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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, December 24, 2012

NFL 2012 Week 17 Power Rankings and Predictions

First of all, Merry Christmas everyone! Week 16 went nicely for me, as I won my first fantasy championship in my private Fantasy Football league. As for the NFL itself, there were plenty of surprises. While the AFC is locked in its playoff teams (only seeding remains an issue for Week 17), the NFC wildcard is still very much open. How will Week 17 unfold? Here I am to give you my thoughts!

Biggest Winner: Atlanta Falcons (+3)
Biggest Loser: New York Giants (-6)

1. Atlanta Falcons (13-2, +3): I'm really starting to believe in this team, as they are getting hot at the right time. They did allow Calvin Johnson to break Jerry Rice's receiving yard record, but Detroit seemed to be forcing him the ball all night anyway. Matt Ryan is really playing his best football right now. Despite the fact he'll likely sit out in a pointless Week 17 matchup, he's finished the year with almost 4500 yards and over 30 touchdowns.

2. Houston Texans (12-3, -1): The Texans came out flat against the Vikings, unable to get any offense going in their 23-6 loss. I'm not going to push them too far down since they've been dominant most of the year. Part of me believes the relative pointlessness of the game for the Texans combined with the Vikings coming out in a must-win situation contributed to this loss. Still, there are two bad things for the Texans... one, you want to be playing your best football in December, which they are clearly not doing. Two, they have to be worried about the status of Arian Foster after his injury in Week 16.

3. New England Patriots (11-4, -1): Credit the Patriots for getting a win, but it really shouldn't have been that close against a poor Jacksonville team. Tom Brady completed just over half of his passes, and threw two interceptions to the 2-win Jaguars. A lot of playoff teams seemed to come out flat in Week 16 and the Patriots have played some great football this season, so I still feel confident at putting them at #3.

4. Denver Broncos (12-3, +1): One of the only playoff teams this week not to come out flat, the Broncos dominated the Browns in route to a 34-12 win. With the Texans losing to the Vikings, the Broncos have a shot at the #1 seed if the Texans lose next week to the Colts and they take care of business against the Chiefs. They can clinch a first-round bye with a win, too.

5. San Francisco 49ers (10-4-1, -2): The 49ers' inconsistency really is starting to worry me. Granted, Seattle is never an easy place to travel to and get a win, but the 49ers were dominated on both sides of the ball - not a good sign for a team that boasts an elite defense and a rising offense. The 49ers can still clinch the division with a win over the Cardinals, but losing opens the door to Seattle taking it from them.

6. Green Bay Packers (11-4, +0): Green Bay's 55-7 slaughter of the Titans is a good sign from the Packers in December. The Packers have clinched their division, and can clinch a first-round bye with a win over the Vikings next week. This match-up is likely to be one of the most important games in Week 17, as Green Bay needs to win to clinch a first-round bye and the Vikings need a win to make the playoffs as a wildcard.

7. Seattle Seahawks (10-5, +0): I wish I could raise this team from #7 thanks to their dominating win over the 49ers, but I just don't see who I can move down. The Seahawks are coming off three blowout wins, one against a quality team. They're playing their best football right now and Russell Wilson is looking to be perhaps the BEST Quarterback in this class (yes, I said it). Still, we already know the Seahawks can win at home. They're now 7-0 at home this season, but an atrocious 3-5 on the road. With the 49ers still likely winning the division, they'll go on the road for the playoffs... can they survive?

8. Baltimore Ravens (10-5, +2): After a stretch of disappointing games, the Ravens finally showed some life with a huge 33-14 win over the Giants to clinch the AFC North. They're eliminated from first-round bye contention, so they may decide to rest their starters in Week 17. They'll get a instant boost to their defense for the playoffs as Ray Lewis should be back by then.

9. Washington Redskins (9-6, +0): The Redskins survived the Eagles in a 27-20 win but the game really wasn't too impressive for the Redskins, as the Eagles had an opportunity to tie it at the end of the game. The Cowboys-Redskins game is moved to Sunday night, which will ultimately determine the NFC East winner. It's between the Cowboys and the Redskins now.

10. Minnesota Vikings (9-6, +1): The Vikings have made a statement in their last two games - both convincing wins over legitimate competition. The Vikings will face their last challenge in Week 17, facing off with the Packers, who will want to win for home-field advantage throughout the playoffs. The good news for the Vikings is if they win, they're in, and will get a huge confidence boost going into the playoffs. But beating the Packers will be no easy feat.

11. Chicago Bears (9-6, +1): Its nice to see the Bears not just roll over and die, as their 28-13 victory over the Cardinals puts them right back in the thick of things for the NFC playoffs. As strange as it is for Bears fans, they will need to root for the Packers to take care of the Vikings and take care of the Lions in Week 17 to make the playoffs. It's been an up and down year for the Bears, but if its not the Vikings in the playoffs, its the Bears spot to win.

12. Indianapolis Colts (10-5, +1): There are a few things that bother me about the Colts. They always seem to let bad teams stick around, and that was no different against the Chiefs in Week 16. Also, Andrew Luck's accuracy has been poor in recent games. The Colts still have a negative point differential despite being 10-5. This team has a large pretender factor for me... Still, going from worst to a playoff birth is impressive. One has to think Bruce Arians is a head coaching candidate going into next season.

13. Cincinnati Bengals (9-6, +1): The Bengals offense gave the Steelers every opportunity to win but ultimately the Bengals defense would not break. A last-minute interception and field goal gave the Bengals the 13-10 win that clinched a playoff birth for them, and eliminated the rival Steelers from post-season contention. I'm not sure how the Bengals will do in the playoffs, but this is the first time the Bengals have back-to-back playoff births in... well, a long time.

14. New York Giants (8-7, -6): Wow... how could a Tom Coughlin Giants team - the former Super Bowl champion - play so badly these last two important weeks? With two straight blowout losses to the Falcons and Ravens respectively, the Giants drop to 8-7 and only have a prayer at a wildcard playoff birth (needing the Vikings and Bears to lose and to win themselves). There has been no redeeming factor in these last two games for this team. The Giants are done this year.

15. Dallas Cowboys (8-7, +0): Despite their loss to New Orleans, Dallas has the rare opportunity for an 8-7 team to win and get in. This is due to being matched up with the 9-6 Redskins at Washington in Week 17, a game that was moved to Sunday night due to the game's importance. Dallas can only get into the playoffs by winning the NFC East - they have no shot if they lose to Washington. Dez Bryant, who caught two huge touchdowns against New Orleans, will need to come up big to overcome RG3 and the Redskins.

16. New Orleans Saints (7-8, +1): Despite having nothing to play for, New Orleans is still playing hard down the stretch, trying to prove they aren't as bad as their record indicates. Overall, the Saints have a poor defense with an elite offense this season. They have to go into next offseason with defense on their minds (and re-signing Sean Payton). They get a meaningless exhibition match against Carolina in Week 17.

17. St. Louis Rams (7-7-1, +1): Despite winning against Tampa Bay in a blowout, the Rams are now officially eliminated from post-season contention. Still, the Rams would like to earn a winning record for the first time in who-knows-when with a win against Seattle in Week 17. You know Jeff Fisher will have his squad coming out and playing hard, but Seattle will want to win to earn a shot at the division title.

18. Pittsburgh Steelers (7-8, -2): The way the Steelers rolled over the last half of the season is pretty sickening. The Steelers drop to 7-8, eliminating them from post-season contention. Ben Roethlisberger hasn't been the same since coming back from injury. The Steelers have to hope he comes back full-strength for next season. This will be a very odd post-season without the Steelers in the AFC. The Steelers defense has shown signs of age this season, expect that to be their target in the draft and free-agency.

19. Miami Dolphins (7-8, +1): Despite their 24-10 win over the Bills, the Dolphins were eliminated from post-season contention with the Steelers losing to the Bengals. Still, there is a lot to be excited about of one is a Dolphins fan. With expectations low going into the season, Joe Philbin did an excellent job in his first season as head-coach, keeping the team focused and developing Ryan Tannehill. They  have a chance at a .500 season with a win over the Patriots in Week 17.

20Carolina Panthers (6-9, +2): Despite starting off the season slow, Cam Newton proved that his rookie season was no anomaly down the stretch of this season. The number three ranked fantasy QB this year, Newton has 27 total touchdowns this year compared to 14 turnovers, with over 3500 passing yards and over 700 rushing yards. If the Panthers can actually improve on defense next season, the Panthers would be dangerous.

21. San Diego Chargers (6-9, +2): 11. That's the number of times the Chargers sacked Jets QB Greg McElroy in his first NFL start. While its not terribly impressive for a defense to dominate a Quarterback in his first start, 11 sacks is just insane (tying the NFL record for sacks in a game). The offense played well enough to win despite not having Ryan Matthews, defeating the Jets 27-17. The Chargers have a pretty good chance to avoid a 10-loss season with a win over the Raiders in Week 17.

22. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (6-9, -3): This defense can't stop anyone, which is one of the two reasons the Bucs fumbled their chance at the post-season in the last few games of the year. The other reason is that Josh Freeman, who started off the year strong, decided to suck it up recently. Half of his 16 interceptions this year was in the last two games alone. Two games ago, it seemed Freeman finally proved he was capable of being the franchise QB of the Bucs. Now, its not so sure...

23. New York Jets (6-9, -2): Welcome to the NFL, Greg McElroy. The Jets offensive line was completely man-handled by the Chargers, allowing McElroy to be sacked 11 times in his first NFL start. Part of it was McElroy's fault, as he held the ball too long on some of those plays. But still it does show what Mark Sanchez was dealing with all season - no offensive help whatsoever. The entire Jets offense needs to be blown up in the off-season.

24. Buffalo Bills (5-10, +0): C.J. Spiller seems to be the only player on this team worth a damn, sometimes. Everyone else seemed to just get manhandled by the Dolphins in Week 16. The Bills defense is horrendous at stopping the run, the Dolphins were able to impose their will at the line of scrimmage every play. Ryan Fitzpatrick is not the franchise QB the Bills were hoping he was... don't be surprised if the Bills draft a QB in the first two rounds. Matt Barkley, anyone?

25. Detroit Lions (4-11, +1): While it seemed the Lions were forcing the ball to Calvin Johnson for the sake of him breaking the record, still a big congratulations are in order for breaking Jerry Rice's long-standing receiving yardage in a season record. Calvin will probably look to improve this number in Week 17 against the Bears to help it stand longer. As for the team, the Lions have been a major disappointment in 2012. A playoff team in 2011, the Lions won't tolerate another season like this from Jim Schwartz in 2013. He'll go into the year on the hot-seat.

26. Philadelphia Eagles (4-11, +2): The Eagles may have lost, but the development of Nick Foles (as well as the ineptitude of the teams under them last week) has me putting them up to #26. They have an opportunity to finish off the year strong by giving the Giants their final knock-out punch in Week 17. Andy Reid will most likely be fired within a week of the game, so mine as well go out with a bang!

27. Tennessee Titans (5-10, -2): With owner Bud Adams putting the entire coaching staff of the Titans on notice earlier in the year, a 55-7 loss to Green Bay is not a great way to keep your job. Jake Locker was widely inaccurate in this game, completing only 13 of his 30 passes and throwing two interceptions. As a guy who was never high on Locker due to his poor accuracy in college, I hate to say that it appears I was right about him... the Titans may just address the Quarterback position again, looking for Steve McNair's successor.

28. Cleveland Browns (5-10, -1): The Browns are probably the most interesting team going into the off-season... I really have no idea how they're going to tackle it. While they've had some positives this year, with Mike Holmgren gone in the front office, no one is safe. I'm really up in the air about the fates of GM Heckert (who has drafted very well), HC Pat Shurmur, and most of all, QB Brandon Weeden (who had a poor outing against Denver).

29. Oakland Raiders (4-11, +0): I guess we now know why Carson Palmer has retained his starting job despite this being a lost year. Despite the Raiders defense surprisingly limiting Cam Newton to just 17 points, the Raiders offense was completely inept with Carson Palmer going down to injury early in the game. Matt Leinart and Tyrelle Pryor both had some chances at QB in this game but could only lead the Raiders to a mere 6 points.

30. Arizona Cardinals (5-10, +0): As per the norm for the Cardinals this year, the defense played fairly well, limiting Jay Cutler to just 12/26 for 146 yards and a touchdown, the offense led by Ryan Lindley sucked it up. I never expected the Cardinals offense do scratch the Bears defense, and they played right into the Bears' hands allowing two defensive touchdowns.

31. Jacksonville Jaguars (2-13, +0): Despite not getting Maurice Jones-Drew back, the Jaguars surprisingly kept it very close against the Patriots, being defeated by only a score of 23-16 (and having an opportunity to tie the game at the end). Their offensive surge stopped cold though when Cecil Shorts suffered a concussion due to a hit from Pat Chung. You should really blame Chad Henne though, throwing a dangerous pass and putting Shorts in a position to get hit.

32. Kansas City Chiefs (2-13, +0): It was confirmed last week that both Romeo Crennell and Scott Pioli will be fired after the year, which really isn't a surprise to anyone. If the Chiefs can lost just one more game against the Broncos, they'll be a lock to draft Geno Smith first overall. One possible coaching candidate if this happens is Andy Reid... Geno Smith projects to be very much like Donovan McNabb early in his career.

Predictions for Next Week

TKN's last week accuracy: 12-4 (75.00%)
Billy's last week accuracy: 12-4 (75.00%)
AFS's* last week accuracy: 11-5 (68.75%)

TKN's Overall 2012 accuracy: 155-85 (64.58%)
Billy's Overall 2012 accuracy: 145-95 (60.42%)
AFS's* Overall 2012 accuracy: 151-89 (62.92%)
*American Football Simulator averages of 2,000 simulations.

As you can see, all of our predictors had a very good Week 16, having 11 or more correctly predicted games. The only two games that collectively stumped us was Cincinnati over Pittsburgh, and Minnesota over Houston. Week 17 is a difficult week to predict since you never know who will be resting players and how motivated certain teams will come out... but we'll do our best!

Just a note, Billy didn't send me scores this week so that's why each of his games don't have a score.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers (6-9) @ Atlanta Falcons (13-2)
TheKillerNacho: Having already clinched home-field advantage throughout the playoffs, the Falcons have nothing to play for in Week 17, they'll probably rest their starters to go into the post-season healthy. The Bucs want to prove their last few games were a fluke, and finish the season strong for Greg Schiano. I think the Bucs will win if the Falcons rest their starters for at least half the game. I'll change this pick if we learn the Falcons won't rest their starters, though.
Tampa Bay 26, Atlanta 20

Tampa Bay L, Atlanta W

American  Football Simulator:
Tampa Bay 25, Atlanta 26

McElroy got sacked 11 times against SD.
New York Jets (6-9) @ Buffalo Bills (5-10)
TheKillerNacho: I think Buffalo will be able to pressure Greg McElroy enough to take this win. Then again, the Jets could easily run right over the Bills in the rushing game. This game is important for both teams, to get some momentum going into next season (and for the coaches, to secure their head coaching jobs... it would not surprise me if either Chan Gailey or Rex Ryan is fired this off-season).
New York J 20, Buffalo 23

New York J W, Buffalo L

American  Football Simulator:
New York J 24, Buffalo 21

Baltimore Ravens (10-5) @ Cincinnati Bengals (9-6)
TheKillerNacho: This is now a fairly meaningless game, as the Bengals are locked into the #6 seed and the Ravens cannot earn a first-round bye (they could however move up to the #3 seed and play the Bengals again with a win & a Patriots loss). It would not shock me of both of these teams rested starters, making it impossible to predict... I'll update this prediction if only one team benches starters, but at the moment, I trust the Ravens more than the Bengals.
Baltimore 20, Cincinnati 17

Baltimore L, Cincinnati W

American Football Simulator:
Baltimore 25, Cincinnati 19

Cleveland Browns (5-10) @ Pittsburgh Steelers (7-8)
TheKillerNacho: This is a grudge match with no playoff implications. The Steelers would like to avoid their first losing season since 2003, but the Browns would like nothing more than to cause that losing season (not to mention Pat Shurmur's seat is inferno-hot). I'll take the Steelers, though.
Cleveland 13, Pittsburgh 17

Cleveland L, Pittsburgh W

American Football Simulator:
Cleveland 17, Pittsburgh 24

Calvin Johnson will look to extend his record against CHI.
Chicago Bears (9-6) @ Detroit Lions (4-11)
TheKillerNacho: The Bears need to win to have any shot at the playoffs, and the Lions are playing pretty poor this season. The Lions are more likely to try to secure Calvin Johnson's newly earned receiving yardage record than try to actually win this game... The Bears defense should play well against Matt Stafford and Jay Cutler should play well against the Lions porous defense.
Chicago 27, Detroit 17

Chicago W, Detroit L

American Football Simulator:
Chicago 24, Detroit 22

Jacksonville Jaguars (2-13) @ Tennessee Titans (5-10)
TheKillerNacho: I could really see this game going either way but after the Titans' blowout to the Packers, their morale is probably pretty low. I'll go with the Jaguars against my better judgement.
Jacksonville 17, Tennessee 16

Jacksonville W, Tennessee L

American Football Simulator:
Jacksonville 22, Tennessee 25

Philadelphia Eagles (4-11) @ New York Giants (8-7)
TheKillerNacho: The Giants HAVE to win here against the horrible Eagles, right? Or will they get dominated again? Morale can't be good in New York right now but its hard to see how they aren't still the favorites. After all, they still have a chance at the playoffs, technically.
Philadelphia 20, New York G 26

Philadelphia L, New York G W

American Football Simulator:
Philadelphia 20, New York G 27

Carolina Panthers (6-9) @ New Orleans Saints (7-8)
TheKillerNacho: This should be a pretty good but offensive game... a real shoot-out. I'll take the Saints at home, though.
Carolina 30, New Orleans 31

Carolina L, New Orleans W

American Football Simulator:
Carolina 24, New Orleans 28

Houston Texans (12-3) @ Indianapolis Colts (10-5)
TheKillerNacho: With the Colts locked into the #5 seed, there is a strong possibility that they rest their starters for the playoffs. The Texans need to win in order to secure home-field advantage (and even a first round bye!). The Texans should come out firing and take this.
Houston 29, Indianapolis 20

Houston L, Indianapolis W

American Football Simulator:
Houston 27, Indianapolis 22

The rushing record is a side-thought for Peterson in Week 17.
Green Bay Packers (11-4) @ Minnesota Vikings (9-6)
TheKillerNacho: This might be the closest game of the week, and second-most important (behind DAL @ WAS). The Vikings have two straight blow-outs and if they win, they're in. A loss opens the door for the Bears, Giants or even the Redskins (if they lose to the Cowboys) to take their spot, though. The Packers need to win to secure a first-round bye... both the Seahawks or the 49ers (whichever wins the NFC West) can take their first-round bye spot with a Packers loss. The Packers are the better team, and are also hot right now. I'll go with the Pack but the Vikings could easily win this...
Green Bay 27, Minnesota 23

Green Bay W, Minnesota L

American Football Simulator:
Green Bay 26, Minnesota 22

St. Louis Rams (7-7-1) @ Seattle Seahawks (10-5)
TheKillerNacho: The Rams are a dangerous team under Jeff Fisher, but I don't think they'll have what it takes to thwart the Seahawks at Seattle, when Seattle could win the NFC West with a win. The Seahawks take this... and it might be another blowout!
St. Louis 17, Seattle 28

St. Louis L, Seattle W

American Football Simulator:
St. Louis 21, Seattle 23

Miami Dolphins (7-8) @ New England Patriots (11-4)
TheKillerNacho: With the Patriots having the opportunity at a first-round bye with a Denver or Houston loss (or even homefield advantage in the unlikely event they BOTH lose), the Patriots will come out to play against the Dolphins. The Dolphins are a solid team, but aren't in the same category of the Patriots but they'd  love to upset them here... Still, I'd go with the Patriots.
Miami 20, New England 27

Miami L, New England W

American Football Simulator:
Miami 18, New England 26

Kansas City Chiefs (2-13) @ Denver Broncos (12-3)
TheKillerNacho: Peyton Manning and the Broncos (who must win to secure a first-round bye) or the Chiefs (who must lose to secure Geno Smith)? Hmm...
Kansas City 6, Denver 30

Kansas City L, Denver W

American Football Simulator:
Kansas City 15, Denver 24

Oakland Raiders (4-11) @ San Diego Chargers (6-9)
TheKillerNacho: The Chargers should avoid a 10-loss season against the lowly Raiders, here (especially if Carson Palmer can't go). That's all I'm going to say on this pointless matchup.
Oakland 17, San Diego 26

Oakland L, San Diego W

American Football Simulator:
Oakland 24, San Diego 26

If SF loses the division, could Kapernick be benched for Alex Smith?
Arizona Cardinals (5-10) @ San Francisco 49ers (10-4-1)
TheKillerNacho: The Cardinals offense is horrendous, I don't see how they'll score against the 49ers in San Francisco. This defensive battle will ultimately be won by the 49ers, pretty handily... eventually Colin Kapernick and Frank Gore will score points.
Arizona 10, San Francisco 24

Arizona L, San Francisco W

American Football Simulator:
Arizona 18, San Francisco 29

Dallas Cowboys (8-7) @ Washington Redskins (9-6)
TheKillerNacho: The winner of this game wins the NFC East... Judging by both teams' play recently, I'm going with Washington. Robert Griffin III should have a pretty good game against a Cowboys defense that was torched last week. For the Cowboys to win, Tony Romo needs to find his inner clutch... err... yeah, right.
Dallas 24, Washington 27

Dallas L, Washington W

American Football Simulator:
Dallas 25, Washington 26

Question of the Week

Last week, I asked "Which 8-6 team will win the NFC East?" between the New York Giants, Washington Redskins, or Dallas Cowboys? The voters seemed to have it right as only 15% said the Giants, who are not eliminated from NFC East contention. The Redskins won the poll with a smashing 61%, with the remaining 23% voting for Dallas. We'll soon see whether the 61% majority is correct in Week 17.

Since this is the season's last regular season week, its time to talk League MVP. There are many worthy candidates, and I want to see what my readers think. Therefore, this week's question is, "Which player should win NFL League MVP?" between Tom Brady (NE), Peyton Manning (DEN), Matt Ryan (ATL), Adrian Peterson (MIN), J.J. Watt (HOU), or Other (please comment). All of these players are deserving, but of them I think Watt & Ryan are the most unlikely. Ryan has posted good numbers this year, but seemed to be carried by his team too often. Watt has done things that no-one has ever seen a 3-4 defensive end do, but defensive players seem to be rarely considered for this award. That leaves Brady, Manning, and Peterson. Of the three, I'd say Peterson is easily most valuable to his team. Having said that, Peyton Manning has improved the Broncos immensely since coming to the team, so I'd vote him at this point.

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

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