The Blog of Northern Aggression

The Blog of Northern Aggression: NFL Power Rankings & New Hard Knocks Rules

By David Wipperman (a.k.a. Ragnarok) – @Wipperman

David Wipperman, also known as Ragnarok (or Rags) on the forum, has been in charge of setting up the Wednesday fantasy football mock drafts for a few years. Ragnarok had his own section in the fantasy mocks this summer where he broke down the best and worst teams.

Ragnarok will be writing his own weekly column on this Web site. It will contain a different topic each week as well as some of his gut bets, which should be used for entertainment purposes only.

You can follow Ragnarok @Wipperman or leave a comment below.

Rags’ Power Rankings:

32. Jacksonville Jaguars – The Jaguars have done nothing to change my opinion of them. This is one of the worst teams I’ve ever seen. Jacksonville needS help everywhere.

31. Tampa Bay Buccaneers – I have no faith in Mike Glennon or Greg Schiano. While the Bucs have some very good players, the circus in the locker room keeps pulling this team down. Tampa Bay could bounce back quickly with a new head coach and quarterback.

30. Minnesota Vikings – I know the Vikings just beat Pittsburgh, but their quarterback issues are coming to the forefront. Christian Ponder makes Matt Cassel look like a Pro Bowler; Cassel is awful and now the team has Josh Freeman. If Minnesota can get consistent quarterback play, this could be a dangerous offense.

29. Pittsburgh Steelers – While I think Mike Tomlin is a bit overrated, Big Ben is still a franchise quarterback. Teams with a franchise quarterback have a better chance of hitting a bit of a run and getting a few wins in a row. Of course, as porous as his offensive line is, Roethlisberger may not make it all season. Not to mention the defense is showing signs of age.

28. Carolina Panthers – A poor offensive line, poor wide receivers, a poor secondary and Cam Newton can’t stop turning the ball over. This is a team with a lot of holes. The Panthers do have a very good front seven, but this game goes the way Newton goes. Carolina will rise if he turns it around.

27. Philadelphia Eagles – Another team with quarterback issues and an awful defense. Michael Vick isn’t passing well and keeps getting hurt, and I’m not a big believer in Foles. The Eagles have some good pieces, but neither quarterback is good enough to win a shootout.

26. Arizona Cardinals – Arizona has some awesome pieces on defense with Patrick Peterson, Calais Campbell and Daryl Washington. Not to mention Larry Fitzgerald and a possible runninng back solution in Andre Ellington. But, the Cardinals also have Carson Palmer, who I don’t believe can carry a team. He will keep them from competing in a ridiculously stacked division.

25. Buffalo Bills – The Bills have a couple of wins and Kiko Alonso looks to be a star in the making, but E.J. Manuel will have his issues. While I really like a number of their younger players, a rookie quarterback and surprisingly tough division keeps me from putting them any higher.

24. Cleveland Browns – If Brian Hoyer had stayed healthy, Cleveland could be in contention for a wild-card spot. Unfortunately, he went down, so Bradon Weeden is back as the starter. Despite the Browns’ 3-2 record, I think Weeden starting long term drags this team back down. But, I love Cleveland’s defense and Cameron Jordan/Josh Gordon is a great combo.

23. New York Giants – I know I still have the Giants higher than their record indicates, but Tom Coughlin is a great coach and I can’t discount that. The loss to Chicago will probably force me to drop them further next week. I just have a hard time seeing New York’s losing streak continuing.

22. Washington Redskins – Robert Griffin III may be coming around, and I expect this offense to take off in short order. But, this defense is truly awful. Fortunately, the Redskins have a few guys returning from suspension, which may help the defense. Washington could go either way over the next few weeks.

21. San Diego Chargers – Philip Rivers is playing well, but when I look at this team, I just see mediocrity. A decent offense and a decent defense, but nothing really special. The Chargers look like a prototypical 8-8 team.

20. Oakland Raiders – Oakland is of my biggest risers over the past couple of weeks. Terrelle Pryor looks fantastic, and the Raiders’ defense is playing very hard. When the team gets Jared Veldheer and Stefen Wisniewski back, Pryor should make another rise as he has improved protection. A lack of overall talent will hold Oakland back though.

19. Atlanta Falcons – If not for Matt Ryan, I would drop this team much further. Julio Jones may be out for the year, Steven Jackson is hurt, Roddy White is hurt, and the defense is awful. The Falcons need to turn things around very quickly after the bye or they’re done.

18. New York Jets – This defensive front is absolutely disgusting. They are fantastic against the run and rushing the passer. And after an awful showing in Tennessee, Geno Smith was excellent in Atlanta. New York could be in good shape if he continues to grow. That said, I expect him to be too inconsistent for the Jets to make the playoffs.

17. St. Louis Rams Jeff Fisher has this team playing well, and the Rams may have found their running back in Zac Stacy – who I discussed frequently in fantasy drafts. If Bradford plays well, St. Louis has the talent to push for a wild-card berth. Unfortunately for the Rams, they are in a very tough division that likely costs them a playoff spot.

16. Houston Texans – One of my biggest fallers, the Texans can only go as far as Matt Schaub takes them. And right now, that doesn’t look very far. He has been absolutely awful. This is a very talented team, but in a surprisingly competitive AFC, I don’t know if Houston can reach the wild-card round.

15. Tennessee Titans – I would probably have given the Titans a wild-card spot if Jake Locker was healthy. But the defense is playing fantastic and the wide receivers are looking like a very good group. If Ryan Fitzpatrick can keep Tennessee afloat until Locker returns, this team will compete for that wild-card slot. But given his tendency for turnovers, I’m not sure if that is feasible.

14. Baltimore Ravens – Joe Flacco has no one to throw to outside of Torrey Smith and Ray Rice out of the backfield. Plus, the Ravens’ offensive line is struggling despite bringing in Eugene Monroe. I don’t think the defense is good enough to overcome this. I could see Baltimoew missing the playoffs in a strong AFC.

13. Detroit Lions – This team has looked good for the most part, and I expect Detroit to be in the playoff chase at the end of the year. But not everyone can make the playoffs, so I have the Lions just missing out. It wouldn’t surprise me if they sneak in though.

    NFC Playoff Seedings

  1. New Orleans Saints – Drew Brees is on fire, the defense is massively improved and the division looks to be weak. I have New Orleans jumping Seattle right now for the top spot in the NFC. This is a very tough team to play at home or on the road.

  2. Seattle Seahawks – The Seahawks could easily be No. 1, but I have to wonder about their ability to win on the road. Seattle has the best defense in the league, a great run game and a quarterback who doesn’t make mistakes. I do have some concern over the offensive line as it’s not a very talented unit.

  3. Chicago Bears – If the Bears had lost to the Giants, I would’ve switch Chicago with the Packers. Alshon Jeffery is growing into a fantastic weapon, and the Bears have a very opportunistic defense. However, Jay Cutler is capable of imploding at any time, which is cause for concern.

  4. Dallas Cowboys – It’s amazing how awful the NFC East is; the 0-5 Giants are only two games out right now. Any team could win this right now, but I think Dallas has the best chance to pull ahead. For all the hate on the Travis Frederick pick, he has been well worth it as he has played very, very well.

  5. San Francisco 49ers – Colin Kaepernick isn’t putting up gaudy numbers, but he didn’t need to last week. After a slow start, Frank Gore is running with a purpose and the defense is still playing at a high level. Patrick Willis is due back and if Aldon Smith returns, this defense will be scary once again. Not to mention, I expect Kaepernick to figure things out, especially once he gets some weapons back.

  6. Green Bay Packers – Another reason I didn’t switch Green Bay and Chicago is the loss of Clay Matthews for a month. This defense will likely see a major dropoff without him on the field. But Aaron Rodgers is Aaron Rodgers and Eddie Lacy is providing a consistent run threat for the first time in years.

    AFC Playoff Seedings

  1. Denver Broncos – Peyton Manning is on fire and this offense is almost unstoppable. The defense has some issues, but Von Miller and Champ Bailer will return shortly. This offense plus an improved defense is very scary.

  2. New England Patriots – I know New England looked awful last week and lost Vince Wilfork, but Rob Gronkowski and Danny Amendola are getting healthy; the Patriots were missing Stevan Ridley and Shane Vereen, too. Tom Brady and Bill Belichick are too good to slip too far. And I think the defense will be alright, especially if Aqib Talib keeps playing like the best corner in football. New England will get back to form when the offense gets healthy.

  3. Indianapolis Colts – This team will go where Andrew Luck takes it and, right now, that looks very far. Trent Richardson isn’t big on yards per carry, but his presence forces defenses to stay honest. And Chuck Pagano has been able to work hand in hand with this defense to form a respectable unit. I think the Colts are being underrated a bit by the media.

  4. Cincinnati Bengals – A great defense, a top wide out and the addition of Gio Bernard brings a new explosive element in the run game. But, Andy Dalton is not the type of quarterback capable of carrying a team on his own and this has shown up in the playoffs the past two years. While Cincinnati should take advantage of a struggling division, I don’t think Dalton can take the Bengals deep into the playoffs.

  5. Kansas City Chiefs – I guess it’s time to believe. The Kansas City defense is playing on an unbelievable level with Donrati Poe, Justin Houston and Eric Berry playing like the best at their respective positions. Alex Smith is serving as an excellent game-manager and not making any mistakes that could cost his team. While the Chiefs are capable of getting a wild-card spot, their limitations at quarterback will keep them from making a Super Bowl run.

  6. Miami Dolphins – For now, I will keep Miami as the 6th seed in the AFC. Ryan Tannehill is growing into a franchise quarterback and has a good defense to keep games close. If the Dolphins make the playoffs, I don’t expect them to make a lot of noise, but next year, they could be poised for a serious push.

Hard Knocks:

So, Roger Goodell managed to pull off another idiotic maneuver. The league office has just approved a move that would force a team to take Hard Knocks if there are no volunteers. It’s moves like this that remind you that Goodell cares about two things: covering his own a** and earning money. That’s it. If there was any concern for the games, teams or players themselves, the league wouldn’t force this. If some franchise’s coaches and staff doesn’t want cameras everywhere, that’s the organization’s own decision about what is best for the team.

That said, if Goodell wants to try and flex his muscles yet again, force the Patriots to do this. I dare him. It would be possibly the greatest TV experience ever aired. Everyone who has played for Bill Belichick says that he has a very underrated sense of humor behind closed doors. I think he would get a kick out of messing with the TV crews all while keeping a straight face and answering every question the same. Maybe he would move practice fields without telling them; not let them in certain meetings; or secretly tell all his players to respond to every question with “I can’t comment on that at this time.” I’d watch it simply to see the reactions of the people trying to interview the coaches and players.

Now that I think about it, I’m glad Goodell did this. I hope his office forces a strong-willed coach to have his team filmed. And I hope that coach makes Goodell looks like an idiot for doing so. Maybe then the NFL will stop trying to force this on teams and just let them play.

The Blog of Northern Agression Menu:
NFL Power Rankings - 10/31
Surprises and Disappointments - 10/19
Hard Knocks - 10/10
Mock Draft - 10/4
NFL Power Rankings - 9/27
Football Team Bias - 9/11
Surprise Super Bowl Team - 9/6

NFL Power Rankings - Feb. 22

2024 NFL Mock Draft - Feb. 21

Fantasy Football Rankings - Feb. 19

NFL Picks - Feb. 12