Wednesday, December 28, 2011

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

LOL, I just watched a show where Skip Bayless and Jemele Hill were debating sports. If that's not the definition of LOL I don't know what is. He's here saying Brian Dawkins was the engine of those wins, fucking Brian Dawkins! 38 year old Brian Dawkins! Has he not watched football in four years? And it's just so disingenuous. This is the Tebow guy! God I hate my life.

1 - GREEN BAY (-)
14-1, 1st NFC NORTH
W 35-21 vCHI, next vDET

Their defense, while not good, is not New England level bad, and they do generate turnovers (2 in this game, 34 this year, second in the NFL). It's their offense I'm more concerned about. Obviously it's still excellent (five passing TDs) but it hasn't looked quite as invincible the last few weeks. The 14 points against Kansas City, for much of the first half here they were mortal, the first half against Detroit, the Tampa game. Green Bay need to be almost perfect on offense to be the presumptive favourite that they have been all year, and I am not sure their offense is playing perfectly. They are still clearly #1, but they are closer to the field than they were after Week Ten.

12-3, 1st NFC SOUTH
W 45-16 vATL, next vCAR

Honestly, I think turnovers are all that keeps New Orleans out of the number one slot. They are clearly the best offensive team in the league. And really, it is all about the offensive line. Brees is great, but he has a fucking age behind Nicks and Evans. All the backs, how do you deal with everyone? Yes, the receivers aren't as good as Green Bay, but the extra offensive support is all that's stopping Brees from MVP this year for me. New Orleans had 7.1 YPC against one of the best run defenses in the NFL this year.

11-4, T-1st AFC NORTH
W 20-14 vCLE, next @CIN

Joe Flacco is getting worse and worse. Was reduced to 11/24 for 132 yards here, albeit with 2TDs and a pick. The AFC will be a question of what is better to have in the playoffs - a bad quarterback or a bad defense? That seems something of an obvious question but...

12-3, 1st AFC EAST
W 27-24 vMIA, next vBUF

It's amazing this team could be the #1 seed in the AFC with that's really, really bad.

12-3, 1st NFC WEST
W 19-17 @SEA, next @STL

The danger of San Francisco's slowpoke offense was on display in this game - they take so long to move the ball they just don't get a lot of possessions, and they don't get many points even when they move the ball because of their abysmal red zone offense. They had the ball just four times in the first half and got just three points out of it. Despite scoring on four of their last six drives, they were only just able to sneak by the Seahawks thanks to a fumble. If they turn the ball over at all in the playoffs they are toast - their margin for error is paper thin.

11-4, T-1st AFC NORTH
W 27-0 vSTL, next @CLE

Have held their opponents to single figures in four of their last five games. Conceded an impossibly low 68 yards passing in this game. It's taken them a while, but they are at least a fringe contender.

7 - HOUSTON (-2)
10-5, 1st AFC SOUTH
L 16-19 @IND, next vTEN

Well, if you're looking for the reason why they lost this game, look at the second half defense. Indy ran 38 plays in the second half for 204 yards. I feel for Houston without so many of their best players but there's just not enough offense here to rely on a good but not great defense, particulary in the pass rush. It does seem like they are first round fodder.

8 - DETROIT (+2)
10-5, 2nd NFC NORTH
W 38-10 vSD, next @GB

Matt Stafford (29/36 ! for 373 yards and three touchdowns) is on fucking fire of late. He has thrown for 9 TDs and no INTs in his last three matches, with 991 yards of passing. He's completed 69% or more of his passes in six of his last eight games, and with Calvin (4 catches for 102 yards and a TD) looking back to himself and Detroit putting together a rare complete game, they are an intriguing proposition in a stacked NFC.

9 - ATLANTA (-1)
9-6, 2nd NFC SOUTH
L 16-45 @NO, next vTB

A good, solid NFL team that has negative 20% chance of winning the NFC. That fact was exposed Monday night. Appeared to have regressed since their last meeting against New Orleans, but then again, that was in Georgia. They are 4-4 on the road this year where they will be playing all their playoff games.

10 - GIANTS (+2)
8-7, T-1st NFC EAST
W 29-14 @NYJ, next vDAL

Got away with one here, as the NFC East took yet another sharp turn to the left in its turbulent recent history. Didn't particulary play well, Manning completed just 33% of his throws (9/27 for 225 yards, that included a quick out to Victor Cruz who broke two tackles to take it 99 yards) but unlike previous trysts, that was not a death sentence to them. Exchanged 18 punts in total with the Jets in a game that was frequently difficult to watch. Will need to play better next week against the Cowboys to win the division.

11 - DALLAS (-1)
8-7, T-1st NFC EAST
L 7-20 vPHI, next @NYG

These teams in the NFC East seem to hate success. Both the Giants and Cowboys could have put this division to bed, but all the better for us as we have a pure elimination game to end the season. This will be fucking cool. Both of these teams are very flawed, as basically everyone knows, but after watching them play fifteen games, I feel the Giants are a much better team, who have dealt with a far more challenging schedule. Doesn't mean they will win, but a banged up Romo (again) doesn't help Dallas' chances.

12 - JETS (-3)
8-7, 2nd AFC EAST
L 14-29 vNYG, next @MIA

The Jets ran 89 offensive plays in this game. 89! No shit! Their 331 yards doesn't look nearly as impressive in that light (3.72 yards per play) and was actually less than the Giants had (by a symbolic single yard). They actually had a decent game rushing (105 yards on 25 carries) so the finger of accusation will again be pointed at Sanchez (30/59 for just 226 yards, two TDs, one rushing and two picks). From what I saw, it should be directed instead at the receivers. I know they have the names and reputations of being good, but Holmes and Burress (who I have defended on this blog before and generally a big fan) both were terrible, dropping passes left and right and doing their QB no favours. I found myself asking for someone, anyone, to make a play receiving the ball, this was not all on Sanchez. Their lack of playmaking at receiver may cost them a playoff spot. They need both Oakland, Tennessee and Cincinnati to lose next week, and they obviously need to win themselves. Doesn't seem likely.

13 - CINCINNATI (+4)
9-6, 3rd AFC NORTH
W 23-16 vARI, next vBAL

Cincy have shown that you can make the playoffs in the AFC simply by not losing games you have no business losing. They have beaten Cleveland (twice), Buffalo, Jacksonville, Indianapolis, St. Louis and Arizona for seven of their nine wins. The other two are hardly major scalps either in Seattle and Tennessee. They have lost in every test of their being anything more than an average team - Houston, San Francisco, Pittsburgh twice and Baltimore. If they can prove they are something more than what they have seemed over sixteen weeks and beat Baltimore, they will have earned their playoff position.

14 - SEATTLE (+1)
7-8, T-2nd NFC WEST
L 17-19 vSF, next @ARI

Special teams continues to be a strength for this team, with a key blocked punt nearly powering an upset victory. Marshawn Lynch not only continued his revival with 107 yards on 21 carries, but also broke San Francisco's season long shutout on rushing touchdowns.

15 - OAKLAND (+8)
8-7, T-1st AFC WEST
W 16-13 (OT) @KC, next vSD

I will say this about the Raiders, they know who they are. Palmer (16/26 for 237 yards, a TD and 2 picks) completed passes of 61 and 53 yards, the former leading to their only TD of the game. They have speed outside and live or die by it, as their running game (2.8 YPC against the Chiefs) is a shadow of its former self without McFadden.

16 - DENVER (-2)
8-7, T-1st AFC WEST
L 14-40 @BUF, next vKC

Say what you want, but Tim Tebow just wins games in the fourth quarter. With the game in the balance at 23-14 in the fourth, Tebow (7/17 104 yards with two interceptions) stepped up and drove Buffalo to victory.

17 - SAN DIEGO (-4)
7-8, 3rd AFC WEST
L 10-38 @DET, next @OAK


18 - TENNESSEE (-)
8-7, 2nd AFC SOUTH
W 23-17 vJAX, next @HOU

Where did this Jared Cook come from? He has 17 receptions for 272 yards in his last two games. Tennessee's ability to remain competitive in the passing game without Kenny Britt has really been one of the more surprising things about this season.

19 - CAROLINA (+1)
6-9, 3rd NFC SOUTH
W 48-16 vTB, next @NO

The only rookie quarterbacks I could find with a higher passer rating than Newton (85.0) were Roethlisberger, Marino and Ryan. And none, quite obviously, rushed for nearly 700 yards and 14 (yes, fourteen) touchdowns. Just sayin'.

7-8, 3rd NFC EAST
W 20-7 @DAL, next vWAS

A healthy Mike Vick (18/32 for 293 yards and a TD) might have been enough this year, but it's not like injuries to him were unforeseeable five months ago. This defense did what it promised to do - get the the quarterback (49 sacks, tops in the NFL). Sure the run defense (18th) was below average and even the general pass defense wasn't that good, but the idea was big plays on both sides of the ball. The defense did their bit, and even their yardage numbers are skewed by how often they were put on the field by turnovers. Philadelphia's 36 was worst in the league and that and Vick's spotty health are the true culprits for this most dissapointing season.

21 - ARIZONA (-5)
7-8, T-2nd NFC WEST
L 16-23 @CIN, next vSEA

The John Skelton experience finally ran out of steam. Arizona were beaten by a bigger margin than the score suggests; Cincinnati scored the first 23 points straight and the Cardinals did not get on the board until the fourth quarter. Their offensive line allowed five sacks and fifteen total hits in all.

22 - WASHINGTON (-3)
5-10, 4th NFC EAST
L 26-33 vMIN, next @PHI

Quite an entertaining game of football, considering the quality of the two teams. Let's just be glad the John Beck era is behind us, as Grossman (26/41 for 284 yards and 2TDs, 1INT) has proven this year that he is probably the bare minimum standard of quarterbacking to even give the illusion of running a real offense. Brandon Banks leads the league in kicking return yards.

23 - MIAMI (-1)
5-10, 4th AFC EAST
L 24-27 @NE, next vNYJ

Held the Patriots offense to 0 points, 4 first downs and 102 yards in the first half. They were unable to maintain the intensity as the Patriots piled on 298 second half yards, 50 plays and an unbelievable 22 first downs. The Patriots scored on every second half possession until the end of the game.

24 - BUFFALO (+3)
6-9, 3rd AFC EAST
W 40-14 vDEN, next @NE

C.J. Spiller (111 yards on just 16 carries) is having a strong run at the end of the season. I'm not sure I believe in the Jackson hype, but if he can run with anything like the strength he showed at the start of this season, the Bills will have a two headed monster at running back. God knows they won't have a quarterback (Fitzpatrick 15/27 for 196 yards, no TDs). Seeing Buffalo come up with four picks made me nostalgic for those September days when they were intecepting anyone who dared have the temerity to throw. Buffalo also enjoyed a banner day on special teams, McKelvin returned a punt for a TD and two others for a combined 55 yards. They averaged 33.7 yards on kick returns and Brian Moorman averaged over 50 yards a punt.

25 - KANSAS CITY(-1)
6-9, 4th AFC WEST
L 13-16 (OT) vOAK, next @DEN

In a game spotted by 21 penalties and incredibly, not a single sack, Kyle Orton looked much more human (21/36 for 300 yards a TD and two interceptions) than last week. Even solid rushing support (over fifty yards each from Jones and Battle at over 4YPC) was not enough to generate the necessary offense.

26 - MINNESOTA (+2)
3-12, 4th NFC NORTH
W 33-26 @WAS, next vCHI

This is pretty amazing; Minnesota had 241 rushing yards on 38 attempts, not surprising in itself, but it's fucking incredible when you consider Adrian Peterson was the weak link, accruing just 38 on 12 carries. He then missed the rest of the game (ACL) and is doubtful for the start of next season. Minnesota have a potentially fascinating decision to make early next year. While I have defended Ponder and he is likely to keep the job, a Joe Webb (4/5 for 84 yards and 2TDs, 5 rushes for 34 yards) offense could be an enthralling experiment. Could they even try a platoon long term next year?

27 - CHICAGO (-2)
7-8, 3rd NFC NORTH
L 21-35 @GB, next @MIN

McCown (19/28 for 242 yards, a late touchdown and two interceptions) was better than Hanie, but only just. The receivers still can't get seperation consistently. That's priority number one for the Bears this offseason, now that their offensive line problems are more or less behind them. The Bears conceded no sacks and only two hits against a ferocious pass rushing team. They have shut a few teams out sack wise this year and are up to below average and getting better. Get Forte and Cutler back, add a decent receiver (I'm still confused by the Olsen trade) and this is a playoff team.

4-11, 3rd AFC SOUTH
L 17-23 @TEN, next vIND

Blaine Gabbert (21/42 for 198 yards and a pick) threw for 20 completions for just the second time this year. Think about that. Also, his one defense, that he didn't throw interceptions, no longer applies, he has thrown at least one in each of his last five starts.

29 - CLEVELAND (-)
4-11, 4th AFC NORTH
L 14-20 @BAL, next vPIT

Still Cleveland.

30 - TAMPA BAY (-)
4-11, 4th NFC SOUTH
L 16-48 @CAR, next @ATL

Tampa have conceded 31 points or more in six of their last seven contests. They have 24 turnovers in those games. If that was the total for the entire year, it would rank 11th highest in the NFL.

2-13, 4th AFC SOUTH
W 19-16 vHOU, next @JAX

I have been doing my homework on draft order tiebreakers, and the bad news for the Colts is that they have had a harder schedule than the Rams (even when factoring in the Rams have the Niners next week and the Colts just the Jaguars). Again, this may be a blessing in disguise (as is Barkley's staying in school), as they may not waste a pick on a player who plays the same position as the greatest player ever at the position, who is also on the roster.

32 - ST. LOUIS (-1)
2-13, 4th NFC WEST
L 0-27 @PIT, next vSF

What are they going to do with the first pick?


Justin Zeth said...

Enjoyable read as always, but you're wrong about the draft order. The Rams played a tougher schedule than the Colts, by a large enough margin that Week 17's results won't change it. Breakdown follows:

They both played the AFC North, so we set those four games aside.

The AFC South (sans Colts) is 22-23 to date. The Colts played those guys twice each (we're just going ahead and counting the Jaguars, it won't make that big a difference), so that's a 44-46 for purposes of calculating strength of schedule. Whereas the NFC West (sans Rams) is 26-19, again meaning 52-38 for our purposes.

The Colts played the NFC South, which is 31-29 to date. The Rams played the NFC East, which is 28-32.

That's 14 games accounted for, leaving only the extras. The Colts' extras were the Patriots (12-3) and Chefs (6-9), adding up to 18-12. Pretty tough!

But that ain't no thang. The Rams' extras were the Packers (14-1) and Saints (12-3). Adds up to 26-4.

So add it all together and the Colts' opponents are 93-87 to date, whereas the Rams' opponents are 106-74. If they both finish 2-14 (or, much less likely, 3-13), the Colts would get the #1 pick.

And in theory if they all finished 3-13, the Colts would pick 1st, the Vikings 2nd, the Rams 3rd.

Justin Zeth said...

I should say those opponents' records are, again, excluding the AFC North, which is irrelevant since the Colts and Rams both played the AFC North.

And you wonder why the hideously injured Steelers are 11-4 and the Bengals might make the playoffs.

J.S. said...

Thanks for the kind words and the prudent correction Justin...even so, I can see the Colts beating the Jags next week, so hope is not dead.

By the way, I saw something on the pro bowl about Tebow being an AFC QB. At first I laugh in that way I do when anything regarding Tebow is mentioned, but then...

Roethlisberger, Brady, obviously. And then...?

Rivers maybe, he's recovered, but it was an atrocious first 12 weeks. Dalton isn't as good as hyped, but has been ok. Flacco has been objectively bad. Who else?

Sanchez? No Schaub or Manning obviously. Hasselbeck has cooled after a hot start. No QBs in the AFC, whereas the NFC has Brees, Rodgers, Vick, Romo, Manning, Ryan, Newton (he's worthy of discussion too), Stafford.

Justin Zeth said...

Oh yeah, the Texans laid down for the Colts and the Jaguars will do the same. (But if the Jaguars lay down, how can you tell?)