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2011 Week 12 – NFL Power 15

Two weeks ago we went with projected QB stats. Last week we went with RB projected stats so let’s complete the cycle and go with WR projected stats. We also have some movement with the power-15 with some surprises. It’s interesting how injuries are taking over the Power-15! You’ll see what I’m talking about soon enough!

#1 Greg Jennings: 84 receptions, 1,211 yards, 12TD. Green Bay took advantage of Ndamukong Suh imploding & used that momentum to win 27-15 even though they were only up 7-0 at the time of Suh’s ejection. Green Bay should have no problems running the table now. I don’t think the Packers will do what the Colts did & mail it in at the end of the regular season because they have homefield advantage sewn up and the goal of every team is a Super Bowl championship & not an undefeated season. Aaron Rodgers is going after too many records & it would seem poetic for the Green Bay Packers to be the first team to go 19-0. The only game that could be a problem for the Packers moving forward is their road game against the Giants this week. I don’t think the Giants will win, but NY could have a decent formula that could disrupt Rodgers & the Packers. Remember nobody thought the Giants would beat New England in the Super Bowl 3 years ago either.
#2 Anquan Boldin: 70 receptions, 1,083 yards, 4TD. The 49ers are never going to confuse anyone into thinking they are the Green Bay Packers offense incarnate, but if there is an offense that could potentially stop the Packers, it’s Baltimore’s. The Ravens did an excellent job completely shutting down San Francisco in the 16-6 Thanksgiving night win, handing SF only their 2nd loss of the season. Baltimore bottled up Frank Gore & never really let Alex Smith get into a rhythm. While SF isn’t GB offensively, Baltimore wouldn’t face a defense as stingy as the 49ers if they were to play Green Bay in the Super Bowl. There is no doubt that the Packers at this point in the season is the best team in the NFL, but when they are 100% right, the Ravens are the class of the AFC & have the weapons that could put a dent into GB’s chances at repeating. Keep any eye on Joe Flacco’s turnover frequency. Flacco’s thrown 8 picks in 11 starts which isn’t awful, but Green Bay has an opportunistic defense. There isn’t another loss on the schedule so Baltimore should expect a 13-3 season which should be good enough for the #1 overall seed in the AFC.
#3 Wes Welker: 119 receptions, 1,657 yards, 12TD. The Patriots took care of business going into Philadelphia & hammering a Vince Young led Eagles team 38-20. That was exactly what the Giants should have done the week prior except New England didn’t disappoint. New England is getting hammered a bit for having a poor defense, but don’t be deceived. Over their last 8 games, the Patriots have allowed only 18.0ppg which would rank 5th in the NFL in Points Allowed Per Game. Even accounting for the first 3 games of the Patriots season, the Patriots rank 11th in the NFL in points allowed. The one knock on New England could be their strength of schedule. They’ve only played 3 potential playoff teams. They lost to both the Giants & Steelers while escaping with a 20-16 home victory over the Cowboys. It’ll be interesting to see what the Patriots do against the Broncos in Denver. If they win that game, New England should finish 13-3 which will force some tiebreaker gymnastics with Baltimore to determine the #1 overall seed in the AFC.
#4 Jimmy Graham: 97 receptions, 1,388 yards, 12TD. I’m cheating a little bit with Graham because the Saints don’t have a dominant WR that has been healthy all season long. Graham has been their true threat at receiver despite being a TE. The Saints got an extremely impressive win on Monday night, beating the Giants 49-24. Heck, the game wasn’t even that close as the Saints got out to a 35-10 lead which forced New York to throw the ball all night long. Drew Brees was darn near perfect while the Saints running game rushed for over 200 yards & 3TD! Remember that despite the Saints having an explosive offense, the running game was highly credited with making that offense go back when New Orleans won the Super Bowl. If Mark Ingram, Pierre Thomas & Darren Sproles can keep this up, then the Saints are going to be very difficult to handle. Something to remember is that New Orleans is 5-0 at home & 3-3 on the road. They are going to have to play at Lambeau if they want to get back to the Super Bowl.
#5 Michael Crabtree: 66 receptions, 764 yards, 2TD. No shame in getting beat by the Ravens. Baltimore’s offense can be explosive at times especially with Torrey Smith becoming more & more of a vertical factor. The 49ers did a good job keeping the Ravens away from the big plays. Sure they still scored 16 points & SF lost, but that might be more attributable to the 49ers lack of an explosive offense. The 49ers aren’t a sack happy team which is a con in their argument for beating the Packers, but at this point it might not matter so much. The 49ers need to figure a way to secure the #2 seed in the NFC. The only game they have left that could be a loss at home against Pittsburgh. That would put SF at 13-3, but the Saints might also be 13-3. SF would win the tiebreaker because of conference record which means there would be a #2/#3 game in the Divisional Round where New Orleans goes on the road to play San Francisco. San Francisco has to get this game at home.
#6 Mike Wallace: 80 receptions, 1,362 yards, 9TD. The 13-9 win over the Chiefs in Kansas City was a lot more difficult than Pittsburgh was hoping it would be. Kansas City came to play & darn near came away with an upset even with Tyler Palko at QB! Pittsburgh offense has really turned it on. I don’t think many people were expecting Antonio Brown to step up his game the way that he has this season, but Brown is on pace to grab 70 balls for 1025 yards! Emmanuel Sanders is a solid slot receiver with Hines Ward being old dependable. TE Heath Miller is also having a great season. Issac Redman has also stepped up & given Rashard Mendenhall some help. While considered a defense first team for the past few years, Pittsburgh’s offense is the unit with a plethora of weapons, all of which could be deadly, commanded by 2-time Super Bowl champion QB Ben Roethlisberger. Pittsburgh is probably looking at the #5 seed no matter what happens to them unless Baltimore folds up. Assuming the #5 seed, Pittsburgh would get Tim Tebow & the Broncos should Denver win the AFC West. Very interesting.
#7 Dez Bryant: 57 receptions, 930 yards, 9TD. The Miami win was a lot bigger than it seemed. Matt Moore had been playing exceptionally well for a Dolphins team that looks way better than their record would indicate. Getting away with a 20-19 victory was a big time win for the Cowboys who at 7-4 now have a 1 game lead over the Giants with both of their games against New York still to be played. The problem with the Cowboys as always is the case is their ability to win consistently & win big games when they have to. This week they play a road game against Arizona that should be a victory putting the Cowboys at 8-4. The Giants play Green Bay which means they are likely going to lose which would drop NY to 6-6. Next week Dallas gets a home game against the Giants. A win there puts Dallas at 9-4 while New York drops to 6-7. From that point it might not matter what happens. Dallas will likely end up with the #4 seed even if it wins out given what GB, SF & NO have left. That means a home game & then on to Green Bay.
#8 Roddy White: 93 receptions, 1,204 yards, 6TD. Atlanta was going to beat Minnesota anyway, but beating Minnesota without Adrian Peterson & a rookie QB proved even less of a fight as Atlanta cruised to a 24-14 victory over Minnesota last week to improve to 7-4, just a game behind the Saints. If the season ended today, the Falcons would be in the playoffs as the #6 seed! That’s a far cry from their 2-3 starts as Atlanta has since went 5-1 in their last 6 with the only loss coming in OT against the Saints. Matt Ryan, Roddy White & Tony Gonzalez put on a clinic against the Vikings secondary while Michael Turner did just enough to keep the chains moving. In their last 6 games, the defense has stiffened up considerably & it shows in the W-L column. Atlanta doesn’t have an easy road from this point forward. They have road games against the Saints, Texans & Panthers while a game against the Bucs at home could be tricky. With Jay Cutler gone, the Bears made Atlanta’s life easier, but Detroit, Dallas & New York are still out there. Being 11-5 at the end would be awfully nice.
#9 Eric Decker: 54 receptions, 764 yards, 12TD. I can’t help but put Denver here at #9. Let’s think about it for a moment. In Tebow’s starts, the Broncos are 5-1! That’s the best record over the past 6 games in the NFL outside of Green Bay’s perfect 6-0! Denver beat Oakland. The Giants are imploding. Houston doesn’t have Matt Schaub. Chicago just lost to the Raiders & Jay Cutler is out of the season. I suppose Detroit wouldn’t have been a bad play here but the Lions are in free fall being 2-4 in their last 6 games! They are sucking! That leaves the Broncos at 6-5 at #9. Something to really keep in perspective about the NFL. The difference in talent between the best team & the worst team isn’t all that wide. Love him or hate him, the players in the Broncos locker rook believe in Tim Tebow more than any other team in the NFL believes in their QB with the exceptions of the Packers, Saints & Patriots. That means A LOT when you are talking about winning games. Denver has to hope Oakland has some bad games, but Denver could win out too & end the speculation themselves.
#10 Darrius Heyward-Bey: 55 receptions, 808 yards, 2TD. Who cares if 2 weeks ago nobody would have thought Oakland had any chance of beating the Bears. After the 25-20 win over Chicago, Oakland is now 7-4 & in the driver’s seat not only to get into the playoffs, but also to win the AFC West & get a first round home playoff game! Carson Palmer hasn’t been very good since coming to Oakland, but the Raiders are 3-1 in his first 4 starts so nobody is really complaining. What will really be interesting now for the Raiders is their remaning schedule which looks downright terrible. They have road games against the Dolphins, Chiefs & Packers. Forget beating Green Bay. Miami looked pretty good against the Cowboys this past week while the Kansas City almost beat Pittsburgh. The two home games come against the Lions & Chargers. Detroit is going to have Ndamukong Suh back by this time & they’ll be fighting for playoff position. The Chargers might be playing for a playoff spot too if Oakland & Denver implode. Despite being 7-4, Oakland has to be careful not to finish 7-9.
#11 Calvin Johnson: 91 receptions, 1,483 yards, 17TD. The Lions need to stop the bleeding because they are simply a better football team than their 2-4 record over the last 6 games would indicate. They were playing the Packers tough until the Suh debacle. At 7-4 they wouldn’t even be in the playoffs if the season ended today which is remarkable seeing how good the Lions have been over the course of the season. They are getting pretty lucky with the Bears losing Jay Cutler. They also get lucky with the Giants potentially losing the rest of their games because their schedule is so tough, but they can’t count on those two teams mailing it in. The Lions have 2 road games remaining against the Packers & Saints. Assuming losses their, the best Detroit can do is go 10-6. That’s probably enough to get into the postseason which would be a pretty significant accomplishment. Remember that Detroit’s 4 losses have come against the Packers, Falcons, Bears & 49ers. Those 4 teams are a combined 34-10! The 5-0 start colored out perceptions, but one goal at a time. Let’s get the Lions into the postseason.
#12 Owen Daniels: 59 receptions, 738 yards, 4TD. Conor Barwin & JJ Watt used the Jacksonville QBs as punching bags in Houston’s 20-13 win over the Jaguars this past Sunday. Houston is such a tough team to gauge at this point. They are 8-3 & if Matt Schaub was under center I’d have them in the top-5 at this point. If Matt Leinart was under center I’d probably have them in the top-10, but now you have rookie QB TJ Yates guiding this team towards the playoffs! Maybe there is a Drew Bledsoe to Tom Brady type of story here. Houston certainly has a team capable of winning a championship if only Yates starts playing QB like Brady! Houston has had one heck of a season when it comes to injuries. Arian Foster was beat up earlier in the year. Andre Johnson went down. Then Mario Williams went down. Matt Schaub goes on the IR only to have Matt Leinart follow him almost immediately! Houston has the Falcons, Bengals & Titans left on the schedule which could be losses. If they lose those 3 then the best they can hope for is 10-6. Can Tennessee mount a run for the postseason?
#13 Johnny Knox: 41 receptions, 902 yards, 3TD. A brutal start to the Caleb Hanie era as the Bears fall to the Raiders in Oakland 25-20. Chicago’s defense played a solid game in forcing Carson Palmer into a bad game, but Hanie was even worse throwing 3 picks. The Bears definitely have some winnable games down the stretch, but I’m not sure Matt Forte is going to be so good that he can overcome Hanie’s deficiencies. When Martz was in St. Louis, Marc Bulger didn’t have a huge problem coming in when Kurt Warner went down with injury. On the other hand, this situation is probably different so maybe we can’t expect the same type of performance from Hanie. The Bears defense is fantastic. There has never been any questioning that, but now it becomes a run first offense with opposing teams daring Hanie to throw the ball. Chicago could still get to the playoffs, but now Hanie is going to have to be a master at game management & avoid mistakes. He can’t throw 3 picks & expect to win.
#14 A.J. Green: 66 receptions, 1,118 yards, 9TD. What a great year AJ Green is having as a rookie WR. The Bengals barely avoided disaster this past week with a 23-20 win over the Browns. The loss would have really put Cincinnati behind the 8-ball at 6-5. Now they are 7-4 with still a little room to breath. The Bengals have 3 games left against the Texans, Steelers & Ravens. Assuming those are losses, the Bengals finish the season 9-7. If they can get a win against one of those 3 teams then they’ll finish with double-digit victories. That’s probably going to be good enough to beat out a wild card threat from the West or South, but if the Jets make a serious push at the end, could Cincinnati get edged out by a surging Jets squad? The Bengals get the Steelers this weekend in the Steel City. If the Bengals can come up with a win here, they’d actually take over 2nd place in the North.
#15 Hakeem Nicks: 75 receptions, 1,158 yards, 6TD. More than anything the Giants are a problem with perception. They have lost 3 straight, but two of those losses have come against the 49ers & Saints, both games on the road incidentally. The problem is the home game sandwiched between San Francisco & New Orleans. That was a 17-10 loss to the Eagles who had Vince Young starting at QB. Keep in mind the Giants beat New England 24-20 in Foxboro yet couldn’t beat an Eagles team New England just beat 38-20. The Giants have a BRUTAL end of schedule. They get the Packers, Jets, & the Cowboys twice! Even if New York would have beat Philly, they’d still be 7-4 which is tied with the Cowboys. They’ll have to earn their way to the playoffs, but that was going to have to happen anyway regardless of the Philadelphia win. With Detroit & Chicago struggling, maybe the Giants can play good football & still get into the postseason without winning the East. This is still a good football team with a poor appearance because of the Philly loss.




December 3, 2011 - Posted by | Uncategorized

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