Week 9 2009 Power Rankings
Cold, Hard Football Facts for Nov 03, 2009
By Jonathan Comey
Cold, Hard Football Facts landslide election winner
After a long run of dominance by the AFC, the two conferences have stabilized – and the difference can be seen in our weekly power poll.
In 2005, the AFC went 44-20 in interleague play, but the numbers have been narrowing every year since. Last year, the AFC went 34-29-1 vs. the NFC.
And this year, it's almost dead even with the AFC holding a 17-16 edge.
The conferences are mirror images. Each conference has their undefeated team (IND, NO), and their one-loss team (DEN, MIN). And each conference has two dangerous two-loss teams with lots of history (NE + PIT, DAL + PHI). Any of the top four teams in either conference would look right at home holding the Lombardi trophy at season's end.
At the bottom, both conferences can boast an equal amount of dogs.Sure, Tennessee, Oakland, Kansas City and Cleveland are bad, but are they any worse than Washington, Tampa Bay, St. Louis and Detroit?
Our rankings reflect the new conference parity, although it's the NFC's Saints holding the edge on the AFC's Colts for the top spot.
1. NEW ORLEANS (7-0). Last week: 35-27 win vs. Atlanta. Over their last 16 games, the Saints have scored 557 points; the 2007 Patriots scored 589 points.
2. INDIANAPOLIS (7-0). Last week: 18-14 win vs. San Francisco. Peyton Manning threw for 347 yards but no scores against the Niners. Since the start of 2006, he's thrown at least one TD pass in 50 of 55 games.
3. MINNESOTA (7-1). Last week 38-26 win at Green Bay: For years, the Vikings were impenetrable to opposing run attacks ... but mediocre as a team. This year, they allow an ordinary 4.1 yards a carry ... but they're 7-1.
4. DENVER (6-1). Last week: 30-7 loss at Baltimore. The Broncos have allowed more points in each game since Week 3, from 3 to 10 to 17 to 23 to 30. Expect them to give up somewhere in the ballpark of 94 points in Week 17 vs. Kansas City.
5. NEW ENGLAND (5-2). Last week: bye. Over their two-game sweep of Tennessee and Tampa, the Patriots piled up 1,025 yards, ran for 300 and forced eight turnovers.
6. PITTSBURGH (5-2). Last week: bye. OLB James Harrison is on pace to approximate his Defensive Player of the Year stat line of 2008 (92 total tackles, 16.5 sacks, seven forced fumbles). He also is the frontrunner for the first-annual "Guy We'd Least Likely To Be In a Bar Fight With Award."
7. PHILADELPHIA (5-2). Last week: 40-17 vs. NY Giants. Eagles CB Asante Samuel has five interceptions; if he can finish with 10 he'll have 30 over his last four seasons. The last player to do that was Chiefs safety Deron Cherry (1983-1986).
8. BALTIMORE (4-3). Last week: 30-7 win vs. Denver. Not only is Michael Oher the subject of the new movie "Blindside," he's doing a pretty damn good job in the NFL. Despite facing a schedule thick with excellent defenses, the Ravens are No. 1 in the Offensive Hog Index -- and Oher has started all seven games, the last two at left tackle.
9. DALLAS (5-2). Last week: 38-17 win vs. Seattle. When Tony Romo is on, like he was Sunday, the Cowboys are pretty much unbeatable. Since 2007, the Cowboys are 20-1 when Romo has a passer rating of 100 or better. When it's under 100, they're 5-9.
10. CINCINNATI (5-2). Last week: bye. The Bengals spent their bye week wishing they played in the NFC West so that they could start printing playoff tickets.
11. GREEN BAY (4-3). Last week: 38-26 loss vs. Minnesota. Aaron Rodgers seems to be taking heat for allowing too many sacks, but his remarkable two interceptions in 256 dropbacks suggests he's got a pretty good idea about how to play the position.
12. HOUSTON (5-3). Last week: 31-10 win at Buffalo. The Texans benched Steve Slaton for his fumbles (NFL-high five lost), but he's not exactly producing big numbers either. Slaton leads the NFL with 21 negative runs.
13. N.Y. GIANTS (5-3). Last week: 40-17 loss at Philadelphia. Eli Manning is currently 15th in passer rating (86.4). A down year? Not really. His yearly rankings since 2005: 23rd, 18th, 25th, 14th.
14. ATLANTA (4-3). Last week: 35-27 loss at New Orleans. The Falcons have yielded 400+ yards in four of their seven games.
15. SAN FRANCISCO (3-4). Last week: 18-14 loss at Indianapolis. Frank Gore averages 8.0 yards per carry on first down, best in the league.
16. CHICAGO (4-3). Last week: 30-6 win vs. Cleveland. Jay Cutler can't blame his receivers for a so-so season (80.8 rating, 20th overall). The Bears are tied with his former team, Denver, for the fewest dropped passes (5). Cutler also has a brutal 65.8 rating inside the red zone (27th).
17. MIAMI (3-4). Last week: 30-25 win at N.Y. Jets. Yes, the Dolphins averaged 2.0 yards per play and still put up 30 points on the road against the Jets. Now those are some special teams.
18. N.Y. JETS (4-4). Last week: 30-25 loss vs. Miami. The Jets can take one shining number into what figures to be a sullen bye week: opponents have gone for it eight times on fourth down and the Jets have stopped all eight.
19. ARIZONA (4-3). Last week: 34-21 loss vs. Carolina. We haven't seen behavior this erratic from Cardinals since 1927, when Louis Billot called up Pope Pius XI and resigned his cardinalship in support of the Action Francaise movement. Those crazy Cardinals.
20. SAN DIEGO (4-3). Last week: 24-16 win vs. Oakland. LaDainian Tomlinson made the highlight reel with a couple of touchdowns, but he continues to be a subpar tailback. He hasn't produced a 100-yard game in more than a year (Oct. 26, 2008, at New Orleans). Including the playoffs, he only has two 100-yard games in his last 25.
21. CAROLINA (3-4). Last week: 34-21 win at Arizona. The Panthers play at the Saints Sunday, and they might as well leave the wide receivers in Carolina. Last year, they ran for 143 yards and 234 yards in sweeping the Saints.
22. JACKSONVILLE (3-4). Last week: 30-13 loss at Tennessee. The Jaguars have totaled just five sacks as a team, and no player has more than one.
23. BUFFALO (3-5). Last week: 31-10 loss vs. Houston. QB Ryan Fitzpatrick has somehow managed to start games for three different franchises (Rams, Bengals and Bills) despite a remarkable lack of success. His teams have never scored more than 21 points in any of his 17 career starts.
24. SEATTLE (2-5). Last week: 38-17 loss at Dallas. Edgerrin James was cut this week; in his four seasons away from the Colts he never topped 3.9 YPA and scored just 16 total TDs.
25. OAKLAND (2-6). Last week: 24-16 loss at San Diego. Did the Raiders make the right move in drafting WR Derrius Heyward-Bey over Michael Crabtree? Well, Heyward-Bey had all of training camp and five extra games to build up his game, but he's got five catches and 74 yards for the year – less than Crabtree had in his second game of the year Sunday (6-for-81).
26. WASHINGTON (2-5). Last week: bye. The Skins spent their bye week sobbing softly into their pillows and hoping their wives wouldn't wake up.
27. TENNESSEE (1-6). Last week. 30-13 win at Jacksonville. RB Chris Johnson thinks the Titans can still go 10-6. He might want to let the secondary know (31st in Defensive Passer Rating, 108.4, league-high 19 TDs allowed).
28. KANSAS CITY (1-6). Last week: bye. The Chiefs are a solid 3-29 over their last 32 games – any particular reason that their fans still show up in droves?
29. ST. LOUIS (1-7). Last week: 17-10 win at Detroit. Not only did the Rams get their first win, they won't have to leave St. Louis until Week 13 (bye, then three more home games). Ahhh. It's good to be a Ram.
30. DETROIT (1-6). Last week: 17-10 loss vs. St. Louis. Last year's Lions averaged 16.8 PPG and allowed 32.3. This year's "improved Lions"? 16.1 PPG for, 29.3 PPG against.
31. CLEVELAND (1-7). Last week: 30-6 loss at Chicago. Browns coach Eric Mangini is now 2-11 over his last 13 games, and his three quarterbacks (Brett Favre, Derek Anderson and Brady Quinn) have combined for five touchdown passes and 21 interceptions over that span.
32. TAMPA BAY (0-7). Last week: bye. Good news, Bucs fans, you've got a home game this week. Bad news? You've been outscored 121-49 at home, and the visiting Packers have outscored opponents 90-50 on the road.
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