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NFL Week 7 Power Rankings

This week’s power rankings try to stay calm in the face of upsets. Everyone has their own goals with the rankings, some just going by records. I try to watch as many games as possible, look at the objective rankings and underlying numbers, adjust for who teams have played also, as well as how they have played, and account for injuries, but nothing’s perfect. The goal is to have rankings that will hold up predictively while still reflecting how the games have gone so far.

SUPER BOWL FAVORITES TIER

Green Bay Packers (7-0): The Packers will not lose this week, either (bye week)

New England Patriots (5-1): New England’s tight ends and Welker against the Steelers. This should be fun. We’ve seen the Patriots handle Pittsburgh’s defense with short passes before. (at Pittsburgh)

SUPER BOWL CONTENDERS TIER

New Orleans Saints (5-2): Sean Payton may want to just stay up in the press box and call games for good. (at St. Louis)

San Francisco 49ers (5-1): Frank Gore is 109 rushing yards away from passing Roger Craig for 2nd all-time for the 49er franchise. (vs. Cleveland)

Baltimore Ravens (4-2): Million dollar defense, ten cent quarterback. (vs. Arizona)

PLAYOFF CONTENDERS TIER

Pittsburgh Steelers (5-2): How good are the Steelers? So far we know they are better than the bad teams, and they need a better performance than opening day against their toughest opponent since losses to Baltimore and Houston. (vs. New England)

Houston Texans (4-3): Arian Foster joins Brian Westbrook, Priest Holmes, Larry Brown, LeRoy Kelly, Billy Cannon and Jim Brown as the only backs to have 100+ yards rushing and receiving and 3 touchdowns in one game. Sorry for overreacting last year about Foster after one game. (vs. Jacksonville)

Dallas Cowboys (3-3): Wally Pipp thinks Felix Jones is in trouble, but then again, Wally Pipp didn’t go to the same school as Jacob Rupert. (at Philadelphia)

Buffalo Bills (4-2): Where have you gone, Fred Jackson? My fantasy team lifts its lonely eyes to you, ooh ooh ooh. (vs. Washington)

New York Giants (4-2): There are must-win games to catch teams, then there are games against dreadful teams at home like Miami that you cannot afford to give away to hold steady. (vs. Miami)

Atlanta Falcons (4-3): The Falcons will use the bye week to put a new ankle on Matt Ryan.(bye week)

Detroit Lions (5-2): Calm down, Detroit. Two losses at home to good teams is not the end of the world. Since 1978, 31 different teams made the playoffs while losing 3 or more home games to teams that ended the year with winning records. (at Denver)

New York Jets (4-3): Fun Plaxico Burress stat–only one other player in NFL history had 3 receiving touchdowns in a game with fewer receiving yards than Burress’ 25 yard performance last week. I’m sure you all remember Mack Alston. (bye week)

THE CLOCK MANAGEMENT AND PROPER USE OF CHALLENGES TIER

Chicago Bears (4-3): Matt Forte is playing really well, and I know it’s popular to say “pay the man” and point to his current salary. I’ll just point out the Bears have made offers and the issue isn’t whether the Bears are willing, it’s how much to pay a back going forward. Maybe I’ll take a look at backs like Forte at the same age and productivity. (bye week)

San Diego Chargers (4-2): Philip Rivers ran the two minute drill at a pace that would have made Craig Heyward proud. (at Kansas City)

Philadelphia Eagles (2-4): Hey, it’s the “we thought we were going to get Nnamdi” bowl, part I. (vs. Dallas)

Cincinnati Bengals (4-2): I hope the Bengals rushed to the bank and deposited those draft picks before someone puts a “stop payment” order on them. (at Seattle)

Oakland Raiders (4-3): Kyle BLOLler. I’ll give them a pass until we see how they play with Palmer having two weeks to prepare, before I downgrade them off that ridiculous performance.(bye week)

Washington Redskins (3-3): I need Kanye West to come out and say what the rest of us know: Mike Shanahan hates fantasy football players. (at Buffalo)

CLUTCH QUARTERBACK TIER

Tampa Bay Buccaneers (4-3): This team is hurting for running backs as well. (bye week)

Tennessee Titans (3-3): After a promising start, the Titans have spit up twice against good competition in Pittsburgh and Houston. (vs. Indianapolis)

Carolina Panthers (2-5): I still love the Panthers over the 4.5 win total, and they could get to #3 at home this week in a matchup of rookie quarterbacks. (vs. Minnesota)

Kansas City Chiefs (3-3): Bean bags, facial hair, and playing Donovan McNabb, Curtis Painter, and Kyle Boller have brought the Chiefs back in the West race. (vs. San Diego)

Minnesota Vikings (1-6): Christian Ponder did look better than McNabb, and the Vikings played a competitive game. (at Carolina)

Denver Broncos (2-4): Tim Tebow against the Lions jokes will be plentiful this week. (vs. Detroit)

Jacksonville Jaguars (2-5): Blaine Gabbert has pretty bad pocket awareness at this point, though he hasn’t drawn many good matchups to get comfortable either. That continues this week against a team that can rush the passer. (at Houston)

THESE TEAMS COMBINED FOR 9 POINTS TIER

Cleveland Browns (3-3): I had to check to make sure the Browns were 3-3, because they seem really bad. The wins, though, are Seattle, Miami, and Indianapolis. (at San Francisco)

Seattle Seahawks (2-4): Sadly, Tarvaris Jackson >> Charlie Whitehurst. Career yards per attempt holding steady at 5.1. (vs. Cincinnati)

Arizona Cardinals (1-5): Beanie Wells got hurt? Inconceivable. (at Baltimore)

LOSE A TON FOR OLIVER’S SON TIER

Miami Dolphins (0-6): Tony Sparano will be pleading with officials not to flip the coin, because the aftermath could cost him his job. (at NY Giants)

St. Louis Rams (0-6): The Rams are ranked too high. (vs. New Orleans)

Indianapolis Colts (0-7): Jim Irsay will offer money if you correctly tweet him the week that Jim Caldwell will be fired. (at Tennessee)

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