San Francisco 49ers (6-2) - Previously: #2 - It seems like eons ago that the 49ers were 1-2. Great betting opportunities have come and gone. There's not much value left with San Francisco because everyone now knows what was quite apparent back in Week 4 - this team, despite its 1-2 record, was pretty damn good.
It all started with that victory over St. Louis. I can't say I was the only one all over that; Steve Mariucci of the NFL Network picked San Francisco in that contest because the United States won the America's Cup in the Bay Area, and that momentum would carry over. You gotta love these TV analysts. Here I am, making long, detailed write-ups on my NFL Picks pages, and all they have to do is validate their selections with something that has absolutely nothing to do with the game. I'm a bit jealous that I have to work so hard.
Denver Broncos (7-1) - Previously: #3 - I thought about moving the Broncos down for having trouble with the Redskins, but Peyton Manning is dealing with these two mysterious ankle sprains that should (?) heal up during the bye. On the bright side, Denver's defense improved and slowed down Washington's offense pretty well. Having Von Miller back is huge.
New Orleans Saints (6-1) - Previously: #4 - Nice win by the Saints despite some early gaffes. Some weren't their fault though. What the hell was up with the official calling two consecutive false starts on Drew Brees, who was just trying to audible? It's almost as if he had never seen an NFL game before.
I forgot who the referee was, so I had to look it up. It was Terry McCauley. Too bad it wasn't the senile Walt Coleman. If it were Coleman, I could joke about him continuously penalizing Brees because he forgot that the forward pass was invented. Let's hope that McCauley isn't starting to suffer Coleman's symptoms.
Green Bay Packers (5-2) - Previously: #6 - What I wrote last week applies: Solid win by the Packers. Sure, it was against the inept Brandon Weeden Christian Ponder, but they were missing so many key personnel. This team will be a tough out come playoff time once they get everyone back.
Oh, and I know you're all dying to hear what Greg Jennings said to Aaron Rodgers. Rodgers wouldn't reveal it, but I am a trained lip-reader. Here's exactly what Jennings said, word for word:
Pppplleeeaasssee taakkkeee mmeeeee baaaccckk wwwahhhh I haaaatteee iittt heeereee Christian Poonnderrr suuuuucckkkssss anndd Maattt Caaasseelll suuccckksss mooooree and Josh Freeeeamannn's braaaaiinn deeeaadd ppppllleeeaaassee I wannnnaaa pllaaayyy forrr yoooouuu aggaaaiin WAAAAAAAHAHHHHHHHHHH!!!
Indianapolis Colts (5-2) - Previously: #7 - The Colts had a busy bye week. They asked the NFL to retroactively change the Trent Richardson trade so that it occurred prior to Week 1. Sounds bizarre, but it's completely legit. Don't believe me? Take a look at this NFL.com blurb (thanks, TDAP):
He scored two touchdowns against Oakland, yet Indianapolis still didn't cover? Ugh. Can't I ask the NFL to retroactively change that for me so I can recover my lost units?
Cincinnati Bengals (6-2) - Previously: #10 - With Marvin Jones emerging as a strong No. 2 weapon, Cincinnati's offense has a chance to be pretty explosive... you know, until Andy Dalton collapses in the playoffs. Nevertheless, this Cincinnati squad seems like a slightly better version of the Chiefs.
Oh, by the way, remember how I pointed out that the NFL Network analysts provide lazy analysis for their picks? Well, Deion Sanders' reasoning for picking Cincinnati in a recent contest is much worse than what Steve Mariucci said:
"I'm takin' the Bengals because they can play the game of football."
Wow, thanks for that, Deion. I guess I should be picking Cincinnati every week because they know what first downs are and happen to be capable of lining up in formations.
New England Patriots (6-2) - Previously: #5 - It's now apparent that Tom Brady has been sucking so much because his hand is injured. Perhaps an upcoming bye can help him heal his hand so that it no longer looks like a dying animal.
By the way, that batted ball penalty was complete bulls***. I don't disagree with the rule itself, but it seemed like what happened in Sunday's contest was so fast that it might have been incidental. It essentially turned into a 40-yard penalty and essentially won the game for New England.
Kansas City Chiefs (8-0) - Previously: #8 - Die-hard Chief fans are going to continue to complain about their low ranking, but I have a feeling that most of them know deep down inside that their team is just above average; nothing more. After all, good teams would've beaten Case Keenum and Jason Campbell by more than a combined seven points.
An e-mail from John R:
Man does Alex Smith look awful. Time for more revenge against all those people who want you to rank KC at the top. Don't hold back on them.
I guess dropping the Chiefs down one spot is revenge enough. I know I'll continue to get flak for it from Kansas City fans, but their team just isn't that good. I hate to break it to them, but it's true. I have no bias. I don't care if the Chiefs win or lose. I'm just ranking these squads on how they'd perform against each other on a neutral field, and I believe that there are 7-8 teams better than Kansas City.
San Diego Chargers (4-3) - Previously: #9 - You know, I criticize many NFL TV analysts because they happen to be pretty clueless, but I have to give credit to Trent Dilfer, who said the following during the preseason: "Many wouldn't call Philip Rivers a great quarterback anymore. I would argue that. Philip Rivers is a great quarterback."
I saved that for posterity so I could make fun of Dilfer, but he was absolutely right. With a stronger supporting cast, Rivers has broken out of his slump and has reemerged as one of the better quarterbacks in the NFL. If the defense can somehow improve, this San Diego squad will be a threat to go deep into the playoffs.
NFL Power Rankings: Week 8 - Bottom 10
32. Jacksonville Jaguars (0-8) - Previously: #32 - The Jaguars are halfway to becoming the first team in NFL history to go 0-16 while losing every game by double digits! Speaking of ineptitude, it's time for...
The Adventures of Derek Anderson's Magic Flask!
Chad Henne was trying to drive to Wembley Stadium, but was having difficulty doing so...
Chad Henne: WTF is wrong with these idiot British people!? They're all driving on the left side of the road!
Derek Anderson: Oooiii maaaatteee chheerrriioo!
Chad Henne: Derek Anderson!? How'd you get in the back seat of this rental car? And why are you speaking with a British accent?
31. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (0-7) - Previously: #29 - A recent conversation with my Las Vegas Hilton Supercontest partner Matvei:
Matvei: Who do you have the Bucs taking at No. 2?
Me: I have Jadeveon Clowney in my 2014 NFL Mock Draft. It'll be him unless Marcus Mariota comes out.
Matvei: Ugh. He needs to go to a winning team. I can see the headlines now: "Clowney Hurt on Party Bus."
Me: Haha, I could see that.
Matvei: "Clowney Sits - 'It's Too F***ing Humid'"
Yeah, so things aren't looking too bright for Tampa.
30. Minnesota Vikings (1-6) - Previously: #31 - Baseball had slightly higher ratings than Sunday Night Football. The MLB edged out the NFL, 10.5 to 10.3. How sad for baseball. A World Series game featuring two of the more prominent teams in baseball barely drew more viewers than a regular-season football blowout. This means two things:
1. Football is awesome, and would've definitely drawn more viewers had the game been competitive.
2. Baseball is so damn boring and unwatchable. I don't get how anyone can sit through a baseball game. I don't mind having the Phillies on in the background while I'm either working or trying to take a nap, but just sitting and watching nine innings of baseball - World Series or not - is just unbearable.
29. Philadelphia Eagles (3-5) - Previously: #26 - Anthony A. posted this on my Facebook wall, and I'm pissed I didn't see it until Monday morning because it would've saved me about a half hour: "Walt, I will do the Eagles-Giants write-up for you: 'LOL these teams suck.' There, you're welcome. One game recap done."
Sucks I missed that. Oh, and I feel stronger than ever about my prediction that Chip Kelly will be coaching at USC or Texas (or perhaps Nebraska - might as well throw that in there) in 2015. He's just not made for the NFL.
28. St. Louis Rams (3-5) - Previously: #30 - I already discussed the Rams, so here are some more Andy Reid memes:
Three weeks ago:
The following week, I went with an actual dinner item rather than a snack:
Reid loves dessert, so it was time for more of that last week:
And now, I must present Reid acting like the very individual he closely resembles:
27. New York Giants (2-6) - Previously: #27 - The NFL Gameday Final announcer had this to ask of his analysts on Sunday night: "OMMGG ARE THE GIIIANNTSS BAACCK!?!?!?" Ugh, really? They beat the terrible Vikings and Eagles, and now they might be back?
The Giants are still in the NFC East mix though, and they're very lucky that they just barely averted disaster when Victor Cruz seemingly suffered what looked like a scary neck injury. This prompted my editor to point out something strange: You know that Gillette commercial where the NFL players are wearing nothing but a face mask? The four players in that ad are Clay Matthews, Doug Martin, Danny Amendola and Cruz. The first three have dealt with serious injuries this year, and Cruz nearly made it 4-for-4.
Can we call this the Gillette Curse? And can we also involve Tom Brady and his dead-animal hand because he plays at Gillette Stadium?
26. Cleveland Browns (3-5) - Previously: #28 - Jason Campbell... is not terrible...? How did this happen?
Here's this week's Gong Rant (focused more on the 2014 NFL Draft):
I know we are a wasteland of awful, but I don't see how Maziel will be anything in the NFL. Undersized, drunken, maybe not even a smart player, playing in the Northcoast with bad weather and ugly women sounds like a recipe for disaster.
25. Washington Redskins (2-5) - Previously: #25 - The defense was better at Denver (until the fourth quarter), so that's a positive sign. Perhaps Robert Griffin escaping without a knee injury was a good omen as well.
Speaking of Washington's stop unit, Sunday NFL Countdown asked the audience who the scariest NFL player is. I tweeted (@walterfootball): "#Redskins Brandon Meriweather #NFLScary. He legitimately shortens lifespans and isn't punished for it."
Seriously, how the hell is Meriweather escaping all punishment for blatantly dishing out concussions every week? Concussions have terrible long-term effects, yet Meriweather just doesn't give a damn. If Ted Cottrell weren't such a clueless moron, he would've suspended Meriweather for the entire season.
24. Buffalo Bills (3-5) - Previously: #24 - I don't have much to say about the Bills, so let me post something e-mailer Joe B. sent to me. Joe pretty much summed up what any NFL game sounded like for me this month:
"Unsportsmanlike conduct. Offense. The quarterback spoke his pre-snap cadence in English, which is illegal during Hispanic Heritage Month. That's a 15-yard penalty, and the player is suspended for the remainder of Hispanic Heritage Month. He is eligible to return for Breast Cancer Awareness Month, but only if he conforms to the strict uniform regulations: pink gloves, pink shoes, pink ankle tape, pink towel and a pink skull cap. First down!"
I suppose this fake referee's announcement is still better than those weird Drew Brees false starts. I'm still trying to figure out what was going on with that.
23. Chicago Bears (4-3) - Previously: #22 - The Bears have a poor defense, and now they have to be without Jay Cutler for a while. Sounds like a bottom-10 team to me.
By the way, the idea that Chicago will let Cutler walk this offseason seems so ridiculous. I'm not saying it won't happen, but I just think it's an incredibly stupid strategy. It's like "Derp dee derp, we haven't had quality play from the quarterback position for decades, so let's get rid of our one good quarterback, da derp dee derp da teetley derpee derpee dumb."
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: