A busy week of football action has now come and gone, and now its time once again to take a look at the best and worst in the league with the weekly power rankings. Teams that were ranked the week before have their ranking next to their team name:
NFC Top 5
1. Chicago (1) – No reason to move the Bears as they should have been able to work on any problems with their bye week. They will have to adjust without Mike Brown in the back of the defense, as they have not played well in years past without him. The Bears come off the bye with back to back home games vs the 49’ers and Dolphins, two teams with a combined record of 3-10.
2. New Orleans (3) – With the Seahawks stunning home loss to Minnesota, the 2nd spot in the conference has to go to the surprising Saints. Getting rested with a bye week of their own, the Saints are still atop the NFC South. They have been consistent all year with the 7th ranked offense and 9th ranked defense in the league. They come off the bye with a home game vs the Ravens, then road games at Tampa Bay and Pittsburgh.
3. New York Giants (-) – Losses to the other three ranked teams in last weeks ranking in the NFC has opened the door for the Giants, who have reeled off three straight impressive wins. They now have the motivation of playing for team leader Tiki Barber, who has basically said this will be his final year in the league. The defense swarmed the Cowboys Monday night in Big D, gaining six sacks on Drew Bledose and Tony Romo.
4. St.Louis (-) – The Rams reappear on the rankings despite a bye and having a week to lick their wounds from a home loss to the Seahawks. They are still allowing way too many yards (339 per game), but have a solid offense and Marc Bulger is having a Pro Bowl year. They will be tested with their first two games off the bye at San Diego and at home for Kansas City.
5. Minnesota (-) – The Vikings won Sunday in likely the toughest place to win in the league – Qwest Field in Seattle. They did it with a solid outing from their defense, and a running game that has been reborn under Chester Taylor. Brad Johnson has been safe, yet effective, but Taylor’s 98 yards per game on the ground has been the difference. They will come off the Seattle win with a huge test Monday night at home vs New England.
NFC Bottom 3
1. Arizona (1) – Denny Green might want to start looking at his options at the end of the year, since it looks as if he’ll be out of a job with the Cardinals. Arizona lost to the worst team in the league Sunday in Oakland, and the hangover of that bitter loss to the Bears was more clear than ever. Edgerrin James’ 61 yards per game is well below what the team thought it would get when they signed him to a huge off season deal.
2. Detroit (2) – The Lions once again were competitive, but are still giving up 27 points per game and 350 yards of offense per contest. At 1-6, they have some easier games down the stretch (San Fran, at Arizona, Miami, at Green Bay) and maybe can start to build for next season. Roy Williams, one week after a 10 catch game, was held to just two catches Sunday vs the Jets.
3. Washington (-) – A first timer to the bottom 3, the Redskins are just not at the level where they were a season ago. The defense, which was tough a season ago, is getting beat up and down this year, allowing 24.4 points per game. Mark Brunell has had three subpar games in a row, and it may be time to look for Jason Campbell to get some snaps. They get a bye before hosting Dallas and then heading to Philly and Tampa Bay.
AFC Top 5
1. Indianapolis (1) – The Colts looked like they were back in form on offense last week in a 36-22 win at home vs Washington. Peyton Manning had his biggest game of the year with 342 yards and four TD’s, and has thrown 12 TD’s this year and just two interceptions. The Colts biggest test of the 2006 season takes place Sunday when they travel to Denver, then they get a Sunday night game at New England.
2. Denver (2) – With a home showdown Sunday looming against Peyton and the Colts, the Broncos defense once again was strong in a road win vs the Browns Sunday. The offense is going to have to put up more than 13 points, and the defense is going to be tested like no other game this season. Denver will have to use ball control and try and create turnovers at a loud Invesco Field if they want to move to 6-1.
3. New England (4) – The Pats just keep winning, and despite flying pretty much under the radar most of the season are the easy choice to be the champs of the AFC East. They have a solid running attack and Tom Brady, despite a dearth of big name wide outs, is still as dangerous as ever. The next three games at Minnesota, vs Indy and vs the Jets are all nice tests to see how they will fare come January.
4. San Diego (3) – The Chargers take a step back this week after losing 30-27 in KC. The defense is in trouble with Shawne Merriman missing four games due to suspension, and other problems at linebacker with injuries to Shaun Phillips and Steve Foley already out for the year. The offense is going to have to pick up the D while Merriman and Phillips are out, and with back to back home games vs St.Louis and Cleveland, they should be able to put up some points.
5. Cincinnati (-) – The Bengals have clawed their way back into the top 5 with a solid win over the Panthers. Carson Palmer was given time to throw, and the defense finally did a decent job in stopping the run, allowing just 60 to the Panthers. The next four weeks will determine the Bengals season, as they host the run happy Falcons, go to Baltimore, host the Chargers, and then head to New Orleans. The division is a long way from being won, but Sunday’s win has them back in the drivers seat.
AFC Bottom 3
1. Oakland (1) – Sorry Raider Nation, a win over a hung over Cardinals team at home has not changed my mind enough to move you from being the worst team in the conference. They did finally step up on offense, as they got Randy Moss involved and the Andrew Walter looked like an actual NFL QB for one afternoon. Now they have the task of playing the two Super Bowl teams from a year ago back to back in Pittsburgh at home and Seattle on the road.
2. Cleveland (3) – The Browns are a mess, and Monday night started to finally right some of the wrongs by firing offensive coordinator Maurice Carthon. The offense is awful right now, and Sunday after a bye vs the Broncos managed less than 100 yards in the first half and 165 yards overall. At 1-5 this year and 7-15 in a year and a half, Romeo Crennel had better start to right this ship before he’s back to being a coordinator.
3. Miami (2) – The Dolphins are another mess, as Sunday they fell at home to poor Packers 34-24. Jey Harrington showed he could throw the ball, with over 400 yards passing, but had three picks, four sacks and only 67 yards on the ground. With the season clearly over, Harrington might as well stay as the starter. The Dolphins at 1-6 have a bye then get the task of heading to Chicago to play the Bears.