home, and is 0-7-1 ATS in its last eight games against the Bills.
25. San Francisco 49ers (2-5) -As much hype that has been made about the Mike Martz offense, the Niners are only converting 28 percent of their third downs. Mike Singletary is certainly talking a big game since taking over in San Fran, telling players to get ready to order playoff tickets. But if they lose at home this weekend it could be a death knell for the season. The Niners are just 4-10 ATS in their last 14 home games.
26. Oakland Raiders (2-4) -After dumping nearly 65 percent of their games over the last five years the Raiders have covered three of five. Sorry, I'm still not buying. Especially with JaMarcus Russell under center right now. He is just not an NFL-caliber quarterback at the moment. The Raiders also fit into the dreaded West-to-East subgroup. This year those PST teams playing at 1 p.m. EST are 0-8 overall and 1-7 ATS. Their number versus the Ravens couldn't be high enough.
27. St. Louis Rams (2-4) -I have dogged this team all year - and they deserved it - but wins at Washington and over Dallas are impressive. But to show how uncompetitive they were through their first four games, even after their wins the Rams have still been outscored by an average of two touchdowns per game. As bad as the Rams have been on the road, they are actually 5-4 ATS on grass since 2006. Respectable. Keep an eye on Donnie Avery. I think that kid is going to be a very good wideout in this league.
28. Cleveland Browns (2-4) -How did anyone expect much different from Kellen Winslow? He's been a prick since the day he entered the league and his performance on the field hasn't come anywhere near the distractions he's caused off of it. But as much as I've dogged the Browns, they are still 14-4 ATS in their last 18 games and are 8-2 ATS following a loss.
29. Seattle Seahawks (1-5) -By some odd coincidence - or perhaps not - the Seahawks are just 5-21 ATS in their last 26 October games. They are notorious slow starters. But they are still 6-1 ATS in their last seven games against the NFC West. The good scheduling news for Seattle is that they have just one more trip to the East Coast (at Miami in Week 10). The bad news is that Miami and St. Louis are the only teams that the Seahawks will play after this week that don't have at least a .500 record. A loss this week and it's over for the Seabirds.
30. Kansas City Chiefs (1-5) -Only this year is it possible that the Chiefs aren't the worst team in the league. This team has become completely non-competitive. The Larry Johnson Situation is yet another example of a troubling trend - star players on bad teams quitting before the halfway point because they know their team sucks. LJ, suck it up and play, dude. Maybe you aren't any good and it was just that mammoth line that made you a player? That he is just now becoming disgusted with himself - he has had four prior accusations of abuse towards women - is even more disturbing.
31. Detroit Lions (0-6) -You gotta be wary of betting against winless teams. Even teams with no pride, like the Lions here. Dan Orlovsky is awful. I mean, he is just dreadful. At least half of his passes aren't even close to his wideouts. That has nothing to do with being familiar in the offense - that just means you aren't accurate and you suck. Detroit is losing the time of possession battle by an average of 35 minutes to 25 minutes.
32. Cincinnati Bengals (0-7) -It wasn't big news on any of the major networks or anything, but the loss of Keith Rivers is a huge one for the Bengals, and was the result of a dirty hit by Pittsburgh wideout Hines Ward. Keep that little nugget in mind when these two teams meet again. Still no Carson Palmer this week, and the Bengals could even be targeting their Week 10 bye as an injury oasis for their QB. The Bungles are just 2-5 ATS this year.