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Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Sportaholic Power Rankings Week 4

If there is one thing that I have noticed in the first quarter leg of the NFL season it’s the extraordinary QB play that we have witnessed. Everyone knows that it’s a passing league nowadays, but this has just been ridiculous so far this season. Even a blind man can see that this has been a demented year of offensive numbers. From Cam Newton’s Xbox stats to Aaron Rodgers record breaking QB rating pace, its has been an offensive palooza so far this year. There are currently 7 players over the century mark for QB rating with Rodgers leading the pack at 124.6 which would be an all-time record if the season stopped today. The QB position is at an all-time premium and this season the QBs have set a level of excellence never seen before. There are six QBs on pace to break Dan Marino’s all-time single season passing yards total including Drew Brees, Cam Newton, Aaron Rodgers Phillip Rivers, Tony Romo and Tom Brady who would just obliterate it at a projected finish of 6,212 yards. Just take a look at the stats from yester year to this season and you will see the anomaly that I a speaking of. Is this a trend or is this a sign of what to expect in the future of the NFL? I would certainly think you could make a compelling argument that the NFL as a league has catered to the offensive side of the ball with all of the rule changes and protection it has built around the QB. The league knows that offense sells and that’s what its about these days. What ever happened to defenses being ahead of offense to begin the season? Just another cliché we can throw out the window in this nutty year of the offense of 2011

Even more so, you can see how offensives have evolved to the point of no return these days. No huddle, spread and wildcat offenses are the product of innovation in the league. Its even worse in college football as they seem to do everything in the NCAA now days. Offenses will slow down however as the temperature changes. Nothing like a cold November chill to cool down the hot play we have seen of late. I don’t know what to make of this offensive explosion and excellent QB play of late. I am a football purist who loves to see great defense just as much as I love to see great offense. One thing is for sure, offense is running circles around defenses these days and this is only the beginning.

Now for the rankings

1. Green Bay Packers (4-0) – No way this team is going anywhere from the top spot. Not when Aaron Rodgers is chucking the rock for 408 yards and 4 touchdowns and adding another 2 on the ground. I could go on and on about the greatness of Rodgers but I’m pretty sure you get enough of that reading other columns. The Packers as a team is what impresses me the most. The are complete in every facet of the game from special teams to offense to defense this team really has no weaknesses. They overwhelm you on offense with their athletic receivers and Rodgers precision passing and even though they are allowing 24.3 points a game on defense they still can get after your QB with Clay Matthews and shutdown your receivers with two pro bowl corners in Tramon Williams and the forever young Charles Woodson. Even the special teams has stepped up with Randall “Corn” Cobb giving that unit a boost. They will have their hands full in the NFC North this year as Chicago isn’t going anywhere and the upstart Lions who are a formidable foe for the first time in over a decade. Its going to be a great race in that division but until further notice or this team losses, they belong at the top.

2. Baltimore Ravens (3-1) – That was an ugly game of epic proportions Sunday night against the Jets. Charm City turned into Turnover City as both teams just didn’t seem to care about the ball that much. Joe Flacco and Mark Sanchez were just plain out terrible for both of their teams. One of the major reasons was the defense being played on both sides. Baltimore’s defense as always is straw that stirs the drink in Raven land but Flacco gives me reason to be concerned. Maybe it was just an off night but when you stat line reads: 10/31 163 yards 1 pick and a rating of 30.5, your not picking your end of the bargain compared to that defense. You know Ray Ray and the gang were in his ear about this. The Ravens and every other team for that matter can only do so much with a limited QB and Flacco has to prove that he is the elite QB that he said he was this off-season. So far I’m not inclined to agree with him.

3. New England (3-1) – Its sucks that I have to keep them this high when they have a defense allowing 477.5 yards a game. Tom Brady will continue his assault on the record books as he is on pace to shatter Dan Marino’s passing yards record and Wes Welker last I heard was on some ridiculous 160 catch 2,400 yard season as well but that defense will let them down. Beliechek is known as defensive wizard but his defense hasn’t been anything but magical these past few seasons. As their last playoff proved, that offense can only carry you so far when you get into the playoffs. Your team has to be at least somewhat balanced on both sides of the ball and this is why I can’t peg them as a super bowl favorite in my book just yet.

4. Houston Texans (3-1) – On my radio show I said that if Houston wants to be considered one of the elite teams this year, then they would have to stand up and prove it against Pittsburgh. Not only did they stand up but they sat down the usually ultra physical Steelers. Big Ben couldn’t was flat out harassed (Oops no pun intended on that one but take it as you may) and roughed up for sacks. Wade Phillips defense 3-4 defense is already paying dividens as it has made them a much more aggressive team on that side which I always wanted to see out of the Texans defense. I didn’t buy into the Mario Williams to LB move at first but it seems to be working. He is still able to get to the QB but he is doing it in various ways this year.The Andre Johnson injury is a scare but he will only be out for a few weeks as they will baby him back onto the field. Those hamstring injuries are always tricky but Houston’s medical staff just dealt with Arian Foster similar injury. Speaking of Foster, he is one of the reasons I think Houston has the most complete offense in the league. They can run the ball with Foster or can pass the ball on you with Matt Schaub, Andre Johnson. And Owen Daniels. I like this team, all they need is more confidence and to continue the good play on defense.

5. Detroit Lions (4-0) – At what point did you think it was over in their game against Dallas? When I glanced at the score and saw it 20-3 going into halftime I thought to myself “Same old Lions” but these are not your father’s Lions by a long shot. Matt Stafford and Calvin Johnson got warmed up and stole one in Jerry’s house with a little help from Mr. Tony Romo. I just can’t understand for the life of me what goes on in Romo’s head in those pressure filled situations. Is it a little man who tells him what to do because he should be stop listening to that guy. Chris Cooley’s of the Washington Redskins comments ( pretty much summed up what every up what every non Cowboy fan and hell maybe even some Cowboy fans think about Romo. In any event the Lions have showed they can take a lick and keep on ticking as this is their second straight week coming from behind on a double digit deficit. Megatron proved why he is an elite receiver rather Rob Ryan believes it or not. You have to love Coach Jim Schwartz’s dig at Ryan for saying that Johnson was “Almost as Good” as Cowboys receivers Dez Bryant and Miles Austin to which Schwartz responded “I’m just glad that the third-best receiver on their team is on our team. Touché Jim.

Offensive Player of the Week: Matt Forte – All the love and praise has been heaped on the QBs this year for the offensive explosion we’ve seen this year but you have to give up to Forte for his 205 yard outburst against the Carolina Panthers. What’s even more stunning about this is that he was allowed to receive 25 carries in Mike Martz’s pass happy offense. Maybe Martz has finally come to grips that he will need to rely on Forte more in order to keep QB Jay Cutler upright for the rest of the season. Running the ball and playing good defense is what I’m use to see from a Chicago Bears team and I’m glad to see them getting back to that identity even it was just for one week.

Defensive Player of the Week: Mario Williams – Like I said above, I love the way the Texans defense got after Ben Rothlisberger and for that I have to give the ringleader his due. Williams had 2.0 sacks and a number of hurries to flush Ben out the pocket giving his teammates the opportunity to bring him down. Houston and Tennessee look as if they will battle for the AFC South crown this year without Peyton Manning in the fold and if the Texans D steps up and plays this way every game then I have to give them the edge in that race.

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