While there are many power rankings out there based as much on hype, expectations, and too often, unrealized and inaccurate projections, at Football Reporters Online, we prefer to rank NFL teams on what’s actually happened, taking into account only how teams have performed on the field and who they’ve played. At F.R.O., you won’t find yet another power ranking that doesn’t tell you much. Instead, here are the F.R.O. NFL Performance Rankings:
#1 NEW ORLEANS 6-0 — Week 7: Won at Miami, 46-34
Not even deficits of 24-3 in the first half or 34-24 in the fourth quarter in Miami could lead to a New Orleans loss. The NFL’s best came back to beat the Dolphins with a 22-0 fourth quarter to stay unbeaten. The Saints haven’t scored fewer than 24 point this season and has lit up the scoreboard for at least 45 points in four of their six games.
#2 INDIANAPOLIS 6-0 — Week 7: Won at St. Louis, 42-6
Peyton Manning was finally “held” under 300 yards for the first time this season, but 235 passing yards was enough for an easy 36-point win in St. Louis. The Colts have allowed 12 or fewer points in four of their six contests.
#3 DENVER 6-0 — Week 7: Bye
At 6-0, allowing an NFL-low 66 points on the season, the Broncos enjoyed a well-deserved bye week to ready themselves for a trip to Baltimore, which has been reeling of late, but which will be desperate and dangerous.
#4 PITTSBURGH 5-2 +3 Week 7: Beat Minnesota, 27-17
After a 1-2 start, letting two winnable games get away, the Steelers are back looking like the defending champions they are after four straight wins.
#5 MINNESOTA 6-1 -1 Week 7: Lost at Pittsburgh, 27-17
There were no late heroics this time for the Vikings, who could easily be 4-3, and who finally lost for the first time this season, in Pittsburgh. The big Favre homecoming to Lambeau is up next.
#6 NEW ENGLAND 5-2 +2 Week 7: Beat Tampa Bay, 35-7 (in London)
After raising some early questions by getting outplayed in a home win over Buffalo and starting a mediocre 3-2, the Patriots and Tom Brady have both answered those questions by beating up on a couple of awful teams (Tennessee and Tampa Bay), first in the snow, and then in London, by a combined score of 94-7 in the past two weeks.
#7 NY GIANTS 5-2 -2 Week 7: Lost to Arizona, 24-17
The Giants went from looking like legitimate Super Bowl contenders during a 5-0 start, to a sloppy, mistake-prone team with several eye-opening flaws in a couple of losses since. That said, beat Philly on the road next, and 6-2 at the halfway point is still on course to achieve what the Giants hope they can this season.
#8 CINCINNATI 5-2 +1 Week 7: Beat Chicago, 45-10
After pulling four wins out of the fire, the Bengals finally has a laugher, and a surprising one at that, as Carson Palmer and the Bengals’ offense were unstoppable in a dismantling of the visiting Bears.
#9 ARIZONA 4-2 +1 Week 7: Won at NY GIants, 24-17
When most think of the Cardinals, Kurt Warner, Larry Fitzgerald, and a high-powered passing game come to mind first. But, the Cards have actually for the most part, won with a defense which has been the best in the league at stopping the run, while being opportunistic in getting a lot of key takeaways.
#10 ATLANTA 4-2 -4 Week 7: Lost at Dallas, 37-21
The Falcons looked great at 4-1, crushing the 49ers on the road, and getting a solid home win over he Bears on Sunday Night Football, but a head-scratching 16-point loss to Dallas after leading 7-0 early in the second quarter has Atlanta dropping a few spots this week.
#11 DALLAS 4-2 +5 Week 7: Beat Atlanta, 37-21
Tony Romo finally found some consistency against the Falcons and he seemed to have found a replacement for the departed T.O. in Monmouth College product Miles Austin, who has receiving games of 250 and 171 yards this season.
#12 GREEN BAY 4-2 +3 Week 7: Won at Cleveland, 31-3
After a loss in the big Favre showdown in Minnesota, the Packers beat up on hapless Detroit and Cleveland by a combined 57-3 to tune up for an even bigger Favre showdown, as the former Packer legend returns this week to the place that started it all.
#13 PHILADELPHIA 4-2 — Week 7: Won at Washington, 27-17
The Eagles shook off their nightmare embarrassment in Oakland with a win on Monday Night Football in the nation’s capital. With all four wins against bad losing teams (Carolina, Kansas City, Tampa Bay, and Washington), how good the Eagles are, is an uncertainty. The upcoming schedule (hosting the Giants and Cowboys before heading to San Diego and Chicago) should clear up that picture, however. It gets tougher, too. After those four, a break with Washington, but the Eagles finish at Atlanta, at the Giants, and then home for San Francisco and Denver, before closing at Dallas.
MIRED IN MEDIOCRITY
#14 NY JETS 4-3 +3 Week 7: Won at Oakland, 38-0
The Jets became the first NFL team in over 34 years to rush for consecutive 300-yard games, and they lead the league with 184.9 rushing yards per game. A big rout in Oakland was just what they needed to stop a 3-game losing streak to get back on track for a revenge game at home with Miami.
#15 HOUSTON 4-3 +3 Week 7: Beat San Francisco, 24-21
Matt Schaub has developed into one of the NFL’s best quarterbacks, and he was on fire the past two weeks while leading the Texans to consecutive wins, breaking an alternating loss-win pattern at the start.
#16 BALTIMORE 3-3 -2 Week 7: Bye
The Ravens had the bye week to figure out what went wrong after, like the Jets, a 3-game losing streak followed a great 3-0 start. They will try to get back to their winning ways at home while trying to hand 6-0 Denver it first loss.
#17 SAN FRANCISCO 3-3 -5 Week 7: Lost at Houston, 24-21
The Niners are another team that started strong but which has faded recently, to fall back to the pack as a .500 team, as they search for some consistency on offense. They’ll see if Alex Smith returning to the starting lineup in Indianapolis will make the difference.
#18 SAN DIEGO 3-3 +2 Week 7: Won at Kansas City, 37-7
The Chargers dominated the Chiefs in KC to get back to .500. Now that they’re there, the schedule gives them plenty of opportunities to challenge Denver for the AFC West title. They have very winnable games left against Oakland, another against Kansas City, Cleveland, Tennessee, and Washington.
#19 CHICAGO 3-3 -8 Week 7: Lost at Cincinnati, 45-10
The Bears had one of the more surprisingly poor performances of the season last week. Even in their two previous losses, they played Green Bay and Atlanta tough on the road, and all of the Bengals wins were at the wire. Yet, the Bears were thoroughly embarrassed in Cincinnati. The alarming thing for them is that it wasn’t a result of losing the turnover battle 4-0. Their defense, thought to be much stronger, allowed scores on seven straight drives over the first three quarters, five of which were over 60 yards.
#20 JACKSONVILLE 3-3 -1 Week 7: Bye
The Jags haven’t really played like a playoff team, but with Tennessee and Kansas City up next, they can be on pace for 10 wins at the halfway point.
#21 BUFFALO 3-4 +3 Week 7: Won at Carolina, 20-9
The same Bills team which lost a horrid 6-3 affair at home to Cleveland, to fall to 1-4, saved its season for the time being with road wins at the Meadowlands against the Jets, and in Carolina (despite being outgained by the Panthers by 258 yards). Interesting stat from last week: the Panthers had 20 first downs to the Bills’ 9, but Buffalo flipped those numbers for the only ones that really matter, winning by a score of the same 20-9, thanks largely in part to taking the turnover battle, 4-0.
LOOKING TOWARD THE 2010 DRAFT
#22 MIAMI 2-4 -1 Week 7: Lost to New Orleans, 46-34
The may be 2-4, but don’t take them lightly when you play them. The Dolphins have looked better than most 2-4 teams would usually. They lost their first three games, but nearly won three straight after that, crushing Buffalo, gutting out a great win late against the Jets, and hanging a three-touchdown lead on the NFL-best Saints before finally succumbing to New Orleans to fall back to two games under .500.
#23 CAROLINA 2-4 — Week 7: Lost to Buffalo, 20-9
Jake Delhomme was cruising along last year. Then, he threw a bunch of picks in a divisional playoff game against Arizona, and he hasn’t been able to stop doing that, ever since. After an 0-3 start, the Panthers missed a golden opportunity to get to .500, losing a game at home to the Bills which Carolina statistically dominated. Delhomme has thrown 13 INT’s and just 4 TD’s in 6 games this year.
#24 SEATTLE 2-4 -2 Week 7: Bye
The Seahawks went 2-0, outscoring St. Louis and Jacksonville by a combined 69-0. In their other four games against stiffer competition, Seattle is 0-4, having been outscored 109-49.
#25 OAKLAND 2-5 — Week 7: Lost to NY Jets, 38-0
The Raiders had one of those wins by a bottom-feeder over a playoff contender that makes everyone take notice, playing some good defense in an upset win over the Eagles. So, did they build off of that for an encore? Nope. They did what truly bad teams do. They went right back to their awful selves in a 38-0 embarrassment to the Jets at home.
#26 WASHINGTON 2-5 -1 Week 7: Lost to Philadelphia, 27-17
The Redskins’ only wins are against a pair of 0-7 teams (the Rams and Bucs), and by a combined five points, at that. The defense has been okay, as Washington has allowed no more than 27 points in any game while giving up under 20 in four games this season. However, offensively, they have caused John Riggins to speak out against the leadership and direction of the team online, and have been offensively challenged enough to make the old Fun Bunch and John Theismann cringe, while failing to score more than 17 points in a any contest this year.
#27 KANSAS CITY 1-6 -1 Week 7: Lost to San Diego, 37-7
The Chiefs have shown some respectability in half of their losses, hanging in with Baltimore, taking Dallas to overtime, and dominating Oakland everywhere but on the scoreboard. Still, they’re down here because 1-6 is still 1-6 no matter how you slice it.
#28 CLEVELAND 1-6 — Week 7: Lost to Green Bay, 31-3
The Browns have also hung in at times against Minnesota and Pittsburgh, and they had Cincinnati beat until they gave that one away. On the flip side, losses to Denver (27-6), Baltimore (34-3), and Green Bay (31-3) have shown the Browns at their futile worst.
#29 DETROIT 1-5 — Week 7: Bye
The Lions can’t stop anyone… other than Washington, that is. But, a 19-14 win over the Redskins after the above documentation of Washington’s offensive woes isn’t saying much. Other than that lone victory, the Lions, in their five losses, have allowed 45, 27, 48, 28, and 26.
#30 TENNESSEE 0-6 — Week 7: Bye
The Titans have just become a sad case as they still seek their first win after a 13-win season last year. Their best week over the past month was last week, during their bye week. That says it all. They’ve been outscored 59-0 in their last game, 90-9 in their past two, and 127-26 over their past three games. They’re only above the Rams and Bucs because at least they did play three close games to start the season. But, it’s all fallen apart since then.
#31 ST.LOUS 0-7 — Week 7: Lost to Indianapolis, 42-6
The Rams have lost 17 straight games and now, they head to Detroit, to play the Lions, who are 1-21 in their past 22. And, they black out games in Jacksonville?!?! Detroit viewers might need special glasses or something to keep from going blind, if they stare directly at the screen for that one. The Rams have been outscored by an NFL-worst 211-60. They’ve been shut out twice, and have scored just 7, 10, and 6 in three other losses. But, they stay away from the last spot since they at least took the Redskins and the Jaguars to the wire.
#32 TAMPA BAY 0-7 — Week 7: Lost to New England, 35-7 (in London)
It’s bad enough that Tampa Bay is winless and just awful, but did the NFL have to make them go all the way to London just to get humiliated by the Patriots? They could have done that on their home field, in Tampa. Other than a couple of close losses (by 3 in Washington and by 7 to Carolina), the Bucs have lost by 13 twice, 24, 19, and 28. At least they can enjoy a week without losing yet again, as they rest up from their London trip with a bye this week.