The latest edition of the NFL Power Rankings includes a Norsemen tumble, a Matty Ice-inspired climb, a fall by a rising young quarterback with no weapons, and a Nashville debut.
1. Patriots (7-1); Last week: 1
Tom Brady is on pace for 36 touchdowns and nearly 4,000 passing yards despite being suspended for the first month of the season. He literally is getting better with age. The Pats head into the bye with a sizeable lead in the AFC East. So what else is new?
2. Cowboys (6-1); Last week: 3
I’m stunned at Jerry Jones’ announcement that Tony Romo “isn’t ready to play” yet in the wake of Dak Prescott’s clutch performance to rally Dallas from a 10-point fourth-quarter deficit to beat nemesis Philly in overtime Sunday night. The jig is up: It’s the rookie’s job until he screws up.
3. Broncos: (5-2): Last week: 6
Sixty-nine-year-old defensive coordinator Wade Phillips was taken off in the stretcher after getting drilled on the sideline in the first half of Denver’s win over the Chargers. Now he knows how opposing quarterbacks must feel every week facing his menacing defense. The Broncos have bounced back from back-to-back loss with a pair of wins. Phillips’ unit is as frightening as ever.
4. Chiefs (5-2); Last week: 8
Andy Reid’s club climbs three spots in ho-hum fashion. Kansas City hasn’t lost since getting pummeled by the Steelers in primetime three weeks ago. Is there a more non-descript good team in the league? If Alex Smith is healthy — he might or might not have suffered a concussion Sunday — the Chiefs could win the next three games too. The Jaguars, Panthers and Bucs await. Hardly world beaters.
5. Seahawks (4-2-1); Last week: 2
Russell Wilson hasn’t thrown a touchdown pass since he lit up the Jets for three in Week 4. Something isn’t quite right for Pete Carroll’s team after a bad loss to the Saints, but that defense is still too good to ignore. They fell three spots from last week, but no need to worry. Seattle will make the playoffs.
For all of the talk about Dak Prescott, the engine that makes the Cowboys go is the other rookie, running back Ezekiel Elliott.
(LARRY W. SMITH/EPA)
6. Falcons (5-3); Last week: 12
Matt Ryan stopped the bleeding of a two-game losing streak with another MVP-like performance to rally Atlanta to win over the Packers. Matty Ice is your first-half NFL MVP for whatever that’s worth.
7. Eagles (4-3); Last week: 7
Philly blew two 10-point fourth-quarter leads to the hated Cowboys in primetime but hold on to their spot. First-year coach Doug Pederson had some dicey play-calling, but the crux of the problem is that Carson Wentz is throwing to a bunch of clowns. Jordan Matthews is a quality No. 2 option, but the rest of the receivers are an unmitigated disaster. Nelson Agholor should be shipped back to the West Coast to be reunited with the clueless motormouth that had the bright idea of drafting him in the first round. A treacherous four-game stretch awaits.
8. Steelers (4-3); Last week: 9
Pittsburgh inches up a spot after taking the week off. Big Ben is practicing, which is a good sign. Mike Tomlin & Co. will need him to make a second-half climb to their rightful place in the Top 4.
9. Vikings (6-2); Last week: 4
Mike Zimmer’s team takes the biggest tumble after a primetime loss to the lowly Bears. Minnesota’s championship-caliber defense let a rookie running back rack up more than 200 total yards. Sam Bradford won’t survive behind a banged-up offensive line. Maybe the Vikings offense just isn’t good enough to go deep into the playoffs.
10. Raiders (6-2); Last week: 13
How the heck does a team win a game despite committing an NFL-record 23 penalties? Derek Carr is a special young player, but Jack Del Rio’s club must be more disciplined to have any realistic shot at winning a ridiculously competitive AFC West.
With a young quarterback who can sling it in Derek Carr and receivers who can go get it like Michael Crabtree, the Raiders have an exciting offense.
(Brian Blanco/Getty Images)
11. Packers (4-3); Last week: 11
Green Bay is attempting to play without a real running back. Aaron Rodgers’ stats have taken a leap in the past couple weeks, but this team isn’t a legitimate threat without any semblance of a ground attack.
12. Bills (4-4); Last week: 10
Sexy Rexy’s team has dropped two in a row without a healthy LeSean McCoy at his disposal. A nightmarish trip to the Pacific Northwest awaits. Can Buffalo somehow steal a win in Seattle?
13. Texans (5-3); Last week: unranked
Two facts: 1.) Brock Osweiler stinks. 2.) So does the AFC South. Bill O’Brien’s team is the best of the worst division in football.
14. Bengals (3-4-1); Last week: 15
I still believe Cincinnati is much better than their record. Injecting a healthy Tyler Eifert into the mix could be a game-changer in the second half of the season.
15. Titans (4-4); Last week: unranked
Tennessee makes its first appearance in the coveted rankings. Beating the Jaguars isn’t something to be particularly proud of, but this “exotic smash-mouth” offense led by a rejuvenated DeMarco Murray is starting to grow on me.
MOVERS AND FAKERS: Washington dropped out of the Top 15 after a tie in London. The Saints beat the Seahawks, but they’re still pretenders.
Source: NY Daily News Headlines Sports News