The balance of power in the NFL as we enter week 4 is so lopsided, it’s hard to remember a year when the AFC is this far above the NFC. Much like Luke Skywalker in Star Wars, the Cowboys could be the NFC’s last hope. We shall see. Here are our power rankings for week 3, and if the team was ranked last week, their ranking will be next to their name.
NFC Top 5
1. Dallas (1) – Sunday night’s beat down of the Bears proved this is the team to beat in the NFC without a doubt. They have been impressive on offense all season, and the defense seems to be coming along as well. Tony Romo has 8 TD’s and just two picks, and the running combo of Barber and Jones will give a lot of teams headaches. This is one team that is going to be tough to deal with as the season moves along.
2. Green Bay (4) – The Pack is back! Their impressive comeback win over San Diego at home was called one of their best of the decade in a local paper in Milwaukee, and with Brett Favre playing more like a MVP instead of a guy thinking retirement, this team appears on a roll. The defense once again stepped up vs the Chargers. The big question mark remains the running game, or lack thereof.
3. Seattle (-) – Shaun Alexander’s wrist may be a concern, despite what coach Mike Holmgren states. The Hawks are 2-1 and could easily be 3-0, and appear to be heading towards another NFC West title. Their next two games, at San Fran and at Pittsburgh, is maybe their toughest stretch of the season. All eyes though will be on Alexander this week and how he holds up trying to play with that wrist injury.
4. Washington (3) – Ugh. They couldn’t hold a 17-3 home lead to the awful Giants Sunday, and fell 24-17 in front of their largest home crowd ever. Not a good way to make the home fans happy. Their defense seemed to let up once they got the lead, and what was with Clinton Portis not getting a carry near the goal-line on that final drive? The right side of the O-line continues to be an issue with injuries.
5. Tampa Bay (-) – Hey, why not? The Bucs have been awfully impressive in two home games vs the supposed high powered offenses of the Saints and Rams, and Jon Gruden and Monte Kiffin have them playing inspired football again. The running game didn’t break down just because Cadallic did, and Michael Pittman and Earnest Graham, a former preseason star, stepped in nicely. They have a long way to go, but with gritty Jeff Garcia running the offense, they look heads and tails better than last season.
NFC Bottom 3
1. St.Louis (3) – The season appears to be slipping away quickly for the Rams, who finally got some production from Steven Jackson Sunday, and now he’s hurt with a groin injury and won’t play this week. Marc Bulger is completing passes, but only for short yardage and is not able to get the ball down the field because of the pressure on the O-line. It’s easy to blame the O-line for this teams early downfall, but the bottom line is there are a lot of players that are underachieving on this club.
2. Atlanta (1) – The Falcons can thank selfish corner DeAngelo Hall for helping them lose to the Panthers 27-20 on Sunday at the Georgia Dome. 67 yards of penalties on one drive?! If reports are true he got beat up by his teammates post game, he deserved it. The running game is still not producing as it should, and even with Joey Harrington actually showing up Sunday, this club looks like a 4-5 win team at best.
3. New Orleans (-) – Can you believe this one? Who would have thought last years NFC South champs would be 0-3, awful on offense, and giving up long drive after long drive on defense? Monday nights home loss to the Titans shows me that this team is a shadow of itself, and if RB Deuce McCallister is lost for the season as some reports say, the Saints could truly be a one-year wonder of a year ago.
AFC Top 5
1. New England (1) – Down 7-3 to the Bills Sunday, the Pats simply flicked a switch, and before you knew it – 38-7. This team can’t be stopped right now, and with Tom Brady and Randy Moss simply playing catch on Sunday’s the Pats look like a shoe-in for at least the AFC Title game. At Cincy on Monday night could produce another 38-45 point outing, and with their defense #1 in the league, it looks like they will be 4-0 without a problem.
2. Indianapolis (2) – Don’t look now, but the Super Bowl Champs could actually be BETTER than they were in 2007. Their defense, led by possible MVP Bob Sanders, is doing the job against the run, and they play a solid bend but don’t break defense that holds teams when they need to. On offense, Joseph Addai is looking solid and gives Peyton and the passing game enough rushing the football. A home game vs Denver this week is an interesting test.
3. Pittsburgh (3) – Another team that looks better than their Super Bowl team of two seasons ago, the Steelers are punishing on defense, and have a balanced attack on offense. And if you missed it, Allan Rossum took back a kickoff 98 yards for a score. Being in Pittsburgh Sunday the fans are behind the Black and Gold with a new sense of energy, and with the Cardinals and Seahawks next up, they could be 5-0 heading into the bye week.
4. Tennessee (-) – How could you not have been impressed with Vince Young and the Titans on Monday night at the Superdome? Not many gave the young Titans a shot vs the Saints, and not only did they win, they blew them out. They came up with five turnovers on Drew Brees, and after falling behind 14-10, turned it on and out scored the Saints 24-0 to close them out. They get a week off before they host the Falcons and possibly Bryon Leftwich.
5. Baltimore (-) – They blew a big lead to the Cardinals, but got a big personal foul call and a clutch kick from Matt Stover to win 23-20. Their defense is allowing a scant 61.7 yards per game, and while their offense isn’t putting up a ton of yards or points, they are doing the job. Two road games at Cleveland and San Fran will see if this team can avoid a letdown now at 2-1.
AFC Bottom 3
1. Miami (3) – The other two teams in our bottom three last week one, so we welcome the Dolphins to the top spot of bad teams. They finally got the running game going with Ronnie Brown vs the Jets Sunday, but fell behind early and had to struggle all day trying to come back. Their special teams allowed a kickoff return for a score, and their defense is struggling against the pass. They do have a shot at a win this week at home vs the Raiders.
2. Cleveland (-) – After 51 points two weeks ago, the Browns quickly came back to earth with an ugly 26-24 loss to the Raiders. They had a shot to win it, but Phil Dawson’s 40-yard kick that would have won it was blocked. Derek Anderson was back to being the Derek Anderson we’ve all come to expect. The defense is awful, allowing chunks of yards at an alarming rate. Look for the Ravens to run a lot this week in their matchup.
3. Buffalo (-) – A team that should be in this ranking for most of the 2007 season, the Bills are going nowhere fast. Their offense has put up just 24 points (worst in the league), and their defense can’t get off the field. Plus now J.P. Losman is out for awhile, and Trent Edwards looked like a lost puppy in his first chance to play last week. We’ll see if they can rally against the Jets at home this week and sneak a win in.