WEEI NFL Power Rankings: Week 10
|11.09.11 at 7:08 am ET|
A wild week in the NFL resulted in a shakeup in this week’s edition of the WEEI NFL Power Rankings. The Packers have a stranglehold on the No. 1 spot, but many other teams went soaring up or skyrocketing down. The 49ers (2), Ravens (3), and Steelers (4) move around but all remain in the top five. Meanwhile, the Patriots (11) plummet to their lowest spot all year. Back-to-back losses and the league’s worst pass defense is the main reason for the big drop.
It was a good week for some of the NFC’s top teams. The Falcons (5), Saints (6), Giants (8), and Bears (10) all rise at least one spot and sit in an NFC-dominated top 10. The Ravens (3), Steelers (4), and Jets (9) are the only teams that represent the AFC in the top 10.
Week 9 resulted in the NFL having just one remaining winless team. The Dolphins (29) wrapped up their first win of the season against the Chiefs (19). The Colts remain in the gutter at No. 32 and are now the lone front-runners for Andrew Luck.
Week 10 promises to be an exciting one, with will several divisional showdowns scheduled.
AFC East: Pats at Jets, AFC West: Chargers at Raiders, AFC North: Steelers at Bengals
NFC South: Saints at Falcons, NFC North: Lions at Bears
1. (1) Packers (8-0) ‘ Dating back to last season, the Packers have won 14 straight games (including postseason). With the Vikings and Bucs next, there’s a very good possibility the defending champs could be 10-0 heading into their Thanksgiving Day game against the Lions.
2. (3) 49ers (7-1) ‘ Make that six straight wins for the biggest surprise team in the league. The 49ers are atop of the NFC West and have the division practically wrapped up. Frank Gore‘s second sprained ankle of the season is reason to worry in San Francisco. Gore’s play this year is a major reason why the 49ers are in first-place. Alex Smith is a much better QB when he can lean on Gore.
3. (5) Ravens (6-2) ‘ A season sweep of the Steelers is a true sign of a strong team. Joe Flacco has redeemed himself after his poor performance against the Jaguars. Flacco is starting to get into a rhythm and has thrown for 300 or more yards in three of his last four games.
4. (2) Steelers (6-3) ‘ The pass rush looks to be back with James Harrison wreaking havoc in the backfield. However, the Steelers defense still allowed the Ravens to convert 14 third downs on Sunday night. One positive is that Pittsburgh played much better against Ray Rice this time around. Rice averaged just 2.4 yards per carry. In Week 1, Rice ran all over the Steelers D. It almost seems inevitable that the Ravens and Steelers will see each other again in January.
5. (6) Falcons (5-3) ‘ The Falcons’ biggest game of the season will come this week against the Saints. The two teams will fight for first place in the NFC South. Atlanta has to be encouraged going into the game after winning three straight and having a healthy Julio Jones back in Matt Ryan‘s arsenal.
6. (8) Saints (6-3) ‘ Saints fans must have enjoyed the way their team bounced back fresh off an embarrassing loss to the Rams. One week after not being able to run the ball or stop the run, the Saints improved in both areas. When Drew Brees has a run game that produces, the Saints offense is practically unstoppable. The rushing attack racked up 195 yards on the ground.
7. (7) Lions (6-2) ‘ Coming off the bye week, the biggest question surrounding the Lions is how will the running back situation play out? The Lions signed Kevin Smith, adding more depth to the position. Injuries to Mikel Leshoure and Jahvid Best have had the team scrambling to find an answer. The signing of Smith makes one wonder if Best will be able to return this season from his concussion.
8. (10) Giants (6-2) ‘ A statement win. It’s as simple as that. The Giants were a nine-point underdog playing on the road against a team that hadn’t lost at home during the regular season in 20 straight games. They now have a two-game lead in the NFC East. Tom Coughlin has his team showing great poise in the fourth quarter, and the Giants are gaining confidence as they take on a very difficult stretch in their schedule. Eli Manning has been the best QB in the league in the fourth quarter — he’s thrown for over 800 yards and eight touchdowns this season.
9. (9) Jets (5-3) ‘ The physical, turnover-creating defense we’ve been accustomed to seeing under Rex Ryan returned in the Jets win over the Bills. Mark Sanchez even showed some improvement but still managed to throw an interception in triple coverage. Despite that poor decision, Sanchez had a high completion percentage and converted first downs. The win made it three straight for the Jets and they’re now in a three-way tie for first place in the AFC East.
10. (12) Bears (5-3) ‘ Finally, the Bears are showing some consistent improvement week to week. The protection issues seem to be fixed, the offensive line is doing a great job creating space for Matt Forte, and Jay Cutler is limiting his mistakes. Cutler was sacked a whopping 14 times in the first three games of the season; he’s been sacked just seven times in the last five.
11. (4) Patriots (5-3) ‘ The personnel in the secondary is just not good enough to compete with the good offensive teams in the NFL. This isn’t anything new; the Patriots haven’t been good defensively for a few seasons now. It’s certainly time to start to question Bill Belichick and the moves the Patriots have made on defense. Albert Haynesworth was an absolute failure. He played in just 132 snaps and made three measly tackles. On offense, Tom Brady doesn’t have a receiver who can stretch the field.
12. (13) Texans (6-3) ‘ There are few teams in the league this year that have had to overcome as much adversity as the Texans. Injuries to star players like Arian Foster, Andre Johnson and Mario Williams haven’t prevented this team from dropping out of first place. After an embarrassing defensive season in 2010, the Texans are the No. 1-ranked defense in the league heading into Week 10. This is a pretty remarkable accomplishment given the fact the team has lost three key starters on defense for the season.
13. (16) Bengals (6-2) ‘ Now it’s time for the difficult part of the schedule to begin. The Bengals have rattled off five straight wins but now must face the Ravens and Steelers twice. The future is bright in Cincinnati with many rookies playing well, but it’s tough to believe the Bengals will continue to win consistently the second half of the season.
14. (11) Bills (5-3) ‘ The Bills looked confused in their first home loss of the season. Ryan Fitzpatrick and the offense picked a bad time to have their worst game of the year. The offense mustered up just 11 points (lowest of the year), turned the ball over three times and was just 3-for-11 on third down against the Jets. On defense, the Bills lost starting DT Kyle Williams for the year.
15. (21) Cowboys (4-4) ‘ Who would’ve known Felix Jones going down was a blessing in disguise for the Cowboys? DeMarco Murray has added a much-needed spark to the run game. Now, the Cowboys need to improve in the red zone and in the fourth quarter if they want to have a shot at a playoff berth. Tony Romo and the offense have scored just 10 touchdowns this year in the red zone.
16. (14) Eagles (3-5) ‘ The Eagles have four fourth-quarter collapses this season. They’ve been outscored by 36 points in the final quarter. No team in the league has been as bad. Andy Reid‘s job may be in jeopardy as the team’s playoff hopes look slimmer and slimmer.
17. (19) Chargers (4-4) ‘ Fans can’t blame the Chargers defense for the loss to Green Bay. Philip Rivers once again was the main reason his team lost. Two of his three interceptions were returned for touchdowns on Sunday. The QB has thrown 14 picks and just 11 touchdowns. He’s just one interception away from matching a career high.
18. (15) Buccaneers (4-4) ‘ The latest big-name player to suffer a season-ending injury belongs to the Bucs. Defensive tackle Gerald McCoy is out for the year with torn biceps — a major blow for the Bucs defense. I hear Albert Haynesworth is looking for a new place to play. It will be interesting to see if Tampa gives him a shot to fill in for McCoy.
19. (18) Chiefs (4-4) ‘ Fresh off an emotional game against a divisional rival, the Chiefs played with little energy against the winless Dolphins. They blew a huge opportunity to take sole possession of first place in the AFC West. Now the Chiefs are in a three-way tie for the division lead. Kansas City has a big game against the Broncos on Sunday.
20. (17) Raiders (4-4) ‘ It doesn’t matter how rusty a quarterback is, three touchdown passes and six interceptions in two games in unacceptable for someone who was traded for two first-round draft picks. Many scratched their heads after the Raiders made the deal for Carson Palmer, and so far, we’ve seen why.
21. (20) Titans (4-4) ‘ The up-and-down season for the Titans will get tougher with five of their remaining eight games on the road. The offense has had to deal with a slew of injuries. First it was Kenny Britt, now Jared Cook and Nate Washington are beat up. One positive that came from Sunday’s loss was the play of Chris Johnson. He averaged 4.6 yards per carry, the highest average he’s had this season.
22. (22) Redskins (3-5) ‘ The Redskins are at the top of the list of teams that desperately need a quarterback. The lackluster offense led by John Beck is one of the worst in the league, averaging just 15.9 points a game. It’s obvious the team is missing Tim Hightower and Santana Moss.
23. (23) Jaguars (2-6) ‘ Fresh off the bye, the Jaguars will try to improve their awful pass offense against one of the worst defenses in the league, the Colts. Blaine Gabbert will be looking to improve his completion percentage. Although he has a lack of offensive weapons, 45.7 percent is a number that definitely should be higher and something the rookie should work on.
24. (24) Vikings (2-6) ‘ Since taking over for Donovan McNabb, Christian Ponder has dramatically improved the offense. Third-down conversions is just one area that has been better. Since Ponder took over, the offense is 18-for-34 on third downs and Ponder has completed over 70 percent of his passes. McNabb completed just 43 percent of his attempts on third down.
25. (27) Broncos (3-5) ‘ Limiting the amount of mistakes Tim Tebow can make is the best strategy the Broncos can have. Tebow didn’t attempt a pass in the fourth quarter but instead relied on the running game to give the team its second win in three games. It’s amazing to say, but the Broncos are just one game out of first place in the AFC West.
26. (25) Browns (3-5) ‘ The offensive woes continue for the Browns. In the past three games the Browns have scored a total of 28 points. Without Hardesty or Hillis, the offense is stagnant.
27. (26) Panthers (2-6) ‘ Cam Newton and the Panthers come out of the bye week looking to build on what they did in the first half of the season. Despite the 2-6 record, Carolina leads the league in “moral victories.” They’ve played some of the better teams in the league very well. For the Panthers, a seven-point loss to the Packers, a five-point loss to the Bears and a three-point loss to the Saints are steps in the right direction.
28. (30) Cardinals (2-6) ‘ It was a great way to snap a six-game losing streak with that 99-yard punt return in overtime! Despite the exciting win, the Cardinals still have plenty of issues. Putting points on the board has been difficult. The durability of Beanie Wells has been questioned his whole career and once again it seems like the third-year running back is not healthy. Kevin Kolb also will not be 100 percent healthy as the Cards take on his former team, the Eagles.
29. (31) Dolphins (1-7) ‘ You could sense this win coming after the Dolphins’ past few games. The Dolphins have led in seven of their eight games this season and have played extremely hard lately.
30. (28) Rams (1-7) ‘ It might be time to consider shutting down Sam Bradford until he is 100 percent healthy. The former first-overall pick is clearly hurting and his offensive line is contributing to the problem. The last thing the Rams want is to further stunt Bradford’s development. The team has no chance at a playoff berth. The Rams have to do what’s right for the future of the organization.
31. (29) Seahawks (2-6) ‘ If Tarvaris Jackson has trouble against the Cowboys defense, imagine what’s in store for him next week against the Ravens. It comes as no surprise that Jackson has struggled as a starter. The former Viking has just six touchdown passes and nine interceptions in seven games.
32. (32) Colts (0-9) ‘ Another loss, another week closer to becoming the winner of the Andrew Luck sweepstakes. One draft pick won’t transform this team into a contender again. Bill Polian has a lot of work to do in the offseason. The Colts have scored just 24 points in their last three games.
Which NFL teams are in your top 10? Leave your opinions/comments below or e-mail them to email@example.com. You also can send comments via Twitter to @JoeytheFishWEEI.