NFL Power Rankings Week 12
by Robert Ferringo - 11/25/2009
Here is a look at my Doc's Sports NFL Power Rankings:
1. New Orleans Saints (10-0) - The Saints have to be favored in this week's Monday Night Football matchup with New England. But this may be one of the situations where the books are kind of pinned against a rock. They have to make the Saints the favorite even though the Patriots have been getting better and better each week while the Saints seem to have regressed. New Orleans is just 1-2 against the total - each of which was over 50.0 - in the last three weeks.
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2. Minnesota Vikings (9-1) - The home team is 7-2 ATS in the last nine meetings with Chicago. And the Vikings managed to deal a much better Bears team a 20-point beating in the Metrodome last December. But the Vikings are just 1-8 ATS as a double-digit favorite, with the one cover coming last week against broken down Seattle.
3. Indianapolis Colts (10-0) - It doesn't matter how you win, but that you win in the NFL. But their season is starting to remind me a bit of Tennessee's last year where they just continuously won the close games. We know how that ended for the Titans in the playoffs. Five of their last six games against the Texans have been determined by six points or less and the Colts are just 2-4 ATS in those games. But the Texans really haven't had time to "build up" for this game and are coming off the heartbreaking MNF defeat, so the momentum edge is clearly in Indy's favor. Indianapolis is also 5-0 ATS on the road this year.
4. New England Patriots (7-3) - The main thing that the Patriots have going for them this weekend is that they have played in an incredible amount of these "big games" over the last decade, while all of this hype and excitement is a little new to the Saints. I also feel like this is a potential redemption moment for the Pats after blowing that lead in Indianapolis two weeks ago. Here they are again, on a national stage, as an underdog against a "better" team, and I think that they will want to make a statement. New England has been a putrid 5-12-1 ATS after an ATS win but they are also 5-2-1 ATS as an underdog.
5. Pittsburgh Steelers (6-4) - Anyone that knows the Steelers well knows that Ben Roethlisberger is a drama queen. He just is. He nurses and milks every "injury". I'm not saying that he didn't get his bell rung against the Chiefs. But all of the speculation this week about if he'll play and how effective he'll be is, to me, ridiculous. He's going to play, he's going to play well, and anyone that's suggesting that he won't/shouldn't is just kidding themselves.
6. Cincinnati Bengals (7-3) - No matter what their record is, there's just no way that you can feel comfortable laying points with the Bengals. Marvin Lewis is simply not a good enough coach and Cincinnati is just not familiar or comfortable playing that role. A sprained MCL for Domata Peko is a big deal for this defense. Anyone who reads this consistently knows that Peko is one of my favorite players in the NFL. He really is a fulcrum for that front seven and if he misses any significant time that's trouble.
7. San Diego Chargers (7-3) - Chargers dominated the Chiefs in Kansas City last month in the game that really got their recent run started. San Diego just continues to dominate the AFC West, going 23-10-3 ATS in their last 36 divisional games. But after a satisfying win at Denver you have to wonder how seriously the Bolts will take the sorry Chiefs.
8. Baltimore Ravens (5-5) - If you believe that you are who your record says you are than the Ravens should be about 10 slots lower in these NFL power rankings. But three of their last four losses have come against Indy, Minnesota and Cincinnati - all likely playoff teams - and those three losses have all been by three points or less. Their schedule is just brutal and has just been killing this team. Other than a pair of games against Cleveland the Ravens haven't played a team that currently has a losing record since hosting the Chiefs in Week 1. The home team in the Pittsburgh series is 8-2 SU and the underdog is 6-3 ATS. The Ravens will likely be both (home and dogged) this weekend.
9. Philadelphia Eagles (6-4) - In three of the last four years the team that has won the first game of the Eagles-Redskins series has won the second game. Philly is 3-1 ATS this year as a favorite of nine points or more.
10. Dallas Cowboys (7-3) - Much like the Cowboys kind of fluked/squeaked out a win over Kansas City on the road earlier this year they managed to bumble their way to a win over the putrid Redskins last week. Doesn't impress me. The Cowboys actually faced Oakland in their first preseason game this year and got absolutely manhandled 31-10. I know that it's only preseason, but just throwing it out there.
11. Arizona Cardinals (7-3) - Kurt Warner's concussion issue is likely going to be a game-time decision, and that is why the Cards are off the board. But, just like with Roethlisberger, I'll be stunned if Warner doesn't play. People that are all up in arms about the NFL's concussion problem and who are clamoring for Warner and Big Ben to sit just have no idea what this game is all about and what the reality of the situation is. Even with Warner, I'll be surprised if the Cards aren't dogged against the surging Titans.
12. New York Giants (6-4) - Both Thursday night games so far this year have stayed 'under' the total, and have been some of the only nationally televised games to do so this year. But can the Giants stop anyone anymore? Can we even consider going on an 'under' with that garbage secondary, no matter who is starting for the Broncos? The Giants are 0-5 ATS in their last five games overall, but 22-6 ATS on the road.
13. Denver Broncos (6-4) - Once again, I know that it's easy to look at Denver's 32-3 loss last week against the Chargers and just assume that they got their asses kicked. But that game was 13-3 late in the third quarter with Chris "Silver Spoon" Simms having the type of day that one can expect from Chris Simms. Then Denver decided a ridiculous onsides kick, didn't recover, and San Diego immediately scored to make it 20-3. So with a healthy Kyle Orton (amazing how everyone still doubts what this guy can do) that's a whole different game. And that's the trouble right now - there is just way too much of a drop-off between Orton and Simms to play this game without knowing who will start. Once again, I think we'll see some Orton on Thursday. If he was good enough to play Sunday he should be good enough to play Thursday. But I say that you have to lean on the Giants against Simms until you hear otherwise. Denver is 8-3-1 ATS as a dog.
14. Atlanta Falcons (5-5) - A once promising season is now on life support. But the Falcons aren't dead yet. They have four of their next five games at home, along with road games at the Jets and at Tampa Bay. So nine wins is very probable. The question is whether that will be enough. Atlanta is 4-0 ATS at the Georgia Dome this year. But a fast start is critical this week and they need to avoid a letdown from their tough loss in New York last week. The favorite is 5-1 ATS in the last six meetings and the Falcons are an incredible 11-1 ATS following a loss.
15. Green Bay Packers (6-4) - The road team in the Packers-Lions series is just 7-17-1 ATS in the last 25 meetings. That said, Green Bay is 6-1 ATS in the last seven overall and 4-1 ATS in their last five trips to Motown. Also, they are 16-7-1 ATS on the road, 8-3 ATS in divisional games, and 9-4 ATS as a road chalk. Green Bay did lose as a 9.5-point favorite at Tampa Bay earlier this month, but that game was a complete and total fluke. The Packers hammered Detroit 26-0 in the first meeting and won as a road favorite (36-17) at St. Louis.
16. Houston Texans (5-5) - Every time it looks like Houston might be ready to turn the corner they just come up short. So if you're expecting them to come back from that deflating Monday Night Football loss and be able to handle Indianapolis I think you're in for a surprise.
17. Miami Dolphins (5-5) - The Dolphins are just 1-4 ATS in their last five trips to Buffalo but they are also 4-1 ATS in the last five matchups with the Bills overall. It was odd to see how Miami's relationship with Matt Roth (cut) came to an end. I think that Roth is a heavy hitter and has a chance to be a really good linebacker in the NFL. He reminds me a bit of a better Monte Beisel/Matt Wilheim. Dolphins are a terrible 7-23 ATS as a favorite so be wary of laying the points this week.
18. Tennessee Titans (4-6) - It's déjà vu all over again. In 2006 we saw Vince Young step in and the Titans went on a sick 10-1 ATS run that featured an amazing seven-game ATS winning streak. That included a 8-2 SU winning run in which the Titans won a plethora of tight games, with seven of the eight victories by a touchdown or less. Well, here comes Vince and now the Titans have won four straight, covered four straight, and two of the wins were by a touchdown or less. I don't know if you want to jump on this train but I certainly know that you don't want to bet against them.
19. Jacksonville Jaguars (6-4) - I know, I know: how can I have a 6-4 team ranked behind four other teams with worse records? Well, try because their best win this year was at Houston in a game where they were one-yard from going to overtime. The Jaguars have not beaten a team with a winning record this year and are just 1-3 ATS in their last four wins. Oh, and of those six wins that have come against crappy teams, their last four have all been by three points or less. They got rocked 41-0 in their last trip to the West Coast, so we'll see if they are a little more prepared this time around.
20. Chicago Bears (4-6) - Well let's see, the Bears secondary can't stop anyone so the Vikings should be able to carve them up. And since no one can stop the Vikings rushing attack the Bears don't stand much of a chance there either. Oh, and then that Vikings front four should chew up Chicago's awful offensive line. Other than that, the Bears are in good shape this weekend. They are 1-6 ATS on the road and 1-8 ATS as an underdog, but have covered four straight as a double-digit dog.
21. San Francisco 49ers (4-6) - The indicator for me here is that San Francisco has a worse record but is favored over visiting Jacksonville this week. San Fran is 10-3-2 ATS in its last 15 games and they have really run through a tricky little gauntlet over the last two months.
22. Carolina Panthers (4-6) - The Panthers were once an automatic play as a road underdog. However, it looks like John Fox is losing some of that magic as the Panthers are just 4-9 ATS as a road dog recently. That said, they are a solid 10-4 ATS following a loss and this week may be a last-gasp attempt not only at saving a lost season but maybe saving Fox's job.
23. New York Jets (4-6) - I will admit that the Jets probably should be rated higher on this list. Four of their last five losses were by five points or less, and they have played a decent schedule. But they were the most overrated team in the NFL after the first few weeks of the year and now things are settling in. The Jets still have the No. 2 rushing attack and No. 5 overall defense in the NFL and I think that they will be a tough dog the rest of the year. But I'm not sure how I feel about laying points with a team that's 1-6 ATS in its last seven.
24. Buffalo Bills (3-7) - This team won't roll over and die over the last month of the season. They just won't. If anything, this is the time of the year where the Bills win four of six games and give their fan base an inflated sense of hope heading into the off-season while also masking just how horrific of a season this team has had. Also, the Bills have completely lost what had been one of the top home field advantages in the NFL. They are just 1-8 ATS in their last nine games in Orchard Park. The home team is 4-1 ATS in this series, but the Bills were outrushed 251-46 in the first meeting in Miami and I don't see where they have fixed those issues.
25. Seattle Seahawks (3-7) - The Seahawks have won an amazing nine straight games in what, earlier this decade, was looking like one of the next really entertaining NFL rivalries. Not so much. Seahawks are 5-0 ATS in their last five against the Rams, and that includes a 23-20 win in their last trip to St. Louis. In that game, Seattle had the lead for exactly three seconds - after Josh Brown's game-winning field goal. The question this week is how much pride the Seahawks have left. If they don't have much, they lose this game outright.
26. Kansas City Chiefs (3-7) - Look who has suddenly become one of the best bets in the NFL. I had a feeling that this team was going to be spry this year and right now they are undergoing what Bill Simmons has tabbed the "Ewing Theory". Not sure if Dwayne Bowe or Larry Johnson are good enough to qualify, but it's clear that the losses of K.C.'s two best players has really galvanized this team. They are 9-1 ATS as a DD dog, 5-1 ATS in their last six overall, 14-6 ATS on the road, and the underdog is 11-5-1 ATS in the last 17 Chiefs-Chargers matchups.
27. Washington Redskins (3-7) - The Redskins outgained the Eagles in the first meeting, yet still managed to lose by 10 points. Washington is still really a tough team to figure out. They are 4-2 ATS as a dog this year, but just 2-2 in their last four catching points. So it's not like they are automatic there. This is yet another divisional matchup this weekend where the dog has dominated recently, going 5-1 ATS. Also, the 'under' is 8-3-1 in the last 12 meetings and 4-1 in the last five matchup in Philadelphia. Washington is really banged up coming into this game, and will be without Chris Cooley, a starting OG, DeAngelo Hall, and now Ladell Betts.
28. Cleveland Browns (1-9) - The underdog in the Browns-Bengals series is 5-0 ATS and 6-2 ATS in the last eight. Last week the Browns played just their second game against a non-winning, non-playoff competing team (Chicago was "in the hunt" at the time of that game) and Cleveland is 2-0 ATS in those games. They actually outrushed and outgained Cincinnati in the first meeting.
29. Detroit Lions (2-8) - As I'm sure you've guessed, things have been ugly for the Lions lately on Thanksgiving. They have lost their last five appearances by an average of 22.8 points per game and have lost each of those contests by at least 17 points. Detroit is also just 3-11 ATS at home, and if they can get lit up for 37 by the Browns offense then Aaron Rodgers could hit them for 70. No Matt Stafford this week for the Lions, and yet again this team is realizing the dangers of starting a rookie quarterback behind one of the worst lines in football.
30. St. Louis Rams (1-9) - Marc Bulger has likely taken his last snaps in a Rams uniform and now it looks like we're all in to enjoy the Kyle Boller Experience. The Rams are 0-3 ATS in the three games that Boller has seen action this year, being outscored 109-27. To be fair, those three games were against the Vikings, Niners and Packers. The Rams are 8-18 ATS in their last 26 games.
31. Tampa Bay Bucs (1-9) - I couldn't be more irritated at myself for not going right back against Tampa Bay last week. They had absolutely no business covering spreads against Green Bay and Miami in their two previous weeks. They are 7-2 ATS in their last nine trips to Atlanta, but those numbers were definitely from different teams at different times.
32. Oakland Raiders (3-7) - Still have nothing good to say about this franchise. I don't think that they have the worst talent in the NFL. I think they are about No. 25. But they are permanently listed at No. 32 in these Power Rankings until Al Davis, um, steps down. I will just point out - yet again - that I have said in this space at least three times this year that if the Raiders had gone with Bruce Gradkowski or Charlie Frye (or Jeff Garcia) at the start of the year they would at least be a .500 team right now. However, the Raiders are 5-12 ATS in their last 17 games after covering a spread. I'm sizing them up for yet another national humiliation on Thanksgiving day.
Robert Ferringo is a professional handicapper and you can purchase a full season's package of his football selections for just $25 per week! Click here for details.