In a week where the Colts and Saints went to 11-0, this week is quickly being associated with concussions. DeSean Jackson, sustained one in week 12, Ben Roethlisberger, and Kurt Warner both missed key games (both eventual losses) for their teams and the NFL took action on the issue. Starting this week, if a player sustains a concussion, he is not allowed to return to a game or practice. A good step, for sure, but whether or not it really has any effect remains to be seen. I would love nothing other than to talk about football instead of head injuries, but I do not decide what is news. Obviously, concussions are serious, but I do not think players are to be trusted on these matters because they will do whatever they can to get on the field. Ok, enough about that, let’s get down to the week that was in the NFL.
You know the whole “Any Given Sunday”thing? All the parity in the NFL and how any team could beat any other one? Yeah, well it is gone. The gap between the best and worst teams could not be much larger with three teams having a combined 1 loss, and three other teams having a combined 3 wins. Please keep in mind that the only Browns win came in a game in which they completed 2 passes out of 17. Unbelievable. There are more really good and really bad teams now than there have been in a long time. By my count, there are 3 really elite teams and about 6 truly awful teams. Usually you have no more than 1 really elite team with a lot of good ones and a lot of bad ones, but not with that kind of separation. The middle teams are still as close as ever, but the extremes are getting further apart, for better or worse. In my opinion, it is for worse, but that is certainly up for debate. I love the years with twists and turns and every team having at least a shot week-in week-out.
Let’s get a little power ranking going, except in this version, we are only including teams with a pulse, that means that if your team is from Detroit, Tampa, Chicago, St. Louis, Seattle, Buffalo, New York (The Jets), Oakland, KC, or Washington then you will not see your team on this list.Let’s put a twist on it too. They will be ranked by how good they are right now, but the number in parentheses are their ranking for a potential playoff runs. Just a blurb about each team.
20. San Francisco 49ers (20)- The running game is good and the passing game has been pretty decent of late, but they just can’t get it all together on a weekly basis.
19. Jacksonville Jaguars (18)- Better than expected season so far, but not a scary team in the least.
18. Miami Dolphins (17)- With that running game, anything is possible, but the defense has been inconsistent and the passing game has been very hit or miss to be generous.
17. New York Giants (16)- Inconsistency is the name of the game here. As schizophrenic a team as there is in the NFL.
16. Houston Texans (19)- Soft. That is the only word I can use to describe them. They can’t win the close games and that shows a lack of mental toughness.
15. Philadelphia Eagles (12)- I would love to put them higher, and they should make the playoffs, but as always
their running game seems a weakness. They will make it to the playoffs and keep it interesting, but I am skeptical of any team who does not run the ball.
14. Green Bay Packers (13)- If they can continue to protect Aaron Rodgers, then they can beat anyone. Whether or not they can continue to do it will determine if they can make a run to the playoffs.
13. Denver Broncos (14)- Remember the schizophrenic Giants? Well the equally schizo Broncos beat them last Thursday and proved they are not as dead as they appeared.
12. Tennessee Titans (15)- Could not be hotter. They are clutch, physical and are getting healthy on defense. I am cautious of their playoff chances if only because I am not sure if they will make it, but otherwise they are scary.
11. Arizona Cardinals (10)- I never know what to think of the Cardinals. One week they kill people and the next they find a way to lose. So I put them in the middle of the pack figuring they will be more or less in that area.
10. Baltimore Ravens (7)- I have been on the Ravens bandwagon for a while, but have been skeptical of their defense. If those problems are behind them, then I would love to drive the bandwagon all the way through the playoffs.
9. Pittsburgh Steelers (11)- They lost without Big Ben, which was not much of a surprise, but it was a big game and they have some work to do if the defending champs want to make it to the playoffs.
8. Atlanta Falcons (9)- I almost dropped the Falcons lower because they have been inconsistent and not as go
od as they should be. I am giving them one more week with Matt Ryan (as he will miss the next week) before I drop them to15 or so.
7. New England Patriots (5)- An unexpected trend here. The Patriots have not won on the road this season. While their road losses have been to Indy, New Orleans, Denver and less notably at New York (the Jets), they need to reverse that trend if they expect to do anything in the playoffs. Still, as a Colts fan, I fear “Hood-ini” and the Pats.
6. Dallas Cowboys (8)- Yeah I have a slight self-loathing issue with putting the Cowboys this high, but they have been running the ball well and not turning the ball over on offense. A solid defense might get them their first playoff win this decade.
5. Cincinnati Bengals (4)- We will get a better idea of how good they are again when Cedric Benson returns, but the Bengals are still a team I would not want to face in the playoffs.
4. San Diego Chargers (6)- The Chargers have won 6 straight and look like the playoff team they should be. Whether or not they can parlay that into playoff success remains to be seen.
3. Minnesota Vikings (3)- I very nearly put them ahead of the undefeated Colts, but I will wait to see how Favre holds up first.
2. Indianapolis Colts (2)- Unblemished, but not untested. The Colts have had to come from behind in seemingly every game of the past month. Peyton Manning gives any team a chance.
1. New Orleans Saints (1)- They embarrassed the Pats on Monday Night and the only big test they have remaining is Dallas, but that one is at home. I would not bet on a undefeated season, but it is not out of the question.