NFL Power Rankings Week 9
Most people I know are in agreement about the product that is NFL football these days: it's pretty awful. The game is a ragged, penalty-filled mess that is routinely interrupted by instant replay reviews, commercials and promotions for network television shows.
But a fifteen-minute span on Sunday proved again why it is must-see television every week based solely on the excitement that sports betting brings to the league.
In rapid success, millions of dollars changed hands at the end of the 1 p.m. games on Sunday. First, Atlanta scored a "meaningless" touchdown (with 3:08 to play) followed by a 37-yard field goal (with 1:17 to play) to help them sneak in the backdoor against Seattle.
In between those two plays, Tampa Bay and Tennessee had their game decided by an officiating mistake, with the Bucs getting robbed of a blocked field goal return for a touchdown thanks to an inadvertent whistle. Tennessee ended up dodging a few late bullets and held on to cover the spread and deal Bucs fans a bad beat.
Then there was the Giants scoring a late touchdown to sneak in the backdoor against the Lions and steal an undeserved ATS win while at the same time the Bengals seemed to score a spread-busting backdoor touchdown against the Rams. That Bengals score was overturned after a replay review, though, adding even more ATS drama to the finish of an otherwise dull game.
Throw in a missed last-second field goal by the Bears, and it proved again why NFL football is one of the most exciting and infuriating sports to bet on every week.
Here is Doc's Sports NFL Power Rankings:
1. New England Patriots (8-0) - Here is your weekly stat proving how incredible the Patriots defense is: they have actually scored as many defensive touchdowns (four) as they have allowed offensive touchdowns (four) this season. They have yet to allow more than 14 points in a single game, and they have gone 'under' in six of their eight games this season.
2. New Orleans Saints (7-1) - The Saints have a bye this week, and it really comes at the perfect time. After their week off they play four consecutive divisional games in the span of just 18 days. Fortunately for them, two of those games are against their rivals, the Falcons. But after a 6-0 ATS run, is it time to start selling our Saints stock?
3. San Francisco 49ers (7-0) - If you take away Christian McCaffrey's 40-yard touchdown run, then over their last four games the 49ers defense has allowed an average of just 170 yards and four points per game. San Francisco is just 5-11 ATS in its last 16 conference games and 2-5 ATS in its last seven divisional games.
4. Green Bay Packers (7-1) - The Packers haven't lost to the Chargers since October of 1984. Granted, they've played only seven times since then, but the Packers have gone 7-0 SU and 6-1 ATS in those games.
5. Baltimore Ravens (5-2) - The biggest game of the weekend takes plays at M&T Bank Stadium on Sunday night when the Ravens host the Patriots. The Ravens have generally been a thorn in the Pats' side and are a respectable 3-5 SU and ATS in the last eight meetings. The home team has won five of seven in this series, and the underdog is 6-2 ATS when these two square off.
6. Kansas City Chiefs (5-3) - I said last week that Matt Moore would be fine, and he was. This week's spread, and all the early reporting I've seen, suggest that Moore will get another shot this week as the Chiefs wait until Week 10 to bring Mahomes back against the Titans. The Chiefs are just 1-4 ATS in their last five home games and just 3-8 ATS against teams with a winning record.
7. Seattle Seahawks (6-2) - Call me crazy, but I think that this week's game against the Bucs is a little dangerous for the Seahawks. Their defense is No. 23 in yards allowed and No. 27 against the pass. Bruce Arians is used to scheming against Pete Carroll, and I think Tampa Bay can move the ball against this shaky Seattle back seven. Seattle is 0-5 ATS at home, and they are just 2-5 ATS against conference opponents.
8. Minnesota Vikings (6-2) - That was an uninspiring win by the Vikings over Washington last Thursday night. But it is still a win. For all the talk about Kirk Cousins and the offense, what's been overlooked about this team has been the resurgent defense. They are No. 4 in the league in defensive yards per point, nearly five points better than last year's squad. They are in the Top 10 in all major categories and are back to being a major force.
9. Los Angeles Rams (5-3) - I don't really understand the Aqib Talib trade. He was slated to come back off IR in Week 15. This is a veteran, Pro Bowl-caliber cornerback who would be coming back just in time for a playoff run. Maybe the move makes sense down the road. But for a team in "win now" mode like the Rams, I don't get it.
10. Indianapolis Colts (5-2) - The Colts just keep grinding. That is now three straight wins and five of six. However, they do have some things they need to clean up on defense. They are the third-most penalized defense in the league. Also, the Colts have gotten to this point despite an even turnover differential. If this defense can start to make some big plays, then this group will be really tough to beat.
11. Carolina Panthers (4-3) - Kyle Allen came back to earth in a big way last week in San Francisco, completing just 51 percent of his passes and throwing three interceptions. Not turning the ball over had been his saving grace. If he starts to get sloppy with the ball, then the Panthers are no better off than they were with Cam Newton back there. The Panthers are on a 4-1 ATS run, and they are 5-1 ATS after being held to 14 or fewer points.
12. Houston Texans (5-3) - The Texans have dominated the Jaguars in recent years, winning three straight and eight of 10 against their AFC South rivals. That includes a 13-12 win against them on Sept. 15. If you recall, that was the game in which Houston stopped a potential game-winning two-point conversion with 30 seconds left. Houston is 6-3 ATS in their last nine games against Jacksonville. We will see if this week's Texans vs. Jaguars game follows the trends.
13. Dallas Cowboys (4-3) - The Cowboys are a dreadful 4-10 ATS in their last 14 Monday Night Football games . With two weeks to prepare for this game against the Giants, the Cowboys should finally be healthy on the offensive and defensive lines. They have gone 5-0 ATS in their last five games against the Giants, and they should be able to walk through New York's No. 28 total defense just like they did in the first meeting. Dallas has not been good after a bye week, though, and they are 0-2 ATS the last two times they faced the Giants after a week of rest.
14. Philadelphia Eagles (4-4) - Run the ball and play good defense. It's not rocket science. Philadelphia will try to replicate that formula in Week 9 against a Bears defense that has been getting pushed around more this season. The Eagles have beaten the Bears four straight times since 2013, including a 16-15 win at Chicago last January in the playoffs. The Eagles are just 3-7 ATS in their last 10 games.
15. Detroit Lions (3-3-1) - I still think that the Quandre Diggs trade was ridiculous. As is the suggestion that they had been shopping Darius Slay. That all reeks of Matt Patricia trying to do his sloppy, ignorant impression of Bill Belichick. "Derp. Belichick trades his best defensive players all the time and his teams don't miss a step. Derp. Our defense isn't about one player. Derp." It's ridiculous, and something tells me he is losing the locker room. The fact that Patricia's defense - and he's a 'defensive guy' - is so pathetic right now is kind of a red flag as well.
16. Buffalo Bills (5-2) - There is no way that the Bills should be laying 10 points to anyone else in the NFL. As I have pointed out, Buffalo has gotten to this point thanks to some close wins over the worst teams in the NFL, and they very, very easily could be 3-5 or even 2-5 right now.
17. Oakland Raiders (3-5) - The Raiders are finally back home. The last time they played in front of their home fans was on Sept. 15. It is going to be interesting to see what kind of response they get from their home crowd, since these next two months are their last two in Oakland. The improving Raiders are 3-1 ATS in their last four games and are 15 yards against Houston away from having outgained four straight opponents. The arrow is still pointing up.
18. Chicago Bears (3-4) - Anyone that has read anything I've written about the Bears in this space over the last three seasons knows how I feel about Mitch Trubisky. I'm just glad that the rest of the world finally caught up. The rumors are that Chicago is in the market for C.J. Beathard. Honestly, I think their best option would be to go after Andy Dalton. I think they could win more with Dalton and that defense than any of their other options.
19. Pittsburgh Steelers (3-4) - The Steelers have absolutely owned the Colts over the last decade. They've won five straight in the series and haven't lost to Indianapolis since 2008. In fact, that one loss is the only home loss against the Colts in over 20 years. The home team is 4-1 ATS in the last five meetings in the series, and the underdog is 5-2 ATS.
20. Jacksonville Jaguars (4-4) - The Jaguars are 'hosting' a game in London this week, and it is actually a pretty huge game in the AFC South race. Jacksonville has won three of their last four games in London, and they are on a 5-2 overall ATS run. The underdog is 10-4 ATS in the last 14 meetings between the Texans and Jaguars. Can we get one more week of Minshew Magic?
21. Los Angeles Chargers (3-5) - Ken Whisenhunt was the sacrificial lamb of Los Angeles' underachieving season. Now the Chargers will hand the offense to Shane Steichen, who has never been a coordinator at any level. I'm sure this will go really well. The Chargers have talked about needing a more effective running game, so don't be surprised to see them pound the ball a bit more in the coming weeks. Here is a tip: don't give the ball to overrated dud Melvin Gordon when the more effective, more explosive Austin Ekeler is right there.
22. Tennessee Titans (4-4) - Ryan Tannehill's career resurgence has led to a season resurgence for the Titans. However, let's not get carried away. Tennessee has been outgained in four of their last five games. And were it not for several extremely questionable calls at the end of the Chargers and Bucs games, then the Titans would be on a four-game losing streak.
23. Cleveland Browns (2-5) - All anyone has talked about this week is the sloppiness, the mistakes, and the general unpreparedness of the Browns. Hmm. Who do you think should be held responsible for those aspects of a team's performance? Look, every week that they stick with Fred Kitchens as their head coach is a completely wasted week in the development of this franchise. Period. They should've stuck with Gregg Williams.
24. Denver Broncos (2-6) - I think that Joe Flacco's career as a starting quarterback in the NFL is essentially over. He's been terrible this year. And this neck injury is just the latest malady that has forced him out of action. Preseason superstar Brandon Allen will get the call for Denver this week, but I have low expectations. One positive for Denver is the improvement of the defense. They've held three of their last four opponents to 15 points or fewer and have surrendered an average of 15 points per game during that stretch. Not surprisingly, they have gone 'under' in all four of those games.
25. Arizona Cardinals (3-4-1) - Arizona is dealing with a cluster injury issue at running back, where their top three guys are all out this week. The Cardinals have absolutely dominated the 49ers over the last four years, beating San Francisco eight straight times. They are 9-1 SU and 7-3 ATS in the last 10 meetings and they do have the home-field edge this week.
26. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (2-5) - Bruce Arians has every right to be pissed off about officiating this year. It didn't just cost them a win over the Titans last week, but the Bucs also got screwed early in their 31-24 loss at New Orleans a few weeks ago. Tampa Bay has actually played better on the road this year, and they are 7-2 ATS in their last nine games after a loss. Tampa Bay is allowing a league-low 68.6 rushing yards per game and just 3.0 yards per carry. If they can slow down Seattle's running game, they stand a chance on Sunday.
27. New York Giants (2-6) - The Giants (for some reason) will get yet another primetime game this week when they take on Dallas on Monday Night Football. Had New York not pulled out a garbage backdoor cover by scoring late against the Lions, then they would enter this MNF game on a 0-4 SU and ATS slide. New York is just 1-6 ATS in its last seven home games, and they were not at all competitive against the Cowboys in Week 1.
28. Atlanta Falcons (1-7) - True story: I had some people over to watch the games last Sunday. One of my friends works in Atlanta, and his company has six season tickets for the Falcons. They're good seats, lower level. And according to my friend, the company literally couldn't give them away for last week's game against Seattle. That about sums up the state of this franchise.
29. Washington Redskins (1-7) - There are oh so many examples of the institutional incompetence of the Redskins. Perhaps my favorite is the fact that the Redskins have been carrying Colt McCoy as the highest-paid backup quarterback in the NFL for the past several years. And now when they desperately could've used him - because Dwayne Haskins is terrible, will always be terrible, and is in no way ready to start - McCoy is nowhere to be found.
30. New York Jets (1-6) - There is no way that the Jets should be favored on the road this week in Miami. Now, I don't know anyone that is in a hurry to jump on board with the Dolphins. But that still doesn't mean that New York should be laying points in this game. The Jets are just 2-8 ATS in their last 10 games and 3-7 ATS in their last 10 road games. New York is just 3-7 ATS in games against teams below .500. The Jets are 16-5 ATS in their last 21 games in South Beach.
31. Cincinnati Bengals (0-8) - The Bengals get to enjoy a week off before hosting the Ravens next Sunday. Perhaps the best thing that could happen for the Bengals this week would be a Miami win over the Jets, as it would put the Bengals in the driver's seat for the No. 1 overall pick. Then they can pretend that this was the plan all along.
32. Miami Dolphins (0-7) - The good news is that Miami had to punt only twice against the Steelers on Monday. The bad news is that this is how their final seven drives ended in that game: downs, fumble, fumble, downs, interception, end of half, and interception. Miami is 5-1 SU and ATS in its last six games against the Jets and they have beaten New York three straight times.
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