Brandon Marshall admits 2014 Chicago Bears are “Not Very Good”

brandon-marshall-bears-2014Coming into the 2014 NFL season, few teams were expected to be as explosive on offense as the Chicago Bears. Their skill positions were well manned, with QB Jay Cutler, wideouts Brandon Marshall and Alshon Jeffrey, RB Matte Forte and TE Martellus Bennett. Unfortunately, after a 55-14 drubbing by the Green Bay Packers, Chicago is now facing the reality of missing the playoffs for another year.

They are 3-6, four games behind the NFC North-leading Detroit Lions. And many Bears players are pretty dejected, including star wideout Brandon Marshall. In fact, he admits that the team just isn’t “very good” in the following statement made after the Packers game:

Before the season it seemed like we had everyone we needed and at 3-6 the reality of it is we’re not very good. I’m confused. I think before the bye it was one of those things that was shocking. Then you look at this game and the reality of it is this is the team we have. We have to accept it. We’re just not very good right now. It’s a shame to have to say that. It’s very, very disappointing.

The defense has definitely struggled throughout the season, despite having big names like Jared Allen, Lance Briggs, Tim Jennings and D.J. Williams. However, the offense, with two Pro Bowl receivers (Marshall, Jeffrey), a Pro Bowl running back in Forte and franchise QB Jay Cutler were supposed to carry this team into the postseason. Instead, points per game have dipped from 22.5 last year to 21.6 in the 2014 season.

brandon-marshall-bears-2But Marshall hasn’t totally lost faith in himself or the team’s ability to win. “Confidence is everything as a player as a team when you lose confidence you have no chance,” he said. “Even the great teams, great players, they go through seasons where it’s a struggle and right now we’re in a struggle. If you lose your confidence there’s nothing you can do.”

One couldn’t blame Marshall for giving up hope, seeing as how he’s on pace for his worst season since 2006, his rookie year where he caught just 20 passes for 309 yards and two touchdowns. Through nine games this year, he has 42 catches for 498 yards and 6 touchdowns, putting him on pace for his first non-1,000-yard season in eight years.

It doesn’t appear that Marshall is dwelling too much on his own numbers or the team’s record this season, though. He did a good job of putting everything into perspective with the following:

It’s tough because you put so much into it. It’s your career. It’s your life work. To get these results it’s tough. But at the end of the day you talk about going through things. What was it 30 degrees outside? I remember nights when it was 30 degrees outside and I was 10-years-old and and I’d come inside from football practice and have to take a cold shower. So you talk about tough, I’ve been through worse, much worse. Christmas times, two bedroom hotel, there’s 10 of us sleeping in a hotel ringing in Christmas. This isn’t tough. This is just disappointing. This is confusion.

The Bears face Minnesota at home this week in what looks like a winnable game. The Vikings are a game better at 4-5, however, Chicago has the more-dynamic and experienced offense. But if the 2014 season has taught us anything about the Bears, nothing is guaranteed.

2013 Black Monday: 5 NFL Coaches fired

jim-schwartz-lionsEvery year, the Monday following Week 17 of the NFL regular season is a testy time for losing coaches. This year’s Black Monday was especially brutal as five coaches got the ax. Here’s a look at the unlucky coaches who were fired, along with a few that are still awaiting word on their futures.

Firings

Rob Chudzinski, Cleveland Browns – The Browns didn’t give Chudzinski much time to turn things around in Cleveland. They fired their rookie head coach immediately after his first season ended with a 4-12 record. What was particularly disheartening is that the Browns lost 10 out of their last 11 games. Cleveland ownership voiced disappointment over a “lack of accountability and effort” from Chud’s players. New England Patriots offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels’ name has come up in the rumors involving the coaching search.

Leslie Frazier, Minnesota Vikings – The writing has been on the wall for Frazier for quite some time after the team’s slow start and a disastrous quarterback carousel. Minnesota ownership was hoping that the Vikings would take another step forward after making the playoffs last year; instead, they finished just 5-10-1. Team officials have been working on potential replacements for weeks, and they’ve asked about Denver Broncos offensive coordinator Adam Gase.

greg-schiano-hot-seatGreg Schiano, Tampa Bay Buccaneers – Tampa Bay is a team that was built to win this season. Instead, they suffered through a 4-12 season under second-year coach Greg Schiano. Management was concerned that players were no longer responding to Schiano’s hard-driving style, and the Josh Freeman quarterback controversy didn’t help matters. General manager Mark Dominik was also a casualty on Black Monday.

Jim Schwartz, Detroit Lions – No team collapsed as badly as the Lions did down the stretch. After climbing to the top of the NFC North with a 6-3 record, they lost 6 out of their last 7 contests and missed the postseason. Management had already made the decision on Schwartz’s job when the team was eliminated from postseason contention last week.

mike-shanahan-hot-seatMike Shanahan, Washington Redskins – The drama regarding Mike Shanahan has finally come to an end with his Monday morning firing. He was fired after a 3-13 record, which was the second worst in the league. It was no secret that Shanahan clashed with management over what he perceived as their babying of quarterback Robert Griffin III. The matter came to a conclusion when RG III was benched for the final three games to “prevent any injuries.”

Gary Kubiak, Houston Texans – Kubiak wasn’t a Black Monday firing, but rather axed on December 12th after the team had lost 11 straight games. Team management also didn’t like the way that Kubiak handled the quarterback situation between Matt Schaub and Case Keenum. Add in the fact that many expected Houston to contend for a Super Bowl and it’s pretty clear why Kubiak was fired. Several candidates have already been interviewed, including former Bears coach Lovie Smith, Penn State coach Bill O’Brien and Texans interim coach Wade Phillips.

Still Uncertain

dennis-allen-oaklandDennis Allen, Oakland Raiders – Before Oakland played the Denver Broncos, it was generally thought that both coach Dennis Allen and GM Reggie McKenzie would be safe. However, there are no guarantees following a 4-12 season, which ended with an embarrassing 34-14 loss to Denver, where the Broncos were leading 31-0 at halftime.

Jason Garrett, Dallas Cowboys – For the second year in a row, Garrett’s team lost the NFC East on the final game of the season. Owner Jerry Jones appears likely to keep Garrett, but defensive coordinator Monte Kiffin’s job could be in serious jeopardy.

Joe Philbin, Miami Dolphins – Miami was in the driver’s seat of their playoff destiny, but finished with losses to two subpar teams (Buffalo, NY Jets) to close out the season. Owner Stephen Ross didn’t exactly give any vote of confidence after saying that he has “a lot to think about” with regard to Philbin and GM Jeff Ireland’s jobs.

mike-munchak-tennesseeMike Munchak, Tennessee Titans – It was another up-and-down season for the Titans, with them finishing 7-9 and missing the playoffs. And the hard-running, clock-management style that Tennessee is trying to push faltered in the middle of the season. Star running back Chris Johnson won’t be back. Is the same true of Munchack?

Job Security

Tom Coughlin, New York Giants – Two years removed from a Super Bowl, nobody expected Tom Coughlin to be coaching for his job. However, a dismal 0-6 start got the press talking about Coughlin’s future with the organization. But early word is that, following a 7-3 finish to the season, it’s up to Coughlin to decide if he wants to stay with the team.

Rex Ryan, New York Jets – Many believe that Ryan did a commendable job with the Jets since this season was projected to be a rebuilding effort. However, Ryan coached them to a .500 record and ended the year on a positive note with two straight wins.

NFL Power Rankings for Week 15 (Dec. 11, 2013)

marlon-brown-baltimoreWeek 14 was possibly the most exciting weekend in NFL history. There were wild finishes, blizzard-covered fields, and career-defining moments – all within the span of one day. Here’s a recap of some of the extremely exciting games from last Sunday:

1. The Baltimore Ravens and Minnesota Vikings set an NFL record when the lead changed hands six times in the fourth quarter. The last 2:05 of this contest was particularly noteworthy, as five touchdowns were scored. Among them included a 79-yard pass, a 73-yard kick return, and a 41-yard rushing TD. Baltimore got the final critical score to take this hard-fought game.

2. The Cleveland Browns appeared well on their way to a major upset, winning 26-14 with just 2:39 left. But then Tom Brady happened…leading the Patriots to 2 touchdowns, one thanks to an onside-kick recovery.

3. Pittsburgh and Miami already played a crazy game in the snow that saw five different lead changes. But it got really bizarre on the last play, with the Steelers needing to score a TD from 80 yards out to win. Ben Roethlisberger tossed a short pass that was lateraled around several times, before Antonio Brown took it for what appeared to be a 70-yard touchdown. The only problem: his left foot hit the sideline on this long run.

4. With an early 14-0 lead and a snowstorm on their side, it looked like Detroit would cruise to an easy win over Philadelphia. However, the Eagles came “storming” back, outscoring Detroit 34-6 to grab victory.

It’s highly unlikely that the remaining weeks will live up to what fans witnessed in Week 14. But we can all hope for a couple wild finishes as we enter Week 15 of the NFL season.

1. Denver Broncos (11-2); beat Tennessee 51-28, retains same ranking – It was yet another banner offensive day for the Broncos, with Peyton Manning throwing for 397 yards and four TD’s and Matt Prater setting an NFL record with a 64-yard field goal. Knowshon Moreno and Monte Ball also combined for 155 yards and 2 TD’s on the ground.

2. Seattle Seahawks (11-2); lost to San Francisco 19-17, retains same ranking – A week after dominating the Saints at home, Seattle goes out on the road and drops a narrow game to San Francisco. So why are they keeping the second spot? How about their 29-3 drubbing of the Niners earlier in the year. And don’t forget that they also hold a 2-game lead over San Francisco.

frank-gore-san-francisco3. San Francisco 49ers (9-4), beat Seattle 19-17, moves up one spot – San Francisco relied on a 110-yard rushing effort from Frank Gore to pull this close game out. Gore broke a 51-yarder late in the fourth quarter to set up Phil Dawson for a game-winning field goal. But with three games left, it’s doubtful that this contest will help the Niners win the NFC West.

4. New England Patriots (10-3), beat Cleveland 27-26, drops one spot – After allowing Jason Campbell to light them up, the Patriots got some late-game heroics with less than 3 minutes left. We admire New England’s resolve to come back and win. But this is now three weeks in a row that they’ve had to crawl out of an early deficit.

5. New Orleans Saints (10-3); beat Carolina 31-13, retains same ranking – The Saints continue to be excellent at home after walloping their division rivals. We still have questions about New Orleans’ ability to win away from home. But you certainly can’t question Drew Brees, who threw for 313 yards and four TD’s on one of the league’s best defenses.

6. Kansas City Chiefs (10-3); beat Washington 45-10, moves up one spot – There’s no better way to stop a three-game losing streak than to play Washington at home. Kansas City ripped the Redskins on the strength of 321 return yards in the first half alone. Quintin Demps’ 95-yard kickoff return highlighted this incredible output.

andy-dalton7. Cincinnati Bengals (9-4); beat Indianapolis 42-28, moves up one spot – Cincinnati continued their ascension in the AFC by beating the Bengals. Andy Dalton led this effort with 326 passing yards and four touchdowns. Cincy will no doubt be hoping to host a playoff game or two at Paul Brown Stadium, where they’re 6-0 this season.

8. Carolina Panthers (9-4); lost to New Orleans 31-13, drops one spot – On the center stage for the first time in years, Carolina couldn’t deliver. Their defense, which hadn’t allowed more than two touchdowns in a game all year, looked helpless in giving up three TD’s in the second quarter alone.

9. Philadelphia Eagles (8-5); beat Detroit 34-20, moves up two spots – As we explained earlier, the Eagles fought back from a 14-0 deficit amid snowy conditions. A huge thanks can be given to LeSean McCoy, who rushed for a franchise-record 217 yards and two TD’s.

10. Arizona Cardinals (8-5); beat St. Louis 30-10, moves up three spots – Karlos Dansby had his second interception-return TD in the last three games as Arizona walked away with this one. Larry Fitzgerald had a good day, catching 12 passes for 96 yards and a TD.

11. Indianapolis Colts (8-5); lost to Cincinnati 42-28, drops two spots – The Colts may have clinched the AFC South, but it had little to do with how they’ve been playing lately. The secondary was ripped by Dalton, and a slow start also doomed the Colts. About the only positive thing Indy can take away here is that Andrew Luck had his first great game in a while, throwing for 326 yards and four TD’s.

12. Dallas Cowboys (7-6); lost to Chicago 45-28, drops two spots – This was yet another game where the Cowboys defense turned in a very disappointing performance. They gave up 348 passing yards to Josh McCown and allowed the Bears to score on their first eight possessions.

lesean-mccoy13. Detroit Lions (7-6); lost to Philadelphia 34-20, drops one spot – A week after completely shutting down Green Bay’s rushing attack, the Lions looked like they’d never seen snow as McCoy torched them for 217 yards. Of course, it also didn’t help matters that Detroit fumbled seven times, losing three of them. The turnovers and poor run defense negated an amazing day by Jeremy Ross, who had two return touchdowns.

14. Baltimore Ravens (7-6); beat Minnesota 29-26, retains same ranking – Baltimore was mired in a pretty boring game with Minnesota, that is until the last 125 seconds anyways. Following four touchdowns in this short span, Joe Flacco hooked up with Marlon Brown for a fifth and game-winning TD.

15. Miami Dolphins (7-6); beat Pittsburgh Steelers 34-28, retains same ranking – Miami isn’t backing down in the race for the AFC’s last playoff spot. They got nice games out of Daniel Thomas (105YDS, 1TD) and Charles Clay (7REC, 97YDS, 2TD) to pul this game out.

16. Chicago Bears (7-6); beat Dallas 45-28, retains same ranking – The weather may have been freezing, but it wasn’t enough to cool off Chicago. Josh McCown threw a career-high four touchdowns and Matt Forte added 102 yards on the ground. It’s going to be hard for the Bears to sit McCown when Jay Cutler returns from injury.

17. San Diego Chargers (6-7); beat New York Giants 37-14, retains same ranking – Philip Rivers tossed three touchdowns to help San Diego keep their slim playoff hopes alive. Ryan Mathews has a chance to gain the most rushing yards of his career; he’s run for 885 yards and has three games left to rack up another 207 for his career high.

18. Green Bay Packers (6-6-1); beat Atlanta 22-21, retains same ranking – Matt Flynn played much better this game as he tallied 258 passing yards and a touchdown. Mason Crosby also played a part by nailing five field goals. With the Lions and Bears only a half game ahead of Green Bay, they still have a chance to make the postseason when Rodgers comes back.

geno-smith-jets19. New York Jets (6-7); beat Oakland 37-27, moves up two spots – Many people wondered if Geno Smith would even start after the miserable stretch that he’s been having. But start he did, and Smith played pretty well by throwing for a TD and running for another score.

20. New York Giants (5-8); lost to San Diego 37-14, drops one spot – It’s pretty hard to make the playoffs when you start out 0-6. Okay, so it’s nearly impossible and the Giants certainly aren’t going to the postseason now. But despite this loss, they did have a good middle stretch of the season.

21. Tennessee Titans (5-8); lost to Denver 51-28, drops one spot – Tennessee’s postseason hopes have basically disappeared with this loss. Now they face an uncertain future, with running back Chris Johnson likely gone after the year.

22. Pittsburgh Steelers (5-8); lost to Miami 34-28, retains same ranking – The Steelers lost their second close game in a row and have all but been eliminated from postseason contention. This aging defense could use some younger upgrades in the offseason.

23. St. Louis Rams (5-8); lost to Arizona 30-10, retains same ranking – After a mid-season surge, the St. Louis Rams have now lost two games in a row pretty badly. The magic that rookie running back Zac Stacy brought is temporarily gone as he rushed for just 25 yards on 14 carries.

maurice-jones-drew24. Jacksonville Jaguars (4-9); beat Houston 27-20, moves up one spot – Jacksonville has actually been a pretty good football team over the last few weeks. A big reason for the improved play is Maurice Jones-Drew, who’s rushed for 264 yards and a TD over the past three games.

25. Minnesota Vikings (3-9-1); lost to Baltimore 29-26, drops one spot – One week after an overtime victory over the Bears, Minnesota loses in the last four seconds to Baltimore. The Vikings also lost Adrian Peterson after he was carted off the field with an injury.

26. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (4-9); beat Buffalo 27-6, moves up two spots – Tampa Bay relied on four interceptions and 127 rushing yards from Bobby Rainey to win their fourth game in five tries.

27. Cleveland Browns (4-9); lost to New England 27-26, drops one spot – Moments away from their season-defining victory, Cleveland watched as New England stormed down the field for a touchdown, then recovered an onside kick and scored again. At least they can take solace in Jason Campbell’s strong play because he threw for 391 yards and 3 TD’s.

28. Oakland Raiders (4-9); lost to New York Jets 37-27, drops one spot – The Raiders keep finding players to step in and fill holes on offense, but it hasn’t translated into wins over the last few weeks. Their fans have to wonder when this franchise will experience another winning season again.

29. Atlanta Falcons (3-10); lost to Green Bay 22-21, retains same ranking – Atlanta bolted out to an 11-point halftime lead, but failed to hold off the Packers in the fourth quarter. Matt Bryant also missed a 52-yard field goal with 6:42 left in the game.

30. Buffalo Bills (4-9); lost to Tampa Bay 27-6, retains same ranking – Buffalo’s season has went through the tubes, and they’ve now lost five of their last six contests. This one was particularly bad since rookie QB EJ Manuel tossed four picks.

31. Washington Redskins (3-10); lost to Kansas City 45-10, retains same ranking – The Redskins continued their dismal season by losing a fifth straight game. Now there’s speculation that Robert Griffin III will sit the remainder of the season while coach Mike Shanahan insists that it’s to prevent injury. Some believe that this may be Shanahan’s revenge for owner Daniel Snyder’s coddling of Griffin.

32. Houston Texans (2-11); lost to Jacksonville 27-20, retains same ranking – It’s hard to believe that Houston started the season 2-0. They’ve now lost a franchise-record 11 straight games and some major changes are in store for this team.

NFL Power Rankings for Week 9 (Oct. 31st, 2013)

matt-staffordNo game last week was more exciting than the 1-point thriller between the Detroit Lions and Dallas Cowboys. With just 42 seconds left, Matt Stafford led an 80-yard, game-winning drive that was capped off by his 1-yard QB sneak. Stafford used some trickery to pull off this sneak since he yelled that he was going to stop the clock, then called hike and put the ball over his lineman’s head for the go-ahead score. Oh yea, and did we mention that Calvin Johnson also tallied the second-most receiving yards ever with 329 in this game?

Unfortunately, none of the other games from Week 8 were this dramatic, but several contests had a large impact on our power rankings. That said, here are the rankings for Week 9.

1. Kansas City Chiefs (8-0); beat Cleveland 23-17, retains same ranking – This was far from Kansas City’s best performance of the year. After all, they let journeyman quarterback Jason Campbell pass for 293 yards and two touchdowns on them. But on the bright side, Alex Smith had a pretty good game against a tough Browns D as he threw for 225 yards and two scores of his own. Plus, the most important thing is that KC won yet again.

2. Denver Broncos (7-1); beat Washington Redskins 45-21, retains same ranking – The final score of this game certainly doesn’t tell it all. The red-hot Redskins were actually winning by a score of 21-7 in the middle of the third quarter. However, the Broncos came stomping back by scoring the final 38 points of the game. Denver overcame three interceptions by Peyton Manning to turn this contest into a route.

3. Seattle Seahawks (7-1); beat St. Louis 14-9, retains same ranking – Seattle’s game against the Rams was a little close for comfort. They made a goal-line stand after stuffing Daryl Richardson on 3-and-1 and forcing Kellen Clemens to throw an incompletion on 4-and-1. There were some concerns on offense for the Seahawks too since they only gained 135 yards of total offense. But they still got the important road win.

4. New Orleans Saints (7-1); beat Buffalo 35-17, retains same ranking – Not surprisingly, Drew Brees was able to pick apart the Buffalo defense as he finished with 332 yards and five touchdowns. Plus the defense played its role by sacking Thad Lewis four times, intercepting him once and forcing the beleaguered QB into two fumbles.

5. Indianapolis Colts (5-2); bye week, retains same ranking – The Colts got a week to rest after an incredible first half of the season, where they beat Denver, Seattle and San Francisco. Based on their resume, we can’t see moving them down during a bye week.

6. San Francisco (6-2); beat Jacksonville 42-10, retains same ranking – It may be the middle of the regular seasoncolin-kaepernick, but this game had the feel of a preseason blowout. Most of the starters were resting in the fourth quarter, and Colin Kaepernick and Frank Gore both split four touchdown runs.

7. Green Bay Packers (5-2); beat Minnesota 44-31, retains same ranking – The Packers ran a rare run-heavy attack against the Vikings and it worked to perfection. Eddie Lacy saw the bulk of these carries after rushing for 94 yards and a TD on 29 attempts. One interesting side note here is that Vikings rookie Cordarrelle Patterson tied an NFL record with a 109-yard kickoff return.

8. Cincinnati Bengals (6-2); beat New York Jets 49-9, moves up one spot – Cincinnati’s defensive line harassed rookie QB Geno Smith all day, before he was finally benched in the fourth quarter with the game out of hand. Marvin Jones turned in his second stellar performance in a row after catching eight passes for 122 yards and four touchdowns. Thanks to Jones, Andy Dalton threw for a career-high five TD passes.

9. New England Patriots (6-2); beat Miami 27-17, drops one spot – The Patriots had an anemic first half that saw them down 17-3 to the Dolphins at home. However, they got the running game working in the second half and halted Miami from doing anything else on offense. The only reason they move down is because Cincinnati blew out the team that the Patriots lost to last week.

10. Detroit Lions (5-3); beat Dallas 31-30, moves up two spots – Maybe it’s just euphoria following that incredible comeback, but it feels like the Lions should move up a couple of spots. With weapons like Reggie Bush and Johnson, they have the ability to score on any possession.

11. San Diego Chargers (4-3); bye week, retains same ranking – Few people expected San Diego to have a winning record after last season’s disaster. Now they travel to Washington in what’s a very important game for their Wild Card playoff hopes.

12. Dallas Cowboys (4-4); lost to Detroit 31-30, drops two spots – It’s amazing how dez-bryantclose the Cowboys were to being 5-3 and holding a commanding two-game lead over the NFC East. They’re still in control of the East, but it can’t feel good after how they lost. Plus Dez Bryant’s sideline outbursts aren’t helping matters either.

13. Chicago Bears (4-3); bye week, retains same ranking – Chicago comes out of the bye week and into a tough matchup with Green Bay. And next week, they face off against Detroit in another critical division game. Things don’t look good with Jay Cutler out for a while!

14. Arizona Cardinals (4-4); beat Atlanta 27-13, moves up three spots – Teams definitely have to take the Cardinals seriously – especially the defense. They shut down a Falcons team that figured to get a huge boost with Steven Jackson back in the lineup, and intercepted Matt Ryan four times.

15. Baltimore Ravens (3-4); bye week, moves up one spot – Will the defending champs fight back or are they down for the count? These next two weeks will tell a lot as Baltimore travels to Cleveland, then plays Cincy at home.

16. Carolina Panthers (4-4); beat Tampa Bay 31-13, moves up three spots – Carolina took care of business during a three-game stretch that included Minnesota, Saint Louis and Tampa Bay. They might be able to notch yet a fourth win in a row if they can beat Atlanta at home this week.

17. Miami Dolphins (3-4); lost to New England 27-17, drops three spots – It’s sad to see such a promising start go down the drain. The Dolphins just couldn’t put together two good halves and pull off the upset. Miami has now lost four straight games, and the bleeding might not stop since they face a super-tough matchup in Cincinnati this week.

18. New York Jets (4-4); lost to Cincinnati 49-9, drops three spots – New York follows geno-smith-jetsup a big overtime win over New England with a demoralizing loss to the Bengals. Geno Smith has truly been Jekyll and Hyde from one game to the next. He’ll try to be the former as New York hosts an even tougher New Orleans team this week.

19. Tennessee Titans (3-4); bye week, moves up one spot – The Titans have three things working in their favor coming out of the bye week. They’ve got a healthy Jake Locker (1), and both the Saint Louis Rams (2) and Jacksonville Jaguars (3) are coming up on their schedule.

20. Oakland Raiders (3-4); beat Pittsburgh 21-18, moves up six spots – Oakland dominated the ground and jumped out to a 21-3 halftime lead, with some help from a record-setting run by Terrelle Pryor. He bolted 93 yards for a touchdown, which set a record as the longest quarterback TD run in NFL history.

21. Atlanta Falcons (2-5); lost to Arizona 27-13, drops three spots – Just when the Falcons seemed like they were turning the corner and moving forward, they hit a big stumbling block at Arizona. Andre Ellington lit them up for 154 yards on 15 carries while Matt Ryan threw four picks.

22. Cleveland Browns (3-5); lost to Kansas City 23-17, drops one spot – Cleveland actually isn’t a bad team when they don’t have Brandon Weeden under center. They gave a valiant effort on the road against the league’s only unbeaten team.

23. New York Giants (2-6); beat Philadelphia 15-7, moves up five spots – This game was a bore to watch, and New York kept faltering in the red zone. However, they did enough to pick up their second win in a row.

24. Washington Redskins (2-5); lost to Denver 45-21, drops one spot – Anybody who was watching this one saw a pretty competitive contest that only got away from the Redskins in the last 10 minutes or so. The defense turned in a solid effort by intercepting Peyton Manning three times.

25. Houston Texans (2-5); bye week, retains same ranking – If the Texans are hoping to stop their three-game losing streak, it’ll definitely be a tall order. They face Indianapolis at home this week and Arizona on the road in Week 10.

26. Buffalo Bills (3-5); lost to New Orleans 35-17, drops one spot – Buffalo’s season is turning sour due to some key injuries. They certainly aren’t the same team without a healthy EJ Manuel and CJ Spiller.

27. Philadelphia Eagles (3-5); lost to New York Giants 15-7, drops five spots – Michael Vick could only go four series before having to sit down and rest his ailing hamstring. Neither Matt Barkley nor Nick Foles look capable of running Chip Kelly’s read option.

28. Pittsburgh Steelers (2-5); lost to Oakland 21-18, drops one spot – The Steelers actually had a chance to put themselves in the AFC North race. However, this loss to Oakland may have put the nail in he coffin on their hopes of a division title or playoff bid.

29. Saint Louis Rams (3-5); lost to Seattle 14-9, retains same ranking – If not for Kellen Clemens’ two first-half interceptions, the Rams might have pulled out a huge win. Even with Clemens’ INT’s, St. Louis was just a yard away from a season-defining victory. Zac Stacy (134 YDS last game) actually gives this team something to look forward to.

30. Minnesota Vikings; lost to Green Bay 44-31, retains same ranking – Christian Ponder didn’t do much to dissuade the Vikings from starting Josh Freeman when he comes back from a concussion.

31. Tampa Bay Buccaneers; lost to Carolina 31-13, retains same ranking – It seems like Tampa Bay could win a game at some point this season. But when?

32. Jacksonville Jaguars; lost to San Francisco 42-10, retains same ranking – Maybe playing the Broncos tough a few weeks ago was just a fluke.

NFL Power Rankings for September 11th, 2013

peyton-manning-broncosThe 2013 NFL season is officially underway after a largely unsurprisingly weekend. Most of the top teams secured victories as expected, with no major upsets happening. Of course, as with every NFL season, we can expect the power rankings to get shaken up throughout the year. But for now, you won’t see a lot of shockers in our Week 2 NFL power rankings.

1. Denver Broncos (1-0); beat Baltimore 49-27 – The offseason loss of DE Elvis Dumervil and the six-game suspension of LB Von Miller figured to impact this team in a terrible way. But the defense did well enough against Baltimore to inspire hope. More importantly, Peyton Manning crushed the Ravens with 462 passing yards, 7 touchdowns and zero interceptions. The addition of Wes Welker only makes this offense more dangerous than last year’s version.

2. San Francisco (1-0); beat Green Bay 34-28 – Colin Kaepernick has an obvious connection with Anquan Boldin already. Kaepernick threw for 412 yards and 3 TD’s, while Boldin showed he still has plenty of juice left with 13 catches, 208 yards and a TD. A tough road game against Seattle this week could vault the Niners to the top.

3. New Orleans Saints (1-0); beat Atlanta 23-17 – Following a one-year suspension, head coach Sean Payton is back and you can definitely tell. The Saints won a high-profile matchup on the strength of Drew Brees’ arm (357PYDS, 2TD, 1INT). The defense was surprisingly effective at keeping Atlanta off the board.

russell-wilson4. Seattle Seahawks (1-0); beat Carolina 12-7 – A win is a win, especially on the road. But you’d like to see Seattle beat the Panthers a little more handily. Russell Wilson picked up where he left off from last season with 320 passing yards and one TD. This team has a serious chance to move up with a victory over San Francisco.

5. New England Patriots (1-0); beat Buffalo 23-21 – New England continued their domination of the Bills with a come-from-behind win. Stevan Ridley’s fumble turned into a 74-yard defensive TD for Buffalo. But Tom Brady was still able to lead this team back with 288 passing yards and a pair of touchdowns.

6. Houston Texans (1-0); beat San Diego 31-28 – Falling behind 28-7 to the Chargers is a terrible way to start the year. But give Houston credit for battling back on the road and taking this game. LB Brian Cushing’s late 18-yard interception return proved to be the difference maker.

7. Green Bay Packers (0-1); lost to San Francisco 34-28 – You can’t fault the Pack for losing a close one on the road to the Niners. The secondary is cause for concern though after giving up monster games to Kaepernick, Boldin and Vernon Davis. At least Aaron Rodgers and the passing game is as rock solid as ever.

NFL: AUG 16 Pre-Season Colts v Falcons8. Atlanta Falcons (0-1); lost to New Orleans 23-17 – Toss up between Atlanta and Green Bay for the seventh spot; but the Falcons struggled to put points on the board. Still, their offense moved the ball well with Matt Ryan throwing for 304 yards and Steven Jackson adding 122 total yards.

9. Cincinnati Bengals (0-1); lost to Chicago 24-21 – The Bengals suffered a loss at Soldier Field, but hung tough despite three turnovers. A.J. Green looks virtually uncoverable after racking up 162 yards, 2 TD’s and drawing some crucial pass interference penalties. Now if only the running game could catch up (63 yards).

10. Chicago Bears (1-0); beat Cincinnati 24-21 – Wait, didn’t Chicago beat the Bengals? Yea, but Cincinnati actually looked more impressive in this game. If not for some late game heroics by Jay Cutler (242PYDS, 2TD, 1INT) and home field advantage, Chicago wouldn’t even be in the top 10.

11. Philadelphia Eagles (1-0); beat Washington 33-27 – This game was much more of a blowout than it appears since Washington added some garbage-time touchdowns. The offense features a lot of dimensions, with LeSean McCoy racking up 181 yards on the ground and DeSean Jackson adding 104 receiving yards and a TD.

reggie-bush12. Detroit Lions (1-0); beat Minnesota 34-28 – Detroit looks to be back this year after a strong game against the Vikings. Following a 78-yard touchdown run by Adrian Peterson, the Lions D-line did a good job of bottling him up. Reggie Bush seems to be the extra weapon that this offense needed after compiling 191 total yards.

13. Dallas Cowboys (1-0); beat NY Giants 36-31 – Here’s the good news: Dallas beat their NFC rivals, and Tony Romo looked good with 263 passing yards and 2 TD’s. The bad news? They needed six turnovers from their opponent to pull off this home game victory.

14. Indianapolis Colts (1-0); beat Oakland 21-17 – Is the Raiders line really this good, or does Indianapolis have pass protection concerns? Despite getting knocked around, Andrew Luck threw a pair of touchdowns and rushed for the game-winning, 19-yard TD to earn this comeback victory.

15. Baltimore Ravens (0-1); lost to Denver 49-27 – We had doubts that the defending champs would be as good as last year. And their secondary looked pretty bad against a stellar Broncos team. But let’s see how this club performs against the non-elite before passing judgement.

16. Miami Dolphins (1-0); beat Cleveland 23-10 – Nice road win for a young team. The defense is among the league’s best after sacking Brandon Weeden six times and intercepting him three. QB Ryan Tannehill looked good in posting 272 passing yards, 1 TD and 1 INT. But the running game is somewhat of a mess at this point.

eli-manning17. New York Giants (0-1); lost to Dallas 36-31 – New York doesn’t deserve an honor badge for committing six turnovers. But if they don’t cough the ball up this much, we might’ve been discussing a very good road win.

18. St. Louis Rams (1-0); beat Arizona 27-24 – In a battle between two much-improved teams, St. Louis emerged victorious. After a couple of down seasons, Sam Bradford (299PYDS, 2TD, 1INT) and the passing game look to be back. TE Jared Cook is quite a weapon after collecting 141 receiving yards and 2 TD’s in his Rams debut.

19. Kansas City Chiefs (1-0); beat Jacksonville 28-2 – We can’t truly tell how good Kansas City is because they beat the worst team in the league. But then again, it was a dominating road-game performance that saw the Chiefs dismantle Jacksonville. Stayed tuned for more on this team after they play the Cowboys at home.

20. Tennessee Titans (1-0); beat Pittsburgh 16-9 – Tennessee opens the year with an impressive road win in Pittsburgh. But almost all of the impressive stuff happened on the defensive end, with the Titans holding Pittsburgh to just 195 yards. Now it’s up to QB Jake Locker to actually show he can lead a successful team.

21. Carolina Panthers (0-1); lost to Seattle 12-7 – This wasn’t a great day for Carolina as QB Cam Newton struggled mightily with just 163 total yards. But they nearly pulled out the victory, until a late DeAngelo Williams fumble inside of the 10.

robert-griffith-thanksgiving22. Washington Redskins (0-1); lost to Philadelphia 33-27 – After playing terribly for most of the game, Robert Griffin III came alive, ending the contest with 329 passing yards and 2 TD’s But his earlier pair of interceptions put this one out of reach.

23. Minnesota Vikings (0-1); lost to Detroit 34-28 – Adrian Peterson can’t carry this offense alone. Especially with quarterback Christian Ponder tossing three picks and fumbling once.

24. Pittsburgh Steelers (0-1); lost to Tennessee 16-9 – If this weren’t Pittsburgh, we’d probably be ranking them lower. Mustering 195 yards of offense at home is pathetic. But this team has the tools to win – especially on defense – so we’ll wait and see what happens.

25. Buffalo Bills (0-1); lost to New England 23-21 – Part of why Tom Brady and company didn’t look so hot is because of the Bills defense. The Buffalo running game will be much better in future games (specifically CJ Spiller), while EJ Manuel showed good poise for a rookie QB.

26. Arizona Cardinals (0-1); lost to St. Louis 27-24 – After opening up a 14-point lead, the Cardinals couldn’t hang on in this road contest. Still, there is hope with Carson Palmer (327PYDS, 2TD, 1INT) directing the offense.

27. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (0-1); lost to NY Jets 18-17 – The Bucs were a late-game Lavonte David penalty from winning their first game. But the fact that they let the Jets beat them in any way is bad.

28. San Diego Chargers (0-1); lost to Houston 31-28 – San Diego started with a bang as Philip Rivers came out firing four TD passes. However, things began spiraling downward late in the third as they blew a 28-7 lead.

29. New York Jets (1-0); beat Tampa Bay 18-17 – The Jets will take wins any way they can get them. Geno Smith was better than expected with 256 yards, 1 TD and 1 INT. Unfortunately, Smith appears to be the team’s only legitimate running threat after gaining 47 yards on six carries.

30. Cleveland Browns (0-1); lost to Miami Dolphins 23-10 – After an uninspiring home loss, Cleveland has deflated all of the hype they gained in the preseason. This team’s hopes rest on the arm of Weeden, which isn’t exactly a thrilling prospect.

31. Oakland Raiders (0-1); lost 23-17 to Indianapolis – The D-line looked good against the Colts, and Terrelle Pryor gives this team life after throwing for 217 yards and running for another 112. As a whole, the Raiders will look bad at times, but not nearly as bad as people expected.

32. Jacksonville Jaguars (0-1); lost to Kansas City Chiefs 28-2 – After making the Chiefs look like a Super Bowl contender, it’s clear that Jacksonville is in for a very long year. They only moved past their own 36-yard line once in the entire game!

Tim Tebow makes Case for New England to keep Him

tom-brady-patriotsUp until last night’s preseason game against the New York Giants, Tim Tebow had given New England very little reason to keep him. The former Heisman Trophy winner was just 5-for-17 with 54 passing yards, no touchdowns, 1 interception, and a few other passes that could’ve been picked.

Given these numbers and the fact that he saw no action against the Detroit Lions in the Patriots’ third preseason game, many saw this as a telltale sign that he wouldn’t survive cuts. But maybe some opinions will change after how Tebow performed against the Giants.

Now let’s establish right away that this was no earth-shattering performance which foreshadowed a promising QB ready to take the reigns from Tom Brady. But it’s possible that he may have earned a spot on the 53-man roster after completing 6-of-11 passes for 91 yards and two touchdowns.

Playing the whole second half, Tebow connected with Quentin Sims on a 54-yard touchdown pass. The throw was a little high, but Sims found a way to pull the ball in and run another 38 yards into the end zone. This duo wasn’t finished yet because, with 6 seconds left in the game, Tebow found Sims for a 9-yard TD on a nice fade route. On this particular throw, the former Florida Gators star actually looked like a legitimate NFL quarterback.

tom-brady-patriots-1However, there were also plays that weren’t so pretty. Tebow wasn’t always so quick to find his receivers, he held the ball too long, and was sacked four times early in the second half. He also tossed one pick after throwing down the sideline into coverage. This one mistake didn’t erase an otherwise decent performance, but it was an ugly throw nonetheless.

Now Bill Belichick and his coaching staff will pit the pros against the cons and decide if Tebow is worth keeping as a project quarterback. On most teams, Tebow would be kept since the majority of the NFL likes to have three QB’s on the roster. But Belichick has sometimes only kept two signal callers in the past, and it wouldn’t be a shock if he did so this time around too. Brady is the star while Ryan Mallet will no doubt be his immediate backup should an injury happen.

As for Tebow, he tried his best last night to convince Belichick that New England should keep a third QB. He’s also a very coachable player who’s willing to make sacrifices and do what’s asked of him. Plus he has a proven track as a winner, having won two national titles at Florida and boasting an 8-6 record as an NFL starter.

These factors will all be weighed going into this weekend, when Tebow and many other fringe players throughout the league find out if they made final cuts.