2015 AFC South Betting Preview: Colts to dominate Again

andrew-luck-playoffsLast year the AFC South was divided by two winning teams in the Indianapolis Colts (11-5) and Houston Texans (9-7), and the lowly Tennessee Titans (2-14) and Jacksonville Jaguars (2-14). It was largely ugly and little figures to change this time around, except with the Colts probably winning the division by an even larger margin. That said, let’s cover how good Indianapolis should be along with the rest of the 2015 AFC South.

4th in Division: Tennessee Titans; 3-13 W/L Projection

marcus-mariota-titansStrengths: The front seven could be pretty good for the Titans this season. This is especially true if Brian Orakpo can regain what he had in his first three seasons in the league. He’ll be joined by fellow outside linebacker Derrick Morgan, who has 18.5 sacks in the last three years. D-lineman Jurrell Casey will also play an important role here after tallying 15.5 sacks in the past two seasons.

Strengths: We could go with several areas for this team, but most of the skill positions seem to be largely unsolved right now. Can Justin Hunter or Kendall Wright step up and be a true go-to receiver for second-overall pick Marcus Mariota? Can Bishop Sankey or David Cobb emerge from Tennessee’s weak backfield? Additionally, will the offensive line be any better than its horrific performance last year?

3rd in Division: Jacksonville Jaguars; 4-14 W/L Projection

tj-yeldon-jaguarsStrengths: Terrible to open the 2014 campaign, Jacksonville’s offense stands a solid chance of success this time around. Blake Bortles now has a season of experience, T.J. Yeldon gives the Jaguars a quality running back, and Allen Robinson is set for stardom at wide receiver. Add new tight end Julius Thomas into the mix and there’s no shortage of weapons here.

Weakness: Jacksonville is really starting behind the 8 ball here after third-overall pick Dante Fowler Jr. went down with an ACL tear in his first-ever practice. The D-end was supposed to anchor this defense and help them improve what’s otherwise a forgettable group. With no great offseason additions, don’t expect the Jaguars D to do much better than last year’s performance (26th overall defense).

2nd in Division: Houston Texans; 6-10 W/L Projection

jj-watt-mvpStrengths: J.J. Watt is as ever deserving of the MVP award as any defensive player in NFL history. In the past three years he has 122 QB hurries, 105 QB hits, 52 sacks, 12 forced fumbles, nine fumble recoveries and four touchdowns – all this despite continually being doubled teamed. If Jadeveon Clowney can come back strong following an injury plagued rookie season, he and Watt could form a nightmare defensive-end duo. New addition Vince Wilfork will be yet another plus for this defensive line, acting as a huge run stopper.

Weaknesses: Ryan Mallett and Brian Hoyer are the two options at quarterback for Texas this year, and neither one seems like a particularly good choice. Mallett, who opened as the starter last season, has potential; but he’s still an unknown after tearing his pectoral muscle last year just three games into 2014. Hoyer played decent in Cleveland’s first half, before throwing just 2 touchdowns and 9 interceptions over his last five contests. Considering that he’s nothing more than a game manager those are awful numbers.

1st in Division: Indianapolis Colts; 12-4 W/L Projection

ty-hilton-touchdownStrengths: As has been the case ever since he joined the team four years ago, Andrew Luck will once again be the biggest strength that the Colts have. With almost 4,800 yards and 40 touchdown passes last year, Luck will almost certainly lead Indianapolis to the top of the South once again. Of course, he’ll have plenty of help this year in the form of T.Y. Hilton, who’s also coming off a career year where he tallied over 1,300 receiving yards and seven touchdowns. The receiving corp could be bolstered since Andre Johnson will take over as the No. 2 pass catcher. After catching 85 passes for over 900 yards in Texas’ anemic offense last season, the long-time veteran should do even better with a skilled signal caller like Luck slinging the ball.

Weaknesses: The defense doesn’t appear particularly strong in any one area. Linebackers D’Qwell Jackson and Bjoern Werner could stand to improve this season. The defensive line, despite getting 41 sacks last year, didn’t put enough pressure on quarterbacks. And the secondary was definitely below average, which was a bad combination when coupled with the defensive line. With the addition of RB Frank Gore and Johnson, the Colts have the offensive talent to make the Super Bowl. But will their defense be strong enough to help them get there?

5 NFL Offenses to fear in 2015

2015-nfl-playoffs-russell-wilsonThey say defense wins championships, but it sure doesn’t hurt to have a great offense. This is especially the case in the NFL where, due to complex defensive schemes, points can be rather hard to come by. So what NFL offenses figure to give opposing defensive coordinators fits all season long? Let’s take a look at five offenses to be feared as we head into the 2015 NFL season.

5. Seattle Seahawks

Seattle’s bread and butter is typically their defense, which has been stellar over the past couple of seasons. However, they didn’t get to two straight Super Bowls by having a weak, anemic offense. QB Russell Wilson is one of the most-dangerous duel threats in the league, beating teams with both his arm and legs. Then there’s Marshawn Lynch, who is always good for several highlight-reel plays that involve trucking defenders en route to the end zone. Add new addition Jimmy Graham and you’ve got one highly explosive team that will be racking up some major points.

sam-bradford-eagles-14. Philadelphia Eagles

Chip Kelly has a knack for developing excellent offensive teams, and this year’s version will be no different. In fact, it could be even better with Sam Bradford as the new quarterback of the Eagles. Bradford isn’t the only new face in town, though, with DeMarco Murray and Ryan Matthews joining Darren Sproles in what should be a very dominant backfield. Philadelphia finished ninth in rushing last season (124.4 RYPG), but don’t be surprised if they’re number one this year.

3. Green Bay Packers

Last year was one of the best of Aaron Rodgers’ career as he threw for 4,381 yards, 38 TDs and 5 INTs, while generating a 112.2 QBR. With weapons like Randall Cobb and Jordy Nelson, it certainly won’t be difficult for a healthy Rodgers to replicate his numbers from last season. And once Eddie Lacy got going last year, he gave Green Bay a truly devastating all-around attack. The Packers led the league with 30.4 PPG and there’s no reason to think that they can’t do the same again in 2015.

ben-roethlisberger-ravens2. Pittsburgh Steelers

Traditionally a defensive team, the blue-collar town of Pittsburgh is learning to embrace what’s become an outstanding offense. And it’s not easy to see who’s leading this offense based on last year’s stats: Ben Roethlisberger (4,952 passing yards), Antonio Brown (1,698 receiving yards) and Le’Veon Bell (1,361 rushing yards). These totals equal 8,011 yards, which is the most by a three-player trio in league history. But Pittsburgh’s offensive prowess goes beyond just these three because receivers Martavis Bryant, Markus Wheaton and Auburn third-rounder Sammy Coates will also pile up stats.

1. Indianapolis Colts

The greatness of Andrew Luck shined through once again as he tallied 4,761 passing yards, 40 passing TDs and 16 INTs. And what’s amazing is that he didn’t really have much of a supporting run game to keep defenses honest. That should be solved going into this season, with Frank Gore joining the Colts. And the passing game will once again be excellent with T.Y. Hilton back, free-agent Andre Johnson, and first-round draft pick Phillip Dorsett. With the most weapons that he’s ever had in his career, expect Luck to put up his best numbers yet in his 4th season.

NFL Power Rankings for Week 13 (Nov 27, 2014)

legarrette-blount-patriots-20141. New England Patriots (9-2); beat Detroit 34-9, retains same ranking – Exit Jonas Gray, insert Legarrette Bount, who rushed for 78 yards and 2 TD’s. It seems like the Patriots can play anybody and win.

2. Green Bay Packers (8-3); beat Minnesota 24-21, moves up one spot – Eddie Lacy seems to be catching fire for the Packers at just the right time. And they’ll need it as New England visits Lambeau.

3. Denver Broncos (8-3); beat Miami 39-36, moves up two spots – Don’t play Peyton Manning after a loss! The future Hall of Famer tossed 4 TD’s against the Dolphins.

4. Philadelphia Eagles (8-3); beat Tennessee 43-24, retains same ranking – Riding a 10-game winning streak at home, Philly is battling over the final stretch to host some playoff games.

5. Arizona Cardinals (9-2); lost to Seattle 19-3, drops three spots – With Drew Stanton at QB, Arizona is still a good team…just not good enough to win tough road games.

6. Dallas Cowboys (8-3); beat NY Giants 31-28, retains same rankings – All the talk is about Odell Beckham’s amazing TD catch, but Dallas is more than happy with yet another win.

Atlanta Falcons v San Francisco 49ers7. San Francisco 49ers (7-4); beat Washington 17-13, retains same ranking – Anquan Boldin may be a grandpa by NFL standards, but the 34-year-old can still play, as he proved with 137 receiving yards and a TD.

8. Indianapolis Colts (7-4); beat Jacksonville 23-3, retains same ranking – The Colts were fortune to be playing Jacksonville on a day where they fumbled six times and Andrew Luck struggled.

9. Seattle Seahawks (7-4); beat Arizona 19-3, moves up two spots – Russell Wilson is the NFL’s most-dangerous dual threat, as he showed with 211 passing yards and 73 rushing yards in this contest.

10. Detroit Lions (7-4); lost to New England 34-9, drops one spot – Matt Stafford was off the mark (39.1 completion percentage) and Detroit was predictably blown out on the road against the NFL’s top team.

11. Pittsburgh Steelers (7-4); bye week, drops one spot – Pittsburgh gets their bye at a very nice time, with all four AFC North teams still alive for the division title.

12. Cincinnati Bengals (7-3-1); beat Houston 22-13, moves up one spot – Two road wins in a row for Cincinnati bodes well as they take the AFC North lead.

justin-forsett-superdome13. Baltimore Ravens (7-4); beat New Orleans 34-27, moves up one spot – Justin Forsett managed a career game (182 rushing yards, 2TD) to help Baltimore win in the Superdome.

14. San Diego Chargers (7-4); beat St. Louis 27-24, moves up one spot – Philip Rivers was excellent in the face of pressure, as he completed 8-of-8 passes for 108 yards against blitzes.

15. Kansas City Chiefs (7-4); lost to Oakland 24-20, drops three spots – The Chiefs blew a golden opportunity to cement their playoff chase. Aside from losing to the Raiders, allowing 5.0 rushing YPC isn’t helping matters.

16. Miami Dolphins (6-5); lost to Denver 39-36, retains same ranking – Ryan Tannehill continues putting up strong numbers (228 passing yards, 3TD), but the Dolphins are fading in the playoff race.

17. Cleveland Browns (7-4); beat Atlanta 26-24, moves up spot – With 8 catches and 120 receiving yards in his first game back, Josh Gordon hasn’t lost a step from last year.

18. Buffalo Bills (6-5); beat NY Jets 38-3, moves up one spot – Buffalo proved why they have one of the league’s better defenses by sacking the Jets seven times.

19. Houston Texans (5-6); lost to Cincinnati 22-13, drops three spots – Houston has pieces to a very good team, but they just can’t complete the puzzle and it starts at quarterback.

20. Chicago Bears (5-6), beat Tampa Bay 21-13, NR – Chicago slightly drops their 27.6 points allowed-per-game figure, which ranks second worst in the league.

NFL Power Rankings for Week 11 (Nov 13, 2014)

tom-brady1. New England Patriots (7-2); bye week, moves up one spot – The Patriots are our new No.1, but they face a tough test in Indianapolis. Tom Brady has won 73% of his games against the Colts, though.

2. Philadelphia Eagles (7-2); beat Carolina 45-21, moves up one spot – Questions persist about Mark Sanchez at starter, however, he answered some of them with 332 passing yards and 2 TD’s.

3. Denver Broncos (7-2); beat Oakland 41-17, moves up one spot – Who will man the Denver backfield? C.J. Anderson seems to have the role for now after gaining over 160 total yards last week.

4. Arizona Cardinals (8-1); beat St. Louis 31-14, drops three spots spots – Despite having the league’s best record and an excellent defense, the question now becomes if Drew Stanton is capable of leading a Super Bowl contender.

andrew-luck-playoffs5. Indianapolis Colts (6-3); bye week, retains same ranking – Andrew Luck will look to continue his streak of seven-straight 300-yard passing games against New England. Can he win the showdown between two top-tier passers?

6. Detroit Lions (7-2); beat Miami 20-16, moves up one spot – It’ll be hard for teams to cover Golden Tate and Calvin Johnson, who both eclipsed 100 yards last game.

7. Seattle Seahawks (6-3); beat NY Giants 38-17, moves up one spot – Seattle’s run game REALLY got going with over 350 yards against the Giants. Their formula of a great running game and defense will be tough to beat once again.

8. Dallas Cowboys (7-3); beat Jacksonville 31-17, moves up one spot – Having Tony Romo under center really makes a difference for this team.

9. San Francisco 49ers (5-4); beat New Orleans 27-24 (OT), moves up one spot – Colin Kaepernick made plays when he had to, but maybe the victory would’ve been easier if Anquan Boldin hadn’t dropped four passes.

10. Green Bay Packers (6-3); beat Chicago Bears 55-14, moves up two spots – It’s just too bad that Aaron Rodgers can’t play the Bears every week.

11. Pittsburgh Steelers (6-4); lost to NY Jets 20-13, drops five spots – Ben Roethlisberger finally cooled off after 12 TD passes in two games, throwing for just 206 yards, 1 TD and 2 INT’s.

jamaal-charles12. Kansas City Chiefs (6-3); beat Buffalo 17-13 , moves up one spot – We’re surprised once again by the Chiefs’ record. They face a huge test against Seattle, though.

13. Cincinnati Bengals (5-3-1); beat Jacksonville 33-23, drops two spots – There’s not much to say about this loss; just look at Andy Dalton’s numbers (10-for-33 passing, 3 INT’s).

14. Baltimore Ravens (6-4); beat Tennessee 21-7, moves up two spots – Justin Forsett, a career backup before this year, became the first Baltimore player to rush for over 100 yards (112) and two touchdowns since 2011.

15. Cleveland Browns (6-3); beat Cincinnati 24-3, moves up three spots – Kudos to anybody who predicted that Cleveland would be leading the AFC North 10 weeks into the season.

16. San Diego Chargers (5-4); bye week, drops one spot – The Chargers get a very winnable game against the Raiders, before facing five straight teams with a winning record (Ravens, Patriots, Broncos, 49ers, Chiefs).

17. Miami Dolphins (5-4); lost to Detroit 20-16, drops three spots – Miami hung tough on the road against arguably the league’s top defense. However, they just couldn’t hang on long enough in the fourth quarter.

18. Buffalo Bills (5-4); lost to KC 17-13, drops one spot – Buffalo gets some much-needed running help with the return of Fred Jackson.

19. New Orleans Saints (4-5); lost to San Francisco 27-24 (OT), retains same ranking – New Orleans just can’t win the close ones. This is their fourth loss by 3 points or less in the 2014 season.

20. Houston Texans (4-5); bye week, NR – Houston has a chance to remain relevant with three games left against the Titans and Jaguars. But it will depend upon how new QB Ryan Mallet performs.

NFL Power Rankings for Week 6 (Oct. 10th, 2014)

NFL: Indianapolis Colts at Houston TexansLast night, the Indianapolis Colts and Houston Texans played an exciting game at NRG Stadium. Indianapolis jumped out to a 24-0 lead in the first quarter on the strength of the connection between Andrew Luck and T.Y. Hilton. The latter would finish with 9 catches for 223 yards and a touchdown.

But despite Hilton’s domination, this game would turn out to be much closer than expected. The Texans mounted a rally while Arian Foster ran for 109 yards and two touchdowns. However, it wasn’t enough as the Texans fell just short in this battle by a score of 33-28. See how far Indianapolis rises and Houston falls in our NFL power rankings for Week 6.

1. Denver Broncos (3-1); beat Arizona Cardinals 41-20, retains same ranking – An anticipated matchup between the Broncos and undefeated Cardinals turned into a blowout as Arizona QB Drew Stanton got knocked out early with a concussion. But the real story here was Demaryius Thomas’ 226 receiving yards.

2. Seattle Seahawks (3-1); beat Washington Redskins 27-17, retains same ranking – Seattle won, as predicted, thanks to 122 rushing yards by Russell Wilson, the most by a quarterback in Monday Night Football history.

3. San Diego Chargers (4-1); beat New York Jets 31-0, moves up two spots – People expected the offense to be good again. But nobody expected San Diego’s defense to be so effective.

chiefs-vs-frank-gore4. San Francisco 49ers (3-2); beat Kansas City Chiefs 22-17, moves up two spots – A week after rushing for 119 yards, Frank Gore added another 107 yards against the Chiefs. Gore is getting great blocking from the line, as his 4.8 yards-before-contact numbers suggest.

5. Philadelphia Eagles (4-1); beat St. Louis Rams 34-28, moves up two spots – Philadelphia really got their two-headed rushing attack going with 145 yards on the ground. RT Lane Johnson’s return from suspension had a lot to do with this.

6. Arizona Cardinals (3-1); lost to New England 41-20, drops two spots – We can’t fault the Cardinals too badly for this blowout loss, given that they were playing at Denver and with brutally ineffective Logan Thomas at QB.

7. Indianapolis Colts (3-2); beat Houston Texans 33-28 (Thursday Night), moves up one spot – Andrew Luck still doesn’t have an outstanding supporting cast. But they are definitely good enough to help this team win the AFC South.

8. New England Patriots (2-2); beat Cincinnati Bengals 43-17, moves up four spots – Last week, half the NFL stories were about Tom Brady’s decline. This week, it’s all praise for the 37-year-old quarterback.

9. Cincinnati Bengals (3-1); lost to New England Patriots 43-17, drops six spots – The darlings of many power rankings a week ago, Cincinnati got smashed in New England. The key stat for Cincy: 0-for-7 on third downs.

eddie-lacy-rookie-of-the-year10. Green Bay Packers (3-2); beat Minnesota Vikings 42-10, moves up one spot – Eddie Lacy finally went over 100 yards and he added a couple scores as Green Bay rolled against the Vikings.

11. Dallas Cowboys (4-1); beat Houston Texans 20-17, moves up two spots – DeMarco Murray became just the third running back to rush for over 100 yards in the first five games. His company: Jim Brown and O.J. Simpson.

12. Detroit Lions (3-2); lost to Buffalo Bills 17-14, drops three spots – Detroit is now on to its third kicker of the season, and for good reason because they’re 4-of-12 on field goals.

13. Baltimore Ravens (3-2); lost to Indianapolis Colts 20-13, drops three spots – The offense looked pretty tame until the last quarter while the defense did its best to make this a tough, gritty game.

14. Carolina Panthers (3-2); beat Chicago Bears 31-24, moves up three spots – It’s a good thing that Carolina got this victory because they’re entering the meet of their schedule, beginning with a trip to Cincinnati.

15. New Orleans Saints (2-3); beat Tampa Bay Buccaneers 37-31 (OT), moves up one spot – Predictably, New Orleans won at home again; they’re 2-0 at home and 0-3 on the road.

jay-cutler-bears16. Chicago Bears (2-3); lost to Carolina Panthers 31-24, drops two spots – Chicago started off well but faded down the stretch. Both of Jay Cutler’s interceptions were downfield throws, and he’s completing just 23% of these attempts.

17. Pittsburgh Steelers (3-2); beat Jacksonville 17-9, moves up one spot – Pittsburgh seems to be a pretty middling team. A week after losing to Tampa Bay, they won a tight contest against league-worst Jacksonville.

18. Buffalo Bills (3-2); beat Detroit Lions 17-14, drops two spots – After a terrible start by Kyle Orton, he rallied the troops for 17 straight points to win this one.

19. Miami Dolphins (2-2); bye week, retains same ranking – Miami faces a pivotal home game against Green Bay that will go a long way towards determining their AFC East title chances.

20. Kansas City Chiefs (2-2); lost to San Francisco 22-17, drops five spots – After scoring on their first two drives, Kansas City’s offense completely staggered, failing to get a drive of more than six plays going.

21. New York Giants (3-2); beat Atlanta Falcons 30-20, moves up one spot

22. Atlanta Falcons (2-3); lost to New York Giants, drops one spot

23. Cleveland Browns (2-2); beat Tennessee Titans 29-28, moves up four spots

24. Houston Texans (3-2); lost to Indianapolis 33-28 (Thursday Night), retains same ranking

25. St. Louis (1-3); lost to Philadelphia Eagles 34-28, retains same ranking

26. Tennessee Titans (1-4); lost to Cleveland Browns, moves up three spots

27. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (1-4); lost to New Orleans Saints 37-31 (OT), moves up three spots

28. New York Jets (1-4); lost to San Diego 31-0, drops two spots

29. Washington Redskins (1-4); lost to Seattle 27-17, moves two spots

30. Minnesota Vikings (2-3); lost to Green Bay 42-10, drops three spots

31. Oakland Raiders (0-4); bye week, retains same ranking

32. Jacksonville Jaguars (0-5); lost to Pittsburgh Steelers 17-9, retains same ranking

NFL Power Rankings for Week 2 (Sept. 11, 2014)

percy-harvin-seahawksWe started the season by ranking Seattle number one, and there’s little reason to back off that prediction one week into the season. The Seahawks dominated the Green Bay Packers last Thursday to the tune of a 36-16 blowout. They’ll have no shortage of weapons either as Marshawn Lynch rushed for 110 yards and two TD’s, Russell Wilson threw for 191 yards and a pair of TD’s and Percy Harvin gained 100 combined yards, almost dividing them equally between the air and ground.

Okay, now that we’ve ruined any element of surprise about who’s number one, there were definitely some changes in other spots of our rankings. That said, let’s take a look at the Week 2 NFL power rankings.

1. Seattle Seahawks (1-0); beat Green Bay 36-16, retains same ranking – Seattle picked up right where they left off last season by blowing out another high-profile opponent. We didn’t get to see much from Richard Sherman – only because Aaron Rodgers avoided throwing his direction the entire game. Sherman’s presence is one reason why the Seahawks had little trouble shutting down Green Bay’s uptempo offense as they looked unbeatable at home.

2. Denver Broncos (1-0); beat Indianapolis 31-24, retains same ranking – Denver’s first-half defense looked scary in holding the Colts to just a touchdown. However, they also let Indianapolis back into the game. Peyton Manning continues finding the open man, wherever they may be. This time, it was tight end Julius Thomas as he scored three touchdowns.

3. San Francisco 49ers (1-0); beat Dallas Cowboys 28-17, retains same ranking – Even without Aldon Smith, San Francisco made the Dallas offense look bad by getting in Tony Romo’s face and contributing to his three interceptions. Running back Carlos Hyde looks like a new player to watch this season as he rushed for 50 yards and a TD on just seven carries.

4. New Orleans Saints (0-1); lost to Atlanta Falcons 37-34 (OT), moves up one spot  – Despite a loss – a road loss to a division rival mind you – the Saints move up as everybody else around them also lost. The offense has gotten even better with the addition of rookies Brandin Cooks and Khiry Robinson. The main concern here, though, is the cornerback situation. Playing against elite Falcons receivers didn’t help mask this concern either.

5. New England Patriots (0-1); lost to Miami Dolphins 33-20, drops one spot – Another road loss to a tough division rival here. But it’s concerning how the Patriots were completely dominated in the second half after going into the locker room with a 20-10 lead. The offense is loaded with talent, however, they’ll have a tough time winning if the defense continues allowing players like Knowshon Moreno to rush for 134 yards.

nick-foles-eagles6. Philadelphia Eagles (1-0); beat Jacksonville Jaguars 34-17, moves up one spot – It seems like the Eagles should be moving up a little higher based on their blowout victory. But the worrisome aspect is how they were down 17-0 going into halftime against a Jacksonville team that isn’t markedly improved. Nick Foles was especially off, although he rallied to throw for 322 yards and one touchdown.

7. Cincinnati Bengals (1-0); beat Baltimore Ravens 23-16, moves up one spot – Andy Dalton hit A.J. Green on a 77-yard touchdown pass with five minutes left to help earn Cincinnati a very nice road win. The only complaint here is that the Bengals left a lot of points on the board in the first half, settling for five field goals. If they’d just converted on some key third downs, they could have ended this game early, rather than allowing Baltimore to hang in there.

8. Green Bay Packers (0-1); lost to Seattle Seahawks 36-16, drops one spot – It felt right to give Green Bay a chance when discussing this game in our last power rankings. However, even with their scoring ability, they were no match for a Super Bowl champion opening up at home. The Packers are definitely a team that has a chance to stay in the hunt, but they’ve got some improving to do if they’re going to win a road playoff game.

9. Indianapolis Colts (0-1); lost to Denver Broncos 31-24, retains same ranking – We won’t fault Indianapolis too badly for losing by a touchdown at Mile High. But this one got ugly in the beginning, with the Broncos going up 24-0. Andrew Luck definitely looked every bit a top-5 quarterback, though, in leading his team back. Luck finished the day going 35-for-53 with 370 yards, 3 total touchdowns and 2 INT’s. He can do better, but this was an impressive day for a guy with few weapons around him.

10. Carolina Panthers (1-0); beat Tampa Bay Buccaneers 20-14, moves up two spots – Despite Cam Newton sitting out with a rib injury, Carolina bolted out to a lead in this one and never looked back. The front seven looks amazing again while Kelvin Benjamin had a fantastic rookie debut with 93 receiving yards and a touchdown. It’ll be interesting to see if the Panthers can repeat last year’s success in a loaded NFC South division.

11. Pittsburgh Steelers (1-0); beat Cleveland Browns 30-27, retains same ranking – Despite a win, this was a somewhat disappointing home debut for the Steelers. They jumped out to a 27-0 lead, only to be outscored 27-3 afterward. Pittsburgh’s run defense was especially bad against a Browns team that racked up 183 yards on just 30 rushing plays. If the Steelers are to challenge Cincinnati for the AFC North crown, they’ll have to defend much better.

jay-cutler-buffalo12. Chicago Bears (0-1); lost to Buffalo Bills 23-20 (OT), drops two spots – Few would’ve predicted this upset with the Bears playing at home. Chicago opened well after going up 17-7 by halftime. However, they got little pressure from their expensive defensive line, which now includes Jared Allen. And Jay Cutler made some crucial throwing errors as Buffalo clawed back into this one. Fred Jackson’s 38-yard run, which ended at the Bears’ 1-yard line, set up Dan Carpenter’s game-winning field goal.

13. Arizona Cardinals (1-0); beat San Diego 1-0, moves up two spots – The Cardinals came alive in the fourth quarter to score 12 points and take this one away from San Diego. Carson Palmer picked apart a weak Chargers secondary for 304 yards and two TD passes. There was initially some fear that Andre Ellington would miss time for Arizona, however, the running back contributed 53 yards on 13 carries and looks fine.

14. Miami Dolphins (1-0); beat New England 33-20, moves up two spots – In a discussion on NFL prop bets, we liked the Miami Dolphins as darkhorses to win the AFC East. Well, it’s too early to call good on this prediction, but they’re definitely on the right path with a victory over the Patriots. The Miami D-line really came alive in the second half to put pressure on Tom Brady and halt New England’s attack.

15. San Diego Chargers (0-1); lost to Arizona Cardinals 18-17, drops two spots – San Diego went from an anemic first-half performance, to quickly scoring two touchdowns in the third quarter, to letting Arizona score a couple touchdowns in the fourth. Losing this game on the road isn’t such a terrible thing, but the Chargers are definitely hating how they lost.

NFL: AUG 16 Pre-Season Colts v Falcons16. Atlanta Falcons (1-0); beat New Orleans 37-34 (OT), moves up three spots – We want to move the Falcons up more following the win against New Orleans, but we’ll have to see how all aspects of their team develop. One thing’s for sure, though – the passing game is back! Matt Ryan threw for a franchise-record 448 yards and three touchdowns, and Julio Jones and Devin Hester combined for 215 receiving yards.

17. Baltimore Ravens (0-1); lost to Cincinnati Bengals 23-16, drops three spots – The run game is a mess in Baltimore after they booted Ray Rice from the team. Now, 29-year-old journeyman Justin Forsett will be starting while Bernard Pierce was surprisingly benched. As long as this keeps up, Joe Flacco will have to keep chucking the ball 60+ times a game.

18. Detroit Lions (1-0); beat New York Giants 35-14, retains same ranking – It’s hard to tell if the Lions defense is any better, seeing as how New York’s offense is so bad. But the offense definitely looks upgraded with Golden Tate there to take some pressure off of Calvin Johnson in the receiving corp.

19. Kansas City Chiefs (0-1); lost to Tennessee 26-10, drops two spots – The Chiefs are a candidate for this year’s most de-improved team – if only because their schedule will be far tougher. Of course, a home game against the Titans shouldn’t be that tough, although Kansas City made it that way. With Dwayne Bowe and RT Donald Stephenson suspended, and LB Derrick Johnson and DT Mike DeVito lost to Achilles injuries, things only look to get worse. Their one saving point is that they still have Jamaal Charles.

20. New York Jets (1-0); beat Oakland Raiders 19-14, moves up one spot – A win over the Raiders has to be worth something, right? The defense played well, as expected. But the offense also looked pretty efficient, with Geno Smith going 23-for-28 on passing attempts with a touchdown. Chris Ivory and Chris Johnson also combined for 170 yards on just 23 carries.

21. Tennessee Titans (1-0); beat Kansas City 26-10, moves up three spots – Credit the Titans with going into a playoff team’s den and taking away a solid victory. It’s still early to tell just how good Tennessee is, especially with questions surrounding their running game. However, Jake Locker looked strong while racking up 266 passing yards and a couple of TD’s.

josh-mccown-bucs22. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (0-1); lost to Carolina Panthers 20-14, drops one spot – This is definitely one case where the score makes things look closer than they were. Tampa Bay’s new-look offense was stifled early on, and Doug Martin did not look good at all (9 rushing yards on 9 attempts) before getting hurt. Josh McCown’s results were pretty mixed as he threw for 183 yards, 2 TD’s and 2 INT’s.

23. Minnesota Vikings (1-0); beat St. Louis 34-6, moves up three spots – We don’t want to get too excited about this team until after they play New England. However, you can’t deny that they had a very good start at St. Louis. WR Cordarelle Patterson looks like a big-time weapon for this offense as he rushed for 102 yards on three carries and added 26 receiving yards.

24. St. Louis (0-1); lost to Minnesota Vikings 34-6, drops four spots – The year couldn’t have started any worse for the Rams. Just two weeks after losing Sam Bradford for the season, Shaun Hill exited this game with a thigh injury. That leaves inexperienced Austin Davis in the driver’s seat. Can Zac Stacy and the running game get anything going?

25. Houston Texans (1-0); beat Washington 17-6, moves up two spots – Last year, Houston won their first two games before going 0-14 the rest of the way. So let’s not get too excited about this victory. Nevertheless, their defense was pretty outstanding – especially the $100-million-man J.J. Watt. He had a sack, blocked an extra point and recovered a fumble in this contest.

26. Buffalo Bills (1-0); beat Chicago Bears 23-20 (OT), moves up two spots – Hard to see the Bills being much better than last year. However, seeing is believing, and they looked good against Chicago. The key to this season will be E.J. Manuel’s confidence and if the second-year QB can develop into a leader.

27. New York Giants (0-1); lost to Detroit 35-14, drops four spots – People wondered if the offense would truly be as bad as it looked in the preseason. And these questions were put to rest as the Giants unleashed a truly awful offensive performance. Eli Manning highlighted this performance by throwing for 163 yards, one touchdown and three interceptions.

28. Dallas Cowboys (0-1); lost to San Francisco 28-17, drops three spots – The score doesn’t put into account how bad the Cowboys were outclassed in the first quarter. They eventually did some good things after the game was out of hand, but this team looks poor on both sides of the ball right now.

29. Cleveland Browns (0-1); lost to Pittsburgh Steelers 30-27, moves up one spot – Hats off to the Browns for putting up a fight after going down by four scores in the early going. Brian Hoyer moved the offense and generated 230 passing yards and one touchdown. Rookie Terrance West also looked strong while piling up 100 rushing yards on 16 carries.

30. Jacksonville Jaguars (0-1); lost to Philadelphia Eagles 34-17, moves up one spot – Based on whether you go with the first or second half, the Jaguars are either a top-10 team or the league’s worst team. Allen Hurns had the best debut out of any rookie after collecting four catches, 110 yards and two touchdowns in the first half. Jacksonville won’t win much if Toby Gerhart continues averaging less than 2.5 yards per carry.

31. Washington Redskins (0-1); lost to Houston Texas 17-6, drops two spots – Tough call here on if the Redskins or Raiders are worse. We’ll give Washington the benefit this week because they do have some players who’ve been great in the past – RG III and Alfred Morris. Plus, they should pick up a couple of wins in the weak NFC East.

32. Oakland Raiders (0-1); lost to New York Jets 19-14, retains same ranking – Derek Carr played fairly well in his rookie debut, going 20-for-32 en route to 151 passing yards and two touchdowns. But the run game was just awful as it managed only 25 yards on 15 carries. Headed by veterans Darren McFadden and Maurice Jones-Drew, this unit has got to do better.