Here is our Football Relativity comparison after Week Seven. We’ve noted where we’ve moved teams up a level or down a level from the Week Six comparison.
10 – Indianapolis Colts (UP A LEVEL), New Orleans Saints – We moved the Colts up after their convincing win in St. Louis because it was their fourth straight time dropping the hammer on an inferior opponent. Their win in Arizona is looking better and better as well. I picked the Colts to decline this year, and boy, was I wrong. The Saints moved up to the top level last week and held on with a furious rally to win in Miami. That’s another impressive win. These are the best offenses in the league, and their defenses are good enough to make the overall picture pretty scary. We’ll see how scary as the Colts host the Niners and the Saints host the Falcons this week, because both games could be tests.
9 – Minnesota Vikings, New England Patriots, New York Giants, Pittsburgh Steelers (UP A LEVEL) – The Steelers knocked off the Vikings at home. That’s not a bad loss for Minnesota, although it stings to give up two fourth-quarter defensive touchdowns in a loss. It’s a good win for the Steelers, who are starting to reestablish themselves as a top-level team now that Troy Polamalu is back. The Patriots blew out the Buccaneers in jolly ol’ England and are looking to be more of an offensive juggernaut than at any point this season. The Giants lost at home to the Cardinals, and we thought about moving them down, but we’ll leave the G-men in place for now. The spate of defensive injuries they have had is starting to take a toll, though, and that’s a situation they need to overcome if they’re going to contend over the long haul.
8 – Atlanta Falcons, Baltimore Ravens, Denver Broncos – The Falcons lost in Dallas, which isn’t a horrible loss, but the problems on pass defense are troubling. Maybe the loss of CB Brian Williams was a bigger deal than most of us thought. That’s not a good sign as they head into New Orleans Monday night. The Ravens and Broncos enjoyed their byes this week. They face off this week in a game the Ravens must have to break a three-game losing streak and remain strong playoff contenders.
7 – Arizona Cardinals (UP A LEVEL), Cincinnati Bengals (UP A LEVEL), Dallas Cowboys (UP A LEVEL), New York Jets, Philadelphia Eagles – The Cardinals had the most impressive road win of the week by winning in the Meadowlands Sunday night. They are now 3-0 on the road in Jacksonville, Seattle, and New York. That’s the sign of a pretty good team. Arizona’s defense has been a nice surprise this year. Cincinnati’s defense has been a nice surprise as well, and the Bengals showed they are for real by blitzing Chicago (USFL reference) 45-10. Dallas got a good home win against the Falcons. That’s the Cowboys first marquee win of the year and a sign that they’re more than a fringe playoff contender. The Jets, like the Cardinals, overcame their personal house of horrors by shutting out the Raiders 38-0. They have a chance to solidify playoff positioning by getting revenge against the Dolphins this week. The Eagles bounced back from last week’s awful loss in Oakland with a handy victory at Washington to remain in the thick of the playoff hunt.
6 – Chicago Bears (DOWN A LEVEL), Green Bay Packers, Houston Texans (UP A LEVEL), Miami Dolphins, San Diego Chargers – The Packers and Chargers went on the road and beat up on horrible teams in the Browns and Chiefs, respectively. Those are the kinds of wins that restore confidence and keep teams on track for playoff runs. Green Bay holding the Browns without a sack was a great sign as well. The Texans got their record above .500 by holding off the 49ers in the second half. Houston is in the running for its first-ever winning season thanks to an offense that is in the top quarter of the league. The Dolphins blew a big chance against the Saints, much like they did earlier this season against the Colts, but the fact that it was close shows that Miami is still a dangerous team. We still can’t rule out a playoff run (or swim?) from the ‘Fins. The Bears laid a complete egg in Cincinnati, and they desperately need a win to right the ship. A home game against the Browns this week should do the trick.
5 – San Francisco 49ers (DOWN A LEVEL) – The Niners lost at Houston, and there’s no shame in that, but they had to change quarterbacks. Worse, it’s their third straight loss, and they head into Indianapolis this week. A promising start is slipping away – especially as the Cardinals continue to show strength.
4 – Jacksonville Jaguars, Seattle Seahawks – Both the Jags and the Seahawks were on bye this week. Jacksonville can move up a level and stay on the cusp of playoff contender if it can continue the Titans’ misery in Nashville this week. The Seahawks travel to Dallas, which looks like a tough task after the Cowboys beat the Falcons this week.
3 – Carolina Panthers (DOWN A LEVEL), Buffalo Bills – The Panthers were trying to build a three-game winning streak, but they shot themselves in the foot over and over and blew a game against the Bills that they should have won. Buffalo isn’t a true contender, but they are showing some life on defense, and QB Ryan Fitzpatrick is a slight improvement over Trent Edwards. But Dick Jauron needs many more wins to save his job, and those wins still look unlikely.
2 – Cleveland Browns, Detroit Lions, Kansas City Chiefs, Oakland Raiders, Tennessee Titans, Washington Redskins – Welcome to the dregs. The Browns, Chiefs, and Raiders all got blasted, while the Lions and Titans were on bye. The Redskins got down early at home against the Eagles and never really mounted a comeback. These teams show occasional friskiness, but they’re not really competitive.
1 – St. Louis Rams, Tampa Bay Buccaneers – These teams aren’t competitive either, but we’re still waiting on signs of any friskiness from them. Poor Ram and Buc fans…