Week 10 had some great games across the board with Sunday Night Football as the game of the week. The Colts vs. Patriots lived up to and exceeded expectations. Tom Brady and Peyton Manning threw for over 700 yards and seven touchdowns. However Patriot’s coach Bill Belicheck’s decision to go for it on 4th and 2 from his own 28 yard line with two minutes to go with a six point lead will be the most talked about topic at water coolers around the country. I understand Peyton Manning is one of the best in football in the final two minutes but how do you not punt in that situation? Even with a bad punt, the Colts probably have to go at least 60 yards. Instead, the Colts have just 28 yards to go and easily win the game. The Colts won the game and remain ahead of the Pats in the rankings, but don’t be fooled; The Patriots are back and clicking on all cylinders on offense.
Teams' previous ranking in ( ).
1. New Orleans Saints (1): It wasn’t pretty but the Saints remain undefeated after a 28-23 win against the Rams in week 10. QB Drew Brees was human, throwing for 223 yards and two touchdowns as well as two interceptions. RB Reggie Bush had his best game of the season with 98 total yards and two touchdowns. The Saints should win next week to get to 10-0 as they prepare for the Patriots in week 12.
2. Indianapolis Colts (2): I want to re-iterate that I have never seen a team win so many games they didn’t deserve to win. With that said, the Colts are a great team that continue to win and light up the scoreboard. Nobody seems to be talking about an undefeated season for the Colts, but I believe if they can get past the Ravens and Texans in their next two games, they will accomplish the same feat as the 2007 Patriots.
3. Minnesota Vikings (3): Minnesota kept the stranglehold on the NFC North with a win over the Lions. WR Sidney Rice had a huge game with over 200 receiving yards and QB Brett Favre continued his MVP-like season. If Favre can avoid his late season collapse from a year ago, the Vikings will very likely find themselves in the NFC Championship game.
4. Cincinnati Bengals (6): Stand up if you predicted the Bengals would go 4-0 against the Ravens and Steelers this year. I hope nobody stood up, because not even the savviest of football fans could have predicted this. Not only did they grab the top spot in the AFC North, their next three games are against the Raiders, Browns and Lions. If this team can stay distraction-free (this means you Mr. Ochocinco), they can be a legitimate Super Bowl contender.
5. New England Patriots (5): I had New England ranked No. 2 at about 11pm eastern time on Sunday night. Less than an hour later, I was in absolute shock at what I had witnessed and had to bring them back to No. 5. Bill Belicheck is without a doubt a hall of fame coach. With that said, he made perhaps the single worst coaching decision I have witnessed in my 20 short years on this earth. Nonetheless, the Patriots offense is back and they are as dangerous as anyone in the league. WR Randy Moss had nine catches for 179 yards and two touchdowns in the loss.
6. Pittsburgh Steelers (4): The Steelers have won five of their last seven, but both losses were to the Cincinnati Bengals. QB Ben Roethlisberger only completed 50 percent of his passes for 174 yards and the Steelers failed to score a touchdown. S Troy Polamalu left the game with yet another injury which could prove costly down the stretch.
7. San Diego Chargers (10): Just a few weeks ago it seemed as if the Broncos were running away with the division and the Chargers would be lucky to battle for a wild card. After week 10, it looks as if the Chargers are the team to beat. Back to back wins against tough NFC East opponents, the Chargers have improved their record to 6-3 on the season as they head into Denver next week for an enormous division game.
8. Dallas Cowboys (7): The Cowboys were shutout in Green Bay for the first 59 minutes and 22 seconds. Not usually a formula for success. They had absolutely no running game and breakout WR Miles Austin was held to just 20 yards receiving. It doesn’t seem to have a huge effect on the division race for Dallas, as the Eagles also lost and the Giants were on bye. Look for them to bounce back in a big way next week against the Redskins.
9. Denver Broncos (8): In all honesty, I would love to have put this team around the No. 15 mark but despite losing three straight, they are 6-3 overall and I’ll give them one more week to prove they are the Broncos we saw the first six weeks of the season, and not the Broncos we have seen the past three weeks. How a team can beat the Patriots and lose to the Redskins is something I will never understand. Nonetheless Denver better get it turned around in a hurry, which could be tough if QB Kyle Orton is out for any amount of time.
10. Arizona Cardinals (14): For a while it looked like the Cardinals might lose yet another home game, but QB Kurt Warner threw for 340 yards and two touchdowns to lead Arizona to a 31-20 win over the Seahawks. WR Anquan Boldin returned from injury to haul in eight receptions for over 100 yards. It looks as if the Cardinals wrapped up the division with the win, as they have a two game lead and have a favorable schedule in the next few weeks.
11. Baltimore Ravens (12): The Ravens are 5-4 but a missed field goal and a couple of questionable calls away from 8-1. The AFC is a tough conference but if the Ravens manage to secure a wildcard spot (assuming the Bengals don’t complete choke down the stretch) they will be as tough as they come in the playoffs. They do need to get their offense back to where it was at the first few weeks of the season though when they were putting up over 30 per game.
12. Philadelphia Eagles (11): I understand that RB Brian Westbrook was returning from injury, and always has some sort of nagging injury, but the Eagles do a terrible job of using him. With the possible exception of WR DeSean Jackson, Westbrook is hands down the best player on the team and there is no excuse for him to not be getting at least 25 touches per game. When the Eagles are clicking, they are a scary team. However their inconsistency is going to hurt them and as of this moment, I do not believe they will end up in the playoffs, especially because Westbrook appeared to suffer another concussion.
13. Houston Texans (13): The Texans are coming off a bye and will face the rejuvenated Titans on Monday Night Football in week 11. The division is not quite out of reach, but the Texans would likely have to win out if they wanted to overtake the Colts. The defense needs to continue to play well but more importantly the Texans must get RB Steve Slaton going. Ryan Moats is not the long term answer in the running game.
14. Green Bay Packers (17): Now that is the defense I expected from Green Bay all season. Well maybe not that good, but certainly something similar. The Packers recorded five sacks and caused three turnovers. CB Charles Woodson showed once again why he is one of the better defenders in the league by doing a little bit of everything; he forced two fumbles, had one sack, intercepted a pass at the goal line and led the team with eight tackles. The offensive line continues to be a problem but a victory against a good team was huge for the Packers as they have a very tough schedule ahead of them.
15. New York Giants (15): The Giants had a very efficient week; they gained ground in the division on both Philly and Dallas and didn’t even take the field. Hopefully the Giants fixed some things during the week because their next four games are against the Falcons, Broncos, Cowboys and Eagles. The Giants have lost four straight and even though they are capable of reeling off four consecutive wins, I don’t see them doing any better than 2-2 in their next four and I believe they will come up short of the playoffs.
16. Atlanta Falcons (9): The Falcons took a dive in the rankings this week, falling from the top 10 out of the top 15. They could find themselves falling even further if the injury to RB Michael Turner will cause him to miss any games. The Falcons are still a solid team, but the defense is a liability and their only hope of the playoffs is via a wildcard berth. They currently sit at 5-4 and could be in danger of being passed in the division the Panthers.
17. San Francisco 49ers (18): Five interceptions against the Bears on Thursday night proved to be just enough to escape with a victory. RB Frank Gore accounted for the only touchdown and ran for 104 yards on 25 carries. It would appear as if the 49ers’ only hope of the playoffs would be as a wildcard but I don’t see them getting more than four more wins and 8-8 simply isn’t going to be good enough this year in the NFC.
18. Carolina Panthers (19): I wanted to move the Panthers up more than just one spot but couldn’t bring myself to do it. They are definitely playing better than 18th in the league and have three very winnable games coming up. If they can win all three, they will improve to 7-5 and be talked about as a playoff contender. However they are going to have to continue their hot streak beyond week 13 because they finish the season with the Patriots, Vikings, Giants and Saints. It looks like the poor start to the season is going to cost Carolina a wildcard berth.
19. Miami Dolphins (20): After five consecutive weeks at No. 20, the Dolphins finally move up with a win in week 10. It took a last second field goal to get the win against the suddenly competitive Buccaneers. The biggest story from this game is the injury to RB Ronnie Brown. It would appear the Dolphins won’t have a shot at the playoffs, but any chance they do have rests on the shoulders of Brown, who ran for 80 yards and a score before the injury.
20. Jacksonville Jaguars (25): The Jags got above .500 with a win against the Jets in week 10. RB Maurice Jones-Drew continues to shoulder the load and QB David Garrard manages the game and takes care of the ball. I didn’t give the Jags much of a chance before the season started, but it’s not inconceivable that they could finish the season with 10 wins and a good chance at a wildcard spot.
21. New York Jets (16): After three weeks, the Jets were considered a top five team and a possible Super Bowl contender by many. After 10 weeks, they are a very average team hoping to finish with a respectable record. QB Mark Sanchez still has a bright future and the defense is solid. Unfortunately for the Jets their schedule for the final seven games isn’t easy.
22. Tennessee Titans (23): It’s not possible to go back in time, but Titan’s fans must be wondering what their record might be if QB Vince Young had taken over sooner than week eight. Young has led the Titans to three straight wins and could possibly help the Titans finish the season at 8-8 which would be something to be proud of after the disastrous 0-6 start. RB Chris Johnson had another impressive game running for 132 yards and two touchdowns.
23. Chicago Bears (22): QB Jay Cutler threw a career high five interceptions and now has a league-leading 17 for the season. The Bears have a very slim chance at making the playoffs at this point. They would probably have to go 6-1 down the stretch to have a chance and they still have games against the Eagles, Ravens and two against the Vikings.
24. Seattle Seahawks (21): The Seahawks playoff chances went out the window with the loss to the Cardinals. At 3-6 the only way for them to have any chance is to win out and I think it’s safe to say that won’t happen. They did give Arizona a run for their money though. QB Matt Hasselbeck threw for 315 yards and a touchdown and WR T.J. Houshmandzadeh had nine catches for 165 yards.
25. Kansas City Chiefs (26): In the who-cares game of the week, the Chiefs beat the Raiders 16-10 to get to 2-7 on the season. With the release of RB Larry Johnson, Jamaal Charles ran for 103 yards and a touchdown on 18 carries. The Chiefs will battle the Raiders for the final seven weeks for third place in the division.
26. Washington Redskins (29): In the upset of the week, the Redskins beat the Broncos 27-17 on a nice game from backup RB Ladell Betts who was filling in for the injured Clinton Portis. After giving up 14 points in the first quarter, the ‘Skins gave up just three the rest of the game. This doesn’t make up for the loss to the Lions, but if they can build on this game, it might just save Jim Zorn’s job.
27. Buffalo Bills (24): Buffalo put up a fight against the Titans, heading into the fourth quarter in a 17-17 tie. Unfortunately for the Bills they gave up 24 points in the final period. WR Terrell Owens had a blowup on the sidelines and finished the game with three catches for 85 yards. RB Marshawn Lynch has been very disappointing since his return from a three game suspension.
28. Detroit Lions (27): The Lions put up a fight in the first half against the division leading Vikings but the offense couldn’t really get anything going and the defense could not cover Sidney Rice of the Vikes. Despite noticeable improvement from last year, the Lions will still finish as one of the worst teams in the league. Their best chance for another win the rest of the season comes this week as they take on the Browns.
29. St. Louis Rams (30): The Rams nearly pulled off the upset of the decade against the Saints this week. The Rams had the ball in Saint’s territory and threw up a pass into the end zone on the final play but it came down incomplete. RB Steven Jackson had a very solid 131 rushing yards and his second touchdown of the season. The Rams are 1-8 but could pull out a couple more wins if they play like they did against the Saints.
30. Oakland Raiders (28): RB Michael Bush ran for 119 yards on 14 carries, but that’s where the positives stop for the Raiders. QB Jamarcus Russell had one of his trademark games, completing just nine passes for 67 yards before being benched for Bruce Gradkowski. As bad as they are, the Raiders could still win two more games this season. Then again, as bad as they are, there is a great chance they will find ways to lose against the Redskins and Browns and finish 2-14.
31. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (31): After taking down the Packers for their first win of the season, the Bucs almost made it two in a row behind QB Josh Freeman. Freeman had a respectable game throwing for 196 yards and a score and has found his favorite weapon in TE Kellen Winslow. The Bucs have seven games remaining, five of which are against tough divisional opponents. It looks like the Bucs competitive ways might be over until next season.
32. Cleveland Browns (32): QB Brady Quinn got the start on Monday Night Football against the Ravens and to say he played miserable would be an understatement. Quinn was 13-31 for 99 yards and two interceptions, one which was returned for six and was sacked four times. There are some bad teams in the NFL but it’s a pretty safe bet the Browns are the worst. They have no running game and absolutely no talent or depth at wide receiver. They most likely will have the first pick in next year’s draft.