By Jonathan "Colonel" Comey
Cold Hard Football Facts Emperor of Ball Control
So, how important are turnovers in the NFL?
Well, coming in at 1-2 in turnover margin are your 1-2 teams in this week's Power Rankings – the Jets (+10) and Steelers (+9). Rounding out the top 10 in turnover margin are the Eagles (5th in our rankings), Falcons (10th), Bucs (24th), Redskins (19th), Titans (9th), Bears (13th), Bengals (18th) and Patriots (3rd).
In the bottom 10: Arizona (26th), Miami (17th), San Diego (16th), Carolina (31st), Cleveland (29th), Baltimore (8th), Minnesota (14th), Dallas (21st), Jacksonville (25th) and San Francisco (30th).
Last year, seven of the top 10 teams in turnover margin made the playoffs, and none were under .500. Of the bottom 10, only Arizona made the playoffs.
So yeah, they mean a lot.
Well, before we fumble the rest of this lead away, we'd better move onto the rankings, where you might notice a lot of familiar names: the perennial power Colts, Steelers and Patriots are right there in the mix; and the Eagles, the NFC's best team of the past decade, are tops in the senior circuit.
1. N.Y. JETS (5-1)
Last week: 24-20 win at Denver
The Cold, Hard Football Facts: The Jets do a lot of things awfully well, but here's one thing they don't do well: they are last in the NFL running on third-and-short at 27.8 percent. Maybe it's time for a little play-action, Big Rex.
2. PITTSBURGH (4-1)
Last week: 28-10 win vs. Cleveland
The Cold, Hard Football Facts: Steelers LB James Harrison has forced 23 fumbles since breaking into the starting lineup in 2007; the entire Dolphins defense has managed to force only eight more (31) over the same span.
3. NEW ENGLAND (4-1)
23-20 win vs. Baltimore.
The Cold, Hard Football Facts
: The "Old School" Patriots
started 12 players Sunday that had never been regular starters in the NFL before this season. That's usually top-five-pick-in-the-draft stuff, not beat-the-Ravens stuff.
4. INDIANAPOLIS (4-2)
Last week: 27-24 win at Washington
The Cold, Hard Football Facts: Willy Wonka once gave an everlasting gobstopper to Peyton Manning. It lasted 2.3 seconds. Peyton Manning can divide by zero. Peyton Manning can touch M.C. Hammer. Peyton Manning is ... the most interesting man in the world. Or just the best quarterback in it. He hasn't had a three-game losing streak since Weeks 7-9 of 2002.
5. PHILADELPHIA (4-2)
Last week: 31-17 win vs. Atlanta
The Cold, Hard Football Facts: The Eagles are No. 6 in point differential (+33); they finished in the top 10 in this important stat eight times between 2000-09 under Andy Reid, all playoff appearance. Is it time to put Reid in the Hall of Fame conversation?
6. NEW ORLEANS (4-2)
Last week: 31-6 win at Tampa
The Cold, Hard Football Facts: Nine different running backs have carried the ball for the Saints since the start of the 2009 season, for a total of 2,569 yards on 567 carries (4.53 yards per carry).
7. N.Y. GIANTS (4-2)
Last week: 28-20 win vs. Detroit
The Cold, Hard Football Facts: Since the start of 2007, the Giants are 13-4 when Osi Umenyiora records a sack, 13-12 when he doesn't.
8. BALTIMORE (4-2)
Last week: 23-20 loss at New England
The Cold, Hard Football Facts: Not sure what Ravens kicker Billy Cundiff is eating for breakfast, but we want some. Last year, his average kickoff went 62.6 yards, with one touchback in 38 boots. This year, it's a league-best 72.5 yards a kick, with 14 touchbacks in 25 kicks.
9. TENNESSEE (4-2)
Last week: 30-3 win at Jacksonville
The Cold, Hard Football Facts: Didn't this franchise learn its lesson back in the Earl Campbell days? Chris Johnson is on pace for 371 carries a year after having 358, which is an awful lot. In Campbell's second and third years back in the Oiler days, he ran 368 and 373, was the consensus best back in the league – and never came close to the same success again. Ease off, coach.
10. ATLANTA (4-2)
Last week: 31-17 loss at Philadelphia
The Cold, Hard Football Facts: No featured running back in recent memory gets as few receptions as Michael Turner. Since landing in Atlanta, he has 662 carries and only 18 catches.
11. GREEN BAY (3-3)
Last week: 23-20 loss vs. Miami
The Cold, Hard Football Facts: Injuries are one thing, sloppy play is another. The Packers have allowed 18 first downs on penalties (3.0 per game), better than only Detroit and Arizona.
12. HOUSTON (4-2)
Last week: 35-31 win vs. Kansas City
The Cold, Hard Football Facts: Surprised that the Texans are ranked only 12th? Maybe it's because we believe that defense is part of the game – Houston is 31st in yards per play allowed (6.3), 32nd in first downs allowed (23.7 per game) and 30th in Defensive Passer Rating (106.3).
13. CHICAGO (4-2)
Last week: 23-20 loss vs. Seattle
The Cold, Hard Football Facts: If you count his runback of a missed field goal for a TD, Devin Hester now has as many punt/kick return touchdowns in four-plus seasons (14) as Tampa Bay does in its entire history.
14. MINNESOTA (2-3)
Last week: 24-21 win vs. Dallas
The Cold, Hard Football Facts: BrettFavre is back! BrettFavre is having fun out there! Brett Favre is a tough SOB! Brett Favre is 11-for-30 in the fourth quarter of close games this year! Only Jimmy Clausen is worse! BrettFavre! BrettFavre! BrettFavre!
15. KANSAS CITY (3-2)
Last week: 35-31 loss at Houston
The Cold, Hard Football Facts: The Chiefs have found unique offensive balance – they have 823 rushing yards and 821 passing yards through five games. Is this 1974?
16. SAN DIEGO (2-4)
Last week: 20-17 loss at St. Louis
The Cold, Hard Football Facts: Ready to bury the Chargers? They're a game-and-a-half out in October, and they've gone 23-7 over the last three seasons in their 10-game closing stretches. The first-place Chiefs, over the same span? How's 5-25 taste.
17. MIAMI (3-2)
Last week: 23-20 win at Green Bay
The Cold, Hard Football Facts: Brandon Marshall is on pace for his fourth straight 100-catch season, playing for his third different head coach and third different quarterback. Apparently he's pretty good.
18. CINCINNATI (2-3)
Last week: Bye
The Cold, Hard Football Facts: The Bengals spent their bye week realizing that they haven't scored more than 24 points in their last 15 games including playoffs (average: 17.1 PPG).
19. WASHINGTON (3-3)
Last week: 27-24 loss vs. Indianapolis
The Cold, Hard Football Facts: The Redskins still have road trips left to play the Bears, Titans, Giants and Cowboys. Donovan McNabb has a 78.8 passer rating. The defense allows 420 YPG. In other words, Washington's future isn't exactly shining like the sun.
20. SEATTLE (3-2)
Last week: 23-20 win at Chicago
The Cold, Hard Football Facts: The Seahawks are doing it with experience; only 12 players on the active roster in their first or second year, 31 players in their fifth year up. Compare that with Pete Carroll's former home in New England: 24 players in their first or second year, 21 players in their fifth year up.
21. DALLAS (1-4)
Last week: 24-21 loss at Minnesota
The Cold, Hard Football Facts: The Cowboys have one win, which is one more than you have.
22. DENVER (2-4)
Last week: 24-20 loss vs. N.Y. Jets
The Cold, Hard Football Facts: Journeyman Brandon Lloyd leads the league in yards, catches of 20+ yards (13) and catches of 40+ yards (5). Last year, superstar Andre Johnson led the league in all three categories. Is there any wonder fantasy football leads to more angst than a visit from an IRS agent?
23. ST. LOUIS (3-3)
Last week: 20-17 win vs. San Diego
The Cold, Hard Football Facts: With five road games in their next seven, the Rams will need to pick up their offense to stay in the mix: 30th in yards per play (4.5), 28th in points per game (17.2).
24. TAMPA BAY (3-2)
Last week: 31-6 loss vs. New Orleans
The Cold, Hard Football Facts: The Bucs have been exposed vs. Quality Opponents (0-2, -25.0 PPG).
25. JACKSONVILLE (3-3)
Last week: 30-3 loss vs. Tennessee
The Cold, Hard Football Facts: The Jaguars have been outgained by 1.5 yards per play, they're minus-seven in turnovers and 31st in Defensive Passer Rating (110.04) ... and they're still 3-3?
26. ARIZONA (3-2)
Last week: Bye
The Cold, Hard Football Facts: Larry Fitzgerald hasn't had less than two catches in an active week since he was 21 (November 2004).
27. DETROIT (1-5)
Last week: 28-20 loss at NY Giants
The Cold, Hard Football Facts: Congrats to the Lions, who are finally at least decent in the secondary. After having the two worst Defensive Passer Ratings in history in 2008 and 2009, they're No. 22 th at 86.9 this year – despite having faced Aaron Rodgers, Eli Manning, Jay Cutler, Michael Vick, Sam Bradford and Brett Favre.
28. OAKLAND (2-4)
Last week: 17-9 loss at San Francisco
The Cold, Hard Football Facts: Shane Lechler's punting is really the seventh wonder of the world. Despite kicking outdoors every week in less-than-favorable conditions, he's got a net average of 45.6 yards a punt this year – 3.4 yards a boot ahead of No. 2, and with only one touchback. His net alone would put him No. 8 in the league on the gross punting average list. Punter talk! Catch the fever!
29. CLEVELAND (1-5)
Last week: 28-10 loss at Pittsburgh
The Cold, Hard Football Facts: The Browns hadn't allowed a rushing touchdown before Rashard Mendenhall got in for the Steelers on Sunday.
30. SAN FRANCISCO (1-5)
Last week: 17-9 win vs. Oakland
The Cold, Hard Football Facts: The 49ers finally stopped passing the ball to Frank Gore on every play and he responded with 149 yards rushing and a win.
31. CAROLINA (0-5)
Last week: Bye
The Cold, Hard Football Facts: In Week 16 of 2009 vs. New York, the Panthers scored five touchdowns. Through five weeks of 2010, they've scored the same number. Sometimes, the preseason is an indicator of things to come – in their four exhibitions, the Panthers scored no offensive touchdowns.
32. BUFFALO (0-5)
Last week: Bye
The Cold, Hard Football Facts: Buffalo's season highlight thus far? Getting to say "we told you so" after Trent Edwards' 40.3 passer rating Monday night for Jacksonville.