NFL Power Rankings Week 8: Rating The Top Surprises In Football
Every Sunday, NFL teams and players surprise in performances. Week 7 was no different, as many defied expectations in their play, either positive or negative.
The Cleveland Browns, Ryan Fitzpatrick and Kenny Britt are among those that rose to the occasion and outperformed typical play.
On the other hand, the Denver Broncos, the Baltimore Ravens' defense and Drew Brees all made things more difficult than initially expected in Sunday's games.
Following are power rankings of the NFL's 10 biggest Week 7 surprises.
Negative No. 5: Denver Broncos
In a pivotal matchup between 2-4 teams looking to keep pace in the AFC West, the Denver Broncos were embarrassed at home by the Oakland Raiders.
Denver was decimated by QB Jason Campbell and RB Darren McFadden, allowing Oakland to score the game's first 38 points, outgain them by 268 yards and record 18 more first downs.
Any chance Denver had of making the playoffs were squashed by their dismal performance Sunday in front of a home crowd.
Negative No. 4: QB Brett Favre, Minnesota Vikings
Vikings QB Brett Favre has consistently performed well when the odds were stacked against him and the stakes were highest.
This was not the case on Sunday night at Green Bay, as Favre threw three costly interceptions and was ineffective all night against an injury-plagued Packers defense.
Minnesota desperately needed a victory against Favre's former team, and history indicated they had reason to be optimistic with him behind center. It was not to be, however, as Favre and the Vikings now face an even steeper uphill climb to make the postseason.
Negative No. 3: QB Jay Cutler, Chicago Bears
Chicago Bears QB Jay Cutler is a notorious gunslinger, capable of throwing easy interceptions as much as he is powerful touchdowns.
That said, not even the most pessimistic Bears fan imagined that Cutler would throw four interceptions - all to DeAngelo Hall - in his team's 17-14 loss.
Chicago got the 2010 season off to a great start, but has regressed in losing three of four games. If they want to challenge for a playoff berth, they'll need more consistent, smart play from their signal-caller.
Negative No. 2: Baltimore Ravens Defense
The Baltimore Ravens were heavy favorites against the winless Buffalo Bills, due in large part to their dominating defense.
In a 37-34 OT win, Ray Lewis and company were anything but that, allowing the Bills to rack up a whopping 506 total yards.
If not for the heroics of newly-activated S Ed Reed (two interceptions), the Ravens would have suffered an embarrassing loss to the league's worst team. As it is, Baltimore was exposed as a defense that at times can be very vulnerable.
Negative No. 1: QB Drew Brees, New Orleans Saints
The New Orleans Saints and QB Drew Brees had a seemingly easy game on Sunday, a home matchup with the 1-5 Cleveland Browns.
Four Brees interceptions and a 30-17 loss later, the Saints find themselves struggling at 4-3. Nothing was more disappointing than the performance of New Orleans' franchise QB, as he threw two interceptions for TDs and made countless other mistakes.
If the Saints are to right the ship and assume their position as NFC favorites, no player's performance will be more influential than that of Brees.
Positive No. 5: QB Todd Bouman, Jacksonville Jaguars
A journeyman QB, Todd Bouman was coaching high school football last Monday when he got a call from the Jacksonville Jaguars. A few days later, he was starting a road game in the NFL against the Kansas City Chiefs.
Bouman outdid any and all expectations in the game's first half, throwing for over 150 yards and two scores, looking poised, comfortable and more than capable in the process. Quite simply, Bouman looked like a Pro-Bowler.
While he was unable to maintain his stellar play in the second half, Bouman did more than enough to ensure his team a chance at victory. After this performance, he is sure to be on Jacksonville's roster the rest of the season.
Positive No. 4: WR Kenny Britt, Tennessee Titans
Tennessee Titans WR Kenny Britt has emerged as his team's number one target this season. Still, even the most staunch Britt supporters didn't see his Week 7 performance coming.
In Sunday's win over the Eagles, Britt caught seven passes for a whopping 225 yards and three TDs. He flashed elite skills in the process, showing great deep speed, elusiveness after the catch and the ability to win jump balls.
Britt is one of the league's brightest young receivers, and should continue his shining play as the season progresses.
Positive No. 3: QB Ryan Fitzpatrick, Buffalo Bills
Buffalo Bills QB Ryan Fitzpatrick has emerged as one of the league's most consistent signal-callers since taking over duties as a starter. However, most thought his amazing run would end in Week 7 against Baltimore's stingy defense. Think again.
Fitzpatrick was magnificent Sunday, throwing for 374 yards and four scores and almost leading his team to one of the season's biggest upsets. While he did commit two turnovers, Fitzpatrick put his team in a position to win facing one of the NFL's best squads.
While the status of Fitzpatrick as Buffalo's QB of the future remains to be seen, he has been among the best QBs in the league since taking over for the Bills. If his performance against the Ravens is any indication, Fitzpatrick will get ample opportunity to be a starter for the remainder of his career.
Positive No. 2: CB DeAngelo Hall, Atlanta Falcons
Washington Redskins CB DeAngelo Hall has long been one of the top ballhawks in the NFL. He's never had a game like he did on Sunday, though.
In a stunning performance, DeAngelo hauled in four of Jay Cutler's throws (tying an NFL record), and returned one of his interceptions for a TD. On a day where the Redskins offense was ineffective, Hall was perhaps the NFL's most influential and important player.
While Hall will likely never duplicate his Week 7 performance, he staked his claim on Sunday as one of the league's top cover corners.
Positive No. 1: Cleveland Browns
In the most shocking result of the weekend, the Cleveland Browns knocked off the defending Super Bowl Champion New Orleans Saints on the road, 30-17.
Coach Eric Mangini directed a stellar gameplan, executing multiple fakes and trick plays on offense and special teams to great success. Rookie QB Colt McCoy played mistake-free football, RB Peyton Hillis and company churned out yards on the ground and the offense did enough to win.
Meanwhile, the defense was explosive, accounting for four interceptions. LB David Bowens got two of the picks, and returned each of them for scores. On a day when New Orleans put up 394 yards of offense, the Browns defense bent but never broke.
The Browns got 2010 off to a very rough start, struggling their way to a 1-4 record. After Sunday's stunning win, there is reason for optimism going forward with Mangini and McCoy leading the way.