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Tag:Packers
Posted on: January 4, 2013 8:57 pm
 

2012 NFL Power Rankings, Week 17

Here are the Rankings for Week 17:

1.) Denver (13-3) [no change]
 I can't say I expected the Broncos to finish at the top of the Rankings in Peyton Manning's first season with the team.  But I figured they'd be a decent team.  So much for that, as they finished on an 11-game winning streak.  It helped that their division was moribund; the other three teams had 13 wins between them.  They have a first-round bye and home-field through the Championship game.  So I would expect their prospects of making the Super Bowl to be pretty good.

2.) New England (12-4) [+2]
 On the other hand, I'm sure most people expected the Patriots to be at or near the top.  Much like their seeding, they're 2nd here as well.  With a first-round bye in hand, I think they'll get healthy (or healthier) and make a run at another Super Bowl appearance.  The AFC in general seems to be underrated, which can only be a good thing.  I expect another Championship game for the Pats, if not another Super Bowl.

3.) Seattle (11-5) [+2]
 A surprising finish for a team I thought wouldn't make the playoffs.  Especially a team out of the NFC West, a division that looked like San Francisco and a bunch of slop.  Luckily for Seattle, Russell Wilson has proven to be the real deal, especially at home.  But therein lies a minor problem; Seattle won't be hosting a playoff game unless they're playing Minnesota in the NFC Championship.  Ouch.  If they make it out of Washington alive, I'd say they have a good chance of making it to the Super Bowl.  I'm not entirely sold on Atlanta, and the Seahawks have already embarrassed San Francisco.

4.) Indianapolis (11-5) [+2]
 Speaking of surprises...Andrew Luck was the difference between 2 wins and 11 wins.  Of course, he had help from guys like Vick Ballard, T.Y. Hilton, Donnie Avery, and Reggie Wayne.  But it's a QB league and Luck rightly gets most of the credit for turning the Colts back into a winner after a lost season.  They're one of the few teams I have actual confidence in.  Can they beat Denver and New England to get to the Super Bowl, though?  Probably not.  But it's been a heck of a season for the Colts nonetheless.

5.) Green Bay (11-5) [-3]
 I'm not sure what to think about the Packers.  Obviously, they weren't the powerhouse that they were in 2011, and they're going into the playoffs on a downturn after losing to the Vikings.  Luckily, they have a chance to right the ship against the team that just beat them.  With something slightly more important on the line, I think Aaron Rodgers and the rest of the team will pull through.  Most likely.  As to their Super Bowl chances...well, just about any of the six could make it to the Super Bowl, really.  As much as people have talked about NFC supremacy, the top two teams are vulnerable, and none of the six are a lock.

6.) Atlanta (13-3) [-3]
 Sure, they had nothing to play for, but they could have had the best record in the NFL had they won.  But even if they had beaten Tampa Bay as badly as they spanked the Giants, well, I doubt anyone would put much into it.  The Falcons have to prove it on the field in the next couple weeks.  They get a first-round bye and have home-field throughout, which puts them in excellent position.  Matt Ryan is nearly unbeatable in the Georgia Dome during the regular season; at some point that has to translate into playoff success.  Of course, thanks to leading the league for most of the season, expectations are probably higher than one win.  I wouldn't say Super Bowl or bust; they should at least make the Championship game, though.

7.) San Francisco (11-4-1) [+1]
 It seemed that making the switch from Alex Smith to Colin Kaepernick was motivated by a need for more downfield passing.  Yet in the games I saw with Kaepernick at QB, I didn't see an increase in downfield passing.  If there was, I guess it was in the 5-10% range.  It wasn't like the 49ers suddenly became Air Coryell, or anything.  They were mostly the same plodding, uninspired, run-oriented offense that they had been with Alex Smith at QB.  Boring.  Hopefully they loosen up and throw the ball down the field more.  Otherwise, their opposition might just do what Seattle did and put the handcuffs on.  Assuming Kaepernick is allowed to throw the ball, they've got a good chance of making the Super Bowl.  That, and if they can avoid playing Seattle again.

8.) Minnesota (10-6) [+1]
 Not sold on the Vikings, because they refuse to acknowledge the reality of the situation.  Of course, the playoffs are a different animal, and maybe that will benefit them.  But they're not built to take advantage of the rules.  The rules state that downfield passing will be rewarded far more than running the ball.  Christian Ponder isn't quite ready to do that.  Even the great Adrian Peterson can't carry a team to a win if the opposition is bombing away, which one would expect Rodgers to do.  I can't say "no chance", but it's close.

9.) Washington (10-6) [+1]
 RGIII's first playoff run will most likely get derailed by Washington's suspect secondary.  Other than that, the sky's the limit.  It probably won't be the case for much longer after this season, as teams will have a year's worth of tape to dissect.  Once that happens, Griffin and the Shanahans will have to adjust the offense to present a different look besides the pistol.  I think if they get out of the first round, a long run could happen.  But they could just as easily get shut down by any of the strong defenses they'll face.

10.) Houston (12-4) [-3]
 The Texans had the top seed wrapped up; all they had to do was beat Minnesota and Indianapolis (again).  They could do neither and end up third in the AFC.  Thus, they are at the bottom, thanks to a crippling combination of bias and suck.  I'll be eternally biased against the Texans, and they sucked in three of the last four weeks of this season.  Hence they end up third in the AFC, a likely target for New England, where they will surely get destroyed (again), though they should have no problem with Cincinnati.  Of course, me saying they'll have no problem with Cincy almost guarantees that the Bengals' D-line will crush Matt Schaub, doesn't it?  For his sake, I hope he doesn't get crushed.  But the Texans aren't getting past the divisional round.

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

The playoffs start this weekend, so you should watch all the games.

Also, congratuations to the Baltimore Ravens and Cincinnati Bengals for making the playoffs.  12 teams make it and I only highlight the top 10 teams here, so there you go.
Category: NFL
Posted on: December 26, 2012 8:47 pm
 

2012 NFL Power Rankings, Week 16

Here are the Rankings for Week 16:

1.) Denver (12-3) [no change]
 Ten in a row; that's one spicy meatball.  Obviously, it's the longest current winning streak in the league, with only Washington (six) in shouting distance.  With one more win, Peyton Manning will have completed his comeback and had what must be one of his better seasons.  Now to cap it off, he needs some playoff success.  AFC Championship, at least.  The other teams in the AFC look vulnerable, which is good.

2.) Green Bay (11-4) [no change]
 A sterling beatdown to add to Aaron Rodgers' career highlight reel.  I won't disparage it, but I'm still not sold on Rodgers as an MVP candidate.  The Packers have already clinched their division and head to Minnesota in Week 17.  I guess they need to win, but at the same time, I wouldn't be surprised if they gave a B effort rather than A+.

3.) Atlanta (13-2) [+1]
 Since the Falcons already have home-field advantage, what more do they want?  Besides playoff wins, of course.

4.) New England (11-4) [+2]
 It's possible for the Patriots to sneak into having home-field advantage.  Pretty incredible, since they essentially gave it away with that loss to San Francisco a couple weeks ago.  They've been shaky recently, so a strong win against the Dolphins would be nice.

5.) Seattle (10-5) [+2]
 Speaking of sneaky, the Seahawks have a chance to get a first-round bye, which would be quite incredible.  They might not have put up 50 on San Francisco, but the win was impressive.  Hard to watch, though.

6.) Indianapolis (10-5) [+2]
 With Coach Pagano coming back and the regular season finale at home against a team that's never beaten them there, it's looking good for the Colts.  They might not be able to move up in the seeding, but they can sure help a couple other teams out by defeating the Texans.

7.) Houston (12-3) [-4]
 I dropped the Texans four spots, specifically below Seattle and Indianapolis, because it felt like Houston quit on that game late.  I never condone losing, but if a team puts in their best effort and just get beat, that's fine.  To do what the Texans did, pulling Schaub when they still had a chance to win (no matter how small!) reeks.  I can't say I'm surprised.  I'm sure that most sources are either ignoring this or just missed it.  In fact, some might even excuse it because the Texans are the 1-seed and control their own destiny.  All that said, they're still better than the Steelers.

8.) San Francisco (10-4-1) [-3]
 They didn't show up.  Now people are questioning whether the Kaepernick move was worthwhile and/or necessary.  Not me.  Alex Smith hasn't changed; he's still a guy that throws screens and other short passes between 1 and 3 yards past the line of scrimmage.  He's not a QB that will take the 49ers to a championship.  Kaepernick might not be, either, but at least there's still a question as to whether or not he can do it.  With Alex Smith, there's no question; he can't do it.

9.) Minnesota (9-6) [no change]
 I really wanted to move the Vikings up, but they're only 9-6.

10.) Washington (9-6) [no change]
 Similarly, I wanted to move Washington up, but they're only 9-6 and need some help if they somehow lose in Week 17.

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

Three Games to Watch (Week 17):
Baltimore @ Cincinnati (Sunday, CBS)
Houston @ Indianapolis (Sunday, CBS)
Green Bay @ Minnesota (Sunday, FOX) 
Category: NFL
Posted on: December 20, 2012 2:36 am
 

2012 NFL Power Rankings, Week 15

Greetings, readers.  There were some interesting results that changed how the playoffs will shake out in Week 15.  Let's get to the stories and then check out the latest Rankings.

We start with last Thursday's game.  Cincinnati started out fairly unimpressively, but did manage to pull it out in the end, thanks to some timely turnovers and a couple decent passes from Andy Dalton.  That might be a bit reductive.  But it really hinged on the turnovers and the fact that the Eagles are just terrible after starting out well.  Dalton is one of the rising stars among the QB's in the league, yet he's becoming underrated due to the advancement of guys like Luck, Griffin, and Wilson.  Of course, the team's performance has something to do with it, too, as the Bengals are 8-6 and have lost a couple games they probably shouldn't have.  That applies to just about every team in the league, though.  It's that "any given Sunday" mentality.

The top teams in each conference played well and won.  Of the two, Atlanta looked stronger and more consistent; they put up 34 on the Giants and didn't allow a single point.  The Texans looked vulnerable for about a minute-and-a-half, but then forced Andrew Luck into some bad plays.  So apparently, there is a ceiling for Luck and the Colts.  It appears that they'll be a Wild Card team.  For a rookie QB, that's pretty good.  I was hoping they'd beat the Texans in Week 15 & 17 and take the division.  Oh well.  Since Atlanta and Houston are both 12-2, the top seeds are probably locked up now.

I don't think many people are surprised by Denver's recent performances.  They've been on such a long winning streak that I don't expect them to lose or even play badly in the next two weeks.  They'll be going into the playoffs hot, if they can keep this pace up.  The good thing that helps them in this case is that their last two games look pitifully easy.  So it should be a breeze, but we've seen how teams can screw that up.

Green Bay is another team that benefitted from a bad performance of the team they were facing.  They played the fraudulent Bears and took the division with the win.  I've been seeing some stuff about Aaron Rodgers being an MVP candidate.  Not sure about all that, especially given that crapfest against the Giants a few weeks ago.  But the team is looking strong.

New England almost had a great comeback and then got derailed by two plays.  The first was a kickoff return; the second was the TD that won the game for San Francisco.  The game was ugly for most of the first half and then devolved into a waste of time late in the second half, as the Patriots had clearly run out of gas or mojo or whatever fueled the comeback.  How the special teams and defense allowed those two plays after Brady played his heart out is beyond me.  But this is what happens.  And the Pats are still better off than Baltimore.

Here are the Rankings for Week 15:

1.) Denver (11-3) [+1]
 Meet the new boss, same as the old boss.  Sort of, but not really.  The interesting thing to see is if they can keep up the winning streak or if they give up in Week 17 to get ready for the playoffs.

2.) Green Bay (10-4) [+2]
 They're getting over some injuries and Aaron Rodgers is back to playing well.  Or better than at the start of the season when he didn't look great.  Now that they've clinched the NFC North, they're in the running for the 2-seed.  But they have to stay ahead of Seattle as well.

3.) Houston (12-2) [+2]
 After a disappointing loss to New England (I wasn't disappointed, but their fans must have been), the Texans rebounded and took out the Colts.  We'll see what happens in the rematch in two weeks; I don't expect a similar performance the next time around, as they'll probably be resting players in a foolish attempt to elongate their playoff lives.  Despite having the top seed locked up, I don't have a lot of confidence in this team; Matt Schaub is a decent QB, of course, but compared to the others that look to be in the playoffs, including Luck, RGIII, and Wilson, he doesn't look that great.

4.) Atlanta (12-2) [+2]
 While it's great to have a commanding win in the regular season, especially in December, the Falcons have a lot to prove in the playoffs.  With a week off to start, the pressure will just be that much greater.  Now, unlike the Texans, I think the Falcons have a damn good chance of doing something.  Matt Ryan looks solid, though he too has had his problems.  But it's really that defense which is stepping up at the right time.  And those weapons on offense, wow.

5.) San Francisco (10-3-1) [+2]
 A good win against one of the better teams in the league.  Now they head up to Seattle in what is probably the deciding game in the NFC West.  Colin Kaepernick hasn't been throwing it down the field as much, which will have to change in the playoffs for them to reach the Super Bowl.  After all, that's why he's the starting QB and Alex Smith isn't.

6.) New England (10-4) [-5]
 I'm not sure that loss really means anything.  San Francisco is a good team, certainly better than much of the Pats' other comptetion.  No shame in losing to a team like that, especially given the state of the Pats' secondary.  But with Brady & Belichick on-board still, the expectation is Super Bowl or bust.  I'm not sure if they can go through Denver to reach the Super Bowl yet.

7.) Seattle (9-5) [+1]
 Consecutive weeks brought consecutive beatdowns.  In both games, the Seahawks put up over 50 points.  Unbelievable.

8.) Indianapolis (9-5) [-5]
 So as I've alluded to previously, I'm a little disappointed by what happened on Sunday with the Colts loss.  But it's ok, because they'll get a Wild Card.  I think.  It's looking good.

9.) Minnesota (8-6) [-]
 Adrian Peterson has single-handedly brought the Vikings back into contention for a Wild Card.  Unbelievable.

10.) Washington (8-6) [-]
 Despite not having RGIII, Washington won a game against a team they should have beaten easily.  It wasn't really that difficult, but it probably should have been a little easier.  Here's hoping that RGIII comes back so we can see him screw with defenses again.

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

Three Games to Watch (Week 16):
Cincinnati @ Pittsburgh (Sunday, CBS)
NY Giants @ Baltimore (Sunday, FOX)
San Francisco @ Seattle (Sunday, NBC) 
Category: NFL
Posted on: December 11, 2012 11:34 pm
 

2012 NFL Power Rankings, Week 14

Greetings, readers.  Week 14 was an interesting one; a number of teams that looked to be locked in place or still on the upswing managed to fail miserably.  Those results changed the landscape somewhat, even though the playoff seeding wasn't drastically affected.  So let's get to the stories and see how everything shakes out.

As usual, we start out with last Thursday's game.  Denver went into Oakland and had a relatively easy time of it, though some players (notably CB Champ Bailey) thought that it should have gone better.  When a team has multiple red zone opportunities and comes away with field goals more than once (which isn't too bad, really, if you have more than four chances in the red zone), it's easy to understand some discontent.  In fact, I'm sure the fans weren't too happy about a offensive team like Denver not coming away with TD's on every chance.  Currently, the Broncos are 10-3 and have already clinched the AFC West.  They're the 3-seed for now due to tiebreakers and Baltimore's inexplicable failure.

Sunday's most exciting game (and biggest blowout) was Seattle vs. Arizona.  They capitalized on Arizona's mistakes and had a strong rushing attack headed up by Marshawn Lynch.  While San Francisco appears to have a hold on the NFC West (for the moment, at least), it's not hard to see Seattle getting a Wild Card, especially since they hold head-to-head wins against a number of other NFC teams, including Chicago and Dallas.

Monday night's game was an interesting one coming in.  Houston went up to New England and there was a lot of hubbub in the big city as the Texans continue their dream regular season.  Unfortunately for them, both of their primetime games against good teams (Green Bay and New England) turned out quite nightmarish.  New England put up 14 in the 1st quarter and went into halftime up 21-0.  The beatdown was on, and it only got worse for the Texans in the second half, despite putting up two TD's.  They were never in the game and even though New England wasn't at their best for a long stretch, it never seemed like there was a chance the Pats would give it up.  Honestly, the result surprised me given that other teams in great positions gave it up.  New England is the 2-seed at this point thanks to a head-to-head win over Denver.  Now, it'd take some interesting (read: crazy) circumstances for them to move up, but if they keep winning, a first-round bye is quite likely.  It would be beneficial for that to happen, of course.  They're the kind of team that can handle the week off and then come off it ready to smack their opponent in the mouth.

Here are the Rankings for Week 14:

1.) New England (10-3) [+2]
 A new team at the top, and one that won their way there.  I probably would have elevated the Pats earlier in the season, but the Texans and Falcons just kept winning.  It's not that the Pats are so much better than those two, but there's no debate necessary when it comes to their QB's...and the NFL is a QB-driven league.

2.) Denver (10-3) [+2]
 While it wasn't their best game of the season, the Broncos had a solid win in Oakland.  They're heading to Baltimore next.  Given the makeup of the teams, it should be a defensive battle.  Usually, that would be the case.  But I wouldn't be surprised if things turned the other way and it was 38-31 or something like that.

3.) Indianapolis (9-4) [+2]
 Another close one for the Colts with head coach Chuck Pagano in attendance.  Andrew Luck just gets better and better; apparently he's learned something from the beatdown at New England a few weeks ago.  Either that, or he just has a knack for winning the close ones in 2012.  Still, given his pedigree and the Colts' record, it's awfully hard to dismiss this as a fluke.  Also, they have their destiny in their hands, as they get two meetings with the Texans in the next three weeks.

4.) Green Bay (9-4) [+2]
 It started ugly and got uglier in Jersey, but aside from that the Packers have looked about as good as one could hope for.  The running game is not up to where the coaches would like, of course, but I'm not too bothered about that.  It's a QB-driven league, after all, and that means that throwing the ball downfield is what ought to be happening.  Aaron Rodgers is more than capable of that.  Of course, on Sunday against Detroit they also needed some luck, and when Matthew Stafford inexplicably fumbled the ball in the snow, the Packers were ready and took advantage.

5.) Houston (11-2) [-4]
 Sometimes I wrestle with where to put teams that just lost.  Is it really "fair" or "objective" to drop the Texans four spots where they're now behind Indianapolis (who they haven't yet played) or the Packers (who they lost to)?  Well, at least they didn't lose to Jacksonville or Detroit, in which case they would have dropped to the bottom.  So in this case, I guess it is somewhat fair, or at least not completely unfair.

6.) Atlanta (11-2) [-4]
 On the other hand, you have the Falcons, who lost to Carolina.  Really, Atlanta?  Really?

7.) San Francisco (9-3-1) [+1]
 It's interesting that while Michael Crabtree is finally starting to flourish, Vernon Davis has virtually disappeared.  They should really be 11-2, and only have themselves (and, really, Jeff Fisher) to blame.

8.) Seattle (8-5) [-]
 After that decimation, there's no way that the Seahawks wouldn't be in the Rankings this week.  And it's not like we lost out on anybody worthwhile.

9.) NY Giants (8-5) [-]
 This marks the fourth time (!!!!) the Giants have come back into the Rankings.  Can they last one more week?  Or will Eli Manning do something ridiculous and stupid that gets them bounced again?

10.) Baltimore (9-4) [-3]
 Speaking of getting bounced...yeesh.  Now, don't get me wrong, 9-4 is a good record.  Especially for this season, when mediocrity and parity have really taken hold.  Can we put to rest this talk about Joe Flacco being "elite" or worth "top-5" money?  Because until he actually proves that he's either one of those things, he looks extremely ridiculous.  Add to that the fact that they lost to Pittsburgh (without Roethlisberger) and Washington (seriously?), and Flacco just looks worse.  I hope the Ravens don't cave to Flacco's demands just because he's supposedly their guy; they could do better and probably cheaper too.

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

Three Games to Watch (Week 15):
Green Bay @ Chicago (Sunday, FOX)
Denver @ Baltimore (Sunday, CBS)
San Francisco @ New England (Sunday, NBC) 
Category: NFL
Posted on: November 21, 2012 12:20 am
 

2012 NFL Power Rankings, Week 11

Greetings, readers.  After some turmoil earlier in the season, it looks like things are finally settling down and becoming a bit more predictable.  Well, mostly...there are still some teams who defy prediction and lose when they ought to win.  At any rate, let's get to the stories from this week.

Speaking of losers, we start with the Thursday night game, if anybody still remembers it.  I'm sure Bills fans do, and they should be happy that their team pulled off a win against Miami.  It has to be disappointing for the Dolphins, though, because they went up against a team with a terrible defense and couldn't score enough to win.  I guess the Bills are starting to turn it around defensively.  But since both teams are 4-6, I think we can say definitively that both should be excluded from the playoff discussion.

The top two teams won this week: Houston & Atlanta both pulled off some rather lucky and stunning wins.  It's funny, since neither one of those games should have been as tough as it looked.  Yet the Texans and Falcons have made their bones winning close (and in Atlanta's case, close and late), so it's not necessarily a surprise that both teams won, just that they had to go so far to win.  They're both 9-1 and firmly in control of their divisions and perhaps even conferences.  While the AFC is supposedly the "weaker" conference this season, Houston cannot rest on its laurels just yet.  Baltimore, New England, and Denver are all looking formidable; despite the Texans holding the tiebreaker on two of those three, I wouldn't be surprised in the least to see one of them pass up the Texans for the 1-seed and home field advantage throughout the playoffs.  As for the Falcons, I don't really see anyone catching them in the regular season.  But in the playoffs, neither team is proven.

There were two other overtime games besides Houston/Jacksonville.  Tampa Bay and Dallas also won in OT on Sunday.  I don't usually like to bring up the Cowboys; normally they're doing something stupid like losing or playing particularly poorly.  I also don't want this blog to have the stench of homerism hovering over it.  I would like to think I'm objective, despite not being a "professional" journalist (or really, an amateur journalist; I'm just a guy)!  However, I think this one merited a few words.  While the Cowboys didn't play well (going to OT against Cleveland is proof of that), they did get the win and can now make some noise in the division.  In fact, with a win this Thursday, they'll be 6-5 and just a half-game behind the Giants for the division lead.  Let's not count our chickens, or anything, though.  Tampa Bay's win was arguably more impressive, though it came against a similarly bad opponent.  Of course, Carolina is in their division, so maybe they should get some points for that.  Josh Freeman made the throws when he needed to; he secured the game-tying TD + 2 pt. conversion and then threw a TD pass in OT to Dallas Clark that won the game.  An impressive showing, to be sure.

Not to be outdone by the early action, a couple of teams playing late broke out the hammer.  In this case it was New England and New Orleans.  Denver also won late Sunday, but their game ended up being a little too close to be a real beatdown, even if the game wasn't as close as the score would indicate.  New England took on the Colts and handed them a 59-24 loss.  New Orleans won 38-17 against Oakland, and that score doesn't tell the whole story either.  While some might consider the Saints a playoff contender, I do not.  Let's not forget, they started 0-4, and only one team in the HISTORY of the NFL has ever made the playoffs after starting 0-4.  Drew Brees may be a god among QB's, but this mountain is too large to climb.  Tom Brady &co. now sit at 7-3 and even without super TE Rob Gronkowski for the next 4-6 weeks, should have enough to maintain and perhaps finish out the season with 12 wins.

The last game on Sunday provided the least drama, considering that everyone expected it to be great (myself included).  Baltimore went up to Pittsburgh and with a number of stars missing on both sides, an ugly game ensued.  Byron Leftwich started out nicely, but apparently sustained multiple injuries through the course of the game and the finish was nothing to write home about.  Joe Flacco (who anointed himself "elite" mistakenly) was his usual inconsistent self; after posting 55 against Oakland the previous week he reverted back to his usual do-nothing ways.  Baltimore's offense was particularly moribund on third down, converting a pathetic 3-for-14.  It's one thing to say that it's the Pittsburgh D, and another to say that Flacco is not an elite QB, should keep his mouth shut, and should freakin' play better.  Personally, I don't think it was the Steelers D that kept the Ravens offense in neutral for the entire night.  I think Flacco is a mediocre QB.  His play against the Steelers was just the latest example of that.  Unless he becomes more consistent, it is difficult to see the Ravens as a Super Bowl contender this season.  That said, I do think of them as one of the few teams that is set up to be a contender every season.  So, really, all they have to do is get more consistent QB play and manage the injuries so that they have their guys back come playoff time.

Monday's game was probably one of the more surprising results of the season.  With Alex Smith sidelined due to a concussion (and his counterpart Jay Cutler the same), Colin Kaepernick started for the 49ers and led a beatdown to remember.  The Bears defense and offensive line were both destroyed by San Francisco.  To call this game lopsided is being kind, practically.  What's funny is that Kaepernick was making his first start and now sportswriters all over are calling for the kid to start in New Orleans in Week 12.  I wouldn't go quite that far, unless Alex Smith continues to have post-concussion symptoms.  I think it's better to avoid controversy whenever possible when it comes to QB's.  Since Kaepernick has been acknowledged as the backup, he should have no problem sitting if Smith is healthy.  If Smith isn't healthy just yet, Kaepernick showed himself to be capable, at least.  Whether or not he can reproduce that effort is still under question, especially in New Orleans.  But let's not forget that the Saints defense is one of the worst in the history of the NFL.

Here are the Rankings for Week 11:

1.) Houston (9-1) [no change]
 Going to OT was bad, but at least they won and saved themselves a lot of questions.

2.) Atlanta (9-1) [no change]
 Five INT's from Matt Ryan.  Yeesh.  There are certainly issues to be corrected here.

3.) Baltimore (8-2) [no change]
 Joe Flacco needs to find that "elite" play again.  If he ever had it to begin with.

4.) San Francisco (7-2-1) [no change]
 Kaepernick subbed well at home; let's see if that changes on the road.

5.) Green Bay (7-3) [+1]
 It wasn't pretty against Detroit and now they get a Giants team coming off the bye.

6.) New England (7-3) [+1]
 The only question is can they continue to whip up on teams without Gronk?

7.) Denver (7-3) [+1]
 Peyton Manning continues his quest toward Comeback Player of the Year as well as MVP.

8.) Chicago (7-3) [-3]
 I don't know if Jay Cutler can help them get back up if the O-line is that bad.

9.) Tampa Bay (6-4) [-]
 The Bucs are back in after an impressive win that probably should have been better.

10.) Indianapolis (6-4) [-1]
 Down, but not quite out.  RGIII outplayed Luck this week too.

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

Three Games to Watch (Week 12):
Minnesota @ Chicago (Sunday, FOX)
Atlanta @ Tampa Bay (Sunday, FOX)
Green Bay @ NY Giants (Sunday, NBC)
Category: NFL
Posted on: January 4, 2012 9:07 pm
 

2011 NFL Power Rankings, Week 17

Last week of the 2011 NFL season and the playoffs start this Saturday.  Huzzah!

As usual, there were a few surprise teams going into the playoffs.  This year it's the Broncos, 49ers, Bengals, Lions, and Texans.  So we know who not to like next season already.

Here are the standings for Week 17:

Prisco: 10-6
Red: 8-8
King: 9-7

So overall, Peter King did the best.  He was 165-91.  For the record, I came in third, with a record of 158-98.  The last three weeks really killed me.

Here are the Rankings for Week 17:

1.) New Orleans (13-3) [no change]
 Much like last week, I probably should have moved the Packers into the top spot.  But I'm rolling with the Saints since they won their last seven and looked ridiculously good doing it.  So both are great teams.  Of course, we'll see what happens if they both reach the NFC Championship Game, but these are regular season Rankings and have nothing to do with the playoffs.

2.) Green Bay (15-1) [no change]
 Even when Aaron Rodgers takes a day off, the Packers' offense just keeps producing.  It's hard to believe Matt Flynn can reproduce those numbers with another team, assuming Green Bay lets him go after the season.  I think the Packers have the best chance to get back to the Super Bowl.  They've got home-field throughout and have the strongest QB and offense.  I can't imagine anyone beating them, before the Super Bowl, so it should be a fairly substantial upset.  If it happens.

3.) New England (13-3) [no change]
 Speaking of things that are hard to believe, the Patriots didn't beat a single team with a winning record.  How do things like that happen?  Well, they lost to Pittsburgh and the NY Giants.  And the rest of their division was pretty crappy.  That said, if not for their utterly terrible defense, I think the Pats have a decent shot of doing "something" in the playoffs.  That assumes that they avoid the mishaps that got them beat by Baltimore and the Jets in the last couple seasons.

4.) San Francisco (13-3) [no change]
 Despite having a first-round bye and a home game in the Divisional Round, I'm not too high on the 49ers' chances in the playoffs.  They'll likely have to play the Saints, and I don't see them stopping Drew Brees.

5.) Baltimore (12-4) [no change]
 Assuming Joe Flacco finds some consistency (and leans on Ray Rice heavily), the Ravens could do something in the playoffs.  Then again, they'll probably have to beat the Steelers again, and I find it hard to believe they could do that three times in a season.  But if Cam Cameron goes back to his old tricks (i.e. having Flacco throw it up to 50 times), the Ravens aren't getting past their first game.

6.) Pittsburgh (12-4) [no change]
 It's not out of the realm of possibility that the Steelers have the best chance of making it out of the AFC.  They have a favorable matchup in Denver this week.  Assuming a Cincinnati win, they head to Baltimore to face the Ravens for a third time.  Even if Cincinnati doesn't win, the Steelers get the Pats again, whom they already beat.  Now if only Ben Roethlisberger's ankle hadn't "regressed".  That injury could potentially derail my prediction for them.

7.) Atlanta (10-6) [+3]
 As expected, the Falcons pulled it together and made the playoffs again.  It looked dicey when they were getting beat by Chicago and the like, but Matt Ryan and company rounded into form at the right time and are the 5th seed in the NFC.  They get the "good" matchup, going into Jersey to play the Giants.  It's a lot better than having to play the Saints again.

8.) Houston (10-6) [-1]
 I'm not really surprised that the Texans went on a swoon to end the season.  Luckily for them, they had already clinched the AFC South and will host Cincinnati this weekend.  I don't like their chances.

9.) Detroit (10-6) [-1]
 Despite the awesomeness of Matt Stafford, it looks like Detroit is going to be one-and-done in the playoffs.  Unless the defense somehow figures out how to stop Drew Brees in the next couple days, they're going into a shootout just a few bullets shy of being able to win.  The one factor to look out for is how Ndamukong Suh plays; he wasn't in the lineup for the Lions the last time they played the Saints.  We know Stafford and Brees will throw bombs all day.

10.) Cincinnati (9-7) [-1]
 Andy Dalton and A.J. Green took the Bengals to the playoffs.  Not only that, but they have a good chance of advancing to the Divisional Round.  Who'd a-thunk it?  I was hedging for most of the season, because I just wasn't sure what would happen.  And as it turned out, the Bengals backed in.  But hey, they're in and Dallas isn't, so there's that.

Surprisingly, none of the teams in the Rankings last week dropped out.  But let's not forget the other two teams that made it into the playoffs, the NY Giants and the Denver Broncos.

Well, I guess we don't necessarily have to remember them.  After all, it doesn't appear that they'll be around after this week.

I hope I didn't just jinx it.

That's all for this week and this year.  Thanks for reading, and I'll see you next season. 
Category: NFL
Posted on: December 31, 2011 3:44 pm
 

2011 NFL Power Rankings, Week 16

As far as the regular season goes, it would appear the Packers aren't "in trouble" after all.  No surprise there, though since New Orleans won (and Drew Brees broke Dan Marino's single-season passing yardage record), there isn't any movement at the top.

Here are the standings for Week 16:

Prisco: 12-4
Red: 9-7
King: 9-7

I'm not sure why I picked Arizona over Cincinnati, but I did.  That wasn't the only dumb move, obviously.

Here are the Rankings for Week 16:

1.) New Orleans (12-3) [no change]
 I'm sure most people concentrated on Drew Brees' record-breaking performance on Monday; I noticed it as well and am pleased with his success.  Let's not forget that the Saints are a really good team, even with some deficiencies on defense.  It starts with Brees and his gaggle of receivers, of course, but there are a couple solid RB's in the mix too.  Now we have to see how their success translates outdoors in the elements.

2.) Green Bay (14-1) [no change]
 I should probably have the Packers back at #1, but I can't move the Saints down unless they lose in Week 17.  That said, there's no guarantee the Packers take out Detroit.  With "nothing to play for", they'll likely sit Aaron Rodgers for most or all of the game.

3.) New England (12-3) [no change]
 As expected, the Patriots have rolled through the cake portion of their schedule with only a couple minor slip-ups.  They can earn the #1 seed in the AFC with a win against Buffalo, and the likelihood of that happening is about as close to 100% as it gets.

4.) San Francisco (12-3) [no change]
 Though it looked like the 49ers would get a bit complacent in the last couple weeks of the regular season, it appears that Jim Harbaugh and his staff limited the damage to one loss.  It's likely that they'll end up #2 in the NFC, with a first-round bye and a playoff game in Candlestick as a reward for their great season.

5.) Baltimore (11-4) [+2]
 Much as I admire the bluster of Terrell Suggs &co., I'm hard-pressed to see the Ravens in the Super Bowl this year.  It's funny, since before the season I had them tabbed as one of a select few that could win multiple titles in the next 10 years.  They have an excellent defense, running back, special teams, and coaching staff.  But their QB has proven to be hit-or-miss, and that's a weakness the Ravens haven't been able to overcome since their breakthrough Super Bowl win 10 years ago.

6.) Pittsburgh (11-4) [no change]
 With a win and a Baltimore loss, the Steelers take the AFC North.  It's still conceivable for them to get the #1 seed in the AFC, though New England would have to lose to Buffalo for that to occur.  Hard to see how/why Ben Roethlisberger plays in Week 17; the opponent is Cleveland and it looked like the Steelers could take them with a hand tied behind their back.

7.) Houston (10-5) [-2]
 Two bad losses in a row for the Texans, who close out against the Titans.  It may look like they have nothing to play for, but knocking the Titans out of the playoff race (presumably) should be enough of a stimulant.

8.) Detroit (10-5) [+1]
 I was surprised that the Lions took out San Diego the way they did.  After starting out 5-0, the Lions have looked more or less mediocre ever since, despite delivering a beatdown to the Broncos.  They're locked into a Wild Card berth now and will go to the playoffs for the first time in many years.

9.) Cincinnati (9-6) [-]
 It's possible the Bengals are here to stay.  Who can tell, though?  They could just as easily lose to Baltimore again and drop out.

10.) Atlanta (9-6) [-2]
 The Falcons keep a spot here by the skin of their teeth.  Losing to New Orleans isn't the worst thing in the world, obviously, and they're still a Wild Card team.  So it appears that I was right about the Falcons; though they looked pretty bad earlier in the season, they rounded into form at the right time and will likely take on the Saints again in the playoffs.

The only team to exit the Rankings is the no-account Cowboys.  Even though I'm a fan of the team, I do my best to remain objective about them in this space.  That said, I don't like their chances in the (new) Meadowlands this week.  It's a must-win situation; that only makes it seem more likely that they'll do something stupid to choke away a surefire chance at a playoff berth.

Then again, most of the pundits are jumping back on the Giants' bandwagon (after a few false starts).

I'm currently debating what I'll do during the playoffs.  I might do a couple blogs for picks and such.  We'll see.

That's all for this week.  See you next week! 
Category: NFL
Posted on: December 21, 2011 9:07 pm
 

2011 NFL Power Rankings, Week 15

There are times when parity in the NFL just gets annoying.  This week was one of them.

Finally, there are no more undefeated teams.  The Packers lost to Kansas City in one of the more improbable results of 2011 and some believe that they're "in trouble" thanks to injuries on the offensive line and to star WR Greg Jennings.  I think that's ridiculous; they didn't fluke their way to 13-0, even with a leaky sieve of a defense.  Injuries on the O-line are troublesome, there's no doubt about that.  But I don't think it's to such a degree that the Packers go from the best team in the league to a team that's "in trouble".

Then again, if the Packers don't repeat, so much the better.

Here are the standings for Week 15:

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

None of us did that great, but I really took it on the chin.  I could go through all the mistakes, but we saw how teams played.  We know what happened.

Here are the Rankings for Week 15:

1.) New Orleans (11-3) [+1]
 This is not to say that the Saints are better; in fact, the Packers already beat New Orleans in Week 1.  Does anyone still remember that game?  I admit, it's becoming more and more obscure with distance.  Anyway, the Packers lost this week while the Saints put up a ton of points on the hapless Vikings, so the Saints are moving up this week while the Packers drop a spot.  That's just how these things go.

2.) Green Bay (13-1) [-1]
  Like I said above, I don't think this team is in trouble.  There are still two weeks left in the season, plus a bye and home-field advantage throughout (let's face it, they're not losing out), so there is time to get things straightened out.  Plus, without the whole undefeated bugaboo holding them down and/or back, they should be feeling free.  Aaron Rodgers isn't injured, so they've got a chance to win.

3.) New England (11-3) [+2]
 Apparently, this Denver team doesn't bother Tom Brady.  Even the defense stiffened.  Losing Andre Carter will probably hurt them in the playoffs, but it's hard not to see the Pats winning out and getting a first-round bye.

4.) San Francisco (11-3) [+3]
 Despite the power outages, the 49ers persevered and got a tough win at home.  I guess it would have been better had the Steelers shown up, but whatever.  A win is a win, right?  Just when it looked like San Francisco was getting a little too pleased with itself, they go out and beat one of the better teams in the league.  I'm not sure if they can hold off New Orleans for the #2 seed, but if they keep playing like they did on Monday, it'll be a heck of a race.

5.) Houston (10-4) [-2]
 It's funny how the Texans can beat good teams and then lose to Carolina.  I hesitate to say that T.J. Yates was "exposed" or what have you.  He's not a good QB to begin with.

6.) Pittsburgh (10-4) [-2]
 I don't think it was expected that the Steelers would lose in SF, nor should it have been.  But with Roethlisberger's injury, plus his rash of turnovers, they apparently didn't have much of a chance.  I wish I had known that beforehand.

7.) Baltimore (10-4) [-1]
 I know that Baltimore should technically be in front of Pittsburgh, but can you really blame me for moving them down after that pathetic non-effort they put in on Sunday night?  Well, whatever, it doesn't matter.  Losing to the Chargers, even when they're no longer slumbering, is pretty embarrassing given that Rivers was throwing games away with regularity just a couple weeks ago.  We all expect Baltimore's defense to do more than it did, as well.  They looked absolutely pathetic, unable to cover anybody or hit Rivers in the mouth.  Once again, another disappointing and inexplicable loss.

8.) Atlanta (9-5) [+1]
 It seems funny to say it now, but I had a hunch that Atlanta would do something like this late in the season.  There's just too much talent there for them to flounder around.  Hard to see them catching New Orleans for the division, but the Wild Card is theirs to lose.  Given how home-field worked for them last season, maybe a road playoff game or two would be better to build some character.  Or display some character, who knows.  There are no guarantees, but with Matt Ryan and those receivers, I imagine Atlanta is a tough out if they're playing like they're capable of.

9.) Detroit (9-5) [+1]
 Why is it that nobody can figure out that covering Calvin Johnson is a good idea?  And that leaving him open for even a second will lead to very bad things.  We know the Lions started out great and then got sidetracked in the wilderness there for a bit.  Where do they go from here?  Well, they have San Diego in Week 16, and that seems troublesome.  But this Lions team specializes in comebacks and we've seen San Diego's vulnerability arise in that specific area.  So at this point I'd call it a wash.

10.) Dallas (8-6) [-]
 Nothing better for the Cowboys than to go out on Saturday, beat Tampa Bay, and then watch Sunday as the Giants somehow find a way to fall flat on their goddamn faces to Washington.  I imagine any number of Cowboys players (and coaches, and maybe even Jerry himself) saying a prayer of thanks for that one.  Still, they play Philadelphia and the Giants to close out, and as a Cowboys fan, I've gotta say I have a bad feeling.  It's not like they can't win both of these remaining games...it's just not bloody likely.

Just one team dropped out of the Rankings this week. It was the Jets.  Good riddance, I say; that's what you get for losing to Philadelphia and giving them false hope about making the playoffs.  Yeesh.

I'll take the Texans tomorrow night; the Colts might be a little frisky thanks to finally winning a game, but they can't afford to keep winning, blah, blah, blah.

Thanks for reading.  See you next week! 
Category: NFL
 
 
 
 
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