No Sleep Till Football

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NFL Power 15 – Week 6

Despite all the talk of how good the NFC was going to be before the season began, that is not what we are seeing. It’s funny how a lot of preseason talk centered on the cyclical nature of the conferences & that while the AFC has dominated (led by the Steelers, Chargers, Colts & Patriots) in recent years, it looked like the NFC was poised to overtake the AFC as the preeminent conference in the NFL. The Saints were coming off a Super Bowl run. Almost everyone & their brother was picking a Super Bowl winner between the Cowboys, Vikings, Packers, Giants & Saints. Atlanta looked pretty good too. Washington was now being coached by Mike Shanahan. The 49ers were thought to be a team on the rise while teams like Atlanta & Philadelphia were thought to be very good teams themselves.

We are know 6 weeks into the season & it’s fairly clear the absolute best teams in the NFL are the Ravens, Jets, Steelers, Colts & Patriots. My top-5 is composed entirely of teams from the AFC & to be honest I think you could make an argument that the Titans & Texans belong at the #6 & #7 spots. Heck, even Miami just got done beating Green Bay at Lambeau Field. The Giants have looked fantastic, but they were blown out by both the Colts & Titans. The Redskins just lost to Indianapolis in D.C. & the Saints have looked far from spectacular.

All this point to the NFC needing to make up a lot of ground to be considered along with the titans of the AFC. It doesn’t mean an NFC team can’t win the Super Bowl, but right now it looks like an inferior conference which is a significant storyline this early.

RANK TEAM COMMENTS
#1 The Jets came away with a 24-20 win over Denver this past week. I’ve said this before, but I think Denver & Washington are quality teams that are extremely tough outs for solid playoff teams. If not for a late pass interference call, maybe the Jets don’t even come out of Denver with a win? Did you know the Jets rank #22 in pass defense? Revis looked like he was taking a beating on Sunday, but I’m still edging NYJ above the Steelers.
#2 A lot is going to be made of Roethlisberger throwing for 257 yards & 3TD in his first game back assuming of course he was going to be a little rusty. Come on. He was facing the Cleveland Browns! The Steelers had a top-10 passing offense through 4 games without Big Ben so I don’t know how they improve exactly just because he’s under center. Roethlisberger can make mistakes & take a lot of sacks.
#3 I hate to say this, but the Patriots look a lot more like their old Super Bowl winning teams now without Randy Moss & with Deion Branch. Lost in the OT victory over Baltimore is how well the rush defense played & how off Tom Brady was. It’s not normal for Brady to throw 2 picks in a game, yet New England managed to find a way to win despite being -2 in TO margin. If the D continues like this, the Pats might be Super Bowl bound.
#4 Despite winning by only 3 points, this game was never out of hand for Indianapolis. Peyton Manning was his usual self carving up the Washington secondary like a lumberjack while Donovan McNabb did what he does best in big time games. I think Washington is a good team & Indianapolis beat them on the road despite losing 3 fumbles. Note too that the Colts ran for 5.9ypc against the Skins. Amazingly, the Colts are under the radar.
#5 I really like the Ravens, but after watching that disaster against Pittsburgh, I’m not sure they’ll ever win with John Harbaugh as HC or Cam Cameron as OC. There is entirely too much firepower on offense to be as conservative as they are. They have Joe Flacco at QB. It’s not Kyle Boller, Steve McNair or Troy Smith. Either Harbaugh & Cameron are going to have to adjust or Baltimore will have a lot of losing 11-5/12-4 seasons.
#6 The Giants are good. Very good. According to DVOA they have the best defense in the NFL & I don’t think you can say enough about the offense. While there aren’t a myriad of HUGE names, Hakeem Nicks is making a case for being one of the best WR in football while Eli Manning is quietly having a monster season. There is simply too much talent on this football team. If they play to potential this team wins 12-14 games which is nuts.
#7 The Saints got back on track with a serious horse whipping of the Bucs 31-6. What’s been somewhat difficult for New Orleans is getting a rhythm established because of injuries to Pierre Garcon & Reggie Bush. I think those were bigger stories than are typically being given credit, but Chris Ivory is picking up the slack (15 carries, 158 yards) giving the Saints their offensive balance. The defense played great too so NO rises.
#8 That was a great win over Atlanta on Sunday especially by 2TD. I’ve sort of been dismissive of Philly all year long up until this point, but they are 4-2 & playing well. There is always going to be the idea that if you have 2QB you really have no QBs so where does that put the Eagles? I’m simply not a believer in Andy Reid or Mike Vick leaving only Kevin Kolb who just had the game of his life. It would be odd for him to lose the job now.
#9 I love Chuck Cecil more & more each week. Tennessee completely shut down Jacksonville’s running game & also knocked David Garrard out leaving the Jags with Trent Edwards which lead to a 30-3 shellacking. Chris Johnson boasted of rushing for 2500 yards before the season. He’s not going to get there, but he doesn’t have to either. Lost in the debate is how good Javon Ringer is. Give Ringer more carries & keep Johnson healthy longer.
#10 I can’t bang Atlanta too hard for a road loss to the Eagles. It happens. Philly got out to a 21-0 lead in the first 22 minutes, but over the next 38 minutes, Atlanta outscored the Eagles 17-10. Small victories baby! Matt Ryan was a bit off & I wish Atlanta would have ran the ball better, but this is still a 4-2 squad with the tie-breaker over New Orleans. If Atlanta takes care of business at home they could win 14. I can’t imagine less than 12.
#11 Houston got a little lucky on Sunday. Down by 10 with 7 minutes to go, the Texans scored a couple of late TDs to beat the Chiefs 34-31. It was a fairly clean gave except that not much defense was being played. Unfortunately for Houston, they lose LB DeMeco Ryans for the rest of the season. The minute they get Brian Cushing back, they lose Ryans. That’s going to be a big time loss. With defensive problems, Houston can’t win the South.
#12 I know the Skins are 3-3, but the defense looked worse against Peyton Manning that it really was. Remember that Jim Haslett is the new DC & I think Washington was a little thrown off by just how fast Manning ran the Colts offense. I don’t think the Redskins are bad off with Ryan Torain at RB. I loved the guy at Arizona St. & I thought all he needed was a chance. He’s got one now. The Skins have work to do, but they are a tough out.
#13 Beating Green Bay in a game the Packers almost had to win was impressive. Especially at Lambeau. The Dolphins did a great job defensively against Green Bay although the Packers aren’t exactly at full strength. Amazingly enough, the Dolphins 3-2 record includes a 3-0 record on the road! If the Dolphins can win out at home they’d be in for a minimum of 9 wins. A couple of more road wins & the Jets & Patriots get nervous.
#14 The good news is that Clay Matthews is returning this week & won’t be out longer than first thought. I can’t tell with Green Bay. They are 3-3, but their last 2 losses have come in OT & their 3 losses total have been by a combined 9 points. As beaten up as Green Bay is, they are THIS CLOSE to being 6-0 for crying out loud & being the best team in the NFL. It’s not how you start but how you finish. If GB gets healthy then look out.
#15 The Chiefs are having problems holding onto leads & closing out games. It’s a problem, but it might not be one that prevents them from winning the AFC West which is incredible actually. So they lost a couple of games. One was to the Colts in Indianapolis. The other was a close come from behind victory for Houston. Those aren’t bad squads with combined record of 8-4. You could argue the Chiefs have a top-10 defense & offense. They belong in the top-15.

DROPPED OUT

#14 Chicago Bears: Maybe Seattle is better than I think, but the Bears lost a game at home they absolutely had to win if they are to be considered a playoff team. With a chance to go 5-1 with an effective 3-game lead over a 3-3 Green Bay team, the Bears blew it to fall to 4-2. They still lead the NFC North, but you can’t be happy that Clay Matthews is returning & that Minnesota beat Dallas with Randy Moss ingratiating himself into the offense more & more each day. Still, Jay Cutler was terrible. Chicago couldn’t run the ball & yet they lost by only 3 points 23-20. What’s scary about the Bears is that they have only one guaranteed win on the schedule (at Buffalo on Nov. 7) meaning they could wind up 5-11.

#15 Arizona Cardinals: Arizona was on their bye week for Week 6. They didn’t do anything to necessarily drop, but Philadelphia & Miami did enough to get into the top-15 which ultimately knocked the Cardinals out. It was an interesting day in the NFC West though. The Rams, 49ers & Seahawks all won their games. Seattle’s win ties them with Arizona at 3-2 while the Rams got to .500 with a record of 3-3. The Cardinals play the Seahawks this week with the winner edging their way to 4-2 & most likely the #4 seed in the NFL playoffs if the season ended after Week 7. The Rams & 49ers could win too as they play the Bucs & Panthers respectively. The West is nuts & I have to admit I’m rooting for St. Louis to win the division for the sake of the story.

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October 20, 2010 - Posted by | Baltimore Ravens, Indianapolis Colts, New England Patriots, New Orleans Saints, New York Giants, New York Jets, NFL Power 15, Philadelphia Eagles, Pittsburgh Steelers, Tennessee Titans

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