NFL Power Rankings: Chargers oust Bengals from No. 1 spot
Thanks to losses by Arizona and Cincinnati, the 2014 NFL regular season is officially a free-for-all. There is not a single undefeated team left and we're barely into October.
What's it all mean for the latest Power Rankings? Well, for starters, that a new No. 1 is in place ...
(I should make a reference to Sports Illustrated: Championship Football and Baseball here, but I'm not positive anyone else remembers it.)
"It was just going to be one of those games where we had to perform well," Broncos coach John Fox said, "and luckily we did."
Somehow, the Eagles defense is both a potential weakness and a fantasy football gift from the heavens. Philadelphia ranks 25th in points allowed and 28th in yardage ... but its defense and special teams have combined for seven touchdowns. That's as many as the Jaguars have scored this season, period, and one more than Oakland.
The Colts figured out how to win a low-scoring, 20-13 slugfest versus Baltimore on Sunday, which could be bad news for the rest of the league. Last season, the Colts scored 20 points or fewer in four games ... and lost all four.
"Win the whole [bleeping] thing."
You know it's a good night when Julius Peppers gets to do the Lambeau Leap, which he did after a 49-yard pick-six of Christian Ponder. Between that, Eddie Lacy trucking Harrison Smith at the goal line, Aaron Rodgers throwing three touchdowns and the defense producing a six-sack/three-turnover gem, the 42-10 rout of Minnesota was darn near perfect.
The general draft consensus was that if any coach could develop raw QB Logan Thomas' skillset over time, Bruce Arians was the guy. Although, everyone expected Arians to have more of a window to work with than between Week 5 and Week 6 of the 2014 season. Thomas may be pressed into starting duty this Sunday if Carson Palmer isn't ready to return from a shoulder injury.
Gary: "Awww nuts."
After a Week 8 bye, it's then Indianapolis, at Seattle, San Francisco and a Dallas rematch waiting. Bare minimum, New York probably needs to finish at least 2-4 during this coming run.
The most obvious issue for the Chiefs right now? They might already be out of the division race with three losses. That's all Denver had last season in taking the AFC West. The last four weeks have shown Kansas City to be a pretty good team, but is the hill too steep?
The Texans are going out of their way to keep Foster healthy this season, and you can see why -- he's still among the best backs in the league. Will he be close to 100 percent for many of Houston's remaining 11 games?
The Browns finally committed their first turnover of 2014 on Sunday when Brian Hoyer was picked off by Michael Griffin. Still, that's a pretty incredible pace; last season, Cleveland coughed it up 29 times -- three times or more in five different games.
Oh, good, we get to have the "Is Drew Brees over the hill?" discussion. Good thing, because Brady played well and both Mannings are rolling, so someone has to carry that torch for the 33-and-up crowd at quarterback.
This has to be the most confusing 3-2 team out there. Clobbered by Baltimore, blowout win at Carolina, home loss to Tampa Bay ... and then Sunday's sleepwalk against Jacksonville. The Steelers might screw around and finish 9-7 without anyone being able to explain how they got there.
And this is probably the most confusing 2-3 team in the NFL right now. It's too bad Pittsburgh and Chicago do not play in the regular season. Given those teams' ups and downs, I'm fairly certain the game would end in overtime on something like a fake punt or Jay Cutler accidentally throwing a lateral for a safety.
Now off their bye week, we get to find out if the Dolphins really have pulled it together or if their romp in London was merely a Raiders-aided mirage.
Atlanta is now 1-10 in its last 11 road games dating back to last season. This year, the offense is scoring 23 more points at home (42.5) than away (19.3). So it's not a great season for the Falcons to have had had one of their upcoming "home" games shifted to London: Week 8 vs. Detroit. After Sunday's game against the Bears, the Falcons will play four straight outside Atlanta.
Safe to say that when Mike Zimmer took the Vikings job, he did not envision having Christian Ponder at quarterback, Matt Asiata as his leading running back and Adam Thielen his leading receiver at any point. That's where the Vikings were at in Week 5.
If we ignore the score of that Tampa Bay-Atlanta game, the Buccaneers actually did not fare too poorly on their recent three-game road trip: 1-2 with a win in Pittsburgh and an overtime heartbreaker in New Orleans. Granted, that's like asking to ignore that your take-out order had a giant hair in it, but still ...
The more troubling reaction to the result came from head coach Jay Gruden who said, "We wanted to come out and really go toe-to-toe and play our butts off. I think we did that." Moral victories are worthless.
The NFL schedule is mostly predetermined based on inter-divisional crossovers and where teams finish in the previous season's standings. St. Louis probably feels a little screwed over nonetheless. Sunday's loss to Philadelphia was the first of eight straight games (!) against 2013 playoff teams. This could get real ugly, real fast.
A sixth-round pick back in May, Mettenberger may not be the long-term answer -- or have the obvious upside of a Blake Bortles or Teddy Bridgewater -- but the ship on Locker as the guy here has sailed, returned to port and sailed again.
New York's colossal struggles on offense Sunday straddled the line between fascinating and depressing. And then Michael Vick came in, tipping the scales heavily toward the latter with a miserable performance that included him still throwing passes in the closing seconds, trying to avoid a shutout.
Interim coach Tony Sparano inherits an 0-4 team that will be an underdog in each of his 12 contests from here on out. It might be too early to wonder if 0-16 is in the cards, but the schedule sure brings up the possibility.
The Jaguars trailed by one in the fourth quarter Sunday before Blake Bortles locked on to a target and fired a pick-six. Frustrating, sure. Also, exactly why you get your young quarterback in the lineup now. Better to have him make (and learn from) a mistake like that now than later, when this team is better prepared to compete.