NFL Power Rankings Week 8
by Robert Ferringo - 10/29/2009
Here is a look at my Doc's Sports NFL Power Rankings:
1. New Orleans Saints (6-0) - The Saints have dominated their series with the Falcons. New Orleans is 7-3 ATS in their last 10 meetings and 4-1 ATS in the last five in the Superdome. The books have to try to do something to stop the Saints so I don't expect to see them laying less than 10-13 points until they start to lose. New Orleans is 18-5 ATS as a favorite and 18-7-1 ATS overall. Not only are they a cover machine, but they can't stop going 'over' the total with that dominating offense (four of six games at 45 points or more). They are 19-7-1 against the total in their last 27 games, 15-5-1 against the total at home, and 46-21-2 against a team with a winning record.
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2. Minnesota Vikings (6-1) - I have to say that I thought that Green Bay outplayed Minnesota for large portions of their first meeting. However, the Pack couldn't even come close to stopping the Vikings' defensive ends. Sacks caused turnovers and stopped drives and that was the difference. That said, in my mind there is no doubt who the better, more complete team is. The underdog in the Vikes-Packers series is a stellar 16-5 ATS and the road team has covered 11 of 15 matchups. Minnesota is just 3-7 ATS as an underdog and just 3-12-2 ATS as a dog of 3.0 or less.
3. Indianapolis Colts (6-0) - The Colts are just 3-7 ATS as a home favorite and 1-5 ATS as a double-digit favorite. However, they have covered five straight overall. This team is just operating with Swiss-watch efficiency. Just not much to say right now other than this club is a machine that's been taking care of business against weaker competition.
4. Denver Broncos (6-0) - I'm very interested to see if the bye week has zapped any of Denver's momentum or if it has solidified their resolve. Baltimore's secondary has been inept and the Ravens are rated No. 23 against the pass. But the Broncos should be ready for Baltimore's top effort of the season. Denver is 1-5-1 ATS in their last seven meetings. Denver was another automatic bet after a bye week under Mike Shanahan and is 15-5 SU in their last 20 after a bye week. It will be interesting to see how McDaniels preps him team with the extra time. It is another test for a rookie coach.
5. Pittsburgh Steelers (5-2) - The Steelers have to feel good about themselves after a big win over Minnesota last week. But I will say this: they were significantly outgained in that game and were it not for two 70-plus yard defensive touchdowns they might be 4-3 right now. But they're not. They won, they covered, and the defending champs are 5-2 and taking a week to re-center and get healthy. Going to be a tough team to bet against the rest of the way out, even in the toughest division in football.
6. New England Patriots (5-2) - New England has a very soft December slate, so their playoff seeding is going to be determined by what they do in the next few weeks. They have a pair of games against Miami and in between they are at Indianapolis, at home against the Jets, and at New Orleans. We're going to find out real soon what this team is made of.
7. New York Giants (5-2) - It makes sense that the line in the Giants-Eagles game would have been quickly bet down to a 'pick' from its open at 2.5. The underdog in this series has covered nine straight meetings and the road team has won seven of nine outright. The Giants are also 22-5 ATS on the road and 16-5 ATS against a team with a winning record. After back-to-back losses you also have to think that the G-Men would be a little desperate.
8. Philadelphia Eagles (5-2) - No matter what anyone says, there's pretty much no way in hell that Brian Westbrook is playing this weekend. The guy lost consciousness and has memory loss from last Monday's concussion. Not only is he not playing this week, but also I wonder how much we'll see him over the next month or so. That said, I don't think that his loss is nearly as big of a blow as it has been in recent years. Rookie LeSean McCoy has looked pretty solid since this preseason. The Eagles are 10-4 ATS overall and are 5-1 ATS at home.
9. Cincinnati Bengals (5-2) - People can spend as much time as they'd like patting Cedric Benson on his back and applauding him for his effort against his former team. However, it's not as if the Bears had a choice when they cut the cord with him. Benson is a head case. He will be in trouble again - bank it - and he was never even close to being as authoritative of a runner in Chicago as he is now with Cincinnati.
10. Baltimore Ravens (3-3) - This is really a potentially season-defining game for Baltimore this week. The Ravens' only losses have come against New England (they were 20 yards from the tying score), at Minnesota (they barely missed a game-winning field goal) and against Cincinnati (Bengals scored with less than a minute to play). So they have still played some very strong football. Baltimore is 9-3 ATS in its last 12 home games, 6-2 ATS after a bye, 19-7 ATS overall, and 39-16-1 ATS as a home favorite.
11. Green Bay Packers (4-2) - Chad Clifton may be back practicing later this week after missing nearly three games with an ankle injury. Green Bay's best options to stop Jared Allen are either a banged up Clifton or rookie T.J. Lang. Not good. But at this point the only thing that will keep Aaron Rodgers from again being overwhelmed by the Vikings pass rush is scheme, not personnel. The Packers are 8-2 ATS in their last 10 divisional games. Eight of the last 10 meetings between Green Bay and Minnesota have been decided by a touchdown or less.
12. Arizona Cardinals (4-2) - Huge win for the Cardinals last week in the Meadowlands and now they need to avoid a letdown at home against a Carolina team looking for revenge. I touched on this in the Ferringo Report: Arizona's defense has been better without the crazed scheming of Clancy Pendergast. Last year the Cards were No. 20 and in 2007 this unit was No. 17 in the league. So far this season the group is rated No. 15 overall in terms of yards per game. The Cardinals are now 9-2 ATS in their last 11 games and they are 10-4 ATS as a favorite.
13. Atlanta Falcons (4-2) - I think that the floodgates are open now against this defense. Last year Lawyer Malloy's savvy was able to hold this shaky secondary together. They didn't bring the veteran back. Things were not looking good for that unit until they stole Brian Williams in the preseason (Jacksonville inexplicably cut Williams; any wonder why they suck now too?) and he has played awesome for Atlanta through the first six weeks. But Williams went down in the Chicago game and now Atlanta is going with Erik Coleman (more of a run-stopper) and second-year special teams guy Thomas DeCoud back there. Yikes. The Dirty Birds are just 3-7 ATS in divisional games but they are a sweet 8-1 ATS following a loss.
14. Dallas Cowboys (4-2) - I can't decide if the Cowboys are for real or not. When you think about it, they lost on their last play at Denver (who is very good) and they lost by two points to the Giants (also very good) due to some brutal turnovers. So they're that close to being unbeaten. On the other hand, they were almost beaten in Kansas City, they still have Wade Philips leading them, and they still manage to play up and down to the level of their competition. Dallas is 4-0 ATS in its last four against the Seahawks and we'll see if their unsteady secondary can hold up against a solid passing attack of Seattle.
15. Houston Texans (4-3) - Strong win for Houston last week, even though if their secondary can't slow down Alex Smith there has to be a pretty distinct ceiling on how well this club can do. Houston should have to deal with the elements this weekend in Buffalo. Word is that Andre Johnson will play despite not practicing this week. I wouldn't be 100 percent sure of that. Also, several key players have been limited this week, including Dunta Robinson, DeMeco Ryans, Brian Cushing and Mario Williams. The Texans are on a 9-4-1 ATS run and they are 5-2 ATS on the road. They also lead the NFL in opponents' three-and-out drive percentage. One of every three opposing drives this year has gone three-and-out.
16. New York Jets (4-3) - The Jets are getting annoying. They weren't talking too much smack during a three-game losing streak against quality competition. However, after a win over lowly Oakland all they have done is run their mouths this week into the lead-up to their second meeting in three weeks with Miami. It's still tough to bet against New York this week. The Jets are 20-6-2 ATS in the last 28 meetings and 7-2-2 ATS in their last 11 games at home games against the Fins.
17. San Diego Chargers (3-3) - The Chargers are 22-9-4 ATS against the rest of the AFC West and they are 13-6 ATS in their last 19 home games. Even though they beat Oakland on Monday Night Football to open the year I feel like San Diego has a touch of revenge on their mind for the way that they got pushed around in that game. The Chargers are 11-2 ATS in their last 13 against the Raiders and the favorite is 10-2 ATS in the last 12 meetings.
18. Chicago Bears (3-3) - Only in a league as ass-backwards as the NFL can a team that just got blasted by 35 points come home and be installed as a two-touchdown favorite. The Bears are 0-4 ATS as a double-digit favorite and a lot of that has to do with the Cover-2 defense. Because they "bend but don't break" the Bears allow opponents to move the ball almost at will. That makes it hard to slam the door on an opponent and to simply blow their doors off. Chicago is 11-4 ATS after a loss.
19. San Francisco 49ers (3-3) - I know I was stunned when Singletary went to Alex Smith at halftime of their game at Houston. I thought it was a ballsy move that would either make him look like a genius or open up a can of quarterback controversy. Somehow it may have done both. Let's not get too carried away with Smith's performance last week either. There is a reason that this little sprite's career has taken a nosedive.
20. Miami Dolphins (2-4) - Miami just can't catch a break this season after catching every break possible last year. They actually outplayed Indianapolis and New Orleans this year, only to blow late leads against both of them. But they just lost corner Will Allen so a suspect secondary just got that much worse. The last game did go 'over' the total, but it was just a 13-10 game at the start of the fourth quarter. The Dolphins have not played well against the Jets very often over the last 15 years. However, the underdog and the road team is 4-1-1 ATS in the last six gatherings.
21. Buffalo Bills (3-4) - The 12th man for Buffalo this weekend could be Mother Nature. It's supposed to be in the 40's with steady rain and a 19-mile-per-hour wind in Orchard Park. That could help slow the Houston attack. That said, Buffalo has been shockingly poor at home after many years of being a live home dog. The Bills are just 1-7 ATS in their last eight home games and they are just 6-19-1 ATS at home against a team with a winning record.
22. Carolina Panthers (2-4) - I really wish I could drop this team further, but look at the just dog-shit teams below them. Jake Delhomme is still the starter, as John Fox is either in completely denial or just resigned to the fact that he'll be an assistant coach somewhere next season. Carolina is just 1-6 ATS on the road and has dropped four straight as an underdog after what had been a very impressive four-year run as one of the best puppy bets in the business. The dog is 6-2 ATS in the last eight meetings with Arizona and the road team has covered four straight. Only nine percent of opposing drives have gone three-and-out against the Panthers defense, despite their No. 1-rated pass defense.
23. Jacksonville Jaguars (3-3) - So, how's that switch to a 3-4 base working out for you? According to the Jacksonville Times-Union, injuries have slowed the transition. I'm not buying it. The Jags are ranked 25th or lower in pass defense, points allowed and sacks. The Jags are just 5-16 ATS on grass and just 4-9 ATS in their last 13 games overall. The puppy is 5-1 ATS in the last six meetings between the Jags and Titans.
24. Seattle Seahawks (2-4) - In news surprising to no one, Walter Jones will miss the rest of the year. I also feel his career is done. (That is, until the Bears offer him a ridiculous five-year deal this offseason.) Without Lofa Tatupu (out for the year) and Jones, the Seahawks are playing without arguably their two most talented players. The Seahawks went to Dallas last Thanksgiving and were embarrassed. Are they really any better this time around? The dog is 4-1 ATS in the series but Seattle is 2-6-1 ATS against a team with a winning record. Also, they are 1-9 SU outside of the Pacific Time Zone.
25. Tennessee Titans (0-6) - Teams off a bye week are 7-5 ATS this year in the NFL. Starting corners Nick Harper and Cortland Finnegan have both been limited in practice this week and I don't expect either to be back in uniform this week. That leaves in-way-over-their-heads rookies Ryan Mouton and Jason McCourty as the teams top two corners.
26. Cleveland Browns (1-6) - As shockingly awful as JaMarcus Russell has been this year (rating: 47.2), Derek Anderson's numbers have actually been worse (40.6). Further, Anderson has a QB rating of 7.8 (you read that right) in the fourth quarter and 10.3 on third down. So far this year the Browns have been outgained by an average of about 200 yards per game. I will admit that I think they have played the toughest schedule in the league. But they aren't even close to competitive in these games. Cleveland is 3-9-1 ATS in their last 13 games and are just 3-7-1 ATS as an underdog. They are also just 1-5 ATS as a double-digit underdog.
27. Washington Redskins (2-5) - Here is Washington's schedule after their bye: at Atlanta, Denver, at Dallas, at Philadelphia, New Orleans, at Oakland, Giants, Dallas, at San Diego. Their most winnable game is a cross-country trip to Oakland. Things are going to get much, much worse in Washington this year.
28. Oakland Raiders (2-5) - "Dumbfounded" is the only word I have for Oakland sticking with JaMarcus Russell. But it's the Raiders. I'm almost to the point where I'm going to use their spot in the Power Rankings for a joke rather than talk about this abortion of a franchise. Yet, shockingly, there are actually worse teams in the NFL. (Mainly because I think Oakland would be 3-4 or even possibly 4-3 if they had a different quarterback.)
29. Detroit Lions (1-5) - Jon Jansen, formerly of Washington, will start at left guard this week next to Jeff Backus. Still no real word on who will start at quarterback for the Lions and that's a big part of the reason that this number has been on and off at the books this week. I don't see how the Lions would risk Stafford - their alleged long-term solution at quarterback - for a meaningless game in a meaningless season. Let the kid heal. But then again, this is the Lions. More importantly, oft-injured Calvin Johnson looks like he'll miss another game. They are 3-9 ATS at home.
30. Tampa Bay Bucs (0-7) - If you thought that things were a mess already, wait until you see what Josh Freeman can do. I think that Freeman is terrible (he's like a mix between JaMarcus Russell and Byron Leftwich) and I think things will spiral out of control here quickly. Oh, wait… And according to reports, new coach Raheem Morris is now referred to as "Radio", after the disabled kid that Cuba Gooding Jr. played.
31. Kansas City Chiefs (1-5) - So, looks like Larry "Fairy" Johnson is out with Kansas City. Conspiracy theorists might think that he orchestrated this whole thing in an effort to be released. I doubt it; he's probably just that big of a dick. Then again, I don't know them man so who am I to say? All I know is that I still think he can be effective behind a decent offensive line. If I were Cleveland, Pittsburgh, San Diego, or Philadelphia I would definitely make a move for him. Chiefs wideouts have the second-most drops in the NFL (20).
32. St. Louis Rams (0-6) - Double-digit underdogs are 4-13 this season against the spread. That comes after this betting subgroup went 69-48-4 (59.0 percent) over the course of the last three years. This season is a natural statistical regression, as double-digit dogs have gone just 273-231-15 ATS (53.7 percent) over the 16 years prior to this season. It's all about regression. Oh, and the Rams still blow. That said, they are 9-4 ATS against a team with a losing record.
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.