No Sleep Till Football

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NFL POWER 15 – WEEK 13 2014

RANK TEAM COMMENTS
#1 Last Week: Beat New England 26-21. What really stands out about this game is Green Bay’s red zone conversions. The Packers were in their own red zone on 4 occasions yet didn’t come away with a TD in any of them in contrast to New England who converted on all 3 attempts inside their own red zone. The Packers did a masterful job beating a team like New England. They weren’t clicking on all cylinders offensively but they played solid defense against Tom Brady’s bunch & most importantly they kept the ball away from Brady. It’s weird to think about red zone conversions. If Green Bay converts half then it’s 8 more points. If New England converts 1 less then it’s 4 fewer & the finals core is 34-17. Crazy stats.
#2 Last Week: Lost to Green Bay 21-26. Going on the road to Lambeau Field and losing is hardly damning for an NFL football team. As I mentioned above, the Patriots had a difficult time staying on the field and I’m not sure I like seeing Brady pass 36 times to the running game attempting only rushes. The running attack was averaging 4.7ypc & if you take away LeGarrette Blount’s & Brandon Bolden’s longest runs, the team was still averaging 3.7ypc which is enough to move the sticks. Give a lot of credit to Green Bay’s defense in this one & don’t underestimate how important homefield advantage is throughout the playoffs. If this game were in Foxboro, I’m not sure the Packers get a 5-point win. It’s a big deal.
#3 Last Week: Beat Kansas City 29-16. Huge win for the Broncos in Arrowhead Stadium, a place the Patriots couldn’t win. Denver had issues in the red zone like the Packers did. The Broncos were in the red zone 7 times but came away with just 1TD. They got 5 FGs out of their troubles & nothing once. Let’s say the Broncos get a FG when they got nothing & a couple of TDs on the other attempts. That’s an extra 11 points which makes it a 40-16 game! Maybe losing Montee Ball & Ronnie Hillman was a blessing in disguise. CJ Anderson over the past 2 weeks has rushed for 335yds on 59 attempts for a 5.7ypc average! Giving Peyton Manning a dominant rushing attack is bad news for the rest of the NFL hoping to stop them.
#4 Last Week: Beat San Francisco 19-3. It all seems to be coming together for the Seahawks. At 8-4 they improved to 1 game behind Arizona, a team that isn’t the same with Drew Stanton at QB instead of Carson Palmer. The win over San Francisco was a little sloppy. Seattle had quite a few penalties & they couldn’t convert in the red zone but it definitely looked like Seattle was back to their ground & pound tactics combined with smothering defense. It’s worth noting that I think Seattle is susceptible to teams like Philly & Green Bay away from home, but note that Seattle now holds the tiebreakers over Arizona & Green Bay with a chance to own it against Philadelphia this week. They are in great position.
#5 Last Week: Beat Dallas 33-10. So much for the “Eagles won’t be any good with Mark Sanchez” hyperbole! The Eagles came out & completely imposed their will on the Cowboys in Dallas! The Eagles offense was outstanding going for 450+ total yards & rushing for 250+ yards. LeSean McCoy was unstoppable & it’s time to recognize just how elite the skill players are in Philly with Jeremy Maclin, McCoy, Jordan Matthews, Darren Sproles, Zach Ertz & Brent Celek. Sanchez has actually outplayed Foles & is 4-1 as a starter! I don’t want to discount Philly’s defensive contributions either. Dallas is a very dangerous offensive football team but Philly made Tony Romo look helpless & locked DeMarco Murray down. Great win.
#6 Last Week: Beat NY Jets 16-13. This had every marking of a trap game for the Dolphins. After coming THIS CLOSE to beating the Broncos in Denver the week before, the Dolphins then had to go to NY to play a better than their record Jets team that is playing with absolutely nothing to lose. The Jets jumped out to a 10-0 lead & then were up 13-6 after 3 quarters. The Dolphins never quit & clawed their way back to a win that probably was the difference in their ability to make the playoffs. A loss here would have all but eliminated the Dolphins from the Wild Card race. I wanted to mention that this was another close loss for the Jets which gives them 5 for the season. Those close losses are going to cost Rex Ryan his job. I hate that.
#7 Last Week: Beat Washington 49-27. An incredible game to watch, the Colts scored 7 TD on the Redskins & 6 of them were by at least 30 yards! The difference in the game might have been a Colt McCoy fumble that turned into a D’Qwell Jackson 35yd TD return that put Indy up 35-17 midway through the 3rd quarter. It was a solid win for Indianapolis but it wasn’t exactly pretty even with the 49 points. Indy turned the ball over 3 times, committed some penalties & made Colt McCoy look like the reincarnation of Dan Marino. You have to think Indianapolis on the road against teams like Denver & New England would get carved up, but I think that is where Indy is. Just below teams like NE, DEN, GB, SEA & PHI but above the rest.
#8 Last Week: Lost to Seattle 3-19. I’m still not ready to put a fork in San Francisco just yet. Even with the loss to Seattle, the 49ers are 7-5 with a pretty good shot to still make the playoffs although Detroit & Dallas don’t look to be letting up just yet. I can’t quite figure out exactly what is going wrong with the 49ers other than pure dumb luck. They’ve lost to Arizona (9-3), Denver (9-3) & Seattle (8-4). Hardly Oakland & Jacksonville. They lost to the Rams but so did Seattle & Denver. SF has to go on the road to Seattle in 2 weeks but they can certainly win 3 of their last 4. That gives them a final record of 10-6. I’m not sure that will be enough but it’s worth noting the 49ers hold the tiebreaker over Dallas. It could mean something. It could mean everything.
#9 Last Week: Lost to Denver 16-29. The Chiefs have done a good job all season long beating teams by limiting mistakes & controlling time of possession. Denver reversed that scenario last week in beating KC. Denver held onto the ball for almost 40 minutes compared to the Chiefs’ 20. KC was also -2 in TO margin & when you have those stats against a team that features Peyton Manning at QB then you are likely to lose the game. Like Green Bay did against Tom Brady, the best defense for a guy like Manning is simply to keep him off the field because you can’t stop him. This loss isn’t brutal & KC is still 7-5 but the losses to Oakland & Tennessee could be season altering. The Chiefs probably should be 9-3 & the #5 seed. Instead they are in the AFC’s 7-5 hell.
#10 Last Week: Lost to Philadelphia 10-33. Dallas lost big to Philadelphia & while it hurts to drop a game behind Philly in the East, the Cowboys are still 8-4 & one of the teams primed to make the playoffs as a wild card team with a shot still at their own division. Sometimes you play bad & Dallas certainly did that against Philadelphia. The one alarming thing to watch for in Big D right now is how the defense holds up with the offense wearing down. DeMarco Murray didn’t run well against Philly & Tony Romo looked bad. These guys don’t have sterling reputations as healthy players so is the offense wearing down forcing the defense to play more which forces Dallas to play to their weakness? It’s certainly something to watch going forward.
#11 Last Week: Beat Tampa Bay 14-13. The Bengals did everything they could to lose to the Bucs in Tampa Bay but still eeked out a 1-point victory to improve to 8-3-1. It’s amazing to me to think the Bengals are even with both Denver & New England in the loss column. Heck if you look at losses, the Bengals’ 3 losses are tied for the fewest in the entire NFL! The only thing that saved Cincinnati last week is that Tampa is downright awful. Andy Dalton was terrible. Jeremy Hill was shut down. AJ Green & Mohamed Sanu had 6 catches between them. Cincy was -2 in TO margin & committed 10 penalties! A win is a win though & with Cleveland, Baltimore & Pittsburgh all losing, Cincinnati definitely controls their own destiny. I don’t get it.
#12 Last Week: Lost to Atlanta 18-29. When you are losing games to the Falcons, something has gone horribly wrong. The Falcons DOMINATED the game, running up 500 total yards of offense & controlling the time of possession 37 minutes to 23. Drew Stanton seems to be in over his head & now with Andre Ellington sidelined, the Cardinals don’t have much of a running game either. The defense is still really good but staying on the field 40 minutes a game takes a toll. Arizona has to be really careful now. They’ve lost 2 straight games & have the team is injured. Their remaining 4 games are: KC, @STL, SEA & @SF. They could lose all 4 which means a 9-7 final record. I don’t think that will be good enough to get into the playoffs. A very tough road.
#13 Last Week: Beat Baltimore 34-33. It took a miralce but the Chargers got a last minute TD from Philip Rivers to Eddie Royal to put the Bolts up 34-33 with 38 seconds to go after trailing 30-20 midway through the 4th quarter! San Diego certainly isn’t going to stop anyone on defense, but if they can score 34PPG then they’ll win some football games. Like Arizona, SD has a BRUTAL stretch left. They are 8-4 & if the season ended today they’d be in the playoffs but they play the Broncos, Patriots, 49ers & Chiefs in their final 4 games. Those teams have a combined record of 32-16. The Chargers are in a unique position to alter the playoff picture significantly in both leagues depending on how the play in the final quarter of the NFL season.
#14 Last Week: Beat Chicago 34-17. It turns out that the Bears completely suck, but it was still a noteworthy game for Detroit. The Bears actually led 14-3 after the first quarter but the Lions outscored Chicago 31-3 the rest of the way. Matt Stafford celebrated Thanksgiving by almost passing for 400yds. Calvin Johnson caught a couple of TD passes & Detroit’s defense pounded Jay Cutler & held the Bears rushing attack to 13 yards! These are games that I don’t completely understand with the Lions. This was a thorough beating so how does Detroit lose games to Carolina & Buffalo? How do they get completely trashed by New England? The Lions are 5-1 at home & 3-3 on the road. If they want to win a playoff game they need to with the North.
#15 Last Week: Lost to San Diego 33-34. What is there left to say about the Ravens? Football Outsiders ranks them the 4th best team in the NFL in Team Efficiency. Their +86 scoring margin ranks 3rd in the AFC behind New England & Indianapolis but ahead of Denver! It’s ranks 5th in the NFL! Four of Baltimore’s 5 losses have come by 7pts or less so you can argue this could be an 11-1 football team, but instead it’s a team grasping at playoff hopes. Baltimore’s schedule down the stretch isn’t brutal & if they can beat Miami this week on the road they could win out & get to 11-5 which might be enough to get into the playoffs. Maybe they get to 10-6 although losing tiebreakers to Miami & San Diego could be fatal. A truly confounding squad.

 

DROPPING OUT

Pittsburgh Steelers (Last Week #12): The Steelers have followed up 3 straight wins over the Colts, Ravens & Texans by losing a couple of games to the Jets & Saints. Offensively this team is great & Le’Veon Bell is playing like the best offensive weapon in the NFL but the Saints weren’t playing very well & the Steelers got them at home. It was a missed opportunity but the Steelers can no focus on the Bengals as they play Cincinnati twice in their last 4 games. A lot left to be decided in the AFC North.

Cleveland Browns (Last Week #15): Very tough loss to the Bills but Buffalo is a 7-5 team that was playing at home. Losing 26-10 isn’t egregious. The bad part about Cleveland right now is that they might start having QB issues. Brian Hoyer was terrible last week & Johnny Manziel certainly did provide a spark to Cleveland’s offense & didn’t play poorly. I’m still not sure if the Browns can get into the playoffs but they have back-to-back home games coming up against Cincinnati & Indianapolis. A couple of wins there would put Cleveland at 9-5 & potentially in the #3 seed. In fact, they play a road game against Carolina after those 2 games so if Cleveland can get to 10-5, all that remains is the season finale in Baltimore.

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December 7, 2014 - Posted by | Arizona Cardinals, Baltimore Ravens, Cincinnati Bengals, Cleveland Browns, Dallas Cowboys, Denver Broncos, Detroit Lions, Green Bay Packers, Indianapolis Colts, Kansas City Chiefs, Miami Dolphins, New England Patriots, NFL Power 15, Philadelphia Eagles, Pittsburgh Steelers, Power 15, San Diego Chargers, San Francisco 49ers, Seattle Seahawks, Week 13

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