One Down, 16 To Go: Post-Week One Power Rankings
As I stated yesterday we didn’t learn anything meaningful from the games played on Thursday, Sunday and Monday other than who is injured and who has what in the win or loss column. However, that does not mean that we cannot use some of that information to make an informed measure of each team’s chances to win the Super Bowl—otherwise known as a “power ranking”. With that said here comes my first published power ranking on the season.
1.) Pittsburgh Steelers(1-0)[Previous Week: 1]
“Steelers Football is ugly. We throw all of the style points out the window”.
Head Coach Mike Tomlin was found stating those words numerous times last season as the Steelers won countless close games last season. He even stated it following the close Super Bowl victory. So for those thinking of deducting the Steelers for a close win don’t…
The 2001, 2003 and 2004 Patriots, 2005 Steelers, 2006 Colts, 2007 Giants and 2008 Steelers all won numerous close games last year and that is why they were battle tested enough to win six of the last seven championships.
Their defense still looked amazing and Ben Roethlisberger and Santonio Holmes looked as if they were attempting to continue their post-season success.
However, the loss of Troy Polamalu must be taken into account as there isn’t a more dynamic defensive player in the National Football League. Additionally their running game woes are a clear concern as the number three back Mewelde Moore might be the best halfback on the roster currently.
2.) New England Patriots(1-0)[Previous Week: 2]
I think I’m just going to repeat what I wrote for the Steelers…
“The 2001, 2003 and 2004 Patriots, 2005 Steelers, 2006 Colts, 2007 Giants and 2008 Steelers all won numerous close games last year and that is why they were battle tested enough to win six of the last seven championships.”
What makes it even more impressive is the fact that the Patriots had to show their resilience by coming back from 11 down with less than three minutes left. Those are the type of games that show us who the Super Bowl contenders are and who the pretenders are.
Tom Brady looked poised in the pocket and you can’t ask of more from your quarterback. Lawrence Maroney looked competent for the firs time in his career despite what the numbers on paper show. Furthermore, you can bet that Wes Welker and Randy Moss wont have a combined 4 drops in every game this season.
The return of Adalius Thomas (remember this guy? He’s as good as Terrell Suggs and Shawne Merriman) helps and the Patriot pass rus—or should I say Tully Banta-Cain—looked impressive.
Though a little overrated the loss of Jerod Mayo is big but this is the New England Patriots; they’ve succeeded all decade by plugging unknown guys in. That’s why Bill Belichick acquires so many late draft picks.
3.) New York Giants(1-0)[Previous Week: 3]
Two years removed from a Super Bowl Championship against the supposed “greatest team ever” this Giants team remains formidable.
Though the score was close in the box score anyone that watched this game realizes that it really wasn’t. New York didn’t put Washington away but they did enough to make sure that Washington had no way to win the game. Their defense was stifling to the point that Washington needed a desperation trick play to stay in the game in the first half. The other touchdown scored by the Redskins was Jason Campbell hitting Chris Cooley in what was almost garbage time. Honestly? Their defense was almost flawless.
Osi Umenyiora’s return to the NFL was impressive as he beat an All-Pro caliber tackle in Chris Samuels with ease for his strip-sack, recovery and return touchdown. Opposite him Justin Tuck looked just as impressive. Most importantly “one year wonder” Corey Webster was downright impressive at everything… including beating up Santana Moss.
Offensively the receivers—mainly Steve Smith—were impressive as I predicted and Mario Manningham had an impressive play at the start of the game. The offensive line was capable of employing single team blocks with either of their guards or the center on Albert Haynesworth. This team doesn’t look to be stopping their success from the past two seasons and of the top three played the most flawlessly.
4.) Philadelphia Eagles(1-0)[Previous Week: 4]
Easily the most impressive week one showing out of any team on this list the Eagles could easily be argued as the number one team in the post-week one power rankings. Especially when you consider that of the to four teams they beat the second highest rated opponent in the preseason power ranking. However blowouts do not show you the true content of a team. Playing tough grind it out games do.
Sean McDermott has temporarily answered the questions about whether or not he can call a defense effectively as – after a rocky start to the game—his defense was very effective. What was most impressive about it was he implemented a new package in which All-Pro caliber defensive end Trent Cole lined up at the middle linebacker. Credit must be given where deserved. However, I would like to see how he calls a game next week against an elite quarterback in Drew Brees.
Offensively the Eagles looked a little stagnant despite all the points placed on the board. DeSean Jackson—expected to break out—looked horrible as a receiver with as many drops as receptions despite having nine targets. His punt return and first rushing attempt was excellent though. Brian Westbrook, “Shady” McCoy and Donovan McNabb were the only offensive players that impressed me in a 38 point outing… Weird right? Not to mention a quarterback with injured ribs is as good as no quarterback at all.
Defensively the Eagles were flawless after the Panthers third drive and might have gotten Jake Delhomme benched for the season. Sheldon Brown—known for average hands—had two amazing picks in addition to remaining the Birds’ best shutdown corner. The personnel are here and whether McDermott’s success today was an anomaly or not doesn’t matter because of the talent on this defense.
5.) Atlanta Falcons(1-0)[Previous Week: 5]
I expected a lot from them due to their offseason acquisitions when I placed them at five but I didn’t expect for them to get into the act so soon. When new guys get into the act early on in a playoff team from the year before than nothing but good can come out of it,
When your best player in Michael Turner can only run for 2.95 yards per carry and you can beat a team that some expect to make the post-season by double digits than it looks pretty darn good. Matt Ryan was accurate and already loves to play with his new toy in Tony Gonzalez who has already become acclimated into the offense.
Curtis Lofton easily showed that he is ready to become a three-down linebacker as he lead all players on the field with 11 tackles. I’ve been a Mike Peterson fan ever since he was robbed of a Defensive Player of the Year Award in 2005 and he is looking to show the Jaguars that releasing him was a mistake. Yesterday was not a fluke and having a playmaker like him on a young defense is a big deal.
All in all everyone on the defense played well as Dolphins fans were seen clamoring after the game stating that every player on the offensive side of the ball played terrible… EVERY one of them.
With Carolina depleted after their drubbing on Sunday I don’t see this team dropping in the standings.
6.) Indianapolis Colts(1-0)[Previous Week: 7]
Plain and simple… with Peyton Manning at the helm this team is a competitor. Peyton Manning’s offensive weapons in this game included Reggie Wayne, Dallas Clark, Joseph Addai and then a bunch of no name bums. So what did he do? He utilized those guys to their best and churned it out to the tune of a win.
Despite it looked as if he would be effected when his first redzone throw went for a touchback interception, somehow, someway Manning managed to throw for over 300 yards and a touchdown after that. Perhaps it was because he has Reggie Wayne who is ready to be the guy period now that the talent around him is minimal at best. The way both of these guys played impressed me enough to move the Colts up a spot.
As impressive as Manning and Wayne were they were somehow outshined by the defense. When it mattered most the defense stepped up and prevented the two-point conversion from the Jaguars which is big given that the defense is going to have to carry it’s fair share of the load this season. What is most impressive about the defensive showing is that the new-look Colts defense only recorded one sack and no turnovers and held the Jaguars to only twelve on two field goals and a touchdown.
If the Colts defense can play even half as good as they did on Sunday but can managed to get to the quarterback rather than just pressuring him than they’ll be strong competitors.
Unfortunately the loss of Anthony Gonzalez is big as I don’t think any one of those receivers is worth mentioning and therefore it leaves me skeptical.
7.) Baltimore Ravens(1-0)[Previous Week: 6]
When a team like the Baltimore Ravens put up 30 plus points in their season opener—with three of the score coming through the air - and drop a spot in the power rankings it would usually lead to confusion. I mean Joe Flacco threw for 300 yards and three scores which is a scary thought when paired with the fact that Baltimore identify themselves with defense. Well I’ll tell you how…
That team that is associated with defense gave up 24 points to a team with it’s backup quarterback playing Admittedly seven points came from special teams and another drive started in the redzone thanks to Derrick Johnson. However the fact still remains that 17 offensive points were scored by a team at the bottom of the rankings lead by it’s backup quarterback. Fortunately for the Ravens are the aforementioned facts pertaining to their offense.
If Joe Flacco does not have a sophomore slump and has taken the leap necessary for offensive coordinator Cam Cameron to give him the reigns to the offense than the league is in trouble. Any time a quarterback throws for 300 and three it is a good thing but when a Baltimore Raven’s quarterback does it than it is a great thing. Ray Rice looked really impressive just as he did all preseason and shockingly enough Willis McGahee looked competent in his role as a backup/third down back. In total the offense put up over 500 yards of offense. Scary!
While I did dock the defense for the amount of points they gave up some impressive factors did come into play. Jarrett Johnson showed some pass rushing skill which he hadn’t before. Ed Reed came up to play the run effectively for the first time in years which is a big deal as it means Bart Scott wont be missed.
8.) Tennesee Titans(0-1)[Previous Week: 9]
It is rare to find a team moving up after a loss but let’s not forget that the Titans remained close with the current world champions—and current number one in the rankings—and took them into overtime. Their game wasn’t like the Bills’ in that they choked. Rather, they just could not close the deal as a great team just happened to outplay them.
Despite what some people are claiming their front seven was as impressive as Titans fan had been clamoring all preseason. Jason Jones didn’t have as good of a game as he did in 2008 but he was still effective and the four man rotation at defensive tackle was impressive. Unfortunately the Titans were outcoached as the Steelers’ no-huddle kept the Titans from rotating their defensive tackles. Their ends are a problem though despite what Jim Washburn says.
Offensively the rushing attack wasn’t impressive but Chris Johnson managed to make members of the league’s best defense miss tackles and Lendale White kept his legs moving on every carry. Where they were really impressive was in their passing attack as Kerry Collins found holes in the zone with ease. Justin Gage and Kenny Britt looked good though Gage had two drops and needs to sure those hands up. But their passing attack looks to show immediate improvement.
There were few flaws to find with the Titans other than the fact that they couldn’t come up with the victory.
9.) Minnesota Vikings(1-0)[Previous Week: 10]
Though they struggled early on with the Brady Quinn-led Browns the Vikings emerged victorious later in the game and showed the world that they’re still ready to compete. Most importantly they showed the rest of the NFC North that the road to the division—at least for now—comes through Minnesota as long as the Williams’ twins are playing.
After Joshua Cribbs showed the Vikings why he’s the best special teamer in the league the Vikings began to fight back and eventuall run away with the game which is what good teams do. Where as neither the Packers or Bears could put the other team away the Vikings realized—down 13-10—that it was me to hit another gear and they did scoring 24 unanswered points until the Browns put up garbage time points.
Understanding a situation like that is what makes a great team which the Vikings haven’t been over the past two years.
Spearheading this Vikings’ greatness is Adrian Peterson who looks to show everyone else—or should I say Panthers, Chargers and Falcons fans—that he is clearly the best halfback in the league. The fact that Peterson was capable of throwing a grown man aside with one arm is just ridiculous. But Peterson wasn’t the only offensive weapon on this team which is very crucial to this ranking.
Percy Harvin—who I thought would be a bust—began his professional career impressively with 58 yards from scrimmage and a touchdown reception. Not bad for a first game in the league.
Defensively the interior triangle of Williams, William and Henderson was as impressive as ever but the outside linebackers were lacking and caused me a little concern.
Overall the Vikings were impressive with little, but noticeable, flaws.
10.) Green Bay Packers(1-0)[Previous Week: 8]
I honestly could place them lower than this but at the end of the day a win against a division rival is very strong in helping your case towards making the post-season and eventually a Super Bowl. After all that is what a “power rankings” list is about.
Why exactly could I rank them lower? I mean they won the close game which is what the good ones do as I said earlier right? Well yes, but the problem is that this team has an offensive identity and struggled to put up 21 points on a team missing two key components. Even more scaring is the fact that they forced four interceptions from the oppositions “franchise” quarterback and yet could not put the game away. They allowed the Bears to remain in the game and the Bears even had a chance to win the game in the end. That is not a good sign.
With that said one cannot ignore the positives shown by this team Sunday Night. Their defense looked amazing and Dom Capers channeled signs of Dick LeBeau by utilizing a zone-blitz that had the Bears’ offensive line and Jay Cutler completely confused for all four quarters. In fact the only bad sign that the defense showed last night was that All-Pro caliber cornerback Charles Woodson was beat for two big plays.
Though the offense didn’t explode as expected due to their preseason performance perhaps something more important occurred on Sunday night. Criticized for not being able to win close games in 2008 Aaron Rodgers masterminded a beautiful game winning drive which might have been more important than putting up big statistics. This could actually make me move them up but I’m still concerned that they could not put away the Bears.
11.) New Orleans Saints(1-0)[Previous Week: 16]
Drubbing the Lions isn’t exactly impressive. Having your quarterback essentially play a perfect game, however, is. The results of this game have not yet sold me on the idea that the Saints are the contender that everyone else believes they are, but I have to admit they were impressive.
In case you didn’t hear about it—though I’d imagine that it was pretty darn hard not to—Drew Brees practically had a perfect game on Sunday. In fact he is number one or two in every quarterback statistic to start the season. When your team associates itself with an offensive identity than that is a great thing.
The Saints’ offensive personnel is looking to continues their play. Devery Henderson continued to be the league’s best deep threat receiver. Jeremy Shockey showed signs of brilliance for the first time since joining the team and looks to have gelled finally. Marques Colston is back and Robert Meachem played well too. Finally Reggie Bush was there.
Perhaps most important and impressive, however, was that they established a run game.While it was against the Detroit Lions the fact of the matter is that former Bronco Mike Bell ran all over the opposition. If they can keep that up the Saints are every bit as dangerous as the Atlanta Falcons.
The defense was very impressive on paper but they let the Lions fight to get back into the game which is still a concern. It is holding them back from being considered as good as the above teams in my opinion.
12.) Seattle Seahawks(1-0)[Previous Week: 14]
I’ve had nothing but good things to say about them all offseason and they did not disappoint me by coming out and laying an egg in Week one. In fact everything I liked about this team actually happened.
Matt Hasselbeck bounced back from throwing two first quarter interceptions to show the world that it was just two years ago that he was a top five quarterback. In fact he bounced back pretty darn good as he went on to throw for three touchdowns. Most impressive about his passing totals is that big name free agency acquisition T.J. Houshmandzadeh was the third most productive receiver.
Second year tight end lit up the score board and Nate Burleson put up an impressive showing. But the big surprise was halfback Julius Jones who had trouble in his first season with the Seahawks exploding all over the Rams defense to the tune of 6.2 yards per carry. The Seahawks have Walter Jones returning next week which can only help their offense.
Defensively you cannot ask for much better than a shutout but there are still things to be desired. By now you know of my huge admiration for the Seahawks front seven who played well, however the defensive line didn’t exactly take over the game against a Rams’ offensive line that isn’t exactly stout. That is a cause for concern.
At the end of the day though people may think that this team is placed a little to high and that they only beat the lowly Rams, however, for those of us that witnessed the playcalling and realize the potential that the defensive line has… this team is ranked appropriately.
13.) New York Jets(1-0)[Previous Week: 18]
I have to say that I was thoroughly impressed with the New York Jets. This is despite the fact that I still think that Mark Sanchez is arrogant but he showed some veteran awareness on Sunday. However I cannot deny the fact that Sanchez looks impressive and managed the game to perfection. He knew everything that was occurring around him and made the right reads—broken coverage or not.
As I stated in my player statistic projections the Jets’s receivers are quite underrated and Stuckey and Coctchery showed it on Sunday. As believed Dustin Keller was a favorite of the young Sanchez and there is no reason to believe this duo will stop. The running game is obviously strong in New York and Thomas Jones’ numbers were better on paper than in reality but he got the job done. Meanwhile Leon Washington had the Texans having fits. This offense, once looking to hold the team back, looks good enough to make the postseason; even with a rookie quarterback.
Defensively Kris Jenkins ate the Texans’ interior linemen like Joey Chestnut eats hotdogs. He dominated all game and allowed the inside linebacker duo to dominate. Most impressive on the defensive side of the ball was the secondary. Though Kevin Walter didn’t play the Texans’ receivers were shut down! Darelle Revis was lined up on Andre Johnson on at least 90% of the snaps and only had help from Rhodes a few times.
The Jets played pretty darn well and when you consider that the Texans’ only point came from a fumble recovery of a John Busing fumble after a pick which had the offense confused they looked great. Maybe I judge Mark Sanchez and the Jets way too early.
14.) Dallas Cowboys(1-0)[Previous Week: 19]
I think that we all expected the Cowboys to win this game but I don’t think that we all expect them to win it like that. You can’t really answer any questions in week one but you sure as heck can add some. Rather than the analysts asking if “Roy Williams can be a number one wide receiver” they are now asking “which one of these guys will be the number one?” Well the answer is still Roy Williams but the Cowboys showed that as long as Tony Romo is at the helm they have a chance to make it to January
But the Cowboys are going to suck without Terrell Owens. That may be but for the time being they wont as Tony Romo put up a career high in passing yardage in his first game without Owens. What many are not realizing when analyzing his numbers is that rather large number of downfield targets that Romo completed. Owens was the only guy expected to be that last year and as a result it might have harmed the offense. Now the offense might actually be better without him as a result. Scary!
Defensively the Cowboys didn’t look very good. DeMarcus Ware didn’t record a sack and as a result Byron Leftwich looked competent. Furthermore the Buccaneers run game gave the Cowboys fits and had a couple of long runs. Wade Phillips’—whom I cited for his brilliance in utilizing the pass rush—defense recorded the most sacks in 2008 but didn’t get to Leftwich once. That could be a problem.
Will the Cowboys retain this spot, move up or fall down? Only time will answer that but for right now they deserve it.
15.) San Fransisco 49ers(1-0)[Previous Week: 22]
This win is one that I somewhat expected but did not have the fortitude to predict due to the Cardinals raising a banner at home. With that said their victory over Arizona was no fluke. They might compete for a postseason seed but even if they don’t achieve that you can believe that they will be in a lot of their games. Why? Well it is because Mike Singletary has instilled a sense of toughness into this team starting with the quarterback.
Shaun Hill may have struggled in the preseason but he is a good NFL quarterback. In fact he may be the league’s most underrated quarterback given how many NFL fans don’t know who he is. Hill has resiliency that will keep his team in most games. Frank Gore is a tough runner who doesn’t give up on plays. Wily veteran Isaac Bruce went over 15,000 career receiving yards on Sunday. That is just the kind of resilient guys you are dealing with offensively when you face the 49ers.
Defensively the 49ers appear to have their best unit in years. As I stated earlier I believe that this is the year that Patrick Willis puts it all together and becomes the league’s best middle or inside linebacker and he started to show it on Sunday. Lost in all the fuss is that this defense held the Cardinals to 16 total points. Willis is finally ready to lead a strong defense—alongside Justin Smith—a la Ray Lewis.
I fully expect an interesting battle between the 49ers and Seahawks for the NFC West crown but the question is will both teams finish in the top half of the power rankings or the bottom half?
16.) San Diego Chargers(1-0)[Previous Week: 11]
I seem to be one of the few people that realize that Super Bowls are earned not given. The San Diego Chargers have been penciled in Super Bowl and Championship Game appearances for the past three years but only reached either one time. Yet other individuals have them ranked in the top five in their respective power rankings. Why exactly? Talent? Well talent means nothing without proper execution and coaching.
The Chargers cannot compare to the truly elite teams in the National Football League as, though they can win in the regular season, they have continually underachieved. In fact they Chargers usually have trouble in close games unlike the Patriots or Steelers. However I have to give them credit where credit is due for their perseverance on Monday night enough to win the game.
Vincent Jackson and Antonio Gates remained bright spots for this team as Jackson continues to be the only receiver in the league that seems to get the best of Nnamdi Asomugha and Gates returned to healthy form. Darren Sproles didn’t look great as a halfback but he got it done when it mattered most.
However this team had some noticeable problems that continue from last year. Their pass rush was non-existent even with Shawne Merriman returning. Jamal Williams could not man the middle and the Raiders ran the ball with relative ease on the Chargers. Finally their Safeties and Antonio Cromartie continued to look lost in coverage but fortunately for them JaMarcus Russell’s accuracy was at the level of a high school quarterback.
A win against Baltimore could change my tune however.
17.) Washington Redskins(0-1)[Previous Week: 15]
The Skins didn’t play as well as the box score would lead one to believe but at the same time they didn’t play bad. As I stated previously the Giants practically played a perfect game. The Redskins managed to stay in the game however.
The offense was somehow impressive when you looked at them in reality. Jason Campbell was willing to try and throw the ball deep, the offensive line held their blocks as well as possible, and Randle-El, Cooley and Kelly all got involved in the passing attack. But somehow it just wasn’t good enough. I don’t know if that is a good thing or a bad thing because only time will tell.
Defensively the guys did a good job. Though Albert Haynesworth was taken up on one-on-one blocks a lot more than to be expected his presence was felt as Andre Carter was capable of coming free a few times and reached Manning on one of them. Greg Blache did an excellent job of making Eli Manning beat him and Eli did. Laron Landry and London Fletcher did an excellent job patrolling the middle of the field. But at the end of the day holding the Giants to 16 offensive points just wasn’t good enough.
The Redskins—as it stands right now—are an enigma.
18.) Miami Dolphins(0-1)[Previous Week: 12]
Some may take issue with the Dolphins falling this far but the sad truth is that they did not look good in any phase of the game as even Dolphins fans will admit. While playing the other surprise team from last year the Dolphins came out flat while the other three teams in their division showed up to play some good football in week one.
The only player on the Dolphins that did not have multiple miscues was quarterback Chad Pennington. The Dolphins’ offensive line battled injuries but even before them they were being dominated by the Falcons’ front four. John Abraham made 2008 first overall pick Jake Long look like a seventh round pick and the rest of the line didn’t look much better. Let’s not forget the fact that the Dolphins couldn’t hold onto the ball and it cost them big time.
Defensively they had a lot success via individual numbers but there were a lot of missed tackles that lead to extra yardage for the Falcons which ultimately proved to be what allowed them to win the game.
However despite all of this the Dolphins were in the game until the final whistle which is why—as bad as this write-up sounds—they only fell a few spots.
19.) Jacksonville Jaguars(0-1)[Previous Week: 24]
Despite the fact that the Jaguars only produced 228 net yards they still managed to hang with the Indianapolis Colts until the final whistle. If Maurice Jones-Drew managed to break the plane on that two-point conversion attempt who knows if the Colts could have held the Jaguars off long enough to prevent them from getting the eventual win?
Their linebackers and Reggie Nelson were quick to the ball on every defensive snap which is impressive given that I did not think much of their defense entering the season but now realize I may be wrong. If they can sure up the gaping hole caused by the “human cape” Sean Considine than this defense could be tough.
Offensively this team can only go as far as Maurice Jones-Drew—and maybe Torry Holt—can take them and he doesn’t look to be slowing down now that he is “the guy.” Furthermore props to MJD for keeping his word to Rich Eisen and doing the “Shopping Cart” celebration after scoring his touchdown, though perhaps he should have been more concerned about converting the two-point conversion.
20.) Arizona Cardinals(0-1)[Previous Week: 20]
Honestly? If they weren’t playing in the NFC West they could be lower, but playing in that division gives a team a better shot at the post-season which gives them a better shot at the Super Bowl. And isn’t that what these power rankings are for?
With that said the Cardinals looked flat. Larry Fitzgerald didn’t get involved into late in the game–a la the Super Bowl—Anquan Boldin was underutilized. Kurt Warner was “forced” to check down to Tim Hightower and Jerame Urban for most of the game and just seemed out of rhythm and lost in the pocket at times; especially when the games on the line.
Gerald Hayes and the Cardinals defense turned in an inspired performance shutting down Frank Gore and keeping Isaac Bruce contained outside of a big gain but for some reason the Cardinals offense could not get it done putting only 16 points on the board. If Kurt Warner can’t kick this problem than the good news is that Matt Leinhart looked impressive during the preseason.
21.) Chicago Bears(0-1)[Previous Week: 21]
What a week to be a Chicago Bears fan. Their “franchise” quarterback believes he still has two elite receivers and just throws it up to the tune of four interceptions. He continues to shown signs of arrogance and anger as well. Finally the night ends with missing the strong side linebacker for up to a month and the former All-Pro middle linebacker for the entire season. If all of this wasn’t bad enough the world champs come to town this weekend. So how could they stay the same in the rankings?
Well it’s quite simple. Despite the fact that their “franchise” quarterback threw four interceptions against the number nine ranked Packers they were still in the game until their final drive. This was long after the aforementioned injuries occurred. Believe it or not the Bears defense looked stout and could continue to be for the rest of the season. That, my friends, is how they moved up in the rankings.
Despite the fact that Cutler threw four interceptions, Matt Forte continually danced in the backfield, and Greg Olsen was shutdown Bears fans have to be happy that Hester displayed flashes of brilliance as did Johnny Knox.
However, the Bears are without their “best” player for an entire season and Jay Cutler’s performance on Sunday night was no fluke. He has led the league in the “poor decision” metric for two years running.
Bears fans may have to get used to the fact that they might never have a true franchise quarterback.
22.) Houston Texans(0-1)[Previous Week: 17]
I didn’t buy the Houston Texans hype all year until Thursday Night in which I was informed they have the sixth most wins in the AFC over the past two seasons. I’m not so sure I should be on this band wagon because the Schaub-led Texans have constantly shown that they’re an amateurish team.
Last season the Texans had to beat the Chicago Bears in week 17 in order to have a legitimate chance at their first winning season in team history and could not accomplish such a task. So how do they follow it up? Well by losing to a season opener to a team lead by a rookie quarterback no doubt.
Their interior offensive line looked like boys playing against a grown man when facing Kris Jenkins and the tackles didn’t look much better. Even though Kevin Walter was out the passing game looked pathetic. Kerry Rhodes and Darelle Revis shutdown Andre Johnson and Steve Slaton’s best play during the game resulted in a fumble. The only bright spot for the offense was Owen Daniels in my opinion.
Defensively at least they had DeMeco Ryans who was attacking the line of scrimmage with a passion. Domonique Barber was beat in the passing game by Stuckey for a touchdown but he did return a fumble after a pick for a touchdown and made one heck of a tackle early on in the game.
The Texans had one score that came with a bit of luck and looked pathetic on all sides of the ball. Spot number 21 might be gracious if not for the fact that they were ranked 17th to start the season. If they were ranked 25th or lower they’d be dead last.
23.) Kansas City Chiefs(0-1)[Previous Week: 26]
Plain and simple… this team came out and showed the Ravens that they were not going to be a doormat. Unfortunately the coaching staff’s stupidity in starting two horrible safeties allowed for Joe Flacco to throw all over their defense to the tune of 300 yards passing and three touchdown passes which ultimately proved to be the reason that they lost.
Offensively, they didn’t have to drive the ball very far for a lot of their scores but they still managed to punch the ball into the endzone against a unit that many expect to finish in the top three in many defensive categories. Brodie Croyle looked good so one has to wonder how Matt Cassell will end up looking and the Chiefs wont have to face many front threes as talented as Ngata, Gree and Pryce so the run game isn’t going to always stall.
Defensively I was only impressed with Derrick Johnson, –who I predicted to have a big year—Corey Mays and Tamba Hali. That’s nothing new, however, as I was impressed by these three all preseason. Therefore they didn’t really show many anything I didn’t already know about this defense.
However, I didn’t know this offense could be potent.
24.) Oakland Raiders(0-1)[Previous Week: 28]
You have to feel so bad for the Raiders. They were so close to winning that game only to have their coaching ruin it for them. I guess that they didn’t watch the game on Thursday Night in which prevent defenses prevented the Titans from staying in the game. The Raiders defense on the last drive played to not lose the game rather than to win it; or rather should I say that they were told to.
That said the pressure seen from the front four is no surprise and should continue. When you invest so much into the front four it’s bound to pay off. Seymour is a great pass rusher as either a 3-4 defensive end or 4-3 defensive tackle. Opposite him is Greg Ellis who is also a pass rush specialist. Finally there is Tommy Kelly and Greg Warren inside. The Raiders realize that the front four has been their problem defensively and they fixed it. Their defense will continue to keep them in games.
Unfortunately the offense looked stagnant and for one main reason. JaMarcus Russell’s accuracy was downright horrid as he overshot wide open targets. Even when the receivers ran the correct routes he missed them. However their were some bright spots on the offense. Zach Miller—as expected—had an amazing showing finding holes in the zone. The duo of Michael Bush and Darren McFadden were capable of exposing the Charger’s interior triangle and they might be able to do so to more defenses later in the year.
Unfortunately for the Raiders they lost to a Chargers team that, in my opinion, is very average. The truly good teams don’t lose those close ones like that; especially when they had the lead in the fourth quarter.
25.) Tampa Bay Buccaneers(0-1)[Previous Week: 31]
I previously said that the Buccaneers will be picking first overall come the 2009 NFL draft. I am already ready to retract that statement even with them losing in week one. The Buccaneers showed resolve in a loss that many teams don’t show nowadays.
Their offensive line was superb keeping All-Pro DeMarcus Ware sackless for just the third time in his last 19 games. They also opened up gaping holes for Cadillac Williams and Derrick Ward. Their excellent play allowed Byron Leftwich to look competent and had them in the game. Unfortunately for them it was their defense—namely their secondary—that cost them the game.
Pro Bowl caliber safety Tanard Jackson is going to miss three more games and Ronde Barber has regressed over the past three or four seasons so these guys getting picked on shouldn’t be anything new this season. Aqib Talib seems more intent on causing trouble them playing football as well. When you are a “Tampa 2” team and your secondary is having trouble… you can’t really expect to go anywhere.
26.) Carolina Panthers(0-1)[Previous Week: 13]
What I saw from this team was an embarrassment. They played a heck of a first quarter and then just self-destructed in all phases of the game starting with allowing DeSean Jackson to run wild on a punt return for a touchdown.
They started nice moving down the field for a DeAngelo Williams’ cut back touchdown run and stymieing the Eagles offense for the first three or so drives. But then Jake Delhomme happened. Failing to make any smart decisions when the blitz was in his face Delhomme had a horrible game and took his team out of the game. However, you knew there was a problem when the 3rd string quarterback was forced to play thanks to some asinine rule. (This rule statied that if your third quarterback takes a snap at quarterback with neither the 1st or 2nd quarterback on the field than the other two cannot play at the position the rest of the game)
Steve Smith was shut down which kind of to be expected as he was lining up against Sheldon Brown but the entire offense looked pathetic. The offensive line looked out of synch and the game can be best summed up with the final play by the Panthers offense in which they couldn’t score from the Eagles’ two yard line to salvage some pride.
Steve Smith was very ticked off during this game. Smith is emotional and his emotions looked like more than being angry about a loss. They looked as if he knew a series of losses were coming.
27.) Buffalo Bills(0-1)[Previous Week: 23]
There are some good things to take from Monday Night’s game and some bad things.
Everything about the offense looked good until that final drive. Alex Van Pelt’s play calling was picture perfect and the no huddle offense worked and confused the patriots. The offense knew when to utilized a screen pass against the Pats’ overly aggressive defense. The offensive gameplan and execution are what had this team in the game… and they did it without Marshawn Lynch.
Additinally Terrell Owens had trouble getting involved in the game and the offense still looked good. Despite what Sports Center reported Owens was not fuming after the game which is a great thing.
Heck on the defensive side of the ball there were some good aspects as well. Terrence McGee continued to show why he is a top ten cornerback and Aaron Schobel looks to be healthy and ready to play at a Pro Bowl level. Unfortunately Leodis McKelvin cost the team the game with his stupid decision to not take a knee in the redzone.
When McKelvin lost that ball you knew the Patriots were going to win it. Heck you knew they would win it after the first Brady touchdown pass but McKelvin just verified it.
The good teams know how to put away teams when they’re down and the Bills could not do that.
28.) Cleveland Browns(0-1)[Previous Week: 29]
Despite Eric Mangini’s stupidity in trying to “confuse” the Vikings by not naming a starter until an hour before the game—despite the fact that said information was leaked three days in advanced—the Browns can take some positives out of their game. The first of these is the fact that they hung with a Vikings team that looks to be a playoff team and held a lead at one point.
The most important point is that Brady Quinn looked good outside of one horrid throw in which he just threw it up for Braylon Edwards and is resulted in an interception. Almost as important is the fact that Jamal Lewis was capable of having some success against the Minnesota Vikings’ vaunted run defense.
Defensively Kamerion Wimbley had a good game which is HUGE news for the Browns. Finally, despite his anger towards his ownership, Joshua Cribbs showed that his presence in the special teams game will give the Browns an advantage over every team they play which is something they definitely need.
Unfortunately for the Browns even will all of those positives at the end of the day they were blown out and their defense can be summed up in the image of Adrian Peterson tossing their safety like a rag doll near the sidelines.
29.) Denver Broncos(1-0)[Previous Week: 27]
Let’s be honest… they should have lost this game. If not for the miraculous final play—which thank god I changed the channel to watch live rather than the Eagles game—they would be 0-1 on the season to the lowly Bengals. Despite the weapons they had on offense they couldn’t move the ball offensively and their defense wasn’t exactly impressive when it most mattered as they let Carson Palmer march his team down the field.
I honestly don’t even know what else I can say about this team…
30.) Cincinnati Bengals(0-1)[Previous Week: 27]
I’m glad I bet it all on this game. Having virtually identical picks to everyone else in my girlfriend’s family’s pick’ em I thought the Bengals were ready to rebound from last season since Carson Palmer was back. I guess I gave Carson too much credit as he was horrible until his last drive of the game.
When you manage to play so horribly, almost eek out a win and then lose in such an epic fashion you deserve to be a bottom three team in the league.
Chad John—I mean Ocho Cinco and Cedric Benson were the only impressive players on the team.
31.) Detroit Lions(0-1)[Previous Week: 32]
Success! They may not have won but they moved up from being the worst team in the league in somebody’s power rankings. While Drew Brees proved that their defensive back seven is horrible the Lions managed to be in this game until the fourth quarter. They showed an immense amount of pride and resilience to try and stay in the game. That is something that only Calvin Johnson showed on that team last season.
Also while Matthew Stafford’s three interception performance is disheartening the fact of the matter is that the throws were intelligent; they just were not accurate. That can and will change over time.
32.) St. Louis Rams(0-1)[Previous Week: 30]
All I’m going to say is this… at least the superstar—Steven Jackson, O.J. Atogwe, and Will Weatherspon—on this team looked good as did rookie linebacker James Laurinaitis.