NFL Power Rankings Week 7
by Robert Ferringo - 10/22/2009
Here is a look at my Doc's Sports Power Rankings:
1. Minnesota Vikings (6-0) - The underdog is 7-2 ATS when the Vikings and Steelers get together with the road team winning three straight. However, I believe this may be a legit letdown spot for the Vikings after barely holding off the Ravens. That said, Minnesota has been outgained in three straight games - all wins and a 2-1 ATS run - and that's an indicator that things are slowing. Also, on the road against three awful teams (St. Louis, Detroit, Cleveland) the Vikings are 3-0 ATS but probably shouldn't be. They were losing to Cleveland at halftime, they were down 10-0 to Detroit, and three fumbles (one returned for a TD and two inside the 10-yard line) stymied St. Louis. Also, the Vikes will be without Pro Bowler Antone Winfield this week.
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2. New Orleans Saints (5-0) - Be careful this week. The Saints had two weeks to prep for the Giants game and you could tell. And next week they have a huge game with division rival Atlanta. Now this week they go off surface, on the road, to face a playoff team coming off a bye that is fighting for its season. This is the quintessential Letdown/Look Ahead Situation in Miami. The thing is, I'm not sure that New Orleans isn't that good that they can't punch their way through and cover the spread.
3. Indianapolis Colts (5-0) - I have to say that I'm stunned that the Colts are in this spot right now. I just didn't see them losing all of the pieces that they have and still being dominant. The Colts are just 10-10 ATS after a week of rest but they are a solid 3-1 ATS as a road favorite off an extra week of prep.
4. New York Giants (5-1) - New Orleans absolutely tore up the Giants secondary and now the G-Men have to lock up with Kurt Warner, Larry Fitzgerald, and Anquan Boldin on Sunday Night Football. As you would expect, the Giants have been a great bounce-back team. They are 6-1-1 ATS after an ATS loss and they are 7-2-1 ATS after a SU loss. Giants are also 6-2-1 ATS at home and 18-7-1 ATS as a favorite.
5. Denver Broncos (6-0) - Yeah, I'm an idiot. I should have been a big believer three weeks ago. This team can move the ball multiple ways on offense and their defense is completely legit. Heading into the fourth quarter on Monday the Broncos had allowed teams to go just 2-for-30 on third down in the second half this year. I mean, that is just staggering.
6. Pittsburgh Steelers (4-2) - Don't completely overlook the Mike Tomlin vs. His Old Team angle this week. He essentially built the foundation of the defense that the Vikings use right now so he should be able to attack it. However, how Max Starks holds up against Jared Allen is going to go a long way to determining who wins this game. Pittsburgh is the favorite on the betting board but I think they are clearly the underdogs in terms of public perception going up against Brett Favre and the unbeaten Vikings. Steelers are 7-2 ATS against a team with a winning record and 6-2 ATS at Heinz Field.
7. New England Patriots (4-2) - I don't think that New England is going to lose or fail to cover a spread in Foxboro this year. Call it a hunch. Dating back to the middle of the 2007 season the Patriots are just 4-11 ATS as a favorite of 9.0 or more. That includes a 2-8 mark to close 2007, a 1-3 mark in 2008, and a 1-0 mark so far this year after their domination of Tennessee last week. Brady decimated a weak Tennessee secondary last week. Now he is facing an even worse one in Tampa this week.
8. Philadelphia Eagles (4-2) - It might not have made big waves, but Philadelphia picking up Will Witherspoon from St. Louis this week was a big deal for this club. Since losing Stewart Bradley in the preseason this team has been looking for answers at the linebacker slot. And losing Omar Gaither for the year to a broken foot puts their need for production at critical. Spoon is a pro's pro that can get the job done.
9. Atlanta Falcons (4-1) - I can't say enough how big the loss of Brian Williams is for this defense. He had filled Lawyer Malloy's vacated veteran/leader role in the secondary this year and was a guy that just made a ton of plays. At the start of the year Williams was on my list of most underrated players in the NFL. The Falcons' bend-but-don't-break Tampa-2 is completely dependent on defensive playmakers getting it done in the red zone and Atlanta had no one better in the back four than Williams.
10. Cincinnati Bengals (4-2) - Well, something's gotta give. The Bears are 1-6 ATS as an underdog and 0-5-1 ATS as a road dog. But the Bengals are just 1-6 ATS as a favorite and 1-6 ATS as a home favorite. In reviewing the tape of last week's loss to Houston I have to say, other than their inability on short third downs in the second half, Cincinnati played pretty well. Yes, they gave up 472 yards to the Texans. But one-quarter of those yards (120) came on three big plays. If you negate those breakdowns the Bengals actually held the Texans nearly a full yard under their average yards per play for the season.
11. Baltimore Ravens (3-3) - Not sure how they got here, but all of a sudden that curious game against Kansas City to open the game is looking a little prescient, eh? Baltimore's defense is simply not even close to being the same animal. Their linebackers have been pretty poor and other than Ed Reed the secondary is subpar. I'm not going to kill this team for losing on a missed field goal at Minnesota and a dropped pass at New England. But the bottom line is that this team is 3-3 now and needs to get it together quickly.
12. Green Bay Packers (3-2) - I'm sorry. I hate to be a broken record here. But that offensive line is probably the worst pass-blocking line in football. This team has exceptional skill players and a Top 10 defense. But all it's going to take is one play - to either get Aaron Rodgers hurt, or maybe cause a fumble that costs the Pack a game they should win - for that offensive line to subvert everything that this club has going for it. Green Bay is 8-3 ATS as a road favorite and 15-6-1 ATS in their last 22 road games.
13. Arizona Cardinals (3-2) - Much was made of Arizona's struggles in the Eastern Time Zone last season. However, just like their divisional playoff game at Carolina last year, this week's Sunday night game shouldn't be considered in the same category because of the late start.
14. Chicago Bears (3-2) - The Bears have been outgained in four straight games. And for all of the attention that has been given to Jay Cutler this week the issues on this Bears team are starting to manifest themselves. They can't run the ball or protect Cutler on deep drops with any sort of consistency. And defensively they have been doing their thing as far as not getting lit with a lot of points, but they aren't making enough plays and it's become a little too easy to move the ball between the 20s against this defense. Injuries - they just lost another starting linebacker - have been a factor. But this team is not winning the line of scrimmage on either side of the ball.
15. San Francisco 49ers (3-2) - I feel like the Niners aren't equipped to exploit Houston's main weakness this week: their pass defense. If Michael Crabtree has performed well enough in just two weeks where he is going to come in and start that says one of two things: San Fran has zero faith in their current wideouts or Crabtree is going to dominate. I am leaning toward the former. The return of Frank Gore is huge for this team's psyche and their only hope this week is to control the clock and keep the score down.
16. New York Jets (3-3) - Can't overstate enough the impact of losing Kris Jenkins on that defensive line. Oh, and how are people surprised that Mark Sanchez is unraveling? He's a rookie quarterback! That's what rookie quarterbacks do! This is New York's eighth game against Oakland since 2002, which is kind of a lot considering they aren't divisional foes. The home team is 6-2 SU and 5-2-1 ATS in this series and the Jets are just 3-8 ATS in their last 11 games overall.
17. San Diego Chargers (2-3) - Here it comes: another vintage Norv Turner meltdown. I will say that this team is lacking the talent to compete with the best teams in the NFL these days so it isn't entirely his fault. (And anyone who thinks that they DO have one of the most talented teams in the league isn't paying attention.) But there is no way Norv can steer them through the descent. San Diego is 2-5 ATS against the Chiefs, 3-8-1 ATS in their last 12 games at Arrowhead, and the favorite is 4-11-1 ATS in the series.
18. Dallas Cowboys (3-2) - This could be a turning point in the Dallas season right here. Wade Phillips has had two weeks to get his gang on the same page and now The Boys are hosting what will be a playoff team. The Cowboys are 17-7 SU and 15-9 ATS following a week off. The magic number for the Dallas defense is 23. The Cowboys are 0-13 ATS in their last 13 regular season games in which they have allowed 23 points or more. And dating back to 2005 they are just 2-23 ATS when allowing 23 or more points. So if you think Atlanta is going to ring up that many points, don't take the Cowboys this week.
19. Houston Texans (3-3) - I have to say, Houston looked fantastic last week. I mean, Cincinnati did not play bad football. They had a couple turnovers during Desperation Time last week, but other than that Houston went on the road and took their opponents' best shot and still won by double digits. But in order for this team to turn the corner they have to start producing as a favorite and win some of the games they are supposed to. This team is 0-4 ATS after a win either SU or ATS. But they are just 5-9 ATS as a favorite over the last three seasons.
20. Miami Dolphins (2-3) - According to a Miami blog, the Dolphins are 23rd in the NFL in yards allowed per drive (31.1 per drive) and have allowed 18 of 50 opponents' possessions to reach the red zone. So more than one of every three drives ends up in the red zone. That's a lot of pressure to put on a defense.
21. Seattle Seahawks (2-4) - Seattle got rocked by Arizona last week. However, that game may have come down to one incredible play by Larry Fitzgerald. On third-and-five on the opening series of the opening drive, Fitz actually fell down on a curl but somehow stuck his paws out and caught a ball that was, literally, behind him for a first down. Arizona went down and scored, Seattle fumbled the kickoff, Arizona scored again, and then the rout was on. Just wonder how that game would have went if Seattle forced that punt and ran their first play on offense at 0-0 instead of down 14-0. Journeyman Damion McIntosh will become Seattle's fifth left tackle of the season.
22. Carolina Panthers (2-3) - I'm just curious, I wonder how this team would be playing with Jason Campbell at quarterback? Jake Delhomme just continues to be a joke and his late INT at Tampa Bay was more on the coaching staff (how the hell are you letting the guy throw in that situation?) than on him. But when it's at that point: you can't trust your quarterback to throw the ball in the fourth quarter if you have the lead, then it's time to cut the cord. I do know this: Buffalo couldn't stop the Jets' running game last week while giving up more than 300 yards on the ground. So I have no idea how Carolina won't be able to match that total against a team playing with fifth-string linebackers.
23. Buffalo Bills (2-4) - I don't know what it is, but the Bills special teams have been absolutely pathetic this year. Bobby April has overseen one of the best units in the NFL for the last five years and the Bills have been the standard bearers in that facet for two decades. But starting in their opening preseason game and continuing through last week they have been an embarrassment. And when you're a team like Buffalo you can't give away turnovers and massive swings in field position each week in the kicking games. But they have done so time and time again. Ryan Fitzpatrick is a capable fill-in for Trent Edwards this Sunday, as Edwards has been ruled out.
24. Jacksonville Jaguars (3-3) - On one hand the Jags did dominate St. Louis (more than 200 yards more on offense) but on the other hand they needed overtime to eke out a win. I can't decide if this team is going to throw its hat in the ring and become an under-the-radar X-factor in the AFC of if they are going to slink down with the Sodomites that populate football's Outer Ring Of Hell.
25. Tennessee Titans (0-6) - Wow.
26. Cleveland Browns (1-5) - I'm sure you've heard, but the flu bug has been ripping through the Cleveland locker room this week and has impacted several players. It is no surprise that Cleveland's offense sucks. They drop passes and they don't have anyone to run the ball, much less a quarterback that won't turn it over. But I keep waiting for this team to jump up and bite someone because they aren't as bad as their record suggests. The team with the worst record that the Browns have lost to: Baltimore. Other than that the combined record of the teams to beat them is 20-4. And that is the reason Cleveland has covered three straight games.
27. Tampa Bay Bucs (0-6) - This team just can't get out of its own damn way. Turnovers and idiocy is just draped all over this team. Tampa Bay is 0-6 ATS at home and they are just 1-5 ATS as an underdog. And how does trading Gaines Adams not send a signal to this roster that the front office is mailing it in so it's fine that the Bucs do so as well?
28. Washington Redskins (2-4) - I don't even know what to say. Washington's dragging out Sherm Lewis to call plays just reeks of Tom Walsh coming out of retirement in Idaho to become Oakland's offensive coordinator a couple seasons ago. This team just played through one of the easiest schedules in NFL history and went 2-4, barely winning their two games. They would be the worst team on this list if not for their exceptional defense.
29. Oakland Raiders (2-4) - I actually agree with the player that that said the Raiders would have a winning record (or at least be .500) if JaMarcus Russell wasn't their quarterback. In fact, I said that in this very space about a month ago. Oakland hasn't won much over the last six seasons (22-64) but they have been a cluster-win type of team. They have had a two-game "winning streak" in each of the past five years.
30. Detroit Lions (1-4) - Jim Schwartz can't control injuries or the talent deficit that his team is at. But he does have some control over idiotic decisions to not take points early in games in order to go for it on fourth-and-short. And the fact that Scott Linehan tried to pansy pitch plays that would attack Green Bay's 3-4 on the edges instead of right up the gut shows exactly why Linehan was one of the worst head coaches I've ever seen.
31. Kansas City Chiefs (1-4) - This team is fighting and after an 0-8 ATS start to the year (including preseason) they have covered back-to-back games. The Chiefs really should have swept the Chargers last year, as they blew an 11-point lead with under 1:30 to play at home last season in the second meeting after going for two, unsuccessfully, on the last play of the game to try for the win at San Diego. This team is getting healthy and may starting to gain some confidence after a brutal schedule sunk them to start this season. Also, that offensive line looked completely different last week against a very, very good Washington front seven. If that line can run-block like that this week against a weak San Diego front then the Chiefs could actually steal another win.
32. St. Louis Rams (0-5) - The Rams may have covered last week and may have been "this close" to getting a win but they were outgained by 230 yards, their biggest discrepancy of the season. The Rams are 5-15 ATS against a team with a winning record and they have lost by 19 points or more four times already this year.
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.