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WEEI NFL Power Rankings: Week 5 10.05.10 at 3:30 pm ET
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A quarter of the NFL season is already in the books, and the Ravens are the latest team to reign supreme in WEEI’s NFL Power Rankings.

Arguments can be made for almost every 3-1 team in the top five to be in the No. 1 spot. The No. 2 J-E-T-S Jets Jets Jets have looked like one of the NFL’s elite teams after opening the season with a tough loss at home against the Ravens. The Steelers, who fall two spots and sit at No. 3, will enjoy the return of Ben Roethlisberger behind center. The Saints and Falcons round out the “fabulous five” after both teams grinded out wins late in the fourth quarter.

Week 5 could be titled “The return of the suspended.” Roethlisberger isn’t the only big name returning to a contending team. Defensive Rookie of the Year Brian Cushing returns to the No. 7 Texans and the Jets offense will add another weapon with receiver Santonio Holmes, as he will make his debut in green.

Finally, just one undefeated team remains in the NFL, but there are four winless teams. The 49ers, Lions, Panthers and Bills are all searching for their first win. You can find those teams at the bottom of the barrel.

1. (Last week, 9) 3-1 Joe Flacco showed true poise down the stretch in Pittsburgh and led his team to a comeback victory. The Ravens defense is playing very well, as usual, and this Ray Lewis-led club has beaten two of the best teams in the league on the road in the Steelers and Jets.

New York Jets2. (6) 3-1 It’s nice to be a Jets fan right now. Mark Sanchez is proving he can be a solid quarterback, LaDainian Tomlinson showed he has a lot left in the tank and, oh, yeah, Darrelle Revis, Calvin Pace and Santonio Holmes will be returning soon. Rex Ryan‘s crew is 3-0 in the division and heading into Week 5 with loads of confidence.

Pittsburgh Steelers 3. (1) 3-1 Pittsburgh is in a great position to make a big push to take the AFC. After four weeks without their Pro Bowl quarterback, the Steelers were a hair away from finishing the first quarter of the season undefeated. Now, Roethlisberger returns to an offense that ranks 30th in the league in passing.

New Orleans Saints4. (3) 3-1 The defending champs make big plays in critical moments, and that’s why they were able to pull out another close win. The tackle for a 4-yard loss on DeAngelo Williams followed by a sack of Jimmy Clausen putting Carolina out of field goal range is a perfect example of what championship-caliber teams do when the game is on the line. The injury bug has bitten the Saints this season, but once players like Reggie Bush, Pierre Thomas and Roman Harper get healthy, I fully expect them to be defending their title come January.

5. (4) 3-1 The play of week came from Falcons wide receiver Roddy White when he made the Troy Brown-like strip of Nate Clements. Atlanta’s defense is putting good pressure on the quarterback and is forcing interceptions. The Falcons D leads the league with eight picks. If they can improve their play on special teams, the “Dirty Birds” can be a legitimate threat to the Saints for the NFC South title.

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WEEI NFL Power Rankings: Week 4 09.28.10 at 8:40 am ET
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After many shocks and surprises across the league through three weeks, the “Steel Curtain” rises up and has asserted supremacy over the rest of the NFL in this week’s edition of the WEEI.com NFL Power Rankings. Behind Charlie Batch, the unbeaten Pittsburgh Steelers are ranked No. 1 as they have one more game to play until Pro Bowl quarterback Ben Roethlisberger returns. The Steelers have a huge test coming up against the Baltimore Ravens this Sunday at home.

Peyton Manning and the Colts are breathing down the Steelers neck at No. 2 after their second straight dominating win. Falling to No. 3 are Drew Brees and the defending champs. The Saints are out of the top spot for the first time this season after kicker Garret Hartley missed a 29-yard field goal to win the game in overtime.

Rounding out the top five are the Green Bay Packers who fall from the No. 2 spot. Despite the loss to the Bears on Monday night, the Packers remain two spots ahead. Green Bay still had a good chance to take down “Da Bears” on the road despite turnovers and penalties. Additionally, the Bears close-call win over the Lions in Week 1 and the inconsistent play of Jay Cutler still makes them a suspect team. The boys from the “Windy City” climb to No.7.

The winless Browns and Bills remain in the basement going into Week 4.

Surely there will be many brash and passionate opinions this week as some 3-0 teams aren’t even in the “Fine 15,” and some teams who have won head to head matchups aren’t ahead of the teams they’ve beat. Leave your comments below.

Pittsburgh Steelers 1. (4) 3-0-0 The Steelers have the opportunity to be 4-0 before Roethlisberger returns from a four-game suspension. With a defense that is allowing just 11 points a game, Pittsburgh is looking more and more like the team to beat in the AFC.

2. (3) 2-1-0 Peyton Manning can make any receiver effective. Without Pierre Garcon and Anthony Gonzalez, Manning found backups Austin Collie and Blair White all over the field. Can anyone argue, barring an injury to Manning, that this team won’t win at least 12 games this year?

New Orleans Saints3. (Last week, 1) 2-1-0 The Saints need to improve their rush defense dramatically (they currently rank 30th). The way to beat the defending champs is to pound the ball on the ground and keep Drew Brees and the offense off the field. That’s what the Falcons did on Sunday and it turned out badly for New Orleans.

4. (11) 2-1-0 The Falcons showed that they are one of the top tier teams in the league after knocking off the defending champs in New Orleans. Atlanta’s only loss came in overtime against a great Steelers team. If Atlanta’s rushing attack can remain effective, the Falcons can do some damage in the NFC.

Green Bay Packers5. (2) 2-1-0 Eighteen penalties in one game is very alarming for a team many think is one of the best in the NFC. The Packers beat themselves Monday night and can’t afford to play like the way they did again if they want to contend for a Super Bowl. The good thing Green Bay can take away from the loss was the play of Aaron Rodgers — an unbelievable and gutty performance from a quarterback that has made his way into the conversation of best QB in the league.

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WEEI NFL Power Rankings: Week 3 09.21.10 at 8:05 am ET
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The defending champs are looking down at all 32 teams once again as they pulled off another win and remain at No.1 in the WEEI NFL Power Rankings. Drew Brees and company continue to find ways to win, reminiscent of the Patriots championship teams who battled every week but prevailed at the end every time.

The Packers jump a spot and sit at No. 2 after a dominating performance over the Bills. The Colts, Steelers, and Texans round off the Top 5.

Tough decisions after that. The Ravens lost to the Bengals, but beat the Jets in Week 1, while the Patriots beat up on the Bengals but fell to the Jets. This just proves we shouldn’t over-react after two games. Baltimore remains on top of the next group followed by the Jets, Patriots and Bengals.

It’s been an interesting and exciting past couple weeks in the NFL. The Steelers are proving they don’t need  their Pro Bowl QB when they play defense like they have the past two games. Following a Week 1 loss, the Colts made a statement on Sunday Night Football by beating up on the Giants. We’ve got some major surprises early in the season with both the Tampa Bay Bucs and Kansas City Chiefs at 2-0, while teams like the Dallas Cowboys and Minnesota Vikings are 0-2.

And which head coach is first on the hot seat? Is it Wade Phillips, John Fox, Eric Mangini, or none of the above?

Lots to talk about in this week’s edition of the WEEI Power Rankings. Check em out:

New Orleans Saints1. (Last week, 1) 2-0-0 The Saints aren’t relying on one specific area. They’re getting production from all three phases of the game when they need it and find ways to win games. The loss of Reggie Bush (to what reports say is a broken bone in his leg) won’t help the Saints sputtering offense find their groove any quicker.

Green Bay Packers2. (3) 2-0-0 The Packers have play-makers on both sides of the ball. Aaron Rodgers continues to show he is an elite QB. Second-year linebacker Clay Matthews already has six sacks, 12 tackles, and one forced fumble in two games.

3. (4) 1-1-0 Did anyone really think the Colts would fall to 0-2 to start the season? Indy took a national stage Sunday night and showed the country that they will be one of the best teams in the NFL once again.

Pittsburgh Steelers 4. (7) 2-0-0 If the Steelers ‘D’ continues to play the way they have, it won’t matter who is under center. With Dennis Dixon and Charlie Batch to start the season, the Steel Crew is 2-0 and just two games away from getting their Pro Bowl quarterback back from suspension.

Houston Texans5. (11) 2-0-0 In the opener, we saw what the Texans running game was capable of after Arian Foster rushed for over 230 yards and three touchdowns. This week, we saw Matt Schaub throw for 497 yards and three touchdowns.

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WEEI NFL Power Rankings: Week 2 09.14.10 at 11:54 am ET
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Maybe that’s what Rex Ryan was talking about on ”Hard Knocks” when he screamed to Darrelle Revis‘ agents, “Watch what happens Monday night!” What a crazy opening weekend around the National Football League. After months of trash talk, the “team to beat” in the NFL didn’t even look like it had a playoff caliber offense, never mind Super Bowl caliber. The Jets fall to No.9.

The Colts, Cowboys, and Chargers all lost to teams that didn’t even make the playoffs last year. The Lions were close to opening their season with a rare win, the Steelers didn’t need Ben Roethlisberger to beat the Falcons, and the Patriots shocked many around the league with a dominating win over the Bengals.

Despite all the madness that happened in Week 1, it’s still early and difficult to react too drastically. The Saints remain at No.1 after a very un-Saints-like victory over the Vikings Thursday night to kick off the season. The Ravens jump ahead two spots after the team’s defense physically dominated the Jets on Monday Night Football. Ray Lewis and Baltimore are at No. 2. The newest member of the top five is New England. The Patriots jumped out of the gate with a strong performance at home and their defense proved it can make big plays and put pressure on the passer. Tom Brady and the Pats are at No. 5.

Other notable teams that dropped in the rankings are the Cowboys, Chargers and Falcons. Following a bunch of head scratching and “what were they thinking?!” plays, the Cowboys fall hard to the No. 10 spot.

New Orleans Saints1. (Last week, 1) 1-0-0 The Saints played great defense, allowing just 171 passing yards and one touchdown. It was a sloppy game, but the defending champs did what they had to do and won. I’m guessing this will be the last time the Saints score 14 or less points all season.

2. (4) 1-0-0 WOW. Although the Jets offense is anemic, the Ravens defense played smash mouth football and was very impressive. Baltimore’s D held Mark Sanchez and the Jets to just nine points, 176 yards and six first downs. The Ravens also got the type of production they were hoping for from offseason acquisition Anquan Boldin.

Green Bay Packers3. (3) 1-0-0 Green Bay is a solid team all around. The key to its Super Bowl hopes lies within the team’s offensive line. If they can protect Aaron Rodgers, the Packers can compete for the championship.

4. (2) 0-1-0 The Texans followed the Dolphins’ format on how to beat the Colts — run the ball. Although the Dolphins were unsuccessful last year, the Texans ran the ball down Indy’s throat and managed to come out victorious. The Colts are too good to let that happen much more this season and will bounce back. They’re still the favorite to win the AFC South.

New England Patriots 5. (8) 1-0-0 The Patriots were very impressive in all three areas of the game: offense, defense and special teams. Enough can’t be said about the performance of the offensive and defensive lines. Brady was well protected and the Patriots found the pass rush everyone in New England has been looking for.

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WEEI NFL Power Rankings: Week 1 09.07.10 at 9:38 am ET
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power-rankings575Opening kickoff is just days away when Brett Favre and the Vikings will try to avenge their conference championship loss and take on the defending Super Bowl champions and the No.1 team in WEEI’s NFL Power Rankings. The Black and Gold have a very difficult task ahead, defending the title and its No.1 ranking. Teams attempting to take that top slot and rounding off the Top 5 are Indy, Green Bay, Baltimore and Dallas respectively.

Rex Ryan and the Jets had a very productive Labor Day weekend after they finally managed to bring back All-Pro cornerback Darrelle Revis. The return of Revis solidifies the Jets as having one of the most feared defenses in league. The ‘Hard Knocks’ stars are at No.7 to start the season. Right behind them at No.8 is their division rival New England Patriots. After a strong preseason, Tom Brady looks poised and ready to put up numbers similar to those in 2007.

No surprises at the bottom of the barrel. The Chiefs, Browns, Bills, Bucs, and Rams find themselves in a very similar position.

Enough exhibition games already, bring on the NFL season:

New Orleans Saints1. (Last year’s record, 14-2) The Super Bowl champs have earned the right to be called No.1 until proven otherwise. The dynamic duo of Drew Brees and Sean Peyton resemble that of Tom Brady and Bill Belichick. The Saints championship core is still intact and the team’s defense will greatly appreciate a healthy Jabari Greer and Tracy Porter to patrol the secondary.

2. (13-3) The Colts will be returning many of their starters from their Super Bowl team and will be the team to beat in the AFC this year yet again. Peyton Manning, Reggie Wayne and the Colts offense will put up huge numbers. On the other side of the ball, Indy has one of the best 1-2 punches at defensive end with Dwight Freeney and Robert Mathis. The Colts are looking for 12 or more wins for their eighth straight season.

Green Bay Packers3. (11-5) Green Bay has a great opportunity to hit the ground running as they start their 2010 season playing Buffalo, Chicago and Detroit in three of the team’s first four games. Protecting Aaron Rodgers will be the key to Packers success.

4. (9-7) The loss of Domonique Foxworth and the poor pass rush are major concerns for this team entering the season but this team has always been known for a strong defense and can rely on linebacker Terrell Suggs to bounce back from an uncharacteristically poor 2009 season. Joe Flacco has emerged as on the great young QB’s in the NFL and with new weapon Anquan Boldin along with Pro Bowler Ray Rice, Baltimore’s offense will be tough to stop.

Dallas Cowboys5. (11-5) The Cowboys are the team to beat in one of the best divisions in the NFL, the NFC East. The team’s biggest concern is their aging offensive line that needs to protect QB Tony Romo. Dallas has loads of talent on both sides of the ball and Jerry Jones’ team has a  legitimate shot of being the first organization to host a Super Bowl in NFL history. Read the rest of this entry »

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WEEI NFL Power Rankings: Training camp edition 07.20.10 at 7:48 am ET
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Training camp is right around the corner, and what better way to kick off the start of the NFL season with an edition of the WEEI NFL Power Rankings?

The Saints and Colts remain at No. 1 and 2 respectively coming off their Super Bowl appearances. Jumping into the top five are the Ravens, who enjoyed an excellent offseason in which they added a Pro Bowl wide receiver and watched their division rival Steelers lose their starting quarterback for 4-6 games.

With much offseason hype surrounding the Jets, Rex Ryan’s gang sits at No. 7 after adding many key players to their roster. The Patriots are looking up two spots at their AFC East rival at No. 9.

Feel free to leave your comments and opinions below.

New Orleans Saints1. The Saints will try to be the first team to win back-to-back Super Bowls since the 2003-04 Patriots. The pass defense certainly will need to improve if they want to repeat.

2. Indy goes into this season trying to win 12 or more games for the eighth straight season — an unprecedented run of success for Peyton Manning and friends. Like many of the teams in the NFL, the defending AFC champs have some players threatening a holdout. Reggie Wayne and Robert Mathis both are looking for new contracts despite the fact that two years remain on both of their current deals.

3. The Ravens finally have a big-name receiver to catch the ball. The addition of Anquan Boldin will make Baltimore a very difficult team to beat.

Green Bay Packers4. The Packers must protect quarterback Aaron Rodgers, who was sacked 57 times last season. Rodgers is turning into one of the premier QBs in the game and can lead this team to a championship if given the chance by his offensive line. Green Bay also has the luxury of playing Buffalo, Chicago and Detroit in three of the first four games.

Dallas Cowboys5. The Cowboys clearly are the favorites to win the NFC East this year with their weapons on the defensive line and the array of talent ready to catch passes from Tony Romo.

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WEEI NFL Power Rankings 05.23.10 at 8:34 pm ET
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With free agency and the draft behind us, now is a good time to take a look at all 32 NFL teams and see where they stack up at the midway mark of the offseason. No real surprises, as the top two teams — the Saints and Colts — earned their way to the No. 1 and 2 spots following dominating 2009 campaigns and solid offseasons. After a great draft and the addition of some key free agents, the Ravens shoot up to No. 3, while the Packers and Cowboys round out the top 5. As for the AFC East, the “J-E-T-S, Jets, Jets, Jets” are two spots ahead of the Patriots after a great offseason in which they added more depth in the secondary and at the wide receiver position.

And now, I leave you with the first offseason edition of the 2010 rankings. Give it your best shot and tell me why I’m wrong. I’m waiting.

New Orleans Saints1. The defending Super Bowl champs are poised and ready to make another run at the title. The Saints will benefit from their soft regular-season schedule — based on opponents’ 2009 regular-season record, they have the sixth-easiest schedule in the NFL in 2010. They used their first-round pick to select cornerback Patrick Robinson from Florida State to shore up their pass defense, which was ranked 26th in the NFL last year.

2. The Colts have focused on their defense this offseason with the re-signing of linebacker Gary Brackett to a five-year deal and the drafting of Jerry Hughes, a defensive lineman/outside linebacker, with their first-round pick. Hughes is an extremely fast and dominant pass rusher and will fit in nicely with Robert Mathis and Dwight Freeney. Hughes can rush the passer from either side, and Mathis and Freeney will benefit greatly from having a younger defensive end to shoulder some of the load.

3. The Ravens have had an excellent offseason to this point. They certainly transformed the wide reciever position from a position of weakness into a position of strength with the addition of Anquan Boldin and Donte’ Stallworth. They added great depth to their front seven in the draft with linebacker Sergio Kindle and defensive tackle Terrence Cody.

Green Bay Packers4. The Packers’ main concern this year will be protecting quarterback Aaron Rodgers, who was sacked 57 times last season. Green Bay used its first-round pick on offensive tackle Brian Bulaga. If the Packers can figure out a way to keep Rodgers off the turf, they can get to the Super Bowl.

Dallas Cowboys5. Dallas was in the top 5 in most major offensive categories last year, and now the Cowboys add Dez Bryant to the mix. Not bad. The Cowboys also have a great front seven, highlighted by DeMarcus Ware and Anthony Spencer. Read the rest of this entry »

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