Week 4 NFL Power Rankings
by Robert Ferringo - 09/26/2007
"Revenge is a confession of pain."
- Latin Proverb
It's Revenge Weekend in the NFL as players, coaches, and Daunte Culpepper (he gets his own subcategory) gear up to take on former teams and organizations that, at one point or another, inflicted the type of physical or emotional damage that would make a 240-pound beast recoil in agony. Jobs, glory, money - whatever was pilfered will be paid for in blood on the field, and it should make for some intriguing wagering.
First, Pittsburgh and its new front man head to the desert to take on two scorned former assistants - two men who were once competitors for the sacred Steelers coaching succession but are now a pair seeking retribution. Next, discarded former backup quarterback Matt Schaub returns to Atlanta playing the role of the formerly dorky, 130-pound high school dweeb who went away to college and is now a hulking stud making six figures and with a wife that looks like Ali Landry. And finally, Disastrous Daunte retuns to the scene of some of his most heinous crimes as his new enablers (Oakland) square off with his former crew (Miami).
Things seem to be shaking out across the ol' NFL, but you can never underestimate the Forces of desperation and urgency that will be at work this week. Be careful how you handicap emotion, and remember that nothing in this league is ever what it seems. Without further ado, here's Doc's Sports Week 4 NFL Power Rankings:
1) New England Patriots (3-0) - Tom Brady is on pace to throw 53 touchdown passes. Oh, and they're doing all of this without arguably their two best defensive players. Right now the Pats are doing anything they want, but now they're heading into a place (Cincinnati) where they are just 1-5 ATS.
2) Pittsburgh Steelers (3-0) - Fortunately, Hines Ward's knee injury isn't serious. However, I doubt he'll be in the lineup on Sunday. Pittsburgh is 51-4 ATS when they win on the road off a nondivisional game and Arizona is 19-81 ATS when it loses straight up. So if you think Pitt is going to win this weekend, feel free to lay the points.
3) Indianapolis Colts (3-0) - September has been a playground for the Colts. They've won 11 straight in this month and they've gone 3-1 ATS at home against Denver and 5-2 ATS in the series. For the second week in a row they're facing a team that has some safety issues. John Lynch may be out with a groin injury this Sunday and the Broncos don't have near a suitable backup.
4) Dallas Cowboys (3-0) - The Cowboys are still a bit too soft in the front seven for my taste, even if Chicago wasn't able to exploit it. The Best Case Scenario here is that Dallas beats up on St. Louis and Buffalo so the number on New England will be low on Oct. 14. I think the Pats will fill Dallas up.
5) Baltimore Ravens (2-1) - Over the past three-plus years the Ravens are just 6-14 ATS on the road. They are also 0-3 ATS in their last three trips to Cleveland. This team is not going to be a consistent earner this year, due in large part to a feeble passing game and a quarterback carousel.
6) Tennessee Titans (2-1) - Wow, was I wrong about this team. They are tough, physical, and well coached in all aspects. It's going to be a dogfight to get out of the AFC South this year, but the team that does will be well equipped for January ball. And, as I mentioned last week in the Ferringo Report, Vince Young is an automatic play as an underdog (13-2 ATS).
7) Jacksonville Jaguars (2-1) - Two nice, respectable bounce back wins for the Jags after that opening game stunner. Look for Matt Jones to be out of work within the next month. I said in the preseason that his body language told me he wasn't trying and didn't care about football. Good news for the Jags: John Henderson will be waiting for them on the other side of the bye week.
8) San Diego Chargers (1-2) - And falling fast. I said before the season started that I don't see how a team can lose both coordinators and its coach and improve the next season. Unfortunately, even I was drinking the Kool Aid last week in Lambeau. The home team is 5-0 ATS in the last five meetings, K.C. is just 2-5 ATS against San Diego, and the Chiefs are 0-4 in their last four trips to SoCal.
9) Green Bay Packers (3-0) - Remember: Brett Favre's Kryptonite is playing in domes. He is 5-10 in his career in the Metrodome and the Pack could be due for a letdown on the road this week. Troubling Sign Of Things To Come: Green Bay has dropped back to pass on 69.1 percent of its offensive snaps.
10) Washington Redskins (2-1) - That fourth quarter against the Giants is going to come back to haunt this team in a big way. Joe Gibbs' clock management also makes you wonder how this guy ever bagged multiple Super Bowl rings. This bye week couldn't have come at a better time for the Redskins though, as injuries were starting to mount on this veteran team.
11) Chicago Bears (1-2) - I know that it's still early, but the move to Brian Griese may have come too late. The defense is now in shambles with Chicago losing Tommie Harris, Nate Vasher and Lance Briggs last week. On top of that, several other key cogs - Fred Miller, Ruben Brown, Wale Ogunleye and Chuck Tillman - are nicked up going into Detroit.
12) Houston Texans (2-1) - This weekend's three-point line at Atlanta is the largest that Houston has ever been installed as in its franchise history on the road. The Texans have only been a road favorite one other time and they have lost 14 of their past 17 road games straight up.
13) Philadelphia Eagles (1-2) - That's answering the bell. Now the Eagles will have to scrape and claw against a wounded Giants team. This is still "must-win" territory for Philly. They have won four of their last five trips into the Meadowlands. I think that Brian Westbrook will suit up, but the guy is sputtering until his inevitable four-game stint in street clothes.
14) Seattle Seahawks (2-1) - Here we are again with the Seahawks. They are just 6-13 ATS on the road since the start of 2005 and they've struggled all over the globe on grass. Shaun Alexander's cracked wrist is troubling, but not as disconcerting as Matt Hasselbeck's penchant for forcing balls and pressing late in games.
15) Denver Broncos (2-1) - Pathetic. That's what the Broncos have been against the spread. They are 1-10 ATS in their last 11 overall games and 0-8 ATS in their last eight games against the AFC.
16) San Francisco 49ers (2-1) - This is the Curious Line Of The Week: San Fran +2. It's hard to understand why a team that swept the series last year and has covered in three of four games is posted as a home dog. The 49ers will be without tight end Vernon Davis for at least two games, which isn't going to help their anemic pass offense.
17) Carolina Panthers (2-1) - Great game out of Deshaun Foster last week, but you should expect a lot of uneven performances out of the running game this year as they still adjust to the zone-blocking scheme. Carolina is just 3-8 ATS in its last 11 home games and the Panthers are just 9-18-1 ATS as a home favorite.
18) New York Jets (1-2) - The Jets are just 1-3 ATS in their last four trips to Orchard Park, but if they can't take advantage of a decimated Bills team they're even worse off than I thought. New York got its first sack and first takeaway on Sunday, but showed that its linebackers are not very adept at defending a screen pass. Miami scored twice on them.
19) Tampa Bay Buccaneers (2-1) - I will be the first to admit that I may have been wrong about this team. However, they are just 3-9 ATS against the Panthers and 1-5 in Carolina recently. One thing that has to improve is their third down efficiency. They've converted just 13 of 33 opportunities this year.
20) Cincinnati Bengals (1-2) - It's tough to win when you're pulling guys off the street and plugging them into the starting lineup on defense. Cincy can make all the excuses it can think of, but they just aren't a very good team. There are just too many details that are left unattended and the margin of error in this league is too thin to get away with it.
21) Detroit Lions (2-1) - Chicago has covered four of five in Motown, but Detroit won three straight from 2002-04 before an OT loss in 2005 and a tight loss last December. Those five games were decided by an average of 4.3 points, and seven of the past eight meetings have been decided by six points or less. Also, the nine sacks and numerous hits that Jon Kitna took on Sunday just showed once again the trouble of Mike Martz's offense.
22) Kansas City Chiefs (1-2) - You saw last week how important All-Pro end Jared Allen is to this team, as his two sacks and forced fumble helped turn the tide. Also, I think Dwayne Bowe has amazing upside. He's got some trouble handling balls in traffic over the middle, but he is an animal going after 50-50 balls and lobs. The Chiefs are 7-2 ATS in their last nine divisional games.
23) New Orleans Saints (0-3) - This is the quintessential example of being able to spot a sagging team in the preseason. Just like Matt Jones, you could just tell that something was off with the Saints this season. They're not a dead stick yet, but I don't see how this team can turn it around. Look to fade them at home over the rest of the season.
24) Oakland Raiders (1-2) - The Raiders are now 21-44-2 ATS since their Super Bowl loss in 2002 and are 1-11 SU in their last 12 overall. And once again Oaktown is unsure of its quarterback heading into this weekend's game at Miami. But it looks like Culpepper will be taking the snaps.
25) New York Giants (1-2) - There are signs of life in the Meadowlands, but lets not get all warm and fuzzy about the G-Men just yet. Their secondary is still a wreck, and that's not where you want it to be facing a club that just hung 56 on the board. Tom Coughlin is 4-1 ATS at home off a straight up victory.
26) Miami Dolphins (0-3) - Don't underestimate Cam Cameron's familiarity scheming for the Raiders. Miami is 6-1 ATS versus the Silver and Black, including cashing in three of the past four at home in the series.
27) Cleveland Browns (1-2) - Three opposing running backs, three cats running for over 100 yards. If Cleveland can't figure out how to stop the run they need to think about abandoning the 3-4. The Browns are 5-11-1 ATS in their last 17 conference games and 4-10 as a home underdog. However, they have covered in six straight against a team with a winning record.
28) Arizona Cardinals (1-2) - You know that Ken Whisenhunt and Russ Grimm have had this game circled on their calendar for months, but do they have the horses to compete with one of the best teams in the NFL? The Cardinals are 7-18 ATS in September home games.
29) Minnesota Vikings (1-2) - Beware: after two straight road losses the Vikings have the necessary sense of urgency and desperation heading into this matchup with the Pack. The trouble is that they still don't have a quarterback or NFL-caliber wideouts, which means their offense is only slightly more potent than Northwestern's right now.
30) St. Louis Rams (0-3) - Wait, does this mean that Steven Jackson isn't going to reach 2,500? What a disaster this team is. Marc Bulger has broken ribs. Jackson has a torn groin. They don't have a front line on offense or defense. And now they're facing the top team in the NFC. Wow. St. Louis is 9-19 ATS as a road dog and 1-9 ATS as a double-digit dog.
31) Atlanta Falcons (0-3) - DeAngelo Hall picked a bad time for a meltdown, both on and off the field. His three penalties helped let the Panthers take control of Sunday's game and his tirade against coach Bobby Petrino comes at a time when the entire organization wants to show Who's In Control. If Hall does get suspended for this week's game I think it could crush any hope this team had at springing the upset.
32) Buffalo Bills (0-3) - It's just unbelievable. I mean, I've never seen anything like it. Is there a more hard luck franchise than Buffalo? Now Paul Posluszny is down for the count, and the only real reason to watch this team is Marshawn Lynch. That kid runs HARD.
For more info on Robert's members picks, check out his Insider Page here.