Week 7 NFL Power Rankings: Big Ben injury alters landscape

The latest edition of the NFL Power Rankings includes the Evil Empire’s return to the mountaintop, a Philly feel-good story gone bad, a rookie duo that should be taken seriously and a superstar quarterback who has lost his way.

1. Patriots (5-1); Last week: 3

The Evil Empire reclaims the precious top spot as the Tom Brady FU Tour rolls along like smooth jazz. Another game, another dominant performance by the ageless pretty boy quarterback. He’s starting to make the vegan lifestyle very appealing for common folk. A date with the Big Ben-less Steelers awaits. Expect a rout.

2. Vikings (5-0); Last week: 2

Sorry, Vikings fans. You might be undefeated, but you’re not better than Hoodie Enterprises. Sam Bradford is well rested after Minnesota’s bye and ready to go back to the place that discarded him less than two weeks before the regular season. What kind of reception will Philly fans give Sammy Sleeves? It doesn’t really matter because the Eagles-Vikings deal was a win-win. Bradford, however, would love nothing more than to stick it to an organization that did him wrong in his mind.

3. Seahawks (4-1); Last week: 4

Richard Sherman got away with bloody murder to help Seattle beat the Falcons and inch up one spot in our rankings. Sherman’s arm-bar takedown of Julio Jones on fourth down in the waning moments was the most egregious blown call of the weekend. Pass interference was invented because of plays like that. Nevertheless, Pete Carroll’s squad survives to set up a juicy road test in Arizona this week.

4. Cowboys: (5-1): Last week: 7

America’s Team has officially become Dak Prescott’s team after the rookie quarterback led Dallas to their fifth consecutive win with an impressive romp over the Packers. Jerry Jones needs to take this bye week and come to his senses: Move forward with Prescott, not Tony Romo.

Side note: Could Ezekiel Elliott pull off the trifecta: Rookie of the Year, MVP and new single-season rushing king? It’s not as outlandish as it sounds.

5. Steelers (4-2); Last week: 1

Ben Roethlisberger & Co. tumble out of the top spot after an ugly loss to the hapless Dolphins. Big Ben will miss at least this week’s showdown against the Patriots with a torn meniscus that required surgery on Monday. Will he be back after the bye for a Week 9 tilt at Baltimore? Mike Tomlin better hope so.

Ezekiel Elliott runs his way into the conversation for Rookie of the Year, rushing king and MVP.

Ezekiel Elliott runs his way into the conversation for Rookie of the Year, rushing king and MVP.

(Benny Sieu/USA Today Sports)

6. Broncos (4-2); Last week: 5

Maybe Denver is who we thought they were before the season: A team with no real quarterback. Sure, Trevor Siemian had a couple decent outings, but he’s just not good enough to make another deep playoff run. The Broncos, losers of two in a row, face the Texans this week in what should be a get-well game.

7. Falcons (4-2); Last week: 8

We’re moving Atlanta up one spot despite their loss in Seattle. Why? Ask Dan Quinn and the bulging vein in his head about that horrible no-call on the obvious pass interference in crunch time. They were robbed in the Pacific Northwest, but no need to fret. Matty Ice’s team is clearly the best in the NFC South.

8. Bills (4-2); Last week: 11

Rex Ryan and new offensive coordinator Anthony Lynn keep climbing the ladder. Four consecutive wins. A legitimate MVP candidate in superstar running back LeSean McCoy, who ripped of three more touchdowns in a rout over the 49ers. The Dolphins, fresh off their upset against the Steelers, await in South Beach.

9. Cardinals (3-3); Last week: 13

Bruce Arians’ team is back in business after a dominating win over the Jets in primetime. David Johnson is giving Le’Veon Bell a run for his money as the most versatile running back in the league.

10. Chiefs (3-2); Last week: 12

Don’t mess with Andy Reid after a bye. Kansas City routed the upstart Raiders to move up a couple spots. The Chiefs are bland, but they should not be overlooked. They’ll be hanging around the playoff picture for the next couple months.

11. Packers (3-2); Last week: 6

What the heck is wrong with Aaron Rodgers? He’s been sapped of his superpowers. A messy performance in a home loss to the Cowboys was the latest puzzling performance by one of the best quarterbacks of this generation. The Packers host the Bears on Thursday night. If they lose, oh man.

Richard Sherman got away with one here against Julio Jones.

Richard Sherman got away with one here against Julio Jones.

(Jonathan Ferrey/Getty Images)

12. Washington (4-2); Last week: unranked

You like that? Kirk Cousins & Co. have won four in a row after their rough start. The Eagles were Washington’s latest victim. Jay Gruden’s club made Carson Wentz look like a rookie for the first time this season.

13. Raiders (4-2); Last week: 9

Oakland might have snapped their three-game winning streak, but Mark Davis is happier than a pig in slop after Nevada politicians passed a bill that gets the Raiders closer to having public funding for a good chunk of a new stadium in Sin City.

14. Eagles (3-2); Last week: 10

The Wentz Wagon has a couple wobbly wheels after Philly dropped their second in a row after an early bye. Doug Pederson’s team hasn’t won since their beatdown of the Steelers, which seems like ages ago. It doesn’t get any easier with the undefeated Vikings coming to town. Carson Wentz vs. Minnesota’s ferocious defense? Yikes.

15. Saints (2-3); Last week: unranked

Sean Payton’s club makes its first appearance in our coveted rankings after hanging on to beat the underachieving Panthers. Drew Brees could probably throw for 400 yards blind-folded.

MOVERS AND FAKERS: The Bengals (2-4) finally dropped out of the Top 15. The Rams (3-3) were hanging by a thread before sliding out after their second straight loss.

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Source: NY Daily News Headlines Sports News

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