Week 7 2008 Power Rankings
Cold, Hard Football Facts for Oct 13, 2008
By Jonathan Comey
Cold, Hard Football Facts Titan of industry
In a week when NFL powers were beaten and even embarrassed, the Titans had the best seat in the house: hanging at home, enjoying their bye week.
Tennessee has yet to beat (or even face) a Quality Opponent. Nor has the team shown much explosiveness on offense (No. 18 at 23.0 PPG, No. 24 at 4.7 yards per play).
But the Titans are unbeaten when nobody else is and they play killer D: They're No. 1 in scoring defense (11.2 PPG) and they're No. 1 or near the top in all of our defensive Quality Stats.
At the end of the day, winning in the NFL is all that matters. And nobody but the Titans this year has made it through the first five games of the season without a loss. That spells No. 1 in our book.
THE DOMINANT DOZEN
1. TENNESSEE (5-0, previous rank: 2)
Last week: Bye. While the teams with the best records in the AFC sat idle (Bills, Steelers, Titans) Tennessee gained the No. 1 spot.
Cold, Hard Football Facts: Tennessee is the only team in the AFC with an average point differential of more than a touchdown per game (+11.8; San Diego is second-best at +6.5).
Week 7 matchup: at Kansas City. What a difference four years makes. In 2004, these two teams combined for 926 total yards and 87 points in a 49-38 Chiefs win. This week we predict a 2-0 Titans win.
2. N.Y. GIANTS (4-1, previous rank: 1)
Record vs. Quality Opponents: 1-0 (+9.0 PPG)
Last week: The Giants capped off a week full of upsets by losing in Cleveland, 35-14.
Cold, Hard Football Facts: Had the G-Men just run the ball 50 times on Monday night, they might have won the game. New York piled up 181 yards on 25 carries (7.24 YPA), and Derrick Ward led everyone with 101 yards. Including last year's postseason, the Giants have had the leading individual rusher in 21 out of 25 games since the start of the 2007 season.
Week 7 matchup: vs. San Francisco. The 49ers and Giants have split 26 regular-season meetings; New York won the 2007 tussle, 33-15.
3. TAMPA BAY (4-2, previous rank: 10)
Record vs. Quality Opponents: 2-1 (+12.0 PPG)
Last week: The Buccaneers turned in one of the best performances of the NFL season, holding Carolina to 40 yards rushing on 20 carries and forcing three INTs in a 27-3 home win.
Cold, Hard Football Facts: RB Warrick Dunn's numbers took a steep and orderly decline over the three previous seasons, from 5.1 yards per carry to 4.0 to 3.2. At 33, he seemed to be, well, Dunn. But the little fella averages 5.1 YPA again and is on pace for 1,029 yards. His marginal case for the Hall of Fame would certainly be helped by a late-career rebirth.
Week 7 matchup: vs. Seattle on Sunday night. It's a battle between the two expansion teams from 1976; the Bucs are 1-7 all-time vs. the Seahawks and have never scored more than 23 points against them.
4. PITTSBURGH (4-1, previous rank: 6)
Last week: Bye. Pittsburgh's best players spent their week off bonding with Steely McBeam, learning something about life from their steel-jawed "man-scot."
Cold, Hard Football Facts: Even after the Steel Curtain era passed, the Steelers were known for their great linebacker play. So, who's their all-time leader in sacks (made an official stat in 1982)? Probably not who you'd think: Jason Gildon (77), who played for Pittsburgh from 1994 to 2003.
Week 7 matchup: at Cincinnati. The Steelers are 26-9 in the rivalry since 1991.
5. BUFFALO (4-1, previous rank: 9)
Record vs. Quality Opponents: 0-1 (-24.0 PPG)
Last week: Bye. It came at a perfect time for the Bills, who should have a recovered Trent Edwards back from concussion.
Cold, Hard Football Facts: WR Lee Evans has had a very good "season" over his last 16 games: 59 receptions for 1,168 yards (19.8-yard average per catch) and 7 TDs. Why hasn't Al Davis thrown $120 million at this guy yet?
Week 7 matchup: vs. San Diego. Despite a better record and home-field advantage, the Bills opened as one-point underdogs.
6. INDIANAPOLIS (3-2, previous rank: 15)
Last week: The Colts broke out of their season-long slump, forcing five turnovers and averaging 8.6 yards per pass attempt (adjusted for sacks) against a top-notch Baltimore D (league-best 52.2 defensive passer rating).
Cold, Hard Football Facts: Peyton Manning might not be quite right yet, but he has completed 63.2 percent of his passes and is on pace for 26 touchdowns and 4,167 yards. About 25 other teams wish their QB was that "off."
Week 7 matchup: at Green Bay. Hype haters are glad that this one is no longer Manning vs. Favre; the rest of us would have loved to see it.
7. WASHINGTON (4-2, previous rank: 5)
Record vs. Quality Opponents: 2-1 (PPG even)
Last week: The Redskins rushed for 181 yards and outgained St. Louis 368-200, but they allowed four Josh Brown field goals and a fumble-return TD in a stunning 19-17 home loss.
Cold, Hard Football Facts: Washington has shown its toughness, but great teams usually enjoy a few blowouts; the Redskins rank 18th in net scoring (+1.5 PPG), and their four wins have all been by a TD or less.
Week 7 matchup: vs. Cleveland. It's safe to say that the Flying Zorns won't take this one lightly after the Brownies embarrassed the Giants.
8. PHILADELPHIA (3-3, previous rank: 12)
Record vs. Quality Opponents: 1-2 (-0.3 PPG)
Last week: The Eagles scored 23 fourth-quarter points to beat San Francisco 40-26, moving to within a game of Dallas and Washington in the NFC East.
Cold, Hard Football Facts: How are the Eagles 3-3? They are +5 in turnovers (2nd in the league) and have outscored opponents by 7.3 points per game (tied for 3rd in the league).
Week 7 matchup: Bye. Donovan McNabb needs the rest; he's on pace for 563 passes, which would be his most since 2000, and would surpass the number of passes sent at Erin Andrews each weekend.
9. CHICAGO (3-3, previous rank: 8)
Record vs. Quality Opponents: 1-3 (+2.0 PPG)
Last week: The Bears suffered their third loss by three points or fewer, this time by a 22-20 score on the fifth of five field goals by Atlanta kicker Jason Elam.
Cold, Hard Football Facts: Not only is Matt Forte a workhorse (on pace for 339 carries), but he has caught 27 of the 31 passes thrown his way (87.1 percent, No. 6 in the league). He is on pace for 1,773 total yards from scrimmage and 13 TDs. However, even with all of those touches, he has recorded only one play of more than 20 yards.
Week 7 matchup: vs. Minnesota. The Bears have quite an odd upcoming schedule – three home games around a bye, then three road games and then three more home games. The good news is that only one remaining opponent (Tennessee) is currently in the Dominant Dozen.
10. ARIZONA (4-2, previous rank: 13)
Record vs. Quality Opponents: 2-2 (+0.5 PPG)
Last week: Thanks to a 30-24 OT victory over visiting Dallas, the Cardinals took a two-game lead in the NFC West – and they already own a road win over second-place San Francisco.
Cold, Hard Football Facts: Arizona has three times as many 100-yard efforts from its receivers (six) than the rest of the NFC West combined (two).
Week 7 matchup: Bye. The Cardinals will spend their week off trying not to break mirrors or walk under ladders.
11. CAROLINA (4-2, previous rank: 4)
Record vs. Quality Opponents: 1-1 (-4.5 PPG)
Last week: The Panthers lost their second straight on the road by 10+ points, getting handled by Tampa Bay 27-3.
Cold, Hard Football Facts: RBs DeAngelo Williams and Jonathan Stewart are on pace to combine for 1,685 rushing yards.
Week 7 matchup: vs. New Orleans. The Saints thought Aaron Brooks was their quarterback of the future when they let Jake Delhomme go after 2002. Since then, Carolina is 48-38, while New Orleans is 39-47.
12. DALLAS (4-2, previous rank: 3)
Record vs. Quality Opponents: 0-2 (-4.0 PPG)
Last week: The Cowboys outgained Arizona 374-276 and won the turnover battle 3-1, but they lost 30-24 in overtime by allowing two special teams scores.
Cold, Hard Football Facts: Fill-in QB Brad Johnson leads the NFL in the little-discussed "Neck Index"; his neck is 8.42 percent of his total height, which just barely tops "Beaker" from the Muppet Show.
Week 7 matchup: at St. Louis. Dallas averages 2.1 more yards per offensive play than St. Louis does.
THE TEPID TWENTY
13. NEW ORLEANS (3-3, previous rank: 17) — The Saints like to use swing passes to the backs as the equivalent of running plays, but neither are working; they average 3.3 yards per attempt on passes behind the line of scrimmage and 3.3 yards per rush.
14. SAN DIEGO (3-3, previous rank: 18) — The Chargers recorded 42 sacks last year with Shawne Merriman. Without him this season, they have 16 in six games, putting them on pace for 42.7 sacks.
15. DENVER (4-2, previous rank: 7) — Two good reasons to jump off the Broncos bandwagon? They've played four of six at home, and they are last in the league in total defense (393 YPG). Opponents average 6.2 yards per play against Denver, which matches the number turned in by the high-powered offense of the 2007 Patriots.
16. ATLANTA (4-2, previous rank: 20) — If you picked the Falcons to be a contender, raise your hand. Is your hand up? LIAR!
17. JACKSONVILLE (3-3, previous rank: 23) — The Jaguars have stayed in the mix despite a brutal schedule. They're the only team in the NFL that's faced five Quality Opponents through week six and those opponents boast a league-high .720 winning percentage (18-7) in their other games.
18. GREEN BAY (3-3, previous rank: 21) — If you're scoring at home, Aaron Rodgers boasts a passer rating of 98.0; Brett Favre posted an 86.7 through six games in 2007.
19. N.Y. JETS (3-2, previous rank: 22) — The offense gets all the headlines these days with Favre at the helm. But the Jets offense is just 19th in yards per play (5.1) while the defense is a more-impressive 10th in yards per play allowed (4.8).
20. MINNESOTA (3-3, previous rank: 16) — If you missed it, Vikings DT Kevin Williams had the stat line of the season with eight solo tackles and four sacks; Williams has already doubled his sack total (6) from last year's Pro Bowl season (3).
21. NEW ENGLAND (3-2, previous rank: 11) — So, what's Tom Brady worth? Judging from the difference between 2007 and 2008 stats, about 17.8 points per game and 1.64 yards per play.
22. MIAMI (2-3, previous rank: 19) — Chad Pennington leads the NFL with a first-half passer rating of 118.2; it dips to 83.3 in the second half.
23. CLEVELAND (2-3, previous rank: 28) — The Browns more than doubled their yardage (210.8 YPG) and scoring (11.5 PPG) totals in their win over the Giants (454 yards, 35 points).
24. BALTIMORE (2-3, previous rank: 14) — Coming off a loss at Indy, the Ravens hit the road for three of their next four games.
25. SAN FRANCISCO (2-4, previous rank: 24) — The 49ers allow 27.8 PPG (28th in the NFL), despite decent numbers in defensive passer rating (14th at 78.6) and rush defense (tied for 13th at 3.9 YPA).
26. HOUSTON (1-4, previous rank: same) — The Texans rank fourth in first downs per game (21.4) but just 17th in points per game (22.4).
27. OAKLAND (1-4, previous rank: 25) — Just Fold, Baby!
28. SEATTLE (1-4, previous rank: 27) — Despite having their entire passing attack in the shop, the Seahawks have averaged 132.7 yards per game on the ground (5th) and 4.7 yards per carry (6th).
29. ST. LOUIS (1-4, previous rank: 32) — The good news? The Rams got their first victory. The bad news? Their next four opponents all have winning records.
30. KANSAS CITY (1-4, previous rank: same) — Don't worry, fans. QB Brodie Croyle is back this week. Try to ignore the fact that he's posted a passer rating worse than 70 in six of his seven career starts.
31. CINCINNATI (0-6, previous rank: 29) — This was an actual headline on NFL.com last week: "Bengals looking for Benson to ignite running game." We kept looking for signs that this was a parody, but nope, they were serious. His line Sunday: 4 carries, 6 yards.
32. DETROIT (0-5, previous rank: 31) — The Martz Factor is for real. Detroit's offense went from 21.6 points per game and 5.4 yards per play last year with Martz to 15.2 PPG and 4.5 YPP this year without Martz. San Francisco went from 13.7 points per game and 4.1 yards per play last year without Martz to 23.5 PPG and 5.4 YPP this year with Martz.
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