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The CHARGED Elite: Week Seven

by Photo of Ross Bernhardt

The Packers keep rolling as two top-five teams fall this week.

The CHARGED Elite: Week Seven

The NFL hierarchy does not want to set itself so far this season.  The usual suspects have remained near the top all year (Packers, Patriots, Saints) but it has been a revolving door of sorts over the last few weeks.  Teams start to play like contenders and then flop horrendously.  Nothing changed in Week Seven as several teams lost winnable games that elite-level teams win.  Let's see how the action is reflected in this week's CHARGED Elite.

1. Green Bay Packers  (7-0, Last Week 1) - This has turned into an Aaron Rodgers gush-fest every week, but the man is amazing.  He has thrown 20 touchdowns to just 3 interceptions this year.  The lowest QB rating he has turned in is a 111.4 rating in week three.  That rating is still seven points higher than Tom Brady's QB rating for this season.  Rodgers is on pace to throw for 5,542 yards, 46 touchdowns, and 7 interceptions.  He is simply running away with the MVP award at this point.

2. New England Patriots  (5-1, Last Week 2) - New England has tough slate of games coming up, starting with the Pittsburgh Steelers on Sunday.  The Patriots are coming off their bye week, though, and they haven't lost a game after their off week since 2002 when they fell to the Denver Broncos 24-16.  It should be noted that they played the lowly Bills after each bye week between 2004-2007.  With a much tougher opponent on the docket, expect New England to come out and play a solid game.

3. New Orleans Saints  (5-2, Last Week 6) - If not for Aaron Rodgers, you would be hearing Drew Brees for MVP talks.  He was surgical against the hapless Colts on Sunday night and he has his two favorite targets playing at the top of their games.  Marques Colston, back from that collarbone injury, has 19 catches for 285 yards and 3 scores over his last three games.  Tight end Jimmy Graham has 21 grabs for 307 yards and two touchdowns in the same span.   

4. San Francisco 49ers  (5-1, Last week 4) - The 49ers had their bye this week and come back to face a Cleveland Browns team that is much worse than their 3-3 record might indicate.  San Fran looks like a lock at this point to come out of the NFC West since their nearest competitor, Seattle, is 2-4.  San Francisco can put even more distance between themselves and the rest of the lowly division by taking care of business. 

5. Pittsburgh Steelers  (5-2, Last Week 7) - In a weird story, Steelers safety Troy Polamalu was slapped with a $10,000 fine by commissioner Roger Goodell for a phone call he made from the bench two weeks ago against the Jacksonville Jaguars.  Polamalu left the game with concussion-like symptoms and called his wife to let her know.  There is a strict no-cell phones police in place, and I can understand that, but to give Polamalu the same punishment as you give AJ Hawk for giving his bench the middle finger seems uneven.    

6. Baltimore Ravens  (4-2, Last Week 3) -Baltimore's defense is playing at an elite level this season, but its offense certainly is not.  The Ravens didn't get a first down against the Jaguars until midway through the third quarter.  The defense won't be able to score points for the Ravens every week.  Flacco, Rice and the rest of Baltimore's offense needs to get on even ground.  What should have been a win against a 1-5 Jaguars team turned into an embarrassing 12-7 defeat.

7. Detroit Lions  (5-2, Last Week 5) - There was plenty of controversy over things Ndamukong Suh and Cliff Avril did or did not say when Atlanta Falcons QB Matt Ryan was lying on the field injured during Sunday's game.  Players shouldn't be complaining about trash-talking and taunting because it's been so firmly entrenched in the culture of the sport by now.  The big story is the Lions losing their second straight game at home and looking a little bit vulnerable.    

8. New York Giants  (4-2, Last Week 9) - The Giants move up a spot after their bye week because they will almost be at whatever full strength is for them these days.  Justin Tuck and Brandon Jacobs are likely to return, offensive lineman Chris Snee will probably be back from a concussion, and we might even get to see the debut of first round pick Prince Amukamara.  Any reinforcements would be welcome for New York as they get ready for a brutal stretch of games.

9. Chicago Bears  (4-3, Last Week 13) - With each game, Matt Forte keeps adding dollars to his prospective free agent contract.  Forte is playing insane football this season.  He became the first player to reach 1,000 total yards in seven games since 2004.  He is the biggest reason the Bears are still in the playoff picture and he should also hear his name in MVP talks. 

10. New York Jets  (4-3, Last Week 15) - The Jets looked like a real football team in the second half against the Chargers.  Shonn Greene ran the ball consistently and effectively.  Mark Sanchez took care of the ball.  Plaxico Burress caught touchdown passes.  And the Jets defense absolutely shut down San Diego.  It's only one half, and it was against a Chargers team that is known for implosions, but it's still a promising sign for the Jets.

11. Buffalo Bills  (4-2, Last Week 11) - Buffalo has a big game coming up this week against the now defunct Washington Redskins.  They can't get caught looking ahead to a Week Nine showdown against the Jets.  If they are serious about the playoffs this year, they need to win this game.  They can't afford another Cincinnati Bengals-like loss.

12. Houston Texans  (4-3, Last Week 16) - Huge win for the Texans as they practically staked their claim on the AFC South title.  If the Texans don't go 6-0 in the division, something is seriously wrong there.  Houston's only real tests the rest of the season are matchups with Tampa Bay, Cleveland and Atlanta.  They could ride a big hot streak into the postseason, albeit against very sub-par competition.

13. Atlanta Falcons  (4-3, Last Week 17) - Michael Turner is having himself a fine season for the Falcons, and his rushing was a big reason Atlanta beat the Lions on Sunday.  Turner rushed for 122 yards on 27 carries to help control possession and counter Detroit's aggressive front line.  Turner has been a constant this year for Atlanta's offense in lieu of inconsistent seasons from Matt Ryan and Roddy White.

14. Tampa Bay Buccaneers  (4-3, Last Week 10) - With LeGarrette Blount already out, the Bucs could ill afford to lose another back.  That's exactly what happened early in Sunday's game as backup Earnest Graham was lost for the season.  They were left with Kregg Lumpkin as their sole rusher.  That led to 51 pass attempts by Josh Freeman in a game Tampa almost won.  The bye week could not have come at a better time for the Buccaneers.

15. San Diego Chargers  (4-2, Last Week 8) - I was wary of the Chargers entering Sunday's showdown with the Jets and my suspicions were confirmed after their horrific second-half performance.  The Chargers barely beat some of the worst teams in the league getting to their 4-1 record and couldn't handle an aggressive, physical New York Jets defense.  The door is very open for the Chiefs to make a comeback in the AFC West.

16. Dallas Cowboys  (3-3, Last Week 20) - DeMarco Murray recently said that he wouldn't mind being still be the third-string running back, even after his 253-yard performance against the Rams on Sunday.  I think Dallas would be crazy to keep the kid that low on the depth chart.  Yes, his breakout game cam against a bad St. Louis team, but Murray nearly equaled incumbent starter Felix Jones' season total in yards (255) in one game.  You have to stick with him and use Jones in spurts. 

17. Philadelphia Eagles  (2-4, Last Week 18) - Philly gets to try and contain DeMarco Murray next week, but it appears the rookie may have another field day.  The Eagles have the tenth-worst rushing defense, allowing almost 124 yards per game on the ground.  They have a week to gameplan against Murray, so we'll see if Andy Reid and defensive coordinator Juan Castillo have something special cooked up to stop the suddenly potent Dallas running game.

18. Cincinnati Bengals  (4-2, Last Week 19) - I can't believe it, but the Bengals have a great chance at being 5-2 after next Sunday's game against the Seattle Seahawks.  Cincinnati has been one of the more pleasant surprises this year.  Andy Dalton and AJ Green have been fun to watch on offense and the defense has been extremely opportunistic.  I still don't think they will make the playoffs, but they are certainly heading in the right direction. 

19. Tennessee Titans  (3-3, Last Week 14) - It's time to push the panic button on Chris Johnson if you haven't done so already.  After his 18 yard game against the Titans on Sunday, he's on pace to rush for just 715 rushing yards this season.  His career low in three seasons was 1,228 as a rookie, and he gave up 200 carries to LenDale White that season.  Johnson's inability to run has put the Titans in a bind.  It's clear Matt Hasselbeck can't carry the load.

20. Oakland Raiders  (4-3, Last Week 12) - Well that didn't go as planned.  Jason Campbell was mocked, but look what happens when the Raiders are forced to turn to Kyle Boller and a rusty Carson Palmer.  Darren McFadden's injury definitely didn't help matters, and the Raiders will be looking for more out Palmer sooner than they could have expected.

21 Kansas City Chiefs  (3-3, Last Week 24) - The Chiefs did not play a great game against the Raiders by any stretch of the imagination.  But they have now won three in a row and find themselves just a game out of first place.  The AFC West will be an ugly battle right up until the end of the season, but Kansas City has as good a chance as anyone now.

22. Carolina Panthers  (2-5, Last Week 23) - Cam Newton rushed for his seventh touchdown of the season on Sunday against the Washington Redskins.  He is currently on pace to shatter the single-season record for QB rushing touchdowns of 12 set in 1976 by the great Steve Grogan.  It should be noted that the New England QB set this record in his second year.  Newton is getting set to knock this record out in his rookie year.  Imagine what he'll do for an encore next year. 

23. Cleveland Browns (3-3, Last Week 26) - The Browns might be worse than the Redskins, but it's a tough call.  Cleveland barely beat a team that gained just 137 yards of offense and likely would have lost if a Leon Washington return touchdown wasn't called back with a holding penalty.  Cleveland did get a nice game from backup Montario Hardesty.  He rushed for 97 yards and had 27 receiving yards to go along with it. 

24. Washington Redskins  (3-3, Last Week 21) - John Beck's debut wasn't miserable, but it wasn't perfect.  He turned the ball over twice (one fumble, one INT) and scored twice (one pass, one run).  His job won't be any easier with injuries to starting wide receiver Santana Moss (out 5-7 weeks) and starting running back Tim Hightower (out for season).    

25. Minnesota Vikings  (1-6, Last Week 25) - Minnesota has to like what it saw from rookie QB Christian Ponder.  I didn't realize how athletic he was.  Ponder kept several plays alive with his feet and turned a lot of nothing situations into positive yardage.  He got burned by Charles Woodson twice, but he had his team within striking distance in the fourth quarter.  Quality first start for the rookie.

26. Seattle Seahawks  (2-4, Last Week 22) - There's not much to say about the Seahawks' performance that hasn't already been said about the Hindenburg.  They both crashed and burned.

27. Jacksonville Jaguars  (2-5, Last Week 29) - Was their 12-7 upset of the Ravens a testament to the Jaguars pesky defense or the incredible inconsistency of the Ravens offense?  I want to say the latter, but Jacksonville is among the top ten in both passing yards allowed and rushing yards allowed and are one of just six teams that gives up fewer than 300 yards of total offense per game.  This kind of defense is bound to make an inconsistent offense look plenty bad.

28. Denver Broncos  (2-4, Last Week 27) - If Tim Tebow had been starting from the beginning, Denver probably would be 6-0 and we would be debating "Who's better: Tebow or Rodgers?"  I kid, but that was a miraculous win by a miraculous player.  Tebow's comeback wasn't enough to give Denver a bump up in the rankings though.  They will have to play well for more than three minutes to see any upward movement.

29. Arizona Cardinals  (1-5, Last Week 28) - This season is beginning to look like a lost cause for Arizona.  They still have their NFC West schedule approaching, and anything could happen, but the Cards just doesn't look like they have it this year.

30. St. Louis Rams  (0-6, Last Week 31) - The St. Louis Rams are dead last in rushing defense this season.  Last year, they finished the season 17th in the league and allowed nearly 70 fewer yards per game on the ground.  What exactly happened to St. Louis' ability to stop the run?  

31. Miami Dolphins  (0-6, Last Week 30) - The only way that loss, the one where they gave up 15 points in three minutes and then lost in overtime to the Tim Tebow-led Broncos, could have been any worse was if they honored Tebow before the start of the game.  Wait, they did that?  Really?  Well I stand corrected. 

32. Indianapolis Colts  (0-7, Last Week 32) - The Colts were beaten 63-7 on Sunday night.  The last team to give up 60+ points in a regular season game was the 1989 Houston Oilers, who lost to the Cincinnati Bengals 61-7.  It happened in a 2000 Playoff game when the Jacksonville Jaguars beat the Miami Dolphins 62-7.  Either way, getting 60+ scored on you is quite a dubious distinction, even for the "Suck For Luck" Colts. 

Agree?  Disagree?  Let us know what you think in the comment section, and make sure you check out next week's updated rankings of the CHARGED Elite.

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