Thursday, November 1, 2012

M & M's NFL Mid-Season Power Rankings

By Marley Burr (@MarleyBurr), Mitch Sandberg

Hello Broz and Girls, here we are already halfway through the NFL Season. This season certainly is shaping up to be another great one coming down the stretch. While there are a few teams that have established themselves already as the teams to beat or the hopeless cases, the majority of the league is sitting in the middle with 3-4 and 4-3 records. This should make for a very interesting second half of the season. On that note and in celebration of the midway point, here are Mitch's and Marley's Power Rankings.

32. Kansas City Chiefs (1-6)
Kansas City is just bad on every side of the ball. They can't seem to run the ball, their defense is not playing anywhere near well and now with Quinn at QB instead of Cassel, this team has taken a step back instead of forward.

31. Jacksonville Jaguars (1-6)
This team is exactly like the Chiefs, bad QB and bad defense. They did have one thing going for them with Maurice Jones-Drew, but now that he's out with an ankle injury they might be taking over the 32 spot soon, regardless of what beat writers are saying.

30. Carolina Panthers (1-6)
Cam Newton needs to learn how to compose himself after losing. They almost beat the Bears this week if Cam Newton doesn’t throw a pick-6 in the last quarter. This team is better than their record, they just need to prove it.

29. New York Jets (3-5)
The Jets surprised everyone in Week 1 by blowing out the Bills but it turned out to be just a fluke. That Week 1 win should put them ahead of the Bills but without Holmes, Revis, and with Sanchez still at the helm, they are worse than Buffalo plain and simple. 

28. Buffalo Bills (3-4)
The Bills have a defense that gets completely run over by everyone and Fitzpatrick has been mediocre at best this year. The only good part of this team is the running combination of Fred Jackson and CJ Spiller (when they're healthy) but even they cannot carry this team on their backs.

27. Tennessee Titans (3-4)
The inconsistency of the defense and Chris Johnson's running game has put this team in a hole. Not to mention that Kenny Britt is a ghost on the field and their rookie QB Jake Locker is out with an injury. Hasselback has actually been the best player on the team since replacing Locker, and could be the better option even if Jake is healthy.

26. Oakland Raiders (3-4)
Carson Palmer looks good and the Raiders have one of the best running backs in the league (when he's healthy) but this team still just isn't that great. Oakland played against one of the worst teams in the league, knocked out their only offensive weapon, and then still managed to barely escape with a win against the Jags. That should tell you everything you need to know about this team. 
25. Cleveland Browns (2-6)
This team is a lot better than their record. They lost a few close games and their Rookies are still coming together. That being said there are 16 rookies on the roster and around that many second year players. They have a lot of work to do but should be able to add a few more wins to their record before the season is over.

24. St. Louis Rams (3-5)
If it wasn’t for the Rams defense they would have lost every game this year. They have a lot of trouble scoring points but their defense has been keeping them in games at least giving them a chance. Credit to Jeff Fisher for toughening up this otherwise sorry squad.

23. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (3-4)
The Bucs had a rough going at first but are looking like they might be turning things around. Freeman is throwing the ball extremely well and with weapons like Doug Martin and Vincent Jackson at his side they can be dangerous. The defense still leaves a lot to be desired as they have a lot of trouble stopping passing teams.

22. Philadelphia Eagles (3-4)
So much for Michael Vick and the Dynasty Dream Team. This team has a ton of problems with quarterback controversy, their defensive coordinator being fired, and Andy Reid on the hot seat. They barely have three wins as is, and if things continue as they are, this team is not going to get many more.

21. New Orleans Saints (2-5)
Probably a little high for a team that’s 2-5, but this team is still an offensive nightmare for any defense to play against. They lost a couple games close and Drew Brees is dangerous no matter what their record is. If the defense can start stopping other teams from scoring and they string a few wins together the Saints might be just fine.

20. San Diego Chargers (3-4)
The Chargers look terrible right now as their offense and defense both seem out of sync. This team is just too talented to be this bad and once they figure things out you should see them start competing in the AFC again as the wild card race is far from over. Chargers fans, calm yourselves, you're 3-4 and playing against Kansas City this week. Win this game and re-evaluate the situation after your .500.

19. Arizona Cardinals (4-4)
The Cardinals were off to a fantastic 4-0 start before going 0-4. Is it a coincidence that this happened at the same time that they lost their QB and RBs? Probably not but that’s what happens in the NFL. They need to put a cork in this bottle and quick if they want to stop the free-fall they are in.

18. Seattle Seahawks (4-4)
Seattle is on the up right now but they just cannot figure out how to win games on the road. They were gifted a win against the Packers with that infamous Hail Mary that the replacement refs royally screwed up. The defense on this team is the real deal, as a whole they look good and Russel Wilson is getting better every week.

17. Detroit Lions (3-4)
This is another really talented team that is having trouble putting all the pieces together. They have arguably the best receiver in the game, a good QB with a strong arm and a scary rush attack. They can put up a lot of points but they need to stop other teams. They lost a heart-breaker to the Bears and just barely beat the Seahawks. They need to and they can do much better.

16. Dallas Cowboys (3-4)
This team just shoots themselves in the foot it seems. They blow a game to the Ravens in the final minute by wasting time and then lose a game to the Giants because of Dez Bryant fingers being out of bounds. But in sportz, as we all know, sometimes the ball just does not bounce your way. The Cowboys are a good team. They just need to finish games and rebound from the last couple weeks.

15. Cincinnati Bengals (3-4)
The Bengals BYE week was probably a welcomed distraction for them as they lost a big divisional game prior to. Now they get to reset and figure out how to move on. This is a good team that can do some damage. They play some tough teams in the second half of the season. We'll see if that BYE week helped them at all.

14. Washington Redskins (3-4)
Robert Griffin III is the only thing keeping this team above water. They would've had a fighting chance last week if not for the nine dropped passes by the receivers.  Moving forward they will have to play better along with the defense in order for this team to finish at .500, which would definitely be an improvement from last year.

13. Indianapolis Colts (4-3)
This team is looking better by the week with Andrew Luck really starting to take control of the offense. People seem to forget that this is still the same team as last year that managed to win only two games all year. They already have doubled last year's win total for this season, but I don’t see them getting more than eight games in the W column. As of right now you can really see the improvement in the team and they are sniffing around for that Wildcard spot.

12. Miami Dolphins (4-3)
Miami has really looked good these past few weeks, taking it to the Jets last weekend, 30-9.  Despite the rookie Ryan Tannehill leading the offense, the Dolphins are playing well on defense and in the running game.  Backup QB Matt Moore stepped up when Tannehill went down last week, and if they continue at this pace they could be looking at a playoff spot come January.

11. Pittsburgh Steelers (4-3)
The Steelers have looked like two different teams this year, starting the year very slow and sluggish on both sides of the ball.  Lately though it seems that the offense is really starting to pick things up and making up for the lack of play on defense, which is rare for the Steelers.

10. Minnesota Vikings (5-2)
The Vikings have great defense and special teams and this has helped them win a couple games this year.  They’ll need some similar play and more great games out of Adrian Peterson in order to keep up this pace, as Christian Ponder has not played well at all the past three weeks.

9. Baltimore Ravens (5-2)
Speaking of two-faced teams, the Ravens have eeked out a few games this year on the heels of their offense.  The Ravens' once-dominating defense has gotten older and slower, and now with the loss of Ray Lewis and Ladarius Webb, the backups will have to step up their game in order for Baltimore to keep winning. They might be sitting in the top 10 right now but with all the injuries in Baltimore this team could start dropping in ranks quick.

8. Chicago Bears (6-1)
The Brian Urlacher defense has led the Bears to a dominating season so far, with only Jay Cutler holding the team back.  Until last weekend, this team looked like it might be the fourth best team in the NFC behind San Francisco, Atlanta, and New York, but after squeaking out a win against the Panthers and with all the offensive trouble they have I just have no faith in the Bears. The defense won't always be there to pick up the slack Chicago; it's time to figure out the offense.

7. Denver Broncos (4-3)
This team, along with Peyton Manning, is looking more improved by the week.  Manning’s passes, although not as tight as his Indianapolis days, are still accurate and he is gaining more chemistry with his receiving corps. As a few analysts said, if he makes it through this season, you are going to see Peyton Manning getting stronger and more comfortable week to week. The Denver Broncos just went through the hardest part of their season with a brutal schedule where their three losses are against the Falcons, Texans and Patriots. The hard part is now over, look for this squad to stay hot and move up in the rankings in the near future.

6. New England Patriots (5-3)
New England, similar to Pittsburgh, has looked great some weeks, and given up leads in the fourth quarter in others.  The team runs on Tom Brady; when Tom plays well, the team plays well; when Brady loses focus, so does the rest of the team.  Everything is going to depend on Brady’s leadership moving forward. Lucky for them their division includes two of the worst teams in the league.

5. Green Bay Packers (5-3)
The Packers, similar to the Broncos, are really starting to come together and look more and more like the team from last year that won 15 games before it sputtered against New York in the NFC divisional game.  They had a rough start to the season and had a game robbed from them in Seattle, but Aaron Rodgers looks much better the past few weeks and I think this team will be difficult to play as we move along this season.  

4. San Francisco 49ers (6-2)
In their six wins the Niners could not have looked like a more dominant team, yet in their two losses they have looked like a team full of rookies.  The key to this team is taking an early lead, once they have a lead the other squad can pretty much go home. Once they fall behind however, it becomes painfully obvious that Alex Smith is the offense's weak link.

3. Houston Texans (6-1)
Although Matt Schaub hasn’t had the greatest year, this team has won six games on the strength of Arian Foster and its defense. People forget this team was a Super Bowl favorite before injuries crippled them at the end of 2011. The loss of Cushing definitely leaves a big hole in the defense but coming off of a BYE week this team will be looking to come out strong and destroy the Bills come Sunday. If the rest of the Texans can stay healthy they are going to continue to be one of the Super Bowl favorites.

2. New York Giants (6-2)
Personally, I believe that the Giants are the best team in the league, and if they faced Atlanta, I would favor New York by at least three points.  This being said, at times the Giants take quarters off and then look for Eli Manning to lead them to the rescue, or on the opposite end of the spectrum, gain a big lead and then almost give it up, such as what happened against Dallas last week.  If this team can focus for four quarters, I don’t see any other team getting in the Giants’ way.

1. Atlanta Falcons (7-0)
I have to give the Falcons credit: they just keep on winning, whether barely hanging on against the Panthers or taking it to the Redskins, this team is 7-0.  At the end of the day that’s the only statistic that really matters. They are going to have a test this week against a Cowboys team that can hang with the best if they play well.  Once again the Falcons defense along with Matt Ryan will have to take over this game, as the rushing game has not been there this whole year. Lucky for the Falcons they have the likes of Roddy While, Julio Jones and Tony Gonzolez to pick up the slack. 

1 comment:

  1. Great write-up Mitch and Marls. The top 10 is spot on. What you guys have going on is very impressive week in and week out. Looking forward to the second half of the season!