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Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Sportaholic NFL Power Rankings Week 1

Welcome to the first edition of this season’s Sportaholic NFL power rankings. So many things to address so we’re not going to waste anytime.

The NFL is now an offensive league now and that was never more evident than this past week of games. 14 QBs went over the 300 yard plateau with 3 of those going over 400 yards and of course the fitting end to the weekend saw Tom Brady’s record breaking 517 yard performance on Monday night football. QBs have been ripping defenses to shreds, while DBs are gasping for air (I’ve seen so many players getting oxygen on the sideline). This will go down as the most prolific passing week in the history of the NFL. There are a few teams who are playing defense these days. Look no further than Baltimore as they just pulverized a team that’s use to doing the pulverizing in Pittsburgh. Houston bullied on the Peyton Manning-less Colts but its hard to put much stock into that due to the situation Indy is facing. The ”Monsters of the Midway” also did a number on the Falcons, who were suppose to have a new high-flying attack. As the season plays itself out, the defenses of the league will stand up but at least for this week, the offenses outclassed the other side of the ball.

Now for the rankings:

1. Baltimore Ravens (1-0) – When you go out and just manhandle one of the most, if not the most physical team in the league then in my opinion you deserve to be at the top of the rankings. The Ravens just pushed around the Steelers in every conceivable way. Raise your hand if you thought this one would be a close game, I will wait. My point exactly, no one could have predicted that Baltimore would just blast Pittsburgh like they did. The numbers don’t lie in this game: Baltimore forced 7 turnovers, ran for 170 yards and Joe Flacco was 17-29 for 224 yards 3 TDs and a rating of 117.5. This was just the first game of the season of course so its expected that some teams will come out flat. Big Ben looked uneasy all day in the pocket and could never find his rhythm. A lot of that had to do with the constant pressure being brought on him by Terrell Suggs (3.0 sacks) and Haloti Ngata. Even the ancient warriors Ed Reed (2 Ints) and Ray Lewis (1 Int) got in on the act. Just as dominant performance as you will get in week 1. Mark November 6th on your calendar as the Ravens travel to Pittsburgh and something tells me that the Steelers won’t forget this whooping that hated rival Baltimore put on them.

2. Green Bay Packers (1-0) The pack attack looks intact as Aaron Rodgers just picked up where he left off last year. The offense is so explosive especially when you add a healthy Jermichael Finley and rookie Randall “Corn” Cobb. Rodgers, who I rate as the 2nd best QB in league with Peyton Manning out, now has full command of the offense and just too many weapons at his disposal. He just put on a clinic in the first quarter of Thursday’s night opener, hitting his first 7 targets with precision laser passes. The defense will only get better for them as well as they get back a lot of players from injury reserve on last years roster. Clay Matthews is still a beast off the edge and will have a monster season as he did last year. A lot of things to like in the land of cheese these days.

3. New England (1-0) - This spot was toss up between the Pats and the Bears. The Pats did most of their damage on offense and the Bears did theirs on defense. I will go with the Patriots off the strength of Tom ‘Golden Boy” Brady passing bonanza. Watching the game for the first few quarters, you would have actually thought that the Dolphins had a chance. But of course once Brady got going with his tight ends Rob Gronkowski and Aaron Hernandez and things got dicey for Miami. Brady threw for 517 yards and didn’t even really use Chad Ochocinco (1 catch 14 yards). Their defense gave it the old "Bend but don’t break method" and allowed Chad Henne to rack up 416 yards but most of those were garbage time stats. The rebuilt defensive line looked good as well with Albert Haynestworth just trampling rookie Mike Pouncey a few times. Vince Woolfork also looked fresh with the addition of Hayneworth taking him out the game for a few snaps. Devin McCourty is one of the more underrated corners in the league and Ras-I Dowling has the makings of a good NFL cornerback in his rookie year. The Pats will be in for a stiffer test this weekend against the Chargers but as always you know Brady and the hoodie will be ready.

4. Chicago Bears (1-0) – It’s a wonder what 1 game can do for a team. After facing all the toughness questions in the off-season due to his non-performance in the NFC championship game, Jay Cutler lit up the Falcons secondary to the tune of 312 yards and 2 touchdowns. The Bears defensive were on it as well as they recorded sacks, 2 by Julius Peppers and 2 by Henry Melton who appears to ready for his close up as the new starting DT for the Bears. Maybe the most impressive Bear of them all was Brian Urlacher as he had an interception and picked up a fumble from Matt Ryan to take it in for the score. Chicago really has no worries on defense as they are deep and talented but its usually the offense that doesn’t perform. I think this year will be different as Mike Martz’s system has been in place for a year now. Cutler seems to be comfortable but he still is getting sacked too much as he was taken down 5 times this game. Matt Forte looked the part as well as he exploded for a 56 yard scamper off a screen pass. The Bears made the defending NFC South champs look like chumps and enough can not be said for that. But they better keep Cutler clean if they want a chance to compete this year.

5. Philadelphia Eagles (1-0) – The Eagles are all about the big play and it was on full display against the Rams. Michael Vick's passing numbers were pedestrian (14 of 32 for 187 yards 2 TDs) but you just can’t prepare for what he brings to the game with his legs (8 carries 98 yards). On top of what Vick does you have Lesean McCoy (15 rushes 122 yards), and Desean Jackson (6 catches 102 yards) who can take it to the house at anytime. More importantly for the Eagles is that the defense looked good as they limited Sam Bradford to just 188 yards passing and after allowing Steven Jackson to break off an early big run they held Rams in check on the ground as well (Although Jackson left the game with a strained quad might have had a lot to do with that). The free agents showed up as well as Cullen Jenkins recorded a sack and Jason Babin’s was just a force as he had two sacks, two tackles for loss and four QB hurries. The Eagles racked up 5 sacks in total as the reliable Trent Cole also had one. The only thing that can stop the Eagles is the Eagles in my opinion.

Offensive player of the week: Cam Newton – Wow. That was the first thing that popped in my head when I saw Killer Cam’s stat line of 24 of 37 for 422 yards and 2 passing TDs. Even though Tom Brady passed himself silly against the Dolphins, I still have to go with Cam because we expect that from Brady. Newton’s outburst wasn’t expected as he just obliterated the Cardinals defense and raised his expectations ceiling. What more can you ask for from a rookie QB who didn’t have the benefits of training camps and OTAs. Newton proved that he will be a hand full as he scored with his legs as well for his 3rd touchdown. The happiest guy besides Newton in a Panthers uniform you ask? Steve Smith, who wavered from being on a team that is clearly rebuilding, Smith had 8 catches for 178 yards and caught Newton’s two touchdown passes. Newton is by far ahead of schedule, now the only question is if he can keep this up.

Defensive player of the week: Brian Urlacher - This one is really tough because so many players had great games. Brian Urlacher (1 Int and Fumble recovery for TD), Terrell Suggs (3 sacks), Jason Babin (2 sacks,) Ed Reed (2 Ints) Mario Williams (2 sacks) and Demarcus Ware (2 sacks) to name a few. But I will go with Urlacher as his Interception of Matt Ryan seemed to sink of the confidence of the entire Falcons offense. His fumble recovery for a touchdown was classic Urlacher as he seems always find the ball when there is a scrum of players searching for it. He is the soul of the Bears team and if he continues his high level of play it will simply rub off onto that entire unit, which is already pretty good by the way.

1 comment:

  1. Good call on Urlacher as D player of the week. Brady had 517 yards and four TD, but he'll probably get several POW mentions this season, eh Carlos?
    Chargers at Patriots next Sunday... should be the game of the week with two of the best QB's in the league going at it.