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Posted on: November 10, 2011 5:00 am

2011 NFL Power Rankings, Week 9

Quick turnaround this week, what with lateness on my part and the first Thursday night game of the season.  It's hard to know what to make of Week 9, to be honest, as it was another one where weird stuff happened and teams that we thought were golden looked less like gold and more like urine.

Here are the standings for Week 9:

Prisco: 7-7
Red: 7-7
King: 5-9

As you can see, it was a rough week for everyone, but King was the worst off.  In spite of that performance, Prisco and I are still a couple wins behind him, a testament to how solid he's been all season.  I missed out on a bunch of teams I thought would win, but somehow lost despite looking better coming in and/or being the better team outright.

What really disappointed me were the Pennsylvania teams and New England.  I think Philadelphia is done, finally, barring an incredible set of miracles.  It also appears that the NY Giants are for real, at least this week.  We all know that they tend to fall off in the second half.

Here are the Rankings for Week 9:

1.) Green Bay (8-0) [no change]
 Even when facing the supposedly elite Philip Rivers, Aaron Rodgers and co. don't blink.  What do they do?  Allow a ton of points while intercepting Rivers three times (TWO were pick-six's), including two by Charlie Peprah that broke the game open and won it, respectively.  If they can get their points allowed down, great things could be in the offing.  Even still, with the defense they've had all season (i.e. not much) they've remained undefeated.  My respect for Rodgers has grown tremendously over the last 8 games, I must say.  While I derided him as not elite and such, he's won a Super Bowl and come out in 2011 looking unbeatable.

2.) San Francisco (7-1) [no change]
 I think we can safely say that the 49ers are not only the biggest surprise, but also the second-best team in the league.  They're virutally guaranteed a playoff spot at this point, with a first-round bye easily within reach.  Some may be concerned about the remaining East Coast trips they have on their schedule; I look at what they've done so far while in the Eastern time zone and just marvel at it.  It's hard to believe how good this team has been in the Eastern time zone.  Jim Harbaugh would be a cinch for Coach of the Year if not for Mike McCarthy and his boys going undefeated.

3.) Cincinnati (6-2) [+1]
 Earlier in the season, people wondered about Detroit and Buffalo.  While Detroit seems to have overcome their hiccup, Buffalo has fallen off the wagon somewhat.  Cincinnati has to be viewed the same way; while they've done an admirable job thus far, their schedule tightens up considerably down the stretch, and I think we're all justified in wondering how this team will respond.  I don't think they're too high at the moment, these Rankings being what they are.  But I would not be surprised to see them fall back slightly.

4.) Baltimore (6-2) [+2]
 Were it not for the Patriots crashing and burning, Baltimore's unlikely win over the Steelers would have been my biggest surprise from Week 9.  As it is, Joe Flacco and co. did a hell of a job surprising not only the critics, but their opponents in the black & gold.  The season series (two games makes a series?) is in Baltimore's favor, but I'm not certain they'll finish with a better record than Pittsburgh.  Let's not forget that Cincinnati is in the AFC North as well, and even if they haven't played the difficult part of their schedule yet, a couple unexpected wins could turn the tide for them.  That said, Baltimore appears to be one of the better teams in the AFC.  If Flacco can keep giving consistent effort, this is probably the best team in the AFC, given the Patriots' lack of defense.

5.) Detroit (6-2) [no change]
 Coming off the bye, the Lions get a rematch with Chicago.  I fail to see why anything would be different from the last time they played.

6.) NY Giants (6-2) [+3]
 I certainly didn't expect a restatement of the surprise win that the Giants pulled on New England in the Super Bowl a couple years ago.  If anything, I expected the Pats to run wild and put up 40.  Alas, the Giants won and now I have to take them seriously again, even though it remains solid fact that every time I take them seriously, they have an inexcusably bad loss that defines the term "bad loss" (i.e. that honker Eli Manning threw against Seattle).  While I don't think the Giants are good, much less the best at anything, they appear to have figured some things out.  So let's see where they go from here, shall we?

7.) New Orleans (6-3) [+3]
 And just like that, the Saints are back in my good graces.  Beating a division rival will do that.  On a day when Aaron Rodgers stated his case as elite (and Philip Rivers boldly stated that he isn't), Drew Brees went out and won against the Bucs, a team that had beaten them surprisingly earlier in the season.  It appears that New Orleans will eventually claim the NFC South and host a playoff game, I'm not sure about their chances for playoff success.  Green Bay looks like such an unbeatable monster, yet the Saints played them tit-for-tat on opening night.  Though it seems hard to remember now, that game was one of the best of the season, as I saw it.

8.) Houston (6-3) [-]
 Another team that I have little respect and less love for has re-entered the Rankings.  Much like the Giants, it would appear that the Texans have figured some things out, even without Mario Williams (an overrated player, at best) and Andre Johnson (a top 5 WR at worst).  I'm definitely in favor of the "wait and see" approach with this team; you literally never know what will happen next, even when they look like they're pulling it together.

9.) Pittsburgh (6-3) [-6]
 If it turns out that one play defines the Steelers' 2011 season, it may well be the catch Torrey Smith made to win the game on Sunday night.  I don't really have any complaints about how the Steelers played; they were pretty awesome, and so was Baltimore.  I have some faith that Roethlisberger and the rest will end up with a better record than Baltimore, thus rendering those games moot, but one never knows.  This team is also a bit difficult to figure out.  Some of their losses this season really defy description.

10.) New England (5-3) [-2]
 Hanging on by a thread, seriously.

Finally, a note on the team that exited the Rankings.  It was Buffalo (7).  They're now 5-3 and looking like they're on a downslope after losing to the Jets in a baffling way.  I still feel this team should be undefeated given their cake schedule.  We'll see what happens, but I'm not exactly bullish on their chances against Dallas in Week 10.  The three-way tie in the AFC East doesn't bode well for anybody either, as all three teams have vast shortcomings that they'll struggle to remedy if they make the playoffs.  Honestly, I don't think any of them will do much in the playoffs.  One of them will have to host a game, with a Wild Card opponent that likely brings the pain and an upset.

Also, I'm taking the Chargers in the first Thursday night game of the season, for whatever that's worth.

That's all for this week.  See you next week!
Category: NFL
Posted on: November 1, 2011 9:42 pm

2011 NFL Power Rankings, Week 8

While I understand that parity and the "Any Given Sunday" mantra rule in "today's NFL", I think that a particular week is better with fewer upsets and out-and-out weird crap going on.  This week was one of those good weeks, with a couple of exceptions.  New Orleans went to St. Louis and should have had another easy win.  Instead, they get punched in the mouth, as it were.  I'm still not sure what the impetus was; did New Orleans really play bad, or were the Rams struck by inspiration, as the reports seem to indicate?  I guess in the end it doesn't matter; teams like New Orleans have roadbumps every season.  Last year, they lost to Cleveland and looked terrible doing it.  So it's not exactly unprecedented.  I'm sure no one has forgotten their disastrous road trip to Seattle in last year's playoffs either.  We're still in the middle of things in the 2011 NFL season, and it's not certain what we can take away from it all, or what we'll remember once the season ends.

Here are the standings for Week 8:

Prisco: 9-4
Red: 9-4
King: 10-3

Everyone did better this week after a fairly pedestrian Week 7.  I missed out with Carolina, New Orleans, New England, and Dallas.  Carolina probably should have won their game with Minnesota.  A missed Olindo Mare field goal (a chippy, it seemed) was the difference between a Minnesota win and OT, where anything can happen.  New England had issues on defense again and suffered for it as Pittsburgh went up and down the field all day.  Dallas just got demolished.  I could say more, but I wasn't watching the game all that closely once I realized that they had no chance of winning.

That was in the first quarter, truth be told.

After watching New England yak it up against Pittsburgh, I was in no mood to see Dallas play like anything but world beaters.

What happened to Philadelphia, anyway?  They stunk up the joint for weeks, and now they're good?  Where has this been?  Why couldn't they have been trustworthy before?

This stuff pisses me off.

Here are the Rankings for Week 8:

1.) Green Bay (7-0) [no change]
 The bye week came at a good time for the defending champs, who had a chance to get focused.  There's no one better, to be sure, but is anyone else even close?  I doubt it, at this point.  But as I said above, we're only at the midpoint of the season, and things sure do change quickly.

2.) San Francisco (6-1) [+1]
 I admit, it's a bit odd to see the 49ers this high up in the Rankings, and looking this good.  They just hired a new coach in the offseason, and they look miles ahead of every other team besides Green Bay.  Their one loss was in OT against the Cowboys, which seems somewhat acceptable given how they've run roughshod through the rest of the schedule thus far.  It gets a little more stiff since they have a Thanksgiving game coming up at the end of the month and a couple more trips to the east coast.  Still, it's looking like SF is the second-best team in the league.  At least, for this week.

3.) Pittsburgh (6-2) [+2]
 It's interesting to see how far the Steelers have come since the beginning of the season.  All of a sudden, they look like world-beaters again.  Those losses to Baltimore and Houston are still disturbing to an extent that leads me to distrust them more than I probably should.  Honestly, they should have won against the Texans, and they should have come out better against Baltimore.  They have a rematch with the Ravens in Week 9, and this time it's in Pittsburgh.  So we'll see just how "real" each team is.  If one of them decides to do a swan dive into the toilet via painful and inexplicable disemboweling...well, it'll just be another weird occurrence in a season full of them.

4.) Cincinnati (5-2) [+2]
 Is Andy Dalton for real?  Apparently so.  I didn't see any of the game against Seattle, but I'm assuming that if a team goes on the road and wins by two TD's, they're doing something right.  So far, Cincinnati has done quite a bit right.

5.) Detroit (6-2) [+2]
 And just like that, the Lions are on their way back up.  I don't get it either.  But, I'll be honest, I'm glad that they put such a beatdown on Denver; I've gotten far beyond tired of Denver and that QB that the media keeps talking about.  I was never a fan of his and thought that being picked in the first round was one of the dumbest decisions I'd seen in a long time.  Anyway, any time a team puts up 45, they deserve to move up, and this week was Detroit's to shine, and to gesticulate in the face of every other team.

6.) Baltimore (5-2) [+2]
 It got a little dicey for the Ravens; not only had they lost last week, they were down 3 TD's to Arizona (Arizona?  Seriously!?) at halftime.  Then the comeback happened, and the Ravens head to Pittsburgh with ...something approaching confidence, I suppose.  I'm sure there's a sense of relief as well.  If they had lost two in a row before heading to Pittsburgh, things could have come crashing down right on top of them.  But now, if they can stun the Steelers and win the season series, they could find themselves in the driver's seat in the AFC.  That sounds weird, actually.  I mean, I'm used to Baltimore being good, and being a perennial Super Bowl contender...but it's one thing to be a contender and quite another to be the "best" team in the conference and clearly leading the pack while the rest try to follow.  To be honest, I'm not sure if Baltimore is cut out for that, or if that's the position that's the best for them.

7.) Buffalo (5-2) [+2]
 Perhaps it sounds ridiculous, or even bandwagon to say that the Bills should be better off than they are.  But really, they should be undefeated.  Given the schedule they've had, and the few actual challenges that remain, it's not hard to believe that they're a contender, or that they could possibly be undefeated.  As it turns out, they're not as good as they looked in the first few weeks of the season, but despite that, they could still win the AFC East.  Of course, they have to tidy up their resume by beating New England and the Jets.  Neither of those appears to be an impossibility at this point.

8.) New England (5-2) [-6]
 It seems rather inexplicable that New England could lose to Pittsburgh after winning four in a row against them.  And yet, here we are.  The defense has to be a concern, especially for people like me who are trying to analyze this team and try to figure out where they're going.  At the moment, it looks like New England could be a playoff team, but it's by no means set in stone.  Then again, who's going to step up to beat them out?

9.) NY Giants (5-2) [-]
 I guess it had to happen at some point.  I have no confidence in this team, either in their ability to remain atop the NFC East, or to remain in the Rankings for longer than five minutes.

10.) New Orleans (5-3) [-6]
 Apparently, we should have expected something like this at some point.  It's just that nobody expects a good team to go on the road to face a terrible, winless team and lose.  It's something I can't shake, no matter how much football I watch.

Finally, a note on the team that exited the Rankings.  It was San Diego (10).  As expected, they went into Kansas City and played a generally good game before completely giving it up at the end, sending it to OT where they crumbled.  I guess I could say that I'm surprised that I saw this coming and completely missed on Dallas, New England, and New Orleans, but I also have more confidence in those three than in San Diego.

Let's also put to rest this notion that Philip Rivers is an "elite" QB.  Now, I understand that Drew Brees didn't do himself any favors this week, but he's still got a ring.  And despite being replaced, in essence, he's proven to be the better player so far.  But the question here is, would any of the "elite" QB's have committed so offensive and inexplicable a mistake as Rivers did last night?  I feel fairly certain that the answer is no.  My list would include Brady, Peyton Manning, Brees, Roethlisberger, and Aaron Rodgers.  I'm hard-pressed to see how any of those would do something that bad in a late-game situation.  In fact, the only one I might even question slightly is Roethlisberger.  The others are unquestionably better than that kind of mistake.

Rivers turned a surefire win into a loss.  It's not just this week that marks him as not elite, though, in the same company as Eli Manning, Matt Ryan, Joe Flacco, and Mark Sanchez.  It's a body of work that shows that he is not worth the accolades that he often receives.  I feel that Rodgers in particular was lumped into "elite" status far too quickly, before he had a chance to prove that he was worth it.  Winning a Super Bowl and coming out the first 7 games of this season and just mowing down the competition has proved to me that he is "elite".  Is he the best QB in the league?  No.  But then again, Peyton Manning hasn't played a single game this season.

So San Diego is out for now.  Their schedule is not among the easier ones (I'm looking at you, Buffalo), so I'm not sure of their future returns.

That's all for this week.  See you next week!
Category: NFL
Posted on: December 8, 2009 1:59 pm

2009 NFL Power Rankings, Week 13

1.) New Orleans (12-0) [no change]
 They might have won on some fluke plays, but I'm a firm believer that teams that want to go undefeated have to be lucky and good in near-equal measure.  Robert Meachem is a heck of a player, especially with Drew Brees! throwing him the ball.

2.) Indianapolis (12-0) [no change]
 More than a few teams that were expected to win did not.  Mostly unheralded Indianapolis took the field against Tennessee and took care of business.  They didn't even struggle like New Orleans did.  Tough game next week against Denver, though.

3.) San Diego (9-3) [+1]
 San Diego continues to surprise, despite allowing 23 points to Cleveland (and killing one of my fantasy teams in the process, ouch).  If they beat the Cowboys next week (pretty likely), they probably lock up the AFC West, since I don't see Denver winning IN Indy.

4.) Cincinnati (9-3) [+2]
 Cincinnati is another de facto division winner, locking up the AFC North with losses by their two rivals.  The Bengals might not have played their best game against Detroit, but Cedric Benson is back healthy and Carson Palmer throws it downfield well.  They're a huge threat in the playoffs.

5.) Green Bay (8-4) [+2]
 Ugly game last night on the (cue overly self-important voice) Frozen Tundra of Lambeau Field.  The Packers played well when it counted, though (not well enough to save my other fantasy team, but I digress) and beat the Ravens, sending them spiraling further into oblivion.  I'm not quite buying Aaron Rodgers; not until he learns that Greg Jennings and Donald Driver are his #1 and #2, respectively, not #8 and #1.

6.) Philadelphia (8-4) [+2]
 Lots of people are jumping on the Eagles bandwagon all of a sudden.  I guess that's because unlike the Cowboys, Philly has won a few games in December in recent history (44-6 last year comes to mind, ouch).  I don't think they'll win the NFC East (give me Dallas or the NY Giants), but they'll take a Wild Card easily.  Green Bay could easily slip up, and there are very few teams behind them and Philly pushing hard for the Wild Card.

7.) Denver (8-4) [+2]
 If you don't know what to make of the Broncos, raise your hand.  So they started out 6-0, and have now won two in a row after a disastrous tailspin.  Now they have to go to Indy, where they haven't won recently (and have lost quite memorably) to face the super-hot Peyton Manning and his Colts.  It would seem like the game is a must-win, especially since San Diego has a decent matchup this week.  With the Broncos, it's impossible to tell which team will show up.

8.) Arizona (8-4)
 After a one week absence, Arizona returns with a stunning beatdown of the previously third-ranked Vikings.  Kurt Warner was questionable with a head injury before the game, but came onto the field and absolutely carved up Minnesota.  For once, he concentrated on getting the ball to Larry Fitzgerald, producing one of the WR's best games this season.  They have a division game next Monday against San Francisco that gives them the division with a win.

9.) Minnesota (10-2) [-6]
 One of the most disappointing teams this week was Minnesota.  Brett Favre wasn't great, yet he wasn't the worst offender on Sunday night.  That award goes to Adrian Peterson and Jared Allen, in a two-man tie of booshy badness.  Neither of them did anything worth mentioning.  At least Favre threw a TD.  Adrian Peterson couldn't even gain five yards in a single carry (though his receiving yards prevented him from being totally worthless).  I hope for their sake they haven't been exposed, but they're playing Cincinnati next week and that is a tough game.

10.) Dallas (8-4) [-5]
 Another team that disappointed heavily was the Cowboys.  For all the BS talk about December swooning, Sunday's game really came down to two plays: Brandon Jacobs' TD run, and Domenik Hixon's punt return TD.  Poor tackling on both plays prevented the Cowboys from winning.  Tony Romo completed 41 passes, but most of them didn't go down the field.  There was no running game to speak of, with Barber, Jones, and Choice all getting stuffed repeatedly.  The Cowboys have a tough schedule down the stretch, too, so it's unlikely to get any easier, or for the talking heads to shut up about how much they suck in December.
Category: NFL
Posted on: November 17, 2009 2:04 pm

2009 NFL Power Rankings, Week 10

1.) New Orleans (9-0) [no change]
 Another week, another win for the Saints.  Some might wonder when they'll get it back in gear...I say that happens when New England comes to town in a couple weeks.
2.) Indianapolis (9-0) [no change]
 The Colts keep their spot based on their narrow defeat of the Patriots.  That had to be the Game of the Year so far.
3.) Minnesota (8-1) [no change]
 Maybe not the offensive explosion some were expecting, but the Vikings handily defeated the Lions anyway.
4.) Cincinnati (7-2) [+2]
 One of the surprise teams of the season, they're still rolling after beating Pittsburgh for the second time this season.
5.) Arizona (6-3) [+3]
 Arizona looks like they're rounding into form now.  Maybe.
6.) San Diego (6-3)
 The Chargers held serve at home against another NFC East team.  After last week's trip to NYC, I wasn't sure they'd pull out another one.  But they did, and they get props for that by appearing here.
7.) Pittsburgh (6-3) [-3]
 Oh, they are so lucky that there are only about six good teams right now.  The Steelers' offense gagged the entire game.
8.) Dallas (6-3) [-1]
 Speaking of lucky...wow, are the Cowboys lucky there are only six good teams.  They were worse than Pittsburgh by many, many lengths, and I wonder why they even bothered showing up in Lambeau.
9.) New England (6-3) [-3]
 Losing to the Colts is no shame.  Losing the way they did, on the other hand....
10.) Green Bay (5-4)
 The Packers get in solely based on their win over Dallas.  They're not a good team at all, no matter how dominant they were on Sunday.
Category: NFL
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