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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, October 25, 2011

NFL Week 8 2011 Power Rankings & Predictions

Some major dominations and upsets in Week 7. Five teams won after holding their opponent to 7 or less points on Sunday... so much for this being an offensive league, huh? Let's see how this affects the Power Rankings.

Biggest Winner: Atlanta Falcons (+5)
Biggest Loser: Oakland Raiders (-7)

1. Green Bay Packers (7-0, +0): When you're undefeated, there are always bound to be some games that came down to be close, and this was one of those games for the Packers, playing away at a division rival. Of course, the offense had a great day but their defense allowed a nice day passing to rookie Christian Ponder, they were even down at the half. Good thing for the Pack, the Vikings can't really put two solid halves together, so the Packers were able to cruise to the victory.

2. New England Patriots (5-1, +0): The Patriots had a bye this week, but it wasn't a terribly good one for them since the Jets were able to win, making New England's control over the division a weak one, both Buffalo and New York are closing in. They'll need to keep at their winning ways in order to keep the division. But that shouldn't be too hard with Tom Brady as your Quarterback.

3. New Orleans Saints (5-2, +1): Its been quite some time since a team surpassed the 60-point mark, as New Orleans did Sunday night. They were 100% more prepared than the Colts, and showed it. Maybe people should injure Sean Payton more often if it gets this kind of reaction from his players... hmm...

4. Baltimore Ravens (4-2, -1): Sheesh, the Ravens have literally been jackal-and-hide this season. At least we know what triggers this change... Baltimore has been much better at home this season than on the road. However, they need to figure out their problems ont he road if they are really going to be a top team. That abysmal offensive performance Monday night won't stand.

5. Houston Texans (4-3, +4): The Texans answered critics against the Titans in a must-win division game. They destroyed their opposition 41-7, with Arian Foster breaking out in both rushing and receiving. Defensively, they limited Chris Johnson (who hasn't?) and forced turnovers. What more could you ask from your defense? They have been prone to the let-down, but all things appear to be clicking in Houston.

6. Pittsburgh Steelers (5-2, +0): Pittsburgh had a very nice week, watching their hated division rival, Baltimore, fall to the lowly Jaguars and dispatching the Cardinals in convincing fashion 32-20 in Arizona. This puts them back into striking range for the division.Their defense has been much improved since Week 1, so they will give the Ravens a run for their money.

7. San Francisco 49ers (5-1, +1): San Francisco will come off their bye with the NFC West title all but given to them. Each divisional rival lost again this week, meaning the 49ers have a comfy lead in the NFC West. They shouldn't let this lead get to their heads, however, they will still need a few more wins before they can cliche the division (then again, at this point, 5 wins may be enough...).

8. San Diego Chargers (4-2, -3): What is wrong with Philip Rivers this year? Last year, he looked like by far the best passer in the league. This year, he is completely interception-ridden, despite getting his favorite target, TE Antonio Gates, back in this game. Further, the defense could not seem to stop Plaxico Burress (who has been quiet previously this season) in the redzone.

9. Atlanta Falcons (4-3, +5): The Falcons were able to salvage their season at Detroit last Sunday, defeating them 23-16. Once again, there seems to be controversy with the Lions, as several Falcons came out saying that Lions defensive linemen Ndamukong Suh and Cliff Avril made unclassy comments regarding Matt Ryan's injury. Maybe Jim Schwartz's poor class is trickling down...

10. Detroit Lions (5-2, -3): The Lions now have dropped two straight at home, not a good sign for a team that was supposed to be improved. Matthew Stafford will be day to day, which is not a good sign since we all know how good the Lions are with Shaun Hill under center...

11. New York Jets (4-3, +4): The Jets showed up big against the Chargers. They were able to overcome a 14-3 early disadvantage to win by 6. Mark Sanchez is still terrible but had one of his better days, throwing three touchdowns (all to Plaxico Burress) and Shonn Greene finally broke out with 5.6 YPC. Meanwhile, the Jets defense picked Rivers off twice.

12. New York Giants (4-2, -2):The Cowboys are now nipping at the Giants' toes, so they will need to get a big win coming off their bye so they can breathe easier in the division. They should have no trouble against a horrible terrible awful Miami Dolphins team that allowed Tim Tebow to win in the final 5 minutes.

13. Buffalo Bills (4-2, -1): The Jets winning hurts Buffalo as much as it does New England, as now they are in a tough spot in the AFC East at 4-2. Are the Bills legit? Well, I don't think they are as good as their record indicates, but they are okay. They have a shot at playing for the wildcard this season.

14. Dallas Cowboys (3-3, +3): Holy God, DeMarco Murray... record setting day for the Cowboys. It seems that the Cowboys have found their man on the ground, as the rookie ran for 253 yards on 25 carries, and 1 touchdown. Looks like Felix Jones won't be getting his job back with his backup having that kind of performance.

15. Chicago Bears (4-3, -2): Chicago won, but they almost blew a pretty large lead in England. Matt Forte continues to impress, but not Jay Cutler, who threw another two interceptions against the Buccaneers. Good thing for the Bears, however, was their defese was able to force even more interceptions from Josh Freeman, four.

16. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (4-3, +0): As mentioned above, Josh Freeman has been a liability this season. Coming off a strong 2010 campaign with 6 interceptions thrown all season, Freeman already has 10 in 2011. I don't know what's wrong exactly, but the Bucs need to find out soon or they will see their playoff chances slide away. With Earnest Graham now out for the year, they better hope they get LeGarrette Blount back after the bye.

17. Philadelphia Eagles (2-4, +1): The Dream Team had their bye to get ready for the Cowboys, and this game is for all the marbles. Beat the Cowboys, and they'll back back into the NFC East race. Lose, and your season is basically over. While its unwise to bet against Andy Reid coming off a bye, I don't really see how they can address their core problems... a weak linebacker corp and safety corp with a poor offensive line and a Quarterback who can't read the blitz.

18. Oakland Raiders (4-3, -7): Looks like Jason Campbell meant more to this team than I originally thought... and it looks like Carson Palmer may have been a poor pickup, after all. This was the first time in NFL history where two teammates at Quarterbacks threw 3 interceptions each in a single game, that shows just how bad the Raiders passing game is. To make matters worse, who knows how long they will be without star Runningback Darren McFadden, who went out early against the Chiefs.

19. Carolina Panthers (2-5, +3): Cam Newton is clicking, and I like it. Washington came to town wanting to get an easy win to get back into the NFC East race, but instead got handed a huge loss by the rookie. Its been a roller coaster ride for Cam Newton, as I expected, but boy, I never expected that it would be so thrilling. This kid is going to last in the NFL.

20. Cincinnati Bengals (4-2, +1): The Bengals sit at 4-2, with another easy game coming up this week in the Seahawks. This actually puts them in a competitive position in the AFC North, but as I said before, I believe their soft schedule is a big factor. They could very well be 5-2 after dispatching the Seahawks, but I don't see their success lasting this season.

21. Washington Redskins (3-3, -2): John Beck looked better than sexy Rexy Grossman, but that wasn't enough to overcome the Panthers. They took another huge blow in this game, losing RB Tim Hightower for the season. Look for them to turn to Ryan Torain... but it looks like the Redskins' strong start was a fluke. They now sit behind the Cowboys and Giants for the division, and aren't as talented as the Eagles.

22. Tennessee Titans (3-3, -2): I was so sure they would be able to figure out how to fix their running game with the bye week, but I guess I was mistaken. Chris Johnson looked helpless again, rushing for a mere 18 yards and even fumbling once. Hasselbeck completed less than his passes, and also threw two interceptions in a game where the Tenessee offense scored a mere 7 points. Yeah, this team's strong start was also a fluke (called it!).

23. Minnesota Vikings (1-6, +1): Christian Ponder looked pretty nice in his first start, but the Vikings once again have problems throwing two halves together. Their defense played the Pack very well in the first half, but tanked later into the game. If they focus on the things that made them successful, however, this team could get some wins under Ponder.

24. Cleveland Browns (3-3, -1): Winning 6-3 is ugly, we all know that. The Browns offense once again looked inept... Colt McCoy completed passes for a change, but once again has a yards per completion of under 10. The loss of Peyton Hillis in the running game is also noticed, as Montario Hardesty only rushed for 2.9 yards per carry in his absense. Joe Haden seems to be developing into a top tier CB, however, so there are some good signs defensively.

25. Jacksonville Jaguars (2-5, +2): Jacksonville's defense showed up again on Monday night, limiting the Ravens to a mere 7 points. Their offense continued to be inept, with even Jones-Drew entering the mix with 3 fumbles (the most he has ever fumbled in a game in his career). However, four field goals was enough to upset the Ravens, so there is reason for celebration in Jacksonville, as Gabbert celebrates his first win as an NFL starter.

26. Kansas City Chiefs (3-3, +0): Don't look now, but Kansas City has won three straight after losing their first three games. They picked off the Raiders a breath-taking six times in Oakland, snapping their division winning streak. After several key injuries, the player seem to be playing hard for Todd Haley. I don't see how they keep it up, however. They are no where near as good as last season.

27. Arizona Cardinals (1-5, -2): Kevin Kolb played okay, but the loss of Beanie Wells in this game hurt. He'll be out for a couple of weeks according to sources, which will hurt Arizona's chances of winning each game he misses, as he has been playing like a franchise back this season. Its sad... he kind of reminds me of Ronnie Brown. So much talent, but injuries seem to be dictating his career. I'm rooting for him.

28. Denver Broncos (2-4, +1): As Adam Schefter put it, Tim Tebow validated all of his critics and all of his supporters in his 18-15 overtime win against the Dolphins. After playing pitifully all game, he was finally able to get things going against a prevent Miami defense. While I'm not entirely convinced it wasn't just due to Miami ineptitude (they also fumbled an onside kick they recovered), Tim Tebow has intangibles. But does he have enough talent to be an NFL Quarterback? I'm not convinced.

29. Seattle Seahawks (2-4, -1): Hmm... I guess this is why Pete Carroll decided to stick with Tavaris "Poop Salad" Jackson instead of switching to Charlie "Clip-board Jesus" Whitehurst (Seattle QB seem to have the best nicknames)... he was awful. He completed less than half of his passes for less than 100 yards, and also threw a pick. Also, Marshawn Lynch went down early into the contest whicah hurt them. Luckily, Leon Washington showed he can still be a legit RB in the NFL, rushing for 5.8 yards per carry. They need to include this man more in the rushing attack.

30. Miami Dolphins (0-6, +0): Well, Miami was looking okay for 55 minutes. They abused Tebow early, sacking him countless times and not allowing a single point to the Broncos offense (well, part of it was due to two Matt Prater misses). However with the game on the line, Miami switched to a prevent defense which allowed Tim Tebow to orchestrate a huge comeback in overtime, 18-15. With by far the easiest game on the Dolphins schedule now a loss, the Dolphins are in complete Suck for Luck mode. Coach Sparano is safe according to reports, I mean, why assign an interim coach to get a few wins and ruin your chances of competing with the Colts for Luck?

31. St. Louis Rams (0-6, +1): Rams defense was awful, so they really shouldn't be "advancing" in the rankings, but they are lucky that the Colts happen to be worse than they are. We knew the Rams defense couldn't cover the pass. But what we didn't know was that they also can't cover the run as they allow a rookie runner making his first NFL start have a record-setting day against them. They also felt the loss of Sam Bradford at Quarterback, as AJ "Touchy" Feeley did not do a good job in his place. At least Steven Jackson is back, looking good. Things don't get easier for the Rams, though, as they play a Saints team next week who scored more points this week than the Rams have all season.

32. Indianapolis Colts (0-7, -1): Anytime you lose 62-7, you were out-coached. Yes, the Colts are bad without Peyton Manning but they have enough talent on that roster to compete. This team has given up on that coaching staff... and I feel bad for Jim Caldwell. Yes, he is useless as a head coach and benefited from Peyton Manning being the "true coach" on that team. But now he's fighting for his job after almost being the first first-year head coach to have an undefeated season.

Predictions for Next Week

TKN's accuracy, Last week: 8-5 (61.54%)
Billy's accuracy, Last week: 7-6 (53.85%)
AFS's accuracy, Last week: 10-3 (76.92%)

TKN's Overall 2011 accuracy: 68-35 (66.02%)
Billy's Overall 2011 accuracy: 68-35 (66.02%)
AFS's Overall 2011 accuracy: 67-36 (65.05%)

For the second straight week, the Simulator has gotten the better of us, going 10-3 this week to follow up on its 12-1 performance last week. This means it just about catches up to us, only a game behind. At least I was able to make up my deficit against Billy, so now we're tied at 68 wins while the Simulator is in striking distance at 67. Will the Simulator have another good Week to take the lead? Sheesh... I hope not.

Sean Payton's Saints had more points last week than the Rams all season.
New Orleans (5-2) @ St. Louis (0-6)
TheKillerNacho: The Rams are completely collapsed, defensively not being able to stop the run nor pass. Offensively, if Bradford returns they could be solid... but they won't outscore Brees against their pitiful defense.
New Orleans 31, St. Louis 20

New Orleans 42, St. Louis 28 

American Football Simulator:
New Orleans 26, St. Louis 25

Jacksonville (2-5) @ Houston (4-3)
TheKillerNacho: Houston destroyed Tennessee last Sunday, and I expect them to destroy an even worse divisional rival in a similar fashion. Granted, division games are never for-sure, but it is one Houston should win.
Jacksonville 14, Houston 27

Jacksonville 14, Houston 23 

American Football Simulator:
Jacksonville 23, Houston 27

Miami (0-6) @ New York G (4-2)
TheKillerNacho: Miami is in a state of total collapse, while the Giants are playing at home coming off a bye. I think it is obvious who should be favored here. Even if the Dolphins somehow get a lead, they showed last week that they'll just let the opponent win in the 4th quarter.
Miami 10, New York G 24

Miami 17, New York G 20 

American Football Simulator:
Miami 20, New York G 24

Arizona (1-5) @ Baltimore (4-2)
TheKillerNacho: The Cardinals haven't won since Game 1, while Baltimore has looked unstoppable at home. While the Ravens fell to a trap game in Week 2 and last week, I do not think they will here playing at home against the Cardinals.
Arizona 17, Baltimore 24

Arizona 10, Baltimore 37 

American Football Simulator:
Arizona 18, Baltimore 29

Can Painter rally this team as his mentor did?
Indianapolis (0-7) @ Tennessee (3-3)
TheKillerNacho: Both these teams have one thing in common: They were completely destroyed by their opponent in Week 7. Obviously, the Titans have more to play for and are the better team. They should win at home against a struggling Colts team.
Indianapolis 16, Tennessee 23

Indianapolis 11, Tennessee 29 

American Football Simulator:
Indianapolis 21, Tennessee 27

Minnesota (1-6) @ Carolina (2-5)
TheKillerNacho: I really like what I saw from rookie Christian Ponder against the Packers. Unfortanutely, I've liked what I've seen from Cam Newton all season long. I think it will be close, but the better rookie Quarterback will prevail.
Minnesota 20, Carolina 23

Minnesota 24, Carolina 27 

American Football Simulator:
Minnesota 24, Carolina 23

Detroit (5-2) @ Denver (2-4)
TheKillerNacho: Detroit has dropped two in a row at home, and now goes on the road to play Tim Tebow and the Broncos. Bad news for Tebow: the Lions are a much better opponent than the Dolphins. The Lions will build a larger lead, and won't lose it as easily.
Detroit 27, Denver 17

Detroit 38, Denver 36 

American Football Simulator:
Detroit 22, Denver 21

Washington (3-3) @ Buffalo (4-2)
TheKillerNacho: Washington is collapsing after a strong start. While John Beck played well, they were dropped by the 1-win Panthers, and now have to play a Buffalo team coming off a bye. All the signs are pointing to a Bills rout.
Washington 20, Buffalo 28

Washington 13, Buffalo 28 

American Football Simulator:
Washington 20, Buffalo 23

Andy Dalton has an opportunity to lead his team to 5-2 as a rookie.
Cincinnati (4-2) @ Seattle (2-4)
TheKillerNacho: Seattle managed a mere 3 points against the Browns behind Charlie Whitehurst, so they better hope that Tavaris Jackson is ready to go. Even if he is, though, the surprising Bengals will be a tough foe with their surprising defense.
Cincinnati 20, Seattle 13

Cincinnati 25, Seattle 12 

American Football Simulator:
Cincinnati 22, Seattle 21

New England (5-1) @ Pittsburgh (5-2)
TheKillerNacho: Good coaches hardly ever lose coming off the bye, and New England's Bill Bellichick is one of the best. The Steelers are formidable, but Tom Brady should be able to expose their average secondary. Defensively, the Patriots will need to continue the high level of play they displayed against Dallas.
New England 26, Pittsburgh 24

New England 35, Pittsburgh 27 

American Football Simulator:
New England 21, Pittsburgh 23

Cleveland (3-3) @ San Francisco (5-1)
TheKillerNacho: Cleveland will need to muster up more than 6 points if they want to win against the one-loss 49ers, and it'll be harder this week against a 49ers defense among the best in the league this season, at home, coming off a bye. Expect Colt McCoy to throw another 60 passes but score another abysmal amount of points in a loss.
Cleveland 10, San Francisco 21

Cleveland 14, San Francisco 30 

American Football Simulator:
Cleveland 23, San Francisco 24

With both coaches on the hot-seat, this will be an interesting battle.
Dallas (3-3) @ Philadelphia (2-4)
TheKillerNacho: Dallas-Philadelphia games are always close and entertaining games, so I'm excited. While this could go either way since this is an NFC East divison game, I'm going to bet Philadelphia for two reasons... One, Andy Reid is historically very good coming off a bye. Two, Tony Romo is due to throw another key game in the final seconds.
Dallas 21, Philadelphia 24

Dallas 48, Philadelphia 41 

American Football Simulator:
Dallas 24, Philadelphia 28

San Diego (4-2) @ Kansas City (3-3)
TheKillerNacho: San Diego needs to lick its wounds as they go into Kansas City to play a Chiefs game with a 3-game winning streak, coming off a shout-out in Oakland. Philip Rivers needs to concentrate and stop throwing interceptions... a feat that may not be so easy against a Chiefs defense who picked Oakland off 6 times last week.
San Diego 26, Kansas City 21

San Diego 24, Kansas City 13 

American Football Simulator:
San Diego 24, Kansas City 22

Question of the Week

Last week, I asked my readers "Of the 2011 surprise teams, which team is most likely legit (will make the playoffs this year and remain good for awhile)?" between the Buffalo Bills (4-2), Detroit Lions (5-1), Cincinnati Bengals (4-2), San Francisco 49ers (5-1), or Oakland Raiders (4-2). Most readers seemed to agree with me with the Detroit Lions, who received 50% of the vote. However, with the Lions' defeat on Sunday, it seems like the 37% who picked San Francisco or the 12% who picked Cincinnati may have been correct... Hmm...

There are now four rookie Quarterbacks starting for their teams so this week's poll is, "Which high-round rookie Quarterback will have the best NFL career?" between the Cam Newton (CAR), Christian Ponder (MIN), Andy Dalton (CIN), Blaine Gabbert (JAC), or Jake Locker (TEN). While I like pretty much all of them thus far who has started (except Gabbert, but it was well known he would be a project when he was drafted), I think obviously Cam Newton has been the best, and has the highest potential of the four. He's surpassed every expectation, and has provided a spark in Carolina. I liked Jake Locker in the draft, but I want to see how he plays in a real game before I say anything positive. He may get his chance if Matt Hasselbeck keeps playing like he did last Sunday...

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

NFL Week 7 2011 Power Rankings & Predictions

No major changes in Week 6, as most of the teams I expected to be victorious were. On the other hand, Week 7 seems to be more of the same, with no two winning teams playing eachother. How does this affect the power rankings? Let's see.

Biggest Winner: New York G (+6)
Biggest Loser: Miami Dolphins (-5)

1. Green Bay Packers (6-0, +0): Green Bay continues to win strong. Granted, it was against the lowly Rams, but this game had the obvious feeling of a trap game. Luckily, the Pack can't seem to lose with Aaron Rodgers, who threw for another three touchdowns, and their much underrated defense held the Rams to a mere 3 points.

2. New England Patriots (5-1, +0): It wasn't pretty, but Tom Brady and the New England Patriots got the job done. After all the offensive success (and lack of defensive success), it is a pretty good sign to see the defense play so well against a legitimate opponent, Dallas. Still, one has to wonder about the Patriots offense, who struggled.

3. Baltimore Ravens (4-1, +1): Baltimore and New England seems to be the class of the AFC, right now. They beat Houston convincingly, 29-14, limiting Arian Foster to a mere 49 yards on the ground. Offensively, Joe Flacco threw for over 300 yards and Ray Rice tore it up (as usual) on the ground, breaking the century mark.

4. New Orleans Saints (4-2, -1):For a number of reasons, I would not be worried if I were a Saints fan. One, this game was an obvious trap game, playing the "bad" division-rival Buccaneers on the road. Secondly, do not underestimate the loss of Sean Payton for the game (who went out with an injury after he collided with his TE, Jimmy Graham). He is the mastermind behind the Saints, and their offensive playcaller.

5. San Diego Chargers (4-1, +1): As far as byes go, this one went okay for the Chargers, who saw division-rival Oakland smash the Browns to tie their wins at four, but also lose their starting Quarterback and trade a king's ransom for Bengals trash Carson Palmer. San Diego hopes Ryan Mathews will be back at full-strength coming off the bye, playing a Jets defense who has been pretty bad against the run this year.

6. Pittsburgh Steelers (4-2, +2): The Steelers are beginning to look like the Steelers again... Although, I can't say I'm too impressed, since the Jaguars have sucked against most teams this season. Reshard Mendenhall had a HUGE game (despite the bad offensive line and the fact the Jags have been solid vs the run), and Ben Roethlisberger limited his mistakes (although he struggled with accuracy).

7. Detroit Lions (5-1, -2): It was only a matter of time until the Lions lost their first game. While they are a very good team this year, they have been playing opponents very close and was overperforming at 5-0. The thing that worries me most is HC Jim Schwartz's tantrum after the game. Show a little more grace in a loss, buddy. I know Jim Harbaugh was obnoxious, but you need to set a good example.

8. San Francisco 49ers (5-1, +2): The 49ers defense is the single-most surprising squad this season. They have been brutal against the run, and have also been stout against the pass with FA acquisition Carlos Rogers playing better than anyone could have expected. Plus, it seems Frank Gore found his mojo again... 9.4 yards per carry against the Lions front 7.

9. Houston Texans (3-3, -2): Houston has to feel that they are squandering their chance given to them by Peyton Manning's injury. They dropped to .500 after a less-than-stellar performance against the Ravens. The lack of Andre Johnson seems to really be hurting this team. Thankfully, their only competition in the division seems to be the 3-2 Titans.

10. New York Giants (4-2, +6): Huge win for the Giants, bouncing back from an ugly road loss against Seattle to beat the impressive Bills. While the Giants defense gave up some big plays to the Bills early, they were able to tighten up in the second half, allowing only 7 second-half points to the Bills. Also, great day for you if you had Ahmad Bradshaw in fantasy. Three touchdowns!

11. Oakland Raiders (4-2, +1): The Raiders may be one of the most physical teams in the league right now. The offensive line is much improved, allowing Darren McFadden to have his break-out performances. They got off to an early lead and their defense was able to hold off the Browns for the win. Despite how good the defense is, the loss of Jason Campbell hurts. They traded for Carson Palmer (big news) who should be a pretty good stop-gap for now but they traded a 1st and 2nd (which could turn into a 1st) to get him. Do the Raiders have any draft picks left?

12. Buffalo Bills (4-2, -3): No reason to panic in Buffalo yet, but if you're a Bills fan, you're starting to worry about the Bills, who started off hot. This wouldn't be the first time that the Bills have failed to make the playoffs in recent years after starting off strong. The key for the Bills would be keep riding Freddie Jackson, who is having a special year at Runningback.

13. Chicago Bears (3-3, -2): Chicago's drop this week does not have anything to do with the Bears, but rather, the impressive showings from other teams. I don't really get impressed when teams dispatch less than stellar opponents, but rather, expect it. Still, the offensive line played much better in this game, only allowing one sack of Jay Cutler (and it was from Jared Allen, so its understandable). I want to see if their offensive line can keep up this success, however.

14. Atlanta Falcons (3-3, +0): The Falcons took care of business at home against an improved division rival. Without Julio Jones, the Falcons were able get back to the power running game behind Michael Turner, who the Panthers could not stop all game. Defensively, they forced a few turnovers from the rookie, Cam Newton, to propell them to a convincing victory.

15. New York Jets (3-3, -2): The Jets defense looked strong, but it was only the Dolphins. The offense still looked lost at times, but scored enough to win the football game. Still, with a declining defense and with Mark Sanchez not really progressing, I don't view them as much as a contender. Monday night was a battle between two scrub teams.

16. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (4-2, +2): Its a good sign from the Bucs to not come out flat against New Orleans despite a heart-breaking loss against San Francisco. One has to consider the impact of the Saints' losing Sean Payton for the game, though. Not knocking on the Bucs by any means - but they need to continue to win in order to impress me. Division games always have a trend towards upsets.

17. Dallas Cowboys (2-3, +0): Dallas was so close to beating New England, but they failed to capitalize on key offensive opportunities, settling for field goals far too much in Sunday's 20 - 16 loss. Still, they have to feel good about playing so many quality opponents so close. The loss against the Lions and slight win against the 49ers looks better now, and their defense gave New England a run for their money. The season isn't over, but they can't afford to drop to 2-4.

18. Philadelphia Eagles (2-4, +2): Looks like the nightmare took a break, for now. Philadelphia had a very impressive 1st half showing, leading Washington 20-3. What worried me, though, was their 2nd half, in which they scored no points and allowed Washington to creep back into it. Nice job by the Philly defense though (Erik Coleman in particular) for forcing timely turnovers from Rex Grossman.

19. Washington Redskins (3-2, -4): Could there be a Quarterback controversy brewing in Washington? Grossman may have won the starting gig in preseason, but hasn't looked all that great in the regular season, hitting rock bottom against Philadelphia, throwing pick after pick. John Beck almost led the Skins back into it, and I think Beck is actually a big improvement over Grossman. He deserves his shot.

20. Tennessee Titans (3-2, -1): The Titans had a nice bye week, with Houston losing. I still think they aren't as good as their record indicates, but if Houston continues to tank, the Titans may be able to sneak into the playoffs by winning the AFC South. The key will be whether or not they were able to fix their running game during the bye week ... they need to get Chris Johnson going.

21. Cincinnati Bengals (4-2, +3): Are the Bengals better than last season? Sure. Are they 4-2 good? No... I expected them to win last week at home against the Manningless Colts, but I want to see how they fare against a quality opponent. This won't happen until Week 9 at Tennessee. However, the Bengals must feel good going 4-2 into the bye and has a good chance of actually going 5-2, as they play Seattle coming off their bye.

22. Carolina Panthers (1-5, -1): So far, Cam Newton has actually done around what I expected him to do. As I said in the beginning of the season, I fully expected Newton to make plays, but for both sides. He leads the league in [yards per reception minus yards after catch], the perfect gunslinger. However, he also has 9 interceptions to his 7 passing touchdowns (he also has 6 rushing touchdowns). He kind of reminds me of a more athletic Brett Favre. Maybe Favre mentored him in the off-season after all?

23. Cleveland Browns (2-3, -1): I'm still confused why the Browns are throwing it so much. Colt McCoy couldn't complete half of his passes last Sunday vs the Raiders, yet they gave him the ball 51 times (once you add in the sacks & scrambles) as opposed to Hardesty's and Hillis' 17 combined attempts. Speaking of Hillis, it seems the Madden curse has hit hard. He'll undergo an MRI after sustaining an injury in the 1st quarter.

24. Minnesota Vikings (1-5, -1): Poor McNabb. As bad as he is, he really didn't play too badly against the Bears. The lack of Vikings' success is due to the offensive line, which also prevented Adrian Peterson from getting going (3.2 yards per carry, for a total of only 39 yards). At least Vikings fans got to see the regular season debut of Christian Ponder, who looked promising in garbage time. While the run defense is still good, the Minnesota secondary is atrocious.

25. Arizona Cardinals (1-4, +1): The Cardinals, who had playoff hopes in the NFC West after acquiring Kevin Kolb, are now practically doomed. The NFC wildcard race is too tight for them to compete, and I don't see them catching up to San Francisco for the division. Question is, will Ken Whisenhunt be given one more year? The only success he found was with an arguably future-Hall of Fame Quarterback (who he refused to start over Matt Leinart initially).

26. Kansas City Chiefs (2-3, +2): With reports coming out saying Bill Polian was prepared to fire Todd Haley in the event of a loss to the Colts, I don't really know how well the players and coaches will be able to concentrate during the bye. Hopefully for Haley, they'll be able to continue to overcome key injuries and continue their 2-game winning streak.

27. Jacksonville Jaguars (1-5, +0): Starting Gabbert this early was a mistake. He's been pretty bad for the Jaguars, and was considered a project when he was drafted. Instead, he seems to have been drafted by the Jack Del Rio regime as some kind of "job security", giving him an excuse for sucking this season. I don't know whether or not it'll work, but Gabbert is not being put in a position to succeed in the NFL. They should've never gotten rid of Garrard.

28. Seattle Seahawks (2-3, +1): Seattle had a lot of confidence coming off the bye, and Pete Carroll is a very underrated coach who has gotten his players to overperform for two seasons now. While it seems almost hopeless at this point to catch up to the 49ers, he'll continue having his players playing teams close every Sunday. The Seahawks seem to be on track in their rebuilding under Carroll.

29. Denver Broncos (1-4, +1): I can't wait until next week, when we see the Tim Tebow era start. Public opinion seems to be split right down the middle whether the "Tebow experiment" will succeed or not in the NFL. He gets to play a Dolphins defense who has struggled vs the pass this season, but his real value will be the big plays he makes with his legs. They also traded away their best wide-out Brandon Lloyd, so that won't help Tebow in his first start. At least they still have Eric Decker, who is becoming a legit NFL Wide receiver.

30. Miami Dolphins (0-5, -5): Maybe Chad Henne wasn't such a bad Quarterback after all, after watching Matt Moore run this offense last night. While the defense looked solid (against a bad Jets offense), there's not a single thing except Dan Thomas to get excited about in this Miami offense. Its time to clean house in Miami... Suck for Luck is in full effect.

31. Indianapolis Colts (0-6, +1): The Colts continue to play opponents close.. had having Jacksonville (who arguably sucks as badly as they do) twice left on the schedule leads me to believe they'll find a win eventually this season. I wish we could start the flex games this early, though. All these primetime Colts games are starting to get me annoyed.

32. St. Louis Rams (0-5, -1): The Rams mustered up a mere 3 points against the Pack last Sunday, which is bad considering how much yardage they were able to obtain. They seemed to be the "sexy pick" in the NFC West last off-season, but now, they will be lucky to win even a few games. Having Bradford means they probably won't go after Luck, but if they do get the 1st overall pick, I see them trading it for a king's ransom. The Rams traded for Brandon Lloyd to help their poor receiving corp, but I don't understand why. Sure, there is a connection to Offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels, but Lloyd was set to be a Free Agent in the off-season anyway, and at 0-5, the season appears to be done for St. Louis.

Predictions for Next Week

TKN's accuracy, Last week: 9-4 (69.23%)
Billy's accuracy, Last week: 9-4 (69.23%)
AFS's accuracy, Last week: 12-1 (92.30%)

TKN's Overall 2011 accuracy: 60-30 (66.67%)
Billy's Overall 2011 accuracy: 61-29 (67.78%)
AFS's Overall 2011 accuracy: 57-33 (63.33%)

As you can see, the American Football Simulator was nearly flawless in Week 7, making up some ground on Billy & I, getting only a single game wrong (Detroit beating San Francisco). The AFS hit upset picks on Tampa Bay, New York Giants, and Philadelphia last week, all games in which we, the mere humans, picked the other way. Time for some Week 7 revenge, I say!

Sanchez has struggled this year. Can he turn it around vs SD?
San Diego (4-1) @ New York J (3-3)
The Killer Nacho: If the Chargers get Ryan Mathews back, I like them in this game due to the ground and pound. San Diego's defense is also pretty solid and will provide problems to Mark Sanchez. The Chargers are coming off their bye, but history is not good for West teams coming to the east coast to play 1:00 games. While this really could go either way, I like the Chargers here.
San Diego 23, New York J 20

San Diego 29, New York J 19 

American Football Simulator:
San Diego 23, New York J 26

Chicago (3-3) @ Tampa Bay (4-2)
The Killer Nacho: Gut-check time for both teams. Both teams are coming off of big wins, but neither can afford another loss in a game that could have huge implications in the NFC wildcard race. Another game that could go either way, but Matt Forte is playing great right now and I'm not sold on Tampa Bay's pass rush to fully abuse the Bears offensive line.
Chicago 23, Tampa Bay 21

Chicago 24, Tampa Bay 33 

American Football Simulator:
Chicago 25, Tampa Bay 22

Seattle (2-3) @ Cleveland (2-3)
The Killer Nacho: I'm really afraid to pick against the Seahawks coming off a bye and a huge 1:00 win on the East coast but... everything seems to tell me the Browns will come out with the win here. Both teams are playing mainly for respect, but those games tend to be the most interesting.
Seattle 16, Cleveland 20

Seattle 13, Cleveland 23 

American Football Simulator:
Seattle 19, Cleveland 25

Atlanta (3-3) @ Detroit (5-1)
The Killer Nacho: Could the Lions fall twice in a row at home? ... Possibly, but I don't see it happening here. They received a wake-up call against San Francisco, and will come out fired up to prove that it was a fluke. Michael Turner won't see a big game like he did last week against the Lions front 7.
Atlanta 24, Detroit 27

Atlanta 35, Detroit 42 

American Football Simulator:
Atlanta 25, Detroit 22

How will the Tim Tebow era begin in Denver?
Denver (1-4) @ Miami (0-5)
The Killer Nacho:This game is so unpredictable given the Tim Tebow factor, but I'm going to pick my Dolphins here. This is the Dolphins' best chance to get a win all season and while I do think Tebow will be impressive, I think the Dolphins will take advantage of Tebow's weaknesses on more than one occasion, and win in a close one. Actually, I don't even know who to root for, since a tiebreaker against Denver may ruin our chances at Andrew Luck...
Denver 17, Miami 20

Denver 14, Miami 12 

American Football Simulator:
Denver 20, Miami 23

Houston (3-3) @ Tennessee (3-2)
The Killer Nacho: This game will determine first place for the AFC South, with the Colts and Jags sucking it up with their current Quarterback situations. I have to think Tenneessee worked hard to fix their running game during the bye. However, Houston is the better team and if they fall here ... well, it won't be good for Gary Kubiak.
Houston 26, Tennessee 20

Houston 17, Tennessee 24 

American Football Simulator:
Houston 27, Tennessee 25

Washington (3-2) @ Carolina (1-5)
The Killer Nacho: The Panthers have to be licking their chops, getting a home game against the demoralized Redskins here. While I think either Beck or Grossman will play well, Cam Newton is in store for another thrilling game. I think he'll have somewhere near three total touchdowns and two total turnovers. We'll see.
Washington 24, Carolina 26

Washington 10, Carolina 21 

American Football Simulator:
Washington 22, Carolina 24

Beanie Wells looks to continue his strong season against Pittsburgh.
Pittsburgh (4-2) @ Arizona (1-4)
The Killer Nacho: Arizona has had two weeks to prepare for the Steelers, but unfortunately for them, the Steelers defense seems to be getting back on track. If there is one weakness to that squad, however, it is the run defense so Beanie Wells will need to play well for the Cardinals to succeed. Unfortunately, I see Kolb being bad enough to lose the game for them here.
Pittsburgh 17, Arizona 14

Pittsburgh 31, Arizona 29 

American Football Simulator:
Pittsburgh 25, Arizona 18

Kansas City (2-3) @ Oakland (4-2)
The Killer Nacho: Oakland is clearly the better team right now, but its hard to predict how the Chiefs will play coming off the bye and all the coaching controversy. For that reason, I'm picking the Raiders despite the fact they will be without their starting Quarterback in this game. I fully expect the Raiders to lean on Darren McFadden, Carson Palmer will still be trying to learn the offense.
Kansas City 23, Oakland 24

Kansas City 24, Oakland 41 

American Football Simulator:
Kansas City 20, Oakland 24

Green Bay (6-0) @ Minnesota (1-5)
The Killer Nacho: Green Bay is playing lights-out right now, and Minnesota seems to be on the decline. Green Bay's defense has been good against the run, so don't expect a huge game from Adrian Peterson. Whoever starts between McNabb and Ponder likely won't have much luck passing against a Green Bay secondary 2nd in the league in interceptions. On the other hand, Aaron Rodgers will absolutely abuse the Vikings (lack of a) secondary.
Green Bay 28, Minnesota 10

Green Bay 38, Minnesota 20 

American Football Simulator:
Green Bay 25, Minnesota 21

Can Brandon Lloyd reverse the Rams' luck this season?
St. Louis (0-5) @ Dallas (2-3)
The Killer Nacho: Dallas has a big opportunity here to get back in the NFC East running. The Giants and Eagles are in their bye, and getting back to .500 will be huge for this team. They have no excuses to lose to the lowly Rams, but they have to be careful about the trap game coming off a heartbreaking defeat defensively.
St. Louis 17, Dallas 24

St. Louis 13, Dallas 27 

American Football Simulator:
St. Louis 23, Dallas 25

Indianapolis (0-6) @ New Orleans (4-2)
The Killer Nacho: Ugh ... how I wish we could flex games as early as Week 7. When the NFL schedule-makers scheduled this game for prime-time, they obviously did not expect Peyton Manning to be out. Let's just say that at home, it would be nothing short of a miracle for the Colts to get their first win this Sunday night.
Indianapolis 13, New Orleans 30

Indianapolis 21, New Orleans 36 

American Football Simulator:
Indianapolis 22, New Orleans 29

Baltimore (4-1) @ Jacksonville (1-5)
The Killer Nacho: Sheesh, another game I wish would get flexed (although, Monday night games won't ever get flexed). While this will be my first full game of being able to observe Blaine Gabbert, I doubt he fares well against the Baltimore Ravens...
Baltimore 27, Jacksonville 9

Baltimore 30, Jacksonville 15 

American Football Simulator:
Baltimore 25, Jacksonville 21

Question of the Week

Last week, I asked my readers "Which key injury is affecting their team the most?" between Andre Johnson (HOU), Jamaal Charles (KC), Chad Henne (MIA), Peyton Manning (IND), Kenny Britt (TEN), or Other (please comment). The poll was expectedly lopsided towards Colts Quarterback Peyton Manning, who earned 71% of the vote. Andre Johnson and Kenny Britt were tied for 2nd, receiving 14% each.

There have been several early-season surprises this season, however, history tells us not all strong starts are for real. Today's question of the day is simply, "Of the 2011 surprise teams, which team is most likely legit (will make the playoffs this year and remain good for awhile)?" between the Buffalo Bills (4-2), Detroit Lions (5-1), Cincinnati Bengals (4-2), San Francisco 49ers (5-1), or Oakland Raiders (4-2). Considering my own Power Rankings, I have to go with the team I have ranked highest right now, Detroit. They have a young franchise Quarterback, an elite Wide receiver, and a defensive front 7 that should be great for a long time. Vote on the right-side of my blog!