Houston Texans (9-1) - Previously: #1 - When it comes down to it, the Texans aren't very nice. Not only did they remind the Jaguars that they selected J.J. Watt one pick after Jacksonville took Blaine Gabbert in the 2011 NFL Draft, but they also let the Jaguars hang around long enough to believe that they had a shot at pulling off the greatest upset in the NFL since the Cowboys lost as 17-point favorites in 1995. Ripping Jacksonville's heart out was cruel - but highly amusing.
San Francisco 49ers (7-2-1) - Previously: #9 - Here's a recap of 49ers 32, Bears 7:
- Wow. I didn't think there was much of a difference between Alex Smith and Colin Kaepernick going into this game, but I was dead wrong. Kaepernick was amazing. Despite making his first start, the second-year signal-caller looked like a veteran. He was confidently making audibles, going through his progressions and making all of the throws. He also showcased his mobility on the rare occasions in which the Bears found their way into the backfield.
Kaepernick went 16-of-23 for 243 yards and two touchdowns to Vernon Davis (6-83) and Michael Crabtree (3-31). Keep in mind that he wasn't exactly playing the Saints; he did this against the Bears' defense. Niner fans have to be super excited; Kaepernick has so much potential, that when you combine it with the stellar defense and forceful running game, the sky is the limit for the team.
It'll be interesting to see what Jim Harbaugh does. Alex Smith hasn't played poorly this year, but he's obviously limited. Kaepernick gives this team more upside, so sticking with him would be the right move. Harbaugh may at least keep Smith out if/until Kaepernick falters. When asked if Kaepernick will be his starting quarterback going forward, Harbaugh said, "We'll see" and "I like to go with the hot hand."
- This was a complete demolition. By the time it was 27-0 at the beginning of the third quarter, the 49ers had outgained the Bears, 311-31. Frank Gore (17-78) and Kendall Hunter (5-27, TD) easily ripped through Chicago's disappointing defense. Meanwhile, the Bears' offensive line couldn't block San Francisco - particularly Aldon Smith, who recorded a Monday Night Football-record 5.5 sacks and two forced fumbles. One of the sacks resulted in a safety. Smith now has 15 sacks on the year. He's on pace for 24, which would break Michael Strahan's single-season record of 22.5.
- Jason Campbell finished 14-of-22 for 107 yards, one touchdown to Brandon Marshall (2-21) and two picks. Believe it or not though, those numbers are inflated because the majority of them came in garbage time. He was 4-of-8 for 21 yards and an interception at that aforementioned point in the game when it was 27-0. He simply had no chance to do anything because of his offensive line, but he failed to convert most of the opportunities when they were presented to him.
New England Patriots (7-3) - Previously: #5 - As Chris W. posted on my Facebook wall, "Maybe Bill Simmons will notice Aqib Talib now." Talib just makes the Patriots so much more dangerous.
Unfortunately for New England, Rob Gronkowski will be out 4-8 weeks, though I don't think this is a big deal because A) Aaron Hernandez will return soon and B) Gronk will return for the playoff run.
Gronk's injury reminds me of something forum member Red-Headed Step-Child posted several weeks ago when the All-Pro tight end ruined one of his fantasy matchups:
"Good job gronk you ****ing jock. Go **** underage broads in the carribean."
I wonder how he feels about him now.
Denver Broncos (7-3) - Previously: #6 - Speaking of fantasy football, my friend and forum member Body Burner was rooting for Eric Decker in one of his leagues. He saw a white Bronco receiver catch a touchdown one week and got excited - until he realized that Brandon Stokley was the one who caught it. He shouted, "The Broncos have too many white receivers, it's not fair!"
Nice win by Denver over San Diego, but the pass protection needs to improve come playoff time. The Chargers sacked Peyton Manning three times, which is a high mark for him.
Green Bay Packers (7-3) - Previously: #3 - I was going to have the Packers as the No. 1 NFC team prior to the Monday night game for the following four reasons:
1) Clay Matthews, Charles Woodson and Greg Jennings will be back soon enough, so the defense will improve when that happens. 2) The Packers could easily be 9-1 right now if it weren't for Touchception and Chuckstrong. 3) Remember that blowout victory over 9-1 Houston? 4) Aaron Rodgers.
Mason Crosby is an issue though. Despite nailing the all-important spread-covering kick at the very end, he was very shaky throughout the Detroit game. I enjoyed the following meme I discovered Sunday night:
Atlanta Falcons (9-1) - Previously: #2 - What the hell is up with Atlanta? Just check this out:
Home vs. 2-8 Panthers: 30-28
Home vs. 3-7 Raiders: 23-20
Home vs. 4-6 Cardinals: 23-19
These would all be losses if the Falcons were playing better competition. And speaking of which, Atlanta has battled just one team (Denver) that currently has a winning record. Its wins are against the Chiefs (1-9), Chargers (4-6), Panthers (2-8), Redskins (4-6), Raiders (3-7), Eagles (3-7), Cowboys (5-5) and Cardinals (4-6), with a loss coming to the 5-5 Saints. I know the old adage is that you are what your record is, but we've seen the Falcons beat bad teams and then falter in the playoffs before.
Pittsburgh Steelers (6-4) - Previously: #7 - Byron Leftwich is out for a while with a rib injury. So, why the hell didn't Mike Tomlin go to Charlie Batch in the second half against the Ravens when it was clear that Leftwich wasn't even close to 100 percent? I just had to find out, so I called Tomlin up for an interview.
Me: Hey Mike, thanks for agreeing to do this interview.
Mike Tomlin: Anything for you, Walt. It's rare to meet someone so talented and handsome.
Me: Why thank you, Mike! I'm sorry about your loss to the Ravens though.
Mike Tomlin: Well, we played Steeler football. It's going to be ugly, but we'll win more often than we'll lose.
Me: It definitely was ugly. Speaking of ugly, what was up with Byron Leftwich yesterday?
Mike Tomlin: Byron's a tough guy. I wanted to give him a chance to finish the game. I... ouch... I...
Me: What's wrong, Mike?
Mike Tomlin: Tore my rotator cuff on my way here. I'll be all right.
Me: OK, well, I wanted to ask... wait, why are you grabbing your knee?
Mike Tomlin: I also tore my ACL, MCL and PCL while walking the dogs this morning. I'll be fine. All part of Steeler football.
Me: Are you sure? You don't... eww, is that blood coming out of your ear?
Mike Tomlin: Suffered a brain hemorrhage. I'll be fine. All part of...
Me: Steeler football? I don't think you should be doing this interview, Mike. I can just talk to one of your assistants. I'm sure they'll be more effective in this interview considering your condition.
Mike Tomlin: Nope, let's continue this. I'll get through it. All a part of Steeler... Steeler... St...
Me: There's blood on your shirt! Wow, there's an open wound on your stomach!
Mike Tomlin: Was stabbed... on the way here... let's do the interview... all part of St...
Me: Dude, if you're that hurt, I can just go to Todd Haley or Dick LeBeau. I'm sure they'll answer all of the qu... AHHH!! YOUR EYE JUST FELL OUT OF YOUR EYE SOCKET!!!
Mike Tomlin: Must... finish... inter... Steel... foot...
New York Giants (6-4) - Previously: #8 - The Giants are coming off a bye, so I'll use this space to post an awesome tweet I received from @SwarmingBichons:
@walterfootball my girl bought a stuffed animal Xmas bear and said she's naming it Walter...yep, that made me think of ur website right away. #issues
My first thought: Wow, I forgot Stevens even existed. He was a huge disappointment in the NFL.
My second thought: Why the hell is Hope Solo dating that loser? I posted this on the forum. Vitor answered:
This set up a classic burn moment:
Chicago Bears (7-3) - Previously: #4 - I already discussed the 49ers and Bears, so I have to complain some more about ties. I've already ranted about how they shouldn't exist in the NFL, and why both Dashon Goldson and Danny Amendola should be suspended for not knowing about them.
However, they're much more prevalent now with the new overtime rules. Because teams can each kick field goals to extend play, there are going to be more ties than ever. That's why the league should either eliminate them or at least add a second overtime. If the teams can't score after two extra possessions, then you can call it a draw.
2012 NFL Power Rankings: Week 12 - Bottom 10
32. Kansas City Chiefs (1-9) - Previously: #31 - I'd like to thank Facebook friend Alex T. for pointing out this story. I posted it on Twitter ( @walterfootball):
Wow, the #Chiefs are so bad that they disappointed a fan to death. Literally. @SaveOurChiefs - Link
How terrible is that? I hope Scott Pioli is aware of this news. Perhaps he'd finally realize that paying $63 million to Matt Cassel, $22 million to Tyson Jackson, $22 million to Steve Breaston and $20 million to Stanford Routt was a mistake.
Seriously, how do you waste $127 million so carelessly like that? Pioli would have been better off wiping his a** with that money. Instead, he overspent and killed a fan in the process. Good job, Scott.
31. Philadelphia Eagles (3-7) - Previously: #24 - With the Jaguars proving that they can be functional with Chad Henne, the Eagles are now the second-worst team in the NFL. Remember, they're three plays away from being 0-10.
I wrote this last week: "Mark my words, Andy Reid will be back next year if Nick Foles plays well to close out the season. If Foles looks promising, owner Jeffrey Lurie will give Reid one more chance with Foles because he drafted him."
So much for that. Foles stinks, and so does the rest team for not giving any sort of effort against the Redskins. And Reid is the biggest joke of all. Really, you kept LeSean McCoy in the game down 25 with 1:45 remaining because you were "trying to catch up to win the game?" Oh, and you have no regrets about it either? It's one thing to make a terrible mistake like this; it's another thing to completely fail to own up to it.
30. Jacksonville Jaguars (1-9) - Previously: #32 - Chapter 43 of Mike Mularkey's upcoming book, 101 Ways to Lose a Football Game After Establishing a Big Lead:
You know that thing that teams do when they kick the ball to the other team on fourth down? It's called punting. And it's stupid. Punting is completely boring, so why not go for it every time, especially when it's 4th-and-10 at midfield in overtime? Sure, the odds are against you, but don't be a p***y. Going for it is the right thing to do - even if you make your general manager look stupid for spending a third-round pick on a punter.
29. Oakland Raiders (3-7) - Previously: #30 - I wouldn't count on the Raiders being good anytime soon. My friend Matvei, who used to contribute with the sharps' picks, explained:
Now that I live in the Oakland area, I know why the Raiders never do anything: Their fans never pressure them at all; everyone is caught up in the bad-boy Raider aura and happy just to be part of Raiderland. Everyone thinks of the Raiders as the team of every gang member in America, but here in Oakland, most people are mellow, loyal and unconditionally supportive of the team; it's this weird enabling relationship. Tommy Kelly is just the tip of the iceberg.
Of course, Matvei is referring to Kelly's incredible lack of effort this year, as well as head coach Dennis Allen's inexplicable decision not to cut him. I posted this on my NFL Picks page:
Man, I feel stupid for betting three units on this crap team.
28. Carolina Panthers (2-8) - Previously: #29 - Charles Johnson took to Twitter after his team blew a double-digit fourth-quarter lead:
Embarrassed to be apart [sic] of that last drive! Some people study and work harder than others and they get expose [sic] in the game #saynomore
Looks like head coach Commander Adama is losing control of his ship. Damn Cylons.
27. Cleveland Browns (2-8) - Previously: #28 - My girlfriend, Awesome Girl Who Loves Football, who is a fan of the Giants, was rooting against the Cowboys on Sunday. I congratulated her when the Browns were up 13-0, but she remained convinced that Dallas would come back, given how many leads Cleveland has blown this year.
"I think they'll hang on," I said. "It's the Cowboys. Tony Romo can't possibly come back."
It turns out Awesome Girl Who Loves Football was right on the money. Even Romo was able to come through in the clutch against this joke of a team.
26. Miami Dolphins (4-6) - Previously: #20 - As Chad Henne was throwing four touchdowns against the league's No. 1 defense, I wondered how Miami fans were taking this. I visited a Dolphin forum in hopes of seeing butthurt posts like: "HENNE SUX TIS IS A COMPLETEE FLOOK!" or "MIAMI FRONTED OFFICE SO STUPIED FOR GETTENG RID OF HEMEE!!!"
Unfortunately, most of the comments were supportive. Many said something like, "It's nice to see Henne doing well now that he actually has receivers to throw to."
It makes me wonder if they're worried about history repeating itself with Ryan Tannehill.
25. Arizona Cardinals (4-6) - Previously: #23 - It's sad when the two backup quarterbacks are so bad that it makes Kevin Kolb seem like a Hall of Famer. I can almost hear the Arizona fans thinking, "Man, if only Kevin Kolb stayed healthy all year, we'd have a shot at the division!"
24. St. Louis Rams (3-6-1) - Previously: #21 - I saw the following report on Rotoworld:
An NFL scout tells the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel's Bob McGinn he'd take Sam Bradford ahead of Matthew Stafford or Jay Cutler for both the "short and long term."
Unfortunately, McGinn didn't specify if this so-called NFL scout was high on crystal meth at the time of the interview.
23. Tennessee Titans (4-6) - Previously: #25 - The Titans are coming off a bye, so it's time for the Adventures of Stupid Vince and Senile Bud! In this week's episode...
Bud Adams: Man servant, man servant! I'm looking at the newspaper and I can't find my team's score anywhere! Where is it?
Vince Young: Oh dat cause team have bye which mean two tings. One opposide of hello and two no game play.
Bud Adams: Bye? We had a bye? Why wasn't I informed!?
Vince Young: Derrr, I dunno what you means by informed. Do dat mean like form you write on paper?
Bud Adams: Weh? Who are you? Are you my general manager? It's the bye week, so we need to decide whom to trade for before the trade deadline.
Vince Young: Derrr, I tink trade deadlined pass already.
Bud Adams: What? Don't be stupid. The trade deadline is weeks away.
Vince Young: No already pass I hear on TV guy say. I dunno what he mean at first because deadline sound like one part not alive and other part ting you draw in straight line on paper and... uhh... I forget what I talk about.
Bud Adams: Man servant, stop getting distracted. Help me pry Tim Brown away from the Raiders. What should I give up for him?
Vince Young: Derr, I tink Troy Brown on Patriot but he no play no more.
Bud Adams: Tim Brown was traded to the Patriots? Oh, those sons of b**** New Englanders! They may have won this time, but tis I who will have the last laugh!
2012 NFL Power Rankings: The Rest: 11. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (6-4). Previously: #11
12. Baltimore Ravens (8-2). Previously: #12
13. New Orleans Saints (5-5). Previously: #13
14. Dallas Cowboys (5-5). Previously: #15
15. Washington Redskins (4-6). Previously: #16
16. Indianapolis Colts (6-4). Previously: #14
17. Minnesota Vikings (6-4). Previously: #17
18. Detroit Lions (4-6). Previously: #18
19. Cincinnati Bengals (5-5). Previously: #22
20. New York Jets (4-6). Previously: #26
21. Buffalo Bills (4-6). Previously: #27
22. San Diego Chargers (4-6). Previously: #19
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: