Wednesday, September 25, 2013

2013 NFL Power Rankings: Week 4

This past week was rather wild in the NFL and thus there is a lot of movement in my power rankings, which is usually the case early on in the season. We are three weeks into the season and history isn't very nice to teams that start 0-3 and there are a few big surprises that fall into that category. Teams that are 1-2 are in fine shape, but there are several teams that it is also surprising to see in that category, so they need to pick it up fast. Meanwhile, the Manning brothers are on completely opposite sides of the spectrum, so that should make family dinners a bit interesting. So without further ado, let's jump in.

1- Denver Broncos - 3-0 (+0) - Peyton Manning is currently playing insane football. If he were to keep on this pace that he is currently on, several records would be broken. Now he hasn't exactly played top notch opponents as of yet, even though the Ravens and Giants were thought to be better than they were, but still.

2- Seattle Seahawks - 3-0 (+0) - The Seahawks playing the Jaguars was essentially like a week off for them. It was almost quite courteous of them to allow the Jags to score 17 points after the Seahawks were already up by over 30 points.

3- Chicago Bears - 3-0 (+3) - A pounding of the embarrassing Steelers team sent the Bears cruising up this list due to all of the teams ahead of them dropping games. The Bears continue to look good and now have an early lead on the competitive NFC North.

4- New Orleans Saints - 3-0 (+3) - The strong start for the Saints appears to not be a fluke. Sean Payton is back with style as the Saints not only showed offensive prowess on Sunday, but once again dominated with their defense. With the other teams in the NFC South off to a slow start, it might be hard for them to catch this Saints team.

5- Kansas City Chiefs - 3-0 (+3) - I was high on this Chiefs team to begin with and now they have already topped last season's win total only three games into the season. And it only gets better from here on out as their next six games are against the Giants, Titans, Raiders, Texans, Browns, and Bills. Could we be seeing this team start out at 8-0? That would be quite the turnaround.

6- Miami Dolphins - 3-0 (+4) - The Patriots officially have strong competition in the AFC East for the first time in a while. After starting off the season with two straight road wins, the Dolphins made a statement at home with that impressive win over the Falcons to go 3-0. This team is for real.

7- New England Patriots - 3-0 (+4) - You can say the Patriots looked impressive for the first time on Sunday, but it was against the lowly Bucs. They better hope that Gronk and Amendola come back quick because the Dolphins are turning this into quite the chase. On the other hand, the Pats defense has been quite solid.

8- Indianapolis Colts - 2-1 (+8) - What a difference a week makes. Even though Trent Richardson didn't play great on Sunday following the surprising trade, it seems as if that rejuvenated the club and after that blowout of the Niners, the Texans better step up their game. The Colts now have a really good, balanced offense that will only get better as Trent gets used to the offense.

9- Houston Texans - 2-1 (-6) - The Texans looked impressive in the clutch their first two games and found ways to win those games and that is a great sign. This past week they looked super vulnerable and with the recent charge of the Colts, the AFC South will be a fun race so they need to make sure the Ravens game was just a fluke

10- Cincinnati Bengals - 2-1 (+2) - Too many turnovers on Sunday, but they came up with a win over a good Packers team, so there isn't much complaining in Cincinnati. Although I had mentioned in the past that the Bengals could almost win the AFC North by default, but the Ravens came alive on Sunday, so the Bengals need to fire up that offense if they plan on winning that division.

11- Dallas Cowboys - 2-1 (+7) - A dominating win over the Rams has solidified them on the top of that division at only 2-1. Anything can still happen, but currently the Giants and Redskins look like they forgot how to play football and the Eagles look like they forgot how to play defense, so in theory this could be pretty easy for the Cowboys.

12- Baltimore Ravens - 2-1 (+10) - After two lackluster weeks to start the season, the Ravens looked back at the top of their game with an impressive win over the Texans. Many people doing power ranking put them high up because they won the Super Bowl last year and while I don't think that is fair, I think they deserved a bump this week after beating up the Texans and somehow winding up with a 2-1 record.

13- Detroit Lions - 2-1 (+0) - The Lions have looked mildly impressive so far, but they will be given a huge test as they have back to back divisional games against the Bears and the Packers. If they want to be competitive, they will need to prove themselves and win at least one of these next two games.

14- Green Bay Packers - 1-2 (-9) - To be fair to the Packers, their two losses do come to playoff caliber teams and both were really close, but to be harsh, these type of close games are games that the Packers usually can pull off, but haven't this year. They'll get a week off to think of things before they host an important divisional game against the Lions.

15- San Francisco 49ers - 1-2 (-11) - I forgave the Niners for the game against the Seahawks. The Seahawks could probably do that to any team except for the Broncos, but last week's blowout loss to the hands of the Colts was unforgivable. They just simply looked lost out there on the field and they'll have to earn their way back to the top.

16- Atlanta Falcons - 1-2 (-7) - Earlier this year I was called crazy for saying the Falcons were overrated. They claimed the best record last year on the league's easiest schedule and struggled to win about every one of those games. Now with a tougher schedule, they have proven me right so far in me calling them overrated. They dropped close games to the Dolphins and Saints while almost letting the Rams come back and win last week. Not impressive so far.

17- Tennessee Titans - 2-1 (+4) - With the lowly Jaguars being the only outlier, the AFC South currently has a three way tie at the top. The Titans are the most surprising of the three and although I'm not quite ready to elevate them too high, I do have my eye on them. We'll be favored on Sunday with a surprise 2-1 battle with the Titans and Jets. I'm thinking the Titans will be the team to come out of that 3-1.

18- Philadelphia Eagles - 1-2 (-4) - Well, the Eagles looked super good for one half this year, but outside that, the Chip Kelly offense has been stuffed. To make matters worse, the Eagles forgot how to play defense. With that in mind, the Eagles will embark on a three game road trip that starts with Peyton's Broncos. Yikes.

19- New York Jets - 2-1 (+8) - With all the negative drama coming the Jets' way, most people were expecting them to be 0-3 at this point, but somehow they managed to pull of a winning record to start the season. Personally I think it is more of a fluke due to an easy schedule, but Rex Ryan would love nothing more than to prove the whole country wrong.

20- Carolina Panthers - 1-2 (+4) - I don't know whether I should blame the Panthers blowout on an impressive Panthers performance or an awful Giants performance. Probably a bit of both. But one thing I am sure of is that this Panthers defense could cause a lot of problems to teams this season. And a 38-0 blowout of any team is a great way to get any team's confidence going and if they can keep that momentum going things could be good. Their current schedule has their next six opponents at a combined win total of four wins.

21- St. Louis Rams - 1-2 (-6) - The Rams looked like they were making progress this year, but last Sunday's thumping by the hands of the Cowboys definitely set them back. But don't count them out tomorrow (Thursday) against the Niners. Some people might forget that in the midst of the Niners Super Bowl run, they failed to beat the Rams in both their meetings.

22- San Diego Chargers - 1-2 (-3) - It's a different Chargers team that shows up every week. Philip Rivers and company have the potential to do some damage in the AFC if they could just play consistent. But that is a huge if right now and the Broncos and Chiefs are both still undefeated, so the Chargers need to get their head in the game. They get to play host to the Cowboys on Sunday and that could go either way in my mind.

23- Arizona Cardinals - 1-2 (-6) - I have been impressed with this Cardinals team this year, but unfortunately they came out completely flat against the Saints on Sunday. They travel to Tampa on Sunday to play the Bucs, so they need to use that as a game to get their confidence back up before their schedule gets really hard again.

24- Buffalo Bills - 1-2 (-1) - The Bills have been playing better football than I gave them credit for this year, but they really needed that win against the Jets, but they just couldn't do it. And now they get to go on a tour of the AFC North the next three weeks with the Ravens, Browns, and Bengals. They need to make their presence known in those games because after that tour is over, the following three games are against teams that are currently undefeated.

25- Minnesota Vikings - 0-3 (-5) - The Vikings have probably been the best winless team this season as all three losses were close losses. But in the end the only thing that matters is the win or the loss and the Vikings are in serious trouble at 0-3. They'll play host to the also winless Steelers this Sunday. Someone's got to win that game.

26- Oakland Raiders - 1-2 (+2) - No expected much of anything Monday night when the Raiders played the Broncos, but the good thing is that despite what the final score says, the Raiders didn't just lay over dead. With the Redskins in town Sunday, the Raiders have a good shot at jumping up to .500.

27- Cleveland Browns - 1-2 (+4) - It seemed like the perfect recipe for disaster when the Browns traded their top running back for a draft pick and started their third string quarterback. However it was the Browns that got the last laugh on Sunday as all that got them to their season's first win. Can they keep that going against the Bengals on Sunday? Probably not, but hey, I've seen crazier things happen.

28- Washington Redskins - 0-3 (-2) - It wasn't an embarrassing loss this time around, but nonetheless the Redskins have dropped to a dismal 0-3. If they don't figure out how to play football pretty soon, it'll turn out to be a very long season in Washington. If they can't pull off a win in Oakland this week, it might be a while before this team sees their first W.

29- Pittsburgh Steelers - 0-3 (+1) - The Steelers didn't look completely dead Sunday night as there was a point in the game where you actually thought they might make it a football game. But that was over about as soon as it started as the Steelers ended up enduring their third thumping of the season. Their next two games are against the Vikings and Jets, so I assume that we'll see the Steelers get their first win soon.

30- New York Giants - 0-3 (-5) - What on earth has happened with the G-Men? I'm not even sure where I want to start with pointing the blame because no one on this Giants team has played well. I don't even know how they can go about fixing this. If this continues all season, will we be seeing the end of Tom Coughlin?

31- Tampa Bay Buccaneers - 0-3 (-2) - And just like that, the Josh Freeman era is over as we get our first benched starter of the year. It's a shame really because this Bucs team has so much potential, but yet that word potential is a very scary word as they have just done nothing. Can rookie quarterback Mike Glennon pull off some Tampa magic?

32- Jacksonville Jaguars - 0-3 (+0) - The Seahawks were quite courteous to this team late in the game by allowing them to score a quick 17 points, boosting their moral a bit. But the real story was the fact that once again, the Jaguars looked like they wouldn't even be able to beat a college team at this point. I don't even see a potential win for this team until week 13 at Cleveland. But even that's a stretch.

Saturday, September 21, 2013

Battle of the Year Review

September has been a real slow month like always with lots of football and few attractive new movies. This weekend Prisoners is dominating the box office and while I'll most likely get to that one later, the new September movie that I went to see this weekend was Battle of the Year. Now I'm not usually into dance competition movies, but this one I was actually somewhat excited for. No, I actually wasn't excited about it because of the dance, I was excited to see lead actor Josh Holloway, who plays Sawyer in the TV series Lost, in his first major role since Lost ended. I went in with low expectations due to the poor reviews, but I walked out surprisingly entertained by what I saw.

Battle of the Year is based on the actual b-boy world competition called Battle of the Year. This I actually didn't know until after the competition, I initially thought this was a fictional premise. After some quick research, b-boying has been around since the 70's and is commonly known by general audiences as breakdancing, although b-boying is the preferred name by those who actually do it. Just like in the movie, Battle of the Year takes place in France every year and is typically dominated by South Korea, France, Japan, Russia, and Germany, with the USA and Taiwan showing up competitively on occasion (USA actually came in second place to France back in 2011).

On to the movie itself, the fictional premise of the movie takes place three months before Battle of the Year. The US team hasn't won the competition in 15 years (which actually is true in real life -- US hasn't won the competition since 1998). The guy sponsoring the team is named Dante (Laz Alonzo) and he turns to former b-boy Jason Blake (Josh Holloway) to coach this year's team. Blake agrees to coaching despite his life being in shambles and when he does, he decides to completely scrap the team and assemble a dream team of b-boys that will compete for the title.

Yes, the b-boying performances were entertaining to watch, but what I was really impressed with as far as this movie goes is that it didn't rely solely on the competition aspect. Some dance movies or competition movies in general throw together a story and a cast that are both really weak and spend the majority of the movie entertaining the audience with the dance or competition. In Battle of the Year, the movie was actually really emotional and the focus of the movie was on the team assembled learning to work together as a team. We didn't even get to the main competition until well over an hour into the movie. The cast is what made this work. Specifically Josh Holloway. I loved him in Lost and I loved him in this. He did a great job acting as a fantastic coach who has been through a lot in his life and the progression of his character through the movie is done rather well. I didn't care for Laz Alonso's character, but the other supporting cast members, which included Josh Peck as the assistant coach and Caity Lotz as the team choreographer, did fine jobs. The other big name that the movie included was singer Chris Brown as one of the b-boys and I thought him and the other b-boys were great dancers that went through a lot of progression as a team.

Overall, this movie may not be the best movie you'll ever see, but in the year's quietest movie month, if you are itching for a new movie to go see, I'd recommend you give Battle of the Year a shot because despite the poor reviews you'll see by critics, it did pull off an A- cinemascore, so you might find yourself enjoying it. But catch it in 2D if you can. I actually saw it in 3D (which wasn't the plan intitially) and the 3D didn't add much. But overall, I would give the movie a solid 8 out of 10 score.

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

2013 NFL Power Rankings: Week 3

After two weeks into the NFL, the Broncos and Seahawks definitely look like the Super Bowl front runners, which makes me look like I sometimes know what I'm doing as a match-up between the two was my preseason pick. However, a lot can happen between now and then as it is still super early. Currently there are eight teams that remain winless as well as eight teams that are undefeated and there are several surprises on both ends of that spectrum. In between those, there are 16 teams that split their first two games. The NFC seemed to be the stronger conference, but it's actually the AFC that leads things with a combined 18-14 record as opposed to the NFC's 14-18 record. Amongst that, the biggest surprise so far is the AFC West, which currently is tied for the best division in football at 6-2. The biggest disappointment so far has to be the AFC North, which has only combined for a 2-6 record. With all that said, let's go to the rankings and let the fire begin!

1- Denver Broncos - 2-0 (+0) - This top spot was actually a really tough to decide as it really is #1 and #1.1 this week. But in the end, I have no reason to take the spot away from the Broncos as they looked dominate for a second straight week as Peyton beat up on his younger brother Eli. What was encouraging about this week's performance is the arrival of a running game thanks to Knowshon Moreno's big game.

2- Seattle Seahawks - 2-0 (+1) - I expected the Seahawks to pull off a win against the Niners this week due to their homefield advantage, but I did not see that spanking coming at all. If they can do that to a solid Niners team the NFC needs to fear. If the Seahawks take that homefield advantage, I have no idea who is going to walk into Seattle and knock them out of the playoffs.

3- Houston Texans - 2-0 (+1) - It may be a little discouraging to some to see the Texans not completely dominating teams like the Chargers and Titans, but what is encouraging is their ability to play well in the clutch and that will be something that will be key down the stretch. Also, DeAndre Hopkins looks like a stud. The Andre and DeAndre combo should be really scary this year going along with the Foster and Tate combo at the running back.

4- San Francisco 49ers - 1-1 (-2) - I'm not going to be too harsh on the Niners this week. I'm going to chalk that performance up to more of a Seahawks domination rather than a Niners team falling apart. I think the Niners team that we are going to see more of is the team that knocked off the Packers in week one. I don't think they should have any trouble recovering as the Colts come into town this weekend.

5- Green Bay Packers - 1-1 (+0) - After a tough season opener to the Niners, the Pack got back on track as they routed the Redskins. The final score of 38-20 doesn't even do the game justice as the Pack obviously relaxed a bit after going up 31-0.

6- Chicago Bears - 2-0 (+0) - Two weeks and two comeback victories for this Chicago Bears team and now Cutler is dawning the nickname of Comeback Cutler. Eventually they will need to learn how to start games and stay on top throughout, but I've been very impressed with this Bears team. They should be able to do that this have their best game yet this week as they travel to Pittsburgh to play the surprisingly awful Steelers.

7- New Orleans Saints - 2-0 (+0) - The scary thing with the Saints was that their offense wasn't as dominate as it should've been, but having Shawn Payton back on the sidelines has been really encouraging. Once again, their defense bailed them out in a game and a two early division wins will definitely help them down the road. And of course there is the beautiful game winning drive against the Bucs that proved the Saints are back.

8- Kansas City Chiefs - 2-0 (+6) - I've been high on the Chiefs this whole offseason and they have so far proved me right. Sure, a week one game against the Jaguars didn't say much, but I hope that people look at that Cowboys win and realize that this team is for real. No they won't win the division, but this here is a playoff team. Just remember, you heard it here first.

9- Atlanta Falcons - 1-1 (+6) - If the Falcons continue to play like they did in the first half of the Rams game, it is going to be a fun race to watch in the NFC South. Yes, I've been harsh on the Falcons and yes, I am willing to admit I'm wrong when that happens. Concerning points come with them letting the Rams back in the game after going up 20+ points early on. Also they lost Steven Jackson for the next few weeks, which is bad timing as they take a trip through the best of the AFC East in the next two weeks.

10- Miami Dolphins - 2-0 (+7) - Surprise team of the year so far? Not only are they 2-0, but Ryan Tannehill looked super sharp Sunday against the Colts and Mike Wallace got involved and now is plenty happy. Their schedule is far from a walk in the park, but if they keep up the good play, they could steal this division away from a depleted Patriots team.

11- New England Patriots - 2-0 (-1) - Speaking of the Patriots, I can't put them too low because they already have two divisional wins on their back after two weeks, but honestly they looked very bad this past Thursday. If they had played that way against most other teams, they would've been looking at 1-1 right now. Fortunately Gronk looks to be returning soon and Danny Amendola may not be gone as long as initially thought, so this could get better.

12- Cincinnati Bengals - 1-1 (+1) - Yes, the Bengals did get a win Monday night against the Steelers, but that game told us a lot more about the Steelers than it did the Bengals. The Bengals out of sync on offense in the first half and were very fortunate that the Steelers forgot how to play offense in the second half. They are going to need to play a lot better if they want to become the Super Bowl team many have been saying. That said, with how bad the AFC North is looking right now, playoffs should be a cinch. The Bengals could go 8-8 and still win this division at this point.

13 - Detroit Lions - 1-1 (-6) - The Lions take one of the bigger falls on my chart this week, but their biggest problem was the injury of Reggie Bush. They better hope he doesn't have to miss any time because with him they look like a playoff team, but without him they look like the same Lions team from last year that consistently came up short.

14- Philadelphia Eagles - 1-1 (-6) - Chip Kelly says he wants to get even faster with this Eagles offense, but his Eagles ran into problems as San Diego seemed to have them figured out. I still think that they are going to win their fare share of games and with the disasters that are the Giants and Redskins, it looks like it is between them and the Cowboys in the NFC East, so they are in decent shape still.

15- St. Louis Rams - 1-1 (-4) - First round pick Tavon Austin came alive against the Falcons and showed that he is probably going to be a stud in this league, which is encourage to Rams fans. Also Sam Bradford looked good in the last half of the Falcons game and that near comeback was promising. What's not promising is once again the running game or lack thereof. Also, they need to start games off lots better than they did.

16- Indianapolis Colts - 1-1 (-4) - The Colts followed up a non impressive win against the Raiders with a disappointing loss in Miami. The good part of the Miami game was that although they lost, they still looked good while doing so, which may say more about the Dolphins in that than the Colts. The Colts look like they are still in fine shape for a playoff run, but if they want to try to keep up with the Texans, they need to step it up a bit.

17- Arizona Cardinals - 1-1 (+1) - Once again, if you are writing off the Cardinals already, you might be a making a big mistake. Yes, the division is killer and a really tough schedule is no good, but Carson Palmer had a second straight good game in a win over the Lions, so that is positive. I don't think they will make the playoffs with the schedule they have in front of them, but if they keep this up, they could make the wild card race interesting.

18- Dallas Cowboys - 1-1 (-2) - I'm not quite sure what to say about this Cowboys team. They followed up an ugly win over the Giants with a loss to the Chiefs, which could turn out to be a not so embarrassing thing. With how bad the Redskins and Giants are looking right now, it seems as if things will go between them and the Eagles for the NFC East title, so they are in fine shape.

19- San Diego Chargers - 1-1 (+6) - The Charger team that showed up against the Eagles looked like the Chargers team of old and this time they didn't disappear in the second half. But I'm still not going to be quite sold on them yet because I'm nervous that the Chargers team from the second half of week one's game may show up, but if they keep up what they did last week, this could be a big surprise team.

20- Minnesota Vikings - 0-2 (-1) - I can't say the Vikings have looked bad this season, but the past two games might be a foreshadowing of things to come as they have come so close, but haven't quite been good enough. Luckily for them, they now have a stretch of games that could help them boost their confidence as their next four games are against winless teams.

21- Tennessee Titans - 1-1 (+0) - The Titans are another team that I'm not quite sure what to do with. None of their players stood out as having a good game and in two games so far, none of their players are looking like they are having a great season, but somehow they have played pretty well collectively as they beat the Steelers in week one and took the Texans to overtime in week two.

22- Baltimore Ravens - 1-1 (+0) - Yes, the Ravens got a win on Sunday, but I would be willing to dish out two losses in that Ravens/Browns game if that were up to me because both teams just looked awful. Fortunately the Ravens were less awful and thus collected the W. With how they've been playing, their next four games (Texans, Bills, Dolphins, Packers) could all easily be losses, leaving the Super Bowl champs at 1-5 after six games.

23- Buffalo Bills - 1-1 (+0)  - The Bills seem like a cursed franchise that will never be good again, but so far their first two games have actually given fans some encouragement that this EJ Manuel gamble could actually work out. With their next three games being against the Jets, Ravens, and Browns, they could start out the season with a pretty decent record before things get really tricky.

24- Carolina Panthers - 0-2 (+3) - The Panthers have played decent in their first two games, but yet both of them ended up as losses, which seems to have been the story thus far for Cam Newton in his career. If you look at their schedule, you don't see a whole lot of W's on the horizon.

25- New York Giants - 0-2 (-1) - Turnovers have been the bane of this Giant's team so far as Eli's four interceptions against the Broncos defense puts their two game total up to ten turnovers. No team is going to win very many games when they have that much trouble holding on to the ball. With the rest of the division not being too strong, they have time to turn it around, but they are going to have to work quickly.

26- Washington Redskins - 0-2 (-6) - After two games of watching RGIII play, I am now convinced that they rushed him back into the lineup too quickly and perhaps it is best to take a step back and go with Kirk Cousins for a while. RGIII's health is more important than the Skins having a sexy lineup right away. He looks nothing like the RGIII of last year and also nothing like a number two overall pick. And no, Pierre Garcon, it is not the knee brace that is the problem. It's the knee.

27- New York Jets - 1-1 (-1) - Normally I wouldn't get mad at the Jets for a loss to the Patriots, but honestly the Patriots looked pretty awful on Thursday and yet they still were better than the Jets. No, the Jets haven't been as bad as we thought and that is why they are in the 20's still, but I don't think that is a spot they will climb out of any time soon.

28- Oakland Raiders - 1-1 (+2) - The Raiders actually look like they have some promise with Terrell Pryor leading the way and if Darren McFadden stays healthy, this team could be a lot better than some thought they would. That said, it was the Jaguars they played on Sunday and the Jags are pretty good at making any team look awesome right now, so I'm going to wait and see on this before I say too much.

29- Tampa Bay Buccaneers - 0-2 (+0) - It's never a good thing when your starting quarterback and head coach have this many questions surrounding them after only two games. Before the season, I thought that the Bucs could be a breakout team, but it all relied on Josh Freeman being consistent and he has been anything but consistent this year and now I doubt that he will even last much longer as a starter the way he is going.

30- Pittsburgh Steelers - 0-2 (-2) - Thanks to a poor first half from the Bengals, it almost seemed like the Steelers were going to do something, but did you see that Steelers offense? Neither did I. It doesn't exist right now. If I was paying attention right, they got -2 yards in the whole third quarter and during the fourth quarter I was absolutely shocked when they completed two passes in a row.

31- Cleveland Browns - 0-2 (+0) - I've never liked the Brandon Weedon experiment and I haven't been shy about that. Now after two games of plain out awful play, it looks like the Brandon Weedon experiment is about over and it's sad when you realize that your second year quarterback is already on the down hill part of his career due to his age. The Browns have talent on their team, but without a quarterback that knows how to play the game, they are going to stay at the bottom of a rather depressing AFC North.

32- Jacksonville Jaguars - 0-2 (+0) - It's bad enough when you only put up two points on the board in your season opener, but it's worse when you make the Oakland Raiders look like a great football team in your second week. I'm quite confident that this is where the Jaguars are going to be the whole season. As I look at their schedule, I don't see a winnable game for them until you get to week 13. And no, they don't have that hard of a schedule. They are just really bad.

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

2013 NFL Power Rankings: Week 2

Doing power rankings is a difficult thing to do, especially after only one week. It requires taking all 32 teams and putting them in order from best to worst and when you have 16 teams tied for first place and 16 other teams tied for last place, it's especially tricky. On top of that, every fan is always super sensitive about their team and unless their team is at number one, they will complain about their team not being high enough. So why do I do it when I'm almost guaranteed to get people yelling at me no matter what order I put teams in? Well, the answer is that it gives me an excuse to write about the NFL. Even if you disagree with my order, it is fun to debate about this stuff, as long as you are courteous and reasonable with your comments. I didn't start last week because I wanted at least one week's worth of action before I started. But after all the drama that went on, let us discuss!

1- Denver Broncos - 1-0 - The Broncos have been my Super Bowl favorite for quite some time now due to their great offseason. Not only do they have Peyton Manning leading the way, but they also added Wes Welker to an already strong group of receivers. Opening night against the Ravens I think is a sign of things to come as Peyton made a mockery of the Ravens defense with all his weapons, throwing for nearly 500 yards and 7 touchdowns. With the AFC being fairly weak this year comparatively and the Broncos' division not providing much of a challenge, it is going to be hard for teams to stop the Broncos this year.

2- San Francisco 49ers - 1-0 - The Niners and the Seahawks are going to be in a constant battle all season for positioning in the NFC West and that will be a really fun battle to watch. Despite those two teams being the best two teams in the NFC, the civil war amongst the teams added to the fact that the Rams and the Cardinals aren't going to go down without a fight will probably result in the Niners and Seahawks not ending up with the best records in the NFC. They also will probably end up facing each other before the Conference Championship game, which means they also won't be the last two teams standing. Both teams won this weekend, but the Niners get the edge this weekend with their impressive win over a very good Packers team.

3- Seattle Seahawks - 1-0 - The Seahawks defense was as good as advertised on Sunday. The problem is that their offense got completely shut down by the Panthers and they barely escaped with a win. That was a little concerning to me because I was expecting a blowout in that game. Honestly, though, I think that was a fluke game and I think they will be perfectly fine. This upcoming Sunday will determine who gets that number two spot in my power rankings for the next long while as the Seahawks will play host to the aforementioned Niners.

4- Houston Texans - 1-0 - Outside the Broncos, the Texans are the other AFC team that I have confidence in this season. Besides those two, their are a lot of questions. And even with the Texans for the first half I was nervous. I do think a big part of the comeback against the Chargers was the Chargers breaking down, but regardless that was a super impressive comeback that showed this team can be very clutch.

5- Green Bay Packers - 0-1 - Yes the Packers lost on Sunday, but I am still keeping them this high because it was the Niners that they lost to and it was a very good game. The NFC North is going to be very competitive this year, but I still give the edge to the Packers to come out on top.

6- Chicago Bears - 1-0 - I had my concerns about Bears new head coach Marc Trestman, but they looked really good in their first game. The defense hasn't missed a beat. Jay Cutler, Matt Forte, and Brandon Marshall all looked like they were on the top of their game. And most importantly the offensive line did their job and allowed zero sacks. If they keep this up and remain healthy then I can see the Bears challenging the Packers for the division, but in the last several years they've always had something go wrong, so I'm not betting on them quite yet. But for the moment, they deserve this high ranking.

7- Detroit Lions - 1-0 - This is a lot higher than most people have the Lions, but the Lions do have a very talented team and it showed on Sunday. Matt Stafford and Megatron have always made for a dangerous combo, but what impressed me most on Sunday was that the rest of the team also looked great. Reggie Bush gave them a solid running game on Sunday and if he keeps that up, this will be a very dangerous offensive team. Also, the Lions defense played a solid game against the Vikings and so if they keep this up I think they can put last season behind them and go back to being the playoff team that they were two years ago.

8- Philadelphia Eagles - 1-0 - Have I jumped on the Eagles bandwagon after just one game? Well, no. I've liked the Eagles chances ever since Chip Kelly got hired. The Eagles are a super talented team that with the right coach could easily go back to competing and I've thought for a while now that Chip Kelly could make the Eagles compete in the division. The game against the Redskins proved me right. Sure, the second half concerned me, but I think we will be seeing a lot more of the first half Eagles as opposed to the second half Eagles.

9- New Orleans Saints - 1-0 - Last year was a year for the Saints to forget. Those thinking that those struggles would continue this year I think were a bit foolish. Sean Payton is back as their head coach and that is a huge deal. Most encouraging, though, is how solid their defense was against the Falcons. If the defense can keep that up, I definitely believe that the Saints, not the Falcons, will be the team to beat in the NFC South.

10- New England Patriots - 1-0 - A win is a win they all say, but the Patriots' win on Sunday was very concerning. With all the players they've lost this offseason, their offense was always a huge question and Sunday's game showed that this team has a lot of problems. The upside for them is that they do have Tom Brady and Bill Belichick and that alone makes it so I can't put them too low right now, but they are going to need to figure things out quickly because it's not every week that they will have the Bills on the schedule.

11- St. Louis Rams - 1-0 - This also will look a bit high for many people, but last year when everyone was giving all their attention to the Niners and Seahawks, the Rams rather quietly dominated the division, losing only one divisional game all season, that being the Seahawks. This season they added Jared Cook at tight end and Tavon Austin at receiver, giving Sam Bradford some weapons to use and that helped out big time Sunday against the Cardinals. With an already solid defense, the one main concern is the running game. Don't sleep on the Rams this year. Jeff Fisher is going to make this team compete.

12- Indianapolis Colts - 1-0 - Andrew Luck was impressive in the win on Sunday, but the big problem with the win was that it was against the Raiders. They should've beaten the Raiders by a lot more and the big trouble is that the Raiders won't be on the schedule every week. In fact their schedule gets a lot tougher as they get further into the season, so they need to step it up.

13- Cincinnati Bengals - 0-1 - There was a lot to be hopeful for in the Bengals loss this past week. One of the big ones is that their game was actually close while the Ravens, Steelers, and Browns all got clobbered in their season openers. Andy Dalton's progression is the key to this team's success and at times he looked great, but when push came to shove, the Bengals couldn't pull it off in the clutch. The Bengals do have a really tough schedule, but if the other teams in the AFC North continue to play as bad as they did, it won't take much for the Bengals to win the division. A lot of people are talking Super Bowl for this team and those that are I think are getting a little carried away. They must've have forgotten that the Broncos, Texans, and Patriots are all in the AFC again this year.

14- Kansas City Chiefs - 1-0 - I know it was only against the Jaguars, but the new look Chiefs looked great on Sunday. This team actually had a lot of talent last year despite going 2-14. They just didn't have a quarterback or a coach that could do much and now that they have both with Alex Smith and Andy Reid, I think that this Chiefs team can earn a wild card spot.

15- Atlanta Falcons - 0-1 - Despite the Falcons getting dropped by the Saints on Sunday, I still see a lot of people that are super drunk on the Falcons. I don't get it. Sure they have a talented roster on paper, but last year they were the most overrated team in football. They won 13 games on by far the league's easiest schedule, but in doing so they almost lost several games to poor teams that they should've won by double digits. If they step it up and play like everyone thinks they will play like, then I will gladly put them higher, but they have to prove it to me and after dropping their season opener, they don't deserve any higher than this in my opinion.

16- Dallas Cowboys - 1-0 - Yes, the Cowboys got a great divisional win against a good Giants team on Sunday night, but it was very worrisome to me that despite the Giants looking very disoriented in that game with seven turnovers and no running game, they still almost beat the Cowboys. It was like the Cowboys were asking to lose, but the Giants wanted to lose a bit more. Any other team would've slaughtered the Giants if they had played like that.

17- Miami Dolphins - 1-0 - The Dolphins did get a win to start the season, but it was only against the cursed Browns team. Moreover, they didn't have much of a running game and their biggest offseason acquisition Mike Wallace was obviously angry at his team and quarterback for not getting the ball more. When going up against more high caliber opponents this could cause bad chemistry issues that could be the death of this team.

18- Arizona Cardinals - 0-1 - Arizona should be happy that they now actually have a quarterback in Carson Palmer who looked very good on Sunday in the close loss to the Rams. I also think that Bruce Arians is a great hire at head coach and he will make this team competitive. The problem is that they don't have very many winnable games and so from the looks of it, this cursed franchise is probably going to stay cursed, but don't be surprised if Carson Palmer pulls off another miracle like Kurt Warner did. Both quarterbacks had an awfully similar situation heading into Arizona. Warner was even a bit worse as he was only brought in as a backup to mentor Matt Leinart.

19- Minnesota Vikings - 0-1 - With the Lions looking like they may be back in the mix this season as well as the Bears and Packers being competitive, the Vikings will probably be the odd team out this season. Adrian Peterson is a beast and he almost single-handedly took them to the playoffs last season, but I don't know if he can repeat that this year. Christian Ponder is going to need to step up and the game against the Lions didn't give much hope in terms of that.

20- Washington Redskins - 0-1 - The Redskins are another team that a lot of people have been drunk on and I personally had a feeling that RGIII would be quite rusty coming off a serious injury and no preseason practice and it turns out I was right. But it wasn't just him in that first half, the whole Redskins team look pathetic in the first half. Luckily the second half showed a lot of promise, but I still get the feeling this will be a rough sophomore campaign for RGIII. His game in the past has relied on him being super daring and bold, but that has caused several injuries already and I feel that he is going to try to learn how to take care of himself so that his career lasts longer than two seasons and this will cause a lot of adjusting on his game that in the long term will be great but in the short term will be rough.

21- Tennessee Titans - 0-1 - Well, the Titans opened up the season by surprising the nation in going into Pittsburgh and grabbing a week one win. Honestly, though, I think that game was all about the Steelers and their many problems right now rather than the Titans dominating because the Titans were only very average in that win. Outside a few scattered games against teams like the Jaguars and Raiders, there is really not a whole lot more winnable games for this Titans team that looks very void of talent.

22- Baltimore Ravens - 0-1 - The Ravens were looking decent in the first half of the Broncos game, but they were totally ripped apart in the second half. Yes, a lot of this had to do with the Broncos dominance, but there were plenty of times where it looked just too easy for the Broncos and thus I place a lot of blame on the Ravens. They looked lost and confused on both sides of the ball and you can tell that this is going to be a much different team from the one that one the Super Bowl just a few months ago.

23- Buffalo Bills - 0-1 - The Bills actually surprised me in their week one game against the Patriots and that is why they are not in the bottom few teams. But being honest, the Patriots were quite the mess with their brand new team and so the Bills were just taking advantage of that. I don't expect EJ Manuel to do much and I don't expect the Bills to win a whole ton of games, but perhaps they will prove me wrong. They play the Panthers, Jets, Ravens, and Browns in their next four games and from looking back at week one, those in theory could all be winnable games.

24- New York Giants - 0-1 - The Giants do have Eli Manning on their team as well as several good receivers, so there is a good chance that they climb up this chart in the coming weeks, but as of right now they were a big mess on Sunday night. They have zero running game and were very messy with seven turnovers. They have a lot of cleaning up to do and they need to do it fast because Eli's big brother Peyton will be in town this upcoming Sunday and right now it's looking like a very lopsided Manning bowl.

25- San Diego Chargers - 0-1 - For a whole half of the game on Sunday, I thought the Chargers of old were back in business. But nope. Phillip Rivers and company did what they did best and that is dropping winnable games. Now I actually believe in new head coach Mike McCoy, but as of now they have a lot of proving to do before I start talking them up.

26- New York Jets - 1-0 - The Jets won their home opener? How in the heck did that happen? Geno Smith I can eventually see being a decent quarterback in this league, but he really needed to sit back and watch for a while. He got the win, though. Does this mean we have overlooked this Jets team? I don't think so. I think that win is more of a fluke win that shouldn't have happened.

27- Carolina Panthers - 0-1 - On the bright side, the Panthers defense looks like it will be stellar this year. On the bad side, their offense failed to show up against the Seahawks. The Panthers could be a surprise team this season, but it will all depend on Cam Newton and how he progresses because for some reason the Panthers thought it would be a good idea to give him no more weapons to work with outside what he had last year. Another mediocre season for the Panthers and head coach Ron Rivera will be looking for further employment.

28- Pittsburgh Steelers - 0-1 - Wow. Just wow. I thought that the Steelers would pull it together like they always seem to do about every other year under Mike Tomlin and make a run for the division. It only took me one week to completely change my mind. This Steelers team is a complete mess. They have no running game. Big Ben doesn't have much to work with in terms of receivers. And worst of all serious injuries on this team are already starting to build up. It might be a long season in Steel City.

29- Tampa Bay Buccaneers - 0-1 - The Bucs were my sleeper team this year and right now they are making a fool out of me. That game against the Jets was just embarrassing. It's almost sad, though, because this Bucs team is loaded with talent in just about every position. If Josh Freeman can pull it together and play consistently good like he has the potential to, the Bucs could go on a good run. They just need to put that last game behind them and move forward.

30- Oakland Raiders - 0-1 - This Raiders team is another team that surprised me this past week. Terrell Pryor actually showed some flashes of brilliance and if only he had a team around him I might think that he could actually be a decent quarterback. But that is the problem. This team is very void of talent and because of that you look at their schedule and outside their next game against the Jaguars, you really have a hard time picking out too many wins for them.

31- Cleveland Browns - 0-1 - This is another team that I think could be a sleeper team, but the problem is that they are still asleep. They have talent on defense and although I don't believe in Weedon as a quarterback, they also have talent on offense. Lucky for them, everyone else in their division got a loss this past week, so if they wake up, they still have plenty of time to make some noise. But until then, they stay in the cellar in my rankings.

32- Jacksonville Jaguars - 0-1 - Nothing the Jaguars did in the offseason made a whole lot of sense to me especially the decision they made to go into the season with only Blaine Gabbert and Chad Henne as their quarterback when they had plenty of opportunities to grab someone in the second or third rounds of the draft. You get the feeling that they just want to lose, especially after watching them play the Chiefs on Sunday. I think they will pretty much be the owner of this spot for a while.

Friday, September 6, 2013

Movie Preview: September 2013

There wasn't a whole lot of huge flashy movies this past August, but there were eight movies that grossed over $50 million and that combined effort led this past August to a new August record, capping off an excellent Summer that set a new Summer box office record. With the Summer now over, the box office will take it's usual hibernation period as September is historically the worst month for the box office. With only nine new releases and only a few of those with high appeal to general audiences, this month looks no different than past Septembers.

September 6th - 8th -

The only release on this first weekend of September is Riddick. This is the third movie of the series that started with Pitch Black back in 2000 and continued with The Chronicles of Riddick in 2004. The two movies have quite a different feel. Pitch Black was a lower budget R-rated film that didn't make a ton of money, but ended up getting a good profit and also gained somewhat of a cult following. Chronicles actually earned more in the box office, but had a huge budget and ended up being a financial disappointment. It was also a lighter PG-13 rating and that different feel resulted in poorer reviews as well. Nine years later, Vin Diesel is back as his role of the title character Riddick and this time around they are going for the Pitch Black feel again, upping it to an R-rating and having a lower budget. Diesel has gained quite the popularity recently with the success of the last few Fast and Furious movies as well as his announced role in the upcoming Marvel movie Guardians of the Galaxy and that should help this movie a bit. Adjusted for ticket price inflation, Pitch Black and Chronicles earned $59 million and $75 million respectively and Riddick should end up around those numbers and thus be a decent September hit.

September 13th - 15th - 

With Halloween season around the corner, late August and September usually gives us a horror movie or two to get a jump on the season and this will be the case this weekend with Insidious Chapter 2, taking advantage of a Friday the 13th release date. It's been a great year for horror movies and Insidious Chapter 2 has the makings to continue that success. Back in April 2011, the first Insidious opened to a less than impressive $13 million, but held abnormally well for a horror movie and ended north of $50 million. With a PG-13 rating that leaves room for a more general audience and more promised terror, it should be able to take advantage of an empty September.

Riding along with Insidious Chapter 2 is Luc Besson's new film The Family. The advertising is pushing the Taken connection with Luc Besson, but with an R rating, it won't get anywhere near Taken numbers and it's a big question if audiences are in the mood for an R-rated action comedy in the middle of September. The strength of the movie is definitely the cast. It stars Robert De Niro, Michelle Pfeiffer, and Tommy Lee Jones, all of whom have Oscar wins under their belts, so that is what could help this movie. Although this is not the type of movie that typically gets Oscar attention, so that might not help that much.

September 20th - 22nd - 

Speaking of the Oscars, the third weekend of September is home of the first movie that is getting serious Oscar buzz based off pre-screenings and that is Prisoners. Starring Hugh Jackman, Jake Gyllenhaal, and Viola Davis, Prisoners is a kidnapping drama where a father takes matters into his own hands when police leads start going dry. Now crime dramas are a dime a dozen on TV and Prisoners does have the feel of a Criminal Minds episode, so it could potentially go that way and quickly drop off the map like The Call earlier in the year, but as stated earlier, it is getting a lot of Oscar buzz, so it looks like it is much more than just an average Criminal Minds episode. 

Second movie of this week, Battle of the Year, probably won't get much attention. The movie is a dance movie where dance teams from all over the year come to compete. Americans haven't won the competition in a long time and a basketball coach is hired to lead this team. What personally attracts me to this movie is the presence of Josh Holloway as a lead role. Josh Holloway played the character of Sawyer in the TV show Lost and did an excellent job in it. Since Lost has ended, he's only had a few minor roles when it comes to film and those would be Mission: Impossible - Ghost Protocol and last month's major bomb Paranoia. This will be his first time since Lost to take a lead role in a movie and so it'll be fun to see him in action again.

September 27th - 29th - 

The final weekend of September is the busiest weekend of the month with four new releases, the first of which will be shooting for the September opening weekend record and that would be Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs 2. Making a feature length film based on the kid's picture book was a risky venture back in 2009, but it worked out quite well and is generally a well liked movie. I personally liked it a lot, but despite that I'm a bit nervous about this second one. Yes, there is a second book called Pickles in Pittsburgh, but with how few words in the books there are that's not a full justification in making a sequel. Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs in my opinion is one of those movies that is best as a standalone movie. A sequel isn't really necessary. And yes, I've been proven wrong on that aspect before, but so far the previews haven't given me much to hope for. The food puns are fun, but if you watch the trailers that is all they focus on. Food pun after food pun after food pun. I don't know if this sequel can equal the charm of the first one, but I hope I am wrong. The first movie opened up to $30 million in September of 2009 and went on to gross $124 million. With the goodwill of the first one, this sequel should build on that and will most likely top that gross.

The other movies of the weekend may not be huge, but they are worth mentioning. The most notable of the remaining three is Don Jon. Don Jon sees Joseph Gordon-Levitt as writer, director, and star for the first time, so his talents will definitely be put to the test. The movie is an R-rated comedy, but the subject matter is a very serious one. It is about a man who is stellar in his personal life with his family, friends, and church, but in his private life he is addicted to pornography and the movie is about him working through that. Such a serious subject matter that the movie tackles will definitely be respected by people who see it, given that is done well, but it may be difficult to attract people to go see an R-rated comedy that deals with the subject of pornography.

Third movie of the week is the month's romance movie, Baggage Claim. The movie compares well to Think Like a Man, which was a surprise hit last in April 2012. Both movies are PG-13 rated romantic comedies that feature a mostly black cast. In Baggage Claim, the main character Montana Moore, played by Paula Patton, is on a mission to get engaged in 30 days so that she is not single by the time her younger sister's marriage rolls around. Now Think Like a Man ended up with more than $90 million at the end of it's run and Baggage Claim won't come close to touching that number, but female audiences will be happy to have a movie directed specifically towards them this month.

Finally, September usually is good at giving us a sports movie and if you count Battle of the Year, this month will have two as Rush expands nationwide in the final weekend of the month. Director Ron Howard does have a pretty good track record when it comes to the box office and that combined with a strong cast led by Chris Hemsworth and Olivia Wilde makes this movie look pretty good at first glance, but it will actually be a tough sell here in America. Outside the fact that it is an R-rated sports drama, Formula One racing really isn't that big here and not many Americans are too familiar with the rivalry between Niki Lauda and James Hunt from the 70's. So unless Chris Hemsworth can get some Oscar buzz surrounding him, most people will probably forget that he even did this by the time Thor 2 arrives in November.