Thursday, October 29, 2009

Tripodi's Top Teams: Week 8

(Last week's ranking in parentheses)

1(1). New Orleans Saints (6-0): The Saints found themselves behind for the first time this season, but also found a way to pull out the victory. This team has a lot of ways they can beat you.

2(3). Indianapolis Colts (6-0): The Colts came out and stomped the Rams to remain undefeated. Peyton Manning is locked in a battle with Drew Brees for the MVP through seven weeks, and the return of Bob Sanders will be a huge addition for the Indianapolis run defense.

3(4). Denver Broncos (6-0): There are just three undefeated teams left, but the Broncos get to travel to Baltimore this week in a game that could leave us with just two unbeatens.

4(2). Minnesota Vikings (6-1): The Vikings finally lost a game after flirting with defeat multiple times this season. Brett Favre's mistakes led to points for the Steeler defense, and I doubt this will be the last time this season that Favre's mistakes hurt the Vikings.

5(7). New England Patriots (5-2): I know they beat the Titans and Bucs the last two weeks, but they have looked as good as they should doing it. Now they get an extra week to prepare for the Dolphins and the Wildcat. Something tells me they'll be ready.

6(9). Pittsburgh Steelers (5-2): All the Steelers have done lately is win and they finally did it against a good team. The return of Troy Polamalu makes this defense even more imposing and if Rashard Mendenhall can work out his fumble issues, Pittsburgh will be a complete team once again.

7(8). Cincinnati Bengals (5-2): The rejuvenated Cedric Benson got revenge against his former team and Carson Palmer's five touchdowns added up to a rout of the inconsistent Bears. The Bengals will get an extra week to try and take another game from division rival Baltimore, which would put them in the driver's seat for at least a Wild Card berth.

8(5). New York Giants (5-2): Losing to the Saints is one thing, but the Cardinals? This team will continue to miss rising star Kenny Phillips, and Eli Manning is just 33-68 in his past two games with four interceptions.

9(15). Dallas Cowboys (4-2): Dallas just looks better than Philly right now and they beat Atlanta, who falls below them. Romo-to-Austin looks like it might become a dangerous combination.

10(6). Atlanta Falcons (4-2): The Falcons allow over 250 passing yards per game and Romo took advantage with 311 yards and three touchdowns. Atlanta is outside the top 20 in run defense as well, and their explosive offense can't carry them every week.

11(10). Baltimore Ravens (3-3): Hopefully Baltimore used the bye week well to prepare for the undefeated Broncos. Falling under .500 after a 3-0 start would be a tough pill to swallow.

12(11). Philadelphia Eagles (4-2): Outside of a few big plays, the Eagles weren't that impressive against an awful Redskins team. This team has speed to burn on offense, but against teams that can match their speed (like Oakland), they will struggle.

13(13). New York Jets (4-3): The Jets looked much better against the Raiders than the Eagles did, but for now they stay below them in the rankings. It's hard to trust Mark Sanchez more than Donovan McNabb at the moment, and losing Kris Jenkins and Leon Washington in the last two weeks will deal a serious blow to the Jets on both sides of the ball.

14(16). Arizona Cardinals (4-2): The Cardinals secondary had another good week against the Giants and it looks like Ken Whisenhunt wants to involve Beanie Wells in the running game more. Balance on offense could light a fire under a passing game that hasn't been as explosive this season.

15(17). Green Bay Packers (4-2): Like the Giants a few weeks ago, the Packers will go from playing some of the league's worst teams to one of its better ones. The rematch against Favre at Lambeau will provide enough storylines for SportsCenter, but can Aaron Rodgers split the season series with his mentor? If so, the Packers will be just a half game out of first.

16(18). Houston Texans (4-3): Houston jumped out to a big early lead against the 49ers, who benched Shaun Hill in favor of Alex Smith, who may have led them to a comeback given a few more minutes. The Bills may help Houston move to 5-3 and start to legitimize all that pre-season playoff talk.

17(14). San Francisco 49ers (3-3): Alex Smith gave the San Francisco passing game a jolt this week and will have the opportunity to build on that success. With talented options like Vernon Davis and Michael Crabtree, this team will be especially dangerous if they can beat teams through the air, as well as on the ground and with their defense.

18(12). Chicago Bears (3-3): Thanks for showing up, guys! Jay Cutler in three wins: 7 touchdowns, 1 interception. Jay Cutler in three losses: 4 touchdowns, 9 interceptions. And his three multi-interception games this season have all been losses. If Cutler doesn't improve his consistency, this team will be looking up at Minnesota and Green Bay all season.

19(19). San Diego Chargers (3-3): The Chargers showed some life this week, beating up on a Kansas City team that was at least trying the two weeks before. It's worrisome that LaDainian Tomlinson couldn't get things going against one of the league's worst run defense.

20(20). Miami Dolphins (2-4): The Dolphins are playing a lot better than their record indicates and they were the first team to lead the Saints this season. Of course, bad teams find a way to lose and good teams find a way to win, which explains the end result.

21(22). Seattle Seahawks (2-4): The Seahawks travel to face the Cowboys this week off their bye, and we will see if the two weeks of preparation does anything for them.

22(23). Jacksonville Jaguars (3-3): The Jags will get to face Vince Young in his first start this season. Sounds like a recipe for victory to me.

23(24). Buffalo Bills (3-4): Ryan Fitzpatrick is still awful (11-22, 123 yards and a touchdown). But he took care of the football and the Bills defense kept Carolina out of the endzone until the fourth quarter. If he doesn't turn it over, Fitzpatrick might at least give Buffalo a chance in some games.

24(21). Carolina Panthers (2-4): Jake Delhomme will remain the starter after three interceptions this past week dashed any hope of victory. If this team had a legitimate backup (sorry Matt Moore), Delhomme might already be riding pine.

25(25). Oakland Raiders (2-5): Richard Seymour said the Raiders would make the playoffs during the week. They probably need to finish 8-1 to make that happen. The combination of JaMarcus Russell and Bruce Gradkowski might struggle to go 1-8, let alone 8-1. Let's not forget their two wins were by scores of 13-10 and 13-9.

26(26). Detroit Lions (1-5): Calvin Johnson is likely still out and Matthew Stafford looks like a game-time decision. Could the Lions help the Rams end their losing streak? This could be in the running with Browns-Bills and Chiefs-Redskins for the worst game of the year.

27(27). Kansas City Chiefs (1-6): Finally we won't have to watch Larry Johnson and his pathetic 2.7 yards-per-carry. I'm excited to see what Jamaal Charles can do after a Week 8 bye.

28(28). Washington Redskins (2-5): Another bye that couldn't come at a better time. That's not to say I think it will help, however.

29(29). Tennessee Titans (0-6): Vince Young will start against Jacksonville this week. We'll see if he's anywhere near ready against the only NFL team that allows over 300 passing yards per game.

30(30). Cleveland Browns (1-6): The good: Derek Anderson completed more passes (12) than he had in his previous two games (11). The bad: Anderson was still just 12-29, and this team can't run the ball or stop anybody defensively. They're lucky they even have a win.

31(31). Tampa Bay Buccaneers (0-7): Ready or not, here Josh Freeman comes! After Josh Johnson handed him the job by saying he wouldn't be surprised if he was benched, Freeman will get an opportunity to try and move this pathetic offense. The talent is there, but we will see for sure how raw Freeman is against the Packers in Week 9.

32(32). St. Louis Rams (0-7): The Rams have lost 17 straight games and play the banged-up Lions this week, who had lost 19 straight until a win against the Redskins earlier this season. If the Rams can't win this week, they may eclipse Detroit's losing streak with games against New Orleans and Arizona following their bye in Week 9.

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