clock menu more-arrow no yes

Filed under:

Original 2016 NFL Power Rankings: Week Seven

New, comments

Although he ranks all 32 teams, Matt Weston specifically focuses on the Bears, Lions, Bengals and Steelers in a weekly feature.

Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

For every week until the end of the season, I will be ranking the NFL teams from 1-32, power rankings style. They will be arranged into four blocks.

The Worst

The Mediocre

Playoffs?

The Contenders

Each week, I will write about four teams, one from each block. It's nice and square. Every team gets written about twice until the season is over.

The biggest problem with traditional power rankings is they take too much in account of every week. Each game is exacerbated. Every loss is the end of the world. Every win is another stitch in a dream season. Part of it just goes along with football in general. These games happen only once a week. There are only sixteen of them. Exaggeration is just part of it. I'm going to try and remove that by looking at the big picture instead of bumping up and down based on one loss or one win. The rankings below are simply adjustments made based on what I thought heading into the season; in the future, they will be adjusted based on an entire body of work and trends, not because of a single HUGE win or one BAD loss.

The Worst:

32.) Cleveland Browns--Record: 0-6.  Point Differential: -63.  DVOA: -27.9% (31). Last Week: 32.

31.) Chicago Bears--Record: 1-5. Point Differential: -42. DVOA: -2.8% (19). Last Week: 31. (Doesn't Include TNF)

Because of condensed NFL Game Pass games and a commitment to writing this article once a week, I have watched more football than I ever have. I've watched the majority of this season's games and have forced more football down into this gullet than I thought was possible. Of all the teams I've watched, the Bears are not the worst, but they are the biggest slog.

There's nothing fun or interesting here. John Fox is still frumpy. Kevin White is already injured. Jay CUTLA is still injured, so we can't see him pout and ash his cigarette out on his teammate's helmets in the huddle. Brian Hoyer was the quarterback until his non-throwing arm evaporated last night. Now they are stuck having to watch something even worse, if that is even possible, in the form of the Jimmy Clausen android Matt Barkley. For me to watch Barkley play multiple games, I would have to have my eyes clamped open and my body wrapped and locked into a steel seat. The only thing I enjoy watching with the Bears is how Jerrell Freeman and Danny Trevathan stop the run and range across the middle of the field, but if I want to see that I'll just watch the better version that Carolina has.

This year is bleak, over, and hopeless for the Bears. There's nothing to do. It's a waste of time. Soon Bears fans will start looking ahead to the draft, even more so once the Cubs blow the playoffs in some tragic way. Will Jason Heyward miss a pop fly because he was texting in right field? Will Mike Napoli crank a Series-clinching home run with his jersey unbuttoned halfway down? In most cases, I would say that it's nonsense to start getting hot on the draft this early. There's too many fun teams and too many games left to start watching grainy Draft Breakdown videos. You spend all year waiting for football to start, so enjoy it while it is here instead of thinking about some future that may never exist. However, when it comes to the Bears this year, I get it.

This is even more true because the Bears are going to need a quarterback. The best situations to give up on a team, and watch college football for the draft instead, is when you are trying to fall in love with some franchise-saving thrower of the football. Chicago will save $14 million if they cut Jay Cutler after this season. He gone. So the Bears will be wallowing along with the bottom four teams (maybe five if the Dolphins can get anything for Ryan Tannehill if a team with a good offensive line thinks they can get something out of him) for the best spot to get a brand new shiny quarterback.

Football Outsiders' playoff odds have mean win totals, #1 pick, and top three pick probabilities. They have the following computer regurgitated numbers for these five possible quarterback drafting scab suckers:

Chicago: 5.5 mean wins. 4.8% top pick. 21.7% top three pick.

Cleveland: 3.3 mean wins. 43.4% top pick. 74.6% top three pick.

San Fransisco: 4.8 mean wins. 12% top pick. 39.9% top three pick.

New York (J): 4.3 mean wins. 20.7% top pick. 53.4% top three pick.

Miami: 6.7 mean wins. 1.5% top pick. 9.5% top three pick.

The Browns will probably trade down and suck up more picks, and then trade down again, and then will take a shot on Jimmy Garoppolo or something like that. The 49ers have to find the perfect player to run Chip Kelly's system; I have no idea who that is or what that is. It just seems like the Jets are going to give Geno Smith and Christian Hackenberg reps, only to hate both of them, and then reunite Jay CUTLA with Brandon Marshall because of the veteran talent they have. Even if the Bears sneak their way to five wins or so and hurt their draft stock, there is going to be some sort of prestigious golden boy available to them.

Right now there are four quarterbacks who have shone brightly and  gotten the draft nerds, who live to showcase the few times they are right and sweep all the wrong into the trunk of a license plate missing Oldsmobile, all riled up.

1.) DeShone Kizer (Notre Dame)

2.) Deshaun Watson (Clemson)

3.) Mitch Trubisky (North Carolina) Doesn't have a highlight video. Suffers from making the big play, IMO.

4.) Brad Kaaya (Miami)

There you have it. This is what you should switch to when you are drunk and sad after spending three hours watching Matt Barkley. Good luck falling in love with one of these guys, only for your team to take an offensive tackle or something equally lame.

30.) San Francisco 49ers--Record: 1-5.  Point Differential: -58.  DVOA: -17.2% (27). Last Week: 30.

29.) New York Jets--Record: 1-5.  Point Differential: -69.  DVOA: -36.1% (32). Last Week: 24.

28.) Miami Dolphins--Record: 2-4.  Point Differential: -16.  DVOA: -4.0% (20). Last Week: 29.

27.) Tampa Bay Buccaneers--Record: 2-3.  Point Differential: -48.  DVOA: -21.2% (29). Last Week: 28.

26.) Jacksonville Jaguars--Record: 2-3.  Point Differential: -26.  DVOA: -9.6% (23). Last Week: 27.

25.) New Orleans Saints--Record: 2-3.  Point Differential: -13.  DVOA: -6.0% (21). Last Week: 26.

The Mediocre:

24.) Los Angeles Rams--Record: 3-3.  Point Differential: -27.  DVOA: -7.8% (22). Last Week: 23.

23.) Carolina Panthers--Record: 1-5.  Point Differential: -15.  DVOA: -10.6% (24). Last Week: 18.

22.) Indianapolis Colts--Record: 2-4.  Point Differential: -14.  DVOA: -18.1% (28). Last Week: 21.

21.) Detroit Lions--Record: 3-3.  Point Differential: -3.  DVOA: -15.0% (26). Last Week: 22.

There's four teams bunched around this part of the league who are identical. They all feature great quarterbacks, more than capable offenses, but have defenses that derail them to ensure that no lead is safe. Those teams are San Diego, Indianapolis, New Orleans and Detroit.

Since the Lions made the playoffs in 2014, their entire team has been flipped around. That year, they had the third best defense according to DVOA and were 19th in offensive DVOA. The defense was built around the defensive line. The smoldering ruins leftover from Jim Schwartz's 4-3 defense, Ziggy Ansah, Nick Fairley, Ndamukong Suh, and Jason Jones catapulted opposing quarterbacks and wrapped barbwire around the line of scrimmage. Detroit's run defense was the best in the league that year. They forced running backs into linebackers Tahir Whitehead, DeAndre Levy, and Stephen Tulloch. The pass rush made life easy for the secondary. So easy that they were able to employ former NFL 2K5er Rashean Mathis at cornerback.

That was two years ago. Most of these players are gone. Ziggy Ansah is the only player left from that Monstar defensive line. Suh is the richest man in the world and was replaced by Haloti Ngata. Nick Fairley bounced from St. Louis to New Orleans. DeAndre Levy has played two games since 2014 and probably won't play again this year, thanks to hip and quad injuries. Stephen Tulloch tore his ACL discount double-checking. Now he and James Ihedigbo are unemployed. Mathis retired after signing a one-day contract in Jacksonville.

In two years, and many departures later, their defense has flopped from third to last in the league. They are 31st in pass defense and 26th in rush defense. This defense can't cover, they have terrible linebacker play, and they are susceptible to play action.

The Lions have allowed 17 passing touchdowns and are giving up 39.3 yards per drive, which are both last in the league. By DVOA, Detroit is 31st v. WR#1, 23rd v. TEs, 27th v. RBs, and 32nd v. other WRs. Darius Slay has the highest success rate on the team at 64%; that's 32nd. The rest of a secondary that has seen 20 targets--Quandre Diggs and Nevin Lawson--rank 129th and 127th. Their pass rush has picked up sacks, as Devin Taylor has 3.5 and Kerry Hyder leads the team with four--both coming out of nowhere to do so. Yet they haven't pressured the quarterback consistently. When Ansah finally gets back to full health, that will improve things, but he's not Von Miller. He can't transform a rush all on his own. The secondary has to cover, and so far they haven't.  There's no evidence pointing to them being able to.

If the secondary is gruesome, then the linebacker group is the sound of a skull bouncing off the pavement. The run defense has played well in the center of the line of scrimmage behind Ngata and Whitehead. Everywhere else is fetid. On runs up the middle, opponents are averaging 3.63 y/c (19th) and 5.29 y/c (7th) on runs everywhere else. They are allowing 1.4 second level yards (27th). Their difference between adjusted line yards and running back yards is +0.4. They have only 36 tackles for one yard or less (29th).

Somehow the linebackers' ability to cover has been even worse. The Lions are last in the NFL in DVOA at covering short passes at 21.6%. The NFL average is -6.8%. This is highlighted by their inability to cover tight ends and running backs, positions their linebackers are responsible for covering.  There are heaping mounds of evidence pointing out the futility of the Lions' linebackers.

As a team, Detroit is giving up 11.1 yards per play on play action, which is 28th. Teams know this. They are running play-action against Detroit 24% of the time. The difference in yards per play on play-action compared to normal plays is +4.5 (29th). This is what happens when you lack talent behind the defensive line.

Despite all of this, the Lions are 3-3 because of their offense. After a small drop-off in 2013, Matt Stafford is back to being a top ten quarterback. This year, he is top ten in DVOA and DYAR. He's thrown 14 touchdowns, 4 interceptions, and has spread the ball all around like a blunt butter knife in a quick passing offense. Marvin Jones has 47 targets and has been a revelation since he ceased being A.J. Green's bridesmaid.  Golden Tate III has 41 targets.  Anquain Boldin has 37 and has taken over the passes that went to the tight end position now that Eric Ebron is injured. Theo Riddick has 32. Jim Bob Cooter became a meme last year because of his name. Since then, he's created a great passing offense that uses route schemes to get receivers open, creatively uses screen passes, and puts Stafford in position to throw from a variety of different angles.

Still, the scheme can only do so much. The quarterback has to make throws. And man, Stafford has made some OmG throws. Like this one where he is running away from pressure and throws a fadeaway into the corner, into the perfect spot, to Andre Roberts on 4th and goal. It's the type of throw you have to watch over and over again to have any idea what happened. He's made throws that have elicited more than FIRST comments on YouTube.

ELITE

The only bummer about this offense is that it's been hampered by injuries to their running backs. Ameer Abdullah is on IR with a foot injury. Theo Riddick will come back, but for now he is also out with an ankle injury. These two are both dynamic cutters who can break tackles and catch passes out of the backfield. Riddick has broken 22 tackles, and Abdullah had a broken tackle per touch rate of 30.4%. In the passing game, Detroit had an Atlanta Falcons type of thing going on with two backs who can line up in the slot or out wide and decimate linebackers in coverage. It's hit a halt with both them being out. For next year, Jim Bob should be watching Falcons' All-22 all year and all summer, boiling it down into a paste, and shooting it intravenously.

Moving forward, the Lions will be a fun, fun, fun mediocre team to watch because of their offense. That defense is wretched, and although Ansah is back, they have too many problems in the secondary and at linebacker to see enough of an improvement to turn them into a viable unit. They finished the easiest part of their schedule and blew it by losing one possession games to Tennessee and Chicago, games that they will look back on with sad eyes once they miss the playoffs. They have the third toughest schedule from this point on.  They are projected to win seven games, which seems like a perfect landing spot.

That's not to say the Lions are going to have a lost season. They will continue to play entertaining games filled with gunslinging and one possession heartbreaks. Most importantly, they have found an offensive identity. That part of the ballgame is  figured out. If they could improve from last in the league to even below average defensively, this could be a really good team next season.

20.) Tennessee Titans--Record: 3-3.  Point Differential: -7.  DVOA: 3.0% (16). Last Week: 25.

19.) New York Giants--Record: 3-3.  Point Differential: -15.  DVOA: 0.0% (17). Last Week: 20.

18.) San Diego Chargers--Record: 2-4.  Point Differential: +18.  DVOA: 7.8% (13). Last Week: 19.

17.) Baltimore Ravens--Record: 3-3.  Point Differential: +2.  DVOA: 4.2% (15) Last Week: 13.

Playoffs?

16.) Houston Texans--Record: 4-2.  Point Differential: -19.  DVOA: -23.2% (30). Last Week: 16.

15.) Cincinnati Bengals--Record: 2-4.  Point Differential: -36.  DVOA: -11.3% (25). Last Week: 12.

Last season it looked like it all came together for Cincinnati. Finally. All of those years of first round exits looked to be adages of the past to reflect upon, a point of reference that could be used to fully enjoy and savor a possible Super Bowl run. Then Andy Dalton broke his thumb making a tackle following a red zone interception against the Steelers. In the playoffs, they almost pulled off the upset with A.J. McCarron against those Pittsburgh bullies until they collectively lost their minds and turned a football game into backyard wrestling that wobbled on the edge of falling into an Anchorman style brawl filled with chains, and pitchforks, and grenades.

After that emotional devastation, the Bengals were left to scramble everything back together and try to do it all over again this year. Not only that; their brains were drained this offseason. They lost their number two and number three receivers in Marvin Jones and Mohamed Sanu. Tyler Eifert has been "working through some things" all season and has yet to return after hurting his ankle in the Pro Bowl, which is the most Tyler Eifert thing ever. Hue Jackson molded the Bengals into the NFL's best passing offense last year and left to coach the Browns. Andre Smith left one of the best offensive lines in the league and went to Minnesota. Their secondary lost safety Reggie Nelson to Oakland and Leon Hall went to New York.

So far, they haven't been able to overcome last season's meltdown and the offseason's brain drain. The Bengals have been a bad football team. They are 2-4. Their point differential is -36. Their DVOA is -11.3% (25th).

The two biggest drops in performance have been their defense and their offensive line. Their defense has dropped from 10th to 25th in DVOA. The main reason why is because of their linebacker play. They are still covering wide receivers well, except for the times Adam Jones gets beat deep, and they are still rushing passer. Without Vontaze Burfict, who was suspended for the first four games of the season, Cincinnati can't stop the second level. They are one of the worst teams in the league at covering running backs and tight ends. They are 28th in second level adjusted line yards. If you block the first level, you can run forever on the Bengals.

Burfict is back now and still doing despicable Burfict things like stomping ankles and diving at knees. The Bengals are going to keep playing him because they need him. Their linebacker corps will improve and the defense will get better as a result.

The more surprising thing has been their offensive line. The line that was one of the best in the league has stumbled down to the bottom of the NFL. Last year the Bengals were first in adjusted line yards, 12th in adjusted sack rate, and 6th in pressure rate. This year, they are 26th, 31st and 22nd in the same categories. This isn't an old offensive line that is dealing with the cold dead hand of time. Aside from Andrew Whitworth, who is still balling at age 35, the rest of the line that's here from last year are 24, 26, and 27 years old. None of them were picked later than the fourth round.

Between last year and this year, this offensive line is nearly identical. The two changes are that they replaced Andre Smith with 2015 first round pick Cedric Ogbuehi at right tackle and they are still missing Tyler Eifert. The problem with this line can be attributed to these two changes. They are averaging 2.58 yards per carry running to the right, which is 32nd in the league. When running outside on the edges, they are 32nd in adjusted line yards at RE (-0.07), 27th at LE (2.48), and are averaging 0.67 and 2.18 yards a carry in these same directions. In 2015, they were 13th and 2nd in adjusted line yards in these same spots. Additionally, Ogbuehi has affected the right side interior blocking. The Bengals have dropped from 9th to 14th and 3rd to 19th in adjusted line yards over the right guard and right tackle. Without Eifert, they can't seal the edge. With Ogbuehi, they can't run to the right side at all.

In the run game, the problem with Ogbuehi is that he isn't strong enough to get movement by punching and driving. He depends on his head to create separation because he can't do it with his punch. This leads to him leaning over his toes and overextending. Defensive linemen are being patient with him. They are waiting for him to lunge with his punch and are swimming over the top to make tackles in the backfield.

CIN POWER RANKINGS

This block gives running back Jeremy Hill zero chance of doing anything. There's a hole created by left guard Russell Bodine and center Kevin Zeitler, but Alan Branch wins immediately and cuts inside to prevent an open hole from ever being utilized.

Even when he doesn't get tossed and does make contact, he's timid. He doesn't bite. He plays too tall. Here the Bengals are running an outside zone play to the right. Ogbuehi's strength is that he's a big quick man. He's a natural athlete. The problem is he doesn't have the strength to match his quickness and isn't violent enough.

On this play, he doesn't take quick sharp steps to get into Jabaal Sheard. He rises out of his stance and shuffles over. He is tall. His punch doesn't make a dent. He needs to reach the outside shoulder; instead he covers the center of him like a soggy blanket.

CIN POWER RANKINGS

Ogbuehi is the reason why the run blocking has been ineffective and why Jeremy Hill and Giovani Bernard aren't having the success like they had last year. The interior run blocking has been great as usual. But Ogbuehi's performance has soured the right side of the line.

In the second half of this game, he was benched for Eric Winston. Immediately the runs that were stopped in the backfield went away. The interior of the line was able to create holes without seeing their works of art regurgitated on by poor exterior blocking. Here the Bengals get two great inside double teams--a perfect ace that drives the first level and blocks the linebacker and a perfect duece where Winston pancakes the defensive end and Zeitler gets to the linebacker. This sort of first level push isn't there when Ogbuehi is on the field.

CIN POWER RANKINGS

Not only is Ogbuehi the biggest reason why the run game has struggled, but he's the main reason why the pass blocking has been as bad as its been. The same problems that plague him in the run game affect him in the pass game. He doesn't have the strength to jam defenders with his punch, and he plays too high.

Here, Ogbuehi gets a great pass set. He's quick and is a natural kick slider. But when he goes to punch he isn't quick enough with his hands to strike the chest.  Again he lunges with his head instead of striking with his hands. Sheard takes one jab to his right and then swims over the top, leaving Ogbuehi stumbling and struggling. Dalton stands tall in the face of pressure and makes a quick throw to the tight end on an out route.

CIN POWER RANKINGS

Here Ogbuehi gets another great pass set, but he's too cautious. His hands are low at his side and aren't in a punching position. He gets to the point of attack first. However, he punches second, which can't and shouldn't happen. He catches. He doesn't block. He's a passive football player. Rob Nincovich hits his stomach and slips off with a rip. Ogubehi turns to shove him outside of the pocket and gets called with a holding penalty along the way.

CIN POWER RANKINGS

Ogbuehi has the traits to be a great offensive tackle. The toughest innate things to find are here. He's long, quick, and big. But he isn't strong. He plays too high. And he isn't a blocker. These last three things can be fixed with time and sculpting, and it's still only his second year in the league. The problem is the Bengals depend on their offensive line to win football games. They are better in the future by playing Ogbuehi, but right now the offense isn't operating at last year's standards because Ogbuehi's blocking struggles have rippled across the offensive line.

For this offense to improve, Winston needs to start. This will give Dalton more time to throw which will allow him to complete more deep passes. The exterior and interior run blocking would improve with Winston too, which will help lead the Bengals to going to back to being one of the best running teams in the league. Until this happens, the offense is going to struggle, and the Bengals will continue to be a disappointment this year.

14.) Washington Redskins--Record: 4-2.  Point Differential: 0.  DVOA: 8.5% (11). Last Week: 17.

13.) Arizona Cardinals--Record: 3-3.  Point Differential: +40.  DVOA: 10.2% (10). Last Week: 14.

12.) Oakland Raiders--Record: 4-2.  Point Differential: -11.  DVOA: -0.2% (18). Last Week: 11.

11.) Buffalo Bills--Record: 4-2.  Point Differential: +59.  DVOA: 22.6% (3). Last Week: 15.

10.) Philadelphia Eagles--Record: 3-2.  Point Differential: +57.  DVOA: 21.8% (4). Last Week: 10.

9.) Atlanta Falcons--Record: 4-2.  Point Differential: +33.  DVOA: 18.8% (6). Last Week: 9.

The Contenders:

8.) Kansas City Chiefs--Record: 3-2.  Point Differential: +7.  DVOA: 6.7% (14). Last Week: 8.

7.) Green Bay Packers--Record: 3-2.  Point Differential: +1.  DVOA: 12.2% (8). Last Week: 6. (Doesn't Include TNF)

6.) Denver Broncos--Record: 4-2.  Point Differential: +32.  DVOA: 12.0% (9) Last Week: 5.

5.) Dallas Cowboys--Record: 5-1.  Point Differential: +52.  DVOA: 19.8% (5). Last Week: 7.

4.) Pittsburgh Steelers--Record: 4-2.  Point Differential: +31.  DVOA: 8.3% (12) Last Week: 3.

After Deflategate, the NFL needed another big narrative to surround the non-football talk. It's moved from Tom Brady's balls to the NFL's ratings crisis. Roger Goodell works for the owners. His sole goal and livelihood is tied to revenue. Football is a game for television. The higher the ratings, the higher the ad revenue, which means Goodell has done his job. When the ratings stop rising, it scares Goodell and the NFL, and it becomes a talking point even if it has nothing to do with the fan themselves, but the powers that be that make money off them and the players.

There have been dozens of reasons thrown out why people have stopped watching. The game is unsafe. There's too many injuries. There's not enough star players. There's too many penalties. There's too many games on during the week. Concussions. CTE. Non=guaranteed contracts for a violent sport is unethical. The way the league has handled domestic violence cases. There's too many commercials. The quality has suffered. The primetime matchups blow. Too many primetime games have watered down the product and have stopped MNF and SNF from being must-watch events. There aren't enough good quarterbacks. Anything anyone doesn't like can be a reason why people have stopped watching football.

I'm part of the reason why the ratings have dropped. I don't watch football how I used to. I used to spend the day in the bar when I was without cable, or on the couch watching games for six hours to nine hours straight. Now I work 40+ hours a week like most Americans. Free time is limited. Spending an entire precious day devoted inside to one thing is difficult, and to me, is headache-inducing to do. There's garages to clean out, there's church to go to, there's walks to be had, there's books to read. The majority of fans have stopped sitting for nine hours eating and drinking. They watch their team and move on with their life. They don't want to sit on their leather sofa until their skin grows into the couch.

What I do is watch the Texans LIVE, and it's the only LIVE game I watch, unless there's just some cataclysmic classic game that day or night. If they play in the early afternoon, I will take care of whatever for a hour and watch condensed versions and zip through games in forty minutes. I can watch the games from the early afternoon, and be ready to watch the late afternoon games once they are finished.

I do this because I write this thing. But even if I didn't, I would still watch like this. Instead of watching Steelers-Dolphins from last week and everything else, I would watch the four best games. It's the better way to watch the games. It's pure football. The commercials are gone, the standing around nut-scratching is cut out, the stoppages after the kickoff don't exist, and reviews don't take ten minutes. It's beautiful. You skip past the standing around you are forced to endure when you watch these games live.

This is just my reason why. All of the reasons above listed have their merits. I've made do by morphing my watching habits to get over what I can't stand--the stop and stop and stop and barely any go that have dragged games through some Natchez swamp. The other reasons, however--the violence, the lack of quality, etc.--can't be corrected by viewing habits. Those are real things the NFL is going have to make substantial changes to fix if they want to keep people watching so they can hit their $25 billion revenue goal by 2027.

This weekend I was going to change my viewing habits.  I was going to do anything to watch this Pats v. Steelers game. The two best AFC teams were set to play. Then one of the problems listed earlier--injuries--and even worse, an injury to a star player, occurred. Ben Roethlisberger tore his meniscus and will have his knee scraped. Brady v. Roethlisberger has morphed into Brady v. Jones. Landry Jones that is. Sitting there for three and half hours isn't going to happen. For Brady v. Roethlisberger, I would. But Brady v. Jones will end with me going for a run and enjoying this precious autumnal light.  I'm probably like most of America. As a result, the NFL ratings will drop again.

The Steelers are going to lose this game. They are stuck with Jones, unless things unravel even more and they go with the winless Zach Mettenberger. This is nothing new or impossible for Pittsburgh. They lost Big Ben for four games last year, three games in 2012, once in 2011, and four times in 2010. In those games, their record is 7-5 and they have scored 23.1 points per game with quarterbacks Charlie Batch, Dennis Dixon, Landry Jones and Michael Vick.

Looking back most recently to last year, they went 2-2 without Roethlisberger. They beat San Diego and Arizona and lost to Baltimore and Kansas City. They scored 78 points, 19.5 a game. This was 8.9 points less than when they had Roethlisberger in the lineup and comes out to almost two scoring possessions a game. In these four games, Jones was better than Vick, but combined they only completed 57.8% of their passes for 710 yards, 5 touchdowns, 3 interceptions, 7 yards an attempt, and took 10 sacks. It took them four games to do what Roethlisberger does in two.

To make up for his absence, they ran the ball a lot. Leveon Bell had 84 carries for 449 yards, which is 5.35 yards a carry. The games they won were the ones he dominated. Everyone else, Markus Wheaton and Antonio Brown specifically, saw substantial dips in production even if the targets were the same because the quarterback play wasn't.

Moving forward after the Pats game, Pittsburgh has a bye, then Baltimore, Dallas, Cleveland and Indianapolis. That's their schedule over the next six weeks. They play two top ten teams in New England and Dallas, a mediocre one in Baltimore, and then two light skirmishes. Despite this, their playoff odds have dropped 21.7% without Roethlisberger and now sit at 66.5% according to Football Outsiders. I disagree with this. I think the Steelers will run their way to a win or two, and Big Ben will be back sooner than later because just like roaches, multiple atomic bombs could be dropped and he'd still throw fade routes to himself on an empty desolate earth.  The Steelers have a great coaching staff in place who have handled this inconvenience before, and they are fortunate enough to get the bye during his injury.

For the Steelers, Roethlisberger's injury is a bummer, but it isn't devastating. For the NFL ratings for Sunday's 3:25 pm AFC powerhouse battle, it will be.

3.) Minnesota Vikings--Record: 5-0.  Point Differential: +56.  DVOA: 35.6% (1). Last Week: 4.

2.) Seattle Seahawks--Record: 4-1.  Point Differential: +27.  DVOA: 29.3% (2). Last Week: 2.

1.) New England Patriots--Record: 5-1.  Point Differential: +48.  DVOA: 13.5% (7). Last Week: 1.

Texans vs Broncos coverage