(Philadelphia, Pa) – As we enter the midway point of the NFL season, it is time to say “Cheerio” to NFL fans around the world. The NFL for the second year in a row will be going global as the Chargers and Saints face-off in Wembley Stadium in London, England in a game that I am calling the “Desperation Bowl”. Both teams are at (3-4) and coming off lopsided week 7 losses so they need to win badly across the pond.
The Chargers and Saints are not the only desperate teams that are looking to step it up in week 8 as the entire NFL seems to be jumbled between 4-2 and 2-4 (twenty teams) as we hit halftime of the NFL marathon-like season. The current standings show that there is little separation in the parity-laden league as there is one lonely undefeated team (Titans 6-0), three (5-1) teams — Giants, Bills, and Steelers; three (5-2) teams Buccaneers, Redskins and Panthers; three (4-2) teams — Patriots, Cardinals, and Falcons; four (4-3) teams that need to figure out if they are going up or down — Cowboys, Bears, Packers, and Broncos; five (3-3) teams that will either join the playoff hunt or not in the coming weeks (Eagles, Colts, Jaguars, Jets, and Ravens); three (3-4) teams that are up and down too much – Chargers, Vikings, and Saints; five (2-4) teams who are either moving up the ladder or following toward the draft – Dolphins, Browns, Rams, Texans, and Raiders; the reeling (2-5) Niners (fired head coach Mike Nolan this week); and the NFL’s basement dwellers of the (1-5) Chiefs and Seahawks with the (0-6) Lions and (0-7) Bengals bringing up the rear.
The division leaders after 7 weeks features some craziness including two-way ties for first place in the NFC South (Carolina Panthers and Tampa Bay Buccaneers both at (5-2) w/ a 1/2 game lead over the Falcons) and NFC North (Green Bay Packers and Chicago Bears both at (4-3) w/ a 1 game lead over the Vikings). The rest of the divisions feature the following leaders — NFC East: NY Giants (5-1) w/ a 1 game lead over the Redskins, NFC West: Arizona Cardinals (4-2) w/ a 2 game lead over the Rams, AFC South: Tennessee Titans (6-0) with a 3 game lead over the Colts and Jags, AFC East: Buffalo Bills (5-1) w/ a 1 game lead over the Patriots, AFC North: Pittsburgh Steelers (5-1) w/ a 2 game lead over the Ravens, and the AFC West: Denver Broncos (4-3) w/ a one game lead over the Chargers. The NFC East is proving once again to be the NFL’s toughest division as all four teams are at .500 or better entering this week.
Now on to the rankings for this week
1. Titans (6-0) – The NFL’s last undefeated team ran over the reeling Kansas City Chiefs like a tank. In a game that will truly tell us if the Titans are for real, Jeff Fisher’s squad takes on the inconsistent Colts at home on ESPN’s Monday Night Football.
2. Steelers (5-1) – They may not have all of the big names, but the Steelers put on their hard hat and go to work each week producing “W’s”. This past week it was the hapless Bengals turn to get pounded by P-Burgh’s running game and defense. In a highly anticipated playoff type game, the Steelers host the Super Bowl champion Giants in FOX’s featured afternoon game.
3. Giants (5-1) – It wasn’t pretty, but the G-Men continue to put up wins as they did just enough to get passed the Niners. In a game that will test their character, Plaxico Burress leads the Giants into Heinz Field to face his former team the Steelers.
4. Redskins (5-2) – An ugly “W” is better than no “W” at all is what the ‘Skins are thinking after squeeking one out over the Browns. In a possible trap game, the Redskins must go to Motown focused to take on a Lions team that has some weapons.
5. Bills (5-1) – Buffalo’s boys continue to make believers around the NFL as this past week they took care of business against a Chargers team that badly needed a win. The Bills go South to Miami this week in search of some sunshine and stuffing the Wildcat Offense as they face a hard to figure out Dolphns team.
6. Buccaneers (5-2) – Led by a rejuvenated quarterback Jeff Garcia, the Bucs added another nail to the reeling Seahawks’ coffin. In a put-up-or-shut-up game the Buccaneers travel to Dallas to face their former Super Bowl winning quarterback Brad Johnson.
7. Patriots (4-2) – ESPN Monday Night Football was alive as the Patriots continued to say, “Wait a second, We are not done just yet” as they pounded the defense weary Broncos. The tough rejuvenate Rams come to town for a must-win game, which is surprising considering that everyone thought this would be a cake walk a couple of weeks ago.
8. Cardinals (4-2) – Ken Whisenhunt and his team had a bye week to crow about their big win and sit back while the NFC West division fell behind. In a game that will go a long way in establishing their identity, the Cardinals travel to Carolina for a playoff type battle.
9. Jaguars (3-3) – Hopefully the Jags are all healed up and ready to step over .500 after a much-needed bye. In a game that could be very dangerous, the hard to peg Cleveland Browns come to Jacksonville for a key AFC game.
10. Panthers (5-2) – John Fox had his team clicking on all cylinders as they dismantled the Saints early and coasted to a blowout win. In a playoff type game, the Panthers host the Cardinals in a “Respect” game.
11. Cowboys (4-3) – The NFL’s marquee franchise sank to new depths as veteran 40-year old quartetrback Brad Johnson never looked stable in an embarrassing lopsided loss to the Rams. With their season close to being on the line, the Cowboys look to get all of their offensive weapons involved as they host a red-hot Buccanneers squad.
12. Bears (4-3) – In a surprising pinball scoring type game, the Bears continued their dominance at home by handing the Vikings a deflating loss. A much-needed midseason bye is on tap for Lovie Smith and the Bears as they prepare to hold off the hardcharging Packers for the NFC North crown.
13. Falcons (4-2) – The bye week allowed the young Falcons to heal some bumps and bruises while focusing on catching NFC South leaders the Bucs and Panthers. In a homecoming game for quarterback Matt Ryan, the Falcons look to close out doubts of their contender status at Lincoln Financial Field in Philadelphia.
14. Packers (4-3) – The Packers looked like a rejuvenated bunch as they showed the rest of the NFC that they are indeed contenders as they showed the Colts the door. Quarterback Aaron Rodgers and the rest of the Packers get a chance to enjoy the great weather in Green Bay and heal their injuries during the bye week.
15. Colts (3-3) – The curse of Lambeau Field continued for the Colts (3-7 lifetime there) as the Packers turned turnovers into points in an overwhelming loss. In a make-or-break type game the Colts travel to Tennessee for a marquee match-up against the undefeated Titans on ESPN Monday Night Football.
16. Eagles (3-3) – Hopefully the bye week allowed Eagles playmakers running back Brian Westbrook (ribs) and receiver Kevin Curtis (sports hernia) to return to the field. In a crucial game with playoff implications, the Eagles host an upstart Falcons team looking for respect.
17. Chargers (3-4) – The Bolts found out firsrt-hand just how good the AFC East leading Bills are in a blowout loss. In a game that means everything to re-gaining momentum and proving that they are legit, the Chargers travel to London, England to face an equally desperate Reggie Bush-less New Saints team.
18. Broncos (4-3) – The Patriots throttled the fickle Broncos on Monday Night Football in Foxborough. Unfortunately for head coach Mike Shanahan, he will have two weeks to review the tape of the awful beating at the hands of the Patriots as the Broncos are on a bye.
19. Jets (3-4) – In a total stunner the J-E-T-S and Brett Favre looked terrible in an out of nowhere overtime loss to the Raiders. I fully expect the Jets to get back on the horse as they host the lowly Chiefs sans troubled running back Larry Johnson.
20. Ravens (3-3) – Ray Lewis and the rest of the Ravens attacking defense shutdown the Miami Dolphins’ “Wildcat” offense. This week the Raven look to get back to over .500 as they host the Raiders in a reunion game for the Ryan Brothers (Rex is the Ravens D-Coordinator and Rob holds the same title for the Raiders).
21. Vikings (3-4) – Despite another Pro Bowl type game from running back Adrian Peterson, the Vikes lost a surprising shootout game to the Bears. During the bye week I suggest that beleaguered head coach Brad Childress reacquant quarterback Tarvaris Jackson with the playbook as the former starter maybe needed in the near future.
22. Rams (2-4) – Jim Haslett has dialed up the right mix for the hard-charging Rams as they thumped the “Young and Restless” Cowboys in St. Louis. We will see if the NFL’s new feel good story continues as the Rams look to make it three in a row as they travel to Foxborough to face the tough Patriots.
23. Saints (3-4) – The Carolina Panthers showed the Saints why they are currently leading the division as they first knocked Reggie Bush out of the game then dismantled the rest of the team in a lopsided win. A must-win game awaits in London, England of all places as the Saints travel abroad to face the Chargers.
24. Texans (2-4) – The Texans took care of business against the winless Lions, but it wasn’t as easy as expected. With an eye of trying to follow in the ’07 Chargers footsteps (went from 0-3 to the playoffs), the Texans will rest-up during the bye week.
25. Dolphins (2-4) – The Ravens defense mauled the ‘Phins high powered running attack on their way to a dominating victory. In an AFC East statement game, the Dolphins host the division leading Bills.
26. Browns (2-4) – Romeo Crennel and Dawgs tried their best to put away the tough Washington Redskins, but in the end the ‘Skins led by running back Clinton Portis held on for the win. In a game that will probably make or break their playoff hopes, the Browns travel to Jacksonville for a loser leaves town bout with the Jaguars.
27. Raiders (2-4) – To the surprise of everyone, the Raiders played tough and handed the Jets an overtime loss led by kicker Sebastain Janikowski’s club record 57-yard field goal. Next up for the Raiders is a cross-country road trip to Baltimore to face a Ravens team that is close to joining the playoff hunt.
28. 49ers (2-5) – The Niners had a chance until quarterback JT O’Sullivan continued his turnover ways (league leading 15 turnovers) against the New York Giants. In one of the NFL lower tier games, the Niners host the equally disappointing Seahawks.
29. Seahawks (1-5) – The Buccaneers continued to send Mike Holmgren further into retirement as they pounded the Hawks. In a tiolet bowl type game, the Seahawks travel to San Francisco to face the lowly Niners.
30. Bengals (0-7) – Another week with another loss for the Bungles this time the NFC North leading Steelers pounded them. Well at least this week we know the Bengals won’t lose as they are on a bye.
31. Lions (0-6) – The Texans did just enough to send the Lions to another defeat despite the efforts of receiver Calvin Johnson. The Lions will try to save head coach Rod Marinelli from the chopping block as they host the improving Washington Redskins.
32. Chiefs (1-5) – The Tennessee Titans ran up and down the field on the hapless Chiefs on their way to another win. Herman Edwards returns to the Meadowlands this time as the coach of the beleaguered Chiefs.
Lloyd Vance is a Sr. NFL Writer for Taking It to the House and an award-winning member of the Pro Football Writers of America (PFWA)
Filed under: Weekly Power Rankings | Tagged: 2008 NFL Weekly Rankings, Football, NFL, Sports, Weekly Power Rankings | Leave a comment »