Posted on: October 6, 2009 12:59 pm

2009 NFL Power Rankings, Week 4

1.) NY Giants (4-0) [no change]
 A nice schedule is aiding and abetting the Giants' stay at the top.  They're great all-around and continue to win.
2.) New Orleans (4-0) [+2]
 Knocked out the Jets temporarily and looked very impressive doing so.  Drew Brees and the offense can exhale now; the defense can play!
3.) Minnesota (4-0) [+2]
 Adrian Peterson hasn't done a whole lot since Week 1.  They keep winning anyway.
4.) Indianapolis (4-0) [+2]
 The Colts are an unstoppable offensive juggernaut and can make it 5-0 with a win in Tennessee.
5.) Denver (4-0) [+2]
 The Broncos are suddenly a very good team.  Credit the defense, and coordinator Mike Nolan.
6.) New England (3-1) [+2]
 They took another game I thought they had no chance of winning.  Tom Brady is improving, but the defense needs to step up too.
7.) San Francisco (3-1)
 The 49ers are no fluke either.  They're back after an impressive dismantling of St. Louis.
8.) Chicago (3-1)
 Ever since Week 1, the Bears have been nearly unstoppable.
9.) Philadelphia (2-1) [no change]
 Philadelphia had a bye week, and as such does not get penalized.
10.) Cincinnati (3-1)
 The Bengals are either really lucky, or really good.  For now, I'll split it down the middle.

A Look at Week 4:
There were definitely some exciting games in Week 4.  The Broncos weren't afraid of the Cowboys, and though neither team played as good as they're capable of, Denver earned the victory.  Pittsburgh practically lost its defense in the 4th quarter and still pulled out a win against San Diego.  Last night, Minnesota looked impressive at times against Green Bay.  There are now only five undefeated teams left this season, and it would not be a complete surprise to see more of them fall.  At this point, it looks like it'll take a great performance all the way round to beat one of the remaining five; they're all playing well right now and look to have few to no weaknesses.

A further recap of Week 4's best.

NY Giants (1) @ Kansas City (unranked):
 Not quite as big a beatdown as the previous week for the Giants.  A good win as long as Eli Manning's heel injury proves to be nothing big.

Baltimore (2) @ New England (8):
 There was plenty of offense in this one, but surprisingly, Baltimore had the ball last and couldn't put it into the end zone.  Not exactly what I was expecting from Joe Flacco and company.

NY Jets (3) @ New Orleans (4):
 Did the Jets not show up, or did New Orleans just blow their doors off?  I had no idea the Saints defense would come up that huge, which is why I picked the Jets to win.  Whoops.

Dallas (unranked) @ Denver (7):
 Denver flat-out outplayed the Cowboys when it counted.  Bad tackling and bad playcalling sunk the Cowboys this week.

Green Bay (10) @ Minnesota (5):
 Game of the Week?  Sure, why not.  Brett Favre took on the Packers in the Metrodome and pulled out the win.  Greg Jennings and Donald Driver barely showed up for the Packers; on the other side, Adrian Peterson was hardly the force one would expect.

The best games coming up next week.

Cincinnati (10) @ Baltimore (unranked):
 Two 3-1 teams square off to determine the early leader in the AFC North.  Should be one of the better games on the slate.

Oakland (unranked) @ NY Giants (1):
 If the Texans can make Oakland look utterly lost, what will the Giants do to them?

Atlanta (unranked) @ San Francisco (7):
 The Falcons come off their bye refreshed (hopefully) and ready to continue their march to the NFC South title.

New England (6) @ Denver (5):
 This one could go either way.  Just like Jets/Saints in Week 4, I expect the better offense to come out on top.

Indianapolis (4) @ Tennessee (unranked):
 The Colts look to continue their winning ways.  Against that Titans defense, it shouldn't be too much trouble.
Category: NFL
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
Posted on: September 15, 2009 1:07 pm

2009 NFL Power Rankings, Week 1

1.) Pittsburgh (1-0)
  The Steelers took out what should be an elite team in the Titans; yeah, it required overtime, but this is still the best team until they get beaten.
2.) Philadelphia (1-0)
  McNabb's injury is getting a lot of pub; what about that defense, though?  They crushed Carolina and forced Jake Delhomme into another terrible game.
3.) NY Giants (1-0)
  The Giants looked good against Washington and have another NFC East foe coming up.  I'm not sure I'd want to open up Cowboys Stadium on Sunday night, but I don't think the Giants will be daunted.
4.) Atlanta (1-0)
  Another team that won with solid defense.  Matt Ryan is the latest to benefit from Tony Gonzalez's awesomeness.
5.) Baltimore (1-0)
  Not as much defense as we're used to seeing, but Joe Flacco came out and lit up KC.
6.) NY Jets (1-0)
  Mark Sanchez started out phenomenal, despite throwing an INT.  Can he keep it up?
7.) New Orleans (1-0)
  Six TD's from Drew Brees is excellent.  Giving up 27 to the Lions?  Not so much.
8.) Minnesota (1-0)
  Brett Favre, meet your new safety blanket.  They literally ran away from the Browns.
9.) Green Bay (1-0)
  A bit rough on offense, especially on the right side of the line.  The new 3-4 defense forced Jay Cutler into a ton of mistakes.
10.) New England (1-0)
  They won and are still elite.  No concern about Tom Brady, but that defense looked awful.

A Look at Week 1:
The NFL opened up the 2009 season in earnest on Sunday.  All in all, it was an exciting week of football, starting off with Thursday's Pittsburgh/Tennessee overtime game.  There were quite a few players who made a name for themselves or reminded everyone just how good they are.  Obvious inclusions on that list are Drew Brees, Mark Sanchez, Matt Ryan, and Joe Flacco.  The Texans in particular were one of the more disappointing teams.  They went down hard against the Jets and looked completely inept while doing so.  Philadelphia looked the best, delivering a beatdown to Carolina.  There are a couple good teams that I had to leave off the Rankings to start this season because the teams that are on the list just flat outplayed them.  Some of these teams are: Indianapolis, Dallas, and San Diego.  Obviously, I expect a lot of turnover from week to week, as certain teams bubble up and others move down.  In my Rankings, winning is the thing I look at first and foremost.  In order to separate teams, I then look at how well they played in the three phases of the game.  As I said before, Philadelphia played the best, but since Pittsburgh is the defending champion, they're second this week.

The best games coming up next week.

New Orleans (7) @ Philadelphia (2):
  Drew Brees takes his offense on the road against a crushing defense.  This ain't the Lions any more.

New England (10) @ NY Jets (6):
  We begin to find out just how good Mark Sanchez is.

Baltimore (5) @ San Diego (unranked):
  This could go a couple different ways: Defensive beatdown (for Baltimore), or offensive explosion (for both).

NY Giants (3) @ Dallas (unranked):
  The Game of the Week opens up Cowboys Stadium and pits two hated rivals against each other.

Indianapolis (unranked) @ Miami (unranked):
  Monday night's game has two should-be playoff teams facing off.
Category: NFL
Posted on: September 1, 2009 11:49 pm

Lester Gets #11, Red Sox Roll in Tampa

My only question is, why couldn't they do this the last time they were in Tampa?

Jon Lester pitched well tonight and earned the win.  Jonathan Papelbon had to come in early to get the save, ultimately throwing for two innings.  I'm not certain that's the smartest move, but since every game counts and they need to secure the wild card, it's not a bad thing for now.  I'm hoping it doesn't happen too often in the next couple weeks, because Papelbon needs to be fresh for the playoffs.  I like Billy Wagner, and all, but Papelbon is the guy at the back of the bullpen.

In other news, the 2009 Astros are a sinking ship.

I wish I had something nice to say, but I really don't.  They had a nice win yesterday, and followed it up with another loss that could have easily been a win had the offense done ANYTHING.  Maybe I'm not seeing the forest through the trees (or vice versa), but this lineup does not look like it should be performing this badly.  Yet almost every night, they routinely show a lack of patience, a lack of clutch hitting, and a lack of run-scoring besides homers.  They never string base hits together (or hardly ever).  They do have what looks like a bonafide lead-off hitter (for the first time since 2004/2005) finally in Michael Bourn.  But if they can't bring him in from third, what the hell's the point?
Category: MLB
Posted on: August 25, 2009 11:44 pm

Two in a Row!

The Red Sox won again tonight against the White Sox, 6-3.

Jon Lester pitched well for most of the game, but ultimately gave up the lead.  It's too bad for him, but that's what happens sometimes.  Victor Martinez came in for Jason Varitek and added two hits.  He's undoubtedly been everything the team thought he would be.

In other news, Wandy Rodriguez went up against Adam Wainwright tonight in St. Louis.  It was no butt-kicking; the score was just 1-0 in favor of St. Louis on a freak double by Pujols (and I say that based on his HORRIBLE history against Wandy).  It just wasn't Wandy's night either; unfortunately for him, the Astros' offense sucks compared to the Red Sox.

I predicted that Lance Berkman's return could be the spark that returned the Astros to contention.  So far, that hasn't been borne out, in any way, shape, or form.  The pitching has been spotty at times too.  At the moment there are two rookies in the rotation, though, and I sure didn't expect that.  But with Mike Hampton's struggles and the usual spate of injuries, Bud Norris and Yorman Bazardo have had to step up.  Rookies being rookies, they haven't exactly done that.  I'm not worried about either of them, though.  And Bazardo isn't really a rookie anyway, though I'm not certain about his service time.
Category: MLB
Posted on: August 24, 2009 12:13 am

Adios, Cy Young

Josh Beckett sucked again tonight.  Kiss that Cy Young goodbye, because it's likely going to CC Sabathia and his legion of Yankees sycophants.

In other news, the Astros sucked today too.  They made an effort to come back, but Bud Norris' second bad start doomed them to a loss unless they put up a bunch of runs.  They had five, but the damage had been done.
Category: MLB
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