Biggest Winner: Minnesota Vikings (+4)
Biggest Loser:Tennessee Titans (-5)
1. Atlanta Falcons (9-2, +1): Huge impressive win by the Falcons last week at home against Green Bay. It was close, but they were able to make the plays necessary to win at home. And as long as they can win at home, they will succeed becuase they are in position to claim homefield advantage in the NFC. If they do that, they may be on the fast track for a Super Bowl appearance. I like how this team does business... long productive drives on offense with a defense just good enough to make some key plays. It's a formula that will win many games for the Falcons.
2. Philadelphia Eagles (7-4, -1): Well I said it last week: If there is a defense in football who could stop Michael Vick and the explosive Eagles offense, it was Chicago's. Having said that last week, I felt it was unfair to place them too far down after a close loss at Chicago. The thing that really shocked me the most though was how badly the Eagles defense performed against the Bears. Sure - they sacked Cutler a lot (every team does that against the Bears), but they also let him march down the field for 4 touchdowns and no interceptions. I guess Asante Samuel was a bigger part of that defense than I originally gave him credit for. They better hope he gets healthy soon or Michael Vick's efforts may be in vain.
3. Baltimore Ravens (8-3, +0): While a 17-10 win may not seem impressive, it shows the Ravens can still play Raven football... and they did it against a team fighting their hardest for a playoff spot, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Nice scrappy win by the Ravens. At 8-3, they only need to win a few more to be virtually guaranteed a playoff birth. And once they get in the playoffs... you better believe they can beat any team. Key division matchup against the Steelers next week!
4. New England Patriots (9-2, +1): I guess it was "only against the Lions", but Tom Brady looked nothing short of flawless against the Lions on Thanksgiving... he made it look easy, very mechanical. Wes Welker also had his best game in recent memory to propel this offense to its dominance that I haven't seen since 2007. I will be very interested to see if they can keep it up. If they can, there may not be a defense in the league that could stop them.
5. Pittsburgh Steelers (8-3, -1): It should not have to come to overtime to defeat the Buffalo Bills, even at Buffalo. Despite rushing very well with Rashard Mendenhall, this team failed to consistently move the ball and score points. I'm not saying they can't correct these mistakes, but it must be a concern for Steelers fans moving forward this season. Let's see if they were just sleeping on the Bills for their next opponent: The Baltimore Ravens, in the key division rematch.
6. New York Jets (9-2, +1): Might I say that the Jets-Bengals game on Thanskgiving Night was one of the most boring games I've ever watched? All I can say is that the Jets defense is very good, even if the Jets offense isn't. Like last year, it should propel them to a position to compete in the AFC playoffs.
7. New York Giants (7-4, -1): They were able to survive the Jags, but it was way too close for comfort. They struggled to contain the Jaguars running attack staring Maurice Jones-Drew all game and it nearly cost them. In the end though they were able to pull out a win and that's what matters in the end. Still, a defense that looked so dominant only a few weeks ago seems to have lost that dominance. They will need to return to it to compete in a very tight NFC playoff race.
8. New Orleans Saints (8-3, +0): A good win at Dallas, avoiding the upset even if they allowed the Cowboys to march back into the game in the 2nd half. The return of Reggie Bush was rather disappointing, but that's what happens when you are out of the game for awhile. Now they will want to regroup on a long week for their next opponents since they are still tailing Atlanta in the NFC South.
9. Green Bay Packers (7-4, +1): It is hard to win in Atlanta, and they almost had it. Too bad almost doesn't quite cut it. They made some key mistakes, including an Aaron Rodgers goalline fumble and giving up a long return during the last kickoff the game to set up Atlanta with a field goal attempt to win the game, avoiding overtime. Aaron Rodgers did make up for his fumble with good play for most of the game, but in the end the Falcons simply are better (at least at home).
10. Chicago Bears (8-3, +4): Well I can't continue to rank this team below the Top 10, having knocked off my former #1. Jay Cutler may have been sacked a bunch of times again, but he did not throw an interception against the Eagles and had 4 touchdown passes. I'm still not sold on him and this Bears offense, but as long as the defense remains good they will be an NFC contender.
11. San Diego Chargers (6-5, +0): Once again, we see that the Chargers are making a late run for the AFC West. And honestly, I think you would be a fool to doubt them at this point. Their offense is absolutely amazing (even without Vincent Jackson again, the bum got injured before even catching a pass) and their defense is solid. While they were playing their favored opponent, Peyton Manning, you have to believe some of this rebound is legitimate.
12. Indianapolis Colts (6-5, -3): Seriously, what is WITH Peyton Manning against the Chargers? At 6-5, the Colts are in danger of letting the season slip away from them. They're lucky that the AFC South no longer looks like the power-house division we thought it was early in the season, or they could be out of contention already. I still have to believe in Manning and the Colts since I honestly think they are the best team in the division.
13. Kansas City Chiefs (7-4, +0): Taking care of business to stay in undisputed division lead is a good sign from this Chiefs team, and that is exactly what they did against the Seahawks, winning 42-24. Huge shout out for Dwayne Bowe. This guy has had an absolutely spectacular season and added to it with 3 touchdown receptions against the Seahawks last Sunday. The Chiefs have an offense. Astonishing.
14. Miami Dolphins (6-5, +1): Nice response from being shut out by the Bears to having their biggest offensive day of the season at the Raiders, and without their star WR Brandon Marhsall, too. Even with a winning record, though, the playoffs seem out of reach. They're stuck behind the Jets and Patriots in the AFC East, and they will need to beat out one of the two or either Baltimore or Pittsburgh (to whom they lost to already) if they want even a Wildcard spot. Still, improvement going into next season is refreshing to see from this Dolphins team.
15. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (7-4, -3): Once again, this team's inability to beat quality opponents makes me not believe in them as a real contender. To make matters worse, they also sustained some injuries against the Ravens. We'll see how they deal with them, since that is really what separates a pretender from a real contender - depth.
16. Jacksonville Jaguars (6-5, +2): I am quite surprised how well the Jaguars were able to play against the Giants, despite losing. They were able to run effectively, something we have not been able to see against the Giants all season. And because of a Colts loss, they get to enjoy an AFC South lead for another week. Question is, is this team really good enough to hold on to the AFC South for the rest of the season?
17. Minnesota Vikings (4-7, +4): Looks like they got the same spark that the Cowboys did with firing their head coach. Nice win at Washington. Leslie Frazier let Favre do what he wanted to do and they were able to hang in there even after Adrian Peterson was sidelined for the majority of the game. Toby Gerhart did a fair spot filling in... even if he is no Adrian Peterson.
18. Houston Texans (5-6, +2): Okay, so it may have been against a sixth-round rookie, but a shutout is exactly what the Texans defense needed to build some much-needed confidence. I mean, it's hard to argue against a 20-0 win. Anyway, reports are that Andre Johnson will only be fined, not suspended, so this is a good news for the Texans, who were afraid of a Johnson suspension after the fight he had with Titans CB Cortland Finnegan.
19. Oakland Raiders (5-6, +0): So will the Quarterback controversy continue in Oakland after Gradkowski looked hideous against the Miami defense? Maybe, but for their sake, I hope not. What they need is some Quarterback stability to build on the positive things they have. Like rookie Jacoby Ford, who is amazing. He had two touchdowns against Miami, one reception and a kickoff return, and several key completions. I really like this kid for the Raiders. Now all they need is what they have needed in the past several years - a Quarterback.
20. Washington Redskins (5-6, -4): Turning around a franchise takes time. Shanahan knows that. This team is much improved, but isn't there yet, falling to the struggling Minnesota Vikings under a new head coach. The big problem is the defense, in my opinion. While at times they can be explosive they have struggled this season with giving up big plays which has killed them.
21. Cleveland Browns (4-7, +2): Was a little too close for comfort, it should have never been that close against the Panthers, but I'll give them the benefit of the doubt since to be fair, they did have Jake Delhomme starting at Quarterback. Under Colt McCoy or Seneca Wallace, this Browns team has proven to be effective. Peyton Hillis is a monster, scoring another 3 touchdowns. I'm afraid of them as a Dolphins fan this coming Sunday.
22. Tennessee Titans (5-6, -5): Well I think this season is officially over for the Titans... Rusty Smith is obviously not the answer at QB, as he failed to have any production against the worst pass defense in the league. Chris Johnson had only 7 carries for 5 yards after the Texans stacked the box all game with no fear. Randy Moss is still a bum, like he's been all season. Talk about implosion... there's always next year.
23. St. Louis Rams (5-6, +2): And so the leader of the NFC West has a losing record... it has really come to this. Anyway, the Rams actually won on Sunday, an impressive one away at Mile High against the Broncos. They did not let the explosive passing offense of the Broncos come back to win and Sam Bradford is slowly proving himself as an NFL-quality Quarterback. They may be the team to come out of the NFC West to make the playoffs this season (even if it is likely with a losing record).
24. Denver Broncos (3-8, -2): I think we can finally put a fork in Josh McDaniels, who may be one of the worst head coaches in Broncos history. Let's sum up the last week. First, Spygate 2. His staff gets caught videotaping arguably one of the worst offenses in Pro Football, then losing anyway. Next, he lets the Rams come into Denver and get a win. They have a good pass offense, but everything else in this team screams "Terrible".
25. Seattle Seahawks (5-6, -1): Losing at home is not a good sign for a division leader. And now every team in the NFC West has a losing record. Here's an amusing fact... the NFC West has a net points total of -247 this season. Keep in mind this number includes games against eachother. Wow... what just about any team would give to be in the NFC West right now.
26. Dallas Cowboys (3-8, +0): They did face the division champs, but losing after a huge comeback is disappointing. But I can't say I'm surprised given this season for Dallas. All they are trying to do is get a few positive things together this season to go into next season. And I've liked some of the things I've seen from Jason Garret so far. Is he the answer in Dallas?
27. San Francisco 49ers (4-7, +1): They did what they needed to do to stay in contention, even if it is only beat the Cardinals. Even without Frank Gore, they were able to run the ball with authority. Good thing they picked up Brian Westbrook in the offseason, since their win was dual-sided: it is confirmed that Frank Gore will be out for the season. This should affect the 49ers offense greatly... Frank Gore has been the 49ers offense in the last several years. Will they be able to keep winning without him?
28. Detroit Lions (2-9, -1): No matter how much they have seemed to improved, they are still 2-9, and I don't understand it. Their pass defense simply got abused by Tom Brady on Thanksgiving. It was a short week, but they will need to get their acts together. Even while in rebuilding mode, they should not be 2-9 right now. Still, I think they have the right pieces in place to be good in the next couple years.
29. Buffalo Bills (2-9, +2): An impressive showing against the Steelers in an almost-win impresses me enough to move them up two spots! While I criticized Chan Gailey originally, I must say he is having this team play very hard and I think they have improved from last season's mess. Now all they need on offense is an offensive line. Tough break though for losing Shawn Merriman to injury before he even got to play. He likely won't resign with the Bills.
30. Arizona Cardinals (3-8, -1): The Cardinals didn't just lose to the 49ers Monday night, they were abused. They were unable to do anything on offense and they flat out gave up in the running game and let the 49ers do just about whatever they'd like on offense. A big drop for Ken Whisenhunt and the two-time NFC West champions. While I did not buy this in preseason, the loss of such leaders like Warner, Boldin, Rolle, and Dansby were huge for this team. Now, they'll be in rebuilding mode.
31. Cincinnati Bengals (2-9, -1): This entire Bungles offense has regressed. The offensive line is not opening the holes they were for Cedric Benson last season. Carson Palmer has never regained to the form he once had before injury. The "elite" receivers have not produced to expectations. While the defense is solid, their lack of a pass rush leaves them vulnerable. This team needs to fire Marvin Lewis and rebuild completely, in my opinion. There is no salvaging this team, it is in disarray.
32. Carolina Panthers (1-10, +0): Had a very real chance to win against the Browns but once again fell down short. And this is even after Jake Delhomme obviously was trying to give his old team a free win for old time's sake. They must've really enjoyed having him as an opponent for a change. Too bad the Quarterbacks in Carolina aren't much better. The countdown for 1-15 continues!
Predictions for Next Week
Prediction accuracy for Last Week: 13-3 (81.25%)
Overall prediction accuracy: 69-45 (60.53%)
|Vick comes off a rough outting to play the league's worst pass defense.|
Jacksonville (6-5) @ Tennessee (5-6): Jacksonville by 3. Will be a close game I think. Jacksonville actually had a successful defensive strategy against the Titans in the first matchup, stacking the box against Chris Johnson. This will be even easier if rookie Rusty Smith is forced to make another start. It will be close and could go either way, but I give the edge to Jacksonville, who played well against the Giants and is still the leader of the AFC South.
Cleveland (4-7) @ Miami (6-5): Miami by 7. Cleveland has a very solid team this year and has been able to compete, however Miami is the better team and they need to get it together at home if they want to keep alive their already slim playoff chances. A lot of this game depends on who starts at Quarterback for Cleveland. If it is Jake Delhomme again, Miami should win convincingly. If it is Colt McCoy, we may have a game on our hands.
|This "in-completion" haunts every Lions fans' memory.|
Buffalo (2-9) @ Minnesota (4-7): Minnesota by 7. At home, I like the Vikings in this matchup. They need to hope whatever happened to Adrian Peterson won't keep him out of this game, though. The Bills have proven vulnerable to the run this season and at home, Minnesota should be able to run the ball especially with Adrain Peterson. Minnesota's defense has also been solid - they will give trouble to the Chan Gailey Bills offense, much like Pittsburgh did.
New Orleans (8-3) @ Cincinnati (2-9): New Orleans by 10. Both teams are coming off a long week. For some reason, I have the feeling the Bengals could get the upset here but I still have to go with my head and say the Saints. I mean, its one of the league's elite teams against one of the league's worst teams. The Saints SHOULD have this.
San Francisco (4-7) @ Green Bay (7-4): Green Bay by 14. Coming off a loss, you know that the Packers will want to prey on the weak 49ers to catch up to the Bears, who now control the division without contention. Besides that, the Pack is the better team. They played hard at Atlanta last week but came an inch short. They should make quick work of the 49ers in this matchup.
Denver (3-8) @ Kansas City (7-4): Kansas City by 3. While the first game did not go in the Chief's favor, they should have better luck at Arrowhead. Look for the Chiefs to keep taking care of buisness against a now demoralized Broncos team who will be looking for a new coach in the offseason.
Washington (5-6) @ New York G (7-4): New York G by 7. Division matchups are tough, but this is one that the Giants need to win. They don't need another blunder like the debacle that occurred when Dallas came to town. Eli Manning needs to avoid mistakes despite his poor receiving corp due to injuries. If there is one thing the Skins can do on defense, its make big plays and take the ball away. On the other side, I expect the Giants to eat McNabb for breakfast, like old times.
Oakland (5-6) @ San Diego (6-5): San Diego by 10. At home, I really like the Chargers. This Raiders team really isn't legitimate and the Chargers are primed for their usual late-season run. At home, they should have no trouble dispensing of the division-rival Raiders.
Carolina (1-10) @ Seattle (5-6): Seattle by 7. To help an NFC West team get back to .500, the NFC South donated the Panthers to the Seahawks this Sunday. It's about as close to a "free win" you can get in the NFL, the Seahawks better not squander this gift.
Dallas (3-8) @ Indianapolis (6-5): Indianapolis by 7. The Colts have really disappointed me lately, but they have another shot at home to get a win. Maybe they just had bad luck against the Chargers. The Cowboys face their second difficult game in a row. Let's see how Garret leads them into this game.
Atlanta (9-2) @ Tampa Bay (7-4): Atlanta by 3. This game will be CLOSE. Historically, NFC West teams are very good at home and this isn't the Buccaneers team of last season. Still, since the Falcons are #1 on my Power Rankings I have to go with then... then again, teams who I have ranked #1 seem to have very bad luck. TheKillerNacho Curse? Perhaps...
St. Louis (5-6) @ Arizona (3-8): St. Louis by 7. If the Rams are serious about this thing (actually competing for the NFC West), they will need to defeat the current champions in their house. Shouldn't be too hard though since the Cardinals this year are hideous... but still, we are talking about the former 1-15 Rams. We'll see.
|Like the first game, this game will be a close slugfest.|
New York J (9-2) @ New England (9-2): New England by 3. Then we get treated by yet another key division game, the Jets and the Patriots! This one will also be close. Will the Jets be able to shut down the Patriots offensive attack like last game? They no longer have the benefit of covering Randy Moss, but both teams will have a lot of time to prepare for eachother and Tom Brady is coming off his best performance in the last couple years. I pick the Patriots, they have been playing better football recently.
Results of Last Week's Poll
Last week, I asked my readers "What is your favorite "F" word associated with Thanksgiving?" between Family, Friends, Food or Football?
The winner of this poll was Food, with 42% of the vote. I can't argue with that, Thanksgiving food is delicious. But what would it be without my vote, Football, which got 28% of the vote? Friends also got 28% of the vote, and I guess no one likes their Family because Family was voted for 0% of the time. Oh well.
This week's poll is "What record does the winner of the NFC West end with?" between 6-10 or Less, 7-9, 8-8 or 9-7 or Higher?
Vote on the right-sidebar of my blog!