No Sleep Till Football

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NFL Power 15 – Week 1 2013

#1 No Michael Crabtree or Mario Manningham? No problem for the 49ers as they beat the Packers 34-28 this past Sunday in San Francisco. Anquan Boldin was virtually unstoppable catching 13 balls for 208 yards & 1TD while Vernon Davis had 98 receiving yards & 2TD. QB Colin Kaepernick had his first ever 400 yards game with 412 & 3TD. Aldon Smith has to be happy that Justin Smith is back & healthy. His 1.5 sacks put him on pace for 24 for the season! Solid win for SF who actually had to win this one because they travel to Seattle in Week 2. A loss to the Packers could have meant an 0-2 start. ROOKIE WATCH: Eric Reid/S had 7 tackles and one pass defended on the day.
#2 WOW! Peyton Manning had one of the best passing games in NFL history, throwing for 462 yards & 7TD in Denver 49-27 win over the visiting Ravens. Baltimore has some secondary issues but the Ravens showed they had a pretty solid team. Denver absolutely tore them up! I think it is interesting that the Ravens had a 17-14 lead at halftime yet the Broncos managed to outscore them 35-10 in the 2nd half which showed how tired Baltimore became. This is Manning’s 2nd year with receivers such as Eric Decker & Demaryius Thomas. Wes Welker is incredible & Julius Thomas was a revelation. The offense might be unstoppable. ROOKIE WATCH: Montee Ball/RB rushed for 24yards on 8 carries.
#3 Seattle’s 12-7 win over Carolina isn’t as sexy as what SF did to GB or the awesome fireworks display put on by Peyton Manning, but Seattle went on the road against a motivated Panthers team who finished 2012 strong & completely shut down the Carolina offense. In their last 6 games in 2012, Carolina was 5-1 & averaged 29PPG. Seattle did a good job of completely shutting down Carolina’s passing game although they can shore up the rush defense a bit. Russell Wilson was solid completing 76% of his passes for 320yards & 2TD. Seattle now gets to come home to face division rival San Francisco. I thought this was a trap game for Seattle because it would have been easy to look forward to a home date with the 49ers. They passed the test well. ROOKIE WATCH: Benson Mayowa/DE had 2 tackles! The 6’3/252lbs DE was an undrafted player out of Idahos.
#4 If you believe in San Francisco then you have to respect that Green Bay almost went on the road against arguably the best team in the NFL and stole a victory. Aaron Rodgers passed for over 300yds & 3TD. Jordy Nelson & Randall Cobb each caught for over 100yds & both found the endzone. The Packers actually had a 28-24 lead late in the 4th quarter but 10 quick points by SF gave the Packers a 34-28 loss. Green Bay’s offensive line did a decent job for the most part but the Packers really need to figure out a way to run the football. I’ve said this before but it almost seems as if this is looking like a Peyton Manning led Colts squad, and like Peyton, Rodgers deserves so much better than that. Green Bay goes back home to take on the Redskins. ROOKIE WATCH: David Bakhtiari/LT didn’t have a bad game. Aldon Smith only had 1.5 sacks and Rodgers stayed upright for most of the game. Not a bad start for the 4th rounder out of Colorado.
#5 The offensive explosion between the Saints & Falcons didn’t really happen in New Orleans opening 24-17 win over Atlanta, but I’m ranking New Orleans this high because the offense is going to score this season & the defense came to play against an Atlanta offense that should be among the very best in the NFL. For the most part New Orleans held the passing attack down. Julio Jones & Tony Gonzalez weren’t really factors. The Saints forced a couple of turnovers. The Saints were able to sack Falcons QB Matt Ryan 3 times & hit him 6 more times. The offense was maybe a little rusty in Sean Payton’s return but if the D can keep this up, New Orleans will right in the thick of things. ROOKIE WATCH: Kenny Vacarro/S was 2nd on the team in tackles with 5 including a pass defended. The first rounder out of Texas had an impact on the game and at 6’0/220lbs is a big hitter in the secondary.
#6 It wasn’t the prettiest win in the world but getting out of Buffalo with a 23-21 victory is still starting the season off 1-0. Statistically the Patriots dominated the game but they had trouble in the red zone and the Bills took advantage of a defensive TD to keep the game close early on. I think it was interesting that Tom Brady threw the ball 52 times. New England certainly played ball control offense as they had the ball for 37+ minutes, but the Patriots only had 35 rushing attempts. Danny Amendola made 10 catches but is already gimpy and could miss next week against the Jets especially on a short week. This is still New England I suppose but Tom Brady didn’t look all that great against a team that is likely to find its way into the basement of the AFC East. ROOKIE WATCH: Joe Vellano/DT had a couple of tackles & one of the 3 New England tackles for loss. The 6’2/300lbs DT was undrafted out of Maryland.
#7 If you are a big believer in sack differential then you have to be a big believer in the Miami Dolphins. The Dolphins sacked Brandon Weeden 6 times as compared to Ryan Tannehill being sacked just once. That means the Dolphins are already +4 in that category & you can be sure that Cameron Wake isn’t going to be stopping anytime soon. Miami had trouble running the football but I think Cleveland is better than people think. The Browns are solid in the trenches and Miami made them look bad on the O-Line. The Dolphins hit Weeden 16 times & forced him to throw 3 interceptions. You won’t see many power rankings with Miami as high as I have them. They have TE problems to be sure but this is a good football team looking better with the Patriots struggling. ROOKIE WATCH: Dion Jordan/DE got his first sack of his career. If he can emerge, the 6’6/250lbs DE will make a scary compliment to Wake.
#8 I didn’t have Atlanta ranked in my initial Power 15 and some of that was because I felt like the Falcons would be so bad on defense this season that it would be difficult for them to overcome those deficiencies even with a world class offense. The Saints had every reason to be fired up with the return of Sean Payton & playing the first game of the season in New Orleans, but amazingly enough I think the Falcons defense was the story of the game. Sure the Falcons lost, but Drew Brees didn’t carve them up and the Falcons rush defense was pretty good. Oddly enough it was the offense that sputtered a bit, but Atlanta is going to put huge offensive numbers over the course of a season. If the defense plays this well then the Falcons deserve to be in the discussion with the 49ers, Seahawks, Packers & Saints. ROOKIE WATCH: Robert Alford/CB had a tackle, two passes defended & an interception! The 5’10/190lbs CB out of SE Louisiana was a 2nd round pick in 2013. Desmond Trufant was Atlanta’s 1st round pick. These two should make up Atlanta’s cornerbacks of the future.
#9 Somewhat like the New England/Buffalo game although Houston got down by a considerable margin (28-7) whereas Buffalo sort of hung around & took the lead late before the Patriots finally won the game. Houston just couldn’t get it going in the 1st half falling behind 28-7 mostly because Houston couldn’t get SD QB Philip Rivers to fall down! The 2nd half was a different story as Rivers folded in the 4th quarter as usual & the Texans stormed back to win the game 31-28. A game like this is interesting because it instills confidence in the team that no matter how far back they start, they can come back and win a football game. Mike McCoy did a great job in Denver & he might do a great job in San Diego so this win could look better as time passes. A real confidence booster. ROOKIE WATCH: DeAndre Hopkins/WR had 5 catches for 66 yards with one 30-yard reception. The 6’1/215lbs WR from Clemson looks like a perfect compliment to Andre Johnson.
#10 Like the Falcons, the Bears were another team I didn’t have ranked because I figured they would lose their first home game of the season to Cincinnati & that their O-line would be exposed so badly that they could never really be taken seriously as a threat in the NFC. That didn’t happen. The Bengals have a nasty pass rush yet the Bears O-Line didn’t allow a single sack with Jay Cutler sustaining only 4 QB hits! Cutler rewarded the play by completing 64% of his passes for 242yards & 2TD. Chicago did a good job defensively too. They picked off Andy Dalton twice in their eventual 24-21 victory and did a good job against Cincy’s running game. If the O-Line keeps this up then Chicago is going to be tough to handle. ROOKIE WATCH: Jordan Mills/RT was solid all game long keeping pressure of Cutler & doing a good job in the running game. The 6’5/320lbs product out of Louisiana Tech looks like a great pick in the 5th round!
#11 The Cowboys got the monkey off their back about losing to the Giants in Jerry World but the Giants had committed 5 turnovers during the game & still had a chance to win at the end of the 4th quarter before Eli Manning threw his 3rd pick of the night (NY’s 6th turnover!) to Brandon Carr which resulted in a pick-6 and an eventual 36-31 Cowboys victory. The Cowboys also got a fumble return for a TD. Offensively Dallas did OK but they can’t give up 31 points on defense when the other team commits 6 turnovers. You get the feeling that if the Giants did this to Denver this week, then Peyton would OWN New York for a 59-10 victory instead of barely eeking out a win. I just don’t understand the Cowboys. ROOKIE WATCH: Travis Frederick/C had a good game in his first start at center. It’s never easy to come in and be the QB of the offensive line. Maybe & overdraft in the 1st round but should prove useful.
#12 Tough loss for Cincinnati losing 24-21 in Chicago. In a week where Baltimore & Pittsburgh both lost, this was a great opportunity for the Bengals to get out in front of the division. Tough to complain though. Chicago is a playoff caliber team in a very difficult NFC. Going into Soldier Field and expecting a win might have been pie in the sky thinking although Cincy did have a shot to win if they would have held on. The Bengals O-Line played great while AJ Green was virtually unstoppable. The game probably came down to the fact that the Bengals were -2 in TO margin. Sometimes it’s that simple. The Bengals have sort of lived off the reputation of winning the games they are supposed to the last couple of years. At some point QB Andy Dalton has to transition into winning tough games on the road. This was one of them. ROOKIE WATCH: Tyler Eifert/TE caught 5 balls for 47 yards on 5 targets. The 6’5/250lbs Notre Dame product is a matchup nightmare & could be one of the best TEs in all of football starting now.
#13 Amazingly enough the Giants were on the road in Dallas while committing 6 turnovers & being -5 in TO margin yet still had a chance to win the football game late in the 4th quarter, coming up just short in a 31-36 loss to the Cowboys! If you believe in the Cowboys then the Giants can’t be too bad. There are some definitely signs of problems here. The O-Line is brutal and the Giants have absolutely no running game to speak of. The rushing attack is so bad that the Giants brought back Brandon Jacobs! If New York goes back home this week and loses to Denver (seems likely) they’ll drop to 0-2 & out of the power rankings but in New York’s 2 Super Bowl runs, they’ve started slowly. The turnover were brutal but some of that is luck induced & they simply didn’t look that bad. ROOKIE WATCH: Justin Pugh/RT played well considering the O-Line was awful. The 6’4/307lbs Syracuse product was about average. Tom Coughlin was thrilled!
#14 Sometimes you find yourself on the wrong side of historical games which is what happened Thursday night in Denver when the Ravens were abused by Peyton Manning who threw for 462yards & 7TD! The Ravens have some problems with their secondary but this is a game you can’t learn too much from because a game like this & a performance like that is almost impossible to replicate. Baltimore’s defense is going to get hammered but the D-Line was solid. Offensively it was a weird game because Baltimore essentially had to abandon the run game in the 2nd half because Denver went crazy to start the 3rd quarter. Given how Pittsburgh played, it looks as if Baltimore’s only competition in the North is Cincinnati & I think the Ravens are up to the task. The best thing to do is just forget this game. ROOKIE WATCH: Marlon Brown/WR: An undrafted WR out of Georgia, the 6’5/220lbs wideout caught 4 balls for 65yards & a TD. How did this guy go undrafted? The size alone is crazy!
#15 An overreaction to be sure but of all the teams in the NFL that are sort of set up like the Titans, only they played a game that made sense. Tennessee fans know they are playing with limited ability with Jake Locker at QB. They also know they have a solid running game in Chris Johnson and solid line play on both sides of the ball. The easy solution is to ground & pound, control the clock, limit turnovers & eek out a close win. Tennessee rushed the ball 42 times to only 20 passes. They were +2 in TO margin without committing a single turnover. They held the ball for 8 more minutes than the Steelers. The Titans had 5 sacks & 6 QB hits while the Steelers only managed 1 sack & 2 QB hits. Things went EXACTLY how they should & Tennessee got a road win over Pittsburgh 16-9! Let’s see them do it again! ROOKIE WATCH: Chance Warmack/RG had a great game at RG as the Titans offensive line did a great job against Pittsburgh.

September 13, 2013 - Posted by | Atlanta Falcons, Baltimore Ravens, Chicago Bears, Cincinnati Bengals, Dallas Cowboys, Denver Broncos, Green Bay Packers, Houston Texans, Miami Dolphins, New England Patriots, New Orleans Saints, New York Giants, NFL Power 15, San Francisco 49ers, Seattle Seahawks, Tennessee Titans

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