NFL Power Rankings, Week 7 edition
1. Falcons (6-0): We’ll chill with the superlatives for a team coming off a bye week still undefeated. If there is one fatal flaw here, it could be Atlanta’s run defense, which ranks 28th in the NFL (143.8 yards per game).
2. Texans (6-1): Wade Phillips may never get another head coaching job. He shouldn’t want one. He may go down as the greatest defensive coordinator in NFL history.
3. NY Giants (5-2): You just can’t give Eli Manning the ball with time left on the clock in the fourth quarter — he’ll make you pay every single time. Eli has redefined the term clutch.
4. 49ers (5-2): Starting to see why team pursued Peyton Manning in the offseason. Alex Smith can be very average at times, and that could be a huge problem moving forward.
5. Ravens (5-2): Terrell Suggs looked surprisingly nimble in his return, but the loss of Lardarius Webb (forget Ray Lewis) is going to be very hard to overcome. Texans shredded Ravens secondary.
6. Bears (5-1): Offense needs to catch up with suffocating, ball-hawking defense — and learn how to close out games. If that happens, watch out.
7. Vikings (5-2): Quarterback needs to catch up with suffocating, ball-hawking defense — or hope Adrian Peterson can carry the weight of the twin cities on his broad shoulders.
8. Packers (4-3): Guess who’s back? Aaron Rodgers was the portrait of precision/perfection for a second straight week going 30-of-37 for 342 yards and three touchdowns.
9. Patriots (4-3): This might be the most under-achieving team in the entire NFL. Yet somehow Tom Brady and the old gang are in first place. Some things never change.
10. Seahawks (4-3): Last week Russell Wilson was the difference. This past weekend he couldn’t get out of his own way. The rookie will decide Seattle’s fate.
11. Cardinals (4-3): Three straight losses for suddenly slumping Cards. Anemic offense ranks 31st in total offense. If Arizona was a stock, you already lost money.
12. Eagles (3-3): Andy Reid is a perfect 13-0 when his team is coming off the bye, and they are doing that Sunday vs. Atlanta. Biggest game of his coaching career.
13. Broncos (3-3): The boys finally look like they have picked up Peyton Manning’s orchestra routine. Emerging as favorites in AFC West.
14. Steelers (3-3): This might be Mike Tomlin’s most impressive year. Injuries have piled up everywhere — who is their running back? starting safety? — but they are surviving.
15. Redskins (3-4): Yes, we have Washington ahead of a few teams with better records. Why? The RG3 factor. It’s undeniable.
16. Chargers (3-3): Did the Bolts get that sticky icky … ooh, wee! Poor Norv Turner can’t even catch a break on his bye week.
17. Dolphins (3-3): Did we tell you how much we like this team? As long as Kanye West doesn’t put a hit out on Reggie Bush, ’Fins keep rising.
18. Cowboys (3-3): Delivered must-win, albeit against a terrible Panthers squad. Death of Jerry Jones’ mother may provide rallying cry.
19. Colts (3-3): Ground and pound. Ground and pound. Indy ran for season-high 148 yards, led by rookies Vick Ballard and … wait for it … Andrew Luck.
20. NY Jets (3-4): Fought hard in what has been called moral victory over Pats. Unfortunately, there are no moral victories in the NFL.
21. Bengals (3-4): Andy Dalton’s one mistake — the pass that slipped, hit his lineman and was picked off — might have been the season for the up-and-down Bengals.
22. Rams (3-4): Red-zone troubles and a suddenly slowed pass rush have St. Louis staring down the barrel of a possible three-game losing streak. Up next, New England.
23. Saints (2-4): Joe Vitt is off suspension and ready to take the head-coaching steering wheel. Sean Payton’s handpicked fill-in will provide spark, especially on defensive side.
24. Titans (3-4): What did we say last week? Keep feeding Chris Johnson. Point taken. He ran for 195 yards and two scores.
25. Bills (3-4): Losses are piling up and players are questioning each other’s intensity. “You watch film and not everybody was playing hard every snap,” Chris Kelsay said. Oh snap.
26. Buccaneers (2-4): Still trying to understand that call on Mike Williams. So, you are allowed to push a receiver out of bounds in the back of the end zone?
27. Lions (2-4): Sloppy, sloppy group averaging 7.8 penalties per game, including 9.8 on the road. Not helping them, Matt Stafford’s 55.2 total QB rating.
28. Raiders (2-4): Not pretty but a win is a win is a win, even if it’s against Jacksonville.
29. Jaguars (1-5): From bad to worse, with Maurice Jones-Drew set to miss multiple weeks and Blaine Gabbert’s status uncertain.
30. Browns (1-6): We are moving them up a spot despite a loss because … well, they are competing and they were supposed to stink anyway.
31. Panthers (1-5): Opposite here. Carolina was supposed to be good with all-world talent Cam Newton. Instead, they look disinterested and annoyed.
32. Chiefs (1-5): The Brady Quinn era is officially set to begin. Hooray (yes, that was sarcastic).