32(32). Indianapolis Colts 0-11
Curtis Painter has been benched for Dan Orlovsky. Starting with the 62-7 game in New Orleans, Painter has gone 76 of 141 (53.9%) for 735 yards (5.2 YPA), 2 touchdowns, and 6 interceptions in 5 games. Meanwhile, Dan Orlovsky has the chance to become the first quarterback in NFL history to make at least one start for two separate 0-16 teams. Orlovsky is 0-8 in his career and hasn’t won as a starter since the 2004 Motor City Bowl at UCONN. He’s also the guy who hilariously ran out of the back of his end zone for a touchdown. And for the record, I think the 2011 Colts are the worst team ever and I say this with the memory of the 0-16 2008 Lions and the 1-15 2007 Dolphins fresh in my mind.
31(30). St. Louis Rams 2-9
After one season of being at least decent, the Rams are back to being terrible and look poised for a 4th top 3 pick in 5 years. If you take out their 7-9 record last year, the Rams are 8-51 straight up since the start of the 2007 season. It’s tough to explain how Sam Bradford, who set all sorts of rookie passing record last year, has just thrown 6 touchdowns in 9 games as a sophomore and can’t beat either Seattle or Arizona at home. Pass protection is obviously their biggest problem, as they’ve allowed a league high 39 sacks, and they’ll have to fix their offensive line in the offseason. The rest, they just have to hope can be chalked up to a sophomore slump and fixed on its own by next season. They have some interesting parts on this team. Maybe they just need to hit the reset button and put it all together in 2012.
30(27). Minnesota Vikings 2-9
The Vikings offense really struggles without Adrian Peterson as they managed just 226 total yards in Atlanta last week and now they have to deal with the Broncos, who surprisingly don’t rank among the league’s bottom in yards allowed, ranking 18th and getting better every week. Toby Gerhart managed just 46 yards on 18 carries last week, though he saved his fantasy day by scoring a touchdown, and overall raised questions about just how he managed the finish 2nd in the Heisman race in 2009.
29(29). Miami Dolphins 3-8
Matt Moore has looked good over his last 4 games, going 70 of 104 (67.3%) for 901 yards (8.7 YPA), and 7 touchdowns to 1 interception. However, Dolphins fans should be really skeptical. Moore has done this before, leading the Panthers to a 4-1 finish in 2009 before stinking up the joint early in 2010 and 2011. He’s not consistent enough to be a good NFL quarterback and Dolphin fans should really be rooting against him at this point. If the Dolphins win too many games or Moore plays too well, Moore will be their starting quarterback in 2012 and it’ll set the franchise back another year. You can’t win a Super Bowl or go deep into the playoffs with him. You at least have a chance with someone like Robert Griffin or Matt Barkley or maybe even Landry Jones.
28(28). Carolina Panthers 3-8
Yikes this Panthers defense is bad! Curtis Painter looked decent against them and almost led a game winning drive. Painter went 15 of 29 for 226 yards, 1 touchdown, and 2 interceptions. They rank dead last in YPA allowed with 8.4. They also rank 26th against the run, allowing 4.8 yards per carry, 24th in total yards with 4107 yards allowed, and 31st in points allowed with 27.7 per game. Cam Newton wants to take all the blame on himself and I applaud him for that, it’s not his fault. Yes, he has had problems with turnovers, 14 interceptions, but his play is the only reason they’ve won any games. If they can build their defense through the draft and Newton matures on schedule, they do have a bright future.
27(26). Kansas City Chiefs 4-7
Tyler Palko has thrown 6 interceptions to 0 touchdowns and despite a completion percentage of 65.3%, he is averaging just 6.3 YPA. In comes the Chiefs savior…Kyle Orton. Ok, maybe not, but he should be better than Palko. The problem is, with all of their remaining games against teams with winning records (Chicago, Green Bay, NY Jets, Denver, Oakland), they’re at best a 5 win team this season. They’re not making the playoffs, so I don’t understand the point of Kyle Orton. Why not see if rookie 5th rounder Ricky Stanzi has anything?
26(24). Jacksonville Jaguars 3-8
The Jaguars have fired their Head Coach Jack Del Rio, albeit 3 years late. Seriously, how was this idiot the 3rd longest tenured coach in the NFL after Andy Reid and Bill Belichick (tied with Marvin Lewis, who also took over in Cincinnati in 2003). The Jaguars were also sold this week, which raises more questions about the possibility of being moved to LA. I don’t think the Jaguars have been this newsworthy in…ever. On top of that, they have a home MNF game against the Chargers this week. Who the hell gave the Jaguars 2 home MNF games this season?! He should be fired and not in 3 years, now.
25(31). Washington Redskins 4-7
Rex Grossman is like New England weather. You can’t possibly predict it, but most of the time it sucks. Grossman has more interceptions than touchdowns on the season with 14 picks to 10 touchdowns and more interceptions than touchdowns in his career, his 54 to 50, along with a mere 55.5% completion percentage and a 6.6 YPA. But, he’s had his moments this year, including last week, winning in Seattle, where New Orleans and Baltimore have lost in the past 2 years and Atlanta almost did. Of course that probably means he’ll be terrible this week, but what do I know. I can’t predict this type of thing. He’s better than John Beck, though, I’ll give him that.
24(23). Cleveland Browns 4-7
The Browns haven’t been awful in the past 3 weeks since their awful showing in Cleveland. They could easily be 3-0 in their last 3, though in typical Browns fashion, they are 1-2, losing 2 games by a combined 4 points, blowing a 10 point 4th quarter lead in one and missing a chip shot field goal for the win in the other. Maybe this video had something to do with their suddenly less shitty play. Also good news, Peyton Hillis is back. This is good because he’s not Chris Ogbonnaya.
23(25). Arizona Cardinals 4-7
Kevin Kolb is expected back this week for the Cardinals, which is interesting. Kolb has a 1-6 record this season, while his backup John Skelton went 3-1. Skelton didn’t play particularly well, completing 50.4% of his passes for an average of 6.4 YPA, and 4 touchdowns to 7 picks, but he won and he did this last season too, going 2-2 for a crappy 5-11 team in 4 starts, despite completing less than 50% of his passes. Kevin Kolb is a better statistical player than Kolb, so one would think they’d improve with him in the lineup, but I don’t know. One thing I do know, if you give someone 63 million dollars, you don’t it to be a legitimate discussion whether to start him or John Skelton.
22(22). Seattle Seahawks 4-7
The Seahawks lost at home to Rex Grossman and the Redskins, who were previously on a 6 game losing streak, but they get the Eagles this week, who will be flat this week off essentially a season ending loss to the Patriots, especially since they have to travel on 3 days rest. Other than the 49ers, this is somehow the best team in the division and they should finish with about 6 or 7 wins.
21(20). Tampa Bay Buccaneers 4-7
This has to be heartbreaking for the Buccaneers. They play a good game in Green Bay and still lose and then blow a 17-10 lead to the Titans in Tennessee, allowing 13 4th quarter points and turning the ball over on their last 2 drives. Now at 4-7, they’re out of the playoff race essentially. They had high expectations coming into the season and actually led the division at 4-2 following a win over the Saints, but they haven’t won since. I don’t know if I like their chances to change that this week against Carolina.
20(19). San Diego Chargers 4-7
The Chargers are a bunch of losers. They’re not bad, they’re just losers. There’s no other way to put it. Their game against the Broncos was so predictable. They looked better than the Broncos, but they still lost in overtime. Meanwhile, the Broncos and Tebow are a bunch of winners. The Chargers have lost 6 straight and are effectively out of the playoff race now at 4-7. Even their wins haven’t been that impressive, beating the Donovan McNabb Vikings, the Kyle Orton Broncos, the Chiefs, who got revenge, and the Chad Henne Dolphins and none of those wins were by more than 10 points.
On top of that, they even have players peeing on the sidelines. If dropping down on one knee in crunch time is “Tebowing”, is taking a piss on live TV in crunch time “Novaking.” Even funnier, Novak missed two field goals that could have won the game. I guess he just pissed the game away.
19(21). Buffalo Bills 5-6
I have no problem with Steve Johnson mocking Plaxico Burress by pretending to shoot himself in the leg after scoring a touchdown. What kind of world would this be if we couldn’t make fun of idiots? The “holier than thou” Bob Costas might have had a problem with it, but that’s because he’s a dick. If Plaxico Burress had a problem with it, he could just make fun of him by pretending to drop a game winning touchdown in his next touchdown celebration because Johnson has done that in each of the last two years.
18(16). Philadelphia Eagles 4-7
The “Dream Team’s” nightmare season is officially over. At 4-7, the Eagles are essentially out of it now after a loss to the Patriots, in heartbreaking fashion after getting out to an early 10-0 lead. DeSean Jackson had an especially bad game, dropping a couple of passes, including a touchdown. Jackson is having an awful year and I think we can blame the Eagles for that. They spent too much money on outsiders and didn’t resign him and that demotivated him. He’s a free agent after the season so I expect him to go elsewhere.
17(18). Tennessee Titans 6-5
The Titans aren’t particularly talented, but they sit at 6-5 somehow and could be in the playoff race until the very end. They don’t have a tough schedule the rest of the week because their division sucks. In fact, they’re the only team in the division who still has the same quarterback now that they had week 1. They have 3 divisional games left and this week go to Buffalo to play the reeling Bills. I still have teams like the Raiders, Broncos, Jets, and Bengals ahead of them, but they might not go away quietly.
16(14). New York Giants 6-5
Tom Coughlin said that if the Giants don’t miss the playoffs, it’ll be a historic collapse. I find this hilarious because they do this every year. I’ve been saying it all year. They always collapse in the 2nd half. Since Tom Coughlin took over in 2004, they are 47-17 in the first half of the season, good for a 73.4% winning percentage. In the 2nd half, they are 24-35, a winning percentage of 40.9%. Now they have the defending champion Packers coming to town. Have fun with that.
15(17). Oakland Raiders 7-4
The Raiders are 7-4, their best start since their Super Bowl season. They haven’t had a very tough schedule, but they’re still a solid team. I have the Broncos ranked higher than them because all Tebow does is win and because the Broncos beat them in Raiders in Oakland, but there’s a possibility that both AFC West teams sneak into the playoffs.
14(15). Denver Broncos 6-5
With a 5-1 record, Tebow has a 83.3% winning percentage this season, the highest of all quarterbacks in the NFL who have made at least 5 games other than Aaron Rodgers himself. In the last two years, the Broncos are 6-3 with Tebow and 4-14 without him. And he’s competing less than 50% of his passes. Why can’t people just except that Tebow doesn’t make sense? Why can’t people just accept that a quarterback who is a below average passer can win in this league because he’s a great leader and motivated and can make things happen on the ground.
He’s opened up the ground game because opposing defenses are afraid of him. How else do you except Willis McGahee looking like a Pro Bowler? He’s motivated his teammates and gotten them all to play hard for him. He’s led a ball control offense that is keeping the defense fresh and the opposing offense off the field. That’s why the defense has been playing so much better lately (and Von Miller is a beast). He’s gotten better in the clutch and just willed this team to win. And he’s not a terrible passer. Remember, his top two receivers are Eric Decker and a running back converted into a slot receiver.
13(9). Chicago Bears 7-4
Isn’t Caleb Hanie supposed to be good? Or at least decent? I thought the Bears had a good enough running game and defense to be at least solid even without Jay Cutler, but Hanie played terrible against Oakland, who doesn’t even have that good of a defense. It’s looking like his performance against the Packers in the NFC Championship game last year was a fluke. Bears fans better hope the rumors that Cutler could return for the playoffs are true.
12(8). Detroit Lions 7-4
The Lions really just have the feel of an immature team. They made all sorts of stupid mistakes against the Packers and Ndamukong Suh got frustrated and stepped on an offensive lineman…er I mean tripped. They haven’t dealt with adversity well all season. After their first loss, Jim Schwartz blew up at Jim Harbaugh because his handshake was too rough. And of course, since their first loss, they’re just 2-4 with wins over the Broncos, before the new Tim Tebow friendly offense, and the Panthers, who led early. They’re going to get destroyed this week coming off a loss in their biggest game of the decade.
11(12). New York Jets 6-5
The Jets ended a two game losing streak last week, but hardly looked convincing in a 4 point win that easily could have been a loss against the lowly Bills. The Jets now sit at 6-5 and they really haven’t looked as good as they have in the past two years this year. They have an uphill battle to make the playoffs as Cincinnati is a game better than them, but they have the easier schedule on tap. The reeling Giants are their only remaining +.500 team and they also play Miami, Philadelphia, Kansas City, and Washington. It’s all just a matter of execution now.
10(13). Dallas Cowboys 7-4
With their Thanksgiving win over the Dolphins, Tony Romo is now 18-2 in his career in November. However, there is some room for concert. Tony Romo’s struggles in December are well documented and the Cowboys really didn’t look that great in wins over inferior teams, the Redskins and the Dolphins, needing game winning field goals to beat both. I’d still say they’re in better position, however, than the reeling Giants and with the Eagles out of it, it’s now a two horse race in the NFC East.
9(10). Houston Texans 8-3
I don’t think the Texans will be too much worse off with TJ Yates than they were with Matt Leinart. In fact, they might be better off. Unlike Leinart, Yates seemed interested and capable of throwing more than 5 yards downfield. Leinart went 12 of 16, but for a mere 57 yards. Yates was 8 of 15 for 70 yards. They have a good defense and a good running game so all Yates has to do is not overstep his boundaries and they’ll be at least decent. Besides, the scariest thing is a good team that doesn’t think anyone believes in them. The Texans are that team now.
8(11). Cincinnati Bengals 7-4
Were the Bengals just flat off of back to back divisional losses to Pittsburgh and Baltimore and looking forward to a rematch with Pittsburgh? Or are they simply not as good as they were before they lost Leon Hall? The Bengals had a very underwhelming performance at home against the Browns last week. A few weeks ago, that game wouldn’t have been very close. Last week, the Bengals needed to comeback from a 20-10 4th quarter deficit. They have another test this week as they head to Pittsburgh.
7(7). Atlanta Falcons 7-4
The Falcons are quietly playing very good football of late. In fact, they seem to do everything quietly, but anyway. They’ve won 6 of their last 8 and their two losses were against the Saints and the Packers, both of which they led at either halftime or later. The level of competition in the NFL is really weak this year because of the lockout and because of injuries to guys like Peyton Manning, Matt Schaub, and Jay Cutler, all of whom would be the quarterbacks for competitive teams if they weren’t hurt. There aren’t that many good teams this year. The Falcons aren’t great, but they’re good enough to be a serious contender in a year like this.
6(3). San Francisco 49ers 9-2
The 49ers’ loss to the Ravens doesn’t help their case as one of the league’s elites, though it seems unfair that they had to travel 3 time zones to play a Thursday game against one of the best in the league. I think we’ll get a better feel of whether or not they’re for real after they play the Steelers, but I’m moving them down to 6th, simply because I think all 5 of the teams ranked here above them could beat them. Their signature wins are against two, young, inexperienced 7 win teams, the Lions and the Bengals. Beating someone like the Steelers or the Ravens or any of the teams ranked higher than them here is another story completely.
5(6). Baltimore Ravens 8-3
The Ravens are below the Steelers even though they’ve beaten them head-to-head twice because the Ravens have lost to Tennessee, Jacksonville, Seattle and almost Arizona. Besides, I just trust Ben Roethlisberger more in the playoffs than Joe Flacco. Baltimore plays Cleveland this week. Let’s see if they play down to the level of the competition again.
4(5). Pittsburgh Steelers 8-3
Another reason I like the Steelers more than the Ravens that I didn’t mention under the Ravens thing (because I wanted to save something to write here), the Steelers were banged up on defense. They’ll be healthier in the playoffs, provided Troy Polamalu’s concussions aren’t a serious long term problem, though he could play this week. I think the Steelers would win a rematch, even if it was in Baltimore.
3(4). New Orleans Saints 8-3
I mentioned the Falcons were quietly playing well, the Saints are too. Remember, this team has been the only one even close to beating the Packers this season as they would have sent the opener to overtime had they converted 4th and goal on the 1 and then converted the two point conversion. Their offense looked unstoppable against the Giants and as good as Brady and Rodgers are, Brees actually has more passing yards than them. Brady, Brees, and Rodgers are all on pace to break Dan Marino’s passing yards record. Those are clearly the best three quarterbacks in the league and as such, they are the top 3 teams in my Power Rankings as well. Also, all three have won Super Bowls.
2(2). New England Patriots 8-3
The Patriots have scored 109 points in their last 3 games and their defense has allowed just 18 per game starting with their week 4 game against the Raiders. Their defense isn’t even at full strength so you can expect them to play good defense the rest of the way and with this offense and their experience at quarterback and Head Coach, that’s a scary combination. The Packers have struggled with both the Chargers’ and the Saints’ offense so I think the Patriots do have a shot at beating the Packers in the Super Bowl. I also think the Packers could lose to the Saints in the NFC Championship game.
1(1). Green Bay Packers 11-0
But I won’t predict either of those things to happen. It’s hard not to put an undefeated 11-0 team in first when the next closest team record wise is a 9-2 team quarterbacked by Alex Smith. They’re the favorites until someone proves otherwise and the only way they can do that is by beating them. With a pretty easy schedule remaining, at New York, vs. Oakland, at Kansas City, vs. Chicago, vs. Detroit, the only way they don’t go undefeated is if they rest their starters, which they can do starting week 15 most likely.