NFL Power Rankings Week 6
by Robert Ferringo - 10/8/2013
Depth is becoming more and more of a factor around the NFL as several teams have lost critical parts over the past two weeks. Julio Jones, Clay Matthews, Vince Wilfork and Jake Locker are just some of the big names that have gone down, and their losses have changed the complexion of their respective teams.
However, it isn’t just the star players that have an impact when they fall. Teams like the Falcons, Bears, Panthers and Giants all experience cluster injury issues. These teams have become walking infirmaries, with several starters and backups missing extended time and forcing must less capable players into key roles. It is a major issue, and this is where the top organizations – teams like Baltimore, Indianapolis and New England – really separate themselves because of their depth.
Here are Doc’s Sports Week 6 NFL Power Rankings:
1. Denver Broncos (5-0) – As you know by now, the Broncos are the largest favorites in NFL history this week as a 28-point chalk against Jacksonville. This is a letdown/look ahead game for the Broncos, though, off that thrilling win in Dallas and right before they go to Indianapolis for Peyton Manning’s return. Denver defensive coordinator Jack Del Rio will be going up against his former players, and that fits into my long-running theories: always bet on the former coach.
2. New Orleans Saints (5-0) – I was slow to adjust and accept the Saints as a dominant team again this year. That has been to my own detriment. What New Orleans’ offense lacks in talent and scheme they are making up for in just hard work and blind luck. The public has quickly bought back in on New Orleans as nearly 70 percent of the action in their game at New England this week has come down on the Saints. Since 2006, the Saints have gone 12-5 straight up in the second of back-to-back road games.
3. Seattle Seahawks (4-1) – I’m not going to bang Seattle for that loss to the Colts. Had just a couple plays gone differently – especially that non-touchdown/safety on the blocked punt – the Seahawks would’ve blown out the Colts by double-digits. Seattle is 35-16-1 ATS in its last 52 home games and 26-10-1 ATS in their last 37 games overall. Seattle is 5-0 ATS the week after losing to the spread and 4-1 ATS coming off an outright loss.
4. Kansas City Chiefs (5-0) – I want you all to remember I was the only handicapper in the country banging the drum in the preseason about the Chiefs. That said, I fear it is almost time to jump off the ATS bandwagon after K.C.’s 4-1 ATS start. This team is not built to be a large favorite as they are this week (-9). The Chiefs have revenge this week against Oakland as the Raiders swept the season series last year and have won three straight against K.C. Be wary: the home team is just 6-21-1 ATS in this series, and the Chiefs have lost seven straight ATS in Arrowhead against their bitter rivals.
5. Indianapolis Colts (4-1) – The Chiefs were the team I was absolutely right and ahead of the curve on. The Colts were a team I was dead wrong about. I thought for sure that they were going to come back to reality. They have improved on defense far more than I expected. But I am going to say that I am still not as ga-ga over Andrew Luck as everyone else seems to be. The Colts have just the No. 24 ranked passing game in the NFL, yet some bobbleheads like Colin Cowherd claim he is one of the Top-5 players in the NFL. That’s ridiculous. Indy is in a letdown/look ahead situation this week; they're off a serious inside-out win over Seattle (they were outgained by over 100 yards) and right before Peyton Manning’s return to Indianapolis.
6. San Francisco 49ers (3-2) – I am interested to see if the Niners are going to be able to physically impose their will on offense this week against an underrated Cardinals front seven. Arizona is No. 3 in rush defense, and San Francisco has righted the ship precisely because they have gone back to bludgeoning opponents with their running game. San Francisco has won seven of eight in this series, and only one of those wins (back in 2009) came by less than two touchdowns. The average margin of those seven wins is 17.6 points.
7. Green Bay Packers (2-2) – Clay Matthews is one of the few defensive players in football that I can see adjusting the spread for. Matthews is expected to miss one month with a broken thumb. But, honestly, I will be stunned if that is the case. I can see him throwing a club/cast/wrap on his paw and being back in two weeks, especially if the Packers lose while he’s gone. The Packers are 14-5 ATS against teams with a winning record, but they are 0-4 ATS on the road. Their home/road splits are starting to get more pronounced, and if this team is going to emerge in the NFC North they need to get back to being a strong road bet.
8. Cincinnati Bengals (3-2) – The Bengals need to show some maturity this week. They just tallied their best win of the season, dominating New England and holding off a late rally by Tom Brady, and are now on the road against the woeful Bills. This is the first of four road games in five weeks – and five in seven weeks – for Cincinnati. They have been a solid road team under Marvin Lewis and are 5-2-1 ATS on the road against a below-.500 team. The Bengals are 10-3-1 ATS in their last 14 overall and 7-2 ATS in their last nine conference games.
9. Chicago Bears (3-2) – I’m willing to give the Bears one more week to hold on. But they do not look like the team I thought they would be at the start of the season. The main culprit has been the defense. Chicago’s stop unit has been dreadful this year. And if not for their turnover-producing ways, these guys would be even worse. The Bears have just six sacks on defense and could be down to their No. 4 and No. 5 defensive tackles this week. But if they can’t control the line of scrimmage against a Giants offensive line that has been a turnstile, then things are even worse than I thought.
10. New England Patriots (4-1) – Lost in another pathetic performance by the Patriots offense is the fact that New England’s defense put forth another superb effort. They are No. 16 in total yards but No. 2 in points allowed, and they held up relatively well in their first game without Vince Wilfork. Ignore the spread: the Patriots are essentially home underdogs this week against the 5-0 Saints. I want to believe that Bill Belichick will coax an inspired performance out of the offense. But until I see them move the ball against a good defense, I refuse to believe they can.
11. Baltimore Ravens (3-2) – The Ravens were home underdogs once already this season, and they responded by throttling the hapless Texans. Baltimore is 4-0 ATS in its last four home games, and they have one of the best, and most underappreciated home-field advantages in football. The Ravens are 26-3 straight up in their last 29 home games, and this is another matchup of an AFC team being disrespected against an NFC opponent. The AFC is 17-11 ATS against the NFC this year, with last week the first time that the AFC suffered a losing week against its sister conference.
12. Miami Dolphins (3-2) – This week offers a much-needed bye for the Dolphins. Miami hosts Buffalo before a trip to New England on the other side of the break. They have a lot to work on. Although it seems like the Dolphins have played well this year, they are actually No. 28 in total offense and No. 25 in total defense. Are they paper tigers? Or have they played well against a schedule that has included four teams currently over .500 and a fifth against talented Atlanta?
13. Houston Texans (2-3) – I don’t think there is any doubt that Gary Kubiak needs to make a move away from Matt Schaub. The body language of everyone on that offense alone tells me that the team has no confidence in him. And it’s not like the guy has been some elite signal caller in his career. Houston runs a very quarterback-friendly system with a lot of short throws, rollouts, and easy reads. I would skip T.J. Yates, whose ceiling is “game manager” and go right to Case Keenum. The Texans are 0-6 ATS in their last six lined games, and they are 0-6 ATS after a blowout loss of 14 points or more.
14. Dallas Cowboys (2-3) – Desperation or deflated? That is the question surrounding the Cowboys this week. Do they gain confidence by the fact that they almost beat the mighty Broncos? Or will Dallas just act like the idiot losers that we’ve seen so many times in recent years and blow this game against Washington? Somehow the Cowboys are 4-1 ATS this year, and you know that won’t last. Dallas is just 3-10 ATS in divisional games (1-0 this year), and they are 7-18-1 ATS in conference games.
15. Tennessee Titans (3-2) – It’s bad news when your quarterback’s most talked-about play was a pass completed to himself. Ryan Fitzpatrick’s lack of arm strength is a major issue. He flat-out blew that game against the Chiefs last week, throwing two interceptions in the last seven minutes, and now he is tasked with facing Seattle’s dominating secondary. The Titans need to start moving sideways away from Kenny Britt. He has been pathetic this year, and instead of trying to “get him involved” they need to cut him out of the offense. The Titans are 2-9-1 ATS against teams with a winning record.
16. Arizona Cardinals (3-2) – I am now just three wins away from cashing my 7-Unit futures play on the Cardinals “over” 5.5 wins this year. And, frankly, they should be 4-1 were it not for giving away a double-digit lead to St. Louis in Week 1. Carson Palmer had another Palmer-esque game, throwing three disgusting interceptions against Carolina. But the Cardinals are winning because they have – along with Cleveland – one of the most underrated defenses in football.
17. Atlanta Falcons (1-4) – Julio Jones is out for the season, and that is a massive blow to the Atlanta offense. Even if Steven Jackson and Roddy White get healthy, Jones was by far the most explosive player on that team. Mike Smith is taking a lot of flak for his game management in recent weeks. And he should. I’ve never seen a team perform so poorly, for so many years, on third- and fourth-and-short. But the Falcons biggest issue right now may be the fact that they only have five or six guys on defense that should be starting on an NFL team. The rest are rookies, retreads and third-tier backups.
18. Detroit Lions (3-2) – Calvin Johnson is probable this week, and his status bears monitoring as his late scratch last week completely changed the tenor of Detroit’s trip to Green Bay. The public still loves the Lions. Nearly 80 percent of the action in their game against the Browns is coming down on the side of the overrated Lions. Like with the Baltimore-Green Bay game, we have the NFC team getting all the respect. Detroit is 1-5 ATS on the road, 1-4 ATS on grass, 2-7 ATS on the road against a team with a winning record and 6-13-1 ATS overall against above .500 teams. This Lions team is still overrated.
19. San Diego (2-3) – I’m getting to the point where I don’t quite know what to do with the Chargers. Their defense is pathetic, and that is where the sticking point is. The Chargers corners should be dime players, not starters, and beyond Eric Weddle their safeties stink. Philip Rivers had one of his worst games of the season – naturally, right after I started singing his praises – but I think he could bounce back at home this week. Keenan Allen is legit. That guy has some serious skills, and the Chargers need to keep feeding him the ball. The underdog is 8-0 ATS in the Chargers-Colts series, and San Diego is 6-1 ATS in the last seven matchups.
20. St. Louis Rams (2-3) – I hate sounding like a broken record, but fingers are still being pointed at Sam Bradford for the offensive troubles of the Rams. Drops have helped contribute to St. Louis’ problems on third down and helped crush Bradford’s completion percentage. Tavon Austin leads the NFL with seven drops and has been awful – as I predicted. Austin has potential. But nothing in football is as overrated as the impact of rookie receivers. And right now Austin stinks. Jeff Fisher is back in his preferred underdog role this week against Houston. But the Rams will get blown out this week if their No. 23-ranked defense doesn’t get much, much better.
21. Cleveland Browns (3-2) – Brandon Weeden is not an NFL-caliber quarterback. I wanted to give the guy a chance because he shows flashes. But he holds onto the ball too long, isn’t accurate enough (and that was supposed to be his strength) and doesn’t seem to have command of the offense. Cleveland’s defense deserves better. They are in the Top 10 in total yards, passing, rushing and points allowed. And if they face the Lions sans Calvin Johnson, I expect the Browns to physically dictate how that game is played. Cleveland is 7-3-1 ATS at home against a team with a winning record.
22. New York Jets (3-2) – Home teams off a “Monday Night Football” game playing against an opponent off a bye are just 2-9 ATS. The Jets stole a win from Atlanta on Monday. I know they are 3-2 and getting some buzz, but the three victories this year have come against teams that are a combined 3-12 this season. Now they take on the 0-4 Steelers. I still think that this is a weak team, and you still can’t trust Geno Smith on a week-to-week basis. Although is there any doubt that he is a massive upgrade over loser Mark Sanchez?
23. Minnesota Vikings (1-3) – The bobblehead media can rag on Minnesota’s quarterbacks all they want, but the Vikings are No. 5 in the NFL in scoring at 28.8 points per game. They are No. 15 in total yards, and this is their best attack in years. Defense is their problem as they are giving up 430 yards and 30.8 points per game. All that signing Josh Freeman did was send a message through the locker room that the coaches have zero confidence in noodle-armed Matt Cassel and clueless Christian Ponder. I actually think the Vikings should groom Freeman to start by the end of October since his upside is higher than Cassel or Ponder, and his level of incompetence is pretty equal.
24. Philadelphia Eagles (2-3) – This week’s matchup features the stoppable force (Tampa Bay’s No. 31 offense) against the movable object (Philadelphia’s defense). Whichever unit gets the better of that matchup wins this game. Going back to the preseason, the Eagles have beaten the total in seven of nine games. That is pretty amazing given that Philadelphia totals have been inflated ever since Chip Kelly walked in the door. They are beating the total by an average of nearly 10 points per game this year, and we’ll see if that can continue this week against the second-best defense they’ve faced all year.
25. Oakland Raiders (2-3) – Terrelle Pryor looks everything that Robert Griffin III did last year when the Redskins quarterback won Rookie of the Year. Pryor has instilled confidence and life in this Raiders offense. And, as I have said before, the most impressive thing about him is that to this point he has done a great job of taking care of the ball. Oakland has dominated this series with the Chiefs, winning three straight and five of six. The Raiders have covered seven straight trips to Kansas City, and the underdog is an amazing 11-1 ATS in the last 12 meetings.
26. Carolina (1-4) – People can throw blame at Ron Rivera all they want. But Cam Newton is the one out there completing 57 percent of his passes for less than 200 yards per game. Newton has completed less than 56 percent of his passes in three straight games, and the Cardinals, Giants and Bills aren’t exactly powerhouse defenses. Granted, Newton has little to no weapons and a terrible offensive line. But if the Panthers can’t find a way to put up some points then Rivera’s fate is sealed.
27. Buffalo Bills (2-3) – Thad Lewis will be under center for the Bills this week, and despite being pretty spry at home, the Bills are touchdown underdogs to Cincinnati. Buffalo is 3-0 ATS at home this year. But I don’t see how the Bills passing game can compete without E.J. Manuel and probably Stevie Johnson. Buffalo is 8-2 ATS in the last 10 meetings, going back to 1991, and they are 4-1 ATS against the Bengals since 2004.
28. Washington Redskins (1-3) – Mike Shanahan is 10-5 ATS in his last 15 regular season games following a bye week. He will have Washington ready to play this week. The question will be whether or not RGIII has sharpened his game up, because he looked pathetic in the first month of the season. Washington has dominated this series with Dallas, going 6-0 ATS in their last six trips to Big D and going 13-3 ATS in their last 16 meetings overall. The road team is 7-3 ATS in this series, and the underdog is an amazing 23-7 ATS.
29. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (0-4) – After the Josh Freeman debacle, I am not looking for the Bucs to come charging out of the bye week while rallying around Greg Schiano. They are at least lucky that they are at home against a Philadelphia team coming off an emotional divisional win. That’s a huge situational advantage. Mike Glennon is not an NFL quarterback, and he is going to be a disaster under center. But the Bucs have given up over 20 points just once this year, and their defense may be able to keep them close enough to cover some numbers over the next month.
30. Pittsburgh Steelers (0-4) – Levi Brown will certainly help Pittsburgh’s pathetic offensive line. But he’s not a real solution to the problem for the Steelers. Pittsburgh has started to move the ball, gaining nearly 900 yards and scoring 50 points. But they are -7 in turnover differential, and Big Ben has been a disaster with the ball. This is the fourth year in a row the Steelers have faced the Jets, slamming them 27-10 at home last year and winning 24-19 in 2011. But the road team in this series is just 1-7 straight up.
31. New York Giants (0-5) – I never thought I would be saying this, and anyone that reads this space knows that I am not at all part of the reactionary, whatever-happened-30-seconds-ago-is-the-most-important-thing-ever crowd. But I can say I am on board with those people stating that this should be the end for Tom Coughlin. He is a brilliant coach that has had an amazing career. But this will be the fourth time in five years that the Giants have missed the playoffs. And given Coughlin’s age (he’s 67), how much time on the sideline does he really have left anyway? It is time to rebuild.
32. Jacksonville Jaguars (0-5) – The Jaguars have a couple things going for them this week that they didn’t have going for them heading into Seattle as 22-point underdogs. First, the Jaguars were playing the second of back-to-back road games when they went to Seattle, and the team had to stay on the West Coast in between those contests rather than make two more cross-country flights. Second, they have Justin Blackmon back. The Jaguars are averaging only 10.2 points per game. But I think their offense is much better than that. They tallied 17 in Seattle and 20 in St. Louis last week. And with Blackmon on the outside, I see them topping the 20-point barrier against this weekend in Denver.
Throughout the season I will have my NFL Power Rankings every Tuesday. My next ones will be released on Tuesday, Oct. 15.
Robert Ferringo is a lead writer for Doc’s Sport and he is off to a strong start to the season. Robert has secured 9 of 16 winning football months and earned nearly $6,100 in profit for his backers in that time. He is looking at a 6-Unit Game of the Month play this weekend and you don’t want to miss out. 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!
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