No Sleep Till Football

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NFL POWER 15 – WEEK 2 2014

#1 I had to think a little bit before elevating the Broncos to this spot. The 24-17 win over KC was dubious at best. Offensively Denver looked OK but the problem was that Denver was a complete mess. Tons of penalties kept Kansas City on the field for extended periods of time. KC’s first drive of the 2nd half lasted 10 minutes and their 2nd drive lasted a long while too. The Chiefs actually outgained Denver! A lot of people thought Denver’s defense was the problem in them getting blown out by the Seahawks in last year’s Super Bowl. The D can’t keep playing like this if that is to change. Remember this was the same KC team that the Titans blew out in Week 1! In Kansas City!
#2 Losing stings a bit but I don’t think losing 30-21 to the Chargers in San Diego is a huge detriment to Seattle’s overall goals. Believe it or not the Seahawks defense was key to the problems on Sunday. The Hawks couldn’t quite get San Diego off the field as the Chargers were 10/17 on 3rd down. Antonio Gates was also a problem on little short routes & Philip Rivers wasn’t missing. I don’t know if it was a momentum changer but Percy Harvin fumbled a kickoff late in the 2nd quarter after SD kicked a FG to go up 13-7. SD turned it into a TD to make it 20-7. That incident increased San Diego’s chances to win from 60.8% to 85.2%! It was the only turnover of the game.
#3 The Eagles have to feel really good about getting out of Indianapolis and basically stealing a win from the Colts to improve their record to 2-0! A couple of things about the Eagles. They’ve faced quite a bit of adversity early on although not all was expected. They were down 17-0 at halftime to the Jaguars but outscored Jax 34-0 in the 2nd half! They were down 20-6 late in the 3Q against Indy & came back & won 30-27! That builds a lot of resolve & character in a championship team. When little things like this start going right, it’s almost a snowball effect that can encompass the entire season. Darren Spoles is a BEAST. I just wanted to get that out there.
#4 A complete meltdown in the 4th quarter doomed SF opening up its new stadium with a win by losing to the Bears 28-20 despite being up 20-7 after 3 quarters! How many 13 point 4th quarter leads has SF blown since Jim Harbaugh has been head coach? It can’t have been many. I don’t know if its cause for concern but QB Colin Kaepernick lost it. He threw 3 picks and lost a fumble as SF was -4 in TO margin. Kaepernick was even penalized for offensive language! I don’t think this game will be a game changer for the 49ers prospects this season but it will be an interesting test to see how the 49ers & specifically Kaepernick bounce back after a disappointing loss.
#5 I feel a little more confident with the Patriots now that they went into Minnesota and pasted the Vikings 30-7, but there are still some question marks. Tom Brady simply doesn’t look like Tom Brady & the Minnesota defense is going to be one of the lesser defenses he faces this season. If the Vikings make the FG Chandler Jones blocks & returns for a TD, then it’s NE 17, MIN 10 going into halftime instead of NE 24, MIN 7. That’s a 10 point swing. The Patriots were helped out tremendously by Matt Cassel’s 4 picks. NE only scored 2 offensive TDs & committed 15 penalties for 163yds! It was a blowout win for NE, but there are still many warning signs.
#6 Cincinnati might have had the most impressive game of any team in my top-6 as they systematically dominated the Falcons 24-10 in Paul Brown Stadium. The Bengals pounded the ball on the ground running the football 45 times for 170yds while star WR AJ Green sat out. Andy Dalton did a good job managing the game & the Bengals defense picked off Matt Ryan 3 times en route to a 24-3 lead before Atlanta threw in a garbage time TD in the 4th. The Bengals have opened up with wins over Baltimore & Atlanta. It’s not Denver & Seattle but it isn’t awful either & I think the Bengals are looking towards trying for that #1 overall seed to ensure a couple of games at home.
#7 Cam Newton made his debut against Detroit and came away with a 24-7 victory. He had an OK game going 22/34 for 281yds & a TD, but he took 5 sacks and didn’t run the ball particularly well. I thought it was interesting to see how much chemistry Newton would have with rookie WR Kelvin Benjamin seeing how Derek Anderson did such a good job with the rookie in Week 1. I didn’t see much as Newton targeted Benjamin 8 times but only connected twice. With Carolina’s running game hurting, Newton needs to be fantastic under center. Carolina’s defense of course was great. The Panthers shut down Matt Stafford & didn’t allow Calvin Johnson into the endzone.
#8 The Bills have to be the best story in the NFL right now and after 2 weeks how great do their wins actually look? They went to Chicago & beat a Bears team many thought would win the NFC North. After Buffalo’s victory maybe the Bears weren’t that good, but Chicago went into SF and beat the 49ers! In Week 2 the Bills took on Miami in Buffalo & won 29-10. This was the same Miami team that destroyed the Patriots the week prior 33-20! I wouldn’t sleep on Buffalo. They might not make the playoffs but they have some young stars in the making so with momentum this team could keep getting better. They get the Chargers this week but nobody thought they’d beat Chicago either!
#9 It’s really hard to bet against Aaron Rodgers because he’s so good. He didn’t play particularly well against the Jets this past week. He completed less than 60% of his passes & took 4 sacks but he threw 3TD without a pick & hit Jordy Nelson with an 80-yard bomb late in the 4th quarter with the scored tied 24-24! On the other hand, the Packers haven’t really impressed early on. They were blown out by Seattle & if not for Rodgers’ heroics at the end of the game, the Jets might have taken Green Bay to OT in Lambeau! The Jets might be the worst team in the AFC East. That’s not a good sign especially when Geno Smith played as poorly as he did. Winning covers up quite a bit.
#10 The Cardinals let the Giants beat themselves and ended up with a 25-14 road win that pushed them to 2-0 & in first place. QB Drew Stanton was clearly off but the Giants couldn’t help shooting themselves in the foot with 4 turnovers & 9 penalties for 70 yards! The Cardinals were lucky to get out of Week 1 with a win over San Diego. Now Carson Palmer is injured. Is there a 2-0 team in more dire straits than Arizona? The schedule gets significantly tougher with their next 2 games coming against San Francisco & Denver. That will likely push them to 2-2 so this might be the highest we see Arizona for a little while until the team is whole again & they get a few more wins.
#11 The Chargers came away with the most impressive win of the weekend, beating the defending Super Bowl Champion Seahawks 30-21 in a game that was never really close. The Chargers were excellent converting 3rd downs & dominated time of possession. HC Mike McCoy is the real deal & what he’s done with Philip Rivers is amazing. Against “The Legion of Boom”, Rivers was 28/37 (76%) for 284yds & 3TD with no interceptions. If that is the best secondary Rivers will face all season, then Rivers might very well wind up with an MVP award. I also think Donald Brown will be a big addition to the offense. There is some skill there & he’ll give McCoy yet another weapon on offense!
#12 It baffled me to see the Colts with the ball at the end of the game with the scored tied 27-27 & then run Trent Richardson on 1st & 2nd down essentially giving Andrew Luck just one chance to make something happen. All Indianapolis needed was a FG to win the game & Adam Vinatieri is your FG kicker! It didn’t make much sense & if you are a Colts fan you have to wonder if Peyton Manning would have just ran the ball twice with the game on the line? It was tough being in Indianapolis with inept coaching by way of Tony Dungy & Jim Caldwell. Peyton was screwed with that. It would suck for Luck to be screwed too with bad coaching which would limit the Colts ability to hang banners. Peyton knows this all too well.
#13 The Bears have to be feeling pretty good about winning in San Francisco. If you planned out the Bears season before Week 1, you would have probably had them at 1-1 with them beating the Bills at home & losing to the 49ers on the road. The games were switched but the result is the same in the 1-1 record. The loss to the Bills doesn’t look bad with Buffalo at 2-0 & more than anything I think Chicago still has a lot of upside to the team. Alshon Jeffery hasn’t played that well. The running game hasn’t caught on and the rushing defense has been terrible. The next 2 games are winnable & if the season ended today, the Bears would be the de facto NFC North champions!
#14 I don’t like the loss to Buffalo, but the Bills were at home & the loss doesn’t look horrible. More demoralizing than the loss is the loss of RB Knowshon Moreno for awhile. Lamar Miller & Daniel Thomas just aren’t the same type of back & Moreno was a horse during Miami’s win over New England. With Ryan Tannehill looking more & more like the QB that won’t propel Miami to a championship, the Dolphins were sort of relying on a power running game to sustain the offense. With that option out, now Miami is hoping for huge defensive efforts with the offense barely getting by. With the Chiefs & Raiders coming up, Miami could be 3-1 going into the bye week. They’ll need it.
#15 Life must be good when you are throwing TD passes to your All-World DE while the team you are playing against can’t help themselves from turning the ball over. I struggled hard with putting the Texans here over the Saints, but Houston is 2-0 while New Orleans has yet to win a game. All that matters is the wins though even if you think the competition Houston has faced (Washington & Oakland) is suspect! The crazy part is that the Texans plays the Giants (road), Bills (home), & Cowboys (road) in their next 3 so there is definitely a possibility that Houston opens up the season 5-0! I don’t believe in Ryan Fitzpatrick but being up 2 games on Indy to start the season is a miracle!



New Orleans Saints (Last Week #5): I had a hard time dropping the Saints completely out but what could I have done? Getting beat by 3 on the road in OT against a division rival is one thing, but losing to Cleveland on the road in the follow up game? That’s almost unthinkable. The Saints are sitting at 0-2 while the Panthers are 2-0. In fairness to the Saints, if they can beat the teams they should beat and take care of homefield, then they’ll be 5-2 when they visit Carolina in Week 9. Even if they lose that game and drop to 5-3, they get 3 straight home games which should put them at 8-3 after 11 games despite the 0-2 start. With the Falcons losing this week, the loss to Atlanta doesn’t seem as nice & I get the feeling New Orleans is going to look back on the first 2 games and regret what happened because what the 2 games could do is cost them the #1 overall seed in the NFC. If the Saints get the #1 seed, you have to think they are going back to the Super Bowl. If they have to play at Philadelphia, Seattle or San Francisco, my guess is that they don’t win that road game. Right now best case is probably 12-4/11-5. Maybe the 12-4 is good enough for the #1 seed but I don’t think 11-5 is good enough to get it done.

Detroit Lions (Last Week #12): The Giants really suck so Detroit beating them up in Week 1 looks a lot weaker now. Also the Lions just didn’t show up in Carolina. It doesn’t make a lot of sense. No question the Panthers front-7 was going to give Detroit problems but it just seemed like Carolina took the game over in the end & Detroit didn’t have much of an answer. I would like to see the Lions put together some sustained success. It doesn’t make any sense that this team isn’t a lot better than what it is. The parts are definitely greater than the sum at this point & I’m not sure why. If Jim Schwartz wasn’t the answer, then I’m not sure how Jim Caldwell is.

Atlanta Falcons (Last Week #13): The win over New Orleans last week doesn’t look as good now that the Saints lost to the Browns. In turn, Matt Ryan turned into a pumpkin against the Bengals defense. It’s not that Atlanta lost to Cincinnati but the way in which they did it. I sometimes wonder if Atlanta wouldn’t be a lot better if they dedicated a lot more of their offense to running the football. I know that was the initial plan last year with Steven Jackson & Jacquizz Rodgers before injuries killed their chances. The Bengals were never completely blowing the Falcons out but Atlanta certainly abandoned the running game, if they planned on one at all.

Pittsburgh Steelers (Last Week: #14): The Steelers are just a football team that might not be any good. The win over the Browns looks significantly better than it did a week ago but getting beat by 20 in Baltimore is nuts considering that Cincinnati just beat Baltimore. The AFC North is sort of a mess. Given the outcomes of the games so far, you’d have to rank the teams: 1-Cincinnati, 2-Baltimore, 3-Pittsburgh, 4-Cleveland but I’m not so sure that they aren’t all just bunched up together. The one win that makes a difference is Cincinnati going on the road & winning in Baltimore. At this point wouldn’t you favor Cleveland at home over both Pittsburgh & Baltimore? I don’t know how the division will play out but it’s difficult to see Pittsburgh & Baltimore breaking into the Power-15 unless they can sustain some type of success.


September 17, 2014 - Posted by | Arizona Cardinals, Atlanta Falcons, Buffalo Bills, Carolina Panthers, Chicago Bears, Cincinnati Bengals, Denver Broncos, Detroit Lions, Green Bay Packers, Houston Texans, Indianapolis Colts, Miami Dolphins, New England Patriots, New Orleans Saints, NFL Power 15, Philadelphia Eagles, Pittsburgh Steelers, Power 15, San Diego Chargers, San Francisco 49ers, Seattle Seahawks

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