By Jonathan Comey
Cold, Hard Football Facts Conference Caller
Ladies and gentlemen, introducing the NFC.
While New England retains the top spot with its decisive 45-3 win over the Jets, our handy Cold, Hard Football Facts secret power rankings recipe placed NFC teams in spots 2-7.
That's six extremely good teams in one conference, one of which won't be making the playoffs, thanks to the NFC West, which will send one average-at-best team to the playoffs while a much better team sits at home eating bon-bons. The highest-ranked team in the NFC Worst is St. Louis (No. 16).
After the NFC run comes eight straight AFC teams – but you'll have to look farther down to find Indianapolis, which drops to 18th this week. It's definitely a major shake up. Since we've been producing the online world's most accurate Power Rankings since 2004, AFC teams have generally dominated, the the Colts were typically high among them.
The bottom feeders certainly earned their reputations this week. Our bottom eight teams all lost, and only Cincinnati and Denver really put up a fight.
On to the rankings!
1. NEW ENGLAND (10-2)
Last week:
45-3 win vs. N.Y. Jets
The Cold, Hard Football Facts: Only three men have won Coach of the Year more than twice, Don Shula (four times), Chuck Knox (three) and Paul Brown (three). Anyone want to bet against two-time winner Bill Belichick joining that list this year?
2. ATLANTA (10-2)
Last week:
28-24 win at Tampa Bay
The Cold, Hard Football Facts: Yards per play allowed is usually one of the most significant statistics in the game. But not this year. Not in Atlanta, anyway. The Falcons rank No. 23 (5.19 YPP). None of the teams that finished in the bottom 10 in YPP allowed last year even made the playoffs.
3. GREEN BAY (8-4)
Last week:
34-16 win vs. San Francisco
The Cold, Hard Football Facts: The Packers have outgained their last four opponents by an average of 137.3 yards.
4. N.Y. GIANTS (8-4)
Last week:
31-7 win vs. Washington
The Cold, Hard Football Facts: What do BrettFavre, Eli Manning, Drew Brees and have in common? They all have Super Bowl rings, and they rank 1-2-3 in total interceptions this year (18, 17, 16 respectively).
5. NEW ORLEANS (9-3)
Last week:
34-30 win at Cincinnati
The Cold, Hard Football Facts: The Saints are known for their home-field advantage, but they're 13-3 on the road over their last 16 games, the best such record in the league.
Last week:
34-24 win vs. Houston
The Cold, Hard Football Facts: LeSean McCoy is on pace for 1,809 yards from scrimmage. The Eagles aren't necessarily known for their running backs, but McCoy would join former Philly stars Ricky Watters, Wilbert Montgomery and Brian Westbrook on a list of 54 RBs all time who have topped the 1,800 mark.
7. CHICAGO (9-3)
Last week:
24-20 win at Detroit
The Cold, Hard Football Facts: The Bears have allowed 2.8 sacks per game over their five-game win streak, which doesn't sound great except in comparison to the 4.4 per game they allowed over their first seven games. Alas, the Bears are still dead last in our Offensive Hog Index and dead last in Negative Pass Plays allowed (14.9%).
Last week:
13-10 win at Baltimore
The Cold, Hard Football Facts: In his 16 starts for the Steelers, Mike Wallace has 51 catches for 1,166 yards and 12 touchdowns. Not bad for the 11th receiver taken in the 2009 draft.
9. BALTIMORE (8-4)
Last week:
13-10 loss vs. Pittsburgh
The Cold, Hard Football Facts: If Joe Flacco came in possession of a time machine, he'd have a tough decision between killing Hitler and taking back his fourth-down, fourth-quarter underthrow on Sunday night. Don't worry, Joe. You can afford a DeLorean.
10. N.Y. JETS (9-3)
Last week:
45-3 loss at New England
The Cold, Hard Football Facts: The Jets were held under 10 points in three of their four games against Quality Opponents and lost all three. Give them credit for an 8-0 record vs. also-rans. But the Broncos and Lions won't be around in January.
11. KANSAS CITY (8-4)
Last week:
10-6 win vs. Denver
The Cold, Hard Football Facts: The Chiefs have already scored more points (295) through 12 games than they did in 2007 (226), 2008 (291) and 2009 (294).
12. SAN DIEGO (6-6)
Last week:
28-13 loss vs. Oakland
The Cold, Hard Football Facts: The Raiders faced the Chargers after losses of 32 and 16 points. The Chargers entered the game after wins of 21 and 22 points. The game was in San Diego. The Raiders won by 15. Gotta love that AFC West.
Last week:
17-6 win at Tennessee
The Cold, Hard Football Facts: The Jaguars haven't scored a defensive or return touchdown since Week 8 of 2008.
14. OAKLAND (6-6)
Last week:
28-13 win at San Diego
The Cold, Hard Football Facts: It's either boom or bust for Jason Campbell. In his nine games with the Raiders, he's produced five performances with passer ratings of 76.5 or worse, four with passer ratings of 105.5 and up.
15. CLEVELAND (5-7)
Last week:
13-10 win at Miami
The Cold, Hard Football Facts: The Browns look improved, but still stand only 26th in scoring offense (19.1 PPG). Lack of offense is a long-term problem. Cleveland has finished 25th or worse in scoring offense in 1999, 2000, 2001, 2003, 2004, 2005, 2006, 2008 and 2009.
16. ST. LOUIS (6-6)
Last week:
19-6 win at Arizona
The Cold, Hard Football Facts: The acquisition of DT Fred Robbins has been a huge one for the Rams; he's got five sacks and six passes defensed, and is a big reason the Rams have improved to No. 10 in scoring defense from 31st last year.
17. MIAMI (6-6)
Last week:
13-10 loss vs. Cleveland
The Cold, Hard Football Facts: Cameron Wake is 6-3, 250 pounds, fast as hell, went to Linebacker U (Penn State), and leads the league in sacks this year (12) in his first season as a starter. Must be a young blue-chipper, right? Nope. He's a 28-year-old who went undrafted back in 2005.
Last week:
38-35 loss vs. Dallas
The Cold, Hard Football Facts: As great a regular-season QB Peyton Manning has been, he's always been prone to the interception; his average of 2.8 INT per 100 passes is 16th among active QBs. Still, 11 in three games is kind of a lot, according to our advanced math.
19. TAMPA BAY (7-5)
Last week:
28-24 loss vs. Atlanta
The Cold, Hard Football Facts: Amazing stat of the week: The Bucs have ranked in the top 10 in scoring offense only once in their entire history (6th, 2000). They are 22nd this year. And they still can't beat good teams this year: 0-5 vs. Quality Opponents. 7-0 vs. everybody else.
20. MINNESOTA (5-7)
Last week:
38-14 win vs. Buffalo
The Cold, Hard Football Facts: Jared Allen's terrible first half of the season was a big factor in the Vikings' failures, but he's produced 7.5 sacks over his last five games.
21. DALLAS (4-8)
Last week:
38-35 win at Indianapolis
The Cold, Hard Football Facts: The Cowboys are winning under Jason Garrett, and that's great, but how has a defense with talent at all three levels allowed 31.8 PPG over their last nine?
22. HOUSTON (5-7)
Last week:
34-24 loss at Philadelphia
The Cold, Hard Football Facts: The Texans' defense got right back to its normal form after the Week 12 shutout of the Titans, allowing 400+ yards and 30+ points for the fifth time in eight weeks.
23. TENNESSEE (5-7)
Last week:
17-6 loss vs. Jacksonville
The Cold, Hard Football Facts: Wow. In their last five games (all losses), the Titans were outgained by 86, 145, 92, 184 and 157 yards.
24. SEATTLE (6-6)
Last week:
31-14 win vs. Carolina
The Cold, Hard Football Facts: It's worth noting that safety Lawyer Milloy is second on the Seahawks with 53 solo tackles. He's 37 years old, in his 15th season, has missed only six games in his entire career, and is second only to BrettFavre among active players with 209 starts.
Last week:
34-16 loss at Green Bay
The Cold, Hard Football Facts: You'll lose just about every week when you allow your opponent convert nine of 15 first downs. The Packers also shredded the 49ers for 136 yards on the ground while Aaron Rodgers posted a 135.1 passer rating.
26. WASHINGTON (5-7)
Last week:
31-7 loss at N.Y. Giants
The Cold, Hard Football Facts: The Redskins' five wins came by an average of four points; their seven losses by an average of 13 points.
27. DETROIT (2-10)
Last week:
24-20 loss vs. Chicago
The Cold, Hard Football Facts: You figure that teams would all be around .500 in games decided by five points or fewer, right? Not in Detroit's case. They're 0-6.
28. BUFFALO (2-10)
Last week:
38-14 loss at Minnesota
The Cold, Hard Football Facts: The Bills envisioned C.J. Spiller making big plays all over the field, but it's not happening. He's been remarkably ineffective as a receiver, with 20 catches for 82 yards, 4.1 YPC and 1 TD. He did return one kick for a score, but has produced only one other 40+ yard return in 33 runbacks.
29. DENVER (3-9)
Last week:
10-6 loss at Kansas City
The Cold, Hard Football Facts: Josh McDaniels can blame his defense, among many other things, for his firing. Over his last 22 games, the Broncos allowed 26.9 PPG.
30. CINCINNATI (2-10)
Last week:
34-30 loss vs. New Orleans
The Cold, Hard Football Facts: The Bengals won the hand-to-hand combat vs. New Orleans (Saints were 1 for 8 on third down). But they lost to the bombs (four plays of 40+ yards for Saints).
31. ARIZONA (3-9)
Last week:
19-6 loss vs. St. Louis
The Cold, Hard Football Facts: Kurt Warner looked better passing the collection basket at church Sunday than any of the three active Cardinal QBs looked passing vs. St. Louis (11 of 29, 148 yards, 0 TD, 2 INT, 26.2 rating).
32. CAROLINA (1-11)
Last week:
31-14 loss at Seattle
The Cold, Hard Football Facts: Looking for a bright spot? DE Charles Johnson has four sacks and 15 solo tackles over the past three games.