NFL Week 11 Performance Rankings
After nine games, the NFL sure has been a great joy for it's fans. Of 32 teams, 18 of them have winning records. Four teams have 4 four wins - which means a 6-1 finish can still bring that magical 10-game win stat that usually brings the playoffs.
This week, Sports Illustrated writer Peter King declined to put any of these franchises as No. 1.
Sine last week, I realized my statistically-based ranking system wasn't really a "Power Ranking" as much as it was a analytical rating/ranking of how enjoyable the season has been for the fans of that team. You enjoy it when your team moves the ball more than your opponent. You enjoy it when your team scores more than that. And finally, you love it when you team wins.
Without giving away too many secrets (like you really care that much anyway), that's basically the system. It puts yardage difference, then emphasizes point differential, then puts W-L record over that.
Since there's no completely way look at underperforming talent. If they don't bring the numbers, then their score under my system drops them down until they get their act together and start putting it together. I call this the "2010 Dallas Cowboy Effect," since last week, many had them rated in the 30s until they showed us - and the Giants what their talent was capable of - and proving that they truly were underperforming.
However, I also think what I did was reveal that some records may be due to luck and schedule strength, and self-destructing teams. Wile I can't quantify luck, I can certainly quantify schedule strength as well as penalties and look at items like red-zone offense/defense.
So while I may not be able to completely decipher how good a team is, I've been able figure out what team has given their fans the most enjoyable season so far.
A New No. 32
32. Carolina Panthers (Last week: 30)
Basically, it's not that the Panthers got worse, but with the Bills' and Cowboys' wins on Sunday, all the Panthers had to do was, well, be this year's version of the Panthers.
Their loss to the Buccaneers was just plain typical. They put up some fight, but nearly enough to win. This is simply looking like a rebuilding team. And chances are, they'll have a very high draft pick to help them out.
31. Buffalo Bills (Last Week: 32)
Buffalo never was the worst team. When I took W-L record out of my equation, they Bills rose all the way to 26th at times. But while you can respect your team after a hard-fought loss, you need to win.
Which they hadn't. Until now.
I wasn't surprised they only won by 2. After hanging Baltimore, Kansas City and Chicago in a streak of 3-point defeats, you'd expect the 2-7 Lions to really lower the bar on Buffalo. But the Lions, aside from their two wins, have been the Bills of the NFC.
Like many teams, the foundation is still gelling. Their running game is fine (15th in the NFL), but their defense is worn out. Don't let the No. 7 rank for passing yards allowed fool you. When you have the league's worst running defense, opponents don't need to use the passing game.
30. Dallas Cowboys (Last week: 31)
It looks like the preseason assessment of Dallas' talent might've been accurate after all. I knew interim coach Jason Garrett would've lit a spark, but DAMN!
Even last week, the Cowboys were a well-performing but self-destructing unit. Offensively, they did do well, but either stalled or turned it over when it mattered. Defensively, they proved that Wade Phillips is either a) inept and out-of-date as a defensive mind, or b) should've never tried to wear two hats in his time there.
If this keeps up, I suspect a decent 5-6 wins for this season - possibly the best 5-6 win team in the NFL.
The Complete Bummers
29. Arizona Cardinals (Last week: 25)
Passing Game, 30th in the NFL.
Running game, 29th.
Passing Defense 27th.
Rushing Defense 28th.
A 3-6 record?
How? Right. Sam Bradford's first game, three missed field goals by Sebastian Janikowski and three picks by Drew Brees.
If it wasn't for the Panthers, Here's you Number 1 pick in next year's draft.
28. Cincinnati Bengals (Last week: 26)
Looking at the talent on this roster, as well as the point differential on each loss, maybe Marvin Lewis should be shown the door now.
Looking at the offense, I see Carson Palmer with over 2,300 yards, the T.Ocho Experiment with a combined 1,300 of them. Cedric Benson's got 653 yards. Defense stats don't look too terrible, either.
This team just knows how to lose. Consider that only the Patriots have beaten them by double digits.
But lose them they do.
27. Detroit Lions (Last week: 24)
With the passing game the Lions put together, this team can get yards by the dozen and put points on the board.With a mediocre running game and defense, they have little more than the proverbial "puncher's chance" in most games.
The Lions are basically the Bills of the NFC. You see a foundation gelling on the passing game. And when it does, they'll build around it.
Their Only Chance Is Mathmatical
26. San Fransisco 49ers (Last week: 29th)
They got talent. What they don't seem to have is wins.
They have Troy Smith and Alex Smith on the bench. Which is good, since Troy is averaging 50 more yds/game through the air than Alex was. Which is good since they don't seem to have that many points - 160, tied for second fewest in the NFL.
They've got a decent defense. In passing, running and scoring D, Mike Singletary has put together a unit that is in the middle of the pack.
The place I'd look at is special teams, where the 49ers are being outgained in net punting and kickoff return yards.
However, they've got the rest of the NFC West, which might mean they still have postseason hopes.
25. Minnesota Vikings (Last Week: 23rd)
They brought back Brett Favre to take them to the next level. What they got was an older Derek Anderson.
Sixteen interceptions. 7 lost fumbles. When you do that, you can outgain your opponents all you want. You'll still end up with a 3-7 record.
24. Washington Redskins (Last week: 21)
If there was a game to symbolize the Redskins season, it was their Monday Night Debacle against the Eagles. While Donovan McNabb scored the quietest 28 points in the history of MNF, the defense, "led" by Albert Haynesworth, put on display allowing Michael Vick and the Eagles to fill half the footage of their 2010 highlight reel.
No defense has allowed more yards than the Redskins. Surprisingly, they have a +5 turnover ratio. Imagine if that was worse.
Hail Mary Required
23. Jacksonville Jaguars (Last week: 28)
For a 5-4 team, this seems low, until you see that three of their wins came against the Bills, Broncos and Wade Phillips' Cowboys. While the last-second Hail Mary win against the Texans put them over .500, the losses against the Chargers, Eagles, Titans and Chiefs by a combined 99 points still have given the 2010 campaign its downs.
Also, those wins were by a combined 45 points. No winning team has a worse point differential.
This week's game against the Browns will show if they are for real or not.
22. St. Louis Rams
While they've got a 4-5 record, they're benefitting from their placement in the NFC West and a last place schedule within it.
They managed to lose to the Bucs by only one point and they lost to the 49ers by a field goal in OT last week. The defense has only allowed more than 20 points once, but they've only scored 20 points or more twice - once to the defensively inept Redskins and the other an exact 20 to the Panthers.
Sam Bradford is growing as a QB, but like my Browns, can anyone who's a casual fan or less name one single WR on the Rams?
Thank God for Steven Jackson. He and the defense can keep them in a game, but they just don't have the weapons to put them over the top.
21. Houston Texans (Last week: 18)
Same point differential as the Jags, but worse record - caused by the Jags themselves. So why are they better than the Jags.
First, their schedule has been tougher, as their opponents have a combined 43-38 record, opposed to the Jags opponents, who are sitting at a 36-45 record. Second, they can produce on offense - Houston has the 7th best running game and the 11th best passing offense.
The problem is with the defense. Giving up over 300 yards a game through the air - especially in today's NFL - is a recipe for losing.
20. Denver Broncos (Last week: 27th)
Beating up the division-leading Chiefs 49-29 helps making a season more enjoyable.
Having that win not-quite counterbalance a 59-14 drubbing by the Oakland Raiders two week prior to that makes you an average 3-6 team, instead of a lucky 3-6 team, which they seemed to be a week ago.
Like the Lions, the offense is mostly passing. Second in the league through the air, but dead last on the ground. Still, they'll possess that puncher's chance with enough big plays to compensate for a defense that allows 372 yards a game.
19. Seattle Seahawks (Last week: 22)
Basically, the Seahawks are the Jaguars with a better point differential, which is caused likely by playing in an easier division.
But while the Jags have the league's 28th-ranked passing game. the Seahawks are 23rd. Seattle's 14th at stopping the run, while Jacksonville is 21st.
Now, if only they can keep it going on offense. The only team they out-gained on offense has been the Cardinals. Yes. Despite beating the 49ers 31-6 on opening day, they were still out-gained on offense 263-242.
Besides, they're winning their division. That's gotta help.
18. Cleveland Browns (Last week: 17)
It's not that they lost to the Jets that made them drop a spot, but it's how they lost to them. Letting a team hold the ball for 47 minutes in what was essentially a five-quarter game does not show you are for real.
Take away the 119-yd. advantage over the Patriots in their signature win, and the Browns are running a deficit of 74 yards per game. The only other team they out-gained was the Bucs.
Like the Rams, the Browns defense can keep them in a game, so substitute the name Peyton Hillis for Steven Jackson and ask the same question about the receiving corps. Then switch out the schedule (Browns opponents combined record: 52-29, Rams opponents' combined record: 33-48), and the Browns -10 point differential is more impressive then the Rams' -4 point differential.
And if you Eric Wright in your secondary playing as well as he's been playing, any passing game has potential.
17. Miami Dolphins (Last week: 19)
Overall, the Dolphins aren't a bad team. They're just playing better teams. And not doing half bad either. Wins over the Packers and Titans help, but narrow wins against the Bills, Vikings and Bengals can't overcome thumpings by the Ravens, Jets and Patriots. Keeping the Steelers within one also helps.
16. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (Last week: 16)
Yes, they won, but all six of their wins are against teams ranking lower than them, who have a combined record of 14-40 (I counted the Panthers twice since they beat them twice.) The rest of their schedule has a combined record of 19-8, and they've lost by a combined score of 96-40.
They are the best of the bad team, but when Raheem Morris claimed they were the best in the NFC, they are definitely not. They are the best of the NFL's Second Division, but get killed against the First Division.
15. Kansas City Chiefs (Last week: 12)
Good teams need to win on the road against 2-6 teams in last place in their own division, not get boat-raced 49-29, including a 35-10 deficit at halftime.
(I don't know about Broncos fans, but when I saw that halftime score, I got a small flashback to Super Bowl 22. But hey, that may just be me.)
Having the NFL's top running game can help you keep a lead, but having the 26th-ranked air game doesn't help regaining one. If opposing defenses are going to match Denver's run defense of keeping KC to 2.3 yards per carry, then this team could be in trouble.
Overall, Not Bad, But Not Good Either
14. San Diego Chargers (Last week: 14)
Well, they had a bye week, so it's natural they didn't change spots.
Again, like I wrote last week, the Chargers still have the most yards in the NFL, as well as still allowing the second-fewest yards in the league. They have a point differential of +42, also.
But if you add in the AFC's worst turnover ratio of -9, that helps explain the 4-5 record.
13 Oakland Raiders (Last week: 13)
They run the ball and they stop the pass, as the Raiders rank second in the NFL in both areas. Take away their loss to the Titans, and their point differential would be +72.
A three-game win streak leading into a bye week before travelling to Pittsburgh, where they face a team looking itself in the mirror. This is their chance to show themselves - and the league - if they are for real.
(Since they had bye weeks, I figured this photo would work. Nothing against Raiders cheerleaders. It was a coin flip.)
In The Playoff Hunt
12. Chicago Bears (Last week: 15)
With all the focus on Mike Martz as Offensive Coordinator, one could imagine if he got it together with the Bears' defense.
They lead the league in takeaways, but are tied for fourth-worst in giveaways. They have only scored 175 points - the only winning team to score fewer is the Seahawks. However, only the Packers have allowed fewer points on the board.
11. New Orleans Saints. (Last week: 10)
Although they had a bye week, the Saints fell three spots because their scheduled opponents had a bad collective week and some teams below them improved by winning.
Heading into Seattle, they then have a short week before heading to Dallas for Thanksgiving, which will show if they are ready for a stretch run against the Ravens, Falcons and Bucs.
10. Tennessee Titans (Last week: 6)
Well, it looks like the Randy Moss Experience is getting off to a rough start, as the Titans failed to score 20 points for the second time this season.
Of course, I'm thinking the pre-crackdown Steelers defense had something to say about the first time, so this shows that Randy Moss has been an unwanted cook in a finely-tuned kitchen after one game.
They've got a chance to get it together against the Redskins passing D, as the Eagles basically handed Jeff Fisher his offensive game plan.
It's Theirs To Lose
9. Baltimore Ravens (Last week: 7)
Last week, they were one of eight teams to have six wins. Now, they are one of nine teams to have that many. When you consider that three teams now have seven wins, any top ten is going to be chaotic.
They dropped because they needed to become one of those teams with seven wins, as the five teams that joined the six-win club did so convincingly.
After Carolina this week, the Ravens have a chance to put themselves into the elite and make statements against the Bucs, Steelers and Saints, assuming they can avoid trap games against the Texans and Browns.
8. Green Bay Packers (Last week: 6)
Another victim of this "Chaos at the Top" season. The don't play, and suddenly, three teams shoot above them? Seems unfair, yes.
Don't worry. Games against the Falcons, Patriots, Giants and Bears are coming in the next six weeks. Win those, and they'll make the pre-bye week pasting of the Cowboys look good.
7. Pittsburgh Steelers. (Last week: 2)
Yes, the Patriots embarrassed the Steelers, and that helped, but in addition to being a lesser victim of Rising Team Syndrome, this reflects the fact that with an injury-riddled O-Line, a kicking game on the mend and a secondary that allows 250 yards per game - meaning that Tom Brady's 350 Sunday night was above average and not a complete aberration.
With the Raiders coming to town after their bye week, a win here is a must if they want to avoid the proverbial "outside looking in" status for the playoff stretch run.
Chasing For The Top
6. Indianapolis Colts (Last week: 8)
Yes, they beat the Bengals by only 6. But
In the next two weeks, Peyton Manning will put the Colts 6-3 record against the Patriots and Chargers. That should change a thing or two.
5. New York Giants (Last week: 1)
The Giants were supposed to roll it up on the Cowboys. But only out-gaining Dallas 480-427 is one thing. Allowing 128 yards in turnover return yardage is worse. Losing a third thing. Losing by 13 is disaster when it comes to this ratings system.
But despite the Cowboys offensive renaissance at their expense, consider that before Sunday, the Giants had allowed the fewest yards in the NFL, with the Chargers - who had a bye week - second. They still hold that lead. That's how good they were for the entire season.
However, that ranking will be tough to defend against the Eagles, who come to the New Meadowlands this Sunday, for MY Game of he Week.
4. New England Patriots (Last week: 9)
Yeah, they're tied for the best record in the league, a label they held by themselves two weeks ago. Last Sunday was the first game all season they seemed to have all cylinders firing.
Still, their offense still ranks 18th in total yards. Then again, no teams has put more points on the board.
Looking at the defensive numbers, I noticed something. While they rank 23rd in scoring defense and 29th in yards allowed, the Patriots have had double-digit leads in the second half - meaning much of it is "garbage time."
The Three Ya Don't Want To Mess With
3. Philadelphia Eagles (Last week: 11)
True, it was the Redskins they did it against, but then again no one else scored 59 either.
Seriously, with Jerome Harrison finding his late-2009 form, you wanna take on this offense? Ninth in passing, 3rd in running, They question with the Eagles isn't if they'll score, but when - and maybe how much. They won't score 59 every game, but any offensive coordinator should know his unit will probably have to score at least 24.
Defensively, they are holding their own, both through the air and on the ground, so getting into a shootout won't be easy.
One note: The Eagles have been penalized 687 yards, second-most in the NFL. Only five teams have 600. Getting only 35 yards in Washington D.C. helps, but they need to keep it up.
2. Atlanta Falcons (Last Week: 3)
It is time to say this is an elite team. When Matt Ryan throws for over 300 yards against a good Ravens defense, including a last-minute drive where they know its coming, that's elite.
When your only losses are in OT to the Steelers and the Eagles, and your resume include wins over the Ravens, Saints and a 41-7 demolition of the Cardinals, you're elite.
And when you're schedule includes the Packers, Saints, a rematch against the Bucs, you can prove it. And when it includes the Seahawks, Rams and two games against the Panthers, chances are you're in this year's post-season.
1. New York Jets. (Last Week: 4)
Supposedly, the Browns are good - better than their 3-6 record. So what do the Jets do? In Cleveland, they hold the ball for 47 minutes, running 91 plays in what turned out to be a five-quarter game.
They're two losses are by a combined 10 points. One is to the Packers, who lead the league in scoring defense, and the other is to the Ravens.
But their seven wins are by 68 points, including the Patriots by 14. And they hold onto the ball. Only the Ravens held them to under 27 with the ball.
With the Texans and Bengals coming up, I suspect they won't fall, but their close enough that a marginal win by the Jets and a blow out win by the rest of the top four could knock the Jets out of this top spot.