NFL Power Rankings - Week 8
by Robert Ferringo - 10/22/2013
We are starting to see natural selection work its way through the NFL.
In a league devised for parity to reign supreme, there is becoming a very clear delineation between the Haves and the Have-Not’s in the NFL. We are seeing more double-digit spreads, and some teams are starting to gear up and work toward securing playoff positioning while others are already starting to cast a gaze to next year.
And we haven’t even hit the midway point of the season.
However, this is a dangerous time for bettors. Because this is the time of the year when people start to focus too much on the win-loss records of the teams matching up and not enough on the physical performance and schedules of each opponent. It is too easy to jump on board with a 5-2 team playing against a 2-5 team just on face value. But this next month is when the oddsmakers really start to tighten the screws against the bettors and take advantage of their natural prejudices.
Stick to the principles. And understand that some teams are better than their records allow, some teams are worse, and some teams are exactly who Denny Green thinks they are.
Here are Doc’s Sports Week 8 NFL Power Rankings:
1. Denver Broncos (6-1) – I’m not going to cream the Broncos for losing a hyper-emotional game on the road to another one of the best teams in football. But it is obvious that Denver’s defense is a disaster. I don’t know what it is about Manning that the guy just can never be blessed with a Top-10 defense. The Broncos have dropped from the No. 3 pass defense to No. 30. They absolutely have to get Champ Bailey right. (And Elvis Dumervil’s pass rush is sorely missed.) But this defense has some real issues.
2. New Orleans Saints (5-1) – The Saints are mammoth favorites this week out of the bye, laying 12.5 points to the feisty Bills. This is mostly a trend play as the Saints are 5-0 ATS in their last five games off a bye week and an outstanding 19-7 ATS at home. The big news this week is the status of Jimmy Graham, who is uncertain to play. I don’t believe that he will suit up. He has a “foot injury,” and those are notoriously cranky injuries. Without him the Saints will still move the ball. But you can’t underestimate how important he is to New Orleans’ entire game plan.
3. Seattle Seahawks (6-1) – I think that the few extra days of rest following their Thursday night win over Arizona will really help Seattle. It has been an emotional month for Seattle, and they are again being thrust into primetime this week against a divisional opponent. But this team is cruising and should maul the Rams. Russell Wilson is averaging 30.7 points per game at home, but just 19.3 points per game on the road, in his career.
4. Kansas City Chiefs (7-0) – Who is the least surprised NFL analyst in the country when it comes to the Chiefs this year? This guy. I released one of my largest futures bets of the entire year on Kansas City to go “over” their win total this season, and I have been driving this bandwagon since Week 1. I still have no idea how they didn’t cover that spread last week as Alex Smith looked like he was drunk and stoned in the fourth quarter of that game. The Chiefs have now gone just 16-34-1 against the total in their last 51 games and are 6-20-1 against the total in their last 27 games. The “under” has hit in 21 of 26 games at Arrowhead, and this has been one of the most reliable totals teams in the NFL the past three years.
5. San Francisco 49ers (5-2) – I think San Francisco’s experience playing in big, national games over the past two seasons will give them a huge edge this week in London. The Niners are used to the extra media presence and interest, and they are used to raising the level of their play on a big stage.
6. Indianapolis Colts (5-2) – The Colts have beaten the No. 1, No. 3 and No. 5 teams in my Power Rankings. They have the most impressive resume of any team in the NFL…but surprise, surprise; I’m still not completely buying in. They were outgained by Seattle and by Denver. And if it weren’t for a host of fluke plays they would’ve/should’ve lost both of those games. Also, it was somewhat of a Pyrrhic victory for the Colts as they lost Reggie Wayne for the season.
7. Green Bay Packers (4-2) – If I were Jordy Nelson or James Jones I would be walking around in a bubble suit right now. Same goes for Eddie Lacy. The Packers offense lost another crucial piece last week when their starting tight end went down with a horrible neck injury. How can the Packers keep winning in the face of such attrition? Fortunately for them, they get to take a piece out of hapless Minnesota this week, and the Packers are 25-9 ATS in their last 34 divisional games. Green Bay is also 5-2 ATS in its last seven against the Vikings.
8. Cincinnati Bengals (5-2) – The Bengals can really put a stranglehold on the AFC North – and throw themselves into the discussion about the No. 1 seed in the AFC – if they can simply take care of business this week against the Jets. Cincinnati has covered the spread in four straight home games, and they are on an 11-4 ATS run. Cincinnati is 17-8-1 ATS after a win, and these are exactly the type of games that the Bengals have dominated for the last two-plus seasons.
9. New England Patriots (5-2) – The underappreciated and unspoken strength and storyline of the Patriots coming into this season should’ve been about the rebuilt and improving defense. Unfortunately, a cluster of injuries has sabotaged what had been a quietly solid unit. New England’s lack of depth is being exposed. But, like we are seeing in Atlanta and even Denver, that is what happens when you sink such a large portion of your salary cap into the quarterback position. The Patriots are 8-3 ATS following a loss.
10. Dallas Cowboys (4-3) – I know that everyone is back on the bandwagon. Hell, even I think that this is too high for Dallas. But before you bust out your Danny White jersey, remember: three of Dallas’ four wins have come against division opponents. And the NFC East is by far the most incompetent division in football. I want to see Dallas get the job done against another quality team before I will buy back in on a team that I predicted would go 10-6.
11. Chicago Bears (4-3) – It looks like 2010 all over again for the Bears. Or was it 2011? Or 2012? It appears that the Bears are going to be undone by injuries yet again. Chicago’s bye week couldn’t have come at a more perfect time.
12. Baltimore Ravens (3-4) – This is a good time for the Ravens to regroup. They need to take the next two weeks and get things fixed on their offensive line or they are going to be stuck in the middle of the pack for the rest of the season. Remember: this was an average team last year in the regular season, and they simply got hot for the playoffs. So expectations for a major run from the champions should be tempered. That Buffalo loss is just an anchor around this team’s neck right now.
13. Detroit Lions (4-3) – There were a lot of things that impressed me about Detroit’s loss to Cincinnati. They played hard. They didn’t implode. But they lost that game because Matt Stafford stinks. Seriously. He will get the credit for those touchdown passes to Calvin Johnson, but those were both just ridiculous plays by one of the best wide receivers of the last 20 years. Stafford missed on a ton of throws throughout that game, and the Lions missed out on a lot of potential big plays as a result. This team has to gear back up, mentally, this week for a tough challenge from the Cowboys.
14. Tennessee Titans (3-4) – Like the Bears, Tennessee’s bye week really couldn’t come at a better time. This team is hanging by a thread after back-to-back grueling games against Seattle and San Francisco. This extra week off will give them time to digest the death of the owner, Bud Adams.
15. Arizona Cardinals (3-4) – The Cardinals’ faltering offense has been the storyline the past week. But Arizona’s last five opponents have had an average defensive ranking of 5.4. They have faced Seattle, San Francisco and Carolina – three of the best defenses in football – the past three weeks and have played against the five best defenses in the NFC. If that loser Carson Palmer isn’t turning the ball over, the Cardinals can score some points. They should have a breakout performance against the Falcons this weekend.
16. Miami Dolphins (3-3) – It is disgusting how betting the road team in all Miami games – just blindly betting the road team – continues to hold up. It has truly been the best betting system in the NFL over the last decade. The best trend over the last five years? That would be blindly taking the underdog in all Miami games. The underdog has gone 47-22 ATS in Miami’s last 69 games, and the dog is 4-2 ATS in Miami games this year. Also, I am sticking with my original analysis of Ryan Tannehill. He isn’t any good. He makes the occasional great throw and can have the occasional big game. But his long-term ceiling is mediocre.
17. Atlanta Falcons (2-4) – It looks like the Falcons will get Steven Jackson back in the fold this week. But I think that the public will overreact to his return. The Falcons running game is ranked No. 30, but that has more to do with the offensive line than with the backs. The biggest problem for this team, however, is still the defense. Tampa Bay had a touchdown taken off the board because of a stupid penalty, and they were horrible in the red zone. But the Bucs and Mike Glennon moved the ball at will against Mike Nolan’s unit.
18. San Diego (4-3) – The Chargers laid an egg in Oakland, and they gave away a game to Houston. That is all that is standing between them and a 6-1 record despite the fact that they have one of the worst back sevens in football. San Diego has a bye this week. But they play three of their next four games on the road, with the home game against Denver. Two of those road games are on the East Coast (Washington and Miami), and this upcoming four weeks will define the Chargers’ season.
19. Houston Texans (2-5) – I have been saying for weeks that the Texans should have gone go Case Keenum. I thought he was sharp against the Chiefs despite some shaky pass protection. Houston has a bye week and then a crucial game against Indianapolis.
20. Philadelphia Eagles (3-4) – It will be interesting to see how the Eagles respond, emotionally, after getting bludgeoned by the Cowboys on Sunday. They have the situational advantage of catching the Giants off a “Monday Night Football” win. The Eagles are 8-2-1 ATS in the last 11 meetings and already have a double-digit victory over the G-Men this year. But the favorite is just 4-13-1 ATS in this series. Michael Vick will likely start this week for Philadelphia.
21. New York Jets (4-3) – Still not buying it. Look, the Patriots game is like a bi-annual Super Bowl for the Jets. They play well over their heads against New England. And the Jets are 0-4 ATS in their last four games following a straight-up underdog win, losing those four games by an average of two touchdowns per. The Jets have won four straight in the Bengals series, all since 2008.
22. Carolina (3-3) – This team may still be a bit undervalued right now. They should’ve beaten Seattle and Buffalo in their first two games of the season, and they outgained Arizona by over 100 yards in a 22-6 loss. Those three losses occurred because the Panthers are terrible offensively and because the Cam Newton-Ron Rivera “brain trust” is one of the most simple-minded in the sport. But with a Top-5 defense and momentum after winning three of four games, the Panthers could be primed for a run. They have revenge for being swept by the Bucs last year, losing 27-21 in OT and 16-10 despite winning the stats.
23. Pittsburgh Steelers (2-4) – This is an awful situation for the Steelers this week. They are heading across country right after a thrilling, emotional victory over archrival Baltimore. The Steelers have had all kinds of problems with Oakland, losing three of the last four meetings, and they have not played well in Oakland, losing each of their last two trips out there since 1995. One of those losses was a 34-31 defeat last season.
24. Buffalo Bills (3-4) – The Bills are plucky, I will give them that. But this team is still closer to being 0-7 than it is being 4-3. Buffalo is 5-2 ATS this year, and they have covered three of four. But they have been outgained by 161 and 25 yards, respectively, in their last two games. Since 1998 Buffalo is just 6-25 ATS after a game against Miami, and they are also a horrid 6-19-1 ATS following an outright win.
25. Washington Redskins (2-4) – There is no way that I am buying into Washington, despite its home win against Chicago. The Redskins are 13.5-point underdogs this week out in Denver. That may have more to do with the idea that Denver is pissed off about Sunday night. But Mike Shanahan’s return to Mile High isn’t moving the needle for the visitors. The Redskins have already been blown out at Dallas (31-16) and at Green Bay (38-20) this year, and I can see a similar performance this weekend.
26. Oakland Raiders (2-4) – The Raiders are fresh out of a bye, and they have gone 4-1 ATS in their last five games against the Steelers. The Raiders defense has impressed me a lot this year. Discounting defensive and special teams scores, the Raiders haven’t allowed more than 17 points to an opponent the last three weeks. If you kick out the Denver game, the Raiders are surrendering an average of just 16.2 points per game to opposing offenses. Not surprisingly, this team is 1-5 against the total on the season.
27. St. Louis Rams (3-4) – Sam Bradford just cannot catch a break. Prepare for the Kellen Clemons Show, which we’ve all seen before. And Clemons is going to be thrown right into the fire against the best secondary in the NFL (Seattle). Double-digit home underdogs in the NFL have covered the spread nearly 59 percent of the time dating back to 1988 (84-60). But it is going to be a hard sell to get people on board St. Louis this week for “Monday Night Football”.
28. Cleveland Browns (3-4) – Wait – so you’re saying that Brandon Weeden isn’t an NFL-caliber quarterback? And people are just realizing this now? Look, I have said in the past that I think Weeden can be a serviceable NFL quarterback. And he could be. He throws a good ball. He’s better than anything they have in Minnesota, Jacksonville or Tampa Bay right now. But his decision-making is so slow, and he is so unsure of himself in the pocket, that there is no way Weeden will ever be the starter on a winning team, and there’s a 50-50 chance he is no longer a starter by Week 10.
29. New York Giants (1-6) – Some people are still trying to sell the Giants revival story after Monday’s win. “They’re still alive!” That is ridiculous. Peyton Hillis is awful. Eli Manning should’ve had another pick-six. New York’s special teams are comical. This is still a terrible team. Outside of Antrel Rolle and Victor Cruz, there is no one on this roster playing above a mediocre level, and most guys are performing far below that.
30. Minnesota Vikings (1-5) – Wow. The Vikings are realizing that Josh Freeman didn’t get cut in the middle of the season because Greg Schiano is a dick. Josh Freeman was cut because he sucks. I love how analysts are criticizing the Vikings for putting him out there. But it was Freeman that was absolutely airmailing wide-open receivers. He wasn’t even close! This team has not hit rock bottom yet.
31. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (0-6) – Doug Martin – who really hadn’t done much of anything this year – has a torn labrum and could be out for the year. The Bucs are a horrendous football team. I think that there is enough raw talent here where the Bucs will cobble together two or three wins this season. Tampa Bay has gone 10-27-1 ATS in its last 38 home games, and I am expecting a half-empty stadium on Thursday night when they host Carolina. The underdog is just 2-9 ATS in the Carolina series.
32. Jacksonville Jaguars (0-7) – Someone actually sat down in August, looked at Blaine Gabbert and Chad Henne and was like, “Yeah, we’re good here.” It is breathtaking how pathetic this team is in all facets of the game. I am already on record as saying they will not win a game, and I am sticking to that. It was jaw-dropping to see a team perform as horribly in the red zone as the Jaguars were last week.
Throughout the season I will have my NFL Power Rankings every Tuesday. My next ones will be released on Tuesday, Oct. 29.
Robert Ferringo is a lead writer for Doc’s Sports and he is off to a strong start to the season. Robert exploded for over $2,200 in football profit with his selections two weeks and is looking for a big bounce back week on the gridiron. 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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