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Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Sportaholic NFL Power Rankings Week 11 Thanksgiving Edition

It appears the NFL was is a giving spirit as the Thanksgiving slate of NFL games is one of the best ever. We will witness an epic three game schedule that includes the highly anticipated Packers vs. Lions game, Cowboys vs. the all of a sudden hot Dolphins, and the Brothers Harbaugh bowl with the 49ers vs. Ravens. This is the best gift you can give us football fans as every one of these games should be exciting and competitive. The storylines for the Packers and Lions couldn’t get any juicer as Green Bay tries to continue their undefeated season against the up and coming Detroit. Matt Stafford is coming off the best game of his career with 5 touchdown passes and depending on how you look at it Aaron Rodgers is coming off his worst of the season after ‘Only” throwing for 299 yards, 3 touchdowns, and 1 interception. The Cowboys had to go to overtime to take down the swooning Redskins but more importantly Tony Romo continued his hot streak adding another 3 touchdown passes to his season total. No one thought that the Miami Dolphins would be riding a 3-game winning streak heading into this one but they have pull it all together behind QB Matt Moore and have looked impressive lately beating their last three teams by a combined score of 86-20. The San Fran-Baltimore tilt is made for Thanksgiving as the brothers Harbaugh will get it on get it on in Charm city. Their mother Jackie won’t attend because reportedly the brothers have decided that the day is about the 49ers and Ravens. In other words Mom doesn’t want to choose sides, which is respectable. Turkey day will be at its best this year with a big helping of NFL action.

On the contrary to the greatness of the Thanksgiving game slate, week 10 in the NFL is usually when the injury bug begins to rear its ugly head and it couldn’t be even more evident then this past weekend. The big one was Chicago Bears QB Jay Cutler going down with a broken thumb on his throwing finger. This is the ultimate disaster for the Bears in multiple ways. Even though Cutler can be sometime erratic, he is still the heart of their offense. He has a hand in just about everything they do with his 2,319 yards passing, 13 touchdown passes to 7 interceptions, and his 85.7 QB rating. These are not eye-popping numbers but as anyone with knowledge of the Bears futile QB history, these numbers are more than enough for Chicago. There are a couple of silver linings for the Bears in that they are a team that scores in multiple ways and not just with there offense. KR/PR Devin Hester is as explosive as they come as he recently broke the all-time record for most punts returns for touchdowns and Chicago will need him more than ever with Cutler going down. Their defense also is known for takeaways turned touchdowns as they are aggressive as they come in making something happen after they recover a fumble or get an interception. The second part is that backup Caleb Haynie had a chance to get his feet wet in last year’s NFC Championship game against Green Bay, and didn’t look half bad.

Haynie was 13/20 for 153 yards but had two interceptions in the Bears lost to the Packers. He wasn’t great but he was far from terrible as the Bears had a chance to defeat the Pakcers in that game. He will have the added benefit that Chicago plays four games against fair to mediocre pass defenses before he gets another crack at the Packers in week 16. The Packers aren’t scaring anyone with their next to last ranked pass defense anyway. Chicago’s soul on offense Matt Forte will have to carry even more of the load now that Haynie will be in place of Cutler. Another possibility is that the Bears could re-sign their former QB Kyle Orton now that he was placed on waivers in Denver. He could come in and play immediately to solidify the position until Cutler returns.

Cutler’s injury news comes on the heels of franchise QBs Matt Schaub being out possibly for the rest of the season with a foot twinge and Michael Vick’s ribs keeping him out of the last game. Nothing worst can happen to your seasons hopes and dreams than your QB going down.

1. Green Bay Packers (10-0) – What do you say about a QB who had has worst statistical day of the year and he says that he is disappointed in his performance? Most any other QBs you would think of a terrible stat line but Rodgers was 23/34 for 299 yards and 3 TDs. He also threw an interception but if that is considered a bad day at the office for him then how can we not crown this guy the best QB in the league? He carries his team week in and week out because lets face it, that defense stinks and isn’t anywhere close to being as dominant as it has been over the last few years. Josh Freeman was able to put up a career high 342 yards passing last week on the porous Packer pass defense. It will come a point and time when their defense will have to rise up and play better because every team is giving them their best shot. Matt Stafford is coming off his best game ever and now Green Bay has to travel to Detroit to take him on. Sounds like it could be fireworks in Ford Field tomorrow. If the Packers are going undefeated then they undoubtedly have to shore up that defense.

2. San Francisco 49ers (9-1) – The 9ers shellacked the Cardinals and just keep rolling with only one loss, they are keeping the pressure on the Packers for home field advantage. This team plays good fundamental football especially on defense. They don’t beat themselves like they use to and they have a knack now for pulling out close games. The Harbaugh bowl could turn out to be the best game of the week with two stout defenses on display. Look for Jim to pull a few new wrinkles out of his pocket as he knows the Ravens defense will make life miserable for his offense. The next two games will tell us everything think we need to know about this team heading into the playoffs as they take on Pittsburgh after the Baltimore game.

3. Houston Texans (7-3) – Even though there is a glut of 7-3 teams and the Texans lost starting QB Matt Schaub possibly for the season, I will stay with Houston at the three spot for now. The best thing they could have had happen was that bye week, as it should give Matt Leinart a chance to acclimate himself with the offense even more. After the Leinart led Texans take on Atlanta and Cincinnati the next couple of week, they should be in good shape as they won’t face another opponent with a winning record from there. The question is can Leinart keep them afloat? We will find out if he is ready for his close up.

4. Pittsburgh Steelers (7-3) – Bye. Can’t penalize them for not playing, so they reaming at four for now.

5. New Orleans Saints (7-3) – Bye. The Saints look to be in good position to take the AFC South but they still have three tough games on the schedule with the NY Giants, Detroit Lions, and a game that could decide the division with Atlanta on the second to last week of the season.

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