NFL Power Rankings Week 5
The Gambling Gods giveth, and the Gambling Gods taketh away.
I have seen all manner of insanity occur in the final seconds of sporting events. If you bet on sports as much as I have for as long as I have, you eventually get to the point where you think you've seen it all. However, even I was left dumbfounded and speechless at the last five seconds of the Redskins-Chiefs game on Monday Night Football.
First off, I have seen games where a botched lateral on the final game has led to a game-ending touchdown. It is astoundingly rare. But I have seen it. And I have seen occurrences where those plays have impacted the spread. But what was so amazing about the final play on Monday - Justin Houston's fumble return for the touchdown - was not just that it completely swung the money from Redskins backers to Chiefs bettors. But the most amazing thing was the impact on the total!
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Now, the total on this game was 49.5 from its release the previous week all the way until somewhere around noon Eastern on the Monday of the game. Then the total steadily dropped in the last eight hours leading up to the game, closing at 48.0 and even as low as 47.5 at some books.
That unreal spread-busting fumble return brought the total points to 49. That was a crippler to anyone that bet the total on Monday. And it was about to lead to an all-time totals beat for everyone that put money on the game. But then what does Andy Reid do? He actually shows some class and has his team take a knee rather than kick the 'meaningless' extra point! Amazing!
To be honest, I didn't even see the team take the knee. After Kansas City scored that improbable touchdown I threw my phone, turned the TV off, rifled my remote control across the room, and went outside to stare at the sky and scream at The Gods. I didn't even realize Reid had taken a knee until about 20 minutes later when I went to turn my phone off because it was blowing up with texts.
But hey, after the dust settled I hit my 7-Unit total ('Under' 49.5; that's why you bet early!), my 3-Unit side (Kansas City -7) and my 1-Unit teaser (Seattle-Kansas City) for a HUGE night to close out four straight winning weeks. That good fortune will come back to cost me somewhere down the line. (Although my career ratio of bad beats to fluke wins is about 10:1.) But today I will take it.
Here is Doc's Sports NFL Power Rankings for Week 5:
1. Kansas City Chiefs (3-0) - I will never, ever say anything bad about Andy Reid again. (Not that I have. Frankly, I have been a huge Reid defender. The guy takes WAY too much criticism despite having one of the best coaching resumes in NFL history. But still; thanks Andy!)
2. Denver Broncos (3-1) - Through four games the Broncos have held opponents to just 203 rushing yards. Opposing starting running backs are averaging just 1.9 yards per carry. Denver gets a bye this week before yet another home game next week against the struggling Giants.
3. Pittsburgh Steelers (3-1) - Antonio Brown absolutely should not be returning punts. Why risk one of the best players getting injured for so little in return? Also, seven of their 11 defensive starters are 24 or younger. And you can see the raw speed and aggressiveness. The Jags will test their No. 21 rush defense this week, though.
4. New England Patriots (2-2) - The combined rating of the four quarterbacks that the Patriots have faced this season is 116.5. If you look at the personnel losses New England has endured on that side of the ball, the only conclusion is that they will not get any better any time soon. Chandler Jones, Jabaal Sheard, Rob Ninkovich, Jamie Collins, Logan Ryan, and Chris Long have all departed in the last 18 months. That's a lot of talent out the door and not replaced.
5. Atlanta Falcons (3-1) - Atlanta sports talk radio hosts were trying to spin Atlanta's loss like this: they are 3-1 even though they haven't played well. My view is that they are 3-1 but they should absolutely be 1-3, and it is fluke luck that they aren't. I am treading lightly with this group.
6. Green Bay Packers (3-1) - Despite a 3-1 record, the Packers are averaging just 21 rushes in the regular season compared to 40 passes. That is simply an unsustainable ratio. I thought Aaron Jones looked good at running back last Thursday. The Packers should see what they have with the kid.
7. Oakland Raiders (2-2) - Early reports are that Derek Carr has a spinal fracture and that he will miss 2-6 weeks. The Raiders do have three straight home games and then a bye week. If they can come through with more than one win in that stretch they still have a chance at competing for the playoffs. But if they drop all three games then the season will be over before Halloween.
8. Philadelphia Eagles (3-1) - It's been all about third down efficiency for the Eagles. They are No. 2 in the NFL at 51 percent conversions, and that has helped them become No. 1 in time of possession.
9. Detroit Lions (3-1) - Yes, the Lions got screwed the week prior against the Falcons. But they can't complain about bad luck, and Sunday's game proves why turnover stats are flukes. The Vikings dropped three clear interceptions in that game while the Lions recovered three fumbles. If those turnovers go the other way then it's a blowout for Minnesota.
11. Buffalo Bills (3-1) - The Bills Mafia is going ballistic! This team is one dropped Zay Jones pass away from being 4-0. And there's no secret why: Tyrod Taylor - whose virtues I have been extolling for years in this space - is playing great football. And Buffalo's front four is absolutely devastating people.
12. Seattle Seahawks (2-2) - That was a somewhat of a misleading final score on Sunday. Yes, the Seahawks outgained the Colts by over 200 yards. But that was an 18-18 game in the middle of the third quarter, and two momentum-changing defensive touchdowns are really what determined that one.
10. Washington Redskins (2-2) - I definitely liked what I saw from Washington on Monday. But their injury situation has gone from tenuous to ridiculous. Guys were dropping like flies on MNF, and the Redskins are fortunate that they have their bye this week.
13. Carolina Panthers (3-1) - The Panthers have major injury issues at safety. They just signed former free agent bust Jarius Byrd off the street, and he could end up seeing significant time right off the bat. The Panthers are just 2-8 ATS after a win and could have a major letdown after their big upset over the Patriots last week.
14. Los Angeles Rams (3-1) - Just get Gurley the ball. This guy is the perfect back in the perfect system - a hybrid version of the Mike Shanahan offense - and absolutely nothing about what Gurley is doing is a fluke. He is on pace for 1,448 rushing yards and 2,384 total yards. But can he handle the 424 touches he is on pace for?
15. Houston Texans (2-2) - If you haven't jumped on the Deshaun Watson bandwagon yet then you need to hop on immediately. This guy is absolutely legit. And now that the Texans have a spark on offense you can see the confidence permeate down to the rest of this team.
16. New Orleans Saints (2-2) - I have been saying for weeks that the Saints defense is vastly improved and that their poor efforts in Weeks 1 and 2 were the results of hot quarterbacks, not scheme. The Saints have a bye week and then come back with three of four home games and three straight against the NFC North.
17. Minnesota Vikings (2-2) - The loss of Dalvin Cook hurts, but it isn't a crippler. Minnesota moved the ball well enough to win on Sunday, but those turnovers were game-changers. The Vikings have not played well in Chicago, going just 3-11 ATS in their last 14 trips there. Minnesota is also just 2-8 ATS in its last 10 MNF games.
18. Dallas Cowboys (2-2) - Yes, the Cowboys defense is this bad. They've given up an average of 30 points per game their last three outings, and they were lucky the Rams had to settle for so many field goals. Not many offenses can stop the Cowboys attack. But Dallas can't stop anyone, either.
19. Tennessee Titans (2-2) - Marcus Mariota is questionable this week with his hamstring strain, but I'll be surprised if he is on the field Sunday. How in the world this team doesn't have a better backup than Matt Cassel - who is a noodle-armed loser - is beyond me.
20. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (2-1) - DeSean Jackson's frustration bubbled over late with that failed two-point conversion. Jackson, whom I have always felt was vastly overrated, has just 20 targets and nine catches on the season, and he has been invisible in this offense.
21. Baltimore Ravens (2-2) - The Ravens have now been outscored 70-16 over the last two weeks, and their defense, which was so stout against the pathetic Bengals and Browns offenses the first two weeks, have sprung a series of leaks. With their shoddy offense - which shows no signs of improving - this team is sinking like a stone.
22. Arizona Cardinals (2-2) - Losing David Johnson has forced Arizona's hand a bit. And they are only averaging 2.7 yards per carry this year. But they are averaging 46 pass attempts per game! That is insane. Carson Palmer had another horrible, rookie-level interception at the goal line early against the 49ers and nearly had another costly fumble. If you have Palmer drop back that much it gives him a chance to do a lot of stupid things.
23. Cincinnati Bengals (1-3) - The 'under' is now 6-1 in Cincinnati's last seven games. This team has been throwing a lot of short, quick passes to supplement the running game under their new OC. And since they are now exclusively Cover-2 on defense, they aren't making - or allowing - many big offensive plays. I won't be surprised if that 'under' trend continues.
24. Chicago Bears (1-3) - Mike Glennon is a total gomer. But I still think it is a mistake to go to Mitch Trubisky this early. The Bears face the Vikings, Ravens (on the road) and Carolina defenses the next three weeks. That's setting the kid up to fail, and that could hurt his confidence. But with the Bears coaching staff all working for their jobs, they don't care about Trubisky's long-term development versus their short-term needs.
25. Jacksonville Jaguars (2-2) - How the hell is Doug Marrone going to punt on fourth-and-three from the Jets' 43-yard line in overtime? That was a total loser move right there and the sign of a guy not playing to win.
26. Miami Dolphins (1-2) - You wanted Jay Cutler - you got him. I don't know if I have ever seen a quarterback with worse leadership skills than this noted loser. Bet against him as much as you can while you can. But I feel like the next time he steps away it will be for good.
27. Los Angeles Chargers (0-4) - It might do the Chargers some good to get away from their home field, which has given them zero advantage. But now they have to travel across country for an early start and are at a big situational disadvantage. San Diego is 0-8 ATS in its last eight games and 1-4 ATS on the road.
28. New York Giants (0-4) - I don't know if the Tampa Bay front seven is just that bad or if the Giants offensive line finally found its stones. But New York's running game actually had a pulse on Sunday.
29. New York Jets (2-2) - No, I am not giving the Jets more credit for their win over the Jaguars. They 100 percent should have lost that game. Yet they also have a great opportunity to get to 3-2 against the flailing Browns this week. Nothing makes sense anymore.
30. San Francisco 49ers (0-4) - The 49ers receivers have been a mess. They keep throwing the ball to Marquise Goodwin, but the guy never makes any plays. He has just nine catches for 127 yards from 20 targets this season. Stop throwing him the ball!
31. Indianapolis Colts (1-3) - I give the Colts credit: they have a lot of fight. They aren't any good. But, like the Jets, they are maxing out with effort every week. Indianapolis is 26-8 ATS in their last 34 games against teams with a losing record.
32. Cleveland Browns (0-4) - I know all the focus has been on DeShone Kizer and the offensive struggles. But the Browns defense is pathetic. Other bad teams like the Colts, Jets and Giants are putting up a fight on that side of the ball. But these guys aren't even competing.
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