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Tag:Bears
Posted on: November 15, 2012 1:47 am
 

2012 NFL Power Rankings, Week 10

Here are the Rankings for Week 10:

1.) Houston (8-1) [+1]
 The Texans claim the first spot in the Rankings for the first time ever.  It's a year of firsts for the team and only took the last unbeaten finally losing to move up.  Their effort against the Bears wasn't what I would call praiseworthy; however, they survived and got the W, so that's all that really matters.  They have yet another cupcake team on the schedule as 1-8 Jacksonville comes in to hopefully challenge for a few minutes.  I foresee Matt Schaub rollouts turning into long TD's.

2.) Atlanta (8-1) [-1]
 Now that the Falcons are undefeated no more, they can really get to work.  First up, salt away the NFC South (as if they hadn't already).  Then get the top seed in the conference and the bye that comes with it.  Then show up at home instead of putting up 2 points.  Ideally, the Falcons will continue to play well while making the necessary changes to get better as the season progresses.  For now, that would appear to include getting Michael Turner more involved in the offense (according to various pundits).  Losing to this New Orleans team (esp. their worst in NFL History defense) is really inexcusable, but there is a silver lining.  Mike Smith can point to that loss for the rest of this season and use it as a "teaching point" (a popular phrase in Fall 2012) to guide his men to the Lombardi Trophy.

3.) Baltimore (7-2) [+2]
 55 points and one awesome beatdown mean little if Joe Flacco lays an egg this weekend against the Steelers.  Of course, without Ben Roethlisberger, the Steelers are hardly even the same team.  What's important here is that Flacco &co. take their Week 10 success and somehow make it happen again this week.  It's a tough task, to be sure, especially given Flacco's immense inconsistency.  If he's really serious about being considered an "elite" QB, he absolutely must perform well on Sunday night.

4.) San Francisco (6-2-1) [no change]
 First tie since 2008 coming on the heels of the QB getting knocked out.  Are we still jive turkeys?

5.) Chicago (7-2) [-2]
 A humbling loss in addition to having the QB knocked out.  Now the Bears have to go to San Francisco and maybe face another backup QB.  They'll be relying on their defense even more if Jason Campbell can't get the job done.

6.) Green Bay (6-3) [no change]
 Coming off a late bye, the Packers get Detroit.  Not a bad way to get back to action, really.  It looks like the Packers are back on their way up.  As long as Rodgers is ambulatory, he should be able to guide this team to the playoffs, despite their injuries.

7.) New England (6-3) [+1]
 It looks like the defense just might keep Tom Brady from getting his fourth ring.  Playing a Buffalo team with defensive issues of their own, the Patriots just couldn't close the deal last Sunday.  Luckily, Ryan Fitzpatrick was in a giving mood.  I'm still high on this team, mostly because of Brady + Belichick.  I've been high on the team for the last few years as well.  So my confidence isn't shaken, but I do know that when you play a team like Buffalo, who they've traditionally knocked the crap out of, you want to win handily, not at the last second.

8.) Denver (6-3) [+1]
 Peyton Manning is most likely the Comeback Player of the Year.  But will he win MVP as well?  I don't know yet...but it looks like Denver has a strong hold on a very weak division.  I don't think anybody expects San Diego to come from behind to catch them, except maybe Philip Rivers and Norv Turner.

9.) Indianapolis (6-3) [+1]
 It wasn't spotless against Jacksonville, but Andrew Luck and his teammates got it done.  They have the benefit of an extra couple days off as they prepare to play New England.  Tough sledding, but that's how it goes in the NFL: out of the frying pan, into the fire.

10.) Pittsburgh (6-3) [-]
 Obviously, this is temporary; without Roethslisberger, few expect the Steelers to take out Baltimore (me included).  Someone had to come into the Rankings to cover an empty spot, though, and Pittsburgh was the team to do so.  It's too bad they can't stay a while longer, but hey, that's how these things go sometimes.  Of course, if they DO pull off the upset, it just makes me look all the worse.  So really, everyone wins.

That's all for this week.  See you next week.

Three Games to Watch (Week 11):
Indianapolis @ New England (Sunday, CBS)
Baltimore @ Pittsburgh (Sunday, NBC)
Chicago @ San Francisco (Monday, ESPN)
Category: NFL
Posted on: November 6, 2012 5:07 pm
 

2012 NFL Power Rankings, Week 9

Greetings, readers.  It looks like a few teams are beginning to separate themselves from the pack.  That said, the records still indicate that parity is the name of the game in 2012, despite a few that are well above .500.  No team is without flaws, either.  Let's get to the stories from Week 9.

We start out with the Thursday night game.  As usual, it was lopsided.  The Chargers played ...well, if not quite up to their capability, then closer to what fans, media, and other outside observers expect from them on a weekly basis.  Philip Rivers looked a little shaky in the first half, especially on the end-zone INT.  But the second half was all San Diego.  I think we can stick a fork in Kansas City; they might not be mathematically eliminated just yet, but they're most definitely done.

A more inspiring story comes from Indianapolis.  Head Coach Chuck Pagano met with his team before and after the Colts' hard-fought win against the Dolphins.  Andrew Luck played about as well as could be expected, if not better, leading his team to the win while staring long third downs in the face and pulling through just about all day.  Not only that, he was under pressure fairly consistently and not only escaped it, but made great plays at the same time.  The Colts are now 5-3 and play in a fairly weak division; beside the Texans, the Colts are the only good team in the AFC South.  If they can continue this pace, they should secure one of the Wild Card spots.  My hope is that they end up playing Denver in the Wild Card Round, as that would make for some fabulous TV.  Plus, think of the serendipitous nature of that match-up: Peyton Manning playing the man that replaced him in Indianapolis?  Fantastic.  Unbelievable.  Perhaps even a little insane.  But definitely worth watching, no matter what.

Some have said that teams in the NFL can no longer play defense.  Obviously, the Chicago Bears are scoffing at this notion, while they forced turnovers at a rate no one else can match.  Not only are they turning other teams over frequently, they're also turning those TO's into TD's.  The defense is playing so well that Jay Cutler and his maligned offensive line are getting less attention than they were earlier in the season.  This can only be a good thing for that unit.  Cutler did make some good plays, but they'll probably be forgotten since the defense was so dominant.  Honestly, anything that keeps the attention off of Cutler is probably a good thing.  Even if it's the image of Brian Urlacher rumbling into the end-zone after an INT.

Robert Griffin III's rookie season has been synonymous with two things: excitement and failure.  Excitement because anyone can tell that he's going to be something special for a long time to come.  Failure because he hasn't won much and the rest of the team has let him down on numerous occasions.  There is really no way that Washington should have lost to a bad Carolina team at home.  Even with a TD that the NFL later said should not have counted.  By the way, if that TD was disallowed, Carolina still would have won by a point.  For RGIII and company to only put up 13 points against a bad Carolina defense is unacceptable.  The man clearly needs more playmakers around him.  Hopefully this is something that gets rectified in the future, or else Mike Shanahan (and his son the offensive coordinator) might find himself without a job.  He might not be in any danger this year. but if RGIII plays anything like Cam Newton has next year, trouble will be at Shanahan's doorstep.

It's always a little unusual when a running back storms onto the scene as a rookie with consecutive great games.  Yet that's just what Doug Martin has done.  In consecutive games against the Vikings and Raiders, Martin has rushed for a bunch of yards (including the 251 he put up on Sunday) and scored a number of TD's.  Sunday's performance in particular was one of the more impressive I've seen lately, especially from a rookie.  Before the Vikings game, it looked like the Bucs might be dead in the water; now they're looking like they've got a pulse, if nothing else.  And with the Chargers coming to Tampa in Week 10, I think a third straight win is in order.  But coach Schiano has to commit to running Martin.  No more running Blount in the 4th quarter when it looks like the game is wrapped up.  Stick with the hot hand, coach.

Pittsburgh had some unusual circumstances to deal with in the wake of Hurricane Sandy.  With no power in the team hotel in New Jersey, they flew from Pittsburgh to East Rutherford before the game and left shortly after the game.  In the midst of that, they somehow managed to pull out a win despite some bad calls and an up-and-down performance from Ben Roethlisberger.  None of the elite QB's have been all that great in 2012 so far, and Roethlisberger is no exception.  But on Sunday he made the throws he needed to and committed fewer dumb mistakes than he has in other games this season.  The result is still a surprise, though, as I'm sure most expected the Giants to win and it certainly looked like they would.  Then Roethlisberger tossed a short pass to Mike Wallace...and the rest, as they say, is history.  Wallace outran the secondary to the pylon and the game-winning TD was secured.

Lastly, the final undefeated team in the NFL.  While not looking their best (as usual), Atlanta somehow figured out a way to win, even though Dallas didn't turn the ball over as is their wont.  All of the Atlanta receivers came to play and Matt Ryan was up to the challenge.  Through the halfway point, Atlanta is now 8-0 and in firm control of their division.  Chicago and San Francisco are the only teams that look like they can challenge for the #1 seed in the NFC.  The Falcons' schedule is not particularly tough, either; currently, the only winning team that they'll face is the Giants.  I don't think they'll finish 16-0, necessarily.  But these Falcons are clearly the class of the conference at this point.

Here are the Rankings for Week 9:

1.) Atlanta (8-0) [no change]
 Matt Ryan is playing like an MVP and the defense is solid.  Should stay undefeated in Week 10.

2.) Houston (7-1) [no change]
 Probably the toughest matchup for the Texans in Week 10.  Ballhawks all over Soldier Field.

3.) Chicago (7-1) [no change]
 Whereas for Chicago, it shouldn't be too difficult, as long as they can keep Arian Foster in check and force Schaub into mistakes.

4.) San Francisco (6-2) [+1]
 I too am a turkey.  And people call Philip Rivers "captain checkdown"?  Still, they moved up on a bye.  Not bad.

5.) Baltimore (6-2) [+1]
 Joe Flacco continues to underwhelm, but since the "elite" QB's are doing the same as he is, I guess his view is justified.

6.) Green Bay (6-3) [+1]
 Tempted to say Rodgers &co. are rounding into form.  But without Jennings and maybe Nelson, how far can they go?

7.) NY Giants (6-3) [-3]
 That loss has to rankle.  Eli Manning didn't look anything like how the media continually portrays him.

8.) New England (5-3) [no change]
 Brady &co. got the bye after London and now get Buffalo at home.  Wow.

9.) Denver (5-3) [+1]
 Is Peyton Manning rounding into form?  That'll be the weekly question.  Two INT's to Terrence Newman doesn't help.

10.) Indianapolis (5-3) [-]
 I think it's safe to say Andrew Luck has rounded into form.

That's all for this week.  See you next week.

Three Games to Watch (Week 10):
San Diego @ Tampa Bay (Sunday, CBS)
Atlanta @ New Orleans (Sunday, FOX)
Houston @ Chicago (Sunday, NBC)
Category: NFL
Posted on: October 30, 2012 9:52 pm
 

2012 NFL Power Rankings, Week 8

Greetings, readers!  Well, that was a little more exciting, wasn't it?  If you like your Sunday (and Monday) with a few beatdowns, you were probably pleased with Week 8.  Not every game was great, but there was enough excitement to go around to wash the bad taste of a couple of the bad games out of our mouths (or eyes, I suppose).  Let's get to the stories from this past week.

We start in Minnesota, where the Vikings just failed to show up.  I think this is the point where analysts start to question whether or not the Vikings have been "exposed".  And maybe the word "fradulent" gets thrown out there.  I'm not sayin', just sayin'.  Anyway, the Vikings didn't show up and they got beat by the Buccaneers.  Doug Martin held a party and made the Vikings look like chumps on defense.  A solid effort, but Tampa Bay still has work to do before they can be considered a threat for the NFC Wild Card.

Chicago took on Carolina in Soldier Field and Tim Jennings made what is arguably the play of the game, if you discount the game-winning field goal.  Jennings took advantage of a receiver falling down on the route and took the ball to the house.  Jay Cutler played alright, but he's being held hostage by his mostly terrible offensive line.  If he gets time to throw, he looks like less of a whining malcontent and more like a winning QB.  Maybe that's the secret?  I think he'd still look like a whining malcontent after every loss, but whatever.  I'm obviously biased, since I've never liked Cutler, even when he was in Denver.

The Atlanta Falcons remain the league's only undefeated team at 7-0.  Funnily enough, they looked better coming off the bye than they had in the last three or four weeks.  It helped that they were playing a weak Philly defense and that they were able to get out to an early lead.  In fact, Atlanta didn't really do much after halftime, but since they were up 24-7, they didn't exactly need to.

New England headed to London and it was business as usual.  Even without Aaron Hernandez, they had no problems on offense, putting up 45 on the Rams with impunity.  There isn't much else to say about the game besides, "beatdown"!  Oh, and Rob Gronkowski played huge with 2 TD's.

Not to be outdone, Denver went out on Sunday night and delivered a multi-faceted beatdown on the Saints.  Not only did Peyton Manning put up a bunch of points, again, but the defense stepped up and held the Saints down until the very end, when they gave up a garbage time TD.  It looks like Manning is rounding into form.  I'm not going to commit to anything further than that, because I've been burned before.  And despite an easy schedule, Denver has been prone to inconsistent play in the last few years.

San Francisco does things a bit differently.  I'm fond of saying that they run a 1960 offense, because they only seem to care about running the ball and don't particularly care for throwing it down the field.  Again I was proven right.  However, a lot of people appear to be getting on the Alex Smith bandwagon because he went 18/19 with 3 TD's.  Let's just slow down on him, alright?  Most of those completions were short passes.  Not all of them were for positive yardage, either.  Until he proves that he can throw it down the field, he can't be considered anything more than a slightly advanced game manager.

Here are the Rankings for Week 8:

1.) Atlanta (7-0) [no change]
 They just keep rolling.  Actually looked better than they have, and now get the hapless Cowboys at home.

2.) Houston (6-1) [no change]
 The bye helped them stay near the top; now they get the defensively offensive Bills at home.

3.) Chicago (6-1) [no change]
 Heading to Tennessee after a tough win; will Jay Cutler stay upright and get another win?

4.) NY Giants (6-2) [no change]
 After a bit of a lucky break against the Cowboys, the Steelers come to town.  Could be a good one.

5.) San Francisco (6-2) [no change]
 One of two teams in the Rankings on a bye.  Not sold on Alex Smith, no matter what his coach says.

6.) Baltimore (5-2) [+1]
 Did the bye help them regain some mojo?  They have a potentially easy win on the slate.

7.) Green Bay (5-3) [+1]
 Funny that Arizona now stinks without Kevin Kolb.  Green Bay can take advantage, if Rodgers plays well.

8.) New England (5-3) [-]
 The second team in the Rankings on a bye, New England gets to rest on their laurels after a nice beatdown.

9.) Minnesota (5-3) [-3]
 I'm not sure what to make of the Vikings now.  And they're heading to Seattle, which can't help.

10.) Denver (4-3) [-]
 Manning might not be all the way back, but it's gotta be close.  It sure looks that way when they win.

That's all for this week.  See you next week.

Three Games to Watch (Week 9):
Arizona @ Green Bay (Sunday, FOX)
Pittsburgh @ NY Giants (Sunday, CBS)
Dallas @ Atlanta (Sunday, NBC)
Category: NFL
Posted on: October 23, 2012 6:05 pm
 

2012 NFL Power Rankings, Week 7

Greetings, readers.  Week 7 has come and gone and it feels like not much of interest happened.  Sure, there was a bit of controversy in Tampa (due to an odd rule about going out-of-bounds and coming back in) and some OT drama, but the matchups really were not prime time stuff.  Let's get to the stories, though.

As usual, we're starting with the Thursday night game.  As usual, it wasn't terribly memorable.  This week, it was more due to the playing style of the two teams involved.  It angers me to watch a game where running the ball and defense is prioritized over throwing the ball.  The NFL is a passing league.  Take advantage of the rules that Goodell has put in!  The commissioner and the rules committee has made it so that throwing the ball is very easy.  And yet you have teams like Seattle and San Francisco either running the ball all day or dinking-and-dunking; either way, it translates to boring football.  And the game on Thursday was a defensive struggle where the offenses looked mostly inept.  That is boring to me.  Oh, and by the way, the 49ers won.

Most disappointing game of the week?  Baltimore at Houston, no contest.  The Ravens didn't show up until the second half, and even then they weren't all that impressive.  When the safety happened in the 1st quarter, I had a bad feeling, but I thought Flacco could maybe get a breather at halftime and come out ready for a comeback.  Oops!  So, once again, we have a guy who thinks he's elite and isn't.  I remain unconvinced about the Texans, though, because they didn't show up the week before against Green Bay (also at home, it should be noted).  But it is Baltimore that has really slipped in my estimation.

Minnesota and the NY Giants both won their games and now they're 5-2.  Given Christian Ponder's recent play, it's hard to say that the Vikings are for real; they're another team that relies on the run for the most part.  However, where they get an exemption from most people (and I suppose I'm included in that group) is that they have an All-World guy at RB.  Adrian Peterson is a beast.  The Giants pulled out a close one against Washington.  I was impressed by the play that won the game for the Giants; Eli Manning lofted one to Victor Cruz and the salsa dancer did the rest, running it in for a TD.  Much as I dislike the Giants (especially Eli), they played well and beat a pretty good Washington team.  Well, Washington's offense is pretty good.  Their defense is pretty stinky.

There were a couple OT games this week as well.  New England went to OT against the Jets (at home, no less) while Oakland beat the Jaguars in OT.  The Patriots blew a lead and looked bad down the stretch, but were able to rally in OT.  Oakland turned a recovered fumble into the game-winning FG.  Good to have a win, but neither game should have needed OT, really.

Finally we have the Chicago Bears.  Despite getting knocked out for a play and then leaving the field before halftime, Jay Cutler seemingly willed the Bears to victory even while struggling offensively.  He also looked pretty tough.  That's not something I normally say about a guy I consider to be one of the biggest whiners in the NFL, but I try to be fair.  Chicago is now 5-1 and look like the team to beat in the NFC North.  I'm not entirely sold on them, though; while their defense is solid, I've never been a fan of Cutler and think that he's just a few INT's away from letting this season fall into the toilet.  But right now, they're looking good.

Here are the Rankings for Week 7:

1.) Atlanta (6-0) [no change]
 Well-rested and heading to Philly.  7-0.

2.) Houston (6-1) [+1]
 They've been on both sides of a beatdown and now get a bye.

3.) Chicago (5-1) [+1]
 Woeful Carolina comes to town.  Bears shall feast.

4.) NY Giants (5-2) [+1]
 Giants head to Dallas to attempt to beat the team that got them in Week 1.

5.) San Francisco (5-2) [+1]
 A big Monday night game against Arizona could help determine the division winner.

6.) Minnesota (5-2) [+2]
 The Vikings get their crack at a Thursday night game.  Let's hope they fare better than Seattle.

7.) Baltimore (5-2) [-5]
 A bye after a stunning beatdown.  I guess that's a good thing, but too much stewing may hurt more than help.

8.) Green Bay (4-3) [+2]
 An easy game with Jacksonville coming in.  Three in a row for Rodgers &co.

9.) Arizona (4-3) [-2]
 Falling off the pace dramatically, Arizona needs a win to "right the ship".

10.) Seattle (4-3) [-2]
 Falling off the pace dramatically, but has a better chance of getting a win.

That's all for this week.  See you next week.

Three Games to Watch (Week 8):
Washington @ Pittsburgh (Sunday, FOX)
NY Giants @ Dallas (Sunday, FOX)
San Francisco @ Arizona (Monday, ESPN)
Category: NFL
Posted on: October 16, 2012 8:49 pm
 

2012 NFL Power Rankings, Week 6

Greetings, readers.  Week 6 was another tough one for me personally; my picks stunk!  I guess that's becoming the usual refrain around here with two bad weeks in the first six.  So let's get to the stories and ignore the rest of the mess.

First up is the Thursday night game.  I don't know about you, but I barely remember what happened.  What I do remember is that the Titans won; Rob Bironas hit his FG after Shawn Suisham missed his.  Whoops!  I hate to get on my high horse and be all judgmental about what is usually a very good team...but let's be serious here: the Steelers got issues.  Not only are they weak on the O-line again (how does this happen three years in a row?) they're losing RB's and Roethlisberger doesn't seem to have the usual magic.  They're a disappointing 2-3 so far.  As for the Titans, I don't know how they pulled that out after being smoked by the Vikings.  I guess Matt Hasselbeck really does have something left in the tank.  I should really listen to Mayock on these things...the guy knows his stuff and is an excellent analyst.

We're down to one undefeated team in the NFL.  It's the Atlanta Falcons.  Hurrah!  Better them than the Texans.  Bias aside, Atlanta has had a couple tough games that probably should have been easier.  So I'm not sure they've really rounded into form yet.  It looks like they could play better, but as always, I've got to see it first.  Being undefeated after the squeakers they've had is pretty impressive, though.  Mike Smith is a heck of a coach and thanks to new OC Dirk Koetter, Matt Ryan is probably playing the best football of his career thus far.

Thankfully, there are no more winless teams in the NFL.  Cleveland got "off the schneid", as they say, by beating AFC North rival Cincinnati.  I really just have one thing to say to this: WTF, Cincy?  That encompasses my feelings quite well.

Philly and Arizona both went to OT in their games; surprise, surprise, they both lost.  And I look like a moron for picking them.  Arizona is still 4-2, so they have the appearance of "goodness", whereas Philly is mediocre and has the record to prove it.  The Eagles fired Juan Castillo, their embattled DC, today.  Surely, there is no way to interpret that other than scapegoating.  When the offense (read: Michael Vick) has as many turnovers as it does, firing anyone not coaching the offense will obviously fix nothing.  The move is completely reactionary; a change made simply for the sake of it.

New England and San Francisco had big games on the left coast.  The Pats went into Seattle, while the 49ers had the Giants at home.  Not surprisingly, both lost.  At least New England showed up, though.  San Francisco didn't bother playing any offense and was even worse on the defensive side of the ball.  They still look decent at 4-2, while the Pats are 3-3.  It's a little funny, and a little weird, to see Tom Brady slumming like this.

Also, thanks to Denver's win, there are 11 3-3 teams.  Let us never forget that parity rules this league.  That also means there are only nine "good" teams.  Although, to be honest, it's hard to say that anybody is worth a darn after six weeks.  That includes Atlanta.

Here are the Rankings for Week 6:
1.) Atlanta (6-0) [no change]
 Rolling into the bye week 6-0.  Doesn't get much better than that.

2.) Baltimore (5-1) [+1]
 Another squeaker, but injuries are mounting.

3.) Houston (5-1) [-1]
 Beat 'em down!  The first loss for the Texans was a bad one.

4.) Chicago (4-1) [+1]
 They moved up on a bye.  That says a lot about the rest of the league.

5.) NY Giants (4-2) [-]
 An impressive win.  Can they keep it going?  Or will "bad" Eli show up again?

6.) San Francisco (4-2) [-2]
 A slight move downward after a home loss where they didn't show up.

7.) Arizona (4-2) [-1]
 With Kevin Kolb out, is it Skelton's team again?

8.) Minnesota (4-2) [-1]
 Two steps forward, one step back.  Allowing RGIII to carve them up like that is inexcusable.

9.) Seattle (4-2) [-]
 A solid win propels Seattle into the Rankings.  Much like the Giants, I doubt them very much.

10.) Green Bay (3-3) [-]
 Beating a previously undefeated team is worth entry, for this week at least.

That's all for this week.  See you next week.

Three Games to Watch (Week 7):
Seattle @ San Francisco (Thursday, NFL Network)
Baltimore @ Houston (Sunday, CBS)
Arizona @ Minnesota (Sunday, FOX)
Category: NFL
Posted on: October 9, 2012 10:35 pm
 

2012 NFL Power Rankings, Week 5

Greetings, readers.  Week 5 went much as I expected it would.  Not a lot of surprises, though we're now down to two undefeated teams.  Also, there are no longer ten good teams; there are a couple 3-2 teams included this week.  It's not something I like to do, but it's what has to be done for this week unless I want to cut it to a top 5.  A top 5 would probably be pointless.

Anyway, on to the stories from this week.

First off, Arizona fell to 4-1.  They went to St. Louis on Thursday and didn't play very well, only managing three points.  Part of that has to do with the Rams' defense, which played quite well.  But for Kevin Kolb and the Cardinals offense, there's really not much of an excuse; they knew before the season that they'd have to handle this hurdle and they didn't look prepared to do so.  A disappointing loss for the Cardinals, but they have plenty of opportunities to bounce back.

I think the most memorable win has to belong to the Indianapolis Colts.  I'm sure everyone knows the story by now; their head coach Chuck Pagano was diagnosed with leukemia, so the Colts really wanted to win this one.  I'm glad they got the win, yet there's something I feel most people ignored that I feel obligated to point out: Aaron Rodgers did not play well down the stretch.  Actually, he looked jumpy even when the pressure wasn't getting into his face.  I guess he got unsettled early in the game and that carried over to the last couple drives.  Rodgers is far from the only "elite" QB to struggle in the first five weeks of the season, but his struggles have to be seen as the most surprising.  Congratulations to the Colts for taking advantage, and get well soon, Coach Pagano!

As mentioned above, there are only two undefeated teams left after five weeks.  They are Atlanta and Houston.  Of the two, I would guess that Atlanta is the more surprising one.  Houston, for all the plaudits they receive from the national media, has beaten no one of note.  Outside of the AFC West, the AFC South has to be the weakest of the eight divisions.  Both teams look mostly convincing on offense, but defense really looks to be their calling card.

The NFC North, on the other hand, looks like one of the stronger divisions.  Now, don't get me wrong, that doesn't mean I'm entirely sold on Chicago.  But they're 4-1 and so are the Vikings, which puts the NFC North ahead of the pack, alongside the surprising NFC West.  The Bears have a bye in Week 6, while the Vikings head to Washington.  Detroit comes off the bye to face Philadelphia while the Packers head down to Houston in what has to be the first Sunday night game for the Texans since NBC took over that time slot.  So while the division is looking fairly strong this week, it could turn by 11PM CDT on Sunday.

Another week, another win for New England.  It got close enough to not be considered a beatdown in garbage time, but for the majority of the game, Denver wasn't in sight.  I'm sure people were worried after they lost to Arizona and Baltimore, but at 3-2 they look to be rising.  Still, it's not what most of us would expect after five weeks.

The most impressive win goes to San Francisco for the second week in a row.  I guess if they're playing an AFC East team other than New England, the forecast is straight up beatdown.  Putting 34 on the Jets wasn't enough for Jim Harbaugh and Alex Smith, so they put 45 on Buffalo and made them look pitiful.  Speaking of which, how bad is Buffalo's defense?  They've let up 48 to the Jets, 52 to the Pats, and 45 to the 49ers.  Has to be the worst scoring defense, at least.

A weird ending to the San Diego/New Orleans game.  There were consecutive penalties against the Chargers and then a freak injury to the left tackle that ended the game with Rivers getting taken down on a sack/fumble.  The penalties took the Chargers out of range for a TD that would have tied the game up.  And for the coaching staff to fail to notice that the left tackle was injured...well, that's on them.  But the penalties made it look a little fishy.  And let's not go crazy about the Saints; when they started 0-4, they essentially ended the season after Week 4.

Here are the Rankings for Week 5:
1.) Atlanta (5-0) [no change]
 Another close game, but still undefeated, thus still the best.

2.) Houston (5-0) [no change]
 Taking advantage of a weak early season schedule.  Will Cushing injury derail them?

3.) Baltimore (4-1) [+1]
 A field goal festival leads the Ravens to the top of the AFC North.  Back home for the Cowboys this week.

4.) San Francisco (4-1) [+1]
 Two beatdowns in a row and now the Giants come in.  Can they make it three in a row?

5.) Chicago (4-1) [+2]
 Bye week coming up; not sure if it's a good time since they've won three in a row.

6.) Arizona (4-1) [-3]
 While losing in that fashion might cast doubt on the Cards' legitimacy, let's remember it was a short week.

7.) Minnesota (4-1) [+3]
 A pretty spectacular beatdown by the Vikings.  Now they head to Washington, who might be without RGIII.

8.) New England (3-2) [-]
 It's a long trip to Seattle, but it helps to have a couple wins under the belt.

9.) St. Louis (3-2) [-]
 Over .500 for the first time in 5+ years?  It's a good time to be the Rams.  They head to Miami next.

10.) Cincinnati (3-2) [-4]
 A bad loss for the Bengals, but they head to Cleveland for what should be an easy win.

That's all for this week.  See you next week.

Three Games to Watch (Week 6):
New England @ Seattle (Sunday, CBS)
NY Giants @ San Francisco (Sunday, FOX)
Denver @ San Diego (Monday, ESPN)
Category: NFL
Posted on: October 12, 2010 2:42 pm
 

2010 NFL Power Rankings, Week 5

Five weeks down, and no undefeated teams remain.  Quite a quandary for this wannabe writer.  Usually, the main purpose of these Rankings is to tout the best teams in the NFL, especially the undefeated teams.  Now there are none remaining.  It still remains to be seen whether any of these ten are actually "good", or if they were just the best ten at this point in the season.  That's an arguable point, as there are currently ten 3-2 teams, all of whom look more or less Rankings worthy.  Let's go!

1.) Baltimore (4-1) [no change]
 If there's one thing I can appreciate, it's consistency.  The Ravens have shown that in recent weeks by winning consecutive games.  They seem to be getting better every week as well.  They might not actually be the best team so far, but they seem to be the most complete.  And with a lack of undefeated teams, Baltimore appears to be the best of the current group.

2.) NY Jets (4-1) [+2]
 Again I figured the Jets would succumb, and again I was proven wrong.  It figures, of course, that Brett Favre would throw an INT to seal his team's doom, and that the Jets' defense would be opportunistic enough to turn that INT into a game-winning touchdown.  The Jets are getting all the pieces back in place, and that loss against Baltimore is looking smaller and smaller.

3.) New England (3-1) [no change]
 New England was on a bye, so I couldn't see moving them up or down.  I changed my mind about the other team in the Rankings on a bye...see below.

4.) Atlanta (4-1) [+1]
 Another week, another win for the "never say die" Falcons.  I think it's safe to say that Matt Ryan has no effects from last season's sophomore slump.  Good thing, since they've needed him to be at his best at the end of every game.  Next week they draw the Eagles in what could be Michael Vick's first game against his former team.  They've got a better shot if Kevin Kolb is the Eagles' starter, I would guess, though that is no safe bet either.

5.) Chicago (4-1) [+5]
 I don't have the stats next to me to back this up, but I'm guessing that was one of the worst starts by a QB since 2000.  Heck, maybe since 1990, even.  Todd Collins was all sorts of awful, completing only six passes for 32 yards, with FOUR INT's.  Somehow, the Bears and Matt Forte (or maybe just Forte by himself, given their similarly dreadful O-line) made do without help from the QB and ran over Carolina.  Obviously, we can't count on that happening again.  Chicago must be loving Jay Cutler now; they might not have much hope with him, but they definitely have no hope whatsoever without him.

6.) Tampa Bay (3-1) [-]
 Somehow, these erstwhile young Bucs are 3-1.  Somehow.  Playing against Cincinnati, they proved to me that they're a good team, and that Carson Palmer is in no way an "elite" QB.  I doubt that Palmer is even "good" at the moment.  Josh Freeman, on the other hand, is looking like a winner, if nothing else.  Good for him.

7.) Kansas City (3-1) [-5]
 Luckily for the Chiefs, there are only so many 1-loss teams this week.  Their inclusion in the Rankings was a given, as a result.  Usually, I would have dropped them out entirely; falling from the ranks of the undefeated is not something I reward.  Despite losing at Indy, I think the Chiefs are a good team.  Or better than the remainder of the 3-2 teams that aren't in the Rankings this week.

8.) Pittsburgh (3-1) [+1]
 Like I said above, I don't usually move teams that are on a bye.  It just seems ...stupid.  Yet I've moved Pittsburgh up one spot this week because they're the "last" 3-1 team, and the other two teams below them have two losses.  What looks worse, a 3-2 team ranked higher than a 3-1 team, or a team on a bye moving up a single spot?  I thought so too.

9.) Indianapolis (3-2) [-]
 Thanks to that win at home, and my undying admiration for Peyton Manning in general, the Colts are back in the Rankings.  I guess that means I'm biased.  Anyway, I firmly believe that the Colts will rise above this rather uncharacteristic start and win 12-13 games.  Pie in the sky, I say.  Pie in the sky.

10.) Tennessee (3-2) [-]
 They've got Vince Young and Chris Johnson.  And they just so happened to beat the Cowboys.  OK, so maybe that's not worth as much as it used to be (like when the Cowboys were actually a good team).  But I have a feeling about these Titans.  I think they'll continue to prove their worth as the season goes on, as opposed to say, Jacksonville, or the NY Giants.

See you next week.  Thanks for reading.
Category: NFL
Posted on: September 28, 2010 6:14 pm
Edited on: September 28, 2010 6:48 pm
 

2010 NFL Power Rankings, Week 3

Three undefeated teams left, and they take the top spots this week.  A whole lot of 2-1 teams are behind them as the season moves forward.  The only constant is change!  Let's go!

1.) Pittsburgh (3-0) [+2]
 Ben who?  The Steelers are now 3-0 after handing Tampa a nice smooth glass of beatdown; shaken, not stirred.  OK, I didn't see this coming either.  Then again, I had no idea Pittsburgh's defense would be rejuvenated, or that Troy Polamalu and Lawrence Timmons would continue to raise their game to new levels.  Oops.  I feel bad about not picking them to beat Atlanta and Tennessee too.  But here they are at 1, and as long as they keep winning, they're welcome to stay there.

2.) Kansas City (3-0) [+5]
 The Chiefs are a good team.  I think.  At any rate, they're 3-0 and they flat out spanked San Francisco this week, so that makes them worthy of 2nd in the Rankings.  They're winning with defense as well, though Matt Cassel might be turning into something.  And by something, I mean more like a real bonafide QB, and less something like a toad.

3.) Chicago (3-0) [+3]
 They lucked out.  That said, Chicago is the best team in the NFC after three weeks.  So I'm guessing the good far outweighs the bad.

4.) Indianapolis (2-1) [+6]
 Fresh off a beatdown of the Giants, Indy went out to Denver and played "aight".  Good enough to win, but not good enough to let go of all doubts people might have about them.  The defense in particular was messy.  How Kyle Orton throws for over 400 yards is beyond me.  Losing Bob Sanders (again) doesn't mean that much, does it?

5.) Atlanta (2-1) [+4]
 Their OT victory vaults the Falcons up and knocks New Orleans right out of the picture for a week.  Atlanta played better, and probably shouldn't have even had it go to OT.  We'll see how they play this week, though.  I have a feeling they're for real.

6.) New England (2-1) [-]
 The first new team this week is New England.  They might have won narrowly against Buffalo (especially compared to how Green Bay trounced them), but with Tom Brady and his gaggle of weapons, it's hard to discount the Pats.  Their defense isn't good again, but with that offense...do they really need to be the best?

7.) Philadelphia (2-1) [-]
 Count me as one of those who was right about Michael Vick.  I was of the opinion that starting him over Kevin Kolb (who is still getting over a concussion, like it or not) was not the worst thing in the world, for Kolb or the Eagles.  One beatdown of Jacksonville later, and Vick is looking golden.  Does it translate against a better team?  Maybe not, but it doesn't hurt to get Kolb rested up and ready for games when he might be less pressured.

8.) Baltimore (2-1) [-]
 Baltimore returns to the Rankings after a win against Cleveland.  I have a good feeling about the Ravens too; anytime they win, they will likely be vaulting up, or back into the Rankings, depending on the previous week's results.  I believe they're one of the top contenders in the AFC.  Their strength should be no surprise.

9.) Cincinnati (2-1) [-]
 The Bengals still aren't playing up to their potential, I think.  Still, the results haven't been too bad.  In one of the tougher divisions in football, they're 2-1 and tied with Baltimore for second, though they've already gotten the Ravens' number once.  How they play against Pittsburgh later in the season will determine how far they go.

10.) NY Jets (2-1) [-]
 What do you know, the Jets really can play.  It helps that Miami was inept on offense when it really counted, but I'm not really holding that against Ryan and Sanchez.  They can still play better too.

See you next week.  Thanks for reading. (I can't believe I had Cincy spelled wrong.  geez)
Category: NFL
 
 
 
 
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