Week Four Rankings

at MetLife Stadium on November 23, 2014 in East Rutherford, New Jersey.

With the last game of Week Three’s tumultuous rampage wrapping up mere moments ago, I stand prepared to give to you the rankings I’ve thought through for the upcoming week. Some teams have shifted about, the balance of power has been further upset, some initial leaders have floundered and stagnated while others have soared. Let’s dip our toes in and see how the water feels shall we?

The Good:

  1. New England Patriots- Is Darth Vader’s theme playing in the back of your mind right now? Because it should be. The evil empire is back in action and they’ve done it all without their prodigal son (Brady). No matter who plays at QB in this system this year it seems like they can work the right amount of magic. A thoroughly demoralizing trampling of the Texans in a shutout victory launches these guys from number two to head honcho this week. +1 3-0
  2. Denver Broncos- For what it’s worth Denver played a great game and Trevor Siemian showed that he has what it takes to truly step up on offense and that the defense hasn’t been the only thing carrying this team thus far, no matter how commanding the presence. They had a neat 29-17 win over a talented Bengals squad and were only beaten out for the number one spot by the even more impressive showing above. The AFCW is packing some heat. -1 3-0
  3. Minnesota Vikings- The Vikes get this big leap ahead of a few other teams that won their matches and impressed this week. Their defensive play has been pretty muhc phenomenal thus far and as we well know, defense will always trump a good offense when it comes down to it (*cough Seahawks v Broncos / Broncos v Panthers). Add to that the fact that Stefon Diggs and Sam Bradford have some odd mojo going and you’ve got a super solid squad with or without AP and TB. +5 3-0
  4. Green Bay Packers- Though they occupy this slot currently things could very well change if they continue to play as inconsistently as they have thus far. Aaron Rodgers had a commanding first half presence against the Lions and may have eliminated doubts about himself personally, however the Lions and Stafford are always a good team for comebacks as they showed when the game ended only 34-27. The Packers need to learn how to be closers and then I’ll feel more justified in their positioning here. +2 2-1
  5. Seattle Seahawks- They’ve had a rough time of it but for this week at least I feel they’ve earned their spot. Down several men and with more injuries looming on the horizon, this Hawks squad still knows how to fight and they showed it in a 37-18 victory over San Fransisco, handing that team its second large defeat in two weeks. I hope for their sake the run game can get going but Wilson has started to step up in the passing game as well this year. +6 2-1
  6. Philadelphia Eagles- This team has come so far from being ranked in the third tier at the beginning of the season and although anything can happen, I see a lot of potential for them to improve even more. Carson Wentz has fully embraced his role and opened up more options offensively than the Eagles have seen in a long time. It may be too soon to say, but at least as of right now he seems to have quite a future ahead of him. Plus he’s already making history. +9 3-0
  7. Kansas City Chiefs- With the prospect of Jamaal Charles returning shortly and the team being able to fall back into its groove again, things are looking up for the Chiefs who haven’t been too shabby even with questionable results so far. The Chiefs D came up big and they held the Jets to just a field goal and forced no less than eight turnovers (six of which were interceptions and at least four of which came in the fourth quarter alone). What a game. 2-1
  8. Carolina Panthers- The Panthers seem to be suffering from a lot of what is ailing the Packers and Cardinals right now. They’re statistically an even better team than last year’s 15-1 squad and super bowl contenders, yet so far they’ve been stymied twice by incredible defensive efforts and been unable to move forward. When Cam gets punished the team suffers it seems. -4 1-2
  9. Arizona Cardinals- So the Cardinals find themselves on a downward spiral as well this year, which is surprising considering they returned the majority of their roster and had one of the strongest claims to make for playoff contention. As it is right now they seem unsure of themselves and of what they can do. They need to fix that confidence issue first and foremost. -4 1-2
  10. Pittsburgh Steelers- Wow. What a game. And not in the good way that fans would like to be hearing right now. The Steelers clearly had their bell rung. Here they were poised to potentially seize a sizable hold on the rankings and then they got knocked back down again. Way down. These guys are undermanned like the Pats, but they need to learn how to work it just as well. -7 2-1

The Alright:

  1. Cincinnati Bengals- Cincy has had some tough losses already and I feel like that trend is going to continue, but they’re still a smart and strong ball club and have the ability to bounce back from it as well. They’ve got a tough group around them to play but they’ve got the chance to make it back to the playoffs if they put in the effort. First things first, learn to not lean on any one player too much. -1 1-2
  2. Oakland Raiders- This week on the Raiders show saw a close win and preventing the Titans from scrambling for yet another last-second comeback. So Oakland gets to keep their position again as they played better on defense and made some plays even though it was a relatively low scoring affair. Don’t sleep on Derek Carr. 2-1
  3. Baltimore Ravens- To be fair, even here is probably a little higher than I feel comfortable ranking the Ravens, but you’ve got to recognize an unbeaten team even if its only three games into the season. They’ve played close contests and constantly strove to come back from any deficit. That’s not a bad quality to have. There have been mistakes but they’ve always worked on them and tried to make up for them as well. They’re going places. +6 3-0
  4. Dallas Cowboys- Whew. What a game this one was. Even when they lost earlier in the season, it was clear that Dak brought something else to this team and that he is at least going to be a very strong backup to Romo’s Dallas if not a starter (egad). Cue up some nice running by QB and RB as well as a nice TD to Dez (that actually counted) and you’ve got the recipe for their 31-17 win over Chicago. +2 2-1
  5. New York Giants- What a tough loss for a squad who has been winning the close games so far. The Giants needed this win over division rival Washington but it turns out the Redskins just wanted it more. Eli made some mistakes, OBJ headbutted things, and Cruz had some snags. It wasn’t enough however as they lost this particular close contest by two and fell to Washington’s secondary and Cousins’ aerial attack. -1 2-1
  6. Houston Texans- Houston had a big drop this week. I mean first they dropped the entire game to the Pats and then they’re getting dropped in the rankings. The entire thing should’ve been a good matchup and the Texans’ first actually good game against New England in years, however even without the Brady bunch these guys still steamrolled over Houston. This was your chance and you blew it. -7 2-1
  7. Miami Dolphins- There’s a reason Miami isn’t moving up or down this week. Sure they won an overtime thriller against the Browns, but they didn’t necessarily play like the better team regardless of stats. Honestly, the Browns had more heart in this one even though the Dolphins got the W. They still have a long way to go but if Ryan Tannehill plays like he did here then they’ve got hope. 1-2
  8. Buffalo Bills- The Bills are slowly clawing their way back up the rankings and should be able to go even higher if they play another game like they did against a supposedly superior Cardinals’ squad. Not only did they beat Arizona, they dominated them. They pummeled Carson Palmer and co for a delicious 33-18 victory and they should be feeling revitalized after a poor start to the season. +5 1-2
  9. Atlanta Falcons- What a win for the Falcons over NFC South rival New Orleans on Monday night. The Falcons took advantage of the Saints’ poor defense and scored forty-five points to their thirty-two. It’s sad to see veteran Drew Brees have to carry his entire team and score repeatedly and still not be able to trust the defense to hold on for the win. Atlanta’s run game reminded me of the first half of last year’s explosive showing as well. +3 2-1
  10. New York Jets- I don’t know what I expected after their showing against the Bills last week but this certainly wasn’t it. Again, I guess you really have to wait until gameday to see which version of Ryan Fitzpatrick is going to show up. Eight turnovers, six of which were interceptions, and at least four of which came in the final quarter… just a ridiculous amount of mistakes for the Jets. They need to get their fundamentals squared away ASAP. -7 1-2

The Questionable:

  1. Detroit Lions- Detroit is dropping in the rankings this week but it’s due more to the fact that several teams catapulted their way up to the top than the fact that they actually lost to the Packers. In fact, if anything they played better even though they lost the game by a score. The Lions prove time and time again that they can compete and stick with teams, however it’s almost always in their comeback that ends up making it a close game but not a win. -3 1-2
  2. Tampa Bay Buccaneers- The descent continues this week for a Buccaneers team that was winning the game and then just decided playing defense wasn’t as important as notching another defeat. Sure, you can make whatever argument you want for whether or not they would’ve rallied if there hadn’t been an hour long weather delay, but a loss is a loss. Work needs to be made and mistakes need to be stamped out if they want to win more games. -2 1-2
  3. Washington Redskins- The Skins got the close win this time around and despite some mistakes they looked altogether the better unit of the day. Norman v OBJ Round 2 may have been overhyped but then what matchup isn’t? Cousins proved he still had what it takes in another “you like that” performance and the team came up big to stop the Giants from notching another close road win and netting the Skins another home loss. +3 1-2
  4. Los Angeles Rams- The Rams have turned things around in a surprisingly quick manner and if they can keep this momentum going then they’ll move even further up the rankings here. After a defensive win over Seattle they netted another decisive victory over the Bucs this week. Plus they finally put some touchdowns on the board and Todd Gurley got into the groove again with some better protection. +5 2-1
  5. Tennessee Titans- The Titans are dropping one slot really just as a token to the teams that moved up significantly this week. They had a chance to remain in their same limbo of a position for one more week but alas won’t. They could’ve clutched victory from the jaws of defeat for the second consecutive game however they were stopped when it really mattered by a surprising showing from the Raiders defense. Mariota needs to work on minimizing turnovers and they need to utilize their running game more effectively since the weapons are there at RB1, RB2, and QB. -1 1-2
  6. Indianapolis Colts- The Colts finally got a much-needed win and they played altogether much better than they have in weeks past. First of all, they actually managed to somewhat protect the quarterback which is key, especially if they’d like to avoid their workhorse getting hurt for a second season. The receivers came up big and even though the ground game faltered in the second half they put up some decent numbers for the day in their 26-22 win over San Diego. +4 1-2
  7. Jacksonville Jaguars- Here comes another significant drop. This was a squad that I thought had huge promise after the first week and now look how the mighty have fallen. They lost yet another close one and they lost it largely because they didn’t want to win it enough. In the last two games they’ve made huge mistakes and really killed their own vibe more so than their opponents have. They could be sitting pretty at 2-1 right now but instead they’re 0-3 with some questionable defense and quarterback work. -6 0-3
  8. San Diego Chargers- After a slight bump up the ranks last week San Diego is plunging again because they failed to capitalize on their ability to win close games and finish teams off when they’re in the lead. They didn’t allow as large a comeback as week one but they still allowed Indianapolis to come in and hit them where it hurt. Philip Rivers plays as well as ever but he is severely limited by the rest of his arsenal this year and it shows. -3 1-2
  9. New Orleans Saints- Another week, another lost game for the Saints. They’re definitely struggling the most on defense probably than any other team in the league besides last week’s Raiders perhaps. Drew Brees and the offensive side of the field are definitely solid enough as they’ve scored pretty much thirty points per game so far, but then the defense comes in and allows opponents over five hundred yards a game and huge numbers. Who wouldn’t be demoralized? -1 0-3
  10. San Fransisco 49ers- The 49ers had another game where they managed to stick with a team in the fourth quarter but still couldn’t come back or stay relevant enough to win. In this case it was the Seahawks and not the Panthers, and they did the most work in the second half rather than the first. The talent is there if only they learn how to replicate the success they had in their victory against the Rams. Right now the NFC West has a rock paper scissors kind of thing going with the Rams beating the Hawks and Hawks beating the 49ers and 49ers beating the Rams, but only time will tell who’s gonna rise out of that division (don’t forget Arizona). -3 1-2

The Bad:

  1. Cleveland Browns- Breaking news for Browns fans- Cleveland is no longer in last place on this list, at least for one more week. They truly had an impressive game and they showed that through a rookie quarterback who impressed with some good looks to receivers all day. The defense played their part as well although ultimately their fourth quarter comeback tie wasn’t enough to win them the game in overtime. +1 0-3
  2. Chicago Bears- John Fox’s team must really be feeling it right now. They’ve stepped in yet another pile of questionable substance this season and it started right from the get-go. Most of their players on both sides of the ball are injured or not playing at their highest potential and then you’ve got undeniable talent that just can’t seem to get the ball (*cough Alshon Jeffrey) enough. They need to figure out what needs to be done to win and quick. I only hope they don’t take a page from the Pats’ playbook and spy on other teams. -1 0-3
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Comments and Concerns: Week Three

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At the time of this writing nine games have been played to completion, five are currently ongoing, and two have yet to occur. We’ve seen some major shakeups this week already and I am sure the balance of power will be shifting yet again for a third consecutive time so far this season. Here’s some of what looks to be happening in the league rankings and some other noticeable comments as well.

Rankings Comments:

  1. There might be a switch between the No 1 and No 2 ranked teams this week due to the dominant showing in New England being a lot more outstanding than Denver’s task of downing Cincinnati. The Patriots at No 1 without Brady is a terrifying thought indeed.
  2. The Panthers and Cardinals are both going to dip down for another week, more than likely to rise back up in Week Four if the trend continues. Disappointing numbers from the Cards for sure and unfortunate circumstances for the Panthers versus an even more surprisingly crafty Minnesota defense.
  3. The Packers and Vikings look to move up the charts a little more although the Vikes stand to gain more for playing Carolina than the Packers do for edging out Detroit. Both teams had solid quarterback play, but the Minnesota defense makes it less of a contest.
  4. The Texans and Bengals are gonna drop. No doubt about it. The Bengals put up a fight but there are other teams waiting to pass them up. The Texans are a different story- they got shutout bad and they’re going to drop like a stone in the rankings if the teams behind them continue to do well.
  5. The Raiders could move to occupy the position they held for two consecutive weeks with their closing victory over the Titans. Expect a slight drop from the Giants and a slight raise from the Dolphins for their loss and win respectively. The Ravens meanwhile look to leapfrog the Lions and several other teams with their surprising 3-0 start.
  6. Jacksonville’s drop and inconsistency look to continue and the Bills are on the rise for certain this week with an epic win over the Cardinals. Down Sammy Watkins they still managed to get it done and on the ground too. The Titans have a chance to stay put for the week despite this time being on the receiving end of a comeback and losing the game instead of winning it on the goalline.
  7. Things are looking up for the Redskins who secured a close win over a Giants team that has dominated on close wins in the last few weeks. OBJ vs Norman proved to be entertaining if more refined this time around as well. The Browns may have dropped the ball in overtime this week but depending how other teams play, they might have a chance to move out of the vaunted last position.

Current Events:

  1. The Redskins won the game and possibly the injury roundup as well. At least four of their players were hurt, two of them with leg issues from the secondary. The other two were on the offensive side of the ball, splitting things evenly.
  2. Watch out for some players who are injured but expecting to play as well, seeing as this could lead to further injury in the future and longer absences. Alshon Jeffrey and Brandon Marshall are a few examples.

Ongoing Battles:

  1. Seattle is looking to notch another victory over an opponent and a conference competitor with their current twenty-one point lead over San Fransisco. Tampa Bay is holding onto a diminishing lead in their close contention with LA currently. San Diego and Indianapolis are tied at the half with 13 points apiece. Kansas City is still down Jamaal Charles but has a 14 point lead over the Jets nonetheless. Carson Wentz and the Eagles are currently 10 up over the Steelers in a game that looks to be good the entire way through.

EDIT ADDITIONS:

  1. The 49ers made another week out of scoring too little too late in the fourth quarter and came up shy of the Wilson-less Seahawks losing 37-18. Tampa Bay pulled a Tennessee and drove the ball all the way to LA’s 5-yard line only to lose the game by 5 points with a final score of 37-32 Rams. Indianapolis came back to win over San Diego in a close game 26-22. Kansas City held the Jets to only a field goal and scored 24 points for themselves. Carson Wentz and the Eagles continue to dominate and wiped out the upstart Steelers 34-3.
  2. Meanwhile Dallas is playing Chicago and the Atlanta/New Orleans conference matchup begins tomorrow night.

FURTHER EDITS:

  1. Dak proved he could still play at a high level and led his team to victory over the Bears in a 31-17 win.
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Week Three Rankings

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Four days or so ago, I wrote my comprehensive Week Two ranking list for all 32 NFL teams. Today I’m bringing you the same teams in a slightly altered order thanks to the results of Week Two games. Some teams continued to rise while others continued to fall, some even took a step towards getting back to where they should’ve been after Week One.

The Good:

  1. Denver Broncos- The reigning Super Bowl 50 champs have moved back into the number one slot that they’ve jockeyed for for quite some time. All it took was another week and another powerful defensive show against the rallying Colts to win the game with a 34-20 defensive victory. Trevor Siemian isn’t playing poorly either. +1 2-0
  2. New England Patriots- So this week’s Pats game was a closer affair and also could spell trouble for the QB situation in weeks to come since they’re now down to the 3rd stringer from NC State. But the Patriots also won a conference matchup against a Dolphins team that has rallied twice against better teams and put up a defensive fight. +1 2-0
  3. Pittsburgh Steelers- Big Ben and co didn’t play as well as they did in the first week but then they also didn’t have rain to contend with then. They had some issues but they played through them and netted the conference victory over the Bengals 24-16 which is never a bad deal. +1 2-0
  4. Carolina Panthers- Carolina has righted the scales thus far and more than made up for their close loss to Denver in the first week. San Fransisco proved they have more potential this year than the last but ultimately couldn’t stop the scoring train that is Carolina football at home. Cam looked true to form and Kelvin Benjamin is BACK. +2 1-1
  5. Arizona Cardinals- Much like the Panthers, the Cards really lost a game they shouldn’t have in the first week so they had a little more to prove this time around. And prove it they did, absolutely routing the Buccaneers in a 40-7 victory that could’ve very well been a shutout thanks to Winston’s 4 intercepted passes. All hail Pat Pete. +3 1-1
  6. Green Bay Packers- Another week, another number one team falls from grace. If the close win against Jacksonville wasn’t scary enough, then the Pack proved they have more than a few issues to resolve with the turnovers and close loss against division rival Minnesota. The Packers got lucky on a lot of fumbles but it wasn’t a good show for them and they suffered for it. -5 1-1
  7. Kansas City Chiefs- No successful fourth quarter comeback victory this week for Kansas City, as the Texans made decent work of them and held them to only twelve points total. Without Jamaal Charles this team truly suffers, but I had hopes they could improve upon last week’s work and they did in some areas but faltered in others. -2 1-1
  8. Minnesota Vikings- The Vikes jumped categories this week and it has to be because of yet another defensive victory and the surprisingly solid play of Sam Bradford and Stefon Diggs. I’m impressed with the level of tenacity the team shows against superior offensive units and they’ve come out on top now twice. +3 2-0
  9. Houston Texans- The Texans jumped brackets as well, fresh off of a nice win against the Chiefs this week. Brock Osweiler continues to impress as does the rookie receiving corps and DeAndre Hopkins as always. The defense could use a little work but now that Houston has an offense that can function, the defense doesn’t need to worry about carrying the team quite as often. +4 2-0
  10. Cincinnati Bengals- The Bengals lost another one to the Steelers but at least this time it wasn’t due to thirty yards of penalties losing them the playoff game by a last second field goal due to discipline issues. They had several drives going and just couldn’t finish things off this week and couldn’t make it close enough to eek out the win either. -1 1-1

The Second Stringers:

  1. Seattle Seahawks- I dropped Seattle several positions because of their ugly win over Miami last week so you can bet they’ve dropped several more because of their ugly loss in LA this week. The Rams have bested the Hawks in all of their meetings last season and so far this season and it confounds me. Couple the loss with a hurt Russ Wilson and lack of touchdowns this season and you’ve got a team in dire need of improvement. -4 1-1
  2. Oakland Raiders- Sure, Oakland lost and that’s nothing new, but this team still has a good chance of vying for second in their conference or even winning it if the Broncos ever lose their steam. They lost by a touchdown and that’s got to be frustrating after a close win last week, but it was a good game offensively. If the secondary gets its act together they can win more games. -2 1-1
  3. New York Jets- The Jets won a close one this time, keeping the rallying Bills down and not giving up big time plays. The offense knows what it can do and utilizes Matt Forte to amplify the run game as well as the usual suspects on the receiving end of the ball. There are kinks to work out but they’ve got a chance of making the playoffs instead of missing the cutoff this year. +2 1-1
  4. New York Giants- Even if they’re winning close games, the Giants are proving that they can win and that they can cut down the mistakes they’ve typically made that cost them games in the past. A win is a win and Eli Manning knows that. This team could start to resemble the championship squad underdogs from all those years ago if they keep up the good work. +2 2-0
  5. Philadelphia Eagles- Carson Wentz did it again this week and joined elite company as far as 2-0 rookie starters go. Things looked close for awhile until Wentz and the Eagles lifted off for another 29 point game and roasted the Bears. So far the Eagles are looking like they’re set to shock if they can keep this momentum going. +4 2-0
  6. Dallas Cowboys- Dak did his duty this time and instead of losing another close one they won it against the Skins. There were some mistakes made here and there but the rushing game was strong and some key receptions set the field for key scores as well. All in all it was a more solid showing than the previous week. +1 1-1
  7. Miami Dolphins- You know what, I’m feeling kind this week and Miami gets to move up a slot based on their near comeback against the Patriots. Sure, they made mistakes and were horrible in the first half but they made a game of it when things counted and were one score away from a tie game. They’ve made progress even if they’re 0-2 thanks to near wins. +1 0-2
  8. Detroit Lions- Things looked like they were going fine for the Lions until they had three would-be scores reversed and lost to the rallying Titans by one point in the final seconds of the game. Matt Stafford was ironically the Andrew Luck this week in the Lions’ loss despite putting the team on his back. +2 1-1
  9. Baltimore Ravens- Man, the Ravens looked like they were going to get destroyed by the Browns of all teams, down by nearly twenty points after the first half. But like all things in Cleveland football, the Browns imploded and never scored again leading to a Ravens comeback win 25-20. Joe Flacco is back people. +4 2-0
  10. Tampa Bay Buccaneers- The Bucs take a significant drop after last week’s promising game seeing as they were nearly shutout and beat by over thirty points this week thanks to Arizona’s defense. If they keep playing like this then they’ll hit the .500 mark around the time Jameis hits the 15 interceptions on the season mark. They really need to play like they did in the first week again. -8 1-1

Third String Rookies:

  1. Jacksonville Jaguars- They had a close one in week one but there was nothing close about the matchup this week. Everyone thought the Chargers were toast without Keenan Allen but apparently that’s not the case for now. Jacksonville made too many dumb mistakes and it cost them the game in their 38-14 loss. -7 0-2
  2. Atlanta Falcons- Boy Matt Ryan looked like a different person last week but this week he seemed to return to his old self, connecting with Julio Jones on plenty of key plays. They managed to outlast a surprisingly superior Raiders team and cut up the defense for big gains constantly. If they can keep this up, they’ll move back up the ranks slowly but surely. +3 1-1
  3. Buffalo Bills- Despite playing a good game in some respects and mounting a comeback drive and making big plays, the Bills just couldn’t finish in the New York shootout. They lost to a team they kept out of the playoffs last year and they’re starting the season 0-2 with some major questions that need to be answered. -2 0-2
  4. Tennessee Titans- The Titans won this week, barely. But it’s enough that they’re staying right where they were ranked last week. They still had plenty of miscommunication but they worked together better and Andre Johnson came out of nowhere with a spectacular grab to seal the deal. 1-1
  5. San Diego Chargers- After blowing a huge lead in a disappointing week one loss to Kansas City, the Chargers came out Allen-less and won a big game against the Jaguars. I’ll admit, it feels good to see Philip Rivers play well AND see his team to victory as well. He’s a stats machine and deserves that added bonus. +2 1-1
  6. Washington Redskins- The dismal drop continues for the Skins, as they lost in the secondary for yet another week. Why not just have Josh Norman cover the WR1’s? When he’s covered Dez Bryant and Antonio Brown they’ve made either no catches or been tackled immediately for little gain. Breeland however is another story. Questions abound on both sides of the ball in Washington. -4 0-2
  7. San Fransisco 49ers- The 49ers move up one this week in their loss to Carolina mainly because of how they played in the first three quarters of the game. They showed that they have what it takes but that they need to work on sticking with superior teams if they want to win more games this season. +1 1-1
  8. New Orleans Saints- The Saints lost another close one this week, this time to the Giants by a field goal. Drew Brees and the offense constantly put up big numbers but they really need to find a way to stop teams defensively so they can start winning games again. -2 0-2
  9. Los Angeles Rams- The Rams rebounded after an abysmal showing in the first week to stick it to the man yet again whereas Seattle is concerned. I don’t now what it is about these two teams but the Rams somehow always manage to show up to play for their games at least, even if they don’t for others. +3 1-1
  10. Indianapolis Colts- The Colts had another close one this week, that is until they turned the ball over and it became a two score game thanks to the Broncos defense. Every time they would edge closer the defense would smack them back down, similar to what happened with the Panthers and Broncos in the first week. -1 0-2

The Walk-Ons:

  1. Chicago Bears- The Bears put on a show but not necessarily a good one this week. They lost another game although I suppose they performed marginally better this time around. But they also lost Jay Cutler for some time thanks to a pesky finger wound. Let’s see who picks up the torch for now. -1 0-2
  2. Cleveland Browns- Well the Browns are seemingly back where they belong. They started off spectacularly against Baltimore and lost in equally spectacular if not unsurprising fashion. Add to that the fact that they’ll be starting yet another QB under center this week and you’ve got your last team in the league! -1 0-2

Let’s look really quick at some of the biggest movers, up and down, of the season thus far:

Up:

  1. Eagles +14
  2. Giants +8
  3. Lions +7

Down:

  1. Seahawks -9
  2. Bills -9
  3. Saints -5

Now Updated to Include Records

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The Stack: My Results in Week One and Week Two Picks

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Week One in the NFL left speculations of yesteryear in the dust for the most part and that can be readily seen in my predictions for the week. So far this week I’m doing marginally better now that we’ve got a week under our belts. This post is obviously going to be edited until Tuesday, seeing as we have several more games to go both today and Monday night.

Week One Predictions:

  1. Panthers v Broncos | Pre: CAR W Act: DEN W 21-20
  2. Raiders v Saints | Pre: OAK W Act: OAK W 35-34
  3. Browns v Eagles | Pre: PHI W Act: PHI W 29-10
  4. Vikings v Titans | Pre: TEN W Act: MIN W 25-16
  5. Chargers v Chiefs | Pre: KC W Act: KC W 33-27
  6. Bengals v Jets | Pre: CIN W Act: CIN W 23-22
  7. Buccaneers v Falcons | Pre: ATL W Act: TB W 31-24
  8. Bills v Ravens | Pre: BUF W Act: BAL W 13-7
  9. Bears v Texans | Pre: HOU W Act: HOU W 23-14
  10. Packers v Jaguars | Pre: GB W Act: GB W 27-23
  11. Dolphins v Seahawks | Pre: SEA W Act: SEA W 12-10
  12. Lions v Colts | Pre: IND W Act: DET W 39-35
  13. Giants v Cowboys | Pre: DAL W Act: NYG W 20-19
  14. Patriots v Cardinals | Pre: ARI W Act: NE W 23-21
  15. Steelers v Redskins | Pre: PIT W Act: PIT W 38-16
  16. Rams v 49ers | Pre: LA W Act: SF W 28-0

Week One Final Tally: 8-8

Week Two Predictions:

  1. Jets v Bills | Pre: NYJ W Act: NYJ W 37-31
  2. Saints v Giants | Pre: NO W Act: NYG W 16-13
  3. Cowboys v Redskins | Pre: DAL W Act: DAL W 27-23
  4. Dolphins v Patriots | Pre: NE W Act: NE W 31-24
  5. Bengals v Steelers | Pre: PIT W Act: PIT W 24-16
  6. 49ers v Panthers | Pre: CAR W  Act: CAR W 46-27
  7. Ravens v Browns | Pre: BAL W Act: BAL W 25-20
  8. Titans v Lions | Pre: TEN W Act: TEN W 16-15
  9. Chiefs v Texans | Pre: HOU W Act: HOU W 19-12
  10. Seahawks v Rams | Pre: SEA W Act: LA W 9-3
  11. Buccaneers v Cardinals | Pre: ARI W Act: ARI W 40-7
  12. Jaguars v Chargers | Pre: JAC W Act: SD W 38-14
  13. Falcons v Raiders | Pre: OAK W Act: ATL W 35-28
  14. Colts v Broncos | Pre: DEN W Act: DEN W 34-20
  15. Packers v Vikings | Pre: GB W Act: MIN W 17-14
  16. Eagles v Bears | Pre: PHI W Act: PHI W 29-14

Week Two Final Tally: 11-5

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Week Two Predictions

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Game by game this week, here are some predictions that I would like to make. The Jets v Bills game is also included although it has already transpired by now.

Jets/Bills– It’ll be a one score win no matter which team takes the W.

Panthers/49ers– It’s going to be decided by 10 points or less.

Cowboys/Redskins– Dak and Dez have big days but Cousins leads the Skins to a 4th quarter comeback win regardless.

Bengals/Steelers– Antonio Brown and DeAngelo Williams have big days but turnovers give the Bengals the W.

Saints/Giants– It’s going to be a low-scoring affair but both Brandin Cooks and OBJ are going to have big days on yards.

Dolphins/Patriots– The Pats score 35 points and hold the Dolphins to all field goals.

Chiefs/Texans– The Chiefs get their second come from behind victory in two weeks.

Titans/Lions– Mariota’s Titans mount a second half comeback to win by ten points or more.

Ravens/Browns– The Browns finally win a game.

Seahawks/Rams– The Rams capitalize on DangeRuss Wilson’s near-injury and punish the Hawks for three quarters before a 4th quarter comeback resulting in a Seahawks last second field goal.

Buccaneers/Cardinals– The Cardinals start the season 0-2 and Jameis throws at least three more touchdowns.

Jaguars/Chargers- Blake Bortles throws for three touchdowns and leads the Jags to victory.

Falcons/Raiders- Derek Carr outthrows Matt Ryan and the Raiders sack the Falcons QB four times or more.

Colts/Broncos- Andrew Luck and the Colts surprise the Broncos despite the Broncos defense sacking Luck no less than five times.

Packers/Vikings- Sam Bradford plays a bad game but the Vikings defense leads the team to a close victory over their rivals.

Eagles/Bears- The Eagles get a 2-0 start off of Carson Wentz although Alshon Jeffrey catches at least ten passes for over 110 yards.

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The Good, the Bad, and the Terrible: Ranking NFL Teams Heading into W2

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Last week I wrote a piece on the Titans the promise they were showing, capping it all off with a comprehensive list of where I would place each of the 32 teams in terms of potential and prowess. Now that one week and one week two game is under their belt, let’s look at where those teams have ended up going into this week and how the dynamic has shifted.

The Good:

  1. Green Bay Packers- The Packers faced a tough challenge from a flawed but surging Jaguars team in Week One, and they really only got this spot over the number two team because they were one rank ahead of them last week. Aaron Rodgers proved he’s still got plenty of fourth quarter magic left as well. +3
  2. Denver Broncos- Although the win over Carolina was already accounted for at the time of my rankings last week, this team moved up thanks to the teams ahead (save for Green Bay) losing their games. There’s work to be done but the reigning number one defensive front proved its worth. +3
  3. New England Patriots- I said to look out for the Patriots coming to town and look what happened. Even with a backup quarterback and down several key players, they made the moves to upset my number one ranked team and stuck with it to win the game. Now they might be getting Gronk back and things are only going to get worse for opponents. +4
  4. Pittsburgh Steelers- It was a really big day for Big Ben, Antonio Brown, and DeAngelo Williams on Monday night. Josh Norman tried to help his teammates out at CB but the damage had already been done. Better get used to seeing that trio dealing damage all year too, assuming they can stay healthy. +4
  5. Kansas City Chiefs- Down Jamaal Charles and down 21 points at the half, the Chiefs came back and they came back big. They’ve extended their impressive regular season winning streak by one and they’ve shown they can beat the better team when down at the half. Let’s see how that translates over the rest of the season. +4
  6. Carolina Panthers- The Panthers lost a very close game which was already accounted for in the Week One rankings, so this is a more accurate account of where they should be now that the other teams have played their games. Now that they’ve been dealt a lesson in humility by the team that bested them before, you can bet they’re out for blood. -3
  7. Seattle Seahawks- For most of their first matchup against Miami, the Seahawk’s offense looked like a different team. They couldn’t even score a touchdown until late in the fourth quarter, although Miami was faring just as poorly. It was a defensive battle and surprisingly hard-fought victory. Now DangeRuss is potentially hurt too. This could be a similarly rough start compared to last year’s lukewarm reception. -5
  8. Arizona Cardinals- The Cardinals fell from grace on the rankings here this week. They had a chance to put the Patriots to shame and they couldn’t pull it off even against the hurting team. Instead they got shown up and had to rely on their stellar defense in the absence of their offensive performance. How will they fare this week? Will Palmer still suffer from playoff jitters? -7
  9. Cincinnati Bengals- Well these tigers didn’t bungle this game although the Jets played their hearts out and only lost due to unfortunate special teams incidents. Andy Dalton and AJ Green carried the team on their backs and proved they could come in clutch again. -3
  10. Oakland Raiders- The Raiders stay where they were after my initial rankings because they’ve proved that they deserved the spot with their gutsy win over the Saints last week. The potential to at least bat .500 is there this season, although they can do better than that if they can win those close games like this past week’s.

The Second-Tier Squad:

  1. Minnesota Vikings- The Vikes move up one slot solely for the fact that their defense totally won their game for them in the absence of offensive production. They got lucky that the Titans couldn’t communicate effectively, but get ready for them to drop this week if the Packers can keep their composure and torch their rivals. +1
  2. Tampa Bay Buccaneers- The Bucs edged out Houston here because they really showed up and played and outlasted their NFC South rival. Jameis played a great game after some initial pains and mistakes and his receivers came up big as well. If they continue to play like that then they’re a formidable squad this year. +3
  3. Houston Texans- Houston came up big and they’re only being docked two slots here because the teams above played even bigger. Mistakes were made but they weren’t detrimental to the overall outcome of their game against Chicago. Strangely the offensive side of the ball played better than the normally impeccable defense, but then that could very well be due to Fuller and Hopkins being clutch when needed. -2
  4. Jacksonville Jaguars- The Jags came up big this week even if they walked away with a L on their record. They gave the Packers a real run for their money and if they can work on the defense then they’ve definitely got a chance at a wildcard slot. Let’s just see how they fare against Houston who is equally capable. +2
  5. New York Jets- Tough loss here for these guys. They played well and only lost by one point even with AJ Green carrying his team (literally) to victory. Honestly, if you sack Andy Dalton seven times in one game then you probably deserve the W. But stranger things have happened… They were robbed of a playoff berth last year and similarly they were robbed of a W this year. +2
  6. New York Giants- Prior to this week’s game the Giants weren’t even in this tier on my rankings. But after a nail biter against Dallas that actually went in their favor this year, Eli and OBJ and Cruz and co deserve the bump, especially when you consider the fact that a lot of people are going to drop as well, leaving the way open for them to rise. +6
  7. Dallas Cowboys- I didn’t expect it to be as close a matchup as it was, but the Boys actually moved up a spot on here even with their loss due to poor time management. Dez had another touchdown taken from him and Dak couldn’t lift off as well as he did in the preseason. Running was tough against the surprisingly (good?) Giants defense as well. It was a tough break but not an entirely poor showing. +1
  8. Miami Dolphins- I’ll admit, the Dolphins surprised me and probably the Seahawks as well. They may not have won the game but their defense definitely stepped up at the right time and they reigned hellfire on DangeRuss and the Hawks the entire game until the closing minutes. Things didn’t lift off for their offense either, but then they’ve needed work for some time. +6
  9. Philadelphia Eagles- Can you say good job Carson Wentz? The rookie posted a perfect passer rating and did an excellent job of lifting his team over the Browns. Okay, sure it was the Browns but you can’t ever make the mistake of underestimating a team in the NFL because anything is possible. Except maybe a Browns playoff run this year, but then you’d be surprised… +10
  10. Detroit Lions- Matthew Stafford proved that Calvin Johnson wasn’t the only person to carry their team. I wasn’t shocked to see them outlast the Colts, even with the pleasant surprise of Andrew Luck putting his team entirely on his back alone in order to attempt a one-man comeback. The Lions will need to work out the kinks before tougher opponents, but they’re already better than last year. +5

Third Stringers:

  1. Buffalo Bills- I’m not really sure what happened to these guys between last season and the present one, but it wasn’t anything good. They had way too many miscommunications and really need their confidence back. They fared somewhat better against the Jets this week but I can’t fairly take that into account yet without seeing how everyone else compares. -7
  2. Washington Redskins- The secondary got absolutely thrashed by the likes of Antonio Brown but somehow it was still worse than we all expected. Kirk Cousins played well but not well enough. Josh Norman proved he can put in work but that he is being underutilized when he should be the one matching up against WR1. The Redskins fought themselves more than the Steelers, who cruised on by like DeAngelo Williams for a touchdown. -9
  3. Baltimore Ravens- The Ravens looked better thanks to Joe Flacco’s return from injury but even that couldn’t stop them from being disappointing even with a victory over the Bills. They barely scored and they had just as many issues with their efforts than the Bills did. It was a low-scoring affair and a defensive matchup all night. -3
  4. Tennessee Titans- These guys only get edged out by the Ravens (who they were one above last week) thanks to the plethora of missteps and miscommunications that plagued them throughout what should’ve been a win against Minnesota. If not for key flops at inopportune times they would be ranked very differently than they currently are. -5
  5. Atlanta Falcons- They didn’t play poorly although they ended up making more mistakes than their opponent did and losing their first game to Tampa Bay. The talent is there on the offensive side of the ball but the defense needs to step it up more than a few notches if they want to have a serious chance this year in the conference. -4
  6. New Orleans Saints- The Saints really did not play a bad game offensively but their defense was obviously even worse than that of the Raiders. I didn’t penalize the Raiders but since New Orleans did the same things and also lost the game, I have to take that into account. No gutsy call to save their ranking here. -3
  7. San Diego Chargers- Oh how unfair the football gods can be some days. The Chargers get to keep their same position and it looks like they may be earning a similar record as last year’s with Allen’s injury and their blown 21-point lead and eventual loss to the Chiefs. Philip Rivers is great but even he can’t carry an entire team, and when he can’t expect help from his running backs because they’re constantly stuffed then it’s a bad day.
  8. San Fransisco 49ers- These guys were ranked dead last in the previous rankings, but things have changed a bit for them after handing the Rams a shutout off of seven punts and two interceptions. They brought twenty-eight points of pain and misery to LA and couldn’t be contained. Let’s see if they can improve upon that and throw themselves at a much better Carolina offensive front and defensive wall. +4
  9. Indianapolis Colts- I’m doing the Colts a solid and moving them up one slot here based purely on the superhuman performance of Andrew Luck. He may not perform at this level in the weeks to come but it was a particularly impressive showing off of an injury, even if it was a loss. +1
  10. Chicago Bears- The Bears are bad and the game got ugly at times with Houston, but they didn’t do as poorly as they could’ve and they put up fourteen points to Houston’s twenty-three. Jay Cutler and crew made some solid connections even if the overall theme is the team needs some work. +1

Depth Chart Cuts:

  1. Cleveland Browns- RG3 did his best to come in and save the day and he came up with a few plays but ultimately just couldn’t dent the Eagles defensive attack. The Browns can rest easy knowing they aren’t last on my list, but they shouldn’t be resting at all especially now that there’s going to be a different man under center with news of RG3’s injury. -3
  2. Los Angeles Rams- I thought the Rams really had it in them to win this week but boy was I proven oh so wrong. If only they had been able to give Todd Gurley anything to work with, the results may have been different. Instead he got shut down and the Rams got shut out. Add to that the fact that Case Keenum was noticeably off the entire game and you’ve got a recipe for a persistent problem on the offensive side of the ball this week as well. -6

We’ve seen how one game has gone so far this week with Thursday night’s throwdown between the Jets and Bills (Jets winning 37-31), but there’s no telling what the rest of the week could be like. Stay tuned.

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By the Numbers: A Comparison Week to Week of the 2015 and 2016 NFL Seasons

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This Sunday means more than just football. It is the fifteenth anniversary of the infamous September 11th tragedy across the United States. However, as we Americans band together for the competitive events that will pit our favorite teams against each other, we also look to the future as well as the past.

Let’s take a retrospective glance back at Week One of the 2015 NFL regular season and compare it to the games that have been fought thus far this year. As there are still several being played and some that won’t be over until Monday night rolls around, this post will be amended and edited a little over the span of the next few days.

Between the dates of September 10 and September 14, 2015, sixteen regular season games were played, beginning with a tense matchup between the Pittsburgh Steelers and New England Patriots on Thursday.The Patriots won that matchup by a touchdown.

Sunday saw some close games decided by a touchdown or less as the Dolphins bested the Redskins by 7, the Chiefs beat the Texans by a touchdown, the Rams outlasted the Seahawks by a field goal, the Chargers held on for a five point win over the Lions, the future Super Bowl 50 champions in Denver beat the Ravens by 6, Dallas held their ground against the Giants and came out on top by 1, and the Falcons beat the Eagles by 2 on Monday.

The first week also saw some one-sided matchups such as the Bills blitzing the Colts 27-14, Jets hammering the Browns 31-10, Panthers over the Jaguars 20-9, Packers over the Bears 31-23, Cardinals beating the Saints 31-19, Bengals steaming the Raiders by 20 points, the 49ers holding the Vikings to only 3 points, and the Marcus Mariota roadshow taking off for 42 points in a 28 point margin over the Buccaneers.

Now let’s flash forward to the present, where several games are still being played and a couple more have yet to transpire.

On September 8, 2016 the reigning Super Bowl champions in Denver managed to eek out a 1 point victory over the Carolina Panthers in the Super Bowl 50 rematch. With that competitive start it is no surprise that several other games have been close as well. The Packers only held on to beat Jacksonville by 4. The Chiefs made a successful fourth quarter and overtime comeback to beat the Chargers by 6. The Oakland Raiders made their fourth quarter comeback to win on a two point conversion against the Saints by 1. The Bengals used AJ Green and Jets mishaps to hold on for a 23-22 victory. The Ravens engaged the Bills and held on fort a 13-7 defensive win.

There have also been a few higher scoring games to throw in the mix as well. Carson Wentz made his debut and led the Eagles to a 29-10 victory over the Browns. The Vikings’ defense led the way to a 25-16 victory over the Titans. Houston beat Chicago 23-14. Jameis Winston led the Buccaneers to a similar finish to the one Marcus Mariota had against the Bucs last season, this week against the Falcons with four touchdowns in a 31-24 win.

As of right now, the Pats and Cardinals have yet to play, and Monday will see the Steelers v Redskins and Rams v 49ers. The Seahawks and Dolphins have thus far been unimpressive and the Lions are demolishing the Colts. The Giants and Cowboys make their week one rematch and are thus far in close contention for the W.

EDIT 9/15/16:

Wow. What a first week back. Now that we’ve come to the second week of NFL-level football play, let’s go ahead and round out Week One’s discussion.

The Patriots proved they could still swim and not sink against one of the best returning teams from last season, even without all of their usual firepower in Brady, Gronk, and other players. They outlasted the Cardinals 23-21 on Sunday night. Monday was not daunted by the tight games of the weekend and ushered in two high scoring, one-sided affairs. The Steelers took a big win home against the Redskins largely thanks to the work in the air with Antonio Brown and on the ground with Deangelo Williams, winning 38-16. Meanwhile the 49ers won the grudge match and shutout the new LA Rams 28-0.

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Why You Should Watch the Titans

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Flash back to the 2015 NFL season. Tennessee came off of a lukewarm preseason performance of 2-2, batting a shaky .500 on their intro to the regular season. Then comes game number one. Marcus Mariota 13 of 15 passes for 209 yards and an 86.7 completion rate (the best he had all year). He passes for four touchdowns, takes only two sacks, and has a Quarterback rating of 158.3 (not unheard of but still a small group of individuals, few to none of which were during their rookie debuts).

Tennessee faces a similar situation this season and despite going 3-13 last year, they’ve actually got quite a plausible possibility of batting .500 in the regular season this year. Let’s look back at last year’s games and see what could’ve been before we come back to the present.

Week One was the blowout explosive rematch of Jameis Winston and Marcus Mariota, NFL-Edition. Week Three the Titans lost a heartbreaking conference game to the Colts by a mere two points, finishing with 33 to their opponents’ 35. Week Five they lost to a talented Buffalo squad by a single point, 14-13. Week Seven they couldn’t quite get over the hump and fell to Atlanta in an ugly 10-7 loss. Week Nine Mariota duked it out with Brees and came up on top and also with his second highest passer rating of the year (135.7) in the 34-28 victory.

Week Twelve saw Derek Carr and the Oakland Raiders barely slip past Mariota’s Titans with a 24-21 finish. In Week Thirteen the Titans retaliated with another win off of which Mariota posted 268-yards passing and 112-yards rushing. The four games that Mariota didn’t play were all losses, the closest of which being to Atlanta and the largest margin being a Week Sixteen loss by 28 to the Houston Texans.

If the Titans had won games that were within a field goal then their record would’ve been 7-9 by the end of the season. If they had managed to win the games that they lost by six or seven points, depending on what you consider to be the full touchdown package, then they would’ve finished the season at 9-7 and made their bid for wildcard candidacy. Crazy how much a season could change just because of a handful of points isn’t it?

Now let’s venture back to the present and take a look at the preseason showing the Titans put on as an entire team. In Week One the Titans managed to take down another team that was equally unimpressive last year (the Chargers) in a 27-10 victory. They led the entire game and didn’t even let the Chargers score in the second half. In Week Two they took on the Carolina Panthers and lost, a feat that many teams accomplished last season thanks to fifteen regular season wins from that squad.

Week Three saw the Titans end up on top of the Raiders with a 27-14 win while Week Four also saw a Titans win with a 21-10 win over the Dolphins, rounding out the preseason at 3-1. Fun fact: the Titans didn’t even need to score in the second half to secure that victory. Another fun fact: the Titans now have DeMarco Murray and Derrick Henry in the backfield.

If we were to judge this NFL season by the one game that has been played thus far, it’ll be filled with close, good games. Those are the best contests, even if not all of them are tough rematches of the Super Bowl. And in matchups like these, teams like Tennessee have just as much a chance as anybody else and could capitalize on it.

Now let’s take a look at some of the opponents the Titans will face and why they have the opportunity to win and win big. If we judge these opponents by their 2015 results (a foolish thing to do but necessary nonetheless) and by what we now know for the season, we should be able to get a decently accurate reading of the future (in speculative terms only).

First up, the Titans face a battered and bruised Vikings squad on the fifteenth anniversary of September 11. It should be a memorable game for many reasons. Sure, it could prove to be a close one despite Sam Bradford stepping in more than likely at quarterback for the Vikes and Adrian Peterson resuming his impressive role at halfback, however I think Mariota and his backfield, alongside the young receiving corps have a real shot at making a standout appearance to start the season off right. My prediction for this game is that it’ll either be low scoring or a one-sided affair. All in all, they have what it takes to WIN.

Week Two sees Tennessee traveling to Detroit to take on the Lions. Depending on whether or not the Lions can capitalize on the Colts’ lack of an effective offensive line and whether they are entering this game as 1-0 or 0-1 with something to prove, I can see the battle at quarterback going either towards the experienced Matt Stafford or the young and talented former-Oregon star. If Detroit loses their first game they will more than likely fight harder during this one, making it a close call for either team for different reasons. Still, I think Tennessee has a real chance to start the season 2-0 for the first time since 2008 when they went 10-0 before finishing the season 13-3 (with the best record in the league).

Week Three sees the Titans taking the fight to the Raiders, or more accurately the Raiders bringing the fight to them. I think this one is more than likely going to Oakland at this point, but only time can tell. Week Four the Titans head to Houston to take on their divisional foes who won both contests in 2015 by a large margin. Houston may be a changed team and injuries may be plaguing them right now and they may have an as of yet untested quarterback, however most teams find their rhythm after the first few games and this one is probably skewed more towards them again.

Week Five takes the Titans to Miami and all that I need to really say about this one is that unless Ryan Tannehill or somebody in Miami steps up in a big way, I think the Titans could really have this one and at least tie their previous season’s number of wins with this game. Week Six will see a matchup between Mariota and (possibly?) RG3, giving us the chance to see whether or not the latter with continue his descent into further mediocrity and whether Mariota’s team can propel themselves to a better record than 2015 on a talent and results cocktail. I think the Titans have got the depth and talent on the Browns right now.

Week Seven could show a very different Colts team to the world. By this point they could either be taking beating after beating thanks to an awful offensive line or they could somehow have things worked out enough to stifle any attempt by Tennessee to hijack the division. The AFC South is no joke. The possibility is there for any of the four teams to win and I don’t expect there to be a clear favorite until later in the season. Houston did it last year thanks to its defense, whereas Jacksonville or Tennessee could easily thanks to their offensive this year. And then there’s the unknown variable of how effective the Colts can be now that Andrew Luck is back. So the Titans could have this one or they might not. I have no clue.

Week Eight sees a talented Jaguar roster coming to town and I’ve got to say, I don’t think the Titans will win this matchup unless the Jags just don’t mesh like they started to last season by the end of things. In Week Nine the team travels to San Diego where they will face either the redemptive Chargers or the same team that suffered last year. Because it is far to early to tell, this game could go either way largely based upon the performances at quarterback and halfback for both teams.

Week Ten the Titans play the Packers and unless the Cheeseheads have somehow gone horribly horribly wrong, it’s no contest. Then again, who knows? That’s the glory of first week speculation. Week Eleven sees the return of the Colts, this time with a showdown in Indianapolis. Who will win could be decided mostly by how the season has progressed since the two last met and who lost the previous meeting and is out for blood. Week Twelve ushers in the Chicago Bears and a potentially messy matchup. However I think the Titans should have a good chance of winning that one, at least as things stand now, and can breathe a sigh of relief heading into their Week Thirteen Bye.

Week Fourteen shoves the so-far insurmountable Denver defense down Tennessee’s throat and somehow I don’t think Mariota will be able to take the hits Cam Newton can and still lead his team to at least a close second finish. This one is going to be ugly, more so for the Titans, but potentially for the inexperienced quarterback at the helm for Denver (assuming he stays there this long). Week Fifteen takes the Titans to Kansas City where the Chiefs could run rampant with a returned Jamaal Charles or generally just pound them with a healthy defense. I don’t foresee Tennessee winning this match.

Week Sixteen and it’s back to Jacksonville to play the Jaguars (this time literally IN Jacksonville). This one, like Indianapolis, could largely depend on who won and lost the previous meeting. Although if Jacksonville had their heads about them the first time I’d say they still have the upper hand here as well. Rounding out the season the Titans are taking on the venerable Texans (thankfully not in Houston). This one could go either way by this point either due to fatigue and injury or due to either squad starting to finally click.

Let’s look at what we’ve got here broken down in a much simpler way week to week, showing which games SHOULD be winnable, which COULD be a tossup, and which are probably LOSSES:

  1. Minnesota  W  Predicting 31-17
  2. @Detroit  W  Predicting 16-10
  3. Oakland  L  Predicting 27-13
  4. @Houston  L  Predicting 24-9
  5. @Miami W Predicting 42-17
  6. Cleveland W Predicting 21-12
  7. Indianapolis W/L Predicting anywhere from 21-7 to 27-20 either way
  8. Jacksonville L Predicting 28-17
  9. @San Diego W/L Predicting anywhere from 34-14 to 28-24 either way
  10. Green Bay L Predicting 38-14
  11. @Indianapolis W/L Predicting anywhere from 27-23 to 28-20 either way
  12. @Chicago W Predicting 17-9
  13. BYE
  14. Denver L Predicting 31-10
  15. @Kansas City L Predicting 24-6
  16. @Jacksonville W/L Predicting anywhere from 21-10 to 24-16 either way
  17. Houston W/L Predicting anywhere from 21-17 to 17-7 either way

Looking at these potential results the Titans SHOULD be able to reach a win count of at least five games. They just have to topple the Vikings, Lions, Dolphins, Browns, and Bears in order to do so. Assuming they lose the rest of the games then they’re 5-11 for the year. Assuming they win ALL of those games then they could very well go 10-6 which is a huge difference. However, due to that there is the possibility of them going .500 and winning eight games.

I could potentially see victories in weeks one and two, back to back losses in three and four before regaining their footing and winning three in a row. Then continuing the season with a loss in week eight to Jacksonville, beating San Diego the next week before losing again to the Packers in week ten, losing the second game and splitting the series with Indianapolis, beating the Bears before the Bye Week, and then losing three of their last four- maybe getting the W over either Jacksonville or a wearied Texans defense. And that fits the 8-8 bill right there.

So this lengthy little piece is just one of many that could be written on really any of the thirty-two teams in the league this year, concerning why they should be looked at and not taken for granted. Before I sign off, let’s look at some of the other teams that could be sneaky good or at least not completely horrible…

  1. The Good:
    1. Arizona Cardinals- All the pieces that are relevant are still there. Forget that horrible loss to Carolina in the Championship Title and you’ve got a relevant team.
    2. Seattle Seahawks- They aren’t the same team they once were seeing as many people have been traded about and some have even retired. But the run game is still strong and the play at quarterback only gets better and more relevant by the year.
    3. Carolina Panthers- Sure, they dropped the ball and lost their first game of the season and rematch with Denver. It happens. But for all the bad there was a lot of good there and the force is still strong with this one, perhaps even more so than last year. Meaning they could actually do even BETTER.
    4. Green Bay Packers- Apparently this is the team picked to have one of the best chances to win it all. And for good cause I would say. Where you’ve got Aaron Rodgers and Jordy Nelson and the crew healthy, magic happens.
    5. Denver Broncos- Fresh off a win and proving the haters wrong at least in the sense that they could topple Carolina not once but twice, Denver looks strong even with some positions unsure. The run game carried the team as did the incredible and brutal defense.
    6. Cincinnati Bengals- These guys could’ve had their playoff victory if only they had had the discipline not to throw the game away. They’ve got plenty of potential here and now they have even more to prove.
    7. New England Patriots- So they could potentially go 0-4 to start the season thanks to suspensions and injuries to key players. But the talent pool is there and the depth and the coaching. So despite even that horrid possibility, this is a team to be on the lookout for.
    8. Pittsburgh Steelers- The Steelers beat the Bengals, sort of (the Bengals beat themselves), and yet here they still are. There’s talent for sure on the offensive side of the ball even without key playmakers. And although there’s work to be done on the defensive side of things, it’s still solid. Mistakes will be made but they can be recovered from.
    9. Kansas City Chiefs- If they can getting their running game healthy again then the combination of running threat and steady defense is sure to rock the foundations of even the most solid opponents. These guys are deceptively good when they work together. They went on quite the streak last year.
    10. Oakland Raiders- If you’re surprised to see these guys up this far then you’re probably not the only one. 2015 was quite a year even if they missed the .500 marker by one. Carr and Cooper alone are a threat, not to mention the defensive talent as well.
  2. The Sneaky:
    1. Houston Texans- Okay, by now there’s no doubt that Houston has a great defensive front and great talent (when healthy) on that side of the ball. But their offensive prowess always differs year to year and could finally make that connection under Brock Osweiler. There’s potential here.
    2. Minnesota Vikings- I’ll bet you think I’m crazy for “lowering” this successful playoff team that should’ve had the victory over Seattle in the bag. However this is where they rest, twelfth overall considering the recent injury at quarterback above all else. There’s too much that’s unsure right now and that’s going to affect them.
    3. Washington Redskins- These guys put on quite the show the second half of the last season and look to continue that trend even after a disappointing playoff loss that ended their run. They reminded me a lot of the underdog Giants in their Super Bowl victory seasons here the past few years. And they certainly have some potential to do damage.
    4. Buffalo Bills- The Bills are not a bad team at all and in fact I think they could’ve done even better last year and given the Patriots a run for their money for real. Now they have the chance to do that again, especially with their rivals down a quarterback for the first few games.
    5. Tampa Bay Buccaneers- These guys did a lot of wheeling and dealing, plus they have talent in their young quarterback, PLUS they have Doug Martin who is pretty damn good at playing his position. They should at least do better than six games this year. The potential is there.
    6. Jacksonville Jaguars- These guys have finally put together an offensive unit that can hold its own again, now they just have to figure out the defensive side of things. If they can prevent themselves from imploding and they can keep everyone healthy, they could be a force to be reckoned with.
    7. New York Jets- The Jets are surprisingly not a bad team. Honestly it pains me a little bit to say it having seen mediocre results and bad plays here and there for the past couple of years or more. They have good players they just need to get used to using them.
    8. Dallas Cowboys- I can’t think of any stronger reason for having a much more successful year than last year’s for the Cowboys than a healthy receiving corps and healthy quarterback. Now whether that quarterback is the fresh breathe of air that Dak offers or Romo’s familiar wiles shouldn’t matter. In either’s hands the team should be in a good place. And let’s not forget Ezekiel Elliott shall we?
    9. Tennessee Titans- I’ve already made my case for the Titans here and perhaps you thought I would rank them higher because of it, but as of right now I’m being a bit more realistic as well as optimistic for their season. You’ve got deep talent in the backfield and on the offensive side of things and the defense needs to step it up too.
    10. Baltimore Ravens- These guys haven’t had a bad season in a long time, at least up until last year’s fluke incident. Without Joe Flacco the team just couldn’t get itself together even with the rest of the offensive talent there. But I think this season should be a return to form or at least very nearly so.
  3. The Shabby:
    1. Atlanta Falcons- Julio Jones is coming off of a spectacular year and although they were met with mediocre results, the Falcons have a chance to get back to being good. But there’s a lot of new stuff to account for as well, plus Matt Ryan needs to get his act together again.
    2. New York Giants- Never underestimate Eli Manning or the Giants. They’ve done more with significantly less. They’ve even won Super Bowls when people weren’t looking. Despite ironically being giantslayers in the past, they’ve got a few hurdles to get over first and some bumps to smooth out this season.
    3. New Orleans Saints- Okay so there are problems on both sides of the ball but the talent is still undeniably there and once they get into a rhythm again they may just have a chance at breaking even, or getting another winning season.
    4. Miami Dolphins- The Dolphins haven’t been good in a long time but that’s not to say they’ve always been bad. The most likely reason for their mediocrity is that they’re constantly overshadowed by the talent in the gene pool that is the New England Patriots. Besides that, they’ve got to step up their game and try to win a few times at least.
    5. Detroit Lions- The Lions have been dealt some bad cards the past few years and often have just been downright unlucky. I mean, letting Aaron Rodgers clutch victory from the jaws of defeat with zero seconds on the clock thanks to a deep bomb into the endzone? Come on. But they’ve got talent at the helm and in the receiving corps and that ought to count for something.
    6. Los Angeles Rams- So Saint Louis sort of got a name change? But they’re no new team by any means, as the same issues still wait under the surface. But let’s look at the fact that they have Todd Gurley who is basically a phenom so long as he can build upon a stellar first year in which he didn’t even play all sixteen games and still came in third overall rushing. Talk about talent.
    7. San Diego Chargers- If they can crush their unlucky streak and use some good voodoo to banish the thoughts of last season then these guys could be something else. They’ve got Philip Rivers still and they’ve got rich potential at running back as well as potentially at receiving options.
    8. Cleveland Browns- The Browns might not actually be the worst team in the league even with the loss of some mediocre players and bombed out prospects. They’ve got a spark of talent if they just dig deep enough to bring it to the surface and utilize it properly. Plus maybe they’ll actually fix the quarterback situation for once.
    9. Philadelphia Eagles- The Eagles really don’t seem to know what’s going on but at least they made some decent moves and got a few good trades going. They’re certainly not what they once were and they’re kind of in a limbo these past few years, but they could turn that all around soon.
    10. Indianapolis Colts- It’s crazy how important something like an offensive line is but when it’s in place to protect your quarterback, especially one who sat out most of the previous season due to injury (after successful playoff run seasons before) then it obviously makes a difference in games. Fix that problem.
  4. The Awful:
    1. Chicago Bears- I suppose they could rely on the rushing game or perhaps Jay Cutler actually throwing more completions than picks but we will have to see how things go.
    2. San Fransisco 49ers- Do we really have to go over this? It’s enough that they’re getting their names in the news for pretty much anything but doing well in games, but they can’t nail down who is going to produce at quarterback and the only good thing going for them right now is Carlos Hyde.
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The Return of Football

carolina-panthers-denver-broncos-logo

Week One of the National Football League’s 2016 campaign began with a hush and a bang. As the Carolina Panthers missed a second attempt at a 50-yard field goal (after nailing the first) and time expired in Denver, the Broncos found themselves with a 1-point win and a narrow escape. Repeating what they managed in February by upsetting the fan-favorite Panthers, the Broncos start the season 1-0 as the Panthers have already lost their chance of going on an undefeated run again.

Now, let’s look at some potentially big matchups for the week and for this coming year in pro football. Thinks are already different from last year and it is quite literally anyone’s game right now.

Raiders v Saints– Now, this might not be the first two teams that come to mind when you think of a “big” matchup, however this first game could determine how the season is going to go for both teams. Will the up and coming Raiders win the shooting match against the experienced Drew Brees and co? Last year the Raiders barely missed the .500 cutoff, however they made their point that the tide could finally be shifting in Oakland’s favor. The Saints also went 7-9 but it was an entirely different, disappointing story for them.

Vikings v Titans– Here’s another surprising matchup waiting to happen. The Titans are a sneakily good team, or at least they have the potential to be if they can get over the hump and post a .500 season or better. They now have DeMarco Murray AND Derrick Henry. Plus Marcus Mariota. The Vikings just lost their star quarterback and picked up the unimpressive Sam Bradford. It could be anybody’s game at this point. The Vikings clinched their division and went 11-5 last year, riding the Adrian Peterson freight train to victory after victory and only losing to the everlasting luck of the Seahawks thanks to a shanked kick. The Titan went 3-13 respectively after an impressive Week One in 2015 where Mariota rushed for an unseemly amount of yardage and passed for equal an equally impressive amount.

Patriots v Cardinals– Tom Brady isn’t playing thanks to his suspension deal that’s finally panning out this season. The Cardinals returned more players than most teams and have one of the deepest talent pools in the NFL currently. The Patriots are innately good, but are they THAT good? Both teams saw varying success meet with disappointment in last year’s playoff campaigns but are looking for a fresh start this season. The Patriots went 12-4 behind the likes of the Broncos and Bengals in the AFC and the Cardinals went 13-3 with the second best record in the NFL and in a conference where they’re forced to square up with Seattle twice a year. Those records were both impressive, but only one can win this game.

So those are my top three games to watch for the week, but here are a few others to be on the lookout for and their respective reasons:

  1. Chargers v Chiefs- Could the Chargers post a winning season after the slew of misfortunes that accosted them last year? Will the Chiefs prove that they are for real…again?
  2. Browns v Eagles- Will Cleveland’s fortunes change alongside RG3’s? Are the Eagles in better hands? Only time will tell.
  3. Bills v Ravens- With Flacco back at the helm, can Baltimore keep from capsizing for a second year in a row? Will the Bills prove to be even more of a potent force this year and replicate last year’s Week One victory over the Patriots?
  4. Lions v Colts- Can the Lions take advantage of the Colts’ virtually nonexistent offensive line and manage to injure Andrew Luck for his second straight season, thus all but ensuring the Colts sink into mediocrity for a second season?
  5. Steelers v Redskins- Just how good is this Steeler’s team? They lucked out against the Bengals in the playoffs last year but then they also held their own with the likes of the Patriots and other squads throughout the season. Is this game going to be a shooting match between Kirk Cousins and Big Ben or will it be a one-sided contest?

And that’s that. The first game has already drawn the line in the sand but now we have to wait a couple of days to see how the rest of the pieces are going to fall. It’s just another week in pro football, but don’t even get me started on college… I’m looking at you SEC.

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Films I’ve Seen Recently

The following is just a brief list of films I’ve watched/re-watched lately either in theaters or through other means. Not all are from this year of course.

No Country for Old Men 8/10

Escape from L.A 6/10

War Dogs 7/10

Star Trek Beyond 8/10

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