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Football Relativity Week 11

Each week, we compare all 32 NFL teams using our Football Relativity comparison. On the comparison, the 10 level is reserved for the best teams, and the 1 level for the worst. We’ll note throughout where teams have moved up or down from last week.

RB Ray Rice and the Ravens beat the Bengals, via guardian.co.uk

10 – Green Bay Packers – The Packers had a fight on their hands against Tampa Bay but prevailed with a 35-26 win. They’ll likely face another test on Thanksgiving Day in Detroit. But Green Bay has played in this game in 2007 and 2009, so it won’t be completely new to them. It’ll definitely be an appetizing matchup.

9 – New Orleans Saints, Pittsburgh Steelers, San Francisco 49ers – The Saints and Steelers were on bye. Pittsburgh tries to keep the pedal to the metal in Kansas City this week, while the Saints host the Giants on Monday night. The 49ers took care of business against the Cardinals and now prep for the Thanksgiving night Harbaugh bowl in Baltimore.

8 – Atlanta Falcons, Baltimore Ravens, Chicago Bears, Houston Texans, New England Patriots – The Falcons held off the Titans and should face an easier time at home against the Vikings this week. The Ravens beat the Bengals in a key AFC North battle, but they face a harder challenge when San Francisco visits Thursday night. The Bears, who beat the Chargers, and the Texans try to adjust to life without their starting quarterbacks this week. It will be tough to stay in the playoff hunt with Caleb Hanie and Matt Leinart, respectively. The Patriots whipped the undermanned Chiefs, but this week’s trip to Philadelphia is a sterner test.

7 – Cincinnati Bengals, Dallas Cowboys, Detroit Lions New York Giants (DOWN A LEVEL), New York Jets – We covered the Giants’ decline and the Lions’ relevance in Rise/Sink/Float. The Bengals lost another tough AFC North game in Baltimore but have a shot to rebound against the Browns this week. The Cowboys won in Washington, and even though it wasn’t pretty, it keeps them in the NFC East race. They face the Dolphins in their traditional Thanksgiving Day home game. The Jets lost in Denver and need to rebound at home against the reeling Bills this week.

6 – Oakland Raiders, San Diego Chargers – The Chargers fell in Chicago, and while that isn’t a terrible loss, they are unquestionably falling apart. They must rebound this week against the Broncos, or else the AFC West will slip away. The Raiders won in Minnesota and now host the Bears this week. A win would be a statement for them as they continue to seek to move up the charts in the NFL.

5 – Denver Broncos (UP A LEVEL), Philadelphia Eagles, Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Tennessee Titans – We covered the Broncos’ ascent in Rise/Sink/Float. They suddenly face a key AFC West game in San Diego this week. The Eagles got off the schneid at the Giants, showing they are still a threat to win either week. They have a chance to get back in the playoff host with a home game against the Patriots this week. The Buccaneers, who have faced the NFL’s toughest schedule, lost in Green Bay. Now they visit Tennessee in a game that’s tough but necessary for them if they want to make the playoffs. The Titans come into that game off a loss in Atlanta.

4 – Buffalo Bills (DOWN A LEVEL), Miami Dolphins (UP A LEVEL), Seattle Seahawks – The Bills are falling apart, and a trip to the Jets this week is not a recipe for a rebound. The Seahawks got another win at St. Louis and should add to that total at home against Washington this week. Seattle has a solid defense, but the offense still struggles. The Dolphins have found some answers and gotten some wins. Now they travel to Dallas to show off their improvement on Thanksgiving Day.

3 – Arizona Cardinals, Cleveland Browns (UP A LEVEL), Jacksonville Jaguars, Kansas City Chiefs, Minnesota Vikings – The Browns got a win over the Jaguars, while the rest of this group lost. But these teams have had some highs and are still competitive most weeks, which is a tribute given their lack of success.

2 – Carolina Panthers, St. Louis Rams (DOWN A LEVEL), Washington Redskins – The Panthers blew a big lead in Detroit, but they could get a win in Indy this week. The Rams and Redskins have completely fallen apart, and it’s hard to see them getting wins at this point.

1 – Indianapolis Colts – The Colts were on bye. They have a chance at a win this week against the Panthers and still stay in pole position for the No. 1 pick.

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Football Relativity Week 10

Each week, we compare all 32 NFL teams using our Football Relativity comparison. On the comparison, the 10 level is reserved for the best teams, and the 1 level for the worst. We’ll note throughout where teams have moved up or down from last week.

WR Marques Colston and the Saints beat the Falcons, via ajc.com

10 – Green Bay Packers – The Packers cleaned up yet again with a dominating Monday-night win over the Vikings. Green Bay is cruising right now, and their Thanksgiving Day trip to Detroit looks better and better every day.

9 – New Orleans Saints (UP A LEVEL), Pittsburgh Steelers, San Francisco 49ers (UP A LEVEL) – The Saints got a hard-fought road win in Atlanta to take control of the NFC South. They head into their bye with a 7-3 record and with momentum. The Steelers went to Cincinnati and got a seven-point win that keeps them in the AFC South hunt. They too are 7-3 entering the bye. The 49ers beat a good Giants team  27-20 to move to 8-1, and they should be thinking about what it will take to lock up not just the NFC West but a first-round playoff bye as they enter the NFC West-heavy portion of their schedule.

8 – Atlanta Falcons, Baltimore Ravens (DOWN A LEVEL), Chicago Bears (UP A LEVEL) Houston Texans (DOWN A LEVEL), New England Patriots, New York Giants – We explained why the Giants stay here and why the Bears are now at this level in Rise/Sink/Float. The Falcons lost at home to the Saints, thanks in part to a controversial fourth-down call in overtime. They need to rebound against the Titans this week.The Ravens suffered a let-down in a 22-17 loss in Seattle, giving up their AFC North advantage in the process. They can bounce back with a home game against the Bengals this week. The Texans won to move to 7-3 entering their bye, but they lost QB Matt Schaub for the season. The Patriots bounced back from two straight losses by thumping the Jets, and they have a chance to build momentum at home on Monday night against the Chiefs. Despite their recent struggles, New England still is the team to beat in the AFC East.

7 – Cincinnati Bengals, Dallas Cowboys (UP A LEVEL), Detroit Lions, New York Jets – The Bengals and Jets both lost key divisional games that hurt their playoff chances. Cincinnati can’t lick its wounds because it must go to Baltimore this week; the Jets face a quick turnaround in a Thursday-night trip to Denver. The Cowboys blasted the Bills to take a step up among NFC playoff contenders. They can confirm that status in Washington this week. The Lions got killed in Chicago, although that game got out of hand because of special-teams and defensive return touchdowns by the Bears. Detroit can get well against Carolina at home heading into their Thanksgiving Day special against the Packers.

6 – Oakland Raiders, San Diego Chargers (DOWN A LEVEL) – The Raiders beat the Chargers in San Diego to throw the AFC West into complete chaos. Both teams have road games this week, but Oakland’s journey to Minnesota is far more favorable than San Diego’s trip to Chicago.

5 – Buffalo Bills (DOWN A LEVEL), Philadelphia Eagles (DOWN A LEVEL), Tampa Bay Buccaneers (DOWN A LEVEL), Tennessee Titans (UP A LEVEL) – We covered the Eagles’ decline in Rise/Sink/Float. We discussed the Titans in this game review; now Tennessee has a shot in the AFC South because of Matt Schaub’s injury. The Bills lost 44-7 in Dallas and seem to be falling apart before our eyes. So are the Buccaneers, who lost big to Houston at home and must now go to Green Bay.

4 -Denver Broncos (UP A LEVEL), Seattle Seahawks (UP A LEVEL) – The Broncos have figured out a style that lets Tim Tebow succeed, and they are in the AFC West race because of it. A Thursday-night home game against the Jets is an opportunity for another win, given the scheduling situation. The Seahawks haven’t always played well, but they beat the Ravens as well as the Giants this year, which is pretty impressive. Now the question is whether they can find consistency of that kind of effort.

3 – Arizona Cardinals (UP A LEVEL), Jacksonville Jaguars, Kansas City Chiefs (DOWN A LEVEL), Miami Dolphins (UP A LEVEL), Minnesota Vikings, St. Louis Rams (UP A LEVEL) – The Cardinals, who nearly won at Baltimore a few weeks back, got a road win in Philadelphia. The Jaguars beat the Colts as they should have. The Chiefs lost to the Broncos and even worse lost QB Matt Cassel for the rest of the season. The Dolphins got their second straight win by beating the Redskins. The Rams beat the Browns in an ugly 13-12 game. The Vikings got blasted by the Packers on Monday night, which was pretty much expected.

2 – Carolina Panthers (DOWN A LEVEL), Cleveland Browns, Washington Redskins – We covered the Panthers in this game review. The Browns lost at home to the Rams thanks to a special-teams gaffe, but the real problem in Cleveland is an offense completely devoid of playmakers. The Redskins have the same problem, and like the Browns they look horrible despite three early-season wins.

1 – Indianapolis Colts – The Colts lost handily to the Jacksonville Jaguars and will struggle to find a win this season. How Lucky.

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Rise/Sink/Float Week 10

Each week, we look through the Sunday NFL results to find one team that’s rising, one team that’s sinking, and one team that stays at the same level. You’ll see these changes reflected in our weekly Football Relativity comparison of all 32 teams.

Bears return man extraordinaire Devin Hester struck again against the Lions, via kfoxtv.com

Rise – Chicago Bears – The Bears are on a serious roll, and they showed just how well they’re playing by thumping the Lions 37-6 in Soldier Field. The team has figured out how to protect Jay Cutler, which makes the passing game more potent and takes some pressure off of star RB Matt Forte. And the Bears’ defense is playing as well as ever. At 6-3, it’s a long shot that the Bears can catch the Packers, but they look every bit like a playoff team right now.

Sink – Philadelphia Eagles – The Eagles have talent, but they simply aren’t going to get it together this year, and a 21-17 home loss to the Arizona Cardinals is the nail in the coffin. QB Michael Vick is inconsistent, the defense is less than the sum of its parts, and to top it all off, DeSean Jackson got benched for blowing off a team meeting. The defensive coaching staff will likely get fired after the year, and if head coach Andy Reid isn’t careful, this situation could spiral out of control to the point that his long tenure is endangered.

Float – New York Giants – The Giants failed in their comeback attempt in San Francisco, but a 27-20 loss to the 49ers in San Francisco isn’t reason for concern. It looks like the NFC East is going to come down to the Giants and the Cowboys, and so while the Giants’ schedule gets tough down the stretch, having both games between those teams left to come will determine the division title.

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Crazy Kicker of Week 9

The Crazy Kicker of the Week award is not about accomplishment as much as it is about the attempt. So while Eagles P Chas Henry’s fourth-quarter fake punt pass fell short against the Bears, the fact that the Eagles drew up a play that gave Henry a wide-open receiver in Colt Anderson is crazy in itself. That makes Henry our crazy kicker of Week 9.

You can watch the craziness unfold here.

Crazy Kickers of the Week 2011
Week 6: P Shane Lechler, Raiders
Week 5: P Daniel Sepulveda, Steelers
Week 4: PK Mason Crosby, Packers
Week 2: P Michael Koenen, Buccaneers
Week 1: P Sam Koch, Ravens
Preseason Week 4: P Dustin Colquitt, Chiefs
Preseason Week 2: P Andy Lee, 49ers
Preseason Week 1: PK Josh Brown, Rams

Eagles P Chas Henry after unsuccessful craziness, via philly.com

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Football Relativity Week 9

Each week, we compare all 32 NFL teams using our Football Relativity comparison. On the comparison, the 10 level is reserved for the best teams, and the 1 level for the worst. We’ll note throughout where teams have moved up or down from last week.

Ravens WR Torrey Smith catches the game-winner against the Steelers, via washingtonpost.com

(Note: Work commitments have pulled me away this week, so this week’s version will be a bit abbreviated. We’ll be back to full strength next week.)

10 – Green Bay Packers – Another week, another win for Green Bay, which took care of business in San Diego.

9 – Baltimore Ravens (UP A LEVEL), Houston Texans (UP A LEVEL), Pittsburgh Steelers – The Ravens move back up to this level after beating the Steelers. Baltimore has talent that nearly compares to Green Bay, but not consistency. The Texans continued to take care of business, and now the question is not whether they will make the playoffs but how much noise they can make when they get there.

8 – Atlanta Falcons, New England Patriots (DOWN A LEVEL), New Orleans Saints, New York Giants (UP A LEVEL), San Francisco 49ers – We move the Patriots down after two straight losses. The winner of the Falcons/Saints game next week will move up a level, and the 49ers are close to doing so as well. The Giants won in New England to take control of the NFC East for now. Can they maintain it?

7 – Chicago Bears (UP A LEVEL), Cincinnati Bengals (UP A LEVEL), Detroit Lions, New York Jets, San Diego Chargers – The Chargers lost to the Packers but played a good second half. We haven’t been Jets believers, but their win in Buffalo was a huge accomplishment. The Bengals went to Tennessee and posted 17 straight points in the second half to get a win. The Bears won in Philadelphia Monday night and can take a big step in the wild-card race by beating Detroit this week.

6 – Buffalo Bills (DOWN A LEVEL), Dallas Cowboys, Oakland Raiders (DOWN A LEVEL), Philadelphia Eagles (DOWN A LEVEL), Tampa Bay Buccaneers (DOWN A LEVEL) – The Bills, Raiders, and Eagles all had disappointing home losses that were severely damaging to playoff hopes. The Buccaneers missed an opportunity in New Orleans, and their overall level of play moves them down. The Cowboys beat the Seahawks and need to take advantage of their schedule over the next month.

5 – none

4- Kansas City Chiefs (DOWN A LEVEL), Tennessee Titans – The Chiefs laid an egg at home against the Dolphins, while the Titans blew a lead at home against the Bengals. Both were disappointing losses that show limitations.

3 – Carolina Panthers, Denver Broncos (UP A LEVEL), Jacksonville Jaguars, Minnesota Vikings, Seattle Seahawks – Three byes, while the Seahawks lost in Dallas. Seattle still is competitive, so it stays above the teams below. The Broncos won in Denver, and it appears that Tim Tebow despite his faults makes the team competitive.

2 – Arizona Cardinals, Cleveland Browns (DOWN A LEVEL), Miami Dolphins (UP A LEVEL), St. Louis Rams, Washington Redskins (DOWN A LEVEL) – The Cardinals eked by the Rams, but neither team distinguished themselves. The Browns and Redskins each got three early wins, but right now are completely punchless. The Dolphins got a win in Kansas City and appear to have enough oomph to get a few more in the second half.

1 – Indianapolis Colts – The Colts were blasted at home by the Falcons to remain the league’s only winless team. Paging Andrew Luck.

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Football Relativity Week 8

Each week, we compare all 32 NFL teams using our Football Relativity comparison. On the comparison, the 10 level is reserved for the best teams, and the 1 level for the worst. We’ll note throughout where teams have moved up or down from last week.

S Troy Polamalu and the Steelers took down WR Wes Welker and the Patriots, via nytimes.com

10 – Green Bay Packers – The undefeated Packers were on bye. They face a tough game at San Diego this week that will be their biggest test in weeks.

9 – New England Patriots, Pittsburgh Steelers (UP A LEVEL) – The Steelers beat the Patriots 25-17 in Pittsburgh, and both teams now have two losses. The Patriots’ defense isn’t great, but the offense is so good that it will generally lead them to wins. That’s what should happen in a home game against the Giants this week. The Steelers have no time to celebrate because they host the Ravens this week in a game that will have a huge impact on the AFC North race.

8 – Atlanta Falcons, Baltimore Ravens, Houston Texans, New Orleans Saints (DOWN A LEVEL), San Francisco 49ers (UP A LEVEL) – We covered the Saints’ collapse against the Rams and the Ravens’ survival against the Cardinals in Rise/Sink/Float. The Saints host the Buccaneers in a key NFC South game this week, while the Ravens face the Steelers in an AFC North battle. The Falcons were on bye. The Texans took care of business in a home game against the Jaguars and now have a firm grip on the AFC South. The 49ers beat the Browns at home, and have a chance to add another win on the East Coast in Washington this week.

7 – Buffalo Bills, Detroit Lions, New York Giants, New York Jets, Oakland Raiders, Philadelphia Eagles (UP A LEVEL), San Diego Chargers (DOWN A LEVEL), Tampa Bay Buccaneers – The Bills blasted the Redskins in Toronto and re-took the AFC East lead. A home game against the Jets this week will be another litmus test. The Lions killed the Broncos in Denver to end a two-game losing streak, which is a good way to head into the bye week. The Giants nearly gagged at home against the Dolphins, but they found a way to sneak out a win. They’ll have to play better against the Patriots in Foxboro this week. The Eagles finally looked like the dream team in a 34-7 win over Dallas, and heading into a Monday night game against the Bears they’re back in the NFC East race. The Chargers to the Chiefs, and their solid 4-1 start now is a disappointing 4-3 record and a three-way tie in the AFC West. The Chargers missed an opportunity to seize control and now have a fight on their hands, both in division and at home against the Packers this week. The Jets, Raiders, and Buccaneers were on bye.

6 – Chicago Bears, Cincinnati Bengals (UP A LEVEL), Dallas Cowboys (DOWN A LEVEL) – We covered the Bengals’ ascent in Rise/Sink/Float. They face the Titans in Nashville this week, and if the past is any guide, they’ll rise to the challenge. The Cowboys got blasted in Philly; now they try to rebound in a home game against the Seahawks. The Bears were on bye; they travel to Philadelphia on Monday night.

5 – Kansas City Chiefs (UP A LEVEL) – The Chiefs continued their unlikely winning streak with a 23-20 overtime victory at home against the Chargers on Monday night. After a horrific start, the Chiefs are 4-3 and tied for first in the AFC West. Now they host the Dolphins this week with a chance to run their winning streak to five games. It’s an incredible turnaround, especially given the major injuries the Chiefs sustained early in the season.

4 – Tennessee Titans – The Titans beat the Colts 27-10 at home to move to 4-3 and stay within shouting distance in the AFC South. Their home game against the Bengals this week is an underrated matchup.

3 – Carolina Panthers, Cleveland Browns (DOWN A LEVEL), Jacksonville Jaguars, Minnesota Vikings (UP A LEVEL), Seattle Seahawks (DOWN A LEVEL), Washington Redskins – The Vikings knocked off the Panthers in a game we covered here. The Browns couldn’t mount much offense in San Francisco, while the Jaguars played tough but fell short in Houston. The Redskins were blanked by the Bills, as the John Beck experiment continues to devolve. The Seahawks lost at home to the Bengals.

2 – Arizona Cardinals, Denver Broncos (DOWN A LEVEL), St. Louis Rams (UP A LEVEL) – The Rams finally broke out of the winless group with a surprising 31-21 victory over the Saints. They’ll try to build on that in Arizona facing the Cardinals, who put a scare into the Ravens but didn’t get the win. The Broncos fell short in Tim Tebow’s second start and now must travel to Oakland. Our hunch is that Tebow and the Black Hole won’t mix.

1 – Indianapolis Colts, Miami Dolphins – Another week, another loss for the Colts and Dolphins. Miami put up a big fight against the Giants on the road, but this week’s trip to Kansas City isn’t promising. The Colts lost at Tennessee and now must host the Falcons. Looks like the Andrew Luck sweepstakes will be a dead heat for another week.

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Week 8 Transactions

Each week, we note and comment on the NFL’s biggest transactions. Here are the transactions between the end of Week 7 and the beginning of Week 8. We’ll begin by focusing on four fascinating cuts.

Leigh Bodden, a player on the New England Patr...

Ex-Patriots CB Leigh Bodden. Image via Wikipedia

- Bodden, once a major free-agent signing, had fallen out of the lineup in New England, and he reportedly lost interest. So he was cut, even though the Patriots were also losing Dowling to injury. Bodden cleared waivers. Faulk moved right back into the lineup after missing the early part of the season.

Vikings (cut WR Bernard Berrian) – Berrian, once a high-dollar free-agent signing, had little production and a questionable attitude in Minnesota. The Vikings, who hit on something with Michael Jenkins and even Devin Aromashodu, had enough depth to just move on.

Bears (cut S Chris Harris) – Harris, who entered the year as a starter at safety for the Bears, got benched, then got pressed into emergency starting duty, and then got cut. He landed on his feet after the Lions claimed him on waivers – just before a Bears/Lions game in Week 10. Harris adds depth to a Lions secondary that isn’t up to the level of the rest of the team.

Cowboys (cut RB Tashard Choice, activate LB Bruce Carter from physically unable to perform list) – Choice, who had some nice moments in Dallas, got hurt, and the Cowboys waived him injured to move on to rookie DeMarco Murray. Choice was claimed on waivers by the NFC East rival Redskins.

Redskins (put RB Tim Hightower and TE Chris Cooley on injured reserve) – Hightower, the Redskins’ leading rusher thus far this season, was hurt against the Carolina Panthers. Cooley battled knee and hand injuries that ultimately ended his season. These injuries further depleted a Redskins offense that is struggling mightily.

Bills (put OLB Shawne Merriman on injured reserve) - A lot has gone right in Buffalo this year, but not the Merriman experiement. His knee hasn’t been right since he was in San Diego.

Buccaneers (put RB Earnest Graham on injured reserve) – Graham, who was filling in for LeGarrette Blount at running back and was also an effective fullback/pass-catching back, tore his Achilles against the Bears. It’s a big loss for a thin Bucs backfield.

Chargers (put OLB Larry English on injured reserve) – English, a former first-round pick, will miss the second half of the season with a foot injury.

Falcons (put FB Ovie Mughelli and OG Mike Johnson on injured reserve, add FB Mike Cox and OT Kirk Chambers) – Mughelli, one of the few fullbacks with a significant role in the NFL, suffered a knee injury that will cost him the season. Cox comes on board as a fill-in. Chambers adds depth for a banged-up offensive line.

Colts (put QB Kerry Collins on injured reserve) – Collins, who suffered a concussion during his effort to fill in for Peyton Manning, won’t be able to come back. This could be the end of a pretty good career.

Dolphins (put QB Sage Rosenfels on non-football injury list, add QB J.P. Losman) – Rosenfels, who is battling a nasty strep infection that won’t go away, had to give up on the season. Losman becomes the Dolphins’ latest emergency backup quarterback.

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Football Relativity Week 7

Each week, we compare all 32 NFL teams using our Football Relativity comparison. On the comparison, the 10 level is reserved for the best teams, and the 1 level for the worst. We’ll note throughout where teams have moved up or down from last week.

Packers WR Greg Jennings and company beat the Vikings, via greenbaypressgazette.com

10 – Green Bay Packers – The Packers were tested in Minnesota – until CB Charles Woodson took advantage of rookie QB Christian Ponder not once but twice. Meanwhile, QB Aaron Rodgers was pitching a near perfect game. The Pack enters their bye 7-0, and they’ve served notice that the title defense is on in Titletown.

9 – New England Patriots, New Orleans Saints – The Patriots were on bye. The Saints broke out the whooping stick in a 62-7 home win over the Colts. It was a complete performance that highlighted what the Saints can be at their best. They’ll have a great chance at an encore next week in a visit to St. Louis.

8 – Atlanta Falcons (UP A LEVEL), Baltimore Ravens (DOWN A LEVEL), Houston Texans (UP A LEVEL), Pittsburgh Steelers, San Diego Chargers – We’re temped to dock the Chargers after a poor offensive performance in New York against the Jets, but we’ll leave them be for now since that road trip was a tough game. But the Bolts need to bounce back and play better soon, because the Chiefs are on the charge in the AFC West. The Steelers took care of business in Arizona with a 32-20 victory, setting up huge home games against New England and Baltimore in the next two weeks. The Falcons got a win in Detroit and seem to have found themselves the last few weeks. That’s a good feeling as the Dirty Birds head to their bye. The Texans won a big game in the AFC South and did so in convincing style, 41-7 over the Titans. They have a chance to knock off another division foe next week at home against the Jaguars. The Ravens played those Jaguars this week and lost on Monday night. It was a horrific offensive performance as, for the second time this season, Baltimore laid a major egg on the road. They must bounce back against Arizona this week before facing off against the Steelers the following week.

7 – Buffalo Bills, Dallas Cowboys (UP A LEVEL), Detroit Lions (DOWN A LEVEL), New York Giants, New York Jets, Oakland Raiders, San Francisco 49ers, Tampa Bay Buccaneers – We covered the Cowboys’ nice win and the Cowboys’ disappointing loss in Rise/Sink/Float. The 49ers, Giants, and Bills were on bye.  The Buccaneers lost in London to the Bears, and they were wracked by injuries to RB Earnest Graham and others. The bye is coming at a key time for the Bucs. The Jets put together a comeback win against the Chargers to move to 4-0. Gang Green has been up and down, but after the bye they need to learn to win on the road. The Raiders were embarrassed against the Chiefs, but they hope the upcoming bye week will help new QB Carson Palmer get ready to contribute.

6 – Chicago Bears, Philadelphia Eagles – We covered the Bears’ win in London in Rise/Sink/Float, and the Eagles were on bye.

5 – Cincinnati Bengals – The Bengals were on bye.

4 – Cleveland Browns, Kansas City Chiefs (UP A LEVEL), Seattle Seahawks, Tennessee Titans (DOWN A LEVEL), Washington Redskins (DOWN A LEVEL) – The Chiefs went into Oakland and took advantage of bad quarterback play to shut out the Raiders. Suddenly, despite injuries, the Chiefs are 3-3, and if they can beat the Chargers next Monday night, they’ll control their own destiny in the AFC West. It’s an impressive turnaround after an awful start. The Browns beat the Seahawks 6-3 in a terrible aesthetic game. But the Browns are 3-3, which is a nice feat – even though the schedule has been favorable. The Seahawks competed on the road, but while the defense is pretty good, the offense ain’t. The Titans got blasted by the Texans in a key AFC South matchup, and there’s no question they’re now a step behind Houston in the division. The Redskins missed an opportunity in Carolina, falling to 3-3 and losing ground in the NFC East.

3 – Carolina Panthers, Denver Broncos, Jacksonville Jaguars (UP A LEVEL) - The Panthers finally got a win with a 33-20 decision over the Redskins. They have a chance to build on that momentum at home against the Vikings this week, which would put them at 3-5 entering the bye. That would be a nice step forward for QB Cam Newton and company. The Broncos also got a win thanks to last-minute heroics from QB Tim Tebow, who isn’t pretty but still finds a way to deliver in the clutch. Denver hosts Detroit this week. The Jaguars followed a competitive performance in Pittsburgh with a win against the Ravens at home. Jacksonville’s defense is coming on, and that’s a good sign. Now rookie QB Blaine Gabbert must start to make progress too. Amazingly, if the Jaguars can win in Houston this week, they will be 3-4 with wins over both of their main division rivals – basically in the thick of the race.

2 – Arizona Cardinals, Minnesota Vikings – The Vikings lost to the Panthers, but Christian Ponder’s starting debut showed promise. The Vikings have an easier draw in Carolina this week. The Cardinals stuck around but ultimately fell victim to the Steelers. A trip to Baltimore this week is no easy place to bounce back.

1 – Miami Dolphins, Indianapolis Colts, St. Louis Rams – The league’s winless crew embarrassed themselves again. The Dolphins blew a 15-0 lead in the final three minutes of regulation against the Broncos. The Colts were blasted 62-7 in New Orleans. The Rams fell to Dallas 34-7. We don’t see any wins on the horizon, either.

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Rise/Sink/Float Week 7

Each week, we look through the Sunday NFL results to find one team that’s rising, one team that’s sinking, and one team that stays at the same level. You’ll see these changes reflected in our weekly Football Relativity comparison of all 32 teams. This week, we focus on the NFC playoff race.

Bears CB D.J. Moore (30) celebrates his interception against the Bucs with teammates, via statesman.com

Rise – Dallas Cowboys – The Cowboys moved to 3-3 with a convincing 34-7 victory over the Rams. The game starts an important schedule run that includes three winnable home games and two NFC East road games, including next week’s trip to Philadelphia. That means it’s time for the ‘Boys to pile up a bunch of wins and take a lead in the NFC East. Our hunch is that they will do just that.

Sink – Detroit Lions – The Lions lost their second straight game at home 23-16 to the Falcons, and more importantly, quarterback Matthew Stafford suffered a right leg injury. After a 5-0 start, two straight home losses is a bad sign, but it’s not a reason for panic. It’ll be interesting to see how Detroit bounces back – and how serious the Stafford injury is – because it will tell if things really have changed for the better in Detroit. Next week’s trip to Denver will be telling.

Float – Chicago Bears – The Bears got off to a great start and held off the Buccaneers 24-18 in London, moving to 4-3. They go into their bye firmly in playoff contention, but the team needs to show more in order to prove they can earn a repeat trip to the postseason. They will come off their bye with two games of utmost importance – a road trip to Philadelphia and a home game against Detroit. If the Bears want to make the playoffs, they need to be ready to go once the bye is over.

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Football Relativity Week 6

Each week, we compare all 32 NFL teams using our Football Relativity comparison. On the comparison, the 10 level is reserved for the best teams, and the 1 level for the worst. We’ll note throughout where teams have moved up or down from last week.

Ravens OLB Jarrett Johnson sacks Texans QB Matt Schaub, via cleveland.com

10 – Green Bay Packers – The Packers jumped out to a quick lead and cruised to a 24-3 victory over the lowly Rams. They’re playing in top form right now, and the offense is so explosive that it’s going to be hard for lower-tier teams to pull an upset.

9 – Baltimore Ravens, New England Patriots, New Orleans Saints – We discussed the Saints in detail in this game post. The Patriots needed a two-minute drill to score the game-winning touchdown against the Cowboys, but the fact that they pulled out a win against a solid team is a credit. So is the Ravens’ 29-14 win over the Texans, which demonstrates just how good the Ravens are. Like the Packers, the Ravens and Saints have games they should win this week, while the Pats are on bye.

8 – Detroit Lions, Pittsburgh Steelers, San Diego Chargers – The Chargers were on bye. They travel to face the Jets this week in a game that could impact the AFC wild-card race.  The Lions fell in a tough home game to the 49ers, and now they must bounce back against the Falcons. It’ll be curious how Detroit responds to its first loss of the year. The Steelers weren’t impressive, but they held on for a 17-13 win over the Jaguars. If they can take care of business in Arizona this week, the margin of victory won’t matter nearly as much as piling up wins to keep pace with the Ravens in the AFC North.

7 – Atlanta Falcons, Buffalo Bills, Houston Texans, New York Giants, New York Jets, Oakland Raiders, San Francisco 49ers (UP A LEVEL), Tampa Bay Buccaneers – We discussed how the 49ers struck gold in Detroit in Rise/Sink/Float, and we discussed the Bills/Giants game in this post, and we talked about the Buccaneers’ big win in this post. The Falcons beat the Panthers 31-17 in a game they had to have. Now the Falcons need to steal a win in Detroit to keep pace in the NFC South. The Texans lost 29-14 in Baltimore and now face a trip to Tennessee that will have huge bearing in the AFC South. The opportunity the Texans have in the division could slip away with a third straight loss. The Raiders took care of business at home against Cleveland, and if they can beat the Chiefs at home this week, they’ll be firmly in the AFC West race with the Chargers. The Jets didn’t win any style points but did beat the Dolphins on Monday night. Now they must face the Chargers at home.

6 – Chicago Bears, Dallas Cowboys, Philadelphia Eagles – We covered the Cowboys in Rise/Sink/Float. The Bears beat down the Vikings on Sunday night, and seemed to start to fix some of their protection problems. That’s a big step forward. Now they travel to London to face the Buccaneers in a game that could impact the NFC wild card race. The Eagles beat the Redskins 20-13, and while it wasn’t a dynamic performance, at least it was a win. At 2-4, the Eagles are still hovering on the fringes of the NFC East race as they head into their bye.

5 – Cincinnati Bengals (UP A LEVEL), Tennessee Titans, Washington Redskins (DOWN A LEVEL) – The Redskins blew a golden opportunity at home against the Redskins, and Rex Grossman’s awful play created a quarterback controversy. A trip to Carolina this week is no gimme, and another loss would completely reverse all the early-season momentum. The Titans were on bye leading up to what is now a key AFC South battle against the Texans in Nashville. The Bengals got another win to move to 4-2 heading into their bye. The Bengals have had a little help from the schedule, but the results are good enough that they’ll be a factor moving into midseason.

4 – Cleveland Browns, Seattle Seahawks – The Browns lost in Oakland and need to get back on track at home against the Seahawks, who were on bye. At 2-3, both teams can still harbor playoff hopes, but this becomes a key chance to get a win this week.

3 – Carolina Panthers, Denver Broncos, Kansas City Chiefs – The Chiefs and Broncos were on bye. The Panthers lost to Atlanta to fall to 1-5. They have a chance to get a win at home against the Redskins, but that’s no guarantee. (We’ll have much more on the Panthers later today.)

2 – Arizona Cardinals, Jacksonville Jaguars, Minnesota Vikings – The Cardinals were on bye. The Jaguars lost in Pittsburgh, but the effort was better than in recent weeks. The Vikings, on the other hand, put up a stinker in Chicago and now must answer questions about switching quarterbacks from Donovan McNabb to Christian Ponder.

1 – Miami Dolphins (DOWN A LEVEL), Indianapolis Colts (DOWN A LEVEL), St. Louis Rams – We discussed the Colts in Rise/Sink/Float. The Rams lost 24-3 in Green Bay, which is no surprise. They hope adding WR Brandon Lloyd will help an offense that desperately needs it. The Dolphins came off their bye and lost to the Jets to fall to 0-5. The quarterback situation with Matt Moore is a major problem.

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