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 Week 6 (Oct. 9th, 2013)

drew-breesThroughout most of this season, we’ve discussed the surprise Kansas City Chiefs and their emergence as a top-flight team. Well that’s not news anymore, but what is involves how badly the Houston Texans and Atlanta Falcons have played to open the year. Most experts tabbed these two teams to win their respective divisions; instead, they’re both plagued with problems and looking like good bets to miss the postseason. So what teams are looking like playoff locks? Take a look in our Week 6 power rankings…

1. Denver Broncos (5-0); beat Dallas 51-48, retains same ranking – For the first time all season, the Broncos were actually challenged. And their defense was battered, until the end, when they finally put pressure on Tony Romo and forced a late-game interception. Peyton Manning was once again flawless; however, the defense looks like the one chink in the armor.

2. New Orleans (5-0); beat Chicago 26-18, moves up one spot – From defense to offense, the Saints might be the NFL’s most complete team. After a down season for himself, Jimmy Graham is back to form and proving to be a superhuman tight end.

3. Seattle Seahawks (4-1); lost to Indianapolis 34-28, drops one spot – The Seahawks dropped a very tough game to a hot Colts team on the road. We certainly don’t think this is any sign of trouble ahead though, and they should still be playing the Saints in the NFC Championship later.

4. Kansas City Chiefs (5-0); beat Tennessee 26-17, moves up one spot – It’s hard to be convinced that Alex Smith is truly capable of taking this team to the Super Bowl – especially when he doesn’t throw downfield too well. But strong defense and Jamaal Charles has been the recipe for an undefeated team and remarkable turnaround so far.

5. San Francisco 49ers (3-2); beat Houston 34-3, moves up one spot

Was this blowout a sign of an improving Niners team or a reeling Texans club? We’re willing to bet it’s somewhere in between. The run game is definitely looking better for San Francisco though, and their defense is tough as usual.

6. New England Patriots (4-1); lost to Cincinnati 13-6, drops two spots – Okay, so that was pretty bad against the Bengals. But credit a Vince Wilfork-less defense for holding Cincinnati to just 13 points on their home field. Also consider that the Patriots have dealt with an insane amount of injuries on offense.

7. Indianapolis Colts (4-1); beat Seattle 34-28, moves up three spots – The Colts have trent-richardson-coltsnow beaten two of the NFC superpowers in the Niners and Seahawks. Andrew Luck put on an impressive display on the road against the league’s best defense. Now, if only Trent Richardson could do something…

8. Green Bay Packers (2-2); beat Detroit 22-9, moves up three spots – Green Bay did an excellent job of bottling up Reggie Bush and taking advantage of a surprise Calvin Johnson scratch. Based on their remaining schedule, get ready for another NFC North title run.

9. Chicago Bears (3-2); lost to New Orleans 26-18, moves down two spots – If there’s one team that can still stand in the way of Green Bay and the NFC North crown, it’s Chicago. They lost to a tough Saints team, but will remain competitive.

10. Cincinnati Bengals (3-2), beat New England 13-6, moves up one spot – Granted, their last victory was at home, against a banged-up team, and only a one-touchdown win at that. But it’s still a victory nonetheless and a very fine defensive performance for the Bengals.

11. Detroit Lions (3-2), lost to Green Bay 22-9, moves down three spots – It turns out that Detroit’s offense needs both Bush and Johnson to function as a solid unit. Green Bay was able to eat both Bush and Matthew Stafford alive without Johnson stretching the defense.

12. Baltimore Ravens (3-2), beat Miami 26-23, moves up one spot – Baltimore played an excellent second half to grab a tough win at Miami. The offense is still filled with question marks, but the defense provides a solid foundation.

13. Miami Dolphins (3-2), lost to Baltimore 26-23, drops four spots – After starting out the year great, Miami has now lost two straight. And one thing that’s really hampering them is how quickly they abandon the run game when yards don’t come easily.

14. Dallas Cowboys (2-3), lost to Denver 51-48, moves up four spots – Dallas and tony-romo-cowboysTony Romo showed more in this one loss than they did in both of their wins. It was a heartbreaker, but the Cowboys will move on and grab some easy wins over their NFC East opponents.

15. Houston Texans (2-3); lost to San Francisco 34-3, drops two spots – Normally the Texans would freefall further after such an ugly loss. But much of the back-half of the league also lost. They should get back to .500 with a below-average St. Louis team coming into town.

16. Cleveland Browns (3-2); beat Buffalo 37-24, moves up five spots – Brian Hoyer hysteria looks to be over as he tore his ACL. Now the keys revert back to Brandon Weeden, who will either drive Cleveland to the playoffs or crash their postseason dreams into a tree.

17. Arizona Cardinals (3-2); beat Carolina 22-6, moves up five spots – Why do teams keep throwing Patrick Peterson’s way? Well probably because he covers opposing number one wideouts; but at the rate he keeps picking off passes, QB’s will think twice and thrice about doing so.

18. Tennessee Titans (3-2); lost to Kansas City 26-17, drops one spot – What this game mainly told us is that Kansas City is a very good team – not that Tennessee is a bad one. Unfortunately, things don’t get any easier for the Titans with Seattle and San Francisco coming up.

19. New York Jets (3-2); beat Atlanta 30-28, moves up four spots – Most people predicted that this would be the game where Atlanta finally got going and started a playoff run. Instead, it was a showcase for rookie Geno Smith to throw three touchdowns and lead a game-winning drive.

20. Atlanta Falcons (1-4); lost to New York Jets 30-28, drops five spots – The Steven Jackson injury was devastating, but most people expected Atlanta to at least remain in the postseason hunt. Now their chances of a turnaround are even more unlikely since Julio Jones may be done for the year.

21. San Diego Chargers (2-3); lost to Oakland 27-17, drops five spots – San Diego gained a lot of hype with how they played earlier in the season. However, this hype has been deflated and they’re looking no better off than when they were under Norv Turner.

22. Philadelphia Eagles (2-3); beat New York Giants 36-21, moves up four spots – Hats off to the Eagles for grabbing a road win and staying in the NFC East race. Michael Vick is unlikely to play, so Nick Foles gets another audition for the starting QB role.

23. Washington Redskins (1-3), bye week, moves up one spot – The Redskins move up by default. Expect them to be moving back down again though after their secondary gets torched by Romo this week.

24. Minnesota Vikings (1-3), bye week, moves up one spot – Bringing Josh Freeman in josh-freeman-minnesota-vikings-1to compete for the quarterback job can only help. Christian Ponder has proven ineffective over and over, while Matt Cassel has failed to do much after being gifted a talented Patriots receiving corp years ago.

25. Carolina Panthers (1-3), lost to Arizona 22-6, drops six spots – Once upon a time, Carolina was coming out of the bye week with a favorable schedule ahead. Then they put just six points up against the Cardinals and looked like NFC South cellar-dwellers.

26. Oakland Raiders (2-3), beat San Diego 27-17, moves up two spots – The Matt Flynn debacle is finally over with following his release, and Terrelle Pryor is firmly entrenched as the QB of the future. He’s now 2-2 as a starter this year.

27. Buffalo Bills (2-3); lost to Cleveland 37-24, drops seven spots – Hats off to Buffalo management for not letting severely outmatched Jeff Tuel out on the field again. However, practice squad hero Thaddeus Lewis doesn’t figure to be much of an upgrade at QB. Don’t expect Buffalo to win too many more games with EJ Manuel out for 6-8 weeks.

28. St. Louis Rams (2-3); beat Jacksonville 34-20, drops one spot – A win over Jacksonville doesn’t get you anywhere these days. Now a win over the Texans this week…that would be showing a little something more.

29. Pittsburgh Steelers (0-4); bye week, move up one spot – There are holes on both sides of the ball and the Steelers are going into a rebuilding mode. That process starts with rookie running back Le’Veon Bell .

30. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (0-4); bye week, move up one spot – This team has actually been competitive in a couple of games this year. Don’t be surprised to see them rack up a few victories over the remainder of the season.

31. New York Giants (0-5); lost to Philadelphia 36-21, drops 3 spots – The Giants lost a very winnable game at home after being outclassed at nearly every position. Now starting running back David Wilson is out for next week’s game at Chicago. Win number one won’t be coming any time soon.

32. Jacksonville Jaguars (0-5); lost to St. Louis, retains same ranking – They actually had a lead for once this season and put some points on the board. Unfortunately, it didn’t take Jacksonville long to show their true colors after being blanked 17-0 in the second quarter.