Denver Broncos (13-3) - Previously: #1 - Peyton Manning has won and covered each of the past eight meetings against the Ravens, including two in the playoffs, so he had to like Sunday's result.
Perhaps there's a shared reason why the Broncos and Seahawks are having so much success. E-mail Benjamin G. wrote: "I hate drugs. But with both the Seahawks and the Broncos combining for just one loss since their states legalized the recreational use of marijuana, I have to ask if a Rams-Chiefs Super Bowl would be possible if the state of Missouri would decriminalize heroine or crack? At this point I think either one is as likely."
I think he's on to something there. Perhaps drug use is the key to success. Didn't Michael Irvin get into trouble for drugs? He was pretty good, so maybe more NFL players should start smoking.
New England Patriots (12-4) - Previously: #3 - I agree with what Bill Simmons said - the Patriots were definitely rooting for the Texans to beat the Bengals; otherwise, they would've been asked to defeat the Ravens, who always give them serious trouble. Houston, as we saw about a month ago, doesn't match up well against New England.
Green Bay Packers (12-5) - Previously: #4 - Look how much the Packers sucked Saturday night:
In all seriousness, the Packers are peaking at the right time - but this next game could be their toughest test of the entire playoffs. More on this later.
Seattle Seahawks (12-5) - Previously: #2 - I've dropped the Seahawks from No. 2 to No. 4 because Chris Clemons may have tore his ACL. It's never good to lose your top pass-rusher.
I should mention that there are some who consider Marshawn Lynch to be better than Adrian Peterson. Check out this post on NFL.com:
San Francisco 49ers (11-4-1) - Previously: #5 - I think what the NFL did in terms of scheduling next weekend's games was completely irresponsible. I know there's some sort of TV deal that says FOX gets the late Saturday and early Sunday contests, but f*** that. What the NFL did was give an enormous advantage to the 49ers and a huge disadvantage to the Seahawks.
It's all about circadian rhythms. NPR did a report on this back in January, where it found that West Coast teams struggle in 1 p.m. games (10 a.m. local time) but thrive in night affairs. That's because the human body typically shuts down around 8-10 p.m. The 49ers, however, play these night games at 5 p.m. local time, so it gives them a big edge. That might be why San Francisco is 32-15 against the spread as a favorite in night contests dating back to 1989.
Atlanta Falcons (13-3) - Previously: #8 - What I wrote last week: "The Falcons A) played their starters and were manhandled by the slumping Buccaneers and B) possibly lost John Abraham for the playoffs. Think they peaked early yet again? This team is in trouble."
What forum member PiazzaJordan2 posted this past weekend:
Houston Texans (13-4) - Previously: #9 - The Texans dominated the Bengals, yet only won by six. Not good.
Now, it's time for Power Rankings Hate Mail:
Just looked your preseason power rankings....wow thats really bad "The Chiefs have the best roster in the NFL if you exclude the quarterback position. They're stacked everywhere.."
Uhh... yeah. They were. They had five Pro Bowlers and could have easily sent a couple more players to Hawaii. Thanks for pointing out something I got right!
Michael Vick "Clearly on the decline and unable to stay healthy and on the wrong side of 30, why would any team want to give him any kind of money????" Some would have said this about peyton Manning this offseason too...
Did you really just compare a future Hall-of-Fame quarterback to a guy with only two career playoff victories? QB Dog Killer can't ready defenses or recognize the blitz. Stop it already with him. He stinks.
Washington Redskins (10-7) - Previously: #6 - Mike Shanahan said some puzzling things about Robert Griffin in his post-game press conference, like he wouldn't have played him if he thought there was further risk to his LCL. I wanted Shanahan to clarify his comments, so I flew to Washington to interview the Redskins' head coach.
Me: Hey Mike, thanks for agreeing to do this interview. Oh, and you brought your son Kyle too!
Mike Shanahan: No problem, Walt. We're such big fans of your site. And Kyle will be essential to this interview.
Me: Oh, that's great. Well, let's get right to it then. You said that Robert Griffin wouldn't have played if he... what is going on here? Why is Kyle shaking?
Mike Shanahan: Oh, he's been having seizures for the past 10 minutes. It's OK. Go on with your question.
Me: Wait, what? What do you mean go on with my question? I think he needs to go to the hospital.
Mike Shanahan: Stop it, Walt. You don't know my son like I do. If I thought there was a risk that he'd die, I'd send him to the hospital. But there's no risk, so just let him continue on with his seizures.
Me: I don't know... I... wait, he's bleeding out of his ears now. Shouldn't we call an ambulance?
Mike Shanahan: That's the dumbest thing I've ever heard. I just spoke to Dr. James Andrews a couple of seconds ago, and he cleared Kyle for this interview.
Me: A couple of seconds ago? I didn't see Dr. James Andrews anywhere.
Mike Shanahan: Well, that's not my problem. Please, continue on with your question.
Me: But... I... aren't you concerned about your son? Look at him, his skin is all green.
Mike Shanahan: Ugh! That's because he's not applying the spray tan like I told him to. Kyle! KYLE!!! SPRAY YOURSELF WITH THAT SPRAY TAN I GAVE YOU, AND WHILE YOU'RE AT IT, SPRAY ME!
Me: I don't think he can hear you.
Mike Shanahan: He's fine. Like I said, if I thought he was in any danger, I would've driven him to the hospital myself.
Baltimore Ravens (11-6) - Previously: #10 - Ray Lewis apparently had the media people too excited with his crazy dances. When discussing Baltimore, Keyshawn Johnson said, "This is the NBA." And as Facebook friend Jay B. pointed out, Bill Cowher said, "The Baltimore Colts are blitzing Andrew Luck today!"
The Ravens may have won by 15, but it was hardly impressive. They were nearly outgained by the Colts and lost the time of possession by 16 minutes. And this was against a rookie quarterback. Imagine what Peyton Manning will do to them next week.
Minnesota Vikings (10-7) - Previously: #7 - I don't understand how Christian Ponder didn't play. It'd be one thing if he couldn't even move his elbow, but he was shown throwing the ball around in warmups. I don't get it. I'm with forum member Swag Dynasty, who had this to say:
Indianapolis Colts (11-6) - Previously: #12 - I was super tired Sunday morning, so I tweeted the following (@walterfootball):
Wow, #Colts head coach Bruce Arians hospitalized. Hope he's OK
Well, my intentions were good, but I didn't realize that Arians is no longer the head coach. Oops. In my defense, there's been no official announcement that Chuck Pagano was officially the head guy again. Or maybe there was, and I wasn't paying attention.
At any rate, what a frustrating game for the Colts. They played the Ravens evenly in between the 20s and won the time of possession by 16 minutes, but they screwed up so many times in the red zone. You have to wonder if things would have been different had their head coach offensive coordinator not been hospitalized.
Cincinnati Bengals (10-7) - Previously: #11 - FootballFanSpot.com's Steven Lourie posted this on my Facebook wall: "If you do another top-10 overrated players list, Andy Dalton has to be on it."
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: