NFL Power Rankings Week 7: Whose Loss Dropped Them Out of the Top 10?
Week 6 of the 2010 NFL season gave us glimpse of which teams are true contenders, and which teams still have plenty of work to do.
The New England Patriots would have made this article had they not defeated the Ravens on a field goal in overtime yesterday. New England is one of several teams, including the New York Giants, Houston Texans and Indianapolis Colts, who won crucial games yesterday.
While the above teams avoided this list yesterday, quite a few teams are on a downward spiral toward mediocrity.
The halfway point of the season is when the true championship-caliber teams start to separate themselves from the pretenders.
The Green Bay Packers are reeling right now, but luckily their division is weak. Green Bay must find itself quickly, because injuries are no excuse for a team with preseason Super Bowl expectations.
These next 10 teams all lost yesterday, and find themselves out of the top 10 spots in this week's NFL Power Rankings.
The Falcons were hoping to return to the NFL playoffs this season, after finishing 11-5 two years ago and making the postseason for the first time since 2004.
Atlanta was the trendy pick in the NFC last season, after quarterback Matt Ryan put in a tremendous rookie season, and the front office acquired tight end Tony Gonzalez.
However the Falcons finished 8-8 last season, missing the playoffs. Off to a 4-1 start this season, Falcons fans were starting to believe.
The Philadelphia Eagles beat the Falcons yesterday 31-17, giving Atlanta a sense of reality: There's much work to do.
Atlanta could only muster 45 yards rushing from lead running back Michael Turner, and Matt Ryan was quite inefficient, barely completing 50 percent of his passes for 250 yards.
The Falcons defense was unable to stop Eagles quarterback Kevin Kolb, who threw for 326 yards and a career-high three touchdowns.
Kolb's favorite targets were DeSean Jackson and Jeremy Maclin. Jackson caught one touchdown before leaving the game with a head injury, and Maclin caught seven passes for a career-best 159 yards and two touchdowns.
Atlanta is still a quality team, and very much alive in the AFC South. But its defense is not good enough to win in January, and the offense is way too inconsistent with a running game on life support.
The Denver Broncos would have earned a top 10 ranking with a win over the New York Jets yesterday, but they could not stave off a late New York comeback, falling to 2-4 on the season.
Broncos quarterback Kyle Orton only threw for 209 yards, and was very inefficient, completing just 14 of his 34 pass attempts.
The Broncos could not stop the Jets in the final minutes, committing a pass interference penalty after they stopped New York on fourth down.
Jets' running back LaDainian Tomlinson finished the game with a two-yard touchdown run, his second of the game.
Denver let this game get away, but it could still make the playoffs. The AFC West is weak, and division-leading Chiefs have not proved they're real contenders.
Defense is Denver's deciding factor, because its offense, led by most improved player Kyle Orton, can score points on anyone.
Kansas City Chiefs
The Kansas City Chiefs were the last unbeaten team of the 2010 NFL season before losing to the Colts last week.
This week in Houston, the Chiefs had the lead for the majority of the game, but let the game slip away late.
Chiefs quarterback Matt Cassel, who has been criticized this season for his lack of production, played very well. He threw for 201 yards and three touchdowns, completing 20 of 29 passes.
Kansas City held a 10-point fourth-quarter lead, but saw it evaporate on an 11-yard touchdown catch by Texans receiver Andre Johnson with 28 seconds left in the game.
Houston's offense found its explosiveness from a year ago, scoring 35 points against a talented and speedy Chiefs defense.
Houston quarterback Matt Schaub threw for 305 yards and two touchdowns, while running back Arian Foster rushed for 71 yards and two touchdowns.
The Chiefs are now 3-2, having lost their last two games. With division rivals Denver, San Diego and Oakland all losing, the Chiefs could have gained some ground on everyone yesterday.
Instead the division is up for grabs, but the Chiefs still look like a team that can win the the AFC West and even a playoff game.
Green Bay Packers
A popular pick to win this year's Super Bowl, the Green Bay Packers are now wondering if they are good enough to even make the NFL playoffs in 2010.
The Miami Dolphins beat the Packers yesterday 23-20 in overtime, sealing the win with a 44-yard Dan Carpenter field goal with just under six minutes in the extra period.
After losing its second consecutive game, Green Bay faces many questions on both sides of the ball.
Green Bay's defense was unable to contain the Dolphins' passing game. Dolphins quarterback Chad Henne connected with receiver Brandon Marshall 10 times for 127 yards.
Green Bay's defense is not playing well right now, and maybe Shawn Merriman of the Chargers could help them.
The Packers strength however is their offense, but injuries are starting to take their toll on key players. After suffering a concussion last week, Aaron Rodgers started yesterday and threw for over 300 yards.
But the Green Bay rushing attack was weak, gaining 76 yards combined, with Rodgers accounting for 14 yards and the only rushing touchdown. Ryan Grant's season ending surgery has killed the Packers' ground game, and an injury to tight end Jermichael Finley is deteriorating the passing attack.
Green Bay is 3-3 and still the favorite to win the division, but its inability to win close games, even at home, puts the squad out of the top 10.
The Washington Redskins had the perfect stage to show they can be an elite team, a Sunday night primetime matchup vs. the Indianapolis Colts.
Peyton Manning and the Colts' passing attack were too much for the Redskins defense, as the Colts won 27-24, dropping Washington to 3-3.
The Redskins came into Sunday night with a two-game winning streak, but were unable to overcome a Colts defense playing quite poorly this season.
Washington quarterback Donovan McNabb threw two costly interceptions, but was efficient for most of the game, completing 29 of 45 pass attempts.
Washington played well, but turnovers cost them dearly. The best teams do not turn the ball over to great offenses led by the likes of Peyton Manning.
The Reskins are a good team, and the NFC East is still up for grabs, but they need to be more consistent to become a real contender.
NFL Week 7 Power Rankings
These teams all took a step backward in Week 6, but all of them remain in the playoff picture.
Injuries and inconsistent play are the dominating themes between these five teams.
Each team in this list plays in a competitive division, so winning the division is surely possible and the home playoff game that comes with it.
The season is still young, but now is the time to improve not regress, because the real championship contenders are bout to hit their stride.