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WEEI NFL Power Rankings: Week 11 11.15.11 at 7:17 am ET
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Week 10 concluded with news of some major injuries across the league. Matt Schaub and Matt Cassel both are out for the year. The Texans (13) finally looked like a team that could win a playoff game in Houston but now it seems unlikely with Matt Leinart next in line. The Chiefs (23) drop four spots after finding out Matt Cassel’s season is over and after losing to the Broncos. Michael Vick is another quarterback that suffered an injury on Sunday. The Eagles QB will have to deal with broken ribs as he tries to miraculously save the season for Philly.

There wasn’t much movement in the top five. Despite being upset by the Seahawks (25), the Ravens remain at No. 3. The two wins over the Steelers (4) and the fact the Saints (5) have some questionable losses this year as well were the major determining factors. The Packers (1) and 49ers (2) remain atop of the rest of the league.

The Bears (6) and Patriots (9) are among the teams on the rise after both were victorious in their respective divisional games. After starting the season on a roll, both the Lions (10) and Bills (17) have fallen in the ranks over the past few weeks.

Byes: Colts, Saints, Steelers, Texans

1. (1) Packers (9-0) ‘€” As each week passes, it increasingly looks like the Packers are on a whole different level than the rest of the teams in the NFL. Green Bay hasn’t lost a game since Week 15 against the Patriots. Aaron Rodgers and the Packers offense have put up 30 or more points six times and 40 or more points four times. Whether its Greg Jennings, Jordy Nelson, Jermichael Finley, Donald Driver, James Starks or another one of the many weapons in Rodgers arsenal, it seems like every offensive player contributes.

2. (2) 49ers (8-1) ‘€” That’s seven straight wins now for the first-place 49ers. The magic number for making the playoffs is now three for Jim Harbaugh’s team. There are many reasons why they’ve been successful this year. The Niners are well coached, make few mistakes, and have a physical defense that hasn’t allowed a rushing touchdown all season.

3. (3) Ravens (6-3) ‘€” It seems like the Ravens play to the level of their opponent. Two of their three losses have come against teams who don’€™t even have the slightest chance of making the playoffs. The offensive play-calling in the loss to the Seahawks was very questionable. When a team has a running back the caliber of Ray Rice, one would expect that he would have a hefty workload. However, he only had five carries while Joe Flacco threw the ball 52 times.

4. (4) Steelers (7-3) ‘€” The Steelers are heading into their bye week coming off their first division win of the year. In the win against the Bengals, the “Steel Curtain” D forced two interceptions and didn’t allow a point in the fourth quarter. During the bye week, the Steelers should be focused on improving the offensive line and finding ways to get Rashard Mendenhall and the run game back on track.

5. (6) Saints (7-3) ‘€” The NFC South is the Saints to lose after beating the Falcons on Sunday. Everyone knows how dominant Drew Brees and the offense is, but the Saints defense was the difference maker in the win against Atlanta. The Saints D has struggled mightily but came away with the biggest play of the season so far for the team. A big overtime stop on 4th down is the type of play a defense can build off.

6. (10) Bears (6-3) ‘€” Behind a physical defense, a strong offensive line, a dynamic running back, and a quarterback who has limited his mistakes, the Bears have won four straight games. The offensive line and Jay Cutler have improved tremendously over that time. Cutler has thrown just six picks all year. Aaron Rodgers and Alex Smith are the only, every-game starting quarterbacks who have thrown fewer interceptions.

7. (5) Falcons (5-4) ‘€” A veteran, talented team like the Falcons should be able to bounce back from Sunday’s devastating loss. They do need to see some improvement in specific areas. The pass rush has been inconsistent. The Falcons defense has sacked the quarterback just 15 times this year and is ranked at the bottom of league in that category. Roddy White needs to get back to becoming the dominating receiver he was last season. White is dropping passes and his yards, catches, and touchdown totals are all dramatically down from 2010.

8. (8) Giants (6-3) ‘€” Living on the edge finally caught up to the Giants. Games have been decided by one score or less in five of their last six. The injury to linebacker Michael Boley seemed to be the major factor in Sunday’s loss. Boley is one of the leaders on that defense and wears the green dot on his helmet. It’s hard to believe Vernon Davis would have been wide open to score the go-ahead touchdown if Boley was in the game. The Giants have a great opportunity next week to gain more ground in the division with the Eagles scheduled to come to town.

9. (11) Patriots (6-3) ‘€” The relentless, high-energy way the Patriots defense played on Sunday night is exactly what they’ll need to see on a consistent basis. Tom Brady was able to get his offense back on track with the no-huddle. The Patriots have had success with the no-huddle and it was easy to tell that it caught the Jets off guard. Forcing turnovers, scoring off those turnovers, and running a precise offense is exactly what Patriots fans have been accustomed to seeing over the years.

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Read More: aaron rodgers, NFL Power Rankings, Rex Ryan, Tim Tebow
WEEI NFL Power Rankings: Week 10 11.09.11 at 7:08 am ET
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A wild week in the NFL resulted in a shakeup in this week’s edition of the WEEI NFL Power Rankings. The Packers have a stranglehold on the No. 1 spot, but many other teams went soaring up or skyrocketing down. The 49ers (2), Ravens (3), and Steelers (4) move around but all remain in the top five. Meanwhile, the Patriots (11) plummet to their lowest spot all year. Back-to-back losses and the league’s worst pass defense is the main reason for the big drop.

It was a good week for some of the NFC’s top teams. The Falcons (5), Saints (6), Giants (8), and Bears (10) all rise at least one spot and sit in an NFC-dominated top 10. The Ravens (3), Steelers (4), and Jets (9) are the only teams that represent the AFC in the top 10.

Week 9 resulted in the NFL having just one remaining winless team. The Dolphins (29) wrapped up their first win of the season against the Chiefs (19). The Colts remain in the gutter at No. 32 and are now the lone front-runners for Andrew Luck.

Week 10 promises to be an exciting one, with will several divisional showdowns scheduled.

AFC East: Pats at Jets, AFC West: Chargers at Raiders, AFC North: Steelers at Bengals

NFC South: Saints at Falcons, NFC North: Lions at Bears

1. (1) Packers (8-0) ‘€” Dating back to last season, the Packers have won 14 straight games (including postseason). With the Vikings and Bucs next, there’s a very good possibility the defending champs could be 10-0 heading into their Thanksgiving Day game against the Lions.

2. (3) 49ers (7-1) ‘€” Make that six straight wins for the biggest surprise team in the league. The 49ers are atop of the NFC West and have the division practically wrapped up. Frank Gore‘s second sprained ankle of the season is reason to worry in San Francisco. Gore’s play this year is a major reason why the 49ers are in first-place. Alex Smith is a much better QB when he can lean on Gore. 

3. (5) Ravens (6-2) ‘€” A season sweep of the Steelers is a true sign of a strong team. Joe Flacco has redeemed himself after his poor performance against the Jaguars. Flacco is starting to get into a rhythm and has thrown for 300 or more yards in three of his last four games.

4. (2) Steelers (6-3) ‘€” The pass rush looks to be back with James Harrison wreaking havoc in the backfield. However, the Steelers defense still allowed the Ravens to convert 14 third downs on Sunday night. One positive is that Pittsburgh played much better against Ray Rice this time around. Rice averaged just 2.4 yards per carry. In Week 1, Rice ran all over the Steelers D. It almost seems inevitable that the Ravens and Steelers will see each other again in January.

5. (6) Falcons (5-3) ‘€” The Falcons’ biggest game of the season will come this week against the Saints. The two teams will fight for first place in the NFC South. Atlanta has to be encouraged going into the game after winning three straight and having a healthy Julio Jones back in Matt Ryan‘s arsenal.

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Read More: aaron rodgers, Albert Haynesworth, NFL Power Rankings, Tim Tebow
WEEI NFL Power Rankings: Week 9 11.01.11 at 1:39 am ET
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The top five saw a major shakeup in this week’s edition of the WEEI NFL Power Rankings. Both the Patriots (4) and Saints (8)  fell on Sunday and, as a result, drop in the rankings. Rising up are the Steelers (2) and 49ers (3).  Above all, of course, are the undefeated Packers (1). The defending champs enjoyed the week off while watching their biggest challengers for the crown lose.

We’re midway through the season but the top 22 teams in the rankings all have a shot at playoff berths. Some have better odds than others, but there is a slew of teams that are all in the race with two, three and even four losses. Six of the eight divisions in the league have three or more teams in the playoff hunt. The NFC East race is one of the more intriguing. The Redskins (22) are falling fast with a number of injuries but the Giants (10), Eagles (14), and Cowboys (21) all seem capable of taking the division.

The biggest surprise of the week was the upset win by the Rams (28) over the Saints. With the win, the Rams leave the Dolphins (30) and Colts (31) as the only winless teams in the league.

Key Week 9 games:

-Jets @ Bills, 1 pm

-Ravens @ Steelers on Sunday Night Football

-Bears @ Eagles on Monday Night Football

Byes: Panthers, Lions, Jaguars, Vikings

1. (1) Packers (7-0) ‘€” Even though the Packers were idle in Week 8, it’s clear Green Bay is a step above every other team in the NFL. The defending champs have rolled through the first half of the season and show no signs of slowing down.

2. (6) Steelers (6-2) ‘€” Many would call the Steelers’ win against the Patriots a “Statement game.” Ben Roethlisberger proved the Steelers’ vertical passing game can produce just as well as the other elite offenses in the league. “Big Ben” enjoyed good pass protection and helped show off the fast group of receivers he has in his arsenal. Defensively, the Steelers subdued the prolific Patriots offense and held them to their lowest point total all year.

3. (4) 49ers (6-1) ‘€” Who would’ve thought the Niners would have the second best record in the NFL eight weeks into the season? Alex Smith has taken a tremendous leap forward under new coach Jim Harbaugh. Last year through seven games, Smith had nine interceptions. This year he has just two. Protecting the football and getting Frank Gore the rock seem to be the keys on offense. On top of that, the run defense hasn’t allowed a 100-yard rusher all season and the defense has forced 10 fumbles. Read the rest of this entry »

Read More: aaron rodgers, Mark Sanchez, NFL Power Rankings, Philip Rivers
WEEI Week 8 NFL Power Rankings: Patriots move up to second spot 10.25.11 at 6:12 am ET
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Once again, the Packers claim the top spot in the WEEI NFL Power Rankings. The undefeated Packers have enjoyed their reign at No. 1 in the rankings since August and will go into the month of November a perfect 7-0. The Lions (8) were undefeated through five weeks but have since lost two straight and drop again. The biggest surprise of the week came on Monday night when the Ravens were upset by the one-win Jaguars. The loss drops the Ravens three spots and puts them in a two-way tie with Steelers in the AFC North. Meanwhile, the 49ers (4) climb two spots and join the Patriots (2), Saints (3), and Ravens (5) in the top five.

Some of the teams ranked high at the beginning of the season but have since fell are fighting to get back to where they were. The Steelers (6), Falcons (7), Jets (9),  and Bears (12) are inching their way back up the chart after dropping earlier in the season. The Chargers (14) plummet almost ten spots after an epic collapse at the hands of the Jets. The Chargers have yet to beat a team over .500.

All three of the winless teams in the NFL were in action on Sunday but only one actually had a shot of winning. The Dolphins (31) surrendered a late lead to the Broncos (25) as Tim Tebow led his team to a magical comeback victory while the hapless Dolphins saw their hopes of getting in the win column go up in smoke.

Games that will have the biggest impact on next week’s Power Rankings:

The Patriots travel to Pittsburgh to take on the Steelers.

The Cowboys face off against the Eagles in a key divisional match-up.

Byes: Jets, Raiders, Falcons, Bucs, Bears, Packers

1. (1) Packers (7-0) ‘€” Aaron Rodgers will enter the bye week as the best quarterback in the NFL right now. The Super Bowl MVP leads in almost every statistical category a quarterback can be measured in. The array of weapons on the Packers offense is the main reason the defending champs are undefeated and show no sign of slowing down.

2. (3) Patriots (5-1) ‘€” There aren’t many better than Tom Brady and Bill Belichick coming off a bye week. The last time the Patriots lost following the bye was in 2002. That said, the Steelers passing game with Roethlisberger and Mike Wallace will be a tremendous challenge for the Patriots pass defense. The return of Jerod Mayo, a healthy Albert Haynesworth and the continued solid play from Brandon Spikes should help the Patriots improve on defense the rest of the way.

3. (4) Saints (5-2) ‘€” It doesn’t matter who the opponent is, any time an offense can put up 60+ points in a game, it’s impressive.  Brees completed 31 of 35 passes and threw five touchdowns. This offense is so dynamic, don’t be surprised to see a repeat performance  this Sunday when the Saints face another winless opponent, the Rams. The Colts are ranked dead last in the NFL in points allowed per game, right in front of them at No. 31 are the 0-5 Rams. The Saints owe a major “Thank you” to the NFL schedule makers.

4. (6) 49ers (5-1) ‘€” It was business as usual in the NFC West. The Rams, Seahawks, and Cardinals all lost as the 49ers enjoyed their bye week and saw their lead increase in the division. Barring any major setbacks and injuries, the 49ers are practically a lock to win the West. They’ve played great under Jim Harbaugh and the competition is extremely poor within the division.

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Read More: aaron rodgers, joe flacco, NFL Power Rankings, Tim Tebow
WEEI NFL Power Rankings: Week 7 10.18.11 at 6:16 am ET
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Just one undefeated team remains after six weeks of football. As expected, the Packers (1) rolled all over the Rams and cruised to 6-0. The Ravens (2) and Patriots (3) also continued their winning ways and jump one spot each to round off the top 3. The Lions (7) suffered their first loss of the season to the upstart 49ers in a gritty and exciting game. The 49ers (6) are buying what Jim Harbaugh is selling and they’ve now rattled off four straight wins as they head into their bye week.

Desperate teams like the Jets, Eagles (19), and Falcons (13) all managed to squeeze out wins and stay alive in the playoff race. The Jets stay put at No. 11 but could jump higher next week if they can beat the 4-1 Chargers (4).

There’s been a lot of commotion at the quarterback position across the NFL. The Broncos (26) are set to go with Tebow, the Redskins (20) have yet to name a starter for Week 7, the Seahawks (24) are uncertain if Tarvaris Jackson will be available, and the Raiders (12) suffered a big blow losing Jason Campbell.

At the bottom, misery loves company. The three remaining winless teams, the Rams (30), Dolphins (31), and Colts (32) are getting comfortable in their spots. All three teams are reaching new levels of terribleness.

What to watch for in Week 7:

The Falcons travel to Detroit to face the Lions in a game that could have playoff implications down the road.

In the hunt to win the AFC South, with the Manning-less Colts a non-factor, the Texans and Titans will square off in a huge divisional game.

Byes: Bills, Bengals, Patriots, Giants, Eagles, 49ers

1. (1) Packers (6-0) ‘€” Packers players should be prepared to fend off whispers of a possible perfect season because they’ll get louder and louder each week. The defending Super Bowl champs are over-matching their opponents and 7-0 looks inevitable with the Vikings next. With the way Aaron Rodgers is playing, undefeated certainly seems like a very real possibility.

2. (3) Ravens (5-1) ‘€” Baltimore has outscored its opponents by 77 points. The Ravens defense has been good all year and once again showed how tough and physical they can be against any offensive weapon the opposing team might throw at them. Arian Foster was shut down by a run defense that has been superb this season. On the other hand, Ray Rice has been lethal in the run and pass game.

3. (4) Patriots (5-1) ‘€” The improvement from the Patriots defense over the past couple of weeks has to be encouraging for Bill Belichick heading into the bye week. The pass rush is progressing and they’re getting off the field on third-down. This defense came up huge against the Cowboys and finally picked up the offense. Tom Brady and crew turned the ball over four times but the Pats D held Dallas to just six points on those turnovers. It’s a perfect time for a bye week for the Pats. Jerod Mayo, Albert Haynesworth and others can heal up and the defense can work on its problems before the team enters a tough stretch of games.

4. (2) Saints (4-2) ‘€” Tough day all around for the Saints. Not only did they lose to a divisional opponent, head coach Sean Payton tore his MCL after colliding with tight end Jimmy Graham. The injury will probably prevent the fiery Payton from coaching on the sidelines for a good period of time. All in all, the Saints should be able to overcome the tough defeat- thanks to the schedule. Two of the three winless teams in the NFL (Colts and the Rams) are next.

5. (6) Chargers (4-1) ‘€” The first-place Chargers sat back this past weekend and watched their biggest competition in the division lose its starting quarterback. The AFC West is theirs to lose. The Chargers now have to prove they can beat the good teams in the NFL. They’ll start by playing the Jets in New York this Sunday.

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Read More: aaron rodgers, Jim Harbaugh, NFL Power Rankings, Rex Ryan
WEEI NFL Power Rankings: Week 6 10.11.11 at 6:51 am ET
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Before the season started, the Eagles, Falcons and Jets were locks for the playoffs. The Bills, Redskins and 49ers were locks to have no chance. … And then they started playing the games. Now, through Week 5, the Eagles, Falcons and Jets are all under .500, and the Bills, Redskins and 49ers are all sitting pretty in first place in their divisions. It’s been an unpredictable year so far in the NFL. The Bills (7) and Raiders (8) are in our top 10. The Falcons (17), Eagles (20) and Jets (11) are not.

The elite teams in the NFL have held true to form. The Packers (1), Saints (2), Ravens (3) and Patriots (4) all have performed up to par and have solidified the top five over the past few weeks. The Lions (5) are making a case week after week that they, too, are one of the best in the league.

What to watch for in Week 6:

‘€¢ The Eagles’ season is on the brink of collapsing. They’ll play the Redskins in what is arguably a must-win situation.

‘€¢ The Bills will look to take down another solid opponent when they travel to New York to take on the Giants.

Byes: Broncos, Titans, Chiefs, Cardinals, Chargers, Seahawks

1. (1) Packers (5-0) ‘€” The comeback win against the Falcons came at a price, as starting left tackle Chad Clifton went down with a serious hamstring injury. The loss will certainly test the depth at the tackle position, because starter Bryan Bulaga has been battling a knee injury for the past two weeks. Even with the injuries, nothing has slowed down Aaron Rodgers and the Packers offense. The defending champs are rolling. They haven’t lost a game since Week 15 against the Patriots and are playing the beat-up, winless Rams on Sunday.

2. (2) Saints (4-1) ‘€” Like other elite teams in the NFL, the Saints have a prolific offense accompanied by a mediocre defense. On Sunday against the Panthers, Sean Payton‘s defense made some key mistakes that could have cost the team the game. The five penalties the defense had on Sunday included two roughing-the-passer penalties and a personal foul on a bonehead play from Roman Harper. The Saints also were scorched by DeAngelo Williams on the ground.

3. (3) Ravens (3-1) ‘€” Coming off the bye week, the Ravens need Joe Flacco to bounce back from a shaky start to the season. Flacco’s completion percentage is one of the worst in the league, at 49 percent. He’ll look to improve against a Texans defense that is missing its best pass rusher in Mario Williams.

4. (4) Patriots (4-1) ‘€” The versatility of the Patriots offense makes Tom Brady and crew one of the most dominant teams in the game. Whether they need to pass, run, go to the no-huddle, or sustain a long drive, the Pats can do it all and are only going to get better. The production from the run game has been key. Brady can rely on his backs to move the chains, and it has helped balance the offense. Defenses have to worry about both the run and pass. The win against the Jets has to bolster the defense’s confidence as well. Although they faced a poor offensive team, the Pats should be encouraged after making big stops on third down. They’ll face a major test this Sunday against the Cowboys pass offense.

5. (5) Lions (5-0) ‘€” The Lions didn’t disappoint their fans while appearing on “Monday Night Football” for the first time in a decade. The Lions not only are relevant, they’re undefeated. The defensive line is relentless at rushing the passer. Ndamukong Suh has gone from rookie to superstar in just a year. Matthew Stafford and Calvin Johnson have connected each week for at least one TD. Johnson now has caught nine touchdowns in his first five games. No receiver has done that in the history of the NFL.

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Read More: aaron rodgers, Calvin Johnson, NFL Power Rankings, Tom Brady
WEEI NFL Power Rankings: Week 5 10.04.11 at 7:32 am ET
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Just two undefeated teams remain as the first quarter of the season is in the books. Offense has defined the 2011 season so far. We’re seeing record numbers reached each week. Four of the top five teams (No. 1 Packers, No. 2 Saints, No. 4 Patriots, No. 5 Lions) have dynamic offenses that are ranked in the top of the league in almost every offensive category. One team that hasn’t forgotten defense is the Ravens. They retain their No. 3 spot as they come off an impressive defensive performance against the Jets.

Before the season started, backup quarterback Vince Young said the Eagles were a “dream team.” Four weeks into the season, Young hasn’t played a snap and the 1-3 Eagles are dangerously close to falling out of the top 20. In the AFC, the two teams that played for the right to represent the conference in the Super Bowl last year have fallen hard. After an embarrassing loss, the Jets drop to No. 9 and the struggling Steelers plummet to 14.

Week 5 is next and it has the potential to cause a major shakeup in the rankings. The Bears take on the Lions, the Jets and Patriots will square off, and the underachieving Eagles face the Bills.

Bye week teams: Browns, Ravens, Dolphins, Cowboys, Redskins, Rams

1. (1) Packers (4-0) ‘€” The MVP of the Super Bowl is making a strong case to be MVP of 2011. Aaron Rodgers has thrown 12 touchdowns and just two picks over the past four games. The Packers offense has looked unstoppable. Rodgers utilizes all of his weapons in the passing game, James Starks and the running game has added a great balance, and they protect the football. The defending champs are cruising.

2. (2) Saints (3-1) ‘€” The Saints finally have a running game. The three-headed monster of Darren Sproles, Mark Ingram and Pierre Thomas has been consistently solid. They’ll take on the Panthers in Week 5 before they play a key divisional game against the Bucs in Week 6.

3. (3) Ravens (3-1) ‘€” Unbelievable performance from the Ravens defense on Sunday night. Ray Lewis captains a defense that sent a message throughout the league. The relentless, intimidating D of the Ravens is made up of plenty of playmakers who cause turnovers and create havoc on the field. The defensive unit scored more points than the entire Jets offense on Sunday night.

4. (4) Patriots (3-1) ‘€” Tom Brady and the Patriots offense have to continue putting up 30-plus points per week in order to win. That shouldn’t be a problem. Wes Welker is having the best season of his career. He’s averaging 10 catches per game. On top of that, Brady is getting production from the running game. The pass rush is a lingering problem. Once again, the Patriots failed to effectively put pressure on the quarterback and once again allowed over 300 yards through the air.

5. (7) Lions (4-0) ‘€” What a fun team to watch. The Lions have overcome two 20-plus-point deficits over the past two weeks and remain undefeated. Even more impressive, this team has won eight straight games dating back to last season. Matthew Stafford and Calvin Johnson are turning into the Brady-Moss connection of 2007. In the first four games, “Megatron” has eight touchdown catches. Moss had seven at this point in ’07.

6. (11) Texans (3-1) ‘€” It could be worse — just ask the Chiefs. As soon as the Texans got Arian Foster back they lost Andre Johnson to a similar injury. It will be interesting to see who Matt Schaub leans on in the passing game with the All-Pro expected to miss some time. The good news is Foster looked healthy and Peyton Manning isn’t coming back any time soon. The Texans have taken a giant leap forward as far as their defense goes. Wade Phillips has done a great job improving one of the worst defenses in the league in 2010.

7. (9) Giants (3-1) ‘€” It’s amazing the Giants can boast a 3-1 record a quarter of the way into the season with the number of injuries they’ve endured. Eli Manning has played the best football of his career while many of his regular offensive tools are gone or nursing injuries. Osi Umenyiora looked like vintage Osi. It was hard to believe he hadn’t played a game all year.

8. (14) Chargers (3-1) ‘€” It was virtually impossible for the Chargers to get off to a slow start. The team’s three wins have come against opponents who have a combined record of 1-11. Philip Rivers and the Chargers will enjoy one more week of an easy schedule until the more challenging part begins.

9. (6) Jets (2-2) ‘€” The Jets are dangerously close to spiraling downhill. This team has endured back-to-back, double-digit losses for the first time under Rex Ryan. On top of that, the level of frustration is reaching all-time highs within the team. One of the team’s captain’s, Santonio Holmes, called out the poor play of Mark Sanchez and the offensive line. A loss to the Patriots this week could add fuel to the fire. Sanchez has had an awful start to the season. Week after week, he continues to make poor decisions with the football. It doesn’t help that the running game has been a non-factor and the offensive line has looked lost. Adding to all the negativity surrounding this team, veteran linebacker Bryan Thomas suffered a season-ending Achilles tendon injury.

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Read More: aaron rodgers, Michael Vick, NFL Power Rankings, Rex Ryan
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