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NFL 2010 Midseason NFL Power Rankings, Part 4, 8-1

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8. New England Patriots (6-2)

The Pats would have been a few slots higher if they hadn’t gotten manhandled by the Browns last weekend. We all knew their defense was suspect, but Peyton Hillis did his Jim Brown impression in running all over the Patriots defense. Bill Belichick doesn’t typically get outcoached, but he was, badly on Sunday, and by a guy who has been on the hot seat for 2 years.  Perhaps Mangini had secret videos of the Patriots coordinators calling plays? That’s about the only thing that could explain what happened last weekend. I fully expect the Patriots to rebound, but they will have to do it against the Pittsburgh Steelers this weekend, not an easy task. The Patriots really must improve their defense, especially on 3rd down if they expect to go anywhere this year. They are dead last on 3rd down defense, and if you can’t get off the field on 3rd down, you can’t win in January.

7. New Orleans Saints (6-3)

Who would’ve thought that the Saints defensive points per game against would be higher ranked that their points per game scored (5th vs 14th). It’s scary that the Saints have really not been all that good this year, but they are still 6-3 and are staring at 5 games that they should win in their last 7 (Seattle, Dallas, Cincinnati, St. Louis, Tampa Bay). If/when Pierre Thomas comes back, that will add an extra layer of effectiveness to their offense. Unfortunately at this point, it looks like OJ Simpson has a better chance of coming back than Pierre Thomas. The Saints, and fantasy owners are getting very frustrated that he isn’t back yet from a sprained ankle. The fact remains that if you have Drew Brees at QB, you always have a chance, despite the fact that in order to win repeat as Super Bowl champions, they might have to play another 19 game season.

6. Baltimore Ravens (6-3)

Baltimore is my highest ranked question mark. They are a team that plays to the level of their opponents. They beat the Jets and Steelers, and crushed Miami, but they also lost to Cincinnati. I’m not a big Joe Flacco guy, but he can be effective, and when Ray Lewis and Ed Reed are healthy that defense is as good as any. All of this despite the fact that for most of this season, the secondary had more holes than an M Night Shyamalan movie. Ed Reed is now back, but Matt Ryan still took them apart to the tune of 316 and 3 TDs. Can the Ravens win it all? Maybe, but the NFL is a passing league, even in the playoffs, and if they can’t stop it, they will be on the outside looking in.

5. New York Jets (6-2)

The Jets are 6-2 and beat New England by 2 touchdowns. They have looked very shaky in their last 3 games though. They are 2-1 in that stretch, but were dominated by Denver, who left points on the board and aside from a 4th and long pass interference at the end of the game, had it won. They were then shutout by the Packers, and getting beaten up by the Lions last week until a late comeback and shoddy playcalling by Detroit allowed the Jets to sneak out a win. Should the fact that they are sneaking out games that they have no business winning be a good sign? Or is the fact that they are getting pushed around by struggling teams like the Broncos and Lions a big warning sign? The Jets travel to play a hot Cleveland team this week and it may give a glimpse of who exactly this Jets team is. I have no doubt that Rex Ryan will have the defense together and flying around the ball, but any team that has Mark Sanchez at quarterback has a question mark that I don’t think can be overcome.

4. Atlanta Falcons (7-2)

While America was busy watching the downfall of the Cowboys, they have been sleeping on the 7-2 Falcons.  The Falcons have now beaten last year’s Super Bowl Champs as well as the Ravens in prime time.  They have 5 games that they should win left in their last 7, putting them at 12-4 and a probable 1st round bye.

Anyone that watched the Penn St..- Ohio St. game yesterday heard Brent Musberger use the word “moxie” about 384 times when describing Penn State QB Matt McGloin, who had one of the worst 2nd half performances in recent history.  This has spawned the MMTR (Musberger Moxie Talent Rating). Musberger has McGloin’s moxie at 95, but his actual talent level is 7, giving him a total of 102. It’s also far and away the biggest difference between moxie and talent at -88. On the flipside, Matt Ryan may be the leader in total MMTR rating with a Moxie of 96 and talent of 92 for a 188. If the Giants keep turning the ball over as they have been recently, the Falcons might very well wind up playing in Dallas in February.

3. Indianapolis Colts (5-3)

Peyton Manning has turned into Michael Jordan with regards to how he feasibly could be MVP every year, but gets penalized because his greatness scale is far higher than the average player.  The Colts aren’t without their issues though, they have had issues on defense and along the offensive line and they got smoked by the Texans and somehow managed to lose to the Jaguars. They are battling a litany of injuries, including losing Dallas Clark for the season.  They are still the Colts though and will be around when it matters.  Whether or not they can get it done remains to be seen, but there isn’t anyone that I would want to play less than Peyton Manning in the playoffs.

2. Pittsburgh Steelers (6-2)

Stop me if you have heard this before, the Steelers have the league’s best defense giving up only 15 points per game.  That alone will have the Steelers primed for a deep playoff run.  The Steelers proved doubters wrong by starting 3-1 with Roethlisberger suspended. They haven’t looked back since his return either, and are 6-2 and control their own destiny in the AFC.  Their issue is that they let other teams back into the game. If they can find their killer instinct they are a tough out, and the road to Dallas will run through Pittsburgh. The scary part is that their offense isn’t even clicking on all cylinders yet.

1. New York Giants (6-2)

Ever since Gruden glossed the Giants offense “Jet Blue” they have lived up to it and more. In their last 4 games, the Giants have scored 154 points and are looking like last years Saints.  Their defensive scheme is based around rushing the passer, so if you can neutralize their blitz, you have a chance.  Even then, you had better hope that you can score because it will take a major effort to slow down this offense the way that it’s rolling. The Giants seem to be getting better and better each week, which does not bode well for the NFC because they are already looking like the class of the league if not the entire NFL.

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