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Tag:Falcons
Posted on: January 5, 2011 12:51 am
 

2010 NFL Power Rankings, Week 17

All of a sudden, the regular season is over.  So as I end this season's version of the Rankings, I have most of the playoff teams in.  The only ones not in are Green Bay and (of course) Seattle.  Let's go!

1.) New England (14-2) [no change]
 After trading away Randy Moss, losing to the Jets and Cleveland, and remolding their offense around a couple rookie TE's, an undrafted RB, and another RB they picked up off the street, I could hardly imagine the Patriots would be the best team in the NFL.  That said, they still have one of the top two QB's in the league in Tom Brady, and the defense, while not as great as it was when they were winning Super Bowls, is steadily improving.  With homefield throughout the playoffs, the Patriots are the favorites to win the Super Bowl.  Having been unbeaten over the last couple months and taking out a bunch of playoff teams helps.

2.) Atlanta (13-3) [no change]
 Despite falling on their faces against New Orleans last week, the Falcons recovered by taking out a patsy.  Now they have the top seed in the NFC and homefield throughout.  I find it hard to believe that they could get beat again, but I don't have quite as much faith as I do in the Patriots.  Mostly because nobody has beaten the Patriots in awhile (though Green Bay with Matt Flynn gave it a good run).  The Falcons have a solid defense and a bruising running game, plus they're nearly unbeatable at home.  All in all, it looks good for the Falcons to advance.

3.) Pittsburgh (12-4) [+1]
 Since the Steelers won the AFC North, I moved them up above Baltimore.  They look pretty solid as well, especially since Troy Polamalu came back after sitting out a couple games.  Like the two teams above them, they have a week off just to make sure everyone is rested and healthy.  I like their chances to advance, because their defense is fierce and Rashard Mendenhall is a tough runner.  Also, they've been there, done that; Ben Roethlisberger has a couple rings and coach Mike Tomlin has a ring too.

4.) Baltimore (12-4) [-1]
 While they're going in as a Wild Card, I can't deny that the Ravens are a dangerous team.  Even with some of their defensive lapses (especially against the Texans, ouch), they're still a strong team.  Billy Cundiff had 40 touchbacks; any kickoff is virtually guaranteed to have no return.  Ray Rice is ready to go, and Joe Flacco seems ready to have more of the offense go through him.  With that receiving corps, Flacco should be able to have success.

5.) NY Jets (11-5) [+3]
 I guess sitting Mark Sanchez worked out.  Hopefully he's healthy for this week's Wild Card game...I wouldn't want any of them making excuses about not being able to take out Indy because their QB wasn't up to snuff.  Let's face it, though, Rex and co.'s struggles with the Colts have little to do with their offense.  Peyton Manning has their defense figured out, if the record is any indication.  I think the Jets are one-and-done as a result.

6.) Indianapolis (10-6) [+4]
 After starting the season in surprisingly un-Colts-like fashion, and suffering a barrel full of injuries, a four game winning streak has propelled elder Manning and the rest of his backups masquerading as starters into the playoffs.  Now they host the Jets, and I like their chances.  Peyton Manning has owned Rex Ryan's defenses, both in NYC and Baltimore, and even though he doesn't have Austin Collie or Dallas Clark, Blair White and Jacob Tamme have been performing admirably as their replacements.  Plus, he still has Reggie Wayne and Pierre Garcon.  Not to mention an RB tandem of Joseph Addai and recently returned Dominic Rhodes.  The occasionally suspect defense has stiffened up in recent games as well; they've stopped the rushing attacks of Oakland, Jacksonville, and Tennessee, all of whom have top-flight RB's.  Does all this mean they'll beat Pittsburgh or New England?  Maybe not, but I'm betting they could put a scare into them.

7.) New Orleans (11-5) [-2]
 If you believe in momentum, then the Saints are not at their best right now.  They weren't at their best ending last season either, and look how that turned out.  So I guess momentum isn't particularly important.  While they might not have momentum, they do have Drew Brees and three healthy RB's.  Their defense is solid too.  Despite having to go into Seattle for their first playoff game, I like their chances.  They already beat Seattle this season.

8.) Chicago (11-5) [-2]
 Despite having nothing to play for, the Bears played a hard-fought game and lost to the Packers.  They were locked into the second seed anyway, guaranteeing them a bye and a home game next weekend.  I'm not quite sold on them moving on.  We'll see what happens, though.

9.) Kansas City (10-6) [-2]
 One of the most disappointing performances this week.  The Chiefs played poorly in a loss to Oakland, and they have Baltimore coming into KC this week.  Anything can happen, of course, but I don't like the odds of the Chiefs moving on.

10.) Philadelphia (10-6) [-1]
 Another season, another loss to Dallas.  Of course, that's what happens when you rest Vick in favor of Kevin Kolb.  Suddenly, though, the Eagles are looking a little vulnerable.  They didn't manage much with Kolb, and the game before exposed a weakness to corner/safety blitzes.  Green Bay will come with pressure from all over, including LB Clay Matthews.  How Michael Vick responds to that pressure could determine if the Eagles move on.  I like their chances.

Thanks for reading.  See you next season.
Category: NFL
Posted on: December 29, 2010 1:44 am
 

2010 NFL Power Rankings, Week 16

Kind of an odd week, what with football being played on Tuesday night for the first time in 60 years.  So my Rankings are a little bit late as a result.  Also, there were a couple upsets that I really didn't see coming.  I don't care for upsets, most of the time.  They tend to ruin what I plan to put out here in the ol' blog.  Let's go!

1.) New England (13-2) [+1]
 After another resounding win, the Patriots move up.  Of course, it helps that Atlanta fell on their faces; I was reticent to move the Patriots up, unless something happened to the Falcons.  Both teams just kept winning, so they stayed where they were.  Well, finally, Atlanta got beat, so now the Patriots are first.  They've been the best team in the NFL for the past few weeks, and now there are no roadblocks.

2.) Atlanta (12-3) [-1]
 Luckily for the Falcons, there are no other 12 or 13-win teams.  They could have taken quite a tumble, and they probably deserve it.  They were at home and should have won, no matter who the opponent was.  The Saints played well, though.  Atlanta gets another reward with Carolina coming into the Georgia Dome...sounds like an easy win, but then again....

3.) Baltimore (11-4) [+1]
 Another win for the Ravens.  They could win the AFC North if Pittsburgh slips up next week.  I think they'll go in as a Wild Card, but it doesn't make much difference.  It's not likely that anyone will be spoiling to face the Ravens, after all.

4.) Pittsburgh (11-4) [+3]
 Having a patsy come in on Thursday proved to be excellent tonic for the Polamalu-less Steelers.  Even with the division game remaining, it doesn't look like there's much to play for, beside securing the 2-seed.

5.) New Orleans (11-4) [+3]
 Going into Atlanta and winning proved something to me.  And it looks like New Orleans is peaking at the right time.  This despite last week's loss to Baltimore.  Then again, Baltimore plays tougher defense.  Atlanta's defense was strong, but Drew Brees was able to puncture it at the right time.  I think they exposed Atlanta, and now have the best chance to win the Super Bowl among NFC teams.

6.) Chicago (11-4) [no change]
 Rarely do the Bears play a shootout with anybody, much less another defense-oriented team like the Jets.  I'm not quite sold on Chicago, even with them clinching their division and beating a team that just took out Pittsburgh.  I don't think they'll advance far in the playoffs.  Maybe they'll prove me wrong.

7.) Kansas City (10-5) [+2]
 With the stunning loss by the Chargers, the Chiefs took advantage and won the AFC West.  I'm not sure how they'll fare in the playoffs, but with that running attack, it's hard to believe they'd be one-and-done.

8.) NY Jets (10-5) [-3]
 Going into Chicago and putting up 34 points isn't terrible.  But losing means moving down.  I think the Jets could have won the game, and thereby made it a little easier on themselves in the playoffs.  Either way, it's gonna be hard, with three road games separating them from the Super Bowl.

9.) Philadelphia (10-5) [-6]
 Disappointing play by the Eagles, who looked nothing like their normal selves.  I guess it's understandable on an intellectual level...but I still don't get it.

10.) Indianapolis (9-6) [-]
 Colts are back in the Rankings after defeating Oakland.  They're also the presumptive AFC South winner.  That means more Peyton Manning in the playoffs for at least one game.  Hard to say they have a good chance of advancing far, but with the game at home, anything could happen.

Thanks for reading.  See you next week.
Category: NFL
Posted on: December 21, 2010 9:31 pm
 

2010 NFL Power Rankings, Week 15

The first division title has been clinched, with seven more remaining.  Races are on in the NFC West (gag), AFC West, AFC North, and AFC South.  Chicago clinched the NFC North; Atlanta is in firm control of the NFC South; Philadelphia looks to have the NFC East.  Of course, besides division titles, there are two Wild Cards in each conference.  Those seem to be solidified as well; North and East in the AFC; South and East in the NFC.  But there are still head-to-head matchups that will determine things clearly.  Let's go!


1.) Atlanta (12-2) [no change]
 Three weeks on the road, three wins for the Falcons.  The NFC is theirs for the taking, with the last big game of the season coming this Monday against New Orleans.  It's at home, which means Atlanta has a huge advantage.  New Orleans will be coming off a loss, though, and this game is clearly one of the biggest of the season.  After this, the Falcons get Carolina.

2.) New England (12-2) [no change]
 It was a bit unlike the Patriots we've seen recently on Sunday Night.  They let Green Bay hang around for pretty much the whole game, and really only won based on three plays: Kyle Arrington's INT, Dan Connolly's kickoff return, and Green Bay's inability to get a play off at the end.  Still, they have a couple gimmes at Buffalo and home for Miami.  Could be an 8-game winning streak for the hottest team in the AFC.

3.) Philadelphia (10-4) [+2]
 What a finish.  28 points in 7:28, and the Giants looked utterly terrible as a result.  DeSean Jackson may be one of the biggest arrogant showboating jerks in the entire league, but the guy can play, and he sure is effective when it counts most.  Michael Vick is having a heck of a season too.  If it wasn't for Tom Brady, Vick would be the runaway MVP.  And Offensive Player of the Year in the NFC.  And Comeback Player of the Year in the NFC.

4.) Baltimore (10-4) [+2]
 Another close shave, but this time the Ravens put the screws on when it mattered most.  Even Drew Brees was rendered helpless.  And thanks to the Steelers yakking one up at home, Baltimore is still very much alive for a division title.  Surprisingly, Cleveland is the team that could determine this race; they play Baltimore and Pittsburgh in the last two weeks, and if they pull an upset, it could well determine the division winner.

5.) NY Jets (10-4) [+3]
 Mark Sanchez got back into a groove, and ran in a TD that essentially sealed the game for the Jets.  A heck of an upset, until one considers that Troy Polamalu wasn't playing.  Still, the Jets needed a win badly, and they got it.  They're in the running for a Wild Card, and since they're a couple wins ahead of the Chargers, it's likely they can hold down that spot and keep the AFC West to one representative in the playoffs.

6.) Chicago (10-4) [+3]
 The first team to clinch a division was the Bears.  I could have sworn they would fall off...but they haven't.  More power to 'em.  They're set to win a playoff game at home now, provided Jay Cutler plays well and the o-line can keep up from getting crushed.  It's chic to continue to question them, it seems, but now that they're in the playoffs and are going to host a game...it's hard to say that they can't win.

7.) Pittsburgh (10-4) [-4]
 A thoroughly disappointing game for the Steelers.  Without Troy Polamalu, they apparently didn't have quite enough defense.  Ben Roethlisberger is not blameless, either; he handed the ball off to Mewelde Moore and got a safety out of it, and failed on two opportunities to score the game-winning TD.  Ben is beat up, to be sure.  But that was a game the Steelers should have won, and didn't.  Now they have a race on their hands with the Ravens.

8.) New Orleans (10-4) [-4]
 Unfortunately, when two teams in the Rankings play each other, the loser has to move down.  So this is not an indictment of the Saints.  They played well; they just didn't win.  Given Atlanta's hold on the NFC South, New Orleans is likely headed on the road in the first round of the playoffs.  It sucks, but unless they have to go to Chicago, it shouldn't be extraordinarily difficult.

9.) Kansas City (9-5) [-]
 Matt Cassel returned from an appendectomy and the Chiefs pulled out a convincing win in St. Louis.  They now have two winnable home games while the rival Chargers have two road games.  It's looking like the Chiefs will win the AFC West and the Chargers will be left behind.  To that I can only say: Good.

10.) NY Giants (9-5) [-3]
 One would think being up 31-10 with that defense would be a gimme.  And yet, what did the Giants do?  They gave it up.  Now they have to win two games to secure a Wild Card, with this week's matchup against the Packers critical.  Green Bay has the advantage with Aaron Rodgers coming back and playing both games at home.  The Giants' problems with their defense and their special teams (and on occasion some offensive bumbling as well) could keep them out of the playoffs, which looked so obviously in reach just a couple weeks ago.  I can't say I'm displeased.

Thanks for reading.  See you next week.
Category: NFL
Posted on: December 14, 2010 10:30 pm
 

2010 NFL Power Rankings, Week 14

In what seems like a sudden development, things are becoming clearer in the playoff picture in the NFL.  There are now two great teams in each conference, with two really good teams nipping at their heels.  The 9-4 teams are looking good as well for a bye in the first round.  Still, anything could happen in the last three games.  With division games still being played, each game means more than it did last season.  Let's go!

1.) Atlanta (11-2) [no change]
 Given that the AFC is the better conference, it might seem odd that New England isn't the first team here.  I can't move Atlanta down in good conscience as long as they keep winning.  Atlanta goes on the road in Week 15 to Seattle.  Tough sledding, to be sure.  In Week 16 they play New Orleans at home on MNF.  So this week could be a "trap game".  Either that, or the Falcons are going to pull out one of their better performances of the season.  Third game in a row on the road, and an important one to stay in front of everyone else in the NFC.

2.) New England (11-2) [no change]
 Two weeks in a row, the Patriots have utterly dismantled a division leader.  Last week it was the Jets at home, this week the Bears in Chicago, in the snow, no less.  One would think the Pats would play well in the snow, but not THAT well.  They have what could be a tough game this week if Aaron Rodgers plays for the Packers.  If not, it'll be a runaway.  After that, two division games, @Buffalo and home for Miami.  I'm not sure how New England loses the first seed and home-field advantage for the playoffs.

3.) Pittsburgh (10-3) [no change]
 Making Carson Palmer look ridiculously bad wasn't too difficult for the Steelers.  Troy Polamalu had a couple INT's, including a pick-six.  How anybody could throw a pick to Polamalu, easily the most recognizable player on the field, no matter who the Steelers are playing, is indicative of just how terrible Carson Palmer is.  And to think some people were proclaiming him an elite QB not too long ago.  The Steelers have a surprisingly tough end-of-season schedule, with the Jets at home this week, a Thursday night game against Carolina, and then on the road in Cleveland, which is no gimme.  I wouldn't be surprised to see a 13-3 Pittsburgh team with the 2-seed.  Then again....

4.) New Orleans (10-3) [no change]
 Much like New England, New Orleans lost to the Cleveland Browns.  Much like New England, New Orleans hasn't lost since.  It's a weird quirk of this season, and perhaps they're the two teams we'll see in the Super Bowl this coming February.  The Saints travel to Baltimore and Atlanta before finishing up at home against Tampa Bay.  Tough sledding.  Baltimore is looking vulnerable after last night's OT debacle, while the Falcons are unbeatable at home, and poor Tampa can't beat a winning team.  So maybe it's not that tough.

5.) Philadelphia (9-4) [+3]
 One more road game remains for the Eagles, who travel to the "new" Meadowlands this week to face the Giants.  They outplayed the Cowboys in the second half, especially LeSean McCoy and DeSean Jackson (say that three times fast, huh).  Now that they're tied with the Giants, this week's game proves quite important for determining the division winner.  Philadelphia gets Minnesota and Dallas at home after this week, which is a slight advantage compared to the Giants somewhat tougher schedule.

6.) Baltimore (9-4) [+4]
 As I said above, last night was a debacle for Baltimore.  The offense looked good in the first half before looking utterly pathetic in the second.  Similarly, the defense ran out of gas in the second half, allowing two colossal drives and looking completely impotent in the process.  When the game went to overtime, I had a bad feeling the Texans were going to win one they shouldn't, but then I was saved by Matt Schaub's tragic decision-making.  He threw a pick-six to Baltimore CB Josh Wilson, and that was that.  Baltimore has New Orleans at home next week, so maybe that was part of this ridiculous mess of a Monday Night game.  All I know is, if the defense plays like that against Drew Breeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeees! and the Saints, the Ravens are going to find themselves cursing at the end of the game.

7.) NY Giants (9-4) [-]
 Having the game moved to Monday (and Detroit) had no effect on the Giants, who romped over the Vikings.  Now they face the Eagles in a potential revenge game that will also decide the division, in all likelihood.  The Giants end up at Green Bay and at Washington; if Rodgers is back for that game, the Giants could have some trouble.  Then again, they might concuss the poor SOB for a third time.

8.) NY Jets (9-4) [-3]
 If there was any team that really annoyed me in Week 14, it was the Jets.  They looked utterly pathetic against a hapless Dolphins team that could barely move the ball up the field.  Mark Sanchez was terrible, though his receivers were just as blameworthy; the defense was fine, for the most part.  Let's face it, the Dolphins are no offensive juggernaut, especially with Chad Henne throwing for a pittance (55 yards passing!  55!).  Coming off the heels of that terrible loss at New England, the Jets now look pitiful and vulnerable.

9.) Chicago (9-4) [-3]
 No matter how much I wanted to kick the Bears out of the Rankings, again, I just couldn't because there aren't enough good teams beside them.  I couldn't very well leave Kansas City or Green Bay in at 8-5 when the Bears are 9-4.  That said, I loathe the Bears.  They too have a tough schedule to end the season, going to Minnesota and Green Bay with a game against the Jets in between.  I still don't see how they win the division, even with Green Bay losing a very winnable game at Detroit.

10.) Jacksonville (8-5) [-]
 Playing a tough game against Oakland, the Jags pulled it out when Pocket Hercules (Maurice Jones-Drew, natch) ran it in quite easily.  They play at Indianapolis this weekend; with a win, it's likely that the Jags take the AFC South.  If they lose, it definitely opens the door to the Colts, who have a slightly easier schedule to finish.

Thanks for reading.  See you next week.
Category: NFL
Posted on: December 7, 2010 10:50 pm
 

2010 NFL Power Rankings, Week 13

Three-fourths of the season down for everyone, and a bunch of division matchups coming up.  Sunday and Monday night's games were just the beginning of the mayhem, so to speak.  That said, we finally have a pair of front-runners, after 13 long weeks.  But by no means are any of the division races "over".  We might actually have some clarity in a couple of them, though.  It should be a fun final four weeks of the season.  Let's go!

1.) Atlanta (10-2) [no change]
 Going on the road for three in a row starting this past Sunday, the Falcons came out and fought hard before getting the winning INT.  Given Tampa Bay's struggles against good teams, it probably shouldn't have been that close.  But the Falcons are missing something on the road.  That may not be a problem in the playoffs if the Falcons get home-field advantage.  At this point, there's no problem.  If Atlanta slips up once or twice...well, then it's something else entirely.

2.) New England (10-2) [+1]
 Last night's game was one of the bigger beatdowns of the season.  The Jets weren't in it at any point.  It had to feel good to Bill Belichick, since he no longer has to listen to Rex Ryan's empty proclamations, at least for this season.  If the playoffs come around and they play each other again, it's hard to imagine the Jets winning.  Heck, it's hard to imagine them competing, much less putting it all together.  New England has to be the consensus best team in the AFC.  They've got the inside track on the East, the #1 seed, and home-field advantage through the playoffs.  They looked unbeatable last night.

3.) Pittsburgh (9-3) [+1]
 The AFC North picture looks a little clearer.  Of course, now that the Steelers and Ravens have split the season series, I'm sure all kinds of complications would result if they both ended up, say, 12-4.  At any rate, Troy Polamalu had the play of the game in a tough matchup Sunday night.  Both teams played about as well as could be expected, given the robustness of their defenses.  The Steelers are in line for the 2-seed in the AFC.

4.) New Orleans (9-3) [+2]
 Let it never be said that the Saints fail to outsmart their opponents.  They did just that on Sunday and got a win against the Bengals.  Not quite the margin of victory that the inimitable Peter King predicted, but a win is a win.  They've got some ground to make up on Atlanta in the next four weeks if they want to win the NFC South again.  They've come around and are in good shape for the playoff run, being completely healthy finally.

5.) NY Jets (9-3) [-3]
 A lackluster effort on all sides last night moves the Jets down three spots.  Why ahead of the Bears?  Well, if you've read this blog any time this season, you know the answer.  The Jets have to regroup now, and have three tough games in a row, including road trips to Pittsburgh and Chicago.  So while it might look bleak at the moment, the Jets' future is entirely in their own hands.

6.) Chicago (9-3) [+1]
 Speaking of tough schedules, the Bears have a most difficult one on their hands, which pleases me to no end.  They still have trips to Minnesota (who'll surely want to play spoiler) and Green Bay (ditto), while also having the Patriots and Jets coming into Soldier Field.  They may be 9-3 now, but there's nothing saying they won't end up 9-7.  Currently, they lead the NFC North, and hold the tiebreaker against the Packers.  But this one's going down to the final week, I can smell it.

7.) Kansas City (8-4) [+1]
 Lucky breaks abound in the AFC West, where KC gets a slim victory and watches as the Chargers deep six themselves.  They now have a two-game lead on the Chargers, and the tiebreaker.  We'll see how they match up this week; if KC wins, the division is all but theirs.  With their schedule, 12-4 is very likely.

8.) Philadelphia (8-4) [+1]
 It helps to play a team with a bad defense after getting beat.  Philadelphia had the fraudulent Texans on tap last Thursday and despite a mini-comeback, prevailed in the 4th.  Michael Vick looked good again, but his MVP run has been slowed while others are running ahead.  The schedule stiffens up considerably as they get Dallas twice and the Giants once (in Jersey, no less).  The Eagles have to be presumptive favorites in the NFC East...but with the schedule they have, it wouldn't be surprising if they take a Wild Card.

9.) Green Bay (8-4) [+1]
 The Packers took out the 49ers and have won five of six.  They may not be leading their division, but it's hard not to consider them the favorite, even with the Bears ahead of them.  Their schedule is nothing to sneeze at, including a trip to New England, but given how tough the Bears have it as well...I like the Packers to take the NFC North.

10.) Baltimore (8-4) [-5]
 Losing to the Steelers was tough, to be sure, but I'm not counting the Ravens out.  After seeing their next four games, with the only tough one being New Orleans (at home, no less), it's easy to see that Baltimore can end up 12-4 or 11-5.  With Pittsburgh's schedule being of similar "difficulty", the Ravens need to get all the wins they can to try and get the AFC North outright.

Thanks for reading.  See you next week!
Category: NFL
Posted on: December 1, 2010 12:31 am
 

2010 NFL Power Rankings, Week 12

Heading into December, I'm still not sure we know anything more than we did a few weeks ago.  It would appear that Atlanta has separated itself from the pack in the NFC, but their home-field advantage negates any certainty in analyzing them.  The AFC still has a bunch of good teams at the top, but with the falling off of the entire South division, I'm not sure that it's the stronger conference.  The West division in both conferences is abhorrent, though.  Let's go!

1.) Atlanta (9-2) [no change]
 19-1 at home with Matt Ryan starting at QB.  Can they beat a legitimate team on the road?  I think so, but that doesn't mean anything until they actually do it.  In any case, home-field in the NFC is exactly what Atlanta needs, and with some luck they'll get it.

2.) NY Jets (9-2) [no change]
 A solid home win for the Jets over Cincinnati.  It probably should have come easier.  But hey, they're 9-2 and have a huge game this coming Monday against the Pats.  Control of the AFC East and home-field advantage is at stake.  It isn't likely that the winner of that game gets caught.

3.) New England (9-2) [no change]
 First half, not so good.  Second half, freakin' spectacular.  I guess that's how the Patriots roll against a bad team.  Now they get the Jets on Monday Night, and they can ill afford to play as they did in the first half on Thanksgiving.

4.) Pittsburgh (8-3) [+1]
 Going into OT at Buffalo, I was concerned about the Steelers.  Especially since "broadcast regulations" prevented me from actually watching the OT period.  Stupid "broadcast regulations".  Anyway, they were saved by a well-timed drop and Rashard Mendenhall having the game of his life.  Or at least a very good game.

5.) Baltimore (8-3) [+2]
 Probably not the most impressive win of their season, since they were playing Tampa Bay.  The Bucs can't beat teams with winning records.  That aside, the Ravens are challenging in the AFC North and have a chance to lock it up this coming week.  Or at least get closer to locking it up.

6.) New Orleans (8-3) [+2]
 Luckily for Drew Brees and the Saints, Roy Williams (Cowboys WR, natch) sucks.  It doesn't hurt that Brees is a heck of a QB, either.  And that giving him any time to operate inevitably results in a TD for the Saints.

7.) Chicago (8-3) [-]
 Somehow, the Bears made it back into the Rankings.  I guess it has something to do with them being 8-3 and not enough good teams above them.  As soon as they lose again, they're out, because they've really rubbed me the wrong way this season.

8.) Kansas City (7-4) [-]
 Going to Seattle last week, I heard that the "12th Man" would make a difference in Qwest Field.  Well, I guess the Chiefs imported their own 12th man, because they whipped the Seahawks.  I don't think it was close at any point in the game.  I think this means we have to take Matt Cassel and Dwayne Bowe seriously; at least, as long as they're playing this well.

9.) Philadelphia (7-4) [-5]
 Disappointing game all around for the Eagles, despite getting close near the end.  The offense was bland, the defense stunk, and the special teams couldn't keep Chicago out of good field position.  Ugly.

10.) Green Bay (7-4) [-4]
 I'm pleased that the Packers didn't beat Atlanta, because I wouldn't have been able to stand all the sucking up Aaron Rodgers would have received.  Of course, since the Packers played well, lots of people sucked up to Rodgers anyway.  It looks like they have a dogfight with the Bears coming up.  Of course, I still think the Bears are going to crash and burn, which would leave the NFC North to the Packers by default.

Thanks for reading.  See you next week!
Category: NFL
Posted on: November 23, 2010 5:33 pm
Edited on: November 23, 2010 6:40 pm
 

2010 NFL Power Rankings, Week 11

I guess it was something of an underwhelming week in the NFL.  There were some great games, to be sure, and I'm certain I saw most of them.  There were also quite a few games that were not praiseworthy, I take it, because of the results.  In any case, the bunching at the top and middle hasn't wholly ceased.  If this season has taught us anything, it's that parity rules.  Let's go!

1.) Atlanta (8-2) [no change]
 The Falcons went out on the road and won a game.  That can only bode well, even if their opponent was the seemingly lowly St. Louis Rams.  Good enough to keep their spot at the top.

2.) NY Jets (8-2) [no change]
 It looked like trouble for the Jets, down 27-23 with under a minute left in the game.  But then Mark Sanchez went out, manned up (again), and saved the day.  One long bomb and one flare (to Braylon Edwards and Santonio Holmes, respectively), and the Jets were up 30-27.  Does that make Sanchez an MVP candidate?  No, not quite.  But he's a very solid QB who makes big plays when it counts most.  Game-winning plays.  Not everyone can say that.

3.) New England (8-2) [no change]
 It can be amazing what separates two great teams.  Or in this case, one great team and one other team that could be great, maybe, but aren't great right now.  Something like that.  Anyway, Tom Brady played just as expected.  Peyton Manning, not so much.  What might be more surprising is that New England's defense bailed them out.  But the Pats' offense is practically unstoppable; either that, or they exposed the Colts' defense.

4.) Philadelphia (7-3) [no change]
 Surprisingly, Michael Vick didn't play like Michael Vick.  Yet he outplayed Eli Manning, who couldn't figure out how to slide.  So now the Eagles are 7-3, hold the tiebreaker, and look like the favorites in the NFC, because NOBODY, not even the Giants vaunted "defense", can stop Michael Vick.  Oh, to be sure, he didn't play like he did last Monday against Washington, but nobody could have done that two weeks in a row.  With continued success, the Eagles could easily have 12 wins.

5.) Pittsburgh (7-3) [+1]
 Ben Roethlisberger took a shot to the mouth, but his team knocked out the Raiders.  Amazing how a team like the Steelers can come back from a loss and just pound the next team they face.  There should be no doubt that the Steelers are very good.  Are they Super Bowl-worthy?  I'm not sure, but after that beatdown, I have to lean toward "yes".  Wouldn't anybody?

6.) Green Bay (7-3) [+1]
 Once again, Aaron Rodgers came out on top over Brett Favre.  Oh, wait, that was only the second time that happened?  Well, whatever.  The Vikings are done, and the Packers are one step closer to winning the NFC North.  At the moment they're in 2nd due to that abhorrent loss to the Bears (and Chicago's unexplainable and improbable success to this point), but I've got a strong belief that the Packers will eventually win their division.  Even if it takes until the last day.

7.) Baltimore (7-3) [+1]
 Closer than it should have been, but Baltimore pulled it out against Carolina.  Most of that goes to Ed Reed, who is still an incredible safety, especially when it comes to picking off opposing QB's.  I'm not sure who wins the AFC North.  Baltimore has a great chance, though I'm sure they'll have to beat the Steelers again.

8.) New Orleans (7-3) [+1]
 What do you know, the Saints might actually be a good team.  OK, first off, this has nothing to do with Reggie Bush.  Obviously, since he hasn't played since Week 2.  It's all about Drew Brees, and he's getting it done despite throwing a boatload of INT's throughout.  The defense has stepped up against tomato cans and non-tomato cans alike.  Are they going to win the NFC South?  Probably not, but a wild card is certainly within reach.  Heck, the South might get three teams in, if everything rolls right.

9.) Tampa Bay (7-3) [-]
 Two teams go on the road and shut out their opponents.  One goes west, the other east.  I picked the one that went west, because the other team is the Chicago Bears, and they've angered me so much through the season that I'm not letting them in again.  Tampa Bay put up three TD's on the 49ers, and while they might not have been dominant...they went out west and got a shutout win.  Well, maybe they were dominant.  In any case, the Bucs are back in, and the Bears are still on the sidelines.

10.) Indianapolis (6-4) [-5]
 Funnily enough, Peyton Manning looked a bit like Brett Favre on that last play.  Throwing a pick is unusual for Manning, but throwing three has to be damn near unheard of (besides that disaster in San Diego a few years ago).  Then again, since they were playing New England, maybe I shouldn't be TOO surprised.  At any rate, the Colts are now 6-4 and on the short end of the tiebreaker (due to that terrible, awful, no good very bad loss to Jacksonville), and have a few division games coming up after they play the Chargers this weekend.  I still believe in the Colts...but I'm starting to wonder if perhaps this isn't their year.

Thanks for reading.  See you next week.
Category: NFL
Posted on: November 16, 2010 4:52 pm
 

2010 NFL Power Rankings, Week 10

Another tough week in the Rankings as some of the top teams lost.  Of course, others move up to take their place, but not much has changed, really.  It's certainly a fluid situation with everyone having nine games under their belt now.  I don't think my Rankings have any predictive value; note that last week's first-place team is now in sixth, for example.  So this is really a picture of what has gone on, rather than an attempt to determine what will occur in the future.  Let's go!

1.) Atlanta (7-2) [+3]
 Playing last Thursday, the Falcons earned the biggest win of Week 10.  Of course, there are arguments for other teams, and I won't ignore them.  However, I think Atlanta's win was most impressive, and they move up to the first spot thanks to that.  It's about time an NFC team had a turn, I think.  I still believe the best teams all reside in the AFC; Atlanta is now 3-1 against the other conference, and that too is being rewarded.  Is there any doubt now that they're the best team in the NFC?  At least, for this week?

2.) NY Jets (7-2) [+1]
 A modest jump for the Jets after a second OT win on the road.  Originally, I planned to put them at first, but late last night I had a feeling that putting Atlanta first would be the better idea.  The Jets played well, especially their QB Mark Sanchez and two of his receivers, Jerricho Cotchery (who manned up huge) and Santonio Holmes.  Holmes caught the TD pass that won the game in OT.  As long as Sanchez continues to improve, 12-14 wins are not out of the question.  They currently hold the tiebreaker in the AFC East.

3.) New England (7-2) [+3]
 Sunday Night was a good stage for New England, and going to Pittsburgh somehow proved to be the tonic that healed them.  It sounds all kinds of wrong, but the Patriots came out like gangbusters and blew up the Steelers.  It was impressive all the way around.  Tom Brady was masterful again, throwing three TD's to a rookie tight end and running for another one.  Here's hoping they can sustain that kind of play.

4.) Philadelphia (6-3) [+6]
 The biggest jump of the week belongs to the Eagles, who vaulted from 10th to 4th after a total beatdown of Washington last night.  It was simultaneously great and ugly.  Michael Vick was responsible for six TD's and generally looked like an elite QB all night.  The Eagles also had three RB's making contributions as well.  They look tough to stop, and they face what many consider a great defense next week as they play the Giants.

5.) Indianapolis (6-3) [+3]
 Another win, another jump for the Colts.  Playing the Bengals, it was no surprise they won.  Next week they get a much tougher opponent as they play the Patriots.  That should be a good one, but tough to pick.

6.) Pittsburgh (6-3) [-5]
 A disappointing performance from the Steelers, who couldn't seem to get anything going until late in the game, and then even that went awry when Ben Roethlisberger threw an interception that was run back for a touchdown.  Oops!  The Steelers aren't out of it by any means, but that elite sheen they had been developing is all but gone now.  Time for a bounce back.

7.) Green Bay (6-3) [-]
 The Packers were on a bye, which bodes well for their injury situation.  It was also nice to not have to hear about how Aaron Rodgers is an elite QB.  He isn't.  Of course, that doesn't mean GB won't win the NFC North.

8.) Baltimore (6-3) [-6]
 I can't say I was disappointed in how the Ravens played.  They just got beat at a critical juncture.  Some may say that their defense was exposed on the last drive, or something like that.  I disagree.  They got beat by a team that played better.  No more, no less.

9.) New Orleans (6-3) [-]
 Another team that was on a bye.  The Saints had their week off to get ready for the final push to win the NFC South.  They're still looking up at Atlanta.

10.) NY Giants (6-3) [-5]
 The Giants were probably the most disappointing team in Week 10.  That doesn't bother me much, since I hate them.  I wasn't as high on them as other people were; I noted that Atlanta looked like the better team, and was proven right as Atlanta defeated a really good team and the Giants lost to a really bad team.  Them's the breaks.

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