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: October 27, 2011 10:37 pm

2011 NFL Power Rankings, Week 7

An odd week in the NFL, to be sure, punctuated by Baltimore's stunning loss Monday.  That was one of the worst games I've seen recently; the one good thing Baltimore can take from that is that it wasn't a playoff game, or else they'd have to live with it for months.  Thankfully, they have another should-be gimme on their hands.

Here are the standings for Week 7:

Prisco: 7-6
Red: 7-6
King: 6-7

Obviously, a number of teams let us down this week, notably Baltimore, but also Tennessee, Detroit, Tampa Bay, and San Diego.  I know this stuff happens at least once a season, it's still somewhat surprising to me when it happens.

Here are the Rankings for Week 7:

1.) Green Bay (7-0) [no change]
 Despite Christian Ponder's best effort, the defending champs continued their march.  Where are they headed?  Not sure yet, but they're looking quite good.  They have a bye in Week 8, so that's another week at the top.

2.) New England (5-1) [no change]
 Coming off a bye, the Patriots travel to Pittsburgh for what should be one of the better games of Week 8.  I sense that the media will be more into Tom Brady this week, what with Aaron Rodgers being on a bye.  We'll see what happens.

3.) San Francisco (5-1) [+1]
 It's always a little odd to have to move a team on a bye up.  But when you see a week of football like the one we just saw, there aren't as many good teams afterward as there were before.  The 49ers get a home game against Cleveland in Week 8, and I feel pretty confident in Jim Harbaugh, something I can't really say about his brother at this point.

4.) New Orleans (5-2) [+4]
 I know, they were playing a bad Colts team that's been reeling the entire season, but that victory (and that score!) was very, very impressive.  As a result, the Saints jump back up into the upper half and look like a team to beat in the NFC again.  Drew Brees and co. go to St. Louis this Sunday, which should be another easy win.  At least, if Brees doesn't turn into Joe Flacco.

5.) Pittsburgh (5-2) [-]
 The Steelers come roaring back into the Rankings after taking out Arizona.  They have a tough matchup coming up against the Patriots, which could knock them right back out for a week or two, but it's looking like they're for real again.  It's hard to imagine after Week 1's demolition by Baltimore (who look significantly less "real" than they did back then), but the Steelers have just about rebounded.

6.) Cincinnati (4-2) [+1]
 Another team on a bye that moved up because of poor performance by other teams, Cincinnati goes into Seattle in Week 8 and could begin to solidify their hold on a Wild Card spot.  Of course, Andy Dalton and A.J. Green have to keep up their fantastic performance level that they've had thus far.  With a couple of rookies at such important positions, it's hard to project where Cincinnati will end up.  The early results have been good, obviously.

7.) Detroit (5-2) [-2]
 Two straight losses for the Lions, and they're on a precipitous slide.  They also look less "real" than they did after Week 5.  I think they can get back into the groove they were in when they won 5 in a row, but it's going to take some work.

8.) Baltimore (4-2) [-5]
 It's hard to know just what to say about the Ravens following one of the worst losses I've seen from them in a while.  Joe Flacco was abysmal.  Whatever adjective to indicate terrible performance you can think of, Flacco embodied it.  Ray Rice had a badly-timed fumble, and the offense was awful throughout most of the game.  The one thing they can take comfort in is that their defense is still top-flight.  But if they can't score more than 12 points against a terrible team like Jacksonville, they can't go far in 2011.

9.) Buffalo (4-2) [no change]
 The Bills remain where they are just because.  I guess I really could have moved them up ahead of Baltimore, but I don't have the confidence in them that I did before.  With such an easy schedule as Buffalo has had, they really ought to be undefeated still.  Alas, they're not the kind of team that Green Bay is.

10.) San Diego (4-2) [-4]
 Another very disappointing loss by the Chargers leaves them at the bottom of the Rankings this week.  Philip Rivers (and by extension the Chargers' offense) hasn't looked good all season and threw a couple of inexcusably bad INT's against the Jets.  If there's a question as to whether he's an elite QB (and there may not be, as people seem to automatically give him a pass to "elite" stature), I'll gladly cast a nay vote.  I've never really been convinced of Rivers' supposed greatness; with Drew Brees moving on to New Orleans and winning a Super Bowl, it certainly makes Chargers GM A.J. Smith look bad.  There are many other factors, obviously, and I don't want to oversimplify it any more than that.  But suffice it to say that I don't think of Rivers as an elite QB, whereas Drew Brees most definitely is.

That's all for this week.  Sorry that it was a bit more abbreviated and scattershot than usual.  See you next week!
Category: NFL
Posted on: October 18, 2011 5:08 pm

2011 NFL Power Rankings, Week 6

Another solid week of NFL action down, and now there's only one undefeated team left.  I'm sure that the longer this goes on, the more that the team and it's QB will get fellated.  I guess in a way I'm fine with that, though it does get to be a little too much.  Anyway, the Green Bay Packers are 6-0, they're in the top spot in the Rankings again, and they look really good.  People around the team are saying that they haven't played their best yet; if that's true, it's pretty scary for the rest of the NFL.

Here are the standings for Week 6:

Prisco: 11-2
Red: 8-5
King: 7-6

I think it's safe to say that a few teams really bug me today.  Notably, the Falcons, Giants, Redskins, Eagles, Buccaneers, Saints, Bills, and Panthers.  Yeesh.

I also have to give a shout-out to Tom Brady; what a great drive that was to end the game.  OK, he's probably done better in his career.  But still, he's going up against a defense that actually made him look less than perfect for more than a quarter, and he shreds it en route to the game-winning TD.  Great stuff.  The Cowboys didn't earn my ire this week because I thought the Pats would pull it out no matter what, however, I wasn't too upset with the play calling like some people were.  When the other team has timeouts and you've got the ball late, you run the damn ball or else you're a moron.  Did the penalties hurt?  Sure they did.  That 3rd down should have been more manageable, and perhaps they should have thrown it on either 2nd or 3rd.  I'm not upset at the strategy, though, because that's what smart teams do.  Now, if the Cowboys were really worth their salt in 2011, they would have run that strategy successfully and kept Brady off the field (or better yet, stopped him on the last drive).  But hey, sometimes stuff doesn't go your way.

Here are the Rankings for Week 6:

1.) Green Bay (6-0) [no change]
 Was there any doubt that the Packers would take out the Rams?  I figured they would cover, but I thought the margin would be wider than 24-3.  Can Aaron Rodgers be stopped?  I guess the team that does it will have a better secondary than the Rams.

2.) New England (5-1) [+2]
 Was there any doubt Tom Brady would win that game at the end?  Haha.  Not from this small corner of CBS Sports/the internet in general.  Much like in Cleveland last year, Brady wasn't at his best for most of the game.  But when it counted, he made the plays.  I think the Pats are a lock to win the AFC East at this point.  The Jets aren't as good as they thought they were and the Bills aren't ready for prime time.

3.) Baltimore (4-1) [+2]
 I have a little more faith in the Ravens than the 49ers.  That said, it wouldn't hurt if Joe Flacco was a bit more consistent, and/or better.  That's not to say that he's a bad QB, because he isn't.  He's actually quite good, but his inconsistency is beginning to bother me.  Despite that, they're in the driver's seat to win the AFC North, unless they fall back a bit and the Steelers get hot.  One thing to remember though, is that the Ravens have long been a team known for their defense.  Most of their "stars" (hell, everyone besides Ray Rice) are on that side of the ball.  So perhaps I'm making too much of Flacco's play when they have a defense that can win games with impunity.

4.) San Francisco (5-1) [+4]
 It seems like the 49ers are a lock to win the NFC West.  Have I uttered a more obvious statement?  I could look, but I'm not that interested.  At any rate, they're clearly the best team in that pile of nonsense.  Alex Smith is playing well, and so is the defense.  They went into Detroit and won, which is pretty damn impressive.  I guess we'll have to take them seriously now.  Hopefully, they don't go out next week and look like a pile of crap.

5.) Detroit (5-1) [-3]
 The Lions drop a little this week thanks to that loss.  Their offense didn't hum as well as it had in the past couple weeks (or the second halves of those past couple weeks).  I think they're a Wild Card team, because let's be honest, they're not unseating the Packers in the division.

6.) San Diego (4-1) [no change]
 With the bye, the Chargers stay where they are.  They head into Jersey next week to face the Jets, and I'm not all that worried about their chances.  Even with Philip Rivers playing like he doesn't want to complete passes to his own guys more often than not.

7.) Cincinnati (4-2) [+3]
 Is it possible the Bengals are for real?  Andy Dalton looks good, as does A.J. Green.  Their defense is pretty good as well.  They've now won three in a row and are looking like a Wild Card contender.  It'll be tough to keep up this pace throughout the rest of the season, but I think they've got a shot.  At this point, at least.

8.) New Orleans (4-2) [-5]
 A disappointing loss for the Saints.  Drew Brees was uncharacteristically mistake-prone with three INT's, and the defense wasn't good.  So they fall for now, but I think they're going to win the division still.  Obviously, they have to play better than they did this week, and they have to win their division games.

9.) Buffalo (4-2) [-2]
 A bad loss against the Giants makes the Bills fall again.  After thinking that they had a cake schedule that should lead to 12-14 wins, I'm having to reorient myself on them.  I thought they were for real, but losses to the Bengals and Giants kinda prove that they're not ready for prime time.  That said, I think they could pull out a Wild Card, if things fall their way.  They absolutely must stop losing these cakewalk games on their schedule, though.

10.) Tampa Bay (4-2) [-]
 Finally, the Bucs get into the Rankings.  They had been playing pretty well before last week's demolition against the 49ers.  But what a comeback to get a win against the Saints.  It's mostly because of that that they got in when a couple other teams had a right.  I think the Bucs could get a Wild Card.  I have more faith in them than any team out of the East or West.

Finally, a note on the team that exited the Rankings.  It was Washington (9).  For once, only one team left the Rankings, because 9 out of 10 won.  Amazing!

There are also three other 4-2 teams that aren't in the Rankings this week.  They are Oakland, NY Giants, and Pittsburgh.  At this point, Oakland seems to be the most likely to do something.  The other two are too up-and-down to be trusted, at least at this point.

That's all for this week.  See you next week!
Category: NFL
Posted on: October 12, 2011 9:52 pm

2011 NFL Power Rankings, Week 5

After five weeks in the NFL, there are only two undefeated teams.  That usually makes it harder to do these, since it's harder to figure out who's good.  Luckily for me, most of the teams I had in last week won.  Always a nice thing.  There's a bit of an oddity in the bottom this week as one of the teams on a bye entered in.  I try not to do stuff like that, because it isn't really fair to the teams that won.  But this week there were not 10 teams worth highlighting.  It's a little odd, since last week there were 12 or 13 teams that were solid.  Naturally, I blame this on parity.  I'm not totally against parity, but during the season it can create some rather unnecessary turmoil.

Here are the standings for Week 5:

Prisco: 10-3
Red: 10-3
King: 8-5

No, I don't get it either.

I gambled on Indy and Tennessee, because I had no confidence in their opponents.  And then there are the Giants.  I think it's fair to say that the Giants disappointed a whole bunch of people around the country with their sorry, no account performance.  To allow Seattle (one of the bottom 10 teams in the league by national consensus) to come into the New Meadowlands and win is more than inexcusable.

Not much else to say other than that.  Although I could toot my own horn about a couple picks, it's probably best not to, as I could go 6-7 next week and look like a complete moron.

Here are the Rankings for Week 5:

1.) Green Bay (5-0) [no change]
 The defending champs just keep rolling.  Normally, teams that go into Atlanta aren't that successful.  But with two victories in a playoff game and a pretty meaningful regular season game in their last couple tries, it looks like Aaron Rodgers and company have beaten whatever demons that are usually in the Georgia Dome preventing the road team from winning.  Naturally, the aftereffect of such a victory is to pronounce the Packers as the best team and Rodgers as the best QB in the league.  I agree with the former, but not the latter.  Not yet, at least.  But give me some time (a repeat would help as well) and perhaps I'll come around.

2.) Detroit (5-0) [no change]
 Some may question the legitimacy of the Lions as second-place after five weeks.  My answer is that they're still undefeated.  They have a tough matchup next week with the 49ers coming in, but another victory would obviously cement peoples' minds, I believe.  Detroit's running game is a bit unimpressive, despite Jahvid Best's effort to run through the entire Bears defense.  Once they're of a piece with Matt Stafford, Calvin Johnson, and the rest, the Lions will be unstoppable.  Let's not forget, now that Nick Fairley is healthy (or at least healthier), that defense is even tougher.  I think the D-line is the key to their entire operation.  As they go, so the Lions go.

3.) New Orleans (4-1) [no change]
 Winning close and late appears to be something the Saints do well (besides Week 1, but that's understandable).  They produce in the red zone and especially in the 4th quarter when it's "winning time".  Drew Brees is certainly one of the best QB's in the league (though I would not call him "the" best).  They're already in good position in the division, and it shouldn't take much (besides continuing on their present winning path) to secure it.

4.) New England (4-1) [no change]
 As expected, the Pats pulled one out at home against the Jets.  Just like that, they've won two in a row and look like a solid favorite in Week 6 against the Cowboys.  Tom Brady played well again, despite having a ball tipped for his first red zone interception at home.  For my money, he remains the best QB in the league.

5.) Baltimore (3-1) [no change]
 When a team goes on a bye, they neither move up nor down.  Although sometimes they move in.  Baltimore gets the Texans at home in Week 6; assuming better play from Joe Flacco, their odds of winning that game seem pretty good.

6.) San Diego (4-1) [no change]
 People all over are saying that the Chargers don't look good.  They're 4-1, having started strong and continuing strong.  We'll see how this turns out.  Assuming Philip Rivers gets back to playing at his usual level, it's hard to see how they don't win the AFC West.  They do have a couple tough games at home (which are considerably tougher for the road teams, despite their evident goodness, or maybe greatness) coming up.

7.) Buffalo (4-1) [no change]
 After a baffling loss at Cincinnati, Buffalo recovered quite nicely by defeating the Eagles at home.  I don't really feel reticent to call the Bills playoff contenders; after all, who else is going to take the wild card?  Oakland?  Tennessee?  I doubt it.  Getting in the playoffs is one thing; winning in the playoffs is something else.  I'm not quite sure the Bills are going to advance in the playoffs, but then again, neither is anyone else.

8.) San Francisco (4-1) [+2]
 As Buffalo has dropped back just a little, San Francisco has become one of the more surprising teams in the NFL after five weeks.  People want to call it a "Bay Area Renaissance", or whatever.  I'm not convinced that's the case just yet; both SF and Oakland have to make the playoffs before a "Renaissance" can be fully declared.  So far, it's a good start for that part of Cali.  With the 49ers headed to Detroit, they have a heck of an opportunity to make a statement of purpose.  With a win, they totally demolish expectations.  But even if they fail, they won't be totally diminished.  After all, I'm sure most people expect Detroit to win.

9.) Washington (3-1) [-]
 It's a little odd to have a team on a bye enter the Rankings, but that's what happens when teams expected to win don't.  Of course, as long as Rex Grossman continues to play ...least worst in the NFC East, we might be seeing Washington in these Rankings for a few more weeks.

10.) Cincinnati (3-2) [-]
 The Bengals get a chance at being the last team in the Rankings this week.  I could have gone with Pittsburgh, but I don't trust them at the moment.  This Cincinnati team can win on the road (just not in Denver).  And they have a prolific pair of rookies at key positions.  So maybe they can stick around for more than a week.

Finally, a note on the teams that exited the Rankings.  They are Tennessee (8) and Houston (9).  Both teams lost, but I expected Tennessee to win.  I don't think either team has seriously damaged their playoff chances; they play in the same mostly weak division.

That's all for this week.  See you next week!
Category: NFL
Posted on: October 4, 2011 7:07 pm

2011 NFL Power Rankings, Week 4

Is the quarter-pole really meaningful in the NFL?  I wonder.  It's such a small sample compared to the other major sports.  Even still, we've seen some trends that could hold up through the season.  For the most part, though, we've seen that quite a few teams can be great one week and vulnerable (if not outright bad) the next.  People love to trumpet parity and how it's made the league better; I'm all for fair competition and not letting things turn into the NBA where only a few "glamour" teams have a chance to win the championship.  But would it hurt to have more consistency outside of the NFC North?

It was another great week for King in the picks.  Me?  Not so much.  Here are the standings for Week 4:

Prisco: 11-5
Red: 10-6
King: 13-3 

Not a lot of "gambles" this week, either.  I missed on Buffalo, Dallas, Pittsburgh, Minnesota, Philadelphia, and Arizona.

It seems like Buffalo is not exactly who we thought they were.  Not yet, at least.  A real contender goes into Cincinnati and wins; Buffalo didn't, and now I have to question their legitimacy just a bit.  Not enough to kick them out of the Rankings, but the question is there now.

Dallas had an "unfortunate" collapse, due to the bad play of Tony Romo.  No surprise there.

Pittsburgh and Minnesota, in all honesty, should have won.  Despite having no O-line, Pittsburgh is clearly a better team than the Texans, and they're more used to winning.  I still refuse to take the Texans seriously; the Steelers just didn't play as they were capable.  Minnesota is obviously one of those in the tank teams that'll maybe win 2-3 games all season.  It might take a QB change to do it, though.

Philadelphia is another team that had a disappointing collapse.  However, San Francisco might bear watching over the next three to four weeks.  I'm in no rush to anoint them, as much like the Texans, their recent history is stinky.  If there's one difference, the 49ers franchise has at least enjoyed multiple championships, while the Texans are a poorly operated joke.

Finally, we have the Arizona Cardinals.  In my (not very humble) opinion, the Cards were screwed out of a sure win.  Victor Cruz of the Giants stumbled and let go of the ball inexplicably.  Arizona picked it up, and the game was essentially over as the Giants had no timeouts.  But wait!  Referee Jerome Boger interjects that Cruz had "given himself up" and by rule it was a dead ball, with the Giants retaining possession.  Now, unlike Peter King, who thinks this was the correct call, I think this is a crock.  Cruz clearly did not "give himself up"; he fumbled the ball.  Because of Boger's too strict adherence to a rule that doesn't quite make sense, Arizona lost a win.  People will say, "well, they could have stopped Manning after that".  No, they couldn't.  Why?  They're not good enough.  How many teams could come back from a call like that and still win the game?  Maybe the Packers.  And maybe the Patriots.  That's about it.

Here are the Rankings for Week 4:

1.) Green Bay (4-0) [no change]
 To be honest, I was a little surprised the Packers covered.  Other teams had huge spreads and failed miserably, but the Packers sacked up and put 49 on Denver like everyone knew they should.  I think the Packers are the best team in the league without question and the closest to a sure thing every Sunday.  Losing Ryan Grant didn't seem to bother them very much; Aaron Rodgers just ran for two TD's and threw for 408 yards.  Oh, and a couple more TD's through the air.  Being the stubborn jerk that I am, I'm still going to say that Peyton Manning and Tom Brady are better QB's.  But Ben Roethlisberger and Drew Brees better look out, or they're gonna get lapped.  In fact, considering the results of this season so far, I think the lapping is underway already.

2.) Detroit (4-0) [no change]
 I find it a little funny that some people aren't giving the Lions much respect.  That said, I understand how easy it is to look at this team as something of a fluke, since they haven't been this good in 30 years.  Still, with Stafford and Calvin Johnson leading a very potent offense, and a defense that gets pick-sixes with impunity (just ask Tony Romo, ugh), this Lions team is for real.  Besides the Packers, they appear to be the only other sure thing in the NFL.  Since they're still undefeated, that would appear to be obvious.  But others have missed it.

3.) New Orleans (3-1) [+1]
 Somehow, I'm not surprised that the Saints are the next best team after Green Bay and Detroit.  Change that close loss in the first week to a win, and the Saints are 4-0 and looking like the most sure thing in the NFL.  Still, even with that loss, New Orleans has looked good in every game they've played, which isn't something every team can say.

4.) New England (3-1) [+1]
 Surprise, surprise, the Patriots are rising again.  I had a good feeling about them going to Oakland and winning, something the Jets couldn't do the previous week.  Not only did the Pats win, they did so pretty convincingly.  Tom Brady excised the screw-ups and got Wes Welker another nine catches to raise his total to 40 on the season.  Amazing stuff.  I feel pretty confident that this team won't be out of the Rankings again for the rest of the season, even if they only end up with 10-12 wins.

5.) Baltimore (3-1) [+2]
 While maybe the most unimpressive performance offensively, it was the Ravens' game to lose Sunday night after Ed Reed got the strip-sack on Mark Sanchez.  The Jets didn't really have a chance after that, despite some incredible defensive and special teams play.  The Ravens are a bit maddening, actually.  They looked pathetic against Tennessee, while putting a couple of beatdowns on Pittsburgh and St. Louis.  I'm wary of calling this last game a beatdown, as there was no offense involved.  But the defense was more than manly.  Supermanly?  Whatever you want to call it, they didn't play like a bunch of cream puffs.

6.) San Diego (3-1) [+3]
 The Chargers are an interesting team so far.  I don't think they've played to their capability in any game this season, despite being 3-1.  They've really survived in every win, and made too many mistakes against New England to squeak out.  It's hard to say taking 6th shows confidence, and I would never say that I'm that confident in this particular Chargers team.  They keep finding a way, though, so they keep moving up.

7.) Buffalo (3-1) [-4]
 Perhaps a loss was inevitable.  But to do so in the fashion they did it was pretty disappointing.  I was also hoping that they would make it to 4-0 and make the doubters (including myself) squirm a little.  Alas, it wasn't to be.  I guess I was a little too fired up about them going 12-0 before heading to San Diego in Week 14.  Still, their schedule is not terribly difficult, and if they get back on the wagon, a long win streak ought to be in the offing.  We shall see, though.  They only opened themselves up to being questioned.

8.) Tennessee (3-1) [-]
 It may just be time to take the Titans seriously.  After losing against Jacksonville in Week 1 (which surprised me, I'll admit), the Titans have won three in a row, taking out Baltimore, Denver, and Cleveland.  Not exactly murderers' row there, but hey, how many of us expected them to be 3-1 at the quarter pole?  If they can keep it up, maybe the AFC South isn't already locked up for the Texans as so many wanted it to be.

9.) Houston (3-1) [-]
 Despite Pittsburgh not playing up to their capability, the Texans beat them and earned a spot here this week.  With this team, though, one can never be certain that they'll be along for the ride for more than a week at a time.  I still have very little respect for this team.  I'm not jumping to conclusions like some people, or ceding the AFC South to them.  In fact, I had a hunch that someone else would step up and challenge them.  I didn't know it'd be Tennessee, but I guess in hindsight that appears to be the obvious choice.  I have to give credit to Arian Foster, though.  He came back from his hamstring injury and put up man-sized numbers on the Steelers vaunted run defense, including an excellent TD run.

10.) San Francisco (3-1) [-]
 I'm as surprised as anybody else.  That OT loss to Dallas sure doesn't look like a harbinger of collapse now.  And it certainly hasn't helped the Cowboys very much.  At any rate, the 49ers are a surprising team, and if they can keep it up, a division title is certainly a lock.  It's hard to say that a winning record wouldn't get things done, considering how abysmal the other three teams are.

Finally, a note on the teams that exited the Rankings.  They are the NY Jets (6), Pittsburgh (8), and Dallas (10).  Obviously, all three lost, and none of them looked that great.  So there should be no controversy there.  One might ask, though, what about Tampa Bay?  Or the NY Giants?  Or Washington?  All three teams are 3-1, but as you can see, there are only so many spots.  I don't like to do more than 10, because it would usually mean spotlighting losing teams, or teams that didn't play as well as the ones that are in the top ten.  At any rate, Tampa Bay would appear to be the most "real" of these three that just barely missed the cut.  I'm a little concerned that a would-be rout at home against an 0-3 team turned into a nailbiter.  But considering the situations in NY and Washington (defense/QB and QB, respectively), Tampa Bay is clearly the next in line should one of these 10 falter in Week 5.

That's all for this week.  See you next week!
Category: NFL
The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com