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Welcome to the blog of The Killer Nacho, known to most mortals as Timothy J. Sharpe, a Computer Science graduate of Messiah College and currently a Systems Analyst for Sunoco Logistics. Within this tome of pages, one will find my innermost thoughts about various things concerning things that I enjoy. These subjects include, but are not limited to, roleplaying, gaming, American Football (the NFL), things to do with computers, philosophy, movies that are awesome, TV shows that are awesome, my own writings and creative works, and dangerous Mexican snacks.

Monday, October 18, 2010

Week 7 NFL Power Rankings and Predictions: Week 6 shakes up Top 10

For the most part, Week 6 was a game with good football. A few surprises, but for the most part very little has changed between the league's top teams. Let's see how this shakes up the power rankings. Added this week to my weekly post is the formulaic power rankings I introduced in a post earlier this week. My prediction accuracy also improved this week, maybe I'm on a roll!

Biggest Winner: Houston Texans (+5) 
Biggest Loser: Chicago Bears (-7) 

1. Pittsburgh Steelers (4-1, +1): While they only defeated the Browns, who were also starting a rookie QB, a Ravens loss and a strong showing from Ben Roethlisberger on his return makes me pretty confident with this #1 placing for the Steelers. Without Roethlisberger, the Steelers proved they were a good team. With Roethlisberger, the Steelers proved they are a great team. Great defense, good run game, and now, a good passing team. 

2. Baltimore Ravens (4-2, -1): Well, the mighty won't fall too fall after their overtime loss to the New England Patriots. The Ravens defense still played extremely well, limiting a good Patriots offense to 20 points in regulation, and forcing two interceptions from Patriots QB Tom Brady. It was puzzling they were unable to score more than 20 on offense, though. Joe Flacco played extremely well. Maybe Ray Rice still needs some time to recover from his injury, he needs to average more than 3.1 YPC. 

3. New York Jets (5-1, +1): It was scary for the Jets last week against Denver. After 5 weeks of no turnovers from QB Mark Sanchez, he threw not one but two last week against the Broncos. He's a lot better than he was last season, but he's still learning and he's still a young guy. Luckily for him, the Jets defense still is playing great and they can still run the ball well. Even without Darelle Revis at full, they were able to limit Kyle Orton to a mere 14 completions on 34 attempts. That's some good defense. 

4. Indianapolis Colts (4-2, +1): Winning a tough game on the road is a good sign from this Colts team. Especially when you consider the injuries that the Colts have sustained on both sides of the game, including S Bob Sanders (and his backup Melvin Bullitt) and now RB Joseph Addai. Even without WR Anthony Gonzalez, who is still out with his nagging injury, the Colts have one of the deepest WR core in the game. How do you cover Reggie Wayne, Pierre Garcon, and Austin Collie at the same time? Quick answer... you can't. And you can count on Peyton Manning finding the open man. 

5. New York Giants (4-2, +2): Wow, how this team has responded to its poor 1-2 start is amazing. Facing an underrated Detroit team carrying huge momentum after destroying St. Louis, the Giants continue their win streak. They did not let the Lions run the ball, much like they did against the Texans, and Eli Manning continues his solid mistake-free play. Must be nice to live in New York right now, they have two great teams to root for. Is it too early to start talking about a New York - New York Super Bowl (in Dallas no less)? 

6. New England Patriots (4-1, +0): They proved they were worthy of the 6th spot I gave them last week with their big win over the former-#1 Baltimore Ravens. The thing that still concerns me about this team still is the toll on offense created by the lack of Randy Moss. Don't get me wrong, Deion Branch played great, even better than I expected. He may even be better for the accurate type of passer Tom Brady is... he has great hands and runs excellent routes. However, he does not get separation on deep routes and cannot stretch the field like Randy Moss can. BenJarvus Green-Ellis was not able to run the ball effectively, and there were no big-plays now that teams can play more men close to the line of scrimmage. 

7. Philadelphia Eagles (4-2, +2): If there is one team in the NFC that can rain on the Giants' parade, they need not look further than their own division. This Eagles team is scary. Andy Reid said it best - he is very lucky to have two good QBs. Kevin Kolb, Michael Vick, I guess it doesn't matter, they'll find ways to win no matter what. Their only losses remain to be games in which their starting QB has gone down mid-game. One thing though... they better hope that the "severe concussion" that DeSean Jackson suffered won't sideline him for long ... he is a key component of this Eagles offense.

8. Atlanta Falcons (4-2, -4): It wasn't so much that they lost, it was how they lost which results in their drop from the Top 5 this week. It was things like Michael Turner's inability to get consistent yards while rushing... Things like Matt Ryan not being able to make key completions... Things like the Falcons defense unable to stop Kevin Kolb from completely lighting them up. They weren't just beaten, they were destroyed. They better be able to identify their mistakes before the Bengals come into town next week. 

9. New Orleans Saints (4-2, +3): Finally, we see some of the dominating play that made this team so special last season. Going into Tampa Bay and winning the way they did against a division opponent who had high hopes starting 3-1... big win. Drew Brees had a comeback game, avoiding throwing key interceptions and throwing for three touchdowns. They were also able to get back to running the ball even without Reggie Bush and Pierre Thomas, rookie Chris Ivory rushed for a ridiculous average of 10.5 YPC. 

10. Kansas City Chiefs (3-2, -2): Rounding off the Top 10 is yes, still, the Kansas City Chiefs. With how San Diego and the other teams in the AFC West has been playing, they are still the favorites to win this division despite the loss against the Texans and actually played very well. WR Dwayne Bowe made up for his drops last week with two touchdowns this week and if it were not for a horrible Defensive Passer Interference call (when it was actually Offense Passer Interference) on Brandon Flowers, they could have won this game. They should have won this game. Oh well, they can't cry over spilt milk, they need to lick their wounds and focus on their next opponents, the Jacksonville Jaguars. 

11. Houston Texans (4-2, +5): Well yes, while I did say they probably did not deserve the victory, they still played very well. Arian Foster got back to running the ball well, rushing for two touchdowns and Matt Schaub got back to his dominating passing performance, which may have something to do with elite WR Andre Johnson getting over his injury. Defense is still a major concern. Not only did the Chiefs run the ball with consistency, but Matt Cassel, who has been by all ways mediocre this season, had a 122.9 QB Rating against them. Like I said last week, until they can improve their pass defense, ANY team in the NFL is going to have a chance to beat them. What makes this even worse is the reports claiming LB DeMeco Ryans is out for the season. 

12. Tennessee Titans (4-2, +2): The Titans have been a team that is simply quietly winning games. They aren't making much noise, not many people are talking about them, but not many teams have executed as well consistently as the Tennessee Titans. They have one of the best RB in the league in Chris Johnson, and Vince Young is becoming a great starter. They hope he is okay after a scary injury against the Jaguars Monday night, but if he is not ready at least they have one of the best backup QB in the league, Kerry Collins, who can step in. 

13. Miami Dolphins (3-2, +2): You could say that all they did was defeat a beaten up Packers team, but winning games you are supposed to win is a major part of the game... the AFC East remains very competitive. The Dolphins are 3-0 on the road, sustaining both losses at home to division rivals. Brandon Marshall has improved this passing offense so much, he is really starting to build chemistry with QB Chad Henne. Also Dan "The Carp" Carpenter showed today why the Dolphins had confidence in him, he may be one of the best kickers in the game right now. 

14. Green Bay Packers (3-3, +0): If you're a Packers fan right now, you have to be really concerned with the impact of all these injuries are having on your football team. Aaron Rodgers was able to play, but he did not really play well with the losses on offense including Jermichael Finley. While its stats don't appear too bad, his completion percentage was way down against a tough Dolphins coverage unit, and his yardage was inflated by a torching TD reception by Greg Jennings. Hopefully they will get LB Clay Matthews back before their next game, a big one against the Vikings, because this game showed that the Packers defense cannot get any pressure on a QB whatsoever without him. 

15. Minnesota Vikings (2-3, +2): The Vikings did won the Panic Bowl, for whatever that's worth, against the Cowboys last week. But they'll need to continue this success if they want to turn this season around. They have a very hard schedule coming up, including a meeting against Brett Favre's former team and division rival, the Green Bay Packers, next week. One thing I really liked to see from this team last week was them relying on Adrian Peterson more. He got 24 carries, as opposed to Favre's 19 attempts (which Favre played well with, by the way). This is how this team is going to win football games, at least until Sidney Rice comes back... banging the ball with Peterson, setting up the play-action pass for Favre. 

16. San Diego Chargers (2-4, -5): I suppose I need to stop making excuses for this team... there is a reason why they are 2-4. Special Teams continues to be an issue for this team, and it has become a consistent problem for this team. These Special Teams woes continued against the Rams, who blocked a key Chargers field goal. Philip Rivers had his worst game of the season which really emphasizes Antonio Gates' importance to this offense. They better hope that the first-half injury that sidelined him for the rest of the game won't cause him to miss any additional games. 

17. Chicago Bears (4-2, -7): Maybe I should have trusted my better judgment last week when I ranked them 10th... I won't make the same mistake twice. Their great "legit" defense? Allowed 353 yards against a struggling Seahawks offense. I'm not saying they aren't legit, because they are, but they aren't as good as some make them out to be. On offense, they are just as bad as always. Jay Cutler played okay, made some big plays, but was still inconsistent. The offensive line still remains a HUGE problem. They allowed another six sacks of Jay Cutler, a guy coming off a concussion, one for a Safety. And they failed to run the ball effectively at all, yet again. Only 12 rushing attempts, for only 42 yards. And that's including a 24-yard run by Chester Taylor. They even had a Special Teams touchdown thanks to Devin Hester, but that still couldn't push them over the edge. They just aren't that good.

18. Washington Redskins (3-3, +0): I think I had them in the right place last week, honestly. They actually had some promising plays against the Colts on Sunday Night, they remain to be a team that is executing very well. Ryan Torain played a lot better (even if it was against a Colts defense that struggles against the run), but they will still be very happy to get Clinton Portis back in a couple of weeks. The NFC is still wide-open, but they would feel a lot better if they weren't in the NFC East.

19. Denver Broncos (2-4, +0): Despite falling to the Jets last week, they remain to be a very underrated, and dare I say dangerous team. I must say that I'm a bit disappointed with Kyle Orton's performance against the Jets, I thought he would be a little more accurate than he was, but that may be more of a tribute to the Jets' great pass defense than Orton's failure. Tim Tebow's first touchdown in the NFL was a memorable one, too bad it didn't include a victory. Nice job by the Broncos defense by forcing Mark Sanchez's first turnovers of the season. 

20. Seattle Seahawks (3-2, +2): They came out hot off their bye, defeating the 4-1 Chicago Bears in a spectacular fashion. They were able to set up a running game against a good Chicago defense, sporting their new RB duo of Marshawn Lynch and Justin Forsett for the first time. While Lynch's first game as a Seahawk didn't carry too much fruit, it did include a few receptions and a touchdown, and he proved he could carry the majority of the workload for this Seahawks team. 

21. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (3-2, -1): Leave it to the Super Bowl champions to bring the Buccaneers back to Earth after their 3-1 start. They may have three wins, but in all of their real challenges, they have lost (and in terrible fashion, too). Cadillac Williams has 2.5 YPC on the season. This isn't enough to take the pressure off of young QB Josh Freeman, this offense quite simply cannot score points against good defenses. They rely on defensive turnovers, and a football team should not be relying on turnovers to win games. Eventually their record will even out. This Buccaneers team is better than last season's Buccaneers team, but they aren't a real contender quite yet. 

22. Arizona Cardinals (3-2, +1): It is good for them that they are coming off their bye week, because their next game is probably the most important game of their season so far, going to Seattle to battle for division supremacy. The question is, which Cardinals team will show up? The Cardinals who took down the World Champions, or the Cardinals that were blown out by the Chargers and Falcons?

23. Jacksonville Jaguars (3-3, +0): This Jacksonville secondary continues to get lit up by every and all Quarterbacks they face. What's more, they are killing themselves offensively, they turned the ball over four times against the Titans on Monday night. Trent Edwards showed why the Bills were so confident cutting him... he was downright awful when he was forced to come into the game due to David Garrard's injury. This Jaguars teams seems to have too many weaknesses to really compete, at least this season. They are playing in probably the hardest division in football, the AFC South, and all of their rivals are clearly better.

24. Dallas Cowboys (1-4, +0): For the losers of the Panic Bowl, the season is looking to get even more and more out of reach. With a 1-4 record and an intensely difficult schedule in front of them, they will need to be nothing short of amazing for the rest of the season if they even want to finish at .500. Wade Phillips has lost his team, and this team has lost its confidence. For arguably one of the most talented teams in the NFL, they are also likely the least disciplined. Mistakes, penalties, and turnovers are the reason they are 1-4. 

25. St. Louis Rams (3-3, +4): They dared to be great, and succeeded, beating a good Chargers team. The key was solid defensive play and tough running by RB Steven Jackson. They aren't the most talented team in the NFL, but they are in a division where anything can happen. Next week, they will play another overachieving team, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. It will be a game that the team who wants it more will win.

26. Cincinnati Bengals (2-3, -1): This upcoming week, the struggling Bengals, coming off their bye, will travel to a hostile Atlanta environment to take on the Falcons. This is a team that had high hopes coming into this season, but has struggled due to inconsistent QB play from Carson Palmer, and seemed to have abandoned the Cedric Benson-led running game that led to their success last season. They were 10-6 last season because of solid defensive play, few offensive mistakes, and a tough running game. They must get back to this if they want to turn this season around.

27. Detroit Lions (1-5, +0): They are headed in the right direction behind head coach Jim Schwartz. They may be 1-5, but their schedule thus far has been absolutely brutal. The bye week will help them a lot, since this gives a chance for RB Jahvid Best to get healthy and QB Matthew Stafford will finally return after his Week 1 shoulder injury. They played tough against the Giants, exceeding even my expectations for them. Looking at their schedule and considering their injuries, they have a chance to win several more games by the end of this season. 

28. San Francisco 49ers (1-5, +2): Getting their first win of the season must feel good, but they have a lot of work to do. As sad as it is, the NFC West isn't out of reach for the one-win 49ers, who still have five of their six division games still in front of them. And they have a legitimate chance to extend their win-streak to two games, as they travel to Carolina to face the still-winless Panthers. One thing they need to do is get Frank Gore involved in the game more. They are ranked 28th in rushing, this needs to improve for a team like the 49ers. 

29. Oakland Raiders (2-4, -3): Now I see how Jason Campbell lost his job to Bruce Gradkowski to begin with. When your QB goes 8 out of 21 for a mere 83 yards (while throwing two interceptions in the process), that is a very real problem. You won't win many games when you score only 9 points. They hope that Darren McFadden and Bruce Gradkowski will be ready to go by next Sunday, because this offense desperately needs them. Or maybe they will give up, by, I don't know, saying all of their players are for trade?

30. Cleveland Browns (1-5, -2): No one expected the Browns to beat the Steelers, and this team seemed content with meeting expectations. It's safe to say that Colt McCoy wasn't quite ready for his first NFL start, they need Seneca Wallace to come back quickly from his injury. Also, their defense allowed Ben Roethlisberger throw for 257 yards and three touchdowns against them in his first game of the season. Are the Browns better than they were last season? Yeah, probably. But they still have a lot of work to do. 

31. Carolina Panthers (0-5, +0): Will it be the Panthers' turn to get their first win of the season? Possibly at home coming off a bye against the 1-5 49ers, but the only thing I'm going to say is that a victory will have more to do with how well the Carolina offensive line is able to play, rather than which crappy QB John Fox decides to start. 

32. Buffalo Bills (0-5, +0): I wonder if the Bills Front Office are kicking themselves for passing up on Perry Fewell for Chan Gailey on their Head Coaching decision this offseason. Because this team hasn't won and quite honestly, doesn't look like its going to win anytime soon. There were some talks about them shopping Lee Evans, but it looks like they're going to keep their current roster instead of trying to trade more players to try to rebuild for next season. Would have been amusing, though, since this would've caused their starting QB, RB, and WR at the beginning of the season no longer with the team by Week 6.

Formulaic Power Rankings

These Power Rankings are formula-based, the exact formula and explanation on how it is calculated can be found here on my blog.

Formulaic Biggest Winner: Miami Dolphins (+7) 
Formulaic Biggest Loser: Kansas City Chiefs (-10)

  1. New York Giants (68.8, +3)
  2. Baltimore (66.2, +0)
  3. New York Jets (65.5, +1)
  4. Pittsburgh (65.3, -3)
  5. Indianapolis (64.6, +2)
  6. Philadelphia (62.8, +5)
  7. New Orleans (62.4, +6)
  8. New England (61.8, +4)
  9. Miami (61.2, +7)
  10. Atlanta (61.1, -7)
  11. San Diego (57.8, -5)
  12. Houston (56.3, +5)
  13. Denver (52.3, +2)
  14. Dallas (51.8, +0)
  15. Chicago (50.9, -6)
  16. Green Bay (50.3, -6)
  17. Tennessee (49.9, +4)
  18. Kansas City (48.3, -10)
  19. Cincinnati (47.6, +0)
  20. Minnesota (46.8, +2)
  21. St. Louis (45.3, +5)
  22. Washington (43.7, -2)
  23. Tampa Bay (43.0, -5)
  24. Arizona (42.5, +0)
  25. Seattle (42.3, +3)
  26. San Francisco (39.7, +4)
  27. Jacksonville (39.3, -2)
  28. Oakland (36.9, -5)
  29. Detroit (34.3, +0)
  30. Cleveland (32.2, -3)
  31. Carolina (25.3, +0)
  32. Buffalo (19.2, +0)
Predictions for Week 7

Prediction accuracy for Week 6: 10-4 (71.4%)
Overall prediction accuracy: 16-12 (57.1%) 

Cincinnati (2-3) @ Atlanta (4-2): Atlanta by 7. The Falcons will work hard to avoid two straight losses, and the Bengals have not been able to emulate their success after their vastly overrated season last year. I expect the Falcons to get back on track, running the ball well with Michael Turner and forcing a turnover or two from Carson Palmer.

Will Ben Roethlisberger's resurgent return continue?
Pittsburgh (4-1) @ Miami (3-2): Pittsburgh by 3. Unfortunately, I expect the Dolphins' homefield woes to continue for another game against the visiting Steelers. It will likely be a low-scoring affair, both teams have solid defenses against the run and the pass. The winning team will be the one that makes the least mistakes. The key for the Dolphins will be forcing turnovers from a likely-rusty Ben Roethlisberger, while trying to get a passing game going with Chad Henne and Brandon Marshall. The Steelers will have to set up the run with Reshard Mendenhall, who did not run well against the Browns. They will also need to get pressure on Chad Henne, who is very deadly when he has time to throw.

Buffalo (0-5) @ Baltimore (4-2): Baltimore by 14. If there was ever a game that Ray Rice could bounce back, it would be against the visiting Buffalo Bills whom are winless and 32nd against the run this season. Should be a nice bounce-back game for the Ravens, who fell to the Patriots last week.

Jacksonville (3-3) @ Kansas City (3-2): Kansas City by 3. Kansas City's solid defense should be able to contain Maurice Jones-Drew, and if that happens, I think Matt Cassel will have a good day against a poor Jacksonville secondary. The Chiefs played well on the road against the Texans and Colts, despite losing those games, and will want to avoid their third straight loss against an AFC South opponent.

The Saints want to continue their dominating performance against Cleveland.
Cleveland (1-5) @ New Orleans (4-2): New Orleans by 10. Should be another easy victory by the Saints. I say "should be" because the Saints have had trouble putting teams away this season (except last week) and the Browns can be a dangerous team. For the Browns, they would feel a lot better about this game if Seneca Wallace is able to go, Colt McCoy did not play well against Pittsburgh and it is doubtful he would do too much better against New Orleans.

Washington (3-3) @ Chicago (4-2): Chicago by 3. Tough game to predict, either of these teams could win with all their inconsistencies. I'll give Chicago the edge at home and with the superior defense. I also think Jay Cutler will put up good numbers against a Washington secondary ranked 31st against the pass (but of course, he will probably get sacked a few times too).

San Francisco (1-5) @ Carolina (0-5): San Francisco by 7. The 49ers defense is quite solid and I doubt with Carolina's offensive line problems they will be able to run or pass very effectively. If they can set up the run early with Frank Gore, and Alex Smith can avoid costly turnovers, I like San Francisco in this game. Then again, this may be the Panthers' best chance so far this season to get their elusive first win... both teams are hungry. And the Panthers are coming off their bye... who knows.

St. Louis (3-3) @ Tampa Bay (3-2): Tampa Bay by 3. In games like this, I need to go with the home team but honestly, it could go either way. Both teams have over-performed this season given their roster talent, and are in contention for a playoff spot in an NFC that is as wide open. Both teams have a chance to strengthen their playoff claim in this game... the real question is: which team wants it more?

Philadelphia (4-2) @ Tennessee (4-2): Philadelphia by 3. This will be a close game, but it is one I think that the Eagles will pull out of with the win. The Titans defense has already been torched this season by Eli Manning, Kyle Orton, and Tony Romo... why not add Kevin Kolb and/or Michael Vick to that list? For the Eagles, they will need to contain Chris Johnson if they want to be victorious. Although they have been better recently, they have struggled to contain the run this season and Chris Johnson is easily the most talented running back (and best offensive line blocking for him) they have played all season.

Arizona (3-2) @ Seattle (3-2): Seattle by 3. I'll probably regret this pick later since the Seahawks have been like Jackle-and-Hide this season, but I do like the Seahawks in this game, a battle for NFC West supremacy (whatever that means, since the NFC West is easily the worst division in football). The Cardinals struggle on the road and I question if the Cardinals defense can win a game that their defense doesn't force many turnovers. I like Marshawn Lynch in this matchup to come out and have a big game for his new team.

Oakland (2-4) @ Denver (2-4): Denver by 10. The Broncos are a lot better than their 2-4 record would suggest, and Mile High Stadium is one of the hardest places for visiting teams to win in the NFL. I believe Kyle Orton-led Denver offense will be able to get back on track against the Raiders.

New England (4-1) @ San Diego (2-4): San Diego by 3. Upset alert! Even at 2-4, San Diego has not lost at home yet this season. And they have to get over all this under-performing at some point this season... right? If they study the defensive gameplan of the Ravens against the new-Patriots offense and get back on track offensively (and get Antonio Gates back from injury) I believe the Chargers will get the win at home. Philip Rivers has the ability to absolutely torch the New England defense. Of course, if this game were at New England, I'd probably pick New England by 21.

Clay Matthews is an integral part of the Packers defense.
Minnesota (2-3) @ Green Bay (3-3): Minnesota by 3. Wow, what a match-up for Sunday Night Football... Vikings and Packers, one of the best rivalries in recent history magnified by the Brett Favre saga last year and now both teams are struggling to stay in the division hunt with three losses. Even if Clay Matthews comes back, I expect Minnesota to pound the Packers defense running the ball with Adrian Peterson with Green Bay's injury woes continuing to haunt them. To win this, Green Bay will need to shut down the run, force turnovers from Brett Favre, and find a way for Aaron Rodgers to get into a rhythm since it is unlikely Green Bay will be able to run too well against the Vikings.

New York Giants (4-2) @ Dallas (1-4): New York Giants by 7. The Giants have been playing great football as of late. If they are able to shut down the dual running threat Dallas possesses between Marion Barber and Felix Jones, the Giants should be able to force turnovers from Tony Romo. Offensively, the Giants should be able to run the ball with Ahmad Bradshaw. Eli Manning will need to avoid mistakes. Basically, the Giants will need to beat the Cowboys the same way every other team has beaten the Cowboys this season... by forcing them to make costly mistakes.

Byes: Detroit (1-5), Houston (4-2), Indianapolis (4-2), New York Jets (5-1)

Results of Last Week's Poll

Last week, I asked my readers "Which long-term injury sustained this season will be most of a problem for their team moving forward?" between Jermichael Finley of the Packers, Michael Clayton of the Rams, Sidney Rice of the Vikings, Ryan Grant of the Packers, or Clinton Portis of the Redskins.

The winner of the poll was Ryan Grant with 50% of the vote, with second place belonging to the Sidney Rice with 33%, and third belonging to Jermichael Finley. Even though I voted for Sidney Rice, I think last week really proved Jermichael Finley's importance to that Packers team. Aaron Rodgers struggled to complete passes without him.

This week's poll is "Which one-win team, if any, will make the playoffs?" between the Cleveland Browns, Dallas Cowboys, Detroit Lions, San Francisco 49ers or No one-win team will make the playoffs.

Vote on the right-sidebar of my blog!

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