NFL Power Rankings Week 6
It’s time for the NFL to embrace the obvious: it is time for the league to establish a bubble.
Perhaps a more accurate description would be to say that they should establish 32 bubbles.
Each team should set up its own bubble – a quarantined area for all players and essential support personnel – in its home city immediately. The players should be restricted to team facilities and that’s it. These guys travel on chartered flights and it is not difficult to quarantine for the 24 necessary hours in visiting cities. Really, it’s not that difficult for these players to stay restricted to the field, either their own or a visitor’s, for the rest of the season.
I know what you’re thinking: that’s easy for me to say because you don’t have to do it. Look, it’s mid-October. Give teams until the end of the month to set up the logistics of the bubble. At that point there would only be nine weeks left in the season. That’s two months. For the amount of money at stake, I think that teams and players can suck it up for a couple of months. If not, and if players want to opt out, see you later. It is, and always has been, a Next Man Up League.
Basketball, hockey and soccer have shown us that the right way to beat the pandemic and run your sport is with a bubble. Baseball, college football and the NFL have shown us what happens when you don’t. And it’s been a mess.
Football fans and bettors are used to chaos. But this is getting out of control. And I fear it is only going to get worse. It is time for the players and owners to hash something out (perhaps the owners make a concession on next year’s salary cap in exchange for the NFLPA’s acceptance of the bubbles). And it is time for the league to take the necessary steps to protect the integrity of this season and the health of the players and their families.
“Figure it out.”
Here is Doc’s Sports NFL Power Rankings:
1. Kansas City Chiefs (4-1) – I’m not going to panic over one loss to a desperate division rival. We know that the Chiefs have major defensive deficiencies. But if they had managed to stop the Raiders on fourth down near the end of that game, is there any doubt they were going to come back and win it? The Chiefs are 7-0 ATS in their last seven Monday Night Football games, and they are 5-1 ATS in their last six games after a loss.
2. Baltimore Ravens (4-1) – The Ravens are currently leading the NFL in both offensive and defensive yards per point. Seattle, Tennessee and Miami are the only other teams that are in the Top 10 in both statistics. The Ravens are 12-4 ATS in their last 16 games overall and 6-1 ATS in their last seven road games.
3. Seattle Seahawks (5-0) – These guys really do look like the NFC Chiefs. Russell Wilson is a savant and is making absurd plays left and right, a la Pat Mahomes. Seattle is also bad defensively, but with a penchant for making stops on key drives and forcing turnovers. Is this recipe sustainable? Time will tell.
4. New Orleans Saints (3-2) – Regardless of the Saints stealing a win from the Chargers on Monday, I think there are still issues simmering below the service with this team. The Drew Brees issue in the offseason is still a bit raw. And now Michael Thomas punching out a teammate. This team is underachieving at this point. Wins cover up warts. But if this team starts to drop games, I think the house of cards could come apart.
6. Pittsburgh Steelers (4-0) – I still don’t feel like I have a firm grasp on whether or not these guys are a really good team. The Steelers have had a tendency to play up and down to their level of competition. The issue this year is that we are still yet to see them get “up” for someone since they’ve played a bunch of dregs. The Steelers are 4-1 ATS in their last five games against the Browns.
7. Tennessee Titans (3-0) – Remember the Titans? After about a month off, they absolutely manhandled the Bills. Mike Vrabel has established himself as one of the best coaches in the NFL. And the way his teams always exceed expectations should no longer be considered a “fluke” or a coincidence. The Titans are scoring at an unsustainable rate, though, posting a 10.7 yards per point in their last three games.
8. Green Bay Packers (4-0) – The Packers are now 17-3 straight up in their last 20 regular season games. They have also lost three straight regular season games following a bye week, including getting thrashed at San Francisco last November.
5. Buffalo Bills (4-0) – These guys stink defensively. Last year they were able to dictate terms to opponents with their powerful defense. Not anymore. They are allowing 28 points per game and are not in the Top 10 in any major defensive category. If the Titans can ring them for 42 points, what do you think the Chiefs will do with them?
9. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (3-2) – It really is going to be impossible to pick a side in the Packers-Bucs game until we find out the weaponry that Tom Brady is going to have at his disposal. This week is just the 10th time that Tom Brady has been a home underdog in his career. He is 8-1 ATS in the previous nine. Then again, he isn’t in New England anymore…
10. New England Patriots (2-2) – Yes, I fully expect the Patriots to pick up exactly where they left off. Apparently so does everyone, because 60 percent of the action is on the Pats this weekend and the spread has crept up to 10.0, making the Patriots – who will be playing just their second game in 21 days on Sunday – the largest favorite on the board. The Patriots are 50-23 ATS after a loss.
11. Indianapolis Colts (3-2) – Philip Rivers, everybody! I think that this season has helped solidify exactly who Rivers is: a turnover prone gunslinger that always keeps both teams in every game and can’t be trusted. He has singlehandedly cost the Colts both of their losses this year, making rookie-level mistakes in both outings. His lack of connection with T.Y. Hilton, one of the best receivers in the league, should’ve been a red flag that Rivers is inflexible and will continue to be the frustrating, inconsistent signal caller that is barely over .500 (100-97 SU) over his last 13 seasons.
12. Los Angeles Rams (4-1) – If I had to single out the two most impressive coordinators to this point in the season, I would say that it is Joe Brady (Panthers) on offense and Brandon Staley (Rams) on defense. I really can’t say enough about what he has done in Wade Phillips’ stead, turning this young Rams group into a team in the Top 5 in total defense, pass defense and scoring defense. The Rams are on an 18-8 ATS run and they are 10-3 ATS on the road.
13. Cleveland Browns (4-1) – I’m moderately frustrated with myself regarding the Browns this year. I laid out my case pretty clearly in my season win total preview for Cleveland that I really liked the Browns as a bounce back team this year even though the general public was still skeptical. My frustration comes from the fact that I’ve yet to make my premonition about the Browns actually being good pay off!
14. Chicago Bears (4-1) – I’ve read the articles and heard the jabbering about how the Bears are “the worst 4-1 team since 1985”. The idea is that their advanced metrics, and even some basic stats, suggest that Chicago is a fraud. What I think these numbers miss, however, is the massive, enormous upgrade at quarterback the Bears have realized going from Mitch Trubisky to Nick Foles. The Bears now have a Top 10 defense and a competent, experienced quarterback surrounded by average offensive talent. I’ve seen teams make playoff runs with less.
15. Las Vegas Raiders (3-2) – What a way to roll into a bye week. The Raiders get to bask in the glow of the league’s biggest upset for two full weeks before hosting Tom Brady and the Bucs next Sunday Night Football.
16. Arizona Cardinals (3-2) – No team in the league shoots themselves in the nuts as much as the Cardinals. Despite averaging nearly 400 yards per game, which is Top 10, they are averaging just 25.6 points per game (16th). It seems like every game they have two or three drives that lead into the opponent’s side of the field only to watch them end because of a stupid penalty.
17. Los Angeles Chargers (1-4) – It truly insane how bad the Chargers are in one-score games. Since the start of last season, they are 3-13 straight up in games decided by seven points or less. I can’t pin it on Anthony Lynn, either. He didn’t doink that field goal at the end of the Saints game.
18. Miami Dolphins (2-3) – As it stands right now, Miami has the best point differential in the AFC East. Now, they already lost to New England and Buffalo. But the Dolphins are +23 in point differential compared to Buffalo (-3) and New England (+5). I feel like this team is going to hang around for a bit.
19. Carolina Panthers (3-2) – I don’t want to rain on the Panthers parade right now. They are on a three-game winning streak and are – somehow – tied for first place in the NFC South. However, their rush defense is atrocious. They’ve allowed eight touchdowns already, third most in the NFL, surrendered at least 100 yards in every game, and are allow 5.4 yards per carry, second-most in the league.
20. Minnesota Vikings (1-4) – Mike Zimmer can say whatever he wants. But the right decision would’ve been to kick the field goal and go up eight points with under two minutes left against the Seahawks.
21. Detroit Lions (1-3) – I really can’t believe that a team that is 10-25-1 over the last three seasons is favored on the road this week. Detroit is 3-12 ATS in its last 15 games overall and they are 4-11 ATS in their last 15 games as a road favorite. The Lions are 1-7 ATS against teams below .500, 1-6 ATS in their last seven road games overall, and 0-4 ATS in their last four as a favorite. But yeah, lay the points with these clowns.
22. San Francisco 49ers (2-3) – Last week my 7-Unit top play was Miami (+9) and it really was one of my favorite wagers of the entire season. The 49ers are not any good right now. They have played a bunch of weak sister opponents, and they have not looked good while doing so. Their once fearsome defense has been gutted, and right now there aren’t many teams in the league that the 49ers should be laying points again.
23. Dallas Cowboys (2-3) – Don’t get sucked back into this joke of a franchise. The Cowboys didn’t win Sunday’s game against the 0-5 Giants as much as New York insisted on losing it. I think Andy Dalton will be fine as a fill-in for Dak Prescott. But quarterback was never the problem for this squad. Dallas is on an 0-5 ATS slide, and they are a pathetic 8-20 ATS in their last 28 games against a team with a winning record.
24. Philadelphia Eagles (1-3-1) – The Eagles will have the benefit of having faced the Steelers defense last week. The Ravens have a very similar blitz-heavy approach, so Philadelphia should have an appropriate scheme. The bad news is that Lane Johnson is out again, and their creaky offensive line isn’t getting any better or any healthier any time soon.
25. Cincinnati Bengals (1-3-1) – I’m not going to bang on Joe Burrow too much for an embarrassing effort against Baltimore; he’s not the first young quarterback that the Ravens have abused. However, 22 sacks through five games is completely unacceptable. The offensive line isn’t great. But most of Burrow’s problems against Baltimore came from holding the ball too long.
26. Denver Broncos (1-3) – I think the good news for the Broncos is that at least they were coming off a win prior to their extended layoff. When they kickoff on Sunday, it will have been 17 days since they held off the Jets on Thursday Night Football in Week 4. Denver is 3-1 ATS on the season, but injuries have definitely taken a toll on this group.
27. Houston Texans (1-4) – Do not be fooled for one second by Houston’s 30-14 “blowout” win over the Jaguars last week. There is no way the Texans should’ve won that game, with Jacksonville turning two trips inside the Houston 10 into zero points and having two more drives inside Houston’s 30 also result in zero points. The Titans should have little problem shredding Houston’s No. 31 rushing defense this weekend.
28. Atlanta Falcons (0-5) – It’s funny that last week I mentioned Matt Ryan’s clearly diminished abilities and then this week that was just as much a topic of discussion for this team as Dan Quinn’s inevitable firing. Ryan can still make some big throws. But he is clearly a B/B- quarterback right now. And with all the other holes the Falcons have on this roster, that’s nowhere near good enough.
29. Jacksonville Jaguars (1-4) – There are so many pathetic head coaches of NFL teams right now that Doug Marrone’s incompetence is getting lost in the shuffle. The Jaguars defense is still nonexistent. And Jacksonville, through a mix of game mismanagement and poor execution, turned four drives inside Houston’s 30-yard-line into a grand total of zero points.
30. Washington Football Team (1-4) – I just don’t see where the offense is going to possibly come from for this team. They have by far the worst crop of skill players in the NFL. Nothing about their scheme is unique or creative at all. And those factors make it almost a moot point who is under center. The defense is doing what it can, but they are getting less than no help from the offense.
31. New York Giants (0-5) – Giants fans are finally embracing the horror: Daniel Jones sucks. No one blames him for New York’s horrendous offensive line play. But Jones is a turnover waiting to happen, he always looks panicked, and he misses too many throws.
32. New York Jets (0-5) – It is one thing to go 0-5 SU to start the season. The fact that the Jets haven’t covered a spread yet is the most damning indictment of how bad this team is. Everyone KNOWS the Jets are pathetic and the worst team in football, and the oddsmakers are pricing them accordingly. Yet no matter how fat the spread, the Jets are still playing worse than everyone expects them to be.
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