NFL Power Rankings Week 7: Rating All 32 Teams

Matt Miller@nfldraftscoutNFL Draft Lead WriterOctober 17, 2011

NFL Power Rankings Week 7: Rating All 32 Teams

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    The more things change, the more they stay the same. That's what happened this week in the NFL.

    Heavyweights like the Green Bay Packers, New England Patriots and San Francisco 49ers continued to win, while cellar-dwellers like the Indianapolis Colts and St. Louis Rams dropped another game. How will these wins and losses change our weekly power rankings?

    How far will the Detroit Lions fall after suffering their first loss, and will the San Francisco 49ers break the top five after beating the previously undefeated Lions?

    Check out our Week 7 NFL power rankings, looking at all 32 teams from worst to first.

    *Note: Rankings will be updated after Monday Night Football game.

32. Indianapolis Colts

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    When will the Indianapolis Colts get their first win? Is the question "when" or "if"?

    The Colts have struggled, and each week they find new ways to lose games. The schedule doesn't get any easier either. This week the Colts must face off against the New Orleans Saints in a Sunday Night Football game that will be one to forget for fans of the Colts.

    The "Suck4Luck" sweepstakes favorite at this time has to be the Colts.

    Predicted 2011 Record: 1-15

31. St. Louis Rams

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    The St. Louis Rams are better than this, or at least they are supposed to be.

    The Rams have been embarrassed each week of the season, and it won't get any easier this week as they travel to Dallas to take on a Cowboys team that almost beat the New England Patriots on Sunday.

    St. Louis is talented enough to get a few wins, probably late in the season, but this has to be disheartening for a franchise that was expected to make the jump to playoff contender in 2011. This just goes to show how important good wide receivers are to a young quarterback and how important depth in the secondary is.

    Predicted 2011 Record: 3-13

30. Miami Dolphins

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    It's no surprise the Miami Dolphins lost again, but when will it stop?

    The Dolphins have their best chance to get a win this weekend when the Denver Broncos and Tim Tebow come to town, but even then they'll be heavy underdogs.

    The Dolphins problems are multiple. They need a quarterback, a better running back, a consistent Brandon Marshall and their defense to live up to expectations. Easy enough, right?

    Suck4Luck, fellas. Suck4Luck.

    Predicted 2011 Record: 2-14

29. Kansas City Chiefs

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    The Kansas City Chiefs have won two straight games, saving the job of head coach Todd Haley and giving fans in Missouri hope. Those two wins won't amount to much for the Chiefs coming off their bye week.

    Kansas City has to face the red-hot Oakland Raiders this week, and even at home that's going to be a tough game for the struggling Chiefs.

    Kansas City's two straight wins will be forgotten when the Raiders pound the ball with Darren McFadden through a defense that's been weak against the run (and pass) all season.

    Predicted 2011 Record: 5-11

28. Denver Broncos

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    Why are the Denver Broncos ranked ahead of teams with more wins than them? Because the Broncos are more talented, and early in the season, much can change.

    Denver will look to jump-start the season by playing Tim Tebow at quarterback and possibly by moving troubled wide receiver Brandon Lloyd. John Fox and John Elway are hoping these moves will be enough to energize a talented Denver team into action.

    The Broncos are good enough to make noise in the second half of the season, even if they won't come close to a playoff run. Don't sleep on Denver as a team that can deliver upsets late in the year.

    Predicted 2011 Record: 4-12

27. Arizona Cardinals

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    Will Kevin Kolb and the Arizona Cardinals ever get on the same page? If it happens, the Cardinals could be a surprise team of the second half this season. If not, they're looking at yet another top-10 draft pick. That may be better news for Cardinal fans.

    Arizona has so much talent on both sides of the ball, but it can't seem to put it together to equal wins. Coming off a bye week, Arizona needs to get a win against the Pittsburgh Steelers to gain the confidence needed to put together a string of wins in the following nine weeks.

    Do I think it will happen? No. I don't see Ken Whisenhunt getting this team playing the type of football it could be. Whisenhunt is on the hot seat.

    Predicted 2011 Record: 4-12

26. Minnesota Vikings

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    It seems inevitable at this point that rookie quarterback Christian Ponder will soon replace veteran Donovan McNabb at quarterback. Coming off a win over the Arizona Cardinals last week, McNabb and the Vikings were embarrassed by the Chicago Bears Sunday night.

    Which is the real team? The Sunday night version, by far. The Vikings have the NFL's best running back, but they can't get their offense going because there is no threat of a passing attack. Blame McNabb, blame the offensive line and blame the play-calling. Blame whomever you like, as things are falling apart in Minnesota.

    It's time to see what Ponder can do.

    Predicted 2011 Record: 4-12

25. Seattle Seahawks

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    The last time we saw the Seattle Seahawks they were beating the New York Giants. With a much-needed bye this week the Seahawks will be well rested for a must-win game on the road against the Cleveland Browns this weekend.

    Seattle's season has been a disappointment coming off a 2010 season that saw the Seahawks make it to the second round of the playoffs. This year, Seattle will be lucky to finish third in the division.

    The Seahawks' record may be better than many teams ranked below them, if only because they are almost guaranteed three more wins in the division.

    Predicted 2011 Record: 4-12

24. Cleveland Browns

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    So much for the Cleveland Browns being a surprise playoff team this season. The 2011 season may be rough for fans of the Browns, but there has to be hope for next year.

    Quarterback Colt McCoy doesn't have the supporting cast to win this season, but he's showing progress and impressive moxie as the team's franchise quarterback. Give McCoy a consistent running game and at least one real threat at wide receiver and he'll take off.

    Cleveland has to be encouraged by the play of a young defense. There are building blocks in place to turn Cleveland into a perennial contender.

    Predicted 2011 Record: 5-11

23. Jacksonville Jaguars

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    Each week that Blaine Gabbert has been under center for the Jacksonville Jaguars, he's gotten better. Gabbert was almost good enough in the second half against the Pittsburgh Steelers this weekend to pull off a win.

    The rookie quarterback does make mistakes, and he is incredibly raw, but there is promise there. Much like the situation in Cleveland and St. Louis, Gabbert needs playmakers at wide receiver before he can take off and maximize his potential as an NFL quarterback.

    Jacksonville has a tough road ahead, but if the Jaguars can play like they did this weekend, they'll be competitors each week.

    Predicted 2011 Record: 4-12

22. Carolina Panthers

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    The Carolina Panthers may not be winning games, but they are among the most exciting teams in the NFL. That's all because of rookie quarterback Cam Newton.

    Newton, who has to be the favorite for Rookie of the Year honors, has transformed Carolina from the NFL's worst team into a contender each week. All it will take is a few mistakes by the opposition for the Panthers to grab a handful of wins over the course of the season.

    The Panthers' 2012 season should be an exciting one. Once the team has Jon Beason and Thomas Davis back, and with another year of experience for Newton, this team could be dangerous.

    Predicted 2011 Record: 5-11

21. Chicago Bears

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    I realize the Chicago Bears won this week, but I also point out they beat the 1-5 Minnesota Vikings. The Bears have serious problems, and for that they move down this week.

    The Bears offensive line was exposed against the Detroit Lions last week. There will be weeks when the offensive line is the sole reason for a loss, and there will be weeks when the Bears are good enough to overcome their inefficiencies up front.

    Chicago will be a contender all season, but I cannot see it beating the Lions or Green Bay Packers at any point this season. That's at least three more losses.

    Predicted 2011 Record: 7-9

20. New York Jets

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    The New York Jets brought home a "much needed win" Monday night, but they did it against the Miami Dolphins.

    Not exactly a ringing endorsement of their ability as a football team.

    Darrelle Revis, however, is playing the best football of any cornerback (maybe defender) in the NFL. Revis is simply on fire this season, and quarterbacks should be wise and target Antonio Cromartie as much as possible the rest of the way.

    Predicted 2011 Record: 8-8

19. Philadelphia Eagles

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    Maybe I'm buying into the hype (again), but the Philadelphia Eagles looked damn good Sunday in dismantling the Washington Redskins.

    The secondary played as well as many expected before the season began, picking off Rex Grossman four times and forcing Mike Shanahan to switch quarterbacks. The offense was OK, with Michael Vick doing enough to give this team a much-needed win.

    The Eagles are good enough to get hot and roll to a few wins in a row. They'll have a chance to get healthy and make adjustments with a bye this week.

    Predicted 2011 Record: 9-7

18. Washington Redskins

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    Stop me if you've heard this one before, but the Washington Redskins have serious problems at quarterback.

    Rex Grossman threw four interceptions this week against the Philadelphia Eagles, causing Mike Shanahan to bring in John Beck under center. That's not good news.

    The NFL trade deadline is Tuesday. The Redskins should be on the horn calling about Kyle Orton and Carson Palmer. The Redskins are still very much in the NFC East race. They're a good quarterback away from the playoffs.

    Predicted 2011 Record: 8-8

17. Dallas Cowboys

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    Some may disagree with moving the Dallas Cowboys down after they lost a close game to the New England Patriots, but a loss is a loss in my book.

    The Cowboys are not as good on the field as they are on paper. This is a team that is weak up front and without a dependable running game. That much was clear on Sunday when they couldn't protect a lead against New England.

    Tony Romo is again inconsistent and makes too many mistakes for Dallas to be considered a real threat in the NFC East.

    Predicted 2011 Record: 8-8

16. Tennessee Titans

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    It's mind-boggling to think what the Tennessee Titans could do if Chris Johnson wasn't crapping the bed at running back this season.

    Tennessee has quietly been one of the better teams of the first half, and with a loss by the Houston Texans this weekend they are the new leaders in the AFC South.

    Matt Hasselbeck and a stout young defense will come off the bye to face the Houston Texans in a game that will decide who leads the AFC South at the halfway point.

    Predicted 2011 Record: 9-7

15. Atlanta Falcons

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    You may not have heard, but the Atlanta Falcons are quickly making up ground in the NFC South after a bad start to the season.

    The Falcons sit at 3-3 after six games, but they are just one game back in the NFC South with a loss today by the New Orleans Saints. The Falcons are also 1-1 in the division, which helps their cause.

    The Falcons were my pick to win the NFC South before the season began. They're not out of it yet. Matt Ryan and his talented wide receivers need to get going, and the offensive line needs to play as well as it did today for Atlanta to make a second-half comeback this season.

    Predicted 2011 Record: 10-6

14. Cincinnati Bengals

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    How many people can tell me the Cincinnati Bengals' record without looking?

    I bet not many people outside Cincinnati know that the Bengals are 4-2 this year. It's the secret of the NFL so far.

    You won't hear much credit given to the Bengals on ESPN or the NFL Network, but they deserve mention for their respectable start to the season. Rookies Andy Dalton and A.J. Green are the building blocks Cincinnati needs to win in the next decade.

    Predicted 2011 Record: 9-7

13. Pittsburgh Steelers

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    The Pittsburgh Steelers may have started the season with a rough loss to the Baltimore Ravens, but they've fired back since.

    The Steelers are 4-2 and just one game back in the AFC North, trailing only the Ravens. The Steelers should get another win this weekend against the Arizona Cardinals...if they can play better than they did this week against the Jacksonville Jaguars.

    There are still concerns about the speed, or lack thereof, on the Pittsburgh defense. They need a fire lit under their asses to power through the second half.

    Predicted 2011 Record: 10-6

12. San Diego Chargers

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    You may be wondering how a team can move down three spots when it didn't even play this week. The answer: I wouldn't pick the San Diego Chargers to beat any of the 11 teams ranked ahead of them if the two faced off at a neutral site.

    Simple enough, right?

    San Diego has padded its record against weak opponents. It'll get a real test this weekend against the New York Jets (I kid).

    Seriously, the Chargers will get to five wins without beating a winning team. That may be enough to get them to the playoffs.

    Predicted 2011 Record: 10-6

11. Tampa Bay Buccaneers

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    Last week the Tampa Bay Buccaneers had their asses handed to them on a silver platter by the San Francisco 49ers, courtesy of a 48-3 loss. I expected the hangover to carry over this week in a tough divisional game against the New Orleans Saints.

    Not so much.

    The Buccaneers played inspired football in getting a win at home over the Saints, pushing their record to 4-2.

    The NFC South is going to be a tough race all the way through Week 17. I've been calling this the best division in football, and I believe that still.

    Predicted 2011 Record: 9-7

10. Oakland Raiders

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    Since losing a tough game to the New England Patriots in Week 4, the Oakland Raiders have won two straight games and positioned themselves well in the AFC West.

    Oakland has won at home and on the road these last two weeks, winning games it was favored to win and beating a favored opponent.

    The trade to bring Carson Palmer to Oakland won't help immediately, but the Raiders shouldn't need much help in beating the Kansas City Chiefs at home. Palmer will have two weeks to prepare for his first start against the Denver Broncos, in Oakland, on November 6.

    Predicted 2011 Record: 10-6

9. New York Giants

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    Everything bad I said about Eli Manning last year and this summer (and there was a lot of it) has to be taken back. Eli, I'm sorry.

    Manning is playing the best football of his career behind an average offensive line and without the dominant running game the Giants were supposed to feature this season. The Giants are 4-2 and leading the NFC East. Credit, Manning.

    This team will only become more dangerous as it gets healthy along the defensive line and in the backfield. With Hakeem Nicks, Mario Manningham, Victor Cruz and Jake Ballard becoming reliable threats in the passing game, the Giants will be tough to beat.

    Predicted 2011 Record: 11-5

8. Houston Texans

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    The Houston Texans have dropped two straight games, one to the Oakland Raiders and then this weekend to the Baltimore Ravens. They are still one of the NFL's top 10 teams.

    Houston can expect Andre Johnson back soon, which will make a world of difference. Jacoby Jones played well in Johnson's absence, but there is no replacing one of the game's best receivers. With Johnson back in the fold, Houston's offense will be back on track.

    The Texans are now second in the AFC South, and they'll need everyone on their game to get a win over the Tennessee Titans this weekend.

    Predicted 2011 Record: 10-6

7. Buffalo Bills

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    Buffalo lost a heartbreaker to the New York Giants this week, but in doing so the Bills proved once again that they belong as one of the best teams in the game.

    You might ask why the Bills are ranked two spots above the Giants if they just lost to them. The teams have identical records, with the Bills' other loss coming to the 4-2 Cincinnati Bengals. The Giants lost to the Seattle Seahawks last week. Big difference there.

    Buffalo has the offense to get the 10 wins needed to win a playoff spot in the AFC this season, but it needs much better play at cornerback if it hopes to do anything once it gets to the playoffs.

    Predicted 2011 Record: 11-5

6. New Orleans Saints

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    Don't look now, but the New Orleans Saints' lead in the NFC South is gone. The Saints now trail the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, who are 2-0 in the division.

    New Orleans has struggled against big defensive lines, and that's what the Buccaneers used to pressure Drew Brees this weekend. The front four of the Buccaneers, and their great depth there, won this ballgame.

    The Saints should still be a playoff team, but their division is a tough one. New Orleans has the most talent in the division, but I wouldn't rule out a surge by the Buccaneers and Falcons late.

    Predicted 2011 Record: 11-5

5. Baltimore Ravens

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    The Baltimore Ravens were impressive again this weekend in a win over the Houston Texans. They are only moving down so other teams can move up.

    Baltimore is the second-best team in the AFC right now, which should make fans in Baltimore pretty damn happy. The defense is playing like it's the year 2000, which means it is by far good enough to lead the Ravens to a Super Bowl.

    The team needs more consistent play from Joe Flacco at quarterback, and it also needs rookie Torrey Smith to continue having big games. If that happens, Baltimore will find itself in the AFC championship game.

    Predicted 2011 Record: 12-4

4. Detroit Lions

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    The NFL Game of the Week didn't disappoint this week. Unless you live in Detroit, that is.

    The 5-0 Lions hosted the 4-1 San Francisco 49ers in a game that would see both teams walk out of Ford Field with identical 5-1 records.

    Lion fans may be quick to react this morning, but they should be damn proud of the way their team fought the 49ers tooth and nail this week. We knew the Lions would lose eventually; take pride in the five straight wins and the fight with which your team played Sunday.

    Detroit has the lead in the NFC wild-card race, and it shouldn't let go of that all season.

    Predicted 2011 Record: 12-4

3. San Francisco 49ers

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    NFL Coach of the Year: Jim Harbaugh.

    NFL Comeback Player of the Year: Alex Smith.

    Underrated Defensive Player of the Year: Justin Smith.

    The NFL season isn't even to the halfway point, but I'm putting my vote in on these awards now. No team has been more surprising than the 5-1 San Francisco 49ers.

    Give credit to Jed York and Trent Baalke for getting Harbaugh to leave Stanford and then for trusting Harbaugh to re-sign Alex Smith at quarterback and to draft an underrated linebacker from Missouri, Aldon Smith, instead of going after a quarterback. Those moves are a big part of the reason the 49ers are running away with the NFC West and just knocked off the undefeated Detroit Lions.

    Predicted 2011 Record: 12-4

2. New England Patriots

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    Ask yourself this with complete objectivity: If the New England Patriots were playing every team in the NFL at a neutral location, how many teams would you pick to beat them?

    I asked myself this and could name just one team that I would pick over the Patriots. That team is ranked No. 1 this week.

    The Patriots are simply too good to be counted out. They came back in the final two minutes this week to beat the Dallas Cowboys, pushing their record to 5-1 and cementing their place among the elite teams in the NFL.

    The presence of Tom Brady and Wes Welker on this team will make the Patriots a favorite to win the AFC for the rest of the season.

    Predicted 2011 Record: 13-3

1. Green Bay Packers

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    Did you think it would be anyone else?

    In a week when the Green Bay Packers ran their record to 6-0, the only undefeated record in the NFL, the Packers went largely unnoticed by the national media. The reason? We expect them to keep winning. And so they do.

    The Packers won't be slowing down any time soon either. They take on the Minnesota Vikings this weekend and should easily push their record to 7-0. Green Bay should have the playoffs wrapped up by mid-November.

    The question now might be if the Packers will lose at all this season.

    Predicted 2011 Record: 15-1

     

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