Each week, we compare all 32 NFL teams using our Football Relativity tool. There are some significant shifts this week as we now have three weeks of results with which to evaluate teams. We’ll indicate as we go which teams are moving up and down from the Week 7 comparison.
10 – Baltimore Ravens, Indianapolis Colts (UP A LEVEL), New England Patriots (UP A LEVEL), New York Jets, Pittsburgh Steelers – The Patriots and Colts move up to a crowded clump atop the NFL. The Colts took care of business on Monday night, beating the Texans 30-17 to reestablish AFC South dominance. Even though they’re really beaten up physically, they’re still playing well. The Patriots took down the Vikings 28-18 at home, and New England is now the only team with a single loss on the season. New England’s defense seems to be getting better, and the offense is getting along fine without Randy Moss. They’re not dominant, but the Pats will be a tough out. We discussed why the Jets stay at this level in Rise/Sink/Float, and for many of the same reasons we leave the Steelers at this level despite a 20-10 Sunday night loss in New Orleans. The Ravens were on bye.
9 – New York Giants – The Giants, who were on bye, have this level to themselves.
8 – Atlanta Falcons, Green Bay Packers, Houston Texans, Miami Dolphins (UP A LEVEL), New Orleans Saints, Philadelphia Eagles, Tennessee Titans – The Packers got a huge 9-0 road win at the Jets, but with all their injuries, we can’t raise them any higher than this. But if this win spurs a winning streak, that can change. We didn’t overreact and drop the Saints that far down when they struggled, and so we won’t shoot them up the comparison after they beat the Steelers. We still have a hunch that, once Pierre Thomas and Reggie Bush return, the Saints will be among the class of the NFC. The Titans and Texans both lost on the road, and so we keep both AFC South teams at this level. They’re half a step behind the other teams at this level, but they’re still better than the teams on rung 7. We discussed the Dolphins’ rise in Rise/Sink/Float, and the Falcons and Eagles were on bye.
7 – Kansas City Chiefs, Tampa Bay Buccaneers (UP A LEVEL) – The Chiefs had a dogfight against the lowly Bills, but give them credit for eking out a 13-10 overtime win. They face a big AFC West clash against the Raiders this week, and a win will show that the Chiefs are a legit playoff team. The Buccaneers got a road win in Arizona as QB Josh Freeman led another comeback victory. Maybe Freeman is a Jake Plummer, or maybe he’s a legit star, but there’s no doubt he is buoying the pirate ship crew to more wins than their talent suggests they deserve.
6 – Washington Redskins – We discussed the Redskins’ loss to the Lions and the subsequent Donovan McNabb controversy in this post.
5 – Chicago Bears, Jacksonville Jaguars (UP A LEVEL), Oakland Raiders (UP TWO LEVELS), San Diego Chargers (UP A LEVEL), St. Louis Rams (UP A LEVEL) – The middle of the league had a good week on Sunday. The Jaguars got their fourth win in a dominant performance in Dallas. When David Garrard plays that well, the Jags can be dangerous. The Raiders posted their second straight blowout win, and if they can beat the Chiefs this week, the playoffs become a real possibility. The Chargers broke through with a home win against the Titans, but with the Chiefs and Raiders showing strength, they still face an uphill battle in the division. The Rams used a businesslike performance to take care of the Panthers, as we discussed in this week’s game thoughts. The Bears were on bye.
4 – Cincinnati Bengals, Minnesota Vikings (DOWN A LEVEL), Seattle Seahawks (DOWN A LEVEL) – The Bengals lost at home to the Dolphins, falling further down the standings. The Bengals can play good teams close, but they simply aren’t getting the wins this year. The Seahawks lost in Oakland, and while losing on the road isn’t a surprise, losing by 30 is. The Vikings lost in New England, but we move them down more for off-the-field mismanagement of Randy Moss and Brett Favre than for their on-field performance this week.
3 – Arizona Cardinals (DOWN A LEVEL), Cleveland Browns, Dallas Cowboys (DOWN TWO LEVELS), Denver Broncos (DOWN A LEVEL), Detroit Lions (UP A LEVEL), San Francisco 49ers (UP A LEVEL) – The Cardinals lost a home game, and if they can’t defend their home field they are behind NFC West rivals Seattle and St. Louis. The Cowboys fell to 1-6 with an embarrassingly decisive loss to the Jaguars at home. Despite their talent, they’re not good at all right now. Denver lost in London to the 49ers, leaving both teams at 2-6. The Broncos can throw the ball but do little else, while the 49ers hope new starting QB Troy Smith can provide a spark. Detroit finally won a close game at home against the Redskins, and if the Lions can start to defend home field, they’ll move forward in their rebuilding process. The Browns were on bye.
2 – None – There’s a significant gap here.
1 – Buffalo Bills, Carolina Panthers (DOWN A LEVEL) – The Bills lost in overtime for the second straight week, showing that they are still competitive even though they have yet to win. This week’s game in Toronto against the Bears looks like a good chance at a W. The Panthers, coming off their first win, got next to no offense going against the Rams and lost 20-10 in a game that wasn’t even that close.