Sports Outside the Beltway

NFL Power Rankings – Week 13

ESPN has released their Power Rankings for Week 13 of the 2007 NFL season and, despite the AFC hype, two NFC teams are in the top three. The voting was done by ESPN writers John Clayton, Len Pasquarelli, Matt Mosley, Jeffri Chadiha and Mike Sando; Scouts Inc. Insiders Jeremy Green and Keith Kidd; and NFL senior editor Mike McAllister.

2007 Power Rankings: Week 13
1 (1) Patriots 11-0-0 Twenty different Patriots players have scored TDs this season. That equals or is more than the touchdown totals for 11 other teams this season. We know you never get tired of those kinds of comparisons, right?
2 (2) Cowboys 10-1-0 Home-field advantage in the NFC likely is at stake Thursday, and the last thing the Cowboys want to do is play the NFC title game at Lambeau in January. But Wade Phillips has won a playoff game at Green Bay — as Atlanta’s D-coordinator in 2002.
3 (3) Packers 10-1-0 Brett Favre has played five or more regular-season games against 18 different NFL teams — and his .286 winning percentage (2-5 record) vs. Dallas is his lowest. Add his 0-3 playoff record and Favre is batting .200 against the Cowboys.
4 (4) Colts 9-2-0 The Colts, according to the Indy Star, have led or shared the lead in the AFC South for 90 of the 97 weeks since the division was formed in 2002. Beating the Jags on Sunday would likely add the rest of 2007 to that total.
5 (5) Jaguars 8-3-0 The Jags are rolling into Sunday’s division showdown against Indy with a ton of confidence. "The guys are hungry," QB David Garrard told the Times-Union. "I’m sure everybody can feel this season is different."
6 (7) Steelers 8-3-0 Shame on the Steelers organization for allowing their MNF game to be played on such poor field conditions. It wasn’t fair to the players, or the fans who invested time and money to watch the game. Either get it right or start using the artificial stuff.
7 (8) Browns 7-4-0 The Browns are plus-2 in the giveaway/takeaway category. That may not mean much to you, but the Browns have finished on the plus side of turnover differential just once since 1993.
8 (9) Seahawks 7-4-0 In three previous meetings against the Eagles, QB Matt Hasselbeck has been sacked 11 times (including a career-high seven back in 2001) and has a 58.8 passer rating, his lowest against any NFC team. So what’s the over/under for sacks this Sunday?
9 (10) Buccaneers 7-4-0 You’ve heard of QB controversies, but with the backups? Jon Gruden isn’t revealing his hand on who will start against the Saints if No. 1 guy Jeff Garcia can’t play due to a back injury. The fans of Bruce Gradkowski and Luke McCown eagerly await.
10 (13) Chargers 6-5-0 Of the eight division leaders, none has a worse road record this season than the Chargers’ 1-4 mark. With their next two games at KC and Tennessee, LT knows what must be done: "We’re going to have to find a way to win on the road."
11 (6) Giants 7-4-0 Go ahead, blame Eli (and he deserves it). But don’t forget to blame the rest of the Giants for a wretched performance against the Vikings. After all, the defense allowed Minny QB Tarvaris Jackson to post a 139.2 passer rating.
12 (11) Titans 6-5-0 On five drives against the Bengals, the Titans entered the red zone. Three times they had goal-to-go situations. And yet they couldn’t find the end zone. It’ll be one of their many regrets if they don’t make the playoffs.
13 (20) Saints 5-6-0 The Saints have underachieved, but at least they have a meaningful December, starting with a key home game against NFC South leader Tampa Bay. "It doesn’t get any better than it’s about to get," QB Drew Brees told the Times-Picayune.
14 (12) Lions 6-5-0 Reports have surfaced that owner William Clay Ford Sr. wants the coaching staff to increase the workload of rookie WR Calvin Johnson. On the flip side, head coach Rod Marinelli is demanding that Ford build a better-looking SUV.
15 (15) Eagles 5-6-0 The question in Philly: Would Donovan McNabb had played better than A.J. Feeley did in nearly beating the Patriots? When healthy, McNabb’s still the main guy, but Andy Reid is adamant that nothing less than a fully healed McNabb will play.
16 (22) Bears 5-6-0 So is running back Cedric Benson’s season-ending ankle injury a plus or minus for the rest of the season? Benson’s an underachiever, but it’s not like Adrian Peterson (Bears’ version) has run like Adrian Peterson (Vikes’ version) this season.
17 (14) Broncos 5-6-0 Until Sunday, the Broncos’ special-teams play — after a dismal start — had recently been among the league’s best. Perhaps that improvement resulted in overconfidence. Ultimately, it just led to a harsh lesson: Don’t kick to Devin Hester.
18 (23) Vikings 5-6-0 Earlier this month, the Vikings were blanked by Green Bay, 34-0, and dropped to 3-6. Hard to imagine now that they’re in the playoff race. A win on Sunday vs. Detroit (Adrian Peterson may be back) puts them in good shape.
19 (16) Cardinals 5-6-0 Kurt Warner triggered the Greatest Show on Turf, yet he never threw for as many yards with those Rams offenses as he did Sunday against the 49ers. But his career-high 484 yards was overshadowed in the shocking way the Cards lost.
20 (18) Redskins 5-6-0 FedEx Field will be an emotional place the next two games, as the Redskins and their fans deal with the tragic loss of Sean Taylor. Joe Gibbs will need to draw on all of his coaching experience to get his team prepared for the rest of this season.
21 (17) Texans 5-6-0 No team has committed more turnovers; in fact, opponents have converted Houston’s 29 turnovers into 108 points. "There are a lot of things we can do to win, but turning the ball over ain’t one of them," OT Ephraim Salaam told the Chronicle.
22 (19) Bills 5-6-0 The Bills’ offense is not one for steady drives, as just four TD drives this season have been 10 plays or longer. J.P. Losman just doesn’t seem like a good fit, which explains why the Bills are going back to Trent Edwards this week.
23 (26) Bengals 4-7-0 Admit it — you’ve missed Ocho Cinco’s TD celebrations. Chad Johnson’s TV cameraman act opens up a whole new genre. Next time, let’s see him take a sideline reporter’s microphone and interview himself about his TD. Watch out, Rachel Nichols!
24 (21) Chiefs 4-7-0 It has been 30 years since the Chiefs lost six home games in a single season at Arrowhead Stadium, but with a 2-4 home record, it could happen this year if they can’t beat the Chargers and Titans in December.
25 (24) Ravens 4-7-0 The five-game losing streak is the longest in franchise history, and it figures to reach seven with games against the Patriots and Colts the next two weeks. Right now, not even the Dec. 16 game at Miami seems like a sure win.
26 (25) Panthers 4-7-0 Panthers fans, frustrated by their team’s inability to win at home, are starting to stay away from Bank of America Stadium. That’s not good for the job security of coach John Fox and GM Marty Hurney, who are both on the hot seat.
27 (30) Raiders 3-8-0 After beating the Chiefs in the season finale of 1999, the Raiders went 33-15 the next three years, culminating in a Super Bowl appearance. Will Sunday’s win at KC have the same impact? "Maybe this is our roll," DT Warren Sapp told the Tribune.
28 (31) 49ers 3-8-0 Let’s see … Ted Tollner arrives to assist with the offense. The 49ers then produce a season-high 374 yards in beating the Cards. Does A+B=C? Seems that way, but maybe not. "Ted was very uninvolved in the play-calling," QB Trent Dilfer said.
29 (28) Rams 2-9-0 Gus Frerotte’s fumbled snap was a heartbreaker, but the Rams should never have let it come to that in losing to Seattle. The offense went into a shell after taking a 19-7 lead, failing to produce points on their final nine possessions.
30 (27) Falcons 3-8-0 TE Alge Crumpler tells the J-C that "it just puzzles me that we can’t score points." But is it really puzzling that Atlanta’s averaging four points less than last season? Mike Vick’s absence accounts for at least that much, if not more.
31 (29) Jets 2-9-0 If the Jets can’t beat the winless Dolphins this week, this season will likely end up as the team’s worst since the Rich Kotite days. And QB Kellen Clemens isn’t making much of a statement in his audition as the starter.
32 (32) Dolphins 0-11-0 Hypothetical question: Could the Dolphins beat the Saskatchewan Roughriders, who won the Grey Cup on Sunday? It’d be tough, especially using those funky CFL rules. Of course, that wouldn’t faze Ricky Williams (2006 Argonauts).

It’s hard to argue much with these rankings, even if they’re a bit too closely related to teams’ overall records. Presumably, some teams that had hot starts but have since faded (Giants, Steelers) and teams that have started poorly but have gotten better of late (Rams) should have rankings weighted to reflect the recent performance. There might also be a strength of schedule component, as some teams play in much more competitive divisions.

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