Will the Jim Harbaugh Saga affect the San Francisco 49ers’ 2014 Season?

jim-harbaugh-49ers-turmoilIt wasn’t long ago that controversy erupted in San Francisco after it became public knowledge that the 49ers were discussing a potential trade with Cleveland, whereby their coach would go to the hapless Browns. Harbaugh has been visibly disappointed over his lack of a big contract extension, while GM Trent Baalke is very reluctant to give it to him. Now, we have reports that the dissension in the San Francisco locker room may be growing after the Harbaugh trade talks.

Andy Killion of the San Francisco Chronicle writes, “One source with inside knowledge of the team says that Harbaugh’s act has worn thin in the locker room, particularly among some key ‘face of the 49ers’ type players.”

So not only do we have a rift between Harbaugh and Baalke, but some of the players are allegedly tired of their coach’s hard-driving style. Putting two and two together, it becomes even murkier if Harbaugh will get the contract he wants and if the 49ers can continue their run of success.

Regarding the first point, the obvious reason why Baalke isn’t budging on the contract issue is because Harbaugh hasn’t won a Super Bowl yet. After signing a five-year, $25 million contract, he transformed a middling team that was going nowhere into a Super Bowl contender, going 36-11-1 over the past three years. More importantly, Harbaugh has made it to three straight NFC Championship games with a Super Bowl appearance two seasons ago. But the fact remains that, unlike New Orleans’ Sean Payton ($8 million a year) or Seattle’s Pete Carroll ($7 million a year), he hasn’t won a Super Bowl yet.

jim-harbaugh-49ers-turmoil-1Harbaugh has been close, coming within a drive of winning the 2013 Super Bowl, and coming within a single throw of making back to the Super Bowl in 2014. However, until he actually brings a Lombardi Trophy to the Bay Area, Baalke can’t see paying him more than Carroll or Payton. On the other hand, Harbaugh is the one who did what Mike Singletary failed miserably in doing: turning a talented roster into a winning football team.

Assuming San Francisco doesn’t give Harbaugh an extension, the Niners will still be good in 2014. They return a number of strong players and ironed out some problems on offense throughout last season. But if you’re looking to place a futures bet on San Francisco winning the Super Bowl, we doubt that you’ll get odds that will make this wager profitable.

At the moment, it just seems like there’s too much turmoil surrounding this team in the offseason. And with certain players already looking for a different voice in the 49ers’ locker room, it’s tough to predict another NFC Championship game run for San Francisco – let alone a Super Bowl victory.

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 Week 8 (Oct. 22nd, 2013)

jamaal-charlesOne obvious question to ask at this point in the NFL season is this: who’d have thought that after eight weeks, the Kansas City Chiefs would be the lone unbeaten team? This year’s biggest surprise team not only leads a very tough AFC West, but also the entire league. Their rival, the Denver Broncos, lost a close road game against the Colts in Peyton Manning’s spoiled homecoming. This loss has no doubt impacted the power rankings, which you can see below.

1. Kansas City Chiefs (7-0); beat Houston 17-16, moves up one spot – Many people still harp on how the Chiefs can’t be number one due to Alex Smith’s inability to throw downfield. And while we were in that boat earlier, it’s hard to keep doubting KC when they continue winning. We’ll see if they can keep up the incredible season as they soon get into the meat of their schedule.

2. Denver Broncos (6-1); lost to Indianapolis 39-33, drops one spot – The return of Von Miller wasn’t enough to spark a better defensive effort. And despite throwing for 386 yards, 3 TD’s and 1 INT, Manning wasn’t able to engineer a rally with two backup offensive tackles in the lineup. This loss by no means discredits the Broncos, though.

3. Seattle Seahawks (6-1); beat Arizona 34-22, moves up one spot – Russell Wilson finally came alive after throwing for 235 yards and three TD’s. And the defense has always been alive, as evidenced by the seven sacks they tallied on Carson Palmer.

4. New Orleans Saints (6-1); bye week, drops one spot – This isn’t the first time that the Seahawks and Saints have flip-flopped in our rankings. And it won’t be the last since these teams are so evenly matched.

5. Indianapolis Colts (5-2); beat Denver 39-39, moves up four spots – The Colts make andrew-lucka big leap after grabbing yet another win over a tough opponent. They lay claim to victories over Denver, Seattle (road) and San Francisco (road). And all of this coming despite a lack of a running game.

6. San Francisco (5-2); beat Tennessee 31-17, retains same ranking – San Francisco spoiled Jake Locker’s return to the Tennessee lineup by jumping out to a 17-0 lead. From then on, it was pretty much over since the Niners are great at running the ball and controlling the clock.

7. Green Bay Packers (4-2); beat Cleveland 31-13, moves up one spot – The injuries are mounting on Green Bay, but it hasn’t slowed them down. This time, Jarrett Boykin stepped in and grabbed eight passes for 103 yards and a touchdown.

8. New England Patriots (5-2); lost to New York Jets 30-27 (OT), drops three spots – New England picked up their second loss following a controversial unsportsmanlike conduct penalty on Chris Jones. He violated a new rule that states you can’t push teammates into the offensive line, which gave Nick Foles a second chance to kick a game-winning field goal.

9. Cincinnati Bengals (5-2); beat Detroit 27-24, moves up one spot – Andy Dalton had his best game of the season after throwing for 372 yards and three touchdowns. He’s finally starting to utilize his weapons, which means the Bengals could continue rising.

10. Dallas Cowboys (4-3); beat Philadelphia 17-3, moves up two spots – The Cowboys are looking like the cream of the crop in the NFC East, which isn’t saying a whole lot. However, you do have to give them credit for winning without both DeMarco Murray and DeMarcus Ware.

11. San Diego Chargers (4-3); beat Jacksonville 24-6, moves up four spots – We philip-riversrealize that a victory over Jacksonville doesn’t necessarily justify moving up this far. But San Diego has been a pretty good offensive team this year, and none of the teams immediately in front of them looked too good.

12. Detroit Lions (4-3); lost to Cincinnati 27-24, drops one spot – As long as Reggie Bush and Calvin Johnson stay healthy, the Lions won’t have a problem filling up the box score. Unfortunately, their defense keeps allowing opponents to fill up the box score as well.

13. Chicago Bears (4-3); lost to Washington 44-41, drops five spots – As if an upset loss to Washington isn’t bad enough, the Bears will also be missing Jay Cutler (groin) for four weeks or more. Add in the fact that Chicago travels to Green Bay this week and their freefall may continue.

14. Miami Dolphins (3-3); lost to Buffalo 23-21, drops one spot – The Dolphins got off to a terrible start after a Nickell Robey interception return made the score 14-0. From here, it was all about playing catch-up, which Miami did after taking the lead. However, Mario Williams came up big by forcing a Ryan Tannehill fumble and setting up a game-winning field goal for the Bills.

15. New York Jets (4-3); beat New England 30-27 (OT), moves up six spots – Aside from the Chiefs, New York may be the second biggest surprise team. Most people expected them to be terrible; however, they’ve been very competitive and are actually in the playoff hunt.

16. Baltimore Ravens (3-4); lost to Pittsburgh 19-16, drops two spots – After starting the year with a 3-1 record, the Ravens have gone 1-3 and are averaging less than 20 PPG during this span. Baltimore isn’t out of the AFC North race yet, though, since they have the Bengals coming up in a couple of weeks.

17. Arizona Cardinals (3-4); lost to Seattle 34-22, drops one spot – It’s little surprise that Arizona couldn’t come up with a win against a very tough Seattle team. But sooner or later, they have to start reaching up for victories if they want to be a playoff contender.

18. Atlanta Falcons (2-4); beat Tampa Bay 31-23, moves up five spots – With Julio harry-douglasJones done for the season and Roddy White out for this game, Harry Douglas filled their shoes masterfully by catching seven passes for 149 yards and a TD.

19. Carolina Panthers (3-4); beat Saint Louis 30-15, moves up four spots – The Panthers are taking advantage of a soft spot in their schedule and saving Ron Rivera’s job in the process. They have another very winnable game at Tampa Bay before things heat up again.

20. Tennessee Titans (3-4); lost to San Francisco 31-17, drops three spots – Tennessee was thoroughly dominated at home, but the score made this game look closer than it was. The Titans didn’t score until the fourth quarter, when Locker threw a couple of TD passes.

21. Cleveland Browns (3-4); lost to Green Bay 31-13, drops three spots – Just two weeks ago, the Browns were riding high and tied for first in their division. Now, they’re two games out of first and Brandon Weeden is their quarterback again.

22. Philadelphia Eagles (3-4); lost to Dallas 17-3, drops three spots – It’s amazing how big a difference a week can make. Before this game, many believed that it was Nick Foles time to take the reigns in Philly. But after his anemic performance, before leaving the game with a concussion, Eagles fans can’t wait for a healthy Michael Vick.

23. Washington Redskins (2-4); beat Chicago 44-41 moves up two spots – Washington grabbed a much-needed win by taking down the Bears at home. But the celebration may not last long since this porous defense will be subjected to the Broncos and Chargers in the coming weeks.

24. Houston Texans (2-5); lost to Kansas City 17-16, drops four spots – Case case-keenumKeenum (271 yards, 1 TD) did surprisingly well for being on the road against a tough Kansas City defense. However, it wasn’t enough to prevent Houston’s season from falling even further down the tubes.

25. Buffalo Bills (3-4); beat Miami 23-21, moves up three spots – The Bills deserve a round of applause for beating a solid team on the road, despite a hobbled CJ Spiller and their starting QB still being out. But they face two rough upcoming matchups against the Saints and Chiefs.

26. Oakland Raiders (2-4); bye week, retains same ranking – Oakland comes out of the bye week with a chance to really establish themselves in home games against Pittsburgh and Philadelphia.

27. Pittsburgh Steelers (2-4); beat Baltimore 19-16, moves up two spots – Are we seeing a resurgence in Pittsburgh? Or just a subpar team collecting a couple of wins? This week’s contest against the Raiders will go a long ways towards answering these questions.

28. New York Giants (1-6); beat Minnesota 23-7, moves up three spots – It wasn’t pretty, but the Giants finally got their first win of the season. With games against Philadelphia and Oakland coming up, the Giants could possibly get another win or two before playing Green Bay at home.

29. Saint Louis Rams (3-4); lost to Carolina 30-15, drops five spots – Any slim playoff hopes that the Rams had disappeared with Sam Bradford’s season-ending injury. Rookie RB Zac Stacy provides a nice spark, but it’s not going to be enough this year.

30. Minnesota Vikings (1-5); lost to New York Giants 23-7, drops three spots – Anybody watching this game had to feel sorry for Josh Freeman. Just two weeks after being traded, he threw 53 passes in an offense that he’s still learning. Was Christian Ponder really so bad that he couldn’t have played one or two more games until Freeman was ready?

31. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (0-6); lost to Atlanta 31-23, retains same ranking – With Doug Martin (torn labrum) reportedly done for the season, things only get worse from here.

32. Jacksonville Jaguars (0-6); lost to San Diego 24-6, retains same ranking – A week after challenging the Broncos through three quarters, Jacksonville took a step back in this performance.

NFL Power Rankings for Week 7 (Oct. 15th, 2013)

justin-houston-chiefsAnother week of NFL action, another unbeaten falls. The New Orleans Saints saw their unblemished record take a hit when they fell to the New England Patriots by a score of 30-27. Now only the Broncos and Chiefs remain undefeated as we enter Week 7. Taking this into account, their November 17th showdown will be quite entertaining and offer plenty of regular and live wagering opportunities. Now let’s take a look at where all of the teams sit as we move closer to the midway point of the season.

1. Denver Broncos (6-0); beat Jacksonville 35-19, retains same ranking – The Broncos made sports betting history by being a four-touchdown favorite against Jacksonville. However, this gaudy line didn’t materialize as the Jags were actually able to move the ball against this mediocre Denver defense. However, we’ve yet to see a team that can stop the Broncos offense, even when they’re not playing perfect.

2. Kansas City Chiefs (6-0); beat Oakland 24-7, moves up 2 spots – Questions about Alex Smith’s arm strength aside, Kansas City has been as dominant a team as any. They’re beating opponents by an average of 14.5 points and might boast the league’s best defense.

3. New Orleans Saints (5-1); lost to New England 30-27, drops one spot – A 3-point loss on the road to the Patriots isn’t anything to be overly concerned about. This is still a great, well-rounded team that’s tabbed by many to make it to the NFC Championship.

4. Seattle Seahawks (5-1); beat Tennessee Titans, retains same ranking – With Percy Harvin’s return approaching, Seattle’s offense is definitely due for a boost. But they’ve still been doing well regardless, with Marshawn Lynch gaining 155 all-purpose yards and Russell Wilson adding 318 total yards last game.

5. New England Patriots (5-1); beat New Orleans 30-27, moves up one spot – For the stevan-ridley-patriotsfirst time since Shane Vereen got injured in Week 1, the Patriots showed a consistent ground game. Is Stevan Ridley finally back in Bill Belichik’s good graces?

6. San Francisco 49ers (4-2); beat Arizona 32-20, drops one spot – The 49ers grabbed a nice home win over an improving Cardinals team. With the focus shifting towards Frank Gore and the ground game, San Francisco looks like a different and better squad.

7. Green Bay Packers (3-2); beat Baltimore 19-17, moves up one spot – Green Bay got bad news about Randall Cobb since he’ll be out for several weeks. With their top receiver injured, expect Eddie Lacy to get a few more carries heading forward.

8. Chicago Bears (4-2); beat New York Giants 27-21, moves up one spot – This isn’t the Bears’ most impressive victory – especially when they got gashed by ancient running back Brandon Jacobs. But Jay Cutler and the offense continue to rack up points while the defense forces turnovers.

9. Indianapolis Colts (4-2); lost to San Diego 19-9, drops two spots – After an incredible stretch that saw the Colts win road games in both Seattle and San Francisco, they drop a tough road contest to the Chargers. Concerns about Trent Richardson are growing because his stats are subpar (191YDS, 3.1YPC in four games) since coming over from the Browns.

10. Cincinnati Bengals (4-2); beat Buffalo 27-24, retains same ranking – Despite playing against a practice squad quarterback in Thaddeus Lewis, Cincinnati let Buffalo back in this game. Still, they escape with a win and remain on top of the AFC North.

11. Detroit Lions (4-2); beat Cleveland 31-17, retains same ranking – An ill-advised Brandon Weeden flip pass sealed the victory for Detroit. Matthew Stafford threw three second-half touchdowns to spark a turnaround.

12. Dallas Cowboys (3-3); beat Washington 31-16, moves up two spots – Dallas moves back into the upper echelon after making it look easy against their division foe. It wasn’t an entirely good day, though, since both DeMarcus Ware and DeMarco Murry were lost in this game. Both are expected to miss multiple weeks for the Cowboys.

13. Miami Dolphins (3-2); bye week, drops one spot – Miami will look to stop a two-lamar-miller-dolphinsgame skid as they host Buffalo. The Dolphins have to make more of a commitment to Lamar Miller and the running game to remain a multi-dimensional offense.

14. Baltimore Ravens (3-3); lost to Green Bay 19-17, drops two spots – Baltimore staged a nice late-game rally, but couldn’t do enough to pull ahead. The running attack is in disarray, with Ray Rice averaging less than 3 yards per carry.

15. San Diego Chargers (3-3); beat Indianapolis 19-9, moves up five spots – Credit the Chargers defense with slowing down Andrew Luck (202YDS, 0TD). Philip Rivers also did a good job of managing the game and leading the Chargers on some time-consuming scoring drives.

16. Arizona Cardinals (3-3); lost to San Francisco, moves up one spot – At this point of the rankings, it’s all about who lost to better teams. Arizona hung tough with the Niners for three quarters, but ran out of gas as they were outscored 10-0 in the fourth quarter.

17. Tennessee Titans (3-3); lost to Seattle 20-13, moves up one spot – The Titans have proven to be a very competitive team, even without Jake Locker. Despite the loss, they’re only one game behind Indianapolis in the AFC South.

18. Cleveland Browns (3-3); lost to Detroit 31-17, drops two spots – Browns fans have to be disappointed after their team was outscored 24-0 in the second half. Brandon Weeden played fairly well (292YDS, 2TD, 2INT) – save for throwing one of the worst interceptions ever. Somebody needs to tell him that shovel passes aren’t meant to be thrown over to the sideline.

19. Philadelphia Eagles (3-3); beat Tampa Bay 31-20, moves up three spots – Welcome back to relevancy Philadelphia! The Eagles kept pace with Dallas in the NFC East with a road victory against winless Tampa. Nick Foles might lock down the starting role for good if he keeps playing like this (296YDS, 3TD).

20. Houston Texans (2-4); lost to St. Louis 38-13, drops five spots – Fans have been calling for Matt Schaub to be benched, and now they get their wish after his right ankle injury. But it only gets uglier from here with T.J. Yates now starting under center.

21. New York Jets (3-3); lost to Pittsburgh 19-6, drops two spots – This was supposed to be an easy victory for the surprising Jets. However, rookie QB Geno Smith (201YDS, 2INT)  looked lost against a Pittsburgh defense that’s been in shambles all season.

22. Carolina Panthers (2-3); beat Minnesota 35-10, moves up three spots – Carolina cam-newtonis a tough team to figure out. Two weeks ago, they score just 6 points against Arizona; last game, they put up 35 on the Vikings and stifle them. Of course, it seems that Cam Newton’s swingy play decides the fate of the Panthers.

23. Atlanta Falcons (1-4); bye week, drops three spots – The Falcons were already struggling in the win-loss category. Then they found out that Julio Jones is done for the season and Roddy White might be out for 1-2 games. Harry Douglas is now their go-to receiver.

24. St. Louis Rams (3-3); beat Houston 38-13, moves up four spots – After suffering through a miserable three-game losing streak, the Rams are back to .500 with wins over Jacksonville and Houston. Nobody’s expecting St. Louis to make the playoffs in a division with Seattle and San Francisco, but they’re at least showing some heart.

25. Washington Redskins (1-4); lost to Dallas 31-16, drops two spots – The good news is that Washington didn’t get torched by Tony Romo, as many people expected. The bad news is that they got beat in just about every facet of the game.

26. Oakland Raiders (2-4); lost to Kansas City 24-7, retains same ranking – A very rough game for Terrelle Pryor, but they won’t all be as tough as playing in Arrowhead. Denarius Moore really seems to be developing as a nice target for Pryor.

27. Minnesota Vikings (1-4); lost to Carolina 35-10, drops three spots – This was a tough game to play for Minnesota following the death of Adrian Peterson’s son. When Josh Freeman learns the Vikings playbook, this team might bounce back with some victories.

28. Buffalo Bills (2-4); lost to Cincinnati Bengals 27-24, drops one spot – Thaddeus Lewis is a definite upgrade over undrafted free agent Jeff Tuel. If Lewis can continue playing like he did on the road against Cincinnati, he’ll produce some wins against weaker opponents.

29. Pittsburgh Steelers (1-4); beat New York Jets 19-6, retains same ranking – Holding Geno Smith and the Jets to 6 points won’t bring back Steel Curtain comparisons. But this is still a nice performance by Pittsburgh’s defense.

30. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (0-5); lost to Philadelphia 31-20, retains same ranking – Ownership spent too much money in the offseason for a winless start. It’s looking less and less like Greg Schiano will make it through the season.

31. New York Giants (0-6); lost to Chicago 27-21, retains same ranking – With David Wilson knocked out of the game with an injury, Brandon Jacobs rumbled for 106 yards and two touchdowns. It’s too bad that Eli Manning threw another three interceptions.

32. Jacksonville Jaguars (0-6); lost to Denver 34-20, retains same ranking – The way they stayed with Denver through three quarters, this team could actually win a game with Chad Henne at QB.

NFL Power Rankings for Week 4 (Sept. 25th, 2013)

jamaal-charlesEvery year there are teams that flip flop from one NFL season to the next. But this trend has gone to the extreme in 2013, with non-playoff teams like the Kansas City Chiefs, Miami Dolphins, New Orleans Saints and Chicago Bears all starting off 3-0. The Chiefs are especially noteworthy here because they’ve already beaten their 2012 win total of two games. Few people expected the Dolphins to be so competitive early on either.

On the other side of the equation are traditional powers like the New York Giants, Pittsburgh Steelers and Minnesota Vikings. All expected to compete for a playoff spot, but these teams are now 0-3. The Atlanta Falcons and San Francisco 49ers haven’t been much better since last year’s NFC Championship participants are sitting at 1-2. So how does all of this affect our latest power rankings? Here’s the answer…

1. Denver Broncos (3-0); beat Oakland Raiders 37-21, retains same ranking – With 1,143 yards and 12 touchdowns, Peyton Manning and this offense have looked nearly invincible. We don’t expect the Broncos to cruise through every game as they’ve done in their 3-0 start. But it’s also hard to see anybody stopping them in the near future.

2. Seattle Seahawks (3-0); beat Jacksonville 45-17, retains same ranking – Denver and Seattle are in a class all by themselves in the early going. Sure Seattle is coming off a victory over the lowly Jaguars, but their blowout of San Francisco still remains fresh in our minds.

3. New Orleans Saints (3-0); beat Arizona 31-7, retains same rankingThe Saints ended any misconceptions about Arizona being able to compete with the big boys. After a disappointing year where they missed the postseason, New Orleans looks like the NFC South favorite.

4. New England Patriots (3-0); beat Tampa Bay 23-3, moves up 2 spots – After numerous worries about their young receiving corp, the Patriots got on track thanks to two Kenbrell Thompkins TD’s. New England was fortunate enough to have three cupcake teams in a row to tune up their new-look offense.

5. Chicago Bears (3-0); beat Pittsburgh 40-23, moves up 5 spots – Every time that the Steelers got close, the Bears defense came up big by forcing a turnover. The Major Wright 38-yard interception return for a TD right before halftime was huge.

6. Cincinnati Bengals (2-1); beat Green Bay 34-30, moves up 3 spots – This is an impressive win by the Bengals against a tough opponent, especially when they surrendered four turnovers to the Pack. Cincinnati could go a long way if they can ever figure out how to utilize all of their offensive weapons.

7. Miami Dolphins (3-0); beat Atlanta 27-23, moves up 4 spots – Miami ryan-tannehillpassed their first true test of the season with flying colors. Ryan Tannehill rebounded from a poor first half to post numbers of 236 passing yards, 2 TD’s and 1 INT.

8. Kansas City Chiefs (3-0); beat Philadelphia 26-16, moves up 4 spots – This team has a number of questions in the passing game, where Alex Smith doesn’t exactly throw the long ball too well. However, the Chiefs’ defense has been outstanding in their first three games.

9. San Francisco 49ers (1-2); lost to Indianapolis 27-7, drops 4 spots – Getting beat up by the Seahawks in Seattle was understandable. Getting beat up at home against the Colts is a little different story. Colin Kaepernick and this offense have to get going after scoring just 10 points in the last two games.

10. Baltimore Ravens (2-1); beat Houston 30-9, moves up 3 spots – Up until last weekend, the Ravens hadn’t shown anything worthy of being able to defend their Super Bowl championship. But the defense finally gelled as a unit against the Texans, shutting down their vaunted run game in the process.

11. Houston Texans; lost to Baltimore 30-9, drops 7 spots – Houston started this game strong, but quickly lost momentum with their offense failing to move the ball. Part of this was the Ravens defense, but part of it was also QB Matt Schaub’s failure to convert big plays.

12. Atlanta Falcons (1-2); lost to Miami 27-23, drops 4 spots – The Falcons offense is still fairly high powered, even in the absence of Steven Jackson. However, the defense hasn’t looked too good over the first three games.

13. Indianapolis Colts (2-1); beat San Francisco 27-7, moves up 3 spots – The Colts showed a lot by going into Candlestick Park and dominating the 49ers. The defense came up huge against Kaepernick. Indianapolis may finally have a strong run game too with both Ahmad Bradshw and Trent Richardson carrying the ball.

14. Green Bay Packers (1-2); lost to Cincinnati 34-30, drops 7 spotsjohnathan-franklin-fumbleGreen Bay lost the ball four times, including a crucial Johnathan Franklin fumble on fourth and inches that was returned for a touchdown. Give credit to the Bengals for playing well, but take credit away from Green Bay for playing so carelessly.

15. Detroit Lions (2-1); beat Washington 27-20, retains same ranking – The NFC North is starting to look pretty crowded with the Bears, Packers and Lions all vying for playoff spots. If Detroit can keep Reggie Bush healthy, they’ll be right in the thick of the division title race.

16. Dallas Cowboys (2-1); beat St. Louis 31-7, retains same ranking – The Rams must hate DeMarco Murray. Two years after he torched them for 253 yards as a rookie, Murray racked up 175 yards on the ground against St. Louis last Sunday. Hopefully Dallas doesn’t forget about the run game again after this performance.

17. Tennessee Titans (2-1); beat San Diego 20-17, moves up 4 spots – Jake Locker had his best game as a pro after throwing for 299 yards and running for another 68 yards. But Locker and the Titans can’t get too cocky since San Diego had three starters out.

18. New York Jets (2-1); beat Buffalo 27-20, moves up 9 spots – Many people thought that the Jets would be laughable this year, thanks in large part to their quarterback debacle. However, rookie Geno Smith cleared up the debacle and has given this team a real weapon. Bilal Powell has emerged as a feature back after rushing for a career-high 149 yards against Buffalo.

19. Philadelphia Eagles (1-2); lost to Kansas City 26-16, drops 5 spots – Following a breakout first game, Chip Kelly’s fast-paced offense is failing to produce wins. Michael Vick completed just 13-of-30 passes for 201 yards, 1 TD and 1 INT.

20. San Diego Chargers (1-2); lost to Tennessee 20-17, retains same ranking – With most teams losing behind them and several injured starters, San Diego stays put at number 20. This team is really just a few plays away from being 3-0.

21. Carolina Panthers (1-2); beat New York Giants 38-0, moves up 8 spots – After putting a thorough home beating on the Giants, Carolina moves up amidst so many back-end teams losing. The defense was stout while Cam Newton finally put up some good numbers (223PYDS, 45RYDS, 4TD, 1INT).

22. St. Louis Rams (1-2); lost to Dallas 31-7, drops 4 spots – St. Louis demarco-murray-ramsreally got gashed by both Tony Romo and Murray. This hurts bad after beating Arizona and losing by just a touchdown against Atlanta.

23. Arizona Cardinals (1-2); lost to New Orleans 31-7, drops 4 spots – Nobody expected the Cardinals to beat New Orleans. But they at least have to protect Carson Palmer, who was sacked four times.

24. New York Giants (0-3); lost to Carolina 38-0, drops 2 spots – Are the G-Men really this bad? Probably not, but they’d better show something soon because New York fans are getting impatient.

25. Buffalo Bills (1-2); lost to New York Jets 27-20, drops 2 spots – Buffalo has played very competitive this year, and if they can get CJ Spiller going, the ground game will be extremely tough.

26. Washington Redskins (0-3); lost to Detroit 27-20, drops 2 spots – The Redskins secondary is once again terrible and this team can’t stop anybody. At least RG III is putting up yards though.

27. Cleveland Browns (1-2); beat Minnesota 31-27, moves up 5 spots – Having been written off by everybody after the Trent Richardson trade, Cleveland came out and won on the road with backup QB Brian Hoyer. Don’t expect a lot more of these winning efforts though.

28. Minnesota Vikings (0-3); lost to Cleveland 31-27, drops 3 spots – A week after losing to Chicago in a close one, Minnesota comes out at home and loses to the lowly Browns. So where does this leave the Vikings?

29. Pittsburgh Steelers (0-3); lost to Chicago 40-23, drops 3 spots – Few people expected Pittsburgh to be in the AFC North cellar after four games. But the offense just can’t produce when it counts.

30. Oakland Raiders (1-2); lost to Denver 37-21, drops 2 spots – Yes, this is still the Raiders and they never really challenged Denver. But there is some excitement in the air over Terrelle Pryor and the energized offense.

31. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (0-3); lost to New England 23-3, drops 1 spot – The Josh Freeman era in Tampa Bay looks to be over as the fifth-year veteran was replaced by rookie Mike Glennon this week.

32. Jacksonville Jaguars (0-3); lost to Seattle 45-17, retains same ranking – At least the Jaguars were able to muster some offense in a game this season. They scored 17 second-half points, but the game was already out of hand.