No Sleep Till Football

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2012 NFL Week 1 – Power 15

EEK! Getting this one out pretty late, but the whole Thursday schedule is still getting the better of me! Here is what I was thinking about the best 15 teams in the NFL.

RANK TEAM COMMENTS
#1 That was a statement game over Green Bay! Not only did the 49ers get the 30-22 win, but they got the win at Lambeau Field! It’s only week 1 so this is WAY too early but the Packers & 49ers certainly look like the best two teams in the NFC & if they tie for the best record in the league, the tiebreaker goes to the 49ers! I don’t think you can say enough about the 49ers defense. It is widely believed that Aaron Rodgers is at the peak of his prime & the best QB in the NFL currently. Statistically Rodgers had a solid day, but the 49ers got him to throw a pick & Rodgers didn’t blow up until the 4th quarter. I’m not going to say the 49ers are going 16-0, but they have a road game in New England & that’s it. Unless the blow it somewhere along the line, San Francisco should win 15-16 games. They made the best offense in the NFL look, dare I say, bad in Week 1?
#2 We’ve seen what the no-huddle offense can do for guys like Tom Brady, Peyton Manning, Drew Brees & Aaron Rodgers, so why did it take so long for the Ravens to give Joe Flacco the same opportunities? We saw the result opening week with the Ravens HAMMERING Cincinnati 44-13! Joe Flacco looked absolutely amazing, and I really think the Ravens offense might work a little better going through Flacco than RB Ray Rice. That sounds like anathema, but before you sort of knew the offense was flowing through Rice, but the Ravens look like an offense with a bunch of weapons. Torrey Smith is a deep threat that is only going to get better & better. TE Dennis Pitta looked incredible up the seam. Defensively what else can you say. Losing Terrell Suggs hurts, but Baltimore’s defense was up to the task. It was really neat watching the Ravens allow Cincinnati to do anything they want, but the Bengals were not going to throw to AJ Green or Jermaine Greshem, and Andy Dalton was going to feel pressure. Great win.
#3 Typical Patriots who simply don’t lose season openers. You knew the Patriots were going to win when the Titans announced that Jake Locker was going to be the starting QB. It wouldn’t have mattered had Matt Hasselbeck been the starting QB either, but with Locker you knew it was going to be blow out city and it was as New England cruised to a 34-13 win. What you really have to take away from this game is the defensive effort put forth by the Patriots. Chandler Jones had a great game. Tavon Wilson had a great game. Those two guys are rookies who will play a role this season. The Patriots defense was awful last season, yet they held RB Chris Johnson to 4 yards on 11 carries. Jake Locker threw for only 229 yards. The Patriots turned the Titans over twice. It’ll be difficult to really understand how good New England is because the schedule is so awful, but that was a great defensive effort.
#4 It’s only one game, and let’s not forget that he Packers still put up 22 points on a 49ers defense that might not give up that many in any game for the rest of the season! If there is one thing to take from this game is that it was a pretty sloppy game. Mike McCarthy & Jim Harbaugh certainly weren’t happy with the replacement refs for much of the game, and there were a total of 18 penalties which is uncharacteristic for both teams involved. The other thing to think about is Green Bay’s defense. On one hand they got 4 sacks which is a big deal, but on the other they let San Francisco rush for 186 yards & average 5.8ypc! That puts the Packers rush defense on pace to allow almost 3,000 rushing yards over a 16-game schedule! That’s historically bad & potentially the worst rush defense in NFL history! The Packers aren’t going to win any championships that way. I guarantee it! They have to fix that rush defense immediately!
#5 The growing trend in the NFL is that the ratio of sacks against to sacks allowed combined with a great passing attack is the way to win a Super Bowl. If that is the case then the Broncos have to be right there in the ELITE group of teams with this ability. Denver recorded 5 sacks while Peyton Manning was only down 2. That’s +3 for one game and a pace that could put the Broncos at +48 by season’s end. As for the passing attack, it was like Peyton never left as #18 was 19/26 (73.1%) for 253 yards & 2TD to no interceptions. Denver actually ran the ball one more time than they passed which was something to notice. Beating Pittsburgh 31-19 is a statement. Manning always had trouble with the Steelers when he played in Indianapolis so to come in and win by 18 points is a big deal. Going forward keep an eye on rookie DT Derek Wolfe! The Broncos hit a GRAND SLAM with this draft pick. The kid is a beast & will be a huge part of Denver’s defense continually getting better over the course of the season. It sounds CRAZY, but this might be the best team Manning has ever played on.
#6 Dallas looked the part last Wednesday night in going into New York and beating the Giants 24-17 on their homefield. Like the 49ers in Lambeau, this was a statement win for the Cowboys as they took down the defending Super Bowl champions in their own backyard! Offensively I don’t think Dallas can look any better. DeMarco Murray ran like a cheetah while Tony Romo threw the ball better than I’ve ever seen him throw it! Remember this is coming off a Giants pass rush that is widely considered to be one of the best if not the best in the entire league. Kevin Ogletree really emerged & he’s the 5th option behind Bryant, Austin, Witten & Murray! Defensively the Cowboys did a great job on Ahmad Bradshaw & the corners gave Eli Manning fits for most of the night. I don’t know if Morris Claiborne & Brandon Carr really were that big of a difference, but it seemed like it. Given the way that Philly played against Cleveland, how can the Cowboys not feel they are in the driver’s seat in the NFC East. NO LET DOWNS BABY! NO LET DOWNS!
#7 Houston turned in a pretty ho-hum 30-10 win over the Miami Dolphins to open up the season. DE JJ Watt had an incredible game garnering 1.5 sacks and swatting away quite a few of Ryan Tannehill’s passes! Offensively the Texans started fast getting up on Miami 24-3 at halftime before grinding it out in the 2nd half. Arian Foster didn’t have a great day on the ground, but Houston did rush 35 times despite averaging just 2.4ypc. It was great to see Andre Johnson get in a full game at 100% and he didn’t disappoint catching 8 balls for 119 yards & a TD! Houston was +4 in TO margin for this game which bodes well. Not every team is going to have a QB who is as interception happy as Tannehill & Houston certainly took advantage of the rookie. Houston is going to be interesting going forward. They don’t have the easiest schedule, but a lot if expected of them. The AFC South won’t be a problem, but if I’m Houston I am sort of looking ahead to playoff seeding because I don’t think the AFC will be easy sledding. Not as difficult as the NFC, but not easy either.
#8 As with Green Bay, I’m not going to really knock the Giants down too much for losing to Dallas. In Green Bay’s case, the 49ers might easily be the best team in the NFL. In New York’s case, the Cowboys really do look like the real deal which means they most likely are the front runners to win the NFC East. Losing to them by 7 points isn’t an awful happenstance. The G-Men have to be a little troubled with their cornerbacks. They are beat up pretty badly in their secondary. The Dallas attack is fairly dangerous so it’s not like NY will see that sort of passing attack on a weekly basis, but Kevin Ogletree looked like a first team All-Pro in the opener. That’s not a great sign. With all that said, let’s not forget that the last two times the Giants have won the Super Bowl, they haven’t had the greatest regular season performances. The Giants care about finishing which means all they need to do is qualify for the playoffs and the rest will take care of itself. It’s not panic time.
#9 Atlanta had a coming out party against the Chiefs last week, going into Arrowhead & beating Kansas City 40-24 to open up what most Falcons hope to be a year in which Atlanta makes a deep playoff run. The Falcons have a tremendous amount of weapons at the skill positions & all were on display against a Chiefs defense that looked terrible. Matt Ryan hooked up with Julio Jones, Roddy White & Tony Gonzalez for 17 catches that went for 248 yards & 3TD! To me I felt like this game meant a lot for Matt Ryan. The Falcons QB had a perfect day going 23/31 (74.2%) for 299 yards & 3TD. The 40 points is what we expected, but there are some negatives. Defensively the Falcons had a hard time stopping the run. Kansas City rushed for 152 yards & averaged 4.6ypc! The Chiefs also kept it pretty close getting the score to 17-17 before Atlanta just blitzed the Chiefs in the 2nd half. I think the Chiefs are better than people think so keeping it close isn’t so bad & this is a solid win for Atlanta.
#10 A couple thoughts about the Saints. The Sean Payton thing is becoming more & more of a factor. It’s difficult at best to quantify the effect the head coach has on the outcome of a football game. The other thing to talk about in the Saints 40-32 loss to the Redskins is that the Saints can’t be so pass dominant. We all know the Saints have Drew Brees and quite a few weapons when it comes to the passing game, but you can’t be an offense that passes the ball 90% of the time & be successful in the NFL. The Saints tried that last week and got beat at home by a team they have no business losing to. If the Saints are going to compete in the South, then they are going to have to figure out how to run better. That means guys like Mark Ingram, Pierre Thomas & Darren Sproles are going to have to be more productive in the backfield. Let’s hope the defensive effort was more a product of simply having a bad day.
#11 It was like old times for Jay Cutler & Brandon Marshall as the two hooked up for 9 catches for 119 yards & a TD in Chicago’s 41-21 home opener against the Indianapolis Colts. Cutler got off to a bad start through the first quarter, but then hit a switch & torched the Colts defense the rest of the way, throwing for 333 yards & 2TD for the game. Matt Forte & Michael Bush did a great job running the football to supplement the passing attack. The Bears defense took advantage of rookie Colts QB Andrew Luck, picking off the franchise QB 3 times & forcing Luck to fumble the ball on another occasion. Jay Cutler of course is going to start running his mouth, but let’s remember that a 41-21 win over the Colts isn’t so much to write home about. This sit he same Colts team that is basically starting from scratch with a rookie HC and a rookie QB. Let’s hold off the coronation until the Bears beat a team of substance such as the Packers, Lions, Cowboys, Giants, 49ers, Saints or Falcons.
#12 Maybe it wouldn’t make a difference in Pittsburgh’s 31-19 loss to the Broncos, but the Steelers were playing without safety Ryan Clarke, LB James Harrison & RB Rashard Mendenhall. Those are significant losses for the Steelers & it isn’t like they went into Denver short their backup punter. HC Mike Tomlin stated they wanted to play keep away with Peyton Manning & the Steelers did a good job to that end. The game really turned on Ben Roethlisberger’s pass to the edge that Broncos CB Tracy Porter picked off & returned for a TD. At that point Denver was up 25-19 with the Steelers driving down the field. There was less than 2 minutes left in the game when the Porter interception occurred so it was possible for Pitsburgh to beat Denver 26-25 with no time left. It didn’t work out that way for Pittsburgh, but it would be silly to imagine Pittsburgh still not being an elite team. If you believe in Denver then you believe in Pittsburgh because it was closer than 31-19.
#13 The Redskins break into the Power-15 because they went into the Katrinadome & took down the Saints, who are almost impossible to beat at home. There was a lot to like about the Redskins. Robert Griffin III had the sort of debut the Redskins could only dream of. Mike Shanahan might have found his lead RB in Alfred Morris who the Skins road hard all day long to chew up time of possession. Those were the good things that happened for Washington in their 40-32 win over the Saints. On the other side, is that the defense gave up 32 points. Drew Brees played one of the worst games of his life. The Saints were -3 in TO margin. The game was incredibly sloppy with over 200 yards of penalties! All of that went wrong for the Saints & as you watched the game you still though that somehow Breees would engineer a comeback victory. A lot went right for Washington, but a win is a win! Now all the Redskins have to do is keep winning games they are now supposed to win. Don’t overlook them.
#14 At least for another week, there is no QB controversy in New York. In the Jets 48-28 win over Buffalo, Mark Sanchez went 19/27 (70.4%) for 266 yards & 3TD to only 1INT. Sanchez was especially fond of getting the ball to rookie WR Stephen Hill who was the beneficiary of 5 catches for 89 yards including 2TD. This has to be a load off of both Sanchez & HC Rex Ryan. I’m still in the camp that Ryan is one of the best HCs in the NFL, but he’s got a circus in New York that he’s trying to navigate. The best thing to happen for the Jets is to play like this. It also has to feel good for New York in that the Bills were a trendy pick to get a wild card spot in the AFC. The fact that the Jets hammered away at the Bills has to put the Jets back into the thick of things when it comes to wild card spots. Everything isn’t roses as the Jets had a horrific time stopping CJ Spiller, but the problem was always going to be the offense. Rex Ryan will figure out a way to shore up the defense. Let’s hope the offense sticks.
#15 Extremely ugly win for the Lions as they beat the Rams 27-23 in a game Matt Stafford would rather forget. Stafford was fairly terrible against St. Louis going 32/48 (66.7%) for 355 yards & a TD, but managed to throw 3 interceptions. Statistically the Lions dominated the game. Detroit had 14 more first downs. They almost had twice as many total yards. You got the feeling watching the game that the Lions were closer to beating the Rams 50-10 than barely eeking out a 27-23 win. Defensively the Lions were pretty good. They did a good job bottling up St. Louis’ rushing attack, but what kept St. Louis in the game is Sam Bradford not turning the ball over & having a good game. The Rams aren’t a great team, but if they don’t shoot themselves in the foot they can keep games fairly close. Detroit knows this now first hand & Detroit has to know they can’t be -3 in TO margin to beat better teams in the NFC.

DROPPING OUT

#9 PHILADELPHIA EAGLES: They barely beat the Cleveland Browns & Mike Vick throws the ball 50+ times!? When did this become the blueprint for how the Eagles are going to get back to the Super Bowl?

#11 CINCINNATI BENGALS: The Bengals took a beating in Baltimore this past week. I thought the Bengals would lose the game especially because the game was being played in Baltimore & there was a lot of emotion going on over the death of Art Modell. Still, the Bengals are fast becoming a team that can beat cupcakes but lose to solid playoff worthy teams. They need to learn to take the next step.

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September 16, 2012 - Posted by | Atlanta Falcons, Baltimore Ravens, Chicago Bears, Cincinnati Bengals, Dallas Cowboys, Denver Broncos, Detroit Lions, Green Bay Packers, Houston Texans, New England Patriots, New Orleans Saints, New York Giants, New York Jets, NFL Power 15, Philadelphia Eagles, Pittsburgh Steelers, San Francisco 49ers, Washington Redskins, Week 1

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