Tuesday, October 30, 2012

2012 NFL Power Rankings: Week 9

We have now completed eight weeks in the regular season, meaning that we are at the midpoint of the season and I've just now decided to post my own power rankings. Don't ask me why I waited this long to do this. The idea is to update this weekly, but we'll see what happens.

1- Atlanta Falcons - 7-0 - The Falcons seem like they are a beatable team. They have won a lot of close games recently and don't blow out weaker opponents like other elite teams do, but right now they are good at finding ways to win, no matter who is put on their schedule and in the NFL, all that matters is winning games, so they deserve this top spot

2- Houston Texans - 6-1 - A week of rest after thumping the Ravens was certainly nice. The Texans are certainly in the driver's seat in a surprisingly weak AFC. With the way the Texans are playing, there are only a few teams out there that have the capability of stopping them

3- Chicago Bears - 6-1 - The Bears' offense was a little off this past week as they almost got shocked by the lowly Panthers. But their defense is still one of the best in the league and when they are connecting on offense, this is a tough team to beat. It will be an interesting race for the NFC North crown

4- New York Giants - 6-2 - The Giants have been in this situation before. They are pretty good at starting off strong, but they always seem to fizzle a bit and barely make the playoffs. This season with the struggles that the Eagles, Cowboys, and Redskins are having, they shouldn't have a huge problem winning that division, but they can't afford games like Sunday. Survived is all they did against the Cowboys, literally by a finger tip.

5- San Frasisco 49ers - 6-2 - I'm not sure of Monday night's big win was due to a Niners dominance or a pathetic Cardinals performance. Probably both. Now if they could hold every team to only 7 rushing yards, they would have no troubles winning out. But regardless, they have the NFC West locked down. The NFC is quite dominant right now, so it'll be interesting to see how this turns out.

6- New England Patriots - 5-3 - There has been a lot of questions about this Patriots team this year and now the question is if they will continue to play like they did against the Rams in London or will they struggle like they have when they've the bird teams? I seem to think that it will be the former rather than the latter going forward. Tom Brady and Bill Belichick are good at figuring out ways to win.

7- Denver Broncos - 4-3 - They've already completed the hardest part of their schedule and so they should be pretty happy at 4-3 right now. With the way Payton Manning and the rest of the gang is playing, you go look at their schedule and tell me who they are going to lose to. Yeah, they could honestly win out or at least make it to 11 or 12 wins for the season.

8- Baltimore Ravens - 5-2 - They had a week off to digest what happened in Houston a couple of weeks back. The number of key defensive injuries could be the death of this team. Back to back games against the Browns and Raiders could be what they need to get their confidence back.

9- Green Bay Packers - 5-3 - I keep waiting for the Packers to step up and play like they did last season and I thought I saw it when Rodgers had his 6 touchdown performance against the Texans. They have won four of their last five, but they should've beaten the lowly Jaguars by a lot more than they did this past week. 

10- Pittsburgh Steelers - 4-3 - The Steelers have battled through injuries and several tough losses this season and at times it looked like it was going to be a long season for them. But now it looks like they've started to hit their stride these past couple of weeks. Not many teams can brag that they shut down RG3 this season. The Ravens should be scared.

11- Minnesota Vikings - 5-3 - Who are these Vikings? Christian Ponder has looked good and the defense has played great, but that beatdown in the hands of the Bucs is not what they needed. In a division where the Bears and Packers are on a roll and the Lions offense could break out at any time like they did against the Seahawks, this team could be in trouble. They still have five divisional games left.

12- Miami Dolphins - 4-3 - This Dolphins team is one of the surprises this year. They are on fire right now with a three game winning streak and are just coming off a beatdown in New York which certainly opened some eyes. With the Colts, Titans, and Bills up next, the Fins could be looking at a 7-3 record and in a good race with the Pats to win the division. Who would've thunk it?

13- Seattle Seahakws - 4-4 - After starting out 4-2, they have now dropped two in a row and are now watching the Niners run away with the division. The most disappointing thing about the loss against the Lions is that the Lions totally ripped apart their defense, which has to make Seahawk fans a bit nervous. Suddenly this upcoming game against the Vikings becomes super important as both teams look to be fighting for a wild card spot come playoff time  

14- Indianapolis Colts - 4-3 - Don't look now, but the Colts are above .500. RG3 may be getting all the highlight reel attention, but so far it appears that Andrew Luck is having the better season as the Colts are getting wins while the Redskins aren't. Looking at their upcoming schedule, it is true that the divisional race is over, but the Colts have a legitimate chance at a wild card spot. This next weeks game against the Dolphins may end up having huge playoff implications.

15 - Tampa Bay Buccaneers - 3-4 - That win against the Vikings this past week was huge. After starting off playing poorly, Josh Freeman has that offense going great now as they have looked really impressive these past few weeks. They have a tough road ahead of them if they want to make the playoffs especially because they have it extremely tough final stretch. The next three games against the Raiders, Chargers, and Panthers are must wins.

16- Dallas Cowboys - 3-4 - That ending against the Giants was a heartbreaker. The Cowboys have a good team in place. They just have a quarterback who has an identity crisis because he often forgets which team he's on and starts throwing to the other. It makes me wonder how long the Cowboys are going to trust Romo before they decide to start looking for a replacement.

17- Detroit Lions - 3-4- Could last weeks game against Seahawks be the start of a turnaround for this Lions team? Matt Stafford finally played like we all thought he would play like and if this Lions team could play like this every week, they could still make a wild card. They are going to need to be really consistent and come up with some sort of defense, though, because their schedule for the last half of the season is rather difficult.

18- Oakland Raiders - 3-4 - The Raiders are on a nice little two game winning streak. The problem is that those two wins come against the two worst teams in the league. Three games ago in Atlanta is what should give Raider fans some hope as they almost knocked off the unbeaten Falcons on the road. Being that they only have two games left against playoff teams, they could make a surprise run. But they'll need to establish consistency first.

19- Buffalo Bills - 3-4- The Bills have some decent offensive pieces in place right now. Their problem is the lack of a defense. Opposing teams can do whatever they want on them. Three out of their next four are on the road, the next two games being against the Texans and Patriots. Things aren't looking up for them. 

20- Philadelphia Eagles - 3-4 - It's tough to figure out exactly what is wrong with the Eagles. They have a good team on paper who just aren't playing very well. They started out 3-1, but were turnover plagued in the process and now its caught up to them as they are riding a three game losing streak. Changing defensive coordinators didn't do much. Now they are thinking of benching Vick, but I don't think that will change much either. Is it time for Andy Reed to go?

21- Arizona Cardinals - 4-4 - Remember when the Cards were 4-0 and people were thinking that they would win the division and make a good playoff run? Yeah, that team is long gone. Almost literally. They have suffered a boat load of injuries and the players that are playing aren't playing very good at all. I know the Niners have a good defense, but seven rushing yards in the whole game? Pathetic. They could be looking at a six game losing streak at the least as the next two games are on the road against the Packers and Falcons.

22- Washington Redskins - 3-5 - The future of this team is looking really great. RG3 has been spectacular in his rookie season and he is going to be a fun player to watch for years to come. The problem right now is that there really isn't much of a team around him, especially on the defensive side. The Redskins better fix that quick or else they may go the path that the Panthers have gone in Newton's second year.

23- Tennessee Titans - 3-5 - The Titans have played surprisingly well this year and have surprised many people with wins over the Steelers and Bills. The problem is they have had a really tough schedule and if they want to compete, they can't afford to lose home games to teams like the Colts like they did this past week. They also could use some consistency, especially from CJ2K, who has been pretty awful since he got his big contract. 

24- Cincinnati Bengals - 3-4 - The Bengals have a promising future with young stars like Dalton and Green on the roster. They pulled off a playoff appearance last year on an easy schedule, but went 0-7 against playoff teams. Now its catching up to them this year as they are only 3-4 and they haven't even hit the hard part of their schedule. 

25- San Diego Chargers - 3-4 - They Chargers really screwed up last year when they scared off their best receiver. What made it worse is that they failed to replace him and now their receiving corps is a mess. Add to that a headache at the running back position and a quarterback in Philip Rivers who is playing awful and you have a team that has lost four out of their last five. Some of those were to great teams, but getting shut down by the Browns like that is embarrassing for any team. Norv Turner isn't going to last much longer at this pace.

26- St. Louis Rams - 3-5 - The Rams have actually made a big step forward this year. New head coach Jeff Fisher has gotten this team to compete and he might be the guy that turns this team around. Their defense has been formidable for the most part and they have competed in most of their games. Until this past week when they really didn't show up at all in London. Their offense has lacked and for some reason Stephen Jackson hasn't showed up at all this season.

27- New Orleans Saints - 2-5 - It looked like the Saints were going to start to turn things around as they had impressive offensive performances against the Chargers and Bucs. Then they seemed to go back to phase one as they didn't show up at all against Denver. Then there's thing about defense. The Saints' defense hasn't shown up all season.

28- New York Jets - 3-5 - Things are looking pretty dismal in New York and I'm not talking about the weather. The Jets were talk of the offseason and now they are becoming the laughing stock of the league as everything is just falling apart for them. Getting blown out at home by the Dolphins didn't help anything.

29- Cleveland Browns - 2-6 - The Browns have been surprisingly competitive, but nonetheless the Browns are still the Browns. It seems like they'll never be a great team. Right now their defense has played well and that win against the Chargers was a good one, but they still need to find play makers on offense. Trent Richardson can't do everything. Brandon Weedon has been alright, but he's not the long term answer as he's already older than many starting QB's in the league. I still don't know why they spent a first round pick on him.

30- Carolina Panthers - 1-6 - The Cam Newton show has definitely not gone as planned this season. Yes, he had a good rookie season number-wise, but he proved that he couldn't lead his team to victory and things have just gotten worse this year. The Panthers need to actually put a team around him so that he has something to work with.

31- Jacksonville Jaguars - 1-6 - The Jags were expected to get blown out against the Packers but they surprised people and made a game out of it. Blaine Gabbert even looked like a decent quarterback for that game. The problem is that they still lost and moments like this where the Jags have competed have been few and far between.

32- Kansas City Chiefs - 1-6 - Right now nothing is going right for the Chiefs. It's hard to compete and win games when you really have no quarterback to play with. Matt Cassell was awful when he was healthy and Brady Quinn has been awful in his place. Matt Cassell looks like he'll be back this week, which doesn't really change anything. With the way things went last year, it looked like this team would be competitive, but now when teams see them on their schedule they just get relieved. Good news for Chief fans is that at this pace they may win the Matt Barkley sweepstakes and actually have a quarterback to work with.

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