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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 16, 2012

NFL 2012 Week 7 Power Rankings and Predictions

Man, was Week 6 something weird. Parity seems to have hit an all-time high in the NFL, with upsets left and right. For example... at the conclusion of Week 6, only two AFC teams have winning records... while a ton of them are sitting at .500... Crazy, right?

Biggest Winner: Tampa Bay Buccaneers (+6)
Biggest Loser: Cincinnati Bengals (-8)

1Atlanta Falcons (6-0, +1): It didn't look pretty the last two weeks against the Redskins or Raiders, but the Falcons are the last of the unbeatens- which means they deserve to be ranked #1 (especially considering the amount of parity this year). Matt Ryan didn't look great, throwing three interceptions, but the Falcons were able to rally late to get the all-important W. If you're a Falcons fan, though, you really have to worry about your team letting bad teams stay in games... especially in your own dome.

2. Houston Texans (5-1, -1): The Texans had their weaknesses exposed on Sunday night against the Packers. First of all, the Packers took advantage of a depleted Texans offensive line and Schaub was on his back all game. Secondly, the Houston secondary was shown to be not nearly as good as it was hyped up to be... with Aaron Rodgers throwing 6 touchdown passes against them. The Texans need to address their problems or more teams will go in trying to attack them the way the Packers did.

3. Chicago Bears (4-1, +3): Chicago was on bye, but moves into the Top 3 due to other team's blunders this weekend. They don't play again until Monday night, when they take on the Lions. If the Bears can beat the Lions, they'll move to 5-1 which gives them a comfortable lead in the NFC North. We'll see soon enough whether or not they will fall like other top teams.

4. New York Giants (4-2, +3): The champs had a statement win over the 49ers on Sunday, showing that they are the ultimate team when everyone is doubting them. They went into Candlestick park and ran all over a defense that had not allowed a rushing touchdown in 11 games. Meanwhile, they held an efficient 49ers offense to a mere 3 points. This season has been a roller-coaster ride for the Giants - and will probably continue to be - but this is a team that I will be shocked won't be playoff bound when it all ends.

5. San Francisco 49ers (4-2, -2): After a humbling 26-3 defeat against the Giants, many are beginning to doubt that the 49ers are legitimate this season. I still think they are a very good team, but may have bought into their own hype a bit. They need to restore their underdog mentality in order to play with the passion we saw last season. I have no doubt that Jim Harbaugh will have this team rebounding quickly from a 4-2 start.

6. Green Bay Packers (3-3, +3): We've been waiting all season to see Aaron Rodgers return to his 2011 form, and boy did he ever in a matchup against the previously undefeated Texans. Aaron Rodgers had a monster game, throwing for 6 touchdown passes on Sunday night against what was supposed to be one of the league's best defenses. The Packers have played an intensely difficult schedule thus far, but it gets a little easier with the Rams in Week 7.

7. Baltimore Ravens (5-1, -3): The Ravens' tumble down these Power Rankings have nothing to do with the outcome of Sunday's game... on the contrary, the Ravens' offense was impressive holding off a Cowboys surge to hold onto a win to go 5-1. The reason they are dropping to 7 is that the Ravens had three more key defensive injuries on Sunday - CB Ladarius Webb will be out with the season, while ILB Ray Lewis and DE Haloti Ngata will be out for an unknown amount of time (this added to already losing OLB Terrell Suggs for the year). I don't see how the Ravens defense won't take a significant hit from these losses. Talk about a pyrrhic victory.

8. New England Patriots (3-3, -3): Is the Super Bowl loser curse in full effect here? The Patriots were looking strong against the Seahawks but fell to a last-minute touchdown bomb from Russell Wilson. The Patriots fall to .500, in a four-way tie in the AFC East. While I still fully expect the Patriots to win the division, it does open up the AFC East for one of the other teams to snipe the division. And at 3-3, the Patriots will have to start winning to even get a wildcard birth.

9. Denver Broncos (3-3, +2): Admittedly, I went to sleep last night when the Chargers were up 24-0, thinking the game was all but over at that point. I woke up to find out that the Broncos had come back to win 35-24, much to my astonishment. Talk about Peyton Manning magic. Manning was flawless in the second half, throwing three touchdown passes. The Broncos defense also made great adjustments at half-time, not allowing the Chargers to score any second-half points and getting two touchdowns themselves. Denver takes a much-deserved lead in the AFC West.

10. Seattle Seahawks (4-2, +5): Seattle had a really, really good week in Week 6. Not only was their defense proven to be legitimate as it slowed down Tom Brady's Patriots, but the 49ers, Cardinals, and Rams all lost. This puts the Seahawks in a 3-way tie for 1st in the NFC West. With the 49ers being exposed to the Giants, the Seahawks have a strong chance at making a run for the division. Russell Wilson, who had been mostly a disappointment this year, stepped it up against hte Patriots with his second game-winning touchdown pass in his young career.

11. San Diego Chargers (3-3, -2): The Chargers showed on Monday night exactly how not to be an elite football team. If you're able to get a comfortable 24-0 lead, it is completely unacceptable to go on to lose that football game. The Chargers completely fell apart in the second half. Not only did their defense get chewed apart by Peyton Manning to allow three touchdowns, but the Chargers offense made mistake after mistake, allowing two defensive touchdowns by the Broncos and scoring no second-half points. Philip Rivers ended the day with four interceptions. Talk about a total collapse.

12. Pittsburgh Steelers (2-3, -4): This isn't your father's Steelers team. Granted, its not easy to get a win on the road on a short week with some key defensive injuries, but an elite team should absolutely find a way to win against one of the league's worst NFL teams. That's exactly what the Steelers didn't do on Thursday night, getting knocked off by the Titans by a score of 26-23. The Steelers hope to get Troy Polamalu back before their matchup against the Bengals on Sunday night - the Steelers defense is so much better with him in.

13. Dallas Cowboys (2-3, +1): Dallas fought very hard at Baltimore in Week 6, but small offensive mistakes once again killed their chances at getting a win. This is a shame since WR Dez Bryant had easily his best game of the season, having an amazing 13 receptions for 95 yards and two touchdowns. Dallas is still a dangerous team to pretty much anyone. But they need to address defensive woes that allowed Baltimore to score 31 points. Also, they hope that DeMarco Murray's injury isn't serious... he was on pace for a monster game before going down to injury.

14. Minnesota Vikings (4-2, -3): I had a feeling the Vikings would fall back down to earth eventually, and it happened in Week 6 against the Redskins. The Vikings defense got completely mugged by Robert Griffin III - the rookie Quarterback didn't beat the Vikings with his arm, but with his leg, scrambling for over 180 yards and two touchdowns. While Christian Ponder continues to impress, he threw a costly two interceptions to a depleted Redskins defense. Maybe the Vikings just have a hard time countering running Quarterbacks... or maybe its just a symptom of a bigger defensive problem. We'll find out.

15. Arizona Cardinals (4-2, -2): As I kept saying earlier, the Cardinals' 4-0 start was an anomaly. This isn't to say that the Cardinals are a bad football team. On the contrary, their defense gives them a chance to win pretty much any football game. But in their 4-0 stretch, pretty much every coin-flip went their way. The Cardinals are in desperate need for offensive line help - no passing attack or rushing attack can be successful when the opponent's defensive line gets in the backfield a second after the snap.

16. Philadelphia Eagles (3-3, +0): Even when the Eagles were 3-1, I knew this team was destined for mediocrity. They fired DC Juan Castillo following the game, but the defense wasn't the issue here; Andy Reid is using him as a scapegoat. The Eagles have a few problems, all of them on offense. One, Andy Reid is not the offensive genius some believe he is, his play-calling has been awful. Defenses know Reid won't run the ball, which makes the Eagles offense one-dimensional. Secondly, the loss of Jason Peters has exposed Michael Vick's lack of pocket presence and lack of accuracy. At this point, the Eagles mine as well try out rookie QB Nick Foles, who looked impressive in the pre-season.

17. Washington Redskins (3-3, +2): The Redskins are a team with several issues. But when you have one of the best young playmakers in the NFL, you are going to be in a position to win any game. That's exactly what the Redskins have in Robert Griffin III. He only threw for 180 yards, but also got over 180 yards on the ground, for three total touchdowns. Talk about a dynamic playmaker. Wow.

18. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (2-3, +6): Greg Schiano had his Buccaneers playing great football coming off the bye week. Granted, it was only against the Chiefs, at home, but they dominated a team that was giving some teams fits. They stuffed Jamaal Charles and exploded on offense, beating the Chiefs 38-10. They get another struggling team, the Saints, at home in Week 7. But the Saints will be a more interesting challenge since they are coming off a bye and are much more talented than the Chiefs.

19. New Orleans Saints (1-4, +2): The Saints were on bye, and saw two of their rivals, the Bucs and the Falcons, win in Week 6. Sitting at 1-4, the Saints' chances of overtaking the 6-0 Falcons for the NFC South is slim, but they could rebound and fight for a wildcard spot. We know they have the talent, but what we don't know is if they can address their issues (mostly defensive ones) during the bye week and come out with the momentum they had in their Monday night win over the Chargers in Week 5.

20. New York Jets (3-3, +5): Like a lot of 3-3 teams, this season has been up-and-down for the Jets. But they showed exactly what they are capable of against Andrew Luck and the Colts. Antonio Cromartie completely shut down Reggie Wayne while the Jets defense got a lot of pressure on Andrew Luck, forcing the rookie to throw two interceptions. Meanwhile, Shonn Greene finally had a break-out game, carrying the ball 32 times for 161 yards and three touchdowns. I fully expect Greene to come back to earth as he faces New England and Miami in the next two weeks, but it was a good sign, as Greene averaged just 2.9 yards per carry going into that game.

21. Detroit Lions (2-3, +2): The Lions aren't going to go 10-6 again, but at least they showed they can still compete. A comeback 26-23 win should boost morale in Detroit but they still face an up-hill battle to get out of the cellar of the NFC North. Things certainly don't get easier in Week 7, when they travel to Chicago to play the 4-1 Bears, who are coming off their bye. At least their running game isn't completely pitiful now that Mikel LeShoure is finally playing.

22Miami Dolphins (3-3, +4): With the exception of Week 1 against the Texans, this Dolphins team has played good strong football. Ryan Tannehill has improved every week, and could be argued to be the second-best rookie Quarterback this season behind Robert Griffin. The defense is playing as good as anybody. While they were a bit lucky in Week 6 that Rams kicker Greg Zuerlein missing 3 field goals, Dolphins fans don't feel too guilty, since they're finally not the team losing due to their kicker - Dan Carpenter arguably cost them two games this year on field goal misses.

23. Buffalo Bills (3-3, -1): Buffalo had a good solid overtime win against the Cardinals in Week 7, a good sign after being destroyed on the ground for two straight weeks. The Cardinals were in no position to expose the Bills' weakness against the run, as the Cardinals offensive line is even more inept than Buffalo's run defense. The reason I don't rank the Bills higher is because I need to see if they are capable against stopping the run against a better offense. The AFC East is wide open, however, with each team being 3-3.

24. St. Louis Rams (3-3, -6): When it rains, it pours for Rams rookie kicker Greg Zuerlein, who not only missed his first NFL field goal on Sunday against the Dolphins, but ended up missing two more before the day was done. However, that was only part of the reason for the Rams 17-14 loss against the Dolphins. Sam Bradford looked okay, but he is obviously struggling without his #1 man, Danny Amendola. The defense continues to be solid but the Rams will struggle to win games until they get Amendola back. They hope he'll be good to go after their Week 8 bye, which they need.

25. Cincinnati Bengals (3-3, -8): I think my initial read on this team was spot-on. This is a Bengals team with an improved offense under second-year Quarterback Andy Dalton, but the defense has regressed from last year to a large degree. They struggle against the run without stacking the box, and their defensive secondary allows big gains to opposing Quarterbacks. The Bengals can't feel good about losing 34-24 against the previously winless Browns.

26. Indianapolis Colts (2-3, -6): I should've realized that after a huge emotional upset of the Packers, the Colts would have a hang-over the next week traveling to New York to play the Jets. This is a Colts team that combines a below-average defense with a rookie Quarterback - not the best combination. The Colts allowed a 161 yard day to Shonn Greene, who previously had less than 3 yards per carry on the year. Teams should be able to run all over them.

27Carolina Panthers (1-4, +0): If the Panthers want any chance at making a playoff push, they have to hope that sophomore Quarterback Cam Newton has figured some things out during his bye week. The Panthers get a difficult challenge with the Cowboys coming to town in Week 7... the Cowboys defense is potent and can provide problems for Cam Newton. Meanwhile, Tony Romo is hungry for a win and wants to take advantage of a Panthers defense that has been below average.

28. Oakland Raiders (1-4, +1): The Raiders may have been the only team in Week 7 to not finish their potential upset. While the Raiders looked strong traveling to the East coast to play the undefeated Falcons, they eventually fell short, allowing Matt Ryan to orchestrate a game-winning drive. They were able to pick Ryan off three times, but the Raiders offense struggled against a strong Falcons defense. If the Raiders can play to this level, they can challenge most teams. The Raiders should have a good chance against the Jaguars in Week 7, but need to keep Maurice Jones-Drew in check. Aside from bottling up Michael Turner in Week 6, the Raiders have struggled versus the run.

29. Tennessee Titans (2-4, +2): I'm not going to overact about their 26-23 win on Thursday night over the Steelers, this team still has a lot to prove before they climb out of the cellar of my NFL power rankings. On a positive note, Kenny Britt returning from injury has helped this offense a ton. Britt had only an average night on Thursday, catching 4 passes for 62 yards and a touchdown, but his presence keeps teams from stacking the box against Chris Johnson, who had a respectable 19 carry, 91 yard night. If the Titans can stay dynamic on offense, they could string some games together. But I wouldn't hold my breath.

30. Kansas City Chiefs (1-5, -2): The problem with the Chiefs is that their only offensive playmaker, Jamaal Charles, is countered easily early in the game by stacking the box and is a RB so can't help late in the game when the Chiefs are down big. Brady Quinn was largely ineffective in his first start of the season - but he really wasn't much worse than Matt Cassel. Romeo Crennel is a good coordinator, but really isn't cut out to be a Head coach. This Chiefs team is bad, plain and simple.

31. Jacksonville Jaguars (1-4, -1): At 1-4, Jacksonville has looked pretty bad this season. I was mistakenly high on this team in pre-season but at this point, I'd say Blaine Gabbert has failed to show he is a capable NFL Quarterback while the defense has been a disappointment. The good news is that Maurice Jones-Drew ought to have a good game in Week 7 against a soft defensive front of the Raiders.

32. Cleveland Browns (1-5, +0): They won one game against a division rival with a struggling defense, whoop de doo. They are still the worst team in the NFL in my mind. I'm sure this win, which included a decent outing by Brandon Weeden, will stir all sorts of hope by Browns fans but as I explained all year long - this Browns team is all about false hope. They do have a decent opportunity to string a second win together, however, against the Colts in Week 7. Trent Richardson must be licking his chops getting to run against a defense that allowed 161 yards to Shonn freakin' Greene.

EDIT: Looks like the Browns fired president Mike Holmgren. I called this before the season began, but the timing is a little odd... Right after their first win? Either way, unless the Browns have some massive turnaround and look near-elite by the season's end, this firing also means Pat Shurmur's and Brandon Weeden's days in Cleveland are numbered.

Predictions for Next Week

TKN's last week accuracy: 5-9 (35.71%)
Billy's last week accuracy: 5-9 (35.71%)
AFS's* last week accuracy: 8-6 (57.15%)

TKN's Overall 2012 accuracy: 50-41 (54.95%)
Billy's Overall 2012 accuracy: 47-44 (51.65%)
AFS's* Overall 2012 accuracy: 60-31 (65.93%)
*American Football Simulator averages of 2,000 simulations.

As I mentioned earlier, Week 6 was full of upsets... and therefore, we got absolutely spanked in our predictions. Me and Billy went 5-9 and even the Simulator succumbed to the unpredictability of last week - going 8-6. Of course, this gives the AFS another 3 games of lead over us... the AFS now leads me on the season by 10 games. Well... there's no shame in being beaten by a computer... right? ... Right...?

Russell Wilson needs to have another good game.
Seattle Seahawks (4-2) @ San Francisco 49ers (4-2)
TheKillerNacho: I wonder if the 49ers were looking past the Giants in Week 6 to the Thursday night matchup against the division-rival Seahawks? While its a little hard to believe they'd look over the former champions, it is possible. The winner of this game will lead the division. I like the 49ers at home to rebound and take a close victory.
Seattle 21, San Francisco 23

Seattle 26, San Francisco 27

American  Football Simulator:
Seattle 19, San Francisco 26

Arizona Cardinals (4-2) @ Minnesota Vikings (4-2)
TheKillerNacho: Both of these teams probably aren't as good as a 4-2 record indicates, but it is clear to me which of the two is more deserving of the record. The Vikings defense should play well at home and not allow the Cardinals to run the ball. Meanwhile, Kevin Kolb will have a hard time throwing into an improved Vikings secondary. Christian Ponder and Adrian Peterson should be good enough to push the Vikings to a win.
Arizona 16, Minnesota 20

Arizona 17, Minnesota 20

American  Football Simulator:
Arizona 22, Minnesota 25

Dallas Cowboys (2-3) @ Carolina Panthers (1-4)
TheKillerNacho: Dallas hopes to rebound after a disappointing 29-31 loss to the Ravens in Week 6. The Panthers are dangerous coming off their bye but if the Cowboys can improve defensively from last week they should be able to give trouble to Cam Newton. I'll go with Dallas.
Dallas 26, Carolina 24

Dallas 28, Carolina 14

American Football Simulator:
Dallas 27, Carolina 26

New Orleans Saints (1-4) @ Tampa Bay Buccaneers (2-3)
TheKillerNacho: This should be a good game, and I honestly don't have a good read on it. On one hand, I think Doug Martin should have a good game against a Saints defense that is awful against the run. On the other, the Saints are coming off a bye and should have momentum coming off of an exciting Monday night win against the Chargers. I'm going to bet on Drew Brees, here.
New Orleans 28, Tampa Bay 26

New Orleans 30, Tampa Bay 34

American Football Simulator:
New Orleans 27, Tampa Bay 24

Can Aaron Rodgers repeat what he did at Houston?
Green Bay Packers (3-3) @ St. Louis Rams (3-3)
TheKillerNacho: The Packers offense seemed to get back on track at Houston last week, but the Rams defense is no easy test, especially in St. Louis. Robert Quinn and Chris Long should prey on Packers offensive tackles that have struggled this season at defending Rodgers. Without Danny Amendola, though, I don't know how effective this Rams offense can be against a stingy Packers defense. I'm not going to bet against Aaron Rodgers to get things done.
Green Bay 24, St. Louis 17

Green Bay 27, St. Louis 17

American Football Simulator:
Green Bay 25, St. Louis 21

Washington Redskins (3-3) @ New York Giants (4-2)
TheKillerNacho: Since the Giants are the favorites here, my gut is telling me to pick the Redskins. However, I won't betray my mind, which tells me the Giants are the better team. The Giants need to be careful, though. Robert Griffin is a dynamic playmaker and parts of the Giants defense is suspect. Also, this is a division game and anything is possible.
Washington 23, New York G 25

Washington 38, New York G 31

American Football Simulator:
Washington 21, New York G 24

Baltimore Ravens (5-1) @ Houston Texans (5-1)
TheKillerNacho: With the Ravens depleted defense, this is a game that I fully expect the Texans to win at home. It will be close, however, since I think Baltimore will abuse Brian Cushing's absence with Ray Rice. Still, Arian Foster should eat up a Baltimore defense that lacks Ray Lewis, Lardarius Webb, Terrell Suggs, and Haloti Ngata.
Baltimore 26, Houston 31

Baltimore 24, Houston 35

American Football Simulator:
Baltimore 26, Houston 28

Tennessee Titans (2-4) @ Buffalo Bills (3-3)
TheKillerNacho: Both of these teams are trying to prove that they can fix their problems that they showed so far. The Bills are and should be the favorites at home, but they need to shut down Chris Johnson. The Bills have been weak against the run in recent weeks and while Chris Johnson has been a downer this year, he has shown some flashes of his prime.
Tennessee 23, Buffalo 27

Tennessee 19, Buffalo 24

American Football Simulator:
Tennessee 25, Buffalo 26

Richardson looks to have a monster game @ IND.
Cleveland Browns (1-5) @ Indianapolis Colts (2-3)
TheKillerNacho: The Colts are a better team at home, which is why I expect them to get a win here against what I see as the worst team in the NFL. However, they showed an ineptitude at the Jets last week against the run. They need to stack the box, do whatever they have to, to stop a much better back in Trent Richardson.
Cleveland 20, Indianapolis 22

Cleveland 20, Indianapolis 26

American Football Simulator:
Cleveland 22, Indianapolis 21

New York Jets (3-3) @ New England Patriots (3-3)
TheKillerNacho: This is a matchup that will determine who controls the AFC East at the end of Week 7. In New England, its a game I fully expect the Patriots to win. Shonn Greene should come crashing back to Earth against a much better defense of the Patriots'. And I think Tom Brady will come out angry and find one of his two elite Tight ends (now that Aaron Hernandez is back and healthy) for a good day.
New York J 17, New England 27

New York J 21, New England 45

American Football Simulator:
New York J 20, New England 26

Jacksonville Jaguars (1-4) @ Oakland Raiders (1-4)
TheKillerNacho: The Raiders played very well last week at Atlanta, but ultimately lost. They get a much easier matchup at home against the Jaguars. I think the Raiders will win but the Jaguars will keep it close with Maurice Jones-Drew having a good day against the Raiders' front seven.
Jacksonville 19, Oakland 23

Jacksonville 14, Oakland 33

American Football Simulator:
Jacksonville 23, Oakland 24

Troy Polamalu is vital to Pittsburgh's defense.
Pittsburgh Steelers (2-3) @ Cincinnati Bengals (3-3)
TheKillerNacho: This is an important game for both teams in the AFC North. The injuries to the Ravens may open the door to one of these teams sniping the division, but they have to win here. I like the Steelers to bounce back with a win on a long week, especially if Troy Polamalu plays. While in years past, this would be a defensive struggle, I expect this one to be a very offensive game with ultimately the team that makes the least mistakes winning. I like the Steelers.
Pittsburgh 27, Cincinnati 25

Pittsburgh 16, Cincinnati 29

American Football Simulator:
Pittsburgh 24, Cincinnati 17

Detroit Lions (2-3) @ Chicago Bears (4-1)
TheKillerNacho: The Lions may have won in Week 6, but they haven't looked great in any of their games this season, unlike the Bears, which are 4-1 and coming off their bye. The Bears defense is arguably the best defense in football at this point, and have been brutal in forcing turnovers this year. Detroit, on the other hand, has been a turnover machine. The Bears should take this game on Monday night.
Detroit 21, Chicago 26

Detroit 27, Chicago 41

American Football Simulator:
Detroit 22, Chicago 25

Question of the Week

Last week, I asked "Which key NFL injury hurts their team the most?" between Darrelle Revis (NYJ), Brian Cushing (HOU), Danny Amendola (STL), Cedric Benson (GB), Jason Peters (PHI), or Other (please comment)? The poll ended up in a tie between Danny Amendola and Cedric Benson, with 25% each. While I agree Amendola was a costly injury, Green Bay appears to not be affected by the loss of Benson. Darrelle Revis, Brian Cushing, and Jason Peters all tied for third with 17% of the vote. No one voted other.

As I mentioned several times, there were a ton of upsets in Week 6. This week's question is, "Which upset was most shocking in Week 6?" between Titans over Steelers, Browns over Bengals, Bills over Cardinals, Seahawks over Patriots, Giants over 49ers, or Packers over Texans? I tried to pick the six largest upsets in my mind as options... the Redskins' and Broncos' upsets also deserve honorable mentions. Ultimately, the largest upset for me was the Titans over the Steelers. I really thought the short week would benefit the Steelers over the Titans because the Steelers were the better team and can stop the run. The game was completely different than I thought.

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

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