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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 21, 2010

Week 16 NFL Power Rankings and Predictions: Surprises towards end of Season

There were plenty of surprises and amazing moments in Week 15, many teams who were underdogs even by my standards won, and there were quite a few last-minute finishes (Cough, Desean Jackson's punt return for a TD to beat the Giants). Let's see how all this shapes up my Power Rankings.

Biggest Winner: Tennessee Titans (+6)
Biggest Loser: Pittsburgh Steelers, Minnesota Vikings, Houston Texans (-3)

1. Atlanta Falcons (12-2, +0): All Atlanta does is win. Another dominating win, even if it was against an NFC West opponent. Matt Ryan is developing into a great Quarterback, and Atlanta looks unstoppable. With a Saints loss, they are very close to clinching up this division. Then, we may see the clash everyone wants to see: the Falcons and the Patriots.

2. New England Patriots (12-2, +0): The Patriots have stringed together quite a few impressive wins as of late. When saw the difficulty of their last 5 games, I doubted they would be able to win them all, but they did. Tom Brady is looking like a man who is absolutely determined to get another Super Bowl ring. And if he keeps this level of play up- he might certainly get one.

3. Philadelphia Eagles (10-4, +1): Talk about a close call! The Eagles had absolutely no business winning that game against the Giants, but they did. Their offense came alive in the 4th quarter to overcome a 21-point deficit for the win. Now, that is impressive. Even more impressive was the botched punt return turned into punt return touchdown by DeSean Jackson that put the nail in the coffin for the Giants. They're calling it "The Miracle of the New Meadowlands", and it deserves that illustrious title. Wow.

4. Baltimore Ravens (10-4, +2): It hasn't been pretty for the Ravens defense lately, but they still do what they need to do to win games. Last week, it was a interception returned for a touchdown in overtime. This week, the Ravens defense picked off Drew Brees to win the game. And the Baltimore offense is looking better every week. With a Steelers loss, the division is still up for grabs - and a bye week may be a perfect motivator for this Ravens team.

5. New York Giants (9-5, +2): Despite the collapse, you can't help thinking that this Giants team has potential. They were up 31-10 against the Eagles at one point, a tribute to the good play they are capable of. Unfortanutely, such potential was met with dismal defeat as they simply rolled over in the 4th quarter, allowing a huge comeback. The Giants may want to blame rookie Punter Matt Dodge for not kicking it out of bounds during the final punt, but really their loss goes a lot further than that. The Giants as a whole lost that game. They should've never allowed such a ridiculous comeback to occur.

6. Pittsburgh Steelers (10-4, -3): The Jets have not been able to get an offensive touchdown for 12 Quarters... until they played and beat the Steelers. Right from the start it looked grim, as the Jets returner Brad Smith returned the kick for a touchdown. The Steelers were simply not able to score enough points against the Jets, which has been a bane for them all season (if there ever was one). They need to rebound to take back control and momentum for the AFC North.

7. New Orleans Saints (10-4, -2): While there is no shame losing to a good team like the Ravens, Drew Brees has me worried. The interceptions this season have been numerous, and they are starting to cost the Saints games they really should have won. He better get those interceptions under control - since one bad interception in the playoffs means your season is over.

8. Green Bay Packers (8-6, +0): Despite having to start Matt Flynn over Aaron Rodgers against the Patriots, they still played very well. For a few minutes, I actually thought there were going to pull off the upset in Foxborough, but Flynn's lack of experience caught up with him in the last moments of the game. Now they really have to work hard for an NFC wildcard... as they play a critical match against the team they have to steal that spot from, the New York Giants. Hopefully for them, Aaron Rodgers will be able to come back from his concussion.

9. New York Jets (10-4, +0): Despite a win in a tough Pittsburgh environment, I still have to worry about the Jets' lack of offensive production. They took 12 Quarters to score a single offensive touchdown- which is unacceptable by an NFL offense's standards. The defense is good and has kept them in (and won) games, but they will need an offense if they want a chance in the playoffs. Mark Sanchez needs to step up.

10. Chicago Bears (10-4, +1): Talk about taking a division! The Bears, coming off being humiliated by the Patriots, humiliated the Vikings on Monday night to clinch the NFC North. Now they just need to keep winning so they can keep a first-round bye. They have the head-to-head tiebreaker against the Eagles, which helps, so they control their own destiny in whether or not they get a 1st-round bye.

11. San Diego Chargers (8-6, -1): Keeping their division hopes alive, the Chargers were able to defeat the 49ers last Sunday. Unfortanutely for them, the Chiefs also won and so did the major two contenders for an AFC wildcard, the Jets and the Ravens. They need to win out, something they can do, but they also need some help if they want to sniff the playoffs.

12. Indianapolis Colts (8-6, +1): They won the game they really needed to win, the critical rematch against the Jaguars. Now, they are #1 in the division, but they will need to keep winning. One Colts loss with a Jaguars win will give the division back to Jacksonville, but when Peyton Manning controls his own destiny, my money's on him. The Colts look good.

13. Kansas City Chiefs (9-5, +1): Ah, that's better. The Chiefs look so much better offensively with Matt Cassel opposed to that bum, Brodie Croyle. In any case, the Chiefs won which was critical to keep ahead of the Chargers in the AFC West. Now they just need to keep winning and they'll cruise towards their first playoff appearance in ... a long time.

14. Jacksonville Jaguars (8-6, -2): It's hard to win in Indianapolis but this loss really hurt. Not only does this give Indianapolis control of their own destiny with two games to play, but Jacksonville doesn't really even have much of a wildcard chance in the AFC. They need to hope that the Colts falter at some point, and they win their final two games.

15. Oakland Raiders (7-7, +2): Well, they are showing some late-season spurts of talent. They ran right over the Denver Broncos, not allowing the Broncos rookie Quarterback Tim Tebow upset them in his first start. The Raiders are a solid team when they want to be, but easily one of the least consistent team in the NFL. Next season, I think they have a good chance to make a run.

16. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (8-6, -1): I think any playoff hopes this team had came to an abrupt end with that disappointing loss to Detroit. Still, the Buccaneers can rest knowing they made a heavy improvement over next season, and Josh Freeman is developing to be a solid NFL starter. He kind of reminds me of a young Donovan McNabb.

17. Dallas Cowboys (5-9, +4): It may have been a little too close for comfort for the Cowboys, but they were able to return the favor that the Redskins gave them Week 1 to get a win in Week 15. This team is motivated under their temporary head coach, and they are playing as good of football as anybody. Opponents beware- this is NOT the Cowboys team of earlier in the season!

18. Miami Dolphins (7-7, -2): Finally, Brandon Marshall looked like the Brandon Marshall the Dolphins thought they were getting in the off-season but that's just about the only good thing I can say about the Dolphins' loss at home against the Bills. Besides that, the Dolphins were humiliated. After the game, Marshall personally apologized to the Dolphins defense for letting them down this season. As they should - as the defense has gotten better and better as the season has gone on, but the offense has regressed to the point of ineptitude, especially due to the injuries. Oh well, there is always next season.

19. Tennessee Titans (6-8, +6): This was a big win for the Titans. You may think its silly to call a win "big" when the team is eliminated from playoff contention, but it really was nonetheless. The Titans were the definition of a demoralized team, but they were able to recollect themselves against the Texans. I really do hope Jeff Fisher is back for him, he is a good coach.

20. Cleveland Browns (5-9, +0): Their loss in the Ohio Bowl shows this team still has plenty of room for improvement, but they are on the right track. Eric Mangini took a team with little to no talent or confidence and turned them into a team fighting in every game they play. Still a little puzzling how they lost to the Bengals, but we'll figure that out later. The Browns will be a good team in the future, and going into next season.

21. Minnesota Vikings (5-9, -3): Honestly, I'm somewhat puzzled why Favre tried to start against the Bears last night when he didn't have his streak to play for anymore. Maybe he was trying to give his old team, the Packers, a chance at the division? In any case, he got knocked out and rookie Joe Webb did absolutely nothing to help the Vikings, as they got completely demolished by the Bears. Poor Favre... is this finally the last we will see of him? Or will he make another miraculous and puzzling start this season?

22. Houston Texans (5-9, -3): Okay, so after losing two in a row to clinch another losing season, will the Texans finally fire Gary Kubiak? The defense of the Texans has been awful this season, and I've called it since the beginning. If the pass defense was just a little better, we may be talking about the Texans still in it for a playoff spot but it did not turn out that way. Kubiak is not the man to lead the Texans to their first playoff appearance.

23. St. Louis Rams (6-8, -1): Soo... it is now clinched that whoever wins the NFC West will not have a winning record. Will the Rams be able to win out so the division winner has at least an 8-8 record? Or will we see a team with a losing record make the playoffs for the first time in... well, a long time? This Rams team is just not very good, but they are better than last season. They are in a division of bad teams which gives them a chance.

24. Washington Redskins (5-9, -1): Benching Donovan McNabb after that huge contract extension may have seemed like a bad idea, but I don't think it really was. First of all, McNabb has a clause in his contract that allows him to be cut at the end of this season. I have no doubt the Redskins will exercise their right to activate this clause. And since their season is over anyway, why not see what you have in your two other guys, Rex Grossman and John Beck? And if you lose games... whatever, at least you have a better draft pick next year.

25. Seattle Seahawks (6-8, -1): The Seahawks are the other team still vying for a playoff birth in the NFC West. They had a bit more of an excuse than the Rams, since the Hawks were playing against the NFC's best team, the Falcons. Still, this team's lack of offensive production is staggering. Matt Hasselbeck has not looked good for the past couple of years, they even sent in Charlie Whitehurst to finish up the game against the Falcons.

26. Detroit Lions (4-10, +1): Good win by the Lions, finishing off a Tampa Bay team still hoping for a playoff birth. They came a long way this season, and now they will play another demoralized team, the Miami Dolphins, in a game they could win. Detroit is coming off hot towards the end of this season. Something that I like to see from this team.

27. Buffalo Bills (4-10, +1): Ryan Fitzpatrick may not have the best numbers, but I think he has finally found where he is meant to be in this Chan Gailey Bills offense. He looks loads better than Trent Edwards, and led the Bills to a key victory in Miami. There were a lot of doubts about this Chan Gailey guy and how well he would be able to command this Buffalo team, but he has done a fine job, I must admit.

28. San Francisco 49ers (5-9, -2): So the week after Alex Smith looks like a new man, he looks exactly the way I remember him: Terrible. The sad part is, a win would've kept them in the division hunt, as sad as that sounds. I don't know what will happen to Mike Singletary in the off-season, I kind of have mixed feelings. Part of me sees a passionate coach who deserves another chance, but another part of me sees simply a mediocre coach. We'll see.

29. Cincinnati Bengals (3-11, +2): Now THIS looks like the Bengals team that we were missing from last season, and even without Terrell Owens! It makes you start to wonder if Owens actually hurt this team. Not from a distraction standpoint, Owens was actually quite cooperative this season, but the lack of Owens forced the Bengals to do what they do best offensively: run with Cedric Benson. If they get back to the power run game, the Bengals could end this season on a high note.

30. Arizona Cardinals (4-10, -1): Losing to the worst team in football is not a good way to end this disappointing season on a high note. Still, they will have a good draft pick so maybe they will have a chance at Andrew Luck of the Panthers don't snag him up. There are also some intriguing likely-Free Agent Quarterbacks next off-season that the Cardinals could look at including Carson Palmer, Kyle Orton, and Donovan McNabb. The Cardinals are a Quarterback away from winning the NFC West, in my opinion.

31. Denver Broncos (3-11, -1): Despite a loss, not a bad start for the rookie Tim Tebow. It was so impressive, in fact, that the Broncos have decided to stick with him likely for the remainder of the season. Can't say I disprove, I was even a Tebow doubter during the draft but he looked impressive in his first start. Mine as well see what you have in the rookie. You already know what you have in Kyle Orton.

32. Carolina Panthers (2-12, +0): I can't believe the Panthers got another win this season! Still, their win does nothing to prove to me that they aren't the worst team in football. Maybe if they win their final two games I may change my mind, but considering how incredibly unlikely that is, nevermind. There was a report that came out saying coach John Fox has already been fired but has been told to finish out the rest of the season... Yikes. Bill Cowher to the rescue?

Predictions for Next Week

Prediction accuracy for Last Week: 9-7 (56.25%)
Overall prediction accuracy: 102-60 (62.96%)

Carolina (2-12) @ Pittsburgh (10-4): Pittsburgh by 14. I think it is safe to say we will see a Steeler rebound here, unless the Panthers are serious about upsetting teams for the rest of the season. The Steelers are far from the Cardinals, though. Shouldn't even be close. Gives me an excuse not to listen to the obnoxious Thursday Night football staff.

Dallas (5-9) @ Arizona (4-10): Dallas by 7. After their loss against the Panthers, there is no team that the Cardinals can't lose to, in my opinion. Dallas has been hot late in this season, so I think they will be able to easily snag up a win here. On a side note, I really like the concept of Christmas football. What a great way to make Christmas feel like the best holiday of all time, Thanksgiving. Unfortanutely, it is an NFL Network game between two terrible teams, but still. Football + Holidays = good.

New York J (10-4) @ Chicago (10-4): Chicago by 3. The Bears may have wrapped up the division, but they still want to play for that first-round bye. And the Bears defense has been a monster this season... and certainly have the potential to eat the Jets offense for breakfast. I like the Bears in this matchup, but the Jets also have a defense so this really could go either way.

I just think this is too funny not to deserve some attention.
New England (12-2) @ Buffalo (4-10): New England by 7. Unluckily for the Bills, the Patriots still have something to play for. With a win here, the Patriots will clinch homefield advantage in the playoffs, something worth playing for for sure! But the Bills have been hot and they are playing in Buffalo, where the Bills love to play. If the Bills pull off an upset, I will be the first one to give out a smile.

Tennessee (6-8) @ Kansas City (9-5): Kansas City by 3. After the Titans' big morale victory over the Texans, I would be scared if I were the Chiefs. Still, the Chiefs have played their best football in Arrowhead this season and with the division on the line, I do not believe the Chiefs will falter. It will be a close battle. They will need to find a way to contain Chris Johnson, who has been very good on the road this season.

Washington (5-9) @ Jacksonville (8-6): Jacksonville by 7. The bit of good news for the Jaguars after their loss with the Colts is that they get the Rex Grossman-led Redskins this week. The Jaguars should have no problem defeating them at home, but you never know. The Redskins came close to a victory last week in Dallas...

Has Brandon Marshall finally arrived in Miami?
Detroit (4-10) @ Miami (7-7): Miami by 3. Will be a close game, and the Dolphins are playing at home which has been a bane for them. Still, the Dolphins seem to be content winning one, then losing one, then winning one, etc. Therefore, since they lost last week, they should win this week. Or so that streak goes. Maybe playoff elimination will help them a bit, since that stress has now been snatched from their shoulders. In any event, this could go either way. Miami is 1-6 at home. But I do like the Miami defense to handle this Lions offense.

San Francisco (5-9) @ St. Louis (6-8): St. Louis by 3. This is it for the Rams, they have to win this one to really lay claim to their spot as NFC West champions. A win here would also allow the possibility of them being .500 when the season is over. I don't know what I'd do if I saw a 7-9 playoff team... since I like this playoff system currently and that would almost certainly push for the owners to make a change.

Baltimore (10-4) @ Cleveland (5-9): Baltimore by 3. The Ravens need to be careful, the Browns have played up or down to the level of their opponents this season and were likely looking past the Bengals to the Ravens in this matchup. For the Ravens, they must win this game if they want a shot at becoming AFC North champions with a shot at a first-round bye. Important game for the Ravens, but one they ought to win.

Houston (5-9) @ Denver (3-11): Houston by 3. Well, Tim Tebow gets to pad his stats against the league's worst pass defense, but the Texans should be able to win this game in a close shoot-out. Arian Foster ought to have a good game, which will be nice for fantasy owners in their championship games.

Indianapolis (8-6) @ Oakland (7-7): Indianapolis by 7. As well as the Raiders have played this season, my money is on Peyton Manning with the division on the line. The Raiders' pass defense has not looked promising lately, so Peyton should have a big day. Hopefully that is accompanied by a big day from Darren McFadden, which would be good for my fantasy playoff chances.

San Diego (8-6) @ Cincinnatti (3-11): San Diego by 10. The Chargers have no room for error, they must win this game. The Bengals are coming off a win that made them look like the Bengals of last season, so they may be a challenging opponent. But leave it to the Chargers to find a way to win this game to keep their post-season hopes alive.

Seattle (6-8) @ Tampa Bay (8-6): Tampa Bay by 3. I don't think the Bucs will drop two in a row, but I may be wrong. The Seahawks are still in division contention, so both teams will have plenty to play for. At home, I like the Bucs, but the Seahawks could easily steal this game. You know what, I would actually prefer if the Hawks did win (as well as the Rams) since if the Rams and Seahawks both win, it would clinch that the NFC West champion will have at the very least an 8-8 record.

As well as Matt Flynn played, the Packers need Aaron Rodgers.
New York G (9-5) @ Green Bay (8-6): Green Bay by 7. Huge game by both teams. Green Bay will be eliminated with a loss, but a win here will put them in position to take the wildcard away from the Giants. For the Giants, they need to lick their wounds and not allow the heartbreaking loss at the Meadowlands last Sunday keep them from playing hard against the Packers. This is the biggest game of the season for both of these teams. A virtual playoff game.

Minnesota (5-9) @ Philadlephia (10-4): Philadelphia by 10. The Eagles will clinch the division with a win here, and I think they will do it, especially of Joe Webb has to start for the Vikings again. Look for Michael Vick to expose this Vikings defense and the Eagles defense to destroy Joe Webb as much as the Bears did... this game will be a killer for the Vikings.

New Orleans (10-4) @ Atlanta (12-2): Atlanta by 7. What a game for Monday night! Will the Falcons be able to clinch the division (and home-field advantage through the playoffs) from the World Champions? It'll be a good game, for sure. But being at the Georgia Dome will help the Falcons a lot. I think the Falcons will win here.

Results of Last Week's Poll

Last week, I asked my readers "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?

It was actually a very close poll but Peyton Manning will break it won with 42% of the vote. The other two were tied in second, with 28% of the vote. Peyton Manning surely does have a chance to break this record, we'll see what happens.Personally, I voted that Peyton Manning will break it. He's simply just as durable as Favre and just as important to that Colts football team.

There was a lot of exciting kick/punt returns last week so this week's poll is "Who had the most exciting kick/punt return last week?" between DeSean Jackson's punt return in the final seconds to win against the Giants, offensive guard Dan Connolly's 71-yard rumble against the Packers, or Devin Hester's record setting punt return at the Vikings?

Vote on the right-sidebar of my blog!

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