NFL Power Rankings Week 7: Updated Standings After Thursday Night Football

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NFL Power Rankings Week 7: Updated Standings After Thursday Night Football

Don Wright/Associated Press
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Some fans will use parity to explain a diminished crop of legitimate NFL contenders. In actuality, a lot of teams just aren’t good.

After the Seattle Seahawks improved to 3-4 by beating the San Francisco 49ers 20-3 on Thursday night, only a dozen teams sport a point differential of 10 points or better. Even after slaying their NFC West foes, the back-to-back NFC champions remain below .500. Ten teams possess winning records.

Here’s a fun game to play while perusing Week 7’s power rankings. See how long you can scroll down the list before this thought creeps into your head: “Wait—what is this team doing so high? It’s too flawed to make a deep playoff push.” Not everyone will make it past the top five.

Right now, a New England Patriots-Green Bay Packers Super Bowl matchup looks good. Are certain quick starters sincere threats to interfere with those plans? Let’s examine a few squads to assess their chances:

 

NFL Power Rankings
Rank Team Record
1 New England Patriots 5-0
2 Cincinnati Bengals 6-0
3 Green Bay Packers 6-0
4 Carolina Panthers 5-0
5 Denver Broncos 6-0
6 Arizona Cardinals 4-2
7 New York Jets 4-1
8 Atlanta Falcons 5-1
9 Pittsburgh Steelers 4-2
10 Philadelphia Eagles 3-3
11 Seattle Seahawks 3-4
12 Buffalo Bills 3-3
13 Indianapolis Colts 3-3
14 Minnesota Vikings 3-2
15 New York Giants 3-3
16 St. Louis Rams 2-3
17 San Diego Chargers 2-4
18 Miami Dolphins 2-3
19 Dallas Cowboys 2-3
20 New Orleans Saints 2-4
21 Oakland Raiders 2-3
22 Cleveland Browns 2-4
23 Chicago Bears 2-4
24 San Francisco 49ers 2-5
25 Washington Redskins 2-4
26 Detroit Lions 1-5
27 Baltimore Ravens 1-5
28 Houston Texans 2-4
29 Kansas City Chiefs 1-5
30 Tampa Bay Buccaneers 2-3
31 Tennessee Titans 1-4
32 Jacksonville Jaguars 1-5

Author’s Rankings

 

 

Denver Broncos

 

David Richard/Associated Press

 

The Denver Broncos are undefeated, and Peyton Manning won’t throw another interception this weekend. It’s hard to say the sky is falling on a 6-0 squad that ranks No. 2 behind the New York Jets in total defense, but black clouds are ahead.

It’s hard to win in uglier fashion than Denver has this year, squeaking by poor teams in spite of its future Hall of Famer at quarterback. There’s too much data to ignore Manning’s struggles; the 39-year-old passer is averaging a career-low 6.43 yards per pass attempt with an NFL-high 10 interceptions.

Pro Football Focus grades him below Nick Foles, Kirk Cousins and Brandon Weeden. Luckily for Denver, football is a team sport, and defense matters. With a top-five unit against both the run and pass, the club will jog to its fifth straight AFC West title.

 

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Barring a Manning resurgence, however, the Broncos will run into trouble following their Week 7 bye. They attained five of their six victories by seven points or fewer, which is concerning, given the opposition’s combined 9-24 record.

The schedule will get tougher. Denver will spend the extra week preparing for Green Bay, who will also get the weekend off following a 6-0 start. The Broncos will then face the Indianapolis Colts, who pushed them around in the postseason, before later meeting the Patriots, Cincinnati Bengals and Pittsburgh Steelers.

Even an elite defense will struggle to shut down those potent offenses. If a refreshed Manning doesn’t show up down the stretch, the Broncos will limp into the playoffs with low expectations.

 

Arizona Cardinals

 

Gene J. Puskar/Associated Press

 

Despite last year’s 11-5 finish, a middling plus-11 point differential diminished the Arizona Cardinals’ 2015 outlook. This season has proved to be a different story. The Cardinals have shown no signs of regression en route to an NFL-best plus-88 scoring margin.

They’re bludgeoning opponents to death rather than winning tightly contested affairs, scoring a combined 168 points through their four victories. Then again, one can also point to a low level of competition:

 

Cardinals 2015 Results
Week Opponent Result
1 New Orleans (2-4) 31-19 W
2 Chicago (2-4) 48-23 W
3 San Francisco (2-5) 47-7 W
4 St. Louis (2-3) 24-22 L
5 Detroit (1-5) 42-17 W
6 Pittsburgh (4-2) 25-13 L

ESPN.com

 

But decimating a team of professional football players is impressive, and their victims haven’t looked as woefully incompetent in other contests. The Cardinals’ two-sided dominance should scare the NFC. Among the five offenses that are accruing over 400 yards per game, Arizona is the only team that also boasts a top-10 defense.

Even in its second loss of the season, a 25-13 defeat against Pittsburgh, the Cardinals outgained the Steelers by 159 total yards. AsAZCentral.com’s Kent Somers noted, the team transferred nine red-zone visits into two touchdowns during its pair of losses, including a two-point shortcoming against the St. Louis Rams.

“Our issues are pretty simple to me,” wide receiver Larry Fitzgeraldsaid, per Somers. “In both games we lost we did not execute in the red zone. So it is not a lot of problems we have to fix. It is just one glaring one.”

With a healthy Carson Palmer steering the ship, these Cardinals are equipped to maintain their NFC West lead over the Seahawks. Facing the Baltimore Ravens on Monday night and the Cleveland Browns in Week 8, they can pad their record to 6-2 before their first of two showdowns with Seattle.

 

Atlanta Falcons

 

John Bazemore/Associated Press

 

Wait—did anyone think the Atlanta Falcons were genuine contenders before they lost to the New Orleans Saints on October 15?

Starting 5-0 is great, but they beat all four NFC East teams by a combined 23 points. That includes an 11-point victory over the Dallas Cowboys, who were without Tony Romo and Dez Bryant. If anything, the Falcons are this year’s version of the 2014 Cardinals.

Despite improving defensively, the No. 20-ranked unit remains a work in progress. Allowing 290.7 passing yards per game isn’t the best blueprint on a weekly basis, especially for a team that has faced two real quarterbacks (Eli Manning and Drew Brees) in six weeks.

But there’s good news, Falcons fans: Thanks to an easy schedule, the bottom won’t fall out until a quick playoff appearance. With the Tennessee Titans, San Francisco 49ers and Tampa Bay Buccaneers due up, an 8-1 record isn’t out of the question for Atlanta.

Once Julio Jones cooled off from a transcendent start, DevontaFreeman took his spot as an offensive juggernaut. Moving the ball isn’t the Falcons’ problem, but think about their narrow victories against the Philadelphia Eagles and New York Giants before placing them in the same tier as Green Bay and Arizona.

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17 Responses to “NFL Power Rankings Week 7: Updated Standings After Thursday Night Football”

  1. David says:

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  2. Sage says:

    It’s early and I’m not sure about the statistics, but this doesn’t seem like a parity league right now.

    Coaches would rather be fired than take chances or shake things up. Not a bad choice, really. It usually takes at least a couple years to stink so bad that they run you out. Meantime, collect several million $$ and then be an OC or DC on some other team.

    • Sage says:

      Or, in the case of Tony Sparano, a tight ends coach.

    • David says:

      Idjik, after cutting Tebow for Geno Smith, got hired by the Jaguars as a consultant to the GM on recruiting. LOL!

      • David says:

        http://www.jaguars.com/news/article-JaguarsNews/Changes-in-personnel-and-scouting-departments/b9197713-0c4d-48df-8833-8280745cd7ef
        He was hired in May of 2015.
        One reporter said that Idzik reportedly is being hired by the Jaguars as a salary cap consultant and will not have a role in player evaluation. So, the Jaguars needed a management guy that can add or owns a calculator. He can count their wins in the last 4 years on his fingers.

        • Sage says:

          Idzik at least signed Tebow to the Jets, didn’t he? It was an awful development, but he probably had the right idea.

          Trouble is, he now is probably too gun-shy to so advise the Jags.

          • David says:

            No, Tannenbaum signed Tim and Ryan never played him. Then Tannenbaum was fired, and said signing Tebow was a mistake. The mistake was Rex Ryan refusing to use him while Sanchez was committing 26 turnovers that year. Idzik drafted Smith and cut Tebow. Smith threw 12 TDs and 21 interceptions in 2013. But, it proves your point that Tannenbaum is now working in Miami as Executive VP of football operations. They can do no wrong for long.

          • Sage says:

            You’re right, David. Thanks for correcting me. Idzik is a dork for sure.

            There was no question in my mind that Rex and the Jets sacrificed the playoffs rather than start Tebow. If they’d won even one of the last 3 games, they were in. Remember when McElroy got sacked like 11 times? Stunning contrast between his ability to handle adversity and Tim’s.

  3. Sage says:

    If Dave Caldwell weren’t so good at his job, the Jaguars wouldn’t have that win already.

  4. brandi says:

    The NFL’s version of parity does create this kind of problem as Teams are stuck riding out bad decisions for years with no good way out.

    Speaking of bad decisions, the Jaguars have now settled into their accustomed spot at the bottom of the Power Rankings AND the new Harris Poll lists them as the least liked Team in the NFL.

    Even if he’s released, Dave Caldwell’s blemish on the Jaguars will last many years.

  5. andrea says:

    Too bad Tebow is not on a NFL team this year. The league seems to be a total bore.

  6. ck says:

    Just heard the CriminNoles lost…:)

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