NFL Power Rankings - Week 2
by Robert Ferringo - 9/11/2013
I will say that this year’s Overreaction Week has been quieter than most.
Generally, the week following NFL Week 1 is one of the most obnoxious of the season. The teams that won their first game are all destined for big years and have everything clicking. The teams that lost their first game are in full-blown panic mode, and all of those weaknesses that were so obvious to every fan all offseason are insurmountable. Or something like that.
Admittedly, there is some urgency for 0-1 teams heading into Game 2. Over the last 25 years, less than 10 percent of the teams that started the year 0-2 went on to make the playoffs.
But it’s a long season. And some sloppy play in Week 1 doesn’t necessarily mean that the sky is falling for several NFL teams. Houston slept through the first three quarters against San Diego. The Giants turned the ball over six times at Dallas. And the Patriots nearly gave one away in Buffalo. Those were some ugly performances, and those teams combined to go 0-3 against the spread this week. But they each have 15 more weeks to work out the kinks, and at least two of those clubs will be playoff teams come January.
Here are Doc’s Sports Week 2 NFL Power Rankings:
1. San Francisco 49ers (1-0) – I know a lot of people this week are going to talk about how the 49ers were blown out 42-13 in their last trip to Seattle. But remember: that game came one week after an incredible 41-34 Sunday night win at New England. The 49ers didn’t care about their game at Seattle in Week 16 last year, but the Seahawks certainly have 49ers’ attention now. San Francisco had won four straight meetings before that vicious loss last season.
2. Denver Broncos (1-0) – If the current NFL rules – which essentially outlaw defense – had been in place in 2003, then I think Peyton Manning would have about five championships by now. Manning is going to decimate the Giants secondary this week after hanging 460 yards on the Ravens. The key for Denver will be how the defense slows down New York’s exceptional duo of Hakeem Nicks and Victor Cruz. The Broncos are 5-1 ATS in their last six road games, and last year they went 4-1 ATS as road favorites. However, last year in Week 2 Manning came apart at the seams in a 27-21 primetime loss at Atlanta just one week after demolishing Pittsburgh. Could the same thing happen this year?
3. Chicago Bears (1-0) – I’m getting out in front of the pack on this one. I had the Bears No. 7 last week, and they were one of the best teams that I watched last Sunday, avoiding most of the turnovers, penalties and stupidity that plagued the league in Week 1. The Bears had beaten the Vikings six straight times before Minnesota beat them last December. This is a revenge game for Chicago, for that loss and the fact that Minnesota took the last playoff spot by a tiebreaker from Chicago last year. The home team is 16-5 ATS in the Vikings series.
4. New England Patriots (1-0) – I really have no idea why the Patriots didn’t go out this offseason and cobble together a receiving corps of Lavelle Hawkins’s, Brandon Gibson’s and Kevin Ogletrees’s. They could’ve at least gotten some guys that we know are NFL-caliber wideouts. Instead, right now the receiving corps is Julian Edelman, half of Danny Amendola, and then nothing. The Patriots are just 4-18 ATS as a favorite of more than 11 points. And even though I think they could/should demolish the Jets on Thursday, I just don’t trust a team with skill players this low quality.
5. Baltimore Ravens (0-1) – Think about just how dominating the Broncos were in the Thursday night opener. Now think about this: Baltimore, in a game that was entirely stacked Denver’s way, had the better of the Broncos for the first 35 minutes of that game. I don’t know if anyone will play Denver as tough in Mile High as the Ravens did, and that has to be encouraging to the defending champions. The Ravens dominate people at home and have one of the biggest advantages in the league. They are also 7-3 ATS in their last 10 games against the Browns.
6. Green Bay Packers (0-1) – Even I will admit that this is too high for Green Bay. But where do I put them? And what do I do with the Packers? Green Bay is an awesome 22-8-1 ATS in its last 31 home games and 9-2 ATS after a loss. They also played very well in their defeat at San Francisco last week. You kind of have to wonder if that ‘L’ will linger. But last year Green Bay bounced back from their loss to the 49ers with a sound 23-10 home win over rival Chicago. Counting the preseason, Green Bay is now just 2-7 ATS the last nine times they have taken the field.
7. Houston Texans (1-0) – Had Houston played the first 35 minutes of “Monday Night Football” like they played the last 25, they would’ve beaten the Chargers by 40. However, all Houston did is remind us that they are a perfectly acceptable “good” team that lacks anything close to a killer instinct. Houston will win its 10 games, make the playoffs, and bow out without ever really being a threat to anyone. The Texans are 8-3-2 ATS in their last 13 divisional games and 12-5-2 ATS in their last 19 home games. Houston has covered four straight against the Titans, and the Texans have gone 5-2-1 ATS as a favorite of 9.0 or higher.
8. Cincinnati Bengals (0-1) – Wait, so the Bengals aren’t one of the best teams in football? Everyone and their sister were on Cincinnati last week. But if not for the ridiculous feats of A.J. Green, the Bengals would’ve been blown out last week. The Bengals are solid favorites this week against the Steelers for the first time in nearly a decade. But Cincinnati is just 1-12 ATS at home against Pittsburgh. They need another big game out of Green. And I think that they need to use Jermaine Greshman more, attacking with him vertically up the seams.
9. Kansas City Chiefs (1-0) – Alex Smith is now 21-5-1 as a starter over the last several seasons, and he just continues to play solid, steady football from the quarterback position. He will need to take some shots up the field if the Chiefs want to beat good teams. But if the Chiefs avoid mistakes against a team like Dallas, I’m sure the Cowboys will find ways to shoot themselves in the foot. Kansas City needs to regain its long-lost home field advantage. They have been eviscerated in their home openers the last two seasons. The Chiefs are receiving just 35 percent of the betting action this week as the public is slow to buy into this group.
10. Seattle Seahawks (1-0) – Kudos to the Seahawks for winning a game in which the deck was stacked against them. But I still have doubts about how good this team really is. Last week was another win I felt they were fortunate to get. The home team has dominated the San Francisco series, winning seven of the last eight outright and going 6-2 ATS. The favorite has also been a strong play, going 4-1 ATS when these two square off. I don’t know many/any people looking to bet against Seattle in its home stadium this week.
11. Atlanta Falcons (0-1) – The Falcons have massive issues on their offensive line and have simply let too much talent leave over the past three seasons. Atlanta has been one of the best bounce-back teams in the NFL under Mike Smith, going 22-9 ATS in their last 31 games after a loss. The Falcons also benefit from one of the most underrated home field advantages in the NFL, going 25-16-1 ATS in their last 42 regular season home games. Roddy White will play this week. But I don’t expect him to be any more effective than he was last week.
12. Philadelphia Eagles (1-0) – Chip Kelly’s system still may not work in the long term. And contrary to popular belief, he really doesn’t have the “perfect” group of guys to run his fast-break offense with. However, I am willing to admit when I am wrong. And I have gone from giddy over the impending Philly disaster to jumping on board the bandwagon with everyone else. Opponents simply will not be prepared for what the Eagles do offensively. And for the first two months of the year – until injuries and the weather start to slow them down – I think Philadelphia is going to have a major advantage against its opposition.
13. New Orleans Saints (1-0) – I know that the prepackaged Saints narrative this year is that Sean Payton is back, and they are just going to lay waste to the rest of the NFC. But am I the only person that realizes the Saints absolutely should’ve lost that game on Sunday? And let’s not get too excited about the Rob Ryan Renaissance. We’ve been down this road before. The public has apparently seen enough for 90 percent of them to back the Saints as road favorites in Tampa this week. The line has moved to -3.5 at some books. The Payton-less Saints swept Tampa last year, including a 41-0 home win in December. The Saints are 7-3 ATS in the last 10 meetings, and the road team is a healthy 14-6 ATS when these two get together.
14. St. Louis Rams (1-0) – I have been driving the Sam Bradford bandwagon for two years. If you haven’t jumped on board, now is the time. The Rams have scored 20 or more points just 10 times in Bradford’s 43 career starts. But they were an amazing Tyron Mathieu play on Jared Cook away from racking up 34 points last week. Fear the mustache this week: Jeff Fisher is 25-11-1 ATS when posted as an underdog of 3.5 to 8.0 points coming off a win. Fisher was 3-1 in those situations last year and could be ripe for an upset this week.
15. Dallas Cowboys (1-0) – Same old losers. I will admit that I almost got suckered into Dallas this year. They looked different in the preseason. I like the new systems. But then this team takes the field, and it is the same old stupidity that we’ve come to count on. Tony Romo is still a mega-loser, and the Cowboys are still an erratic mess of a team. That Sunday night game was a circus. And if the Giants had only turned the ball over five times instead of six, the Cowboys would certainly be 0-1 right now. Dallas is 0-5 ATS in Week 2, and they are just 3-7 ATS following a win against the spread. The Cowboys are 10-24 ATS on the road after a win.
16. Washington Redskins (0-1) – Wait, so it wasn’t a good idea to not give Robert Griffin any snaps in the preseason? There is so much drama surrounding the Redskins quarterback situation that it is blotting out the other issues on this team. Alfred Morris was a disaster on Monday. The secondary can’t cover anyone. And the offensive line did not look cohesive against a very average Philadelphia front seven. I will admit that this week’s spread seems extraordinarily high at 7.5. But last week’s “way too high” line was Denver, and they made the Ravens look stupid for an easy cover.
17. Carolina Panthers (0-1) – Cam Newton absolutely has to be a running threat. His mobility and ability to make plays out of the pocket is his strongest asset. And the Panthers don’t have enough talented skill players for Newton to simply be a pocket passer (which he is only mediocre at anyway). The Panthers played extremely tough and deserved to beat Seattle. If they play that way this week in Buffalo, they will win. But if that Seahawks game lingers and they start 0-2, this season could be headed toward disaster. Carolina is 6-1 ATS on the road but just 4-10 ATS in its last 14 September games.
18. Detroit Lions (1-0) – Oh, those silly Lions. Detroit committed about 150 yards and 14 points worth of penalties last week against the Vikings. Their stupidity knows no bounds. But Detroit will be focused this week in what is a revenge game against Arizona. The Lions were blown out 38-10 in the desert late last season, and I am sure Arizona’s play in St. Louis got Detroit’s attention. The Lions are just 1-13 ATS as road favorites of less than a touchdown, and they are just 3-9-1 ATS in their last 13 road games overall. I can’t wait to see the Calvin Johnson-Patrick Peterson matchup in this one.
19. New York Giants (0-1) – I saw this great stat about Eli Manning this week: the Giants’ mouth-breathing quarterback is 33-21-2 ATS as an underdog and is 8-1-1 ATS in his last 10 games catching points. The Giants always rise to the occasion in games like this week’s against Denver. They are 10-4-1 ATS against teams with a winning record, and they will be ready to play this week. The problem is that they look like hell and played like losers last week. I know it is dumb to bet against Eli and Co. when their backs are against the wall. But I just don’t see where the talent is on this team, and they are lacking in so many areas. Including the preseason, the Giants are 3-8 ATS in their last 11 games.
20. Minnesota Vikings (0-1) – Beyond Jerome Simpson and Adrian Peterson, the entire offense looked terrible last week. The Vikings halftime lead last week was the most misleading score of the day as Minnesota probably should’ve lost that game to Detroit by 30. Peterson has had a lot of success going up against the Bears defense, averaging 108 yards and a touchdown in 10 career games against them. The visitor has won just twice in the last 12 games of this series, and Minnesota is 0-5 ATS in their last five trips to Soldier Field.
21. Arizona Cardinals (0-1) – Carson Palmer is such a loser that it just makes me sick. This Arizona team has the potential to be pretty good. And Palmer can make all the throws that a good quarterback has to make. But it is just ridiculous how terrible of a decision-maker Palmer is and how much of a turnover machine he is under pressure. Taking sacks to knock your team out of field goal range and getting strip-sacked inside your own 20-yard line with a late lead are things that rookie quarterbacks do, not guys with 10 years of experience. The home team is 9-0 ATS in the Detroit series, including five straight home wins for Arizona.
22. Indianapolis Colts (1-0) – It was 2012 all over again. A terrible Oakland team grossly outplayed the Colts. But yet again they found a way to fluke out a win and convince people that they are actually a good team. Indy has been outgained in eight of its last nine games, but they have lost only three of those contests. At some point the Colts poor play will catch up with them. But in the meantime they are 6-1 ATS at home and 9-4 ATS in their last 13 games.
23. Miami Dolphins (1-0) – It was hard to tell if Miami’s defense was that good or if Cleveland’s offense was that bad last week. But Miami’s front seven played as well as any in the league last week. That’s the good news. The bad news is that Miami can’t run the ball at all, Ryan Tannehill is still terribly inaccurate, and the Dolphins won last week despite a disgusting amount of penalties (10). Miami blew a 17-10 lead in Indy last year, losing 23-20. That makes this a legit revenge spot. The road team in Miami games has covered the spread over 62 percent of the time over the last 10 years (161 games), and the road team is 9-2 ATS in the last 11 Colts-Fins games.
24. Tennessee Titans (1-0) – I didn’t think that Tennessee’s bluster this season about being a more physical defense would add up to much. But they were tough and active on that side of the ball against overmatched Pittsburgh. Even Chris Johnson was running vertically and lowering his shoulder. You can tell this team does have a little different attitude. They ran the ball a whopping 42 times last week even though they only averaged 2.7 yards per carry. That type of commitment to the ground game will serve Jake Locker well. Tennessee was routed in their trip to Houston last year, losing 38-14.
25. Pittsburgh Steelers (0-1) – We are just a couple losses away from things spiraling out of control for the Steelers. They weren’t very good last year. Now Mike Wallace, James Harrison, Larry Foote, Maurkice Pouncey, Rashard Mendenhall, Casey Hampton and Willie Colon are all gone. I don’t understand why Pittsburgh doesn’t just dump Todd Haley. Big Ben obviously doesn’t like working with him, and the system is just not clicking. If you’re not moving the quarterback, you need to move the coordinator.
26. Cleveland Browns (0-1) – Trent Richardson needs to be much more involved in the offense than he was last week. He only touched the ball five times in the second half of a contest that was a one-score game until late in the fourth quarter. That’s unacceptable. The Cleveland defense didn’t play poorly. But Joe Haden and T.J. Ward both had opportunities for game-changing interceptions. And both dropped them. Those guys are Pro Bowl talents; they need to make those plays. The Browns are 5-2 ATS in their last seven games at Baltimore, and the road team is 7-0 ATS in this series.
27. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (0-1) – Well, what did I tell you? I said that the only team that looked worse than the Jets in the preseason was the Bucs. Josh Freeman is terrible. They would be better pulling the plug now rather than later. Let’s see what Mike Glennon can do, because he really can’t be any less accurate than Freeman. The Bucs still can’t rush the passer, and that still exposes their mediocre secondary. Tampa Bay is just 9-25-1 ATS in its last 35 home games, and they were overmatched against the Saints last year.
28. Buffalo Bills (0-1) – E.J. Manuel looked like the real deal to me. He wasn’t rattled, and he was making some throws. Buffalo’s big problem is avoiding the letdown that they always seem to have after playing New England. They are just 1-5 ATS in their last six efforts after playing the Patriots. As slick as Buffalo’s offense looked, the Bills defense was pretty sour. Some fluke bounces, and the fact that New England only has 1.5 NFL-caliber wideouts on the roster, kept the score respectable. But the Bills were looking at giving up 500 yards if not for several Patriots turnovers.
29. San Diego Chargers (0-1) – Mike McCoy should be sporting some nice Norv Turner Face about 10 minutes into this week’s game against the Eagles. San Diego has to be shell-shocked after that terrible second half against Houston. Now they are forced to fly east for a 10 a.m. body start against a team that plays at a break-neck pace. San Diego is 0-7 ATS in its first trip east each of the last seven years. Don’t be surprised to see plenty of; “What the hell is going on here?” looks from Chargers defenders in the first half.
30. Jacksonville Jaguars (0-1) – I still can’t believe that Gus Bradley started Blaine Gabbert last week. That instantly makes me question every decision that Bradley makes moving forward. Gabbert is so blatantly not an NFL quarterback. He had a broken thumb and hadn’t played in two weeks. But sure, let’s trot him out there. What was Bradley thinking? Is he trying to show management how bad Gabbert is so they go out and try to find a real QB? The Jags nearly beat the Raiders in Oakland last year as six-point underdogs, and the Jags are 5-0 ATS in the last five meetings of these fledgling organizations.
31. New York Jets (1-0) – I’m not going to give the Jets too much credit for their win over the hapless Bucs last week. An equally-poor team outplayed them, and one win doesn’t change anything for this pack of losers. The road team is 21-8-1 ATS in the Patriots series. And with a quick turnaround, that stat is about all that New York has working for it.
32. Oakland Raiders (0-1) – I have to say, I was really impressed with Terrelle Pryor. What stood out to me was that he was accurate with his throws and he wasn’t loose with the ball. Sure, he made some mistakes on the final drive. But I see a ton of potential with him because of how smart he was taking care of the ball. That said, I still couldn’t believe that Oakland is favored this week, and they are just 5-20 ATS when laying points. The Raiders are also 20-43-1 ATS against teams with a losing record, meaning that they generally lose these games to other pathetic teams.
Throughout the season I will have my NFL Power Rankings every Tuesday. My next ones will be released on Tuesday, Sept. 17.
Robert Ferringo is a lead writer for Doc’s Sport and he is off to a brilliant start to the football season. Take advantage of our free, no-strings-attached $60 credit to use toward a purchase of Robert’s football selections and get on this big game. CLICK HERE for $60 absolutely free!
Read more articles by Robert Ferringo