Some of the "bad" teams rose up in Week 10 and made it a little weird. Of course, I've been saying this for the last weeks as teams that ought to win go down, so maybe I should be learning from my mistakes. At any rate, it's difficult to predict some of the stuff we've seen. I know I've had trouble with it, as my weekly records have shown. Finally, though, it looks like we have a clearly defined top five and bottom five. I'll get to the top five in a minute, but let's look at the bottom five. Indianapolis is obviously the worst; they're 0-10 and look moribund at best. There are four teams at 2-7 currently: Carolina, Minnesota, Miami, and St. Louis. Of these, I think we know that St. Louis has disappointed and taken a huge step back. Given the offense that Steve Spagnuolo runs (and I say that mostly tongue-in-cheek), it's not a total surprise. But at the same time, given all the love for Sam Bradford, one would have expected them to keep moving forward. Other than the Rams, Carolina seems to be the best equipped, despite suffering through many injuries. Cam Newton looks like the real deal; now all Marty Hurney &co. need to do is re-stock the cupboard around him, plus add some depth on defense. Sounds simple, but I'm sure it won't be, somehow. Minnesota and Miami look like they'll be in the "doormat" department for a little while, though it appears that Miami is slightly better at this point.
That just leaves Indianapolis. Who knew that without Peyton Manning that they would slip to this depth? Not me, that's for sure. It's likely that they'll get the first overall pick in the draft and take Andrew Luck, setting themselves up like Ted Thompson did in Green Bay. We'll see. I'm not sure Luck is "the guy", if only because there have been so many who were set up to be "the guy" (including Bradford, actually) only to go down in flames. As we've seen in recent years, the draft is mostly a crapshoot, and it's not something that I care to get involved with. I like to look at the games, personally, and don't really give a crap about all this ancillary nonsense. I understand its importance, obviously; every team has to rebuild and reload and the draft is the best place to do that. But for me to cover and/or analyze such a thing is beyond my ken.
Here are the standings for Week 10:
Finally, I beat them straight up! It only took me ten weeks and many, many drubbings from King. Even still, he's ahead by four.
Normally it's hard to know where to start when listing my disappointments. This week, it's pretty easy. Hello, San Diego!
OK, perhaps I shouldn't be too hard on them, given their offensive line crumbling. Everyone and their mother was on their bandwagon, though, and they went out and pulled a stinkbomb. Once again, Philip Rivers is not an elite QB. Yeah, I know, protection issues. That plays a part, for sure. But again, he wasn't great in the first half. And then once the O-line dissolved into murk, he couldn't do enough to ensure a win. Typical.
The other disappointments include Baltimore, Detroit, and of course, Philadelphia. I can kind of understand Detroit losing to Chicago (but getting blown out eludes me). Baltimore going to Seattle and losing? Inexcusably bad. Philadelphia losing to Arizona, who were starting John Skelton at QB? I guess I need to consult a thesaurus to come up with a word stronger than inexcusable. I don't know...I'm sure a curse would be involved.
So last Thursday I went with San Diego and got burned. This week, I'm going to go with Rex Ryan and the Jets, because I believe they can stop the monstrosity known as Denver's offense. I don't know how, I don't know why. In fact, I don't want to know; I just want to see it happen. Make it happen! Please and thank you.
Here are the Rankings for Week 10:
1.) Green Bay (9-0) [no change]
So now that the Packers are 9-0, the question has become "Who's going to stop them"? To be honest, I don't know. It's hard for me to see that happening, given my particular set of biases. I thought New England would take it in 2007 when they went 16-0 (and later 18-0), but wouldn't you know it, something stupid had to happen. So I guess the takeaway is that if the Packers get derailed, it'll be by somethng stupid. I doubt it'll be an injury (unless it's Rodgers going down), so you can write that off. The only weakness this team has is pass defense, it seems. Their run defense might not be that great either, but how can you tell when opposing QB's are throwing bombs down the field all the time? Like I've been saying the whole time I've had the Packers at #1, the defense will likely work itself out. If it doesn't, they may only reach the NFC Championship Game. I know, what a disappointment.
2.) San Francisco (8-1) [no change]
Apparently, this guy Justin Smith is really good. That's what I keep hearing, anyway. Alex Smith isn't too bad, either, given his TD pass to Vernon Davis and his generally mistake-free football. That INT was on Ted Ginn's hands. They could probably use a bit more fire in the offense, but when you're winning, most people ignore that. Even with Frank Gore ineffective and then gimpy, the 49ers had a pretty solid day overall. The defense bent but didn't break at the end and they're still the strongest team outside of Wisconsin. I think a first-round bye is all but assured at this point; who's going to catch them?
3.) New Orleans (7-3) [+4]
Look who's bubbling back up again. OK, I admit that I have a bit of a soft spot for Drew Brees. Because of that, I move the Saints up whenever possible. They hung around with Green Bay on opening night and have played fairly well since. There have been a couple of hiccups along the way. Apparently, some teams do have to go through those things. That said, I'm not sure about their playoff chances. The defense has taken a step back since the ball-hawking Super Bowl winning team. And this mess with Atlanta...well, I know division games are supposed to be close and hard-fought, but with Atlanta not playing up to par for most of the season, the Saints shouldn't have had that much trouble. At any rate, they're moving up and things look good.
4.) Houston (7-3) [+4]
I feel certain this is the highest the Texans have ever been in my Rankings. They're not what one would call a "traditional" power, nor are they really an "up-and-comer". They've been expected to do things for a couple years now; why, I don't know, but somehow they never fail to disappoint. This year was looking different, but now they have to deal with a potentially season-ending injury to Matt Schaub. That means Matt Leinart, master of failure and getting caught with pants (metaphorically) down gets to be the savior. Now, I'm not sure there's much to be saved, necessarily. The way this team is playing, they could get to the playoffs with John Beck at QB (ok, maybe not him, but you see where I'm headed with this). It's not really about the QB at this point, with Arian Foster and Ben Tate running the way they are. Plus, the Texans have one thing they've never had before (besides a running game and a solid QB, which also eluded them at various times in the last ten years): defense. I don't think they'll lose their grip on an easily winnable division, but a first-round bye might be out of reach.
5.) Pittsburgh (7-3) [+4]
It surprises me that Pittsburgh can't beat Baltimore, but they can beat Cincinnati. Baltimore can't lose to Pittsburgh, but they get beat by awful teams like Jacksonville and Seattle (jury's out on Tennessee, I don't know where they stand). It's a weird thing. Right now, at least, the Steelers are atop the AFC North and have a chance to gain some ground. It's hard to say where this will end up. Even though the Steelers now look like their early season struggles are behind them, it's wouldn't surprise me if they slipped up once or twice down the stretch.
6.) New England (6-3) [+4]
By the skin of their teeth, really. Somehow, the Pats ended up putting 37 on the Jets' supposedly good defense. And while their own defense would never be confused with anything remotely good, they held the Jets to 16, so something went right on that side of the ball for once. I'm a believer in the Pats' potential as a continued threat to win Super Bowls, but if something doesn't happen soon, I might have to jump off the wagon. Prior to this win, they were looking mighty vulnerable. Now they look good again. Let's see how long this lasts, though. If they've really started to hit their stride again, we should see immediate results. At least, if this year's team is anywhere near as good as last year's. The division is theirs for the taking now.
7.) Chicago (6-3) [-]
Obviously, blowing out a division rival is a good thing. Especially when that rival is the Lions, a team that could be getting a bit uppity. Chicago's fortunes are looking considerably better than they did a couple weeks ago. Still, I can't help but disbelieve at this point. It might be because of all the players on that team that I dislike, the fact that I've never really liked the Bears, or that I think a number of teams are just better than they are. Still, a win is a win, and it got them back here, so I guess things are going great. They're on a winning streak and look like a solid Wild Card contender; it'd be pretty nuts if both Wild Cards came out of the North, a division that hasn't really been a powerhouse lately. Now it has two fairly strong teams and the consensus best team in the league. Not bad.
8.) Cincinnati (6-3) [-5]
I figured this would happen sooner or later. Turned out it was sooner. After feasting on opponents with bad records, Cincy got a shot at Pittsburgh and played well despite losing. Now they get Baltimore and anything could happen considering the Ravens' startling inconsistency.
9.) Detroit (6-3) [-4]
Not a good week for the Lions or Matthew Stafford. Had I known he had a broken finger last Thursday, I would have taken the Bears straight up. Whoops. With no running game and a hobbled QB, this is ostensibly the time and place Detroit shows what it's made of. Right?
10.) NY Giants (6-3) [-4]
I hesitate to say they're "better" than Baltimore. But they lost to San Francisco instead of Seattle this week. And that's really the difference.
I could write a note on the team that left the Rankings this week (Baltimore), but what's the point? If they beat Cincinnati, they'll be back in. And if not, I won't care much.
Well, I'll be annoyed with them for not beating Cincy, since I will still likely go with the Ravens in Week 11.
It's true, I never learn.
That's all for this week. See you next week!