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WEEI NFL Power Rankings — Week 12 11.24.09 at 11:14 am ET
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It’s time to start separating the pretenders from the contenders in 2009. After 11 weeks of football, it’s getting easier to tell which teams are for real. The Bears, 49ers and Jets made many believe they had a shot of doing big things early in the season, but now it looks like all three won’t be playing football in January. Others, such as the Ravens, Texans and Falcons, also could find themselves on the outside looking in as early as next week.

The Saints and Colts once again are the top teams in this week’s rankings. With six games to go, both teams continue to find ways to win. The Saints will face off against the best team on their schedule Monday night when the Patriots visit New Orleans. It could be smooth sailing the rest of the way if the Saints walk away with a win Monday.

The Broncos are falling and falling fast. Denver dropped seven spots and sits at No.15. The Super Chargers continue to climb their way toward the top. San Diego enters the top five for the first time this year after winning its fifth straight game. In the last three years, the Chargers are 23-7 in their last 10 games of the season.

The Titans also are rising in the rankings after winning their fourth straight. Tennessee stands tall at No. 14.

1. (Last week, 1) 10-0 The Saints have found many different ways to win games this year and will face their toughest test of the season Monday night against the Patriots. The secondary has had trouble covering stud wide receivers and will have to keep Randy Moss in check if they want to stay undefeated.

2. (2) 10-0 The Colts’ bend-but-don’t-break defense stepped up in the red zone and held the Ravens to field goals instead of touchdowns. Indianapolis leads the league allowing an average of 15.7 points per game.

3. (3) 9-1 Who thought Brett Favre was going to be this good? He leads all quarterbacks in the NFL with the best passer rating and has 21 touchdown passes, which puts him in a tie for second.

4. (5) 7-3 The Patriots lead the AFC in takeaways to giveaways with a plus-12. If they win the turnover battle on Monday night, they will leave the Saints with their first loss of the season. New England’s offense can be just as explosive as the Saints offense. Wes Welker leads all receivers with 79 catches despite missing two games with an injury and Randy Moss is second in the league in receiving yards and receiving touchdowns.

5. (7) 7-3 The Chargers are known for finishing off the regular season strong and are doing it again in 2009. Just a few weeks ago, it looked like the Broncos had a strangle hold on the AFC West title, but now the Chargers are the ones on top.

6. (4) 7-3 The Bengals’ loss to the Raiders makes you scratch your head and wonder. Cincy let a great opportunity to gain a two-game lead in the division and improve to 5-0 on the road slip away against one of the worst teams in the league.

7. (9) 7-3 Arizona is now 5-0 on the road. The main concern is the health of Kurt Warner, because Matt Leinart won’t be able to lead the Cardinals back to the Super Bowl.

8. (10) 7-3 The Cowboys need to figure out their offensive problems if they want to go deep into the playoffs. The offensive unit, particularly the passing game, has struggled greatly in the past two games.

9. (12) 6-4 The Eagles will be relying on their young players down the stretch to make a serious playoff run. LeSean McCoy and DeSean Jackson are two players that will step up and help Donovan McNabb and the offense make that run.

10. (6) 6-4 Early reports indicate that Ben Roethlisberger will play next week, but if he suffered a concussion Pittsburgh will be in trouble, as backup Charlie Batch may miss the rest of the season with a wrist injury. There are a cluster of teams fighting for playoff spots in the AFC, and there is no guarantee the Super Bowl champs will have a chance to defend their crown.

11. (15) 6-4 The Packers suffered two key injuries on Sunday that will seriously hinder their chances of making the playoffs. Aaron Kampman and Al Harris are two Pro Bowl-caliber players that the Packers will surely miss.

12. (18) 6-4 If the season ended today the Jaguars would make the playoffs, but the majority of their wins have come against mediocre teams. The Jags beat the Rams, Jets, Bills, Chiefs and a Titans team that was playing awful in the first half of the season. Jacksonville has to prove it can win against playoff-caliber teams to prove it is indeed a contender.

13. (16) 6-4 The Giants need to establish a solid run game to help Eli Manning and balance the offense. The Falcons are at the bottom of the league in defending the run but were able to hold Brandon Jacobs and Ahmad Bradshaw to under 40 yards rushing each.

14. (21) 4-6 With Vince Young calling signals, the Titans are one of the hottest teams in the NFL. Young looks like a completely different quarterback and has won every game he’s started this year. After starting the season with six straight losses, the Titans now are in the hunt for a playoff spot. Lots of credit has to go to coach Jeff Fisher.

15. (8) 6-4 The Broncos lost the division lead for the first time this year. Denver has allowed 27 points or more in the four-game losing skid. This was a team that led the league in fewest points allowed through the first six weeks of the season.

16. (11) 5-5 Two weeks in a row the Texans have had a great chance to win but haven’t been able to close games out. The loss to the Titans on Monday night put their playoff hopes on life support.

17. (14) 5-5 The Ravens had plenty of opportunities to beat the Colts but went 0-4 in the red zone. A tough loss for the Ravens, who are now entering must-win territory if they want to make the playoffs.

18. (19) 5-5 The Dolphins finally are back to .500 after starting the season 0-3. Miami’s run game is one of the best in the league, but this team lacks great play-making wide receivers and will struggle to win games if they get into a shootout with solid passing teams.

19. (13) 5-5 Atlanta has lost five of its last six games. The Falcons have a great opportunity to get back on track Sunday against Tampa Bay.

20. (17) 4-6 The 49ers need a quarterback that can lead and put them in a position to win week in and week out. Alex Smith and Shaun Hill have proven they cannot get the job done.

21. (20) 4-6 If Jay Cutler isn’t throwing interceptions he is missing wide-open receivers. The Bears could have easily beat the Eagles on Sunday but made key errors throughout the game that gave Philadelphia the victory. The Bears will miss the playoffs for the third year in a row.

22. (22) 4-6 Carolina saw its playoff hopes dwindle after the loss to Miami on Thursday night. The Panthers certainly have improved since the start of the season but aren’t doing enough to win games.

23. (23) 4-6 The Jets should focus on developing Mark Sanchez and worry less about this season because they have no chance of making the playoffs. Sanchez continues to make bad decisions on the field, and that is putting the Jets in a tough position to win games.

24. (24) 3-7 I’m sure the Redskins already have the big-name offensive free agents circled to help solve their offensive woes next season.

25. (27) 3-7 The win over the Steelers snapped a 10-game home losing streak for the Chiefs. Great job by Matt Cassel and his team coming back and beating the defending Super Bowl champs in overtime.

26. (29) 3-7 Impressive win for the silver and black. They probably could have had a couple more wins already this season if Tom Cable had benched JaMarcus Russell in favor of Bruce Gradkowski earlier.

27. (25) 3-7 Matt Hasselbeck can’t be expected to win games when his leading rusher gains just nine yards on nine carries. The Seahawks are in desperate need of a solid run game to help balance a pretty solid passing game.

28. (26) 3-7 It took until Mid-November for  Terrell Owens to have a 100-yard game, but he finally got it done on Sunday against the Jaguars. The Bills offensively looked like a completely different team after the departure of Dick Jauron. Buffalo passed the ball 31 times and handed the ball off just 17 times. First time we saw the Bills pass more than run all year.

29. (28) 1-9 The Rams have competed in back-to-back weeks against two teams that will make the playoffs. What more can you ask for from the Rams?

30. (31) 2-8 Who would’ve predicted that the Lions-Browns game was going to be the most exciting game of Week 11? It’s great to watch Matthew Stafford develop.

31. (30) 1-9 The demotion of defensive coordinator Jim Bates has to mark one of the only times when both coordinators on one team didn’t make it to the end of the season. Jeff Jagodzinski was fired before the season began and now Bates will no longer be calling plays on the defensive side of the ball.

32. (32) 1-9 Eric Mangini made the bonehead coaching move of the year in 2009 by calling a timeout and allowing Matthew Stafford to come back into the game for one last play that won the game for the Lions.

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WEEI NFL Power Rankings — Week 11 11.17.09 at 9:30 am ET
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The battle of the undefeated continues this week in WEEI’s NFL Power Rankings. The Colts were on the brink of falling out of their No. 2 spot for the first time since Week 5 but found a way to stop the Patriots and overcome a 17-point deficit in the fourth quarter. The Saints stay at No. 1 as they continue to creep closer and closer to 16-0.

The Bengals have made the AFC North teams “Kiss the Baby” and now sit in the driver’s seat in the best position to win the division. They continue to claw their way up the rankings and now sit at No. 4.

The Super Chargers also are on the rise. Four straight wins has them on the brink of taking over the top spot in the AFC West for the first time this season. The Bolts jump five spots and move into No. 7.

The J-E-T-S Jets Jets Jets continue to fall, this time out of the top 20. Rex Ryan and his team are at No. 23 and on their way down.

1. (Last week, 1) 9-0 Questions have been raised about this team after New Orleans defeated the Rams by just five points. However, the Saints remain unbeaten and continue to get the job done week after week. With a very soft schedule going forward, the Saints have a great opportunity at 16-0.

2. (2) 9-0 Peyton Manning can’t be stopped, but the Colts secondary was very much exposed Sunday night. The Colts will need their defensive backs to step up. I doubt they receive any more gifts like the one Bill Belichick gave them.

3. (4) 8-1 Brett Favre is showing no signs of slowing down like he did last year in the second half of the season. Adrian Peterson needs to protect the ball better. If he does, the Vikings could be a serious Super Bowl contender.

4. (7) 7-2 The sweep of the Steelers and Ravens is a big statement, telling the National Football League that the Bengals definitely are for real and able to compete with the best teams.

5. (5) 6-3 The Patriots can take a lot of positives out of the loss to the Colts. For the most part, they dominated the game. The offense has struggled in the red zone all year and it came back to bite them against Indianapolis. If they can solve their red zone troubles and learn from the mistakes they’ve made, the Patriots can be the best team in the AFC, which they proved by their performance against Indy.

6. (3) 6-3 The Steelers suffered another blow on Sunday, potentially losing Troy Polamalu for a long time after he injured the same left knee that kept him out for four weeks.

7. (12) 6-3 Four straight wins for the Chargers and three straight losses by the Broncos has San Diego riding high with confidence going into a big divisional game in Denver this Sunday.

8. (6) 6-3 If Kyle Orton‘s injury is serious, the Broncos’ magical season is over. The loss to the Redskins opened a lot of eyes.

9. (14) 6-3 The Cardinals offense can be scary good if the run game can continue to take the pressure off Kurt Warner. Beanie Wells has showed signs this season that he can do it.

10. (8) 6-3 Dallas lost starting right tackle Marc Colombo and starting safety Ken Hamlin in the loss to the Packers. These are two key players that could significantly impact the Cowboys if they can’t find the personnel to step up and fill these roles.

11. (11) 5-4 The Texans run into a hot Titans team on Monday night. Houston can’t afford many more losses down the stretch if it wants a chance to win a wild card spot in the AFC.

12. (10) 5-4 The Eagles need to have more of a balanced attack on offense and take pressure off Donovan McNabb. This will be a tough task now that Brian Westbrook is out indefinitely with his second concussion in as many games.

13. (9) 5-4 Matt Ryan is having some growing pains and is turning the ball over too much to keep his team in games. The Falcons defensive line has been unable to establish an effective pass rush.

14. (13) 5-4 After realizing they were tied against the Browns going into the second half Monday night, the Ravens began to play inspired football and scored 16 unanswered points. There are a lot of question marks surrounding this team and it will be a dogfight to the end as Baltimore competes with several other solid AFC teams for a spot in the playoffs.

15. (20) 5-4 Green Bay brought pressure on the quarterback and allowed just seven points to Dallas on Sunday. However, more of the same problems continued on offense, as Aaron Rodgers was brought down four times. Rodgers has been sacked 41 times this year. The next closest in the league is Matt Cassel (29 sacks).

16. (16) 5-4 The Giants must have enjoyed their bye week watching both the Eagles and Cowboys lose. Let’s see if they can take advantage and rebound from their losing streak.

17. (19) 4-5 Alex Smith needs to rely on his supporting cast for the 49ers to win games. If San Francisco can take the ball out of Smith’s hands and not allow him to make mistakes, it can be competitive. The defense has been solid most of the year. This is a team that could be very good in the next year or two.

18. (22) 5-4 Maurice Jones-Drew has put this team on his back and is leading by example. Everyone but Jets fans has to love the smart, selfless play where he downed the ball on the 1-yard line instead of walking into the end zone, not allowing the Jets another chance to touch the football.

19. (15) 4-5 A near loss to the Buccaneers and Ronnie Brown on crutches following the game has the Dolphins dropping three spots.

20. (17) 4-5 After his five-interception performance, Jay Cutler has passed Jake Delhomme on the interception list and sits at top with 17. That’s four more than Delhomme. The Bears can’t win games if Cutler can’t protect the football.

21. (25) 3-6 Owner Bud Adams was fined $250,000 for flipping off Buffalo fans following his team’s stomping of the Bills. Must see video if you haven’t seen it yet. The Titans are one of the hottest teams in the NFL and are led by arguably the league’s best running back (Chris Johnson) and a quarterback (Vince Young) who is doing a tremendous job managing the game and not turning over the ball.

22. (24) 4-5 Three games in a row with no interceptions for Jake Delhomme.

23. (18) 4-5 The Jets’ playoff chances are hanging by a thread, and it won’t get easier for them Sunday when they travel to Foxboro to face a Patriots team thirsty for revenge.

24. (27) 3-6 The Redskins have a tough schedule ahead of them. Two games on the road against the Cowboys and Eagles then back home to face the Saints.

25. (23) 3-6 It’s tough not to respect a coach such as Jim Mora Jr. who defends his players to all ends. The Seahawks‘ mediocre secondary will have its hands full Sunday against the Vikings.

26. (21) 3-6 Worst free agent signing of the year: Terrell Owens.

27. (28) 2-7 Larry Johnson‘s replacement, Jamaal Charles, is averaging 5.4 yards per carry and has almost as many yards rushing with less than half as many carries.

28. (29) 1-8 Got to give some props to the Rams for being able to stay competitive against the Saints and only allow Drew Brees to throw for 223 yards.

29. (26) 2-7 JaMarcus Russell certainly is not the answer. The Raiders have some talent on defense and can be successful if they fix their problems at the QB position.

30. (30) 1-8 On the brink of victory, the Bucs fell just short. It was tough not to feel bad for Tampa Bay after the loss to the Dolphins.

31. (31) 1-8 The Lions have a great shot at getting their second win of the season next week against the Browns. While the Lions have one of the worst defenses in the league, the Browns offense could be worse.

32. (32) 1-8 The Browns offensive struggles are pathetic. Will it be one year and done for Eric Mangini?

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WEEI NFL Power Rankings — Week 10 11.10.09 at 7:06 am ET
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Surprise, surprise ‘€” the Saints and Colts are in the top two spots in this week’s WEEI NFL Power Rankings. New Orleans and Indianapolis both improved to 8-0 and stay at their respective spots for the sixth week in a row.

The Steelers jump two spots to No. 3, ahead of the Vikings, who have a better record and were on a bye this week. The Broncos fall two spots to No.6 after their second loss in a row on Monday night. Denver now is looking up at the Patriots. Let the controversy and angry comments begin!

A steady decline for the Packers has been the pattern over the past couple of weeks. Green Bay now falls to No.20 after an embarrassing loss to the previously winless Buccaneers.

The Browns didn’t play in Week 9, nonetheless, they fall to the No. 32 spot after Tampa’s victory. I think we all know if the Browns were playing this week they would’ve lost. Browns fans probably thought they had a week off from misery, but not even a week off can prevent bad news for Cleveland fans.

1. (Last week, 1) 8-0-0 The Saints step up and know how to get the job done in the fourth quarter. These comeback wins can only help the Saints become more confident and help them improve.

2. (2) 8-0-0 Two straight weeks of mediocre play from the Colts. However, they still were able to pull out the win in each game. It will be interesting to see how the injuries on defense will affect them.

3. (5) 6-2-0 The Steelers are rolling and are a team that nobody in the NFL wants to face. That is usually the case when the defense is the best in the league. An 18-point victory on the road vs. Denver is impressive.

4. (3) 7-1-0 It will be interesting to see how Brett Favre performs in the second half of the season.

5. (6) 6-2-0 Now is the time for the Patriots to prove what they are capable of. The play of Laurence Maroney over the past few games has really helped balance this offense.

6. (4) 6-2-0 The Broncos need to find a way to establish a run game with their talented backs, Knowshon Moreno and Correll Buckhalter. The two combined for 27 yards against the Steelers, which is an unacceptable total no matter which team they face.

7. (7) 6-2-0 People continue to doubt Cincinnati, and the Bengals continue to make those doubters “kiss the baby.” The Bengals still have the Lions, Chiefs, Raiders and Browns on their schedule.

8. (9) 6-2-0 There is a lot of confidence in the Cowboys locker room. That is what a four-game winning streak will do for a team. In this stretch of wins, Dallas has managed to beat two solid teams in the Falcons and Eagles. If Tony Romo can continue to protect the football, this team can compete with the best in the NFC.

9. (11) 5-3-0 Michael Turner turned in another great performance and is helping the offense become more balanced and effective.

10. (8) 5-3-0 The Eagles have four divisional games to play in the second half of the season and will be a tough team down the stretch because of their defense. They are able to get great pressure on the quarterback and that is resulting in a lot of sacks and interceptions. The Eagles are ranked second in the league in both those categories.

11. (16) 5-4-0 The Texans showed signs they can play with the elite teams in the NFL. Losing after missing a field goal that could have sent the game into overtime against the division rival Colts must be a tough pill to swallow. Lots of credit has to go to Houston for being able to shut down Peyton Manning for the most part of the second half. The Texans can take a lot out of this loss.

12. (18) 5-3-0 Impressive final drive by Philip Rivers and the Chargers. San Diego needed a win against a team with a winning record and it got that on Sunday. We’ll learn a lot about this team in the next couple of weeks with Philadelphia and Denver next on the schedule.

13. (10) 4-4-0 Baltimore’s inconsistency continued to be a problem Sunday. The offense relies too heavily on Ray Rice, and that has cost the Ravens this year. They’re lacking a big-play wide receiver.

14. (20) 5-3-0  The only thing we really can take from the Cardinals’ victory over the Bears is that Kurt Warner and his team play really well on the road and know how to win. Four of their five wins have come on the road. This team has been extremely inconsistent. Unfortunately for the Cards, they have to play in Arizona this week.

15. (13) 3-5-0 Dolphins players must be scratching their heads after Joey Porter‘s performance Sunday. Miami has yet to prove it can beat a solid team in the NFL.

16. (12) 5-4-0 Four straight losses and the Giants might be ready to press the panic button. Eli Manning is playing mediocre at best, the pass rush hasn’t been consistent, and the play-calling has been questionable. If any team was in desperate need of a bye week, it’s the Giants. Let’s see if they’ll be able to figure it out and get back to their winning ways.

17. (15) 4-4-0 The Bears allowed the Cardinals to score on their first six possessions. Chicago’s defense can’t get any pressure on the quarterback, and the way Cardinals manhandled the Bears proves Chicago needs to figure something out fast defensively before the playoffs are out of reach.

18. (19) 4-4-0 Rex Ryan will be called a genius or an idiot after giving his team six days off during its bye week. The Jets certainly will come out rejuvenated at the Meadowlands this Sunday against Jacksonville.

19. (14) 3-5-0 The 49ers‘ main problem all season has been at the quarterback position, and that continued on Sunday. Three interceptions really puts a team in a hole, and San Francisco wasn’t able to climb out.

20. (17) 4-4-0 Aaron Rodgers committed turnovers and the Packers lost to one of the worst teams in football. This loss could have bounced the Packers out of a playoff spot. Teams that are competing for that last wild card spot in the NFC ‘€” the Falcons, Cowboys and Eagles ‘€” are playing way out of the Packers’ league.

21. (21) 3-5-0 Got to like the idea of Michael Vick going to the Bills. It seems like a perfect fit.

22. (24) 4-4-0 The Jaguars responded well to the change to the 4-3 defense. Jacksonville got good pressure on the quarterback and forced some interceptions. However, it’s tough to take much from a win over the offensively challenged Chiefs.

23. (23) 3-5-0 Take a look at the box score from Seattle’s win over Detroit and you’ll see that Matt Hasselbeck was able to complete a pass to nine different receivers. Six of those receivers caught five passes or more. The Seahawks didn’t get rattled after falling to a 17-0 deficit in the first quarter and did a great job coming back.

24. (22) 3-5-0 Jake Delhomme didn’t throw an interception for the second straight game, but the offense still is struggling. The Panthers are in desperate need of Steve Smith to step up and make big plays offensively, but that has happened very rarely this year.

25. (25) 2-6-0 Vince Young is playing with a lot of confidence and led his team to another victory on Sunday. The key to the Titans’ success over the past two weeks is Young has been able to protect the football and not commit any turnovers while relying on Chris Johnson to make the big plays and score points.

26. (26) 2-6-0 The Raiders are expecting four starters to return to the lineup this week, including wide receiver Chaz Schilens and running back Darren McFadden. However, I’m more interested to see how the Tom Cable story plays out for the rest of the season.

27. (27) 2-6-0 Will good news ever come out of Washington? Just when Redskins fans thought things couldn’t get any worse, Clinton Portis suffers a concussion.

28. (28) 1-7-0 One step in the right direction for the Chiefs with the release of disgruntled running back Larry Johnson. Great chance for the Chiefs to get their second win of the season this week against Oakland.

29. (29) 1-6-0 The Rams have one of the worst defenses in the league and will play the Saints in week 10. St. Louis has trouble putting pressure on the passer, and with Drew Brees having all kinds of time back in the pocket, I don’t like the Rams’ chances of getting their second win of the season.

30. (32) 1-7-0 After getting their first win, will the Bucs wear those creamsicle uniforms for the rest of the season? I hope so.

31. (30) 1-7-0 Growing pains were expected from No. 1 overall draft pick Matthew Stafford. The Lions need to concentrate more on ways to help Stafford improve and less on winning games.

32. (31) 1-7-0 With the way things are being run in Cleveland, the Browns could continue to be a horrendous team into the next millennium.

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WEEI NFL Power Rankings — Week 9 11.03.09 at 4:15 am ET
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Let the 16-0 talk begin.

The Saints squeezed out their seventh victory of the year and remain at No.1 in the WEEI NFL Power Rankings. The  Colts are knocking on the door, waiting patiently for just one mistake from the Saints so that they can take over the top spot. New Orleans and Indy sit comfortably in the top two spots for the fifth week in a row.

Three new teams enter the Terrific 10. The Eagles, Cowboys and Ravens, all coming off big victories, enter elite status, for this week at least. The biggest loser in the rankings was the Cardinals. One week after a huge win on the road against the Giants, the Cardinals lost at home to the Panthers. The defending NFC champs’ inconsistency cost them 12 spots this week and they fall all the way from No. 8 to 20.

We have a new team at No. 32 (drumroll please). The Buccaneers are now the only winless team in the NFL and sit at the bottom of the pile. What do you do when you’re a fan of a team that is worse than the Rams, Lions and Browns? Wear a double-bag on your head?

1. (Last week, 1) 7-0-0 Coming up with big turnovers late in the game in the red zone is one of the reasons why the Saints continue to be undefeated. Drew Brees and his offense look like a well-oiled machine.

2. (2) 7-0-0 The Colts seem to be able to find a way to win whether it looks good or not. Despite Peyton Manning having zero TD passes against the 49ers, the Colts still managed to win the game. Great teams will struggle at times but always find a way to win.

3. (5) 7-1-0 It hasn’t just been Brett Favre and Adrian Peterson this year. Jared Allen is the front-runner for NFL Defensive Player of the Year and leads the league in sacks with 10.5, while wide receiver Percy Harvin is the leading candidate for Rookie of the Year. The Vikings are playing great football on offense, defense and special teams and that is why they continue to roll.

4. (3) 6-1-0 Josh McDaniels said after the game the Broncos will learn from the loss and move forward. It’s not tough to believe him. This game was virtually a must-win for the Ravens, creating a significant challenge for Denver. Let’s see how the Broncos respond Monday night against Pittsburgh.

5. (4) 5-2-0 Will the time off give the Steelers enough time to get healthy on defense? They will need a great pass rush to beat Kyle Orton. Someone needs to step up in place of Aaron Smith.

6. (6) 5-2-0 The next four weeks will tell us what type of team the Patriots really are. The bye week came at a perfect time for the Pats as they needed some time to get healthy. Ty Warren said on the Dale & Holley show yesterday that he is “OK” and it looks like he should be ready to play. That is great news because the Pats don’t have much depth on the defensive line and they will need Warren against the Dolphins.

7. (7) 5-2-0 It’s time for the Bengals to show the world what they are made of. They have Baltimore and Pittsburgh coming up in the next two weeks. It’s great to see a healthy Carson Palmer throw to Chad Ochocinco again.

8. (15) 5-2-0 No Brian Westbrook, no problem for the Eagles. It’s hard to believe this team lost to the Raiders a few weeks ago after this dominating performance against the Giants. DeSean Jackson has turned into an elite playmaker in the NFL. The main question mark for the Eagles is: can they be consistent?

9. (11) 5-2-0 Once again we have another exciting race in the NFC East. The Cowboys offense has been dominating during the current three-game winning streak. Tony Romo is spreading the ball nicely to his talented receivers.

10. (13) 4-3-0 The Ravens entered Sunday’s game needing a win against an undefeated Broncos team and got the job done. Baltimore stepped up on pass defense and became the first team able to stop Kyle Orton.

11. (12) 4-3-0 First time in Matt Ryan’s career he has suffered back-to-back losses. Ryan and the Falcons are close to becoming an elite team. The young QB just needs to eliminate his mistakes in the red zone and the Falcons will be fine.

12. (9) 5-3-0 The Giants are making all kinds of mistakes on both sides of the football and it looks like they still haven’t been able to rebound from their blowout loss to the Saints. The defense of the G-Men doesn’t look like the defense we’ve been accustomed to watching. They’ve allowed 40 or more points twice this season.

13. (18) 3-4-0 Last year, after the Dolphins beat the Patriots with the Wildcat formation, the Pats came back the next game and held the Dolphins to just 66 yards rushing. With Bill Belichick having two weeks to prepare for the Dolphins, Miami will have to find something other than the Wildcat to beat the Patriots. New England will also undoubtedly be ready to stop Ted Ginn Jr. One advantage the Dolphins do have going into their game against New England is that they hold a 3-0 record in the AFC East.

14. (19) 3-4-0 The 49ers have been on the brink of beating two of the top teams in the NFL but have fallen just a bit short both times. San Francisco’s defense did not allow a touchdown pass from the hottest quarterback in the league, and that says a lot.

15. (20) 4-3-0 The Bears finally got a solid performance out of Matt Forte and the result was a blowout win. If the Bears want to be successful they need Forte to gain strong yards on the ground to help balance out the offense. With all that said, you can’t take much from a win over the Browns.

16. (17) 5-3-0 Three straight wins for the Texans has them riding high right now. It will be interesting to see how Matt Schaub responds to the loss of tight end Owen Daniels. A confident Texans team now has the challenge of facing Peyton Manning and the Colts in Indianapolis.

17. (10) 4-3-0 Aaron Rodgers and his offensive line have to figure something out very quickly if the Packers want to have a shot at making the playoffs. It seems like a combination of holding the ball too long and not having enough time in the pocket, but Green Bay can’t afford this many sacks if it wants to be successful. Rodgers has been taken down behind the line of scrimmage 31 times now.

18. (16) 4-3-0 San Diego has yet to prove it can beat a good team this year. It’s tough to have confidence in any Norv Turner-coached team, especially when two of SD’s four wins have come against the Raiders.

19. (14) 4-4-0 When you have 13 more first downs than your opponent and hold them to just 104 total yards, there is only one excuse for losing the game: poor coaching. Rex Ryan deserves all the blame in this loss to the Dolphins.

20. (8) 4-3-0 The inconsistency continued on Sunday. Instead of Carolina’s Jake Delhomme turning the ball over, Kurt Warner took over that duty and it cost the Cardinals the game.

21. (21) 3-5-0 Buffalo is the most penalized team in the NFL, and the Bills continue to struggle converting on third down. With great offensive weapons such as Lee Evans, Terrell Owens, Marshawn Lynch and Fred Jackson, it is tough to figure out why the Bills have been so bad offensively.

22. (24) 3-4-0 Jake Delhomme didn’t turn the ball over and the result was a Panthers win. Big win for Carolina on the road.

23. (23) 2-5-0 Despite many injuries and another loss, coach Jim Mora Jr. urged his team not to give up. The remaining games on the schedule will show a lot about the character of the players on this team.

24. (22) 3-4-0 Just over 100 yards passing against one of the worst pass defense teams in the league is pathetic. I wasn’t expecting a Brady-esque performance, but at least 200 yards would’ve been respectable.

25. (29) 1-6-0 Vince Young played with confidence on Sunday and completed 15-of-18 passes. The Titans can finish the season strong if they let Young manage games instead of making him do too much. Chris Johnson leads the league in rushing yards and is a great weapon for Young.

26. (25) 2-6-0 Curious to find out when was the last time in professional sports that the coach or manager was more of a distraction to the team than any player on that team. Tom Cable should be watching anger management films instead of game film.

27. (26) 2-5-0 It was refreshing not having to watch another Redskins debacle this week. Too bad the Redskins can’t be on a bye every week.

28. (28) 1-6-0 Matt Cassel still has yet to get on the same page as Dwayne Bowe and the Chiefs offense, which has struggled. Hopefully for Chiefs fans, Cassel and Bowe were able to figure things out during the bye week. Let’s see how the team responds without running back Larry Johnson.

29. (32) 1-6-0 One positive the Rams can take out of this season is that Steven Jackson is having one hell of a year. Congratulations to the Rams for snapping their 17-game losing streak.

30. (27) 1-6-0 The Lions seem lost without Calvin Johnson. When a team can’t move the ball offensively against the Rams, it says a lot about how bad its offense really is.

31. (30) 1-7-0 Five turnovers in their latest loss and just 972 total yards after eight games. Pitiful.

32. (31) 0-7-0 The Bucs are now the only winless team in the NFL and sole owners of the dreaded No. 32 spot.

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WEEI NFL Power Rankings — Week 8 10.27.09 at 4:00 am ET
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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.

Read More: NFL Power Rankings,
WEEI NFL Power Rankings — Week 7 10.20.09 at 6:43 am ET
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And then there were four. The four undefeated teams in the NFL round out the top four spots in this week’s WEEI NFL Power Rankings. The Saints remain at No. 1 as they defended their top spot against the New York Football Giants.

The biggest drop in the rankings should come as no surprise. The Eagles drop out of the top 10 and fall all the way to No.16 after losing to the Raiders. Consequently, Oakland spent very little time at dead last and jumped seven spots to No.25. Unfortunately for Steve Spagnuolo and the Rams, they return to a very familiar spot, No.32. I guess some teams just don’t like change.

Tom Brady’s six-touchdown performance and the Patriots’ 59-0 butt-whooping has New England riding up to No. 6. Thirty-two first downs, more than 600 yards of offense, and holding a team to minus-seven passing yards always makes a case for rising in the power rankings.

1. (Last week, 1) 5-0-0 The Saints dominated the Giants. This is the most obvious choice for the top slot since the beginning of the season.

2. (2) 5-0-0 Chalk up another win for the Colts this coming Sunday. They get to play the worst team in the league, the Rams. If that wasn’t enough, they also expect to get safety Bob Sanders, cornerback Kelvin Hayden and tackle Charlie Johnson back from injuries. With Peyton Manning not having to worry about who is protecting his blind side, the Colts will continue to march through their schedule. The Colts will only get better and continue to strengthen their weak links.

3. (4) 6-0-0 Another close game ends with a Vikings victory. Was there any doubt that Brett Favre was going to put his team in a position to score points after the Ravens took a lead late in the fourth quarter? The Vikings continue to play well in all three phases of the game ‘€” offense, defense, and special teams.

4. (5) 6-0-0 Before the Broncos played the Cowboys I said I wouldn’t be surprised if they went 0-5 in their next five games. Well the Broncos are 3-0 in those five games and undefeated on the season. They are indeed, “for real.”

5. (3) 5-1-0 The Giants looked shell-shocked when they played the Saints on Sunday. The easy schedule to start the season definitely didn’t help the Giants prepare for the Saints. However, Antonio Pierce said after the game that this loss can help them move forward. The Giants will figure out how to fix their problems and be one of the top teams in the NFC by the time the regular season ends in January.

6. (11) 4-2-0 The Patriots offense was oozing, ready to explode, and it finally erupted on Sunday. Although the Pats played a terrible defensive team in the Titans, the way they dominated was very impressive. They made it look like they were playing a Pop Warner team. Tom Brady and the Pats will continue to get on track and find their groove over the next couple weeks. They have the luxury of playing the Buccaneers this Sunday and then will cruise into their bye. Expect the three-time Super Bowl champs to be playing like the Patriots of old sooner rather than later.

7. (6) 4-1-0 The Falcons didn’t let the loss to the Patriots get to them, it looks like they actually learned from it. Matt Ryan was great in the red zone again, and the Falcons find themselves on a roll after beating two solid teams in back to back weeks.

8. (12) 4-2-0 Ben Roethlisberger is having himself one heck of a season and Troy Polamalu is back patrolling that secondary. Which will be the first team to give the Vikings their first loss of the season? My vote is the Steelers this Sunday at Heinz Field.

9. (7) 4-2-0 A bad loss to the Texans, and that will have the doubters coming out of the woodwork. Although, we have to remember this is really the first loss for Cincinnati after that fluke play that gave the Broncos the victory in Week 1.

10. (15) 3-2-0 Christmas comes early for the Packers this year. Playing the Lions and the Browns back to back is definitely a huge gift. Aaron Rodgers has been playing great this year and has done a nice job replacing the Lambeau Legend Brett Favre.

11. (9) 3-2-0 Turnovers and costly penalties killed the Bears’ chances of beating Atlanta. If Lovie Smith and the Bears can fix these problems, they will be a major contender for a wild card playoff spot.

12. (14) 3-2-0 The 49ers have a lot to prove after getting demolished last week against the Falcons. It will be interesting to see if they will be able to fix the defensive problems they had against Atlanta with the advantage of the bye week and use the loss as a positive.

13. (13) 3-3-0 The Ravens never gave up, and despite being down 17 points in the fourth quarter, they managed to put themselves in a great position to beat the undefeated Vikings. However, a very makeable field goal was wide left, and the Ravens’ losing streak moved to three games. Joe Flacco showed a lot of poise in the final minutes of the game, and it’s tough to believe this team won’t bounce back.

14. (10) 3-3-0 Two questions: I’m just curious if Mark San”chise” is still an accepted nickname for the rookie quarterback? And Rex Ryan, what happens to your team when it loses to an awful Buffalo team in a game that you called a “must win”?

15. (18) 3-2-0 The Cardinals, much like their opponent this past Sunday, have been very inconsistent. They’ve been awful at defending the pass this year, but on Sunday they were able to shut down Matt Hasselbeck and the Seahawks passing game. The Cards need to continue getting Larry Fitzgerald the ball and continue to improve on defense for a chance to make the playoffs.

16. (8) 3-2-0 Who worse to lose to then the Raiders? The Eagles take over the top spot from the Redskins for most embarrassing loss of the season. The Eagles are a good team, the Redskins are not, and Washington’s loss to the Lions isn’t as shocking in my mind as the Eagles’ loss to the Raiders. Andy Reid was certainly right after the game when he said that he was out-coached. It’s tough to justify throwing the ball more than 40 times when you have Brian Westbrook and LeSean McCoy on your team to run the ball.

17. (16) 2-3-0 The loss to Denver on Monday night puts the division almost out of reach for the Chargers. San Diego had two weeks to game plan for its division rival but was unable to get the job done at home.

18. (17) 2-3-0 The Dolphins have struggled on pass defense and have the Saints coming to town on Sunday. We can be sure they will be well-rested and well-prepared coming off the bye week, but that won’t be enough to stop Drew Brees. The Fish obviously have a great run game but won’t be able to compete against the top teams in the NFL.

19. (21) 3-3-0 The Texans certainly found a way to spoil a good time in Cincinnati. Great win for Houston. Also, guess who has the most passing touchdowns in the NFL? If you guessed Drew Brees, Peyton Manning or Tom Brady you would be wrong. If you guessed Matt Schaub, you’re right.

20. (20) 3-2-0 The Cowboys might see a light at the end of the tunnel with the Giants, Eagles and Redskins all losing in Week 6, but I certainly do not. The Cowboys’ mediocre defense will face the Falcons’ Matt Ryan, Michael Turner and Tony Gonzalez next.

21. (23) 2-3-0 Jake Delhomme leads the league in interceptions thrown. Just two interceptions thrown against the Buccaneers can be considered a good game for Delhomme.

22. (21) 3-3-0 Despite great performances from David Garrard, Maurice Jones-Drew, and Mike Sims-Walker, the Jags still needed overtime to beat the worst team in the league. The Jaguars offense won’t be able to make up for a terrible defense.

23. (27) 2-4-0 The Bills showed a lot of character Sunday against the Jets. They have had every excuse to give up this season but continue to show up and play hard. Great win for Buffalo on Sunday.

24. (19) 2-4-0  The Seahawks need a running back to complement their passing game. Julius Jones and Edgerrin James have been unable to get the job done. Without a run game, Matt Hasselbeck can only do so much. Seattle’s offense needs to put up big numbers to make up for its defense and that is certainly difficult to do without a strong run game.

25. (32) 2-4-0 JaMarcus Russell played his best game of the year and delivered the Raiders their second win of the season. Impressive showing by the defense, allowing just three field goals to a talented Eagles offense.

26. (25) 2-4-0 It’s not all Jim Zorn’s fault, but he will lose his job sooner rather than later. It doesn’t make much sense to take away offensive play-calling duties. Just fire him already and put Zorn out of his misery.

27. (26) 1-5-0 With Calvin Johnson and Matthew Stafford both beat up, the Lions’ chances of winning more than three games this year is slim to none.

28. (29) 1-5-0 The Chiefs wanted their first win of the season so they took it. Eight points in the fourth quarter and coming up with a big safety late in the game gave Matt Cassel his first win since he was behind center for the Patriots.

29. (24) 0-6-0 After the game, Patriots players weren’t willing to say it, but I will: The Titans gave up. Not only did they give up, they did so in the first half. Absolutely a pathetic and pitiful performance.

30. (28) 1-5-0 Out of the four teams in the AFC North, there are three pretty good teams. The Browns are the odd team out. The Browns have the worst offense in the league. I think it says a lot about what Eric Mangini thinks of Brady Quinn when he makes the decision to start Derek Anderson, who only completed two passes last week and nine passes on Sunday.

31. (30) 0-6-0 The only person who will say the Buccaneers are a good team is Bill Belichick.

32. (31) 0-6-0 Just awful. I would pay big bucks to see the University of Florida play the Rams.

Read More: NFL Power Rankings,
WEEI NFL Power Rankings — Week 6 10.13.09 at 6:45 am ET
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Drew Brees and the Manning brothers are sitting pretty in the top three spots for the second straight week in WEEI’s NFL power rankings. However, they shouldn’t get too comfortable in those spots because next week guarantees some sort of shakeup. The Giants will face the Saints in the Superdome on Sunday. The NFL currently has five teams that are unbeaten and those teams all round out the top five: Saints, Colts, Giants, Vikings and Broncos.

The Broncos finally earn some respect this week and jump all the way to No.5. After being doubting for four straight weeks, Josh McDaniels and his team proved that they are indeed capable of beating good teams in the NFL. Props to the Broncos and their fans.

A new team moves into the dreaded No. 32 spot in the rankings. Despite having one win in a league with four winless teams, the Raiders crumble to dead last.

The Patriots fall six spots to No.11 and into their lowest rank all year. After a poor performance in Denver, New England will look to rebound against a Titans team still looking for its first win.

1. (Last week, 1) 4-0-0 The bye week came at a perfect time for the Saints. They will be well rested when the Giants come to town to battle it out for the top spot in the NFC.

2. (2) 5-0-0 The undefeated Colts head into their bye week playing at a high level. They will use the time off to rejuvenate and get some key players in the lineup. The rich get richer when safety Bob Sanders and cornerbacks Kelvin Hayden and Marlin Jackson all return in Week 7.

3. (3) 5-0-0 Eli Manning says his heel is fine and he intends on not missing any practices this week. The Giants will need Eli at 100 percent when they face their first true test of the season Sunday against the Saints.

4. (6) 5-0-0 Not to overshadow Brett Favre, but the Vikings defense has been outstanding and doesn’t get enough credit. Minnesota’s D leads the league in sacks and recovered fumbles, and is tied for fifth in the league for most interceptions. Any quarterback that plays the Vikings has to be scared looking over at Jared Allen.

5. (13) 5-0-0 A man admits his mistakes. I admit I underestimated the Broncos. Denver showed the NFL it is for real on Sunday. The Broncos D is allowing 8.6 points a game and was able to stop Tom Brady and the Patriots offense from winning the game. Impressive.

6. (10) 3-1-0 Coming off a loss to the Patriots, the Falcons flew into San Francisco and made a statement after blowing out the 49ers. Matt Ryan and the Falcons scored six touchdowns against San Fran’s D.

7. (12) 4-1-0 Child, please! If anyone doubts the Bengals, just take a look at who they have beaten. The defending Super Bowl champion Steelers, the Packers in Green Bay, and the Ravens in Baltimore. The Bengals could be undefeated right now if it wasn’t for that fluke play against Denver. By the way, Cedric Benson has more rushing yards this year than Adrian Peterson.

8. (15) 3-1-0 Don’t forget about the Eagles. Donovan McNabb came back healthy and played great on Sunday. Philly is the lucky team that gets to play the Raiders this week.

9. (11) 3-1-0 Good time to have  a bye week for the Bears. Receivers Johnny Knox and Devin Hester both needed time to get healthy. Plus, the Bears face a very good Falcons team in Atlanta on Sunday.

10. (4) 3-2-0 The Jets defense was rolled over by Chad Henne and the Dolphins. A lot of question marks surround this Jets team now that it has lost two straight. Also, who better than Braylon Edwards to replace Plaxico Burress in the Manhattan nightlife scene.

11. (5) 3-2-0 The Patriots’ success lies in the hands of Tom Brady. Patriots fans still are waiting for Brady to get on the same page with his receivers. Brady needs a few more games to get into his groove, and he is playing the perfect opponent to help him get back to being the MVP caliber quarterback he was in ’07. The Patriots play the Titans and the Bucs next before they go into their bye week.

12. (9) 3-2-0 The Steelers finally won on the road but it was certainly a shaky win against the Lions. The offense has struggled so far with putting away games. Pittsburgh’s very talented defense was able to come up with some big sacks during crunch time and seal the victory.

13. (7) 3-2-0 Back-to-back losses for the Ravens, and it seems like the defense lost its composure a little bit in both games. The Ravens need to eliminate the penalties and should be fine.

14. (8) 3-2-0 After the 49ers’ blowout loss to the Falcons, many were at a loss for words. The defense that has been great up to this point looked like a different team on Sunday. However, the turnovers from the offense didn’t help the D, either. The 49ers will go into their bye week and then be happy to have a healthy Frank Gore back running the ball and helping that offense.

15. (14) 2-2-0 Aaron Rodgers is a great quarterback who can make plays, but every quarterback relies on his offensive line. So far, Green Bay’s offensive line has looked more like a turnstile.

16. (16) 2-2-0 Philip Rivers and the Chargers will get a shot at the undefeated Broncos on Monday Night Football. Coming off a bye week, the Chargers will be well-prepared and certainly capable of beating the Broncos.

17. (21) 2-3-0 Ronnie Brown and Ricky Williams are the best running back duo in the game. The Dolphins offense was able to move the ball very easily against a Jets defense that has been praised as one of the best in the league. Chad Henne deserves a lot of credit. He made some huge throws down the stretch and proved he is more than capable of filling Chad Pennington’s shoes.

18. (18) 3-2-0 The Cardinals have the personnel to have a strong ground game but still have been unable to establish the run. Giving up a 21-point lead to the Texans is inexcusable. They need Tim Hightower and first-round draft pick Beanie Wells to gain good yardage to help put teams away. The Cards defense stepped up and turned an interception into points toward the end of the fourth quarter.

19. (22) 2-3-0 Nobody can question the toughness and talent of Matt Hasselbeck. The Seahawks offense can be explosive with receivers such as T.J. Houshmandzadeh and Nate Burleson.

20. (20) 3-2-0 The biggest sign of a mediocre team is that team needing overtime to beat the Chiefs. Tony Romo needs to stay away from making critical mistakes and it’s tough to believe Romo can do such a thing.

21. (19) 2-3-0 Matt Schaub and Andre Johnson can’t do it all for the Texans. It doesn’t get easier for Houston next week when it travels to Cincinnati to face a hot Bengals team.

22. (17) 2-3-0 Jack Del Rio’s days in Jacksonville could be numbered. The Jaguars have been playing very poorly defensively, and after a couple great performances on offense, the Jags were shutout this past Sunday.

23. (25) 1-3-0 If Jake Delhomme doesn’t turn the ball over, the Panthers usually will be in a position to win the game. Just one pick thrown on Sunday and the Panthers finally got their first win of the season.

24. (23) 0-5-0 The Titans’ weak secondary will have a tough time with Tom Brady, Randy Moss and Wes Welker.

25. (27) 2-3-0 When will Jim Zorn be fired? The Redskins had trouble running the ball against one of the worst run defenses in the league.

26. (26) 1-4-0 The Lions continue to show improvements and gave the defending champs some trouble toward the end of the game. The Lions are a bad team but are on the way up.

27. (24) 1-4-0 The news didn’t get better for the Bills following the loss to Cleveland. Buffalo has lost linebackers Kawika Mitchell and Marcus Buggs for the season. T.O. had his best game of the year with just four catches for 44 yards.

28. (29) 1-4-0 The Browns are 31st in the league with a minus -7 in the giveaways/takeaways category. It’s pretty sad when the player that performed the best on your team on Sunday was the punter, Dave Zastudil.

29. (28) 0-5-0 The Chiefs defense gives up more than 25 points and 400-plus yards per game. However, it was great seeing a Matt Cassel to Mike Vrabel touchdown. What were the Chiefs thinking, playing Dallas with the state of Texas logo on their helmets?

30. (30) 0-5-0 The Bucs now have lost nine straight games dating back to last December and have the worst defense in the league. TB allows close to 400 yards a game.

31. (32) 0-5-0 Two turnovers in the red zone killed the Rams. St. Louis gives up nearly 30 points a game on average.

32. (31) 1-4-0 Waiting for Al Davis to make another brilliant move and announce Tom Cable’s five-year extension. Is it possible to coach an NFL team from jail?

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