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Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Sportaholic NFL Power Rankings Week 12

As we enter the home stretch of the NFL season it appears that change is on the horizon for a few underreporting teams. The first move was made by Jacksonville as they fired long time coach Jack Del Rio. He was 69-73 over nine years and goes down as the first NFL coach to coach that many seasons with one team and not to win a division title. Del Rio had his moments with the Jags as they upset the Pittsburgh Steelers in the 2007 playoffs but it was mostly a mediocre run for him as the Jacksonville coach. The Jaguars don’t sell tickets and are always on blackout watch in their own local market as it is anyway. Another firing took place in the league as with the Colts relieving defensive coordinator Larry Coyer of his duties for the 0-11 Colts. They also replaced QBs with Curtis Painter out and Dan Orlovsky in. It has just been a disaster in Indy this year every since Peyton went down. Speaking of Manning, there is a whisper floating around that he isn’t healing as fast as he should for this type of procedure. Hopefully it’s just a rumor but you never know.

This is just the beginning in a league that is built on change. The bottom dwelling teams have to at least make a push to look competitive. There is no way that Jacksonville or Indy could be content with getting blown out week in and week out. The hot seat remains hot for a few coaches as we now can officially add Tom Coughin to the list. The Giants have fallen off the radar in November as they were thoroughly dominated by the New Orleans Saints this past Monday. The seat is also simmering under Eagles coach Andy Reid, which is really remarkable when you think about it in Philadelphia. Reid has been the steady hands in charge for the last 12 years in Philly and, this was suppose to be his best team but we all witnessing how this season has turned out for him.

Coaching changes are inevitable in every sport. It’s just part of the business. Even if a guy was less than successful (See: Jack Del Rio) or a long tenured and outstanding coach (See: Andy Reid and Tom Couglin), one day soon or later that your day is coming.

Time for the Power Rankings:

1. Green Bay Packers (11-0) – The Pack just keep rolling with the hot hand as Aaron Rodgers continues to make it look easy. He is on pace for the single best season for a QB ever as he would finish with 5100 total yards passing and an unheard of 130.7 QB rating. He is doing all of this while leading the Packers to a possible undefeated season. Green Bay’s defense showed some teeth as well in their victory over the Detroit Lions causing Matt Stafford to throw three interceptions. We have every reason to believe that this team can and will be undefeated going into the playoffs.

2. Baltimore Ravens (8-3) – The Ravens roughed up the 49ers to move to 8-3 and remain in first place in the rough and tough AFC North division. This is a team that is remarkably up and down as they have beaten some of the best teams in the league in Pittsburgh (Twice), San Francisco, and Houston and loss a couple of the worse in Jacksonville and Seattle. Ray Lewis should be back for their next game after missing the Harbaugh bowl much to his chagrin. Pittsburgh and Baltimore will battle to the end for the division title but looking at the schedule and it appears the Ravens had the easier path especially after beating the Steelers twice to own all the tie-breakers.

3. New Orleans Saints (8-3) – Looking at the Saints offense against the Giants a few things stood out to me. First, the play of Jimmy Graham at tight end has given Brees yet another explosive weapon. The 6’7 former Miami (FL) power forward is really coming on and seems to catch everything thrown his way. Second, Drew Brees doesn’t get enough credit as crazy as it sounds. He is also on pace to surpass Dan Marino’s all time passing yards record but its not the yards that impress me. It just his command of the offense and his leadership skills. Brees, Brady, and Rodgers are in the top echelon of QBs and their teams will always be great as long as these great QBs are leading them. The Saints are dangerous and appear to be even better than their 2009 Super Bowl winning team.

4. Pittsburgh Steelers (8-3) – Even though a win is a win in this league, the Steelers couldn’t have played an uglier game this past week. Their narrow 13-9 win over a reeling under manned Kansas City squad was a disturbing look for Pittsburgh. Troy Polamalu took a knee from the Chiefs tight end Steve Maneri and never returned which led to some holes in their vaunted defense. The offense wasn’t able to muster much of anything as well with Big Ben content on throwing dink and dunk passes that amounted to 21 completions for only 193 yards. This wasn’t a pretty game but the Steelers won and they should get Polamalu back for next game. So maybe this was just one of those weeks to forget for Steelers nation. But again, a win is a win.

5. San Francisco 49ers (9-2) – Maybe the Harbaugh bowl was a little much for this team as the hype and historical part seemed to do more harm then good to this young team. Alex Smith looked like his previous 2011 self as he and the 49er offense couldn’t get anything going against the ferocious Ravens defense. Terrell Suggs was able to get to Smith three times. San Francisco still has a more than comfortable lead in the NFC West so that is really nothing to worry about their. They did however lose a game in the home field advantage race as they are now two behind Green Bay. Catching the Packers was probably a lost cause anyway.

Other League News and Notes:

Ndamakong Suh suspended for 2 games: The Lions brutal DT was handed down a two game suspension for his pushing of the helmet and stepping on the arm of the Packers Evan Dietrich-Smith. Everyone is aware of the big mans merciless history as he has racked up over $42,000 dollars in fines in his short career. He didn’t seem apologetic initially at the press conference after the game but he later changed his tone after the media jumped all over him. Hopefully Suh learns his lesson here and is able to play in his usual relentless manner but is able to stop the uncontrollable acts that have marked his career to this point.

Tim Tebow just keeps leading his teams to wins: Tebow haters (I’m talking to you Merril Hodge) really don’t have any ground to stand on at this point on Tebow. The Broncos latest victory over the San Diego Chargers pushed his starting record to 5-1 and has Denver in the thick of the playoff race. Tebow isn’t doing it all by himself as the defense has really come on for them led by sensational rookie LB Von Miller but its Tebow that has inspirited this team to become all that it can be. He just has the “IT” factor and wills his team each week to a victory. It’s becoming to a point that other teams are drinking the Tebow Kool-Aid and believing that if the game is close in the 4th quarter then it is all but a lost. San Diego folded in the 4th against the Broncos and it seemed to have something to do with the Tebow effect as I like to call it. Tebow will never be the prototypical QB but he will always give his team a chance to win. He just finds a way and will continue to do no matter what his critics say. And this is coming from a University of Tennessee fan who was tormented by him at Florida.

Texans sign Jake Delhomme: Sometimes you just have to make the best out of what is available and that’s what this signing appears to be. The Texans plucked the former Panther and Browns QB out of retirement to help bolster their depleted QB front. We all know the story with both of the Matt’s Schaub and Leinart going down with season ending injuries. The Texans were down to rookie T.J. Yates in their last game and signed veteran journey man Kellen Clemens as well. This is mostly just an insurance policy as the Texans have found out you can never have to many QBs in the NFL. Rather Delhomme competes for playing time is yet to be seen.

Best Games of Week 13:

Atlanta (7-4) vs. Houston (8-3) – Déjà vu for the Texans as they start a new QB for the 3rd time this season. Can they find a way to keep winning or will the Falcons and Matt Ryan be too much for them to overcome

Green Bay Packers (11-0) vs. NY Giants (6-5) - So lets see here, Drew Brees carved up the Giants D for 363 yards and 4 touchdowns and now they welcome Aaron Rodgers and the Pack attack to town. Sounds like a problem for the reeling New York.

Detroit Lions (7-4) vs. New Orleans Saints (8-3) – The time has come for this Lions team to make a stand as they are fighting for their playoff lives. The feel good story of the year won’t feel so good if they are sitting at home watching. Drew Brees and the Saints are rolling right now and with Detroit missing Suh in the middle, it could be a long game for them.

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