Mostly agree with your rankings; with the optimism bias from being a cardinals fan personally, I'd argue you could make a 1 star increase at each position, but their current rankings are also fair. I very much disagree with the 1 star ranking at special teams however, as we have a pro bowl gunner in Justin Bethel being joined by some high upside athletes in the kick coverage team and kick return game. Probably the best coverage unit in the game, which coupled with a punter who is below average (don't think he's as bad as stats show- his hangtime is rediculous, and it seems the staff went with him for this reason. I'd choose a distance leg with our coverage team, butI digress). In short, I'd say 3 stars is fair. A perfectly average special teams unit, whose only limitation really seems to be Drew Butler's distance and the uncertainty of a new long snapper (but both seem pretty reliable this far)
New York Giants (5-2) - Previously: #1 - Was there any doubt the Giants were going to score when they were down 23-20 late in the fourth quarter? I just didn't think it'd happen that quickly.
The Giants remain No. 1. Things are going so well for them right now. In fact, they're going too well. I'm not used to them peaking this early. I think they need one multi-game losing streak in November to have the media bash them so they can respond strongly just as the playoffs begin.
Green Bay Packers (4-3) - Previously: #2 - The Packers could be 6-1 right now. Aaron Rodgers is heating up, so watch out.
Funny quote by Mike Ditka about Aaron Rodgers: "He is a leader on and off the field, but the key thing is that he's a leader."
Houston Texans (6-1) - Previously: #3 - That was impressive. The Texans are pretty much locked into homefield advantage, but they better not let up in December, or they'll lose their edge in the playoffs.
As for the Ravens, I've dropped them out of the top 10 after that pathetic showing. I planned to defend them; my ESPN feed cut out Sunday morning for some reason, and when I flipped over to NFL Network, I heard all of the analysts proclaim that Joe Flacco can't lead a team to a victory by himself - that the Baltimore offense wasn't built to carry the team. Well, I was about to argue that the Ravens achieved a 5-1 record despite surrendering 396 yards per game on defense, but apparently the grammatically challenged NFL Network analysts were right all along. FML.
Chicago Bears (5-1) - Previously: #7 - Here's a recap of Bears 13, Lions 7:
- There are three dumb teams who perennially underachieve because they kill themselves with mistakes. The Chargers, Cowboys and Eagles have been guilty of this. The Lions have officially been accepted into that pantheon. They had a legitimate chance to win this game, but spontaneously combusted with unforced errors.
It was noticeable on the first drive, when Calvin Johnson had an uncharacteristic deep drop. Matthew Stafford (28-of-46 for 261 yards, TD, INT) overthrew an open Titus Young (6-81) in the beginning of the second quarter. Stafford had several other inaccurate heaves. Nate Burleson dropped a pass on third down that would have moved the chains shortly afterward. Capping off the first half, Mikel Leshoure fumbled in the red zone just prior to intermission.
It didn't get any better after halftime. Punt returner Stefan Logan muffed two balls. The first fortunately bounced out of bounds, but the Bears recovered the second deep in Detroit territory. Later on, Joique Bell fumbled at the goal line. Bell foolishly leapt from the 4-yard line and tried to extend the ball, but Chicago knocked it out, and Brian Urlacher recovered it. I really don't understand why Bell was even given the ball in that situation. Mikel Leshoure (12-63) is a far superior back and had been picking up chunks of yardage all evening.
The Lions' three red-zone give-aways - the third was a desperate interception on fourth down in the final quarter - were killers because even a pair of field goals on the possessions would have eventually given them a tie at the end of regulation, as Stafford tossed a late score to rookie Ryan Broyles (3-51) to cover the spread. Broyles was in the game because Burleson (1-16) broke his leg and is out for the season.
- Of course, Detroit wouldn't have been in a position to possibly win the game had Jay Cutler not gotten injured. Cutler (16-of-31, 150 yards, TD) was very sharp early on, leading the team to 10 points in the first quarter. He hit Brandon Marshall (6-81) during the opening drive. However, he injured his ribs when Ndamukong Suh slammed him into the ground in the middle of the second quarter. Cutler was down for a while, but jogged off the field and reentered the game after one play. He went into the locker room just prior to halftime though and didn't look like himself after the break. He went just 7-of-15 for 77 yards after the Suh hit, with a big chunk of that yardage coming off a short Devin Hester completion that turned into a 23-yard gain.
- Brandon Marshall finished with six catches for 81 yards and a touchdown. He probably would've enjoyed an even better statistical performance had Cutler not gotten hurt. Matt Forte, meanwhile, had 96 yards on 22 carries.
Atlanta Falcons (6-0) - Previously: #4 - To Falcon homers, I'll post what I wrote last week so you don't send me hate mail: OMG 6-0 FALCUNZ NOT NUMAR 1 NOT NUMBAR 2 NOT NUMBEER 3 BBUT NUBUMMBER 4444 lolololOLOLOLOL.
San Francisco 49ers (5-2) - Previously: #6 - Ugh, I can't believe I'm ranking the 49ers No. 6. Alex Smith sucks and the defense isn't as good as it was last year because of issues in the secondary. But I just can't find any other teams I want to move ahead of San Francisco. No wonder all of the underdogs are covering this year; most of the teams this season stink.
Oh, and if the horrible point-shaving incident wasn't bad enough, we had to endure Deion Sanders' nonsensical halftime commentary. I tweeted (@walterfootball): "'It behooves me why the 49ers won't go deep to Randy Moss.' -- Deion Sanders, who hasn't watched Moss struggle to get open all year."
I received many responses, including: "@Y2krjLOP @walterfootball It would behoove him to go look up what "behoove" means."
It behooves me that Deion and other TV analysts think that Moss is still good. I don't understand this. Much like Terrell Owens and Chad Ochocinco, Moss shouldn't even be on an NFL team at this point. I really think that having him on the field is hurting San Francisco. Oh, and Deion, if you somehow happen to be reading this, I'm sorry for behooving you with my opinions.
New England Patriots (4-3) - Previously: #5 - Only Eagle fans boo harder when their team is winning. Good job, Patriot backers.
There's something really wrong with this New England team. The defense sucks, while Tom Brady doesn't look right. And then there's the coach, who was sporting this exquisite outfit against the Jets:
Belichick, if you're going to wear a hoodie, at least keep the sleeves on. That way you won't look like a homeless person who wandered onto the sidelines. And yes, Belichick, that's why you collected $2.15 in change throughout the afternoon.
Denver Broncos (3-3) - Previously: #10 - The Broncos had a bye, so more on the Jets' victory over the Patriots. What a stunner. Biggest underdog of the... wait, what? The Patriots won? Umm... no they didn't. Just listen to Jim Nantz saying that the Jets upset the Patriots.
Thanks to Steven L. from FootballFanSpot.com for sending this over. What game was Nantz watching? I mean, I guess I'd go brain-dead too if I had to talk to Phil Simms for more than three hours, but still.
Pittsburgh Steelers (3-3) - Previously: #11 - I'm putting the Steelers up here because they're going to be much better when they get everyone back from injury. For now, they're just biding their time as arch-rival Baltimore falls apart.
Things weren't as optimistic prior to the Cincinnati win, however. During the week, when asked why the Steelers didn't take more shots against the Titans, Ben Roethlisberger called out offensive coordinator Todd Haley: "There�s a guy calling the plays. That's on him."
This reminds me of a funny post by forum member McNulty when one of the TV analysts asked the other, "What does Todd Haley bring to the offense?"
What does Todd Haley bring to the offense? He has a great knowledge of the laundromats and Subways in the Pittsburgh area.
Seattle Seahawks (4-3) - Previously: #8 - A week ago, my friend Matvei told me to stay away from the Thursday night game. I posted his text last week:
"I would not take the Seahawks on Thursday night. Rain, replacement refs and other acts of God are not sustainable."
I'm guessing "acts of God" include a crazy safety at the end of the game. Unfortunately for my bank account, "acts of Harbaugh" trump "acts of God."
2012 NFL Power Rankings: Week 8 - Bottom 10
32. Jacksonville Jaguars (1-5) - Previously: #32 - Chapter 6 of Mike Mularkey's upcoming book, 101 Ways to Lose a Football Game After Establishing a Big Lead:
Running the ball chews up the clock, so doing so is inadvisable when you have a comfortable lead. Throwing the ball every down puts you at risk of turnovers and clock stoppages, so this is the preferred option after establishing a huge advantage on the scoreboard.
Calling pass plays becomes even more prevalent when your backup quarterback is in the game(1). Backup quarterbacks tend to have worse accuracy and arm strength than your starter, even if said starter happens to be Blaine Gabbert. Thus, asking reserve signal-callers to throw non-stop in the fourth quarter is one of the best strategies you can employ.
(1) - If your backup quarterback is intoxicated (see Chad Henne, Week 7, 2012), make sure you remove the running back from the game entirely so he doesn't drunkenly audible to a running play.
31. Kansas City Chiefs (1-5) - Previously: #31 - With the Chiefs on a bye, I can further discuss Chad Henne, who naturally is featured in this week's episode of the Adventures of Derek Anderson's Magic Flask!
Chad Henne: OOOKKK BUUTT I DUNNN WANNNN PLLLAAYY QUAARRBBACCKK NOOO MOOREEE!!!
30. Cleveland Browns (1-6) - Previously: #30 - I got a kick out of Adam Schefter saying that teams are now going to call Joe Banner instead of Mike Holmgren when inquiring about players at the trade deadline. I can only imagine how that'll go...
Joe Banner: Hello, this is Joe Banner!
Random General Manager: Joe? What happened to Mike Holmgren?
Joe Banner: I'm in charge now.
Random General Manager: Oh, OK. Well, I was calling to inquire about all of your great players.
Joe Banner: Terrific! Whom are you looking at?
Random General Manager: Hmm... what can I get for... umm... Mohamed... no... uhh... Colt... meh...
Joe Banner: You want Mohamed Massaquoi and Colt McCoy!?
Random General Manager: Eh... nah... how about Montario... nah he sucks too...
Joe Banner: I'll give you a sweet deal for all three players. Just give me a seventh-round pick!
Random General Manager: Uhh... nah... I'll try some other team.
29. Oakland Raiders (2-4) - Previously: #28 - I'd say Raider fans should thank Mike Mularkey for Sunday's win, but they're just losing out on a chance at Star Lotulelei.
Seriously, how pathetic is that? Not only did they (potentially) cheat, they also lost in an embarrassing fashion. Forum member Michigan Mike put it best, "I believe the Chargers made a mistake and accidentally used the Stickum on the Bronco defenders' gloves."
Norv Turner has to be fired for this, right? Lethargic Chargers' owner Alex Spanos doesn't care if his team wins or loses, but maybe he'll hate being humiliated like this. If so, this could be a blessing in disguise for San Diego fans.
28. Carolina Panthers (1-5) - Previously: #27 - Cam Newton told the media that changes would be made following Sunday's loss to Dallas. Lo and behold, general manager Marty Hurney was fired. I just had to call Newton up for an interview about this:
Me: Hey Cam, thanks for agreeing to do this interview.
Cam Newton: No problem, Walt! What a great day!
Me: A great day? Oh, because Marty Hurney was fired?
Cam Newton: Yes! I asked for him to be fired and it happened! Never has the sun shone brighter!
Me: Oh, OK...
Cam Newton: Wait, I sense something is wrong with you, Walt. Care to share?
Me: It's... I don't know... I'm upset about about losing four units on the Ravens on Sunday.
Cam Newton: Tell Cammy Cam about it.
Me: I thought it was the right side... I don't know what to do anymore... I don't know... Maybe if the employees at Wawa prepared my breakfast faster the day I made my picks, I would've gotten it right.
Cam Newton: That sounds reasonable.
Me: Oh, and then there's the seasonal change. Why does it have to get darker and colder? Why can't it always be sunny and warm?
Cam Newton: I hate when those things make me lose. Go on.
Me: And then there's my left big toe. It's been hurting me for a couple of days. That clearly affected my pick!
Cam Newton: I really sympathize with you. I hate when others affect my performance.
Me: Yeah! I'm glad you agree with me because something has to change. I don't know what, but something has to change!
27. Indianapolis Colts (3-3) - Previously: #26 - Congratulations to Chuck Pagano, who is out of the hospital. Hopefully he'll continue to recover.
26. Buffalo Bills (3-4) - Previously: #22 - Marty Hurney was just fired. Will Buddy Nix be next? How can his defense be so bad after spending all of that money in free agency?
MrPlow456 - When you spend somewhere between 100-200 billion on RB's (approx.) you deserve everything coming to you.
McNulty - So, is this a strike against the strategy of collecting Running Backs when you have a running QB who takes away carries from the RB position?
25. Tennessee Titans (3-4) - Previously: #29 - Vince Young recently tried out for the Cardinals, so it's time for the Adventures of Stupid Vince and Senile Bud! In this week's episode...
Bud Adams: Weh? What is this news? Man servant, get in here.
Vince Young: What do ya want boss ha?
Bud Adams: Did you see this report? It says Vince Young is trying out for the Cardinals!
Vince Young: Derrr, I tink I tell ya Cardinal call and say come trow ball so...
Bud Adams: Man servant, you did not tell me this! How can the Cardinals try out Vince Young when he's my starting quarterback? Tell Vince to come in here when he gets the chance. I want an explanation!
Vince Young: Derrr, but I tink I Vince Young but I dunno maybe I wrong about dis ha.
Bud Adams: I know the Cardinals need a quarterback because Jake Plummer sucks, but that doesn't mean that they can poach my starter! Man servant, I told you to tell Vince to come in here now. Here, call him!
Vince Young: Derrr, OK I press number. Beep beep beep beep beep beep beep beep beep beep. OK I press 10 number wait for phone ring. I hear buzz buzz sound. Now my cell phonie ring. I pick up cell phonie while wait for no more buzz buzz. Hello? Hello? Who dis?
Bud Adams: Who is it? Is it Vince?
Vince Young: Hello? Hello? Your phone no more buzz buzz sound. Hello? Boss, guy in both phonies say da say ting I dunno what going on derrr.
Bud Adams: It appears as though the Cardinals have already stolen Vince Young from me. I guess I have to find a new quarterback.
24. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (2-4) - Previously: #24 - Greg Schiano spent a ridiculous amount of time yelling at the officials on Sunday. He kept arguing calls that the refs were correct about, so I can only imagine how this exchange went...
Greg Schiano: RABBLE RABBLE RABBLE RABBLE!!!
Official: But coach...
Greg Schiano: RABBLE RABBLE RABBLE RABBLE!!!
Official: But coach, that's not the rule in the NFL. You're thinking about college rules.
Greg Schiano: RABBLE RABBLE RABBLE RABBLE!!!
Official: No, coach, those are the college rules.
Greg Schiano: RABBLE RABBLE RABBLE RABBLE!!!
23. Cincinnati Bengals (3-4) - Previously: #23 - In consecutive weeks, the Bengals have dropped games to a quarterback in a diaper and then this guy (thanks, Ryan K.):
2012 NFL Power Rankings: The Rest: 11. Washington Redskins (3-4). Previously: #13
12. Minnesota Vikings (5-2). Previously: #14
13. Baltimore Ravens (5-2). Previously: #9
14. Arizona Cardinals (4-3). Previously: #12
15. Detroit Lions (2-4). Previously: #15
16. Miami Dolphins (3-3). Previously: #16
17. Philadelphia Eagles (3-3). Previously: #17
18. San Diego Chargers (3-3). Previously: #18
19. Dallas Cowboys (3-3). Previously: #19
20. New Orleans Saints (2-4). Previously: #20
21. St. Louis Rams (3-4). Previously: #21
22. New York Jets (3-4). Previously: #25
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: