Tuesday, October 4, 2011

9 comments J.S.' NFL Power Rankings: Week Four

Once again it's time for your dose of power rankings. This is where I, much like a mother bird, digest record, performance (not necessarily the same), strength of schedule, division, injuries, talent (yes, still), what the rest of the league has done and numbers and regurgitate them in a structured format into your waiting gullet on this blog. Lovely.

1 - GREEN BAY (-)
4-0, T-1st NFC NORTH
W 49-23 vDEN, next @ATL

Still good.

3-1, T-1st AFC EAST
W 31-19 @OAK, next vNYJ

With any Patriots game, the thing to look at is the drive chart. I mentioned two weeks ago that the Patriots play a very distinctive brand of football, with this bend but don't break philosophy on defense. Their defense isn't good, but while I won't be so cute as to say it's not good by design, I will say that yardage just isn't the concern. They don't allow long touchdowns, and they crowd up receivers in the red zone. You just have to convert against them, and this philosophy was in full effect against Oakland. They give you yardage, but what they don't give you is possessions, you only get a few in a game against them, usually long, usually 6+ minutes a shot, and they take the same amount of time when they have the ball. Some people still don't appreciate it, but this is a ball control offense, which is what made the Buffalo performance so uncharacteristic. They are explicitly unexplosive, their biggest weakness offensively is that no one really stretches the field. They love pitches and screens, absolutely want to have sex with them, and any team that wants to beat New England must have an answer for that. Their offensive line is just superb, it might be the best in the NFL right now and whatever you think of Belichick, everything they do oozes cleverness. One of my favourite teams to watch. Wilfork picked up another interception, obviously, being one of the best cover corners/defensive tackles in the game apparently.

3-1, T-1st NFC SOUTH
W 23-10 @JAX, next @CAR

Still look susceptable underneath, as the Jags found out with a screen to Mike Thomas that conceded 47 yards. That accounted for a quarter of the yards the Saints gave up through the air however, and although Gabbert isn't the greatest test, the defense rebounded well after the Houston evisceration. Also promising was some action on the ground here. I said it last week but it bears repeating, Darren Sproles has been superb for them so far this year. He had 131 yards from scrimmage with 75 yards from just seven carries. Some tight end named Jimmy Graham had ten catches for 132 yards, which just proves Drew Brees can make anyone a receiving threat. Have only lost to Green Bay.

3-1, 1st AFC NORTH
W 34-17 vNYJ, next BYE

Won turnoverthon 2011. Of course, the main story was the defensive domination. It looked a lot like Week One against the Steelers, and against a better, if not fully healthy, offensive line this time. Baltimore at their best defensively, from a chaos and turnover point of view at least, have no peer currently in the NFL. They lead the league in takeaways with 14. It took it all to survive what is normally a lethal Joe Flacco night. Breathing down New Orleans neck.

5 - HOUSTON (+3)
3-1, T-1st AFC SOUTH
W 17-10 vPIT, next vOAK

Just as we were all writing our Arian Foster obituaries, he comes roaring back in this game. Not only did he have 155 yards, but he was given the ball 30 times (19 in the first half alone). Ben Tate had just 2 carries. Thanks for keeping the seat warm kid. Houston showed the value of its arguably unmatched offensive versatility, with an 11 minute opening drive, holding the ball for 21 and a half minutes in the first half. It helped weather a relatively ordinary day by Schaub and produce a big, big win. Made the leap this week from interesting to Superbowl contender. Absolutely for real.

6 - DETROIT (+1)
4-0, T-1st NFC NORTH
W 34-30 @DAL, next vCHI

Unimpressed, and I say that as a big Detroit backer. But rise due to the top teams falling like dominos. We saw in the first half the consequences of having no rushing attack to go to when Stafford has a bad day (as he invariably will have from time to time) as Detroit could do just nothing through the air (4/11 with a pick and an impossibly low 22 yards to start this game). Got lucky with turnovers, but it is reassuring to know that when needed, a defense that had cruised the first three games, was able to make some plays. Other positives included the offensive line pitching their third shutout (Detroit has given up just two sacks over four games now) against arguably the best pass rusher in the game, and, of course, Megatron. Bottom of the Barrel TD watch - 8.

7 - JETS (-2)
2-2, 3rd AFC EAST
L 17-34 @BAL, next @NE

I think the Jet's D was pretty good and bounced back nicely from the Oakland mauling, characteristically aggressive. It wasn't their fault the offense surrendered the ball compulsively. Flacco couldn't complete a pass through the entire 2nd and 3rd quarters. I can't help but think as interchangable as running back can sometimes be, New York needs a better one to run the offense it wants to run than Shonn Greene. They weren't able to run any offense against Baltimore as Sanchez had one of his occasional Hiroshima games (7/20 for 82 yards early in the third but more importantly responsible for four turnovers that led to 24 Baltimore points and basically had the game over before four minutes had passed in the second at 27-7). I have more time for Sanchez than most, and he is ostensibly better in the playoffs, but he's just not good game in, game out and the running game doesn't look the same as previous incarnations. Of course, neither does the offensive line without Mangold, but I thought Sanchez had his share of blame too. There's no doubt this was ugly, but with Pittsburgh and Atlanta both losing (literally forgot when I wrote this that the Falcons technically won), and Detroit winning the lottery in a miracle comeback, still are a fringey contender although the gap between them and the top two tiers appears to be large. Will try to pick up the pieces at New England to end a horror three game road trip.

8 - SAN DIEGO (+5)
3-1, 1st AFC WEST
W 26-16 vMIA, next @DEN

The kings of the unconvincing win. Possibly the best performance of both Jackson and Rivers in the same game which is probably the main thing from an offensive perspective. Jackson had his second 100+ receiving game and Rivers had his first clean sheet of the season. Defense held Miami to a managable 248 yards and the rushing game was just enough to keep Miami honest. Say this for the Chargers, with so many teams at the top either falling apart, or looking like they could blow up at any moment, the Bolts are taking care of business. San Diego are probably getting there, and of course we know they warm up in November and December.

9 - OAKLAND (+5)
2-2, 2nd AFC WEST
L 19-31 vNE, next @HOU

Played much better than the scoreline made it look - while we all know yards can be grossly misleading, they gained 95 more yards than the Patriots. McFadden is so much better outside the tackles than inside, when he gets a few strides in and a head of steam, seems unstoppable. I guess that's what keeps Michael Bush employed. In the end the need to keep up offensively with the Pats caught up with Campbell (who, again, wasn't as bad as the box made it look - 344 yards and a pair of picks) as did their uncharacteristic lack of potency in the red zone (2-5 including a turnover), but showed they were competitive - I thought their performance against New England was actually better than San Diego's. The biggest season long problem has been an almost unashamedly bad defense (their supposedly imposing defensive front did nothing here) and penalties - they conceded 9 against the Pats. It's diffcult to give teams of New England's quality a free 85 yards and win. Nevertheless, should be a surprisingly good race out West.

10 - PITTSBURGH (-4)
2-2, T-2nd AFC NORTH
L 10-17 @HOU, next vTEN

I'm extremely worried. Pittsburgh have been beaten on the run badly thrice already this season by Rice, Foster and Joe Addai for God's sake. But it wasn't even Foster that much - they were mauled on the line. A good but not great Houston offensive line was creating holes all over the place. Their offensive line played to it's usual atrocious standards. The skill guys (especially Mike Wallace with 4 catches and 77 yards here, he owns this offense as much as anyone right now) are trying their best, but it might be the worst line in the league in front of them. One pivotal 4th quarter drive summed it up - incompletion, 6 yard sack, false start, 6 yard sack. And there are going to be better defensive teams than Houston to deal with this year. Being beaten on both lines this badly leads to a bad football team. After four weeks, despite the ease of the schedule in front of them, I think the playoffs are now in some jeopardy.

11 - TAMPA BAY (-)
3-1, T-1st NFC SOUTH
W 24-17 vIND, next @SF

Apparently Indianapolis slept with Tampa's wife over the weekend. What other explanation for the sheer unbridled joy Tampa seemed to take over surrendering yardage and points by penalties consistently all night? In all, the penalties (9 in the first half and 14 overall) directly took 10 points off the board (a Benn TD was brought back and crucially, a field goal as half time dawned was also disallowed for holding) but they impacted nearly every drive. I'm particulary singling out Aqib Talib, who followed up a horrific game chasing Roddy White around, by giving up two huge penalties while Indianapolis were hopelessly looking for Painter to covert (on second and long and third down) deep inside his own 20. One play after one of those penalties came Garcon's 87 yard TD grab. Add in a missed field goal, and you could be forgiven in thinking that only Josh Freeman (25/39 for 287 yards and a TD and 27 yards rushing, including three fourth quarter first downs) actually wanted to win this game. This was very much a game played by the youngest team in the NFL. Both Tampa and Atlanta were dismal this week, extremely dissapointing for all except the NFC East and the Bears, who eyes will be looking at an enticing wild card opportunity.

12 - ATLANTA (-)
2-2, 3rd NFC SOUTH
W 30-28 @SEA, next vGB

When you win the turnover battle 2-0 and the time of possession battle by a 2-1 ratio, you don't expect things to hinge on a field goal in the dying seconds. You especially don't expect it against fucking Seattle. Their defense was dreadful in the red zone, and despite a good showing against Tampa Bay, is heavily suspect. They contained Leon Washington on returns, and Seattle was ineffective with 53 yards on 15 carries. Whether you see that as glass half full in an otherwise forgettable defensive performance or half empty in that what happens when those things don't happen is up to you. Look entirely unprepared to take on Green Bay - even in Georgia.

13 - TENNESSEE (+5)
3-1, T-1st AFC SOUTH
W 31-13 @CLE, next @PIT

Chris Johnson certainly looked back. His second touch produced a 25 yard run, his longest this year by 16 yards, and he finished with 101 on 23 carries - a start. Sure, it was Cleveland, but last week was Denver, and it's a good sign that at least the horrifying slide has ended and he has hit rock bottom. Quite possibly the hottest quarterback in the NFL is - I'm deadly serious - Matt Hasselbeck. The loss of Britt did nothing to slow him down whatsoever, he racked up 3 TD's and 220 yards on just 20 attempts. Defense had a few big moments (some fourth down stops and a pick) which was more than enough, but the jury is still out on that side of the ball. Fascinating game next week in Pittsburgh, signature game for both teams.

14 - GIANTS (+1)
3-1, T-1st NFC EAST
W 31-27 @ARI, next vSEA

It is the cliche to end all cliches, but the Giants really are just finding ways to win at the moment, even if that does include insane calls in their favour. Trailed 27-17 with five minutes to go, but an interception, excellent punt return and an enormous 4th quarter from Manning (13/16, 170 yards, 2TDs for a 150.52 rating in the 4th, thanks Arizona pass defense!) pulled off an incredible victory. Are definitely the feel good team of the NFC East, with Grossman's ominous presence, the endless psychodrama of Tony Romo and Philadelphia's defensive implosion. Should take over the NFC East lead next week against the Seahawks with the Redskins idle. Can't help feeling it's taken a miracle of them overcoming so much to even be 3-1 though - stay tuned.

15 - WASHINGTON (+1)
3-1, T-1st NFC EAST
W 17-10 @STL, next BYE

Rex Grossman is regressing from a hot two game start, which must be terrifying for Redskin fans. We all know the terror he can inflict on a fanbase. He posted a horrible 48.5 QB rating here. However, my pick that this was a top ten defense back in Week Two is starting to look more solid. St. Louis had 2.56 yards per play against Washington, and were scoreless until the 4th quarter. The tremendous Brian Orakpo got to Bradford 5.5 times by himself, and the 'Skins terrorised him all day, all while maintaining their gap discipline to make sure Jackson was taken out of the game early. One of the better defensive performances from any team this season. Washington are third in scoring defense and fifth in total defense this year.

3-1, 1st NFC WEST
W 24-23 @PHI, next vTB

I still don't think they are any good (never forget the offensive performance against Cincinnati! Never forget!), but that's becoming largely irrelevant. Won two out of division games, including at Philly, and that, plus a 3-1 start goes halfway to punching your NFC West title ticket. The loss in overtime to what now seems to be a reasonably good Dallas team bolsters their credentials. Still seeing too much Alex Smith, not so much in the second half (to be fair, dude chased down a 23-3 deficit and after all, he threw for 291 yards with 2TDs and no picks), but in the first half. Look, the guy has been playing for seven years, we know who he is, and Alex Smith - Titan of Offense - just does not ring true.

17 - DALLAS (-)
2-2, 3rd NFC EAST
L 30-34 vDET, next BYE

I feel terrible for Romo, I really do. He was working on a masterpiece of a game, 220 yards on just 26 throws, 3 TD's, no picks, when suddenly disaster struck up 27-3 with 10:30 left in the third. Carpenter picked off a truly terrible throw. Five minutes later, Chris Houston took another one back, this time ripping it away from Laurent Robinson. Bear in mind, Romo had been making Robinson look like Jerry Rice to that point, with 110 receiving yards. He was doing it all with paper mache receivers outside Witten and an injured Bryant. The defense shut down Stafford and the passing game and were able to stop everyone but Calvin Johnson, but you rarely give up 14 points on two offensive possessions and survive. Look like they might be just having a tough luck year to be honest, though the NFC East is surprisingly open early.

18 - CHICAGO (+1)
2-2, 3rd NFC NORTH
W 34-29 vCAR, next @DET

A classic Chicago throwback victory. Devin Hester doing Devin Hester things (a 73 yard kick return and a 69 yard touchdown from a punt). A patented Bears field goal block. A pick six, and a boatload of rushing yards. Chicago had thrown once with five and a half minutes to go in the first half. My love affair with Matt Forte continues as he produced a mind boggling 228 yards from scrimmage (with nearly half of all Chicago catches) here. Only Welker last week has had more in a game this year. So, this buffet of crazy stuff is all Chicago needs to avoid confronting it's diabolical pass protection problem. Easy enough I'm sure.

1-3, 4th NFC EAST
L 23-24 vSF, next @BUF

I still believe in their offense. After a sluggish start, they went back to being all awesome and explosive, the kind of offense we know and love; a Vick 24 yard scramble, Jackson with receptions of 61, 45 & 29 yards. But they aren't finishing in the red zone, squandered 5 chances here after going 1 of 5 last week against the Giants. That makes them an incredibly awful 3 of their last 12 red zone opportunities ending in TD's. That includes a completely unnecessary turnover by Ronnie Brown from 2 yards out (seriously, watch it, fucking ridiculous) and a missed shot from their 11 year old kicker. But I could deal with that, and so could the Eagles, if it wasn't for the defense. San Francisco got away with some bad playcalling, giving Gore (supposedly a workhorse) the ball only 15 times in this game, and hitting Gore and Davis only 6 times. It didn't matter - those 21 plays went for 172 yards. Philly's safeties and linebackers haven't improved at all over the first four weeks. If San Francisco beating you at home doesn't open your eyes, nothing will. Season on the line against Buffalo next week, crossroad game for both teams really.

20 - BUFFALO (-10)
3-1, T-1st AFC EAST
L 20-23 @CIN, next vPHI

Fun while it lasted huh?

21 - CAROLINA (-1)
1-3, 4th NFC SOUTH
L 29-34 @CHI, next vNO

Easily the most fascinating bad team in the NFL. They are utterly spellbound by Cam Newton, who seems to be the star of every game he plays in, good and bad. I was enthused to see them give the ball to Williams and Stewart early and thought they learned their lesson last week. But they ultimately threw 46 times and gave the ball to their star duo just 18. I mean it's understandable, because those 18 carries yielded just...134 yards. Look, they were down, but they weren't that far down, and part of the reason they were was the interception thrown (though to be fair it was an unlucky pick, though Newton also fumbled and was lucky to have that ball remain with the Panthers) and returned for a touchdown. He's a good player, he does a lot of things well (I was particulary impressed with his leading an 80 yard drive immediately following the pick) but Williams and Stewart are your best skill players. Give them the ball plz? kthxbye.

22 - CINCINNATI (+8)
2-2, T-2nd AFC NORTH
W 23-20 vBUF, next @JAX

Don't be fooled by the numbers, it's an abysmal offense. Dalton started 4/14 with 49 yards and a pick. Scored just 8 points against San Francisco last week and two were via a deliberate safety. Buffalo really are that bad on defense. Speaking of defense, theirs continues to show plenty of signs of life. They are the first team to contain Fred Jackson this year (66 yards on 17 carries) and Fitzpatrick (199 yards passing on 34 throws without a TD) who came in with 9 scores in his previous 3 games. Not sure this win, however, ultimately will look as impressive as it does right now. Cleveland have now played San Francisco, Denver, Cleveland, a probably not good Buffalo and next week Jacksonville followed by Indianapolis. After their bye they go to Seattle, go to Tennessee, host Houston and play Pittsburgh and Baltimore twice. While they should finish in the six win range, they have Arizona and St. Louis to play as well. If any team is going to make an absolutely stunning playoff run, this is probably the team.

23 - ARIZONA (-1)
1-3, T-2nd NFC WEST
L 27-31 vNYG, next @MIN

Sigh. Getting so sick of defending Arizona as the "class of the NFC West" in light of their three game losing streak, falling two games behind the Niners. I still do think that though, and the Kolb/Wells pairing is the best back combo in the division. Were robbed by a ludicrous call from the officials that took an obvious fumble by last week's hero Victor Cruz away from them. Was one of those classic "we made a blatent mistake, but let's pretend we meant to make that call all along by justifying it with this rule we just made up" calls, where if they just admitted it was a mistake it would have been better for everyone, but they had to be stubborn. Were better on the ground defensively, limiting one of the ostensibly better rushing teams in the league to just 54 yards on 24 carries, so that hole is at least being plugged, and Beanie Wells had yet another strong game that has taken him to second in yards per game on the ground (107.0), just behind Darren McFadden. Not giving up on them yet, this was a hard luck loss, but on the heels of a loss to the Seahawks, it's not easy to stay with them.

24 - CLEVELAND (-3)
2-2, T-2nd AFC NORTH
L 13-31 vTEN, next BYE

A very bad loss at home to put to bed any hope that Cleveland might be anything more than intermittantly competitive this season. It's quite pathetic when their QB's best performance of the season comes in a three score loss to an okish team who are travelling. McCoy had 350 yards here, though it took him 61(!) throws. Got their best offensive player the ball just ten times (Hillis had 46 yards in total and has been underwhelming this year...when he's played). Josh Cribbs had 23 yards returning on 4 combined kick and punt returns, which equals an inevitable bad loss for the Browns.

25 - MIAMI (-2)
0-4, 4th AFC EAST
L 16-26 @SD, next BYE

Still more unlucky than horrible, but I don't like the look of Matt Moore beyond this week. I think Henne has his positive qualities (decent long ball for instance) but we know how awful a Matt Moore led offense is. Speaking of things we know are awful, Daniel Thomas was out of this game (is clearly the best back on this team, at least in a conventional sense) and Reggie Bush had to take an everydown role. Without those two, across the country, second straight road game, were never a realistic chance here, gave a reasonable account of themselves though.

0-4, 4th AFC SOUTH
L 17-24 @TB, next vKC

When you have a third string quarterback in there, you need your receivers to make plays. Pierre Garcon came to the party with TD catches of 59 and 87 yards. Still need more from Freeney and Mathis. As I said a couple of weeks ago, it's not that they have been bad, but they really need to be above average, by their exceptionally high standards, to give Indy a chance this year. Painter was far from brilliant, but kept turnovers to a minimum and tried to let Tampa beat themselves. However, down by seven with 2:50 to go with 4th and 5 from their own 25, Indy punted, and J.S. wrote in his notebook "Gregg Easterbrook is a douchebag". Last chance to escape #32 next week at home to anti-kingmakers KC.

27 - SEATTLE (+4)
1-3, T-2nd NFC WEST
L 28-30 vATL, next @NYG

Definitely were the best of the hideous teams this week and whatever else, look like for half of their remaining games, they will not be exactly easy to beat. Of course, saying they will be hard to beat in Seattle is probably a bit of a stretch. Sidney Rice really has changed this offense, providing a deep threat to Tavaris, who throws a decent long ball. Offense was reasonably good here but defense, which had been about average in the first three weeks, let them down. If they can put the two together, they may even be able to steal a game on the road at some point this year.

28 - ST. LOUIS (-2)
0-4, 4th NFC WEST
L 10-17 vWAS, next BYE

Just a bad team I think. Whether Jackson is still injured I don't know, but he was basically awful here, with 47 yards on 17 carries, less than 2.8 a carry. St. Louis tried to do the right thing, feeding him the ball regulary, especially early, but the only positive he could take from the day was a 15 yard TD reception (his other three catches accumulated a grand total of four yards). Bradford had 164 yards on 43 throws, which sounds almost made up level bad. Again, without Amendola, life is difficult for him in terms of people to throw to. Did not get to Grossman all day. Hard to see how they compete in the NFC West from here, I would think it would need to be a 7 win "champ" like last year for them to have any chance at all.

1-3, 3rd AFC SOUTH
L 10-23 vNO, next vCIN

Fell to last in the league in scoring offense (and second last in total offense), with 39 points in four games, and 23 in their last three. Still, Gabbert is an improvement over McCown, although to appreciate how modest a statement that is, he had 196 yards on 43 throws here. Maurice Jones-Drew inexplicably had just three carries in the first half which is unforgivably stupid. He finished with 84 yards on just 11 carries which left Jags fans (they do exist, right?) wondering what might have been from a sane game plan. Just a matter of time until Jack del Rio goes.

30 - DENVER (-2)
1-3, T-3rd AFC WEST
L 23-49 @GB, next vSD

Quite simply just the worst defensive team in the league. Schedule doesn't ease up until December, another team who's season has effectively ended.

31 - KANSAS CITY (+1)
1-3, T-3rd AFC WEST
W 22-17 vMIN, next @IND

Dwayne Bowe was big (107 yards receiving), Matt Cassel woke up, but the fact is, it was against one of, if not the worst passing defenses in the league and they nearly lost to an 0-3 team with one of the strongest home field advantages in the game. Still, was enough to get them off the bottom.

32 - MINNESOTA (-3)
0-4, 4th NFC NORTH
L 17-22 @KC, next vARI

Had a lead in the third quarter. Guess what happened next. Sucks to be Minnesota, basically.


Bengoodfella said...

Couldn't agree with you more about the Panthers team. Mostly, they need to run the ball to take the pressure off their injured and very average defense. For some reason the OC seems more impressed with showing Newton off when it is in the team's best interest to possess the ball.

I think Oakland is a bit high and as far as New York goes I think the cliche actually works. They are winning and that's all that really matters at this point. Also, Jimmy Graham is an incredible athlete who is learning to play football. He played basketball and football in college and didn't really excel at either.

Chris said...

Wow, these rankings are truly preposterous. So far, the #18 Bears have blown out the #12 Falcons (who also almost blew a huge lead to Tavaris Jackson). The #20 Bills have beaten the #2 Pats and the #11 Bucs barely squeaked passed the Colts with their 3rd string QB. Not to mention putting the Jets(???)in your top ten. Why waste time explaining your ridiculous methodology (i.e performance), when you proceed to throw it out the window when you make your actual rankings?
I've been reading your blog for over year a now, and I've noticed you guys struggle whenever talking NFL (except for the Panthers), unless your picking on low hanging fruit like Easterbrook. Maybe it's just J.S. (I don't always pay attention to the byline) but this looks like something Easterbrook would write.

J.S. said...

Yes Chris, let's have Buffalo at #2 over the Patriots. Simply beating a team does not guarentee that you will be above them. As I mentioned at the very top of the article, talent and the projected finish of a team still carry significant weight here. I simply do not believe in Buffalo, and am not sure why I am compelled to on the strength of a single win against New England with an extremely questionable offensive line and terrible defense. The Bucs are 13-7 going back to last year, and would you prefer I put Atlanta, the Matt Hasselbecks, or an injury savaged Giants ahead of them? I don't think #11 for a 3-1 team is exactly "perposterous".

The Jets lost to a pretty rampant Baltimore team, and while I do have my concerns about them, they are not as significant as Pittsburgh or San Diego (who have played a complete powder puff schedule). I think Ben hit the nail on the head when he declared Oakland as the big question mark...I was not sure about #9 either, but when you look at the Steelers, Falcons, Bucs et al, they have looked relatively impressive, but I am not especially comfortable about moving a team who lost last week up five.

But really, what would a power rankings article be without a venomous and contemptuous comment? I feel I have gone through a rite of passage. Just because we may "struggle when talking about NFL" ie. don't agree with your viewpoint, does not necessitate such a completely dismissive post. You're more than entitled to disagree with me, but I wrote over a thousand words here defending my views, and I don't think you actually addressed any of them.

Chris said...

J.S., I apologize for being so insulting in my previous comment. Obviously, your entitled to your opinion and I shouldn't have been so dismissive. Now, to address your other complaints... I was not suggesting you rank the Bills at #2 ahead of the Pats, however, to have the discrepancy between the two be so great, demands a better explanation than "That was fun while it lasted, wasn't it?" (I'd probably flip flop them with the Falcons.) That, I guess symbolizes my problems with the list. You seem to summarize the recent state of these teams without explaining how they relate to each other on the list. You seem to use strength of schedule, record, and performance when it suits your needs and disregard them when they don't.

J.S. said...

No problem Chris. I admit I was light on details on the Bills in a (perhaps failed) attempt to be pithy, but allow my comments here to be more meaningful - I am questionable about their offensive line and even more regarding their defense (which I think is out and out bad, one of the bottom 5 or so in the league). The only players I really think are probably better than last year are Steve Johnson and Ryan Fitzpatrick, which counts for something, but not really a rise into the top half of the NFL. I think putting them over a proven Falcons team (who as poorly as they have played this year, haven't imploded at 2-2, let's just call off the funeral just yet) is a bit imprudent. There was a seven win gap between these teams last year.

Fair enough regarding my methodology, obviously we will all bring our own prejudices to each of these teams and there is going to be an element of retroactively justifying their position. Let me say a few things about how I go about this...

There are always about 4 teams where I don't really like where they rank. The fact that sometimes you just have to penalise some teams that win ugly against bad teams (Atlanta and Tampa are really good examples) forces other changes. So you are really choosing the lesser of two evils (I was even shocked when I felt I just had to put Oakland at 9, why? I refused to move Atlanta or Tampa up, I was adament to myself that Pittsburgh could be no higher than 10 and I still have concerns about the Giants massive injury list. Perhaps I should buy into the Giants and they should have been ninth with Oakland settling a more sane 13th or so. That would mean New York rocketed up some seven places, which seems almost as disproportionate as Oakland when you consider Arionza were really robbed (and they are just Arizona after all). These are difficult calls - even San Diego at 8 seems high to me. There is a real gulf after the Jets to me, where the next nine teams (down to Philly) are all...maybe not bad, but certainly not good. I also wanted to reflect that I think San Diego and Oakland look awfully close so far, and division plays a role there as well.

I fully concede that sometimes I'm going to take strength of schedule into account, or preseason expectations/talent more into account than at others, it's really impossible not to do so, we all have certain thoughts about any football season and the composite teams that will leak through the supposedly "objective" analysis. I will say that I think more than most, I weigh those expectations and schedule concerns in heavily, I am not necessarily too interested in the record right now - and maybe that is where the big schism occurs.

I could go on and on about this, but I want to thank you for your apology, it is both accepted and appreciated, and also thank you for reading and providing some feedback, I am very interested to hear what our readers think of this material.

Bengoodfella said...

Chris, I don't have much add to the discussion at hand, but I will say the comment about how we don't know much about the NFL outside of the Panthers sucked for me. No big deal, it very well could be true. That's my favorite team and I do not want to be one of those people who talks a/b them or clearly has more knowledge about them. I'm a fan of sports and this isn't one team's fanblog.

Easterbrook is low hanging fruit and I don't pick on too many writers for the NFL outside of him and possibly PK. I have a couple NFL-related posts coming up so hopefully I will change your mind. If not, that's cool too.

I give a lot of criticism and I am open to receiving it myself. I like the power rankings b/c they allow for a little bit of discussion about the teams. I think Buffalo's run isn't over at this point, so I would disagree with him on that. I do agree Atlanta hasn't hit their stride. I still think they will be in the Super Bowl.

Thanks for the comments.

J.S. said...

One other comment on how these rankings are produced. Sometimes (and Pittsburgh is the best example of this) I forgo moving a team one week, pending how they do the following week. I want to see a team "do it again" before I am convinced. My week one rankings had the Steelers at 4 despite the loss to Baltimore and then not move despite blowing Seattle away, and then down two with a tight win at Indy. In that case, a team went down 2 places despite being 2-0. Part of that is because it's easier to fall than rise from high in the rankings (note all four of the top teams stayed put this week, despite 2-4 all posting 2+ score wins, two against top ten opposition) but partly because I was giving the Steelers the benefit of the doubt after Week One and would punish them more harshly for furture dissapointments, which I did (note New England didn't drop after their win against Buffalo, having earnt some leeway). In the case of Oakland, they are unlikely to eclipse Houston in the rankings next week even if they win (unless they thimp them) because I am correcting for what is probably an over generous bump (largely on account of performnances of teams surrounding them) this week. So not only do teams have relationships with others in the rankings, but they also have a relationship with last AND next weeks rankings - some thought goes into this, I'm not just throwing darts at a dartboard.

Martin F. said...

All I know is that when P.King dismissed the Saints at the beginning of the year they won the Super Bowl, and then acted as if everybody had been crazy to dismiss them.....we mighty prognosticators here at BotB were almost kinda dead on! We all agreed, eh 7-10 seemed about right, while P.King had them like 22 or some such. We all talked about how underrated Brees was going into that year before the year started, only to have P.King scream it at us during the playoffs.

Bengoodfella said...

Martin, that's usually how it goes. I'm very rarely right, but in 2010 I thought the Saints were a good team. They had a ton of injuries the year before and they just needed a defense. I don't remember exactly what I said, but it doesn't take long for writers to jump on the bandwagon once they've been proven wrong!