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

Monday, October 3, 2011

NFL Week 5 2011 Power Rankings & Predictions

Some teams got it done last week, and some didn't. While the Lions are still undefeated, thanks to Megatron in another come-from-behind victory, the Bills aren't so lucky, after being dispatched by the lowly Bungles. I'm here as always to help clear the chaos. Let's go.

Biggest Winner: San Diego Chargers, Carolina Panthers (+4)
Biggest Loser: Philadelphia Eagles, St. Louis Rams (-5)

1. Green Bay Packers (4-0, +0): Green Bay continues to prove is the NFL's top team. That was a demolishing victory against the Broncos. I have to wonder, though, if John Fox slept with McCarthy's wife or something ... did the Packers seem more aggressive than usual, especially considering their foe was a rather poor opponent? I mean, that early onside kick while up significantly was a bit... doushey. Either way, Aaron Rodgers proved once again he's an elite Quarterback.

2. New England Patriots (3-1, +0): Tom Brady doesn't lose twice in a row, although the real story here may be the defense. The defense has been the major area of concern this season, and they did a pretty good job, all things considered, against Darren McFadden, despite being without Albert Haynesworth. However, Jerod Mayo had an MCL injury which will sideline him for 6 weeks. We'll see if this defense can survive that significant loss. One could argue Mayo is the Pats' best defensive player.

3. New Orleans Saints (3-1, +0): While they were only playing the Jags, Drew Brees and the Saints took a big step forward, proving they can continue their high level of play on the road. Their 23-10 victory is actually even more dominant than the final score suggests - John Kasay missed two field goals against the Jaguars. The Saints are serious Super Bowl contenders... but will they be able to beat out the Pack?

4. Baltimore Ravens (3-1, +0): Sunday night's game was one of the most awkward games I've ever seen. 51 total points, only 7 of those points on offense. It set an NFL record for most return TD in a game, with one return TD, two fumble return TD, and two pick sixes. All I can say is ... wow... but the Ravens did win this battle. Unfortanutely, the only player on the offense who looked very impressive was Ray Rice, who scored the game's only offensive touchdown.

5. Houston Texans (3-1, +0): Arian Foster's return to the Texans was not a disappointment. When Kubiak originally said he would return to his full workload this game, I was a bit hesitant to believe him. Boy, was I wrong. Foster ran 30 times for 155 yards and a touchdown, with 3 receptions as well. Wow. If it wasn't for Andre Johnson's injury and a few offensive mistakes, the game wouldn't even have been close. The defense also deserves some credit. Big Ben had no time in the pocket whatsoever.

6. Detroit Lions (4-0, +1):The Lions continue to be sexy in the clutch, but you really have to wonder how many games like this the Lions can escape from. Early in the game, Dallas dominated and Stafford looked pretty bad. Two pick sixes later, Detroit is right back into it for another epic come-from-behind victory. Lions fans can thank Tony Romo, though. They won't get to play him every week, after all. I doubt they beat out the Pack, but they are in a nice position for a Wildcard (being the only other undefeated team).

7. Pittsburgh Steelers (2-2, -1): The Steelers were exposed against the Texans, there's no other way to really say it. The patch-job offensive line gave up pressure to the Texans dominating pass rush on every pass play, and Mendenhall had absolutely no holes to run through. Defensively, their "top run defense" was burned by Arian Foster, who no one seemed to be able to tackle with first contact. Steelers NEED to improve their Offensive line, or they could become victims of the Super Bowl loser curse.

8. San Diego Chargers (3-1, +4): Vincent Jackson burned Miami's weak secondary with Vontae Davis out, but did this really surprise anyone at all? For the first time, Philip Rivers did not throw two interceptions, so that has to be a positive sign. While their defense played well, the Dolphins were without their promising rookie rusher and starting Quarterback (after Henne was knocked out early in the game). Still, the Chargers are 3-1, favorites in the AFC West.

9. Chicago Bears (2-2, +1): Da Bears. Sorry, I just had to. They squeaked by with a victory at Carolina, but it wasn't as pretty as I thought it would be. Once again, Cam Newton has proven himself... in a loss. Chicago's offense got back on track with Forte finally starting to get going against an inferior defensive front of the Panthers. They'll need to find a way to keep this up though looking up at two 4-0 teams in the division.

10. New York Jets (2-2, -2): When I say Mark Sanchez is one of the league's worst starting Quarterbacks, no one seems to believe me. But games like this really help prove my point. The Jets' success under Rex Ryan is due to defense and a strong running game. Looking at the offense, there is no reason for Sanchez to fail... strong Offensive line, good receivers, strong running game. But he is consistently abused and the obvious weak-link of this team. Granted, Nick Mangold is still out, but that's no excuse.

11. Buffalo Bills (3-1, -2): Was I too hasty putting the Bills in the Top 10? I'm not going to give up on Ryan Fitzpatrick, Freddie Jackson, Stevie Johnson and the Bills offense yet but, a loss to the Bengals really makes you ask some questions. The Bills "top offense" had trouble getting anything going against the Bengals on Sunday. This is not the only time the Bills have looked great, only to disappoint fans. Same old Bills?

12. Atlanta Falcons (2-2, +1): Another really odd game. Atlanta was the clear favorites, but only won 30-28. Despite playing one of the worst starting Quarterbacks in the league, Atlanta allowed over 300 yards passing. They did pick him off twice, but allowing 28 points to the Seahawks is simply disgusting. Offensively, Michael Turner played well as did Matt Ryan, who finally looked like he was getting the ball around to his good receiving corp. Still, you need to worry about that defense if you're a Falcons fan.

13. New York Giants (3-1, +2): While I'm not in the business of singing praises of teams who dispatch crappy NFC West teams, I will admit that Eli Manning's accuracy has much improved since pre-season. He defiantly has a clutch factor to him, playing well when it really matters. Still, he wouldn't not had that opportunity if it weren't for the controversial "giving himself up" call. More on that in the Cardinals' section of these Power Rankings.

14. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (3-1, -3): Like I said with Pittsburgh a week ago, a team really shouldn't be playing the Colts so close. Then again, this isn't a new problem for the Bucs, who have played close games all season. They seemed prone to mistakes on both ides of the ball, including an embarrassing Field Goal attempt at the end of the first half, which was nullified by 12 men on the field, due to offensive players failure to get off the field. Of course, it was mostly due to Freeman taking a sack in a position he really couldn't, with no time outs and 3rd down, so he couldn't run a quick spike. I like what I saw from LeGarrette Blount, why don't they run him more?

15. Washington Redskins (3-1, +3): This was a trap game for the Redskins, but they were able to get over it. Coming off a disappointing Monday night loss playing against a team at home with nothing to lose and finally received their offensive weapon back, all of the psychology of that game sided with the Rams'. The Skins defense stepped up and played well. Rex Grossman didn't, but the Redskins were able to coast to a win behind RB Ryan Torain, finally healthy, for the victory. The Redskins will not complain going 3-1.

16. Oakland Raiders (2-2, +0): No one expected for the Raiders to beat New England, but I think everyone expected some more offensive production against one of the league's worst-performing defenses without one of their key defensive tackles. New England jumped to a quick lead, limiting Darren McFadden's touches, so he only finished with 75 yards on the day. Jason Campbell, while getting over 300 yards passing, was picked off twice. Fortunately for the Raiders, they are in the AFC West, so its a minor setback.

17. Dallas Cowboys (2-2, +0): What happens when one of the most clutch teams in the NFL come into town to take on one of the league's least clutch Quarterbacks? Well, this does. Despite getting to an impressive 20-3 lead at the half, Tony Romo single-handedly lost the game for the 'Boys. Romo threw three total interceptions, two of which were third-quarter pick-sixes, propelling Detroit to their ultimate comeback and 34-30 win. D'oh!

18. Tennessee Titans (3-1, +1): And the surprising Titans are 3-1 under new head coach Mike Munchak, despite Chris Johnson's decline. Who could've seen this coming? Having just knocked on Johnson, it is worth mentioning that he finally had a 100 yard game, rushing for 101 yards on 23 carries against Cleveland. Hasselbeck, despite only completing 50% of his passes, was able to overcome Kenny Britt's loss and throw for 220 yards and three touchdowns. I'm going to hold off on calling them playoff contenders, however, until I see them play better competition.

19. Philadelphia Eagles (1-3, -5): I'm officially off the Dream Team bandwagon... I'm going to just start treating them for what they are, an under-performing 1-3 team. Their only victory was a Week 1 win against a winless team. They've since lost three straight, the last of which to a crappy NFC West team at home. Completely unacceptable. Stat-wise, the Eagles played well enough to win. But mistake after mistake led to their eventual loss. You won't win games making this many mistakes. To add injury to insult, Trent Cole, who has been Philly's best defensive player this season, will be out three weeks with an Grade 2 calf strain. OT Jason Peters and DT Antonio Dixon also sustained injuries.

20. San Francisco 49ers (3-1, +0): Another 3-1 team I'm not sold on yet, the 49ers were really outplayed in Philadelphia this Sunday, only really obtaining the win thanks to Philly's mistakes. Still, Frank Gore finally broke out (as I predicted) ... which is ironic since due to his injury he was only the #2 back behind Kendall Hunter. Aside from that, the 49ers didn't really impress me much, except the fact that they won. At 3-1, however, they just might be able to coast to an NFC West championship from here. They have a two-game lead.

21. Carolina Panthers (1-3, +4): It seems that Cam Newton is going to make a habit of posting large numbers in losses. Newton threw for 374 yards and a touchdown against the Bears, and also rushed for two touchdowns. This wasn't enough to win, however, as Carolina's banged-up defense surrendered over 200 yards on the ground to Matt Forte (who averaged an unheard-of 8.2 yards per carry against them)! The Panthers only rain the ball with their Runningbacks 18 times (despite that it was actually effective) compared to Newton's 54 touches, so this is another team that could benefit from offensive balance. Running the ball is a key part to giving your defense some rest.

22. Cleveland Browns (2-2, -1): I get the Titans got off to an early lead, but does that really justify Colt McCoy throwing the ball 61 times (technically 65 when you include the Titans' four sacks)??? Peyton Hillis is back, and he only gets 10 carries? Hardesty gets only 7? Even while down, you have to maintain better offensive balance if you expect to win games. And it doesn't help when your Quarterback can only manage a mere 8.75 yards per completion. The defense played okay, but gave up one too many big plays to Matt Hasselbeck.

23. Arizona Cardinals (1-3, +3): Poor Cardinals. I have to agree with the media that they were snubbed out of a victory with the controversial "giving himself up" call. For those who missed it, Victor Cruz tripped in a play vs the Cardinals, coughing up the ball. He was never contacted. Arizona recovered, but the refs ruled Victor Cruz was down because he "gave himself up". It was an obvious trip, not a slide, so it was probably the wrong call. Either way, despite the bad call, the Cardinals secondary and pass rush proved inept, as they still had a chance to stop Eli Manning and preserve the win.

24. Jacksonville Jaguars (1-3, +3): Why did they get rid of David Garrard again? Was he really not better than Gabbert or McClown? The rookie did not impress against the Saints - completing only 16 of his 42 passes (38.1%). This is another team that REALLY has to work on their balance. Why give up running the ball with your one offensive playmaker, Maurice Jones-Drew? He only had 11 carries all game, despite averaging 7.6 YPC. What is with these fail-coaches who coach run-first teams yet run so little? A running game would be a HUGE help to Blaine Gabbert, Jack Del Rio!! It's not rocket science.

25. Miami Dolphins (0-4, -1): Of all the games in the season, I blame the Dolphins least for this defeat. Any team is going to have problems without their best Runningback and Quarterback, with Chad Henne being knocked out early in Sunday's game against the Chargers. Matt Moore is obviously worse than Henne, and the game went downhill from there. The Dolphins coverage unit is really struggling without top-corner Vontae Davis, Rivers had little trouble beating Miami. The interior offensive line looked better before Pouncey got banged up, so at least the running game is improving. It should improve even more once they get Dan Thomas (and Chad Henne) back after their bye. It will be interesting to see what a healthy Fins team can do against the Jets.

26. Minnesota Vikings (0-4, -4): Minnesota has sunk to a new low. At least before they actually came out to an impressive first-half lead before tanking the game. This time, they don't even get that, and fall to one of the league's worst teams, and laughing stocks, the Kansas City Chiefs. Adrian Peterson had a hard time finding running room, and McNabb finally played well, but not enough to win. Maybe its time to stick a fork in the season and throw your rookie, Christian Ponder, in to see what you have in him. After all, if he sucks, they might want to know that since at the moment they seem to have a strong case for picking 1st overall.

27. Cincinnati Bengals (2-2, +2): At 2-2, the Bengals are over-performing. I'm still scratching my head how they managed to get 2 wins this season, but they have played every game close this season, and the team plays with a lot of heart. They were able to play the Bills close and win in the final seconds. I think a lot of it was that it was a huge trap game for the Bills, though. While the Bengals defense is solid, I'm still not sold on its lackluster offense to win consistently in this league.

28. St. Louis Rams (0-4, -5): The Rams are just too beaten up to compete much this season. Its sad. Sam Bradford also appears to be in a sophomore slump, which is fairly common for a player who had a lot of success his rookie year. It's not completely his fault, as he has a beaten up receiving corp, offensive line, and running game, but still. One would think once Steven Jackson came back, the Rams offense could muster up more than 10 points. Apparently not.

29. Denver Broncos (1-3, -1): Denver lost in every phase of the game on Sunday, further demonstrating their Away-ineptitude. Kyle Orton was picked off three times, the defense surrendered one of the best days for a Quarterback ever to Aaron Rodgers, and they also gave up an onside kick early into the game. There is a few positive things for Denver that can be found in this game, though. Brandon Lloyd and Eric Decker are two legit receivers. Lloyd is the smart vet, while Eric Decker is a promising young talent, who reminds me of Wes Welker. On defensive, Von Miller is a monster, sacking Rodgers twice and also tripped Rodgers up on a scramble that would've likely resulted in a touchdown.

30. Kansas City Chiefs (1-3, +2): The Chiefs have looked better in the last two weeks when compared to the first two where they were completely dominated, finally getting their first win against the also-winless Vikings. Matt Cassel was safe with the football for a change, and hooked up with Dwane Bowe five times for 107 yards and a touchdown. Defensively, the Chiefs did a great job limiting Adrian Peterson to 3.5 yards per carry, making the Vikings rely on Quarterback Donovan McNabb, which as he's shown this season, is a fatal mistake. Although if I'm a Chiefs fan, I'm more angry about this win than the three losses. This was a must-lose game for the Chiefs! Now they're a game and a half behind the Vikings in the Andrew Luck race! Boo!

31. Indianapolis Colts (0-4, -1): Curtis Painter played good, not great, on Monday night. We saw some flashes of greatness, but he also made some inaccurate throws and mistakes. For the first time all year, the Colts showed some glimpses of offensive production, so they should stick with Painter going forward, I think. Once again, they played hard and came close. Sometimes, getting close just isn't close enough. Late in the game, their defense was too tired to handle LeGarrette Blount.

32. Seattle Seahawks (1-3, -1): Seattle played better than I would've thought but came up short. Despite two early picks, Tavaris Jackson actually played well, throwing for over 300 yards and three touchdowns. Sidney Rice and undrafted rookie Doug Baldwin was a major part of that. Still, the defense played badly and the rush attack, as well. Relying on Tavaris Jackson is not a great formula to success. Besides, they're supposed to be tanking for Luck, remember? This improved play must have Seahawks fans worried.

Predictions for Next Week

TKN's accuracy, Week 4: 12-4 (75.00%)
Billy's accuracy, Week 4: 12-4 (75.00%)
AFS's accuracy, Week 4: 9-7 (56.25%)

TKN's Overall 2011 accuracy: 44-20 (68.75%)
Billy's Overall 2011 accuracy: 43-21 (67.19%)
AFS's Overall 2011 accuracy: 38-26 (59.38%)

As you can see, the American Football Simulator struggled last week. It always seems to look strong with upset predictions early in games, only for a comeback to occur, as it did with Detroit @ Dallas last week. It seems to have a hard time with analyzing the "clutch factor" of some teams, namely the Lions. Will it be able to bounce back? We'll soon find out.

Cam Newton just doesn't want to post big numbers, he wants to win.
New Orleans (3-1) @ Carolina (1-3)
TheKillerNacho: There's two things I expect to see in this game... More big numbers from Cam Newton, and a New Orleans win. There's no reason to believe Carolina's defense will be able to slow down Drew Brees and the Saints.
New Orleans 28, Carolina 20

New Orleans 34, Carolina 27

American Football Simulator:
New Orleans 27, Carolina 25

Oakland (2-2) @ Houston (3-1)
TheKillerNacho: Another hard matchup for the Raiders, I can't see them winning at Houston right now, not with Arian Foster coming back as strong as he's been. If there is one sigh of relief Oakland can find in this game, its that Andre Johnson might not be good to go in this one.
Oakland 24, Houston 30

Oakland 29, Houston 38 

American Football Simulator:
Oakland 23, Houston 29

Arizona (1-3) @ Minnesota (0-4)
TheKillerNacho: I really don't want to pick Minnesota here, but I'm going to. They should win... here's why. One, Minnesota is a much better team at home than away. Two, Arizona is a much worse team away than at home. Minnesota is the better team and is going up against the worst defense they have all season. Also, I doubt Beanie Wells will be able to match his recent success with Kevin Williams back.
Arizona 20, Minnesota 23

Arizona 12, Minnesota 13

American Football Simulator:
Arizona 21, Minnesota 27

The Colts' pass rush will try to keep the Colts from dropping to 0-5.
Kansas City (1-3) @ Indianapolis (0-4)
TheKillerNacho: Am I going to predict another winless team gets its first win? Yes, I am. Oh snap, another risky play by me! I'm cool. Really though, the Colts D is a monster at home. Cassel will be in for a long day. Yeah... that's my logic, and I'm sticking to it. Although I have a bad feeling I'm wrong ...
Kansas City 13, Indianapolis 16

Kansas City 18, Indianapolis 20 

American Football Simulator:
Kansas City 22, Indianapolis 24

Seattle (1-3) @ New York G (3-1)
TheKillerNacho: Good news for Eli Manning, he gets matched up with another crappy NFC West team, yay! At home, there's no doubt who the clear victor should be. Seattle may have played well against Atlanta at home, but they're much worse on the road.
Seattle 13, New York G 27

Seattle 14, New York G 35

American Football Simulator:
Seattle 19, New York G 26

Philadelphia (1-3) @ Buffalo (3-1)
TheKillerNacho: Philadelphia is 1-3, and the Bills may be the best team they've faced all season. The Bills will probably be feeling their heart-breaking loss all week, so don't expect them to come out soft against Philadelphia. Freddie Jackson is looking forward to the big day he'll have against Philadelphia's abysmal rush defense.
Philadelphia 16, Buffalo 26

Philadelphia 20, Buffalo 33 

American Football Simulator:
Philadelphia 27, Buffalo 25

Cincinnati (2-2) @ Jacksonville (1-3)
TheKillerNacho: I'm going to go with the Jags here, at home. Cincinnati won't quite have the same mommentum on the road as they did at home. In addition, Cedric Benson will LIKELY be out this week, since its unlikely his appeal will go through (whose does?). Jacksonville is stout against the run, anyway. Will be a low-scoring affair either way, though.
Cincinnati 10, Jacksonville 13

Cincinnati 17, Jacksonville 10

American Football Simulator:
Cincinnati 20, Jacksonville 24

Are the Hasselbeck-led Titans legit? They hope to prove it at Pittsburgh.
Tennessee (3-1) @ Pittsburgh (2-2)
TheKillerNacho: Pittsburgh needs to get back on track. Tennessee needs to keep winning, in attempts to prove its 3-1 start is no fluke. Tennessee will abuse Pittsburgh's bad offensive line, but ultimately, I think Pittsburgh will get the win at home.
Tennessee 21, Pittsburgh 24

Tennessee 24, Pittsburgh 13 

American Football Simulator:
Tennessee 20, Pittsburgh 25

Tampa Bay (3-1) @ San Francisco (3-1)
TheKillerNacho: Tampa Bay really struggled on Monday night, but here's their opportunity to come back. I'm actually really scared to pick them as Tampa Bay has looked good on paper, but failed to put it together on the football field. The 49ers are over-performing.
Tampa Bay 23, San Francisco 20

Tampa Bay 17, San Francisco 20 

American Football Simulator:
Tampa Bay 24, San Francisco 25

New York J (2-2) @ New England (3-1)
TheKillerNacho: Things don't get much easier for the Jets against New England. Their top defense doesn't matchup well against the Pats, who abuse their tight ends and slot receivers, not their long passing plays like they did with Randy Moss. Both the Jets offensive unit and the Pats defensive unit has been mostly inept this season, so its hard to predict which way that will go, but the Pats are the better overall team.
New York J 17, New England 24

New York J 17, New England 37

American Football Simulator:
New York J 21, New England 24

Rookie Von Miller has been impressive... can he lead this D to an upset?
San Diego (3-1) @ Denver (1-3)
TheKillerNacho: Denver is much stronger at home, but I still think they'll struggle against San Diego. The Chargers are 3-1, their only loss coming to the Patriots. The Broncos' secondary isn't great, so Philip Rivers should have another good day. If the Chargers can contain Von Miller and continue to play good defense, they should get a victory over the division-rival Broncos.
San Diego 27, Denver 21

San Diego 28, Denver 7 

American Football Simulator:
San Diego 26, Denver 21

Green Bay (4-0) @ Atlanta (2-2)
TheKillerNacho: This may be the hardest game for Green Bay all season so far. A playoff rematch, Atlanta is never an easy team to get a victory against at home. Having said that, with the extent Atlanta's secondary was exposed at Seattle, I think Aaron Rodgers is in for another big game. And the Falcons will not be able to keep up.
Green Bay 28, Atlanta 21

Green Bay 41, Atlanta 21 

American Football Simulator:
Green Bay 26, Atlanta 24

Chicago (2-2) @ Detroit (4-0)
TheKillerNacho: Great Monday-night match-up right here. This is about as close to a "must win" game you get at this point in the season, the Bears will not want to go 2-3 with the Lions 5-0 (and the Pack likely 5-0). This win for the Lions, meanwhile, would be huge. I'm going to pick the upset, actually, judging from the psychology. The Bears will come out pumped, while the Lions may come out flat. The Lions have not played well early in games this year, and against the Bears, I think this will finally come back to bite them in the butt.
Chicago 24, Detroit 21

Chicago 23, Detroit 28 

American Football Simulator:
Chicago 24, Detroit 22

Question of the Week

Last week, I asked my readers "Which team is the greatest story this season (for better or for worse)?" between the Kansas City Chiefs, Indianapolis Colts, Buffalo Bills, Detroit Lions, or Houston Texans. The poll was won by the Buffalo Bills, with 57% of the vote. This is the team I voted for, but I may have been ultimately wrong as the Bills dropped to 3-1, but the Lions are still undefeated. The Lions came in 2nd with 28%, the other 14% going to the Chiefs for their 0-3 start.

With so many players playing so well so far this season, I'm asking this week "Which player is most likely to win Season MVP, based off the first four weeks?" between the Aaron Rodgers, Tom Brady, Calvin Johnson, Darren McFadden, Ryan Fitzpatrick, Drew Brees, or Other (please comment). All of these offensive players have been nothing short of spectacular. Calvin Johnson is undefendable right now, and Darren McFadden continues to make big plays each week for the Raiders. However, I think this season is a story of the Quarterbacks. Ryan Fitzpatrick led the best offense prior to this week, Tom Brady is also playing ridiculous, but no one is playing better than Aaron Rodgers right now, who has my vote. Its hard to vote wrong here.

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