Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Powerlines: Week 6 NFL Power Rankings

The train is a good place to read...and get your photo taken.

One thing that really sticks out as you try to rank the NFL teams is exactly how many terrible teams there are in the NFL. The top is not too tough to put together, but trying to layer the various piles of crap into something that approximates reality is difficult! Here is my best attempt to make sense of the NFL as it lies in late October.

1. Colts – As if Peyton Manning and the Colts were not already scary enough, now they have a week of rest under their belts. I can’t imagine any team looks forward to having to try to shut down that offensive attack. Colts remain number 1.

2. Saints – I really was thisclose to having the Saints either be number one by themselves or having them share the top spot with the Colts. The way that offense tore apart a Giants team that many people were touting as the best team in the league was amazing. As a Bronco fan, I of course want Denver to go all the way, but from an objective football standpoint if we have any other matchup in the Super Bowl besides Colts-Saints; I will view it as a disappointment.

3. Vikings – Brad Childress and company are lucky that Steven Hauschka hooked a 44 yard field goal, or they probably are a lot lower on this list. Adrian Peterson reminded everyone why teams stack the line against him, and Brett Favre reminded everyone that despite being on the north side of 40, he can still play a little quarterback. The downside for Minnesota is that Brad Childress reminded everyone that he is Brad Childress, and that is a huge reason despite the incredible momentum of the Vikings that no Minnesota fan should feel 100% comfortable with their season to this point. I know I have made my feelings for Childress well known on a multitude of occasions, but that guy is a terrible coach. If Minnesota had a solid man at the helm, I could easily see them winning it all. They may be able to do it in spite of Brad, but he doesn’t bring much to the table. The way this team collapsed, then had Favre throw them back to the lead, and then almost collapsed again cannot be encouraging to the Minnesota faithful.

4. Patriots – Bill Belichick quickly reminded the league why he needs to be feared as well as disliked. There was no reason in the world that Tom Brady should have played in the second half with a 45-0 lead against the Titans. Brady is much like Stella in that he is still getting his groove back, and the worst thing that could have happened was to the Pats would be for him to aggravate his knee in the snow in a game where there was zero doubt as to the outcome. Even if you just took Brady’s second quarter stats, he had a great game. Running up the score for no good reason in particular is dirty pool and bad karma. One of these days Belichick’s penchant for being a bully is going to bite him back.

5. Giants – Yes, New York got housed in Cajun-town, but despite one bad showing, the fact remains that this is a solid team that is still a force in the NFL. I have a feeling that the Giants do not want to make a return trip to New Orleans come playoff time, but they are still a player atop the NFL power-grid. Their secondary is perhaps their greatest weakness, which may help explain why they were torched by the Saints.

6. Broncos – What can I say about my Broncos? They are playing like a college team right now. There is a lot of enthusiasm and excitement, and they are playing inspired football. Josh McDaniels has turned from public enemy number one to the city of Denver’s favored son, and the wins keep on coming. Going in to San Diego and winning the way they did was an important step, as Qualcomm Stadium had been Denver’s house of horrors over the past two or three years. If this defense can keep up the way they have been playing, the Broncos will be able to hang around with anybody. It doesn’t stop sounding good or stop sounding weird to say this, but the Broncos are legit.

7. Falcons – With a sophomore quarterback who is applying pressure on defenses, a solid run game and a solid defense, the Falcons have not slipped at all this season. They aren’t putting up gaudy numbers, but they are like a baseball team that doesn’t get a ton of hits, but always seems to get the important hits with runners in scoring position. I think many felt that their playoff season of a year ago was a fluke, but they are playing well enough to get back there again.

8. Ravens – Three weeks ago, this team looked like one of the best in the NFL. They have had a rough October, as they go winless in the month with difficult losses to New England, Cincinnati and Minnesota. The Ravens are in a three way dogfight for the AFC North with the Bengals and Steelers, and that field goal going wide left has to sting. Whether or not they can pull it together remains to be seen, but I think they are able to hang on to somehow win the North.

9. Steelers – The Lerner family doesn’t own the Cleveland Browns, the Steelers do. Sunday’s win against Cleveland makes it 12 straight against the Browns for Pittsburgh. There is a huge trend towards wearing alternate uniforms this season, however there is no truth to the rumor that the Browns will play their next game against the Steelers in Washington Generals uniforms. How do the Steelers even get excited to play the Browns at this point? It’s two guaranteed wins a season. It was so easy, hardly anyone even noticed that Ben Roethlisberger threw for an eye-popping 417 yards on Sunday.

10. Cardinals – Arizona looks to be putting it together and regaining their playoff form that landed them in the Super Bowl last season. Which can only mean one thing…they are about to lay a massive egg on the road at the Giants. The Cards are a lot of things, but highly consistent is not one of those things.

11. Chargers – The Chargers were coming off a bye, they were at home, and they had to be the more desperate team when they faced off against the Broncos on Monday night. All that makes it all the more shocking that they were beaten so badly in a game that was as close to a must win as can be in the sixth week of the season. They now face a three and a half game deficit in the standings to try and catch Denver. The Chargers are notorious slow starters, but if they are to make their customary late season charge, they need to get started pretty soon.

12. 49ers – After starting the season so promisingly, to have to sit on that 45-10 loss to the Falcons for two weeks has to put a big damper on the enthusiasm for the way Mike Singletary’s team started the season. Apart from getting to have the Titans come to town as a breather in the middle of this stretch, the next five games are a tough for the Niners as they will go to Houston, go to Indy, have the Titans and then Bears come to Nashville, then head out to face the Packers at Lambeau Field. San Francisco will earn their way to the postseason if they make it.

13. Bears – I wonder if Jay Cutler misses his old Broncos offensive line yet? Having time to throw makes a difference, and the Bears don’t look quite right on offense. Of course, having a running game would also help, as the Bears have been rather lackluster on the ground of late. Do you know who their leading rusher was on Sunday night against the Falcons? If you said Jay Cutler, you win! When your quarterback is also has the most rushing yards for your team, and your team is not named Nebraska, that could be an issue.

14. Texans – Houston remains a mediocre team with potential. They have fallen into a disturbing pattern for a team with hopes of contending…they keep alternating wins and losses. If your ambition is to get to 8-8, you’re right on track.

15. Dolphins – After starting the season in an 0-3 hole and losing their starting quarterback Chad Pennington, the Dolphins salvaged hope as they surged to their bye week by taking the next two games against divisional rivals Buffalo and New York. Getting all the way back to .500 would be quite a feat, as next up for the ‘Phins are the surging Saints making a visit to South Beach. The Dolphins are plucky, and Chad Henne has proven to be much better than anyone anticipated, but I’m not sure they have enough in them to get back into contention.

16. Jets – Remember September when the Jets were a house of fire, and Matt Sanchez was ripping apart defenses? It feels like a long time ago, doesn’t it. The Jets were unable to take advantage of Thomas Jones’ monster 210 yard rushing day against Buffalo due to 5 interception day from Sanchez. The promising rookie does share the NFL lead in one statistical category with Jake Delhomme, but that category is interceptions, Matt has 10 of them against only 5 touchdowns. That 16-13 OT loss to the Bills was the worst played game I have seen this season. (It may not be the worst of the year, as the Browns and Bills did play an epic 6-3 game, but fortunately I missed seeing that one.)

17. Bengals – This upcoming game against the Bears will tell us a lot about the Bengals. If they are able to get back on the winning track, I could see them parlaying it into a successful culture-changing season. I could also see them return to traditional Bengal form and fall apart if they lose. Either way, I think it’s an important game for the Tigers from Ohio.

18. Eagles – Here is an ugly stat for Philly fans…The Eagles were 2 for 16 on 3rd down against the Raiders. I saw significant chunks of this game, and Donovan McNabb looked atrocious. He was tossing passes at his receivers ankles and just flat out missing guys. There was no enthusiasm at all for the Eagles, and there was never a point where it looked like they would rally. They laid a huge egg in Oakland, and McNabb was sacked six times. This would be excusable if they were playing an actual NFL franchise, but this was the freaking RAIDERS!

19. Cowboys – Will the Cowboys be able to turn it on in the second half of the season? They are 3-2 right now, but to say they haven’t really beaten anyone is not an understatement. Their three wins are against the Buccaneers, Panthers, and Chiefs (in OT). Cowboy fans are hopeful Tony Romo spent the bye week working on his accuracy rather than jetting down to Mexico. Is it possible that things would be better if he hooked back up with Jessica? People thought she was a distraction, but he sure played better when she was watching from the club level in her pink jersey.

20. Packers – Winning 26-0 is nice, but it was the Lions. Call me when you beat someone impressive. They get one more warm-up against the sad sack Browns before the Armageddon game in two weeks…Favre returns to Green Bay to try and take down the Packers. Something tells me the Cheese-head wearing crowd will be up for that one, and I anticipate hearing way more boos than cheers.

21. Panthers – As a fantasy owner of Steve Smith, This is an open letter to officially lodge a complaint with Panthers management. Dear Panthers, Steve Smith is your most talented and valuable player, plus he was one of my two fantasy keepers. For the sake of your NFL franchise as well as my vaunted Floppy Llamas team, I would like to request that you get him more involved with your game plan. One catch for four yards is not amusing to me. Yes, you were able to get the win, but you will not play every game against the Buccaneers. Please throw to number 89 much more. Thank you, Craig Dodge P.S. Jake Delhomme? Really?

22. Seahawks – If the opponent scores against Seattle, they win. Thus far the Seahawks only wins are when they whitewash their opponents. After pasting the Jaguars, I was beginning to get hope that the Hawks might come back to life. That hope is gone. It flew right out the window with the 27-3 shellacking at the hands of Arizona. The Seahawks stink. They don’t stink as bad as the next ten teams on this list which comprise the complete dregs of the league, but they are awfully close.

23. Bills – Yes, the Bills won against the Jets, but I don’t want to see any Buffalo fans acting like they deserve a cookie for the win. That game was so atrocious to watch that all video proof that it occurred should be immediately destroyed on the off-chance that three thousand years from now our descendents are studying ancient history and they accidently stumble across some video from this game and start to wonder what was wrong with our culture that we enjoyed this sport. The risks are too great to let the video survive.

24. Browns – Derek Anderson had a huge improvement from the week previous. He threw for a whopping 122 yards this week. He’s very good.

25. Raiders – Incredibly confounding score of the week: Raiders 13 Eagles 9. (By the way, my Prediction was that Philly would win 50-3, so I was a smidge off.) So maybe the Raiders are a tiny bit better than I thought, but certainly the Eagles are a great deal worse than I thought. Either way, if I were a Raiders fan (and thank heaven I’m not, there but for the grace of God, go I.) I wouldn’t get my hopes up, that Raider win certainly had more to do with the Eagles choking than the Raiders being good. To be fair, Zach Miller and Louis Murphy combined on one heck of a touchdown play…Miller running and Murphy blocking terrifically. Although, I must say my favorite moment from that game was the pigeon that was running down on the Raider kickoff coverage team. He was impressive! Perhaps that is the Oakland good luck pigeon, either way, I enjoyed him very much.

26. Chiefs – The good news for KC fans is that the Chiefs are no longer winless, the bad news is that you only get to play the Redskins once this season.

27. Jaguars – If there weren’t so many horrendous teams, I would have put Jacksonville even lower. In the past two weeks they have lost 41-0 to a mediocre Seahawks team, and then they were taken to overtime by THE RAMS! There is no excuse to not beat the Rams in regulation.

28. Lions – How many more wins do the Lions have to get this season for it to be considered a rousing success? One? Two?

29. Redskins – Jim Zorn is starting to feel a little bit like George Costanza. He keeps coming in to work, even though no one wants him there, and they are actively trying to get him to quit. I wonder if he has his own private handicapped bathroom at Redskin headquarters?

30. Buccaneers – I feel bad for Clifton Smith. It’s bad enough he has to play for the Buccaneers, but then to get decked with a ridiculous cheap-shot from Dante Wesley is just adding injury to insult.

31. Rams – Congratulations Rams, for at least one week you get to be out of the basement because…

32. Titans - …if you lose 59-0, you go directly to spot 32. Do not pass Go. Do not collect $200. I didn’t think anything would top Derek Anderson’s 2-17 for 22 yards and an interception for a 15.1 QB rating from last week, but Kerry Collins did it. His stat line was an abysmal 2-12 for negative 7 yards and an interception with a QB rating of 4.9. I didn’t even know you could get a quarterback rating as low as 4.9.

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