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Tag:Eagles
Posted on: September 13, 2011 8:06 pm
 

2011 NFL Power Rankings, Week 1

And...we're back!  It's been a long offseason, what with the lockout and such, but there were no games missed (except the first preseason game, but who cares about that), so all seems to be well.  It was a confusing week for me, and a bit of a disappointing one as my team (Cowboys) gave one away late and a lot of the results just seemed wrong.  A lot of bad performances around the league in Week 1, with a couple that were praiseworthy in defeat.  The winners for the most part looked pretty spectacular.  That said, it's one game, and I'm not officially counting anyone out just yet.

Introducing a new feature for 2011, a look at the picks I made for this week's games.  As you may know, Pete Prisco here at CBS and Peter King of Sports Illustrated & NBC's pregame show make their picks and predict the score too.  I've been doing this since 2007 or so, but now I'm going to keep track of my picks here in the Rankings and note where I screwed up.  Here are the Week 1 standings:

Prisco: 8-8
Red: 8-8
King: 12-4

Obviously, King has a decided advantage after the first week.  All three of us had in common Atlanta, Cleveland, and Kansas City.  I also messed up on Tennessee, Pittsburgh, Indianapolis, NY Giants, and Dallas.  The explanation for this is not terribly involved, but I'll go through them anyway.

Atlanta, Cleveland, and Kansas City all had winnable games, despite Atlanta being on the road.  I'm not a believer in the Bears (is anybody outside of Chicago?) so it's no surprise I didn't pick them.  I don't trust them, honestly.  And I dislike Jay Cutler.  Speaking of Cutler, in spite of what Bob Costas claims, any criticism that he took from players and the media over that injury flap last season seemed entirely justified to me.  Fans tend to blow up about stuff like that and lose objectivity, but the players who are out there every week and can spot a guy who's not putting in the effort to get back out there are qualified to make their opinion known.  I for one applaud them for calling out Cutler for being what he is/was.

I sure as hell didn't expect Buffalo to be any good, either.

As for the rest, I took a chance on Tennessee and Indy.  Tennessee was essentially a toss-up, or so it seemed.  Indianapolis has a great history against the Texans, and Houston has a tendency to yack in the big games.  They didn't this week, so I took one on the chin.  And who could have foreseen what happened to Ben Roethlisberger and the Steelers?  They're usually ready to play, last I checked.  Not this time.

The Giants had injuries on defense, but with Rex Grossman the opposing QB...well, do I need to say more?

And the Cowboys.  Yeesh.  I could probably write an entire post on that game, but I'll just say that while I didn't expect that result, I wasn't necessarily surprised either.

OK, with all that said, here are my Rankings for Week 1.  Remember, these reflect the results of the games, and are not meant to be predictive in any form or fashion.  Generally, since each winning team is 1-0, I tried to take into account the impressiveness of their victory.  I then add that into a pot with my own gut feeling and my particular bias.  Hey, at least I admit I'm biased, right?

1.) Green Bay (1-0)
  Give the champs credit; they came out swinging and discovered another weapon in Randall Cobb.  Some may call the defense a concern, I say that they'll round into form in due time.  Nothing to see there.

2.) Baltimore (1-0)
   Well, that was a demolition.  It's hard to tell what to make of that game, to be honest, because I can't even remember the last time the Steelers played that badly.  I'm guessing Neil O'Donnell or Kordell Stewart was starting at QB.  But hey, I've been wrong before.  I figured the Ravens would be a strong team, not to mention a Super Bowl contender.  But to have this kind of result after the first game?  Wow.

3.) New England (1-0)
  I was impressed.  But I kind of expected something like this, and when Prisco picked the Dolphins, I just chuckled.  Tom Brady comes out and throws for over 500 yards, just to remind everyone who thinks that other QB's are better than he is that he's still the best.  And without Peyton Manning to contend with, another MVP season for Brady could be in the cards.  Is it likely?  I'd say so, but I'm doing my best to not overreact here.

4.) NY Jets (1-0)
  It's always nice to be a beneficiary of someone else's stupidity.  In this case, the Jets took advantage of stupid plays by Tony Romo, not to mention that huge punt block.  Mark Sanchez wasn't exactly at his best (whatever that is), but he played well enough and didn't make a soul-crushing mistake like Romo did.  The defense might be a concern as well, but as long as the opponent's receivers can't stop cramping, I'm not sure it's a big deal, just like in Green Bay.

5.) Philadelphia (1-0)
   Oh, snap, the Dream Team won!  Yeah, I'm not buying that garbage about Philly being the "Dream Team".  They won and looked pretty good, so whatever.  Supposedly the stats were not good for Vick; let's be honest, though, stats don't mean everything.

6.) Detroit (1-0)
  Matt Stafford goes down to Tampa and cramps up, but still gets the win.  I gotta admit, seeing him limp around late in the game made me cringe a little.  The guy is always (almost always?) injured, and seeing something like that doesn't really inspire confidence.  But the temperature was over 100 and it was Week 1...and they play their home games in a dome.  So it's probably not a concern.  Like most things that went on in Week 1, really.  Solid win, and a good start to a season where people expect things to happen.

7.) San Diego (1-0)
   It got ugly, especially on special teams, but they ended up winning.  Of course, any team should win big when holding the opposing QB to 39 yards.  That's really bad, and one has to wonder how many of those McNabb can have before getting replaced.  With Denver and KC going down, the Chargers have a chance to get out to an early lead, depending on how Oakland plays moving forward.  But they do have to beat Oakland at some point.

8.) San Francisco (1-0)
  If Ted Ginn, Jr. had a better day as a pro before Sunday, I obviously missed it.  He was the difference against Seattle.  Supposedly, Seattle is a contender for the worst team in the league (and good on Carroll for being at the helm for it, he deserves it).  So maybe there's a concern that the 49ers should have had more of a beatdown going on before Ginn went off.

9.) Buffalo (1-0)
  Biggest surprise of the week?  I'll cast my vote.  I thought Kansas City would show up at some point.  Obviously, I was wrong.  And I didn't see Buffalo coming out and putting 41 on ANYBODY.

10.) Houston (1-0)
   A solid win for the Texans over a division rival.  I'll just pass on this one caveat: they didn't score a single point in the second half.  That fact has been glossed over by just about everyone of note, but I saw it.  I'm not saying that means anything, but if they're playing better teams (let's face it, Indy without Peyton was just awful), they need to keep their foot on the gas pedal for 60 minutes, not 30.

That's all for this week.  See you next week!
Posted on: December 21, 2010 9:31 pm
 

2010 NFL Power Rankings, Week 15

The first division title has been clinched, with seven more remaining.  Races are on in the NFC West (gag), AFC West, AFC North, and AFC South.  Chicago clinched the NFC North; Atlanta is in firm control of the NFC South; Philadelphia looks to have the NFC East.  Of course, besides division titles, there are two Wild Cards in each conference.  Those seem to be solidified as well; North and East in the AFC; South and East in the NFC.  But there are still head-to-head matchups that will determine things clearly.  Let's go!


1.) Atlanta (12-2) [no change]
 Three weeks on the road, three wins for the Falcons.  The NFC is theirs for the taking, with the last big game of the season coming this Monday against New Orleans.  It's at home, which means Atlanta has a huge advantage.  New Orleans will be coming off a loss, though, and this game is clearly one of the biggest of the season.  After this, the Falcons get Carolina.

2.) New England (12-2) [no change]
 It was a bit unlike the Patriots we've seen recently on Sunday Night.  They let Green Bay hang around for pretty much the whole game, and really only won based on three plays: Kyle Arrington's INT, Dan Connolly's kickoff return, and Green Bay's inability to get a play off at the end.  Still, they have a couple gimmes at Buffalo and home for Miami.  Could be an 8-game winning streak for the hottest team in the AFC.

3.) Philadelphia (10-4) [+2]
 What a finish.  28 points in 7:28, and the Giants looked utterly terrible as a result.  DeSean Jackson may be one of the biggest arrogant showboating jerks in the entire league, but the guy can play, and he sure is effective when it counts most.  Michael Vick is having a heck of a season too.  If it wasn't for Tom Brady, Vick would be the runaway MVP.  And Offensive Player of the Year in the NFC.  And Comeback Player of the Year in the NFC.

4.) Baltimore (10-4) [+2]
 Another close shave, but this time the Ravens put the screws on when it mattered most.  Even Drew Brees was rendered helpless.  And thanks to the Steelers yakking one up at home, Baltimore is still very much alive for a division title.  Surprisingly, Cleveland is the team that could determine this race; they play Baltimore and Pittsburgh in the last two weeks, and if they pull an upset, it could well determine the division winner.

5.) NY Jets (10-4) [+3]
 Mark Sanchez got back into a groove, and ran in a TD that essentially sealed the game for the Jets.  A heck of an upset, until one considers that Troy Polamalu wasn't playing.  Still, the Jets needed a win badly, and they got it.  They're in the running for a Wild Card, and since they're a couple wins ahead of the Chargers, it's likely they can hold down that spot and keep the AFC West to one representative in the playoffs.

6.) Chicago (10-4) [+3]
 The first team to clinch a division was the Bears.  I could have sworn they would fall off...but they haven't.  More power to 'em.  They're set to win a playoff game at home now, provided Jay Cutler plays well and the o-line can keep up from getting crushed.  It's chic to continue to question them, it seems, but now that they're in the playoffs and are going to host a game...it's hard to say that they can't win.

7.) Pittsburgh (10-4) [-4]
 A thoroughly disappointing game for the Steelers.  Without Troy Polamalu, they apparently didn't have quite enough defense.  Ben Roethlisberger is not blameless, either; he handed the ball off to Mewelde Moore and got a safety out of it, and failed on two opportunities to score the game-winning TD.  Ben is beat up, to be sure.  But that was a game the Steelers should have won, and didn't.  Now they have a race on their hands with the Ravens.

8.) New Orleans (10-4) [-4]
 Unfortunately, when two teams in the Rankings play each other, the loser has to move down.  So this is not an indictment of the Saints.  They played well; they just didn't win.  Given Atlanta's hold on the NFC South, New Orleans is likely headed on the road in the first round of the playoffs.  It sucks, but unless they have to go to Chicago, it shouldn't be extraordinarily difficult.

9.) Kansas City (9-5) [-]
 Matt Cassel returned from an appendectomy and the Chiefs pulled out a convincing win in St. Louis.  They now have two winnable home games while the rival Chargers have two road games.  It's looking like the Chiefs will win the AFC West and the Chargers will be left behind.  To that I can only say: Good.

10.) NY Giants (9-5) [-3]
 One would think being up 31-10 with that defense would be a gimme.  And yet, what did the Giants do?  They gave it up.  Now they have to win two games to secure a Wild Card, with this week's matchup against the Packers critical.  Green Bay has the advantage with Aaron Rodgers coming back and playing both games at home.  The Giants' problems with their defense and their special teams (and on occasion some offensive bumbling as well) could keep them out of the playoffs, which looked so obviously in reach just a couple weeks ago.  I can't say I'm displeased.

Thanks for reading.  See you next week.
Category: NFL
Posted on: December 14, 2010 10:30 pm
 

2010 NFL Power Rankings, Week 14

In what seems like a sudden development, things are becoming clearer in the playoff picture in the NFL.  There are now two great teams in each conference, with two really good teams nipping at their heels.  The 9-4 teams are looking good as well for a bye in the first round.  Still, anything could happen in the last three games.  With division games still being played, each game means more than it did last season.  Let's go!

1.) Atlanta (11-2) [no change]
 Given that the AFC is the better conference, it might seem odd that New England isn't the first team here.  I can't move Atlanta down in good conscience as long as they keep winning.  Atlanta goes on the road in Week 15 to Seattle.  Tough sledding, to be sure.  In Week 16 they play New Orleans at home on MNF.  So this week could be a "trap game".  Either that, or the Falcons are going to pull out one of their better performances of the season.  Third game in a row on the road, and an important one to stay in front of everyone else in the NFC.

2.) New England (11-2) [no change]
 Two weeks in a row, the Patriots have utterly dismantled a division leader.  Last week it was the Jets at home, this week the Bears in Chicago, in the snow, no less.  One would think the Pats would play well in the snow, but not THAT well.  They have what could be a tough game this week if Aaron Rodgers plays for the Packers.  If not, it'll be a runaway.  After that, two division games, @Buffalo and home for Miami.  I'm not sure how New England loses the first seed and home-field advantage for the playoffs.

3.) Pittsburgh (10-3) [no change]
 Making Carson Palmer look ridiculously bad wasn't too difficult for the Steelers.  Troy Polamalu had a couple INT's, including a pick-six.  How anybody could throw a pick to Polamalu, easily the most recognizable player on the field, no matter who the Steelers are playing, is indicative of just how terrible Carson Palmer is.  And to think some people were proclaiming him an elite QB not too long ago.  The Steelers have a surprisingly tough end-of-season schedule, with the Jets at home this week, a Thursday night game against Carolina, and then on the road in Cleveland, which is no gimme.  I wouldn't be surprised to see a 13-3 Pittsburgh team with the 2-seed.  Then again....

4.) New Orleans (10-3) [no change]
 Much like New England, New Orleans lost to the Cleveland Browns.  Much like New England, New Orleans hasn't lost since.  It's a weird quirk of this season, and perhaps they're the two teams we'll see in the Super Bowl this coming February.  The Saints travel to Baltimore and Atlanta before finishing up at home against Tampa Bay.  Tough sledding.  Baltimore is looking vulnerable after last night's OT debacle, while the Falcons are unbeatable at home, and poor Tampa can't beat a winning team.  So maybe it's not that tough.

5.) Philadelphia (9-4) [+3]
 One more road game remains for the Eagles, who travel to the "new" Meadowlands this week to face the Giants.  They outplayed the Cowboys in the second half, especially LeSean McCoy and DeSean Jackson (say that three times fast, huh).  Now that they're tied with the Giants, this week's game proves quite important for determining the division winner.  Philadelphia gets Minnesota and Dallas at home after this week, which is a slight advantage compared to the Giants somewhat tougher schedule.

6.) Baltimore (9-4) [+4]
 As I said above, last night was a debacle for Baltimore.  The offense looked good in the first half before looking utterly pathetic in the second.  Similarly, the defense ran out of gas in the second half, allowing two colossal drives and looking completely impotent in the process.  When the game went to overtime, I had a bad feeling the Texans were going to win one they shouldn't, but then I was saved by Matt Schaub's tragic decision-making.  He threw a pick-six to Baltimore CB Josh Wilson, and that was that.  Baltimore has New Orleans at home next week, so maybe that was part of this ridiculous mess of a Monday Night game.  All I know is, if the defense plays like that against Drew Breeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeees! and the Saints, the Ravens are going to find themselves cursing at the end of the game.

7.) NY Giants (9-4) [-]
 Having the game moved to Monday (and Detroit) had no effect on the Giants, who romped over the Vikings.  Now they face the Eagles in a potential revenge game that will also decide the division, in all likelihood.  The Giants end up at Green Bay and at Washington; if Rodgers is back for that game, the Giants could have some trouble.  Then again, they might concuss the poor SOB for a third time.

8.) NY Jets (9-4) [-3]
 If there was any team that really annoyed me in Week 14, it was the Jets.  They looked utterly pathetic against a hapless Dolphins team that could barely move the ball up the field.  Mark Sanchez was terrible, though his receivers were just as blameworthy; the defense was fine, for the most part.  Let's face it, the Dolphins are no offensive juggernaut, especially with Chad Henne throwing for a pittance (55 yards passing!  55!).  Coming off the heels of that terrible loss at New England, the Jets now look pitiful and vulnerable.

9.) Chicago (9-4) [-3]
 No matter how much I wanted to kick the Bears out of the Rankings, again, I just couldn't because there aren't enough good teams beside them.  I couldn't very well leave Kansas City or Green Bay in at 8-5 when the Bears are 9-4.  That said, I loathe the Bears.  They too have a tough schedule to end the season, going to Minnesota and Green Bay with a game against the Jets in between.  I still don't see how they win the division, even with Green Bay losing a very winnable game at Detroit.

10.) Jacksonville (8-5) [-]
 Playing a tough game against Oakland, the Jags pulled it out when Pocket Hercules (Maurice Jones-Drew, natch) ran it in quite easily.  They play at Indianapolis this weekend; with a win, it's likely that the Jags take the AFC South.  If they lose, it definitely opens the door to the Colts, who have a slightly easier schedule to finish.

Thanks for reading.  See you next week.
Category: NFL
Posted on: November 23, 2010 5:33 pm
Edited on: November 23, 2010 6:40 pm
 

2010 NFL Power Rankings, Week 11

I guess it was something of an underwhelming week in the NFL.  There were some great games, to be sure, and I'm certain I saw most of them.  There were also quite a few games that were not praiseworthy, I take it, because of the results.  In any case, the bunching at the top and middle hasn't wholly ceased.  If this season has taught us anything, it's that parity rules.  Let's go!

1.) Atlanta (8-2) [no change]
 The Falcons went out on the road and won a game.  That can only bode well, even if their opponent was the seemingly lowly St. Louis Rams.  Good enough to keep their spot at the top.

2.) NY Jets (8-2) [no change]
 It looked like trouble for the Jets, down 27-23 with under a minute left in the game.  But then Mark Sanchez went out, manned up (again), and saved the day.  One long bomb and one flare (to Braylon Edwards and Santonio Holmes, respectively), and the Jets were up 30-27.  Does that make Sanchez an MVP candidate?  No, not quite.  But he's a very solid QB who makes big plays when it counts most.  Game-winning plays.  Not everyone can say that.

3.) New England (8-2) [no change]
 It can be amazing what separates two great teams.  Or in this case, one great team and one other team that could be great, maybe, but aren't great right now.  Something like that.  Anyway, Tom Brady played just as expected.  Peyton Manning, not so much.  What might be more surprising is that New England's defense bailed them out.  But the Pats' offense is practically unstoppable; either that, or they exposed the Colts' defense.

4.) Philadelphia (7-3) [no change]
 Surprisingly, Michael Vick didn't play like Michael Vick.  Yet he outplayed Eli Manning, who couldn't figure out how to slide.  So now the Eagles are 7-3, hold the tiebreaker, and look like the favorites in the NFC, because NOBODY, not even the Giants vaunted "defense", can stop Michael Vick.  Oh, to be sure, he didn't play like he did last Monday against Washington, but nobody could have done that two weeks in a row.  With continued success, the Eagles could easily have 12 wins.

5.) Pittsburgh (7-3) [+1]
 Ben Roethlisberger took a shot to the mouth, but his team knocked out the Raiders.  Amazing how a team like the Steelers can come back from a loss and just pound the next team they face.  There should be no doubt that the Steelers are very good.  Are they Super Bowl-worthy?  I'm not sure, but after that beatdown, I have to lean toward "yes".  Wouldn't anybody?

6.) Green Bay (7-3) [+1]
 Once again, Aaron Rodgers came out on top over Brett Favre.  Oh, wait, that was only the second time that happened?  Well, whatever.  The Vikings are done, and the Packers are one step closer to winning the NFC North.  At the moment they're in 2nd due to that abhorrent loss to the Bears (and Chicago's unexplainable and improbable success to this point), but I've got a strong belief that the Packers will eventually win their division.  Even if it takes until the last day.

7.) Baltimore (7-3) [+1]
 Closer than it should have been, but Baltimore pulled it out against Carolina.  Most of that goes to Ed Reed, who is still an incredible safety, especially when it comes to picking off opposing QB's.  I'm not sure who wins the AFC North.  Baltimore has a great chance, though I'm sure they'll have to beat the Steelers again.

8.) New Orleans (7-3) [+1]
 What do you know, the Saints might actually be a good team.  OK, first off, this has nothing to do with Reggie Bush.  Obviously, since he hasn't played since Week 2.  It's all about Drew Brees, and he's getting it done despite throwing a boatload of INT's throughout.  The defense has stepped up against tomato cans and non-tomato cans alike.  Are they going to win the NFC South?  Probably not, but a wild card is certainly within reach.  Heck, the South might get three teams in, if everything rolls right.

9.) Tampa Bay (7-3) [-]
 Two teams go on the road and shut out their opponents.  One goes west, the other east.  I picked the one that went west, because the other team is the Chicago Bears, and they've angered me so much through the season that I'm not letting them in again.  Tampa Bay put up three TD's on the 49ers, and while they might not have been dominant...they went out west and got a shutout win.  Well, maybe they were dominant.  In any case, the Bucs are back in, and the Bears are still on the sidelines.

10.) Indianapolis (6-4) [-5]
 Funnily enough, Peyton Manning looked a bit like Brett Favre on that last play.  Throwing a pick is unusual for Manning, but throwing three has to be damn near unheard of (besides that disaster in San Diego a few years ago).  Then again, since they were playing New England, maybe I shouldn't be TOO surprised.  At any rate, the Colts are now 6-4 and on the short end of the tiebreaker (due to that terrible, awful, no good very bad loss to Jacksonville), and have a few division games coming up after they play the Chargers this weekend.  I still believe in the Colts...but I'm starting to wonder if perhaps this isn't their year.

Thanks for reading.  See you next week.
Category: NFL
Posted on: November 16, 2010 4:52 pm
 

2010 NFL Power Rankings, Week 10

Another tough week in the Rankings as some of the top teams lost.  Of course, others move up to take their place, but not much has changed, really.  It's certainly a fluid situation with everyone having nine games under their belt now.  I don't think my Rankings have any predictive value; note that last week's first-place team is now in sixth, for example.  So this is really a picture of what has gone on, rather than an attempt to determine what will occur in the future.  Let's go!

1.) Atlanta (7-2) [+3]
 Playing last Thursday, the Falcons earned the biggest win of Week 10.  Of course, there are arguments for other teams, and I won't ignore them.  However, I think Atlanta's win was most impressive, and they move up to the first spot thanks to that.  It's about time an NFC team had a turn, I think.  I still believe the best teams all reside in the AFC; Atlanta is now 3-1 against the other conference, and that too is being rewarded.  Is there any doubt now that they're the best team in the NFC?  At least, for this week?

2.) NY Jets (7-2) [+1]
 A modest jump for the Jets after a second OT win on the road.  Originally, I planned to put them at first, but late last night I had a feeling that putting Atlanta first would be the better idea.  The Jets played well, especially their QB Mark Sanchez and two of his receivers, Jerricho Cotchery (who manned up huge) and Santonio Holmes.  Holmes caught the TD pass that won the game in OT.  As long as Sanchez continues to improve, 12-14 wins are not out of the question.  They currently hold the tiebreaker in the AFC East.

3.) New England (7-2) [+3]
 Sunday Night was a good stage for New England, and going to Pittsburgh somehow proved to be the tonic that healed them.  It sounds all kinds of wrong, but the Patriots came out like gangbusters and blew up the Steelers.  It was impressive all the way around.  Tom Brady was masterful again, throwing three TD's to a rookie tight end and running for another one.  Here's hoping they can sustain that kind of play.

4.) Philadelphia (6-3) [+6]
 The biggest jump of the week belongs to the Eagles, who vaulted from 10th to 4th after a total beatdown of Washington last night.  It was simultaneously great and ugly.  Michael Vick was responsible for six TD's and generally looked like an elite QB all night.  The Eagles also had three RB's making contributions as well.  They look tough to stop, and they face what many consider a great defense next week as they play the Giants.

5.) Indianapolis (6-3) [+3]
 Another win, another jump for the Colts.  Playing the Bengals, it was no surprise they won.  Next week they get a much tougher opponent as they play the Patriots.  That should be a good one, but tough to pick.

6.) Pittsburgh (6-3) [-5]
 A disappointing performance from the Steelers, who couldn't seem to get anything going until late in the game, and then even that went awry when Ben Roethlisberger threw an interception that was run back for a touchdown.  Oops!  The Steelers aren't out of it by any means, but that elite sheen they had been developing is all but gone now.  Time for a bounce back.

7.) Green Bay (6-3) [-]
 The Packers were on a bye, which bodes well for their injury situation.  It was also nice to not have to hear about how Aaron Rodgers is an elite QB.  He isn't.  Of course, that doesn't mean GB won't win the NFC North.

8.) Baltimore (6-3) [-6]
 I can't say I was disappointed in how the Ravens played.  They just got beat at a critical juncture.  Some may say that their defense was exposed on the last drive, or something like that.  I disagree.  They got beat by a team that played better.  No more, no less.

9.) New Orleans (6-3) [-]
 Another team that was on a bye.  The Saints had their week off to get ready for the final push to win the NFC South.  They're still looking up at Atlanta.

10.) NY Giants (6-3) [-5]
 The Giants were probably the most disappointing team in Week 10.  That doesn't bother me much, since I hate them.  I wasn't as high on them as other people were; I noted that Atlanta looked like the better team, and was proven right as Atlanta defeated a really good team and the Giants lost to a really bad team.  Them's the breaks.

Thanks for reading.  See you next week.
Category: NFL
Posted on: December 22, 2009 4:48 pm
 

2009 NFL Power Rankings, Week 15

1.) Indianapolis (14-0) [+1]
 By virtue of their win at Jacksonville and the Saints' loss on Saturday, Indianapolis takes the #1 spot this week.  They had been in #2 for a while now, mostly because the Saints hadn't tripped up and I don't like moving a team down when they win.  Also, I think the MVP chatter can subside for a little bit, at least until the Colts lose one (assuming they actually do).  The only other guy with a claim on the trophy at the moment is Philip Rivers; Brees and Favre both fell off the wagon, and Chris Johnson plays for a .500 team.  It remains to be seen how the Colts play it down the stretch regarding rest vs. going undefeated.  Personally, I'd want to play every snap as long as I was healthy.  Heck, even if I was a little banged up I'd probably want to play just for the historical value of going 16-0 and maybe 19-0.

2.) New Orleans (13-1) [-1]
 New Orleans finally took a tumble, losing at home to the Cowboys, a team many predicted had no chance of winning.  Drew Brees looked decidedly un-MVP like in his performance.  Of course, any QB getting pressured like that is bound to make a few mistakes.  It doesn't mean Brees isn't great, it just means he probably cost himself the MVP since Peyton Manning has given his opponents no margin for error.  I think we could see the Saints bounce back the next two weeks, motivated by their lack of perfection.  And no, I have no good reason for keeping them ahead of San Diego, other than 13-1 > 11-3.

3.) San Diego (11-3) [no change]
 Rivers + Turner in December = gold.  Who knew?  Certainly not me, or the hoards of people criticizing Turner's hiring a couple years back.  Even without LaDainian Tomlinson at his MVP form, the Chargers are a legitimately great team.  I won't go overboard with predicting playoff success for them, but it wouldn't be a surprise to see the Chargers go far.

4.) Philadelphia (10-4) [+2]
 Philly made some questionable decisions in their game against San Francisco, yet it didn't stop them from laying a beatdown on Sunday.  Donovan McNabb is playing very well, and it doesn't hurt that DeSean Jackson and LeSean McCoy are two of the best weapons the Eagles have gotten for him.  Even without Brian Westbrook and Jeremy Maclin (for the last couple games, at least), McNabb and the offense are firing on all cylinders.  This team will be a tough out in the playoffs.

5.) Dallas (9-5)
 Why is Dallas in the fifth spot, you might ask?  Because they beat the Saints.  Does this mean anything for the next two weeks?  Nope, not a chance.  But the Cowboys did get the biggest win of the season (maybe the past two or three seasons, even), and that's worth a lot this week.  They have a favorable schedule, at Washington next week and home against Philly in the final week; they already beat Philly in Philly, so that's not a terrible matchup (though I'm not betting the house on the Cowboys just yet).

6.) Minnesota (11-3) [-2]
 The Vikings lost again, so down they go.  They lost to a terrible team in Carolina, but this is likely a temporary (as in one week) move since they're playing Chicago next week and Dallas isn't likely to keep on winning (as much I think they will).  They're still the second seed in the AFC, and I fully expect them to advance to the title game.

7.) New England (9-5) [+1]
 An up-and-down season for New England continues, though they've now won two in a row.  They're looking a lot better in the AFC East thanks to some timely tripping up by Miami and the NY Jets.  Of course, I never thought either of those teams had enough to pass the Patriots anyway, even with the Pats playing like stink is the new black.  Brady-to-Moss was a working combo again, and even though Wes Welker didn't contribute his usual mammoth's share, the Pats won decisively.  I still don't see how they go out in the first round of the playoffs, since the AFC wild card teams are likely to be pretty weak.

8.) Arizona (9-5) [+2]
 Nice bounce back for Kurt Warner and the Cardinals; he fumbled another ball and threw a 100-yard INT returned for a touchdown.  Despite those gaffes, the Cardinals won.  They also won their division after San Francisco's loss in Philadelphia.  So they're in the playoffs, and now they're fighting for position.  It might not be unlikely that Warner sits in the 2nd half of the next couple of games, to try and rest for the playoffs.  I'm not predicting it, exactly, but it wouldn't surprise me to see Matt Leinart get some more playing time in the next two weeks.

9.) Green Bay (9-5) [-4]
 The Packers take a dive after losing late to Pittsburgh.  It'll be hard for them to not get a wild card, though.  Green Bay could be a dangerous team in the playoffs, especially if Aaron Rodgers is shooting straight to the right guys (meaning Greg Jennings and Donald Driver).

10.) Cincinnati (9-5) [-3]
 The Bengals drop after a tough loss in San Diego.  One good sign was Carson Palmer's "revival" of sorts, as he threw for 300 yards for the first time in a while.  They played about as well as could be expected, and the only reason they lost is because San Diego is just a better team at this point.  Cincy should be in the playoffs, though, and they should be hosting a game.  That gives them a good shot at advancing.
Category: NFL
Posted on: September 15, 2009 1:07 pm
 

2009 NFL Power Rankings, Week 1

1.) Pittsburgh (1-0)
  The Steelers took out what should be an elite team in the Titans; yeah, it required overtime, but this is still the best team until they get beaten.
2.) Philadelphia (1-0)
  McNabb's injury is getting a lot of pub; what about that defense, though?  They crushed Carolina and forced Jake Delhomme into another terrible game.
3.) NY Giants (1-0)
  The Giants looked good against Washington and have another NFC East foe coming up.  I'm not sure I'd want to open up Cowboys Stadium on Sunday night, but I don't think the Giants will be daunted.
4.) Atlanta (1-0)
  Another team that won with solid defense.  Matt Ryan is the latest to benefit from Tony Gonzalez's awesomeness.
5.) Baltimore (1-0)
  Not as much defense as we're used to seeing, but Joe Flacco came out and lit up KC.
6.) NY Jets (1-0)
  Mark Sanchez started out phenomenal, despite throwing an INT.  Can he keep it up?
7.) New Orleans (1-0)
  Six TD's from Drew Brees is excellent.  Giving up 27 to the Lions?  Not so much.
8.) Minnesota (1-0)
  Brett Favre, meet your new safety blanket.  They literally ran away from the Browns.
9.) Green Bay (1-0)
  A bit rough on offense, especially on the right side of the line.  The new 3-4 defense forced Jay Cutler into a ton of mistakes.
10.) New England (1-0)
  They won and are still elite.  No concern about Tom Brady, but that defense looked awful.

A Look at Week 1:
The NFL opened up the 2009 season in earnest on Sunday.  All in all, it was an exciting week of football, starting off with Thursday's Pittsburgh/Tennessee overtime game.  There were quite a few players who made a name for themselves or reminded everyone just how good they are.  Obvious inclusions on that list are Drew Brees, Mark Sanchez, Matt Ryan, and Joe Flacco.  The Texans in particular were one of the more disappointing teams.  They went down hard against the Jets and looked completely inept while doing so.  Philadelphia looked the best, delivering a beatdown to Carolina.  There are a couple good teams that I had to leave off the Rankings to start this season because the teams that are on the list just flat outplayed them.  Some of these teams are: Indianapolis, Dallas, and San Diego.  Obviously, I expect a lot of turnover from week to week, as certain teams bubble up and others move down.  In my Rankings, winning is the thing I look at first and foremost.  In order to separate teams, I then look at how well they played in the three phases of the game.  As I said before, Philadelphia played the best, but since Pittsburgh is the defending champion, they're second this week.

Spotlight:
The best games coming up next week.

New Orleans (7) @ Philadelphia (2):
  Drew Brees takes his offense on the road against a crushing defense.  This ain't the Lions any more.

New England (10) @ NY Jets (6):
  We begin to find out just how good Mark Sanchez is.

Baltimore (5) @ San Diego (unranked):
  This could go a couple different ways: Defensive beatdown (for Baltimore), or offensive explosion (for both).

NY Giants (3) @ Dallas (unranked):
  The Game of the Week opens up Cowboys Stadium and pits two hated rivals against each other.

Indianapolis (unranked) @ Miami (unranked):
  Monday night's game has two should-be playoff teams facing off.
Category: NFL
 
 
 
 
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