Wednesday, October 26, 2011

4 comments J.S.' NFL Power Rankings: Week Seven

After seven weeks, I am prepared to make a bold prediction - the Houston Texans (yes, the Houston Texans) will represent the AFC in the Superbowl.

Pittsburgh are basically not good. They are tough and proud and they play sixty minutes, but they are also transitioning on both offense and defense to their younger guys. They won't lose to bad teams and are very likely to make the playoffs, but at no point really over the past seven weeks have they looked good. can I possibly take them seriously after that? Joe Flacco is 26th in QB rating this year, behind Chad Henne and Tavaris Jackson. He is less than one point better than Colt McCoy. Only Kerry Collins and Blaine Gabbert have completed a lower percentage ofpasses. He has a QB rating of 61.6 in 7 playoff games.

New England maybe, but they have struggled with power rushing teams (Cleveland, Baltimore, the Jets) and Houston is the best example of that in the league. They have an exceptional run blocking offensive line and the Pats have no one to cover Andre Johnson. Defense is probably less important than offense against the Patriots (you really need to keep the ball away from them, if they get it, they are going to score), but Houston's is much better. They can at least rush the passer and their secondary is getting better each week. New England does almost nothing well defensively. They are also 0-3 in their last three playoff games.

The Jets are the most feasible team to knock over the Texans as they can stop Johnson and can attack their Achilles Heel - run defense. Or so it would seem. The Jets just haven't been able to run at all consistently as yet and their offense is stuck in molasses when they don't get yards on the ground. They also might be the worst run defense of the bunch here, and when Houston can send four guys at you, all of whom are at least basically competant, that's a very big problem.

San Diego don't have special teams to blame any more - they just aren't a particulary good football team.

1 - GREEN BAY (-)
7-0, 1st NFC NORTH
W 33-27 @MIN, next BYE

For as dominant as they can be, this is a flawed team. Their defense is wildly overrated, missing many of their best players (Jenkins, Barnett, Collins) from last season. Green Bay do not have a player with more than 3 sacks this year (with a defense built around it) and have dropped to 8th from 2nd last year. Against what is considered a substandard Vikings line, they got to Ponder only five times all game. To be fair, Woodson has still been excellent, leading the league in interceptions with five to go along with seven passes defensed; but along with an only OK pass rush, they rank 28th in YPC and are 24th in YPC against. If Aaron Rodgers (who is twenty one points ahead of #2 Tom Brady in passer rating, his rating is 14.6 points higher than Tom, 4 interceptions all season, Brady had last year and seven and a half higher than the record setting 2007 season, and yes, this all needs to be in italics it's that amazing) ever goes down, is this team even average?

5-1, 1st AFC EAST
BYE, next @PIT

Their seventh consecutive week at #2 and while I fully expect them to take care of Pittsburgh (even at Heinz Field), anything less, and with New Orleans travelling to St. Louis, and they will lose this perch.

3 - NEW ORLEANS (+1)
5-2, 1st NFC SOUTH
W 62-7 vIND, next @STL

62 points equals the record since the merger...and the Saints had that many within three minutes of the start of the fourth quarter.

4 - HOUSTON (+3)
4-3, 1st AFC SOUTH
W 41-7 @TEN, next vJAX

Essentially a perfect game from the Texans. Started slowly, but at one point, Schaub completed 12 in a row. Tennessee from 12 minutes to go in the second quarter, had 97 offensive yards, 76 of them coming on a single drive (when they already trailed 20-0). They had six first downs in their last eight drives. And, of course, Arian Foster (who has more vicious cuts than Freddy Kruger, he is the best in the league in terms of cutting) and Ben Tate combined for a ludicrous 219 yards on 40 carries. The best rushing team in the league. Without Johnson, Houston could have lived with a tight win over their nearest AFC South rival on the road. They got much, much more than that and Johnson returns next week. Regular programming has resumed in the AFC South.

5 - BALTIMORE (-2)
4-2, T-2nd AFC NORTH
L 7-12 @JAX, next vARI

1st half offense: 25 plays, 17 yards, no first downs.

6 - DETROIT (-1)
5-2, 2nd NFC NORTH
L 16-23 vATL, next @DEN

As weird as this is gonna sound for a team that went 6-10 last year and lost back to back home games to good but not great teams, I still like this Lions team a lot. No need to panic in my opinion. Brian Billick is an idiot; he mentioned the Lions need to run more in the first half like five times, and they had 55 yards (without Harrison and Best no less), probably their best rushing performance of the year (that part of their game is coming along, they finished with 104). They had just 33 yards passing, that was the problem. Anyway, I like the aggressiveness (maybe too aggressive with five defensive penalties in the first half) and talent of their defense. I still have faith in this team, but obviously next week at Tebow is a huge game for them before the bye. Calvin Johnson TD watch - 10.

5-2, 1st AFC NORTH
W 32-20 @ARI, next vNE

Roethlisberger was tremendous with a 121.8 QB rating, but the stand out performance here was the Steeler's being the first team this year to really shut down Beanie Wells (42 yards on 12 carries but just nine on his first six). Pittsburgh have a lot of things they still need to fix, but number one on that list is their run defense, which had been flat out bad to this point. A positive sign.

5-1, 1st NFC WEST
BYE, next vCLE

Were $1.11 to win the NFC West prior to this week, when everyone else in the division lost. To the uninitiated, that means you could bet $100 on the Niners to win the division and receive just $11 if they did win. They have a three game lead on the field, the largest in the NFL. The other three teams in the division have combined for three wins total (3-15). Sports books are no longer even taking bets. This race is now over.

9 - JETS (+1)
4-3, 3rd AFC EAST
W 27-21 vSD, next BYE

Fought hard in a game they had to have. The offensive line put in it's best performance on the season, with a pass rush orientated team in San Diego getting to Sanchez just five times. Overcame a 14-3 deficit and two first quarter turnovers to win. It will leave a good taste in their mouths heading into the bye. I still think this is a good team.

10 - ATLANTA (+3)
4-3, T-2nd NFC SOUTH
W 23-16 @DET, next BYE

Essentially resuscitated their season this week, and did so with two less heralded parts of their team - the pass rush and special teams. Atlanta stripped a kickoff and had a huge kick return from Weems (one of the better returners in the NFL) and paired that with three sacks against a Lions offense that had conceded just six through their first five games. Tony Gonzalez was enormous, leading the Falcons in catches (5) and receiving yards (62), becoming the second leading receiver in NFL history in the process, which is pretty amazing. Also, some props go to Brent Grimes, who made a ridiculous giant leap to deny Calvin Johnson a patented long reception. He gives up seven inches to him. Atlanta join a fascinating group of NFC Wild Card hopefuls in what should be a great race all year.

11 - SAN DIEGO (-3)
4-2, 1st AFC WEST
L 21-27 @NYJ, next @KC

An abysmal performance by the San Diego defense, turnovers be damned. Sure, the offense struggled, but they are playing the New York Jets, one of the best defenses in the NFL. There's no excuse for letting Shonn Greene (who had 314 yards on his previous 93 carries) run for 112 on 20 attempts. There's no excuse for letting Mark Sanchez throw for 3 TD's, something he had only done four times in his career. There's definitely no excuse for 10 defensive penalties, which handed seventy yards to the Jets, in addition to the 318 they collected. This is not a good offensive team they were playing. Currently, San Diego's best asset is the offensive line, manned by McNeill, Dielman and Hardwick. It was brilliant against a strong pass rushing team, and opened up a lot of holes in the running game.

12 - CHICAGO (+4)
4-3, 3rd NFC NORTH
W 24-18 @TB, next BYE

My love affair with Forte continues. While he had 145 yards on 25 carries, I was almost equally impressed with Marion Barber. I have always liked Barber's physical style, and there were signs here he was coming out of the wilderness with 39 yards on six carries. The Bears probably have the best 1/2 back tandem outside Houston in the league, to add to their many strengths. As for that horrific weakness, the Bears held Tampa to just six hits on Cutler in this game, though the Bucs are a poor pash rushing team and this cloud will still hang over everything they do. Yet another team who will enter the bye feeling positive about the second half of their season.

13 - GIANTS (+1)
4-2, 1st NFC EAST
BYE, next vMIA

Extended their lead to a full game this week and while Dallas and Philly beat themselves up, and Washington travels to Buffalo, they get the gimme of the Dolphins in New Jersey. The most likely scenario has them two games clear this time next week, although do remember the Seattle game, as I'm sure the Giants do.

14 - TAMPA BAY (-2)
4-3, T-2nd NFC SOUTH
L 18-24 vCHI, next BYE

The game was effectively over when Freeman threw a pick early in the 3rd down 21-5. The one thing he struggles at consistently is throwing a decent long ball. He's like the median level quarterback. Aqib Talib is not having a good season in coverage and the defense, like everything else for Tampa (they had two first downs prior to the two minute warning of the first half before rallying in vain late), is very uneven. Their rush defense (the Bears had 177 yards rushing) was very poor - they can't bleed on both fronts. They only rushed 11 times in this game, without their two top runners. One of the hardest teams to get a read on in the NFL, but it's difficult to see them truly contending for a wildcard spot - there's not much between them and the Panthers in that division.

15 - BUFFALO (+2)
4-2, 2nd AFC EAST
BYE, next vWAS

Buffalo conceded 34 sacks last year. This year they are on pace for 16, leading the league. Their offense line is Demetrius Bell, Andy Levitre, Eric Wood, Kraig Urbik and Erik Pears. They play Washington, Dallas and New York in four of their next five games. Those teams are ranked 1st, 6th and 8th respectively in sacks. You tell me. Oh, and they also 30th in YPG both against the pass, and against the run. That's hard to do.

16 - CINCINNATI (+2)
4-2, T-2nd AFC NORTH
BYE, next @SEA

AFC North is there for the taking, but Cincinnati play Pittsburgh, Baltimore and Houston in half of their remaining games. That makes next week at Seattle very much a must win.

17 - DALLAS (+3)
3-3, T-2nd NFC EAST
W 34-7 vSTL, next @PHI

Needed this win. Needed something stress free and easy to take some pressure off. DeMarco Murray ran wild with 253 yards on 25 carries, and considering both Choice and Jones have tried and failed, it can't hurt to see if Murray can carry the running game. Only four Cowboys actually caught passes in this game, and with the linebacker and safety challenged Eagles coming up next, Dallas will, once again, need a running game. An intriguing contest.

2-4, 4th NFC EAST
BYE, next vDAL

I remember reading a couple of weeks ago about Nmadi Asomugha struggling playing in zone. Everyone was piling on Castillo, the defensive co-ordinator about not using him correctly and being out of his depth yada yada. Hey, how about this? How about Nmadi Asomugha fucking making a play? How about a cornerback who makes 60 million dollars learn how to play zone defense? How about that? I mean can you imagine asking the alleged second best corner in the league to play zone and he's like "zone? What the fuck is that?". I mean do we even know if he's that good? People basically stopped throwing to him after 2006, he never made more than 40 tackles in a year since. He only defended ten passes in 2009-2010 (and one so far this year). I know interceptions are hardly everything, but he has four in his last sixty six games. Just isn't the profile of a top flight cornerback.

19 - TENNESSEE (-4)
3-3, 2nd AFC SOUTH
L 7-41 vHOU, next vIND

Obviously the rush defense stands out, and it was not good, especially on the defensive line. But the secondary, I think, is quite good, and Tennessee had proven themselves a solid defensive team to this point. The bigger issue is that the pixie dust Matt Hasselbeck had been throwing around (he'd been the best QB outside Wisconsin this year) finally ran out. He had a rating of 38.8 in this game with just 104 yards. Tennessee had fallen in love with the deep pass, but without Britt, even against a questionable secondary, it's not there. That causes the Titans to look to Johnson, who has carried 93 times now for just 268 yards and one touchdown. He was booed lustily by Titans fans and with good reason, when you hold out you attract attention, and Johnson is failing spectaculary. With Hasselbeck finally looking like we expected him to, this could be the game the Titans look back on as the one where their season fell apart.

20 - CAROLINA (+2)
2-5, 4th NFC SOUTH
W 33-20 vWAS, next v MIN

This is exactly how Carolina need to win games. Lots of Stewart and Williams (24 combined carries for 103 yards), Newton's scrambling ability (that scramble on the first drive was exceptional, Vick would not have had the physicality to pull it off, also had 59 yards and his seventh rushing touchdown) and Steve Smith going deep and going beserk (143 yards on seven catches, all in an explosive second half). He now leads the league in receiving yards with 818. Carolina have fallen between 20 and 23 in every week this season - I think I have a better read on them than just about anyone in the NFL.

2-5, 3rd AFC SOUTH
W 12-7 vBAL, next @HOU

They got exactly what they needed for this mega upset. Big special teams (huge punt return and Scobee was nearly superhuman providing all the points), turnovers, and the defense was just feral, especially on the pass rush. I am pretty gobsmacked to see an actual living, breathing Jaguar pass rush, but there it was and although the 3 sacks and 3 hits didn't show it, Flacco was flummoxed all night. They have three consecutive quarters holding Baltimore and the Steelers to seven points (and none in back to back quarters). Still, it's hard to see any development from Gabbart, who threw for a pathetic 93 yards; even against the Ravens D that's awful.

22 - KANSAS CITY (+2)
3-3, 3rd AFC WEST
W 28-0 @OAK, next vSD

I'm not sure "Kyle Boller turnovers" is a solid foundation on which to build an offense, and even sans Darren McFadden and with the ability to completely stack the box, the run D gave up 155 yards at 5.7 a carry. Matt Cassel just does not look good and this game might have been over earlier than it was if the Chiefs didn't seem compelled to throw it so much early (15 of their first 23 plays). On the positive side, pass protection was very good and the Dexter McCluster experiment at running back had its moments, but really, very little to learn from the Chiefs here.

23 - WASHINGTON (-2)
3-3, T-2nd NFC EAST
L 20-33 @CAR, next @BUF

Tim Hightower (88 yards on 17 carries) just loves to run outside the tackles. He barely moved at all up the middle. Torain has been nearly invisible the last two weeks, and presumably they need him to balance the rushing attack, which is clearly how they want to run their offense, and understandably so. In principle this could work, and Beck was presentable, and you feel with a more balanced offense, the play action could be a real weapon, but in his first week, just wasn't enough explosion there. Another problem showed up against elite receivers. Washington did not have a cornerback who could compete with Smith for sixty minutes, and the pass rush, after a strong first half (and carrying them all year), fell away badly in the second - Washington have to win with defense.

24 - OAKLAND (-13)
4-3, 2nd AFC WEST
L 0-28 vKC, next BYE

You never thought you'd miss Jason Campbell this much huh? Boller and Palmer were both bad, but Boller was white JaMarcus Russell level bad. In fact, Raiders fans must have been having flashbacks. Boller threw three interceptions and had a fumble by halftime - two of his first three passes were picks and the Chiefs put 14 points on the board from them. He added another after the break before being mercifully pulled. Palmer threw two more, but another massive loss was how stripped back the playbook was for both quarterbacks, taking away the biggest Oakland asset amongst their decidedly mediocre receivers - speed. Just not enough throws (and no quality throws at all) down the field. The Raiders longest catch all day was 31 yards...on a a running back. Palmer will get better, and the upcoming bye is a big help, but still, playoff hopes have never evaporated so rapidly.

25 - SEATTLE (-2)
2-4, 2nd NFC WEST
L 3-6 @CLE, next vCIN

Seattle might have the best special teams in the NFL. Jon Ryan is a hell of a punter, who is 2nd in punts landing inside 20. The coverage team gave Cribbs no room all day, they blocked two field goals, and have Leon Washington (he had a return TD taken off the board with a block in the back in this one, which I suppose spoils the party). Their defense also looks above average, we know their run defense is good (now #1 in YPA) but they were constantly in the backfield here against an apparently good offensive line (5 sacks and 8 hits). Their offense, therefore, was even worse than 3 points against the fucking Browns makes it look.

26 - CLEVELAND (-1)
3-3, 4th AFC NORTH
W 6-3 vSEA, next @SF

Receivers dropped so many balls - so many. They were lucky to have McCoy picked off just once. Ran Hardesty an amazing 33 times for perhaps an even more amazing 2.9 yards a carry, but not having McCoy throw 50 odd times a game is a start.

27 - MINNESOTA (+4)
1-6, 4th NFC NORTH
L 27-33 vGB, next @CAR

It's really impossible to criticise the Vikings after this week, when they put in a superb performance against the league's best team. Yet another halftime league went begging, as Green Bay scored four times in the third quarter. This disaster was, however, far more forgivable and explicable. Peterson is on pace for his best season since 2008, with his worst QB situation and worst offensive line yet. He leads the league in rushing yards with 712.

28 - ARIZONA (-)
1-5, 3rd NFC WEST
L 20-33 vPIT, next @BAL

They can score points, but the defense is just atrocious. Heath Miller (59 yards on five catches, including several of the big first down variety and the opening TD when no one was within ten yards of him), Antonio Brown (clearly the Steelers second best receiver now, and their best in this game with 7 catches for 102 yards) and Mike Wallace (who was always going to have a long TD in this matchup) terrorised them all day. Gave away 24 yards on three penalties on a drive just before the half that began with 1:20 left and ended up costing a valuable field goal. Unforgivable really.

29 - DENVER (+1)
2-4, 4th AFC WEST
W 18-15 (OT) @MIA, next vDET

God, I just couldn't care less about Tebow, who seemed to be just everywhere this week and is apparently the most interesting story in the NFL. Can you imagine if he played for Jacksonville? He'd be elected God by now. Did a good job defending the run and got penetration on the pass rush and for a week at least, their defense looked OK. Hard to say how much a win against Miami is worth though.

30 - MIAMI (-3)
0-6, 4th AFC EAST
L 15-18 (OT) vDEN, next @NYG

Blew another one. This league can be tough, but Miami's two winnable games, @CLE and vDEN, they have lost on final drive touchdowns. At the end of the day, 0-6 is not good.

31 - ST. LOUIS (-2)
0-6, 4th NFC WEST
L 7-34 @DAL, next vNO

One more week until they get all NFC West teams and Cincy and Cleveland. But even so, I think it's pretty clear the Rams aren't going to run the table and make a run at the NFC West. In their last four games, St. Louis have a scoring differential of 27-112.

0-7, 4th AFC SOUTH
L 7-62 @NO, next @TEN

How good was this Manning anyway? Like I knew it was a big deal, but this is absolutely absurd. I feel like I have been lied to by Dwight Freeney, Antoine Bethea and Robert Mathis all my life. Quarterbacks are completing 72.8% of passes against Indianapolis. Manning never played cornerback.


Bengoodfella said...

I still think NE is the AFC rep in the Super Bowl. Not sure if I have a great reason other than I am sticking with my opinion from the beginning of the year.

Green Bay would be average w/o Rodgers and I say this b/c I like Matt Flynn to be simply average in the offense. He's been in the offense for a few years and has been solid in spot starts for Rodgers. I think he could make the team average.

I'm not sure the Saints are that good, I think the Colts are that bad.

Can't believe you had the balls to put Baltimore at #5 after the performance against Jacksonville. I would probably bump them down a few notches. They lost a game to the Jags when the Jags didn't even play well.

Atlanta...I'm telling you. They will continue to improve and then be this year's Green Bay. I love it when I know I'm going to be right.

I don't know what the hell Freeman's problem is. I knew TB would struggle in some games this year, but I thought Freeman would continue to improve when he hasn't done so at all.

I'm not sure if I agree with you about Asomugha, but I certainly think you may have brought up valid questions. One of the best corners in the NFL should be able to play zone fairly well, at least I would think so.

I think the Jags-Ravens MNF game reflected poorly on the Ravens more than it said anything about the Jags. I'm not sure who the Ravens are exactly. Are they the team that trounced the Steelers or the team couldn't get a first down against a decent, but not great Jags defense?

Palmer is going to get better and provide Campbell-level production or a little better about the time Campbell is able to come back. What a moronic trade.

You didn't focus enough on Tebow in the Broncos blurb. By not focusing on Tebow, you've disrespected him. How dare you say he will never be a great quarterback! He has intangibles you ugly hater!

I know this year has been a/b how bad Indy is without Manning, but Manning doesn't play defense. It appears the Colts have more holes than just quarterback. I have a hard time believing Manning would have made such a huge difference for the Colts defense. They should fire Caldwell, not b/c of this mess but b/c he is incompetent, but I think it is somewhat clear Bill Polian has been hiding his personnel issues behind Manning for a few years now. I know he has a great rep, but this is a team that wasn't built very well.

Maxva said...

Check weekly NFL Power Rankings details here and also check schedule and more in the below links

NFL Power Rankings 2011
NFL Schedule 2011
NFL Salaries 2011

Maxva said...

Check weekly NFL Power Rankings details here and also check schedule and more in the below links

NFL Power Rankings 2011
NFL Schedule 2011
NFL Salaries 2011

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