4 weeks down, 12 to go in the NFL regular season. With a 10-4 week in my picks behind me, time to check in once again with my weekly power rankings. The previous weeks ranking is next to the team, if they were ranked last week.
NFC Top 5
1. Chicago (2) – The Bears are a force in the league, make no doubt after Sunday nights win over the Seahawks. The offense is heads and tails better than last season, and the defense is just as good, if not better. This team will be very dangerous if they can claim home field in the playoffs.
2. Philadelphia (3) – Now that the Monday night dispatching of the Packers is behind them, all the hype that is T.O.’s return to Philly can begin. Staying focused on the task of beating the Cowboys had better be first and foremost, as both teams have a lot to prove in this upcoming NFC East showdown.
3. Seattle (1) – They drew a tough task of going to Chicago on a Sunday night without MVP Shaun Alexander and the bye should help them get some much needed rest. An interesting matchup with the Rams in St.Louis is next after that, and don’t forget St.Louis beat the Hawks three times two seasons ago. With or without Alexander they need to find a way to win that game.
4. Atlanta (5) – The setback in New Orleans now seems like a long time ago, as Sunday they got back to running the ball and creating turnovers in a 32-10 win over the sad Cardinals. The team is rushing for over 230 yards a game, and with a bye and back to back home games vs the Giants and Steelers, we’ll see just how good that ground game is.
5. Dallas (– ) – T.O. seems to be okay, and you can bet he will be lobbying for the ball just about every play vs the Eagles this week. They cannot allow the emotion or hostile crowd in Philly to overwhelm them, and with home games vs the Texans and Giants after the Philly showdown, a win here would go a long way.
NFC Bottom 3
1. San Francisco (3) – They have earned the spot of worst in the conference after being shut out in Kansas City. No shame in losing to the Chiefs at Arrowhead, but this was a bad effort, and Alex Smith seemed to take a step backward throwing for 92 yards and two picks. They have a shot to move to 2-3 with a home game vs the true worst in the league – Oakland.
2. Detroit (2) – Once again, if this team could play defense, they wouldn’t be that bad. The offense is putting up 322 yards per game, but your not going to win allowing 368 yards and close to 29 points per game. The last three weeks they have allowed 106 points. Kevin Jones’ 63 yards per game is also not good enough.
3. Tampa Bay (1) – They had a week to get a new QB ready, but with a game at New Orleans looming, the first task for Bruce Gradkowski will not be easy. They simply must find a way to move the football, as their 9 points per game is by far the worst in the NFL.
AFC Top 5
1. Indianapolis (1) – They had to pull one out against a gutsy New York Jets team, but this easily could have been a trap game on the road off a big win vs Jacksonville. The defense is not as good as last year, allowing 21 points per game, but they could get healthy with the Titans at home, followed by a bye, than another home game vs Washington.
2. Baltimore (4) – Sunday’s win over the Chargers was impressive, and Steve McNair is showing the ability to get it done in the clutch, with back to back winning drives vs Cleveland and San Diego. The defense is still strong, allowing 8.3 points per game. The next two weeks at Denver on Monday night and at home for Carolina will give a much better indication as to how good this team is.
3. Denver (5) – This ranking is more by default, as the Bengals tanked it, and the Chargers lost in Baltimore. Nevertheless, this team has a shot to make a statement Monday vs the undefeated Ravens. If they play as well Monday as they did last Sunday night vs the Pats, they may be number two in the conference by next week.
4. New England (–) – The Pats have found a stud back in Laurence Maroney, and now the pressure is not all on Tom Brady to make a play. Their 38-13 win over the Bengals showed you can never overlook this team, and with the struggling Dolphins and a bye, the Pats could be as dangerous as ever within the next few weeks.
5. San Diego (3) – A missed field goal and 10 penalties doomed their shot at a huge road win in Baltimore on Sunday. They have a shot to rebound at home against the Steelers in what should be a “must-see” game on Sunday night. The defense is still only allowing 7.7 points per game, and they could make life miserable for Big Ben and the Steelers Sunday night.
AFC Bottom 3
1. Oakland (3) – Will this team win a game this season? Sunday may have been their best shot, up 21-3 against the Browns, they totally mailed it in and ended up short, losing 24-21. Andrew Walter is maybe the worst starting QB in the league, and Randy Moss looks as if he doesn’t care. And to think Art Shell came back for this.
2. Tennessee (1) – Amazing that you can improve your ranking with a 45-14 loss. The team is 0-4, and now has to deal with the incident with Albert Haynesworth. Can you say lost season? At least this season will be one in which we’ll see plenty of Vince Young, and we’ll see fast how he deals with losing week in and week out.
3. Miami (–) – Hard to believe that the Dolphins were many experts pick to win the AFC East. The offense is way worse than people thought, and now Minnesota doesn’t look so dumb for dumping Daunte Culpepper. With road games at New England and at the Jets, this team is staring 1-5 in the face.