NFL Power Rankings for Week 1 (Sept. 4th, 2014)

seattle-seahawks-packers-2014With the preseason officially out of the way, the 2014 NFL regular season is set to kick off tonight. The Green Bay Packers travel to Seattle to take on the defending Super Bowl champion Seahawks. Seattle is the favorite here, but the way that the Packers can score, there’s no telling how this game will go.

The same could be said of who’ll be accepting the Lombardi Trophy this year. Again, many people like the Seahawks, however, the 49ers, Broncos, Packers Patriots, Saints and others will all have something to say about this. So who’s our pick for the NFL’s best team as of now? You can see for yourself in our first NFL power rankings of 2014.

1. Seattle Seahawks – Yeah, this isn’t exactly original. But what reason do we have to doubt the champs since they return all of their key starters? QB Russell Wilson and RB Marshawn Lynch will once again be heading up the offense while shutdown-corner Richard Sherman is said to be more focused than ever. He’s going to need this focus since Seattle will have the unenviable target on their backs all season.

2. Denver Broncos – The Broncos may have been humiliated in last year’s Super Bowl, but they figure to be better on both sides of the ball. First off, the pass rush will be nastier with both LB Von Miller and DE DeMarcus Ware coming after the quarterback. And Montee Ball’s ascension provides an upgrade over last year’s starting running back, Knowshon Moreno.

colin-kaepernick3. San Francisco 49ers – LB Aldon Smith’s 9-game suspension is a big blow to the 49ers’ regular season. However, the rest of the San Francisco team is more than solid. And if Colin Kaepernick keeps up his strong play from last year – where he threw for 10 TD’s and one interception over the final six regular season games – the Niners will be completely fine without Smith.

4. New England Patriots – The offense will be even less reliant on Tom Brady this season with a talented group of ball carriers. Shane Vereen headlines the group with his dual abilities, while rookie James White, Brandon Bolden and Stevan Ridley add lots of depth.

5. New Orleans Saints – It will be strange not seeing Darren Sproles catching passes out of the backfield this year. But that could leave Pierre Thomas with an even bigger role. Rookie receiver Brandin Cooks got a lot of press this offseason. If he’s as good as the hype, then Drew Brees will have no trouble finding him.

6. Green Bay Packers – Aaron Rodgers missed seven games last year and Green Bay still made the postseason. Plus, Eddie Lacy got a chance to shine in his rookie season. Together, this pair forms one of the toughest QB-RB tandems in the league. Even in the opener against Seattle’s tough defense tonight, these two should work well off of each other.

nick-foles-eagles7. Philadelphia Eagles – It’s almost impossible to see Nick Foles duplicating 27 touchdowns compared to just two interceptions for a second straight year. But even though we expect this ratio to change, it’s hard to see him not being great once again in the weak NFC East. If receiver Jeremy Maclin can stay healthy, this has the potential to be the league’s best offense.

8. Cincinnati Bengals – You have to like Cincinnati’s chances of improving this year with Geno Atkins back. The All-Pro defensive tackle missed seven games last season and the defense was still stout. QB Andy Dalton got a big offseason deal. Will he prove that he’s worth it this year?

9. Indianapolis Colts – Much is made about the unsettled backfield in Indy, but having Andrew Luck under center guarantees the offense of remaining dangerous. Signing LB D’Qwell Jackson and DE Arthur Jones will bring much-needed help to a defense that gave up 125.1 rushing yards per game in 2013.

10. Chicago Bears – The Bears offense should have no trouble scoring points in their second year under coach Marc Trestman. But the defense will determine how far this team goes. Signing defensive ends Lamarr Houston, Jared Allen and Willie Young definitely helps, as does getting linebackers D.J. Williams and Lance Briggs back from injury. But the results certainly didn’t show up in the third preseason game, when starters play the majority of snaps.

ryan-shazier-steelers11. Pittsburgh Steelers – Pittsburgh might finally have their traditional power running game back with Le’Veon Bell and LeGarrette Blount heading up the backfield. Rookie linebacker Ryan Shazier will bring some nice explosiveness to a defensive unit that had aged far too much last season.

12. Carolina Panthers – Last year was a breakthrough season for the Panthers. But can they repeat that performance, or possibly do better? Every receiver from last season’s roster is gone, meaning Cam Newton will be meshing with a completely new unit. So far, rookie Kelvin Benjamin is looking like a pretty reliable target for Newton.

13. San Diego Chargers – San Diego was one of three AFC West teams that made the playoffs in 2013. The offense again looks capable of leading the Chargers back to the postseason – especially with rookie sensation Keenan Allen coming off a surprise 1,046-yard year. The defense is the only thing that could hold this team back from more success.

14. Baltimore Ravens – Gary Kubiak has been brought in as offensive coordinator to shore up the mess here. The key will be figuring out how to use Bernard Pierce and an aging Ray Rice in tandem. A lot is riding on how linebacker C.J. Mosley and end Timmy Jernigan carry this historically good defense, which has never allowed 4.0 yards per rush in franchise history.

15. Arizona Cardinals – The running game should be a lot more explosive with Andre Ellington stepping into a featured role. But the line needs to do a much better job of protecting Carson Palmer, who was sacked a career-high 41 times. Also, the defense will definitely miss Darnell Dockett, Karlos Dansby and Daryl Washington from last season’s 10-6 team.

ryan-tannehill16. Miami Dolphins – Ryan Tannehill is developing into a star quarterback. However, the new offensive line needs to ensure that this continues. The combination of Lamar Miller and Knowshon Moreno should guarantee that the running game is better this time around.

17. Kansas City Chiefs – It’s hard to see the Chiefs duplicating last year’s performance, where they benefited from one of the league’s weakest schedules. The defense should once again be good, and Jamaal Charles showed that he’s a bonafide star when healthy. But a lack of explosion in the receiving corp coupled with Alex Smith’s weak arm will limit the offense.

18. Detroit Lions – There are plenty of weapons on this team with QB Matthew Stafford, wideouts Calvin Johnson and Golden Tate, TE Eric Ebron, and running backs Reggie Bush and Joique Bell. Switching to defense, Ziggy Ansah and Ndamukong Suh need to put lots of pressure on opposing quarterbacks to keep a weak secondary from being exposed.

19. Atlanta Falcons – Many are picking the Falcons to far exceed the dismal 4-12 record from their last campaign. But we think that a few more regular season games are in order before predicting a return to NFC South dominance. Regardless, Atlanta should be much better with offensive line additions and a healthy Roddy White and Julio Jones.

20. St. Louis Rams – The Sam Bradford loss hurts, there’s no way around that. But tailback Zac Stacy still gives this offense one weapon that opposing defenses will have trouble dealing with. Unfortunately, playing in the league’s toughest division, the NFC West, will ensure that St. Louis doesn’t make the playoffs.

geno-smith-jets21. New York Jets – The situation under center isn’t as dire this season, with Geno Smith looking more polished in the preseason. And even if he fails, at least they have Michael Vick to fall back on. The secondary is much more of a concern because Dee Milliner and Kyle Wilson are the only truly experienced cornerbacks on the roster.

22. Tampa Bay Buccaneers – Everything from the Doug Martin injury to the Josh Freeman situation was a disaster for this team. But now they start fresh with Martin back and Josh McCown under center. Acquiring guard Logan Mankins in a trade with the Patriots was definitely a smart move for this team because their offensive line is unstable.

23. New York Giants – You wouldn’t think that the offense would be as bad as it was in 2013, when Eli Manning threw nine more interceptions than touchdowns. But under new offensive coordinator Bob McAdoo, the team looks atrocious. Let’s hope in this case that the preseason really doesn’t mean anything.

24. Tennessee Titans – The passing game could really click this year with Jake Locker throwing to playmakers like Kendall Wright and Justin Hunter. But it’s a little unsettling that heralded rookie Bishop Sankey hasn’t been able to take the starting job away from plodding veteran Shonn Greene. Once Sankey breaks out, this team will start experiencing success.

dez-bryant25. Dallas Cowboys – Dallas is saved from being the worst team by an offense that features Tony Romo, Dez Bryant, Jason Witten and DeMarco Murray. But their defense is even worse from a year ago, when they allowed the third-most yards in NFL history. The losses of DeMarcus Ware, Jason Hatcher and Sean Lee spell doom for the Boys.

26. Minnesota Vikings – Matt Cassel better hope that he can continue playing as strongly as he did in the preseason. Otherwise the Teddy Bridgewater era will be ushered in sooner, rather than later. Regardless of what happens at QB, though, Adrian Peterson looks to have yet another strong year running the ball.

27. Houston Texans – Jadeveon Clowney looked pretty explosive in preseason games and should have a long career of terrorizing opposing passers. As for the Texans’ own quarterback situation, Ryan Fitzpatrick starts with the reigns. But with Ryan Mallet coming over in a trade, should we expect a future QB battle?

28. Buffalo Bills – The Bills had one of the NFL’s most-underrated defenses last season after holding quarterbacks to the second-lowest rating (behind Seattle). But much like Houston, Buffalo needs to worry about their own passer since E.J. Manuel has shown little progression in his second year. It’s no coincidence that the Bills recently signed Kyle Orton to a two-year, $11 million contract, making him the league’s highest-paid backup.

robert-griffin-knee29. Washington Redskins – This preseason was highlighted by Joe Theismann’s comments that Kirk Cousins (4 TD’s, 1 INT) was badly outplaying Robert Griffin III (0 TD’s, 2 INT’s). It doesn’t matter, though, because coach Jay Gruden has handed Griffin the ball. He’ll now hope to get back to his rookie success, rather than last season’s debacle.

30. Cleveland Browns – Brian Hoyer didn’t look overly sharp while winning the starting job over Johnny Manziel. But he does boast a 3-0 career record as a starter. It’s almost impossible to see this mark remaining intact with Cleveland traveling to Pittsburgh, especially since the suspended WR Josh Gordon won’t be available this game – or any game in 2014 for that matter.

31. Jacksonville Jaguars – Jacksonville didn’t win a game until Week 10; then they went 4-4 after that point. We certainly don’t think that this indicates a .500 or better Jaguars club this season. But rookie Blake Bortles should take over at QB soon and start a new and better era in Jacksonville football.

32. Oakland Raiders – Oakland has been in rebuilding mode for over a decade. This season doesn’t look to be any different, with a quarterback controversy already due to Matt Schaub’s poor performance. The Raiders wanted Derek Carr to hold the clipboard for his first season, however, this doesn’t seem so likely now.

NFL Power Rankings for Week 17 (Dec. 25, 2013)

peyton-manning-broncosThe 2013 NFL regular season is rolling to a close, but much of the playoff picture is still unclear heading into the final week. Not one NFC division title has been sewn up, while there are still four teams alive for the last AFC Wild Card spot. Fortunately, the jumbled playoff mess will be sorted out this weekend through wins, losses, and a series of tiebreakers that only a computer can keep track of.

1. Denver Broncos (12-3); beat Houston 37-13, moves up one spot – No surprise here as Denver sent Houston spiraling towards their 13th straight loss. The most meaningful news to come out of this game involved Peyton Manning breaking Tom Brady’s all-time record for touchdown passes in a season (50). Manning threw for 400 yards and 4 touchdowns, the last of which was the record-breaking number 51.

2. Seattle Seahawks (12-3); lost to Arizona 17-10, drops one spot – It’s been a while, but Seattle finally lost at home. And it was an ugly loss marked by several turnovers. If Seattle is truly to compete for a Super Bowl title this year, Russell Wilson needs to step his game up. He has three TD’s, three INT’s, and has been sacked 10 times in the last three games.

3. San Francisco 49ers (11-4); beat Atlanta 34-24, retains same ranking – The last ever game at Candlestick Park was a good one! With Atlanta driving for a potential game-winning score, NaVorro Bowman intercepted a Matt Ryan pass and took it back 89 yards for a touchdown. With Michael Crabtree now back and playing well (5REC, 102YDS), the Niners are going to be a dangerous playoff team.

4. New England Patriots (11-4); beat Baltimore 41-7, moves up one spot – Wow! New England walks into a playoff-hungry team’s den, then spanks them by 34 points! The Pats have looked inconsistent at times, but everything was working last Sunday – from the defense to the running game (34 carries for 142 yards).

cam-newton5. Carolina Panthers (11-4); beat New Orleans 17-13, moves up two spots – Cam Newton’s maturity level has greatly improved this year, and it really showed on the game-winning. With just 23 seconds left, Newton had the poise to find Domenik Hixon in the end zone from 14 yards out. Aside from Newton’s late-game heroics, the defense should be commended since they intercepted Drew Brees twice and sacked him six times.

6. Kansas City Chiefs (11-4); lost to Indianapolis 23-7, drops two spots – We’d been commending Kansas City’s offense, up until now. They looked completely terrible at home against a mediocre Colts defense. Much of the problem can be attributed to the normally steady Alex Smith. He fumbled once and was picked off twice in this rough loss.

7. Cincinnati Bengals (10-5); beat Minnesota 42-14, moves up one spot – Cincinnati remains perfect at home, thanks to 366 passing yards and 4 touchdowns from Andy Dalton. Oh, and Vincent Rey returning an interception 25 yards for a TD didn’t hurt either. The Bengals are now headed for their third straight playoff appearance.

8. Arizona Cardinals (10-5); beat Seattle 17-10, moves up one spot – You’ve got to hand it to Arizona, walking into Seattle’s home territory and actually coming out with a win. Of course, this weekend won’t be much easier because they have to beat San Francisco to keep their playoff hopes alive. We can only imagine the disappointment if the Cardinals win 11 games, yet fail to make the postseason.

9. Indianapolis Colts (10-5); beat Kansas City 23-7, moves up one spot – After a mid-season slump, the Colts are back to playing some good football. They’ve won three straight games and have held opponents to 10 points over the past two weeks. Granted, one of those opponents was Houston, but still…

10. New Orleans (10-5); lost to Carolina 17-13, drops four spots – It’s highly likely that the Saints will beat Tampa Bay at home and grab the final playoff NFC spot over Arizona. Even still, there are some pressing questions here – namely how New Orleans plays on the road. Their record away from the Superdome is only 3-5, and if Carolina wins, every postseason game the Saints play will be on the road.

lesean-mccoy11. Philadelphia Eagles (9-6); beat Chicago 54-11, retains same ranking – The Eagles deserve to move up after demolishing the Bears. But there’s not much room in the top 10 right now. Regardless, their running game was a thing of beauty as they racked up 289 rushing yards and 3 TD’s. LeSean McCoy led the way with 133 rushing yards and 2 touchdowns, while Bryce Brown added 118 yards and a TD on just nine carries.

12. Dallas Cowboys (8-7); beat Washington 24-23, moves up three spots – Tony Romo led a dramatic, comeback victory against the Redskins. Unfortunately, his status for this week’s game against Philadelphia is up in the air because of a back injury. This is very bad news too because, for the second year in a row, Dallas is playing for the NFC East title in the last week of the regular season.

13. San Diego Chargers (8-7); beat Oakland 26-13, moves up three spots – The Chargers keep winning and staying in the playoff race. This time, it was Ryan Matthews and Danny Woodhead leading the way after combining for 151 rushing yards. Now they have to beat Kansas City again, and hope that the Ravens and Dolphins lose this weekend to reach the playoffs.

14. Baltimore Ravens (8-7); lost to New England 41-7, drops two spots – With a chance to further cement their chances of grabbing the last AFC Wild Card spot, Baltimore got embarrassed at home. Not only was their offense completely ineffective, but they also let New England run wild on them. Now they must win in Cincinnati, where the Bengals haven’t lost yet.

15. Miami Dolphins (8-7); lost to Buffalo 19-0, drops two spots – This game all came down to the rushing attacks, with Buffalo obliterating Miami. The Bills gained 203 rushing yards on 51 carries while the Dolphins tallied just 14 yards on 12 carries. Now in a tie with Baltimore for the final playoff spot, Miami is going to need some help to reach the postseason.

jay-cutler-injury16. Chicago Bears (8-7); lost to Philadelphia 54-11, drops two spots – This is the third team in a row on this list that blew a golden opportunity last weekend. Chicago could have wrapped up the NFC North division with a victory over Philly. While this was no easy task, they not only lost, but got completely embarrassed. It looks like Jay Cutler will be back in the saddle in the Bears’ all-important game against Green Bay.

17. Pittsburgh Steelers (7-8); beat Green Bay 38-31, moves up two spots – It’s amazing that Pittsburgh is even in the playoff picture this week, given that they started out 0-4. It’s interesting to think about what may have been if rookie RB Le’Veon Bell hadn’t missed several games to start the year.

18. Green Bay Packers (7-7-1); lost to Pittsburgh 38-31, drops one spot – There’s talk that Aaron Rodgers might return for the final regular season game. And this would be a huge lift since Green Bay can still win the NFC North by beating Chicago. But on a down note, they’ll probably be without Clay Matthews and Eddie Lacy.

19. St. Louis Rams (7-8); beat Tampa Bay 23-13, moves up one spot – St. Louis continues to improve and offer hope for next year. It looks like they’ve definitely found a star running back in Zac Stacy, who again had a big day with 104 rushing yards and a touchdown.

20. New York Jets (7-8); beat Cleveland 24-13, moves up one spot – Geno Smith had his first game with two touchdown passes since October. The embattled rookie also iced the game with a touchdown run late in the fourth quarter. Unfortunately this win won’t save Rex Ryan’s job, who already informed his team that he’s gone after this year.

21. New York Giants (6-9); beat Detroit 23-20 (OT), moves up one spot – The Giants tried to give this game away, with Eli Manning throwing an interception towards the end of regulation, and Andre Brown fumbling on the opening possession of overtime. But they were able to hold the Lions and allow Josh Brown to kick a game-winning 45-yard field goal.

22. Detroit Lions (7-8); lost to New York Giants 23-20 (OT), drops two spots – The Lions’ miserable slide continues and they’re now officially eliminated from playoff contention. The Detroit fans grew angry when coach Jim Schwartz elected to run out the clock in regulation, despite having two timeouts left and 23 seconds. With the Lions on their own 25, it’s not entirely ridiculous that Schwartz decided to play conservatively. However, he made things worse by yelling something back at the crowd when they were booing.

23. Tennessee Titans (6-9); beat Jacksonville 20-16, retains same ranking – Tennessee finally stopped a three-game slide. Nate Washington had a huge game as he caught 6 passes for 117 yards, including the go-ahead touchdown from 30 yards out.

cj-spiller24. Buffalo Bills (6-9); beat Miami 19-0, moves up two spots – As a team with nothing really left to play for, Buffalo definitely gave a nice effort in this contest. Their run game was especially killer to the Dolphins, with Fred Jackson racking up 111 yards and CJ Spiller adding 77 yards.

25. Minnesota Vikings (4-10-1); lost to Cincinnati 42-14, drops one spot – Adrian Peterson returned from a foot injury suffered last week, but it really didn’t matter. Matt Cassel suddenly remembered that he’s Matt Cassel, completing 13-of-27 passes for 114 yards, 1 TD, and 3 interceptions.

26. Atlanta Falcons (4-11); lost to San Francisco 34-24, drops one spot – Overall, this is definitely a year to forget for Roddy White and the Falcons. But he at least finished the season strong, catching 35 passes for 411 yards over the past four games.

27. Jacksonville Jaguars (4-11); lost to Tennessee 20-16, retains same ranking – Jacksonville was actually in a position to take the lead late in this game, but Maurice Jones-Drew got stuffed on a fourth-and-1 run with 5:21 left.

28. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (4-11); lost to St. Louis 23-13, retains same ranking – The Buccaneers pass protection was bad, as they gave up seven sacks to the Rams. This fact alone made it very difficult for QB Mike Glennon to move the Bucs downfield.

29. Cleveland Browns (4-11); lost to New York Jets 24-13, retains same ranking – Cleveland has now lost six straight games, and they also lost star tight end Jordan Cameron to a concussion in this game.

30. Oakland Raiders (4-11); lost to Kansas City 56-31, retains same ranking – The latest controversy to emerge from Oakland involves Terrelle Pryor’s agent saying that the decision to start him in the finale is a conspiracy. The logic is that Allen wants Pryor to fail against Denver, thus making it look like starting Matt McGloin for the past six games was a good decision. Maybe this isn’t quite so far-fetched, but the fact that Pryor’s agent aired it publicly is baffling.

31. Washington Redskins (3-12); lost to Dallas 24-23, retains same ranking – Pierre Garcon continues to have a monster season, catching 11 passes for 144 yards and a touchdown in this game. For the season, he has 107 catches for 1,290 yards and five touchdowns.

32. Houston Texans (2-13); lost to Denver 37-13, retains same ranking – The depleted Texans dropped their 13th game in a row, and they’ll try for a win one last time at Tennessee.

Eddie Lacy well on his way to 2013 NFL Rookie of the Year

eddie-lacy-rookie-of-the-yearWhen the 2013 NFL season began, Montee Ball and Tavon Austin were the favorites in terms of betting odds for the Rookie of the Year award. We at GTBets.eu had both players at 9/2 odds of winning the award. Eddie Lacy, on the other hand, was only in the middle range as far as odds went.

Nevertheless, the bruising running back from the Green Bay Packers is well on his way towards the 2013 Offensive Rookie of the Year. With two games remaining in the season, Lacy has 1,048 rushing yards on 248 carries (4.1 YPC). He’s also reached the end zone 8 times and has added 31 catches for 236 yards. But while Lacy’s stats may be impressive, what really sets him apart from other candidates is his performances in big games.

Last Sunday’s contest against the Dallas Cowboys was a perfect example of this. With the Packers needing a win to stay in the NFC North title race, they got a giant boost from their rookie ball carrier. Lacy racked up 141 rushing yards and a touchdown on just 21 carries. What’s especially noteworthy about this game is that the 230-pounder was playing on a tender ankle.

eddie-lacy-rookie-of-the-year-1Thanks in large part to Lacy’s gritty performance, the Packers are now just a half game behind Chicago for the NFC North title. Seeing as how they get a crack at Chicago on the final week of the season, it’s entirely possible that Green Bay could win the division and go to the playoffs. But even if they don’t, Eddie Lacy is still looking like the favorite to win the 2013 Rookie of the Year.

So who’s his main competition at this point? Well, it appears that San Diego wide receiver Keenan Allen is the only player who can capture the award. Allen has hauled in 63 passes for 923 yards and 7 TD’s, which is no doubt an impressive campaign. Plus his team still has a shot at the postseason since San Diego is sitting at 7-7.

With both players fairly similar in terms of offensive production, what may ultimately set these two apart is how they rank relative to their positions. Lacy easily wins the battle here because he’s ranked 7th among running backs in rushing yards. Meanwhile, Allen’s 923 receiving yards only place him 21st among the league’s wideouts.

It’s also worth mentioning that Lacy has had to shoulder his team’s offensive load in the absence of Aaron Rodgers. Sure Matt Flynn has had his moments, but it’s Lacy creating for his fill-in quarterback, not the other way around. Contrast this to Allen, who’s often overshadowed by the guy throwing him the ball, Philip Rivers.

Of course, the ROY race could easily be determined by which one of these teams makes the playoffs too. But for the moment, it looks like Lacy has the inside track towards being the league’s best offensive rookie.

NFL Power Rankings for Week 10 (Nov. 7th, 2013)

sean-smith-chiefsThis past weekend’s NFL action was filled with a number of surprises, which made for extremely exciting storylines. The Dolphins knocked off the Bengals, the Jets beat the Saints, Washington beat San Diego and a Jay Cutler-less Bears team downed the Packers. This is a complete turnaround from last week, when there were hardly any upsets. And this means that our Week 10 power rankings will be much more entertaining, with quite a few teams moving around.

1. Kansas City Chiefs (9-0); beat Buffalo 23-13, retains same ranking – This wasn’t the Chiefs’ best defensive effort from a yardage perspective, as they gave up 241 yards on the ground to CJ Spiller and Fred Jackson. However, the defense came up with two big scores – one on a Tamba Hail fumble recovery and the other on a Sean Smith 99-yard interception return. And this was all they’d need against the Bills.

2. Denver Broncos (7-1); bye week, retains same ranking – The Broncos didn’t play, and nobody did anything significant enough to overtake them for the second spot. Peyton and company travel to San Diego this week in what could be a tough matchup against their division rival.

3. Seattle Seahawks (8-1); beat Tampa Bay 27-24, retains same ranking – For the second week in a row, Seattle was in a tight game against a subpar opponent. This time, Seattle had to claw their way back from an early 21-0 deficit. But thanks to some strong play by Russell Wilson down the stretch, Seattle was able to pull out another victory.

 ty-hilton-touchdown4. Indianapolis Colts (6-2); beat Houston 27-24, moves up one spot – The Colts were in a very similar position to the Seahawks: having to rally against a bad team. In the Colts’ case, it meant overcoming an 18-point deficit thanks to three touchdown passes from Andrew Luck to T.Y. Hilton.

5. San Francisco 49ers (6-2); bye week, moves up one spot – Given the way San Francisco played in weeks leading up to their bye week, they may be playing the best football of anybody in the NFC right now. With a strong running game, a quarterback who can run, and a very good defense, the 49ers will be tough to beat in the playoffs.

6. New Orleans Saints (7-2); lost to New York Jets 26-20, drops two spots – Losing to the Jets on the road isn’t such a terrible thing. But with the Colts and San Francisco continually winning, it’s hard to keep the Saints above them after this loss. It certainly shouldn’t keep New Orleans from winning the NFC South, though.

7. New England Patriots (7-2); beat Pittsburgh 55-31, moves up two spots – Look who’s back! With a healthier team, the Patriots piled up over 600 yards of total offense against the Steelers, including 432 passing yards and four TD’s by Tom Brady. His tight end, Rob Gronkowski, also put up 141 receiving yards and one touchdown on a career-high nine catches.

8. Cincinnati Bengals (6-3); lost to Miami 22-20 (OT), drops one spot – Just when Andy Dalton starts to look like a franchise quarterback, he follows it up with a poor performance by throwing three picks and no touchdowns. This team still has plenty of weapons, though, and can’t be counted out moving forward.

9. Detroit Lions (5-3); bye week, moves up one spot – Detroit visits Chicago with first place in the NFC East on the line. The offense is clicking after the come-from-behind win against Dallas, so expect the Lions to score plenty of points in this pivotal game.

dwayne-harris10. Dallas Cowboys (5-4); beat Minnesota 27-23, moves up two spots – One week after allowing Detroit to beat them with less than a minute left, Dallas staged their own comeback to beat Minnesota. Tony Romo found Dwayne Harris in the end zone with 35 seconds left for the go-ahead score. This victory keeps the Cowboys a game ahead of Philadelphia in the NFC East.

11. Chicago Bears (5-3); beat Green Bay 27-20, moves up two spots – Few people gave the Bears a chance to win at Lambeau Field with Jay Cutler sidelined. But Chicago knocked Aaron Rodgers out of the game with a shoulder injury and proceeded to shut down Green Bay. Now they’ve forced a three-way, first-place tie in the NFC North standings.

12. Green Bay Packers (5-3); lost to Chicago 27-20, drops five spots – Green Bay is still a good football team without Rodgers. But with number 12 sidelined for 4-6 weeks, simply being “good” might put Green Bay behind Chicago and Detroit in the North. Look for Eddie Lacy and James Starks to carry the load while Rodgers is out.

13. Arizona Cardinals (4-4); bye week, moves up one spot – Arizona’s compass is pointed north since they come out of the bye week with games against Houston and Jacksonville. Of course, nothing in the NFL is guaranteed, but it wouldn’t be a shock to see the Cardinals move to 6-4 soon.

14. Carolina Panthers (5-3); beat Atlanta 34-10, moves up three spots – The Panthers have turned their season around thanks to a four-game winning streak. Defense has been the key to this run, which, in this particular game, included three interceptions of Atlanta QB Matt Ryan. Carolina is now a formidable team, especially with Jonathan Stewart back from injury.

15. San Diego Chargers (4-4); lost to Washington 30-24 (OT), drops four spots – The Chargers may have seen their playoff chances go out the window with this loss. They now move into the meat of their schedule, and it won’t taste good. Two games against both Denver and Kansas City loom ahead.

16. New York Jets (5-4); beat New Orleans 26-20, moves up two spots – Nobody can figure the Jets out. One week, they lose by 40 to the Cincinnati Bengals; the next week, they’re beating a team that’s contending for the NFC title. New York seems to have found an offensive identity in running the ball more with Chris Ivory.

17. Tennessee Titans (4-4); beat St. Louis 28-21, moves up two spots – Chris chris-johnsonJohnson looked like the player that amazed people two years ago after racking up 150 yards and two touchdowns on 23 carries. Shonn Greene adds another dimension to the running game and could help preserve Johnson down the stretch.

18. Miami Dolphins (4-4); beat Cincinnati 22-20 (OT), drops one spot – What should be a celebratory week for the Dolphins after their big victory over Cincinnati has turned into a nightmare. Richie Incognito’s bullying of Jonathan Martin has likely left both linemen done for the season (or career in Incognito’s case). And there are rumors that Miami assistant coaches could be on the chopping block too.

19. Cleveland Browns (4-5); beat Baltimore 24-18, moves up three spots – As long as Brandon Weeden isn’t quarterbacking this team, it seems like the Browns have a chance to win. This is especially the case when Jason Campbell throws for three touchdowns!

20. Baltimore Ravens (3-5); lost to Cleveland 24-18, drops five spots – These Ravens definitely don’t look like repeat Super Bowl champions. Their traditionally strong running game has hit rock bottom, as evidenced by Ray Rice’s 17 yards on 11 carries.

21. Washington Redskins (3-5); beat San Diego 30-24 (OT), moves up three spots – After starting the year a dismal 0-3, Washington has now won three out of their last five to improve to respectability. This effort was led by fullback Darrell Young, who literally came out of nowhere (2 car. on the season) to score three touchdowns.

22. Philadelphia Eagles (4-5); beat Oakland 49-20, moves up five spots – It’s hard to tell if Nick Foles is the guy who looked completely lost running Chip Kelly’s read option three weeks ago, or an ultra-talented QB of the future. This time around, he most definitely looked the latter part.

23. Oakland Raiders (3-5); lost to Philadelphia 49-20, drops three spots – Just when the Raiders looked like they had something special going, they give up an NFL-record-tying seven TD passes to Nick Foles. They’ll try to re-create the magic as they face the Giants.

24. New York Giants (2-6); bye week, moves up two spots – The Giants seek their third win in a row against a Raiders team that’s traveling across the country. They’ll get a boost from RB Andre Brown, who’ll play his first game this year.

25. Atlanta Falcons (2-6); lost to Carolina 34-10, drops four spots – Any delusions of a mid-season turnaround were cut down with this loss. Matt Ryan has now thrown seven interceptions in his last two games.

26. Houston Texans (2-5); lost to Indianapolis 27-24, drops one spot – Houston really let this one slip through their fingers, as they were leading 21-3 at the half. A healthy Arian Foster would’ve enabled them to grind out the clock and grab a victory. The good news is that head coach Gary Kubiak is expected to be coaching again by Week 11 after collapsing at halftime.

27. Buffalo Bills (3-6); lost to Kansas City 23-13, drops one spot – The Bills were actually controlling this game with a strong running effort (241 RYDS). The defining moment came when Jeff Tuel threw an interception at the Chiefs 1-yard line that went all the way back for a touchdown.

28. Pittsburgh Steelers (2-6); lost to New England 55-31, retains same ranking – After giving up a franchise-record 55 points, it’s clear that Pittsburgh needs to go into full-on rebuilding mode.

29. St. Louis Rams (3-6); lost to Tennessee 28-21, retains same ranking – St. Louis has now lost their third game in a row and appears to once again be headed for a high pick in next April’s draft.

30. Minnesota Vikings (1-7); lost to Dallas 27-23, retains same ranking – After giving up a last-minute win to the Cowboys, Minnesota players were questioning both of their coordinators. Defensive players were especially peeved that they only ran three-man rushes during the Cowboys game-winning, 90-yard drive.

31. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (0-8); lost to Seattle 27-24, retains same ranking – This team can’t even win when they’re practically gifted a 21-0 lead. Seattle dominated the remainder of the game and kept Tampa Bay winless.

32. Jacksonville Jaguars (0-8); bye week, retains same ranking – After a week to rest, maybe Jacksonville can come out and be more competitive throughout the second half of the season.

NFL Power Rankings for Week 9 (Oct. 31st, 2013)

matt-staffordNo game last week was more exciting than the 1-point thriller between the Detroit Lions and Dallas Cowboys. With just 42 seconds left, Matt Stafford led an 80-yard, game-winning drive that was capped off by his 1-yard QB sneak. Stafford used some trickery to pull off this sneak since he yelled that he was going to stop the clock, then called hike and put the ball over his lineman’s head for the go-ahead score. Oh yea, and did we mention that Calvin Johnson also tallied the second-most receiving yards ever with 329 in this game?

Unfortunately, none of the other games from Week 8 were this dramatic, but several contests had a large impact on our power rankings. That said, here are the rankings for Week 9.

1. Kansas City Chiefs (8-0); beat Cleveland 23-17, retains same ranking – This was far from Kansas City’s best performance of the year. After all, they let journeyman quarterback Jason Campbell pass for 293 yards and two touchdowns on them. But on the bright side, Alex Smith had a pretty good game against a tough Browns D as he threw for 225 yards and two scores of his own. Plus, the most important thing is that KC won yet again.

2. Denver Broncos (7-1); beat Washington Redskins 45-21, retains same ranking – The final score of this game certainly doesn’t tell it all. The red-hot Redskins were actually winning by a score of 21-7 in the middle of the third quarter. However, the Broncos came stomping back by scoring the final 38 points of the game. Denver overcame three interceptions by Peyton Manning to turn this contest into a route.

3. Seattle Seahawks (7-1); beat St. Louis 14-9, retains same ranking – Seattle’s game against the Rams was a little close for comfort. They made a goal-line stand after stuffing Daryl Richardson on 3-and-1 and forcing Kellen Clemens to throw an incompletion on 4-and-1. There were some concerns on offense for the Seahawks too since they only gained 135 yards of total offense. But they still got the important road win.

4. New Orleans Saints (7-1); beat Buffalo 35-17, retains same ranking – Not surprisingly, Drew Brees was able to pick apart the Buffalo defense as he finished with 332 yards and five touchdowns. Plus the defense played its role by sacking Thad Lewis four times, intercepting him once and forcing the beleaguered QB into two fumbles.

5. Indianapolis Colts (5-2); bye week, retains same ranking – The Colts got a week to rest after an incredible first half of the season, where they beat Denver, Seattle and San Francisco. Based on their resume, we can’t see moving them down during a bye week.

6. San Francisco (6-2); beat Jacksonville 42-10, retains same ranking – It may be the middle of the regular seasoncolin-kaepernick, but this game had the feel of a preseason blowout. Most of the starters were resting in the fourth quarter, and Colin Kaepernick and Frank Gore both split four touchdown runs.

7. Green Bay Packers (5-2); beat Minnesota 44-31, retains same ranking – The Packers ran a rare run-heavy attack against the Vikings and it worked to perfection. Eddie Lacy saw the bulk of these carries after rushing for 94 yards and a TD on 29 attempts. One interesting side note here is that Vikings rookie Cordarrelle Patterson tied an NFL record with a 109-yard kickoff return.

8. Cincinnati Bengals (6-2); beat New York Jets 49-9, moves up one spot – Cincinnati’s defensive line harassed rookie QB Geno Smith all day, before he was finally benched in the fourth quarter with the game out of hand. Marvin Jones turned in his second stellar performance in a row after catching eight passes for 122 yards and four touchdowns. Thanks to Jones, Andy Dalton threw for a career-high five TD passes.

9. New England Patriots (6-2); beat Miami 27-17, drops one spot – The Patriots had an anemic first half that saw them down 17-3 to the Dolphins at home. However, they got the running game working in the second half and halted Miami from doing anything else on offense. The only reason they move down is because Cincinnati blew out the team that the Patriots lost to last week.

10. Detroit Lions (5-3); beat Dallas 31-30, moves up two spots – Maybe it’s just euphoria following that incredible comeback, but it feels like the Lions should move up a couple of spots. With weapons like Reggie Bush and Johnson, they have the ability to score on any possession.

11. San Diego Chargers (4-3); bye week, retains same ranking – Few people expected San Diego to have a winning record after last season’s disaster. Now they travel to Washington in what’s a very important game for their Wild Card playoff hopes.

12. Dallas Cowboys (4-4); lost to Detroit 31-30, drops two spots – It’s amazing how dez-bryantclose the Cowboys were to being 5-3 and holding a commanding two-game lead over the NFC East. They’re still in control of the East, but it can’t feel good after how they lost. Plus Dez Bryant’s sideline outbursts aren’t helping matters either.

13. Chicago Bears (4-3); bye week, retains same ranking – Chicago comes out of the bye week and into a tough matchup with Green Bay. And next week, they face off against Detroit in another critical division game. Things don’t look good with Jay Cutler out for a while!

14. Arizona Cardinals (4-4); beat Atlanta 27-13, moves up three spots – Teams definitely have to take the Cardinals seriously – especially the defense. They shut down a Falcons team that figured to get a huge boost with Steven Jackson back in the lineup, and intercepted Matt Ryan four times.

15. Baltimore Ravens (3-4); bye week, moves up one spot – Will the defending champs fight back or are they down for the count? These next two weeks will tell a lot as Baltimore travels to Cleveland, then plays Cincy at home.

16. Carolina Panthers (4-4); beat Tampa Bay 31-13, moves up three spots – Carolina took care of business during a three-game stretch that included Minnesota, Saint Louis and Tampa Bay. They might be able to notch yet a fourth win in a row if they can beat Atlanta at home this week.

17. Miami Dolphins (3-4); lost to New England 27-17, drops three spots – It’s sad to see such a promising start go down the drain. The Dolphins just couldn’t put together two good halves and pull off the upset. Miami has now lost four straight games, and the bleeding might not stop since they face a super-tough matchup in Cincinnati this week.

18. New York Jets (4-4); lost to Cincinnati 49-9, drops three spots – New York follows geno-smith-jetsup a big overtime win over New England with a demoralizing loss to the Bengals. Geno Smith has truly been Jekyll and Hyde from one game to the next. He’ll try to be the former as New York hosts an even tougher New Orleans team this week.

19. Tennessee Titans (3-4); bye week, moves up one spot – The Titans have three things working in their favor coming out of the bye week. They’ve got a healthy Jake Locker (1), and both the Saint Louis Rams (2) and Jacksonville Jaguars (3) are coming up on their schedule.

20. Oakland Raiders (3-4); beat Pittsburgh 21-18, moves up six spots – Oakland dominated the ground and jumped out to a 21-3 halftime lead, with some help from a record-setting run by Terrelle Pryor. He bolted 93 yards for a touchdown, which set a record as the longest quarterback TD run in NFL history.

21. Atlanta Falcons (2-5); lost to Arizona 27-13, drops three spots – Just when the Falcons seemed like they were turning the corner and moving forward, they hit a big stumbling block at Arizona. Andre Ellington lit them up for 154 yards on 15 carries while Matt Ryan threw four picks.

22. Cleveland Browns (3-5); lost to Kansas City 23-17, drops one spot – Cleveland actually isn’t a bad team when they don’t have Brandon Weeden under center. They gave a valiant effort on the road against the league’s only unbeaten team.

23. New York Giants (2-6); beat Philadelphia 15-7, moves up five spots – This game was a bore to watch, and New York kept faltering in the red zone. However, they did enough to pick up their second win in a row.

24. Washington Redskins (2-5); lost to Denver 45-21, drops one spot – Anybody who was watching this one saw a pretty competitive contest that only got away from the Redskins in the last 10 minutes or so. The defense turned in a solid effort by intercepting Peyton Manning three times.

25. Houston Texans (2-5); bye week, retains same ranking – If the Texans are hoping to stop their three-game losing streak, it’ll definitely be a tall order. They face Indianapolis at home this week and Arizona on the road in Week 10.

26. Buffalo Bills (3-5); lost to New Orleans 35-17, drops one spot – Buffalo’s season is turning sour due to some key injuries. They certainly aren’t the same team without a healthy EJ Manuel and CJ Spiller.

27. Philadelphia Eagles (3-5); lost to New York Giants 15-7, drops five spots – Michael Vick could only go four series before having to sit down and rest his ailing hamstring. Neither Matt Barkley nor Nick Foles look capable of running Chip Kelly’s read option.

28. Pittsburgh Steelers (2-5); lost to Oakland 21-18, drops one spot – The Steelers actually had a chance to put themselves in the AFC North race. However, this loss to Oakland may have put the nail in he coffin on their hopes of a division title or playoff bid.

29. Saint Louis Rams (3-5); lost to Seattle 14-9, retains same ranking – If not for Kellen Clemens’ two first-half interceptions, the Rams might have pulled out a huge win. Even with Clemens’ INT’s, St. Louis was just a yard away from a season-defining victory. Zac Stacy (134 YDS last game) actually gives this team something to look forward to.

30. Minnesota Vikings; lost to Green Bay 44-31, retains same ranking – Christian Ponder didn’t do much to dissuade the Vikings from starting Josh Freeman when he comes back from a concussion.

31. Tampa Bay Buccaneers; lost to Carolina 31-13, retains same ranking – It seems like Tampa Bay could win a game at some point this season. But when?

32. Jacksonville Jaguars; lost to San Francisco 42-10, retains same ranking – Maybe playing the Broncos tough a few weeks ago was just a fluke.

NFL Power Rankings for September 17th, 2013 (Week 3)

russell-wilsonIt’s always hard gauging how good certain teams are following the first week of the NFL regular season. And while two games aren’t a perfect barometer either, this at least provides a little more information on who some potential playoff teams are. This being said, you can expect to see two woeful teams from last year, in the Miami Dolphins and Kansas City Chiefs, make big jumps in our Week 3 NFL power rankings.

1. Denver Broncos (2-0); beat New York Giants 41-23, retains same ranking – It’s much harder picking a number one this week than last, due to Seattle’s stellar play. But for our money, Denver is still top dog after another dominating victory. And what’s amazing is that this defense doesn’t even have Champ Bailey or Von Miller yet.

2. Seattle Seahawks (2-0); beat San Francisco 29-3, moves up 2 spots – After a narrow win over Carolina, Seattle came out and destroyed their NFC rivals. Marshawn Lynch powered the offense with 98 rushing yards, 37 receiving yards and three total touchdowns. And the defense stifled Colin Kaepernick despite not having CB Brandon Browner, DE Bruce Irvin or SS Chris Clemons.

3. New Orleans Saints (2-0); beat Tampa Bay 16-14, retains same ranking – It took a late Garrett Hartley field goal, but the Saints were able to pull off this tough road win. Jimmy Graham continues to impress after piling up 179 yards on 10 catches. The defense is also playing well after allowing just 31 points in the first two weeks.

4. Houston Texans (2-0); beat Tennessee 30-24 (OT), moves up 3 spots – Houston finally seems to have found a solid receiver to play deandre-hopkins-texansopposite Andre Johnson. DeAndre Hopkins grabbed eight balls for 117 yards and a touchdown in just his second career game. As usual, the run game was strong with Ben Tate and Arian Foster combining for 182 yards on just 28 carries.

5. San Francisco 49ers (1-1); lost to Seattle 29-3, drops 3 spots – You could make a case for San Francisco falling even further. However, Seattle is a tough place to play, and the Niners did just beat Green Bay last week. You can bet that this early season blowout loss will fire them up over the next few games.

6. New England Patriots (2-0); beat New York Jets 13-10, drops 1 spot – It’s hard to move this team down because A) they’re the Patriots, and B) they’re undefeated. However, the offense is going through some obvious growing pains with a completely new lineup of receivers.

7. Green Bay Packers (1-1); beat Washington 38-20, retains same ranking – This was even more of a blowout than it looked on paper thanks to Aaron Rodgers’ 480 passing yards and 4 TD tosses. But the pass protection wasn’t ideal as Rodgers was sacked four times. We’re still waiting to see what Eddie Lacy can do too since he had a subpar first game and was knocked out on his first carry against the Skins.

8. Atlanta Falcons (1-1); beat St. Louis 31-24, retains same ranking – Atlanta got pretty banged up in this one after seeing several players, including Stephen Jackson, head for the locker room early. But Matt Ryan (374YDS, 2TD) and Julio Jones (182RYDS, 1TD) were able to do enough to hold off a scrappy Rams team.

9. Cincinnati Bengals (1-1); beat Pittsburgh 20-10, retains same ranking – The Cincinnati defense is as good as it was advertised this past aj-green-footballoffseason. And the Bengals offense is filled with weapons, including AJ Green, Tyler Eifert and Giovanni Bernard.

10. Chicago Bears (2-0); beat Minnesota 31-30, retains same ranking – The Vikings kept it close with a kickoff return score and a returned-fumble TD. But once again, Chicago got some late-game heroics from Jay Cutler after he found Martellus Bennett for a TD with 10 seconds left. We still need a few weeks though to see if the Bears pass protection keeps holding up like this (just 1 sack allowed).

11. Miami Dolphins (2-0); beat Indianapolis 24-20, moves up 5 spots – The Dolphins leap up our rankings thanks to a win over a playoff team. Ryan Tannehill is definitely showing why the Dolphins drafted him in the first round of the 2011 NFL Draft while WR Mike Wallace and TE Charles Clay look like potent receiving threats.

12. Kansas City Chiefs (2-0); beat Dallas 17-16, moves up 7 spots – It’s still early to tell, but Kansas City looks like a team capable of grabbing a Wild Card spot in the AFC. Alex Smith has provided steady quarterback play while Jamal Charles and Dwayne Bowe are explosive weapons who could turn any play into a touchdown.

13. Baltimore Ravens (1-1); beat Cleveland 14-6, moves up 2 spots – In a week where a lot of mid-range teams lost, Baltimore won and moves up…simple as that. The offense wasn’t anything to brag about, but the defense did sack Brandon Weeden five times, eventually sending him to the locker room in the fourth quarter.

14. Philadelphia Eagles (1-1); lost to San Diego 33-30, drops 3 spotsmichael-vick-1There’s no denying that Chip Kelly’s fast-paced offense is putting points on the board. And it seems to have rejuvenated the careers of Michael Vick and DeSean Jackson. Vick threw for a career-high 428 yards, while Jackson hauled in 10 catches for 193 yards last game. But the question is, what’s this fast-paced offense doing to the defense?

15. Detroit Lions (1-1); lost to Arizona 25-21, drops 4 spots – After a ton of hype surrounding Reggie Bush and the Lions, the buzz was deflated as they lost to Arizona. When Bush went down with a left knee injury, this turned into the same Detroit team from last year. The Lions’ fortunes may totally hinge on how healthy their star running back can stay.

16. Dallas Cowboys (1-1); lost to Kansas City 17-16, drops 3 spots – Dallas really failed to take control of the NFC East after losing this close one. When looking at the passing stats, it’s almost hard to figure out how the Cowboys scored just 16 points. Tony Romo threw for 298 yards, 1 TD and no interceptions while Dez Bryant burned KC for 141 receiving yards and a TD.

17. Indianapolis Colts (1-1); lost to Miami 24-20, drops 3 spots – With everybody losing around them, Indianapolis avoids a freefall. The Colts did sack Tannehill five times, which is a definite positive. Also, Andrew Luck piled up 321 yards and a TD through the air. But it’s tough to see this team making the playoffs again with the improvements made by Wild Card candidates like Miami and Kansas City.

18. St. Louis (1-1); lost to Atlanta 31-24, retains same ranking – Last week’s game looked like it was going to get out of hand when Atlanta went up 24-3 early. But St. Louis stormed back thanks to Sam Bradford finding some of his young receivers for scores. Tavon Austin, Chris Givens and Austin Pettis are going to be one formidable receiving trio to deal with.

19. Arizona Cardinals (1-1); beat Detroit 25-21, moves up 6 spotscarson-palmer-arizonaCarson Palmer is the QB solution that Arizona was searching for all of last season, while Rashard Mendenhall is providing something of a running game. If this team stays healthy, it could finish over .500 for the first time in years.

20. San Diego Chargers (1-1); beat Philadelphia 33-30, moves up 8 spots – Did Phillip Rivers just decide to take a couple years off, then come back strong in ’13? He’s thrown for 714 yards, 7 TD’s and just 1 INT through two games. The latter stat is a huge turnaround from last year.

21. Tennessee Titans (1-1); lost to Houston 30-24 (OT), drops 3 spots – There’s no shame in losing to the Texans in overtime. But it’s still a loss nonetheless and so the Titans drop in our rankings. There’s reason for optimism since Jake Locker showed some surprisingly good accuracy late in the game as he threw for a pair of touchdowns.

22. New York Giants (0-2); lost to Denver 41-23, drops 5 spots – As a team that usually comes in with Super Bowl aspirations, this is a tough position to be in. Eli Manning has thrown an alarming seven interceptions already. David Wilson has failed to solve the running game, while veteran Brandon Jacobs doesn’t appear to be anything more than TD vulture.

23. Buffalo Bills (1-1); beat Carolina 24-23, moves up 2 spots – Rookie ej-manuelQB EJ Manuel played like a 10-year veteran as he engineered a game-winning drive – capped off by a 2-yard TD throw to Stevie Johnson. If he keeps playing like this, Buffalo will have a complete offense.

24. Washington Redskins (0-2); lost to Green Bay 38-20, drop 2 spots – The Skins have been largely non-competitive in their first two games. Robert Griffin III has only managed to play well when the dogs have already been called off.

25. Minnesota Vikings (0-2); lost to Chicago 31-30, drops 2 spots – Had the defense held Chicago on the game-winning drive, we might be talking about Minnesota being a team in the 14-18 range. But as it is, they’re 0-2 with a below-average quarterback.

26. Pittsburgh Steelers (0-2); lost to Cincinnati 20-10, drops 2 spots – This is a shame since the defense is so good. Pittsburgh might want to abandon the running game altogether.

27. New York Jets (1-1); lost to New England 13-10, moves up 2 spots – The Jets have been very competitive on the road, with both games being decided by a combined 4 points. When New York returns home, they could be somewhat surprising.

28. Oakland Raiders (1-1); beat Jacksonville 19-9, moves up 3 spots – Oakland’s 6-point loss on the road to Indy last week says more than their win over the Jaguars. Still, head coach Dennis Allen has brought some respect to this organization.

29. Carolina Panthers (0-2); lost to Buffalo 24-23, drops 8 spots – The pass protection has looked pretty bad for Cam, and he’s been sacked seven times already. If it wasn’t for his elusiveness, this figure would be in the double digits.

30. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (0-2); lost to New Orleans 16-14, drop 3 spots – The Bucs have their running back of the future in Doug Martin. If things keep up like this, they could turn to their quarterback of the future, Mike Glennon, earlier than expected.

31. Cleveland Browns (0-2); lost to Baltimore 14-6, drops 1 spot – Time to start worrying about Brandon Weeden at quarterback? Trent Richardson has really been bottled up (31CAR, 105YDS) due to a serious threat from the passing ame.

32. Jacksonville Jaguars (0-2); lost to Oakland 19-9, retains same ranking – This is shaping up to be one of the worst offensive teams in NFL history. At least backup QB Chad Henne can advance the ball past the 50-yard line though.