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Week 5 Power Rankings

Cameron Wake does not need to leave the ground to sack the quarterback.

I agree with Aaron Schatz and Brian Burke: the 49ers are the best team in the league, not that such a designation holds any meaning. Last week, I had Houston as my only 13-win team, and the Texans aren’t dropping from that pedestal (and Jason Lisk still has Houston at #1).

But the big mover this week is Miami, who look to be one of the six best teams in the AFC. Disagree? Quick, name another good team in the AFC outside of Houston, New England, Baltimore, Pittsburgh, and Denver. As I wrote in this week’s Fifth Down post, the AFC is clearly the inferior conference in the NFL today. Well, Miami legitimately appears to be a playoff contender in the watered down conference. Note that all of Miami’s three losses have come to either Houston or in overtime in games in which Miami looked to be the superior team.

One reason for Miami’s success is the dominant play of outside linebacker-turned-defensive end Cameron Wake. Miami’s defensive line is dominating the run and Wake is leading the league in combined sacks, hits, and hurries. This offseason, the media gushed about the Bills and wouldn’t stop talking about the Jets, but so far this season, Miami has been the second best team in the division.

[As always, the number of wins I’m projecting each team to finish the season with is in column 3. The fourth column – PWIN – shows how many wins I projected last week, and the difference column represents how many wins I added or subtracted this week. The “RSOS” column stands for the remaining SOS for the team, based on the number of projected wins I’m giving to each of their opponents. The “RHG” column stands for remaining home games.]

TeamRecWinsPrvWinDiffRemSOSRemHGComment
Houston Texans5-0131300.4836Not only do the Texans still have 6 home games remaining, but they have 4 more games against the AFC South and get the Bills and Lions. Even without Brian Cushing, I don't see why they don't win 8 more games.
San Francisco 49ers4-1121110.5346I said last week that a win over Buffalo would bump SF to 12 wins. At this point, I can't imagine projecting SF under 12 wins again this year.
New England Patriots3-2121110.4946Presented without comment: New England's remaining games: @SEA, @STL, NYJ, @NYJ, MIA, @MIA, BUF, IND, HOU, SF, @JAX
Atlanta Falcons5-0121200.4436I still don't feel warm and fuzzy about the Falcons, but the wins keep adding up. You could argue that projecting a 7-4 finish against a cupcake schedule is not giving them enough credit. They probably will have nothing to play for in week 17, though.
Baltimore Ravens4-1111100.5175I said last week that it's getting harder to make fun of Joe Flacco's play, and then he responds by going 13 for 27 as the Ravens fail to score a touchdown and win. What should I jinx next?
Pittsburgh Steelers2-2111010.4486Not a great statistical game by Ben Roethlisberger, but he played very well last weekend. The defense and running game looked good against the Eagles, and if forced to choose, I'll still pick the Steelers over the Ravens.
Chicago Bears4-1101000.5236Almost nothing has changed since last week when I noted that the Bears were lucky to have banked so many wins because there are a zillion questions about this offense, which was really ugly in the first half against Jacksonville. But even if it's ugly, they should go 6-5 the rest of the way.
Green Bay Packers2-3910-10.5005Aaron Rodgers is starting to play like his old self, but a loss to the Colts has to drop the Packers. They're not good enough now to project 8 more wins in 2012.
Philadelphia Eagles3-2910-10.4666All things told, a last-second loss in Pittsburgh is nothing to be ashamed of. Philadelphia will drive everyone crazy, but I'm not going under 9 wins just yet.
Denver Broncos2-3910-10.4205Denver has the easiest remaining schedule in the league. The Broncos have 5 division games remaining, and 6 games against the non-Falcons team in the NFC South and non-Steelers teams in the AFC North. A 7-4 finish should be expected.
New York Giants3-29900.5635Good win against Cleveland, but the schedule gets brutal now. I don't think New York is consistent enough or has enough depth to expect a great finish with that schedule.
Arizona Cardinals4-19900.5575No running game and no passing game? Still only need to go 5-7 to get to 9 wins, but man did that bandwagon deflate quickly.
Minnesota Vikings4-19810.5285Minnesota proved that they were 'for real' last week, but now must answer the bigger question: are the Vikings "for real for real?"
Miami Dolphins2-38620.4896The rarely seen two-win bump: Miami ranks 5th in Burke's efficiency model and 12th in Schatz' rankings; they're slightly above average in NY/A and NY/A allowed, and #1 in rushing yards and yards per carry allowed. With a below-average remaining schedule and 6 home games, 6-5 may be a modest projection.
Cincinnati Bengals3-289-10.5116Miami is pretty good, and could end up stealing the 6 seed from Cincinnati now that they own the tiebreaker. Bengals can't afford a letdown against Cleveland on Sunday.
San Diego Chargers3-289-10.4606I wanted to put them at 8 wins last week, but thought the easy schedule made 9 wins more likely. I forgot that Norv Turner is still here.
Dallas Cowboys2-28800.5056Not only did Tony Romo not choke last week, but the Cowboys didn't even lose.
Seattle Seahawks3-28800.5576A good road win for the Seahawks, but until that offense gets more effective, I have my doubts. On the other hand, I don't think I'll drop them below 8 wins even if they lose to the Pats this weekend.
New Orleans Saints1-47700.5345The schedule is challening, but the Saints are an above-average team. I'm projecting a 6-5 finish as Drew Brees looks like he has his mojo back.
New York Jets2-37700.4895Jets showed some heart against Houston, but just as important: they showed how far away from good they really are. Still, with Dustin Keller and Stephon Hill returning, the offense should look a little better.
St. Louis Rams3-27610.5575Hard not to bump them after they manhandled the Cardinals. A brutal schedule and playing in the wrong conference makes the playoffs a longshot at this point.
Buffalo Bills2-367-10.5006At this point, the sky literally falling on Buffalo might not be as traumatic to Bills fans as watching the Bills play football.
Carolina Panthers1-467-10.4895Cam Newton leading the NFL in Y/A is enough to make me question the statistic. The Panthers are currently 27th in points per drive and 20th in both yards per drive and drive success rate. And the D is still really bad.
Detroit Lions1-36600.5686We'll see if Jim Schwartz can use the bye week to jumpstart a struggling Lions team, but the hardest remaining schedule in the league won't do them any favors.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers1-36600.5056[Insert bye-week joke about Greg Schiano and quarterback kneeldowns here.]
Kansas City Chiefs1-46600.4325I would like to congratulte myself for my prescient comment of a week ago: The Tire Fire of the Year award is the only thing Kansas City is winning this year. Still, a good running game and a good defense plus an easy schedule means even this passing attack can win five more games.
Washington Redskins2-36600.5236Gave the Falcons a good battle; Washington continues to have that feel of the breakout team of 2013.
Indianapolis Colts2-26510.4645Andrew Luck is very good, but I'm not ready to bump them to 7 wins until they beat the Jets. That might not happen, because they are still below average against the run and against the pass while having one of the league's worst rushing attacks.
Tennessee Titans1-45500.4896Why haven't the Titans traded Chris Johnson to the Cardinals yet?
Oakland Raiders1-35500.4536Oakland had two weeks to prepare for Atlanta, which could have been the difference if they had an actual NFL defense.
Jacksonville Jaguars1-45500.4665The schedule is really workable, which is important because they're not any good.
Cleveland Browns0-534-10.5066Cleveland looked decent against the Giants, but at some point, they're simply in too much of a hole to project even 4 wins. The Browns are 4-17 under Pat Shurmur, and they'll need to outperform that rate over their last 11 games just to get to three wins.

{ 1 comment }
  • DB October 11, 2012, 8:46 am

    Chase – I didn’t post last week on the Cardinals, but I think I’m starting to get a little worried about my prediction a few weeks back about a 6-1 record after week 7. The injuries are starting to mount and I’m beginning to question my assumptions on both sides of the ball.

    Reply

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