@ChiefMN , actually Ford has shown flashes in his limited playing time, so I wouldn't rule him out, just yet, as he could blossom in year 3. And, I also wouldn't rule out Ramik Wilson or DJ Alexander (both can run and hit like a ton of bricks) as ILB candidates, either.
That said, I 'll always take an off-the edge pass-rusher, and not knowing if CB Sean Smith will be back, as well as Phillip Gaines status, I'd gladly take another CB, as well.
Houston Texans (5-0) - Previously: #1 - Here's a recap of Texans 23, Jets 17. The theme of this is "The Jets can't:"
- The Jets can't pass the ball. Mark Sanchez went just 14-of-31 for 230 yards, one touchdown and two interceptions. He wasn't as bad as those stats indicate though. Both picks were off tipped passes, while many incompletions were the result of tips, poor routes and dropped balls. Sanchez's scrub receivers betrayed him, which brings us to...
- The Jets can't catch the ball. New York had several key drops. At least two occurred way downfield. One came from Tim Tebow, who placed a beautifully thrown ball into Jason Hill's hands, but the pedestrian wideout couldn't hold on. The other was committed by cornerback Antonio Cromartie, who actually beat Johnathan Joseph. Cromartie couldn't get both feet inbounds, however. The only wideout who played well was Jeremy Kerley, who finished with five grabs for 94 yards. Kerley is a nice slot receiver who should remain in that spot for a while.
- The Jets can't run the ball. At least not when Sanchez is in the game. Shonn Greene gained 26 yards on eight carries. Tebow, who had 19 yards on five attempts, didn't see nearly enough action, especially when the Jets made a trip into the red zone.
- The Jets can't stop the run. Arian Foster rushed for 152 yards and a touchdown on 29 tries, including a 46-yard burst from inside his own 10-yard line. New York constantly had to sell out to stop Houston's ground attack. One instance led to Matt Schaub hitting Owen Daniels for 34-yard touchdown on the opening drive. It was 2nd-and-9, yet New York still went all out to stop the rush even though Justin Forsett was in the backfield. Daniels was wide open as a result.
- The Jets can't stop the pass. Well, actually they can - but that was the perception heading into this matchup. New York limited Matt Schaub to 14-of-28 for 209 yards, the touchdown to Daniels and an interception. Cromartie, who grabbed Schaub's lone pick, did a fantastic job on Andre Johnson, restricting the Pro Bowl wideout to one catch for 15 yards. The Texans really need a deep threat to open up the offense. They lack a player with downfield play-making ability.
- The Jets can't rush the passer. They had zero sacks. Schaub had a clean pocket most of the night even though New York tried many blitzes, almost all of which were ineffective.
- The Jets can't coach. Forget the lack of Tebow and the aforementioned run call on Forsett; New York had extreme difficulty with substitutions for some strange reason. Rex Ryan had to waste two timeouts in the second half. When asked why this occurred, all Ryan could say was, "I don't know."
Ryan's coaching staff also made some very curious decisions. There was a failed onside kick following Joe McKnight's 100-yard kickoff return. Chaz Schilens actually recovered it initially for the Jets, but the ball dropped out of his hands. I also have to question why Sanchez was used on a quarterback sneak on a 4th-and-1. The Jets converted (barely), but Tebow would have been more effective in that situation.
- The Jets can't do anything about J.J. Watt. Wow. This guy was a monster. The stat sheet doesn't look impressive - six tackles, one sack - but he dominated this game. He had tons of pressures and numerous tipped passes, one of which fell into the arms of Brice McCain, who returned the pick deep into Jets' territory. Watt's sack, meanwhile, was a game-changer because it took the Jets out of field-goal range.
Watt now has 8.5 sacks, meaning he's on pace for 27 on the year, which would break Michael Strahan's single-season record. Jon Gruden was so excited about Watt that he called him a "Hall of Fame candidate." Ryan certainly thinks so; he looked like he wanted to cry when talking about Watt in his post-game press conference.
New England Patriots (3-2) - Previously: #4 - Is anyone else annoyed with Phil Simms? Why is he CBS' top color analyst? I think he sucks. He's boring and he happens to be the king of contradicting himself. For instance, when Brandon Lloyd was tackled right at the goal line and appeared to be in the end zone, Simms shrieked, "They should challenge this! They need to challenge it!" Bill Belichick opted not to, but the Patriots scored on the next play. Simms' response to this? "Yeah, why challenge when you're so close?"
Way to contradict your own analysis 30 seconds later. You know how South Park has Captain Hindsight? Well, I'd like to dub Simms Captain Foresight-Hindsight, or perhaps just Captain Contradiction. I'm not sure which one I like better, but I'm leaning toward the latter.
Atlanta Falcons (5-0) - Previously: #2 - I can already see the Falcon fan hate mail coming: "YOUR AN IDIOT FOR RANKEING TEH FALCKONS 3RD BEHIND PATRIETS!!! FALCKONS ARE UNDEFEETED AND PATRIETTES HAVE TWO LOSTEDS!!! YOUR NOT FUNNY ETHER SO STOPP IT WITH TEH JOAKS!!!"
Look, if Cam Newton didn't fumble two weeks ago and if Robert Griffin didn't suffer a concussion Sunday, the Falcons could easily be 3-2 right now - the same record as the Patriots, who look completely unstoppable.
New York Giants (3-2) - Previously: #3 - The Giants had no business covering against the Browns, but give them credit for winning despite missing half their roster.
If you're a Giant fan, I'm sure you were extremely frustrated watching Sunday NFL Countdown. During Cris Carter's "Where you at?" segment, Carter chided Jason Pierre-Paul for having only 1.5 sack, shouting, "JPP, only 1.5 sack! Where you at homes!? Hee hee hee honk honk!!!"
Newsflash, Carter: Pierre-Paul is having an amazing season. It may not seem that way if you just look at the nfl.com/stats section, but if you actually watched the games, you'd see that JPP is dominating.
San Francisco 49ers (4-1) - Previously: #6 - I don't understand how the 49ers managed to accumulate more yardage in a game Sunday than they ever did with Joe Montana or Steve Young. I mean, Alex Smith and Colin Kaepernick are doing a nice job, but still, very weird.
Oh, and can you believe that the 49ers did this all while targeting Randy Moss only twice? I laughed a couple of weeks ago when Matthew Berry gave out a sleeper receiver on Sunday NFL Countdown: "I've been asked, Matthew Berry, who's the next Kevin Ogletree? Who's the next receiver who will come out of nowhere? Rod Streater? Maybe Randall Cobb. Nope. Randy Moss."
This was doubly bad. Moss is washed-up junk and shouldn't have been owned in any fantasy league this year. But "come out of nowhere?" Even if Moss had a great game, he wouldn't exactly be an Ogletree and come out of nowhere.
Baltimore Ravens (4-1) - Previously: #5 - The Ravens have been pretty shaky lately. They had issues with the Browns and should have lost to the Chiefs. In fact, if Kansas City didn't turn the ball over a billion times, Baltimore would have lost by double digits.
Oh, and no ESPN analyst is going to say this, but I will: Ray Lewis SUCKED against the Chiefs. He was completely washed away in run support. He's the primary reason the Chiefs ran the ball so easily. Now, will I change my opinion if Lewis comes to my house and threatens to stuff me in the trunk of his car? Sure. But for now, he's terrible.
Chicago Bears (4-1) - Previously: #11 - Ranking the Bears in relation to the Packers was difficult. Chicago can't seem to beat Green Bay, but it's clearly playing better football right now. So, if you're a Packer fan, please spare me the "OMG WE BEAT THE BEAR, IDIOT!!!" e-mails.
Green Bay Packers (2-3) - Previously: #7 - I'd say the Packers' owner must have urinated on an Indian burial ground after digging up all of the bodies and having sex with them, but they don't have an owner.
Seriously, this team has gotten so screwed over in the past three weeks. First, they would've beaten Seattle if it wasn't for Touchception. And second, they ran into the Chuckstrong Colts' buzzsaw Sunday, all while losing B.J. Raji, Jermichael Finley and Cedric Benson to injury early on. The Packers could easily be 4-1 right now.
Pittsburgh Steelers (2-2) - Previously: #8 - The Steelers needed to beat the Eagles, but they didn't play like it. Maurkice Pouncey had two errant snaps, while Mike Wallace and Antonio Brown dropped multiple passes. It didn't help that Troy Polamalu and LaMarr Woodley suffered injuries, allowing the Eagles to score easily in the second half.
Speaking of the Eagles, forum member Clov posted something amusing in the live in-games thread. I would always give him and others a "bad pick" whenever they'd choose QB Dog Killer in our summer fantasy football mock drafts. Here's what he wrote once QBDK continued fumbling non-stop:
Thank you for making fun of me every time I drafted QBFA (Quarterback Fumbles Alot) in mock drafts. The middle school locker room has less dropped balls.
Arizona Cardinals (4-1) - Previously: #9 - I'm not going to penalize a team for tripping up in a Thursday night road game, especially with an elite defensive talent like Darnell Docket playing on one leg. The Cardinals weren't the first ones to do so, and they certainly won't be the last. Oh, and that victory against the Dolphins looks much better now.
Having said that, the Cardinals desperately need to do something about their offensive line. And by something, I mean cut all of them except the center. Since they allow defenders into the backfield so easily, why not just run a swinging-gate offense featuring a quarterback, a running back, a center and eight receivers? Arizona could declare four different wideouts eligible on each play to confuse the defense. Sure, Kevin Kolb would be pressured right away, but isn't that what happens now anyway?
Oh, and if you're a Viking fan wondering why I ranked Arizona over Minnesota, well, let's look at strength of victory. The Cardinals have beaten the solid Seahawks (3-2), Patriots on the road (3-2), Eagles (3-2) and underrated Dolphins (2-3). That's a combined record of 11-9. The Vikings, meanwhile, have taken down the terrible Jaguars in overtime (1-4), awesome 49ers (4-1), underachieving Lions with the help of two special-teams returns (1-3) and pathetic Titans (1-4). That combined record is 7-12. So forgive me for not being a complete believer quite yet.
2012 NFL Power Rankings: Week 6 - Bottom 10
32. Cleveland Browns (0-5) - Previously: #32 - If Phil Simms is Captain Contradiction, then Dan Dierdorf is his evil sidekick, Commander Flip-Flop. Owen, an e-mailer, pointed out a sequence in which Dierdorf went back on a statement nearly as quickly as Simms.
Following Brandon Weeden's mind-boggling double forward pass, Dierdorf said, "There's a rookie mistake." Nearly 30 seconds later after watching a replay, Dierdorf added, "You would think anyone who has played as much quarterback would know you only get one forward pass."
Contradiction, much? Or perhaps Dierdorf recalled that Weeden is nearly as old as he is.
31. Jacksonville Jaguars (1-4) - Previously: #30 - If you haven't seen the latest edition of Jerks of the Week, click the link to see an update on Blaine Gabbert's buttocks.
30. Tennessee Titans (1-4) - Previously: #27 - Matt Hasselbeck is the worst quarterback in the NFL, starter or reserve. I wonder what his employer thought - so it's the Adventures of Stupid Vince and Senile Bud! In this week's episode...
Bud Adams: Man servant, what is this box score I'm looking at? Matt Hasselbeck was quarterback? I thought we were playing the Vikings; not the Seahawks.
Vince Young: Derrr, I tink you make trading for Hass... Hass... I forget rest of da name ha.
Bud Adams: A trade? Someone's offering me a trade? Tell them everyone's on the block except Eddie George!
Vince Young: Derrr, I dunno if somebody offer trading right now cuz phone no make sound ha.
Bud Adams: The phone's ringing? Quick, man servant, pick it up!
Vince Young: Ha I no hear ring-a-ling but maybe I forget ha. Hello? Hello who dis? Hello? Why you no make voice?
Bud Adams: Who's on the phone? Quick, tell them that I want to trade Vince Young!
Vince Young: Hello person on da phone. Old guy want trading me ha. What you want? Hello? Hello? Make voice if want trading. Hello?
Bud Adams: Who's on the line? Tell me! It better be Al Davis. I want Tim Brown.
Vince Young: Derrr, first sound in phone make buzz-buzz sound. Now lady saying if I like to make call please hanged up try again ha.
Bud Adams: I hate that slut. She and I dated a few years back. Hang up the phone, man servant. We'll have to wait for another deal to come in.
29. New York Jets (2-3) - Previously: #29 - I already discussed the Jets, so a bit more on the Titans, who are featured in this week's episode of the Adventures of Derek Anderson's Magic Flask!
Matt Hasselbeck: Oh no, young lad. I want to be sober for an exciting adventure today. Titans' management told me that we're taking a trip to the glue factory. They told me I'm going to turn into glue that kids will use in their school projects. I'm pretty sure they meant that I'd see the glue that kids will use in their school projects.
Matt Hasselbeck: You mean I'll see what happens when they make glue. No need to be sorry. I'm very excited to see this!
28. Oakland Raiders (1-3) - Previously: #28 - Forum member BobLoblaw made a good point: "The Oakland Raiders were the only AFC West team not to lose yesterday. They just need 12 more bye weeks, and they'll catch up to the rest of the division in no time."
27. Kansas City Chiefs (1-4) - Previously: #26 - I'm sure you've all heard Eric Winston's post-game rant regarding the fans cheering Matt Cassel's concussion. I just had to sit down with Winston for an interview:
Me: Hey Eric, thanks for agreeing to do this interview.
Eric Winston: Of course, Walt. I have to say that you're my favorite NFL analyst.
Me: Thanks. I guess it helps that I don't snort coke like some of them. Michael Irvin, of course. Now, I need to ask you...
Eric Winston: Wait, what did you just say?
Me: What, Michael Irvin snorting booger sugar?
Eric Winston: That's sickening. That's 100-percent sickening.
Me: What? Why? He was arrested for coke possession.
Eric Winston: Oh, OK, I thought you were making a joke about his intelligence.
Me: Sorry for the confusion. Now, about the fans. I don't think they were cheering the fact that Cassel had a concussion; I feel like they just wanted to see Brady Quinn.
Eric Winston: You make a good point. You, sir, are a gentleman and a scholar. Now, I have to say, I like your site, especially Jerks of the W... wait, what's this entry? Fat Ladies in the Pool? That's sickening.
Me: What? They tried to eat me.
Eric Winston: That's 100-percent sickening. I've never, ever - and I've been in some stupid interviews over the years - I've never been more embarrassed in my life to talk to a so-called journalist at that moment right here. I get emotional about it because these women, they work their butts off to lose weight. These women haven't done anything to you.
Me: But... but... they tried to eat me...
Eric Winston: Hey, if they're not the most attractive women, they're not the most attractive women, and that's OK, but they're people. And they get ridiculed in the pool, and you've got 70,000 people laughing about their weight issue.
Me: I... I don't even know what to say.
Eric Winston: These women are not gladiators, and this gym pool of yours is not the Roman Colosseum.
Me: Wait, what?
Eric Winston: This is a joke that's going to cost you a lot down the road. We've got a lot of problems as a society if people think that's OK.
Me: Meh. If I'm paying my hard-earned money to go to the gym, I should be able to make fun of all the fat ladies I want.
Eric Winston: Then you are no longer a gentleman or a scholar. Good day, sir. I shall go elsewhere for my NFL analysis. Perhaps Michael Irvin has something interesting to say.
Me: That's fine. Have fun with the cocaine-laden analysis.
Eric Winston: That's sickening. That's 100-percent sickening.
26. Carolina Panthers (1-4) - Previously: #23 - Panthers' head coach Commander Adama told the media that Cam Newton is struggling because he's pressing. Pressing? More like regressing. He's been getting progressively worse throughout his career. It looks like it'll be a while until he can be considered one of the elite quarterbacks in the NFL.
25. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (1-3) - Previously: #21 - The Buccaneers sucked so much during their bye that they dropped four spots in my power rankings. Well, it's actually more that A) some teams moved ahead of them, and B) their sole victory over Carolina looks worse and worse each week.
24. Indianapolis Colts (2-2) - Previously: #31 - If I weren't a degenerate gambler who lost money on the Packers, I would've been happy that the Colts won for Chuck Pagano. I'm also thrilled that the Saints were victorious, albeit they were pretty fortunate that the officials were on their side.
Even Saint fans will admit this, by the way. My girlfriend's dad, who has cheered for New Orleans his whole life, sent her a text during the game: "Lucky I paid off the refs."
23. Buffalo Bills (2-3) - Previously: #20 - The Bills have surrendered more than 1,200 total yards the past two weeks. It's a good thing they spent all that money on Mario Williams and Mark Anderson; otherwise, they would have allowed 1,500 - maybe even 1,600 total yards.
2012 NFL Power Rankings: The Rest: 11. Seattle Seahawks (3-2). Previously: #12
12. Minnesota Vikings (4-1). Previously: #15
13. San Diego Chargers (3-2). Previously: #13
14. Philadelphia Eagles (3-2). Previously: #10
15. Denver Broncos (2-3). Previously: #14
16. Dallas Cowboys (2-2). Previously: #18
17. Miami Dolphins (2-3). Previously: #25
18. Cincinnati Bengals (3-2). Previously: #16
19. Washington Redskins (2-3). Previously: #17
20. Detroit Lions (1-3). Previously: #19
21. New Orleans Saints (1-4). Previously: #24
22. St. Louis Rams (3-2). Previously: #22
Run Defenses, Pass Defense, Pass Protection:
Something new this year - I'm keeping track of precise run defense, pass defense and pass protection rankings in Excel. The benefit to this is that it'll be broken down by week. Here are the download links: