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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, September 18, 2012

NFL 2012 Week 3 Power Rankings and Predictions

Week 2 was a very odd NFL week. A lot of teams that surprised everyone in Week 1 were the teams that took a step back in Week 2. It was a terrible fantasy week for me as I scored less points than I did ever. And to make matters worse, I was playing the very same Billy who does predictions for this blog. Blegh. Onto the power rankings.

Biggest Winner: Philadelphia Eagles, Seattle Seahawks (+8)
Biggest Loser: New York Jets (-7)

1. San Francisco 49ers (2-0, +2): The 49ers has really established themselves as an elite team with two decisive victories over NFC North opponents that were strong bets for the playoffs. With an elite defense and an emerging offense, the 49ers look to be the team to beat in the NFC. Alex Smith holds a 115.9 Quarterback rating two games into the season... he's no longer a bust, that's for sure.

2Atlanta Falcons (2-0, +2): After dismantling the Chiefs, the Falcons proved themselves to be legitimate by defeating a tough Broncos team led by Peyton Manning. They didn't just defeat him, however, they forced three first-half interceptions from the future Hall-of-Famer. Even without Brent Grimes, the Falcons' defense looks frightening. Offensively, another good game by Matt Ryan and that Falcons passing game.

3. Baltimore Ravens (1-1, -1): Despite their 1-point loss to the Eagles, I still think the Ravens are the class of the AFC. The thing that really bugs me about that game is that Ray Rice was running the ball so well but OC Cam Cameron insisted on throwing the ball with Joe Flacco every play, despite the fact they had the lead. Poor play-calling and lack of adjusting to the Eagles' half-time adjustments lost the game for the Ravens. I think they should bounce back, however.

4. Houston Texans (2-0, +3): Statistically, there is no better team than the Texans right now. And while you have to consider their first two opponents, the lowly Dolphins and Jaguars, they still destroyed teams they should. Their RB tandem of Arian Foster and Ben Tate is obviously one of the league's best, and their defense is playing as well as anyone right now (Yes, even as well as San Francisco's!). They get their first real challenge this week at Denver, it will be interesting to see how they fare.

5. Green Bay Packers (1-1, +0): Bouncing back from strong criticisms in Week 1, the Green Bay defense had huge strides in Week 2. Clay Matthews had what was perhaps his best game of his career, sacking Jay Cutler 3.5 times on Thursday night. It gets even better, however, since the Pack was able to pick Cutler off four times. With that kind of defensive numbers, though, you'd expect Green Bay's "explosive offense" would be able to win by more than 13 points. Granted, they played arguably two of the best defenses in the league, but I don't think we've seen a complete game on both sides of the ball from this team yet.

6. New England Patriots (1-1, -5): Granted, the Patriots really should be 2-0 right now, and would be if it wasn't for the Field Goal miss by Stephen Gostkowski at the end of the game. Still, it shouldn't have been nearly as close as it was. Tom Brady and the offense made key mistakes, giving the Cardinals points. The good news is that the defense looked good despite the offense looking flat. Perhaps this is another sign of the Super Bowl Loser curse taking effect?

7. Pittsburgh Steelers (1-1, +3): A convincing 27-10 win over the Jets is just what the doctor ordered for this team. The Steelers defense put the Jets offense back in its place. Mark Sanchez only completed 10 passes, and the most explosive run the Jets had on the day was a 22-yard Tim Tebow scramble. The Steelers offense played well enough to win given the advantage their defense gave them. Roethlisberger bounced back with 275 yards and two touchdowns, one to Mike Wallace, which is a good sign from the former hold-out.

8. New York Giants (1-1, +1): While Eli Manning got back to his 4th-quarter clutch ways against Tampa Bay on Sunday, the Giants defense (namely the secondary) looks mighty bad. Part of their early defensive woes could be attributed to Manning's turnovers in the first half, but allowing a shootout with Josh Freeman in the second half really isn't excusable. They need to address their secondary issues if they want to repeat.

9. Philadelphia Eagles (2-0, +8): I don't feel like looking it up, but it has to be some kind of record that the Eagles are 2-0 despite a league-high 9 turnovers. Their two 1-point wins are a testament to the great defense the Eagles have this year. Finally, the Eagles defense put it together, with a great pass rush combined with a lethal secondary. Too bad the offense forgot how to play in the off-season. Michael Vick looks awful to the point teams are okay stacking the box against LeSean McCoy. Their matchup against the Cardinals will be the battle of the two teams least deserving of being 2-0.

10. Chicago Bears (1-1, -4): I'm not ready to jump ship on the Bears just yet, but WOW, their offense got exposed on Thursday night. Jay Cutler has never been very good against the Packers, but he had his worst game of his career. He must be having nightmares about Packers defensive players sacking him and intercepting his throws all night long. Brandon Marshall was limited to just two catches (with one dropped in the endzone). Chicago's offense should be able to rally and bounce back, but it seems they are far from being the improved Bears offense we thought they were in Week 1.

11. San Diego Chargers (2-0, +3): Could this finally be Norv Turner's year? Even without star RB Ryan Mathews, the Chargers are off to a 2-0 start. With Mathews likely coming back into the lineup next week, or next week at the latest, the Chargers are getting him right when they need him. The Raiders and the Titans are two of the worst NFL teams. But they'll have their hands full against the Falcons in Week 3.

12. Dallas Cowboys (1-1, -4): From defeating the reigning Super Bowl champs to getting blown out by the Seahawks... where the heck am I supposed to put this team? Two games on the road to start the season is tough and I think the Cowboys should bounce back for their home opener, but this team is really confusing. I really like their defense and Tony Romo but 12th is as high as I can put them at this point.

13. Denver Broncos (1-1, -1): After an impressive outing against the Steelers, the "new" Peyton Manning struggled heavily against the Falcons, throwing three first-half interceptions that put them out of the game early. While they were able to get some garbage points in the 2nd half, it wasn't a good night for the Broncos. I trust Manning can fix his mistakes and bounce back but he gets another tough defense in Week 3 against the Texans.

14. Seattle Seahawks (1-1, +8): Maybe I jumped ship on this team too early. The Seahawks defense looked extremely solid at home against the Cowboys. Its true the Seahawks have one of the best homefield advantages in the league, but everything went right in the 27-7 win against the Cowboys. Rookie Russell Wilson looked quite good against a tough defense, too.

15. Detroit Lions (1-1, +0): Honestly, I think I had the placing for the Lions right after Week 1. This is a team that isn't as good as it was last year. While they still have a lot of talent on both sides of the ball, teams are starting to figure out Mathew Stafford, and it doesn't help him that the Lions don't have much of a running game. The Lions should remain competitive for an NFC wildcard spot, however.

16. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (1-1, +2): The Bucs lost against the Giants in Week 2, but it was impressive how close they were able to make it against the reigning champs. The offense looked like it was starting to come together with good throws to Vincent Jackson from Josh Freeman. And the defense picked off Eli Manning three times. This should be a pretty solid team going forward but are in a tough NFC South division.

17Carolina Panthers (1-1, +2): Defeating Drew Brees and the Saints is still impressive, and a nice home opener for the Panthers. Cam Newton had a very good day against the same defense that gave up big numbers to Robert Griffin III, throwing for over 250 yards and running for over 70 and two total touchdowns. Their rushing game also rebounded from a pitiful performance against Tampa Bay, with their Runningbacks combining for over 100 yards and two touchdowns. They now take on the former Champion Giants on Thursday-night football.

18. New York Jets (1-1, -7): Last week, I was admitting how wrong I was about the Jets offense and how good it looked. Well, it turned a complete 180 against the Steelers at Pittsburgh on Sunday. Sanchez was totally inaccurate. The running game couldn't get going. Stephen Hill didn't catch a pass. To make matters worse, their defense gave up two touchdown passes to Ben Roethlisberger. Granted, Darrelle Revis was out, but the Steelers were without James Harrison and Troy Polamalu so what's their excuse?

19. Washington Redskins (1-1, -6): Their 6-point slide in these Power Rankings isn't so much due to their loss against the Rams, but rather, what we found out after the game. Two key Redskins defensive starters, Adam Carriker and Brian Orakpo, are done for the year. This will severely hurt the unit since Orakpo is by far their best pass-rusher. Griffin is still good enough to win the Redskins games but it hurts their chances to make the post-season severely.

20. Buffalo Bills (1-1, +0): Okay, so, they were able to light up the Chiefs. The Chan Gailey-led Bills are all about Roller-coaster rides, however, so I'm going to hold off calling them a good team again. The one thing I will say is that C.J. Spiller is the real deal. I honestly thought when he was drafted that he would be a decent compliment back to Fred Jackson and nothing more but this kid could really carry the load for the Bills if he stays healthy. Moving forward, he's one of the most explosive Runningbacks in the game.

21. New Orleans Saints (0-2, -5): From one of the best teams in the league to an 0-2 start, the Saints are a team that is degrading quickly. Drew Brees has looked off while the defense is playing soft (probably with Bountygate still looming over their heads) and can't stop anybody. Obviously they have the talent to rebound, but it will be tough with their morale as low as it is. At least in Week 3 they get to play at home against another demoralized team, the Chiefs.

22. Arizona Cardinals (2-0, +5): While I admit I had this team far too low in my Power Rankings, this is not a 2-0 team. Their defense is good but their offensive line makes the Cardinals offense one of the worst in the league. Kevin Kolb can't get enough time to throw the ball to Larry Fitzgerald and it doesn't open up running lanes for Beanie Wells or Ryan Williams. Virtually all of their points against the Patriots came off of Patriots turnovers. Plus, Stephen Gostkowski shouldn't have missed his 42-yard field goal that gave the Cardinals the win. The Cardinals defense is good enough to keep them in most games but I think we'll be looking back at this 2-0 start as a fluke; this is not a playoff team.

23. St. Louis Rams (1-1, +3): Jeff Fisher has turned around the Rams in a hurry. Sam Bradford is looking calm in the pocket and is making good decisions, he had at least a 100 passer rating in each of his first two games. The defense is improved with the acquisition of Cortland Finnegan. Fisher held out star RB Steven Jackson for an Unsportsmanlike Conduct penalty on Sunday but the Rams were still able to run the ball effectively with 7th-round rookie Daryl Richardson. Like the Cardinals, its arguable if they would've won last week if it wasn't for a mistake by the other team. But I really like the development of this team and they will be a tough opponent to just about everybody.

24. Cincinnati Bengals (1-1, +0): Defeating the Browns isn't going to convince me that this isn't an overhyped football team. Plus, the defense has just looked awful in the first two games. Getting beaten by Joe Flacco and Ray Rice is one thing but getting destroyed by Brandon Weeden and Trent Richardson is completely different. Offensively the Bengals looked good and you have to like what you saw from Andy Dalton, A.J. Green, and BenJarvus Green-Ellis, but man, this team isn't going to even come close to the playoffs until they can fix their defensive problems.

25. Indianapolis Colts (1-1, +4): Andrew Luck looked good in his home opener against the Vikings, going 20/31 for 224 and a pair of touchdowns in a 23-20 overtime win. This team won't seriously compete this season but I think the rewards of selecting Andrew Luck and switching to the 3-4 defense under Chuck Pagano will start showing themselves as early as next season.

26. Minnesota Vikings (1-1, -1): Christian Ponder had another good game against the Colts, going 27/35 for 245 yards and two touchdowns but wasn't able to come down with the ever-important win. Despite playing well in their first two games, one really must consider the competition: the Jaguars and the Colts. The Vikings are at home against the #1 ranked 49ers on Sunday, which will be their first real challenge of the season.

27. Jacksonville Jaguars (0-2, -6): I guess I really reached on the Jaguars this year. But a home 27-7 loss to the Texans, a game in which the Jaguars couldn't move the ball and got pummeled by the Texans running game, has me seeing the light about this team. I still like their defense and I still believe Blaine Gabbert is improving but this team has a lot of work to be done before it can start being a real contender. For now, it belongs in the bottom half of the league, where I'm placing it.

28. Kansas City Chiefs (0-2, -5): Even with their defensive starters coming back, the Chiefs defense looked awful for the second straight week, being let up by Bills RB C.J. Spiller. Offensively, the Chiefs were forced to abandon the run too early and put their hope in Matt Cassel to win them the game... and you're never in a good position when your hope is in Cassel. This team needs to play good defense and run the ball on offense to succeed but the defense just isn't getting it done right now.

29Miami Dolphins (1-1, +3): I'm really quite happy my Dolphins were able to prove they weren't the worst NFL team last Sunday with a dominating 35-13 win over the Raiders. Many in the Dolphins offense enjoyed career days against the Raiders. Tannehill threw no picks and had two total touchdowns, and Brian Hartline showed he had what it takes to be a legitimate receiver with a career-high 9 receptions for 111 yards. But perhaps most impressively, Reggie Bush is one step closer to proving he is a legitimate starting RB in the NFL with his 172 yard, 2 touchdown game. Looks like Joe Philbin and Mike Sherman's offense is starting to click.

30. Oakland Raiders (0-2, -2): I was thinking the Raiders could be a decent team this year but boy am I wrong. Whenever you are getting blown out by what many Power Rankings had as one of the two worst teams, you're not a good team. Carson Palmer's struggles have carried into the regular season and Darren McFadden is not getting running lanes, limiting his opportunities severely. It looks like the lack of high draft picks during the Al Davis era has crippled this team.

31. Cleveland Browns (0-2, +0): The Browns aren't short on one thing: hope. Too bad they won't put it all together this season, in all probability. In Week 1, they shut down one of the most dynamic NFL offenses in a 17-16 loss, but their offense played horribly. In Week 2, their offense plays great but their defense sucks leading to a 34-27 loss. While I'm still not high on Brandon Weeden, he showed with a strong running game from Trent Richardson, he can have some success. I expect to see them flash more "hope" in their Week 3 loss to the Bills.

32. Tennessee Titans (0-2, -2): I wouldn't have thought so at the beginning of the season, but the Titans look to be the NFL's worst team after two games. They didn't just lose their first two games, they were destroyed. Chris Johnson has not rebounded, in part due to the fact that no team fears their passing attack led by the disappointing Jake Locker. Now this should get better with Kenny Britt being re-integrated into the offense, but until then, the Titans are the NFL's worst team.

Predictions for Week 2

TKN's Week 1 accuracy: 11-5 (68.75%)
Billy's Week 1 accuracy: 11-5 (68.75%)
AFS's* Week 1 accuracy: 11-5 (68.75%)

TKN's Overall 2012 accuracy: 18-14 (56.25%)
Billy's Overall 2012 accuracy: 18-14 (56.25%)
AFS's* Overall 2012 accuracy: 21-11 (65.63%)
*American Football Simulator averages of 2,000 simulations.

All of our predictors hit and missed on some of our differences in Week 2, but the bottom line is everyone had a pretty good 11-5 prediction week. The Simulator still leads due to me and Billy's poor Week 1, however. I personally hope to improve for Week 3, however!

Cam Newton looks to build on his home opener success.
New York Giants (1-1) @ Carolina Panthers (1-1)
TheKillerNacho: The Giants are off to a rocky start for a Super Bowl champion, and they have to go to Carolina to play against Cam Newton on a short week. Like most Thursday night games, defenses seem to have an advantage so I don't think it will be super high-scoring. It will be a close game but I expect Eli Manning to win in the final minutes, as he always seems to.
New York G 24, Carolina 23

New York G 17, Carolina 27

American  Football Simulator:
New York G 24, Carolina 23

Tampa Bay Buccaneers (1-1) @ Dallas Cowboys (1-1)
TheKillerNacho: Going on the road to play the Giants then the Cowboys must be tough for this young Bucs team. Dallas is looking to rebound after a pitiful 27-7 loss against the Seahawks, and I think they will take that anger out on the Bucs. The Bucs will need to force turnovers from Romo to win, but I don't think Romo will give them many opportunities. I'll go with Dallas.
Tampa Bay 24, Dallas 27

Tampa Bay 20, Dallas 34

American  Football Simulator:
Tampa Bay 25, Dallas 27

Jacksonville Jaguars (0-2) @ Indianapolis Colts (1-1)
TheKillerNacho: Part of me still likes Jacksonville and wants to pick them but I have to go with Andrew Luck in his second home game. The Jags defense has struggled in the first two games and Blaine Gabbert will have his hands full with the Colts' pass rushers on Sunday. It will be close, but I think its a game the Colts should win.
Jacksonville 17, Indianapolis 21

Jacksonville 14, Indianapolis 27

American Football Simulator:
Jacksonville 25, Indianapolis 21

C.J. Spiller has looked amazing for the Bills so far.
Buffalo Bills (1-1) @ Cleveland Browns (0-2)
TheKillerNacho: As I said in the Power Rankings, the Browns have shown "hope" on both sides of the ball but never at the same time. I think we'll see that again against the Bills. C.J. Spiller should have another good game while Ryan Fitzpatrick takes advantage of the Browns secondary that allowed three touchdowns to Andy Dalton.
Buffalo 23, Cleveland 20

Buffalo 16, Cleveland 17

American Football Simulator:
Buffalo 23, Cleveland 21

New York Jets (1-1) @ Miami Dolphins (1-1)
TheKillerNacho: As much as I want to pick the Dolphins, the Jets are by far more talented and match up against us well. OC Tony Sparano will also be looking for revenge and has inside knowledge about the Dolphins defensive players, so I think he'll come in with a good game plan. Jets win.
New York J 24, Miami 17

New York J 13, Miami 16

American Football Simulator:
New York J 24, Miami 19

Kansas City Chiefs (0-2) @ New Orleans Saints (0-2)
TheKillerNacho: Both of these teams I thought were good squads going into 2012 but have really stunk it up so far. The Saints are the better team and playing at home, so I think they'll be able to finally overcome Bountygate for their first win on Sunday. They could easily lose however if Brees continues to struggle.
Kansas City 21, New Orleans 28

Kansas City 27, New Orleans 30

American Football Simulator:
Kansas City 22, New Orleans 28

Cincinnati Bengals (1-1) @ Washington Redskins (1-1)
TheKillerNacho: This is a tough game to predict but its hard for me to go against Robert Griffin III in his home opener against a pass defense that has looked abysmal thus far. Look for Griffin to continue his hot streak and please the home crowd for a Redskins win.
Cincinnati 24, Washington 27

Cincinnati 26, Washington 21

American Football Simulator:
Cincinnati 20, Washington 22

Jay Cutler and the Bears need to get back on track.
St. Louis Rams (1-1) @ Chicago Bears (1-1)
TheKillerNacho: The Jeff Fisher-led Rams are much improved but their offense gets a tough opponent in the Bears in Week 3. Offensive the Bears will be angry and looking to fix their mistakes they had on Thursday night against the Packers. With the extra time to prepare, I think Cutler should come out and have a good game. I'll take the Bears at home.
St. Louis 16, Chicago 24

St. Louis 21, Chicago 31

American Football Simulator:
St. Louis 20, Chicago 26

San Francisco 49ers (2-0) @ Minnesota Vikings (1-1)
TheKillerNacho: The Vikings had two easy opponents in the first two weeks, but that ends when they have to take on the 49ers. The Niners have two convincing wins against top teams due to their elite defense and an improved defense. The Vikings have one of the league's worst secondaries, so Alex Smith should put together another good game. Christian Ponder and Adrian Peterson should have their hands full with one of the league's best defenses.
San Francisco 26, Minnesota 17

San Francisco 30, Minnesota 19

American Football Simulator:
San Francisco 26, Minnesota 20

Detroit Lions (1-1) @ Tennessee Titans (0-2)
TheKillerNacho: If the Titans play even remotely the way they did the last two weeks, the Lions should get an easy win here. The Titans defense has all kinds of problems containing the run meaning even with a poor running game the Lions will be able to get balanced on offense which should open up some opportunities for big plays from Mathew Stafford and Calvin Johnson.
Detroit 28, Tennessee 14

Detroit 28, Tennessee 24

American Football Simulator:
Detroit 26, Tennessee 25

Atlanta Falcons (2-0) @ San Diego Chargers (2-0)
TheKillerNacho: A battle of two 2-0 squads, Atlanta is clearly the more impressive of the two. Still, San Diego hopes to get Ryan Mathews back for this game which should boost their offensive firepower. However I think the Chargers will have struggle handing Matt Ryan and his two top receivers.
Atlanta 27, San Diego 26

Atlanta 31, San Diego 30

American Football Simulator:
Atlanta 28, San Diego 27

Micheal Vick needs to stop his turnovers to stay undefeatd.
Philadelphia Eagles (2-0) @ Arizona Cardinals (2-0)
TheKillerNacho: The Eagles are clearly the better team but always seem to play down to the level of their opponents. They lead the league in turnovers but always seem to find a way to win due to their menacing defense. A defense I fully expect to have a field day with the Cardinals' offensive line. Maybe the Eagles will be able to get more than a 1-point victory this week? Nah.
Philadelphia 21, Arizona 20

Philadelphia 24, Arizona 18

American Football Simulator:
Philadelphia 28, Arizona 23

Pittsburgh Steelers (1-1) @ Oakland Raiders (0-2)
TheKillerNacho: The Raiders offense has been atrociously sloppy in the first two weeks and will get one of the best defenses in the NFL in Week 3... which is a recipe for disaster. The Steelers are always strong against the run which means Darren McFadden won't be able to get going this week. Carson Palmer easily loses to his old division rival here.
Pittsburgh 27, Oakland 14

Pittsburgh 17, Oakland 25

American Football Simulator:
Pittsburgh 24, Oakland 19

Houston Texans (2-0) @ Denver Broncos (1-1)
TheKillerNacho: If Peyton Manning thought that the Falcons defense was talented, wait until he gets to see his old division rival, the Texans! While Peyton Manning has enjoyed almost flawless success in his career against the Texans, this isn't the same Texans team. I think the Texans will take this opportunity for revenge against their long-time menace.
Houston 27, Denver 24

Houston 30, Denver 24

American Football Simulator:
Houston 24, Denver 23

New England Patriots (1-1) @ Baltimore Ravens (1-1)
TheKillerNacho: Honestly, I think part of both of these team's losses last week is that they were looking past their opponents to this Sunday night game. In last week's power rankings, these were my top two AFC teams and at the end of this game, one will be 1-2. I think that the Super Bowl Loser curse plus an improved Ravens team will cause the Patriots to lose this in a well-fought game.
New England 24, Baltimore 26

New England 26, Baltimore 29

American Football Simulator:
New England 25, Baltimore 26

Green Bay Packers (1-1) @ Seattle Seahawks (1-1)
TheKillerNacho: Both teams had high hopes for 2012. Both teams suffered a heart-breaking loss in Week 1 but bounced back in Week 2. With nearly two weeks of perpetration, I think this is a game Aaron Rodgers and the Packers will win. But they better be prepared and not overlook the Seahawks like Tony Romo did - they have a good defense and one of the best home-field advantages in the NFL!
Green Bay 27, Seattle 24

Green Bay 20, Seattle 27

American Football Simulator:
Green Bay 26, Seattle 21

Question of the Week

Last week, I asked "Which QB(s) will eventually become at least a franchise QB in the NFL?" between Andrew Luck (IND), Robert Griffin III (WAS), Ryan Tannehill (MIA), Brandon Weeden (CLE), and Russell Wilson (SEA). The poll has ended with the winner being Andrew Luck, who was given the nod by 88% of voters. Robert Griffin III was next with 77%, then Russell Wilson with 55%, Ryan Tannehill with 44%, and Brandon Weeden was last with a lowly 22%.

As you probably know, making the playoffs after an 0-2 start is very difficult in the NFL. Since 1990, only 11% of playoff teams started 0-2. Still, at least one team every year is usually able to overcome this and make the playoffs. In 2012, we have six winless teams. This week's question is, "Out of the six 0-2 NFL teams, which is the most likely to make the playoffs?" between the New Orleans Saints, Jacksonville Jaguars, Kansas City Chiefs, Oakland Raiders, Cleveland Browns, or Tennessee Titans? The obvious answer may be the Saints, but considering their tough division (and conference) they will be hard-pressed to make the playoffs. As much as I'm down on the Chiefs, they have the best overall team and are in the weakest division giving them the ability to snipe a Wildcard spot. So I'll go with them.

Vote on the right-hand side of my blog!!

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