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Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Sportaholic Week 9 NFL Power Rankings

At the start of the NFL season it appeared as if the storyline of the year would become the anecdote of the underdog. The seemingly cursed franchises of Detroit, Cleveland, and Buffalo have finally risen from their cold frosty graves to give us reason to believe. Despite the fact that the combined records of these forgotten franchises in 2010 was a dismal 16-33, the trio put together a nice 14-8 record through week 9. The Browns have tailed off after starting the season 2-1 but their three wins are just one away from matching last year’s total. Detroit and Buffalo are now legit playoff contenders with each near the top of their division. The Lions have taken on role of the villain as they have made their marks on opponents with their nasty defensive style and trash talk (Just ask Matt Ryan and Tim Tebow). Head Coach Jim Schwartz has gotten in on the act as he and 49ers coach got testy after the game. Buffalo has did it with their multi faceted offensive attack. Ryan Fitzpatrick was awarded for his play and received a new 6 year $59 million dollar contract. He has led the Bills back into relevancy with a head coach everyone thought was over the hill and over his head in Chan Gailey. These two teams have every reason to believe they can make a run this year.

This may be the season of the upstarts but it appears that the perennial powers have finally raised their level of play. The Pittsburgh Steelers have settled in well after 2-2 and after whispers of the team being old. The Packers are undefeated at 7-0 and haven’t even played as complete a game as they can. Baltimore has fell victim to two let down games against divisional rivals Tennessee and Jacksonville and almost another one this past weekend against Arizona before waking up and stealing that one. You know they will focused and ready when they take on the Steelers this weekend. The Ravens-Steelers rivalry is always fun to watch as they two teams are known as the most physical teams in football.

So as we enter week 9, we have the upstarts in Buffalo, Detroit, and a few teams I didn’t mention but are also near top in San Francisco Cincinnati, and Oakland, the perennial powers of Green Bay, Pittsburgh, New England, and Baltimore. In addition to those teams you have the middle of the pack jam logged with teams that are Dr.Jeykll-Mr.Hyde in Dallas, Washington, and the New York Jets. Teams that have failed to live up to expectations but appear to but getting there in Philadelphia, Chicago, Kansas City, Tampa Bay and Atlanta. And last but not least the teams in the Andrew Luck sweepstakes for various reason with the likes of Indianapolis, Miami, and Arizona. As the season continues all those teams will muddle together and provide us unlimited entertainment as they battle for eight playoff spots in each conference.

1. Green Bay Packers (7-0) Bye Week. The Packers in my opinion are not even close to being a finished product. Granted they are undefeated, they have even tapped into the level of potential they can become. Their top 5 ranked defense from a year ago is currently ranked 25th and has lost key piece from last years run in Nick Collins at safety. Of course this is a team that lost numerous pieces last year on both sides of the ball and all they did was win a Super Bowl. The Packers will get even better as scary as that sounds as they become more consistent of defense. Clay Matthews are bit down from last years monsters stats but he will get his eventually. Charles Woodson remains one of the elite corners and Tramon Williams on the other side isn’t too shabby either. The Pack have to be considered the favorite to win the Super Bowl until further notice.

2. San Francisco 49ers (6-1) – The 49ers are the most interesting team in the league to me. Here you have a first year head coach in Jim Harbargh comes in and totally changes the face of the franchise in less than 8 months. He has brought a swagger back the bay an has this team doing what they had been predicted to do in the last few seasons, winning the division. They will have a good metric test in a couple weeks against the physical but sometimes underachieving New York Football Giants. I think that’s when we will see what we really have in San Fran.

3. Pittsburgh Steelers (6-2) – In the surprise entry slot this week, we have none other then those pesky Steelers. It seems every season at one point or another everyone will count these guys out and they promptly go out and prove us wrong. Just when it seemed the league had caught up and passed Pittsburgh, Big Ben and Mike Tomlin decided that had enough of that talk. They went and dominated New England by giving them nothing on the ground and making Tom Brady even more than what he is capable of doing. The defense is always solid and with James Harrison and Hines coming back this week you know that they will be throwing everything they have at the hated Ravens. Can’t wait to watch that heavyweight tussle.

4. New England Patriots (5-2) – If they don’t come up with: A. Defensive secondary stops and B. a consistent run game, then how can we just throw all our faith in Tom Brady to carry them to a Super Bowl? Brady is great of course but anyone with football knowledge could tell against the Steelers he did everything he could and its wasn’t even close enough to get the Pats the victory in that one. The running back by committee thing needs to be revitalized in Boston as BenJarvas Green-Ellis has been the only consistent one of the bunch. Speaking of RBs in New England, where in the hell is Danny Woodhead? Last I checked he wasn’t injured but he still isn’t hurt and the Pats could definitely use in speed in space as so brilliantly did last season. Just a thought.

5. Baltimore Ravens (6-2) – The Ravens have been “King of the Letdown” this year as they lost a couple of lackluster effort games to divisional opponents. And yet there they were again dead in the water against a 1-5 Arizona Cardinals team. Joe Flacco finally woke up and Ray Rice cleaned up nicely as they came from 24-6 down to beat Arizona. Flacco has been rather flaccid this season after making his bold statements of being an elite QB. His off and on play has to be mind boggling for his team as rather they like it or not their season rides on Flacco’s right arm. Ray Lewis and the defense will always be there and always seems that they could get Ray Rice more involved. As I mentioned above, the heavyweight show down between the Ravens and the Steelers is one you will not want to miss this weekend.

So there you have it this weeks Top 5. Make sure to tune in to “The Sportaholic Radio Show” this Saturday as I interview Gerald McGrath of the Tennessee Titans. He will answer the questions most Titan fans are wondering: What wrong with Chris Johnson? Check us out on from 10 A.M to 12 P.M. and if you want to chat with us, call in at 615-260-7177.

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