Time again for our weekly Power Rankings, and this week there is plenty to talk about with some upsets and teams rising and falling in the rankings. So with that said – let’s get right to it:
NFC Top 5
1. Chicago (1) – Despite their weakest showing of the season on Monday Night, the Bears found a way, so you have to keep them at the top spot in the NFC. They now have a week to rest and get over the near loss to Arizona, and follow it up with what should be easy games at home vs the 49’ers and Dolphins before they head out for three straight on the road. Those road games will really give us an indication of just where this team will be come January.
2. Seattle (3) – The Hawks proved that they are not to be overlooked with Sunday’s gutsy 30-28 win over the Rams in St.Louis. The bad news is they will for at least the next two weeks still be without their MVP In Shaun Alexander. This week at home vs the Vikings will not be an easy test, as the Vikings have been competitive this season.
3. New Orleans (-) – Despite many experts thinking that the feel good story of the Saints would simply go away, all they have done is keep winning. Sunday’s win over the Eagles is another step in the right direction for New Orleans, and with the diverse offense of Deuce, Reggie and Drew Brees, there is no doubt that the Saints will have to be dealt with down the road.
4. Carolina (-) – There is no doubt that Steve Smith is the ultimate difference maker for the Panthers. His presence on the field makes the Panthers a team that looks better than last years team that reached the NFC title game. With four straight wins, including wins at Tampa and Baltimore, the Panthers seem to be reaching the form many thought they would before the season started.
5. Philadelphia (2) – A bit of a letdown Sunday in losing to the Saints at the SuperDome, but this is still a very good team that has a shot to win 10-11 games. The NFC East is rounding into form and future games vs the Giants, Cowboys and Redskins will clearly determine where the Eagles end up. For now, a road game at Tampa Bay vs a team coming off a big win vs Cincinnati looms.
NFC Bottom 3
1. Arizona (-) – Hard to believe that this was a team thinking playoffs when the season started. Back to back home losses after leading both games by double digits has earned them this spot. On a bright note, looks like they have their QB of the future in Matt Leinart, and looks like he is going to end up being a steal in the draft when its all said and done. Now they just need to get the running game going.
2. San Francisco (3) – The 49’ers hung in early, but eventually were beaten up by a superior Chargers team, allowing 48 points in getting blownout. Mike Nolan said Monday there would be changes after the team comes back from the bye. How about picking a defense instead of going back and forth between the 4-3, 3-4, and 4-4 as a start?
3. Detroit (1) – The Lions got a home win on Sunday to break their five-game losing streak and get the monkey off their backs. Detroit’s offense continues to put up points, and lo and behold they finally got some defense as they held the Bills in the 4th quarter to secure the win. They still need more production out of their running game, averaging just 71 per contest.
AFC Top 5
1. Indianapolis (1) – The Colts got a week to get some things worked on as they have had two scares in a row. At 5-0 with a bulls eye on their backs, things will not get easier over the next few weeks as they host an up-and-down Redskins team, followed by back to back road games at Denver and New England. The defense is still allowing way too many yards on the ground at 111 per game.
2. Denver (2) – The Broncos don’t score much, but when your defense has only allowed 7 points per game, you don’t need to put up 20 points per game. The concern is the offense, and what will happen if they fall behind or get in a shootout. A pair of games with the Chargers in weeks 11 and 14 could very well determine their season. The Colts and Steelers also loom on their schedule in the next three weeks.
3. San Diego (4) – The Chargers and Broncos are on a collision course for the AFC West title, and with the way that Philip Rivers is playing, it’s hard to bet against them. They are putting up 30 points per game, and Rivers has led the offense with solid play from a first-year QB. Their schedule is somewhat soft in the second half of the season, making them the favorites to take home the AFC West.
4. New England (3) – Rumors of a trade for Randy Moss would only make the Pats that much more dangerous. If not, they still have a solid offense that can run and put up points. They have rebounded nicely after the week three loss to the Broncos, and are putting up 139 yards per game on the ground to take the pressure off of Tom Brady. Two straight on the road coming up at Buffalo and Monday night the 30th at Minnesota.
5. Jacksonville (-) – By default since the AFC North does not deserve a spot this week, I’ll give the Jags the nod as the 5th best team in the conference. Coming off a bye and before that a big 41-0 home shutout of the Jets, the Jags look again like a solid pick for at least a wild card in the AFC. They as well have back to back road games looming at Houston and then a big matchup in Philly.
AFC Bottom 3
1. Oakland (1) – Easily the worst team in the league, the Raiders are simply bad, and should consider making some deals before the deadline. They had their shots Sunday night vs Denver, but had two costly turnovers and 13 penalties for 95 yards. Two more shots for wins this year, and one comes this week vs the Cardinals at home.
2. Miami (2) – The Dolphins just cannot seem to get things going this season, and Sunday fell behind the Jets before a late comeback fell short. Joey Harrington is simply not very good, and Sunday went 27-for-43 for 266 and two picks with one TD. Sitting Daunte Culpepper though is the right decision for now, as this teams hopes of a successful 2006 are down the drain.
3. Cleveland (-) – Sorry Browns fans, but the Titans road win at Washington was more impressive than yours two weeks ago vs the Raiders, thus earning you this spot. The defense is banged up and a mess, allowing 143 yards rushing per game, and 335 overall. Whoever thought Maurice Carthon was going to be a good offensive coordinator ought to have his head examined. Two home games vs the Broncos and Jets loom for the 1-4 Browns.