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Tag:Giants
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: September 25, 2012 7:10 pm
 

2012 NFL Power Rankings, Week 3

Greetings, readers!  Week 3 was a doozy, wasn't it?  I literally cannot remember a week in the NFL that has more severely tested my fandom.  Even the playoffs aren't as rough as this.  So many games went opposite to what I was expecting.  Now that it's Tuesday, I can't say I'm really angry about what happened.  The funny thing about this week is that my team actually won!  Yet the other results were so damaging to my ego and pretension that I know something about this game that I was nearly despondent by the time Baltimore's game-winning field goal went ...above?  the uprights.

So with that said, I'd like to make an "official" statement: Given what happened in Week 3, I obviously know very little (if anything) about professional football.  I'd like all the readers to keep that in mind from here on out.  I've tried to keep these Rankings objective and to impart some knowledge for the last couple years that I've done it here.  After this week, I'm no longer certain that I should be doing this, since I'm just a fan, and not a particularly knowledgable one.  But I'm not a quitter, so I will at least finish out this season.

I guess the takeaway from all this is that none of us are experts, especially me.  So this column will be less serious from now on, I think.  They're just one guy's view of the NFL and not meant to be taken too seriously.

OK, now that that's done with, there are a TON of stories to cover.  I'm going to try to keep these short so this entry doesn't look too inflated, but with everything that happened, I'm not sure how it'll go.  Bear with me, readers!

First off, there was a game last Thursday.  I remember most of it, I think, but I have to admit it got overshadowed by some of the crazy stuff that went on Sunday and last night.  The Giants went into Carolina minus four starters (including Bradshaw and Nicks) and absolutely beat down the Panthers.  Now, this might seem obvious, but I sure as hell didn't see that happening.  I have to give some credit (oh, how reluctantly!) to Eli Manning and Tom Coughlin.  They were ready to play and they took out some frustration on the Panthers.  Cam Newton played pretty terribly as well.  I have a feeling some of that was forced.  Perhaps even most of it.

To Sunday, and the first stunning result: San Francisco headed to Minnesota and got trapped.  I usually have trouble buying into the notion of the "trap game"; if a team is really as good as they and everyone else say they are, then the "trap game" is an illusion created by outside influences.  What actually happened, of course, is that the 49ers played poorly and the Vikings capitalized on that.  Watching Christian Ponder run through the middle of the 49ers' defense was pretty stunning.  So for everyone who jumped on the 49ers' bandwagon and calling them the best team in the league, I think we should probably back off.  In case anyone is wondering, I asked last week how far this run would go.  As it turns out, it went two weeks, and that's that.  Now, they could start another run...but they have to play better first.

There were three overtime games early on Sunday.  Based on the commentary at the top, I don't think anyone would be surprised that all three of them went contrary to how I picked them.  The Jets, Chiefs, and Titans won, spoiling the early part of my Sunday.  These results dovetail into another topic I wanted to mention, which is the Saints going 0-3 to start.  According to a stat I heard on TV (I forget the exact source, my bad), the Saints' chances of making the playoffs are ~3% now.  Teams that start 0-2 have it bad enough, but 0-3?  Forget it.  As far as the Jets go, they're 2-1 but are now missing Revis for the rest of the season.  Their division is kind of a mess at the moment.  The Titans and Chiefs are still at the bottom, but at least they've got some confidence and a win under their belts.

One nice surprise was that I picked Arizona to beat Philly.  I got that one right, at least.  It's one of the few feathers in my cap after a disatrous week.  Arizona's defense was fairly unstoppable, knocking Michael Vick around all day and forcing a fumble that turned into a TD after a couple solid blocks.  Another surprise was that Kevin Kolb was up to the challenge again and didn't wilt under the pressure.  I'm not completely sold on the Cardinals yet, though.  Their win against the Patriots was a little fluky and I don't see Kolb as being even a "good" QB.  I realize that most QB's have been quite inconsistent and that even the "elite" ones have had games where they looked as bad or worse than the bottom-third at their position.  Still, Kolb wasn't considered a great QB before the season and the results haven't done much to change that perception.  As usual, it comes down to solid playoff performance.  The Cardinals are in the driver's seat at the moment thanks to San Francisco slipping, but they still have a long way to go.

Finally, the last two games of Week 3, and the two worst endings.  Baltimore won late on what appeared to be a missed field goal.  It went above the upright, which by rule results in a made field goal.  But looking at it from the views that were on NBC, I'm not sure it actually went ABOVE the upright and not just to the side of the top.  With the win, Baltimore is now 2-1 and leading the AFC North.  Last night, Seattle won on what has to be the most controversial call of the last 3-5 years.  Russell Wilson threw a pass to the end zone with no time remaining and appeared to be intercepted.  Somehow, Seattle receiver Golden Tate got a hand on the ball, which led one of the officials on the field to call simultaneous possesssion and a Seahawks victory.  The rule for simultaneous possession states that the offensive player gets credit for the catch.  So in this case, Tate got one hand on the ball and apparently caught it.  This ignores the fact that he pushed off quite visibly before the "catch" was made, and the appearance that the Packers DB in the area actually brought the ball in with both hands to his chest.  I think that while there was no indisputable visual evidence that the Packers DB had the ball secured, to give the TD to Seattle reeks.

Now, I can only assume and speculate at this point because I don't really know the mindset of the officials on the field.  But, seeing as the game was played in Seattle and the crowd was going crazy at the time...well, you can draw your own conclusions, readers.  In case it wasn't clear from the previous sentence, I do think that the Seattle crowd had at least some bearing on the call.  And I think the Packers were clearly jobbed, even though the outcome of the play was unclear.

I think that's everything from Week 3 that I wanted to mention.  Readers, I want to know what you thought of these stories, so please share your opinion in the comments!

Here are the Rankings for Week 3:
1.) Atlanta (3-0) [+1]
 Matt Ryan + one of the league's best defenses = 3-0.  If I wasn't already painfully aware of how little I know, I'd be surprised.

2.) Houston (3-0) [+1]
 Matt Schaub + one of the league's best defenses = 3-0.  But not quite good enough to top the Rankings yet.

3.) Arizona (3-0) [+2]
 Not quite sold on the QB situation.  That said, Darnell Dockett and that defense are making plays.

4.) Baltimore (2-1) [+4]
 Better to be lucky than good, huh?  Joe Flacco may not be elite yet, but he's 2-1 so far.

5.) NY Giants (2-1) [-]
 Here come the Giants roaring back into the Rankings.  Let's see how it carries over in Philly on Sunday night.

6.) San Francisco (2-1) [-5]
 Minor slip or something more?  We'll see, but no definitive conclusions.  They head east to take on the Jets in Week 4.

7.) Cincinnati (2-1) [-]
 The Bengals are down a tiebreaker but are looking sharp with consecutive wins.  A.J. Green has to be one of the best WR out there.

8.) Chicago (2-1) [-]
 A statement win, perhaps?  Tied with Minnesota at the top, the Bears head to Dallas with an overrated offense vs. an overrated team.  You can guess which is which.

9.) San Diego (2-1) [-5]
 Like Denver, the Chargers flopped hard against Atlanta.  Is it the start of their usual swoon in KC?

10.) Philadelphia (2-1) [-4]
 Is Vick's play a concern yet?  After next Sunday night, it just might be.

That's all for this week, see you next week.

Three Games to Watch (Week 4):
Cleveland @ Baltimore (Thursday, NFL Network)
San Francisco @ NY Jets (Sunday, FOX)
Carolina @ Atlanta (Sunday, FOX)
Category: NFL
Posted on: January 15, 2012 10:33 pm
 

2012 Divisional Round - Agony & Ecstasy

It may be a bit too highbrow to call this entry "Agony & Ecstasy", but I'll be damned if I can't try to justify it.

Through the last two days, there were four NFL Divisional games.  Two went the way I hoped they would.  Two went badly.  Now there are four teams left in the playoffs: Baltimore, New England, the NY Giants, and San Francisco.  The NFC is the disappointment, as far as I'm concerned.  I love offensive football with downfield passing galore.  We'll probably see some of that in the NFC Championship game, but not as much as we would have had it been Green Bay vs. New Orleans.

Saturday's games were New Orleans @ San Francisco & Denver @ New England.

The Saints had trouble with turnovers and their offense didn't click like it did in the Superdome.  Apparently, the 49ers deserve some credit for stopping what looked like an unstoppable machine, because the weather sure didn't do it.  Alex Smith looked off for most of the game, but hit the throws he needed to late.  Considering how badly he was missing receivers in the first three quarters, it surprised the hell out of me to see him hitting Vernon Davis through tight windows in coverage.  It was a well-deserved win, though I can't help but think that seeing the Saints move on would have been better.  That said, I think the 49ers have a solid chance of moving on to the Super Bowl.

Tom Brady.  Wow.  After an impressive first half, Brady and the Pats offense took their collective foot off the gas and had a little bit of mercy on the Broncos.  To say he outperformed his opposition is an understatement.  Not only that, he got a win when the more-heralded duo of Brees and Rodgers didn't.  I suppose a lot of that has to do with the competition...but can you really say that SF or NYG would have stopped Brady the way he was going?  Or kept Gronkowski and Aaron Hernandez from busting their way through the secondary to get open catches all night?  I'm not sure.  That's the good thing about the playoffs, I guess.  We'll see how he does against Baltimore next week, and maybe, just maybe, against the NFC Champion in the Super Bowl.

Sunday's games were Houston @ Baltimore & NY Giants @ Green Bay.

After one home game and one home win, the Texans went on the road to Baltimore and the result was the same as the last time they were there.  The way it got there was a bit different, though.  Joe Flacco and Ray Rice weren't at their best, but the Ravens defense was suitably opportunistic, getting three INT's off of T.J. Yates.  The special teams forced a turnover too, when Jacoby Jones had an inexplicably bad attempt to field a punt.  One thing to look out for: Baltimore's defense was allowing the Texans to move on them somewhat late in the game.  If that happens next week and Flacco is inconsistent and off-target, it could be trouble.

Today's late game was the most disappointing of the entire weekend.  The defending Super Bowl champions are done, despite their gaudy 15-1 record and bevy of offensive weapons.  As it turned out, the defense was what let them down.  I had focused on the Packers defense while writing my weekly NFL Power Rankings through most of the season, openly wondering when and if the lack of defensive presence that they had had last season would eventually affect them.  As it turns out, it didn't really mean much until their first playoff game.  Aaron Rodgers played fairly well given the circumstances, but was far more effective running than passing, mostly due to his receivers dropping balls left and right.  There were a couple of passes that sailed on him, as well as a couple plays where the Giants defense got to him before he could make something happen.  All in all, it has to be considered a disappointing performance as most expected the Packers to make the NFC Championship game with some ease.

That brings me to the point that I've been considering for the last couple hours.  After last year's Super Bowl win, most observers elevated Aaron Rodgers to the rank of elite QB.  I was a bit reticent then, as I wanted to see more.  He came out in 2011 and was absolutely smoking hot throughout.  I think he justified his status as elite QB, but there were people who thought he was better than merely elite.  They thought he was on the level of the best in the NFL, Tom Brady & Peyton Manning.  You could also include Ben Roethlisberger and Drew Brees there, considering they also have rings and a history of playing at a consistently high level.

My point I wanted to broach is this: I think people were a bit too quick to anoint Rodgers as "the next big thing" among QB's, and far too quick to elevate him over P. Manning and Brady.  Now, I understand the difference in competition that Rodgers was facing compared to Brady.  The Broncos looked ill-equipped to handle what the Pats were throwing at them from the get-go.  The Giants, on the other hand, looked like they could handle the Packers offense as long as a couple things went their way.  In this case, dropped balls and turnovers did the Packers in and allowed the Giants enough time to get their offense going.

Now, if Rodgers was really better than Brady and Peyton Manning, he would have performed better today, right?  Somehow, he would have willed those receivers to catch the damn ball, or whatever, right?

But perhaps I'm the one overreacting.

I guess where I stand on it is this: Rodgers is clearly an elite QB.  He had a fantastic season.  He didn't play his best today; not only did his receivers let him down, but so did his defense.  Looking at it objectively, you can explain away the fact that Rodgers could have been slightly overrated.  But I can't help but think that perhaps some observers were just a little too quick to jump on his bandwagon.

Whatever the case may be, I'm interested to see how Rodgers performs in next year's playoffs, assuming they get there.

Next week's games should be interesting as well.  Baltimore goes to New England, while the Giants head west to take on San Francisco.  My heart's telling me that New England and San Francisco will meet up in the Super Bowl.  My mind really doesn't want to take sides at the moment. 
Category: NFL
Posted on: November 9, 2010 3:47 pm
 

2010 NFL Power Rankings, Week 9

We've now hit the halfway mark of the 2010-11 NFL season, and every team has played at least 8 games.  There are a couple that have played nine, but for all intents and purposes, we're halfway to the playoffs.  I figured that by now, the good teams would be firmly separated from the not-so-good (and the downright putrid), but wouldn't you know it?  I'm just not that lucky.  What we have is a glut of 6-2 teams, with some 5-win teams thrown in for good measure.  Parity/mediocrity reigning supreme?  Or is everyone vulnerable at a certain point in time?  Honestly, I think it's a little of both; everyone is capable (almost) and everyone is vulnerable to at least one bad loss.  Let's go!

1.) Pittsburgh (6-2) [+2]
 After nearly hurtling their way out of the Rankings (but being very lucky by retaining a 5-2 record and thus not moving at all), the Steelers took on a game Cincinnati team and got pushed fairly hard.  They went up 27-7 on the Bengals and then mysteriously let up two TD's to get to the final margin of 27-21.  Of course, the Steelers' defense stepped up when absolutely necessary, preventing the game-tying TD (whose extra point would have made it 28-27, actually).  A solid effort, but the defense giving up scores late has to be too reminiscent of last season's rather epic collapses for Mike Tomlin and Dick LeBeau to tolerate.  Their two losses were to Baltimore and New Orleans (home and road, respectively).

2.) Baltimore (6-2) [+3]
 An impressive effort against the "road warrior" Dolphins vaults the Ravens to the 2-spot this week.  They pretty much dominated that game, even if they had more FG's than TD's.  I moved them ahead of the Jets based on that performance, as well as the Jets going into OT against the Lions, of all teams.  Their two losses were to Cincinnati and New England (both road games; NE in OT).  After seeing Cincinnati play the last few weeks, that loss must sting somewhat.

3.) NY Jets (6-2) [+1]
 A slight upswing for the Jets with the win.  But seriously, going to OT against the Lions?  No, really, seriously?  That's ridiculous.  So the Jets are no longer the best team in the NFL, but they are definitely in the mix.  Right now, today, the two teams above them look better.  All three teams should be tough outs in the playoffs, of course.  The Jets' two losses were to Baltimore and Green Bay (both at home).  However, they've won all three division games they've played.

4.) Atlanta (6-2) [+2]
 It looked like a good game against Tampa Bay, and the result seems to show that.  But the Falcons proved they are the better team, and in my mind the best team in the NFC.  I have the Falcons above the Giants because they play in a better division, and they have a better record against the AFC than the Giants.  Of course, they also have a better QB/RB tandem.  And better receivers.  The Falcons' two losses were at Pittsburgh and at Philadelphia.  So if they can stay out of the state of Pennsylvania for the rest of the season, there should be no problem, right?  Tough matchup against Baltimore this Thursday, even if it's at home.  It should be quite telling.  Coming out of that game 7-2 (and 3-1 against the AFC) should cement them as the best team in the NFC unanimously.

5.) NY Giants (6-2) [+2]
 What else can I say but "beatdown"?  There are no words for that demolition that the Giants put on Seattle.  With their fifth win in a row, they are looking pretty solid in the NFC.  Are they the best?  Not yet.  There is very little margin of error, though.  So this time next week, the Giants could find themselves moving up.  Their record against the AFC is still terrible, and I'll be wondering how they can compete with the better conference up until the Super Bowl (assuming they get there).  Their two losses were at Indianapolis and against Tennessee.  Both were bad losses, too.  But right now, the Giants are on the up-and-up, with only Philadelphia as a legitimate threat in the division.

6.) New England (6-2) [-5]
 What happens when a great team loses?  They take a tumble, just like anybody else.  The Patriots looked terrible against Cleveland, and I wonder if it was as close as the score indicated.  Maybe not.  Still, the Patriots have been one of the better teams in the league this season, and if they had pulled that one out, they would have been the unanimous best team in the league for a second week.  So what did they do?  They went out and lost a trap game.  I'm not sure it was a "trap" in the usual sense.  Cleveland has a heck of a QB/RB tandem and their defense is for real.  Just ask New Orleans.  The Patriots two losses were at the NY Jets and the other day at Cleveland.  Also not a good indicator of future performance.  Their schedule tightens up considerably now; they go to Pittsburgh next Sunday Night before taking on Indianapolis and then at Detroit on Thanksgiving Day.  Tough sledding.

7.) Green Bay (6-3) [+3]
 Speaking of beatdowns, the Packers absolutely stunned the Cowboys on Sunday Night.  Well, stunned, then KO'd, then flatlined.  It was ugly.  Luckily, they get a reward by having their bye in Week 10.  Finally.  The two weeks after the bye are at Minnesota and at Atlanta, so the schedule doesn't really get easier.  It would say a lot if the Packers won both of those games.

8.) Indianapolis (5-3) [-6]
 The biggest fall of the week goes to the Colts, who lost on the road to Philadelphia.  Not a terrible loss, by any means, but they certainly could have won.  And now that they're 5-3, they've got issues.  Now the AFC South is looking like a dogfight again, with all four teams separated by a game.  Luckily, three of their last four are against division rivals.  I guess that means no coasting at the end of the season, unlike last year.

9.) New Orleans (6-3) [-]
 Finally, the defending champs showed like they should have been all season.  It was a resounding beatdown of Carolina.  Their schedule is getting somewhat easier, with the only true challenges being at Baltimore and at Atlanta in December.  11-5 is not out of the question, and with a win at either of those they could be 12-4 and poised for another playoff run.  Hard to believe, in a way.

10.) Philadelphia (5-3)
 Michael Vick returned to the lineup, and the Eagles responded by beating the Colts narrowly.  It really was a great game on both sides, and Vick showed why he was considered an MVP candidate before he went down with the rib injury against the Redskins.  With Vick back in the fold now, the Eagles have to be considered contenders in the NFC.  Especially if the Giants or Falcons show any sign of slippage in the next couple of weeks.  They still have to play the Giants and Cowboys twice, as well.  So it's safe to say that we will find out just how good this Eagles team is.

Thanks for reading.  See you next week.
Category: NFL
Posted on: October 13, 2009 1:23 pm
 

2009 NFL Power Rankings, Week 5

1.) NY Giants (5-0) [no change]
 Though he only played the first half, Eli Manning helped the Giants roll again.  Next week is the biggest game of the year so far, when they go down to New Orleans.
2.) New Orleans (4-0) [no change]
 The Saints were also on a bye this week.
3.) Minnesota (5-0) [no change]
 Is it just me, or is Favre the icing on the cake?  Jared Allen and Adrian Peterson were great as usual.
4.) Indianapolis (5-0) [no change]
 Peyton Manning and the Colts won another game and look to cruise to the AFC South title.  Where's the competition?
5.) Denver (5-0) [no change]
 Apparently, the Broncos are no fluke.  I didn't get the memo until yesterday, though.
6.) Cincinnati (4-1) [+4]
 Now leading the AFC North, the Bengals have the look of an elite team.
7.) Philadelphia (3-1) [+2]
 Donovan McNabb returned and made an immediate impact, throwing a long TD to Jeremy Maclin.
8.) Chicago (3-1) [no change]
 The Bears had a bye in Week 5, and thus stay where they were.
9.) Atlanta (3-1)
 Coming off a bye, the Falcons went on the road and knocked San Francisco out.  Incredible games by Roddy White and Michael Turner.
10.) Pittsburgh (3-2)
 The Steelers make it in by the skin of their teeth, being the dubious last good team this week.

A Look at Week 5:
If Week 5 proved anything (and I'm not sure it did, really), it proved that the middle and bottom of the league are getting full, and the top is sparsely populated at best.  There were only a few good matchups; Baltimore's offense failed to show up for the first time this season, and the defense failed them late, something I didn't expect to see.  New England went to overtime in Denver and lost as the Broncos continue to prove their worth.  If they're not considered an elite team by now, something's wrong.  In the AFC West, there are the Broncos and Chargers; the other two teams are perennial bottom-feeders.  Still, I think the Wild Card is coming out of the AFC East, even though both of the heavy hitters in that division lost in Week 5; the Jets were on the road in Miami and lost on a TD by Ronnie Brown with :06 left on the clock.  Ouch.  That was definitely a great game though, and one that I didn't expect.  The other good matchup was Atlanta and San Francisco; thanks to Roddy White and Michael Turner, that one turned into a beatdown quickly.  Where San Francisco's defense (and offense) went during that game, who knows.
Other than that, the teams at the top delivered beatdowns to weak opponents.  Dallas bucked that trend by going to OT in Kansas City, though.  Miles Austin had the game of the week with 10 catches and 250 yards.  His two TD's were crucial as well.

Spotlit:
A further recap of Week 5's best.

Cincinnati (10) @ Baltimore (unranked):
 Cincinnati won it late thanks to Carson Palmer and three bad penalties on the Ravens' defense.  Good win for Cincinnati and its DC Mike Zimmer.

Oakland (unranked) @ NY Giants (1):

 As expected, it was a beatdown of epic proportions.  Eli Manning only played the first half and it was over.

Atlanta (unranked) @ San Francisco (7):

 That bye really did work wonders for Atlanta.  After starting out fast, San Francisco might be fading.

New England (6) @ Denver (5):

 Tom Brady is now 7-1 in overtime games.  Not too bad.

Indianapolis (4) @ Tennessee (unranked):

 Five games, five 300+ yard performances for Peyton Manning.  The guy just doesn't quit.

Spotlight:
The best games coming up next week.

Baltimore (unranked) @ Minnesota (3):
 Defensive struggle?  Or will Adrian Peterson run all over Baltimore like Cedric Benson just did?

NY Giants (1) @ New Orleans (2):
 Game of the Week, easily.  The two best teams in the NFC face off with an early conference lead on the line.

Chicago (8) @ Atlanta (9):
 Both teams are looking to prove they're no fluke.  Both are trying to keep up with better teams in their own division, too.

Denver (5) @ San Diego (unranked):
 If Denver wins, the AFC West race is practically over.  If San Diego wins, there's quite a bit of doubt.
Category: NFL
Posted on: October 6, 2009 12:59 pm
 

2009 NFL Power Rankings, Week 4

1.) NY Giants (4-0) [no change]
 A nice schedule is aiding and abetting the Giants' stay at the top.  They're great all-around and continue to win.
2.) New Orleans (4-0) [+2]
 Knocked out the Jets temporarily and looked very impressive doing so.  Drew Brees and the offense can exhale now; the defense can play!
3.) Minnesota (4-0) [+2]
 Adrian Peterson hasn't done a whole lot since Week 1.  They keep winning anyway.
4.) Indianapolis (4-0) [+2]
 The Colts are an unstoppable offensive juggernaut and can make it 5-0 with a win in Tennessee.
5.) Denver (4-0) [+2]
 The Broncos are suddenly a very good team.  Credit the defense, and coordinator Mike Nolan.
6.) New England (3-1) [+2]
 They took another game I thought they had no chance of winning.  Tom Brady is improving, but the defense needs to step up too.
7.) San Francisco (3-1)
 The 49ers are no fluke either.  They're back after an impressive dismantling of St. Louis.
8.) Chicago (3-1)
 Ever since Week 1, the Bears have been nearly unstoppable.
9.) Philadelphia (2-1) [no change]
 Philadelphia had a bye week, and as such does not get penalized.
10.) Cincinnati (3-1)
 The Bengals are either really lucky, or really good.  For now, I'll split it down the middle.

A Look at Week 4:
There were definitely some exciting games in Week 4.  The Broncos weren't afraid of the Cowboys, and though neither team played as good as they're capable of, Denver earned the victory.  Pittsburgh practically lost its defense in the 4th quarter and still pulled out a win against San Diego.  Last night, Minnesota looked impressive at times against Green Bay.  There are now only five undefeated teams left this season, and it would not be a complete surprise to see more of them fall.  At this point, it looks like it'll take a great performance all the way round to beat one of the remaining five; they're all playing well right now and look to have few to no weaknesses.

Spotlit:
A further recap of Week 4's best.

NY Giants (1) @ Kansas City (unranked):
 Not quite as big a beatdown as the previous week for the Giants.  A good win as long as Eli Manning's heel injury proves to be nothing big.

Baltimore (2) @ New England (8):
 There was plenty of offense in this one, but surprisingly, Baltimore had the ball last and couldn't put it into the end zone.  Not exactly what I was expecting from Joe Flacco and company.

NY Jets (3) @ New Orleans (4):
 Did the Jets not show up, or did New Orleans just blow their doors off?  I had no idea the Saints defense would come up that huge, which is why I picked the Jets to win.  Whoops.

Dallas (unranked) @ Denver (7):
 Denver flat-out outplayed the Cowboys when it counted.  Bad tackling and bad playcalling sunk the Cowboys this week.

Green Bay (10) @ Minnesota (5):
 Game of the Week?  Sure, why not.  Brett Favre took on the Packers in the Metrodome and pulled out the win.  Greg Jennings and Donald Driver barely showed up for the Packers; on the other side, Adrian Peterson was hardly the force one would expect.

Spotlight:
The best games coming up next week.

Cincinnati (10) @ Baltimore (unranked):
 Two 3-1 teams square off to determine the early leader in the AFC North.  Should be one of the better games on the slate.

Oakland (unranked) @ NY Giants (1):
 If the Texans can make Oakland look utterly lost, what will the Giants do to them?

Atlanta (unranked) @ San Francisco (7):
 The Falcons come off their bye refreshed (hopefully) and ready to continue their march to the NFC South title.

New England (6) @ Denver (5):
 This one could go either way.  Just like Jets/Saints in Week 4, I expect the better offense to come out on top.

Indianapolis (4) @ Tennessee (unranked):
 The Colts look to continue their winning ways.  Against that Titans defense, it shouldn't be too much trouble.
Category: NFL
 
 
 
 
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