NFL Power Rankings: Week Nine

This pretty much explains the way things go in the NFL week-to-week. My big riser last week was Oakland. The biggest fall, Philadelphia. Of course they played each other Sunday and the Eagles won 49-20 behind Nick Foles’ record passing day.

There really is no telling what’s going to happen week-to-week in this league, particularly in the 10-25 region of the rankings. Kansas City stays at the top due to its undefeated record and lack of a true dominant force behind them at the moment.

Biggest Rise: Panthers +5, Redskins +5

Biggest Fall: Ravens -8

1. Kansas City Chiefs (9-0, LW: 1): The Stat: 100. The Chiefs weren’t looking so good in Buffalo Sunday. That’s an understatement. Then Sean Smith grabbed a Jeff Tuel pass and took it 100 yards for a Chiefs touchdown, setting KC up to stay undefeated. It’s the longest for the Chiefs since 1977 when Tim Collier took one 100 yards against Oakland.

2. Indianapolis Colts (6-2, LW: 2): The Stat: 4. Do we have our newest deep threat flying under the radar? With a 58-yard touchdown catch Sunday night, T.Y. Hilton had his 4th score of 50+ yards since the beginning of last year. The only player to top that number is Cincinnati’s AJ Green who’s done it five times. Indianapolis wishes it had Reggie Wayne out there, but with Hilton on the field, Andrew Luck has plenty of chances to make a highlight.

3. Denver Broncos (7-1, LW: 3): The Stat: 7. Peyton Manning is considered maybe the best prepared player in the NFL, so it shouldn’t be a surprise that Manning’s team has won seven straight times coming off the Bye week. The games haven’t been close either. The average score in those contests: 35-16. This week’s game is at San Diego. Peyton is 4-0 on the road after the week off.

7bab9-seahawks4. Seattle Seahawks (8-1, LW: 5): The Stat: 21. The Seahawks seem like they’re trying to put themselves in bad situations just to see if they can get out of them. They came back from 14-down to beat Houston thanks to Richard Sherman’s pick six, they beat the Rams with a goalline stand as time expired, then they set a franchise record by coming back from 21 down to beat the winless Buccaneers at home.

5. San Francisco 49ers (6-2, LW: 6): 15. After a couple weeks it didn’t look like Frank Gore and the 49ers rushing game was at the level it was in years past. Ever since then, the group has been maybe more dominant than last year. San Francisco, even coming off their Bye week, leads the NFL with 15 rushing touchdowns. The Redskins and Vikings are second on that list with 12.

6. New England Patriots (7-2, LW: 9): The Stat: 432. Tom Brady’s heard plenty of criticism this year. Statistically, it’s been easily the worst season of his Hall of Fame career, but Sunday he showed us the old Brady is still hiding in there. His 432 passing yards was the 3rd best number of his career. He threw for 517 Week One of 2011 and 443 in Week 15 of last year.

45d26-saints7. New Orleans Saints (6-2, LW: 4): 20. The Saints may have lost, but Drew Brees continued to put his name in the record books. Brees joined Peyton Manning, Brett Favre and Dan Marino as the only quarterbacks to throw 20 touchdown passes in 10 straight seasons. Manning did it 13 straight years, Favre 12 and Marino 10. Nine more touchdowns would give Brees six straight years with 30 TD passes.

8. Detroit Lions (5-3, LW: 10): The Stat: 10-10. Talk about unpredictability off the Bye week. In the last 20 years, the Lions are 10-10 coming back from a week off. The last four years they’ve alternated wins and losses. This week it’s a match up with the Bears team they controlled a few weeks back. Off the Bye, though, they’ve lost their last two times out against Chicago.

9. Chicago Bears (5-3, LW: 13): The Stat: 84. That was Brandon Marshall’s yardage total in the first half Monday night in Green Bay. He finished with 107 yards, but the first half total is important because in those two quarters he surpassed eight quarters of play in 2012. In two games a year ago, he only had 80 yards through the air against Green Bay.

10. Green Bay Packers (5-3, LW: 7): The Stat: 545. With the franchise on the bench for about a month with a fractured collarbone, the Packers will need to rely more on Eddie Lacy to carry the offense. If you hadn’t noticed, he was already doing that. Lacy’s 545 rushing yards in the last five games is the most in the NFL in that span, 74 ahead of St. Louis’ Zac Stacy and 109 clear of Kansas City’s Jamaal Charles. The 109 yards/game average is ahead of Washington’s Alfred Morris (97.5 ypg) in that same span.

11. Cincinnati Bengals (6-3, LW: 8): The Stat: 4. AJ Green has four straight 100-yard receiving games for the Bengals. In that period, Green has accumulated 501 yards. The last guy with four such games for Cincinnati was Carl Pickens back in 1994. During his four-game streak, he had 528 yards.

12. Dallas Cowboys (5-4, LW: 13): The Stat: 17-1. The last 2+ seasons, the Cowboys are the ultimate middle of the pack team. How so? Since the beginning of 2011, and including Sunday’s comeback win against the Vikings, Dallas is 17-1 against teams with a losing record. In that same period, the Boys are 4-19 against squads at-or-above .500.

13. Carolina Panthers (5-3, LW: 17): The Stat: 33. This Panthers defense is incredibly good. They’ve allowed 33-1st half points in 8 games. Only two other teams have done that in the last 35 years. The 1991 Saints allowed 25, and the 2001 Browns gave up 28 through half the season. Carolina allowed a 1st half touchdown for the first time all season on Sunday.

14. San Diego Chargers (4-4, LW: 11): The Stat: 175. The Chargers went an NFL-long 175 straight games without blocking a field goal. The last one was November 3, 2002, 11 years to the day from Sunday’s game at Washington. This time, San Diego blocked not one, but two Redskins field goal attempts. The bad part about the blocks: the Chargers lost both of those games.

15. New York Jets (5-4, LW: 15): The Stat: 2. It’s been well publicized that the Jets have won in every odd numbered week and lost in all the even weeks, giving them a 5-4 record heading into the Bye week. But how rare is that? New York and the 2005 Patriots are the only teams to ever alternate wins and losses for the season’s first nine weeks. That New England team rode a 5-1 finish to the playoffs and a loss in the Divisional round.

16. Arizona Cardinals (4-4, LW: 16): The Stat: 1-7. The Cardinals come off their Bye week, and that isn’t necessarily sitting too well with their quarterback, Carson Palmer. Palmer has played eight times after an off week in his career, and he’s lost seven of those eight games. His only win came in 2009 against Baltimore during his final season with the Bengals.

17. Cleveland Browns (4-5, LW: 19): The Stat: 11. The Browns had lost 11 straight games against the Ravens before handling the Old Browns Sunday in Cleveland. The last win was November 18, 2007 in Baltimore, the year Cleveland went 10-6 and narrowly missed the playoffs. Since that win Cleveland has trotted out Derek Anderson, Brady Quinn, Ken Dorsey, Bruce Gradkowski, Jake Delhomme, Seneca Wallace, Colt McCoy, Brandon Weeden, Thad Lewis, Brian Hoyer and now Jason Campbell at quarterback. Need any other reason why it took so long to beat Baltimore again?

18. Tennessee Titans (4-4, LW: 18): The Stat: 52. Chris Johnson finally scored his first two touchdowns of the season Sunday, giving him 52 for his career. That moved him into 3rd in franchise history for TDs. Who’s he chasing: Eddie George (74) and Earl Campbell (73). Johnson has 46 rushing and 6 receiving scores.

19. Miami Dolphins (4-4, LW: 22): The Stat: 157. Sure it helped when Cincinnati’s Geno Atkins went down with an ACL injury, but you can undervalue the Dolphins going for a season high 157 rushing yards Thursday night against one of the league’s best defenses. Miami has struggled all year giving up sacks, so how do you fix that? Run the ball successfully. The 157 yard total topped last week’s previous season high by a single yard.

20. Philadelphia Eagles (3-5, LW: 23): The Stat: 7. Going with the obvious here but with all the surrounding data as well. Nick Foles tied an NFL record becoming the 7th quarterback to throw seven touchdown passes in a single game. How good was he in doing it? Foles only had six incompletions in the game, and all seven of his TDs came in the first three quarter (the first to ever do that). Foles has 13 TD passes and 0 interceptions so far in 2013.

21. Washington Redskins (3-5, LW: 26): The Stat: 12, 3. Darrel Young finished the game with 12 rushing yards and 3 touchdowns. The last player to do that: Jerome Bettis in Week One of 2004. Somehow Bettis’ line was even better: 5 car, 1 yd, 3 TD. Yes, three scores with one yard. Beside that point, how important is the run game to Washington? In their three wins, they’ve run on 55.2% of plays when the score is within 14 points. In their five losses: 39.7%.

22. Baltimore Ravens (3-5, LW: 14): The Stat: 1. The Ravens aren’t the fearsome defense they’ve been in years past, but this team can get a stop or two when need be. Baltimore has given up just one rushing touchdown in 2013, that to Green Bay’s Eddie Lacy. It’s good to know that amid all the uncertainty on this team, they can still rely on one old go to.

23. Buffalo Bills (3-6, LW: 20): The Stat: 20, 12. Talk about risk-reward on defense. The Bills are second in the NFL with 12 interceptions, four of those from Rookie phenom Kiko Alonso. On the negative side, Buffalo has given up a league worst 20 touchdown passes. Teams have discovered that you run a risk through the air, but you can also win that way. Buffalo has only given up two touchdowns on the ground.

24. Oakland Raiders (3-5, LW: 21): The Stat: 11.4. Terrelle Pryor is the leading rusher among quarterbacks in the NFL. In fact, the last five weeks he has rushed for 287 yards to Adrian Peterson’s 290. That brings another problem, though. Pryor needs to learn when to let go of the ball. He’s being sacked on 11.4% of drop backs, the worst percentage in the league.

25. St. Louis Rams (3-6, LW: 25): The Stat: 2. The ongoing watch in the Power Rankings has been when the Rams would finally get the season’s first rushing touchdown. The wait is over. Zac Stacy ran it in twice Sunday against Tennessee on St. Louis’ 73rd and 75th red zone plays of 2013. There’s been more of a focus on the run since Sam Bradford got injured (no surprise). With Bradford, they ran 20 times in 58 red zone plays and didn’t score. With Kellen Clemens they’ve run 12 times in 20 plays with the pair of scores.

26. Houston Texans (2-6, LW: 29): The Stat: 15. One reason why the Texans have struggled so much: they’re failing to cause turnovers and convert them into points. Houston is last in the NFL in both categories. In eight games, they’ve forced just five turnovers, and they’ve scored just 15 points off those, two behind the Steelers and Chargers.

27. Atlanta Falcons (2-6, LW: 24): The Stat: 515. This wasn’t what the Falcons expected when they signed Steven Jackson in the offseason. Atlanta is dead last in the NFL with 515 rushing yards, 816 behind league leader Philadelphia. Jackson had missed 13 games in nine years prior to his move to Atlanta. He’s missed four in eight games this year.

28. Pittsburgh Steelers (2-6, LW: 27): The Stat: 55, 610. Those are franchise worst numbers the Steelers gave up to the Patriots. 55 points, 610 yards. In the storied history of the team they have never given up anything higher than either of those. One bright spot for Pittsburgh right now: the last time they were 2-6 was in 2006. The Steelers rebounded to finish that year 8-8.

29. New York Giants (2-6, LW: 28): The Stat: 10. There’s been plenty of focus and attention on the Giants’ offensive struggles with turnovers, sacks and ineffective run game. The fact is, the defense hasn’t pulled its weight either. When you think the years the G-Men are good, you picture a punishing defensive line pressuring the quarterback. This year’s Giants are last in the NFL, sacking the quarterback just 10 times in eight games.

30. Minnesota Vikings (1-7, LW: 30): The Stat: 40. The Vikings are 1-7 for the first time since 1961, but their MVP running back is still doing his part. Adrian Peterson rushed for 140 yards and a touchdown at Dallas giving him his 40th career 100-yd rushing game. He still has a long way to go to get to the top of the list, though. Former Cowboys great Emmitt Smith finished his career with 78 100-yard performances.

31. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (0-8, LW: 31): The Stat: 23.9. The Bucs are making strides, but one thing making it tougher on them is they can’t seem to flip the field in their favor. Tampa Bay’s average start position is their own 23.9 yard line. That’s the 2nd worst number in the NFL, ahead of only the Redskins. They’re also 3rd worst on the opposite end of the spectrum. Opponents start at their own 31.2.

32. Jacksonville Jaguars (0-8, LW: 32): The Stat: 8. The Jaguars, in eight games, have scored a total of eight touchdowns this season. Only seven of those scores came from the offense. To put that in perspective, the Eagles’ Nick Foles accounted for seven touchdowns in fewer than three quarters Sunday.