What a terrible week to be a top team in the NFL. The Falcons were upset by the Saints, and cried about it. The Ravens crushed the Raiders, but Haloti Ngata didn't play a snap due to injuries and Baltimore tempted the football gods with a late fake FG (they led 41-17 at the time). The Steelers won but lost Ben Roethlisberger. The 49ers tied the Rams but lost their starting quarterback to a concussion. The Giants got crushed by the Bengals. The Bears... well, we know what happened to the Bears. Even the Packers were affected, and they didn't even play!
The Lions and Vikings squared off in Minnesota - not sure how many more home games the Vikings are going to have in the land of 10,000 lakes, but it probably isn't 10,000 - and the Vikings proved that an animatronic running back beats an eighties toy villian any day of the week (or all day, I guess), winning 34-24 to move to 6-4. The Lions drop to 4-5, and continued to shuffle the deck chairs on the Titantic by dropping "The Phonz" and adding Pat Lee.
Power Rankings Time! As always, links for each rankings list is included in the table below.
|Bears (7-2)||3 (3)||3 (3)||6 (3)||4 (3)||3 (3)||4 (5)|
|Packers (6-3)||7 (7)||6 (6)||5 (5)||3 (5)||8 (8)||5 (4)|
|Vikings (6-4)||15 (13)||14 (16)||13 (16)||14 (15)||15 (15)||15 (16)|
|Lions (4-5)||17 (16)||17 (14)||17 (14)||18 (12)||12 (10)||14 (15)|
The Bears didn't fair too bad in the subjective rankings despite their loss, and it looks like no one really held the Cutler injury against the team. The Packers held firm for the most part, but I don't get how NFL.com jumps them over the Bears and 49ers during their bye. That's part of the "subjective rankings" thing, I guess. The Vikings made some slight upticks in the rankings, but they are the lowest ranked team with at least six wins. The Lions slid back into the glut of 4 win teams (25% of the NFL is either 4-5 or 4-6) and are on the verge of being the Lions we've all known and pitied. For the Lions to have a shot at the playoffs, they need to take two of their next three (all at home) versus: Green Bay, Houston, and Indianapolis. Good luck with that.
The Aikman Efficiency Ratings have the top-3 overall as: Texans, Patriots, and Bears, so we can thank #8 for still having the Bears as the top NFC team. The Falcons are seventh overall, right in front of the Packers, while the 49ers are fourth. The surprise pick in the top-ten? The Buccaneers at six.
On offense, the Bears slid to 22nd in the A.E.R., with the Patriots, Falcons, and Saints claiming the top-three spots. The Packers have the fifth-best rated offense by Aikman, while the Lions are tenth and the Vikings are 14th. On defense, the Bears remain the best in the biz, ahead of the Texans and Seahawks. The Lions are actually rated better defensively than the Packers, 15th to 17th, while the Vikings are 22nd.
Football Outsiders has the Broncos as the top team according to their weighted DVOA ranking system, with the Patriots in second and the Seahawks (!) in third. The Bears and Packers flip-flopped spots this week in the weighted DVOA rankings, and despite beating the Lions, the Vikings are still one spot behind them. The Bears offense, stymied by the Texans' #2 ranked defense, fell to #27 overall. The only other top-15 team with an offense outside of the top-20? Minnesota, at twenty-one.
The Chicago defense just gets better and better. This week's game had a -64.5% defensive DVOA, making it Chicago's second-best defensive performance of the season, behind Week 3 when they beat St. Louis 23-6 and kept the Rams to just 160 yards. The Bears are very close to breaking the -40% barrier on defense and now rank as the second-best defense we've ever tracked through 10 weeks, behind only the 2002 Tampa Bay Buccaneeers.
Green Bay actually has the seventh-best defense according to Football Outsiders, with the Vikings at sixteen and the Lions coming in at twenty-five. The Bears are second overall on special teams, only trailing the Ravens, who are having an epic special teams' year; Baltimore currently ranks as the seventh-best special teams unit since 1991 (the 2006 Bears are 13th on the list, and the 2011 Bears are 14th).
What do you think of the rankings? Are the NFC North teams ranked appropriately? Did the Texans show that they're the best team in the NFL on Sunday night? Are the Seahawks and Broncos as good as Aikman and Football Outsiders say?