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Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Sportaholic NFL Power Rankings Week 13

The Sportaholic NFL power rankings showed about as much movement as a Best Buy Black Friday pre-sale line as all of the top 5 teams won their games. The Green Bay Packers, Baltimore Ravens, New Orleans Saints, Pittsburgh Steelers and the San Francisco 49ers all came away with victories with the Packers the only team not winning by at least 14 points. Green Bay took a few body blows and head shots from the New York Giants and their relentless pass rush that left the future MVP Aaron Rodgers (Yeah I said it) on the ground more than any Packers fan would like to see. I tweeted how that game eerily reminded me of the 2009 battle between the undefeated New England Patriots and the desperately needing a victory just to make the playoffs Giants. New York lost that game 17-14 but it lit a fire under them that saw them become the first NFC wild card team win a Super Bowl. Now I’m not saying that is what’s going to happen to this 2011 version of the Giants but rather the flow of the game had that kind of feel to it. I still fully expect the Packers win every game this year with only Oakland, Kansas City, Chicago and Detroit. Everyone of those teams will give the Pack their best shot but with Rodgers covering up all of inefficiencies (Horrible pass defense, no run game, etc.) they should at least make to it to the playoffs unscathed if they want to.
The other top 4 teams flexed their muscle by blowing out their opponents.

Outside of the top 5 week 13 produced the usual drama that NFL fans crave.  Tim Tebow did what Tim Tebow does as he helped the Broncos pull out another squeaker over Minnesota. That’s 5-1 as a starter for you keeping stats on him. The New England Patriots played a head scratcher of a game against the winless Colts. Hard to justify a top 5 spot when you allow Dan Orvlosky (Remember he is the guy who didn’t know he stepped out of the end zone in game against the Minnesota Vikings a few years back) to pile up 353 yards of passing on you. The Patriots defense just isn’t good enough to make the team viable in the playoffs.  Houston looked surprisingly well without either of the Matt’s at QB as young T.J. Yates was decent in his first start. The best thing about the Texans horrible situation is that two fundamental things that do in running the ball and playing good defense hasn’t changed even with all of their injuries. They beat a good Atlanta Falcon team and would have beaten a lot of good teams with their performance. How bout them Cowboys? Last I check Jason Garrett had an Ivy League education but you wouldn’t know it by the end of their with the Arizona Cardinals. He iced his own kicker, rookie Dan Bailey at the end of regulation as Dallas eventually lost to the Cards on a walk-off screen pass from Kevin Kolb to LaRod Stephens-Howling. The reaction form Cowboys defensive coordinator Rex Ryan pretty much summed it up. Dallas can never seem to find its identity on offense and Romo could beginning his annual December to never remember slide again.
Fun week in the league as the regular season is culminating into what should be an exciting finish. The obvious question of if the Packers can go all the way with more than enough other storylines. Can Tebow take the Broncos all the way to the playoffs? What will become of the once dominant NFC East as Dallas and New York take on each other this weekend and determine the division’s fate.

Rankings time:

1. Green Bay Packers (12-0) – Funny how this whole rankings thing has become Green Bay # 1 and everybody else for themselves. Since the start of the season the Packers have owned this spot. Green Bay has continued to look vulnerable throughout this entire season but no one can seem to crack them. The Giants did a lot of good things that game including pounding them on the ground and apply pressure on Rodgers with the pass rush. They also controlled the clock but even with them doing all of the above they still fell short. That all goes on the Packers offense. They don’t need a lot of time to be effective. Rodgers gets a lot of praise but the entire offense deserves it. Yeah the receivers dropped more than enough passes but they caught the ones they needed. You will have games likes this during the season but it’s all about how you perform in the clutch and we see how the Packers find a way week in and week out.

    2. Baltimore Ravens (9-3) – I have been clamoring for the emergence of Ray Rice in the Ravens offense (As I seem to do every year) and finally Baltimore got him the ball. Rice had 204 yards toting the rock and looked even stronger as the game went on. That’s the formula that works for them even if they don’t like it. When Rice and that offensive line gets to impose their will on an offense then it becomes a game much of favor of the Ravens. Their defense can take over from there. Now will the Ravens follow this blueprint into the playoffs we shall see but it would benefit them in the best of ways if they did.

 ;   3. New Orleans Saints (9-3) – Some teams do it with defense and some do it with offense but none may do it better on that side of the ball then New Orleans. It gets repetitive but Drew Brees control over that system is amazing. He controls it with such precision and finesse it’s as if he could do this in his sleep. The Saints are hot and they shut down an above average but out of control Lions team. Their run defense will get a stiff test against Chris Johnson and the Titans this weekend but they look to be up to the task. That offense has given many a defensive coordinator nightmares and now its Jerry Gray’s turn at no sleep for Tennessee.
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    4. Pittsburgh Steelers (9-3) – The emergence of Antonio Brown has allowed to Ben Roethlisberger and the Pittsburgh offense to become one of the more potent passing attacks in the league. When you have the speedster Mike Wallace and the athletic Brown on the outside coupled with Ben’s escape ability then you have a chance for big plays. The Steelers still play good defense of course but they can hang a quick 30 on you if you don’t pay attention. Can that defense hold up with its age is the question we will have to find out.

    5. San Francisco 49ers (10-2) – If there was ever a reason to jump on the San Fran bandwagon, then it would be now. Their defense is just suffocating as proved wby their shutout 26-0 victory over the St. Louis Rams. Yeah it was just the Rams but a shutout on ahy NFL team is impressive. This team seems to always have an edge and that’s mostly because they have crazy in a good way coach, Jim Harbaugh. He never lets his team feel like they have arrived and it has paid off in a big way this year. They have to keep that edge going into the playoffs as they are staring down the # 2 seed and an bye for the first round. Is this team ready for all this success?

Other news and notes:

    Tim Tebow goes to 5-1 as starter, Broncos in first place at 7=5 – Now I won’t get any Tebowe (Not a real word I just made it up) on you and give him all the credit for their victory. The defense stepped when it needed to as Andre Goodman picked off Christian Ponder to seal the game but it’s still Tebow’s influence on the locker room. They have really all brought in to his mind frame and look like they could find a way to steal their division. They play with heart and never give up (Who does that sound like?) which is a credit to each and everyone of them. Don’t be surprised if they sneak into the playoffs and maybe even win a game once there.

    Philadelphia implodes, loses to Seattle: The season started off with so much hope in the city of brotherly love but nothing has been brotherly about this season for the Eagles. They allowed RB Marshawn Lynch to just go beast mode as he says and run all over them. There was no effort to stop it on defense and on offense they looked dismal as former Tennessee Titans Vince Young had four interceptions. Desean Jackson just about sums up the Eagles season as he didn’t even pay attention to an animated Young on the sidelines. After the game Jackson was short and rude with reporters as he described the game. If I were Michael Vick I would just put the ribs on ice for the rest of the season as they are going nowhere but home after week 16.
      Local Flavor:

    Tennessee 24 Buffalo 17 – Chris Johnson seems to have finally found his way as the Titans RB ran over, around and through the Bills defense. Johnson was game from the beginning as he busted a 48-yard TD in the first and never looked back from there. The Bills made it interesting as Ryan Fitzpatrick was able to find his receivers and put up points but in the end Johnson and the Titans were just too much. The Titans are in the thick of the playoff race and still mathematically have a chance win the AFC south. They will face # 3 in the Sportaholic NFL Power rankings as New Orleans will put pressure on the Titans defense from every angle. I am interested to see if Johnson and Tennessee can keep it going on the ground and try to control to clock against the quick strike offense of the Saints.

Key Games for next week:

    Houston Texans (8-3) vs. Cincinnati Bengals (7-5) – If the Bengals are some way to make a playoff push then they have to find a way to win this game. The Texans just keep rolling QBs be damned and look to keep winning with the Tennessee Titans breathing down their neck.

    Chicago Bears (7-5) vs. Denver Broncos (7-5) – The Bears are just hanging on any way they can at this point and couldn’t have got worse news than Matt Forte knee injury. His MCL sprain means that now they are without their heart (Jay Cutler) and now their soul without Forte. The fighting Tebow’s look to keep rolling and have a good chance to go 8-5 against the injury riddled Bears.

    New York Giants (7-5) vs. Dallas Cowboys (7-5) - Remember when the NFC East could do no wrong a few years ago and was agreed upon as the toughest division in the league? Boy has times changed as it appears 10-6 or even 9-7 may take the East this year. This is a must win for both teams naturally as whoever wins this one controls their own destiny. Can Tony Romo reverse the trend of his bad play in December play and the same can be asked about the as they are notoriously known for their late season swoons under Tom Coughlin. 


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