WEEI NFL Power Rankings: Week 8
|10.26.10 at 12:10 pm ET|
Week 7 is in the books and the top five teams remain intact in the latest edition of WEEI.com’s NFL Power Rankings. The Steelers, Jets, Patriots, Ravens and Colts sit comfortably in spots 1-5, respectively. It is obvious through seven weeks of football that the AFC rules in the NFL. Seven out of the top 10 ranked teams represent the AFC. Jumping in this week are the Titans (No. 7) and the Dolphins (No. 9). Those teams replace the Saints and Eagles, who both suffered big losses on Sunday.
The Saints go marching out of the top 10 and drop all the way to No. 11 after being embarrassed at home by the meager Browns. The defending champs suffered their third loss of the season. During their championship run last season, they lost three times all year.
The Bears also plunge this week to No. 17. The same problems haunt the Bears each week and it seems they can’t improve on the offensive line and passing game.
At the bottom of the barrel, the Bills remain at No. 32 and are the only winless team in the NFL. There is, at least, some novelty to their basement perch, as the Bills have a new neighbor, with the 49ers falling to No. 31.
1. (Last week, 1) 5-1 Even though the Steelers probably should have lost Sunday against the Dolphins, it’s tough not to put them at the top. Ben Roethlisberger will continue to improve as the season progresses and the Steelers D is one of the best in the league. One thing to watch for is the loss of defensive end Aaron Smith, who is a major contributor to Pittsburgh’s elite defense.
3. (3) 5-1 This team has been criticized for its poor play on the road and in the second half in the past. On Sunday, however, the Patriots stepped up their game and managed to win on the road. After struggling mightily on offense in the first half, Tom Brady led a 76-yard touchdown drive to open the third quarter that took over eight minutes off the clock. Bill Belichick’s young defense is making noteworthy progress and has become fun to watch.
4. (4) 5-2 Baltimore’s pass defense has looked very suspect over the last two weeks. When your team allows the Buffalo Bills offense to gain 374 yards in the air, something has to be fixed. The Ravens have a bye this week and then will try and get back on track.
5. (5) 4-2 Peyton Manning is facing one of the biggest tests in his career. Can No. 18 continue to win games with his receiving core in shambles or will injuries finally put a stop to the Colts’ long run of success?
6. (8) 5-2 The red hot Giants look more and more like a team that can go deep into the playoffs in the NFC. The defensive line has been a key to their success. Their ability to put pressure on the passer prevents offenses from getting into any sort of rhythm. Meanwhile, the offensive line is giving Eli Manning plenty of time in the pocket. Right now, it’s tough not to say that this is the best team in the NFC.
7. (12) 5-2 After the Titans’ win against the Eagles on Sunday, many were talking about Kenny Britt’s mind-boggling performance of seven catches for 225 yards and three touchdowns. But there was more Sunday then just Britt’s unbelievable performance. The Titans defense held one of the best offenses in the league to just two field goals in the second half. With the Colts beleaguered, this is the perfect opportunity for the Titans to step up and take the AFC South.
8. (9) 5-2 This is a very intriguing team because at times it looks like one of the elite in the NFC. However, the Falcons’ loss last week to the Eagles and the way they let the Bengals back in the game during the third quarter in Week 7 raise some question marks about this Atlanta team. They’ll enter their bye week looking for a way to be more consistent going forward.
9. (10) 3-3 Dolphins coaches, players and fans should all be scratching their heads after a questionable call by referees gave possession of the ball back to the Steelers at the goal line after Roethlisberger’s fumble. Certainly, it was a tough break for the Dolphins, who played well against one of the best in the NFL.
10. (11) 4-3 It was good to see the Packers come out and play with so much emotion and enthusiasm Sunday against the Vikings. They earned a key divisional win and look like the best team in the NFC North, despite the injuries.
11. (6) 4-3 Drew Brees now has thrown 10 interceptions through seven games. He threw eleven all of last year. The Saints need a more balanced attack on offense. They rushed the ball just 18 times and threw the ball 56 times in their loss to the lowly Browns.
12. (16) 4-2 The Chiefs showed Sunday that they’re not just a product of their defense and special teams. Their offense can also help contribute to wins. After jumping off to a slow start, Matt Cassell has put together strong back-to-back performances. The running back tandem of Jamaal Charles and Thomas Jones is a nightmare for defenses.
13. (7) 4-3 The Eagles allowed a whopping 27 fourth-quarter points against the Titans Sunday. Philly has shown glimpses of being an elite team in the NFC but has played very inconsistently through the first seven games. Andy Reid announced Michael Vick will now be the starter when the team comes off the bye.
14. (15) 4-2 With the week off, look for the Texans to focus on their pass defense going forward. This area has been Houston’s biggest weakness all season. They’ll go for the sweep against the Colts this Sunday in a key divisional matchup.
15. (17) 4-3 What a difference a head coach can make. The Redskins earned their fourth win of the season Sunday, equaling the number of wins they had all of last year. It seems like Mike Shanahan can get results from anyone he puts in the backfield. Ryan Torrain has been a pleasant surprise running the ball for Washington. The Redskins also enjoy a turnover differential of +8.
16. (14) 2-4 It’s tough to understand why Brad Childress decided to publicly criticize his starting quarterback. That decision can only hurt and distract his team. The Vikings have a very important decision to make on whether to stick with their beaten-up 41-year-old QB.
17. (13) 4-3 Jay Cutler could be one of the most unlikable athletes in sports. After throwing four interceptions, all to the same player, one would think the experience would be somewhat humbling. After the game, instead of giving DeAngelo Hall some credit for picking him off four times, he decided to say this: “There’s no reason to shy away from him. If we had to play them tomorrow, I’d go at him every time, if we could.” Cutler has refused to learn from his mistakes and the losses his team suffers are the result.
18. (22) 2-5 The reason why the Chargers are 2-5: San Diego has turned the ball over 18 times. On top of that, the Chargers continue to make mistakes on special teams. If they could have avoided that false start penalty in the most crucial moment of the game, things might have ended a lot differently on Sunday against the Patriots.
19. (19) 4-2 “We’re the best team in the NFC,” said head coach Raheem Morris after barely beating the St. Louis Rams. . . a team that won one game all of last year. Although the Bucs are on the rise with their young talent and a 4-2 record, this team isn’t even the second best in their division.
20. (21) 4-2 The NFC West is the Seahawks‘ to lose. Although an average team at best, Seattle finally has a rushing attack that will help it win the division.
21. (26) 2-4 Coming off a bye, one would expect a talented team like Cincinnati to play a lot better this past Sunday. This has been one of the most disappointing teams in the NFL, especially on defense. The Bengals’ pass rush is terrible and they didn’t have an answer for Falcons wide receiver Roddy White, who shredded them all game.
22. (28) 3-4 Perhaps one the most eye-opening headlines of Week 7 in the NFL was the Raiders thrashing the Denver Broncos. The Raiders showed their offense can be extremely effective when they get their running game going. Oakland had a combined 328 rushing yards from seven different players. The majority came from one of the most explosive running backs in the game, Darren McFadden.
23. (20) 1-5 After six games, the Cowboys’ season is over. The team that many thought would be hosting the Super Bowl in their own stadium is now 0-3 at home. The loss of Tony Romo obviously hurts, but Dallas is a bad team with or without its starting QB. The Cowboys lack leadership, discipline and a will to win.
24. (27) 3-4 The Jaguars have allowed 28 or more points five times this season. On offense, saying they are one-dimensional is an understatement. They have a great running game behind Maurice Jones-Drew but can’t move the ball through the air.
25. (18) 2-5 The Broncos have gone 4-13 since starting the 2009 season 6-0. Sunday, they looked confused and unprepared while allowing the Raiders to score 24 points in the first quarter alone.
26. (23) 3-4 Right now, improving each week is more important than the win/loss column for the Rams. Sam Bradford could certainly benefit from a few more offensive weapons in his receiving corps.
27. (30) 2-5 The Browns rolled into New Orleans extremely prepared and ready to take on the defending champs. Credit must go to the coaching staff, which found weaknesses and areas in the Saints that they could expose.
28. (25) 3-3 The Cardinals can’t do anything offensively. It’s a shame that they have one of the best receivers in the game in Larry Fitzgerald but nobody to pass him the ball.
29. (29) 1-5 The return of Matthew Stafford this week could mean some success going forward for the Lions if they are able to stop beating themselves with so many penalties.
30. (31) 1-5 The Panthers need to stick with Matt Moore behind center. He gives the team the best chance to win. Rookie quarterbacks notoriously struggle in their first year.
31. (24) 1-6 I have to admit, I believed the 49ers could potentially turn things around and win in the NFC West. But after Sunday’s loss to the Panthers, I’ve jumped off the crazy train.
32. (32) 0-6 You have to give some credit to the Bills for taking the Ravens to the brink on Sunday. Buffalo fought hard all game and almost pulled off an upset win against one of the top teams in the NFL. The passing game finally showed some hope, as Ryan Fitzpatrick threw for over 350 yards.