Monthly Archives: September 2013

Week 4 Predictions

San Francisco at St. Louis

The 49ers have been in a bit of a funk, and St. Louis was 1-0-1 against them last season. It’s a short week for the Niners to right the ship, and they’re on the road for this one. But it’s a short week for the Rams as well, and let’s not forget what the Cowboys were able to do to them. Bradford may not be the answer, and it seems the Rams are still lacking in offensive weapons. The offense might not return to dominance, but the defense should do more than enough for San Francisco to win this one.

49ers win 24-13

Baltimore at Buffalo

The Bills have been close in all three games so far this season. They return home after their first away game of the season last week. But the Ravens have been looking better and better, and their main weakness is a lack of playmakers at receiver. Well Buffalo is hurting in the secondary right now, and the Ravens defense is still pretty good.

Ravens win 27-20

Cincinnati at Cleveland

Big win for the Browns last week. Who knows, maybe Brian Hoyer is a quality quarterback, and maybe getting Josh Gordon back was the shot in the arm they needed. But let’s not forget that was the Vikings defense they were going up against. Oh, and Hoyer still had three interceptions. The Bengals have proven they are in a completely different class than Minnesota. The Browns defense needs to go back to the way they played the first two weeks, as opposed what they showed against Christian Ponder and the Vikings. It probably won’t be enough.

Bengals win 27-14

Chicago at Detroit

This is both team’s first real test within the division. Each had a home win over Minnesota, and both games were closer than they should’ve been. The Bears haven’t faced a really good offense yet, but the Lions won’t be a real threat unless they have Reggie Bush back. The Bears offensive line has been much improved, but the Lions front will really measure how far they’ve come. The Bears faired well against the Bengals and their defensive line, and you gotta like their chances to get a turnover in this one.

Bears win 24-21

NY Giants at Kansas City

The Giants can’t go 0-4, right? There is too much talent on the offensive side of the ball for them to stay dormant for long. But this isn’t the week things change. The Chiefs have had a great defense, and lead the league in sacks, not something this Giants offensive line wants to hear. The game is also in Kansas City where the Chiefs have one of the best homefield advantages in the league.

Chiefs win 27-17

Arizona at Tampa Bay

The Bucs have to get a win eventually. They were 7-9 last season and added more talent in the offseason. They were close to wins the first two weeks, and will be home for this one. Arizona looked terrible last week, and Carson Palmer is still the quarterback. The Bucs switch to Mike Glennon at quarterback muddles things a bit. He’s a rookie who didn’t win the job as much as Josh Freeman lost it. But there is a reason Josh Freeman lost it, and it’s hard to imagine someone being a lot worse. The switch might even spark this team. I might be talking myself into this, but I think the Bucs get their first win of the season.

Bucs win 20-14

Indianapolis at Jacksonville

The game is in Jacksonville….and that’s pretty much the only reason to like the Jaguars. The Colts will build on their big win last Sunday with another convincing win this week.

Colts win 31-17

Seattle at Houston

Ed Reed believes this is a Super Bowl preview. Did he get a concussion last week? Despite a 2-1 record the Texans have not looked great this season, and Seattle has. The biggest problem is how the Seahawks will play on the road. Their only win on the road came week one in a close game against the Panthers. The Texans still have talent, are returning home, and are still thought of as contenders, but it’s really hard to pick them with their play to start the season.

Seahawks win 24-21

Pittsburgh at Minnesota

Matt Cassel will be starting for the Vikings. That might be a positive thing with the way Christian Ponder is playing, but Cassel was the starter for the 2-14 Chiefs last season. You can’t even give Minnesota the benefit of a home game since it’s in London. The Steelers defense won’t have another bad game, and they might even have a good offensive performance. The Vikings have been dreadful at getting pressure this season, and that’s what the struggling offensive line of the Steelers needs.

Steelers win 27-17

NY Jets at Tennessee

Two similar teams. Both have been winning close games on the strength of a solid defense. But the Jets defense is just in another class. The Titans offense has looked average at best. The Jets should have no problem shutting down the Titans running game, and should be able to get to Jake Locker who has been sacked plenty this season. Geno Smith might not have a great game, but he should be able to do enough.

Jets win 27-17

Washington at Oakland

The Redskins have looked better every week. The Raiders might be without Terrelle Pryor for this one. Matt Flynn is going to be an easy target for a Redskins defense that excels at pass rushing.

Redskins win 31-17

Philadelphia at Denver

The schedule makers were not friendly to Chip Kelly and the Eagles, and this week is no different. The Broncos have looked like one of the best teams in the league, and the Eagles get them in Denver. Most teams try to beat Peyton by keeping him off the field, but the Eagles entire offense is based around a fast pace that has given them little time of possession. The Broncos defense has been better than advertised, and it’ll be interesting to see how a revived Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie plays going up against his old team.

Broncos win 38-24

Dallas at San Diego

The Cowboys had a big win last week, and are looking like the favorites of the NFC East. But the Chargers could easily be 2-1, and have been close in every game they have played so far. Problem is the Cowboys strength on defense has been their defensive, and the Chargers aren’t known for having a great offensive line. The Chargers allowed Chris Johnson to average 4.7 yards per carry last week, when he failed to crack 4 the previous two weeks. DeMarco Murray is probably in for another big game. This will be closer for the Cowboys than last week, but they should be able to stay ahead of the pack in the East.

Cowboys win 31-23

New England at Atlanta

The toughest team New England will face yet. Atlanta has the offense to put up points, and the defense to make things tough for Brady and the young receiving corp. If Rob Gronkowski comes back it’ll be a different story, but the Patriots don’t have enough weapons right now to take down the Falcons in a Georgie Dome they’ve played very well in during Matt Ryan’s career.

Falcons win 28-21

Miami at New Orleans

The battle of two 3-0 teams. The Dolphins have been very impressive so far this season, but the AFC East isn’t going to do well in primetime this week. The Dolphins needed to come back to beat the Falcons at home. The Saints are better than the Falcons, especially in the Superdome. The Saints defense has been the story for them so far this season, and they should make things hard for Ryan Tannehill and the Dolphins offense. The Saints will score enough to advance to 4-0.

Saints win 27-20

Week 3 Power Rankings

Established Contenders

1. Seattle (3-0)

The Jaguars didn’t really pose much of a threat, but Seattle took care of them as expected and even beat the spread. No reason to drop them from the top of this list.

2. New Orleans (3-0)

The offense took a little longer to get going than you’d like, but they won this one easily. The Cards haven’t looked like pushovers either. They beat the Lions last week, and almost beat the Rams the week before. That Saints defense has been more the story than anything. Rob Ryan doesn’t seem to stay anywhere long, but he has had success in his first season at each stop. He seems to be having a similar impact in New Orleans.

3. Denver (3-0)

Well it didn’t take long for Denver to leapfrog the 49ers and Packers. Their offense has looked magnificent so far this season. They haven’t really been tested yet, but you can’t hold that against them. This team has looked impressive on both sides of the ball, and has started the season better than anyone could expect. Really impressive when you remember they are without Elvis Dumervil and Von Miller. Bravo John Fox and Jack Del Rio.

4. New England (3-0)

The first week we have second team from the AFC in the top 5. The Patriots are at the lowest point they will be at all season and are 3-0. Yes, they’ve played the Jets, Bills, and Bucs, but 3-0 is 3-0. Rob Gronkowski may be back this week, and Danny Amendola shouldn’t be too far behind him. In the meantime Brady gets to keep coaching up the young guys which should come in handy later on. They have a tough test this week in Atlanta, but they could make a huge statement if they advance to 4-0.

5. Green Bay (1-2)

This is probably too much from years past, but I truly do believe the Packers are still a top 5 team. Yes they lost, but look how they lost. A fumble on 4th and 1, and another fumble to secure the return for the touchdown. They showed a lot more in the way they were able to score on that Bengals defense. There is a lot of talent on this team, and while 1-2 is not a record indicative of a top team I expect them to be there at the end. Their next four games are against the Lions, Ravens, Browns, and Vikings. Would it really be a stretch to see them reel off 4 straight?

6. Kansas City (3-0)

Like the Broncos, they haven’t had the toughest schedule, but all they’ve done is win win win no matter what. This defense looks for real, and the offense should continue to improve each week. Dwayne Bowe hasn’t even made a big impact yet, and he is their best receiver by far. Dontari Poe looks as good as advertised from last year’s draft. Plenty of playmakers on both sides of the ball.

Wait and See

7. Chicago (3-0)

That was a strong offensive performance against a Steelers defense that hasn’t been the problem this year. Oh and it was on the road. Still, they haven’t proven they are any different than last year. They’re still the good bad team. Things won’t change in my mind till they beat Green Bay, or another true top team. But 3-0, and wins against the Steelers and Bengal make me feel comfortable enough putting them this high. It’s not like any other team has established themselves.

8. San Francisco (1-2)

I can’t put them too much further down than this. Too big an overreaction to so early in the season. The defense will look a lot better when the offense finds a way to stay on the field. Colin Kaepernick needs to be put in the read-option more often. His receivers aren’t getting open. They aren’t going to beat anyone in a straight up attack. Mix it up and make the defense fear the run. They’ll get Mario Manningham and Michael Crabtree back. Like the Packers 1-2 isn’t ideal, but they will find a way to rebound.

9. Miami (3-0)

That Atlanta win was impressive. The defense has looked good all three weeks. Ryan Tannenhill hasn’t regressed, and the running game has been existent. This team is giving New England a legitimate threat within their division. The Dolphins haven’t done anything to make you feel differently about the preseason hype. Until they prove otherwise, a top 10 ranking seems in order.

10. Baltimore (2-1)

They stay the same after beating a Texans team that seems just on the outside of this race. I’ve been saying since week one that they will get better as time goes on. I still think that is the case. They were outclassed by the Broncos, but who hasn’t been? Outside of that they’ve had two strong wins. This team is a factor in the AFC race, especially in the AFC North.

11. Cincinnati (2-1)

Proving me wrong week after week. I’m still not entirely sold, because that win was awful lucky. My biggest problem with them is Andy Dalton, and he didn’t win that game for them. Bu this team has the makings of a playoff team. If not the division, they certainly have a shot at a wild card.

12. Indianapolis (2-1)

How is the view from up here? Obviously they have played way better than I gave them credit for. Their only loss comes from a team ranked three spots higher. Why aren’t they ahead of the 49ers? Because I think that win had more to do with catching the 49ers at the right time, than being the better team. Remember both the Giants and Vikings outclassed San Francisco last season, and who would argue either team was better in the long run? But both those teams were in the playoff hunt all season, and Indy hasn’t done much to make you think they can’t do the same.

13. Dallas (2-1)

The first big win of the season for the Cowboys. They look like they could run away with the division. The Eagles have Denver this week. If they lose, at best all three teams in the East will be 1-3. The Cowboys defensive line has been the most impressive part. Thank you Rod Marinelli. But they now know Anthony Spencer will be out all season. Their biggest question is can DeMarco Murray stay healthy. He gives the offense balance and that makes Dallas a dangerous team.

14. Atlanta (1-2)

Maybe too big of a fall. After all they were leading the Dolphins late in Miami. In fact, both their losses came on the road… Starting to regret this a little, but how about they show me more than a close win over a Rams team. They need Roddy White and Steven Jackson to get healthy. They’ve got plenty of talent, and could easily beat the Pats this week to get on everyone’s good side again.

Need to See More

15. Houston (2-1)

Two close wins and then that. It seems like they’re window is closing. The offense just isn’t the same unit it once was, and the defense is not longer dominant. Both units are good, but it might not be good enough. They seem very similar to the Bengals, but the Bengals might have the better defense this year. It’s not like their division is a complete throw away either. Luckily they do get two match-ups with the Jags. But look whose right behind them.

16. Tennessee (2-1)

Can the defensive turnaround really be attributed to Gregg Williams? It’s that or Bernard Pollard? Or both…wait a second. Bounty Gate…Pollard…let’s get back to real analysis. The Titans defense looks much better than a year ago. The offense looks efficient. As in no turnovers so far. Wow. If they can get Chris Johnson going, this team could be a real threat. At the very least this team seems to be trending up. But they are going to need a few better wins. They needed one hell of a completion from Locker to Hunter to beat the Chargers last week. The Jets shouldn’t be a walk in the park either.

17. Detroit (2-1)

Their two wins have come against winless teams. Their loss was to the 1-2 Cardinals. Getting Reggie Bush back would be big, and the Redskins are better than their 0-3 record indicate. That game was also in Washington. That defensive line is nasty, and they still have Calvin Johnson. They could get anywhere from 6-10 wins.

18. New York Jets (2-1)

They have the second best defense in the NFL. Only the Seahawks have an argument over them. But even that might change as the season goes on. So far no quarterback has completed even 50% of their passes. That list includes Tom Terrific. Geno Smith seems to be getting better each week, and the running game is coming back to life. Stephen Hill had a solid game, if he can turn into a reliable weapon for them they might even be able to sneak into the playoffs. We’ll need to see more from them, but so far so good for a team that was supposed to be an embarrassment.

You Can Pretty Much Pack it in

19. St. Louis (1-2)

That was ugly. The offense looked terrible. They need more weapons, but they also need better play out of Sam Bradford. It’s too bad. He showed a lot of promise his rookie year. The defense hasn’t lived up to expectations either. Their only good game came against the Cardinals. And they needed a comeback to take that one.

20. Buffalo (1-2)

Tough loss. The score made it seem closer than it was. No reason to get down on this offense. The Jets defense seems that good. They probably aren’t making the playoffs this year, but they have good young players. Having tons of injuries in the secondary hasn’t helped things. With enough growth, they could be a good sleeper team next year.

21. Carolina (1-2)

A modest climb for such a one-sided victory. But the Giants sure made them look good. There are still questions about them in a close game, and a team with a good offensive line will be able to take advantage of that weak secondary. They avoided a death sentence and luckily have a lot of winnable games coming up. Arizona, Minnesota, St. Louis, and Tampa. But I won’t be really convinced by this team till I see them against Atlanta in week 9.

22. Arizona (1-2)

Way to build on that win. Even an offensive appearance would’ve been nice. They shouldn’t be an easy win each week, but they shouldn’t be expected to get more than six wins this season. Then it’s just how they build on that going into next year.

23. San Diego (1-2)

It’s not over. They should’ve beaten the Titans, and they almost beat the Texans. But with the Broncos and Chiefs in their division 8-8 would be an accomplishment. But after years of futility under Norv Turner this team is moving in the right direction. At least Phillip Rivers isn’t still regressing.

24. Philadelphia (1-2)

That offense keeps making things interesting. But they are turnover prone, injury prone, and the defense isn’t that great. They’ll be exciting all year, and eventually Chip Kelly will turn this team into a winning one, but it doesn’t look like it’ll be this season, even if record-wise they seem like the greatest challenge to the Cowboys right now.

25. Cleveland (1-2)

It was against the Vikings, but it was on the road and they showed life on offense. The passing game came to life with Brian Hoyer under center, and Josh Gordon suited up again. But how much of that was a product of playing the Vikings. That team hasn’t found a way to rush the passer yet. They probably aren’t making much noise this season, and the front office has pretty much indicated as much. But it would be nice to see some progression this season. Cleveland fans certainly deserve it.

26. Washington (0-3)

They’re getting better each week. Wouldn’t be shocked in the slightest if they get their first win Sunday. With the state of the division the season isn’t over, but it’s a big hole to climb out of. The biggest win would be a healthy RG3 going into training camp next year. No more cap penalties will help, if only they had a first round pick too. But I’m sure there are no regrets on that trade.

27. Pittsburgh (0-3)

The offense looked better, but the defense did not. Getting LeVeon Bell back this week will help, but the offensive line isn’t adding anyone new. I wouldn’t be shocked to see this team get better as the season goes on, but the playoffs don’t seem likely.

28. New York Giants (0-3)

That game was ugly. The coaching is just as frustrating as the play on the field. The offensive line looks like a complete mess. But they still have a lot of talent at the positions that matter. The defense hasn’t been great, but the problems clearly lie with the offense. If they can figure out a way to score point despite the poor play of the offensive line they may be able to get back in it. But they’d need the Cowboys to collapse too. And a road game against the Chiefs certainly doesn’t help matters.

Pack it in Boys

29. Minnesota (0-3)

So many problems, yet they’ve been competitive in every game. They might even be able to sneak to 6-10. But that would be the worst thing for this team. It’s clear Christian Ponder isn’t the answer. They need a high draft pick to finally answer the question at quarterback. They are wasting Adrian Peterson.

30. Tampa Bay (0-3)

Well that was the worst loss yet. Oh and now Mike Glennon is going to be starting for them. A top 5 pick and a new head coach/quarterback seem pretty likely for 2014.

31. Oakland (1-2)

The Raiders haven’t looked pathetic in their losses. That’s something. Right? I mean half their cap is going to players who aren’t on the team. And they have a better record than six teams, each of which probably has more talent on their roster. Oh and this Terrelle Pryor kid doesn’t look bad. But when you’re reaching like this for compliments you probably aren’t a very good team.

32. Jacksonville (0-3)

This team could honestly go 0-16 and I wouldn’t be surprised. <—- I still agree with that.

Week 3 Predictions

Kansas City at Philadelphia

Andy Reid returning to Philly. Big story there, but that’s not why I like the Chiefs in this one. The Chiefs are just clearly the better team. The defense has been great for them, and I think they’ll show up once again. Alex Smith and the offense will do enough to win this one. The Eagles best chance is the Chiefs not being prepared on a short week. It’s not going to be enough.

Chiefs win 28-24

Green Bay at Cincinnati

The Bengals offense will have an opportunity to put up some points. The Bears and Steelers both should have better defenses than the Packers. But this will be, by far, the biggest challenge the Bengals defense has faced so far this season. If the Packers offense can get it going, Andy Dalton will have a hard time keeping up. This game could go one way or the other, but great teams win tough games. And Aaron Rodgers was able move the ball on the 49ers defense.

Packers win 31-28  

St. Louis at Dallas

This is going to be a close game. But the offense hasn’t been as impressive as expected for the Cowboys. A lot of points week one, but those came off six turnovers. Last week they struggled to score against the Chiefs. They will struggle again this week. The Rams have the talent up front to take advantage of the weak Cowboys offensive line, and they have the physical corners to knock Dez Bryant off his game. The Cowboys defensive line has been impressive so far, but the Rams offensive line has the talent to give Sam Bradford time to throw.

Rams win 24-21

San Diego at Tennessee

Two surprising teams to start the season. Both teams have been competitive in their first team games, and are coming in with 1-1 records. Both their losses have been close affairs with the Texans. The biggest surprise of the two has been the Titans. Their defense has transformed in a big way, and I think that continues today. They will be able t run on the Chargers. Their defense will be able to get pressure on Phillip Rivers, and have no problem shutting down a running game that hasn’t gotten going yet this season.

Titans win 20-17

Cleveland at Minnesota

It’s going to be very tempting to pick against the Browns. They just traded away their best offensive player, and won’t have starter Brandon Weeden under center. That can’t possibly help an offense that has shown no ability to move the ball down the field. But on the other side their defense has been fantastic. Their strength has been shutting down the run. It’s a tough task to shut down Adrian Peterson, but so far the Bears and Lions have done a good job. If Christian Ponder has to win this watch out. He is basically guaranteed to throw an interception. The Vikings defense is also the easiest the Browns will face so far. They’ve faced the Dolphins and Ravens. Two teams expected to have good defenses this year. The Browns will get some turnovers and do enough on offense to pull out the win.

Browns win 24-17

Tampa Bay at New England

The Bucs are not getting enough credit in this game. The Patriots are still hurting offensively, and the Bucs have looked good on defense, especially last week against the Saints. The Patriots defense didn’t look great against the Jets, even with only giving up 10 points. It looked like the Jets beat themselves more than anything. The Bucs offense will be better than the Jets. But what are the chances Tom Brady has two bad games in a row. It’s a home game for the Patriots. While the Jets played them close last week, Rex generally does a good job of keeping the game close. It’s not likely Greg Schiano is able to pull off the same feat.

Patriots win 20-14

Arizona at New Orleans

New Orleans has not put up big offensive numbers yet this season. That changes today. The Cardinals defense is no pushover, but they aren’t the same challenge as Atlanta and Tampa. At home, and finally out of the division, the Saints are going to light it up this week. Bruce Arians will try to keep up, but eventually the Saints will pull away.

Saints win 38-28

Detroit at Washington

RG3 is going to turn it around eventually. He looked much better in the second half last week, and the Redskins will be back home. But the defense is still a problem. Until they prove that they can stop anybody, it’s hard to pick the Redskins. Especially when there is just as much a chance that RG3 continues to struggle. The Lions have the defensive line to slow the Redskins running game. The biggest question is how the offense does without Reggie Bush, but they still have talent to put up points, especially against this defense.

Lions win 28-20

NY Giants at Carolina

The battle of two disappointing teams. Both have talent, but both are 2-0. The problem for the Panthers is they have big injury issues in their secondary. Both safeties will be out for this game. It just so happens the pass is the Giants greatest strength. Eli Manning is an elite quarterback, and you can’t say the same for Cam Newton. Even in a close game you have to like Eli to find a way to win this. The offensive line couldn’t possibly look worse than it has the last two weeks. I also have a big problem picking Ron Rivera in a game that’s close, and I find it harder to believe the Panthers win in a blow out.

Giants win 31-27

Houston at Baltimore

Both teams are in the Super Bowl conversation, but neither has been particularly impressive to start the season. But the Texans are 2-0, and there is a reason. This team has proven to be able to pull out close games, and has plenty of talent on both sides of the ball. The Ravens will have a limited Ray Rice at best, and he hasn’t shown a lot outside of that. The Ravens lack weapons on offense, and haven’t proven enough on defense to feel they can take a win against the top AFC teams, even at home.

Texans win 28-21

Atlanta at Miami

A lot of people are picking Miami to win this, and it’s not surprising. The Dolphins have shown a strong defense, are at home, and Atlanta will be without Steven Jackson. But I’m not buying it. The Dolphins will struggle to run the ball again, and the offense will once again struggle to put up points. Matty Ice might not have a lot of playoff wins, but he has shown a tendency to win close games in the regular season. He does that again today.

Falcons win 24-14

Buffalo at NY Jets

 

Battle of the rookie quarterbacks. Overall I’d take EJ over Geno, but not this week. Rex has done a tremendous job against rookie quarterbacks. Anyone remember how Andrew Luck faired last week? The Jets will make it tough on Manuel, tougher than Carolina and New England did. There will be turnovers in this one, and the Jets will get a defensive or special teams score. Smith will do enough on offense to seal the win.

Jets win 16-14

Indianapolis at San Francisco

The Colts add Trent Richardson, but it won’t be enough this week. Don’t forget the Colts offensive line didn’t improve with the trade. The 49ers were embarrassed last week, but return home and are still a very good team. The Colts don’t have the defense to frustrate the 49ers offense like the Seahawks did. There is no corner that can single cover Anquan Boldin either. 49ers win easily.

49ers win 31-21

Jacksonville at Seattle

The Seahawks are favored by more than 20. That isn’t crazy

Seahawks win 38-14

Chicago at Pittsburgh

Pittsburgh has never started 0-3 with Big Ben. That looks to change this week. The Steelers are home and still have a good defense, but that offense has been horrendous. Only 17 points in the first two weeks. Seven of those came in garbage time. There is no reason to think they’ll figure it out this week against a solid Bears defense. Jay Cutler and that offense has looked a lot better too. They might not light it up, but they’ll do enough to advance to 3-0.

Bears win 24-17

Oakland at Denver

Denver lost Ryan Clady for the season. It’s a big blow, but it won’t be a problem this week. The Raiders just don’t have enough talent to really challenge a team that looks like the class of the AFC.

Denver wins 41-21

Week 2 NFL Power Rankings

Established Contenders

1. Seattle (2-0)

When you beat the best, you are the best. It was at home, where Seattle has a distinct advantage, but the Seahawks completely outclassed the 49ers for the second straight time. The defense has looked incredible to start the season, and there doesn’t seem to be any sophomore slump with Russell Wilson. A Super Bowl favorite, they are sure making a lot of people look pretty smart right now.

2. New Orleans (2-0)

That was definitely closer than you would’ve like, but at the end of the day the Saints are 2-0. Plus Tampa’s defense has looked pretty good so far this season, and it was a division win on the road. Always tough to get no matter the opponent. Good teams find a way to win, and the Saints certainly look like a contender this year.

3. San Francisco (1-1)

The 49ers don’t fall too far. Like Green Bay the week before, their loss came against the top ranked team…even if it was pretty one-sided. Still, the last time the 49ers got their ass handed to them in Seattle, they reeled off victory after victory on their way to the Super Bowl. That loss isn’t enough to knock them out of the conversation.

4. Green Bay (1-1)

Tough to get knocked after a win, but that had more to do with Seattle’s performance. Washington hasn’t looked good to start the season, but that was still a huge win for the Packers. They completely dominated. Their loss was a one score game to the 49ers in San Francisco. That offense still looks dangerous. Even with the injury to Eddy Lacy, James Starks was able to carry the running game.

5. Denver (2-0)

Hard to have two 1-1 teams in front of you, but let’s remember who those teams lost to. Denver has two very impressive wins, but they came against the Ravens and Giants. Two teams that really haven’t established themselves this season. You can’t fault the Broncos for their opponents, and they have been dominant in those wins. They look like the class of the AFC, and they could easily find themselves higher up these rankings as the season progresses.

6. Atlanta (1-1)

They rebounded nicely with a win over St. Louis. But they had a similar problem to last season. No running game to finish off blowouts. It cost them a trip to the Super Bowl last year, and almost cost them this game. But give them credit for holding on, and getting the lead in the first place. It’s not like the Rams are pushovers this year either.

7. New England (2-0)

That’s a very hollow 2-0. Close wins against two division opponents, and an offense that hasn’t clicked yet. But you know the Patriots are going to get better as the season goes along. Not to mention the eventual returns of Danny Amendola, Shane Vereen, and Rob Gronkowski. The Bills and Jets have looked better than expected, and who else in the AFC jumps out at you?

Wait and See

8. Houston (2-0)

Close wins against the Chargers and Titans does not instill a lot of confidence. But they are 2-0, and coming off two straight division titles. This team still has plenty of talent, and who knows how good those two teams actually are. They’re both 1-1 after all.

9. Kansas City (2-0)

I may not be a big fan of the Cowboys, but it’s still impressive to keep them under 20 points. The Chiefs are 2-0 and look like real playoff threats this season. Their defense is really good, and so is Jamal Charles. The offense should get better as Alex Smith gets more comfortable with the system and his receivers.

10. Baltimore (1-1)

This might be a little high, but I didn’t really see any team I thought deserved it more. It hasn’t been a pretty start to the season, but there is still time to improve. This team is the defending Super Bowl champs. They have a good coach and a lot of good player. They’ll put it together and find a way into the playoffs. Even if it winds up being as a wild card.

11. Chicago (2-0)

2-0, but both games at home, and that Vikings game was much closer than it should’ve been. The Bears have talent and could turn into a real contender this year, but there hasn’t been enough to say they are any different than in years past. Jay Cutler looks better than he did a year ago, and this defense can still play. They should at least be in the playoff conversation all season.

12. Miami (2-0)

It was against the Browns and Colts, but they are still 2-0. The defense looks to be a real strength, and Mike Wallace adds a new dimension to their offense. The running game took off last week, but how much of that was a product of the Colts defense? If they can consistently run the ball they have the makings of a playoff team. And with the Patriots problems on offense, they have a chance of stealing the division.

Need to Prove Themselves

13. St. Louis (1-1)

It’s weird to have a team move up after a loss, but it says more about what the teams in front of them did, and the Rams still made a game of it. That was against the Falcons in Atlanta. This team has a lot of talent. The offense is a little sluggish, but things will pick up. The two most explosive players, Jared Cook and Tavon Austin, are completely new to the team. Allow time for chemistry to build. But they really need better production from their running game.

14. Detroit (1-1)

Tough loss to the Cardinals. Arizona is better than they were a year ago, but if you’re going to be a playoff team, you’ve got to get those wins. There is still a lot to like about the Lions, outside of Reggie Bush’s health. There are a ton of playmakers, and if they can get out of their own way they have a shot at 10 wins this year.

15. Dallas (1-1)

Another team that moved up despite losing. I actually thought they looked better in their loss against the Chiefs than their win against New York. Dallas has the talent. More than Monte Kiffin, Rod Marinelli might’ve been the best acquisition of the offseason. That defensive line looks ferocious, even with injuries. They might prove to be the class of the NFC East…even if that isn’t saying much.

16. Cincinnati (1-1)

This team doesn’t look any different than last year’s. 16 may be low. With a week AFC North, they could easily take the division. But for right now, close games to the Steelers and Bears and a 1-1 record aren’t overly impressive. Sticking them right in the middle seems perfect. They could certainly move up, but I wouldn’t be surprised if they hovered in this range all season.

17. Buffalo (1-1)

This team has been impressive so far this season. The true wildcard of the NFL, the Bills could end up anywhere from AFC East champs, to cellar dwellers. Either way, they look like they’ll be exciting. The defense has been playing a lot better, especially Mario Williams, and EJ Manuel looks like a shrewd move at this point. This week they go up against a Jets team they haven’t had a lot of success against recently. A win here will go a long way to proving their legitimacy.

18. Tennessee (1-1)

They’ve played much better than this ranking, but after last season it’s hard to get too optimistic too fast. The defense has had quite a turnaround, and they’ve played two good games. They could easily be 2-0 right now. But I’d still like to see it for more than two weeks.

19. Arizona (1-1)

Like the Titans, this is a team that has looked good this season, but not against great opponents, and not enough to make you forget about last season. They will be better than last year, we still have to see by how much. Bruce Arians is proving last season was no fluke, and not all because of Luck. The guy can coach. But we’ll have to see a few more games before moving them up any more.

It’s Not Over Just Yet

20. Carolina (0-2)

NNNEEEAAARRRRVVVVOOOOMMM!!!!! Quite a fall for the Panthers. But they’ve been close in both games. They played the Seahawks tough, and lost to the Bills in a heartbreaker. This team is really talented, but Cam Newton and Ron Rivera are not the faces of a championship team. It’s hard to put an 0-2 team higher than this, and, if they falter against the Giants at home, this was more than they deserved.

21. New York Giants (0-2)

The Giants shouldn’t fall much further than here. For all their struggles so far, they could turn it around and make the playoffs. They have playmakers all over the field, and in a weak NFC East nine games could win it. They desperately need the offensive line to even play poorly. Right now it’s far from NFL quality. Even the Raiders line has been better, and they were supposed to be historically bad. The defensive line needs to improve too, and that falls on Perry Fewell as much as the individual players. It’d be shocking if that didn’t get fixed. Maybe not to the point of dominance, but at least existent.

22. Indianapolis (1-1)

A modest drop after the loss. It was a close game against a quality opponent. This team could still make the playoffs, and it wouldn’t shock a lot of people. 22 seems plenty low for that type of team. It’s just hard to put them higher when on paper they look like a bad team, and they haven’t had a quality win. So yes, Andrew Luck is that good.

23. San Diego (1-1)

Good win for the Chargers, but it was close and I’m not overly enthralled with the Eagles. They look to be trending up, which is more than you could say the last several years, but this season still looks like a six win campaign. A more competitive, hope for the future, six win campaign, but six wins nonetheless.

24. Philadelphia (1-1)

That win against Washington doesn’t seem that impressive now. More importantly, the defense looks like a bit of a problem. This team will be exciting, but it does not have the looks of a playoff team. They may only be a season away, though, and they could upset anyone in any given week. There are just too many holes to feel comfortable putting them much higher.

25. New York Jets (1-1)

That game was awful close. But that was a game they should’ve won. Failing to come through, shows the pitfalls of this team. They are far from the worst in the NFL, but they don’t look like a playoff team. New England won’t be that vulnerable the next time they play. That defense is incredible, but right now there are too many questions on offense.

26. Washington (0-2)

This is the lowest they will be all season. They have too much talent to be this low, but right now they haven’t been competitive in either game. They have a bad offensive line and their defense has been exposed. The receivers haven’t looked great either. RG3 will play better as the season progresses, but for right now it’s hard to argue they’ve been much better than this.

27. Pittsburgh (0-2)

A modest climb for the Steelers after the loss. But the Titans look more legitimate than they seemed a week ago, and they played the Bengals tough. There are just too many holes on offense right now. If they can find an explosive playmaker, or a consistent running game they might be able to steal the North. For right now, they seem like the 3rd best team at best.

28. Cleveland (0-2)

Lucky for them the Vikings come in this week. That is a winnable game that could help them turn the season around. Oh, and Josh Gordon should be back from suspension. But god that offense has looked awful. The defense is as good as advertised, but it really hasn’t been enough. Maybe one more offseason gets this team in the playoff hunt.

Pack it in Boys

29. Tampa Bay (0-2)

This is probably pretty low too, but there is just so much to dislike about this team. Three of the teams above them have a shot at making the playoffs (even if it is because of weak divisions) and above that is a team that beat them head-to-head. Oh and Josh Freeman and Greg Schiano. Yep, I’m fine with 29.

30. Minnesota (0-2)

Well somehow they almost won that game. But it’s becoming pretty clear that Christian Ponder is not the answer. This team looks primed for 4 wins. For their sake they better hope they get less. Poor Adrian Peterson. The guy has only played with a truly good quarterback for one season of his career.

31. Oakland (1-1)

Don’t look now, but the Raiders were competitive in both their games so far. They even firmly placed themselves above the lowly Jaguars. But with all the questions surrounding this team before the season, and a look at their opponents, it’s hard to argue they’re much better than this.

32. Jacksonville (0-2)

This team could honestly go 0-16 and I wouldn’t be surprised.

 

 

Week 2 Picks

NY Jets at New England

This the Jets best chance for a win. New England struggled to beat the Bills, and now are going to be without Danny Amendola and Shane Vereen. Tom Brady is good, but outside of Julian Edelman he doesn’t have a rapport with any of these receivers. That plays perfectly into the hands of a Jets team that looked phenomenal on defense last week against the Bucs. After shutting down Doug Martin, the Pats running game shouldn’t be a concern. I think Geno can limit the mistakes enough that the Jets win a close low scoring game.

Jets win 20-17

St. Louis at Atlanta

Jared Cook had a phenomenal debut for the Rams, and that defensive line looks like it could be one of the top units in the league. For Atlanta, if last week was any evidence, Roddy White won’t be playing at full strength. And with a struggling offensive line, the time might be right for a Rams upset. But the Falcons still have Julio Jones, Tony Gonzalez, and, oh yeah, Steven Jackson. The game will be close, but Atlanta will avoid falling into an 0-2 hole.

Falcons wins 23-17

Carolina at Buffalo

EJ Manuel got off to a good start last week. But this Panthers front seven looked great against the Seahawks. They should be able to limit CJ Spiller and Fred Jackson. The Patriots were able to run against the Bills last week, and expect DeAngelo Williams to do the same. The Panthers will put up more than seven points this week, and get a relatively easy win.

Panthers win 27-17

Minnesota at Chicago

I don’t like Christian Ponder on the road. I like him less outside. Against the Bears defense? Yeah I’m going to pick the Bears. Adrian Peterson will have to have a big day to keep this close.

Bears win 31-13

Washington at Green Bay

Maybe RG3 shouldn’t have tried so hard to get back early. He seemed rusty last week, and now has to travel to Green Bay to face a very talented Packers team that is looking to avoid that 0-2 hole. Green Bay doesn’t have to run 80 plays in this one to make the Redskins defense look bad. Getting the practice against Colin Kaepernick last week should have the defense prepared for Griffin, especially since he doesn’t seem to be 100% and running around like he did last season.

Packers win 34-21

Miami at Indianapolis

The Dolphins showed a great run defense last week against the Browns. The Colts didn’t really show they could run the ball. But the difference between the Browns and the Colts is who is under center. Andrew Luck>>>>>>Brandon Weeden. But he is going to have to play better than he did last week against the Raiders. For the Dolphins this will be a good week to find that running game. They looked dreadful last week, but the Colts should be a much easier team to run against. The old adage is don’t bet against Peyton, and with 11 wins last season, Luck seemed to be developing a similar reputation. Luck will certainly make this a good one, but there is too much going against this Colts team.

Dolphins win 24-21

Dallas at Kansas City

Kansas City’s defense looked unreal last week. Sure that was going against the Jaguars, but it’s not like we’re expecting them to shut out a team every week. And the talent level on this team, certainly makes it seem like this could be a top unit. Last time I checked they had a pretty good offensive line, Jamal Charles, and Dwayne Bowe as well. Oh and the game is at Arrowhead, one of the hardest places to play in the league. Did we mention the Cowboys won a game by four points after winning the turnover battle by 5? The defense won’t get the same amount of turnovers this game, and Charles might even gain 150 yards.

Chiefs win 24-14

Cleveland at Baltimore

Baltimore looked dreadful last week. They are not that bad. What are the chances they go 0-2, especially with the game at home against the Browns. But they still won’t have Jacoby Jones, and the Broncos proved the Ravens don’t have many weapons offensively. They should work to get Ray Rice the ball in space, but he’ll have a hard time gaining yards between the tackles agains this tough Browns defense. For the Browns there should be more running room. The Ravens are still a good defense even though they struggled against Peyton. But I find it hard to believe they’ll shut down the Browns running game with the same success the Dolphins had. If Weeden can limit the turnovers the Browns should be able to pull out the squeaker.

Browns win 17-14

Tennessee at Houston

So here is the question. Is the Titans defense that good, or the Steelers offense that bad. To me all the evidence points to the Steelers offense being that bad. The offense took a big hit switching from Bruce Arians to Todd Haley. Now they don’t have Mike Wallace, pretty much their lone big play producer, Maurkice Pouncey is out for the season, and they still haven’t developed much of a running game. Oh, and the Titans were the worst scoring defense in the leauge last season, and really didn’t change much. The Texans have not looked great since their strong start last season, but at home this should be a victory.

Texans win 28-17

San Diego at Philadelphia

Are the Eagles as good as they looked Monday night? No, let’s look at the defense they were going up against. Let’s remember that the Redskins heavily rely on strong schemes by Haslett. Let’s remember there was no tape on the Chip Kelly offense. Let’s remember that RG3 is clearly not 100% and didn’t add that same running element. Let’s remember the turnovers, and the lack of a running game the Redskins displayed. And then let’s remember that this Eagles team let the Redskin come close to stealing the game. Could they make the playoffs? Absolutely, but how about we see them play a couple more games before we start frothing at the mouth. But how good is San Diego. Phillip Rivers looks like he has been possessed by Norv Turner. Before there is an exorcism performed, is there a lead you’d feel comfortable with the Chargers keeping? The Eagles are going to get the win at home, and the Chip Kelly mania is going to be in full swing.

Eagles win 34-24

Detroit at Arizona

Last season you couldn’t pay me to watch this game. This season? It actually looks like a pretty exciting matchup. The Lions looked great offensively against the Vikings. If the Rams were able to score on the Cardinals, expect to see the Lions light it up as well. For the Cardinals, man did that Bruce Arians offense look fun. Nice to see Carson Palmer finally get Larry Fitzgerald some help. But the Rams defensive line was able to take advantage of the weak Cards O-Line. The Lions defensive line might be the best in the league. They shut Adrian Peterson down last week, and should have no problem doing the same to Rashard Mendenhall. But it wouldn’t be a Lions game without some stupid mistakes. The game will be closer than it should, but the Lions will join the Eagles on the all-hype team this week.

Lions win 34-28 

New Orleans at Tampa Bay

Sean Payton vs Greg Schiano. Do I really have to write anything else? What about that week 1 matchup made you feel good about the Bucs. I don’t care that they’ll be home for this one. The Bucs will score, but I fully expect the defense to get embarrassed. Darrelle Revis is great, but the Saints aren’t a one receiver team. There will be plenty of openings for Drew Brees.

Saints win 41-28

Jacksonville at Oakland

The official Downey for Clowney game. The loser should be the favorite to draft the freak defensive end from South Carolina. But the Raiders actually showed some life against the Colts. The same can’t be said for the Jaguars. And the Raiders will be home for this one. Literally the best thing the Jags have going for them, is Blaine Gabbert is too hurt to play. Chad Henne will be under center for Jacksonville, but that won’t be enough.

Raiders win 21-13

Denver at NY Giants

The Broncos aren’t as good as they looked, and the Giants aren’t as bad. Those turnovers were awful, and six of them? Seriously. Now this isn’t to say the Giants should be favored. The Broncos are still a really good team. But defensively they won’t get the same gifts they had against the Ravens. Baltimore had one receiver that could get open, the Giants showed they have three. And don’t forget abou Dan Myers and Louis Murphy. The Broncos pass rush issues from the first half of that game could be an issue in this one. Unless they feel comfortable leaving single coverage on two of those three. That helps the Giants whose main flaw is their offensive line. Hell if they could get a running game going the offense should be unreal. But let’s be honest, Peyton is going to put up some points as well. The Giants pass rush left a lot to be desired and they are going up against a much better offensive line this week. Peyton will find the Giants weakness, and will be able to take advantage of it, unlike Tony Romo. And I really doubt the game plan is going to be short, quick passes. This one will be a high scoring one, but Eli is going to get his first win in the Manning Bowl series. It has to happen before Peyton retires, right? Plus Mr. 4th quarter hasn’t had a comeback in a while. He’ll finally get back on track here.

Giants win 44-41

San Francisco at Seattle

The complete opposite of the Jags v. Raiders game. The winner of this one has a good shot at the top NFC seed. The 49ers were embarrassed the last time they played in Seattle, but the game wasn’t as lopsided as the score would make you think. Being at home will be a huge advantage, but the 49ers will be ready this time. With two teams that seem pretty evenly matched on paper, I’m going to take the team with the better coach. People may disagree with me, but I’m giving that to Jim Harbaugh.

49ers win 24-21

Pittsburgh at Cincinnati

Well I already mentioned what I think of the Steelers offense. The defense still looks good, but it’s not going to be enough in this one. The Bengals defense is way better than what the Titans threw at them, and there is no way they fall to 0-2 especially getting this game at home.

Bengals win 28-14