Friday, 16 November 2012

NFL Power Rankings Week 11

1. Houston Texans 8-1 (U1)

They’ve done it. A defence fuelled win over fancied Chicago means Houston take the number 1 spot. It’s well-deserved, as they’ve been the most consistent team in the league for most of the season. With the Jaguars this Sunday their next real test shouldn’t be until they travel to the Pats in week 14. Stocked with talent and a smooth schedule, they’re cruising for a number 1 seed.

2. Atlanta Falcons 8-1 (D1)

It seemed unlikely they would go 16-0, but I didn’t expect them to fall this soon, even to a resurgent Saints side. For a team that has been so clinical and disciplined it was a relatively ugly performance, but I expect them to bounce back hosting the Cards this weekend.

3. Chicago Bears 7-2 (-)

It was an ugly loss, highlighting the Bears’ obvious weak spots (O-line and QB), however the Texans are the best they’ve faced. Chicago have fallen to both the Packers and Texans, and with another tough game against SF looming this Monday those weaknesses could be exploited further. I would like to drop them down the rankings after that game, but their defence was good enough to keep them in it, and I can only really see the very best sides having enough to beat them. They won’t go far in the playoffs unless they find a way to protect Cutler better, and they could be rolling without him in the short term as one of many banged up QBs.

4. Denver Broncos 6-3 (U3)

I didn’t want to drop the Bears because I see this block of #4-7 as very similar, and you could make a case for them to be in any order. Denver in my opinion are the best of the bunch right now, and should see off San Diego at home to essentially wrap up the West and a playoff spot – something the rest don’t quite have in the bag yet.

5. New England Patriots 6-3 (U1)

The Pats won a divisional game, which is nothing to be sniffed at… but they really should be beating comparatively weak Buffalo by more than a score, especially at home. Still, they are as dangerous as any team in the league, and they’ll need to be with the upstart Colts visiting this weekend.

6. Green Bay Packers 6-3 (D1)

Green Bay fall on their bye, but I fully expect them to bounce back this week against the Lions. The Packers may deserve to be higher than 6th, but there are a lot of strong contenders this year so will have to content themselves here until they grab a couple more wins. Such is the price of a bye week.

7. Baltimore Ravens 7-2 (U1)

The Ravens destroy the Raiders (which admittedly isn’t an outstanding achievement), and move up to
number 6. Baltimore are very much a hot and cold team, and when they are
clicking they are incredible – but their biggest weakest is that they (and Flacco in particular) don’t tend to travel well. This will be sorely tested in a huge divisional game vs the Steelers this Sunday in what could decide the AFC North Champ.

8. San Francisco 49ers 6-2-1 (D4)

A large drop following SF’s rare draw with St. Louis. It’s not a loss, but at home to the Rams it may as well be. Smith’s concussion is worrying with the Bears visiting on Monday, and whilst Kaepernick is a more than capable under-study, they need their QB back to stay on pace for the NFC West crown with Seattle nipping at their heels.

9. Seattle Seahawks 6-4 (U1)

Another dominant home win, with everything working just the way Seattle planned (minus a freak fumble recovery for a TD – it happens to even the best). I would dearly love to shove the Hawks further into the top 10, but they still need to match their home wins with some road performances. If we were ranking on home performances alone they would probably be in the top 3 (Wilson has an incredible 11 TDs-0 picks in Seattle), but up next is a bye followed by a long trip to Miami.

10. Pittsburgh Steelers 6-3 (D1)

A win and a drop may seem harsh, but you can’t expect to stay above the surging Hawks if don’t comfortably take care of business vs KC at home. Add to that a squad plagued by injuries and you have a very uncertain season ahead. Up next is a tough divisional test at home to the Ravens, made all the tougher with Big Ben ruled out.

11. New Orleans Saints 4-5 (U4)

New Orleans claim the Falcons’ undefeated scalp with a classic Saints offence led performance. Things finally seem to be coming together after the shakiest of starts, and they still have a chance at a wildcard berth if they continue to notch up these wins. Travelling to the Raiders next is not a game they can afford to squander.

12. Indianapolis Colts 6-3 (U1)

The Colts twist the knife in the side of the flat lining Jaguars, and hop on up to number 12. Luck is having an incredible rookie season, but let’s not forget the Colts were a perennial play-off team with Manning before their awful year in 2011. They have a lot of new faces but enough veterans to launch a very real playoff surge. Next up is a tough encounter vs New England.

13. Tampa Bay Buccaneers 5-4 (U4)

Tampa have really gelled and progressed as the season has, and now at 5-4 look like a real threat for a wildcard spot. They still have plenty of tough games before that can become a reality though, not least this Sunday at still dangerous Carolina.

14. Minnesota Vikings 6-4 (U4)

The Vikes surprised me with a win over the Lions, and move to a strong 6-4. I had them penned as in a second half of the season downwards spiral, so this win should make things very interesting as they try and hold on to their shot at the playoffs. They are being powered by AP’s remarkable comeback, and next they have a bye week before a crucial but brutal game at Chicago.

15. New York Giants 6-4 (D4)

The Giants are matching my pre-season expectations, and it’s quite satisfying to be proved right about Eli, who hasn’t thrown a TD since that game winner vs the Skins 3 weeks ago. This is a familiar story though, and as long as they can make the playoffs they’ll always have a shot. Lucky for them the NFC East is considerably weaker than it was supposed to be, but Green Bay stand in their way after a bye.

16. Detroit Lions 4-5 (D4)

A crucial divisional loss is not what the Lions wanted, and they have their work cut out if they are going to salvage the season and fulfil their lofty ambitions. Things don’t get any easier though with Green Bay coming to town on Sunday.

17. Dallas Cowboys 4-5 (U3)

The Cowboys take advantage of the reeling Eagles and improve to 4-5. There are still a lot of question marks surrounding this team (and organisation in general) though. Welcoming the Browns next is not a game they should be losing.

18. Cincinnati Bengals 4-5 (U4)

The Bengals upset the Giants and prove their worth, but need to find consistency to attain the playoff spot that is still within their reach in the comparatively weak AFC. A trip to KC next offers a great chance at 0.500.

19. San Diego Chargers 4-5 (D5)

SD continue with their dismal season, losing to the Buccs in what has become an all too familiar fashion. They need to be able to dig in during the 4th and keep themselves in winnable games, rather than turning the ball over and causing the game to spiral out of reach. Norv has to go unless they make the playoffs, but perhaps playing for his job could inspire them to an unlikely win over Denver this weekend. Probably not though.

20. Miami Dolphins 4-5 (D4)

A major slip-up for Miami with a crushing loss at home to the Titans. Tannehill threw an ugly 3 picks, but I don’t foresee this loss defining their season. They’ll bounce back and have every chance of a key divisional win against Buffalo this Thursday.

21. Arizona Cardinals 4-5 (D3)

5 straight losses, but hopefully the bye week will have given them time to prepare for their trip to Atlanta. Certainly they’ll be eyeing up what the Saints did and hoping to repeat, but with Skelton/Kolb in place of Brees, it’s a tall order.

22. St. Louis Rams 3-5-1 (U2)

A tie and they move up. It’s kind of funny and slightly worrying that some NFL players still weren’t/aren’t aware that games could be tied… but regardless they avoided what was supposed to be a pounding, and with key WR Amendola back, and the frankly terrible Jets visiting this weekend, things are looking up.

23. Washington Redskins 3-6 (-)

A bye and no change for the Skins, who host the Eagles this week in what should be a great game to watch, and one even their shoddy defence hopefully shouldn’t capitulate in.

24. Philadelphia Eagles 3-6 (D3)

Oh dear Philadelphia… I’m just not sure how a team with this many talented players can continue to be so poor week in week out. It’s not like it’s even the same issues, one week it will be Vick fumbling, the next an inability to find the red-zone. Even Foles got his shot due to the aforementioned QB going down against the Cowboys… I don’t even think Andy Reid is that bad a coach, but it’s been said over and over again – they need to feed McCoy. To have that talented a back and not feed him the football is a crying shame.

25. Tennessee Titans 4-6 (U5)

Tennessee pull off the big upset and shoot up the rankings. It’s hard to really place this team at the moment, but things certainly seem to have improved with Locker back and CJ firing. The sky is the limit if they can keep on performing offensively. Next they have a bye week before easing back in against the Jags.

26. Buffalo Bills 3-6 (U1)

The Bills ran the Pats close in what was far more competitive a game than expected. At 3-6 though their season is as good as over, but perhaps a win over rivals Miami could kick start this once promising squad.

27. Carolina Panthers 2-7 (D2)

The Panthers lose once again, but still have all the pieces in place to put up points. This team will be dangerous next season, but for now they’ll have to chalk it down to experience. Next up is visiting Tampa, who they’d dearly like to knock down a peg or two.

28. New York Jets 3-6 (D2)

That performance in Seattle was just plain embarrassing, and the Jets offensive woes look to be back with a vengeance. Tebow time could be closer than imagined if Sanchez continues to fail to find the endzone. Clearly it’s not all his fault and they are bereft of weapons, but this team will need something special to come away from St. Louis with a W.

29. Cleveland Browns 2-7 (D1)

The Browns are fresh off their bye week, and could well take advantage of up and down Dallas this weekend. They are performing better than anticipated, but are clearly still one of the most talent hungry teams around. A rebuilding year whilst the new owners evaluate is in
full swing.

30. Oakland Raiders 3-6 (D1)

The Raiders just got torn asunder by Baltimore, and it could have been a lot worse. With the Saints visiting this Sunday they’ll need to capture some of the magic that led to them upsetting the Steelers earlier in the year. It looks unlikely though.

31. Kansas City Chiefs 1-8 (U1)

They didn’t play terribly on Monday night! They still lost though. Chiefs fans must be cursing their luck that they are heading for a number 1 pick in the only draft in recent years where there isn’t an obvious franchise QB. Next up they host the Bengals.

32. Jacksonville Jaguars 1-8 (D1)

Whilst the Jags were clearly the worse team on Thursday, I can see their point that every big decision does seem to be swinging against them. Excuses aside, they will need a miracle vs Houston this weekend.

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