Time again for the Power Rankings as this week things shifted a bit with quite a few upsets around the league. Sorry for the delay but I was out of town yesterday and was unable to get them up. Again, if the team was in the rankings a week ago, the number of their ranking will be next to the name of the team.
NFC Top 5
1. Chicago (1) – The Bears cemented their position at the top with a tough road win at the Meadowlands vs the 2nd ranked Giants 38-20. Rex Grossman played better this past week, and the team got away from giving the ball away. At 8-1, they now have to look forward to another two tough road games, at the Jets and at the Pats, as they continue their march towards home field for the playoffs.
2. New York Giants (2) – A tough home loss vs the Bears this past Sunday night in a game they thought would show the world they were a contender in the NFC. The concern lies with Eli Manning, who is just not playing well, repeating his problems from late last season. Opposing teams are going to sell out and make Eli throw to win, which is going to be an issue come December and beyond. The NFC East lead down to a game as well. At 6-3 they have to get back on track vs the Jags on Monday night.
3. Seattle (5) – The Hawks move up as they gutted out another tough win vs the rival Rams at Qwest Field shorthanded. Up two games in the division, the team is getting healthy, and this week may be a huge step forward if both Shaun Alexander and Matt Hassleback can play. At 6-3 the team is in prime position to get back into the two spot in the conference playoff race. A scary game at San Fran awaits this week, I wouldn’t be a bit shocked to see both returning stars be a bit rusty.
4. New Orleans (3) – Sunday’s 38-31 loss in Pittsburgh was tough to swallow for the Saints, who put the ball on the turf three times and each time it cost them points, or the last one cost them a shot for a late game-tying TD. Drew Brees continues to be a MVP candidate, as even without Joe Horn his numbers have been strong. This week the struggling Bengals come to town, with the rematch with the Falcons at the Georgia Dome awaiting in two weeks.
5. Dallas (-) – This spot was basically reserved for the team I felt was the best 5-4 team in the conference, and despite their problems, I will go with Dallas over three other teams. Tony Romo should be 3-0, and if it were not for a blocked field goal in Washington, he would be. The offense is way more in sync with him in there, but the defense is going to be pushed hard this week vs the Colts. Losing Greg Ellis for the season is going to end up being a huge blow for the pass rush.
NFC Bottom 3
1. Arizona (1) – Denny Green had might as well start booking some fishing dates, as his tenure with this club is all but over. At 1-8, the prospect of a successful season is well over, and now the team is simply playing for pride. Maybe the most toughest thing to hear this past weekend was the tremendous cheering for the Cowboys at brand new Cardinal Stadium during Sunday’s 27-10 loss. A home game vs the pretty bad Lions awaits.
2. Detroit (3) – Just one week after a solid home win vs the Falcons, the Lions were back to being….well the Lions, as they lost at home 19-13 to the 49’ers. At 2-7, coach Rod Marinelli says he offers “no excuses” for the way the team has played, but one excuse could be the fact they couldn’t stop the run Sunday as Frank Gore ran for 148 yards. A loss to the Cardinals this week would be a pretty bad setback.
3. Tampa Bay (2) – The Bucs seemed to be in control Monday night in Carolina, then the second half started and it was the same old Bucs as they fell 24-10. Bruce Gradkowski was picked twice and lost a fumble in the game, but Jon Gruden defended his QB on Tuesday. He had better, as there is not much else he can do. The team at 2-7 can match up with the Redskins this week at home in a playoff rematch from a year ago.
AFC Top 5
1. Indianapolis (1) – The Colts have shown some signs they can be beat, and this week vs the Bills was one of those games. But, once again they were able to pull it out, and sometimes good teams have to do that. At 9-0, they are in prime position to be the top seed in the AFC, and with two tough games vs the Cowboys and Eagles coming up, both will be solid tests. Of course for this team its all about getting set for January, and overcoming the nightmare of last years postseason.
2. San Diego (2) – Sunday’s 49-41 win in Cincy was a statement maker for the Chargers. Their offense was awesome in overcoming a huge deficit, and their defense finally made plays down the stretch to preserve the win. At 7-2 their biggest game of the season looms this week as they play in Denver against the Broncos. A win will cement them as the biggest challenger to the Colts for the top spot in the AFC.
3. Denver (3) – The Broncos have to be wiping their foreheads after a close 17-13 win over the Raiders in Oakland on Sunday. Jake Plummer was awful early, throwing three picks, but recovered to help his team get the win to improve to 7-2. They are still only scoring 17 points a game, and they are going to need more points than that to overcome the high scoring Chargers this week.
4. Baltimore (5) – The Ravens were another team close to dropping a big game this week, but used Steve McNair’s arm and better D in the second half to comeback for a win in Tennessee. With the rest of the division still struggling just to see .500, the Ravens are the shoe-in for the AFC North title, and now the goal at 7-2 will try and secure a first round bye. An interesting home game vs the struggling Falcons this week awaits.
5. New England (4) – Sunday the Pats came out flat, and it came to bite them in the behind as they lost to the Jets 17-14 on a sloppy field in Foxboro. The team should not only be ashamed about its play, but about the hideous field they play on in a still somewhat new stadium. This week with just a one game lead they travel to Green Bay to play a Packers team that is red hot winning three of their last four.
AFC Bottom 3
1. Oakland (-) – All three bottom teams from last week won, so I’ll go back to my favorite bad team – the Raiders. Oakland was scrappy against the Broncos, but let’s face it – this team still is not very good. As I have said before, they will be lucky to win again this season, and I can see an offseason highlight film with 20 of 30 minutes dedicated to their two wins over the Cards and Steelers.
2. Tennessee (-) – The Titans are also back in the bottom three at 2-7, but not due to a lack of effort or heart. This team is simply going through the growing pains of any team, as they try to get back to the glory days of years past. This past week was a setback, as it seemed they had the game vs the Ravens well in hand. At Philly and vs the Giants await Vince Young and co.
3. Buffalo – (-) – Tough call here, but the Bills were oh-so-close to a huge upset in Indy, and at 3-6 things don’t look all the bright at the end of the rainbow. They head to Houston to play a Texans team coming off a win, and then host the Jags and Chargers back to back.