2015 NFL Power Rankings Week 11

houston-vs-cincinnatiThere’s a lot of shifting in our Week 11 NFL power rankings thanks to some big upsets, like the Houston Texans ruining the Cincinnati Bengals’ perfect record. See where both of these teams now sit in our power rankings, and check out last week’s rankings here.

1. New England Patriots (9-0); beat NY Giants 27-26, same spot – The Patriots survived their toughest test of the season thanks to a field goal by Stephen Gostokowski, who’s now 21-for-21 on the season.

2. Carolina Panthers (9-0); beat Tennessee 27-10, up 1 spot – Only after going 9-0 to start the season does it feel like Carolina has finally silenced the critics.

3. Cincinnati Bengals (8-1); lost to Houston 10-6, down 1 spot – The Bengals’ offensive collapse was unexpected, but not unprecedented when considering Andy Dalton’s 1-4 record against Houston.

4. Arizona Cardinals (7-2); beat Seattle 39-32, up 2 spots – Arizona has blown the NFC West wide open, now holding a 3-game lead over Seattle. They haven’t won the division since 2009.

5. Minnesota Vikings (7-2); beat Oakland 30-14, up 3 spots – Minnesota carries their five-game win streak against Green Bay, Atlanta, Seattle and Arizona over the next four weeks.

antonio-brown-steelers6. Pittsburgh Steelers (6-4); beat Cleveland 30-9, up 6 spots  – Antonio Brown definitely likes Big Ben in the lineup: he has 27 catches for 423 yards since Roethlisberger’s return.

7. Green Bay Packers (6-3); lost to Detroit 18-16, down 2 spots – It’s hard to tell where Green Bay is going after losing at Lambeau to the lowly Lions.

8. Denver Broncos (7-2); lost to Kansas City 29-13, down 4 spots – Starting for the injured Peyton Manning will be garbage-time specialist Brock Osweiler.

9. Atlanta Falcons (6-3); bye week, same spot – That 5-0 start seems like forever ago. Can Atlanta end the slide at home against the Colts?

10. Seattle Seahawks (4-5); lost to Arizona 39-32, down 3 spots – Seattle lives and dies by defense. Want evidence? They’re 0-12 since 2012 when allowing 25+ points.

11. Buffalo Bills (5-4); beat NY Jets 22-17, up 6 spots – Rex Ryan doesn’t get long to celebrate a revenge victory against his old team. The undefeated Patriots are next.

12. New York Jets (5-4); lost to Buffalo 22-17, down 2 spots – New York has now lost three out of four games, allowing 27.3 PPG in this span.

alex-smith-kansas-city13. Kansas City Chiefs (4-5); beat Denver 29-13, up 6 spots – The Chiefs record doesn’t do them justice. They’ve outscored opponents by 29 points total and have a +8 turnover differential.

14. St. Louis Rams (4-5); lost to Chicago 37-13, down 2 spots – It’s little surprise why Nick Foles has been benched, given that he has the league’s lowest QBR at 34.1.

15. New York Giants (5-5); lost to New England 27-26, down 2 spots – New York has now lost four games where they led in the final two minutes of regulation.

16. Oakland Raiders (4-5); lost to Minnesota 30-14, down 2 spots – Oakland just can’t seem to get over the hump in crucial games, but the franchise has definitely made progress.

17. Indianapolis Colts (4-5); bye week, up 1 spot – If any team has an inside track to the AFC South title based on schedule, it’s the Colts. So despite the Andrew Luck injury, they still have a chance.

18. Miami Dolphins (4-5); beat Philadelphia 20-19, up 2 spots – In what looked like it was going to be a blowout, Ndamukong Suh took over on defense and helped shut Philly down after the first quarter.

19. Philadelphia Eagles (4-5); lost to Miami 20-19, down 4 spots  – Sam Bradford (concussion, separated shoulder) might be out, so Mark Sanchez (4-4 last season) could be stepping in.

tj-yates-texans20. Houston Texans (4-5); beat Cincinnati 10-6, up 2 spots – Houston is now on their third quarterback of the season, T.J. Yates, who led them to their only playoff win in franchise history.

21. Chicago Bears (4-5); beat St. Louis 37-13, up 1 spot – The Bears are now 4-2 since Jay Cutler’s return from injury – despite Matt Forte missing extended time with an injury.

22. Washington Redskins (4-5); beat New Orleans Saints 47-14, up 1 spot – Kirk Cousins has been magnificent in wins with 9 TD’s, zero interceptions and a 77% completion rate.

23. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (4-5); beat Dallas 10-6, up 1 spot – The Bucs are actually tied for the seventh-best record in the NFC, which is something few could’ve predicted at this point.

24. New Orleans Saints (4-6); lost to Washington 47-14, down 8 spots – New Orleans is on pace to smash the record for largest passer rating allowed (110.9) since they’re allowing a 116.6 QBR.

25. Dallas Cowboys (2-7); lost to Tampa Bay 10-6, same spot – Dallas might be getting Tony Romo back, but is he enough to cover for a mediocre defense and little run game?

26. San Francisco 49ers (3-6); bye week, same spot – The prospects look grim for Blaine Gabbert to go 2-0 this season with the Niners traveling to Seattle.

allen-hurns-jaguars27. Jacksonville Jaguars (3-6); beat Baltimore 22-20, up 5 spots – Both Allen Robinson and Allen Hurns are on pace to go for over 12 touchdowns and 1,200 receiving yards.

28. Detroit Lions (2-7); beat Green Bay 18-16, up 2 spots – The Lions may be out of the playoff hunt, but at least they ended a 23-game losing streak at Lambeau Field.

29. Baltimore Ravens (2-7); lost to Jacksonville 22-20, down 2 spots – Baltimore could just as easily be on the other side of the equation since every game has been decided by eight points or less.

30. San Diego Chargers (2-7); bye week, down 2 spots – San Diego looks to end a five-game losing streak against the red-hot Chiefs this week.

31. Cleveland Browns (2-8); lost to Pittsburgh 30-9, down 2 spots – The Browns will finally give Johnny Manziel a real chance to show if he’s a franchise quarterback.

32. Tennessee Titans (2-7); lost to Carolina 27-10, down 1 spot – Tennessee might have an advantage on the road since they’re 2-2 away from Nissan Stadium.

2015 NFL Power Rankings Week 1

marshawn-lynch-seattleThe 2015 NFL season is officially underway, with the New England Patriots securing a 28-21 victory over the Pittsburgh Steelers on Thursday night. This game has a little impact on our Week 1 power rankings, but not much because the Steelers were playing at Foxborough and without suspended running back Le’Veon Bell and wideout Martavis Bryant. That said, here’s a look at how teams rank going into the first Sunday of the season.

1. Seattle Seahawks (12-4 last season) – Most of Seattle’s dominating defense is back from the unit that’s allowed the fewest NFL points for the past three seasons. The offense gets a little better thanks to the edition of TE Jimmy Graham, who finally gives Russell Wilson a true No. 1 option.

2. New England Patriots (12-4 last season) – The Pats have a brutal first seven games, but they survived the first one against the Steelers. An away game against division-rival Buffalo is up next.

3. Green Bay Packers (12-4 last season) – It’s tough telling how Green Bay will fare after the loss of Jordy Nelson (ACL). But with Aaron Rodgers at QB, a Super Bowl run is never out of the question.

frank-gore-colts4. Indianapolis Colts (11-5 last season) – Indy keeps improving every year under Andrew Luck, making the AFC Championship last season. They only get better with the addition of WR Andre Johnson and RB Frank Gore.

5. Pittsburgh Steelers (11-5 last season) – Tough first loss for what should be a very explosive Pittsburgh Steelers offense; especially when they get Bell and Bryant back on the field.

6. Dallas Cowboys (12-4 last season) – Dallas still has a pretty complete team, but how much will they miss DeMarco Murray running the ball? Furthermore, can anybody emerge from their RB committee?

7. Denver Broncos (12-4 last season) – The Broncos have the tools to go deep into the playoffs. But Peyton Manning has to play better down the stretch after throwing 12 interceptions in his final 10 games last season.

8. Philadelphia Eagles (10-6 last season) – So many moving parts in the offseason make the Eagles difficult to peg. If QB Sam Bradford and three running backs who’ve all gained 1,000 yards in a season can stay healthy, this offense could be the league’s best all around.

Carson Palmer9. Arizona Cardinals (11-5 last season) – Arizona owed a large part of its 6-0 start last season to QB Carson Palmer’s play. But when he hurt his knee, they were just 5-6 down the stretch.

10. Baltimore Ravens (10-6 last season) – Another good defense for the Ravens anchored by Terrell Suggs and Elvis Dumervil. But the offense has a lot of questions to answer at receiver.

11. Kansas City Chiefs (9-7 last season) – Largely the same good Chiefs team is back, with the addition of explosive receiver Jeremy Maclin.

12. Miami Dolphins (8-8 last season) – It’s not unfathomable to think that Miami could challenge the Patriots for the AFC East title, especially with DT Ndamukong Suh on board.

13. Detroit Lions (11-5 last season) – The Lions picked up DT Haloti Ngata who’s a pretty good run stuffer. But losing Suh to the Dolphins has to be a blow given that he’s easily the best defensive tackle in the game.

14. Cincinnati Bengals (10-5-1 last season) – Cincinnati has made the playoffs four straight years, and that shouldn’t change in 2015.

drew-brees15. New Orleans Saints (7-9 last season) – There are already injuries on defense, but Drew Brees and Co. could take advantage of another weak NFC South.

16. Minnesota Vikings (7-9 last season) – Teddy Bridgewater looks like the Vikings QB of the future, and now he gets to play with Adrian Peterson for a full year.

17. Buffalo Bills (9-7 last season) – Buffalo looks good at most positions, however, journeyman Tyrod Taylor at QB is a question mark.

18. San Diego Chargers (9-7 last season) – San Diego hasn’t won 10 games since 2009; can they break this streak?

19. New York Giants (6-10 last season) – Will the Giants’ stacked offense be enough to overcome a bruised defense?

julio-jones-falcons20. Atlanta Falcons (6-10 last season) – An upgraded defense could help the Falcons contend in the NFC South.

21. Carolina Panthers (7-8-1 last season) – Kelvin Benjamin loss (ACL) might ground Panthers’ offense this year.

22. Houston Texans (9-7 last season) – Not even J.J. Watt can carry a team with Brian Hoyer at QB.

23. St. Louis Rams (6-10 last season) – The defense keeps getting better, but the offense will flounder until first-round RB Todd Gurley can play.

24. Chicago Bears (5-11 last season) – Don’t blame Jay Cutler if things go wrong this year; blame the defense.

25. San Francisco (8-8 last season) – Too many free-agent losses/retirements for San Francisco to be competitive this season.

26. Cleveland Browns (7-9 last season) – With Josh McCown, Browns trot out their 23rd starting quarterback since 1999.

27. New York Jets (4-12 last season) – Secondary upgrades make this a scary defense, but QB again remains a huge problem.

khalil-mack-raiders28. Oakland Raiders (3-13 last season) – LB Khalil Mack and QB Derek Carr can be stars of the future for a franchise that’s still rebuilding.

29. Tennessee Titans (2-14 last season) – It would have been nice if Marcus Mariota started his career with decent weapons.

30. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (2-14 last season) – Jameis Winston has good receivers to throw to; there’s just not enough else here.

31. Jacksonville Jaguars (2-14 last season) – The offense should be vastly better than the unit that’s ranked last in points scored for two straight seasons.

32. Washington Redskins (4-12 last season) – RGIII drama dominates the perpetually toxic situation in Washington.

2015 NFC North Betting Preview – Packers tabbed as Favorites

aaron-rodgers-vs-patriotsThe NFC North has been marked by Green Bay domination in recent years. The Packers have won the division four straight years, while earning a playoff berth in six consecutive seasons. So is there any reason to think that recent history will change this year? Let’s try to answer this question by previewing the 2015 NFC North.

4th in Division: Chicago Bears; 5-11 W/L Projection

Strengths: Chicago’s hopes rest with running back Matt Forte this year, who’s coming of a season where he topped 1,800 total years from scrimmage. Forte may be closing in on 30, but with an 8-year career that’s never seen him rush for less than 929 yards in a season, there’s little reason to bet against him in 2015. Alshon Jeffrey will also provide a huge boost to the offense, as he appears destined for stardom coming off an 85-catch, 1,113-yard season. If QB Jay Cutler is going to have a comeback, Jeffrey will play a large role in this.

matt-forteWeaknesses: Speaking of Cutler, everybody likes to blame him for the Bears’ disappointing 2014 season. However, it was the defense that truly let Chicago down last year. The same problem will persist this time around for first-year head coach John Fox, who, along with new defensive coordinator Vic Fangio, will have a tough task ahead of them. Chicago ranked 30th in total defense last year and allowed the second-most points. They didn’t address their defensive needs very well in the draft, so there’s little reason to expect a turnaround.

3rd in Division: Detroit Lions; 8-8 W/L Projection

Strengths: The Lions were somewhat of a surprise last year, finishing 11-5 and losing a very competitive first-round playoff game to the Cowboys. If they’re to replicate last year’s success, or even improve, it will definitely begin with the receiving corp. Calvin Johnson, who’s coming off five straight 1,000-yard receiving seasons, again leads this group. But Golden Tate will be an incredible compliment, if not the top pass catcher, after tallying 1,331 yards last season. If tight end Eric Ebron can flash his true potential, then he can take pressure off the latter two.

ndamukong-suh-soccerWeaknesses: Everything that’s wrong with Detroit begins with the loss of Ndamukong Suh, who is an irreplaceable talent. He’s amazing against the run and pass and was crucial to the Lions’ defensive success. They also lost Nick Fairley, another D-lineman who helped out quite a bit. In all, Detroit lost players who contributed to a third of their 42 sacks last year, meaning the pass rush will be lighter this time around.

2nd in Division: Minnesota Vikings; 10-6 W/L Projection

adrian-peterson-rushing-recordStrengths: Adrian Peterson is now 30 years old, but he should turn back time after a season in which he only played one game due to suspension. Expect yet another season of at least 1,200-1,300 yards for Peterson, especially since Minnesota even ranked 14th in rushing offense (112.8 YPG) without him. QB Teddy Bridgewater is another year older and looking more than capable of playing up to his potential. This young defense is also shaping up to be one of the best in the NFC, making a postaseson berth very likely.

Weaknesses: While having Peterson back will definitely help take pressure off the passing game, the O-line might still have trouble protecting Bridgewater. Right tackle Phil Loadholt is out for the season with a torn Achilles tendon while left tackle Matt Kahil has not been very good at his position so far. Given this, can Minnesota protect Bridgewater on the edges?

1st in Division: Green Bay Packers; 12-2 W/L Projection

eddie-lacy-rookie-of-the-yearStrengths: Aaron Rodgers has not had a double-digit interception season in four years, and he’s coming off a 2014 where he tossed 38 touchdowns against 5 picks. So it’s an understatement that he’ll be the key to Green Bay’s attack. Expect a huge season from Randall Cobb too, who, in Jordy Nelson’s absence (ACL) should experience a big boost in his 1,287 receiving yards from last year. Throw in running back Eddie Lacy and this is once again a very potent offense.

Weaknesses: The loss of Nelson definitely hurts since he had over 1,500 receiving yards last season. But that’s nothing compared to their weak linebacking corp, who, even with 5-time Pro Bowler Clay Matthews, is highly inexperienced. This is a bad year for Green Bay to be a 3-4 defense, so their offense will be relied on heavily to shore up a below-average overall defense. Even still, the Super Bowl is a definite possibility for this group.

Ndamukong Suh: Big Fan of Cameroon, USA in 2014 World Cup

ndamukong-suh-soccerNdamukong Suh doesn’t exactly look like the prototypical soccer fan or player. This is especially the case when you consider that the 6’4″, 307-pounder plays defensive tackle for the NFL’s Detroit Lions. Nevertheless, the Portland, Oregon native with strong family ties to Cameroon (dad) and Jamaica (mother) is also a big fan of a different kind of football.

“My dad actually got me into soccer very heavily,” Suh told Yahoo Sports. “I’ve had a soccer ball at my feet since I was three and I’ve loved it ever since. And it’s a sport that runs deep in my family, my dad was a professional in Germany when he was very young. And my sister actually played for his country in 2008 in the women’s World Cup. I’m the only one who hasn’t gone and taken it to the full length. I stopped in eighth grade, I kind of went in a different path for football.”

With such a strong soccer presence in his family, it’s easy to see why Suh is a huge soccer fan. And there’s a chance that he’s even done a little 2014 World Cup betting and live wagering too. Okay, so we can’t verify the last statement, but we are pretty confident that the Lions star is watching as many World Cup matches as he can this summer. “I love watching it, I love looking forward to the World Cup every four years,” he said.

ndamukong-suh-soccer-1As mentioned before, Suh’s dad is from Cameroon, his mom is from Jamaica and he was born and bred in the United States. So who is he actually rooting for in the World Cup? “It’s very tough.” he said. “My dad is from Cameroon, Jamaica doesn’t always make it. But definitely US is a team that I root for as well as Cameroon. This World Cup, US is obviously playing really great and I’m excited about that.

“Cameroon is not doing as hot. And actually the last time that I saw them play, which was in the ’94 World Cup, when I was about seven or eight down in San Francisco, I kind of saw the same thing happen when they played against Russia. Got to see a great player for them, Roger Miller play for them and score a goal – so it was exciting. But I look forward to just watching great games throughout the year. And obviously Premier League soccer, but obviously when the World Cup comes, it’s even more…everybody’s hyped up and into it – so I definitely enjoy it.”

Suh has definitely found his calling in American football, racking up 27.5 sacks, 136 tackles, and proving to be one of the game’s fiercest defensive players in his four NFL seasons. But that doesn’t mean a part of him wouldn’t mind trying a different sport. “I’ve always wished I could’ve gone to the Olympics, won a gold medal,” he said when asked about playing a different sport. “But I’m definitely happy in the NFL. It’s a great sport. And hopefully one that’s gonna expand to go global. Maybe have a game down here in Brazil one time. It’d be exciting. But for the most part, it’d be nice to have an opportunity to play on the US soccer team or Cameroon if I could.”

Quite possibly the most muscular guy at the 2014 World Cup is the Brazilian striker “Hulk.” But if Suh ever got the chance to take the pitch for America or Cameroon, he’d easily dwarf the 5’11”, 190-pound Hulk. Of course, we highly expect him to be suiting up for the Detroit Lions next season, rather than a national soccer team.