NFL Power Rankings Week 7: Top 10 Biggest Surprises So Far
With Week 6 of the NFL regular season in the books, the first third of the season has already revealed a whole bunch of things that nobody would have expected. From teams that haven't lived up to lofty expectations, player performances and off-field issues, the NFL is always exciting.
Undoubtedly there will be more to come, but let's take a look at the top ten things that have transpired so far.
10. Is There Trouble In The Big Easy?
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The New Orleans Saints probably aren't worried yet, but in the back of their minds they have to be wondering what is going on this year. On their way to becoming Super Bowl Champions last year, the Saints finished the regular season at 13-3 and pretty much blew everyone out finishing with a +169 margin of victory.
One year later they are sitting at 4-2 and tied for the division lead, but this record includes a three point win over the 1-5 San Francisco 49ers and a two point win over winless Carolina.
A ten point loss in Week 4 to the Arizona Cardinals? Yes, it is time to start worrying.
9. The Minnesota Vikings Aren't Who We Thought They Were
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Oh, the expectations. The Minnesota Vikings finished last year by winning the NFC North with a 12-4 record. They were only a couple of plays away from beating the New Orleans Saints in the NFC title game and would have been the odds on favorite to win the Super Bowl.
One more Brett Farve retirement/unretirement later, throw in a possible sex scandal, and you've got a recipe for disaster that even Randy Moss may not be able to save.
Sitting at 2-3, they looked less than impressive this past Sunday against this year's hapless Dallas Cowboys. With the next two games on the road against the Green Bay Packers and New England Patriots, this season might be lost by the halfway point in the year.
8. Don't Look Now But LaDainian Tomlinson Still Has Game
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An NFL running back's career lasts on average less than three years. Even for most of the great ones, as they approach 30 the tank is just about empty. This was probably in the minds of the San Diego Chargers when they let LaDainian Tomlinson go after a 2009 season in which he only averaged 3.3 yards per carry.
Well the change of scenery has done wonders for the 10-year NFL veteran.
Through six games, Tomlinson has helped the New York Jets to a 5-1 record while piling up 490 yards and a 5.3 yard rushing average per attempt—not too bad for a 31-year-old running back.
7. Are The St. Louis Rams For Real?
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The St. Louis Rams are 3-3. That's right, the Rams are a .500 ball club with a rookie quarterback.
That quarterback, Sam Bradford, is quietly having what is looking to be a nice first year campaign projecting out to over 3,500 yards passing with 20 touchdowns. Hall of Fame numbers, no—but great rookie numbers.
What might be even more surprising is that the Rams are playing half way decent defense, only averaging 105 yards per game against them on the ground. Playing in the less than average NFC West surely helps, and it is not inconceivable that come playoff time the Rams are still in the hunt.
5. The Randy Moss Trade
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DId Bill Belichick cut his nose off to spite his face? Let me try to work through this. Randy Moss has three touchdown catches in the first four games of the season. He had caught 50 touchdowns during his 52 games in New England. You know that making a move isn't going to make the franchise (Tom Brady) exactly happy.
So what do you do?
You trade Moss to Minnesota for a third-round draft pick over a “combination of things" and turn around trading to bring Deon Branch back to the Patriots. Branch only came in and caught nine balls for 98 yards on Sunday against the Ravens en-route to a 23-20 victory.
Ok, Coach—you're the genius.
6. Waiting For Philip Rivers' Head To Explode
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Phillip Rivers is having a career year. Don't believe me? Here are some of the numbers through Week 6:
- 2,008 yards passing
- 12-5 touchdown to interception ratio
- 62.3 completion percentage and a 100.7 quarterback rating.
So what it the problem you say? The San Diego Chargers are 2-4 having just lost to none other than the St. Louis Rams and are currently last in the AFC West. Rivers has never struck me as having the most patience and tact, and maybe I've picked up the wrong impression from his boorish on-field antics.
I am going to go out on a limb here and predict a major blow up in the media for Rivers in the next few weeks if this keeps up.
4. The Dallas Cowboys Aren't Who We Thought They Were
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The Cowboys finished last year with an 11-5 record, winning the NFC East title in the process. After Sunday's loss to the Minnesota Vikings, the dreams of Super Bowl at Jerryworld are over.
On what most consider a talent laden team the 'boys are sitting in the cellar of the NFC East with a 1-4 record.
As it stands right now the Cowboys would have to go 8-3 the rest of the way to reach nine wins and a chance at the playoffs as a wild card. While Jerry Jones is trying to quiet the calls for Wade Phillips head, don't be surprised if some phone calls aren't being made to gage interest. Even if Phillips makes it until the end of the season, his days in Dallas are coming to an end.
It is shaping up to be a very long year in Big D.
3. The San Francisco 49ers Implode
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When the Niners finished at 8-8 last year it looked like they and coach Mike Singletary were turning the corner and ready to start making some noise this year. San Francisco was a preseason choice of many to win the very mediocre NFC West.
Boy what six games can change, especially if you don't win any of the first five. One fired offensive coordinator and botched David Carr for Alex Smith substitution later, the 49ers are in a tail spin that it doesn't look like they are coming out of anytime soon.
Yes the Niners got a win this weekend against the Oakland Raiders, but it won't change anything in the city by the bay.
Credit to the supporting cast in the form of Jed York, de-facto owner for the Niners, who texted ESPN's Adam Schefter last week saying that "We're going to win the division."
2. The Pittsburgh Steelers Survive Ben Roethlisberger's Suspension
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Look out NFL, the Steelers are back. With Ben Roethlisberger suspended for the first four games of the season most pundits were predicting that the Steelers were going to have some serious work ahead of them when Roethlisberger returned in Week 6.
Well the Steelers "only" managed to start off the year 3-1 without their star quarterback led by a ferocious defense that has shut down every running back they have seen this year, including Titans's Chris Johnson.
Against the Cleveland Browns on Sunday, Roethlisberger showed little signs of rust leading the Steelers to a 28-10 victory while finishing the game 16 for 27, 257 yards and three touchdowns.
The rest of the NFL should be afraid, very afraid.
1. The Brett Farve Misconduct Allegations
Come on. You knew it was coming.