NFL Power Rankings Week 3
I’m going to keep this week’s intro short and sweet. I’m on a working vacation (they are all working vacations; I literally work 365 days a year) down in Florida. And as soon as I wrap this up, I’m headed about 100 yards down to the beach. The sea is balm for my soul and my need for getting blackout drunk in the sand at 10 a.m. on a weekday is a part of my nature that, for this seven days, I no longer have to repress.
We survived Overreaction Week in the NFL. But we’re still far away from anything approaching certitude in professional football. The trick is to be decisive without surrendering to the illusion of certainty. Keep your mind limber ,and this coming weekend we will again expect the unexpected.
Now I’ve got to go. The waves are calling.
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Here is Doc’s Sports NFL Power Rankings:
1. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (2-0) – I really don’t know how anyone is supposed to stop this offense. It’s insane. Tampa Bay has now scored 30 or more points in nine straight games, winning all of them. The ‘over’ is 26-10 in Tampa Bay’s last 36 road games and is 21-6 in their last 27 games against teams from the NFC.
2. Kansas City Chiefs (1-1) – This team looks bored. And vulnerable. I know they have played two pretty good teams and probably should be 2-0 right now. But I wouldn’t say that the Chiefs have played particularly well in either of their games. Their defense is pathetic. I mean, absolutely pathetic. The Chiefs are just 2-10 ATS in their last 12 games as a favorite, and I think that the market has far exceeded this team’s actual ability.
3. Buffalo Bills (1-1) – I had another winning football week, No. 4 in a row. But the one thing that I would change about last week’s card is that I shouldn’t have given up on the Bills so quickly. They have now outplayed both the Steelers and Dolphins, two 2020 playoff teams, and they have the largest point differential in the NFL. This team is still a powerhouse, and I think that they are going to chew up Ron Rivera’s Cover-2 scheme this week.
4. San Francisco 49ers (2-0) – There is a pretty heavy reverse line movement in San Francisco’s number against Green Bay this week. Around 75 percent of the action is coming in on the Packers, but the books have already moved this spread off a key number, from 3.0 to 3.5. That is a huge red flag to me.
5. Arizona Cardinals (2-0) – This week will be the second time in three weeks that Arizona has to travel east for a 10 a.m. PST kickoff. It didn’t bother them in Week 1 because they were solely focused on that game. I am a little concerned that after an emotional home win the Cardinals won’t be as sharp or as focused this week as a big favorite on the road against the lowly Jags.
6. Cleveland Browns (1-1) – If Tyrod Taylor didn’t get injured, I actually felt like the Texans had a great shot at winning that game. Cleveland is still winning in spite of Baker Mayfield rather than because of him, and that significantly lowers the ceiling for a roster that is as good as any in the NFL.
7. Seattle Seahawks (1-1) – As soon as I open my mouth and praise Seattle’s underrated defense, which had been allowing an average of 16.3 points per game over their last eight games, they get torched for 33 points. Seattle just isn’t physical enough on that side of the ball, and I worry about some residual soreness and fatigue after taking a pounding from Derrick Henry carrying over into this week. Seattle is just 1-6 ATS in its last seven road games.
8. Baltimore Ravens (1-1) – I give Baltimore a lot of credit for that comeback win against the Chiefs. However, my takeaway from that game is that both of those teams look incredibly vulnerable. I didn’t see a titanic clash between two Super Bowl contenders. That was a sloppy game between two teams that have some pretty glaring weaknesses, with Baltimore’s an inability to complete a pass more than five yards down the field.
9. Los Angeles Rams (2-0) – I could not believe that the Rams opened this week’s game against the Bucs as a favorite. Both the sharps and the public both agreed with me, as nearly 70 percent of the action in that game has come in on Tampa Bay and the spread has jerked wildly the other way. It has moved three full points, and now Tampa is a tepid one-point favorite on the road.
10. Tennessee Titans (1-1) – Did I call it, or did I call it? I said last week that you could expect the Titans to get back to basics and force-feed Derrick Henry the ball in Seattle. He put together an all-time effort and absolutely carried the Titans to a huge win.
11. Pittsburgh Steelers (1-1) – Ben Roethlisberger is 38 years old! Tom Brady has blown the curve, man. What is happening to Big Ben is natural and normal. Why are people surprised by this and why are people in the media killing him? He’s old! How many successful 38-year-old quarterbacks have you ever seen? Not many! So how is this a news story?
12. New Orleans Saints (1-1) – Like I said last week: there is no way Jameis Winston is going to suddenly, magically develop good decision-making skills. His stumbling, bumbling interception – lobbed up to absolutely no one – was just the latest chapter in a career that has been defined by jaw-dropping stupidity. The Saints are 22-8 ATS as a road underdog and 38-17 ATS away from home.
13. Los Angeles Chargers (1-1) – Throw it away! What the hell was Justin Herbert doing on that late in-the-grasp call? Yes, it was a terrible call by the officials and shouldn’t have been a sack. But what in god’s name was he doing holding on to the ball to begin with?
14. Green Bay Packers (1-1) – We’re going to find out everything we need to about this group over the next two weeks when they line up against two smart, aggressive, physical opponents in San Francisco and Pittsburgh.
15. Las Vegas Raiders (2-0) – I don’t know if any team in the league has two more impressive wins than Las Vegas. They were at a huge situational disadvantage last week playing in Pittsburgh, yet they were the team that came out aggressively and dictated the action.
16. Denver Broncos (2-0) – On the one hand, the Broncos have won a pair of games against two loser teams at the bottom of these rankings, so I don’t want to crown this team just yet. On the other hand, they have been clinical on both sides of the ball, and this team is 2-0 with two road wins. All Teddy Bridgewater does is cover spreads.
17. New England Patriots (1-1) – The Patriots are just 3-8 ATS as a home favorite and just 2-6 ATS in their last eight games as a favorite overall. New England is just 2-10 ATS following a win and 1-8 ATS the week after they cover the spread.
18. Miami Dolphins (1-1) – It’s time to pull the ripcord on Tua. The guy is made of glass, and he hasn’t shown me enough flashes in the brief period of time that I’ve seen him play to make me think that the juice is worth the squeeze.
19. Carolina Panthers (2-0) – I’m not jumping on the Panthers bandwagon just yet. They manhandled the Saints last week at home. Good for them. They also get Houston on Thursday so this team should walk into a 3-0 record. Their schedule is extremely favorable (they still have two games against the moribund Falcons and four games against the clown show that is the NFC East), so this team has a clear playoff path. But just because they should find their way to 10 or 11 wins this year still doesn’t mean that they are a legit, top-tier NFC contender, even though they will soon be priced like one.
20. Dallas Cowboys (1-1) – Mr. Analytics, Mike McCarthy, is a complete pud. It was ridiculous listening to his half-assed excuses about botching the clock at the end of the Chargers game. Greg Zeurlein bailed McCarthy out, and the Cowboys are now 1-17 straight up in their last 18 games when scoring 18 points or fewer. Look for a bounce back effort offensively from the Cowboys this week on Monday Night Football.
21. Philadelphia Eagles (1-1) – The Eagles are 1-6 ATS in their last seven games on the road, and they are 1-4 ATS in their last five games in Dallas. Philadelphia is just 2-5 ATS in their last seven games against the Cowboys, and the road team is 0-5 ATS in the last five meetings. The underdog is just 3-8 ATS in the last 11 games in that series.
22. Chicago Bears (1-1) – Chicago’s defense can’t occasionally play like they did on Sunday against the Bengals. They need to be that dominating force each and every week. Talent isn’t a problem; they are stocked with high-price talent. I’m not pointing a finger at first-time defensive coordinator Sean Desai; it’s way too early to tell what he’s all about. I’m saying that someone needs to show some leadership and light a fire under their vets and keep the level of play on defense high.
23. Minnesota Vikings (0-2) – I said it last week: bad karma. The Vikings actually played well on Sunday, really taking it to a very good Arizona team and putting themselves in a position to win. But they missed a 37-yard chip shot and took another L. Can you even imagine what that plane ride back to Minnesota was like? There is just a dark cloud hanging over this locker room right now.
24. Indianapolis Colts (0-2) – On the one hand, the Colts have lost to a pair of legit NFC contenders, so I don’t want to bury this group just yet. On the other hand, Carson Wentz is hurt (I know, I know: shocking, right?) and this team is 0-2 with two home losses. They are on the ropes here.
25. Washington Football Team (1-1) – People are starting to come around to what I have been saying: Taylor Heinicke should’ve been the starting quarterback for this team from Day 1. Ryan Fitzpatrick is a career loser who should be carrying a clipboard. Heinicke will make some mistakes. But he’s athletic, he has a live arm, and he has upside. Heinicke’s 19-yard touchdown throw to Ricky Seals-Jones might have been the most impressive throw I saw all weekend.
26. Cincinnati Bengals (1-1) – Sunday’s game in Chicago was a glaring reminder that both coaches – Cincinnati’s Zac Taylor and Chicago’s Matt Nagy – should not be calling plays for their offense. Both guys, particularly Taylor, are already overmatched as head coaches. They are just compounding those issues by trying to call a game while also trying to manage a game. Cincinnati’s lack of adjustments and failure to attack downfield was dumbfounding. And their inability to protect Joe Burrow (also an institutional failure; I still can’t believe they took a receiver instead of Penei Sewell) may end up being Taylor’s lasting legacy in Cincinnati.
27. New York Giants (0-2) – The Giants paid big money for Kenny Golladay (who I’m a big fan of), and they wasted a top pick on Kadarius Toney when their two best wide receivers are still Sterling Shepherd and Darius Slayton. This team is 18-48 since the start of the 2017 season, tied with the Jets for the worst record in football.
28. Houston Texans (1-1) – Poor Tyrod Taylor. Seriously, what can you say? The guy had just had the most snake bitten career. He was on fire to start last week’s game before once again leaving with an injury that will likely keep him out multiple weeks.
29. Atlanta Falcons (0-2) – Cordarrelle Patterson must be a weirdo. That’s really the only explanation as to why the guy has played on five teams in the last six seasons. He is incredibly talented and athletic and extremely versatile. So, it just doesn’t make sense that he hasn’t caught on somewhere, signed a long-term contract, and established himself. Right now, he is one of the few bright spots on what has been an ugly start to the Arthur Smith era.
30. Jacksonville Jaguars (0-2) – I think that Trevor Lawrence is going to be fine. But he looked awful on Sunday – again. Lawrence is missing a lot of easy throws, and he is missing high all over the field. He’s going to end up with around 25 interceptions before this season is over.
31. Detroit Lions (0-2) – The Lions roster might be the worst in football. But these guys play hard. They are going to scrap their way to a few wins this year by sheer force of will, and I think that these guys are going to be a very active underdog all season long. The Lions are 7-14 ATS in their last 21 games as a home underdog against non-divisional opponents.
32. New York Jets (0-2) – I think it is hilarious that the same people that are hammering the Jets for not having a veteran quarterback on the roster to teach Zach Wilson are the same morons clamoring for the Bears to start Justin Fields. It’s just unreal. With rare exception, rookie quarterbacks should not start from Day 1! Let them sit, watch and learn, and their careers will be better off for it.
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