NFL Nation: 2013 NFL Week 7 Power Rankings

Power Rankings: No. 6 Indianapolis Colts

October, 15, 2013
10/15/13
2:00
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A weekly examination of the Colts’ ESPN.com Power Ranking:

Preseason: 10 | Last Week: 4 | ESPN.com Power Ranking since 2002

The opportunity was there for the Colts (4-2) to move into the top three of the Power Rankings after Tom Brady, of all people, helped them out by leading the New England Patriots over the then-undefeated New Orleans Saints on Sunday. But the Colts couldn’t take advantage of Brady's kindness by beating the San Diego Chargers. That’s what happens when the defense can’t get off the field and the receivers are dropping passes from quarterback Andrew Luck.

Speaking of dropping, it’s a little surprising the Colts didn’t fall further in the rankings since San Diego had a losing record heading into the game. Based off of this week’s rankings, the Colts are still the fourth-best team in the AFC. But they could fall even further in next week’s rankings because there’s a certain quarterback -- you may have heard of him -- returning to Indianapolis this weekend. The Colts host Peyton Manning and the undefeated Denver Broncos (6-0) at Lucas Oil Stadium on Sunday night before heading into their bye week.
A weekly examination of the Bengals' ESPN.com Power Ranking:

Preseason: 9 | Last Week: 8 | ESPN.com Power Ranking since 2002

A road win at Buffalo wasn't enough to push the Cincinnati Bengals up any spots in the Week 7 ESPN.com Power Rankings unveiled Tuesday afternoon. For the second straight week, they settled at No. 8.

The Bengals first reached the 8-hole after beating the New England Patriots 13-6 last week. This past weekend they edged out the Bills in overtime 27-24. Had Cincinnati closed out Buffalo in the fourth quarter like it appeared to be doing, it likely would have moved up at least one spot in the power rankings. With 10 minutes to go in regulation, the Bengals held a 14-point lead and seemed to have momentum. The Bills, directed by former practice squad quarterback Thad Lewis, though, scored twice more and knotted the game at 24 entering overtime. For now, it seems the power rankings voters aren't fully convinced the Bengals are the type of elite team they believe they are.

When Cincinnati travels to Detroit on Sunday, it has a very real opportunity to prove the voters wrong. The Lions are ranked 11th this week and hold a commanding 3-0 record at home.

Power Rankings: No. 31 New York Giants

October, 15, 2013
10/15/13
2:00
PM ET
A weekly examination of the Giants' ESPN.com Power Ranking:

Preseason: 12 | Last week: 31 | ESPN.com Power Ranking since 2002

Well ... um ... er ... they didn't move down, so that's something. I mean, it wouldn't have been crazy for anyone to say, "Hey, the Jags played the Broncos a lot tougher than the Giants did. Let's flip these two 0-6 teams at the bottom of the poll this week!" But no one did that, and speaking only for myself, the reason is that the Giants played their best game of the year so far in Chicago. So unless the Jaguars had done something really crazy like beat the Broncos, the Giants weren't dropping.

As was the case last week, three of us ranked the Giants 31st (me, Kevin Seifert and Jamison Hensley) and the other three voters (Mike Sando, Ashley Fox and John Clayton) ranked them 30th, ahead of the 0-5 Buccaneers. Splitting hairs, but based on what I've seen, this Giants team is closer to No. 32 than it is to No. 30. The potentially good news is that the No. 29 Vikings come to town for a "Monday Night Football" game this week. But remember, the Vikings view that as good news, too.
A weekly examination of the Ravens' ESPN.com Power Ranking:

Preseason: 8 | Last Week: 9 | ESPN.com Power Ranking since 2002

The Baltimore Ravens' stay in the top 10 was short-lived. A two-point loss to the Green Bay Packers dropped them three spots. This is the fifth time in six weeks the Ravens have ranked 11th or lower. Comparatively, the Ravens spent only one week last season out of the top 10.

This is the right spot for the Ravens. Baltimore is 3-3 for the first time since 2008, and its biggest win has come against the No. 14 Dolphins. It's actually the Ravens' only win this season against a team that currently has a winning record.

As one of six voters on the Power Rankings, I had the Ravens at No. 11. In the ESPN.com Power Rankings, the Ravens are the highest-ranked team with three losses.

As far as the rest of AFC North goes, the Cincinnati Bengals remained at No. 8, the Cleveland Browns slipped two spots to No. 18 and the Pittsburgh Steelers moved up two spots to No. 27 after capturing their first win of the season.

Power Rankings: No. 14 Miami Dolphins

October, 15, 2013
10/15/13
2:00
PM ET
A weekly examination of the Dolphins' ESPN.com Power Ranking:

Preseason: 20 | Last week: 13 | ESPN.com Power Ranking since 2002

The Miami Dolphins were as high as No. 7 in ESPN.com's Power Rankings this season. However, back-to-back losses to the New Orleans Saints and Baltimore Ravens have dropped Miami closer to the middle of the pack.

The Dolphins had a bye last weekend and fell one spot. Miami (3-2) came in at No. 14 in the Power Rankings, according to ESPN.com’s voting panel.

It’s hard to argue with the results. The Dolphins had a chance to pull off two landmark wins on the road against the Saints and at home against the defending Super Bowl champion Ravens. Miami failed both times. Many are still skeptical of whether the Dolphins are pretenders or contenders, but we'll find out more about this team in the next several weeks.

The Dolphins have an easier game upcoming in Week 7 compared to their early schedule. The Dolphins will host the struggling Buffalo Bills (2-4) Sunday at Sun Life Stadium. This is a game Miami must win if the Dolphins want to be taken seriously as a contender in the AFC.

Power Rankings: No. 22 Houston Texans

October, 15, 2013
10/15/13
2:00
PM ET
A weekly examination of the Texans' ESPN.com Power Ranking.

Preseason: 7 | Last week: 17 | ESPN.com Power Rankings since 2002

On Sunday, the St. Louis Rams exposed problems for Houston that went well beyond quarterback Matt Schaub. Consequently, the Texans now find themselves on the brink of the bottom 10, dropping five more spots after a 25-point loss to the Rams. They sit just below the Arizona Cardinals and just above the Atlanta Falcons. The Rams, meanwhile, are ranked 19th.

The range of rankings for the Texans has gone from 17th all the way down to 26th. Meanwhile, the Denver Broncos remained the unanimous No. 1 selection.

The AFC South went winless this weekend, with the Titans losing to the Seahawks, the Colts losing to the Chargers and the Jaguars losing to those top-ranked Broncos. Indianapolis dropped to the sixth spot and Tennessee dropped to 16th while the Jaguars remain dead last.

Power Rankings: No. 25 Buffalo Bills

October, 15, 2013
10/15/13
2:00
PM ET
A weekly examination of the Bills' ESPN.com Power Ranking:

Preseason: 30 | Last Week: 23 | ESPN.com Power Ranking since 2002

They held steady at No. 23 last week, but the Bills slid to No. 25 this week after being defeated in overtime by the Cincinnati Bengals.

It's expected, and the Bills are right where they should be. With a 2-4 record, it's hard not to place them in the bottom third of the NFL.

The voting broke down this way: four votes for No. 24, one vote for No. 25, and one vote for No. 27. However you slice it, that's the range where the Bills belong.

Buffalo faces as tough a stretch as any team in the coming weeks. The Bills travel to No. 14 Miami this weekend, then visit the No. 3 Saints, then host the No. 2 Chiefs.

Hold on, because it may be a bumpy ride.

Power Rankings: No. 13 Dallas Cowboys

October, 15, 2013
10/15/13
2:00
PM ET
A weekly examination of the Cowboys' ESPN.com Power Ranking:

Preseason: 20 | Last Week: 15 | ESPN.com Power Ranking since 2002

The Dallas Cowboys moved up two spots in the ESPN.com Power Rankings with their 31-16 win over the Washington Redskins.

The last time the Cowboys were this high in the rankings came after their Week 1 win against the New York Giants. This week they get the No. 17 Philadelphia Eagles at Lincoln Financial Field in a battle for first place in the NFC East.

Last week, the Cowboys' loss to the Denver Broncos was enough to bump them three spots. Their win against the Redskins moved them up just two spots, but they remain the top-ranked team in the division and remain the seventh-best team in the conference.

The Cowboys’ next five games are against NFC foes, so they will have a chance to creep up possibly into the top 10 with games against the Detroit Lions, Minnesota Vikings, New Orleans Saints and a rematch with the Giants looming.

But first things first: The Cowboys are 0-2 on the road this year and need to get to 3-0 in the division with a victory against the Eagles.

Mike Sando gave the Cowboys their highest ranking at No. 12, and Ashley Fox recorded the lowest at No. 15. Given their up and down ways so far, the Cowboys are ranked correctly.
A weekly examination of the Panthers' ESPN.com Power Ranking:

Preseason: 23 | Last Week: 26 | ESPN.com Power Ranking since 2002

Defensive end Greg Hardy says he can beat LeBron James in a game of one-on-one basketball, and the Carolina Panthers remain behind the 1-4 Atlanta Falcons in the ESPN Power Rankings.

Tell me: Which surprises you more?

OK, Hardy beating the NBA's four-time MVP is the easy choice.

That Carolina (2-3), which moved up two spots to 24th after Sunday's 35-10 victory at Minnesota, remains behind the Falcons in the rankings really isn't a surprise.

Until the Panthers win two games in a row, something they haven't done in their first six games since the 2009 season, they won't get the respect they seek.

If they win three in a row, they'll for sure pass Atlanta -- a team they beat once last season and should have beaten twice -- because the teams meet in two weeks.

Hardy likely won't ever get a chance to face James on the court, something he can be thankful for.

Power Rankings: No. 19 St. Louis Rams

October, 15, 2013
10/15/13
2:00
PM ET
A weekly examination of the Rams' ESPN.com Power Ranking:

Preseason: 15 | Last Week: 25 | ESPN.com Power Ranking since 2002

With two wins in as many weeks, the Rams have at least righted the ship enough to get their record back to an even 3-3. Sunday's impressive 38-13 win at Houston also gave the Rams their biggest boost in this season's Power Rankings, jumping six spots.

The six-member voting panel was all over the place in their ranking of the Rams, with all but two members placing them in a different spot in his or her respective poll. Ashley Fox and Dan Graziano were the only two voting the Rams in lockstep, offering the lowest number at 22, but Jamison Hensley was quite a bit more bullish, bumping the Rams all the way to their original preseason spot at No. 15. Mike Sando (18), Kevin Seifert (21) and John Clayton (19) fell in the middle of their counterparts.

After the win against Jacksonville, the Rams moved up one spot and I wondered if that was legitimate given the competition. Though not as impressive as it might have sounded before the season, the convincing win on the road against Houston serves as a much better barometer for a solid move up the rankings. None of the teams ranked behind the Rams have a strong case to be above them, and the Rams could probably make the case to be above Cleveland or Philadelphia.

For now, No. 19 seems right. If the Rams can go on the road and win Sunday in Carolina, they could find themselves back to where they started the season or better.
A weekly examination of the Packers’ ESPN.com Power Ranking.

Preseason: 5 | Last week: 11 | ESPN.com Power Ranking since 2002

The Packers (3-2) still trail the Chicago Bears and Detroit Lions by a half-game in the NFC North standings, but our panel of voters apparently believe they are the division’s top team. That’s what beating the defending Super Bowl champions on the road will do. After Sunday’s win at the Baltimore Ravens, the Packers moved ahead of the Bears, who came in at 10th this week. The Lions were 11th.

However, it wasn’t unanimous. Two of the six voters did not have the Packers ranked as the top NFC North team. In fact, one of them still had the Packers third, at No. 11 overall, behind the Lions (ninth on the voter’s ballot) and Bears (10th). Perhaps that voter believed the loss of receiver Randall Cobb to a broken fibula and the uncertain status of receiver James Jones (knee) will cripple the Packers offense.

As always, you can rank all 32 teams yourself.
A weekly examination of the Raiders’ ESPN.com Power Ranking:

Preseason: 29 | Last Week: 24 | ESPN.com Power Ranking since 2002

Perhaps never in the history of the franchise has the bye week come at a better time. The Raiders are beaten up, figuratively and literally, after their 24-7 loss at unbeaten Kansas City, a game they controlled with a 7-0 lead and would have led 10-0 were it not for another missed Sebastian Janikowski field goal. But Oakland’s already makeshift offensive line fell apart, and with each injury, so did the Raiders’ shot at an upset.

Yes, running back Darren McFadden played on his tender hamstring, but he was nowhere near 100 percent and thus, ineffective. Still, players on this 2-4 team are taking heart in the fact that they’ve been in every game but one -- the blowout loss at Denver -- and quarterback Terrelle Pryor has even said the Raiders are a playoff team, despite falling a couple of spots this week in our Power Rankings. Coach Dennis Allen, though, said he’s not worried about the playoffs ... and no, he did not summon his inner Jim Mora in making his statement. Allen’s immediate concern is to improve his team week to week. A bye week to soothe wounds, both real and imagined, should act as a salve.
A weekly examination of the Browns’ ESPN.com Power Ranking:

Preseason: 28 | Last Week: 16 | ESPN.com Power Ranking since 2002

The voters were generous this week to the Cleveland Browns. They dropped after Sunday’s 31-17 loss to Detroit, but only two spots -- from 16 to 18 in the weekly power poll.

In general, any team that has a quarterback who tries a sideways backhand flip with his back to the line of scrimmage should drop at least five spots. That it was only two speaks to the generosity and kindness of the voters, who clearly feel some sort of pity and empathy for this team. Browns fans might want to drop a thank-you note to ESPN Giants reporter Dan Graziano, who ranked the Browns 14th. (Mike Sando had them 22nd.)

The next three games before the Browns' bye week will tell a lot in where the team ranks as the season progresses. The Browns travel to Green Bay and Kansas City before returning home to play the Ravens.

Not only does Brandon Weeden need to play better, he’ll have to play better against three of the top nine teams in the league when it comes to sacking the quarterback. That’s not exactly the matchup this particular quarterback needs as he tries to find himself.
A weekly examination of the Vikings' ESPN.com Power Ranking:

Preseason: 17 | Last Week: 28 | ESPN.com Power Ranking since 2002

The Minnesota Vikings dropped another spot in the rankings, but they probably could have fallen farther if they had much farther to fall. Their 35-10 loss to the Carolina Panthers on Sunday was a ragged, listless performance that put the Vikings at 1-4 and began to call into question how long Leslie Frazier will survive as the team's coach. Frazier is under contract through next season but needed to have a solid year after ownership decided to pick up his 2014 option, not offer him a new contract, following a playoff berth in 2012. The Vikings have now been blown out three times following their bye weeks under Frazier. That doesn't reflect well on a coaching staff when a team's worst losses come after its longest preparation periods, and now, Frazier must hold together a group of veterans who showed signs of discontent after Sunday's game.

Defensive end Jared Allen, who is in the final year of his contract, said, "When you lose, heads roll," and added that both the Vikings' players and coaches need to be better. Linebacker Chad Greenway said the season is starting to feel like the Vikings' 3-13 campaign in 2011. Frazier did a superb job of keeping his team on point after it fell from 4-1 to 6-6 last year, and the Vikings rebounded to reach the playoffs after a four-game win streak. Frazier's ability to keep the team focused could be tested by a different set of circumstances this year. The Vikings head on the road to face the 0-6 New York Giants on Monday night, but then the Green Bay Packers come to town for a Sunday night matchup.
A weekly examination of the Cardinals' ESPN.com Power Ranking:

Preseason: 26 | Last week: 19 | ESPN.com Power Ranking since 2002

Talk about a defense carrying a team. The Cardinals gave NFC West rival San Francisco a fight until the fourth quarter and showed they were capable of beating the 49ers. It was a worthy battle because the Cards dropped just two spots in the Power Rankings. But losing happens when a team shoots itself in the foot by throwing two interceptions and fumbling twice in the second half, both on drives that could have led to a victory.

The Cardinals are showing signs of life, especially on offense, after a head-scratching start. Halftime adjustments are becoming this team’s signature, with coach Bruce Arians opting for the run game after the break. It worked against San Francisco in the third quarter, but because of the offense’s faulty hands, the defense was on the field way too long and began to play tired and undisciplined football. Everyone’s starting to see the progress, and it’s just a matter of time before the offense catches up to the defense. It could happen soon with two of Arizona’s next three opponents ranked lower than it. Then the Cards could start flying up the Power Rankings.

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