NFL Power Rankings Week 8
by Robert Ferringo - 10/27/2010
As we head into Week 8 of the 2010 NFL season Minnesota (1-5), Dallas (1-5) and San Diego (2-5) are three of the worst teams in the league.
In the meantime, Kansas City (4-2), Tampa Bay (4-2) and Seattle (4-2) are three of the best. (At least in the stat category that counts most: wins.)
What the hell is going on in this league?
As we head into Week 8 of the 2010 NFL season Oakland (29-87 straight up in its last 116 games), Detroit (31-116 in L147), and St. Louis (31-72) are all favorites this weekend.
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In the meantime, three Super Bowl favorites, Minnesota, Green Bay and New Orleans are either underdogs or soft favorites of just a single point.
What the hell is going on in this league?
Let’s find out. Here is my Week 8 NFL Power Rankings:
1. Pittsburgh Steelers (5-1) – Injuries are really starting to test the depth of this group. They lost Aaron Smith for the next few months and this week they could be without LaMarr Woodley. Also, Colt McCoy and Chad Henne lit up the pass defense the last two weeks. That’s not a great sign heading into New Orleans. The Steelers are 7-0 ATS in their last seven games as an underdog dating back to 2008.
2. Baltimore Ravens (5-2) – I won’t kill the Ravens for almost losing to the Bills last week. Buffalo had two weeks to prep, are desperate for a win, and have played some teams tough. The Ravens were in a clear letdown spot after a brutal opening six games. You think Ed Reed makes a difference? Two INTs and a fumble recovery; that’s a good half-season for a lot of safeties. However, it was a little striking that the secondary had its worst game once it got its best player back. But then again it was only a matter of time before their third-tier corners were going to start to leak.
3. New York Jets (5-1) – Is it me, or are the Jets the Too Easy Play on the board this week? New York is 7-1 ATS following a bye week and they should have an excellent scheme set to get pressure on Aaron Rodgers and the Green Bay passing game. However, New York is 5-1 despite being outgained in four of their six games this year. And after five straight ‘overs’ and pretty mediocre stat ratings it is fair to start to wonder if the defense is as good as we all thought.
4. New England Patriots (5-1) – This is one of the weakest No. 4 teams that I can remember in the five year’s that I’ve been doing these power rankings. New England is of decent quality but, realistically, this team isn’t that good because its defense is still atrocious. They are ranked No. 29 overall and are No. 30 against the pass. It will be very interesting to see how they scheme Randy Moss this week in his return to Foxboro. And it will be just as interesting to see if Moss even cares about playing since he left a now 5-1 team to toil for a now 1-5 club. New England has covered its last seven games as a favorite of less than 10 points and the Patriots are a stunning 18-2 ATS against a team off a divisional loss.
5. Indianapolis Colts (4-2) – It’s going to be very easy to pile on the Colts this week in a revenge spot against the Texans. However, Indianapolis is just 1-3 ATS in the last four meetings. What is most impressive about Indianapolis’ strong start is that they have played four of six games on the road. I know a lot has been made about injuries to this team’s receiving corps and running backs. But, honestly, does it even really matter whom Peyton Manning is handing off to or throwing the ball too? What will matter most in this game is how Indy holds up against the run. The Colts are 5-1 ATS after a bye week and a stellar 10-2 ATS as a favorite on Monday Night Football.
6. New York Giants (5-2) – That is now five quarterbacks in seven games that the Giants defense has knocked out. That is straight nasty. In a scheduling quirk they play next week against Seattle and then they face Dallas again. It’s odd to see the same team twice in three games, especially when the Giants haven’t faced either of their other NFC East opponents (Eagles, Redskins). For all the talk about the league’s top running backs I would say that Ahmad Bradshaw might be the most underrated runner in the game. He’s on pace for over 1,600 yards on the ground and almost 1,900 total yards.
7. Atlanta Falcons (5-2) – The Falcons are in the midst of their most important stretch of the year. Last week began a stretch of four home games in five outings. This team is now 16-3 straight up in its last 19 home games dating back to the start of 2008. They have posted that impressive mark despite what anyone would consider a wild home fan base.
8. Tennessee Titans (5-2) – This week’s game is a bit of a revenge spot for the Titans. The Chargers hammered them, 42-17, last year on Christmas. For all of the “what’s wrong with Chris Johnson” talk, the guy is still on pace for 1,500 rushing yards despite being the focus of every defense this team faces. This team has posted a stunning 10.63 yards per point so far this season. A YPP of 12 is considered extremely low, so to be around 10 is a bit like a pitcher bringing a .125 BABIP into the All Star Break. Bottom line: it’s not going to last and I expect the Titans point totals to drop significantly within the next month, no matter who is quarterbacking.
9. Washington Redskins (4-3) – It’s not pretty, but it has been effective. I have watched every snap of this team’s games this year – since they were my biggest futures bet of the year, in any sport – and I have to tell you: they are bizarre. I think that Washington’s defense is a great microcosm of what I mean. They have a lot of talent and an excellent coordinator. And when you watch them they don’t give up points easily. In fact, they’ve surrendered just over 16 points per game in October – which would rank No. 3 in the NFL – against some exceptional offenses like Green Bay, Philadelphia and Indy. However, they are ranked No. 31 in the league in yards allowed and aren’t higher than No. 20 in either rushing or passing defense. And St. Louis hit them for 30 points. Just odd.
10. New Orleans Saints (4-3) – Their last two losses have come against Max Hall and Colt McCoy. That’s a problem. Last year the Saints were No. 1 in the NFL in yards per point offense at 12.67. They were getting defensive and special teams touchdowns and converting turnovers into points left and right. This year they are No. 25 in YPP at over 17.0 and haven’t been able to manufacture any easy points. Here is an interesting angle on this week’s crucial matchup with Pittsburgh that was passed on to me: defending Super Bowl champions off a loss, posted as a ‘pick’ or underdog the next week, are 19-8-2 ATS.
11. Kansas City Chiefs (4-2) – I know, I can’t believe it either. But I said last week that I had underrated this team. They are legit even though they have faced one of the softest schedules in the NFL. I wouldn’t get too excited about what Matt Cassel has done the last two weeks because he’s done it against the two most pathetic secondaries in the league. Arrowhead is rocking and the Chiefs are one of the biggest favorites on the board this week. But favorites off a straight up win are just 15-25-2 ATS this year throughout the league.
12. Green Bay Packers (4-3) – This is still one of the most dangerous teams in the NFL for bettors. They continue to grind through a very difficult schedule and two of their losses were in overtime. But their defense is sagging and is decimated by injuries. That is going to wear on them as the season progresses. They still have an offense that can put up points against anyone and they are a stellar 13-3 ATS as a road underdog of less than a touchdown. In fact, along with the Giants they have been the best road bet in the league lately with an incredible 21-10-1 ATS in their last 32 road games.
13. Houston Texans (4-2) – Forget Tony Romo’s collarbone: DeMeco Ryans being put out for the year is the biggest injury news out of Texas, yet it has gotten about one-10th of the coverage. Ryans is a beast. And a defense that was already getting torched on a weekly basis just lost its leader. That’s bad news for a team that is actually in contention. Houston is moving Brian Cushing to the middle but I think that’s a mistake because he is so disruptive from the edge. Then again, what choice do they have? The Texans are 9-2 ATS as an underdog and the ‘over’ is 10-1 in the last 11 meetings with the Colts. This team has lost four of five to the Colts, but done so by an average of just five points per game and they actually had a fourth quarter lead in three of those four contests.
14. Philadelphia Eagles (4-3) – I truly think that too much is being made of the quarterback situation in Philadelphia. No matter who is running the show this offense, when DeSean Jackson is healthy, will be both explosive and erratic. After the bye the Eagles will not only go back to Vick but they may also get Jackson, Brodrick Bunkley and Jason Peters back in the fold as well.
15. Minnesota Vikings (2-4) – I will be surprised if Brett Favre doesn’t start this week, but we’re definitely past the point of wondering if he should be, healthy or not. I think they 100 percent would be better off without his negative karma and the entire sideshow that comes along with it. Cut him loose and take a shot at salvaging the season. I also have to wonder just how much emotion this team has left in the tank. Two weeks ago it was a virtual playoff game with Dallas. Last week it was the rivalry game in Green Bay. Now they have the Randy Moss Revenge Tour to New England. This team has been shackled with just a brutal schedule so they are clearly much better than their record suggests. The Vikings are 10-3 ATS after a loss but just 1-6 ATS on the road.
16. San Diego Chargers (2-5) – This week’s game against Tennessee, be it the setup, the line, or both, is starting to remind me a lot of the Giants-Cowboys game from Monday night. Everyone is expecting the Chargers to suddenly turn it on. But what if they can’t? And the fact that they are favored at home against a more aggressive, physical team that is better coached and plays its best as an underdog is a huge red flag. I know I’m not expecting a breakout performance. The Chargers are 8-4 ATS at home after a loss and they are also 11-2 ATS against the AFC South.
17. Miami Dolphins (3-3) – The Dolphins are taking more than 80 percent of the action this week against the Bengals and are actually the most “square” play on the board. They are clearly a better, more prepared team than the Bungles. However, you definitely have to wonder about the mental impact of that close loss to Pittsburgh and any carryover effect it may have this week. The Dolphins are 12-2 ATS as a road dog and they are 14-4 ATS in their last 18 road games overall. They have only nine penalties in their three road games this year, which speaks again to the quality coaching done by Tony Sparano and his staff. Miami has scored just 10 touchdowns so far this year and will need to pick up the pace on offense to keep up with the league-wide scoring stats that appear to be trending upwards.
18. Cincinnati Bengals (2-4) – Just vintage Bungles last week. This team isn’t going anywhere. They were completely unprepared last week and this sloppy, inconsistent bunch apparently only gets “up” for games against the Steelers and Ravens. Once again Marvin Lewis showed his ignorance in game management when he started going for two – in the THIRD QUARTER. Also, Andre Smith is a mess and I don’t think there is any way that he doesn’t end up flaming out as another bust. The Bengals are 0-6 ATS as a home favorite and 2-8 ATS in nondivisional games. They also lost Pac Man Jones for the year and could be without Jon Joseph again this week as well. If the run defense plays like it did last week this team is going to get destroyed.
19. Chicago Bears (4-3) – I just want to state again for the record that I have been saying for four years that Lovie Smith is one of the worst coaches in the NFL. His challenge and then non-challenge on back-to-back plays at the goal line last week was just horrendous. The guy is an imbecile, and I don’t throw statements like that around lightly. And that play could be the difference between this team being 5-2 and tied for the best mark in the NFC (which would be a joke) and sitting at 4-3 with reverse momentum. Smith, along with the rest of the Chicago “brain-dead trust” need to go. Is there a bigger bunch of losers on a single NFL staff than Smith, Mike Tice, Mike Martz and Rod Marinelli? I mean, who thought that crew was a good idea? That’s right: Jerry Angelo. This team is a disaster. In the last two games they have thrown 87 passes and had only 28 rushes.
20. Dallas Cowboys (1-5) – Maybe next year. I just hate the fact that now Cowboys sympathizers are going to point to the Tony Romo injury as some kind of excuse as to why this team aborted its season. If only these guys were half as good as they thought they were or half as good as they acted. Even with Jon Kitna under center this team should be able to fill up the Jaguars this weekend. Romo is apparently worth 4.5 points on the line because prior to the Monday night massacre the Boys were laying out 11 to the Jaguars. If this line moves to 7.0 beware: home favorites of a touchdown or more off Monday Night Football are just 4-11-1 ATS.
21. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (4-2) – Sorry Raheem Morris: you aren’t the best team in the NFC. Especially when you’ve been outgained by 300 yards on the season and outscored by 30 points. Josh Freeman is now 6-3 in his last nine starts and five of his seven career wins have been comeback wins in the fourth quarter. That is moxie. But there is no hiding what a debacle their offensive line is. Whether it’s penalties, getting pushed around, or just missing assignments this group is worthless. And in the two key areas in the trenches this team is No. 22 rushing and No. 31 against the run. And in a scheduling quirk, counting the preseason, the Bucs have only left Florida three times in 11 weeks. They have also been home in four of five weeks. I don’t know how prepared they are to go on the road here.
22. St. Louis Rams (3-4) – I said a few weeks ago that Sam Bradford had a -1.5 rating for his moxie. We saw the difference that can make on Sunday, whereas his counterpart, Josh Freeman, grades at about a 2.0 for accuracy but an 8.0 for moxie. At some point this year the Rams simply have to start hurling the ball down the field with Bradford. They are babying him too much. They need to max protect and take some deep shots. I’m getting tired of saying it. The Rams are definitely improved but they are just 6-14 ATS as a home favorite and it is still tough to lay points with a team that is 9-45 over the last four seasons.
23. Seattle Seahawks (4-2) – The difference between this year’s team and last year’s debacle has much less to do with Pete Carroll and much more to do with a healthy Matt Hasselbeck and an easier schedule. Seattle is just 4-13 ATS after a win. They are also just 1-10 ATS as a road underdog and I don’t know how anyone could be lining up to throw money down on a team that has been so horrendous on grass and away from home. But they do have some things working in their favor this week that would make them a live dog. First, they are playing the Raiders. Second, they don’t have to leave the Pacific Time Zone. Third, it’s the Raiders after a win.
24. Cleveland Browns (2-5) – That was a great win to carry into a bye week and if you look at how the Browns have played against the most difficult schedule in the NFL (their opponents are a combined 29-13 and defending division champion Cincinnati is the worst team they’ve faced) you know that this team is improving. They have three of their next four games at home and I can see them putting up a fight with teams like the Patriots and Jets, especially if they are catching nearly double-digits in both of those games.
25. Oakland Raiders (3-4) – Oakland really has a shot for a big momentum win this week at home. But how can anyone lay the points with this team? They are 0-11 ATS as a home favorite and 6-20 ATS as a favorite overall recently. Further, the Raiders are 6-13 ATS against nondivisional opponents and 1-8 ATS after a win. This team played way, way, way beyond itself so there is nowhere to go but down this week. That said, they are facing a piss-poor road team this week and if Oakland is going to take a step back to respectability this is one they have to get.
26. Arizona Cardinals (3-3) – At this point does it even matter who is quarterbacking? The Cardinals have scored one offensive touchdown in their last three games and I am standing by my assessment that they made a huge mistake ditching Matt Leinart. Arizona is 11-2 ATS at home after a loss and this spot definitely sets up well for them against a team that hasn’t had to travel much. If Arizona is going to stay a player out West then this week is a game they have to get. And facing the league’s No. 31 rush defense should be just the opening they need.
27. Jacksonville Jaguars (3-4) – David Garrard will be back under center this week. As if that matters. He’ll also be adjusting to a new right tackle as up-and-coming Eben Britton is done for the year. Jacksonville has given up a league-worst 209 points this year and their secondary doesn’t have a prayer of stopping anyone. The Jags have been hit for more than 70 points the last two weeks and they haven’t held an opponent below 26 points since Week 1. Jacksonville is just 5-14 ATS in their last 19 games overall and 2-7 ATS as an underdog.
28. Denver Broncos (2-5) – After a 6-0 start to the Josh McDaniels Era, aided by a host of fluke wins, the Broncos have bottomed out. They are 4-13 SU since then and last Sunday was a new low. As bad as they looked last week they still should have won the Jacksonville and Jets games and should be 4-3 right now. McDaniels has been a train wreck and is another just brilliant ex-Patriots coaching hire. When are people going to learn about Belichick assistants? Denver has decided to wait until Friday to fly out to London. Apparently jetlag isn’t a worry. Brian Dawkins could be back this week. I can guarantee there is no way that he would have let Oakland score 59 against them last week.
29. San Francisco 49ers (1-6) – San Francisco took the opposite approach to the London trip this week and went overseas following the Carolina loss. I think that will be a huge edge for them this weekend. San Francisco has been an excellent underdog and a great bounce back team under Mike Singletary. They are 9-0 ATS after a loss as a favorite, including a 3-0 ATS mark in that role this year.
30. Detroit Lions (1-5) – Matt Stafford will be back this week, but I almost think that people are overvaluing that. He’s been out with a shoulder injury for a month and he’s definitely going to be rusty. Also, Shaun Hill was playing well so Stafford has some work to do. Detroit beat the Redskins at home last year, 19-14, to snap a 19-game losing streak. But that was the Zorn Skins and this is a completely different team. The Lions are 17-36-1 ATS as a favorite and they are just 6-13 ATS in Ford Field.
31. Carolina Panthers (1-5) – Apparently Matt Moore just needed to take a breath. He looked much better last week, although it was just San Francisco. The Panthers are back in their prime role as an underdog and even though this team is excessively young I don’t think that John Fox will let them mail it in on this season. Carolina is 10-3 ATS in conference games and they are back in Fox’s preferred role of underdog. Also, their next five games come against teams ranked No. 16 or lower in rushing defense so we’ll see if they can get their dominating backfield untracked.
32. Buffalo Bills (0-6) – When the Bills were up 24-10 last week I was giddy while texting my Buffalo fan-friends, “Can’t wait to see how they blow this!” Sure enough: they did. I give the Bills credit for not letting that one get away in the second half and really battling back. But this team is still terrible. And teams off an OT game as a double-digit underdog are just 2-7 ATS their next time out. Buffalo is last in the NFL against the run, giving up 4.8 yards per carry. In their last four games they’ve yielded over 200 rush yards per and overall surrendered 3.6.6 points in their last five. That’s a problem heading into Kansas City to face one of the most dynamic rushing attacks in the NFL.
Robert Ferringo is a writer and a professional sports handicapper for Doc’s Sports. He has banked $6,000 in profit for his clients after four of five winning football weeks and is rolling out more predictions this week. He has brought in over $14,000 in overall profit in all sports over the last two-plus months. You can sign up for his college football and NFL picks and get more information here.