In week seven, six games were decided by 28 or more points, the Saints had to make a 21 point comeback, and the Vikings became the latest team to fall from the ranks of the unbeaten. Raider QB Jamarcus Russell was finally benched, while 49ers backup QB Alex Smith replaced starter Shaun Hill and nearly led a second-half comeback against the Texans. Week seven’s rankings look very similar to those of week six, as 18 teams remained in their previous spot.
Teams previous ranking in ( ).
1. New Orleans Saints (1): QB Drew Brees committed four turnovers, but with the help of the defense was able to pull off a nifty 21 point comeback victory over the Dolphins. The Saints gave up too many points, but they remain undefeated and the favorite to come out of the NFC.
2. Denver Broncos (2): Denver goes on the road to face the Ravens in week eight. I’ve had this game circled since after week three when a Broncos fan complained I had his team ranked way too low. I told him Denver had played three bad teams and they would soon be 3-5. Needless to say, after week eight they can’t be worse then 6-1. Oops, guess I goofed on that one.
3. Indianapolis Colts (3): The Colts just keep on rollin’. They thrashed the Rams and begin a three game stretch at home against the 49ers followed by the Texans as they tune up for a week 10 battle against the Patriots.
4. Pittsburgh Steelers (7): The Steelers struggled much of the game against the Vikings but when their defense was needed most, it stepped up. Or perhaps it was the beneficiary of some bad offense of Minnesota. Either way the Steelers are getting healthy and look to be a serious threat yet again.
5. Minnesota Vikings (4): The tide was turned against the Vikes this week. Instead of the Vikings getting a little lucky and winning a game they probably shouldn’t, they lost a game they likely should have won. They were mostly shutdown for the first three quarters but played well in the fourth. Two red zone turnovers cost them dearly. The Favre circus, part two returns this week as the Vikes head to Lambeau Field.
6. New England Patriots (8): To the surprise of nobody, the Pats smoked the Bucs. New England has a week eight bye, followed by four intriguing games. A division game against the Dolphins, a showdown against the Colts, a re-match against Rex Ryan and the Jets and then on the road against Brees and the Saints.
7. Cincinnati Bengals (9): Cincinnati absolutely annihilated the Bears. QB Carson Palmer threw for five TDs and RB Cedric Benson ran wild. The Bengals have a bye this week, followed by two division games against the Ravens and Steelers. However, even two losses may not hurt too badly as they follow up with games against the Raiders, Browns and Lions.
8. New York Giants (5): A big-time let down at home against the Cardinals. The Giants offense has disappeared and one has to wonder how healthy QB Eli Manning is.
9. Philadelphia Eagles (10): It wasn’t the prettiest win but two things stuck out. The acquisition of LB Will Witherspoon paid off immediate dividends. Secondly, RB Brian Westbrook is incapable of staying on the field. The Eagles are going to need him down the stretch if they want to make a run in the playoffs.
10. Atlanta Falcons (6): The Falcons did not impress against the Cowboys. As usual, the defense is the biggest issue for this team. RB Michael Turner has taken a step back from his monster season last year though.
11. Baltimore Ravens (11): Hopefully the Ravens got well rested during their bye because other than a matchup with the Browns in week 10, the Ravens upcoming schedule includes games against the Broncos, Bengals, Colts, Steelers and Packers.
12. New York Jets (12): QB Mark Sanchez was seen eating a hot dog late in the game against the Raiders (though he tried to hide it as best he could). Interpretation: Trying to avoid the camera while eating a hotdog was a far tougher task then beating the Raiders.
13. San Diego Chargers (13): The Chargers man-handled the Chiefs in week seven. It’s unusual to say a team is going to measure how much it has improved when it plays the Raiders, but that is the case for San Diego this week. They struggled to beat the Raiders in week one and they need to win handily this week if they want to even be talked about as a legitimate contender.
14. Green Bay Packers (14): 57-3. That is the combined score of the Packers last two wins. Lions and Browns. Those are the two teams Green Bay beat. With that said, the Packers did beat the teams they are supposed to beat. They play at home in week eight against the Vikings and it is a must-win game for the Pack if they want to win their division.
15. Dallas Cowboys (17): A convincing win against a solid team is something Dallas was desperate for and they got it. They shouldn’t have a problem against the Seahawks this week, but they will have two more chances to beat good teams as they play Philly and Green Bay in weeks nine and 10.
16. Arizona Cardinals (18): Arizona too was desperate for a win against a quality opponent and beating the Giants on the road was a great way to do that. That is the Cardinal team that must show up every week if they want a chance to defend their NFC championship.
17. Houston Texans (19): The Texans are finally playing the way I thought they would play all year. With that said, WR Andre Johnson appears to have suffered a fairly serious chest injury. He must get healthy if Houston has any playoff aspirations.
18. San Francisco 49ers (15): Backup QB Alex Smith took over to start the second half trailing 21-0 and nearly pulled off the comeback. He threw for 206 yards and three TDs (all to TE Vernon Davis). It was the Texans defense, but maybe this is finally a sign of things to come from Smith.
19. Chicago Bears (16): An absolutely pitiful performance by the Bears. Cutler threw three more interceptions and the defense gave up 45 points and nearly 500 yards of offense. What the Bears need is a confidence boosting game, and who better than the Browns?
20. Miami Dolphins (20): Many people predicted the Dolphins to upset the Saints and at halftime it looked like a sure thing. However Miami was outscored 36-10 in the final 30 minutes and came up short. The Dolphins are only 2-4 but they’ve proved they can play with just about anyone.
21. Seattle Seahawks (21): Seattle is coming off a bye and will play a road game against the Cowboys. Dallas played very well against Atlanta, but I could see the ‘Hawks giving the ‘Boys a run for their money in this one.
22. Jacksonville Jaguars (22): The Jags too are coming off a bye and play the winless Titans. WR Mike-Sims Walker should have a great game, assuming he postpones his late night rendezvous until after the game.
24. Detroit Lions (24): Detroit is coming off their bye too and they are likely a favorite for the first time in close to two years. QB Matthew Stafford may be out, but if WR Calvin Johnson is healthy, look for the Lions to beat the Rams and get their second win of 2009.
25. Carolina Panthers (23): For the second straight week RB DeAngelo Williams ran well, and for the seventh straight week, QB Jake Delhomme threw an interception bringing his season total to 13. As if that wasn’t bad enough, the Panthers take on the Cardinals this week whom Delhomme committed six turnovers against in last year’s playoffs.
26. Kansas City Chiefs (25): RB Larry Johnson had some not so nice things to say about his head coach via twitter after Sunday’s blowout loss to the Chargers. Maybe it’s just me but I don’t see Johnson being with Kansas City next season.
27. Oakland Raiders (27): I cannot figure out how this team has two wins. Only once have they scored more than 13 points in a game and only twice have they given up fewer than 23. QB Jamarcus Russell was finally benched for his poor play.
28. Tennessee Titans (28): Tennessee is coming off a bye and look to get their first win of the season against the Jags this week. Even if they fail, they will have three straight games with good matchups and if all else fails, well at least they get to face the Rams before the season is over.
29. Washington Redskins (29): The ‘Skins didn’t play as well as the final score indicated against the Eagles on Monday night. RB Clinton Portis couldn’t get the ground game going and TE Chris Cooley is lost for the season with a broken ankle. The front office says Jim Zorn’s job is safe for the season, but I am not sure how much I believe that.
30. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (30): Three turnovers, nine punts and one touchdown. That just isn’t going to cut it, especially when the opponent has Tom Brady lined up under center. The Bucs schedule just doesn’t give them many opportunities for wins. I believe this team has a very legitimate shot at going winless.
31. Cleveland Browns (31): About 150 yards of total offense, at home, against a Packers defense that is slightly above average on a good day. They easily could go winless the rest of the season, but they could also sneak up to three more wins, as they play some equally pathetic teams before the season ends.
32. St. Louis Rams (32): This might be their only shot at a victory all season. If they don’t beat the Lions, we could be looking at two teams going winless this season.