NFL Power Rankings - Week 7
by Robert Ferringo - 10/15/2013
I have some words of advice for NFL head coaches:
TAKE THE POINTS!
It has become a disturbing trend across the league over the last several weeks; coaches are consistently eschewing chip-shot field goals on fourth down to make ill-conceived attempts at touchdowns. Off the top of my head, I can think of five times in the last two weeks where a coach went for it on fourth-and-short inside his opponent’s 10-yard-line instead of simply taking the three points. Not only did it almost never work out for the offense, but those three lost points went on to be a major factor in the outcome of the game both straight up and against the spread.
With the exception of some high-profile anomalies, namely Denver and Philadelphia, scoring is down across the NFL. However, coaches are still choosing to play for touchdowns way too early in games out of fear that they won’t be able to keep up in the pass-happy league. But that’s not the case. And someone needs to tell NFL head coaches that.
Look, I’m all for daring. I can appreciate coaches that think outside the box and sometimes make a move with lower statistical probability for the sake of momentum or secondary factors. Go for it. But there is a time and a place for such boldness. And seven minutes into the first quarter in a 7-3 game is not one of those spots.
Take the points. Trust me: they will come in handy later.
Here are Doc’s Sports Week 7 NFL Power Rankings:
1. Denver Broncos (6-0) – Do you think there is anything on the planet that is going to stop Peyton Manning from getting a win in his return to Indianapolis this week? Despite facing inflated lines, the Broncos have gone 7-3-1 ATS in their last 11 games and 6-2 ATS in their last eight on the road.
2. New Orleans Saints (5-1) – The Saints are holding their breath about Jimmy Graham and his injured foot. It will be interesting to see if Graham’s contract situation has any bearing on how long it takes him to return to the field. New Orleans has a bye this week before hosting Buffalo next week.
3. Seattle Seahawks (5-1) – Bobby Wagner has a high ankle sprain and could miss two more weeks for Seattle, which has a short week before going to Arizona for a Thursday night game. The Seahawks are just 1-6 ATS in their last seven trips to Arizona. But Seattle is 20-7 ATS in its last 27 conference games and 10-3 ATS in their last 13 games overall. Be wary though: nearly 80 percent of the bets on this game are coming down on Seattle. No one ever made money long-term by laying points on the road with big public primetime favorites.
4. Kansas City Chiefs (6-0) – The Chiefs were actually outgained in their 17-point win over the Raiders last week. That is usually a regression indicator for the following week. Injuries are starting to crop up on this team as Brandon Albert and Brandon Flowers are both questionable going into this week. Flowers was inactive last week and has been beat up since Week 2. He is critical to that defense. They need to rest him as long as they can in order to bring him back at 100 percent.
5. San Francisco 49ers (4-2) – The Niners have their mojo back after two straight strong efforts. San Francisco needs to improve its red zone efficiency, though, as they have converted just half of their attempts into touchdowns. The 49ers have to fly cross-country for a 1 p.m. EST start, which is usually brutal on West Coast teams. This is only the third time in the past two seasons the 49ers have had to do that. They went 1-1 straight up and against the spread in those games last year, losing at Minnesota and slaughtering the Jets.
6. Green Bay Packers (3-2) – First Clay Matthews and now Randall Cobb. Injuries are crippling the Packers, but they keep on fighting. I thought their performance in Baltimore last week was as impressive as anything I saw last week. They have outgained four straight opponents by an average of 120 yards per game. The Packers have won 22 of 23 home games and are 18-8 ATS as a home favorite.
7. Cincinnati Bengals (4-2) – Andy Dalton missed way too many throws and made too many bad reads last week against a weak Buffalo secondary. He finally threw for over 300 yards (318), but 249 of those yards came after the catch. The Bengals have been awesome in the red zone this year, converting 64.3 percent of their opportunities into touchdowns, good for No. 5 in the league.
8. Indianapolis Colts (4-2) – The Colts were in a savage letdown/look ahead situation last Monday night at San Diego. And they looked uninspired and unfocused in that grueling loss to the Chargers on national TV. But the Colts are 9-1 ATS after a straight up loss and 7-2 ATS in their last nine home games. Indianapolis is also 20-8-2 ATS against teams with a winning record.
9. New England Patriots (5-1) – The Patriots are 12-2 ATS in their last 14 meetings in New York, and they have beaten the Jets five straight times. The road team in this series is an amazing 22-8-1 ATS in the last 31 matchups. New England missed several opportunities for big scoring plays in the first half of their first meeting with the Jets. We’ll see if they do a better job capitalizing this week.
10. Chicago Bears (4-2) – Chicago’s defense is getting weaker and weaker each week. They will have their hands full this week with a Washington offense that can still move the ball a bit. Chicago is 1-5-1 ATS in its last seven games overall and have become masters at winning games but not beating spreads this year. Chicago is just 1-4 ATS in their last five versus Washington, but the underdog is 4-1 ATS in the last five meetings, and the road team is 5-1 ATS.
11. Baltimore Ravens (3-3) – Huge game for the Ravens this week. The road team has won five of the last seven meetings, and seven of the last nine Ravens-Steelers games have been decided by just a field goal. Baltimore has been shaky in two of its three road games this season. They have a chance to drive a dagger into Pittsburgh’s heart early in this season. Will they take advantage?
12. Dallas Cowboys (3-3) – Three of Dallas’ four starting defensive linemen will be inactive this week at Philadelphia. I am very interested to see how the Cover-2 fares against Philadelphia’s quick-strike offense. I think Monte Kiffin’s scheme is a good matchup for Chip Kelly’s attack. But Dallas is shorthanded and don’t have the scheme mastered. The public has piled onto the Cowboys, with 80 percent of the bets on Dallas. However, the spread went from an open of Dallas -2 to Philadelphia -3. That’s as strong of a reverse line movement as you will see.
13. Miami Dolphins (3-2) – I’m curious to see how the Dolphins play out of their bye this week. Miami is on a two-game losing skid and had two weeks to think about it. They are 5-1 ATS in their last six home games and are 7-3 ATS in their last 10 divisional games. Miami was supposed to be a player in the AFC East. They can prove it this week. The favorite is 4-0 ATS in the Bills-Fins series, and Miami is 7-3 ATS in its last 10 against Buffalo.
14. Tennessee Titans (3-3) – Chris Johnson has been smothered after three straight excellent games to start the season. Johnson managed 256 yards in his first three outings but has mustered just 71 rushing yards I his past three efforts. That is more collateral damage from Jake Locker’s injury as teams just don’t have to respect the Titans passing attack with Ryan Fitzpatrick at the helm.
15. Detroit Lions (4-2) – I think that this week’s game is one of the biggest of the season for the Lions. They are at home against a fellow upstart, above .500 opponent. The Lions are 5-2 ATS in their last seven games, but they aren’t even getting the respect of being a three-point home favorite. They have every bit the talent that Cincinnati has and a potentially more explosive offense. After going just 2-6 ATS as a favorite last year, the Lions are a healthy 3-1 ATS when laying points this year.
16. Houston Texans (2-4) – For all the Texans and for all the whiny media members that were pissing and moaning about Houston fans booing Matt Schaub’s injury, all I can say is this: quit being babies! They are booing. You are a football player, not an injured Marine. If words hurt you that badly then sit in the corner and suck your thumb until you feel better. Or you could try to not suck as much, and then they wouldn’t be happy when you get hurt – again. Oh, and I don’t think there is any doubt that Case Keenum should get the call this week.
17. Arizona Cardinals (3-3) – The Cardinals beat the Seahawks at home last year in Russell Wilson’s first career start. But then they lost 58-0 in the rematch last December, and it will be interesting to see if the Cardinals use that blowout as motivation this week. The home team has won six of seven in this series, and the Cardinals are 7-4 ATS in the last 11 meetings. Carson Palmer has not thrown less than two interceptions since Week 2.
18. Atlanta Falcons (1-4) – A cluster injury problem has sabotaged Atlanta’s season. But I was surprised to see them installed as healthy 9.5-point favorites against Tampa Bay this week. Atlanta will likely be without Julio Jones, Roddy White and Steven Jackson this week. Their offensive line still stinks, and their defense is still terrible. Atlanta has gone 7-2 straight up against the Bucs lately. But they are just 3-6-1 ATS in the last 10 meetings.
19. San Diego (3-3) – I said last week that Keenan Allen is legit, and then he came out and played a great game on Monday night. Good stuff. And yeah, I’m a huge fan of his work. Kudos to the Chargers defense as well. They were without three starting linebackers and completely shut down the Colts. But now they have to travel across the country off an emotional “Monday Night Football” win. To make motivation even more difficult, they are facing a 0-6 opponent and are installed as a touchdown favorite. This is a dangerous situation for San Diego.
20. Philadelphia Eagles (3-3) – The Eagles still have trouble stopping teams. But when I look at the bad teams in the NFC East I can say that at least the Eagles have an identity. I also prefer Nick Foles to Mike Vick because of the reduced turnover risk. Philly’s three wins have come against the Redskins, Bucs and Giants, who are a combined 1-15.
21. St. Louis Rams (3-3) – Fear The Mustache. I obviously didn’t have proper respect for The Mustache last week when I bet against Jeff Fisher as an underdog. St. Louis is catching points again this week. The Rams are 7-2 ATS in their last nine road games and 11-4 ATS in their last 15 games after a win by two touchdowns or more.
22. Cleveland Browns (3-3) – There is simply no way that I can back the Browns with Brandon Weeden under center. Cleveland’s front office is saying all the right things about Weeden. But it should be obvious to everyone by now that he is CFL quality. Cleveland’s defense should be able to keep them in the game this weekend at Green Bay. And after winning three of four, this team has plenty of confidence. But they have been at home the last three weeks and will have to adjust to a hostile atmosphere if they want to keep from being blown out.
23. New York Jets (3-3) – The Jets actually outgained the Patriots in their first meeting this year, easily covering the 10-point spread in a 13-10 loss. But they were done in by four Geno Smith turnovers, which is a pretty common theme for the Jets this year. Were it not for a comeback win at Atlanta against a banged-up, 1-4 Falcons team then New York would be on a three-game losing streak. I didn’t buy the “Jets resurgence” storyline last week when I piled on Pittsburgh. I’m still not buying it now; this is a bad football team.
24. Oakland Raiders (2-4) – Two weeks off for the Raiders, who host Pittsburgh next week. If you threw out the 37-21 loss at Denver on Sept. 23 then Oakland would have a Top-10 defense this season. I don’t think anyone saw that coming.
25. Carolina (2-4) – We are going to learn everything we need to know about the Panthers in the next seven days. They have a very winnable home game this week against St. Louis on Sunday. Then they have a quick turnaround to play Tampa Bay on Thursday. If the Panthers can sweep, they will be back in the thick of the NFC race. But a split or two losses could lead to an in-season firing for Ron Rivera.
26. Pittsburgh Steelers (1-4) – Levi Brown, we hardly knew ye. The Steelers traded for Brown last week to give them some much-needed offensive line help. Brown tore his bicep in warm-ups last week and never took the field for Pittsburgh. He is out for the year, and the Steelers are right back to square one with their overmatched, inexperienced line. Pittsburgh is just 1-6 ATS in its last seven home games and just 5-16 ATS in their last 21 games following a win.
27. Minnesota Vikings (1-4) – Matt Cassel is pathetic. But the real reason the Vikings are 1-4 is because their defense is horrendous. These guys can’t stop anyone. At all. They have maybe four or five guys that could be starters on other NFL defenses. The rest of the defenders are terrible. Minnesota has been outgained in 10 straight games (including preseason) and is just 3-7 ATS in those games. The Vikings are 0-5 ATS in their last five “Monday Night Football” games.
28. Buffalo Bills (2-4) – From E.J. Manuel to Jeff Tuel to Thad Lewis to Matt Flynn. Yes, injuries are blunting any progress the Bills are trying to make. But what a roster of losers Buffalo is turning to. Don’t be fooled by the, “Bills play everyone tough” storyline we’re hearing about this team. The Bengals were in a prime letdown spot, and they still built a 24-10 lead at Buffalo. And the Bills’ win over Baltimore was courtesy of five Joe Flacco interceptions. Their other win over Carolina came via a last-second score. They are lucky not to be 0-6.
29. Washington Redskins (1-4) – Is there a team with worse karma than the Redskins right now? Despite that, some early sharp money hit Washington hard on Monday and turned this 1.5-point underdog into a 1.0-point favorite. It is now or never time for the Redskins. And if they are going to make any sort of noise in the feeble East then this is a must-win game.
30. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (0-5) – In a league full of terrible young quarterbacks, Mike Glennon might be the worst. Which is a shame because the Bucs have some weapons. Tampa Bay is 5-1 ATS in its last six trips to Atlanta, and the road team is 6-2-1 ATS in that series. Atlanta blew out Tampa 45-24 to close the 2011 season. Other than that, seven of the previous eight meetings have been decided by six points or less.
31. New York Giants (0-6) – New York is on pace for a -40 turnover differential this year. Eli Manning has 15 interceptions (he’s on pace for nearly 40), and the G-Men have coughed it up a staggering 23 times. The Giants are 1-5 ATS on the season, and I don’t know that they should be favored over anyone. Don’t expect much of a home-field advantage in this game, either; New York fans know this season is over and I expect about one-third of the seats to be empty at kickoff.
32. Jacksonville Jaguars (0-6) – I still see value with the Jaguars totals over the next few weeks. This attack is not as bad as people think. Justin Blackmon has been unstoppable in his first two games back. Not surprisingly, the Jaguars have beaten the total in both weeks while posting their two best scoring outputs. The Jaguars are just 2-8 ATS in their last 10 home games, but the home team is 4-1 ATS in the Chargers series.
Throughout the season I will have my NFL Power Rankings every Tuesday. My next ones will be released on Tuesday, Oct. 22.
Robert Ferringo is a lead writer for Doc’s Sport and he is off to a strong start to the season. Robert exploded for over $2,200 in football profit with his selections last week and is on an amazing 12-3 NFL run. Robert will have a 7-Unit NFL Game of the Year this weekend that you don’t want to miss. 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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