NFL Power Rankings Week 8: Every Team's Biggest Weakness
The top of the NFL is displaying some serious talent this year, but no team is without at least one flaw. Even when you go back in history, it's still incredibly difficult to find a team that was perfect in every aspect of the game.
So, much like my girlfriend tends to do with me on a daily basis, let's take a look at what's wrong with each team in this week's power rankings.
1. Houston Texans (6-1)
As scary as it may sound, the running game might just be Houston's biggest weakness. The Texans tend to give it to Arian Foster about 72 times per game, which has them sixth in the NFL in rushing yards per game.
But opening consistent holes for the talented running back hasn't happened this year, and Houston is 17th in the NFL in yards per carry (4.0) as a result.
2. Atlanta Falcons (6-0)
Without a doubt, the run game.
The effect of Michael Turner's inability to get to the second level has been negated by Matt Ryan and the passing offense's stellar play, but the Falcons have also been cut up by the run, giving up 5.2 yards per carry, which is second worst in the NFL.
3. Chicago Bears (5-1)
If the offensive line doesn't start protecting quarterback Jay Cutler better, it's going to soon be Jason Campbell time in Chicago.
That's not a good time.
4. Green Bay Packers (4-3)
Many people might say the running game or pass defense. But when Aaron Rodgers is in cheat mode, the lack of running game doesn't matter. As for the pass defense, it currently sits at No. 13 in yards per pass allowed thanks to a dominant pass rush.
Where the Packers hurt the most, and where Charles Woodson's six-week absence will also hurt the most, is in the run game. They are 20th in the league against the run, and that could haunt them if they find themselves in a non-shootout.
Will the Giants return to the Super Bowl?
5. New York Giants (5-2)
Defense. The Giants have some talented pass-rushers, but they are still giving up 6.4 yards per play, which is second-worst in the NFL.
They can't stop the run (ranked 23rd), they can't stop the pass (21st) and they probably couldn't stop the punter if they wanted to.
Nonetheless, it's pretty clear just how far an elite quarterback and balanced offensive attack will take you. The G-Men are proving that this year.
6. San Francisco 49ers (4-2)
The Niners were so successful last season because Alex Smith played the "game manager" role to a tee.
This season, however, while he's increased his accuracy and yards per attempt, Smith already has almost as many turnovers as last.
That sound you hear is Colin Kaepernick's bandwagon leaving the tracks, or whatever wagons are parked on.
7. Minnesota Vikings (5-2)
This offense has a lot of weapons, but what it doesn't have is a home-run threat in the passing game. As a result, the Vikes are 26th in the NFL in yards per pass and sometimes get stagnant.
8. Seattle Seahawks (4-3)
The Seahawks have the pieces in place to win the 1944 Super Bowl: A talented, hard-nosed defense and a running back who takes about 14 hits before he goes down on each play.
Unfortunately, this is 2012 and the pass offense needs work. The blame will go to Russell Wilson, and people will probably say something about his height that doesn't make sense, but in reality, his receivers have been the biggest problem.
9. New England Patriots (4-3)
If the Pats could defend the pass, they would never lose. They throw the ball well (obviously) and are solid on both sides of the run.
Unfortunately, that's a massive, Vince Wilfork-sized "if." New England ranks 28th in yards per pass allowed and 29th in passing yards per game allowed.
10. Baltimore Ravens (5-2)
Yes, I'll take things I haven't said in the past decade for 200, Alex: The Baltimore Ravens' biggest weakness is its defense.
It feels weird, but the Ravens are just getting overpowered in the trenches, and the injury to Ray Lewis only makes things worse for the 27th-ranked run defense.
Throw in the injury to Lardarius Webb, which puts the nail in the coffin for a very mediocre secondary, and the pressure on Joe Flacco and Ray Rice could be insurmountable
11. Denver Broncos (3-3)
They can't get off the field. Peyton Manning is on an MVP pace and the defense has plenty of playmakers, especially on the front seven, but Denver is 29th in the NFL defensive third-down conversion percentage.
12. Philadelphia Eagles (3-3)
The pieces are there for this team. Solid defense, which is quietly 11th in the NFL in yards allowed per play, endless weapons at the skill positions and good special teams.
But Michael Vick's hatred of holding on to the football has the Eagles 31st in the NFL in giveaways per game. That doesn't really make winning all that easy.
13. Washington Redskins (3-4)
The lack of a stable cloning device. More Robert Griffin III's would be better for everyone involved. Trust me.
But seriously, this pass defense, which ranks 27th in the NFL in yards per pass allowed, probably couldn't even stop JaMarcus Russell.
14. Miami Dolphins (3-3)
Ryan Tannehill is steadily improving and Reggie Bush is a dynamic running back, but this offense is still lacking that certain pizzazz. It is ranked 26th in yards per play, 22nd in points per game and 23rd in giveaways per contest.
15. San Diego Chargers (3-3)
See Vick, Michael.
Who has been worse this season?
It's weird that Philip Rivers' allergy to pigskin didn't come up during his physical. He's thrown a healthy nine interceptions and lost three fumbles, and as a result, the Chargers are 29th in the NFL in turnovers.
16. Dallas Cowboys (3-3)
Stupid mistakes. In terms of yards per play, the 'Boys are ninth in offense and 13th in defense, but Tony Romo has been getting his Vick and Rivers on to the tune of nine interceptions and two fumbles lost through six games.
Toss in constant drops and the most offensive penalties in the NFL, and it's no wonder Dallas can't take advantage of its immense talent.
17. St. Louis Rams (3-4)
With Danny Amendola out of the lineup, Sam Bradford needs a consistent wide receiver to throw to. Even with Amendola, this passing game could probably use another weapon or three.
18. Pittsburgh Steelers (3-3)
I'm inclined to put the running game, which ranks dead last in yards per rush, but it showed signs of life last week.
Instead, the Steelers' bigger weakness has to be its aging secondary. The overall numbers aren't bad, but Pittsburgh's inability to contain guys like Carson Palmer and Matt Hasselbeck has to be a little concerning.
19. New York Jets (3-4)
The offense, and passing game in particular, is downright dreadful.
The Jets, without Darrelle Revis, have surprising held up on the defensive side of the ball, but unsurprisingly, Mark Sanchez has been about as accurate as most horoscopes.
20. Detroit Lions (2-4)
Simply put, the Lions can't put the ball in the freaking end zone.
They are fourth in the NFL in yards per game, but poor third-down conversion percentage, red-zone scoring percentage, lots of giveaways and offensive penalties have them at just 23rd in touchdowns per game.
21. Cincinnati Bengals (3-4)
With the exception of the receiving corps thanks to A.J. Green, the Bengals are pretty average in every aspect of the game.
What really hurts them, however, is the turnover margin. Cincy is averaging 2.1 giveaways and just 1.3 takeaways per game, which ranks them 27th in the NFL.
22. New Orleans Saints (2-4)
The pass defense just barely edges out the run defense here. The Saints are dead last in yards per pass allowed and have let Matt Cassell and Josh Freeman throw for a combined 668 yards against them.
23. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (2-4)
Speaking of horrendous pass defense.
With Aqib Talib doing Aqib Talib things off the field and Ronde Barber nearing senior citizen status, the Bucs' secondary is in bad shape. They are trailing just the Saints for worst in terms of yards per pass.
24. Indianapolis Colts (3-3)
If we haven't already, we're getting to the point where teams have multiple weaknesses.
The Colts have struggled on the defensive side of the ball, but the lack of running game is forcing Andrew Luck to work against loaded secondaries. Of course, he's good enough to do that, but if this offense had some more balance, it would be incredibly hard to stop with Luck at the helm.
25. Arizona Cardinals (4-3)
The quarterback play will be a popular choice here, but Bruce Wayne would struggle under center playing behind this offensive line.
Arizona's big boys have let their QB get sacked on 11.68 percent of passing plays, which is by far worst in the NFL.
26. Tennessee Titans (3-4)
Without a doubt, the defense needs to improve. The Titans are last in the NFL in points allowed per game, 26th in yards allowed per play and are 28th with just one takeaway per game.
27. Buffalo Bills (3-4)
The Bills are going to challenge teams for worst overall defense in the league.
They rank 31st in points allowed per game, 31st in yards allowed per game, 30th in yards allowed per play, 32nd in yards allowed per rush and 23rd in yards allowed per pass. Eesh.
28. Oakland Raiders (2-4)
You know it's bad when you have one of the most dangerous running backs in the league and your biggest weakness is the lack of a run game.
But the Raiders rank 31st in yards per rush attempt and have failed to open up consistent holes for Darren McFadden to do his thing.
29. Carolina Panthers (1-5)
The Panthers have been mediocre in pretty much every part of the game, but there's no doubting the talent they have on the offensive end.
On defense, where they are letting opposing quarterbacks complete a ridiculous 68.42 percent of their passes, however, is where they will truly continue to get burned.
30. Cleveland Browns (1-6)
For now, it will probably be the running game while Trent Richardson is sidelined.
But when Richardson comes back, and if Brandon Weeden continues his improvement, the biggest weakness on this team would have to be its rush defense. The Browns are allowing teams to rattle off 4.5 yards per carry.
31. Kansas City Chiefs (1-5)
Matt Cassell, Brady Quinn, Ricky Stanzi, Ricky Bobby. Whoever it is, the Chiefs need to replace their quarterback.
32. Jacksonville Jaguars (1-5)
Pick a weakness, any weakness. The Jags rank near the bottom of the league in most categories, and things are about to get even worse with Maurice Jones-Drew sidelined.
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