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NFL Power 15 – Week 5

It’s interesting how before the season began there was a lot of talk about the possibility that the NFC was closing the gap with the AFC & that 2010 might be the year where the NFC was actually tougher conference. However, that hasn’t been the case at all. The Vikings, 49erse & Cowboys are in shambles. Aaron Rodgers has a concussion. Tampa Bay has a better record than New Orleans! The Kevin Kolb experiment is already over. The Giants have a couple of head scratching losses in games where they lost it mentally. All the strengths the pundits thought the NFC had before the season began haven’t really shown up yet.

Meanwhile, the AFC potentially has the 5 best teams in the NFL with the Ravens, Jets, Patriots, Colts & Steelers. The Chiefs are 3-1. The Titans & Texans have looked good. There has been some separation in the NFC with the Falcons getting out to a 4-1 record, but the Bears aren’t for real at 4-1. It makes for a strange power ranking where a lot of NFC teams are still living off reputation. Let’s get to it baby!

RANK TEAM COMMENTS
#1 The Ravens hammered Denver 31-17 which is a good win in my opinion. Maybe I’m overestimating the Broncos a bit based on how well I thought they played offensively against the Colts. The Ravens are now 4-1 & in the lead in the AFC North which is no small feat given how well Pittsburgh has played. The Ravens do have 3 outstanding wins in my opinion over the Jets, Steelers & Broncos. I’m still not entirely sold on what they are doing offensively, but the defense was pretty dominant. Denver had no shot at running the ball.
#2 I’d actually like to rank the Jets #1, but since the Ravens beat them it would look odd having the Jets at #1 & Baltimore #2. The Jets are coming off a pretty nice win over the Vikings. I don’t think Minnesota is a 1-3 team, but the Jets played in horrific weather to get the win even if it was ugly. Give the Jets some credit as well for not allowing the Brett Favre magic work late in the 4th quarter. Momentum definitely had the Vikings on pace to win the game, but a pick-6 Dwight Lowery put & end to the game. This is the best team in football.
#3 The Steelers were off this past week, but you can’t really talk enough about how fortunate the Steelers have to feel to be 3-1 in the 4 games without Ben Roethlisberger. I think Mendenhall is a beast at RB & you’d have to think Big Ben will help out the offense. I think to a degree Roethlisberger is overrated, but there is a huge difference between him & the other Pittsburgh QBs. The defense is straight up nasty which will hold a lot of sway. If Troy Polamalu stays healthy the defense still stay randy. Basically the offense just has to keep it close.
#4 I think the Falcons are getting a little undersold at this point. Beating Cleveland 20-10 in Cleveland is a pretty good win, but also I think Atlanta is showing no real weaknesses to their game. The offense is incredibly balanced with both great rushing & great passing games. The defense too is pretty amazing in its ability to be a “ball-hawking” type of defense that swarms very quickly to the ball & allows for the ability to create turnovers. Atlanta is the best team in the NFC until proven otherwise, especially with what’s going on in the NFC.
#5 So the big news in New England this week focused on the Patriots getting Deion Branch back in the fold combined with a quasi feud between Randy Moss & Tom Brady over hairstyles. New England still has a few problems on defense, but you have to love the youth movement going on in Boston & I really respect that Belichick & the organization is trying to get championship ready for Brady’s final years as an elite quarterback. It’s not that New England isn’t playing for a championship right now, but they are a tick behind.
#6 The Colts went ugly early with the defense starring on Sunday in a 19-9 win over the Chiefs. Indianapolis’s offense didn’t do very well, but then again I thought they’d struggle with the 3-4 Kansas City ran. The big thing to come away from though is how great Indianapolis’s defense played against the run. I thought coming in that Kansas City was going to make it tough with Thomas Jones & Jamaal Charles, but the Colts played it tough. The trick with Indianapolis is getting that defensive effort every week. I mean, how do you lose to the Jaguars?
#7 I think Washington beating Green Bay was a great win, but this is stuff we’ve seen from Donovan McNabb for years & years. He’s definitely good enough to win a division or even get to a conference championship game. If the stars align just right he’ll even get to a Super Bowl. Washington pretty much has no running game, but the defense is salty & McNabb can still make plays with his arm. The win over GB probably says more about how beat up the Packers are. The Skins are close to 5-0 if they show up against the Rams. I like them.
#8 Sort of feel weird about putting the Titans this high after they gave up 500 total yards to the 1-3 Cowboys in their 34-27 win in Dallas this past Sunday. The Titans did do a good job in picking off 3 Tony Romo passes which was probably the difference in the game. RB Chris Johnson finally came alive & when he’s running like we know he can, the Titans are a completely different team. I’m falling in love with Chuck Cecil & the defense. Tennessee is really hampered by how Vince Young plays. Is he a Super Bowl winning quarterback?
#9 I think you really have to respect what the Giants have done the last two weeks. After the loss to the Titans, idiots like Tiki Barber were talking about a mutiny within the lockeroom against HC Tom Coughlin, but the Giants have responded with valor by beating up & battering an undefeated Bears squad on national television followed up by a road victory over the Texans who were then 3-1. The only thing that can stop New York is their emotional lability they showed against the Titans & Colts. They only go up from here.
#10 I don’t know what to do with the Saints. They simply don’t look very good starting the season 3-2. Losing to the Cardinals is pretty bad. Especially when you consider that Arizona didn’t score an offensive TD & Max Hall is an undrafted free agent QB making his first career start in the NFL! Did I mention the Saints are the defending Super Bowl champions? Then again, if that game is played 100 times, how many times does New Orleans really lose? What hurts NO more than anything is the way the NFC is shaping up.
#11 Green Bay is another tough one to judge as they are taking a beating. I don’t think losing to the Redskins is a bad thing, but if they also lose Aaron Rodgers then Green Bay is screwed. What could be equally important is keeping LB Clay Matthews healthy. They’ve already lost Ryan Grant. Jermichael Finley is hurt. They are dealing with losses on the offensive line. What else can possibly go wrong? The problem with GB going forward is that the schedule never gets easy. A beat up team & a tough schedule is tough to overcome.
#12 I don’t know what to think. Houston has two great wins over Washington & Indianapolis, but the loss to Dallas looks worse & worse while getting blown out at home by the Giants isn’t too good either although I think the G-Men are more than solid. All of this of course tells us of a team that is wildly inconsistent so far in the 2010 season. I don’t get Houston really. They should score at will on teams & the defense has enough talent that it shouldn’t be this bad. When push comes to shove I think they fold to the Colts & Titans.
#13 Sure they lost, but they went into Lucas Oil Stadium & came out with a 19-9 loss to the defending AFC Champions. They held Peyton Manning to under 300 yards passing, no TDs and even picked off a pass. Kansas City certainly came in with the idea that they were going to make Indianapolis’s defense beat them. Give credit to the Colts for getting the job done. KC’s passing offense is brutal. Maybe some screen passes to Dexter McCluster or some easy dumps off to Tony Moeaki? They are definitely going to run the ball.
#14 The Bears are 4-1. I guess that means I should put them in the top-15, but I’m not completely sold on them. Chicago’s offense is brutally bad & beating Carolina 23-6 didn’t change that perception. Maybe the Mike Martz transition won’t be as smooth as I think? Then again, it was Todd Collins throwing 4 picks out there & not Jay Cutler. The Bears defense is just as nasty as the version that took them to the Super Bowl a couple years back, but they’ll need Matt Forte to run like he did on Sunday on a regular basis.
#15 Well, they beat the Saints so that means something doesn’t it? I think Arizona is going to quickly fade out of the top-15. In fact I’m not sure why I have them ranked higher than either Denver or Philadelphia. Heck I think there are probably 5-6 teams better than Arizona! Here is a thought though, how good could Arizona be if Kurt Warner were still the QB? Arizona is trying it out with Max Hall for crying out loud! The crazy part? They are in the best position to win the NFC West & get the 4th seed! That’s the best they could have done with Warner!

DROPPED OUT

#11 Dallas Cowboys: The Cowboys suck. I mean what else can you really say about them? It’s not a horrible football team, but they are now sitting at 1-3 & the schedule doesn’t get really easy. To a certain degree Jerry Jones has to understand that neither Wade Phillips nor Tony Romo is going to win him a Super Bowl. Maybe Romo has it in him, but we know Phillips doesn’t. It doesn’t mean that Phillips isn’t an NFL caliber coach, but I wonder at some point whether or not Jerry Jones can coexist with a coach who is actually a Super Bowl winning coach. He couldn’t do so with Jimmy Johnson. He couldn’t do it with Bill Parcells. At some point you have to wonder if Jones can subvert his ego enough for a coach to come in & win a Super Bowl. The 92, 93 & 95 championships are almost two decades old! That’s a long time to be reliving past glory.

#12 Denver Broncos: I hate dropping Denver out of the top-15 especially with Arizona at #15, but the Broncos got blown out by the Ravens this past week & didn’t look particularly tough in the process. It’s pretty clear that the Broncos need help defensively, but I really like the offense. With the way the AFC West is shaping up, the Broncos could still wind up winning the West & getting into the playoffs. If the defense tightens up I think Josh McDaniels is good enough of a coach to keep the offense humming. I still think Denver & Kansas City are the two best teams in the West when using the eyeball test, but I guess you can’t ever count the Chargers out. San Diego did start the year 2-3 before winning 11 straight to end the season with the #2 seed in the AFC.

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October 12, 2010 - Posted by | Atlanta Falcons, Baltimore Ravens, Indianapolis Colts, New England Patriots, New York Giants, New York Jets, NFL Power 15, Pittsburgh Steelers, Tennessee Titans, Washington Redskins

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