For the second week in a row, the top team in the power rankings torpedoed out of the top four. Upsets, close calls and not one, but two position players kicking extra points wrapped up another wacky week, completely jumbling the power structure in the NFL. We’re heading into Week 10 and it seems like almost every team is still in the playoff hunt. (Sorry Bills fans, I said “almost” every team.) Keep reading to see where your team landed and, of course, let me know how you feel about the rankings in the comments below!
Last Week: 3
Pittsburgh Steelers (6-2)The return of Big Ben hasn’t rejuvenated the offense the way I thought it would, but the defense is playing at such an elite level against the run that this still looks like the team to beat in the NFL right now. If Pittsburgh can figure out a way to jumpstart their 27th ranked pass offense, they’ll be the most complete team in the league.
Last Week: 4
Baltimore Ravens (6-2)Even after pasting the Dolphins in Week 9, the Ravens should be a little concerned about their inability to get the ball into the end zone. Baltimore is tied for 23rd in red zone efficiency and will need to score more points to compete with the league’s elite.
Last Week: 6
New York Giants (6-2)On the other hand, the Giants practically live in the end zone. The G-Men lead the NFC in touchdowns scored and have crushed their opponents by a combined score of 161-75 during their current five-game winning streak.
Last Week: 9
Green Bay Packers (6-3)When you play a patsy and you’re an elite team, you should destroy them. By that reasoning, Green Bay took a step towards becoming an elite team by completely dismantling the Cowboys in Week 9. With a week off heading into the stretch run, the Packers might be able to get healthy enough to challenge for the NFC crown with the Giants and Eagles.
Last Week: 12
Philadelphia Eagles (5-3)Yes, so long as Michael Vick stays healthy, they are a real Super Bowl contender. If they can avoid getting tripped up by the Redskins in McNabb Bowl II, they’ll head into their battle for NFC East supremacy with the Giants in Week 11 having won four out of five.
Last Week: 5
New York Jets (6-2)They got bailed out by bad play-calling in Detroit last week and their clunky offense might just dash their Super Bowl hopes. The Jets are averaging 11.5 points per game since their bye week, while struggling quarterback Mark Sanchez has just a 61.6 QB rating in his last four starts.
Last Week: 1
New England Patriots (6-2)BOOM! That crashing noise came from the Patriots colossal stinkbomb in Cleveland. The fall from #1 down to #7 should serve as a wake up call to play more fundamentally complete football. And really, the Pats don’t have a choice, with back-to-back battles against the Steelers and Colts coming up.
Last Week: 7
Atlanta Falcons (6-2)There’s a lot of big name, big mouthed receivers in this league, but how about we take a moment to appreciate the greatness of Falcons All-Pro receiver Roddy White? Since 2008, White is second in the NFL in receiving yards, fifth in receiving TDs and last in annoying press conferences and silly touchdown dances.
Last Week: 2
Indianapolis Colts (5-3)They didn’t fall this far just because of one road loss to a tough Eagles team, they fell this far because they lost yet another key offensive player to injury. Austin Collie’s concussion might be just too much to overcome, even for All-World Peyton Manning.
Last Week: 10
New Orleans Saints (6-3)They haven’t looked right all year, but do you realize the Saints’ defense is first in passing yards allowed and fifth in points allowed? If Reggie Bush and/or Pierre Thomas can return healthy to balance out this offense, the Saints might just be more dangerous than last year.
Last Week: 8
Tennessee Titans (5-3)Even during a bye week, the Titans captured a ton of league-wide headlines by signing one of the NFL’s most talented, and controversial, players in Randy Moss. This is Moss’ third opportunity THIS SEASON to prove that he’s not washed up, can he handle the challenge?
Last Week: 17
Oakland Raiders (5-4)Welcome to the NFL, Jacoby Ford. Ford, a fourth-round draft choice out of Clemson, had six catches for 148 yards (even adding a return TD to boot) in the Raiders important division victory over the Chiefs. It’s unexpected contributions from guys like Ford that have the Raiders talking playoffs for the first time since 2002.
Last Week: 15
San Diego Chargers (4-5)This is unfolding like another typical San Diego season. First come the catastrophic early season losses. Then the crippling injuries. Now the bye week is here and the Chargers are only one and a half games back in the AFC West. Will this topsy-turvy season finish like all the rest, with a trip to the playoffs? Stay tuned…
Last Week: 11
Kansas City Chiefs (5-3)Whenever a surprise team shoots out to a fast start, we always wonder if they’re for real. Well, the Chiefs just dropped a very winnable division game in Oakland. Now they need to prove they can bounce back and handle adversity. Then again, it’s hard to call games against softies like Denver, Arizona and Seattle “adverse.”
Last Week: 13
Tampa Bay Buccaneers (5-3)Speaking of upstart teams trying to prove how seriously we should take them, the Bucs proved a lot…in a loss. Tampa Bay had a chance to claim sole possession of first place in the NFC South deep into the fourth quarter of Week 9 and came up just short. But the toughness they showed proved that this Bucs team isn’t going to fall from the playoff race without a fight.
Last Week: 14
Miami Dolphins (4-4)The Dolphins are hoping one Chad can do what another Chad couldn’t. Chad Henne has thrown one touchdown against five interceptions in his last three games, so Miami is looking to the reliable Chad Pennington, who hasn’t started a game since September of last year, to steady the offense.
Last Week: 16
Houston Texans (4-4)Deteriorating defensive line play has destroyed any momentum the Texans built up earlier this season. The line only has three sacks in the teams’ last four games during which the Texans have gone 1-3 and fallen back to the middle of the pack.
Last Week: 18
St. Louis Rams (4-4)The one thing the improving Rams have failed to do so far in their turnaround season is win on the road. Their Week 10 match-up in San Francisco provides the best opportunity to grab their first road victory of the season, while also knocking the Niners out of the playoff race for good.
Last Week: 24
Minnesota Vikings (3-5)Barely escaping with a home win over the punchless Cardinals wasn’t impressive, but it did keep the Vikings within sniffing distance of the playoffs. Believe it or not, with two straight division games coming up (at Chicago, Green Bay), Minnesota could find itself fighting for first place in the NFC North at the end of Week 11.
Last Week: 25
Cleveland Browns (3-5)It’s only been three starts, but it looks like Colt McCoy has staked his claim to the starting QB spot in Cleveland. When you knock off the defending Super Bowl champs and Patriots in two straight contests, you’re obviously making the right plays behind center.
Last Week: 20
Chicago Bears (5-3)The Bears helped keep the Bills away from Jay Culter in Week 9 with a commitment to the running game. Chicago called 31 running plays to only 30 passing plays and exhibited the kind of balance they’ll need to keep Cutler upright long enough to make big plays in the passing game. Now if they just improve their 3.9 yards per carry average, they can make a push in the scattered NFC.
Last Week: 22
Detroit Lions (2-6)The gut-wrenching close calls continue to pile up. Detroit’s six losses have come by a combined total of 35 points. Even more gut-wrenching, the Lions might be without quarterback Matthew Stafford for the rest of the season. Again. Stafford has missed almost as many games (11) as he’s started (13).
Last Week: 21
Jacksonville Jaguars (4-4)Halfway through the season, the Jags reach a breaking point in their season. In the jumbled AFC South, a win on Sunday could vault them into a first-place tie in their division.
Last Week: 23
Washington Redskins (4-4)I see this McNabb drama unfolding in one of two ways: McNabb explodes in an inspired performance to prove both his current and former coach that they were wrong about him. Or, McNabb is washed up, just like his current and former coach said, and he falls apart, effectively ending the Redskins season. Either way, it will make for very dramatic television.
Last Week: 26
Cincinnati Bengals (2-6)For all the trouble he seems to have brought with him, Terrell Owens sure has delivered on the field. TO is third in the NFL in receiving yards and fourth in receiving touchdowns this season. Too bad his mouthy partner is not having such a successful campaign. Chad Ochocinco is on pace to have his worst fully healthy season since his rookie year in 2001.
Last Week: 19
Seattle Seahawks (4-4)It’s really all or nothing for this Seahawks team. In their four wins, Seattle is averaging just under 26 points per game. In their losses, however, the Seahawks don’t even average a touchdown a game.
Last Week: 27
Arizona Cardinals (3-5)As bad as the Cardinals – and more noticeably, their quarterbacks – have been this season, a win in Week 10 could land them in a first-place tie. Such is the world of the NFC West.
Last Week: 28
San Francisco 49ers (2-6)Speaking of the mild NFC West, people are still counting the Niners as a group capable of winning their division. That’s because at 2-6, they’re still only two games out of first. If Troy Smith leads this squad to the playoffs, we shouldn’t call him a quarterback, we should call him a magician.
Last Week: 29
Denver Broncos (2-6)They’re the worst running team in the league, and the second to worst run defense in the league. That’s not gonna add up to a whole lotta wins in the Mile High City.
Last Week: 31
Buffalo Bills (0-8)Oh Buffalo…I feel for you. Sure, I’m a Bears fan, so I was rooting against you this past weekend, but still, how many hearbreaking losses can one fanbase endure? If it’s any consolation, the Bills seem to be fighting A LOT harder than the rest of the league’s bottom-feeders.
Last Week: 30
Carolina Panthers (1-7)Bottom-feeders such as these Panthers, who aren’t failing to put up a fight, they’re not putting up much of anything. Carolina has scored 42 fewer points than the second lowest scoring team in the league.
Last Week: 32
Dallas Cowboys (1-7)Nice guy Wade Phillips got shipped out of town, but it’s going to take more than changing the guy who wears the headset on the sidelines to wake up a team that’s lost its last two games by a combined score of 80-24.