32. Carolina Panthers 1-10
With every mediocre start Jimmy Clausen has, it looks more and more likely that the Panthers would draft a quarterback like Andrew Luck if given the chance with the (presumably) 1st overall pick in the 2011 draft. Of course if Clausen wins a few games and they aren’t picking #1, they’ll keep him around, but it’s not looking good.
I was a huge supporter of Clausen coming out in 2010 and I personally hope that someone trades for him this offseason. They can get him cheap if the Panthers draft Luck and he’s still got potential. He’s had a bad rookie year, but look at what he’s had to go through. His entire supporting cast is terrible. That’s especially tough for a rookie who is just learning an NFL offense. Hopefully a team with more of a supporting cast (Arizona, San Francisco, Miami) will trade a mid-rounder for Clausen, because I think he can still be a solid signal caller with a better supporting cast.
31. Cincinnati Bengals 2-9
Did the Bengals even play this week? This team has absolutely not shown up in 6 quarters, ever since they took that big early lead against Buffalo, which they promptly blew big time. That Jets game was disgraceful. They might as well have been a college team. That’s how bad they looked.
30. Arizona Cardinals 3-8
I know you’re probably expecting me to do a write up here, but I’m just not going to. HAHAHAHAHA
It wasn’t funny. I wasn’t laughing about anything. I’m not laughing about it. You think this is funny? I take this $#!% serious! Real serious! I put my heart and soul into these Power Rankings every week. I’m just telling you right now what I do every single week! Every single week! I put my freakin’ heart and soul into this, I study my ass off! I don’t go out there and laugh! It’s not funny! Nothing’s funny to me! I don’t want to go out there and get embarrassed on the internet in front of everybody.
(In case you’re confused, watch this)
29. Detroit Lions 2-9
The Lions are Thanksgiving Day turkeys once again. They haven’t won on the holiday since 2003 and they’ve lost their last 8 Thanksgiving Day games by an average of 23.9! Tom Brady has many things to be thankful for this Thanksgiving. Tons of money, a supermodel wife, being a celebrity, being an NFL quarterback, 3 Super Bowl rings, playing the Detroit Lions, Deion Branch, the fact that Alphonso Smith can’t cover or tackle to save his life, you get the point. That long Branch TD against Smith was pathetic. First Smith allowed Branch to be wide open for the catch, then he got juked out three separate times on Branch’s run to the end zone. Now you see why Josh McDaniels traded a first rounder for him.
28. Buffalo Bills 2-9
You’re probably expecting me to do a write up here, but instead I’m just going to pull a Steve Johnson, drop the ball and blame God. WHY HAVE YOU FORSAKEN ME!!!
27. Denver Broncos 3-8
Last week I did a detailed overview of Josh McDaniels’ failures in his time in Denver, but still somehow have another to add after just one week. He had someone videotape a 1-6 team’s practice and still lost. I know some people will say, he didn’t knowingly have someone tape the practice. Right. So former Patriot assistant Josh McDaniels hired the guy responsible for Spygate and had perfectly good and legal intentions in doing so. Come on. At least when the Pats did it they won.
26. Dallas Cowboys 3-8
It appears the worst running back in the league, Marion Barber, is injured and will miss a few weeks. Now what terrible back will the Cowboys use to steal 10 carries away from Felix Jones? Barber is averaging a mere 3.1 yards per carry and that doesn’t even tell the whole story. Most of the time he just falls forward and gets stuffed at the line and he only has two carries of longer than 12 yards all year, in 102 attempts. It appears Tashard Choice will get Barber’s carries in his absence and not Felix Jones, but as long as it’s not Barber or Larry Johnson, the Cowboys are better off.
25. Cleveland Browns 3-8
Phew! It looked like for a while that the Browns would actually cover a 10 point spread against the Browns and make me lose my 5 unit pick. In the first half, the Browns led by double digits on several occasions and Jake Delhomme was being efficient and just letting Peyton Hillis do all the work.
Then in the second half, Delhomme had his trademark implosion (was anyone really surprised) as he threw 2 picks, one returned for a score, as the Panthers battled back to make it a mere 1 point loss. The Panthers actually could have won that game if they didn’t miss a mid range field goal late in the 4th.
An embarrassing stat, Delhomme threw a touchdown to the Panthers last week, a pick six. When he was the Panthers’ starting quarterback in 2009, he didn’t throw a single touchdown to the Panthers in 4 of his 11 starts. With Colt McCoy out for a few more weeks, we’re going to be seeing a lot more of Delhomme in Cleveland. But hey, at least it means the Browns will be drafting higher and be able to get an actual receiver.
24. San Francisco 49ers 4-7
The 49ers were 3-7 going into last week’s game with the Cardinals, then they lost a player in Frank Gore who accounted for 40% of their yards from scrimmage this season. Gore’s out for the season. With Troy Smith looking fairly mediocre, their season now rests on the back of Brian Westbrook. And still, at 4-7, they’re a mere 1 game back of the division with 3 in division games to go against St. Louis, Arizona, and Seattle. Yes, there’s still a chance this once 1-6 team who lost to the Panthers can make the playoffs.
I don’t say this very often, but Jon Gruden had a good idea. During the 49ers/Cardinals broadcast, he proposed a new rule that only teams with 8 wins can make the playoffs. If you win your division with 7 or fewer wins, you don’t make the playoffs. Instead, a 3rd wild card team makes the playoffs and the best wild card team gets a round 1 home game rather than said 7 win team. Of course Gruden said that this rule should be changed for THIS season, which is impossible, but a half coherent thought by Gruden is a record of some sort.
23. Oakland Raiders 5-6
Is anyone really surprised? After beating the Chiefs and being in a tie with Kansas City for first in the division during the bye, the Raiders have lost their last 2 by a combined 48 points. Neither of their quarterbacks, Jason Campbell, nor Bruce Gradkowski can do anything. Darren McFadden once looked like an MVP candidate, but now has 18 carries for 16 yards in his last 2 games. Now they sit at 5-6 and look likely to miss the playoffs once again. In fact, if they lose out, they can still have their 8th straight year or 11 or more losses. Not entirely impossible.
22. Minnesota Vikings 4-7
Following the Vikings’ win over the Redskins and the Cowboys 2-1 record in 3 games with Jason Garrett, I would not be surprised if every team in the league fired their head coach in an attempt to win next week. It seems to work. In all, seriousness, this team should have fired Brad Childress weeks ago. He was simply someone the players weren’t buying into and when they finally fired him it was too late for their season.
21. Houston Texans 5-6
The fact that Cortland Finnegan and Andre Johnson got the same fine is ridiculous. Cortland Finnegan started the fight, provoked Johnson’s response, yanked off Johnson’s helmet, what was Johnson supposed to do, stand there and take it. Finnegan’s a dirty player who absolutely tries to hurt people (he’s not very good at it because he’s tiny). Finnegan has done similar things in the past and should have been suspended. Instead, Finnegan gets the same 25K fine as Andre Johnson.
Here’s a video of the fight if you haven’t seen it. And what’s with Finnegan clapping at the end of it. Is he clapping that he just got his ass kicked or is he clapping that he was finally able to shutdown Johnson, by getting him kicked out of the game? For the record, Johnson caught 9 balls and a score against Finnegan, who is supposed to be one of the better corners in the league. Instead Finnegan is just a punk who looks like Pauly D. And even The Jersey Shore “star” was offended by the comparison. Any time someone from Jersey is offended to be compared with you, you’ve got problems.
20. Seattle Seahawks 5-6
Just when you think this is the legitimate team in the NFC West, they fall flat on their faces in back to back games, losing both by double digits, one at home to an overrated Chiefs team in a game where they just looked absolutely terrible. The MNF crew seemed to think this team was the most likely to be able to win a playoff game because they have the best quarterback.
Well, except they can’t stop anyone, their good receivers end after Mike Williams who used to be a major bust and also is often injured, and their running back Marshawn Lynch is someone I strongly considered ranking with Marion Barber and Larry Johnson as the worst running backs in the league. Lynch is averaging 3.1 yards per carry since arriving in Seattle. I have no idea why Justin Forsett isn’t starting over him. Oh, and as for Matt Hasselbeck being the best quarterback in the division, MNF Crew, meet Sam Bradford.
19. Washington Redskins 5-6
This team is the most boring team on the field in the league. The only time I was ever able to come up with anything interesting to say about them was after the McNabb fiasco. So I’m going to say something else about the Derek Anderson incident again.
Replays show Anderson was clearly laughing on the sideline, so Anderson clearly is in denial or has selective amnesia, but the question remains, what could Lutui have said to Anderson to make him laugh. I have a few suggestions.
“Boy, you’ve really killed Larry Fitzgerald’s fantasy value”
“Can you believe people thought we’d be competitive without Kurt Warner”
“Someone picked you up in my fantasy league and started you this week”
“I can’t believe the media hasn’t noticed you drench yourself in sludge before every game”
“Can you believe people paid to watch this game?”
18. Tennessee Titans 5-6
3 weeks ago this team was 5-3, one game back of the best record in the AFC, and had just acquired Randy Moss from the Vikings through a waiver claim. 3 weeks later, they’re 5-6. Randy Moss has 4 catches for 49 yards in 3 games, but he’s not the problem. He’s kept his mouth shut, likely in an attempt to actually be playing football next season.
Vince Young hurt his thumb, wanted to go back into the game, got angry he didn’t go back into the game, lashed out at Coach Jeff Fisher, stormed out of the locker room post-game, was placed on IR banned from team meetings. That left Rusty Smith to start against the Texans. The Texans rank 31st in the league against the pass, but Smith still was only 17 for 31 for 138 yards, no touchdowns, and 3 picks. They can forget about the playoffs now and their only hope for a .500 season is that Kerry Collins comes back from injury soon to lead the team at quarterback.
17. Jacksonville Jaguars 6-5
The Jaguars got lucky again last week. They didn’t win, but they were able to look dominant against the Giants. People will use this as a reason for why they are legitimate contenders in the AFC South. However, the Giants are in the middle of a second half swoon right now and have multiple injuries in their receiving corps and on their offensive line. This is still a team that’s not going to be able to beat the Colts in a few weeks in a game that could decide the division. They beat the Colts earlier this year, and even that required a 59 yard field goal at the end of regulation, essentially a miracle.
16. Miami Dolphins 6-5
What a difference a week makes. One week after getting shutout at home by Chicago, they get their starting quarterback back and go into Oakland and win by multiple scores. I still think they’re out of the playoff race at 6-5, but every good game Chad Henne has is a positive. He’s been extremely inconsistent this year and there are going to be opportunities for them to get a different quarterback in the offseason. They need to decide whether or not they want to pursue that option.
15. St. Louis Rams 5-6
Deep in the pathetic abyss known as the NFC West, there’s team known as the St. Louis Rams who are actually a legitimate team. Sam Bradford really does get better every week and is putting together a rookie year comparable to Matt Ryan’s in 2008. It’s been that impressive. Ryan had more wins, but Ryan also had more of a supporting cast. Bradford’s top 3 receivers have all gone down for the year and there weren’t that many of them to begin with.
Meanwhile, Steve Spagnuolo deserves at least some Coach of the Year votes. This team had one win last year. Spags has them at 5-6 now and their defense is tied for 5th in the league with 31 sacks. They had 25 all last year. Spags is a genius with pass rushes and has gotten the most out of Chris Long, who once looked like a bust, and James Hall who is 33 and had 4.5 sacks all last year.
14. Kansas City Chiefs 7-4
This team is really playing better in these last two weeks. I think they’re motivated by the Broncos destroying them two weeks ago and by all the hype that the Chargers are getting despite the fact that the Chiefs are in first in the division and beat the Chargers week 1.
Todd Haley is slowly learning that Matt Cassel needs a good running game to be successful and that Jamaal Charles is loads better than Thomas Jones. Charles has 1021 yards on 163 carries, while Jones has 712 carries on 176 carries. Charles is also the better pass catcher with 305 more receiving yards than Jones, so it was good to see Charles get more carries than Jones week 13 for the 3rd time all season.
Cassel’s stats are looking great despite his mediocre arm because the defense has to fear the running game and because of Dwayne Bowe. In Bowe’s last 3 games alone he has 32 catches for 465 yards and 7 scores. That’s a decent season for some guys. In his last 7 he has 49 catches for 733 yards and a whopping 13 scores. That’s a great season for most guys. Granted Matt Cassel doesn’t seem to be even trying to throw to anyone else, but it’s still impressive.
13. Tampa Bay Buccaneers 7-4
This continues to be the most predictable team in the league. Everyone they’ve beaten has a worse record than them and everyone they’ve lost to has a better record than them. The teams they’ve beaten are a combined 19-58 and the teams they’ve lost to are a combined 33-11. Makes sense to me.
12. New York Giants 7-4
Don’t let that win fool you. This team is still imploding in the second half as they normally do. The Jaguars actually dominated that game for about 2 and a half quarters before they took their foot off the gas and let the Giants come back and win it. Unless you’re new to this site, you would know that I don’t think fairly highly of the Jaguars and their fluke wins this season so the fact that the Jags dominated that game for that long is really pathetic on the part of the Giants.
They should have won that game by more than 4. Elite teams would have won that game by 7 or more. The Giants aren’t one. Blame injuries if you want, but the mistakes they made in the first half of the season, turnovers and penalties, haven’t gone away and now they’re actually hurting them.
11. Indianapolis Colts 6-5
Apparently since Peyton Manning can’t do everything, he’s terrible. At least that’s what ESPN is saying. His last 4 aren’t pretty. Let’s look at what he’s had to deal with in the last 4. An offensive line that can’t block at all, Manning’s arm is getting hit on most of his interceptions. A running game that is absolutely terrible, allowing opposing defensive fronts to focus solely on hitting Manning, a defense that can’t stop anyone, forcing Manning to have to throw at a record pace, allowing opposing defensive fronts to focus solely on hitting Manning, and when he does get time, his receiving corps are so banged up that they’re dropping passes left and right.
Also, look at his competition. In his last 4, he’s played the Chargers, Bengals, Patriots, and Eagles. Chargers game excluded (he’s always terrible against the Chargers), he hasn’t been that bad all things considered. Players are coming back for the Colts and in their last 5 they face the Cowboys, Titans (twice), Jaguars, and Raiders. They can easily go 5-0 in those 5 and finish 11-5 and streaking heading into the playoffs. They won’t be able to rest their starters in weeks 16 and 17, as was the case in 2006 when they won the whole thing. This is still a sneaky scary team.
10. Chicago Bears 8-3
I’m more sold on them after their first impressive win, beating the Eagles. However, I can’t help but feeling they would have lost that game if, Asante Samuel played and Andy Reid didn’t make stupid play calls. Samuel is not only the Eagles best shutdown corner, but he’s their best turnover forcer. Not only could the Eagles not stop the Bears passing attack, but they couldn’t take away the ball either. I have to think Samuel would have picked off Cutler once or twice.
Also, I don’t get Andy Reid’s decision to kick a field goal with 5 minutes left trailing by 15. Great, now they’re trailing by 12. It’s still two touchdowns either way you look at it. Even stupider was not even attempting an on sides kick on the following kickoff. How were they supposed to stop the Bears, get the ball back and score twice in 4 minutes?
Also, I still don’t like the combination of Cutler, Martz, and this offensive line. It still has potential disaster written all over it. What happened in that game against the Giants a few weeks ago could happen again at any time.
If they come across a good team that can shut down their run game and force them to pass more than they have had to in the past few weeks, they could be in trouble. Their offensive line is below average at best and a Mike Martz scheme requires two things to work, an offensive line that can block and a quarterback that can handle pressure and get the ball out to the open guy against a blitz rather than forcing a bad throw. The Bears have neither of those. In order to win the Super Bowl, you have to win 3 or 4 games in a row against playoff teams. I don’t think this team is capable of doing that.
9. Baltimore Ravens 8-3
The Ravens are one of several teams who have a chance to make a statement win this week, along with the Bucs and Jets. Both the Jets and Ravens have beaten the teams they are playing this week, but what has happened in between (Big Ben’s return, the Randy Moss trade, the Pats rise to 9-2 with a tough schedule) has made it such that the Ravens and Jets are still seen as inferior to the team they’ve beaten. They’ll have all the motivation needed to go out and there make a statement win. Now let’s just see if they can do that.
8. Pittsburgh Steelers 8-3
The Steelers have to be thanking God after he made Steve Johnson drop that ball in overtime, which would have been the game winning touchdown. Maybe God’s just a Steelers fan. In all seriousness, that game shouldn’t have been that close. The Steelers dominated the first half, but couldn’t put it away late and it almost cost them a victory.
We saw the same thing earlier this year against the Bengals. They needed a late drop to win that one as well. Last year they lost 5 straight because they couldn’t put bad teams away late. The good news, there are no bad teams in the playoffs and unlike last year, this team is going to make the playoffs. I still like how they matchup with the best teams in the league, though I’d like their chances a lot more if the beat Baltimore this weekend and took control of a first round bye and home field in their first playoff game.
7. Philadelphia Eagles 8-3
It appears Michael Vick is human, after throwing a red zone pick late in the 2nd quarter trailing by a mere point. That game was also a reminder that Vick’s coach is still Andy Reid and Reid is known for stupid play calls like attempting a field goal down 15 with less than 5 minutes to go and then not attempting the on sides kick on the ensuing kickoff.
If they had gone for the touchdown, made it, and converted the two, that game would have been tied at the end of regulation. It would have at least given them a shot, as would an on sides kick, but Reid chose not to give his team a chance.
6. San Diego Chargers 6-5
Before playing the Colts, I think every team should just watch the Chargers play them. The Chargers seem to be the only ones who can stop Peyton Manning. They’ve somehow perfected what the other 30 teams can barely do at all. That victory was very impressive and Peyton Manning is going to shit his pants if the Colts and Chargers meet in the playoffs. He has to be scared of this team, especially with the strides Philip Rivers has made at quarterback. Now not only can that stop Manning; they can put a ton of points on the board as well. They’d be higher in these rankings if they didn’t have a history of doing stupid stuff in the playoffs and losing
5. Green Bay Packers 7-4
Poor Packers. They’ve lost 4 games each by a field goal for a combined 12 points. In each one of those games there was a deciding moment that you can look back at and say, that’s why they lost and like in the Atlanta game, it always seems to be because they can’t run the ball at all. This is one of the worst running teams of the last few years to the point where they don’t even try that part of the game. They need to find an answer quick otherwise they could see themselves losing a close playoff game by a field goal.
4. New York Jets 9-2
Their last impressive win was a week 4 24 point win over Buffalo. Since then, they haven’t beaten anyone with a winning record and only one team by double digits, the Bengals last week, a game that was closer than the scoreboard read. Elite teams don’t do that. That being said, if the beat the Pats this week, none of that will matter.
3. New Orleans Saints 8-3
Having scored 30+ in their last 3 and on a 4 game winning streak, this team is heating up at the right time to make another Super Bowl run. If they can avoid shooting themselves in the foot like they did constantly against the Cowboys as they almost blew a 17 point lead, they can go far. Another week with a healthier Reggie Bush will help. Bush made the bulk of the team’s big mistakes in that one as he didn’t look back into game speed yet after missing 8 games.
2. Atlanta Falcons 9-2
I don’t think there’s any doubt this is the best team in the NFC right now. They’ve lost twice, but both to good teams, Pittsburgh and Philadelphia. Their wins, however, are impressive, beating the Saints in New Orleans, the Rams in St. Louis, the Buccaneers, the Packers, and the Ravens. It looks like more of a sure thing that they get homefield, as their last 5 are all winnable games, at a Tampa Bay team that hasn’t beaten anyone, at a Carolina team that is terrible, at a Seattle team that is terrible, at home against New Orleans where they just don’t lose, and then Carolina again. If this team gets home field, they’ll be dangerous as Matt Ryan’s only lost at home once in his career, in 20 games.
1. New England Patriots 9-2
Beat Pittsburgh: Check
Beat Baltimore: Check
Beat Indianapolis: Check
Beat San Diego: Check
Beat NY Jets: TBD
Needless to say, huge game for the Pats this weekend as they not only try to prove they are in fact the best team in the league, but as, if they lose, they’ll probably have a road playoff game in the first round.