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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.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Week 15 NFL Power Rankings and Predictions: Falls from Grace

While we got some performances that we expected from most teams last Sundays, some teams really sucked last Sunday... Teams that are in serious playoff contention, no less. Maybe we didn't know as much as we originally thought about some of these teams. Let's see how some of these teams' blunders will affect this week's power rankings.

Biggest Winner: New Orleans Saints (+4)
Biggest Loser: Kansas City Chiefs, Denver Broncos (-3)

1. Atlanta Falcons (11-2, +0): Well, Atlanta did exactly what you would expect from the league's #1 team going against the league's #32 team. Michael Turner had a monster game getting 3 touchdowns, and Matt Ryan was able to sustain some nice passing, too. On defense, they were able to easily contain Carolina's offense except for a single drive. Not only do they put themselves in an even better position to get home-field advantage in the NFC, but they further add to their case for being the NFL's best team with a dominating win.

2. New England Patriots (11-2, +1): What is with this Bill Bellichick Patriots team in the snow? They have been absolutely dominant as they bamboozle the Bears 36-7. The defense was able to easily contain Jay Cutler and the struggling Bears offense, and it was a major surprise how well even Tom Brady was able to perform against a defense as sound as the Bears'. Impressive win, and the Patriots become the first team to clinch a playoff birth.

3. Pittsburgh Steelers (10-3, +1): Troy Polamalu is the sole reason why this team did not succeed last season and boy, has he come back with a vengeance this season! Nice job by the Steelers to avoid an trap game by sweeping the Bengals. Surely, this returns the favor after the Bengals beat them twice last season to take the division. This year, Pittsburgh may be in position to be able to put the division title in cruise control.

4. Philadelphia Eagles (9-4, -2): They still have easily the most dynamic and scary offenses in the NFL behind Michael Vick, but their defense seems to have really struggled as of late. I don't know if it is due to some of the offensive injuries they have sustained or something wrong with the system, but I would be very concerned with how easily teams have been able to move the ball against the Eagles lately. They need to patch up their defensive effort to stay in control of the NFC East.

5. New Orleans Saints (10-3, +4): The time that the Super Bowl champions have been under the radar has come to an end. The Saints appear to be returning to their Super Bowl form - their running backs are beginning to get healthy, Drew Brees is playing better, and the defense is, quite simply, playing good solid football. They are beginning to blow out teams again, a good sign from a team struggling to keep up with the Falcons.

6. Baltimore Ravens (9-4, -1): Although winning pretty doesn't really mean anything in terms of record and playoffs, the Ravens did not win pretty against the Texans on Monday night. Somehow, they blew a 28-7 lead to allow the Texans to tie it at 28-28 to force the game into overtime. Luckily for them, they won the overtime coinflip, which gave their defense a chance to rest and for Josh Wilson to make the game-winning pick six.

7. New York Giants (9-4, -1): Nice solid win for the Giants on Monday night, after the fiasco that happened with where and when they were finally going to play the Vikings. While it was a solid wins, there are some questions I have. First, Eli Manning and his interceptions this season has been a problem. Luckily they are still 9-4, but he doesn't get better it will cost them. Secondly, Ahmad Bradshaw's injury looks like it could be serious, and he is a major part of that Giants rushing attack.

8. Green Bay Packers (8-5, +0): A tough loss to Detroit after losing Aaron Rodgers for the game on a concussion he sustained on a scramble. This loss really hurt them badly, since the team was already struggling to hold onto an NFC wildcard spot. Now, they look to a brutal matchup against New England next weekend with a possibility of not having Aaron Rodgers... they better hope they can get him back, Matt Flynn's chances of beating the Patriots is slim .

9. New York Jets (9-4, -2): If I were a Jets fan, I would be highly concerned after dropping two division matchups in a row. This offense has been abysmal as of late... Mark Sanchez is struggling to make accurate throws and making questionable decisions, his receivers are dropping passes, and the offensive line is having a hard time picking up blitzes and run blocking recently. Unless they can get some confidence and production on that side of the ball, we may see this team go 9-7 again with such a dangerous schedule ahead of them.

10. San Diego Chargers (7-6, +3): Go figure... the week after we are talking about the Chargers dropping their season, we're talking about how they just saved their season. They are still trailing the Chiefs for the AFC West, but after demolishing them 31-0, it would be hard to see them not AFC West champions if they can win out. They proved they were the best team in the AFC West last Sunday.

11. Chicago Bears (9-4, -1): Well, I don't know what exactly to think of the Bears' loss last Sunday to the New England Patriots. The only thing I can think of is they simply did not show up to play against the Patriots, frozen solid by the blizzard they were forced to play in. Still, as a NFL team, you have to play in those conditions. They were exposed and abused... and now they will need to rebound to stay a step ahead of the Packers.

12. Jacksonville Jaguars (8-5, +0): They just keep winning, even if it is pretty ugly. The defense did not play well, they struggled to stop both the pass and the run but the offense was very effective against a very stout Raiders defense, scoring 38 points for the victory. A big part of their success has to do with their resurgent run attack. Rashad Jennings and Maurice Jones-Drew have become quite an effective duo for this team.

13. Indianapolis Colts (7-6, +1): At 7-6, they are extremely lucky to still be in control of their own destiny. Luckily for them, the AFC South was not the division we thought it would be this season. Now they face a criticial AFC South showdown against the Jaguars. If they lose this one, they can kiss this season goodbye. If they win, they may put themselves as a favorite in the division.

14. Kansas City Chiefs (8-5, -3): Good news about Matt Cassell - he was able to return to the team on Monday. He still remains questionable for the next game, but if you are the Chiefs, you better hope he can play. We saw the disaster that will be in store for them against San Diego if Brodie Croyle keeps starting. If Cassell is forced to sit out another couple games, the Chiefs will be out of it. With him, they may be able to hold on for a playoff birth.

15. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (8-5, +0): They may have only been able to hold on by a botched extra point, but they did hold on. However, their play against the Redskins was for the most part inexcusable. Ryan Torain had their way with them, he could not be stopped. Josh Freeman struggled to get anything going offensively. They are still in contention for a wildcard, which is good, but they won't be for long if they allow these problems to continue.

16. Miami Dolphins (7-6, +0): It's a darn shame that such great defensive play from this defense under Mike Nolan will go to waste due to abysmal offensive play. The Dolphins are ranked 31st in Socring offense this season... only Carolina has scored less points per game. Granted, there have been offensive injuries, but the offense was below average even before those injuries. Chad Henne is not the answer at Quarterback, and the interior offensive line play has been horrid all season, limiting what they can do on the ground.

17. Oakland Raiders (6-7, +1): Darren McFadden. Wow, has he turned into a premiere back for these Oakland Raiders. He torched the Jaguars all day. Too bad it did not translate into a win... I do not know what the deal was with the Raiders defense and how they played against the Jaguars last Sunday. Now they find themselves 3rd in the division, and they need some help if they want to win the division.

18. Minnesota Vikings (5-8, -1): If you did not see the footage of the Metrodome crumbling down due to the snow, you have to watch it. It's both astonishing and amazing. I guess this gives fire tot he Vikings' cause of getting a new stadium, that's about the only positive thing to happen to them this week. They had to play a home game in a hostile Detroit environment, got dominated by the New York Giants, and, oh yeah, Brett Favre is gone. Honestly, I still can't believe he's gone... we now have an NFL without both Brett Favre and John Madden. It feels so... empty.

19. Houston Texans (5-8, +1): Once again, the Texans come back from a huge deficit just to lose the game anyway. It's really becomming the calling card of the Texans this season. After battling back from a 7-28 hole you would expect Matt Shaub to finish a little more spectacularly than the anti-climatic pick six he threw in overtime. Just another disappointing season for the Texans. Ah well, there's always next season right? Or maybe not with the lockout looming... and probably not for Gary Kubiak, who will catch some fire going into the off-season.

20. Cleveland Browns (5-8, -1): Better than last season, but still have some things to improve upon, as they proved last Sunday when they were dropped by the Buffalo Bills. Colt McCoy means a lot to this team... Jake Delhomme is just awful. Hopefully Colt will be able to come back soon, to end the season on a high note for the Cleveland Browns. I hope they stick with Eric Mangini going into next season, he has this team motivated to succeed still.

21. Dallas Cowboys (4-9, +1): Close isn't quite good enough to beat the Eagles, I'm afraid. However, their offense looked strong against the Eagles which is nice. Although Jon Kitna, while having good accuracy, seemed to be afraid to take some deep shots against a young Philadelphia secondary. Ah well, Dallas will have another shot at the Eagles at the end of the season. They are hoping to get them back at that time.

22. St. Louis Rams (6-7, -1): No surprise losing at New Orleans, but one would hope they would be able to score a bit more points than they did. Even with a losing record, however, they still are #1 in the NC West and this division will likely came down to when the Rams and Seahawks clash in Week 17. The only real question is whether or not the NFC West champion will be able to even be .500?

23. Washington Redskins (5-8, +2): Ryan Torain was the bright spot of the Redskins' loss to Tampa Bay last Sunday, rushing for an insane 172 yards on 24 attempts. It was absolutely criminal that he did not get a touchdown against the Buccaneers. And if the Redskins want to know why they lost the game they need not look further than Kicker Graham Gano, who missed two easy field goals (and just barely kicked another). While the botched extra point was not Gano's fault, the kicking team as a whole should be embarrassed about that performance, and if I were a Redskins fan I would flinch whenever a field goal or extra point is attempted.

24. Seattle Seahawks (6-7, -1): Hey, I was right about those Niners! But poor Seahawks, they just can't get any type of rhythm or consistency going, a shame since they might be the best team on paper in the NFC West and may be the only one with a prayer to win a playoff game if they got one. Still, the way the Rams have been playing and their mommentum I think they will ultimately lose the division to the Rams but we'll see. It will be decided Week 17.

25. Tennessee Titans (5-8, -1): They remained competitive against Indianapolis and got back to running the football with Chris Johnson, which I liked, but Kerry Collins is not good enough to win them many games anymore. The locker room turmoil with the Vince Young, Jeff Fisher, Bud Adams soap opera may have killed the rest of this momentum this team had left.

26. San Francisco 49ers (5-8, +0): I guess Alex Smith might have some stuff that he hasn't shown us yet, after all. Nice win against the Seahawks, technically keeping their season alive at 5-8. If the 49ers come back to win the game, it would be nothing short of comical. Anyway, not much to say... they destroyed those poor Seahawks. Brian Westbrook is doing a good job filling in for the injured Frank Gore.

27. Detroit Lions (3-10, +1): What we learned from the Lions: The key to beating the Packers is to injure Aaron Rodgers. Just kidding, just kidding... the Lions have played well at home this season and they were able to get a big win against the Pack, snapping a bunch of poor streaks for them. Maybe Calvin Johnson's tantrum about winning worked, the Lions won a game! And a division matchup, too!

28. Buffalo Bills (3-10, +1): Huge upset by beating Cleveland last week! The Bills are hot right now, trying to end the season on a high note. They will be a major threat to their remaining opponents, even if they will likely be expected to lose most of those games. The defense only allowing 6 points and forcing three fumbles from Peyton Hillis was amazing, and surprising.

29. Arizona Cardinals (4-9, +2): The Cardinals were able to find some late-season fire after all, destroying the visiting Broncos with yet another rookie Quarterback, Joe Skelton, starting. Defense played very well to force a second bad game from Kyle Orton, and the Cardinals were able to take advantage of a demoralized Broncos team.

30. Denver Broncos (3-10, -3): How can Denver be so bad? They looked to have an explosive passing offense early in the season, but now even Kyle Orton is starting to fail them. They have some big players on the defense and some big players on the offense, on paper they are defiantly not a 3-10 football team. Josh McDaniels will be remembered as the coach who single-handedly destroyed this Broncos organization.

31. Cincinnati Bengals (2-11, -1): From a double-digit win season to a double-digit losing season in a single season... Wow. I just don't know what is wrong with this Bengals team, they are just unable to win even after adding Terrell Owens. Their defense is not able to get pressure like they did last season, and Cedric Benson has been unable to produce in the run offense like he did last season. This season is one to forget for the Bengals. Bye bye, Marvin Lewis.

32. Carolina Panthers (1-12, +0): Sooo... Andrew Luck for first ovreall pick by the Carolina Panthers? Seems so. Jimmy Clausen actually hasn't played too badly considering the Offensive Line play, but I don't think the Panthers view him as the answer with the Quarterback carousel this season. At least they were able to find a gem late in the season in Runningback Mike Goodson.

Predictions for Next Week

Prediction accuracy for Last Week: 12-4 (75.00%)
Overall prediction accuracy: 93-53 (63.70%)

This Chargers team is playing with fire now.
San Francisco (5-8) @ San Diego (7-6): San Diego by 7. Both of these teams are trying to hold onto their playoff hopes to win their respective divisions, but the Chargers have the upper hand. They are playing at home, and honestly have the better team. This came could actually go either way, though... both teams have their morale raised after a huge win last Sunday, but I have to go with the better team at home.

Kansas City (8-5) @ St. Louis (6-7): Upset alert! St. Louis by 3. Tough game to call, but I'm going to go for the Rams at home. The Rams have played good football at home this season, but both of these teams will want it bad. The Chiefs are trying to stay ahead in an AFC West they opened the door to last Sunday. The Rams are trying to get back into control of the NFC West (and trying to get rid of their losing record). But if the Chiefs must start Brodie Croyle again, there may not even be a game. Cassel will need to get better.

Buffalo (3-10) @ Miami (7-6): Upset alert! Buffalo by 3. I'm not going to lie, this game could easily go either way. Miami's defense is good enough to keep them in it but Buffalo is a red-hot team now looking forward to playing spoiler and getting some positive things going into the off-season. Miami is 1-5 at home this season, they just haven't been able to establish anything there and it could be a long day for an offense who has been struggling with injuries and offensive line issues.

Cleveland (5-8) @ Cincinnati (2-11): Cleveland by 3. After a disappointing loss at Buffalo, I expect the Browns to make up for it with a win against the pitiful Bengals. Although the Bengals aren't really as bad as their record suggests and could be dangerous, Cleveland has been playing solid football all season and will likely make less mistakes than the Bengals, which will be the key.

Jacksonville (8-5) @ Indianapolis (7-6): Indianapolis by 3. Huge AFC South showdown, and it will determine the favorite in that division moving forward. After being upset by the Jaguars earlier this season, the Colts will have added motivation to beat them at home this time around. The Jaguars must travel to a hostile Indianapolis environment and attempt to best Peyton Manning twice... which is no easy task. But if they do, the Jaguars will take the AFC South prize back home with them.

Kerry Collins is an improvement over Rusty Smith, but by how much?
Houston (5-8) @ Tennessee (5-8): Houston by 7. There was a time we thought these two teams would be battling it out for the division this season, now we are wondering if they will be able to keep their head coaches going into the off-season... Houston is not as bad as their record, though (although their pass defense is horrible). Last time these two teams matched up, Houston was able to score a shut-out and hold Chris Johnson to squat. While Kerry Collins is a bit more scary of a Quarterback, not by much. I think the Texans will win this one.

Washington (5-8) @ Dallas (4-9): Dallas by 10. You know that the Cowboys have been looking forward to this matchup since their defeat in Week 1 which started their horrid season. Now they get another shot at these Redskins, a Redskins team now demoralized after some poor games as of late. I think Dallas takes this one at home.

Philadelphia (9-4) @ New York G (9-4): Philadelphia by 3. And now, the key NFC East matchup. New York has battled back after their first encounter to tie the division, but I think the Eagles have an edge in this game. They have the Michael Vick factor... and the Eli Manning interception factor (which the Eagles will be able to capitalize on more than the Vikings). The Giants are also now on a short week after the entire Metrodome crisis. For them to win, they will want to abuse a suspect Eagles defense.

Arizona (4-9) @ Carolina (1-12): Arizona by 7. After a huge win against Denver, this Cardinals team feels it can do anything - and that includes defeat the NFL's worst team in the Carolina Panthers... or one would hope. The Cardinals should win this game, nothing else really needs to be said but... the Cardinals suck, so an upset could occur.

Detroit (3-10) @ Tampa Bay (8-5): Tampa Bay by 7. Desperately trying to chase a wildcard spot, I will be surprised if the Buccaneers get dropped at home here. True; Detroit got a big win last Sunday against the Aaron-Rodgersless Packers, but they still only scored a grand total of 7 points. Unless they injure Josh Freeman, too, they will need a little more points than that to beat a Tampa Bay team with a lot of swagger.

New Orleans (10-3) @ Baltimore (9-4): New Orleans by 3. Huge game for two teams trying to hang into a wildcard birth. Seeing what Matt Schaub and the Texans were able to do to this team Monday night though... I think the Saints will win this. First of all, the Baltimore offensive line seems to be suspect against the blitz lately. The Saints are masters of the blitz. Secondly, the Ravens defense is likely to get tired again against the offense of the Saints, which could be considered the big brother of a Houston offense that looks a lot like it.

Atlanta (11-2) @ Seattle (6-7): Atlanta by 10. The Falcons should have no problems dealing with the red-light green-light Seahawks. Expect Matt Ryan and Roddy White to expose a poor Seattle secondary, while Seattle will struggle offensively against the stingy squad of the Atlanta Falcons. This is a shame for the Seahawks, who are desperately trying to keep up with the Rams.

Mark Sanchez and the Jets offense has been pitiful lately.
New York J (9-4) @ Pittsburgh (10-3): Pittsburgh by 7. Oh, how the mighty have fallen with the Jets, dropping two division games in a row in a miserable fashion. Now their struggling offense plays likely the NFL's strongest defense in the Pittsburgh Steelers'. I just don't see how Mark Sanchez and the Jets offense will be able to move the ball. While it will be a close game due to the Jets' defense as well, I think Pittsburgh will win ultimately.

Denver (3-10) @ Oakland (6-7): Oakland by 10. While I doubt it will be the blowout that we saw in the first matchup, the Raiders should win again against the Broncos. The Broncos looked simply awful against the Cardinals, and there is no reason to suspect it will change against a better opponent. Unlike other interim coaches, Eric Studesville did not appear to light a spark and he is no offensive mastermind like Josh McDaniels.

Green Bay (8-5) @ New England (11-2): New England by 7. Unfortanutely for the Packers, the Patriots will have plenty of reason to try in this game. With a Jets loss, the Patriots could clinch the AFC East with a win against the Packers. If the Packers want any chance to win this game, they need Aaron Rodgers to get healthy. I do not trust Matt Flynn starting against a Bill Bellichick defense at New England. It just won't end very well.

Chicago (9-4) @ Minnesota (5-8): Chicago by 10. Expect the Bears to bounce back with a win against the Vikings this upcoming Sunday. While Brett Favre was not having a stellar season, he was surely better than Tavaris Jackson, as we saw last night. About the most interesting thing I can say about this matchup is where will it be played? The Metrodome is in doubt about whether it can be repaired before Monday, so they may be playing a Monday night football game at a college stadium.

Results of Last Week's Poll

Last week, I asked my readers "Which current NFC wildcard contender is most likely to miss the playoffs?" between Green Bay Packers, New Orleans Saints, or New York Giants?

The loser of the poll was the New York Giants, with 75% of the vote. The New Orleans Saints was next, with 25%. No one seemed to think the Green Bay Packers would miss out. While I voted for the New York Giants, I must say after last Sunday I may change my vote to the Green Bay Packers after they lost Aaron Rodgers to a concussion and got beat by the Lions. But both the Giants and the Packers are in danger, however.

This week's poll is "How long will Brett Favre's consecutive games streak of 297 games last?" between Peyton Manning will break it, It will be broken eventually but not by Peyton, or It will never be broken?

Vote on the right-sidebar of my blog!

1 comment:

  1. Great analysis!

    I find it pretty amusing that this is the fourth time that the Metrodome's roof has collapsed. I just don't understand why they aren't prepared for these kinds of situations. I mean, it's Minnesota, it snows. I feel like that should be obvious, but oh well.

    Anyways, as a fellow Dolphins fan, I'm really nervous about the rest of the season since we have been raking up so many injuries. Of course,I'm hoping they can pull it through next week but I feel like it's pretty much up the air.

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