NFL Power Rankings - Week 9
by Robert Ferringo - 10/29/2013
I pointed out last week that the end of October and early November is “separation time” for most of the teams in the NFL. This is the time of the year when the top-tier teams start to pull away from the muddled middle in the parity-driven league while the bottom feeders bumble their way to the basement in their respective divisions.
And that is what we saw last week as four of the five teams favored by nine or more points covered the spread. It used to be unheard of to lay double-digits with an NFL favorite. Now it is becoming a necessity.
The other trend that I am starting to see is that after taking it on the chin in the first month of the year the NFC is starting to push back against the AFC in interconference clashes.
NFC teams went 2-1 against the spread last week versus their AFC counterparts. That is actually the fourth week in a row where NFC teams have turned a profit against the AFC, going 2-1, 2-1, 3-2 and 3-2, respectively, against the spread over the past month. That is a solid 10-6 ATS mark, and there are four interconference games on the docket this week.
We’ll see if that trend continues. In the meantime, here are Doc’s Sports Week 8 NFL Power Rankings:
1. Denver Broncos (7-1) – And that right there is why I still have Denver as No. 1. They have a third gear that no team in football has. But the issue will be if they run into a team with a dynamite secondary that can take away an option or two. Julius Thomas may miss some time with an ankle injury, but it is nothing too serious.
2. New Orleans Saints (6-1) – Two more touchdowns for Jimmy Graham, and he is just wrecking people right now. However, his partially torn plantar fascia likely won’t hold up all season, so when the Saints lose him it may be for the season. The Saints are 15-6 ATS after a win, and they are 8-2 ATS after a win by 14 or more points. Prepare for more Ryan family anecdotes than you’ve ever cared for this week as Rob takes on Rex.
3. Seattle Seahawks (7-1) – That was a pathetic performance on “Monday Night Football,” and Seattle should’ve lost that game outright. Their backup tackles are horrendous. But even worse was the Seattle play calling. They continued with five-step drops on second- and third-and-short situations despite the fact that they couldn’t block anyone. Lack of in-game adjustments is a red flag to me about the coaching staff.
4. Kansas City Chiefs (8-0) – The Chiefs have only allowed 10 drives to enter the red zone this year, and only three of them have ended in a touchdown. Both numbers are among the best in football. This is Kansas City’s first road game in three weeks and just their third road game in the last eight weeks. It will be interesting to see how this undefeated team responds in a hostile environment.
5. San Francisco 49ers (6-2) – And that is the San Francisco team that we were expecting to see this year. They physically manhandled Tennessee and Jacksonville in the past two weeks, and their offense has found a rhythm. San Francisco, and its No. 6 scoring offense, has a bye week to recover from the London trip.
6. Green Bay Packers (5-2) – It is not even fair how good Aaron Rodgers is right now. But his phenomenal work in the passing game is masking the fact that the Packers aren’t very good defensively right now. Both the Vikings and the Browns missed a lot of big-play opportunities the last two weeks. But that’s why they are the Vikings and the Browns. The Packers are 18-7-1 ATS in their last 26 meetings against the Packers.
7. Cincinnati Bengals (6-2) – This is actually a revenge game for the Bengals, who lost 17-13 to Miami at home last year. Favorites have dominated the Thursday Night Football games this year, going 4-1 ATS in the last five and 6-2 ATS on the season. But be wary: the public is all over the Bengals after they thrashed the Jets last week. They aren’t likely to play that well again this week, and this is actually Cincinnati’s fifth road game in seven weeks.
8. Indianapolis Colts (5-2) – Over 80 percent of the early public betting this week has come down on the Colts. However, not only have the books not adjusted the spread to a full 3.0, but it is actually dropping at some sites. That is a classic reverse line movement. We are going to see how Andrew Luck responds without go-to guy Reggie Wayne.
9. New England Patriots (6-2) – Just another great move by one of the top front offices in football. The Patriots rush defense was a sieve last week against Miami. The Patriots, who are without Vince Wilfork for the rest of the year, made a deadline trade to pick up 330-pound veteran nose tackle Isaac Sopoaga from Philadelphia. Sopoaga was a very good rotational player for the Niners before this pit stop in Philly. We will see if he can make a difference.
10. Dallas Cowboys (4-4) – And that right there is the problem with the Cover-2. I’ve seen the Bears go through it for years. When teams have elite, top-end talent, they just decimate the Cover-2 because so much of that defense’s strength is not allowing big plays and waiting for opponents to make mistakes. It isn’t about stopping teams, it’s about letting them stop themselves. That’s a problem when an offense gets clicking like Detroit’s was.
11. 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.
12. Detroit Lions (5-3) – 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.
13. Chicago Bears (4-3) – I don’t think there is as massive of a drop-off from Jay Cutler to Luke McCown as people are acting, because with McCown there is less of a risk of the three-turnover game. This is Marc Trestman’s first attempt at beating the hated Packers, and the Bears have lost six straight in this series outright and are just 1-5 ATS in those games. Regardless, I have a hard time picturing the Bears getting blown out this week.
14. Tennessee Titans (3-4) – We are going to find out everything we need to about the Titans this week. They are catching St. Louis off a grueling MNF loss, and the Titans have the advantage of coming off a bye week. They have lost competitive games to the Chiefs, Seahawks and 49ers in their last three games. There is no shame there. But who is this Tennessee team, really? If they are for real, they will beat St. Louis going away.
15. Arizona Cardinals (4-4) – Arizona continues to win in spite of Carson Palmer rather than because of him. They have a bye week and then they host Houston, which will be off an uber-emotional Sunday night “Alamo Game” against the Colts. That will be a massive situational advantage for Arizona.
16. San Diego (4-3) – This is a crucial game for the Chargers. They have had two weeks to prepare, and they have to travel across the country for the dreaded 1 p.m. EST start. However, the Chargers should be able to take advantage of Washington’s pathetic secondary, and Philip Rivers should have another big game. The key for San Diego has been third down. They are converting nearly 50 percent of their third downs on the season, good for No. 2 in the NFL.
17. Carolina (4-3) – The spread on the Falcons-Panthers game jumped two full points overnight on Sunday after opening at 7.5. The sharps are all over the home Panthers. The host has won eight of 10 meetings in this series and is 7-3 ATS. A worse Carolina team won 30-20 over a much better Atlanta team last season, and the Panthers covered the spread in both meetings last year as underdogs. Prior to that the favorite had been on a 7-1 ATS tear.
18. Miami Dolphins (3-4) – I don’t usually rag on play calling unless it was blatantly bad. Miami’s play calling was blatantly awful against the Patriots. The Dolphins were moving the ball at will – and I mean AT WILL – against New England last week. Yet time and time again they tried throwing the ball on second- and third-and-short. Stupid. They lengthened the game, let the Patriots back in, and essentially turned it into a duel between Tom Brady and Ryan Tannehill. Tannehill will win that battle exactly zero percent of the time. Oh, and Mike Wallace is pathetic. What a bust.
19. Oakland Raiders (3-4) – This week offers the Raiders a chance to really build some momentum. Their defense is playing out of its mind, and the team is playing with confidence because they believe in Terrelle Pryor. I think when the line settles this week they will be favored over the Eagles. I still don’t know that I can trust this loser organization to lay points.
20. Houston Texans (2-5) – Case Keenum will get the start this week. But as I have pointed out, Houston has a really simple, quarterback-friendly offense. The Texans use a lot of rollouts, simple reads and short throws in their offense, and I think that Keenum will be fine. The home team has won six straight in this series and eight of nine.
21. New York Jets (4-4) – The Jets beat the Bills at home and then got crushed by Tennessee the next week. The Jets beat the Falcons and then got manhandled by the Steelers the next week. The Jets upset the Patriots and then got hammered by Cincinnati the next week. You seeing the pattern?
22. Buffalo Bills (3-5) – Buffalo is 4-1 ATS in games where C.J. Spiller plays and 1-2 ATS in the three games that he has essentially missed due to injury. The kid is a pure difference-maker. The Bills are 6-0 ATS after a loss, and they are 5-0 ATS in their last five home games. They have also covered six straight against Kansas City and have beaten them in four of the last five seasons.
23. Atlanta Falcons (2-5) – I tip my hat to Matt Ryan. The guy is playing as hard as he can and he is doing absolutely everything that he can for this team. But the Falcons only have about half of an NFL roster. The offensive line is atrocious, they have two undrafted free agents starting at linebacker, two rookie corners starting in the secondary, and without their top offensive weapons this team is going to find itself at the mercy of its opponents the rest of the way. These guys are not good at all.
24. Cleveland Browns (3-5) – The Browns can’t win games if they can’t run the ball. They are currently No. 26 in the NFL in rushing yards per game. Their passing offense is just nowhere near good enough to compete in the NFL week-in and week-out because they don’t have enough talent at the skill positions. Yet they are No. 6 in the NFL in pass attempts. Norv Turner just being Norv Turner.
25. Pittsburgh Steelers (2-5) – The public just can’t wrap its mind around it, but the Steelers simply aren’t a very good team. What’s worse is that this is their fourth road game in the last five they have played, including a trip to Europe and a cross-country flight to Oakland. The underdog is 8-2 ATS in the last 10 games in the Steelers-Patriots rivalry. But Pittsburgh has only won three of those games.
26. Philadelphia Eagles (3-5) – The Eagles spread is off the board at most books, but I couldn’t believe that they opened as a favorite Sunday night. Matt Barkley is nowhere near ready to play, and he is a terrible fit for Chip Kelly’s offense. He will be leading the No. 31-ranked defense in football on the road this week, and I expect nothing short of a bludgeoning for this sinking team.
27. Washington Redskins (2-5) – I don’t mean to say, “I told you so,” but I have been saying for two months that Robert Griffin III is a train wreck and that he doesn’t look like he is even close to being in a groove. I don’t think there is any doubt that the Redskins should go to Kirk Cousins. But remember: this team massively overachieved last year. A little slide back to reality wasn’t outside the realm of possibility.
28. New York Giants (2-6) – The Giants haven’t allowed a touchdown in 10 quarters, and Jon Beason has had a monumental impact on this defense. Beason was one of the best linebackers in football – I thought he was every bit as good as Patrick Willis – before injuries opened the door for Carolina to replace him with Luke Kuechly. I hope Beason stays healthy for the G-Men. If he does they got a steal.
29. St. Louis Rams (3-5) – That was a heartbreaking, deflating loss for the Rams on Monday night. I have no idea how this team is going to pick itself up off the mat. How a Jeff Fisher-coached team can play half the season without a rushing touchdown is bizarre to me.
30. Minnesota Vikings (1-6) – You literally can’t start a game any better than the Vikings did last week. They were also at home, against a division rival, with revenge for a playoff loss, catching nearly double-digits as a live home underdog. And they were never even a threat to cover the spread. I don’t know why people are surprised that this team is so pathetic since nearly the same cast of characters went 3-13 and were outscored by 109 points just two seasons ago.
31. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (0-7) – There is a decent chance that the Bucs lose by 100 this week. I really felt they should’ve fired Greg Schiano after last Thursday night.
32. Jacksonville Jaguars (0-8) – I have not seen the prop wager yet. But as soon as a book offers odds on the Jaguars to go 0-16, make sure you get a little something down on it. This is one of the worst teams I can remember watching. And the schedule is unforgiving. The Jaguars play three of their next four games on the road after their bye week.
Throughout the season I will have my NFL Power Rankings every Tuesday. My next ones will be released on Tuesday, Nov. 5.
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 three weeks ago and raked in around $1,000 in profit last week. Robert is unleashing a 7-Unit Game of the Year this weekend and he has gone 11-4 with his last 15 plays rated 7.0 or higher. Don’t 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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