No Sleep Till Football

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NFL POWER 15 – WEEK 17 2014

RANK TEAM COMMENTS
#1 Last Week: Beat St. Louis 20-6. It took awhile for the Seahawks to get going, they were down 6-0 at halftime, but 20 points in the 2nd half ensured a route of the 6-10 Rams and the #1 seed in the NFC Playoffs. Seattle had a great game defensively holding St. Louis to 245 total yards & forcing 3 turnovers. I’ve said it a million times recently but the Seahawks are really getting back to their blueprint of pounding the ball with Marshawn Lynch & not allowing the other team to score. At times this season it has seemed like Seattle wasn’t in the discussion for best 2-3 teams in the league. They didn’t clinch homefield advantage until the last week of the season, but when the dust finally settled on the 2014 NFL season, the Seahawks are right back in the top spot getting ready to defend the title. I would not be shocked at all if they have to beat Carolina to get to the NFC Championship game.
#2 Last Week: Lost to Buffalo 9-17. The Belichick/Brady duo hardly ever take a game off, but New England for the most part mailed it in against the Bills, losing 17-9. There was absolutely nothing at stake in this game as the Patriots had already staked claim to the #1 overall seed in the AFC so it did make some sense to grab some extra rest for the starters before potentially having a tough road through the AFC playoffs. There is no “Carolina” or “Arizona” or “road Detroit” in the AFC. The Patriots are probably looking at the Colts following by either the Steelers or Broncos. Two games that won’t be easy. It sounds crazy to be sure, but there is some legacy issues going on with Tom Brady. The Patriots look to be favored to get to their 6th Super Bowl under the QB, but if they get their & lose again, it’ll be 3 straight & Brady’s Super Bowl record will be 3-3. The 3 wins are amazing, but 3 losses?
#3 Last Week: Beat Detroit 30-20. With a chance to lock up the NFC North & the #2 overall seed in the postseason, the Packers got it done taking down the 11-5 Lions 30-20 in Lambeau Field. Aaron Rodgers was perfect. The running game played well and the defense was good enough to hold Detroit to 14 points until a garbage time TD late in the 4th quarter made the final score. It’s easy to point the finger & say the Week 14 loss to Buffalo might have screwed the Pack because they had to settle for the #2 seed, but remember that Green Bay also lost a road game to 7-9 New Orleans. They also had a chance to have the tiebreaker over Seattle which they squandered in Week 1 in a 36-16 beatdown at the hands of the Super Bowl champs. The Packers now have to become huge Lions fans because a ball controlled offense like Dallas could represent problems. It’s interesting.
#4 Last Week: Beat Washington 44-17. The Cowboys certainly didn’t use the last week of the season to rest players, using guys like Tony Romo, DeMarco Murray & Dez Bryant well into the 4th quarter in a route of the Redskins in Washington. It was a great day to be a Cowboys fan as Murray & Bryant broke records while the Cowboys finished 12-4 for the first time since 2007 when the Cowboys went 13-3. That didn’t end well with the Cowboys losing to the Giants 21-17 in Dallas. At least the G-Men won the Super Bowl! The last time Dallas went exactly 12-4 was 1995. WE ALL KNOW HOW THAT TURNED OUT!!!! Let’s hope the Cowboys’ magic with 12-4 season holds true in 2014 because there is nothing I’d like better than to see the Cowboys hoist that 6th Super Bowl trophy! And hopefully we get to beat those PUKE Steelers for it! HOW ‘BOUT THEM COWBOYS!!!!!
#5 Last Week: Beat Cincinnati 27-17. The Steelers are coming is as possibly the hottest team in the AFC. If momentum means anything in the NFL (and I’m not sure it does) then Pittsburgh definitely has it on their sides. They have won 4 straight games. They are 8-2 in their last 10 with the 2 losses coming by a total of 10 points. Those 8 wins have come against the Bengals (twice), Texans, Colts, Ravens & Chiefs. The 27-17 win against the Bengals was very improbable. Statistically the Bengals should have won that game. They dominated time of possession & the defense did a great job of completely shutting down the Pittsburgh running game. The only problem for the Bengals was turnovers & despite the good rush defense effort, they couldn’t stop big plays from Antonio Brown. Pittsburgh’s biggest problem is defense but they’ve allowed just 22.9PPG over their last 10 games & 17.5PPG in their last 4.
#6 Last Week: Beat Oakland 47-14. Despite getting 47 points, Peyton Manning couldn’t find the endzone which prevented him from having another 40TD season, missing the mark by 1 & settling for 39TD on the season. Amazingly enough it was the 3rd highest single season total of his career! The big question surrounding the Broncos heading into the postseason is the play of Manning. In his last 5 games, Manning is 94/155 (60.7%) for 1169yds/5TD/6INT! That’s hardly confidence inspiring. The weird part is that this bad run by Manning followed the game he had against the Dolphins where he lit Miami up for 257yds & 4TD without a pick. Maybe not having Julius Thomas at 100% has affected Manning more than we think & of course we know about him having a cold and his hamstring has been gimpy, but those things definitely need to work themselves out before the divisional round.
#7 Last Week: Beat Tennessee 27-10. Indianapolis didn’t have much to play for as they were going to be the #4 seed no matter what they did. If Pittsburgh won they were the #4 due to tiebreakers. If Cincinnati won they were the #4 due to inferior record. It just didn’t matter yet the Colts did come out & play a good game beating a hated rival 27-10. It was a good game for Andrew Luck as well who threw 2TD passes to edge out Manning 40-39 for league leader in TDs. It was also encouraging because Luck’s last 3 games were awful & he needed a good game for an extra confidence boost heading into the postseason. The Colts draw Cincinnati in the Wild Card round which I’m not sure is a good thing. Indianapolis beat the Bengals 27-0 back in Week 7. It’s awfully hard to beat a good team twice in one season although I’m not entirely convinced that the Bengals are a good team.
#8 Last Week: Lost to Green Bay 20-30. I’m not going to bang on Detroit too hard for losing to the Packers in Green Bay, but it certainly hurts Detroit going forward. It’s interesting really that if Detroit would have won the game they would have had the #2 seed meaning they would have gotten a home game before the NFC Championship game meaning the Lions could have very well been playing for a chance at the Super Bowl had they beaten Green Bay. It’s a significant difference. The Lions were 7-1 at home with a +71 point differential. At home the Lions were 4-4 with a -32 point differential. As the #6 seed, the Lions travel to Dallas where the going won’t be easy. Matt Stafford has been a different QB on the road & Calvin Johnson’s ankle isn’t 110%. If Detroit manages to win games you can’t say they didn’t earn it. If they happen to beat the Cowboys, their reward will be a trip to Seattle.
#9 Last Week: Lost to Pittsburgh 17-27. Like Detroit, I’m not going to band the Bengals too hard for going on the road to a division rival who is playing very well with everything to play for & lose by 10 points. The Bengals actually played pretty well & you have to like the fact they completely shut down Le’Veon Bell. They couldn’t stop themselves from making mistakes & they couldn’t contain Antonio Brown on the big plays, but Cincy handled themselves well. I actually like the fact they draw Indianapolis in the Wild Card as they already lost to Indy once. It would be nicer if they were playing in Cincinnati, but this is a game the Bengals can win. It’ll be interesting to see how Cincinnati handles themselves against the Colts with Jeremy Hill as the lead back. With AJ Green probably not being able to go, the Bengals will need to run the ball & not allow Dalton to throw interceptions.
#10 Last Week: Beat Cleveland 20-10. With San Diego losing to Kansas City, all Baltimore had to do was beat Cleveland & they’d be in the playoffs. It wasn’t so easy. Cleveland led 10-3 at the end of 3 quarters & took a 10-6 lead over Baltimore into the mid-4th quarter before the Ravens scored a couple of TDs to secure the 20-10 victory. I’m still of a mind of confusion when it comes to the Ravens. They should be better than this. They dominated the Browns statistically. Joe Flacco had a great game. The running game flourished. They didn’t commit a TO. They were +3 in sack differential. They were taking on a rookie QB making his first start. With all that they still almost lost the game with a playoff spot on the line! I think the Ravens would have much rather faced Indianapolis in the wild card round, but if they came out and beat the Steelers by 30 would your shocked? If they lost by 30 would you be shocked?
#11 Last Week: Beat San Diego 19-7. The Chiefs would have needed Baltimore, San Diego & Houston to lose to get the last Wild Card spot I believe. They took care of San Diego & Cleveland almost stunned Baltimore, but the Chiefs ended up having to settle for a 9-7 record & ticket home. It doesn’t look like it because they were 11-5 & in the playoffs last season but Kansas City got better. The schedule was significantly tougher in 2014 than in 2013 & the Chiefs still managed to win 9 games. They were REALLY hurt by loss to Tennessee & Oakland. Those are ridiculous losses KC wishes they could get back because if those games are wins they are 11-5 & in the #5 seed going back to Indianapolis with revenge certainly on their minds! KC needs to get better along the offensive line this offseason. If that happens they’ll be a force next year because a lot of good things happened in 2014.
#12 Last Week: Beat NY Giants 36-25. Too little too late, the 11 point win over a surging Giants team pushed Philly to double digit victories but a win short of the playoffs at 10-6. What can I write about Philadelphia that isn’t already obvious? The emergence of Jordan Matthews & Zach Ertz gives the Eagles some TREMENDOUS weapons when you combine those 2 with Jeremy Maclin, LeSean McCoy & Riley Cooper! That’s an elite group of skill position players. Philly’s defense got significantly better & you have to remember that the Eagles posted the same record this year as they did last despite some horrible QB play for most of the season. Nick Foles isn’t the answer. Mark Sanchez is never the answer. I doubt Matt Barkley is the answer. I don’t care how good your “system” is, QBs win games in the NFL. Chip Kelly still doesn’t have one.
#13 Last Week: Beat New England 17-9. I don’t know if a 10-6 Bills teams get the #6 seed over the 10-6 Ravens team because the tiebreaker would have come down to common games, but the loss to Oakland was just brutal for the Bills considering that in retrospect, the loss to the Raiders came a week after Buffalo beat a 12-4 Packers team and a week before the Bills beat a 12-4 Patriots team! Even with the loss, the Bills won 9 games & you’d think the organization would be on an upward trajectory. Not so fast! QB Kyle Orton retired again although he was never going to be the long term answer. HC Doug Marrone walked away & you can be certain that DC Jim Schwartz isn’t returning. Now all of a sudden you have a franchise without a HC and without a long term solution at QB. Maybe the best answer is to just move Schwartz from DC to HC.
#14 Last Week: Beat Jacksonville 23-17. Like Baltimore & San Diego, the Texans really wanted to give a game away which would have paved the way for the Chiefs to grab that 6th seed, but like the Ravens, the Texans eeked out a close win against a team they should have ran over. One thing to say about Houston is that they were improved this season. They didn’t suffer as many injuries as they did in 2013 but the schedule got easier & a lot went their way. Last season the Texans were -20 in turnover margin & -10 in sack differential. This year they were +12 in turnover margin & +12 in sack differential. They figured out how to beat sub-.500 teams & they won more close games. The QB situation is still a mess to be sure, but HC Bill O’Brien did a good job in his first year and I think if I were a Colts fan, I’d be a bit worried about how much better Houston can get in 2015.
#15 Last Week: Lost to San Francisco 17-20. I feel a little dishonest about ranking the Cardinals at #15, but the team is still 11-5 & they have a good shot of getting a playoff win seeing how they play a sub-.500 Carolina team in the first round. I wouldn’t bet on them winning with Ryan Lindley playing QB, but the team is still in the playoffs. The bad thing is that Arizona is 2-4 in their last 6 games. They are 5-5 in games not started by Carson Palmer and they are THIS CLOSE from ending the season with 7 straight losses! The defense has started to slip a bit and the offense has been downright dreadful. Over their last 7 games, the Cardinals have averaged 12.4PPG! Tampa Bay scored more over their final 7 games than the Cardinals! You have to hand it to Arizona for getting to 11 wins & still getting the playoffs despite the wheels falling off, but their stay could be short lived.

 

DROPPING OUT

San Diego Chargers (Last Week #8): Going from #8 to completely out of the Power-15 seems like a steep drop but I couldn’t justify putting the Chargers ahead of the other teams listed. It’s one thing to go into Kansas City and lose a game, but to have QB Philip Rivers completely implode like that was inexplicable. All San Diego had to do was win & they’d be right back into the playoffs as the #6 seed heading to Indianapolis in a game that would have been very winnable especially so considering it would have been a situation very similar to the one they faced last season when they traveled to Cincinnati. Instead they laid an egg & are going home. That feels so disappointing.

Miami Dolphins (Last Week #11): The Dolphins weren’t going to make the playoffs & maybe the Jets players were playing a final game for HC Rex Ryan but getting hammered by the Jets at home!? It was good news that the Dolphins are bringing back HC Joe Philbin especially because I think the Dolphins are very close to becoming a playoff team for a decent sized window, but they finished 8-8 just like last year which sort of indicates they were just treading water. Miami needs a huge year in 2015 or else the organization might go through some changes.

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January 3, 2015 - Posted by | Arizona Cardinals, Baltimore Ravens, Buffalo Bills, Cincinnati Bengals, Dallas Cowboys, Denver Broncos, Detroit Lions, Green Bay Packers, Houston Texans, Indianapolis Colts, Kansas City Chiefs, Miami Dolphins, New England Patriots, NFL Power 15, Philadelphia Eagles, Pittsburgh Steelers, Power 15, San Diego Chargers, Seattle Seahawks, Week 17

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