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WEEI NFL Power Rankings, Week 7: Patriots bump up a spot to No. 8

10.15.13 at 11:17 am ET

Week after week the NFL proves to be as unpredictable as the weather in New England. Who would’ve thought at the start of the season that the Giants would open the season 0-6? Or that the Chiefs, who won just two games last year, would be 6-0? The defending NFC South champion Falcons started the season in the top five of the WEEI NFL Power Rankings. Now they’ve plunged all the way to No. 20.

One thing about which there’s no doubt is the Broncos‘ stranglehold on the top spot. Denver has rolled through its first six games and now is seeing Pro Bowlers Von Miller and Champ Bailey return to its defense. Behind the Broncos, no team has separated itself to become a clear second best in the league. With the Saints’ last-second loss to the Patriots, the Seahawks jump a spot to No. 2.

The much-anticipated Week 7 is near. Peyton Manning makes his first trip back to Indianapolis to play the Colts, who slipped to ninth after their Monday night loss to the Chargers. It should be another fun and wild week in the NFL.

 1. (1) Broncos (6-0) — The undefeated Broncos didn’t even notice that Miller, the All-Pro linebacker, was missing for six weeks. Miller will just make the powerhouse even better with his return.

2. (3) Seahawks (5-1) — The imminent return of Percy Harvin and Zach Miller will help this offense greatly in the red zone. Russell Wilson and Co. have struggled to punch the ball in the end zone.

3. (2) Saints (5-1) — It’s never easy going into New England. The Saints were delivered their first loss, but they could have easily won that game with better coaching and clock management from Sean Payton. Great coaches make mistakes, too (just ask Bill Belichick). The Saints will be fine.

 4. (4) 49ers (4-2) — Since back-to-back losses, the Niners have gone back to the ground game on offense. Running back Frank Gore had a total of 20 carries in Week 2 and 3. In the last three San Francisco victories, Gore is averaging 20 carries per game.

5. (6) Bengals (4-2) — With wins against the Steelers, Packers and Patriots, the Bengals are sitting pretty atop the AFC North.

6. (7) Packers (3-2) — The Packers won the Super Bowl in 2010 despite having 15 players on injured reserve. The injuries in 2013 are really piling up, but this team is talented enough to compete each week. As long as Aaron Rodgers is healthy, Green Bay will be in the hunt.

7. (8) Chiefs (6-0) — No team in the NFL has a better turnover differential than the Chiefs. The defense has forced 18 turnovers in six games.

8. (9) Patriots (5-1) — No player has made more of an impact on the Patriots than Aqib Talib. The cornerback has shut down some of the very best in the league, including Vincent Jackson, Julio Jones, A.J. Green and now Jimmy Graham. If Talib misses extended time with a hip injury, the result could be devastating for that defense.

9. (5) Colts (4-2) — The Colts can’t afford to make mistakes Sunday night against the Broncos like they did against the Chargers. If they do, they’ll find themselves out of the game by halftime. Penalties, dropped passes and turnovers haunted the Colts on Monday night.

10. (10) Bears (4-2) — The new coaching staff has done wonders in Chicago. The Bears are a greatly improved football team from top to bottom. Jay Cutler‘s completion percentage is the highest it’s ever been in his career.

11. (13) Cowboys (3-3) — The running game is key to Dallas’ success on offense. If DeMarco Murray misses extended time, this team could be in trouble.

12. (12) Dolphins (3-2) — The bye week came at the perfect time for pass rusher Cameron Wake. Miami’s best defensive end has been nursing a knee injury for a few weeks. A healthy Wake will make a huge difference on defense. 

13. (11) Ravens (3-2) — Baltimore’s success relies on its run game. This year the Ravens rushing attack is averaging an anemic 2.7 yards per carry.

14. (14) Lions (4-2) — The Lions need a healthy Calvin Johnson to compete for a playoff spot in that tough NFC North. Patriots fans may think their team leads the league in dropped passes, but the Lions are at the top of that list. 

15. (25) Chargers (3-3) — The Chargers turned in one of their best games in a long time. They ran the ball well, didn’t turn the ball over and controlled the clock against the Colts. It was an impressive game from San Diego.

16. (16) Eagles (2-3) — A good old-fashioned QB controversy is on the horizon in Philadelphia. Things could get real interesting once Michael Vick is cleared to play.

17. (15) Cardinals (3-3) — Carson Palmer and the Cards offense showed some life on Sunday and turned in the team’s best offensive performance of the year. Unfortunately for them, it still wasn’t good enough to get a ‘W.’

18. (18) Titans (3-2) — The Titans’ tough stretch of games continues Sunday when they host the Niners. Chris Johnson must make more of an impact in the ground game for Tennessee to be successful.

19. (19) Jets (3-3) — “It was a horrible day for the Ryan family,” Rex Ryan said Monday, referring in part to the Patriots’ thrilling comeback win over twin brother Rob Ryan and the Saints. Meanwhile, Jets QB Geno Smith took a step back in Week 6, throwing two interceptions.

20. (20) Falcons (1-4) —  They were a popular pick before the season to reach the Super Bowl, but the Falcons have opened their season losing four out of five games, and their best offensive player is on IR. Atlantas struggles can be credited to an inefficient run game and poor pass protection.

21. (24) Rams (3-3) — St. Louis needs to improve its run defense. The 31st-ranked unit is allowing 130 yards per game. 

22. (22) Redskins (1-4) — Robert Griffin III is averaging 18 more pass attempts per game in 2013 than last year. Last season, the Redskins relied on a strong run game to complement the passing attack. As a rookie, RGIII averaged 24 attempts per game. In his second year, he’s averaging 42 attempts.

23. (23) Panthers (2-3) — Cam Newton needs to prove he can have career games against playoff-caliber teams. He played great against the Vikings, but they’re the one-win Vikings. He needs to take the next step, and that means playing consistently well week after week and beating the strong teams. 

24. (17) Texans (2-4) —  The dramatic regression puts Gary Kubiak on the hot seat. The Texans coach has been in Houston for eight seasons and has failed to take his team to the next level.

 25. (29) Steelers (1-4) — Ben Roethlisberger and the Steelers offense showed significant improvement Sunday against a tough Jets defense. Big Ben didn’t turn the ball over for the first time this year.

26. (21) Browns (3-3) — The return of Brandon Weeden brought back the feeling of defeat in Cleveland.

27. (26) Bills (2-4) — This will mark the 14th straight year the Bills have missed the playoffs.

28. (27) Vikings (1-4) — An interesting decision will come out of Minnesota this week as Leslie Frazier must choose Christian Ponder, Matt Cassel or Josh Freeman to start at quarterback. None of those options are too enticing.

 29. (28) Raiders (2-4) — The rebuilding Raiders haven’t found a franchise QB in a long time. They finally feel like they may have something in Terrell Pryor. The organization’s top priority should be protecting the young passer. Pryor was sacked an alarming 10 times and hit 14 times in Sunday’s loss to the Chiefs.

30. (30) Giants (0-6) — It’s mind-boggling how a veteran two-time Super Bowl MVP can transform into one of the worst quarterbacks in the game, basically overnight. Eli Manning is the first QB to throw at least 15 interceptions in his first six games since Dan Fouts in 1986.

31. (31) Buccaneers (0-5) — Murphy’s Law is in full effect in Tampa. Whatever can go wrong, will go wrong. This season has been nothing short of a debacle for the Bucs.  

32. (32) Jaguars (0-6) — Amazingly, the Jaguars held the Broncos to their lowest point total of the year. Thankfully I’m not a Jags fan, but if I were, I’d be encouraged with the way this team played.

Which NFL teams are in your top 10? Leave your opinions/comments below or send via Twitter to @JoeZWEEI.

Read More: Aqib Talib, Champ Bailey, NFL Power Rankings, Peyton Manning



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