NFL Power Points: Pack leaping forward

Updated: October 7, 2003, 2:46 PM ET
By By Ryan Early | NFL Insider
The Colts improbable win on Monday night keeps them atop the Power Points, becoming our first consecutive chart topper. Putting 38 points up on the Bucs defense improved their offense rating 3.2 points, but giving up 35 to the Bucs decreased their defense rating almost the same amount. Tampa likewise saw a similar shift in their offense and defense ratings as both teams familiarity with each other's defensive schemes allowed them to move the ball and put points on the scoreboard. It doesn't take much imagination to view the game of the week as a potential Super Bowl preview.

The Packers put up a big offensive show for the second week in a row, making their loss to the Cardinals in Arizona look like a fluke game, while contributing to their home field advantage. With how much better the Packers play at Lambeau Field, the Chiefs may need yet another Dante Hall touchdown to squeak out a win this week. The Browns were the other big gainer up the charts after their blowout win over the Steelers on Sunday night. But what also helped them along is that three of their four previous opponents all had better than expected weeks, with the lone team that didn't sitting out on a bye. That kind of upwards pressure on their overall rating pushed them up 10 spots on the chart.

For most games, special teams rarely make an impact on the final score. Most units are good enough to prevent a touchdown on a return, and kickers make upwards of 80% of their field goal attempts and 98% of their extra points so that a miss is a bigger impact than a successful conversion. That makes the Chiefs and Panthers special team performances all the more impressive. Their third units are so much better than the league average that they practically put a touchdown on the board themselves each game. In Kansas City, it has been a one man show with Hall's dazzling return touchdowns. He is getting legitimate buzz for the league MVP award. In Carolina it has been much more of a team effort. This past week, Rod Smart returned a kickoff for a touchdown that proved to be the difference in the game. In Week 2, they blocked two field goals and an extra point, then set up their winning field goal in overtime with a big punt return. In Week 1, they scored a safety on a blocked punt, set up the offense with several large returns, and blocked a potential game winning field game at the end of regulation.