It's going to be a rough week for the "We just beat them, so now we should be ranked ahead of them" crowd. Just about everyone in the league refused to comply with their spot in the power rankings, as the teams slotted 19th, 22nd, 23rd, 24th, 27th, 28th, 30th and 31st won, while the teams ranked 2nd, 3rd, 5th, 6th, 8th and 9th all lost.
What's a power ranker supposed to do with that? Give up on the concept of power rankings as fruitless and indicative of nothing? I refuse. I will revise, adjust and adapt to the ever-shifting climate of the league. Just probably not as quickly as you would like.
We've got a lot of big movers this week. All told, nine teams move five or more spots, but the most significant movement came from one game ‒ the Jets leapt up by a staggering 10 spots, and the Colts dropped by nine. Read on to see where your team ranks, and be sure to complain about it in the comments below.
1. Atlanta Falcons (6-0)
Last week: 1
There are those who point to the Falcons' record of 6-0 and believe they're the best team in football. There are also those who think they're overrated and point to their struggles against Carolina and Washington, and now this week's slopfest against Oakland. Which group is right? The former. Power rankings do not lie.
2. New York Giants (4-2)
Last week: 4
It seems like it took that big win against the 49ers to remind everyone that the Giants are pretty good. Noted ‒ the Giants are pretty good. And they didn't even call on the aerial assault of Eli Manning, Hakeem Nicks and Victor Cruz. They basically won without them. Manning was under 200 yards passing and Cruz and Nicks combined for 104. When that pass rush is on, they really don't need much else.
3. Houston Texans (5-1)
Last week: 2
So they got clobbered on Sunday night against the Packers ‒ what's the takeaway? That Aaron Rodgers might still be a really good quarterback, and that the Texans are not a perfect football team? Neither of these items need be accompanied by a "Breaking News" graphic. They hacked up a furball against a desperate team that played their best football of the season. It happens.
4. Baltimore Ravens (5-1)
Last week: 7
I feel like there should've been a massive gap after the third team ‒ Falcons first, Giants second, Texans third, and then a whole lot of bank space and we'll resume around 10 or so. The Ravens probably didn't deserve to win this week (not my words, they're Joe Flacco's), but that's how the NFL carousel rotates. It just happened to be the Ravens this week who were the recipient of the Cowboys' weekly gift of football ineptitude.
5. Chicago Bears (4-1)
Last week: 10
Off this week, and that's a pretty big jump for a team that didn't play. Maybe the Bears ought to keep sitting games out and just see how far they'll rise.
6. San Francisco 49ers (4-2)
Last week: 3
I hate to get too carried away with one result, but the 49ers weren't just beaten ‒ their strengths were beaten. The Giants ran between the tackles with impunity, and defensively, turned the 49ers into a passing team and buried them with pressure on Alex Smith, who was sacked six time. A week ago, the 49ers seemed like the easy choice to win the NFC West and a likely choice for a first-round bye in the playoffs. Now I wonder if the Giants exposed something and if the Seahawks can do the same on Thursday night, and take control of the division.
7. New England Patriots (3-3)
Last week: 5
Losing in Seattle is about the most forgivable thing in the league right now ‒ the defense and the crowd there are ferocious (as was the rain Sunday), and it seemed to affect even the usually unflappable Patriots. I've got concerns about the secondary there, but as far as New England's general outlook going forward, they'll be fine. They're not going to play defenses like Seattle's every week, and they'll tuck the ball back into the belly of Brandon Bolden and Stevan Ridley, and all will be well. Except the secondary.
8. Green Bay Packers (3-3)
Last week: 13
If we can consider the Aaron Rodgers touchdown orgy against the Texans an official resurrection, we can then look ahead for the Pack. The next four are against St. Louis, Jacksonville, Arizona and Detroit, with a bye week mixed in there. A record of 7-3 seems, if not probable, certainly possible. And if that did come to pass, I'd be very surprised if they weren't at least tied for the lead in the NFC North at that point.
9. Denver Broncos (3-3)
Last week: 11
Peyton Manning went 13 of 14 for 167 yards in the second half on Monday night, and that's really, really good. And the Broncos are good, and still getting better. All that is worth mentioning, but I find it difficult to grade Denver's Monday night performance, since it happened against an all-encompassing cataclysm from the Chargers.
10. Philadelphia Eagles (3-3)
Last week: 6
I'm not concerned that Michael Vick owns a dog again. What does concern me, though, is Vick's apparent tendency to slather that dog in butter, WD-40, Crisco, and petroleum jelly, pet that dog for a half hour, and then refuse to wash his hands before playing a football game. Not only is it disgusting and unsanitary, but it automatically puts the Eagles in about a 14-point hole every time they play. It's remarkable that this keeps happening. I can't recall a quarterback having such a turnover-laden season who wasn't also a truly awful quarterback. Which Vick is not.
11. Seattle Seahawks (4-2)
Last week: 16
The Seahawks continue to quietly climb, and they seem to keep getting big power ranking boosts after games they play at home. At home this year, they've squashed Dallas, "beat" Green Bay, and beat New England, and on the road, they've lost to Arizona, lost to St. Louis, and eked out an uggo over Carolina. Their next two are on the road.
12. Minnesota Vikings (4-2)
Last week: 8
It's strange how kicking four field goals is a pretty reliable way to lose a game. Kicker Blair Walsh accounted for all of the Vikings points through three quarters with four field goals, all of which came from offensive drives that stalled in the red zone. The comeback attempt was nice, but much like the 49ers, this isn't a team that will make a living playing from behind.
13. Miami Dolphins (3-3)
Last week: 15
The Dolphins are all over the place. They've been blown out, and blew somebody out. Then they lost two straight close games, and now they've won two straight close games. This is good, but only because the Dolphins were supposed to be absolutely terrible. Ryan Tannehill has been better than advertised, and third-round rookie Olivier Vernon made plays chasing Sam Bradford, too.
14. Pittsburgh Steelers (2-3)
Last week: 9
The Steelers are way past the point of forgivable losses. I could've brushed off the collapse against Oakland as a fluke, but the Titans, too? Sorry, that's asking a bit much. The Steelers are either playing down to the level of their competition, they've turned into fourth-quarter gag artists, or they just aren't very good, at least away from home. The best thing going for them right now is that the Ravens defensive injuries are piling up so quickly.
15. San Diego Chargers (3-3)
Last week: 12
At halftime of the Monday night game, I was feeling pretty silly about having the Broncos ranked higher than the Chargers for all these weeks. Then the second half happened, and I don't feel silly anymore. I just feel sadness and concern, because I'm pretty sure Philip Rivers is going to hang himself with an extension cord. What a mess of a game and a mess of a team. The Chargers are like the AFC's version of the Cowboys, except without all the discipline and mental toughness.
16. Washington Redskins (3-3)
Last week: 19
Look who's only a game back in the NFC East ‒ it's Bob Griffin and his Redskins. It's hard to get a handle on just how good the Redskins are, but they are going to be a fun watch every week. RGIII is going to do things like run for 76-yard touchdowns, and defensively, everyone's going to light them up through the air. The jolly good-time Redskins have a chance to actually take the division lead this week against the Giants.
17. New York Jets (3-3)
Last week: 27
I feel a high level of internal discomfort even typing this, but the Jets can take the lead in the AFC East with a win next week. This fact is almost as confusing as looking at Shonn Greene's name in a box score and seeing the number "161" next to it, because as far as I know, the NFL has not added "number of times Shonn Greene has been called unspeakable things by each of his fantasy owners" to the official box score. I trust that he'll return to about 40 yards next week so the world can resume spinning on its axis.
18. Buffalo Bills (3-3)
Last week: 22
You feed a cold. You starve a fever. And you fix a leaky pass defense by playing a game against Kevin Kolb and John Skelton. For the Bills, the simple act of not being blown out would've been a step in the right direction, but they went above and beyond. They held Arizona to just 150 passing yards after giving up 643 over the last two weeks. True, Arizona ran for 182 yards and got 6.1 yards a carry, but we can only fix one thing at a time.
19. Arizona Cardinals (4-2)
Last week: 14
Consecutive losses to the Rams and Bills significantly dampen a 4-0 start, but I don't want to get too down on the Cards. They still have an excellent defense that's going to keep them in most games; but they also have a quarterback situation that's going to prevent them from winning a whole lot of them. The Cardinals are going to have a lot of games like that ‒ low scoring and decided on the feet of kickers. Having a 38-yarder to win is something they'll take most weeks.
20. St. Louis Rams (3-3)
Last week: 21
A couple of times this season the Rams have been the team finding a way to win. This week, despite outgaining the Dolphins 462-192, they found a way to lose. The 12 penalties certainly helped, as did an off day from Young GZ. And even though he only went 2 of 5 on the day, Greg Zuerlein was still worth the price of admission. The 66-yarder he attempted as time ran out had plenty of leg. Leg for days. I don't think I've ever seen a field-goal attempt hit that hard.
21. Detroit Lions (2-3)
Last week: 23
They knew they needed a win, and when it came down to it in the fourth quarter, they fought like hell for it. Why Matthew Stafford and Calvin Johnson were so ineffective for the first three quarters, though, I couldn't tell you. But now that we've eliminated, at least temporarily, special teams meltdowns, that's now the crucial issue with this team. They've got to pull Matthew Stafford's passer rating out of the gutter and get Calvin Johnson in the end zone.
22. Dallas Cowboys (2-3)
Last week: 21
I'd like to thank the Cowboys for going ahead and finishing that game in traditional Cowboy fashion, so no one has to continue to be confused about who they are. They might be the offense that tuned up the Ravens defense for 481 yards, and they might be the defense that held Ray Rice to under 4 yards a carry. But they're also the team that had 13 penalties and had to settle for a 51-yard field-goal attempt to win because they couldn't get off more than one play in 34 seconds. With a timeout.
23. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (2-3)
Last week: 24
Bizarre stat, via ESPN Stats and Information: Josh Freeman is completing 55.6 percent of throws longer than 15 yards downfield, and just 55.0 percent of his throws of 15 yards or shorter. It's kind of hard to interpret a stat so backwards, but my best guess is that it means that the best strategy for Josh Freeman is to chuck the ball deep and hope Vincent Jackson or Mike Williams come down with it.
24. Cincinnati Bengals (3-3)
Last week: 18
I guess 3-3 isn't the worst record in the world if you're the Bengals, but I don't know how you can hold on to your playoff hopes when you're losing back-to-back games to Miami and Cleveland. Fortunately, few other teams in the AFC appear to like winning football games, either, so if they beat Pittsburgh at home this week, they're still in pretty good position. At least, as good a position as they can be for a team that lost to the Browns.
25. New Orleans Saints (1-4)
Last week: 26
Off this week.
26. Tennessee Titans (2-4)
Last week: 31
The Titans claimed to be better than their record, and while I don't know if they proved that with the win over the Steelers, it does create some separation, at least temporarily, between them and the unsightly dregs of the power rankings. Chris Johnson has had better than 90 yards and more than 4.8 yards per carry in two of his last three outings, for those of you holding on to some hope there.
27. Cleveland Browns (1-5)
Last week: 30
I don't know if I've ever heard a player's birthday mentioned so much in one day. Did you know that Sunday was Brandon Weeden's birthday? It was. He turned 29 years old, because it was his birthday, and that's what happens on birthdays. Also perhaps of interest: Weeden made some pretty big throws in the last 20 minutes of that game. What a great birthday present for him. Birthday.
28. Oakland Raiders (1-4)
Last week: 29
Just about all game predictions pointed to the Raiders pass defense getting shredded like a bucket of cole slaw against the Falcons, but that never happened. Matt Ryan was picked off three times, held under 250 yards and had a quarterback rating of 59.4. If the Raiders can maintain any of that, there's no reason they shouldn't be able to inch up the rankings a bit over the next few weeks. They get the Jaguars, Chiefs and Bucs in their next three. Oh, and if you happen to work with CBS Sports, and you can tell me who gets to call the Raiders/Jags game this week, please let me know. I'd like to send them a fruit basket.
29. Indianapolis Colts (2-3)
Last week: 20
It wasn't difficult to see a letdown coming after last week's #CHUCKSTRONG triumph ‒ getting absolutely throttled by the Jets, though, is indicative of more than a letdown. It's a letdown from a team that's young, growing and maybe not very good yet. Andrew Luck in particular had a rough game, but in his defense, it was against a defense that, even without Darrelle Revis, is still pretty tough on opposing quarterbacks.
30. Carolina Panthers (1-4)
Last week: 25
Off this week.
31. Kansas City Chiefs (1-5)
Last week: 28
The banner people got their wish, and you're not going to believe this, but Brady Quinn playing in place of Matt Cassel did not magically solve all the Chiefs problems. I know, I was surprised, too. The Chiefs are off this coming week, and then come back to the face the Raiders, renewing a rivalry every bit as exciting as the one between Jacksonville and Tennessee.
32. Jacksonville Jaguars (1-4)
Last week: 32
Off this week.
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