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Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Sportaholic NFL Power Rankings Week 12

The playoff push begins now for the teams with those Super Bowl aspirations. No team is up more than one game on the second place team in every division. This year is shaping to be playoff race like we have never seen. It’s crunch time for teams on the brink like the New York Giants, Indianapolis Colts, and the Washington Redskins. The window is closing so these teams need to get hot and stay consistent if they want in on the playoffs this year. There are a few more teams in contention with San Diego, Tampa Bay, and Oakland all in the mix in their respective divisions. Each week from here on out will be like a survivor episode as every lost will cast a team out the playoff picture. As the tension mounts and the drama unfolds, no team in contention can afford to lose and it going to make for an interesting next two months for football fans.

Now to unveil the rankings:

1. New England Patriots (9-2) – You didn’t really think they would lose to the Lions, did you? The Pats outscored lowly Detroit 35-7 in the second half as Tom Brady and co. got it rolling and continued to burn Detroit’s secondary, primarily Alphonso Smith. Brady looks in-sync with his receiver and put on a clinic in the second half of the game and he would finish a surgeon like 21/27 for 341 yards and 4 touchdowns. The man had a perfect QB rating of 158.3 for crying out loud. The subtraction of Randy Moss is proving to be an addition to the offense. You can longer key on one guy in their offense. The days of Wes Welker underneath and Randy Moss over the top are over and that entire side of the ball is reaping the benefits. The only thing that scares me with this team is the defense. They are a bend but don’t break unit but their will come a time when Tom terrific can’t bail them out. They should tested early and often next game against their arch rivals.

2. New York Jets (9-2) – No cardiac comeback this week as the Jets handled the Bengals easily. Brad Smith did all the dirty work as he accounted 200 total yards. Smith, done it in a variety of ways as he had three carries for 55 yards, one catch for 23 yards and an 89-yard kickoff return for a touchdown. He brings a do-it-all mentality to the offense for New York. I’m interested in the growth of Mark Sanchez most importantly though. For the Jets to go all the way, the second year pro from Southern Cal has to keep his mistakes at a minimum. The Int he threw to Rey Maualuga was especially troubling. And speaking of trouble, I know I wasn’t the only looking for some good trash talk from T.O and Darrelle Revis after both took jabs at each other last week but no dice in that department. As it stands, my top two teams face off next week on Monday night, so that will surely affect the rankings.

3. Atlanta Falcons (9-2) – This is the team no one pays attention to and all they do is continue to win. Matt Ryan is now 19-1 as a starter at home and has the Falcons holding the inside track to home-field advantage in the playoffs. This guy is just a winner and his numbers don’t do justice to what he means to that team. It doesn’t hurt that he has “Rowdy” Roddy White on the outside and Michael “Burner” Turner to hand the ball off to as well. Ryan just picked apart Green Bay’s vaunted defense as he hit his first 14 passes and finished 24 of 28. Atl will keep winning and no one outside of the 404 will care until the playoffs. See you in January Matty Ice.

4. Chicago Bear (8-3) – I have been reluctant all year to trust these Bears, but they proved it to me on last Sunday, that they can be a force. Any team with Jay Cutler as your QB is always going to be up and down because his play. He can be the hero and the goat on consecutive plays, that just how he rolls. Mike Martz and Lovie Smith finally have realized that and now feature the run more and for Bears fans that should make you happy. The defense is stacked with Peppers, Urlacher, and Briggs bringing it every game. They proved there worth as they were able to stop Michael Vick. They have a game up on Green Bay and with a game left against them we will find out what the Bears are really about. I just don’t trust Cutler though

5. New Orleans Saints (8-3) Welcome to the rankings Saints. As my New Orleans friend says, it looks like the Mojo is working again in Louisiana. The Saints have been struggling to find their consistency on offense but they have finally broken through. Drew Brees just assaulted the Cowboys defense (Who isn’t these days?) to the tune of 352 yards and a touchdown. The defense has been waiting for the offense to catch up and it appears it finally has.

Other league news and notes:

Josh McDaniels and Spygate II – It seems that McDaniels is losing his grip as the coach of the Broncos. Denver is 5-16 in their last 21 games under the embattled coach and this latest incident doesn’t make anything better. It was reported that Steve Scarnecchia, the video man for the Broncos, video tapped the 49ners walk thru and did so unknowingly from McDaniels. McDaniels went on to compare this to the original spygate in New England and also proceeded to trash the Pats in the process. As it is, he and the Broncos were fined $50,000 a piece. The only cure for this type of thing is to win and McDaniels team couldn’t even do that as they lost to St. Louis. If the team doesn’t make drastic improvements by the end of the season, McDaniels could be gone.

Andre Johnson vs. Cortland Finnegan – Doesn’t it seem like Finnegan is the crazy guy who is getting beat-up but keeps asking for more? He was clearly the instigator in the fight but now makes it seem as if Johnson should have never took swings at him. Johnson very well didn’t have to take it to that extreme that he did but everyone at one point of their life has lost their cool because of someone else. And the $25,000 that both were fined is just a slap on the wrist. Its crazy because neither player showed restraint and everyone in the league knows what Finnegan is about. He will do any and everything to get under your skin to gain the advantage. You just have to be prepared for that or you can just punch him like Johnson did. Get ready for round two in Nashville on Dec 19, that should be a fun rematch.

Leslie to the rescue: Didn’t the Vikings look lose and carefree Sunday? When you’re not worrying about your coach getting fired it makes everything a little easier as the Vikes proved. Brett Favre was running like he had his wranglers on and Minnesota beat the Skins. Frazier brings a calm that Brad Childress lost during his tenure. The players are familiar with him since he has been on the staff since Childress was there. They played harder as a result and if Zygi Wilf had made this move earlier they might have been going to the playoffs.

Best game next weekend: It has to be the Monday night game with the Pats and Jets going at it. These teams hate each other and would rather sit in gasoline with a match than to see the other win. They are both 9-2 and fighting for the division lead. Rex Ryan will do and say what ever it takes to motivate his team. The hoodie won’t do it in public like Ryan but believe you me, when he behind closed doors with his team, he is wearing out the Jets. This one will be hyped relentlessly by the media so get ready for it but at least it should result in a good game.

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