We talk about injuries every year, but this year, it seems like the missing in action are becoming as much of a story as those in action. Dennis Pitta,Kyle Rudolph and Jonathan Stewart are merely the latest who are down for the count -- or, at least, for a substantial period of time. We could go on and on listing those who are out for the year, out for several weeks or just plain playing hurt.
Of course, this is when roster depth -- an underrated aspect of the pro game that's been highlighted in the salary-cap era, which, by the way, started 20 years ago -- comes into play. That said, the byes begin this weekend. One week off might not be enough time to get fully healthy, but it will allow some teams to get healthy enough.
Speaking of depth, the new No. 1 in our rankings is a team that has shown it has more than enough, accounting for losses in free agency (Michael Johnson, among others), as well as early injury woes (to solid contributors like Marvin Jones and Tyler Eifert). If, in fact, you take issue with the Stripes batting leadoff, hit us with your gripes: @HarrisonNFL is the place.
Now, let the dissension commence!
Cincinnati earned the top spot by virtue of having a defense that allows just 11 points per game, a quarterback who has made few mistakes and isn't asked to put everything on his shoulders and a running attack that is grinding out 121.7 yards per contest. Survey says ... #2013Seahawks2.0
What was enjoyable: Watching the Bolts go vertical. Makes the game fun and forces the defense to play the entire field. #Rivers4MVP?
The five-spot might seem too low for this team, but considering San Diego soundly defeated Seattle and Arizona took care of San Diego, the Seahawks deserve to be behind both. And I'm not ready to vault those Cards over Philadelphia or Cincinnati.
This week, the role of Justin Forsett and Bernard Pierce was filled by rookie running back Lorenzo Taliaferro. Who hasn't heard of him? In case you were wondering, Taliaferro was a feared Chanticleer in college; he's also a Capricorn and loves kittens. OK, I made that last part up ... but he did gain 5.1 yards per carry on 18 totes Sunday.
On another note, I did wonder if the NFL record for points scored by a single team in a game -- held by the Bears for their 73-0 shellacking of the Redskins in the 1940 NFL Championship -- was in danger. Holy cow. Did anyone else at least think about it? (@HarrisonNFL)
Read that stat again. It took Pittsburgh just 34 carries to get there, too, meaning the squad did what it will need to do to stay in the AFC North race, i.e., it didn't put everything on the quarterback. Speaking of, what a clutch throw by Ben Roethlisberger on his first touchdown pass of the evening to Antonio Brown. #droppindimes
Tough to figure out how this club couldn't put up more than 20 on the Vikings, or how New Orleans has started 1-2. Drew Brees is completing 70 percent of his passes and has thrown just two picks. The ground attack is averaging 140.3 yards per game and nearly 5 yards per carry. And the offense as a whole has converted 24 of 39 third downs. Is it all on the defense, Saints fans? (@HarrisonNFL)
That said, as with Buffalo above, Detroit's passing attack has been less than effective. Matthew Stafford would be the first to tell you he and his cohorts must improve.
It's ironic that back when the Cowboys were considered one of the most talented teams in the NFL -- from 2007 to 2009 or so -- no one thought they had the character to overcome adversity. Today, no one thinks Dallas has a Pomeranian's chance of doing anything -- and yet, there the Cowboys were, pulling a victory out of their pink-bowed fur Sunday. If only they could've come back from that same deficit in a certain playoff game 20 years ago.
Kirk Cousins confirmed every Redskins fan's fears Sunday: He is better than Robert Griffin III. </content:power-ranking>
It's your deal now, Blake Bortles. Here's a wild stretch of deductive reasoning: This is *precisely* the type of quagmire Gus Bradley wanted to avoid regarding his rookie quarterback. </content:power-ranking>