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!

Ravens, Broncos kick off 2013 NFL Season Tonight

broncos-ravensThe 2013 NFL season is here as the Denver Broncos and Baltimore Ravens kick the season off tonight (September 5th) at 8:30 ET. Last year saw the Ravens pull of a shocker after they beat Denver 38-35 in a Divisional Playoffs round. And this was only a prelude to Baltimore’s even more surprising run to the Super Bowl title.

But this is a new year, and the Ravens are a very different team. We recently broke down their chances of repeating as Super Bowl champions, and we think that it’s going to be a long shot. This especially the case when you consider that their team changed so much over the summer. For this reason, GTBets.eu has the betting line on tonight’s game as follows:

Baltimore  (-115)  Over 48.5 (-110)
Denver -7.5 (-105)  Under 48.5 (-110)

With Denver being over a touchdown favorite tonight, they are definitely expected to win. But before you make a bet, you might want to check out our analysis of the matchup.

Preview of Denver for Tonight’s Game

peyton-manningThe Broncos are fairly large favorites on our line mainly because they’re playing at home, and this team returns so much talent. In regard to the latter, quarterback Peyton Manning headlines the returners after a season in which he threw for 4,659 yards with 37 touchdowns and 11 interceptions.

His receiving corp is going to be a huge factor tonight as well. Demaryius Thomas and Eric Decker are coming back after finishing 1-2 on the team in receiving. Wes Welker is a new addition to Denver as he came to them via New England in the offseason. After posting numbers of 1,354 yards and 6 touchdowns, he’s ready to step in and contribute immediately.

The Broncos running game is more of a question mark entering this year. As a team, they averaged 114.5 rushing YPG, which ranked 16th in the league. In an effort to boost their ground attack, Denver drafted Wisconsin standout Montee Ball in the second round, but he’s going to share touches with Ronnie Hillman and Knowshon Moreno to open the year. So it’s anybody’s guess as to how things will turn out in this first regular season contest.

This team will have more questions on the other side of the ball after losing DE Elvis Dumervil to a delayed fax in the offseason and LB Von Miller to a six-game suspension. These players combined for 29.5 sacks last year, so their absence will really hurt Denver’s pass rush tonight. Plus cornerback Champ Bailey will miss this game too. However, they still have interior lineman Terrance Knighton and Kevin Vickerson plugging the middle as well as new addition Shaun Phillips rushing the outside.

Preview of Baltimore for Tonight’s Game

joe-flaccoJoe Flacco returns under center after inking a massive 6-year, $120 million deal this past offseason. Flacco’s incredible playoff run earned him this money, as he tossed 11 touchdowns and zero interceptions in the postseason. Now everybody wants to know if he can look just as impressive in the regular season.

He won’t be helped by the fact that receiver Anquan Boldin went to the San Francisco 49ers. But at least Flacco will still have Torrey Smith to throw to, who collected 98 yards and two TD’s in the last meeting between these squads. Running back Ray Rice will be a huge key to this game as well. He picked up 1,143 rushing yards and 478 receiving yards in 2012.

Most of the uncertainty regarding Baltimore stems from their losses on defense. Safeties Ed Reed and Bernard Pollard, linebackers Paul Kruger and Dannell Ellerbe, and cornerback Cary Williams all went to other teams through free agency. Plus franchise linebacker Ray Lewis retired after winning his second Super Bowl.

But the Ravens did do their best to reload by picking up Dumervil, Chris Canty, Marcus Spears, Daryl Smith and Michael Huff during the offseason. This group will have to gel fast if they want to stop Manning and the Broncos vaunted passing game tonight.

Von Miller Suspension Further Weakens Broncos Defense

von-miller-suspensionThe Denver Broncos received a big blow today when it was reported that Von Miller is facing a six-game suspension for violating the NFL’s substance abuse policy. It was initially thought that he’d fight the suspension, but ESPN’s Chris Mortensen and Adam Schefter now say that he’s “not likely” to fight the matter.

The league began investigating Miller when he provided a diluted urine sample, just after spilling a sample he gave during an offseason workout. He couldn’t give another sample right away, so he provided another one after consuming lots of fluids during the workout. This all amounted to suspicion that the 6’3″ 250-pound linebacker was trying to avoid giving a pure sample.

At this point, Miller is currently trying to convince the NFL to lessen his suspension to four games. But if he’s unsuccessful, it would mean the Broncos playing against the Baltimore Ravens, Dallas Cowboys, Jacksonville Jaguars, New York Giants, Oakland Raiders and Philadelphia Eagles without their star defender.

von-miller-suspension-1Since being drafted out of Texas A&M with the second overall pick in 2011, Miller has been exceptional for Denver. In ’11, he attained Rookie of the Year honors after racking up 11.5 sacks. Last year Miller was a First-Team All-Pro after tallying 18.5 sacks in his second season.

Now the Broncos will likely lose this production for the first six games of the season. They won’t be the only losers in this matter either since Miller stands to miss $806,162 of his $2,284,125 base salary. It would prove even more costly if Denver tries to recoup the $1,215,265 signing bonus that their All-Pro is due.

Von Miller isn’t the only key defender that Denver will be without since they lost Elvis Dumervil in the offseason thanks to a fax machine error. The standout defensive end informed the Broncos that he’d accept a paycut to stay with them at 3:25 pm – 35 minutes before a 4:00 pm free agency deadline that had to be met. However, his now-fired agent Marty Magid didn’t fax the paperwork until 4:07 pm, seven minutes past the deadline. This forced Denver to release Dumervil, who provided them with 11 sacks last season.

elvis-dumervilWith Dumervil now in Baltimore and Miller likely to miss much of the season’s first half, it’s very questionable as to if the Broncos can repeat their success. Last year they gained home field advantage throughout the playoffs after finishing 13-3. They lost 38-35 to the eventual champion Baltimore Ravens in the Divisional Playoff round. However, this didn’t completely demolish what was otherwise a very good season.

Now Denver is facing an uphill battle without two of their most important defenders. Sure quarterback Peyton Manning is back with a full arsenal of weapons. But the D will have to get inventive with stopping opponents. Free agent pickup Shaun Phillips should provide some relief in Miller’s absence. The outside linebacker collected 9.5 sacks for San Diego last year. And fifth-round pick Quanterus Smith could be seeing a lot of time at defensive end. The 6’5″, 255-pounder compiled 12.5 sacks and three forced fumbles in his senior season at Western Kentucky.