Power Rankings: Week 4 2007
Cold, Hard Football Facts for Sep 24, 2007
By Jonathan Comey
Cold, Hard Football Facts power tripper
In the overplayed but unforgettable words of Dennis Green, the top five teams in our Dominant Dozen are exactly who we thought they were.
Damn good teams.
New England, Indianapolis, Pittsburgh, Dallas and Green Bay all had remarkably good Sundays in Week 3 in staying undefeated, and the chasm between the Fantastic Five and the rest of the league is so vast that Evil Knievel refuses to jump it.
The top five has played 15 games, approximately the equivalent of a full season.
Here are their combined numbers:
- Record: 15-0
- Points for: 507
- Points against: 230
- Passing yards: 4,024
- Touchdown passes: 35
- Interceptions: 7
- Passer rating: 110.7
- Rushing yards: 1,997
- Yards per carry: 4.48
- Rushing TDs: 17
- Defensive passer rating: 70.78
Yards per carry allowed: 3.74
Turnover ratio: +20
That's a heck of a team right there, one that would certainly be odds-on to win any Super Bowl in dominating fashion. It's hard to see anyone outside of the Fantastic Five taking home a Lombardi Trophy, but pronouncements in September are about as useful as snowboards in Ecuador.
Tennessee jumps in at No. 6, although there really doesn't seem to be much to differentiate the Titans and our No. 14 Broncos – the upper-middle class of the NFL is a murky place.
Coming in last, as memories of 2006 officially fade to nothingness, are the Saints, who haven't even been competitive in any of their three games. But they are guaranteed not to lose another game this week, thanks to a well-timed bye.
It's worth noting that since Reggie Bush taunted the Bears en route to the end zone in the NFC title game, the Saints have been outscored 123-38.
Not that the Cold, Hard Football Facts would ever believe in such a flimsy thing as karma. But still ...
On to the rankings.
THE DOMINANT DOZEN
1. NEW ENGLAND (3-0, previous rank: 1)
Last week: Tom Brady pushed his second half passer rating to a near-perfect 156.7 as the Patriots pulled away for a 38-7 win over Buffalo.
- Cold, Hard Football Facts: RB Laurence Maroney isn't getting much attention, but he's second in the NFL with 16 rushing first downs.
Next: at Cincinnati, Monday night. The Patriots crushed the Bengals, 38-13, last season, with Brady throwing to wideouts Doug Gabriel, Reche Caldwell and Chad Jackson, all of whom are gone, replaced by Randy Moss, Donte Stallworth and Wes Welker. And you thought the Bengals D looked bad against Derek Anderson and the Browns.2. INDIANAPOLIS (3-0, previous rank: 2)
3. PITTSBURGH (3-0, previous rank: 3)
- Last week: Indy scored on six of its first eight drives (excepting an end-of-the-half surrender) in a 30-24 road win at Houston.
- Cold, Hard Football Facts: No more talk of terrible Colts run defense; Indy is allowing 3.7 a rush this year after allowing 4.1 a carry in 2006 playoffs.
Next: host Denver. Peyton Manning is 5-2 lifetime against the Broncos.
4. DALLAS (3-0, previous rank: 4)
- Last week: The Steelers made yet another NFL team look like Notre Dame, dominating the 49ers, 37-16.
- Cold, Hard Football Facts: Note to Steeler opponents: they're not going to run it to the right side! According to the SI.com directional running stats, Pittsburgh has run right just 5 percent of the time while piling up a league-high 595 yards on the ground.
- Next: at Arizona. The three candidates to replace Bill Cowher meet again (Ken Whisenhunt and Russ Grimm for Arizona, Mike Tomlin for Pittsburgh). Seems that the Steelers made the right choice again.
5. GREEN BAY (3-0, previous rank: 5)
- Last week: Led by Anthony Henry's two INTs, the Cowboys might have ended Rex Grossman's starting career with a 34-10 win in Chicago.
- Cold, Hard Football Facts: Marion Barber (40 carries) and Julius Jones (38) are splitting time, but not production – Barber has 256 yards and four touchdowns, Jones has 124 and no touchdowns. But Jones did save a bunch of money on his car insurance.
- Next: vs. St. Louis
6. TENNESSEE (2-1, previous rank: 16)
- Last week: Brett Favre and coach Mike McCarthy were in perfect harmony, leading the Packers to a not-so-shocking 31-24 win over San Diego.
- Cold, Hard Football Facts: The Packers are stone-cold even with the opposition, averaging 5.2 yards per play and allowing 5.2 yards per play – but they're +4 in turnover margin and +32 in scoring margin.
- Next: at Minnesota. Get ready for more Favre highlights, good or bad; the Packers are 32nd in rushing, 30th in yards per carry, Vikings are sixth in yards rushing allowed, 4th in yards-per-carry against.
Last week: Titans made it five straight road wins, pulling away from the Saints 31-14 in New Orleans.
Cold, Hard Football Facts:Tennessee defense ranked 31st in scoring in 2006. In 2007, against three scoring offenses in last year's top 10, Titans have allowed 15.3 PPG (sixth).
Next: Bye. Then Titans continue getting their NFC South on with a home game vs. Atlanta and a trip to Tampa Bay.
8. BALTIMORE (2-1, previous rank: 10)
- Last week: Matt Hasselbeck-to-Nate Burleson touchdown with 1:06 left – and forced fumble on ensuing kickoff – gave Seattle the 24-21 win over Cincy.
- Cold, Hard Football Facts:
Hasselbeck struggled in a return from injury last season, finishing with passer ratings under 70 in six of his final eight games including playoffs. This year, he's had games of 113.5, 94.8 and 88.6.
Next: at San Francisco.
9. HOUSTON (2-1, previous rank: 7)
- Last week: The Ravens failed to cover the spread for the third time this season, beating Arizona 26-23.
- Cold, Hard Football Facts: With the addition of Willis McGahee, the Ravens are fourth in rushing yards on 1st and 10 (239) and average a half-yard more per carry than they did in 2006 (3.98-3.44).
at Cleveland. Good luck to Cleveland's Jamal Lewis when facing his old mates - Ravens D allows 2.4 yards per carry.
10. JACKSONVILLE (2-1, previous rank: 16)
- Last week: Loss of WR Andre Johnson was too much for Texans to overcome in 30-24 loss to Indy that wasn't quite that close.
- Cold, Hard Football Facts: Matt Schaub has yet to throw an incompletion in the fourth quarter this season (15-for-15).
- Next: With the AFC South shaping up as the best division in the league (all four teams 2-1 or better, Texans need to win their next two: at Atlanta this week, home against Miami next week.
11. CAROLINA (2-1, previous rank: 18)
- Last week: Jaguars continued righting the ship with big 23-14 win in Denver.
- Cold, Hard Football Facts: QB David Garrard had a preseason passer rating of 113.4 that seemed to good to be true, but it's carried over to a 103.8 rating in the regular season (plus 99 rushing yards and a TD).
Bye. Jaggernauts will play four of their next six on the road.
12. TAMPA BAY (2-1, previous rank: 20)
- Last week: Carolina won its second road game of the season, 27-20 in Atlanta.
- Cold, Hard Football Facts: Of the NFL's 16 winning teams, Panthers have the worst Defensive Passer Rating (97.7 against). Why? Perhaps because Julius Peppers has no sacks (13 last year), and the Panthers have just two as a team (41 in 2006).
- Next: host Tampa. With first place in the NFC South on the line, no less.
THE TEPID TWENTY13. WASHINGTON (2-1, previous rank: 11) – Best line of the weekend, delivered by Rich Eisen of NFL Network on the Washington throwback unis: "Why do the Redskins have the Radio Shack logo on their helmets?"14. DENVER (2-1, previous rank: 8) – Denver's next four opponents: Indy, San Diego, Pittsburgh and Green Bay. Ouch.15. PHILADELPHIA (1-2, previous rank: 23) – Scoring update: Donovan McNabb threw two more touchdown passes to Kevin Curtis while napping Monday afternoon.16. SAN DIEGO (1-2, previous rank: 6) – San Diego's longest run this season is 11 yards; in 2006, LaDainian Tomlinson and Michael Turner combined for 19 runs of 20 yards or longer.17. CINCINNATI (1-2, previous rank: 17) – T.J. Houshmandzadeh and Chad Johnson are 1-2 among wideouts with 29 and 25 catches, respectively. But Johnson is doing a lot more with the chances, averaging 17.7 yards per reception and 147.3 YPG, to Houshmandzadeh's Grossman-esque 9.0 yards per reception and 86.7 YPG.18. ARIZONA (1-2, previous rank: 19) – Kurt Warner averaged 12.9 yards per attempt Sunday; Matt Leinart averaged 2.7.19. DETROIT (2-1, previous rank: 13) – The Lions have allowed five passes of 40+ yards and turned it over 10 times in three games ... but they've also forced 10 takeaways and boast four 40+ yard passes of their own.20. CHICAGO (1-2, previous rank: 9) – Sorry, Rex. If this is your last stand as a starter, you'll always have memories of September 2006, to get you by. Oh, and the millions of dollars.21. SAN FRANCISCO (2-1, previous rank: 14) – Playoffs? PLAYOFFS? Well, actually, maybe. The 49ers don't play a single team in the current top six of of our Power Rankings the rest of the season, and only five of their last 13 games are against teams in the Dominant Dozen.22. N.Y. GIANTS (1-2, previous rank: 30) – Fill-in RB Derrick Ward has been a model of consistency, with games of 89, 90 and 94 yards rushing and a 5.1 average.23. N.Y. JETS (1-2, previous rank: 24) – Jets have made seven different players return kicks this year, one of two categories in which they lead the NFL, along with snitching.24. KANSAS CITY (1-2, previous rank: 28) – Chiefs TE Tony Gonzalez has scored TDs in just six of his last 43 games dating back to 2004. His competition for the starting job in the AFC Pro Bowl, Antonio Gates, has scored in 24 of his last 43 games.25. MINNESOTA (1-2, previous rank: 21) – Adrian Peterson on pace for 1,445 yards rushing, 853 yards receiving.26. OAKLAND (1-2, previous rank: 29) – Just Punt, Baby! Shane "Best Punter Ever" Lechler averaging a remarkable 50.8 yards per punt and 44.0 net.27. CLEVELAND (1-2, previous rank: 27) – Rookie LT Joe Thomas looks to be paying big dividends; Derek Anderson has been sacked just twice in 102 dropbacks.28. MIAMI (0-3, previous rank: 26) – Rookie Ted Ginn has more total returns than anyone (12 kicks, 11 punts), but hasn't picked up more than 39 yards on any of them.29. ST. LOUIS (0-3, previous rank: 22) – Against Tampa, the Rams had the ball in Bucs' territory six times and scored just three points. Is it too late to get Kurt Warner back?30. ATLANTA (0-3 previous rank: 32) – The Falcons at least showed something the past two weeks, keeping the score to within a touchdown against two Quality Opponents (JAX, CAR)31. BUFFALO (0-3, previous rank: 31) – How bad are the Bills? They have forced only three punts all season.32. NEW ORLEANS (0-3, previous rank: 26) – Can't go by the 2006 success anymore – this team is bad. The Saints have no sacks, no runs of more than 15 yards, and no more sympathy. Oh, and they allow an even (and dreadful) 10.0 yards per pass attempt.
- Last week: Tampa posted a second straight blowout win, this time 24-3 at home against the winless Rams.
- Cold, Hard Football Facts: The 55 points scored by the Bucs in Weeks 2 and 3 represent their best two-week output since Weeks 10-11 of the 2005 season.
Next: at Carolina. Followed by a road trip to Indianapolis and a home game with Tennessee.
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