Things continue to get tighter in the NFL with now five weeks in the books, and teams continue to forge their identities for the 2007 season. With that we return with another edition of power rankings for the week. If the team was ranked a week ago, their ranking will be next to their name.
NFC Top 5
1. Dallas (1) – Yes, this past week against New England was a setback, but at the same time, this loss can show them some things they have to work on in order to stay as the top team in the NFC. Suddenly they have to watch their backs with a hot Giants team on their trail as well as a Washington team that appears its going to hang around. The defense and how they were beaten up and down the field was a concern against New England.
2. Green Bay (2) – It wasn’t pretty, but the Pack pulled out a gutsy 17-14 win over the Redskins on a sloppy field at home over the weekend. Brett Favre threw two picks, and I think we are seeing how the Pack is going to need some running game as they get further into the season. Once that weather turns, and in Green Bay that could be very soon, the passing game is going to need all the help it can get. As for the defense, it’s as good as it gets in the NFC.
3. New York Giants (4) – They have reversed where many thought they would be in the 2007 season, and that’s from a conference worst to a solid team that looks like they could be a wild card. Eli Manning appears poised, and their defense has had a remarkable turnaround after allowing 80 points the first two weeks. They also have bar none the best wide out in the game in Plaxico Burress. This team will have the be dealt with come January.
4. Washington (3) – A tough loss at Green Bay this week, in a game they felt like they should have won. Santana Moss had the worst game of his career, and the running game fell flat against a good Pack defense. The biggest issue here is the O-line, which suffered three more injuries and it looks like they are going to have to go outside the team to find some players to fill those hurt. Jason Campbell is going to be tested with his Hogs up front injured.
5. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (-) – A good hard fought win Sunday for the Bucs at home over the equally tough Tennessee Titans. Despite losing running backs by the bunches, QB Jeff Garcia proves week in and week out that he has the stuff to get it done. The defense is not going to give up much on a weekly basis, and they are going to give teams fits like they did in their glory days. The Bucs could be that surprise team in the NFC this season.
NFC Bottom 3
1. St.Louis (1) – The Rams did get a bit of good news this week, as QB Marc Bulger has declared that he will be back for this weeks game against the Seahawks. I’m not sure if that is the right thing to do, but this team simply needs to find any good news they can, and hopefully Marc can give them some sort of spark. They were out manned and outplayed Sunday in Baltimore, and despite hanging in for awhile, you basically knew the outcome of this one at the opening kickoff.
2. Atlanta (3) – Monday night at home should have been a chance for the Falcons to show what they were made of. Instead they rolled over and played lap dog to a Giants team that piled on them early and often. They hung in early, and actually had two leads, but just like bad teams do, they were unable to stop the Giants offense and by halftime the outcome was decided.
3. San Francisco (-) – We’ll give the Saints a week off after a solid road win in Seattle, and take the 49’ers into the bottom three this week. San Fran has scored just 63 points in five games (12.6 per game) and they don’t look like they will come out of their offensive doldrums anytime soon. Their one bright spot is on defense, where Patrick Willis has a solid shot at defensive rookie of the year.
AFC Top 5
1. New England (1) – I think I mention it each week, but do I really need to say anything here? On their trek to 16-0, the Pats to me really have two more games where they will be tested, at Indy in November and at home vs the Steelers in December. Other than that, they have the makings of a team that is on the verge of history. Their beating in Dallas showed they can win anywhere, anytime.
2. Indianapolis (2) – Bye week for the Colts, who used the week to get some guys healthy and will come back strong this week for a Monday night showdown in Jacksonville against the rival Jags. last year they were hammered in that game, allowing over 300 yards rushing. I don’t think this year’s team will let that happen again.
3. Pittsburgh (3) – Another team on bye, the Steelers return to action in Denver this week on Sunday night against the Broncos. The bye week was also a time for them to get healthy, as players such as Hines Ward, Casey Hampton and Troy Polamalu should all be ready for action Sunday. The next two weeks with their games at Denver and at Cincinnati will be critical for the Steelers as they continue to hold off the Ravens in the AFC North.
4. Jacksonville (4) – The Jags put a severe beating on their rival from the AFC South the Texans this past weekend at home. They now have their sights set on the big fish – the Colts and a Monday night showdown. The Jags have gotten solid QB play from David Garrard, but the real story is a stingy defense that continues to impress more week after week.
5. Baltimore (-) – This past week the Ravens defense flexed its muscles against the lowly Rams at home, holding them to just a field goal in a 22-3 win. Baltimore has it’s issues on offense with the health of QB Steve McNair, and will need Kyle Boller to play well as long as McNair is on the sidelines. If that defense can play as well as it has the last two weeks, the Ravens will challenge the Steelers in the North.
AFC Bottom 3
1. Miami (1) – Poor Cam Cameron. He comes to Miami with trying to rewrite a team but trying to stay competitive at the same time, and it simply is not happening. The defense might be the worst in the league, as it’s hard to watch how Joey Porter and Jason Taylor have fallen off in just one season. As for the offense, they have a play-maker in Ronnie Brown, but didn’t give the ball enough against Cleveland on Sunday.
2. New York Jets (2) – Even ugly throwback uni’s were not enough to change the fortunes of the Jets this past weekend. Chad Pennington has gone backwards since finding success early in the year, and even with Thomas Jones’ best game as a Jet they only scored 9 points. They go to Cincy this weekend to play another bad team in the Bengals. They really need to consider benching Pennington.
3. Cincinnati (-) – Is the Marvin Lewis watch on yet? The Bengals have just not grown up yet, and week in and week out they seem to be taking steps the wrong way. They are not 1-4, and overall have lost 7 of their last 8 games going back to their collapse last season. Lewis has to be at the forefront of the blame here, as with ego’s like Chad Johnson and others, it’s his job to get them under control. Home games vs the Jets, then Steelers and at the Bills will show if this team even cares about the rest of the 07 season.