After a predictably unpredictable week in the NFL, I thought it would be nice to start it off with a Public Service Announcement
A PSA from these two generous fellows…
“Hi, I’m Jake Delhomme, and I’m JaMarcus Russell. Prejudices are dangerous things to deal with in the world today. As NFL players, it is our job to lead by example. We do not discriminate who we throw the ball to (showing clips of interceptions). The color of the jersey does not matter to us and I hope that others will follow our lead. Thank you.”
All jokes aside, here come the power rankings after Week 8.
32. Tampa Bay
Normally I would group all the horrendous teams at the bottom, but I felt the Bucs deserved some special recognition. Well done Tampa Bay!
28. Kansas City
27. St. Louis
All these teams have showed hope at one point or another in the season, but they did so in such sparing quantities that it is just embarrassing. Not really much to say about them. I thought Detroit was the best among them until they went and lost to St. Louis. At least the Rams and Lions are playing hard. I cannot say the same for the others.
Keep in mind that these are not only projections for now, but down the road. Tennessee was winless until this week, but they looked ok with Vince Young at QB, so they get to head this extremely prestigious list. I still think the Titans can finish with 5 wins, but they will really need to step up in order to do it. Vince definitely has some magic in him, but it remains to be seen if his magic carries over to the NFL or if he only has J.J. Redick magic.
19. San Francisco
18. San Diego
16. New York Jets
These teams are highly related to the teams ranked directly above them, except their playoff situations are considerably more complicated. For one reason or another, these teams are close but just cannot quite make the jump. Houston is soft and struggles to play in the cold. San Diego is doing what San Diego does best: underachieve. Chicago throws more than it has to, and Cutler forces the ball down the field a bit too much. The Jets are schizophrenic; looking great some weeks and awful others. The only conclusion is that they just are not that good, but could beat a lot of teams. Miami has all the tools to make a playoff run, but probably will not put it together. Their offensive line is great, their defense is solid, and they can run the ball with authority, but I am not sold that they will be able to do it in cold climates, so they get the dubious distinction of “best team not to contend for a playoff spot”.
13. New York Giants
12. Green Bay
These teams too are just a little bit off, but two will make the playoffs out of necessity. Dallas throws way more than it should, but is talented. The Giants just are not as good as everyone thought and are in the midst of a 3 game skid. The Giants have just not been very good defensively, and as a result they have not been able to go to the power running game because they have been playing from behind. The Packers have extremely talented guys, but couldn’t block a quadriplegic. Baltimore has a great offense, but their defense, until this week, just did not have it like it used to. They are all almost playoff caliber teams, but at just a little bit off. Just a little bit off from being very good teams. Two will make the playoffs, but without fixing those problems, they will not contend.
They have shown flashes of excellence (@ NYG) and flashes of incompetence (vs. Carolina). They only are listed this high because it currently looks like they are headed for the playoffs, if for no other reason than their division sucking. I do not necessarily think they are a better team than Baltimore, but the top 12 teams (in theory) make it, and right now Arizona is in that mix. I would not expect the heroics of last year, but they have looked good at times.
Words never before uttered: Pittsburgh needs to get a consistent running game. Well, there is a first time for anything and that time has come for Pittsburgh. Ben Roethlisberger is a legitimate MVP candidate, but Rashard Mendenhall and Willie Parker need to start finding the limited number of holes the offensive line opens up or they will not do anything in the playoffs. All teams need a running game to succeed in January. The Cardinals last year ran the ball extremely well and it set up their pass. When the Colts won the Super Bowl, Dominic Rhodes romped and put himself in the Super Bowl MVP discussion. The only notable exception is the 2008 New England Patriots, and we all know how that ended. The Giants did not have to respect the run and they got after Brady. If Pittsburgh does not develop a running game, you can write them off as a contender.
The skill position players are obviously there on offense, but it remains to be seen if they can get down and dirty in the trenches when playoff time comes. They got pushed around by New England and I assume they will get pushed around by the Saints a bit on Monday. They are clearly a talented team, but I am not sure if they are capable of a deep run with such undersized lineman on both sides of the ball. They have not put a ton of pressure on the quarterback, or stopped the run especially well so far. If they can do that, they will be a scary team to face in the playoffs.
The lowly Bungals are once again the Bengals and it has everything to do with Cedric Benson. Carson Palmer has been great and the defense has been much better than advertised, but the big difference is Benson. Remember when Rudi Johnson was rolling in the Bengals limited earlier glory days? Well Benson is filling that role now and to great effect. Palmer has always been clutch, but only when accompanied by a running game has he been a winning quarterback, and he has that in Benson. Whether or not Benson can hold up to a full workload remains to be seen, but if he can, he is more than worthy of at least MVP consideration.
6. New England
It looks like Tom Brady and his receivers are once again on the same page and Bill Belichick looks like he is back to drinking that Haterade and trying to win every game by 100. I would not want to play this game right now, but their defense is still suspect. If they can hold on defense, or jump out to huge leads, they should be okay on defense because it will make opposing offenses one dimensional, but you cannot expect that to work every game. The Patriots are scary, but not as good as they are scary.
The Broncos lost for the first time this year, but there is no reason to panic in Denver. The Broncos are a solid team in every aspect of the game and as a result will be a consistent team. They can throw the ball, run the ball and play defense; not to mention they are well coached. Remember that win over Cincinnati? Yeah, that could be a first round playoff matchup. Who knew? The Broncos can contend for a title, but I certainly would not pick them to do it.
They have the offense, but the question with them is if they can run the ball. I think it is clear that LeSean McCoy is capable of running the ball, but the real question is if Andy Reid will let him. The answer in the past has been a resounding no. They will win the NFC East, but until they develop a serious ground game, I cannot consider them true title contenders. They are a very good team on both sides of the ball, but just need to develop the running game. The pieces are there, and the city is begging for it, but it will not happen.
They obviously have talent with Adrian Peterson, Jared Allen, Brett Favre, Percy Harvin and so on, but we still do not know if Brett Favre will be able to stay healthy and in full working-order in the cold of winter, and they have been extremely inconsistent so far in the season, barely escaping with their lives numerous times. They have the power running game, and have showed the potential to throw the ball. A lot to like here, but we will wait and see if they can stay consistent.
We all know Peyton Manning is awesome. He is the front-runner for MVP and it is no big deal to anyone because he has 3 already. If he wins another it would be the second time he has won it back to back. We get it, he is really good. However, I am about to preach to you the power of the new Colts defense. The Colts switched defensive coordinators in the offseason, but it was not looking like anything special until directly after the Miami game, when they got embarrassed, but still won. See if you can figure out whose point totals belong to which defense.
A: 20, 13, 24, 23, 10, 31, 27,
B: 12, 23, 10, 17, 9, 6, 14
C: 10, 17, 23, 28, 20, 14, 17
A was the Vikings, B was the Colts, and C was the Steelers. Impressive, huh? The Colts have given up a few more big pass plays than they did in the past, but they have stopped the run exceedingly well since the Miami game. They gave up one big run to Frank Gore today, but otherwise did very well against a very physical football team. The offense has been great, but the defense has been the difference. The toughest has yet to come for the Colts, though, so they do not get them bump over our number one team. If they can handle a trip to Baltimore (where they are hated), and visits from Denver and New England, then they will be the odds-on favorites in the AFC.
1. New Orleans
The offense is scary. We all know that, but the defense is not bad at all. They have been feasting on young quarterbacks this season, but they are pretty solid all the way around. They have a leader in Jonathan Vilma and Darren Sharper, and between them, and fast, active defenders, they have forged a defense worth of a B or B+. No one wants to face them, they have a legitimate home field advantage, and their schedule features two more games against TB, two more against Carolina, one against Washington, and one against the Rams. Sheesh, could you ask for a nicer schedule? They do have a few tough tests left, including a game at division rival Atlanta, a game at home against New England, and a game against Dallas that will probably be so over-hyped that it could get into the heads of the Saints. Even if they were to go 1-2 in those games, they are staring at a 14-2 record and the label of prohibitive favorite to win the Super Bowl. They might drop the last game of the season simply to rest people, but they are staring at a 13-3 record at worst. Scary, but in the good way.
Should be a lot of fun to watch unfold and if it isn’t then sue the NFL for something ludicrous.
CLOWN OF THE WEEK: You know we didn’t forget about it even though it was not on the College Football Roundup. The clown of the week is DeShaun Stevenson for tattooing the 5 dollar bill on his throat. Really, DeShaun? This is not especially new news, but it is so clown-worthy that it is all good.