Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Tripodi's Top Teams: Week 10

1(1). New Orleans Saints (8-0): The Saints found themselves down early again, but it's impossible to hold Drew Brees and company down for 60 minutes this season. And it seems like the defense always finds a way to contribute, with a late fumble recovery in the endzone sealing the deal.

2(2). Indianapolis Colts (8-0): Houston put up a fight and led midway through the fourth, but the Colts managed to pull out a big divisional matchup to stay undefeated. Bring on the Patriots Sunday night!

3(3). Minnesota Vikings (7-1): The Vikings get Detroit, Seattle and Chicago in their three games off the bye week. Their seven wins are almost as many as those three teams combined (8).

4(6). Pittsburgh Steelers (6-2): I was down on them at the start of the season because, let's be honest, they just didn't look good. Five wins later, they look like a team with a legitimate chance to go deep in the playoffs again. After shutting down the Denver running game, the league's best rush defense hasn't allowed 100 yards on the ground since Week 5.

5(5). New England Patriots (6-2): The Pats have won three straight since their overtime loss to then-undefeated Denver. Now they get Peyton Manning and the AFC's lone remaining unbeaten team, the Colts. Could this be a preview of the AFC Championship game?

6(7). Cincinnati Bengals (6-2): The Bengals dominated the Ravens, scoring two first-quarter touchdowns and never looking back. Cincinnati will try to stay undefeated in their division this week at Pittsburgh, in a game that will prove who is the class of the AFC North.

7(8). Dallas Cowboys (6-2): Last month, Dallas was the third-best team in what looked like a strong division. Now, they are atop the NFC East, which looks much weaker than it did four weeks ago after the Giants surprising collapse. Tony Romo has taken care of the ball this season, throwing interceptions in only three of the Cowboys' eight games. When he doesn't throw a pick, Dallas is 5-0.

8(4). Denver Broncos (6-2): Pittsburgh is playing great football right now, so let's not all jump off the Broncos bandwagon so quickly. But one offensive touchdown and 93 rushing yards in two games is worrisome, especially with Kyle Orton struggling to make plays downfield.

9(11). Atlanta Falcons (5-3): After leading 24-3 at the half, the Falcons inexplicably allowed the Redskins to pull within a touchdown. But Michael Turner wouldn't let it get any further, and he now has 38 carries for 317 yards and 3 touchdowns in his past two games.

10(9). Baltimore Ravens (4-4): Ray Rice had 135 of the Ravens 215 total yards this week and caught 8 of the 18 passes that Joe Flacco completed. That can't bode well for the Baltimore passing game.

11(10). Philadelphia Eagles (5-3): A couple of questionable challenges came back to bite the Eagles at the end, when they were unable to stop the clock after the two-minute warning. They travel to San Diego and Chicago in the next two weeks before coming back home for a date with the Redskins, and they need to win at least one on the road to keep their division title hopes alive.

12(16). San Diego Chargers (5-3): The Chargers only beat bad football teams, right? The Giants don't look good right now, but San Diego still won an important game and pulled within a game of division-leading Denver, who has dropped two straight. Deja vu, anybody?

13(18). Arizona Cardinals (5-3): The Cardinals seem to follow the Jekyll and Hyde persona of quarterback Kurt Warner. In Arizona's five wins: 12 touchdowns, 2 interceptions, no multiple-interception games. In their three losses: 4 touchdowns, 9 interceptions, three multiple-interception games. It's hard to be consistent at 38, but if Warner can find his rhythm, this team has a fighting chance.

14(12). New York Giants (5-4): What happened to the Giants? 5-0 and at the top of these rankings just four weeks ago, New York is now hanging with the league's mediocre crowd. Their inability to put the game away with a touchdown inside the five-yard-line cost them a win this week against San Diego, and that is a season-long theme that needs to end if the Giants want to stay in the playoff hunt.

15(13). Houston Texans (5-4): For a second, I thought the Texans had a chance to knock the Colts from the unbeaten ranks. After a bye and a Monday Night tilt with the Titans, Houston will have another shot at it, this time at home.

16(14). New York Jets (4-4): Yes, you can drop two spots on a bye week, I just had nobody to bump ahead of the Jets last week. On the bright side, four of their next five are very winnable and they already proved they can beat New England, who represents that fifth game. Maybe they can earn their way back up with a few wins.

17(15). Chicago Bears (4-4): I said the Bears weren't contenders, and I stand by that after this week. Arizona came out to avenge their awful performance from the week before and stuck it to Chicago, who didn't really start to rack up points until the fourth quarter when the game was already well in hand.

18(17). Green Bay Packers (4-4): I hate to say I told you so. No, I didn't predict a loss to Tampa (and I didn't think it would even be close), but I refused to put Green Bay in the top half of my rankings for a reason. They proved why on Sunday.

19(20). Miami Dolphins (3-5): The Dolphins fight and fight and fight. They are a tough team to beat week in and week out, and their five losses have come against teams who are a combined 32-8, including the undefeated Colts and Saints. They finally get a break with Tampa Bay, Carolina and Buffalo on the upcoming slate. Making it back around .500 is a definite possibility.

20(21). Carolina Panthers (3-5): Carolina, like Miami, jumped out early on the Saints. Also like the Dolphins, they couldn't keep the Saints down for an entire game. I'm not convinced anybody can.

21(19). San Francisco 49ers (3-5): What happened to the 49ers? Seriously though, they just lost to Tennessee. With Vince Young at the helm. Now they have a short week leading into Mike Singletary's first game against his former team. If he can't get his troops fired up for that game, there really is no hope.

22(23). Jacksonville Jaguars (4-4): The Jaguars held off a last-minute surge by Chris Chambers and the Chiefs, as Chambers surprisingly held on to two Matt Cassel passes for touchdowns. The Jets should be a little bit more challenging in Week 10.

23(22). Seattle Seahawks (3-5): A win against Detroit is nothing to write home about. Falling behind 17-0 to a team like the Lions in the first quarter? That's more worrisome than this win is impressive.

24(26). Tennessee Titans (2-6): Vince Young will look for his third straight win since taking over for Kerry Collins against the Bills this week. Something tells me he's going to get it.

25(24). Buffalo Bills (3-5): See above.

26(25). Oakland Raiders (2-6): The Raiders host the Chiefs this week. Does anyone care?

27(27). Detroit Lions (1-7): Matthew Stafford struggled again without Calvin Johnson to nobody's surprise, as there is just nobody else to throw to on this team. Detroit had a big lead early but as I love to say, bad teams find a way to lose. Especially with rookie quarterbacks.

28(28). Kansas City Chiefs (1-7): See: Oakland Raiders.

29(29). Washington Redskins (2-6): Washington gets a Denver team struggling to run the football. Good thing the Redskins are 25th in the league in rushing defense.

30(32). Tampa Bay Buccaneers (1-7): "The battle of the Bays probably won't be very competitive." Yes, that is a direct quote from last week's rankings. Josh Freeman threw a wrench into that statement, throwing for three touchdowns despite completing just 14 out of 31 passes. This offense showed some life with the strong-armed Freeman at the helm, and he should be able to at least keep the Bucs in a handful of games from here on out.

31(30). St. Louis Rams (1-7): The Rams reward for winning? A week off, which probably killed any momentum they had. If that didn't, playing the Saints sure will.

32(31). Cleveland Browns (1-7): Brady Quinn might start again. If that's the case, why pull him in the first place? Anybody associated with this team had to know they were too pathetic to be saved by Derek Anderson, right? Can I ask any more questions?

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