After a big win over the J-E-T-S on Monday Night Football, RB Ricky Williams and Dolphins are moving up the Power Rankings
Each week the 2009 NFL Season’s “Contender” and “Pretender” scoreboard becomes a little clearer. This year in the league, there appears to be two worlds, the “Have’s” and “Have Nots” with a smaller than usual parity-filled middle. So much for “Any Given Sunday” talk as each week there are more and more blowouts – Week 5 featured six games where teams won by 19 points or more.
In looking at the current NFL standings here’s the breakdown: The “Elite” – Vikings (5-0), Broncos (5-0), Saints (4-0), Colts (5-0), and Giants (5-0); “Teams on the Cusp” — Bengals (4-1), Eagles (3-1), Bears (3-1), and Falcons (3-1); “The Contender”, who are teams that are a step above average — Patriots (3-2), Jets (3-2), Steelers (3-2), and Niners (3-2); “Stuck in the Middle” inconsistent teams, who are caught in the NFL’s parity-filled middle that either need to join the playoff hunt or fall back – Cowboys (3-2), Cardinals (2-2), Seahawks (2-3), Dolphins (2-3), and Chargers (2-2); The “Pretenders”, who are also in the middle of the pack but are only a shade away from the league’s bottom rung – Panthers (1-3), Texans (2-3), Redskins (2-3), and Jaguars (2-3); and lastly the “Putrid” (i.e. You should just skip to the 2010 NFL Draft) – Browns (1-4), Raiders (1-4), Bills (1-4), Lions (1-4), Rams (0-5), Chiefs (0-5), Buccaneers (0-5), and Titans (0-5)
Now on to the rankings for this week.
1. Giants (5-0) – The G-Men were able to rest QB Eli Manning earlier than expected in a bludgeoning of the hapless Raiders. Finally the Giants get more than a cupcake as they travel south to face the undefeated Saints and someone’s “O” has got to go.
2. Colts (5-0) – Peyton Manning continues to play like a machine as the Colts won their 14th straight game with an easy win over the winless Tennessee Titans on Sunday Night Football. Head Coach Jim Caldwell’s team gets a well-deserved bye week and just maybe injured players SS Bob Sanders and WR Anthony Gonzalez will be back after the off week.
3. Vikings (5-0) – The Vikes easily handled the reeling host St. Louis Rams in a game that showed the dominance of DE Jared Allen. In one of Week 6’s marquee games, the Vikings should finally get tested as they host the angry Ravens come to the Metrodome.
4. Saints (4-0) – Hopefully during their bye week, the Saints stayed off Bourbon Street and focused on getting ready for the Giants. The Superdome will be alive as the undefeated NFC East leading Giants led by QB Eli Manning and emerging receiver Steve Smith come to town for a much-anticipated FOX early afternoon special.
5. Broncos (5-0) – “Young Belichick” Broncos head coach Josh McDaniels got the best of his mentor and he was pumped up by his young squad disposing of the veteran Patriots in overtime. The road to respectability does not get any easier for the Broncos and their young head coach as they travel to San Diego to face a borderline desperate Chargers team.
6. Bengals (4-1) — Marvin Lewis’ team was tough and gritty in beating the Ravens in Baltimore. The Bengals not only brought some much-needed sunshine to defensive coordinator Mike Zimmer (wife passed away last week), but they also now look like the team to beat in the AFC North. In a game where the Bengals will need to avoid a letdown, they will host the high-powered Houston Texans and All-World receiver Andre Johnson.
7. Eagles (3-1) – The Birds came off their bye week with a vengeance and led by promising rookie WR Jeremy Maclin, they hammered the poor Buccaneers into an early submission. Eagles head coach Andy Reid got his 100th regular season win over the Bucs and now Big Red is 11-0 after the bye for his career. Next up, the Eagles will go a long way from Philly to Oakland, just so they can feast on the hapless Raiders.
8. Falcons (3-1) – In a total surprise, the Falcons destroyed the Niners in their own stadium. The Falcons were led by QB Matt Ryan, RB Michael Turner, and TE Tony Gonzalez as Singletary fumed over his team’s lack of focus. Next up is a “Young Guns” shootout as the Falcons led by Ryan take on the Chicago Bears and strong-armed QB Jake Cutler.
9. Bears (3-1) – The Bears got a much-needed rest during their bye week and hopefully injured players WR Johnny Knox, LB Hunter Hillenmeyer and WR Devin Hester were able to heal-up. In order to stay on the heels of the red-hot Vikings, the Bears will need to continue to win this time on the road against the improving Falcons on Sunday Night Football.
10. Steelers (3-2) – Mike Tomlin’s team climbed back over .500 after finally waking-up to dispose of the scrappy Detroit Lions. Next up is the reeling Cleveland Browns at Heinz Field in P-Burgh and I am sure the Steelers faithful will not allow their heroes to “Sleep-on“one of the NFL’s worst teams, especially when they are an AFC North rival.
11. Jets (3-2) – So much for Jets head coach Rex Ryan’s mastery of the Wildcat as the Dolphins ran all over the J-E-T-S in a big Monday Night Football win. After two straight losses the Jets will need to pick-up the pieces and take care of business at home against the subpar Buffalo Bills.
12. Patriots (3-2) – It seems like a million years ago that the Patriots ran roughshod over the NFL in 2007. And the upstart Broncos showed the veteran Pats that teams are no longer fearful of their mystique in a thrilling overtime win. Hopefully QB Tom Brady will find his long ball accuracy and the Patriots can find some semblance of a running game when they host the desperate for a win Tennessee Titans.
13. Ravens (3-2) – The Ravens lost their second game in a row as the hungry Bengals seemed to want it more in a tough road win. In a much anticipated game, it will be the Ravens’ attacking defense against graybeard quarterback Brett Favre as the Ravens travel to Minnesota to face a Vikings squad hitting on all cylinders.
14. Chargers (2-2) – I am sure during the bye week that the Bolts tried to find their “swagger” again, especially underachievers L.T and LB Shawn Merriman. Head Coach Norv Turner needs to fire-up an inconsistent Chargers team as they host the division-leading Denver Broncos in an AFC West showdown game on Monday Night Football.
15. Cardinals (2-2) – Looks like head coach Ken Whisenhunt’s bye week practices worked as the Cards fueled by QB Kurt Warner and a great goalline stand stopped the Texans in their tracks. The Cards next go on the road to the Northwest to face an improving Seahawks team and their rejuvenated quarterback, Matt Hasselbeck, in a key NFC West battle.
16. 49ers (3-2) – I guess the Niners are not be ready for primetime just yet as they laid a huge egg in an embarrassing home loss to the Atlanta Falcons. Head Coach Mike Singletary and his staff will be working overtime during the bye week to improve a team that is a little inconsistent. Expect to see injured running back Frank Gore and just signed first rounder Michael Crabtree in the line-up after the bye.
17. Cowboys (3-2) – The ‘Boys continued their inconsistent ways as they needed a monumental effort from QB Tony Romo and emerging receiver Miles Austin just to pullout an overtime win over the reeling Chiefs. During the bye week, head coach Wade Phillips and offensive coordinator Jason Garrett better figure out a way to save their jobs as the Cowboys will be facing some tough games coming up.
18. Dolphins (2-3) – In a thrilling Monday Night Football AFC East battle, the Dolphins rode their stellar running game, including the Wildcat, to a late second win over the visiting New York Jets ( have lost two in a row). After a big win over the J-E-T-S, I am sure it will be fun in the sun for the Dolphins and their Wildcat offense.
19. Packers (2-2) – The bye week allowed the Pack to heal their bodies and egos from a tough loss to the Vikings and you know who. QB Aaron Rodgers and the Packers will look to feast on the retooling Detroit Lions when the young squad visits Lambeau this week.
20. Seahawks (2-3) – Getting back starting QB Matt Hasselbeck was all the difference as the Seahawks were a new team on offense and defense in a dominating win over the Jaguars. The Hawks will need to figure out if they are a “Contender” or “Pretender” as they host the NFC Champion Arizona Cardinals in a huge NFC West battle.
21. Texans (2-3) – It was the same old inconsistent Texans as they could not string together two straight wins. The Cardinals bent but didn’t break on defense and QB Kurt Warner picked apart the Texans secondary in a big win. In a desperate spot on their schedule, the Texans travel to Cincy to face an ascending Bengals team led by stoic head coach Marvin Lewis.
22. Panthers (1-3) – The Panthers put together a huge confidence building win over the crumbling Redskins and their beleaguered head coach Jim Zorn. The Panthers will look to make it two in a row as they travel to Tampa Bay for a game against the Bucs that I am dubbing, “The Battle for the NFC South Basement”.
23. Jaguars (2-3) – I don’t even know why the Jags got on their long cross-country flight as they never really showed up in Seattle, losing 41-0 to the Seahawks. Next the Jaguars host the St. Louis Rams in a game that is sure to be a blackout, but would it even matter as both teams are not very good.
24. Redskins (2-3) – For the second time this year, the Redskins or as some fans are calling them, “The Dead Skins”, lost to a formerly winless team. The Panthers out-physicaled the Redskins and now it look like not “if”, but “when” will head coach Jim Zorn be fired. For Zorn’s sake, the Redskins better not lose to the winless Kansas City Chiefs or it may be time for defensive coordinator Greg Blache or new offensive consultant Sherman Lewis to take over.
25. Titans (0-5) – It wasn’t even close as the Indianapolis Colts showed the reeling Titans what a true contender looks like in a dominating win. It may be time to unveil V.Y as the Titans have nothing else to lose in a tough road test against the angry Patriots.
26. Lions (1-3) – It took a while, but the Steelers returned to the place of their Super Bowl XL victory and pulled-out a hard fought win. The Lions will probably be led again this week by QB Daunte Culpepper, which could prove to be a good thing as he used to be a killer of this week’s opponent, the Green Bay Packers.
27. Chiefs (0-5) – Head coach Todd Haley’s team gave a terrific effort against the inconsistent Cowboys, but in the end the Dallas’ passing combination of Tony Romo and Miles Austin was on fire in their Week 5 win. Next up is an ugly match-up against the equally deficient Redskins in game that could seal the fate of their beleaguered head coach Jim Zorn
28. Browns (1-4) – “The Battle for Lake Erie” against the Bills looked more like one big quagmire as the Browns pulled out an ugly 6-3 win. Hopefully Browns QB Derek Anderson will be able to complete more than two passes against the tough Steelers defense, which may get back Pro Bowl safety Troy Polamalu.
29. Bills (1-4) – This game truly was the “Toilet Bowl” as the Bills and Browns combined for only nine total points in an ugly Browns’ 6-3 win. The Bills will next travel to the big city to face a hungry J-E-T-S’ squad and just maybe underachiever T.O will finally get back in the endzone.
30. Buccaneers (0-5) – The re-tooling Bucs, other than TE Kellen Winslow, looked very disinterested as the Philadelphia Eagles easily dismantled them at the Linc. In an NFC South pride game, the Bucs will host the hopeful Panthers.
31. Rams (0-5) – Steve Spagnuolo’s boys had no answer for QB Brett Favre and the Vikings in a disheartening loss. The Rams will look to get their first “W” as they travel to Jacksonville in a game that is sure to be blacked-out. Well at least the team will not have to worry about Russ Limbaugh being part of their franchise any longer as the big-mouth talk show host was removed from a group trying to buy the team.
32. Raiders (1-4) – I can longer sit by and rank the Raiders any higher than the last spot in my rankings. Even though the Raiders have one win – it’s a “Miracle” by the way – there is no team in the NFL more dysfunctional or in a deeper hole. With more “drama” regarding the police and NFL security nipping at Raiders head coach Tom Cable’s heels, the Philadelphia Eagles will fly across the country to eat this giant cupcake of a team.
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: 2009 NFL Power Rankings, 2009 NFL Season, NFL Weekly Rankings, Ricky Williams | Tagged: 2009 NFL Power Rankings, 2009 NFL Season, Football, NFL, NFL Weekly Rankings, Ricky Williams, Sports | Leave a comment »