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2011 Week 11 – NFL Power 15

Last week was all about the quarterbacks so this week we’ll switch it up a bit and go with the projected end of season stats for running backs for each team. Running backs are a bit more difficult to get a grasp on than QBs with all the running back by committee going on in the NFL, but this should still be a fun exercise. Let’s get it!

#1 James Starks: 866 rushing yards (4.5ypc), 2TD, 336 receiving yards, 0TD, 1,202 total yards & 2TD. Tampa Bay played about the best game they possibly could have played & Green Bay still pulled out a 35-26 victory. Something to keep in mind with the Packers. They are having problems on defense. Namely the defense is terrible, but the Packers lead the NFL in interceptions & they are in the top half when it comes to sacks. A team with a great offensive line combined with a QB that can avoid making mistakes might have a formula to give the Packers a loss.
#2 Frank Gore: 1,392 rushing yards (4.6ypc), 8TD, 147 receiving yards, 0TD, 1,539 total yards & 8TD. It’s pretty interesting that Gore has become almost a non-factor in pass situations. The 1,392 yards would be the highest rushing total of his career, but the 147 receiving yards would be by far his lowest ever since become a starting RB. Note also that Gore is on pace to play in every 49ers game this season. That will be another first for the Miami-FL product. Say what you will about the 49ers & Jim Harbaugh, but the guy has Alex Smith playing like an NFL QB and he has Frank Gore on pace to play in every game. That counts for something!
#3 Matt Forte: 1,482 rushing yards (5.0ypc), 5TD, 744 receiving yards, 2TD, 2,226 total yards & 7TD. If Aaron Rodgers wasn’t playing so well, Matt Forte would be the runaway NFL MVP for the 2011 season. I wonder why his TDs are so low? The Bears got a CRUSHING blow last week in their 31-20 win over the Chargers. Jay Cutler broke his thumb & is now out for the rest of the season. There is talk he might come back if the Bears make the playoffs which they probably should still do anyway. The Bears have been playing so well that it seemed like the Packers might get them 3x this year. Now all of that is up in the air. Get to know Caleb Hanie.
#4 BenJarvus Green-Ellis: 866 rushing yards (4.0ypc), 8TD, 118 receiving yards, 0TD, 984 total yards & 8TD. Beating up the Chiefs 34-3 in Foxboro is hardly occassion for congratulations especially when the Chiefs are starting Tyler Palko at QB, but a win is a win is a win & the Patriots find themselves sitting at 7-3 despite this season feeling a little off. New England’s defense is getting incrementally better while the offense churns out points the way Dexter churns out bodies. With Matt Schaub gone, the AFC comes down to New England & Baltimore & the Patriots would like to have homefield advantage for that AFC Championship game.
#5 Mark Ingram: 595 rushing yards (3.7ypc), 5TD, 56 receiving yards, 0TD, 651 total yards & 5TD. Not a fantastic year for the rookie Heisman Trophy winner, but New Orleans is playing RBBC along with Pierre Thomas & Darren Sproles. Given how Reggie Bush has been playing in Miami, doesn’t it makes sense for Bush to have been the lead back in New Orleans for the past few years? I think it would simplify things having a bell cow running back which Ingram probably is, yet he’s still splitting time. The 7-3 Saints were on bye last week, but with Alex Smith in SF & Jay Cutler going down, the Saints look like the 2nd best team in the NFC all of a sudden.
#6 Ray Rice: 1,061 rushing yards (4.2ypc), 13TD, 821 receiving yards, 3TD, 1,882 total yards & 16TD. The 31-24 final over the Bengals looked a lost closer than the game actually way. Baltimore went up 31-14 on Cincinnati before the Bengals put up a couple of last scoring drive to close the final gap to 7 points. Cincinnati probably isn’t a playoff team, but they aren’t awful either. WR Torrey Smith is looking like the best rookie WR in the 2011 NFL Draft. He’s on pace for 45 receptions for 829 yards & 7TD. If Baltimore shows up to play they get to the Super Bowl. They need consistency & for Ray Lewis to get healthy.
#7 It really doesn’t even matter for Detroit’s runner. Jahvid Best has been hurt since Week 6 while Mikel Leshoure was out for the season before there even was a season! Even with all that said, Detroit got an outstanding rushing effort out of Kevin Smith last week in their 49-35 win over Carolina. Smith rushed for 140 yards & 2TD on only 16 carries. I wouldn’t start expecting this kind of production out of Smith, but it looked good for one week. The running game is killing Detroit at this point. Defensively they are decent, but Stafford has to completely 80% of his passes & score constantly for Detroit to win big games. Giving up 35 to Carolina? That doesn’t look good. Detroit is solid & probably will make the playoffs, but they are a piece or two shy of making giant waves once they get there.
#8 Arian Foster: 1,295 rushing yards (4.3ypc), 11TD, 779 receiving yards, 4TD, 2,074 total yards, 15TD. It’s absurd that Foster has missed 2 games this year & is still on pace to amass over 2,000 total yards & 15TD! That’s insane! By the way, Ben Tate is also on pace to rush fir 1,098 yards giving the Texans 2 1,000 yards rushers! The bad news for Houston is that QB Matt Schaub is out for the season meaning Matt Leinart is the guy to bring the Texans home. With Foster & Tate, all Leinart has to do is manage games & not turn the ball over. It’s really a chance for him to make good on his draft status & his awful start in Arizona. There is no reason why Houston shouldn’t keep winning.
#9 Rashard Mendenhall: 862 rushing yards (3.8ypc), 10TD, 129 receiving yards, 0TD, 991 total yards, 10TD. Mendenhall is having a horrific year for the Steelers. His worst since taking over as starting RB. Pittsburgh was on a bye last week. With them having lost the season series to the Ravens, the only way Pittsburgh can win the North is to have a better record than Baltimore by season’s end. If that isn’t the case then the best Pittsburgh can do is the 5th seed which means they’ll have to win 3 road games to get to the Super Bowl. Pittsburgh is playing well, but I don’t see them walking into Baltimore & New England & winning back-to-back weeks.
#10 DeMarco Murray: 1,195 rushing yards (6.0ypc), 3TD, 218 receiving yards, 0TD, 1,413 total yards & 3TD. As an unabashed Cowboys HOMER, I am loving DeMarco Murray. I may be getting ahead of myself here, but Murray is looking a lot like Emmitt Smith. Maybe it’s because Cowboys fans after the 95 Super Bowl go so used to seeing Troy Aikman & Emmitt Smith that the years following their departure have been horrible. Tony Romo is no Troy Aikman & it’s entirely too soon to say Murray is in the Emmitt Smith mold, but it’s been so long we’ve been dreaming of #8 & #22 reincarnations! In Emmitt Smith’s rookie season he had 1,165 total yards which is 200+ less than Murray, but Smith had 11TD which is 8 more than DeMarco has. Still, the Cowboys are making this longtime Dallas fan very happy.
#11 Like the Lions, the Giants are running RBBC with Ahmad Bradshaw & Brandon Jacobs, but neither RB has been healthy this season so it’s difficult to get a read on one of them for overall projections. The Giants had a colossal gaffe this past Sunday night when they lost 17-10 to the Eagles! How do you lose to Philadelphia at home when Vince Young is the opposing QB & he throws 3 interceptions to boot? Eli Manning looked awful & while the Giants didn’t run the ball effectively when they tried to, why pass twice as many times in a close game? With the pass rush New York can bring, there is no way a QB like Young should beat them. The Giants still get Dallas twice so they can win the division, but a loss like this really gives one pause.
#12 Michael Turner: 1,421 rushing yards (4.4ypc), 13TD, 198 receiving yards, 0TD, 1,619 total yards & 13TD. Atlanta got back on track after their loss to New Orleans with a home 23-17 win over the Titans. A last 4Q TD for Tennessee made the score closer at the very end. Atlanta actually finds themselves it fairly good condition. The Giants might not be that good & Chicago just lost Jay Cutler. At 6-4, the Falcons are only a game out of the Wild Card spot as it is. If Detroit throws up a couple more losses (very likely) & New York keeps imploding (likely) then Atlanta could find themselves in the Wild Card despite having an early part of the season they’d rather forget. I don’t think they have much room to make noise, but stranger things have happened. Plus it’s hard not to root for Mike Smith.
#13 Michael Bush: 1,291 rushing yards (4.6ypc), 8TD, 474 receiving yards, 3TD, 1,765 total yards & 11TD. These Bush projections are based on the fact that over the next 6 games he’ll average what he’s done over this past 4. Bush took over the starting duties in the 7th game when Darren McFadden went down. Here is something interesting though. MaFadden after 6 games was on pace for 1,627 rushing yards, 11TD, 403 receiving yards, 3TD for a total of 2,030 total yards & 14TD! Bush has been OUTSTANDING this season, but if McFadden doesn’t get hurt, Run DMC is even better! Given the RBs this season, Oakland can argue they have 2 of the best 10 RBs in the league! With Carson Palmer looking decent & a running game this dominant, Oakland certainly could win the West. Winning a playoff game? That might be another matter.
#14 Tim Tebow: 809 rushing yards (7.0ypc), 6TD. I’m cheating a little bit on Denver because Tebow is the QB & not the RB, but does Denver have another runner who is averaging an ABSURD 7.0ypc!? DeMarco Murray has been an absolute BEAST this season when running the ball and he’s only at 6.0ypc! Tebow at 7ypc is a walking first down practically every time he tucks & runs. I had to put Denver into the Power 15 because they deserve it. Tebow is 4-1 as a starter. Denver is 4-1 in their last 5 games with wins over the Raiders in Oakland & the Jets. The defense is getting better too. Denver needs to win 8-9 games to have a shot at the division. I think they have 8 wins on the remaining schedule. Now they just have to figure out a way to get that 9th victory & hope Oakland doesn’t win 10.
#15 Cedric Benson: 1,057 rushing yards (3.8ypc), 7TD, 48 receiving yards, 0TD, 1,105 total yards & 7TD. It’s been a rough couple of weeks on Cincinnati. After winning 5 straight games, the Bengals have lost back to back games against Pittsburgh & Baltimore to fall to 6-4. You sort of expected that to happen really, but what’s been a bit heart breaking is that both losses were close meaning Cincy win those games in a “best case” scenario. That 6-4 record currently could easily be 10-0 because all of the Bengals losses have been close. If Cincinnati plays to potential they could still win 10 games which given the AFC might be good enough for the #6 seed. Note too that the #6 seed will play the #3 seed which will be either OAK/DEN or HOU. Cincinnati could get a playoff win. Still a lot to play for in Cincinnati & I’m rooting hard for the Bengals.


#14 NEW YORK JETS: The Jets simply can’t lose games to the Broncos. I think Tebow is better than people are giving him credit for, but this is the New York Jets defense. They have no business losing to a college offensive attack. No business at all. The last two years have been pretty magical for the Jets, but now you have to wonder what in the world is going on. Mark Sanchez isn’t a championship level QB. He might never be & that’s the hard honest truth. There isn’t a game left on the schedule the Jets can’t win meaning they could easily end the season 11-5 & that would guarantee them a playoff spot as the #6 seed. That also means they’ll have a great chance at winning that wild card game & getting a chance a chance to get to the AFC Championship game for a 3rd year in a row, but they’ve got to start playing better. I don’t get the Jets right now at all.


November 26, 2011 - Posted by | Uncategorized

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