NFL Power Rankings Week 10
by Robert Ferringo - 11/11/2009
Here is a look at my Doc's Sports NFL Power Rankings:
1. New Orleans Saints (8-0) - I have no idea what it's going to take to beat this team. They were getting rocked by Carolina and Miami and ended up winning both games by double digits. Wow. One thing I don't understand, though, is why teams aren't milking the clock - letting the play clock run down to two or three seconds before each snap - from the opening kickoff. It's like running the four corners in hoops against a superior foe. This Saints group has the look of the 1999 Rams.
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2. Minnesota Vikings (7-1) - Don't look for Antoine Winfield to suit up this week for the Vikings. He is too important to their defense to rush him back, especially against the Lions. Minnesota was down 10-0 against Detroit in the first meeting and I'm sure that Brad Childress has been using that as motivation this week. Vikings are 6-2-1 ATS in their last nine games against the Lions. Vikes are 2-0 ATS as a double-digit favorite this year.
3. Indianapolis Colts (8-0) - Another close home win over a sub-.500 team is still making me very wary of this Colts club. Indianapolis has had the clear upper hand in the last several years against the Patriots. They are 4-1 SU and 4-1 ATS in the last five meetings, dating back to November of 2005. But I just wonder how long they can keep limping along with that banged up secondary this season. Indy has played just one team with a winning record this year (at Arizona) and they are just 2-6-1 ATS in their last nine against a team with a winning record.
4. Pittsburgh Steelers (6-2) - I thought that one of the biggest things to come out of Pittsburgh's Monday Night Football win was the fact that Troy Polamalu looked like he was fully recovered from the early-season knee injury. Big Ben is completing an amazing 70 percent of his passes this year, which is incredible considering the schedule they've played and the fact that they have played just one game indoors. Big difference from the first meeting with Cincy: Rashard Mendenhall's emergence.
5. New England Patriots (6-2) - The underdog has been the play in the last five meetings between the Pats and the Colts. The puppy is a sensational 11-3-1 ATS in the last 15 matchups. However, the dog has only won one of the last eight meetings outright. Tom Brady is 7-3 ATS against Peyton Manning and the Pats are 8-3 ATS in their last 11 games in Indy. Also, the last two meetings - and four of six - have stayed 'under' the total. Also, when you compare schedules this year it's not even close that the Patriots have played a significantly better slate. And against common opponents the Pats have outperformed the Colts at every step.
6. Denver Broncos (6-2) - In my mind there is no shame in losing to Baltimore and Pittsburgh in the last two weeks. Both of those games were much closer than the final score would indicate, with some late touchdowns really padding the margin. But this week is really a critical game because the Broncos need to stop the bleeding and can't afford to lose to a clearly inferior team. Also, if San Diego wins at home against Philly and Denver loses against the Redskins, thoughts of last year's collapse are inevitably going to start creeping in.
7. Philadelphia Eagles (6-3) - Ellis Hobbs out. The Eagles are 4-13-1 SU in games decided by seven points or less over the last three years. I have also predicted that Brian Westbrook would miss each of the last two games and he has. I don't think he plays this week either. I don't fully understand why the Eagles continued to blitz in obvious blitz situations last week (third-and-seven or third-and-nine) when A) they were getting a ton of pressure with their front four and B) the Cowboys were obviously prepared for it.
8. Cincinnati Bengals (6-2) - Incredibly, the Bengals have a chance to go to 4-0 against the Steelers and Ravens this year if they win in Pittsburgh this Sunday. The road team is 11-4-1 ATS in the last 16 meetings But the Bengals are just 1-4 ATS in the last five meetings and only twice since 2005 (10 meetings) have the Bengals stayed within a touchdown of the Steelers. Granted, this may be their best team in the last five years. But Pitt has revenge and is 7-2 ATS at home.
9. Baltimore Ravens (4-4) - The player to keep an eye on this week is Haloti Ngata. I have long felt that the mammoth defensive tackle is the key player on Baltimore's defense and his absence against the Bengals was glaring. I haven't been able to find out much news about his status for Monday night, but if he doesn't play that changes some things. And here is what drives me nuts about the bobblehead media - his status in the game is about 25 times more important than whether Brady Quinn or Derek Anderson start at quarterback for Cleveland. Yet what is getting all of the coverage?
10. Dallas Cowboys (6-2) - I'm still not buying in. How many times over the last four years have the Cowboys won a game that made everyone think that "this is the year" or "this is the team" or "maybe Wade and Romo have figured it out". Well, I've seen it too many times. That win over Philly - which was severely aided by some shaky officiating - was the only significant win of Dallas' season. Let everyone else buy in to The Boys. I'll still fade away. (Kind of like Notre Dame!) Dallas has dominated the last two meetings (in 2007 and 2008) with the Packers and the favorite is a gaudy 7-1 ATS in the last eight matchups.
11. Arizona Cardinals (5-3) - The Cards were 12-4 at home in Ken Whisenhunt's first two years at the helm but are, shockingly, just 1-3 at home this season. I think a big part of that is focus by the players. Arizona is a great underdog and great "don't doubt us" team. But when they are favored or when things are expected of them they underachieve and they play bad football. That game at Seattle maybe wasn't as big of a blowout as it seemed. Seattle allowed a TD, fumbled the kickoff, and then allowed another TD, falling behind 14-0 just three minutes into the game.
12. Atlanta Falcons (5-3) - This week is a critical game for the Falcons and their Wild Card chances. Fortunately it's against a franchise that they have absolutely owned. Atlanta is 16-7-3 ATS in the last 26 games against Carolina and they are 3-1 ATS in the last four matchups. I still have a lot of faith in this team and I think that they will make a late push for that sixth playoff spot.
13. New York Giants (5-4) - I don't know if any team in the NFL has needed a bye week as badly as the Giants needed theirs this week. I am going to pile on a little bit: I was stunned that this team didn't pound a soft Chargers team into smithereens (there is a word you don't hear enough) with their ground game. But 33 passes against 11 rushes for Brandon Jacobs is a joke.
14. San Diego Chargers (5-3) - The home team is 6-1 in this series going back to 1985. The Chargers are taking nearly 65 percent of all bets in this game, which seems like an awful high number considering that San Diego has only beaten Oakland (twice), Kansas City and Miami this year. The Chargers are just 4-9 ATS as a favorite.
15. Green Bay Packers (4-4) - The cries for Mike McCarthy's job are getting louder and louder in Green Bay. Of course, it doesn't help that the Vikings are in the situation that they are in, just rubbing it in The Pack's face. But Green Bay can shuffle around linemen all it likes. The bottom line is that their offensive line is one of the four or five worst in football and there is simply nothing that they can do about it. Having that level of instability at the point of attack makes it impossible for bettors to trust this team or for them to be consistent.
16. Houston Texans (5-4) - How will the Texans handle a potential letdown of losing at Indianapolis last week? How Gary Kubiak handles that potential season-altering situation (do they rally and make a push at the Wild Card or sulk and make a beeline for .500) will, to me, tell me if he deserves to stick around after this year.
17. Miami Dolphins (3-5) - And the tough beats just go on and on for the Dolphins. Fortunately they have remained pretty strong at the window. But they keep coming up short in tough games. Consider that three of their losses have come against Indy (in a game that they outplayed the Colts), at San Diego (in what was a three-point game late in the third quarter) and at New England in another tight one. Make no mistake: this is a very strong football team. Also, if I'm not on the record yet, put me down as being a believer that Chad Henne will be a solid pro. Miami is 14-36-1 ATS at home.
18. New York Jets (4-4) - I'm a bit surprised that the Jets are as heavy a favorite (laying a full touchdown) against the Jaguars this week. This Jets team is mediocre, and is just 2-4 with wins over awful Oakland and terrible Tennessee since late-September. Jets players had a full six days off during the bye week. It will be interesting to see if that gives them a little spring back in their steps or if it leads to them being rusty and slow to get going in the first half this week.
19. Chicago Bears (4-4) - This team isn't nearly as good as it looked in a 30-6 win over Cleveland but they aren't nearly as bad as they looked in that debacle against Arizona last Sunday. The fact of the matter is that this team is just weak in too many critical areas - offensive line and secondary being the two most glaring.
20. San Francisco 49ers (3-5) - I thought that going to Alex Smith in the Houston game was a bold move by Mike Singletary. I was a fan of it. But I think that sticking with him is a mistake. This team was better when Shaun Hill was managing the game, Frank Gore was pounding the rock, and the defense was flying around the ball. Smith had four turnovers last week against the Titans and that was a huge reason why San Fran lost that game. They have gone from a team to play on to a team to fade, in my opinion, in part because of the change under center.
21. Buffalo Bills (3-5) - Terrell Owens hasn't practiced this week with an undisclosed hip injury and safety Donte Whitner is unlikely to suit up on Sunday for the Bills either. Buffalo got rocked by the Titans this year in the Hall of Fame Game to open the preseason. I would have to say it's really been all downhill for both teams since that game. Buffalo is 6-1 ATS in its last seven road games and 26-9-1 ATS against a team with a losing record. Also, the Bills special teams got embarrassed in the preseason meeting. Look for an inspired effort from that group.
22. Carolina Panthers (3-5) - The home team in the Atlanta-Carolina series has won three straight. But despite that little run the visitor is still 5-3 SU and ATS in the last eight meetings. This game will come down to whether or not Carolina can exploit Atlanta's weakness in the secondary. But that means (gulp) putting the game in the hands of Jake Delhomme. Carolina is 3-7 ATS as a dog and 2-5 ATS as a home dog.
23. Jacksonville Jaguars (4-4) - I know that the Jaguars are lingering somewhere in between The Abyss of sucky teams in the bottom tier of the NFL and the legit playoff contenders that are lining up to play serious games in December. But I am still lukewarm on this team. The Jags are on an 0-4 ATS slide despite going 2-2 SU in their last four games. They have covered five straight against the Jets dating back to 1999 but they are just 2-8 ATS after a win.
24. Seattle Seahawks (3-5) - Nate Burleson guaranteed victory for his Seahawks this week against Arizona. Seeing as Seattle A) got wiped out at home the last time they played the Cards and B) needed a big comeback against Detroit (yes, the Lions) to get a win last week. It is obvious that Jim Mora has forsaken his rushing game and will look to throw the ball 40-plus times per game from here on out. It makes sense; his quarterback and wideouts are the strength of the team. But incomplete passes stop the clock and this team should consistently lose the time of possession battle, further exposing their shorthanded defense.
25. Tennessee Titans (2-6) - It's just way, way too easy to look at the Titans and say, "Hey, they are 2-0 SU and ATS with Vince Young at quarterback. He's doing a great job and they should have gone to him sooner." The Titans have played a much weaker schedule since going to VY and that Niners game was a bit closer than the score would indicate. The Titans are a dreadful 15-36 ATS as a home favorite of between 3.5 and 10.0.
26. Washington Redskins (2-6) - Fred Smoot is going to move over to safety to compensate for the loss of Chris Horton. This should make the 'Skins vulnerable deep and I expect teams that have a hard time moving the ball against the front seven to take some shots down the field. The spread on their game with a clearly superior Denver team is surprisingly low (Redskins +3.5) and that may be an indicator that something strange is afoot.
27. Oakland Raiders (2-6) - I don't care if they win by 50 - if anyone lays points with the Raiders this weekend they are high. Oakland is 5-18 ATS as a favorite and they are 0-9 ATS as a home chalk.
28. Cleveland Browns (1-7) - Does it make a difference to you who is under center for this team? It certainly doesn't to me. And I know this week a lot of people are referencing last year's somewhat surprising and inspired win on Monday Night Football at home over the Giants. But last year's team was something that this year's club isn't - competitive.
29. Detroit Lions (1-7) - I rest my case on Matthew Stafford. As long as the Lions start him under center they are telling me that they really don't care if they win or lose. Detroit is 8-17-1 ATS in their last 26 divisional games.
30. Kansas City Chiefs (1-7) - Don't be deceived by the final score in Jacksonville - that game was much uglier than it appeared. Before garbage time drives of 71 and 68 yards, the Jaguars had outgained the Chiefs around 420 to 170 and outrushed them by a 3-to-1 margin. The road team is a stellar 18-7-1 ATS in the last 26 games between the Chiefs and Raiders and the road team is 5-0 ATS. Kansas City is a sweet 6-0 ATS in its last six trips to Oakland and the 'under' is 8-1 in the last nine in this series.
31. St. Louis Rams (1-7) - Normally teams that won prior to their bye week that are instilled as underdogs are a strong situational play. But I'm going to go ahead and say that the Rams aren't going to do what eight other teams haven't this year and beat the Saints. Also, this line (Rams are 13.5-point underdogs) strikes me as a bit low. The Rams are 6-18 ATS at home and they are 9-23 ATS against a team with a winning record. They have already lost games by 38, 28, 35, 19 and 28 this season so it's not like they are immune to blowouts.
32. Tampa Bay Bucs (1-7) - Mark it down - Sammie Stroughter is going to be a very good player in the NFL for a long time. I will also say that, at least for one week, I was wrong about Josh Freeman. He looked pretty feisty in (and out of) the pocket last week. However, I still question his decision-making ability and I will still be looking for spots to fade him. Tampa and Miami have played in the preseason every year since 2001 and the 'under' is 7-3 in the last 10 matchups. But, again, that's the preseason.
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