This week in the NFL we saw some surprising victories and some blowouts. Going on my eyeball test, here are my Conference Top 5 power rankings this week.
NFC Top 5
5. Seattle Seahawks
I had the New York Giants here last week, and I Was torn whether to leave them here or not after a stinker against the Bengals. Their running game is suffering and Eli Manning is in a funk. The usually impressive receiving corps led by Victor Cruz and Hakeem Nicks has become invisible the past two weeks.
So my other team I want to put here in the NFC is MY Seattle Seahawks. I make no excuses, I am a homer. But here’s why I will put them ahead of the Giants.
The Seahawks defense is brutal. They hit you hard and they hit you often. Not only do the defensive players play tough, even the offensive guys do. Golden Tate has become a legitimate receiver, and we know he can deliver a hit.
Marshawn Lynch transforms into beast mode every game and pounds the ball down the throat of the defense. It’s nothing fancy, but he just keeps churning out 100-yard games and touchdowns on a weekly basis.
When you play that kind of defense and can control the clock by running the ball, you can win games.
At home, the Seahawks are nearly unbeatable. Russell Wilson plays immensely better at home, which is a big boost. They have beaten quality teams, Dallas, Green Bay, New England. Their losses were the Rams, who tied the 49ers this week, a Lions team that is inconsistent, a good Cardinals team, and a stacked 49er squad.
If they get into the playoffs, they will be dangerous.
4. Green Bay Packers
3. Atlanta Falcons
A week after I finally jump on the bandwagon, the wheels fall off.
The Saints are a better team than their record shows, but the Falcons should have won this game. The Saints defense can’t stop a runny nose, but they somehow managed to keep the Falcons in check. Julio Jones was injured during the game, but that’s no excuse.
Last week I cautioned fellow Falcon bandwagoners to be aware of the running game woes. That reared its ugly head this week and the Saints were able to play the pass, and even that porous defense was able to stop the offensive attack of the Falcons.
2. San Francisco 49ers
Now, they did tie the Rams, which made me want to drop them in my power rankings. However, I can’t jump ship just yet. I also can’t make a case that any of the teams below them in the NFC are better than they are.
Alex Smith was knocked out with a concussion which gave Colin Kaepernick his chance to shine. I actually think he is the better option in San Francisco, given his athletic ability and speed. We will see if he will start next week or if Smith will be cleared for action for the Monday night showdown with the Bears.
This is an unsteady #2 team right now, but defense and running game makes them more viable than other NFC teams.
1. Chicago Bears
Pride goes before a fall and Bears fans got a reality check of how good this team actually is. Again, as with the 49ers, they still looked impressive in a loss. It’s rare you see the Bears on the wrong side of the turnover margin, but this week that was the case.
If Jay Cutler misses any period of time, Chicago fans should hold their breath. This team needs Cutler despite his whiny, pouty ways. The guy has a cannon for an arm and Jason Campbell just isn’t going to get the Bears to the promised land.
I keep them at #1 because their defense and special teams are unrivaled.
AFC Top 5
5. Pittsburgh Steelers
After a game that actually turned out to be a game, the Steelers drop a spot after eking out a win against the lowly Chiefs. The only reason they don’t fall out of the top 5 is simply there is not AFC team I can put here instead.
If Big Ben’s injury is serious though, this could spell trouble for any playoff hopes for the Steelers.
4. Baltimore Ravens
My wife is “Wacco for Flacco” and should have started him this week in fantasy football. Flacco threw for 341 yards and 3 TD’s and ran for 1 TD to boot. Ray Rice has a pedestrian day with 13 carries for 35 yards, but he did add a TD run.
What concerns me is the injuries on the defense and the lack of touches for Rice. I can see in a blowout maybe limiting his touches, but beware if the Ravens throw this much against better opponents, as it may not end in their favor.
3. New England Patriots
The Patriots offense is a well-oiled machine, but the defense still needs some work.
The Buffalo Bills took them to the brink, losing only 31-37 on the road. The Bills ran the ball at will on the Pats, which is their weakness. The Pats losses have come against teams like Seattle and Baltimore, who pound the ball and/or teams like the Cardinals, who have a stout and aggressive defense.
This team will ultimately sink or swim as a result of the defensive play. If the Pats can improve that defense, they have a shot at the Super Bowl. As it currently stands, I don’t consider them Super Bowl favorites.
2. Denver Broncos
Peyton Manning is back.
He is leading this team and all facets are playing well. The defense is improving, the offense is syncing up well, and the special teams is become a weapon. Trindon Holliday is one of those guys that makes you stop what you are doing and pay attention, because at any moment he can bust out from the pack and take one to the house.
I put them above the Pats because I feel their defense can handle Brady, if needed, and the offense could move the ball on almost any team. One of the teams I think the offense would have trouble is against my #1 team in the AFC (and #1 team in the NFL)…
1. Houston Texans
The Texans circled the Bears game on their calendar and came ready to play. They proved to everyone they can be nasty and fight in the trenches like everyone knows the Bears can do. They showed me they were undoubtedly the best team in football with that performance.
Arian Foster couldn’t be stopped as he rushed for 102 yards on 29 carries. He was nearing 100 yards toward the end of the first half, and the Bears just couldn’t keep him from breaking off runs and finding the end zone.
Yes, Cutler got hurt, but it was due to the pressure of the Texan defense knocking him senseless. That game reminded me of good old school football. The Texans made a statement.