The Eagles had a fortnight to install a new defensive co-ordinator and help Vick overcome his turnover issues. This would be a lot of work to complete a pre-season let alone a week. To compound the complexity of their task, they now face the best team in the league, which in turn is the place where Vick made his name as a premiere QB in the league. Emotions will be running high and they will need to be at the top of their game if they are to have a chance against the Falcons.
18) Miami Dolphins 3-3 (-)
The Dolphins have impressed a plethora of fans with their performances this season. They enter the bye week with a .500 record, one which many thought would only be a dream for the Dolphins this year. So rather than preparing for the worst, the Dolphins have the opportunity to retool ahead of their divisional match up against the Jets.
19) Indianapolis Colts 3-3 (+5 places)
Andrew Luck has helped make the Colts transition year one filled with promise rather than simply a wasted year. He has sustained their toughness in the house that Manning built. If they can sustain a .500 record particularly in the absence of their head coach, they can feel their performance on the field has been a success.
20) New York Jets 3-4 (+1 place)
The Jets have not had the best of seasons but their past two performances have shown that there is still some fight left in them. They ran the Patriots close in week 7 but they need to put that loss behind them and focus on beating the Dolphins so that they can try and keep pace in this division which looks set to go down to the wire this year.
21) St Louis Rams 3-4 (-6 places)
The Rams were comfortably beaten against the Packers but when the Packers are at their best even the toughest teams would struggle. Their defence still showed flickers of hope and will be hoping their pass rush will be in full force against the Patriots in the upcoming international series.
Teams that need help imminently:
22) Cincinnati Bengals 3-4 (-2 places)
One day the Bengals will be able to beat the psychological block that the Steelers impose on them. Given that the Steelers were dealing with numerous injuries, that time should have been now. However, they were unable to stop the Steelers 3rd choice running back and that is simply not good enough for a team whose defence is supposed to be their strength. Their target should be winning their division given the injuries to their rivals, but Coach Marvin Lewis will have to make this team more robust if they are to achieve this goal.
23) Buffalo Bills 3-4 (-6 places)
The Bills had the opportunity to take advantage of the Jets-Pats matchup in their game against the Titans. Unfortunately for them they faced the Titans on a day where Chris Johnson was at his very best. By allowing him to rush for 195 yards and two touchdowns off just 18 touches, they did not stand much chance of victory and while they ran the Titans close, not scoring in the 4th quarter is simply not good enough.
24) New Orleans Saints 2-4 (+3 places)
The Saints were pushed right to the last minute against the Buccaneers and at one point they must have felt that they were going into overtime against the Buccaneers only to be saved by an illegal touching penalty. It meant that the Saints moved to 2-4 and were able to keep the momentum going while welcoming back their leader on defence, Jonathan Vilma.
25) Tampa Bay Buccaneers 2-4 (-3 places)
Illegal touching penalty aside, this Buccaneers team showed they have the ability to be at par with a team many claim are better than their 2-4 record. Such a comment is also valid for the Bucs and they should prove as much for the remainder of the season. They should leverage the use of their running game to increase the success of their passing game, particularly through play-action. Getting above .500 should be the short-term goal for this team.
26) Detroit Lions 2-4 (-3 places)
Don’t be fooled with how close their score against the Bears was. They were unable to score against the Bears except for a touchdown in junk time. Scoring was previously not an issue for this team given the connection Stafford and Megatron had in previous years. However, it seems that Calvin Johnson has contracted a new evolution of the Madden curse. For someone who is considered as one of the best wide receivers in the NFL to not have scored a touchdown through 7 weeks of the season would have been unthinkable. Therefore I issue this warning to the whole of the NFL: be on the cover of the Madden games at your peril. For the Detroit Lions, best of luck next year as they look set to be planted at the bottom of the NFC North throughout this season.
27) Tennessee Titans 3-4 (-1 place)
It is hard to tell whether this team is back in business or not. If Chris Johnson is truly back to his best then the Titans offense are truly equipped to be a genuine threat as Matt Hasselbeck has the skill and experience to take advantage of their strong running game. However, with the Texans dominating their division, they will have to continue playing their best football to hold any hope of being in the playoffs this year.
Those that have come along just to make up the numbers:
28) Oakland Raiders 2-4 (+3 places)
In a battle of two of the worst teams in the NFL the Raiders managed to edge the Jaguars in part due to Maurice Jones-Drew going down with injury. Neither team really demonstrated anything beyond being slightly better than one of the other bottom of the barrel teams in the NFL.
29) Carolina Panthers 1-5 (-1 place)
Cam Newton and the Panthers are in a horrible state at the moment. They seem to be beating themselves psychologically and the coaching staff doesn’t seem to be helping them close out these close games either. The injury to Jon Beason, their best man on D only weakens this team further. Ron Rivera is truly on the hot seat especially now that GM Marty Hurney has been given the sack.
30) Jacksonville Jaguars 1-5 (-1 place)
The Jags were bad before, but with the injury to MJD this team just gets even worse. They are no better than their record shows and they are truly worthy of their position at the bottom of the AFC South. They should have re-signed MJD but if he enters free agency then they will face an even tougher task in next years draft, even if their standing in the league ensures that they have a high draft pick. On a positive note, they may gain a strong fan base in the UK through their 4-year deal to play in the International series. Yep, that is how bad the current state of affairs is for the Jags.
31) Kansas City Chiefs 1-5 (-1 place)
Like the Jags, the Chiefs outlook does not look good at all. The times are so desperate that they have placed Brady Quinn as their starter at QB even though he has proven to be no better than a back up in this league. The Chiefs still have a strong running game and it will be crucial for them if they are to have any more wins this year. Coach Romeo Crennel and GM Scott Pioli could potentially be on the hot seat this year given their failure to utilise the talent on their roster. What has been proven though is that if you do not have a serviceable QB in this league, it doesn’t matter how good the rest of the roster is.
32) Cleveland Browns 1-6 (-)
Without being unkind, I think it is clear to all that this team is the worst in the NFL, especially now that Trent Richardson has to wear a flak jacket due to his rib injury. If they are unable to get a healthy Richardson on the field for the rest of the season, this team will be all set to get the number 1 draft pick next year.
image: © pdaphoto