|WEEI NFL Power Rankings — Week 8||10.27.09 at 4:00 am ET|
The Saints officially have the bragging rights associated with being atop WEEI’s NFL power rankings for three straight weeks, more than any other team. After an unbelievable comeback performance Sunday against the Dolphins, they remain at the pinnacle of the rankings.
Another team that entered Sunday with its undefeated credentials intact got handed its first loss. The Vikings lost to the Steelers but fell just two spots to No. 5. Meanwhile, the Steelers continue to climb and claw their way back toward the top spot, checking in this week at No. 4.
Sorry, Patriots fans, heading into the bye Tom Brady and crew stay at No. 6 following their obliteration of the lowly Buccaneers in the Old Country.
The Cardinals continue to ascend the rankings, this time leaping seven spots into the top 10 at No. 8. The largest collapse in the rankings takes us to the Windy City. The Bears plummet nine spots and now sit at No. 20 after a dismal performance against the Bengals.
For a league that prides itself on parity, there are a lot of good teams and a lot of awful teams. For that reason, there wasn’t much movement at the bottom as many teams are getting comfortable in their lowly spots, where they cannot escape the wafting stench of their first-half performances.
1. (Last week, 1) 6-0-0 Thirty-six points in one half is pretty impressive. Great teams in the NFL are never out of games, and the Saints proved they can come back from any deficit. This win will definitely be a confidence-builder for New Orleans. Quick stats to throw out: The Saints are scoring 39.7 points per game. They have scored 238 points this season, the second-most in NFL history through six games.
2. (2) 6-0-0 Peyton Manning is playing better than he ever has in his career. Since Manning has been playing so well, the Colts defense has fallen below the radar. Indy’s D is giving up just 12.8 points a game. That’s the second-best in the league.
3. (4) 6-0-0 Six straight wins deserves five days off, according to Josh McDaniels. The rookie coach gave his team the time off and the Broncos will be fresh, well-rested and prepared to take on the Ravens in Baltimore on Sunday.
4. (8) 5-2-0 Heading into the bye, the Steelers are finally looking like the defending Super Bowl champs. Let’s see how the defensive line responds to the loss of Aaron Smith. The loss of Smith could be just as damaging as if the Steelers had lost Troy Polamalu for the season.
5. (3) 6-1-0 The Vikings ran into a very hot Steelers team at Heinz Field and the result was a loss. The Vikings turned the ball over in the red zone and that killed them. Minnesota should be able to fix its mistakes and move on. Exciting matchup next Sunday, when Brett Favre travels back to Green Bay.
6. (6) 5-2-0 The Patriots head into their bye week at a perfect time as they are a little beat up. Ty Warren and Randy Moss were the latest Patriots players to suffer injuries. This is a good time for the Pats to heal up and prepare for a tough schedule ahead — Miami, at Indy, Jets and at New Orleans will be no easy task.
7. (9) 5-2-0 After a poor performance last week against the Texans, the Bengals came out firing. Cincinnati demolished the Bears and made a statement to the NFL. If Carson Palmer continues to trend toward being the quarterback he was a couple seasons ago, the Bengals will be a tough opponent week after week.
8. (15) 4-2-0 Huge win for the Cardinals over the Giants on Sunday night. Beanie Wells introduced himself as a playmaking running back and he complemented the offense nicely. The Cardinals can build off a great win — their first at the Meadowlands since 1999.
9. (5) 5-2-0 The Giants beat themselves on Sunday, uncharacteristically turning the ball over four times. The Giants are still one of the best teams in the NFC and will surely fix those mistakes and bounce back with better performances down the road.
10. (10) 4-2-0 Aaron Rodgers finally had the luxury of a strong run game on Sunday against the Browns. The Packers QB turned in another great performance but it was against one of the most putrid teams in the National Football League. Rodgers and the Packers face a real test this Sunday against the Vikings. The last time these two teams played, Rodgers was sacked eight times.
11. (20) 4-2-0 The Dallas defense was finally able to rush the quarterback and that resulted in a win against a pretty solid team. Dallas was able to get to Matt Ryan four times and force two interceptions. The NFC East title suddenly is a possibility again for the Cowboys, with the Giants suffering their second straight loss.
12. (7) 4-2-0 The Falcons are allowing more than 350 yards per game on defense. One of the main reasons is because of the defensive line’s inability to put pressure on the quarterback. The Falcons need to improve in that area before they take on Drew Brees and the Saints on Monday night or else they are in for a long evening.
13. (13) 3-3-0 The Ravens are well-rested and should be prepared to give the Broncos their first loss of the season. Let’s see if Baltimore will be able to eliminate stupid penalties. If the Ravens can play smart football, they’ll need their struggling cornerbacks to find a way to contain Brandon Marshall and Eddie Royal. if they can do that, Joe Flacco will do the rest.
14. (14) 4-3-0 The Raiders were just what the doctor ordered for Mark Sanchez and the Jets. Despite the loss of Leon Washington, the Jets run game stepped up and rushed the ball for more than 300 yards. Shonn Greene filled in nicely for Washington. The Jets need to rely on their run game and have Sanchez manage games instead of being the main playmaker.
15. (16) 4-2-0 You can’t take much from a win over the Redskins. Washington beat itself more than the Eagles dominated. Philadelphia now will square off against the Giants and Cowboys in back-to-back weeks. These two divisional games will say a lot about what kind of team the Eagles are.
16. (17) 3-3-0 The Super Chargers dismantled a bad Chiefs team. They still haven’t demonstrated that they can make plays on the defensive side of the ball. The Chargers will have a tough time winning a wild card spot with the Ravens, Jets and Bengals all looking like stronger teams — at least at this point of the season.
17. (19) 3-3-0 After back-to-back wins, the Texans are starting to look like a team that can have a winning record. Matt Schaub and the Texans offense continues to play well. Schuab now leads the league in passing yards and touchdown passes.
18. (18) 2-4-0 The Dolphins have a 2-0 record in the AFC East, with the easy part of their schedule ahead of them. However, don’t count on this Chad to be able to lead the Dolphins to the a playoff spot. Chad Henne is no Chad Pennington and showed his lack of experience in the second half against the Saints when the Dolphins needed him most.
19. (12) 3-3-0 Despite his good performance, it’s tough to believe Alex Smith is the solution at the quarterback position for the 49ers. Smith has the potential but has been unable to prove he can win games. It doesn’t get easier for the 49ers next week, when they’ll be at Indianapolis.
20. (11) 3-3-0 Jay Cutler threw three more interceptions on Sunday and now has 10 interceptions on the year. The Bears running game hasn’t helped Cutler much this year and that continued against the Bengals. Matt Forte is averaging just over 50 yards per game. On defense, the Bears can’t stop the run or the pass. They were unprepared for the Bengals and it showed.
21. (23) 3-4-0 The Bills were able to win their third game of the season but struggled again offensively. Their inability to gain yards and score points on the offensive side of the ball will prevent them from finishing anywhere but third or fourth in the AFC East.
22. (22) 3-3-0 The Jaguars should be able to take advantage of the Titans’ miserable secondary this Sunday. Last year when the Jaguars came out of their bye week at 3-3 they proceeded to lose eight of the following 10 games to finish the season at 5-11.
23. (24) 2-4-0 Hopefully for Matt Hasselbeck and the Seahwaks, offensive lineman Walter Jones will be able to play on Sunday. The Seahawks have a lot of injuries and are coming off a bye week. Head coach Jim Mora Jr. said the status was still unknown for Jones and other key players.
24. (21) 2-4-0 It’s time to try something new in Carolina and that starts with replacing Jake Delhomme. He has thrown four touchdowns and 13 interceptions. Delhomme turns the ball over at an alarming rate and the Panthers don’t have a chance to win with a quarterback who is constantly giving the ball away. Delhomme should be benched for Carolina’s Week 8 game against Arizona.
25. (25) 2-5-0 Did anyone think the Raiders were going to build off their big upset win against the Eagles and show up the next week to play the Jets? JaMarcus Russell does not know how to protect the football and will never be a successful quarterback in this league until he figures out how to avoid turning it over.
26. (26) 2-4-0 Albert Haynesworth calling out his teammates following the loss to the Eagles on Monday night won’t be able to solve any of the Redskins’ problems.
27. (27) 1-5-0 The Lions have a great chance to double their win total when they play the winless Rams this Sunday. This is the Lions’ must-win game of the season.
28. (28) 1-6-0 The first thing the Chiefs need to do to begin fixing their problems is get rid of running back Larry Johnson. Any player who is as disrespectful and immature as Johnson doesn’t deserve to play in the NFL. Johnson is 75 yards away from breaking the Chiefs’ all-time rushing record, currently held by Priest Holmes. With Johnson averaging just 2.7 yards per carry, the Chiefs could hang on to the disgruntled running back for another five weeks before he breaks the record, but I wouldn’t count on that. You can be certain Scott Pioli will find a way to rid the team of this cancer sooner rather than later.
29. (29) 0-6-0 Let’s see if Jeff Fisher wearing a Peyton Manning jersey can muster up some luck for the Titans.
30. (30) 1-5-0 Last in total defense and 31st in total offense. This team does nothing well, besides lose.
31. (31) 0-7-0 Tampa Bay has nothing left to lose. It’s time to put in first-round draft pick Josh Freeman and give him some NFL experience at quarterback.
32. (32) 0-6-0 The Rams’ best chance to avoid going 0-16 will come this Sunday when they play the Lions.
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