Week 7 was the rarest of all NFL weeks. It was a week with arguably no upsets. When the teams that are favored to win mostly win, power rankings are bound to stay largely the same.
Another factor shaking up the rankings this week is the streaks and directions of different teams. The Bengals and the Cardinals, for example, are both in the midst of three-game losing streaks. Although the Chiefs, Jaguars and Panthers all have just as long or longer losing streaks, they were never high in the rankings to begin with.
On the flip side of the coin, the two teams that really appear to be getting hot right now are the Giants and Bears. Both teams could potentially challenge the Falcons for dominance in the NFC.
Want to hear a funny joke? Imagine the Jaguars offense without Maurice Jones-Drew for an extended period of time. Sounds like the most pathetic offense in the
history of football.
The way Matt Cassel has been playing this season, I can’t really blame the Chiefs for naming Brady Quinn their starter going forward. I also can’t help but look at this symbolically as the end of the Chiefs' 2012 season.
Quinn’s quarterback rating in his first start of the year against the Bucs, who are the 31st-ranked pass defense in the NFL, was an abysmal 48.1.
The decision by Pat Shurmur to bench Trent Richardson eight carries into the game
Sunday was absolutely inexcusable. Without Richardson, the Browns only managed
to rush for 52 yards against a weak Colts run defense.
Richardson was cleared by doctors and clearly wanted to play, but I guess his own coach doesn’t have a whole lot of faith in what many Browns fans view as the future of their
What’s most concerning about Cam Newton’s explosive post-game press conference is that he didn’t seem to know how he can personally improve. When things are going poorly, the best thing that each individual player on a team can do is look at themselves in the mirror and ask, “how can I get better?” It doesn’t send a good message when the Panthers' leader is not even publicly willing to do that.
With former general manager Marty Hurley fired yesterday, Ron Rivera must be starting to feel pretty insecure about his own job.
A lot of people (including myself sometimes) like to say “a win is a win,” but in
this case I feel the need to take a stand against that overused cliché. When it takes the Raiders overtime to beat the Jaguars despite both Blaine Gabbert and Maurice Jones-Drew leaving the game early with injuries, their win is officially overshadowed by how poorly they played.
The Bucs fought hard against the Saints, but the matchup, considering how inept the Bucs' pass defense is, just proved too lopsided for them to overcome. Something tells me the Bucs were hoping that the pass defense might have improved more this season after drafting Mark Barron with the seventh overall pick in the draft.
It will be interesting to see if the Rams, whose offense tends to be pretty
conservative, give Sam Bradford the opportunity to air it out against the
Patriots' challenged secondary.
In order to have any chance of keeping up with the Pats' high-powered offense, they’ll need to hand over the offense to their young quarterback.
The Colts took care of business against the Browns to move their record to 3-3.
At this point in Peyton Manning’s rookie year, the Colts were 1-5 and Manning had
thrown just six touchdowns and 14 interceptions. Thus far, Andrew Luck has thrown seven touchdowns and seven picks.
By no means is that great, but the fact that Luck has only thrown half as many picks as Manning had by this time in his career should be pretty encouraging to Colts fans.
As atrocious as the Bills are defensively (31st in point allowed and
yards allowed per game), they’re going to have an awfully difficult time
putting up enough points on the board to win games as long as their passing
offense continues to be ranked near the bottom of the league (30th).
To be sure, they have a very good running game, but that doesn’t always translate
In the last four games, Chris Johnson has had 78 carries for 451 yards, which
averages out to 5.8 yards per carry. Obviously that’s a small sample size, but
it’s higher than the 5.6 yards per carry he averaged in 2009, the season that made him a star.
I still don’t expect the Titans to challenge for a wild-card spot this season, but as long as Johnson continues to produce the way he has, they will at least be able to beat some teams moving forward.
Mark Sanchez had his best game of the season since Week 1 against Buffalo. It just
wasn’t enough, of course, because the Patriots offense at its worst is still
infinitely better than the Jets offense at its best.
Some would say that the result of the Jets vs. Dolphins matchup next weekend will
determine which team has a better shot at challenging the Patriots in the
division. I wouldn’t go that far, as I still think the Patriots are far and away the best team in the AFC East regardless of record.
With upcoming games against the Jets, Colts, Titans and Bills (all teams placed lower in these rankings), the Dolphins could conceivably move their record to 6-4 or 7-3, putting them in position to potentially challenge for an AFC wild card.
Four turnovers later, and the Lions have lost yet another game in which they
out-gained their opponent in yardage. Out of the Lions four losses this season, they’ve
out-gained their opponents in three of them.
That’s an extremely tough loss to swallow for the Redskins, but the fact that Eli
Manning was able to compose a game-winning drive on their pathetic secondary can’t
really be described as surprising.
Andy Dalton is now tied for the league lead in interceptions (10) with Brandon Weeden. What’s even more concerning is that six of those picks have come in the Bengals' last three games.
With upcoming matchups against the Broncos and Giants following a Week 8 bye, the Bengals had better hope that Dalton can correct these issues sooner rather than later. They stand no chance of making the playoffs if their record falls to 3-6.
The Saints have another must- coming up next weekend when they visit Denver
Sunday night, and frankly, I don’t see it happening. Maybe interim head coach Joe
Vitt can get their defense to play better in his first game back from
The problem with the Cardinals is that they have the second worst offense in terms
of total yards per game in the league, only behind the Jaguars (if you even
count them as a team).
Larod Stephens-Howling did have an encouraging game with 104 yards
and a touchdown on 20 carries, but when you hold a quarterback to as bad a game
as they held Christian Ponder to, you’ve got to find a way to win.
The Stick’em scandal has me wondering whether other teams may be using similar
substances. Maybe it’s no coincidence that the Chargers currently have the
fewest drops in the NFL this season with three.
For the fourth time in five games, the Cowboys offense failed to score 20 points. They will almost certainly need to score more than that to beat the Giants next week, and although the Cowboys already beat the Giants this season, they just don’t look like a team that can actually compete for the division right now.
If a team ever could use a big statement win, it’s the Eagles. They'll get their chance next week against the Falcons.
If Michael Vick can just limit his turnovers, there’s no question the Eagles can pull out the home victory. Considering the fact that the Falcons are second in the NFL in takeaways, however, it’s very hard to pick the Eagles to win this game.
The Steelers' offense had by far its best game on the ground thus far this season,
rushing for 167 yards on 29 carries Sunday night.
The most disappointing part about the Steelers' victory is that they failed to sack Andy Dalton once. Typically, when James Harrison and LaMarr Woodley are both on the field together, the Steelers pass rush is lethal. With Harrison playing at a level far less than 100 percent, however, Woodley is going to have to pick up the slack in the coming weeks.
The reason I like the Broncos over the Saints in next Sunday night's matchup is
pretty simple. Whereas the Broncos have a reasonable shot of at least slowing
down Drew Brees, the Saints have next to no shot of slowing down the Broncos
offense whether they find their success through the air or on the ground.
In by far his worst game of the season, Christian Ponder threw for an abysmal 58
yards on 17 attempts, was intercepted twice and sacked three times. Talk about
Russell Wilson against the 49ers defense just isn’t fair. It’s too bad, because
otherwise the NFC West race could be pretty tight this season.
With the way their secondary is playing, the Pats are going to have to outscore
everyone to win this season. Obviously this is nothing new for New England, but when
it gets to the point where you’re allowing 328 yards through the air to Mark
Sanchez, you’ve got some serious concerns.
Forget about the triumphant return of Terrell Suggs, the Ravens are never going to win when
Ray Rice only gets nine carries.
If the loss to the Texans is any indication, the losses of Ray Lewis and Lardarius Webb for the year are going to have a serious effect on the Ravens' defense.
For the second game in a row, Aaron Rodgers looked absolutely unbeatable. Their
lack of a running game (70 yards on 26 carries Sunday) is still concerning, but
as long as Rodgers can keep playing at such a high level, the Packers are going
to be awfully tough to beat.
The 49ers passing game hasn’t become what I expected it to become this season. Alex Smith looked shaky once again against the Seahawks and threw one particularly bad interception.
The Bears have yet to beat a team with a winning record, and Jay Cutler is on
pace to have the second lowest quarterback rating of his career.
As long as the Bears' defense continues to lead the league in points allowed per game, however, Cutler isn’t going to need to put up huge numbers in order for his team to
keep winning games.
Monday night’s win over the Lions was a perfect example. Cutler was sacked five times and only threw for 150 yards on 31 attempts, but Matthew Stafford was equally ineffective and the Bears defense forced four turnovers.
The NFC had better watch out, because the Giants have officially hit their stride. Despite throwing two bad ugly second-half interceptions, Eli Manning did what he always does. He made yet another game-winning drive look easy.
The Texans showed the Ravens what good defense actually looks like on Sunday.
Texas currently ranks third in yards allowed per game, whereas the Ravens are
currently sitting at a surprisingly low 28th.
The combined record of the Falcons' opponents is 12-22. Regardless, nothing really
matters in the NFL besides winning and losing, and thus far, no team has been
more successful in that department than the Falcons.