NFL Power Rankings: How Week 7 Will Impact Every Team

Richard Langford@@noontide34Correspondent IOctober 17, 2012

ATLANTA, GA - OCTOBER 14: Matt Ryan #2 of the Atlanta Falcons is introduced before the game against the Oakland Raiders at the Georgia Dome on October 14, 2012 in Atlanta, Georgia  (Photo by Scott Cunningham/Getty Images)
Scott Cunningham/Getty Images

Two Week 7 matchups feature intradivisional teams tied for first, and those games will go a long way towards sorting where the real power in the NFL resides. 

It is not just about those two matchups in Week 7, either. There are a host of revealing games on tap. 

So, as we approach this week, here are my current power rankings with a little blurb on how this week has the potential to alter how we view them. 


Langford's Week 7 NFL Power Rankings

1. Atlanta Falcons

Week 7 Opponent: Bye

The Falcons will ride into the bye as the NFL's only undefeated team, but their close win at home over the one-win Raiders last week proved this team is far from flawless. 

Let's see if this group attacks its bye determined to improve or ready to rest on its undefeated start. 


2. Baltimore Ravens

Week 7 Opponent: at Houston

In one of the great games of this week, the Ravens will take on the Texans. This will be a big test for the Ravens' defense as it deal with absence of Ray Lewis and try to slow down the powerful and balanced attack of Houston. 

If the Ravens pull this one off on the road, there will be no question who the best team in the AFC is. 


3. Houston Texans

Week 7 Opponent: Ravens

Just like it is for Baltimore, this game is a huge test for the Texans' defense. That unit looked like a shell of itself as it was picked apart by Aaron Rodgers and the Packers last week as it dealt with the loss of Brian Cushing. 

Perception of the Texans being a Super Bowl contender will rapidly change if they shred this defense. 


4. New York Giants

Week 7 Opponent: Redskins

The Giants put the NFL on notice last week when they dismantled the 49ers. They showed the true promise of their offense in that game as the ground game looked dominant against a great run defense. 

This week will be a bigger test for their defense, which looked similarly excellent last week, but the 'Skins offense is rolling. 


5. San Francisco 49ers

Week 7 Opponent: Seahawks

After the 49ers' first loss of the season, they won their next two games by the combined score of 79-3. 

They will be doing just fine if they can rebound in a similar fashion from this loss as their next two opponents are the two teams they are tied with atop the NFC West: the Seahawks and Cardinals.


6. Green Bay Packers

Week 7 Opponent: at Rams

The Rams have a great pass-rushing defensive line, and that makes this matchup an important one. 

The Packers offensive front five have been inconsistent, and at times they've been overwhelmed by good defensive fronts. If they can keep the Rams' pass-rushers off Aaron Rodgers in this game, their season will be looking up. 


7. Minnesota Vikings

Week 7 Opponent: Cardinals

The Vikings will try to keep their early season momentum going as they rebound from their late loss against the 'Skins last week. 

This game will be a nice proving ground for the Vikings, and if their offense can hang at least 20 on the Cardinals, it bodes well for the rest of their season. 


8. Seattle Seahawks

Week 7 Opponent: at 49ers

The Seahawks are creeping their way in the national spotlight with hard-hitting defense and late-game triumphs. 

If they can go into San Francisco and pull out the victory, they will cement their status as one of the league's powers. 


9. Arizona Cardinals

Week 7 Opponent: Vikings

Injuries are beginning to take their toll on the Cardinals, and it is becoming difficult to see ways this offense will be able to put up points. 

A nice offensive showing against the strong defense of Minnesota will go a long way toward proving the Cardinals have staying power. 


10. Chicago Bears

Week 7 Opponent: Lions 

The Bears defense has been unreal as it is scoring enough to leave plenty of offenses jealous. 

While I expect that defense to remain strong, it is not going to continue to score at this rate, and the offense needs to show it can consistently score to ease the doubts of whether this team can keep rolling when that happens. 


11.  New England Patriots

Week 7 Opponent: Jets

At 3-3, the Patriots are stuck with a giant pack of AFC teams looking to assert themselves. This is a well-balanced team that is still suffering mental lapses from its young defense. 

If the Patriots truly are an elite team, they will make a big statement against the Jets to help ease the sting of last week's late defeat. 


12. Philadelphia Eagles

Week 7 Opponent: Bye

The bye week comes at a great time for the Eagles. This team has some serious soul searching to do. 

This is a team that needs to start playing more disciplined football in hurry and it has a quarterback who needs to learn how to hang onto the ball. If it can do that, this is a dangerous group.


13. Denver Broncos

Week 7 Opponent: Bye

The Broncos have become a team of two halves. For too many games, this team has spent the first looking terrible and the second looking elite. 

This group needs to spend its bye week working on its consistency and finding some way to establish a rhythm right off the bat. 


14. Pittsburgh Steelers

Week 7 Opponent: at Bengals

The Steelers have suffered through some uncharacteristic late-game collapses, like last week in their loss to the Titans. 

This leaves them in third place in their division, a half game behind the Bengals and 2.5 behind the Ravens. They need a big intradivision road win to prove they can still be a factor in this competitive division.


15. Washington Redskins

Week 7 Opponent: at Giants

This is a golden opportunity for the budding Redskins to prove they are a legitimate playoff threat. 

The 'Skins offense has proven it can hang with the big boys, but the defense is another matter entirely. If that defense does not improve, it will be doomed against the Giants. 


16. Cincinnati Bengals

Week 7 Opponent: Steelers

Cincinnati blew a golden opportunity to jump to 4-2 last week by handing the Cleveland Browns their first win of the season. That ugly loss cast the playoff merit of this team in serious jeopardy. 

They will go a long way toward erasing the sting of that setback with a win against the Steelers. 


17. Dallas Cowboys

Week 7 Opponent: at Panthers

It is beginning to feel like the Dallas Cowboys are destined to be a team that dooms itself with self-inflicted wounds. 

This team needs to start stringing together strong performances for 60 minutes, and that needs to start this week against the struggling Panthers. 


18. San Diego Chargers

Week 7 Opponent: Bye

The Chargers enter the bye following an historic late-game collapse. They are now at a crossroad.

San Diego can either go to work on figuring out how to eliminate its many gaffes, or it can resign themselves to another season sitting outside of the playoff picture. 


19. Detroit Lions

Week 7 Opponent: at Bears

The one-sided Lions' offense relies entirely too much on its passing game. It needs to find some balance in a hurry. 

If the Lions don't begin to find that against the Bears, they will be doomed against Chicago's elite pass defense. 


20. New York Jets

Week 7 Opponent: at Patriots

Given the turmoil in the Big Apple, it is hard to believe this group is 3-3. 

That .500 record seems like a mirage given the many struggles of this offense and a porous run defense. 

However, the mood surrounding the Jets will be entirely different if they can pull out this win. 


21. Indianapolis Colts

Week 7 Opponent: Browns

After their emotional and sensational win over the Packers two weeks ago, the Colts laid a giant egg last week against the Jets. 

They get a soft landing this week against the one-win Browns, and they must again prove that this is a young team on the rise. 


22. Tennessee Titans

Week 7 Opponent: at Bills

The Titans have struggled in nearly all phases of the game this year, but they are coming off a thrilling win over the Steelers. 

If Tennessee wants to make any noise this season, it must pull out a win against the vulnerable Bills. 


23. Miami Dolphins

Week 7 Opponent: Bye

Given how terrible this team looked on Hard Knocks and what a disaster it was in the preseason, the Dolphins have to consider entering their bye with a .500 record a rousing success. 

This team simply needs to continue to improve during the bye week and make sure Ryan Tannehill improves his efficiency in this offense. 


24. Carolina Panthers

Week 7 Opponent: Cowboys

The Panthers went into the bye week dealing with the sting of a loss to the Seahawks that was largely due to Cam Newton throwing a potential late-game, go-ahead TD halfway to its intended target. 

Cam has to start improving and this defense needs to show it can slow someone down against the Cowboys, or it will be time to start looking toward next year. 


25. Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Week 7 Opponent: Saints

Tampa Bay is still very much a work in progress, but as it showed in its blowout win over the Chiefs last week, the Buccaneers are not without promise. 

The Bucs must build on that while further burying their division rival. 


26. St. Louis Rams

Week 7 Opponent: Packers

At 3-3, the Rams have been far more competitive than many expected. However, this offense is still struggling. 

If the defense can keep the Packers in check and the offense does enough to pull out this win, they will make a huge jump in my power rankings. 


27. Buffalo Bills 

Week 7 Opponent: Titans

The Bills are .500, but I'm not buying it. This defense is terrible. While they held the Cardinals to 16 points last week, that is an Arizona team that is dealing with injuries and doesn't have the most potent offense to begin with. 

If the Bills are going to be anything but a disappointment this year, they must come out and win a game they are favored to do so. 


28.  New Orleans Saints

Week 7 Opponent: at Bucs

The Saints' passing offense is still clearly elite, yet here it is with just one win. 

If New Orleans is going to turn around this season, it has to build on the win it got last time out, while also proving it can win a road game. 


29. Oakland Raiders

Week 7 Opponent: Jaguars

The Raiders looked vastly improved in their narrow loss in Atlanta last week. Now they get a home game where they are favored to win. 

This is a golden opportunity for the Raiders to build on the strong play they displayed last week. 


30. Jacksonville Jaguars

Week 7 Opponent: at Raiders

The Jaguars' offense is awful. It has scored 10 or fewer points in three of five games. 

Everyone is Jacksonville will be desperately hoping for a breakout as it faces a fellow one-win team. 


31. Kansas City Chiefs

Week 7 Opponent: Bye

Matt Cassel or Brady Quinn—it doesn't matter. The Chiefs are going to have to try and win while receiving terrible quarterback play. 

This team enters the bye needing to figure out a way to do just that. 


32.  Cleveland Browns

Week 7 Opponent: at Colts

The Browns are not going to go win less! So they've got that going for them, and if they want to have anything more going for them, they must come out and beat a vulnerable Colts squad. 


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