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
Posted on: December 15, 2011 10:45 pm

2011 NFL Power Rankings, Week 14

Another really quick turnaround as the Thursday night game is just about to start.  My bad!  All in all, a pretty nondescript week as the only unexpected results occurred in Cincy and Dallas.

Here are the standings for Week 14:

Prisco: 12-4
Red: 11-5
King: 11-5

I missed out on Tampa, Miami, and San Francisco, in addition to the aforementioned Cincy and Dallas.  The NFC East is really annoying; had the Cowboys won, they would control their own destiny.  Now they probably have to win out to get the division title, since it's looking unlikely a Wild Card will come from the East.

Here are the Rankings for Week 14:

1.) Green Bay (14-0) [no change]
 This train keeps rolling, even with the (temporary?) loss of Greg Jennings.  With as many receivers as they have, it shouldn't adversely affect the Packers, but stranger things have happened.  The schedule is quite favorable too.

2.) New Orleans (10-3) [+1]
 It's looking more and more like that Week 1 matchup highlighted the two best teams in the NFC.  I thought it was San Francisco, but losses to Baltimore and Arizona (seriously?) seem to have exposed them.  The Saints, for their part, had a bit of trouble with Tennessee, but finally pulled away late.

3.) Houston (10-3) [+1]
 Thanks to Tennessee losing, the Texans are AFC South champs for the first time ever.  That means they'll get a playoff berth for the first time ever as well.  I didn't see that coming.  Nor did I think T.J. Yates would be as successful as he has.  Other teams have replaced their starter for various reasons, and none of them have performed like Yates.

4.) Pittsburgh (10-3) [+1]
 Ben Roethlisberger looked good after what seemed to be a really ugly injury.  I'm not sure they'll catch and pass Baltimore to win the AFC North, but a Wild Card seems to be sewn up.

5.) New England (10-3) [+1]
 As expected, the cupcake schedule is benefitting the Pats, though their defense isn't making it any easier.  They get the feisty Broncos this week, and I'm expecting good things all around when Brady shuts everyone up.

6.) Baltimore (10-3) [+1]
 After a cupcake game against the winless Colts, the Ravens take on San Diego in Week 15.  Funny how much winning games has covered up Joe Flacco's previously inconsistent play.

7.) San Francisco (10-3) [-5]
 I certainly didn't expect the 49ers to drop one to a not particularly good Arizona team.  And now that they have, I have to wonder whether or not they should still be considered an elite team.  I'm leaning toward no right now.  They've come back to the pack with the rest of the good teams, but they're no longer separate from them like Green Bay is.

8.) NY Jets (8-5) [+1]
 The last three teams in this week are part of the amorphous group just behind the good teams.  All three look a bit more questionable to some degree.  The Jets get Philadelphia this week, and I'm not sure I like that matchup.

9.) Atlanta (8-5) [-]
 It's looking good for the Falcons in the NFC.  Hard to see any of the teams behind them catching up for a Wild Card.

10.) Detroit (8-5) [-]
 Similarly, the Lions seem to be just good enough to gain a Wild Card while other teams are dropping off.

Tennessee and Oakland dropped out this week, but I have a feeling that one or both of them might come back shortly.  You never know with how some of these teams in the bottom part of the Rankings play.  Not a whole lot of consistency to be found outside of the top 5-7.

Thanks for reading.  See you next week! 
Category: NFL
Posted on: December 8, 2011 1:05 pm

2011 NFL Power Rankings, Week 13

Really quick turnaround this week since it's Thursday as I write this.  The Steelers take on the Browns tonight in Pittsburgh; it should be a good game if Roethlisberger &co. show up like they're supposed to.  I remember a Thursday game a couple of years ago where that didn't happen, and they got beat.

Finally, we've got some separation.  Of course, the top two (GB & SF) have been where they are for the last few weeks, but now we're seeing other teams beginning their ascension.  It'll definitely be an interesting stretch run as we watch teams jockeying for playoff position.  Some of them have a distinct advantage; that's what winning consistently does.

Here are the standings for Week 13:

Prisco: 8-8
Red: 12-4
King: 11-5

Kind of a weird week with the picks; I did well overall, but I could have done better had Atlanta and Dallas not choked.  Unlike my professional opponents, I didn't see Oakland losing in such a way to Miami.  I also missed out on Chicago; I didn't think Tyler Palko was that much better than Caleb Hanie.  Oh well, now I know.  For whatever good that'll do me.

Here are the Rankings for Week 13:

1.) Green Bay (12-0) [no change]
 I don't know about anyone else, but I'm scratching my head wondering where the 1st loss is going to be for this team.  Now, even if we assume that Weeks 16 & 17 are used mainly for recuperation, it's hard to say with certainty that they couldn't win.  Matt Flynn appears to be a capable backup.  Also, the Packers have so many weapons on offense that they could rest a couple guys and still put a top-flight unit out there.  I'll be surprised if they don't end up undefeated, at this point.  Some thought that the Giants had a chance; I scoffed at that and didn't believe it for a second.  Even when they tied the game up, I figured Rodgers would have something to say about it, and surprise, surprise, he did.  Credit Mason Crosby for making the kick, too.

2.)  San Francisco (10-2) [no change]
 Not much drama left for the 49ers besides playoff positioning.  They're a game ahead of the Saints and it's not looking like they're gonna get beat.  Since Patrick Willis strained his hamstring, it might be prudent to rest him until the playoffs start, just to avoid complications like Miles Austin and Andre Johnson have faced.  I'm not a doctor, so I don't know the reasoning behind it, but those hamstring injuries sure do seem tough to get over.  On the other hand, I have a feeling Jim Harbaugh will just plug the next guy in and have the defense running the same.  I know it's difficult to replace a guy of Willis' caliber, but at the same time, it doesn't seem like they're built around one guy on either side of the ball.  That ought to serve them well going forward.

3.) New Orleans (9-3) [no change]
 Thanks to some questionable judgment on the opposing team and Drew Brees playing like he usually does, the Saints are looking like one of the top teams.  We know they fared well against Green Bay (losing at the very end), but how would they do against the 49ers?  That question may determine how successful the Saints are in 2011.  With Atlanta slipping back to the pack in surprising fashion, New Orleans has a firm grip on the division lead, but it seems unlikely that they'll get a first-round bye, unless San Francisco falls off a bit.

4.) Houston (9-3) [no change]
 I'm probably not the only person surprised by T.J. Yates' performance on Sunday.  Still, the difference was one dropped pass by Julio Jones.  And maybe a couple of questionable penalties called against Atlanta.  The Texans are having the best season in franchise history, already tying their best record with four games to go.  And what do you know, besides Week 14's game against Cincinnati, it actually looks pretty favorable for them.

5.) Pittsburgh (9-3) [no change]
 I have yet to decide whether or not playing on Thursday is a boon.  I guess we'll see how this one goes.  All I know is that the "good" team in this one (Pittsburgh, natch) is at home.  They were at home in Week 13 as well, so no weird traveling nonsense to deal with.  After dropping 35 on the Bengals, they should be able to drop at least that much on Cleveland, but we know how this team can be.  I wouldn't be surprised to see them lose, and even less surprised if they won a squeaker.

6.) New England (9-3) [no change]
 If not for 12-0 (and counting), Tom Brady might be looking at consecutive MVP's.  The way the schedule finishes for the Pats, it's looking like a first-round bye is all but guaranteed.  I don't know if that's the preference, but whatever.

7.) Baltimore (9-3) [no change]
 Though I have them as the last of the good teams this week, the Ravens are actually in a favorable position.  Now all they have to do is avoid the embarrassing losses that plagued them earlier in the season.  If they can do that, they might actually get a home playoff game.

8.) Tennessee (7-5) [-]
 After the good teams, it was hard to figure who else to put in.  Tennessee makes it in by virtue of winning in Week 13 and the renaissance of RB Chris Johnson, who finally figured out that 2011 started.  I'm not sure what he was waiting for, exactly.  Maybe he was counting his money this whole time?  I kid, I kid.

9.) NY Jets (7-5) [-]
 Yup, they're back.  To be honest, it's hard to see a team this talented not doing something this season, considering how the AFC is looking.  As usual, their success will rest on the arm of Mark Sanchez.  Not exactly the basket I'd stash my eggs in, but at least they have a solid defense and a wily coach.

10.) Oakland (7-5) [-2]
 Just barely avoiding the chopping block, the Raiders were embarrassed by Miami and are now tied with Denver for the lead in the AFC West.  The only problem is that Denver holds the tiebreaker, which means that the Raiders are out in the cold at the moment.  My guess is that they'll finish ahead of Denver, but it's hard to keep the faith after seeing a loss like the one they just suffered.  Plus, they get the 12-0 Packers this week.  In Green Bay.  Ouch.

The two choke artists of Week 13, Dallas & Atlanta, dropped out of the Rankings.  No surprise there.

I think I've got the Steelers tonight.  I actually feel confident...but then again, some weird stuff has happened in these Thursday night games.

That's all for this week.  See you next week! 
Category: NFL
Posted on: November 29, 2011 8:38 pm

2011 NFL Power Rankings, Week 12

Thanksgiving was more interesting for the food than for the games, it would seem.  Green Bay toyed with the Lions for a half, before Detroit had an inevitable collapse.  Dallas pulled one out in the final seconds that really wasn't as dramatic as it seemed.  And the night game was fairly disappointing for the most part, as the defenses dominated and Alex Smith was sacked nine times, rendering him unable to lead any kind of scoring drive in the 4th quarter.  The rest of Week 12 wasn't much better.

Here are the standings for Week 12:

Prisco: 12-4
Red: 12-4
King: 11-5

I gambled on St. Louis and Tampa Bay; both failed me.  But I did get Denver right.  I also missed on Seattle and San Francisco.

Here are the Rankings for Week 12:

1.) Green Bay (11-0) [no change]
 For weeks now, many observers had pointed to the Thanksgiving day game against Detroit as one of the season-defining games that the Packers would play.  As far as I'm concerned, we missed on that one.  It didn't "define" anything.  It did show that the Packers have no discernible competition after 12 weeks, which is no different than what the previous 11 showed.  San Francisco's loss to Baltimore, especially the way it occurred, doesn't bode well for anybody's chances of beating the Packers either.  At this point, any loss the Packers sustain will look like a tremendous upset by a team that stood no chance of winning.  And whiny James Jones contributed nicely.  More of that and less whining, please and thank you.

2.) San Francisco (9-2) [no change]
 To be honest, I'm not sure how to justify leaving the Niners where they are, despite the beatdown that Baltimore put on them.  I guess what I'm going with is that they're still better than the other teams below them.  Well, Baltimore is decidedly better, but like hell am I vaulting them over the other teams that won when they can't beat Seattle or Jacksonville.

3.) New Orleans (8-3) [no change]
 As expected, the Saints went out and scored a bunch of TD's on the Giants.  It's looking like they're a solid choice to win the NFC South and host a Wild Card game.  I'm not sure they can beat out SF for a first-round bye, and we all know the Packers are going to be the #1 seed, barring some really stupid crap.  Drew Brees played well, as did Darren Sproles.  It might even be said that the addition of Sproles has made Brees better.  Hard to believe, but possible!

4.) Houston (8-3) [no change]
 I'm not sure how much longer this lasts, since they're on their 3rd string QB and have brought in Kellen Clemens and Jake Delhomme in recent days.  The consensus appears to be that the Texans are a mortal lock to make the playoffs, but once they get there, they're going out like New Orleans did last season.  I don't think that changes unless Matt Schaub comes back.  And since the likelihood of that is either small or non-existent....

5.) Pittsburgh (8-3) [no change]
 An extremely disappointing win for the Steelers on Sunday against KC.  Aside from a TD throw by Ben Roethlisberger, the offense looked anemic all night and couldn't get much accomplished.  The defense saved the day with a late INT, but this win should be viewed as more of an escape than anything else.  It's hard to see how Pittsburgh comes off a bye and performs like that.  It makes no sense, honestly.  I guess they're looking forward to...the Bengals, who they already beat in Cincinnati?  *facepalm*

6.) New England (8-3) [no change]
 Thankfully, Tom Brady played like everyone knows he can, and the defense did enough to not screw up a win.  If Philly had won that game, I would still be screaming profanity at them.  The Patriots should easily run the table and sew up the #1 seed in the AFC.  I don't see how any other team can outrun them at this point, as the schedule and their own internal consistency lead me to believe that the Pats are best-suited to win out.

7.) Baltimore (8-3) [+2]
 I guess I'm not surprised, necessarily.  Baltimore gets up for good teams (e.g. Pittsburgh, SF, Houston) and lays down against crappy teams (Seattle, Jacksonville, Tennessee).  I'm not sure how this works out for them down the stretch.  We'll see.

8.) Oakland (7-4) [+2]
 Barring some incredibly stupid play down the stretch, Oakland should win the AFC West.  Other people might be buying into ...that other guy in Denver, but I'm not.  Carson Palmer is a prototypical QB and has played like one in recent weeks.  Once he got into a groove, which took a couple weeks, he's been quite good.  And when Darren McFadden returns, this team only gets better.  They have a strong QB and (eventually) a two-pronged rushing attack that combines elusiveness (McFadden) with bruising between-the-tackles smashing (Michael Bush).  Sounds like a surefire combination for winning in the playoffs.  Now, will their defense hold up?

9.) Dallas (7-4) [-]
 Sometimes I'm a homer.  But this time, I've got a good reason: the Cowboys are leading the NFC East, and both the Giants and Eagles lost in Week 12.  Sure, the Redskins won, but does anybody expect that ragtag group to do anything else besides spoil down the stretch?  The addition of DeMarco Murray has been a godsend for the Cowboys, along with Tony Romo's increased aplomb for avoiding the big mistake.  He seemed to forget that somewhat on Thanksgiving, as he threw two bad INT's, but given the result, I'm fine with them.

10.) Atlanta (7-4) [-]
 I didn't think Atlanta was done; they just needed to win the games they should and be more competitive in general.  So far, they've done that, and now they're back in the playoff race.  It looks like they're going to get a Wild Card, as they still have a healthy QB, unlike Detroit and Chicago.  Can they challenge for the division?  I'm not sure, as they're down one game and already lost to New Orleans.  Then again, stranger things have happened.

Speaking of Detroit and Chicago, they're the teams that fell out of the Rankings this week.  It should come as no surprise, as Matthew Stafford and Jay Cutler are both injured (Cutler to a greater degree, obviously, since he's out) and both teams lost in Week 12.  I think Detroit can still win a Wild Card, but Chicago's chances are significantly more grim.  One break in their favor is the schedule; assuming they can finish ahead of Atlanta, we could see three teams from the NFC North in the playoffs.  Also, we could see three teams from the AFC North in the playoffs.  How nutty would that be?

That's all for this week.  See you next week! 
Category: NFL
Posted on: November 22, 2011 8:40 pm

2011 NFL Power Rankings, Week 11

Somehow, there was less totally improbable crap that happened in Week 11.  Either that, or I'm getting better prognosticating.

Since the latter seems unlikely, I guess the matchups were more favorable toward the good teams.  It's hard to tell who's good still.  Despite Green Bay and San Francisco looking strong, the rest of the NFC and the entire AFC look like they can get beat by anybody on any day.  In particular, New Orleans and Baltimore have some baffling losses.  As the playoff push begins in earnest, there are a bunch of 7-3 teams standing between mediocrity and the top two.  Obviously, how these teams play will determine how the playoffs look.

Here are the standings for Week 11:

Prisco: 9-5
Red: 9-5
King: 11-3

Well, there goes King, right back to the top.

This week, it was the entire NY/NJ area that disappointed me, as both the Jets and Giants lost.  Funnily enough, they both lost to inferior competition.  Denver doesn't have a QB and Philadelphia was also starting a backup.  I don't get it, but the good thing is, neither does anyone else.  For some reason I picked St. Louis, Jacksonville, and Buffalo.  Predictably (except by me, obviously) they lost.

I guess it could have been worse.

Here are the Rankings for Week 11:

1.) Green Bay (10-0) [no change]
 Where does this train stop?  They play on Thanksgiving at Detroit in the early game.  It seems like Detroit has some momentum behind them, but I don't think the Packers are going down like that.  Of course, if they win at Detroit, it's hard to see anyone else beating them.  But at the same time, it's hard to see anybody beating them before the playoffs start.  So where does that leave us?  The same place we were before: either San Francisco or an AFC team will be the ones to take them out.  Otherwise, it's two in a row.

2.) San Francisco (9-1) [no change]
 After taking out Arizona, the 49ers head back to the East coast to play Baltimore Thanksgiving night.  Sounds like fun.  I think the schedule just shakes out like that sometimes; some teams get screwed like the 49ers, while others like New England get cupcakes mostly in their time zone.  I'm sure that whoever goes into Candlestick in January will be at a disadvantage.  Because it's all but sealed up that San Francisco is going to host a playoff game.

3.) New Orleans (7-3) [no change]
 The Saints had a late bye.  We'll see how that affects them.

4.) Houston (7-3) [no change]
 Now starting at QB for the Texans: Matt Leinart.  That's a heck of a change, even after a bye.

5.) Pittsburgh (7-3) [no change]
 How is it that Ben Roethlisberger can play with a "fractured" thumb, but Jay Cutler can't?  I'm not sure it's a good idea either way.

6.) New England (7-3) [no change]
 It turns out that starting slowly isn't always an accurate indicator.  It's troubling that it occurred against Kansas City, but once the O-line solidified and Green-Eliis started running like he usually does, the Pats found more success.  Rob Gronkowski has two TD's, both of which were quite impressive.  They have an easy schedule down the stretch, so a long win streak ought to be in the offing.  I'm thinking that maybe a first-round bye could be coming as well.  Nobody is running away with the AFC, so maybe the Pats can pull together and be that team.

7.) Chicago (7-3) [no change]
 Without Jay Cutler, it's hard for me to see how these guys stay in it.  Then again, this situation might just be the Bears' wheelhouse.  How many years did they go without solid QB play?  Quite a few, as I remember.  I don't think they make the playoffs, though.  Detroit should be one of the Wild Card teams, with the other "to be determined" as of this moment.

8.) Detroit (7-3) [+1]
 Tough to tell if a comeback win against Carolina means anything.  The Panthers are obviously not a good team.  And the Lions have shown a penchant for the comeback.  But now they get the league's best team and this garbage can't continue if they want to pick up the win on Thanksgiving.  The Lions should be one of the NFC Wild Cards.  But if they lose on Thanksgiving and don't pick it up afterward, it's possible that Atlanta and/or the NY Giants could sneak in.  It sounds ridiculous at this point, when Detroit has looked like a playoff team for this long...but anything could happen.

9.) Baltimore (7-3) [-]
 Here we are again.  I know I should probably have the Ravens above Pittsburgh, but I couldn't stomach moving all those teams down to put Baltimore above them, since we all know the Ravens have the propensity to disappoint in a big way.  I'm not saying outright that they're going to lose to SF on Thanksgiving...but would I be surprised?  Not at all.  Thus, any stay for the Ravens in these Rankings can only be seen as temporary until proven otherwise.

10.) Oakland (6-4) [-]
 The Raiders make it back into the Rankings on the basis of leading their no-account division and because of other teams being terrible.  They're playing pretty impressively without Darren McFadden, I admit.  And Carson Palmer is rounding into form nicely.  At this point, it's hard to know what to make of the Raiders; they have to get healthy first before we go claiming they can go forward.  Although, even if they're healthy, are they better than New England, Pittsburgh, or Baltimore?

While there wasn't much change this week, there were two teams that dropped out, Cincinnati and the NY Giants.  Boo to the Giants for losing to Philadelphia.  That was ridiculous.  Cincinnati's loss was somewhat acceptable, since they played well and only lost due to referee BS and the surpassing effort of a good opponent.  Baltimore may not be a great team, but they were better than Cincinnati on Sunday.

As far as Thanksgiving goes, I'll take the Packers, Cowboys, and 49ers.  Here's to them not letting me down.

That's all for this week.  See you next week! 
Category: NFL
Posted on: November 16, 2011 4:53 am
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