Power Rankings Week 4: Weakness in the bottom half

Cold, Hard Football Facts for Oct 12, 2011



By Jonathan Comey
Cold, Hard Football Facts Power Ranker


Is it just us, or are there a lot of really bad football teams out there?

There’s not much fault to be found in any of our top seven teams from Green Bay to San Francisco, but things get pretty sketchy from there. The middle pack, from No. 8 San Diego to No. 13 Washington, features teams with good records but so-so play. Then we get to teams like Dallas, Philly, Chicago, Houston and Atlanta, who are either playing well but losing or completely falling short of expectations.

And then we have the bottom 10, from Cleveland to St. Louis, a big group of abs olute no-hopers that only manages to be competitive when one of the other bottom feeders is on the schedule.

It’s early, but it’d be a bit of a shock if anyone currently outside our top 10 ends up in Indianapolis for the Super Bowl.

On to the rankings!

1. GREEN BAY (5-0)

Last week: 25-14 win vs. Atlanta
Next three weeks: vs. STL, at MIN, bye
The Cold, Hard Football Facts: According to STATS, Inc., when Aaron Rodgers has thrown to his left this year he’s 40 of 54 for 556 yards, five TDs and zero INTs (rating: 137.5). Unofficially, when he puts on his pants, he actually puts both legs on simultaneously … then throws a 14-yard completion to whoever’s open.

2. DETROIT (5-0)

Last week:24-13 win vs. Chicago
Next three weeks: vs. SF, vs. AZ, at DEN
The Cold, Hard Football Facts: Matthew Stafford’s second-half passer rating this year is pretty good – as in 127.9 good. And their overall game? Also good. They’re No. 1 in our Quality Stats Power Rankings. Yes, life is sweet in Detroit, unless you’re looking for work.

3. BALTIMORE (3-1)

Last week:bye
Next three weeks: vs. HOU, at JAX, vs. AZ
The Cold, Hard Football Facts: The Ravens are allowing 14.3 PPG this year – all the more impressive since their four opponents scored 26.4 PPG in their non-Raven games.

4. NEW ENGLAND (4-1)

Last week: 30-21 win vs. New York Jets
Next three weeks: vs. DAL, bye, at PIT
The Cold, Hard Football Facts: The Patriots’ running game is always moving forward; New England has only run for a loss on 5.8 percent of their attempts this year, best in the league.

5. NEW ORLEANS (4-1)

Last week:  30-27 win at Carolina
Next three weeks: at TB, vs. IND, at STL
The Cold, Hard Football Facts: Who’s been thrown at more times than Calvin Johnson, Larry Fitzgerald and Hakeem Nicks? Yep, Jimmy Graham (48 targets), who’s got 496 yards to show for it. If you can average a first down every time the ball comes your way, you’re going to get it repeatedly, and Drew Brees knows it.
 

6. BUFFALO (4-1)

Last week: 31-24 win vs. Philadelphia
Next three weeks: at NYG, bye, vs. WAS
The Cold, Hard Football Facts: Assistant coach of the year award has to go to Buffalo’s Joe D’Alessandris, who has Buffalo’s O-line of unknowns No. 1 on our Offensive Hog Index. Not bad for a team that was No. 32 in our Power Rankings last year at this time.
 

7. SAN FRANCISCO (4-1)

Last week:48-3 win vs. Tampa Bay
Next three weeks: at DET, bye, vs CLE
The Cold, Hard Football Facts: Why are the Niners here? They are in the middle of an unprecedented run of efficiency. They rank first in Scoreability AND Bendability, which is a pretty strong testament to the power of Jim Harbaugh.

8. SAN DIEGO (4-1)

Last week: 29-24 win at Denver
Next three weeks: bye, at NYJ, at KC
The Cold, Hard Football Facts: For once, the Chargers are picking up a struggling Philip Rivers instead of the other way around. San Diego leads the league in YAC (906 yards), and are 4-1 despite Rivers’ slow start (87.6 rating compared to 100+ the last three years running).

9. OAKLAND (3-2)

Last week: 25-20 win at Houston
Next three weeks: vs. CLE, vs. KC, bye
The Cold, Hard Football Facts: Remember when kicking 50-yard field goals was hard? Not anymore. Oakland’s Sebastian Janikowski is 5-for-6, and league-wide kickers are 29-for-41 – a ridiculous 70.7 percent.

10. PITTSBURGH (3-2)

Last week:38-17 win vs. Tennessee
Next three weeks: vs. JAX, at AZ, vs. NE
The Cold, Hard Football Facts: Mike Wallace’s reputation as a guy who can only go deep is officially no more. He’s caught 31 of the 38 passes thrown his way (81.6 percent), the second-best completion percentage for a receiver in the league (Michael Jenkins, MIN, 83.3).
 

11. CINCINNAT I (3-2)

Last week: 30-20 win vs. Jacksonville
Next three weeks: vs. IND, bye, at Seattle
The Cold, Hard Football Facts: The Bengals might be the least noticed 3-2 team in the league, but with the league’s best Yards Per Play against (4.5) and games remaining with Indy, Seattle, Cleveland, St. Louis and Arizona, they’re right in the playoff mix.

­­­12. TENNESSEE (3-2)

Last week:38-17 loss at Pittsburgh
Next three weeks: bye, vs. HOU, vs. IND
The Cold, Hard Football Facts: The Titans’ 11 opponents the rest of the way are 24-31, with only New Orleans and Buffalo in CHFF Power Rankings top 10.

13. WAS HINGTON (4-1)

Last week: bye
Next three weeks: vs. PHI, at CAR, at BUF
The Cold, Hard Football Facts: The Redskins have been getting it done against some of the league’s worst defenses – their opponents have allowed 31.3 PPG against teams other than Washington, worst in the league.

14. DALLAS (2-2)

Last week: bye
Next three weeks:at NE, vs. STL, at PHI
The Cold, Hard Football Facts: Jason Witten is on pace for 108 catches and 1,464 yards, and if he stays hot could get to 700 catches this year (needs 56) before he turns 30 next February – something no one’s ever done.   
 

15. HOUSTON (3-2)

Last week: 25-20 loss vs. Oakland
Next three weeks: at BAL, at TEN, vs. JAX
The Cold, Hard Football Facts: Mario Williams had 34.5 of the Texans’ 107 sacks since the start of 2008 – 32.2 percent of the total.   

16. NEW YORK GIANTS (3-2)

Last week: 36-25 loss vs. Seattle
Next three weeks: vs. BUF, bye, vs. MIA
The Cold, Hard Football Facts: The Giants are 16th in our power rankings, 15th in point differential and 16th in yardage differential. Averagetasticness at its peak.

17. NEW YORK JETS (2-3)

Last week: 30-21 loss at New England
Next three weeks: vs. MIA, vs. SD, bye
The Cold, Hard Football Facts: The Jets are allowing 5.2 yards a play and 19.4 first downs a game, up from 4.8 and 17.9 in 2010 and 4.2 and 14.8 in 2009. So maybe it’s not all the offense’s fault.

18. TAMPA BAY (3-2)

Last week: 48-3 loss at San Francisco
Next three weeks: vs NO, vs. CHI, bye
The Cold, Hard Football Facts: The Bucs rode Passer Rating Differential (5th in the league) last year, but not in 2011 – Tampa ranks No. 30 at -25.67.

19. CAROLINA (1-4)

Last week: 30-27 loss vs. New Orleans
Next three weeks: at ATL, vs. WAS, vs. MIN
The Cold, Hard Football Facts: Last year’s Carolina receivers averaged 10.3 yards a catch, tied for 29th in the league. This year’s group is averaging 14.2 yards a catch, 2nd best.

20. CHICAGO (2-3)

Last week:24-13 loss at Detroit
Next three weeks: vs. MIN, at TB, bye
The Cold, Hard Football Facts: Don’t blame kicker Robbie Gould – he’s 10 for 10 on field goals, and the Bears’ opponents are starting their average drive at the 19.7 yard line.

21. PHILADELPHIA (1-4)

Last week:31-24 loss at Buffalo
Next three weeks: at BUF, at WAS, bye
The Cold, Hard Football Facts: The Eagles have 32 runs of 10+ yards, well ahead of No. 2 Minnesota (26). What else do the teams have in common? Oh yeah, 1-4 records.

22. ATLANTA (2-3)

Last week: 25-14 loss vs. Green Bay
Next three weeks: vs. CAR, at DET, bye
The Cold, Hard Football Facts: There’s enough blame to go around in Atlanta, but for Matt Ryan to be sitting on a 79.9 rating in this year of the passer is one of the biggest negative surprises of the 2011 season.

23. CLEVELAND (2-2)

Last week: bye
Next three weeks: at OAK, vs. SEA, at SF
The Cold, Hard Football Facts: The Browns have managed to be .500 despite lackluster play because they’re forcing Negative Pass Plays (11.11 percent of opposing dropbacks, 5th) and avoiding them (5.59 percent of dropbacks, 3rd).

24. SEATTLE (2-3)

Last week: 37-24 win at Giants
Next three weeks: bye, at CLE, vs. CIN
The Cold, Hard Football Facts: The Seahawks winning by 13 on the road against a good team pretty much comes in at a 94.24 on the still-in-development “Any Given Sunday Index.”

25. KANSAS CITY (2-3)

Last week:28-24 win at Indianapolis
Next three weeks: bye, vs. GB, vs. SD
The Cold, Hard Football Facts: Dwayne Bowe is quietly on pace to match last year’s pace; at current levels, he’d finish with totals of 74-1,344-13 after going 72-1,162-15 in 2010.

26. DENVER (1-4)

Last week:29-25 loss vs. San Diego
Next three weeks: bye, at MIA, vs. DET
The Cold, Hard Football Facts: The circumference of Tim Tebow’s biceps, multiplied by his number of college wins, divided by the number of Kyle Orton fans in Denver minus the square root of owner Pat Bowlen’s net worth, equals 3.14159, a.k.a. pi. TEE-BOW! TEE-BOW!

27. MINNESOTA (1-4)

Last week:34-10 win vs. Arizona
Next three weeks: vs. CHI, vs. GB, at CAR
The Cold, Hard Football Facts: The Vikings have the league’s No. 2 rusher (Adrian Peterson, 498 yards) and No. 1 sacker (Jared Allen, 7.5). So at least there are a couple of Pro Bowl visits to look forward to … if not much else with twin 5-0 teams four games ahead in the NFC North.

28. JACKSONVILLE (1-4)

Last week:30-20 loss vs. Cincinnati
Next three weeks: at PIT, vs. BAL, at HOU
The Cold, Hard Football Facts: The Jaguars only rank in the top 10 league-wide in one of the 19 stats we track on CHFF Insider (defensive rushing yards per attempt, 8th).

29. ARIZONA (1-4)

Last week: 34-10 loss at Minnesota
Next three weeks: bye, vs. PIT, at BAL
The Cold, Hard Football Facts: Remember when Kevin Kolb’s passer rating was 130.02 after Week 1? Yeah, about that … it’s 73.78 now.

30. MIAMI (0-4)

Last week: bye
Next three weeks: at NYJ, vs. DEN, at NYG
The Cold, Hard Football Facts: The Dolphins are in the dumps largely because of their pathetic Scoreability (30th, 20.45 yards per point).

31. INDIANAPOLIS (0-5)

Last week: 28-24 loss vs. Kansas City
Next three weeks: at CIN, at NO, at TEN
The Cold, Hard Football Facts: Remember Peyton Manning? Dallas Clark does. According to STATS, Inc., he leads the league in drops (six) despite having only 14 catches for 136 yards.

32. ST. LOUIS (0-4)

Last week: bye
Next three weeks: at GB, at DAL, vs. NO
The Cold, Hard Football Facts: The Rams spent their bye week wondering how they could possibly have to play the Packers, Cowboys and Rams the next three Sundays.

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