Posted on: September 29, 2009 1:29 pm

2009 NFL Power Rankings, Week 3

1.) NY Giants (3-0) [no change]
 Eli Manning is playing mistake-free football, and the defense stepped up huge against Tampa.
2.) Baltimore (3-0) [+1]
 The defense clamped down, and the offense remained as potent as it showed in the last two weeks.
3.) NY Jets (3-0) [+1]
 They came out with a win when most expected them to lose.  If they needed a confidence boost, they just got it.
4.) New Orleans (3-0) [+1]
 Going into Buffalo proved tougher than expected; offense wasn't a problem though, thanks to Pierre Thomas running it in the 2nd half.
5.) Minnesota (3-0) [+1]
 Miracle play or not (I go with not; how many times has Favre made that throw?), Minnesota is deservedly 3-0.
6.) Indianapolis (3-0) [+1]
 Two road games in a row?  No problem.  Peyton Manning and the offense shined as usual, and the pass rush was effective.
7.) Denver (3-0) [+1]
 The biggest surprise at 3-0?  I guess McDaniels knew what he was doing when he hired Mike Nolan.
8.) New England (2-1)
 The Patriots rebounded by beating up on the Falcons.
9.) Philadelphia (2-1)
 The Eagles crushed KC; Kevin Kolb proved to be a better-than-usual backup.
10.) Green Bay (2-1)
 Aaron Rodgers passed and ran for TD's against St. Louis.  Tougher opponent on hand this week, though.

A Look at Week 3:
Games were a bit more predictable in Week 3, but there were plenty of surprises nonetheless.  I expected the Colts to win, but I didn't expect five TD's from Peyton Manning, or that moribund drive to end the game.  Solid play around the league from the elite QB's and RB's produced a lot of scoring.  Most winners had over 30 points, with notable under-30 winners the Lions, Cowboys, and Saints.  The Lions won for the first time since 2007, but I don't attribute much to that.  They were due, and they pulled it off against a weak opponent.  The Redskins, on the other hand, look like they're in a world of trouble (as usual).  Another surprise was Jacksonville's road win in Houston.  After looking terrible last week against Arizona (at home, no less), they went on the road, turned Maurice Jones-Drew loose, and watched as he decimated the Texans' pathetic excuse for a defense.  They hardly even needed the passing game.

A further recap of Week 3's best.

Atlanta (2) @ New England (unranked):
 Whoops.  I was wrong about this one; the Patriots defense stepped up, stopping the Falcons offense cold.  Not only that, they exposed what might be a season-long weakness for the Falcons, the defensive line.  Fred Taylor ran for 105 yards and a TD against that line, without standout DT Peria Jerry.  This could continue as long as Jerry's out.  We'll see how Matt Ryan overcomes this.

Tennessee (unranked) @ NY Jets (4):
 The Jets had more trouble with Tennessee than I thought they would.  At least I got this one right, though.  People may look at this as a defensive team, but Mark Sanchez has plenty to do with their success.

NY Giants (1) @ Tampa Bay (unranked):
 Nailed it.

Indianapolis (7) @ Arizona (10):
 Two potent offenses came in, but only one actually showed up.  Indy's pass rush harassed Kurt Warner practically all night, forcing him to dink-and-dunk rather than throw it down the field to Larry Fitzgerald.  Fitzgerald is still healthy (thank goodness), but he hasn't had a good game all season.  On the other side, nothing affects Peyton Manning.  He lost Marvin Harrison, Tony Dungy, and Anthony Gonzalez?  No problem.  He'll just hand it off to Joseph Addai or Donald Brown, and when that gets tiresome he'll throw it to Reggie Wayne, Dallas Clark, or new weapon-in-training Pierre Garcon.  No problem.

San Francisco (9) @ Minnesota (6):
 Not quite as much defense as I expected, nor as much RB chaos.  Gore went out injured, and Adrian Peterson wasn't as effective as usual.  At least it wasn't as bad as the last time he faced the 49ers.

The best games coming up next week.

NY Giants (1) @ Kansas City (unranked):
 Beatdown city.

Baltimore (2) @ New England (8):
 Defense, defense, defense...oh, wait.  It's more like, Joe Flacco vs. Tom Brady in 12 rounds.  Last team to get the ball wins.

NY Jets (3) @ New Orleans (4):
 The best defense vs. the best offense.

Dallas (unranked) @ Denver (7):
 A "surprise" 3-0 takes on a team that should be 3-0.  Will Dallas get buried by Elvis Dumervil and the rest of the Denver defense?

Green Bay (10) @ Minnesota (5):
 Monday Night showdown for the ages, and the reason Brett Favre came out of retirement to begin with.
Category: NFL
Tags: Giants, Jets, Ravens
Posted on: September 22, 2009 1:13 pm

2009 NFL Power Rankings, Week 2

1.) NY Giants (2-0) [+2]
 No run defense, no problem, as long as they have a Manning in the two-minute drill.
2.) Atlanta (2-0) [+2] 
The Falcons keep cruising along, and pick up an all-important division win in the process.
3.) Baltimore (2-0) [+2]
 Ray Lewis had the play of the day on 4th down at the end of the game against San Diego.  Amazing.
4.) NY Jets (2-0) [+2]
 I was wrong about these guys.  Mark Sanchez played well again and didn't throw a pick, for good measure.
5.) New Orleans (2-0) [+2]
 Apparently, that Philly defense wasn't quite as good against a real offense.  Brees and the gang lit up the scoreboard again.
6.) Minnesota (2-0) [+2]
 A slight drop in production from All Day, but a win's a win.
7.) Indianapolis (2-0)
 Having the ball less than a quarter (14:53 to be exact) doesn't deter one of the game's best QB's.  Far from it.
8.) Denver (2-0)
 One of the truly surprising teams.  Is Jay Cutler having second thoughts about whining his way out of Denver?
9.) San Francisco (2-0)
 Another surprising team that already has two wins in the NFC West.
10.) Arizona (1-1)
 Kurt Warner takes his team to the east coast, starts at 1PM EDT, and pulls out the "pwnage" as he completes 92% of his passes.  Amazing.

A Look at Week 2:
Another great week of football, though one that was difficult to predict accurately.  Seven teams that won last week (including four from my Rankings) lost this week.  Some of them were surprises, like Pittsburgh and New England.  Others, like Dallas and Philadelphia, were the result of going up against teams that just look better than them at the moment.  Philadelphia gets a pass from me for not having Donovan McNabb.  Kevin Kolb did play fairly well, but just like Tony Romo in Dallas, throwing three INT's really hurts.  Since there are currently nine 2-0 teams (and I put a premium on winning), I put them in the first nine spots.  The teams that weren't in the Rankings last week and just entered got put in the bottom.  At this point, any of the top five could be #1.  I'm not sure the Giants are the best team in the NFC, even.  They won, and were the highest ranked team to do so.  With Pittsburgh's loss, the Giants got the chance to move up and pulled out a win in Dallas.  Hopefully next week is more of a return to what we saw in Week 1.  Despite that, it was plenty exciting.

A further recap of Week 2's best.

New Orleans (7) @ Philadelphia (2):
 Drew Brees played well again.  Kevin Kolb subbed in for Donovan McNabb nicely, but threw three picks along the way.  Philadelphia's defense had some trouble with the Saints offense; if that's an indicator of things to come, the Saints are going to be unstoppable.  Of course, someone will eventually stop them (and it's looking like that'll be the NY Jets' job in a couple weeks); part of the fun is waiting to see who does it, and if the team can still win in spite of it.

New England (10) @ NY Jets (6):
 Wow.  Well, I don't want to get all hyperbolic and say that Mark Sanchez is going to be such-and-such or already is such-and-such.  Let's just say that he's had two good performances in a row, and his defense is bordering on excellent.  Darrelle Revis, Kerry Rhodes, Shaun Ellis, and all the rest harassed Tom Brady into a bad game.  I was as stunned as most everyone else.  The Jets get Tennessee in the Meadowlands (or Giants Stadium, what have you) next.  After watching the Titans defense get thrashed by the Texans, I'm not sure what to expect from that game.  Could it be Sanchez's first letdown?  I guess it could, but I really would not want to bet on it.

Baltimore (5) @ San Diego (unranked):
 Go out west?  Check.  Have Joe Flacco throw for a ton?  Check.  Get the running game going?  Check.  Play just enough defense to win?  Check and mate.  Unfortunately, I didn't see a lot of this game, but what I did see convinced me that Baltimore is either very lucky or very good.  Actually, I'm not sure that those are mutually exclusive.  As Ray Lewis proved on the last San Diego play, he's still very good.  And there should be little doubt about Joe Flacco after his performance.  They have a division game at home against Cleveland next week, so there's no excuse for the Ravens not to be 3-0.

NY Giants (3) @ Dallas (unranked):
 Maybe I spoke too soon about this being the Game of the Week.  It was certainly entertaining, though it was very frustrating being a Cowboys fan as Romo tossed awful pick after awful pick.  Good thing Marion Barber, Felix Jones, and Tashard Choice were ready to run.  The Giants' Manning-to-Ham connection was unstoppable as Dallas' pass defense took the night off.

Indianapolis (unranked) @ Miami (unranked): The Colts had the ball for 14:53 and won.  Wow.  I'm not sure about Miami's playoff chances now (they have to be spotty at best with this loss), but Indianapolis is looking pretty good.  Reggie Wayne hardly had to show up, thanks to Dallas Clark and his stunning statistical maneuvers.

The best games coming up next week.

Atlanta (2) @ New England (unranked):
 Matt Ryan looks to carve up another opposing defense.

Tennessee (unranked) @ NY Jets (4):
 Mark Sanchez continues his ascent unchecked, or actually faces some adversity.  Either way, the Jets defense is sure to harass Kerry Collins.

NY Giants (1) @ Tampa Bay (unranked):
 Not so much "best" as "ridiculously funny".  It should be a beatdown.

Indianapolis (7) @ Arizona (10):
 The Sunday Night game pits two awesome offenses against each other.

San Francisco (9) @ Minnesota (6):
 Defensive struggle?  Or will Frank Gore and Adrian Peterson run over the opposing defense?  Should be a fun one either way.
Category: NFL
Posted on: September 21, 2009 12:52 am

Dallas Cowboys Recap, Week 2

I didn't actually get to watch the game last week (thank you, NFL and your stupid broadcast rules), so here's the first week of my Dallas Cowboys recaps.

All in all, there were mixed results in tonight's game.  The team opened up their new stadium against a familiar rival.  The NY Giants came in 1-0 after winning last week against Washington.  The Cowboys won on the road in Tampa, but there was some trepidation as the defense allowed an unholy amount of yardage to Byron Leftwich and a bad Tampa offense.  That fear was fully realized tonight.

The Cowboys' defense did great against the run.  And their offense was fairly top-notch as well.  I say that because they scored 31 points.  But there is also the pass defense and Tony Romo's performance to consider.

On the pass defense, there really was very little.  Orlando Scandrick in particular made a number of costly errors in tackling and in coverage which led to big plays for the Giants.  There was no pass rush of any significance; there were no turnovers by the defense and no sacks for the second week in a row.  On offense, Tony Romo had a number of bad plays and three costly interceptions.  He did throw a TD to Jason Witten and ran for one himself.  But tonight it was the plays he didn't make (or made for the other team) that played a big part in sinking the team.

What's most striking about the game is that the Cowboys had a chance to win, if they could have stopped the Giants.  They saw what was coming, and utterly failed to stop it.  Whether that's a result of fatigue or of bad game-planning is unknown.  What is known is that the Cowboys are in an early hole in the division.  The way the team is playing right now, I don't necessarily like their chances moving forward.  If Romo becomes less turnover-prone and the pass defense can get a couple stops per game, then they'll be in good shape.

Marion Barber and Felix Jones (despite that awful fumble) looked very good.  The receivers kind of came back down to earth, but I think that's mostly (about 90%, actually) a function of Romo's terrible play.  The offensive line played well, from what I could see.  There wasn't a whole lot of pressure on Romo, and it wasn't like Justin Tuck and Mathias Kiwanuka were teeing off on him.  So I'm not sure why Romo made as many ugly throws as he did.

Next week, Carolina comes to Cowboys Stadium.  They're 0-2 and though they looked better against Atlanta they're not a top-tier team.  So hopefully I'll be here next Monday night to celebrate a win.
Category: NFL
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