If NFL Power Rankings show us anything it’s that the team that gets the number 1 spot seems to have a curse over them. Last week I moved the undefeated Minnesota Vikings to the top spot, and unfortunatley Sam Bradford fell back into some of his old tendacies and the Vikings fell to the Philadelphia Eagles.
A few other big losses…The Buffalo Bills losing to the Miami Dolphins, what?! The Washington Redskins losing to the Detroit Lions, hmm intersting.
The Broncos rebounded in Brock’s return to Denver, and the Cardinals and Seahawks demonstrated why no play or player can be taken for granted.
Here is the Week 8 edition of The Al Dente Dozen.
1. New England Patriots (6-1) ⇑1
In week 7 the Patriots demonstrated that they can win using different facets of their game. In week 5 against the Browns, Brady threw for 406 yards and 3 touchdowns in an obvious statement game for his return from suspension. LeGarrette Blount was the leading rusher with 37 yards on the ground. In week 6 against Cincinnati, Brady again put up big numbers with 376 yards passing and 3 touchdowns. Blount ran for a modest 50 yards. In week 7 against Pittsburgh the game plan was altered a bit and Blount dominated on the ground for 127 yards and 2 touchdowns. Brady threw for 222 and 2 touchdowns. This team can beat you in whatever way it chooses, good luck game planning for that.
2. Minnesota Vikings (5-1) ⇓1
We all knew that the Vikings cinderella start had to end eventually and unfortunatly that happend in Sam Bradford’s return to Philadelphia. Philadelphia’s defense was relentless on Bradford forcing him to make his first turnover on the season, a poor decision by Bradford in the red zone right after the Vikings defense forced a turnover. This was a very sloppy game all around and the Vikings could never get anything going on offense. The defense is still one of the best in the league and the team overall will rebound.
3. Denver Broncos (5-2) ⇑3
The Denver Broncos displayed the type of team they can be this week on Monday Night Football against the Houston Texans. The running game looked great amassing almost 200 yards and 2 touchdowns. Trevor Siemian made plays when he had to and didn’t turn the ball over. The defense stifled Brock Osweiler and the Texans’ offense, holding them to just 9 points and 271 total yards. Special Teams dominated field position as well after the first quarter. Can they keep the momentum going against a rising San Diego team who beat them just two weeks ago?
4. Seattle Seahawks (4-1-1) ⇓1
It’s hard to hate on the Special Teams after they scored the team’s only six points, blocked a field goal and forced a missed field goal, but Hauschka did miss a chip-shot to seal the victory. I can’t quite put my finger on it but the offense is really struggling so far this season. Is Russell Wilson still playing with more of an injury than we know? Are the services of Marshawn Lynch being missed more than we expected? Is the lack of talent in the receiving corps finally being exposed? Whatever it is, Pete Carroll needs to figure it out or the greatness of that defense will be asked to score points as well.
5. Dallas Cowboys (5-1) ⇔
No movement for the Cowboys this week as they were on their bye. They square off in the highly anticipated Sunday Night Game this week against the Philadelphia Eagles. Could this be the new Brady vs. Manning? Dak vs. Carson 1.0? It does have a nice ring to it. If Prescott can get a victory over the division rival Eagles, it’s fairly safe to say that Romo may have played his last game in the Big D.
6. Kansas City Chiefs (4-2) ⇑1
Spencer Ware has taken a stranglehold on the running back position in KC. Ware had 17 rushing attempts to Jamaal Charles’ one. He also added two receptions for 54 yards and a touchdown. Coach Reid is really taking his time implementing Charles back into the offense which demonstrates his faith in Ware. Drew Brees is still Drew Brees but the KC defense was able to shutdown the Saints’ offense when it had to. If the Chiefs have shown us anything throughout the years it is that they get stronger as the year goes on.
7. Oakland Raiders (5-2) ⇑3
You can’t take a whole lot of stock in beating a poor Jacksonville team, but Oakland did it in a very nice fashion and continued their impressive win-streak on the road. Michael Crabtree has truly revitalized his career in Oakland, which begs the question…are Crabtree and Cooper the most fearsome receiving duo in the league right now? It is a legitimate question worth pondering. At the moment, Oakland finds themselves tied for the division lead with Denver, however, they may want to play for a Wild Card spot as they have proven thus far that they play far better on the road.
8. Philadelphia Eagles (5-2) ⇑3
There are four head coaches in the league right now that come from Andy Reid’s coaching tree. John Harbaugh, Ron Rivera, Todd Bowles (only spent one season under Reid as the secondary coach/ defensive coordinator), and Doug Pederson. The last is the current head coach of the Philadelphia Eagles who has done a terrific job thus far in managing a rookie quarterback and guiding his team to a 5-2 start. I have nothing against Jeff Fisher but if you look at the rosters of the Rams and the Eagles there are a lot of similarities. The number one and number two pick in the draft, dominant defenses with a lot of question marks on offense, and two rookie quarterbacks (Goff has yet to play for the Rams). And in this comparison I think anyone would take Todd Gurley over Ryan Matthews at the running back position. So far this season it’s safe to say that the Eagles are miles above the Rams in their play on the field, and I think you have to credit that to coaching.
9. Atlanta Falcons (4-3) ⇓5
I really hope that Dan Quinn can get the focus of his team back and not fall into the losing streak that they fell into last year. After a tough loss in Seattle I was looking for the Falcons to rebound at home against a 2-4 Chargers team. They were unable to hang onto a lead late in the game and after a questionable decision to go for it on 4th down in overtime, Atlanta found themselves on the losing end for the second week in a row. The Falcons welcome the Packers to the Georgia Dome on Sunday as they continue their tough stretch of games.
10. Green Bay Packers (4-2) N/A
The Packers’ week 7 victory was against the Chicago Bears but the offense did look much better, even without starting running back Eddie Lacy. One could argue that they looked even better with their hybrid running back Ty Montgomery. They will need to get a true back more involved as Montgomery looked gassed throughout the game continually tapping his helmet motioning to come out, but it was good to see Rodgers throw for 300+ yards again and the defense looked solid stopping the run.
11. Buffalo Bills (4-3) ⇓3
What happened to Buffalo on Sunday? This defense has been sound against the run all season and they allow Dolphins’ running back Jay Ajayi to run for 200+ yards. You’re not going to beat many teams when you allow the opposing running back to run for that many yards. Also, if a player has a history of hamstring injuries, and is diagnosed with a hamstring injury that has made his status questionably going into the game, then as a coach I don’t think its rocket science that you should keep the guy out and let him rest a week as it is a long season. However, I am not the head coach and LeSean McCoy did in fact play, very meaningless plays might I add, and may have injured his hamstring worse that may keep him out this week against division rival New England. We will see how the Bills compete against Brady and the Patriots.
12. Pittsburgh Steelers (4-3) ⇔
I kept Pittsburgh in the Al Dente Dozen because even without their commander, Ben Roethlisberger, they were still able to compete with New England, and had Landry Jones not thrown an interception in the end zone early in the game, may have garnered a different result. There is still a ton of talent on this roster and lucky for them they still lead a surprisingly weak AFC North division. I would like to see DeAngelo Williams more involved in sub packages as a change of pace to Le’Veon Bell. Pittsburgh gets a much need bye in week 8.