No Sleep Till Football

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2011 Week 14 – NFL Power 15

It’s short & sweet this week. I never got around to writing up Week 14’s Power 15 although I did update the sidebar. With so much going on with my write ups of the bowl games I almost forget. Never fear, there is the Power-15 heading into this week’s games.

RANK TEAM COMMENTS
#1 After three weeks of playing fairly close games (games decided by less than 2TD!), the Packers opened up on Oakland last week at Lambeau to the tune of 46-16. It sounds crazy, but Aaron Rodgers threw for almost 300 yards & had 2TD, yet it was clearly his worst game of the season. Oakland did everything wrong to try & beat Green Bay. Aaron Rodgers never went out of rhythm & Carson Palmer couldn’t stop beating himself. It’s hard enough to beat the Packers when everything is going right. When you go into Wisconsin & wind up -4 in TO margin against the Pack, then you are digging your own grave. By all accounts, the Packers are going for the 16-0 record. Nobody is stopping them. The only chance Green Bay has of getting beat is if they beat themselves.
#2 The Saints did a good job last week going into Tennessee and beating a Titans team that was playing extremely well behind the exploits of Chris Johnson. Tennessee certainly needed the win more than the Saints did, but when the 4th quarter rolled around, New Orleans took care of business. Being down 10-9 after 3Q, Drew Brees took the game over & led the Saints on a couple of scoring drives that put the Saints up 22-10. A garbage TD by the Titans made it 22-17. Drew Brees was Drew Brees throwing for 337 yards & 2TD while the Saints defense did a good job bottling up Chris Johnson. The Saints also did a good job holding Tennessee’s offense in check on 3rd downs, but the Saints had 11 penalties for 100 yards! EEK! The Saints have won 5 straight & it looks like they’ll win out if they take care of business at home.
#3 I thought Baltimore would use the same methods against Indianapolis as they did Cleveland the week before & I was proved right. Baltimore essentially gave the lion’s share of work to Ray Rice as the Ravens grounded & pounded Indianapolis to an easy 24-10 win, the same score they beat Cleveland with. If not for a last second TD by the Colts, the Ravens would have won 24-3 & maybe it could have been higher if the Ravens didn’t have a couple of turnovers. The Ravens are now 6-1 in their last 7 & Ray Lewis is barely playing. The losses they’ve had this season have been a bit mind-numbing and really they should be 12-1 at this point instead of 10-3, but I think they’ll take the 10-3 mark. There is really no reason for them to lose anymore games meaning they’ll finish 13-3, but will it be good enough for a #1 seed?
#4 It wasn’t pretty, but TJ Yates engineered a game winning drive on the last possession of the game that led to a Kevin Walters TD that gave Houston a 20-19 victory over Cincinnati in Paul Brown Stadium in a game the Bengals had to have to keep a leg up on the competition in the AFC Wild Card race. Houston was down 16-3 at halftime & 19-10 at the end of 3 quarters, but the Bengals had a rough time stopping Houston on 3rd down all game long which kept Houston in the game especially on the final drive. The Texans have won 7 straight & should at least win 12 games. I can’t believe they are doing all this without Matt Schaub, Mario Williams & Andre Johnson, but here we are! I don’t think it lasts during the playoffs, but right now how can you argue with the results. A quick wish for Wade Phillips’s recovery after surgery this past week. What he’s done with this defense is nothing short of amazing.
#5 How good of a season is Antonio Brown having? A lot of people before the season began thought Emmanuel Sanders might be the breakout WR for Pittsburgh, but instead it’s Brown who lit Cleveland up last week for 5 catches for 151 yards & a TD. The TD was only his 2nd of the season, but Brown is now on pace to finish the season with 1,138 receiving yards! Not too shabby at all! In the 14-3 win over Cleveland, Ben Roethlisberger was banged up yet again. I don’t know exactly how much longer Big Ben can hold up this season. It seems like after every game he’s in some type of injured state. Pittsburgh improved to 10-3 but their 3 losses have came against Baltimore (2x) and Houston who combine to be 30-9! That’s amazing, but the only team Pittsburgh has beaten that’s going to the playoffs is New England & that was at Heinz Field.
#6 Wow that defense is bad! You knew it was bad when Dan Orlovsky lights you up on the 4th quarter, but the Redskins probably should have beaten New England this past week. The Patriots are living on the edge defensively. We all know their pass defense is atrocious, but when Roy Helu & Evan Royster hammer away at you in the ground game, there is nothing left for New England’s defense to hang their hats on. Tom Brady is playing well while the 2-TE set with Rob Gronkowski & Aaron Hernandez along with Wes Welker looks unstoppable, but if those guys are off against a superior defense, I don’t know how New England wins a football game. Green Bay & New Orleans beat them by at least 2TD. This week will prove interesting with them going on the road to Denver. If Denver’s defense plays well, it could get interesting.
#7 Sometimes things simply don’t make any sense. I watched the Denver/Chicago game last week and thought Denver was going to be exposed by a superior defense, but Denver got down 10-0 late in the 4th quarter and all hell (or should I say all heaven) broke loose. First Marion Barber doesn’t get out of bounds to give Denver more time. Then after Denver cuts the lead to 10-7, all Barber has to do is hold onto the ball and the Bears do their part to end Tebowmania. Doesn’t happen! Barber fumbles, the Broncos get the ball back & Tebow leads them down the field where Matt Prater kicks a 59 yard FG sending the game into OT. The Bears win the toss, but can’t score on their 1st possession so Denver takes over & Prater ends it on a 51-yards FG! At some point they’ll lose, but will it be this week against New England?
#8 With their season on the line, New York went on the road to Dallas and handed the Cowboys a deafening 37-34 defeat on Sunday night football! Dallas was up 34-22 late in the 4th quarter & still found a way to lose this football game. Say what you will about Eli Manning, but the guy is on pace to throw for over 5000 yards with 31TD. Playing in New York & being in these types of games has to make the guy’s nerves unflappable, and I wouldn’t sleep on the Giants. Sure the 7-6 record isn’t mind blowing, but before beating Dallas, the Giants had lost 4 straight with 3 of them being close. That 7-6 record could easily be 10-3. Early season losses to the Redskins & Seahawks were silly at best meaning New York could easily be 12-1, just one game behind Green Bay. You have to win the games & New York didn’t, but when you play the Giants, you have to realize they aren’t a 7-6 squad.
#9 Outstanding job by Atlanta last week coming from behind in Carolina & beating the Panthers 31-23 after being down 23-7 in the first half. Mike Smith made some tremendous adjustments at halftime as the Falcons rolled Carolina 24-0 in the 2nd half alone! Matt Ryan had his best game of the season throwing for 320 yards & 4TD. Jacquizz Rodgers get in on the fun while Julio Jones had a blistering 4th quarter that resulted in a couple of TDs including a 75-yards TD reception. It would be nice for Atlanta if Matt Ryan caught fire at the end of the season. He’s had an up & down year, so getting hot at the right time would be a boon for the Falcons. The only negative for me is that Atlanta’s rush defense was pretty poor. I don’t know why Carolina had that many pass plays especially with such a big lead, but Atlanta took advantage of a poor Carolina game plan.
#10 It’s happening again! The Jets started off the season poorly going 2-3, but I’ve always felt New York is dealing with perception problems. After winning their first 2 games, the Jets had 3 road games in a row against Oakland, Baltimore & New England. At the time the Raiders were playing well with Jason Campbell & Darren McFadden so I can see the loss. Losing the Patriots & Ravens on the road is no big deal. Since then the Jets have gone 6-2 with their two losses coming on the road to Denver & then at home to the Patriots. So 4 of their 5 losses have come on the road to teams all fighting for playoff spots or already in the playoffs. They could do a lot worse. That 3-game skid combined with the 17-10 loss to Denver has people forgetting about the Jets, but they are 8-5 & staring at the #6 seed. They won’t win a Super Bowl with Sanchez, but you don’t want to see this team in January either.
#11 Very interesting times in San Francisco. They’ve dropped 2 of their last 3 including last week’s 21-19 loss to Arizona! It’s difficult to understand because I didn’t actually see this game, but San Francisco was up 19-7 with about 10 minutes left in the 3rd quarter. The defense didn’t allow Arizona to run the ball at all & SF was +2 in turnover margin for the game. How can you explain SF throwing the ball 37 times & running it only 21? It was like Carolina playing Atlanta, you get a big lead & yet you keep throwing the football which only allows opponents the opportunity to win games. Frank Gore & Kendall Hunter could have iced this game, but SF chose to go in a different direction. SF will still win the West, but now the play Pittsburgh in SF & Seattle on the road. Those could be losses meaning a potential 11-5 season. They won’t get a #2 seed with an 11-5 record which means no bye week.
#12 I’m not going to bang Tennessee too hard for losing to the Saints 22-17. That game could have went either way and unfortunately for Tennessee it went bad. What is striking about the game is how lopsided 3rd down was. The Titans were 1 of 10 on 3rd down conversions while the Saints were 11 of 19! The Titans couldn’t stay on the field while New Orleans couldn’t get off. The Saints had 75 plays to Tennessee’s 55. If you look at Pts/Play then Tennessee had 0.31pts/play while the Saints managed 0.29pts/play. Tennessee simply couldn’t stay on the field long enough to win the game. The Titans aren’t completely out of it because they get Jacksonville & Indianapolis in their next two which should make them 9-6 before heading to Houston. They need to keep Matt Hasselbeck healthy though. I don’t think Jake Locker beats the Texans on the road?
#13 Detroit did everything they could to lose last week’s game against Minnesota, but the Vikings were having none of it! Despite being superior to Detroit in every statistical category imaginable, the Vikings were a WHOPPING MINUS-6 in TO margin. The Lions are falling apart, but giving them the ball 6 extra times is still enough to ensure Detroit winning the game despite it being by a 34-28 margin! Heck, Minnesota still had a chance to win the game at the end which begs the question of what is going on in Motown!? Detroit’s defense has been atrocious over the last 5 games allowing 31.6ppg! That’s AWFUL considering that in their first 8, the Lions allowed 18.4ppg! What happened during that bye week!? If the season ended today Detroit would be in the playoffs, but they have Oakland, San Diego & Green Bay left. At 8-5 they could win up 8-8 or 10-6. Who knows at this point?
#14 I debated putting Seattle here, but Arizona just got a huge win over San Francisco are are now 5-1 in their last 6. It was too hard not to reward the Cardinals for playing so well over the past month and a half. The win over San Francisco was a gift. John Skelton was playing QB. The Cardinals couldn’t run the ball to save their lives & they were also -3 in TO margin for the game. San Francisco simply did everything in their power to gift wrap a win for Arizona & the Cardinals accepted. At 6-7, the Cardinals are on the outside looking in for a playoff run, but it’s entirely possible. They play Cleveland, Cincinnati & Seattle in their last 3 games with the only road game coming against the Bengals. Arizona could easily win out & finish 9-7. They can’t win the West so they have to hope NYG/DAL and DET falter down the stretch so they can slide into the #6 seed. Atlanta will at least go 10-6.
#15 Dallas can’t stop losing games against good teams they need to win. If the season ended today the Cowboys wouldn’t be in the playoffs. Heck they wouldn’t even be the #7 seed as they’d be behind the Bears! I don’t get it. The Cowboys were up 34-22 against the Giants in the 4th quarter. That was the time they needed to bury the Giants and claim the NFC East title no matter if they won or lost in New York on the last week of the season. Instead, they completely melt down, lose the game & are now pretty much forced to win out to make the playoffs. You’d like to blame Tony Romo but Romo threw for 321 yards & 4TD without committed a turnover. He guided Dallas to 34 points. Still wasn’t good enough. Five of Dallas’s 6 losses have been close meaning they could easily be 12-1. I can’t figure them out, but their in serious danger of going 8-8.

DROPPING OUT

#9 MIAMI DOLPHINS: Not exactly the kind of week Miami was hoping for. First Matt Moore gets knocked out of the game against Philadelphia. Then the Dolphins lose to Philly 24-10. Later HC Tony Sporano gets fired. That’s really tough. Before the loss to Philadelphia, the Dolphins had won 4 of their last 5 and they were a much better team than their record indicated. I’m not sure that was reason to keep Sporano, but Miami’s best case record is 8-5 & Sporano can’t help that he drew garbage at QB. The defense is still playing really well & this is still a team you don’t want to see unless they simply pack it in the rest of the way. Very very tough loss.

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December 18, 2011 - Posted by | Uncategorized

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