Week 7 of the NFL season is in this books, and we dissect which teams are moving on up in our Power Rankings, and which are dropping hard after a bad performance.
Dan Campbell's Miami Dolphins are unrecognizable compared to Joe Philbin's version of the team. In most instances, appointing an interim Head Coach in charge is like waving the white flag on your season, but two back-to-back performances in which the Dolphins not only won, but absolutely dominated their opposition gives Dolphins fans a glimmer of hope for the season. There is already a ton of talk about potential head coaching candidates for the Dolphins (Sean Payton, Jim Mora, Kevin Sumlin, etc.), but ownership is going to have to consider making Campbell a permanent fixture if the team continues this momentum.
When Jack Del Rio was hired as Head Coach of the Oakland Raiders, many found the hire to be boring. You know what's not boring? Winning. I, for one, did not have the Raiders pegged for 3 wins by Week 8, but here we are. The most exciting part about this team's progress is the fact that it is being powered by all of their young guns in QB Derek Carr, RB Latavius Murray, WR Amari Cooper, and LB Khalil Mack on the defensive side. Aldon Smith also seems to have been a brilliant addition, and under the guise of Del Rio, he should be kept in check off the field. The question now is - how far can this team go this year?
I know, I know. How can their stock be going up if they were already undefeated? The Panthers win on Sunday Night Football was impressive, and Cam Newton is much better than we give him credit for, despite what Sage Rosenfels might think. The most impressive part is the Panthers are getting results despite not having their best WR in Kelvin Benjamin and finding ways to win with Ted Ginn Jr, Brenton Bersin and Corey Brown. This is going to be an exciting race from now until the season ends between the Panthers and the 6-1 Atlanta Falcons for the NFC South crown.
How are the Ravens celebrating their 20th season in Baltimore? By posting their worst start in franchise history, and by far their worst under John Harbaugh. It's almost inconceivable that if the draft was today, the Ravens would be picking 2nd. But maybe this is just the opportunity that GM Ozzie Newsome needs to "reload" this roster with premium talent. Elvis Dumervil and Terrell Suggs are getting older, and they have to regret letting Pernell McPhee walk with the type of season he is having in Chicago. Their offensive tackle situation is precarious at best, with Ricky Wagner struggling mightily at RT and Eugene Monroe plagued by injuries. The WR depth beyond soon-retiring Steve Smith Sr. is laughable (does Breshad Perriman even exist?), and Jimmy Smith is not living up to the contract that he recently signed. Picking in the Top 5 would guarantee the Ravens one of either Laremy Tunsil, Ronnie Stanley, Vernon Hargreaves, Jalen Ramsey or Laquon Treadwell, and any one of those players would be the blue chipper they need to rejuvenate this team.
This was maybe the week from hell for Bill O'Brien and his Texans team. His back-up QB who he vouched for from his time in New England missed the team flight, marking the second team he has shown irresponsibility after famously oversleeping during Hard Knocks. Even worse, however, is it appears that Arian Foster's career with the team is in jeopardy after tearing his achilles vs. the Dolphins, ending his 2015 campaign. The defense is in shambles, and it is being reported that O'Brien and GM Rick Smith's relationship seems to be getting very "strained." If I am Bob McNair, barring some type of miraculous turn around, I am considering cleaning house this offseason and starting over with a new regime and franchise QB. If I am O'Brien, I am pulling a Petrino and bolting for one of these nice college football vacancies at USC, Miami or South Carolina before he completely destroys his stock.
Granted, the Bills took the field in Wembley with basically their second-string offense and a 75% LeSean McCoy, but the grumblings of the players regarding the new defensive scheme and the fact that the Jets are off to a booming start under Todd Bowles is not exactly encouraging if you're Rex Ryan. The team looks undisciplined with an exorbitant amount of penalties to date and simply seems to be underperforming. Rex needs to find himself a franchise-QB this offseason to tether himself to or his recently deflated buns might start to get toasty sooner rather than later.