NFL Power Rankings Week 8
The NFL has become a game of incompetence.
Whether it is officiating errors, coaching and game-management mistakes, or just shockingly poor play, Sundays have become defined by stupidity rather than strategic or athletic excellence. The results have frustrating for bettors, and most professionals I know are starting to dread having to sit through NFL action each week.
Some incompetence is still enjoyable and reassuring. As I mentioned in last week's NFL power rankings, underdogs have been covering the spread at an astronomical rate this season. Week 7 was a rare bright spot for favorites, with the chalk going 9-5 against the spread and with all three primetime favorites (Chiefs, Cowboys and Patriots) easily covering the spread in blowout victories.
Despite last week's blip, though, underdogs are still cashing in at over a 59 percent clip this season.
But here is where the incompetence comes in. There are clearly six hopelessly awful teams in the league right now: the Giants, the Jets, Washington, Atlanta, Cincinnati and Atlanta. Those six teams have combined for a 5-35 straight up record to this point in the season. However, the truly amazing part is that in a season where underdogs are cleaning up, the biggest dogs are getting beat.
Those six teams are a combined 12-28 against the spread on the season. That is a shockingly bad 30 percent success rate for these teams. So, I guess the silver lining is that as bad as NFL football has become as a product each week, there is still a way to make it pay out.
And that no matter how bad you think football is right now, at the bottom of the league it is even worse than it appears.
Here is Doc's Sports NFL Power Rankings:
1. New England Patriots (7-0) - This is why I absolutely love the Patriots. Yes, they have played a comically easy schedule to open the season. Their opponents, collectively, have a 12-32 record. And that includes Buffalo's 5-1 mark. They've played a bunch of incompetents. However, they have covered the spread - inflated, massive spreads - in five of their seven games. I love the Patriots because they don't let terrible teams hang around. They put their foot on their throat and choke the life out of them.
2. New Orleans Saints (6-1) - I know Drew Brees is an alpha. And I know he's trying to get back to the Saints as quickly as possible. However, I think that he would be more of a leader - and more of a team player - if he didn't try to rush back for Week 8. The Saints have a bye week after this week's game with Arizona. And they are 5-0 under Teddy Bridgewater. Brees should let
3. Kansas City Chiefs (5-2) - I am firmly on record as saying that I am a fan of Matt Moore. I'm really surprised that Andy Reid went so conservative with him under center. Moore obviously can't do what Pat Mahomes can. However, he is tough as nails and has a load of moxie. His teammates always seem to rally around this guy, and I expect to see the same with Moore this week.
4. Baltimore Ravens (5-2) - This is a good time for Baltimore to take a week off. They now have two weeks to rest up after a physical game out in Seattle. They also have extra time to prepare for a huge game with the Patriots next Sunday night.
5. San Francisco 49ers (6-0) - The 49ers defense has posted an incredible 49.1 defensive yards per point over the last three weeks. That is outstanding. But it is also completely unsustainable. They've gone 'under' in four straight games. But at some point, that levy is going to break. San Francisco gets four of its next five games at home, and they have as much momentum as any team in the league.
6. Seattle Seahawks (5-2) - With three of their next four games on the road, we're going to find out a lot about this Seahawks group. They are 3-0 SU and ATS away from home this season and should be able to push the Falcons around this week . Seattle is 37-17 ATS after a loss and 4-1 ATS after a double-digit home loss.
7. Green Bay Packers (6-1) - Remember all the talk this offseason about issues between Aaron Rodgers and Matt LaFleur? It all seems kind of ridiculous now, and the Packers are averaging 30.4 points per game in their last five outings, going 'over' in four of those games. Green Bay is 5-2 ATS on the season and 4-1 ATS in their last five games against teams that are above .500.
8. Minnesota Vikings (5-2) - The last time that the Vikings were favored by more than 10 points, they lost outright to Buffalo. They are just 2-3 ATS in their last five games as a double-digit favorite. The Vikings are 4-1 ATS in their last five Thursday night games, and they are 40-16 ATS in their last 56 home games.
9. Los Angeles Rams (4-3) - That was an outstanding three-phase effort from the Rams on Sunday against the overmatched Falcons. But Jared Goff was still missing too many throws. The good news is that Jalen Ramsey gave Los Angeles' defense an obvious jolt, and the Rams are on a 9-3 ATS run in their last 12 games.
10. Indianapolis Colts (4-2) - The differences between the Colts and Texans were stark. This is an incredibly disciplined, well-coached team. They aren't going to beat themselves, and that gives them a massive edge over sloppier teams like the Texans.
11. Carolina Panthers (4-2) - Carolina's Cover-2 defense is kind of a natural counter to Mike Shanahan's offensive system. The Panthers will likely let the 49ers move the ball between the 20's but then stiffen up in the red zone. The trick in this game is going to be what Panthers offense shows up: the one that only mustered 14 and 16 points against the Bucs and Jags, respectively? Or will it be the one that exploded for 34 or more against Arizona, Jacksonville and Tampa Bay?
12. Houston Texans (4-3) - Houston is one of the most penalized teams in the NFL this year, averaging 16 penalties per game. That's poor coaching, plain and simple. These guys just can't be trusted. And as long as Bill O'Brien is in charge, there is a very low ceiling on what this team can actually accomplish. The Texans are 5-1 ATS after a loss and 7-0 ATS after failing to cover the spread.
13. Dallas Cowboys (4-3) - I feel like this is a fortuitous week for the Cowboys to have their bye. Dallas showed last Sunday what they can be when they are healthy and motivated. Now they have two weeks to heal up their offensive line and skill players as they prepare to play five games in 25 days through a brutal November.
14. Detroit Lions (2-3-1) - It is not a coincidence that this team is starting to fade as their running game is starting to fade. In their last two games, Kerryon Johnson has managed just 57 total rushing yards on 18 carries. Matt Patricia is trying to change Detroit's overall style of play. But with the Lions No. 8 in total offense and No. 31 in total defense, they are starting to look more and more like the loser Lions teams we've come to know and love.
15. Philadelphia Eagles (3-4) - Maybe the Eagles should quit running their mouths and learn to play some defense. They've allowed 75 points in their last two games. And it's not like the Vikings and Cowboys have high-octane, thrill-a-minute offenses. If Philadelphia's defense can't hold its own this week against the Bills offense , then Philly's playoff dreams may be finished before Halloween.
16. Chicago Bears (3-3) - The fact that Mitch Trubisky sucks is only news to people that haven't paid any attention to Trubisky's career. It is also clear that, as expected, the defense has taken a step back without Vic Fangio. Chicago's defensive stats the last two years were unsustainable. However, giving up 60 points in their last two games and getting pushed around at the line of scrimmage is eye opening.
17. Buffalo Bills (5-1) - I'm sorry, but I'm still not buying. With two weeks to prepare for this game, the Bills were outplayed, at home, by a Miami team that is actively trying to lose every game. That's kind of a red flag. Their five wins have come against teams with a combined 7-27 straight up mark. The Bills haven't played a team with the talent or desperation levels of the Eagles this week.
18. Oakland Raiders (3-4) - We are starting to see the erosion. This isn't a terrible Oakland team. However, no team was going to be able to hold up against this schedule. Oakland is playing its fifth straight road game this week. It is also playing its fifth straight game against a team that is currently .500 or better. Oakland is just 5-16 ATS on the road, but they are 6-1 ATS in their last seven games after a loss.
19. Cleveland Browns (2-4) - One of the most overrated handicapping angles in the NFL is that teams coming off a bye would be a decent bet because they have had extra time to prepare. Cleveland, this week, is a perfect example. Considering their incompetent rookie coach, do you think, at all, that the Browns have put their extra time to good use? Me neither. Cleveland is 5-21 ATS in its last 26 games against a team with a winning record.
20. Denver Broncos (2-5) - I'm not trying to defend this squad. But I would like to point out that they have played one of the tougher schedules in the NFL. They also haven't been outgained by more than 90 yards in any of their games. They aren't pushovers. They just haven't been efficient. Denver is on a 3-8 ATS slide and is 4-9 ATS against teams over .500.
21. Pittsburgh Steelers (2-4) - I was stunned that the Steelers were installed as a two-touchdown favorite over the Dolphins for this Monday night's game . Granted, the Steelers are on a 4-0 ATS run. But do they have also been outgained in five of their six games, and I don't know that they will get enough solid quarterback play to get ahead of this number. Pittsburgh is 5-1 ATS on Monday Night Football but just 1-5 ATS after a bye week.
22. Jacksonville Jaguars (3-4) - The Jaguars defense has started to right itself. They've only given up 30 points in the last two games, and they have held four of their last six opponents to 17 or fewer. They still aren't anywhere close to the dominating group that people expect. But they should continue their hot play against a farcical Jets offense this week.
23. Los Angeles Chargers (2-5) - That is now a 1-6 ATS start to the season for the Chargers. And while I've gotten plenty wrong this NFL season, I will say that this is the one thing that I absolutely pegged. Now I'm just kicking myself that this wasn't my largest futures wager. Why is this team giving the ball to Melvin Gordon? Austin Ekeler has been more productive, more reliable and more dynamic. Why is Gordon playing at all, frankly?
24. Tennessee Titans (3-4) - Mike Vrabel's decision to go for it on fourth down at midfield with 2:34 to play was the most recent proof of what is pretty clear: this guy actually has no idea what he's doing when it comes to game management. He is confusing irrational confidence with intelligence. It was a night-and-day difference with Ryan Tannehill leading the offense. The Titans still have a 28.6 offensive yards per point in their last three games, though, so I think there may be some value playing this team 'over' for the next few weeks.
25. Arizona Cardinals (3-3-1) - Do not believe the hype. This team is going to annoy some opponents just by virtue of their style of play. But they are not a good team. Their three-game winning streak has come against opponents with a combined 3-18 record and the margin of victory in those wins was just over three points apiece. Arizona should've lost all three of those contests, to be frank.
26. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (2-4) - It is tough to know what to make of the Bucs after their week off. This is another team that's played a rough schedule. However, they actually lost their one game against a team that currently has a losing record. Tampa Bay is 9-4 ATS after a bye week and they are 7-1 ATS after a loss. They are also 5-1 ATS in their last six road games.
27. New York Giants (2-5) - That game against Arizona was nothing but dueling incompetence. I have said this from the day he was hired: Pat Shurmur is not an NFL-caliber coach, and it is ridiculous that anyone thinks otherwise. And so much for that Daniel Jones magic; New York is on a 0-3 ATS slide with the rookie under center.
28. Atlanta Falcons (1-6) - The Falcons have been in Mercedes-Benz Stadium for only three seasons. Yet the place was a ghost town on Sunday. Atlanta used to have an outstanding home-field advantage. Now? None at all. The apathy around this franchise right now is the clearest indicator that Dan Quinn is a dead man walking. I will be stunned if Matt Ryan plays this weekend. Behind that offensive line? Nothing good is going to come from it. Early indications are that the Falcons would be a 7.5-point underdog against Seattle without Ryan and -3.5 with him.
29. Washington Redskins (1-6) - Washington has scored just 27 points in their last four games, and right now they have to be considered an automatic 'under' bet. Bill Callahan's desperate dedication to the run is kind of emblematic of where this franchise is right now. They just want to run out the clock on this season as fast as they can to save themselves further embarrassment.
30. New York Jets (1-5) - Once again, Dallas proved what complete and total losers they were in that loss to the Jets two weeks ago. All I could think watching the Patriots undress the Jets was, "How the hell did New York beat the Cowboys?" And as I have said - repeatedly - Sam Darnold is not a good quarterback. He's not going to be a good quarterback. He's not a difference-maker for his team in the slightest. He is a turnover-prone, overrated dud. The sooner people realize that, the better off they will be.
31. Cincinnati Bengals (0-7) - At what point do the Bengals go with Ryan Finley? If for nothing else, they should give Finley five or six games to see what he can and can't do in the NFL. If he's simply a backup body, then what is he doing on the roster? The Bengals are 1-5 ATS in this series, and I am doubtful that Zac Taylor is going to have any amazing insight to help him game plan against his former team.
32. Miami Dolphins (0-6) - That is now back-to-back ATS wins for the Dolphins. I can't help but feel that there is a little value on this squad right now. Yes, they are being outscored by an average of 25 points per game and will end the year as one of the worst teams in NFL history. However, they haven't resigned themselves to 0-16 just yet and are still fighting. And with the massive spreads they are being handed, there may be some value in betting on them, rather than against them, over the rest of the season as their schedule softens up.
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