Who’ll be New York Jets’ Starting QB – Vick or Geno?

geno-smith-michael-vick-jetsEarlier this month, Michael Vick claimed that the 2014 New York Jets quarterback competition is dead – Geno Smith is the starter. He explained this to NJ.com by telling them that his goal is simply to help Smith get better.

“Geno’s the starting quarterback for that football team,” Vick said. “Ultimately our goal is to try to help Geno become the best quarterback that he can be. Myself and (third-string QB Matt Simms) are all trying to put him in a position where he can get better from year one to year two.” Vick said that he and Smith are friends and added, “I wouldn’t say I’d necessarily be OK with sitting on the bench, but I know what I signed up for.”

This is certainly a nice sentiment from Vick, but in the NFL, teams are short on patience. And the Jets won’t sit through another season where Smith throws 21 interceptions. That said, head coach Rex Ryan has a different take on the matter.

May the Best Man win

geno-smith-jetsNew York took Smith in the second round of the 2013 NFL Draft hoping that he could be their quarterback of the future. His rookie campaign was anything but stellar, though, as he garnered just a 35.9 QBR, throwing for 3,046 yards, 12 TD’s, 21 INT’s, 4 fumbles and 6 rushing TD’s. The latter indicates that Smith has potential as a dual threat and he showed promise in his last four starts, boasting a solid 83 QBR.

However, fans didn’t see anything to confirm that Geno is a lock to be New York’s starter this season. And Ryan confirmed that Smith isn’t guaranteed of anything during a recent press conference. “There is competition, no doubt,” Ryan said. “You know I said from day one that I think Geno’s gonna be hard to beat out…and I’ve said that from day one. But I also said that Mike’s gonna have an opportunity to compete and he definitely will.”

Smoke and Mirrors

While Ryan’s words express that there is a competition going on, we should be more inclined to believe Vick. This is a guy who was in a dogfight last year for the starting quarterback role in Philadelphia. Vick ultimately beat out Nick Foles in the offseason to become the starter. However, a hamstring injury sidelined him and gave Foles an opportunity to shine. He ran with this opportunity too, guiding Philly from a rough start to the playoffs.

Vick never once said that he thought Foles would be the starter during the 2013 training camp. But with the Jets, he seems much more confident that Smith is going to be the starting signal caller while he serves as a backup and helps his friend improve.

Friends don’t let Friends play Bad

michael-vick-1While we choose to believe Vick’s words, there’s no guarantee that this is the way things will play out on the field. Despite being 33, Vick is still one of the league’s fastest quarterbacks. Plus, he knows OC Marty Mornhinweg’s system very well since the two spent four years together in Philly.

The immediate advantage of this is that Vick can use his knowledge and understanding of Mornhinweg’s system to help out Smith. However, if the latter continues to struggle, then Vick will no doubt be called upon to take the reigns. The 12-year veteran showed that he still has what it takes to start, posting 1,215 passing yards, 5 TD’s, 3 INT’s, 306 rushing yards and 2 rushing TD’s in a limited season.

Also don’t forget that another non-playoff year could cost Ryan his job. So he won’t hesitate to do what’s best for the Jets from a winning standpoint if they are struggling.

2013 NFL Wild Card Predictions (Jan. 4-5)

wild-card-colts-chiefsThis weekend kicks off the most exciting time in every football season: the NFL Playoffs! This is especially the case if you plan on betting on the 2013 Wild Card matchups. Looking at GTBets‘ NFL Wild Card lines, three out of the four spreads are separated by 2.5 points or less. With such close matchups, it’s definitely worth doing some in-depth analysis on each game.

Kansas City (-110) at Indianapolis (-110) on Saturday (4:35pm, NBC)

We got a preview of this matchup two weeks ago, when the Colts dominated Kansas City by a score of 23-7. Given that this contest was at Arrowhead, you’d think that Indianapolis would roll at home. However, the Colts have been very inconsistent ever since losing Reggie Wayne, so it’s tough to tell how they’ll come out each week. Additionally, they’ve struggled to find a running game all year, which doesn’t bode well against KC’s awesome defense.

So what about the Chiefs? Well, they’ll go as far as Alex Smith can take them. He looked terrible against Indianapolis before, throwing for just 153 yards, 1 interception, and losing 2 fumbles. Overall though, Smith has been pretty consistent this season, which means he should play much better this time around. However, we don’t think that Smith, Jamaal Charles and the KC defense can do enough to prevent wunderkind Andrew Luck from winning at home.

Prediction: Indianapolis beats Kansas City 20-16

New Orleans (-100) at Philadelphia -2.5 (-120) on Saturday (8:00pm, NBC)

wild-card-eagles-saintsThe Saints looked like early-season favorites to come out of the NFC. However, they faltered down the stretch amid growing defensive and road concerns. Their defense is ranked just 21st on the road, which makes their 3-5 record away from the Superdome much more understandable. However, they do have Drew Brees which always counts for something.

But will Brees see the field enough to make a difference? Philadelphia boasts the NFL’s top rusher in LeSean McCoy (1,607 rushing yds) so they should be able to move the chains, grind the clock down, and keep Brees off the field. Add in the fact that McCoy will be opening things up for newly anointed superstar QB Nick Foles, and we definitely see this one going in Philly’s favor.

Prediction: Philadelphia beats New Orleans 34-20

San Diego (-110) at Cincinnati -6.5 (-110) on Sunday (1:00pm, CBS)

wild-card-chargers-bengalsSan Diego survived a nailbiter against Kansas City’s second string last week to slip into the playoffs. Now they face a much bigger challenge in trying to become the first team to win at Cincinnati all season. They’ll be aided on this seemingly impossible quest by a number of offensive weapons, including Philip Rivers, Danny Woodhead, Ryan Mathews and Keenan Allen.

But even if the Chargers are able to put some points up on Cincy, it won’t be enough. The Bengals have crushed opponents at Paul Brown Stadium en route to an 8-0 record. Their last five victories have been particularly dominating, with margins of 17, 28, 14, 21 and 40 points. Considering that Cincinnati already holds a road victory over San Diego this year, we don’t see any chance of the Chargers moving past the Wild Card round.

Prediction: Cincinnati beats San Diego 38-17

San Francisco -2.5 (-110) at Green Bay (-110) on Sunday (4:30pm, Fox)

wild-card-49ers-packersNotice that San Francisco is the only road favorite on GTBets’ NFL Wild Card lines this week. There’s good reason for this too. San Fran is on a six-game winning streak, and they came within a play or two of winning the Super Bowl last year. Plus, they should have no trouble running the ball on Green Bay’s defense with Colin Kaepernick and Frank Gore.

But the Packers won’t be total pushovers. Aaron Rodgers finally returned from injury last week and looked almost like his pre-injury self, throwing for 318 yards, 2 touchdowns and 2 interceptions. Aside from Rodgers, Green Bay is also at home where they’ll get a big boost from sub-zero temperatures. However, we don’t see inclement weather stopping San Francisco from coming out of this one with a victory.

Prediction: San Francisco beats Green Bay 34-28

NFL Power Rankings for Week 14 (Dec. 5th, 2013)

peyton-manning-chiefsLast week was characterized by a couple of very high-profile matchups between the Denver Broncos and Kansas City Chiefs, as well as the Seattle Seahawks and New Orleans Saints. The Broncos proved their dominance of the AFC West by beating their division rivals on the road by a score of 35-28. Kansas City is still a lock for the playoffs, but the illusion of their defensive dominance is now gone.

As for the Saints and Seahawks, this one wasn’t even close as Seattle throttled the visiting team. Most believe that the Saints are nearly invincible inside of the Superdome. But they appeared very mortal while playing at CenturyLink Field. Here’s a look at how last week’s featured games will shake up the Week 14 NFL power rankings.

1. Denver Broncos (10-2); beat Kansas City 35-28, retains same ranking – The margin between Seattle and Denver is slim. But it’s hard to bump Peyton and company out of the top spot when they just beat a playoff-bound Chiefs for the second time this season. Eric Decker had the game of his life after reeling in four of Manning’s five touchdown passes.

2. Seattle Seahawks (11-1); beat New Orleans 34-7, retains same ranking – So much for that bolstered New Orleans defense… Russell Wilson looked like a 10-year veteran the way he picked apart the Saints defense to the tune of 310 passing yards and three touchdowns. Oh yea, and Seattle’s defense was pretty good too as they shut down one of the best quarterbacks in the league.

3. New England Patriots (9-3); beat Houston 34-31, moves up two spots – The Pats got off to a slow start against Houston. But they once again staged a big comeback on the strength of Tom Brady’s 371 yards and two touchdowns. On a side note, Stevan Ridley’s days as New England’s starting running back appear over.

colin-kaepernick4. San Francisco 49ers (8-4); beat St. Louis 23-13, moves up two spots – San Francisco ended St. Louis’ hot streak and took a big step forward in the race for NFC playoff positioning. The Niners, who began the year trying to feature Colin Kaepernick’s talents more, seem to be getting back to this approach now that they’ve got some wins under their belt.

5. New Orleans Saints (9-3); lost to Seattle 34-7, drops two spots – The Saints didn’t suddenly become a bad team just because they got blown out by a fellow NFC powerhouse. However, this loss does raise some questions about New Orleans’ ability to win big games away from home.

6. Carolina Panthers (9-3); beat Tampa Bay 27-6, moves up one spot – Nobody predicted this week’s game against New Orleans to be a battle for first place in the NFC South. But that’s exactly where we’re at after Carolina won a franchise-record eighth straight game. Cam Newton is playing the best football of his three-year career, and just threw for 263 yards, ran for 68 yards, and accounted for three TD’s against the Buccaneers.

7. Kansas City Chiefs (9-3); lost to Denver 35-28, drops three spots – Alex Smith is really looking solid at QB after piling up 293 passing yards, 46 rushing yards, and three total TD’s. But what happened to that vaunted KC pass rush from earlier this year? Manning went virtually untouched for the second time these two teams faced.

8. Cincinnati Bengals (8-4); beat San Diego 17-10, moves up one spot – Holding the Chargers to 10 points at home is no small feat. The Bengals supplemented their great defensive effort with a strong running game (164 yards on 38 carries).

9. Indianapolis Colts (8-4); beat Tennessee Titans 22-14, moves up one spot – The Colts put a halt to their massive struggles with a hard-fought victory over Tennessee. Their lack of a running game is disturbing and the Trent Richardson deal is officially a dud. But they still have a little bit of time to fix these issues before the postseason.

demarco-murray10. Dallas Cowboys (7-5); beat Oakland 31-24, moves up one spot – Dallas used a surprisingly effective two-back approach, with Lance Dunbar rushing for 82 yards on 12 carries and DeMarco Murray gaining 63 yards on 19 carries. Murray also got into the end zone three times against the soft Oakland D.

11. Philadelphia Eagles (7-5); beat Arizona 24-21, moves up one spot – Philadelphia keeps pace with Dallas in the NFC West with a huge victory over Arizona. Is it time to anoint Nick Foles (237PYDS, 3TD) as one of the league’s top QB’s?

12. Detroit Lions (7-5); beat Green Bay 40-10, moves up one spot – The Lions absolutely terrorized Matt Flynn in the pocket and racked up seven sacks and a safety. Now, the challenge will be repeating this dominant performance against teams without Flynn under center.

13. Arizona Cardinals (7-5); lost to Philadelphia 24-21, drops five spots – The Cardinals don’t really deserve this free-fall after losing by three points on the road. But with everybody behind them winning and boasting a similar record, the margin for error is slim in this range.

14. Baltimore Ravens (6-6); beat Pittsburgh 22-20, moves up three spots – Like any true champion, the Ravens aren’t going down without a fight. They scraped by with five field goals, and dug in to stop a two-point conversion with 1:03 left.

15. Miami Dolphins (6-6); beat New York Jets 23-3, moves up three spots – You have to give Miami some credit for battling back to .500 with all of the controversy surrounding them. It now appears that they’re in a two-team race with Baltimore for the last AFC Wild Card spot.

adrian-peterson-rushing-record16. Chicago Bears (6-6); lost to Minnesota 23-20 (OT), drops two spots – Chicago blew a golden opportunity to keep pace with the Lions in the NFC North. Their defense once again got gashed by a running back, with Adrian Peterson rushing for 211 yards on 35 carries.

17. San Diego Chargers (5-7); lost to Cincinnati 17-10, drops two spots – After a dramatic 3-point victory at Kansas City last week, San Diego couldn’t keep the magic going at home against the Bengals. The offense was surprisingly ineffective, especially when they crossed the 50-yard-line, and failed to complete drive after drive.

18. Green Bay Packers (5-6-1); lost to Detroit 40-10, drops two spots – Aaron Rodgers may be back this week. But the Pack is also down one and a half games in the NFC North, which is probably too wide of a margin to make up.

19. New York Giants (5-7); beat Washington 24-17, moves up four spots – New York kept their slim postseason hopes alive thanks to four sacks from Justin Tucker. Andre Brown also added two touchdown runs, though he only gained 35 yards on 14 carries.

20. Tennessee Titans (5-7); lost to Indianapolis 22-14, retains same ranking – Although they lost, Tennessee is still just a game out of the AFC Wild Card race, and they hold all of the tiebreakers.

21. New York Jets (5-7); lost to Miami 23-3, drops two spots – New York is just playing terribly on offense right now. At least Rex Ryan finally had the nerve to bench Geno Smith after another awful outing (29PYDS, 1INT). Unfortunately, Matt Simms isn’t much better…

22. Pittsburgh Steelers (5-7); lost to Baltimore 22-20, drops one spot – Not only did Mike Tomlin earn himself a big fine for stepping in the way of a Jacoby Jones’ 73-yard kickoff return, but he also may have costed Pittsburgh a draft pick. Not exactly the best way to build for the future.

zac-stacy23. St. Louis Rams (5-7); lost to San Francisco 23-13, drops one spot – St. Louis fought hard on the road against a superior team. Zac Stacy turned in a tough game against this loaded defense as he rushed for 78 yards on 19 carries. He’s definitely a good building block for the future.

24. Minnesota Vikings (3-8-1); beat Chicago 23-20 (OT), moves up five spots – The teams from here on out are so bad that Minnesota leaps up five spots for grabbing a win against the Bears. Adrian Peterson finally looked like he did in the second half of last season, showing he has more than enough left in the tank.

25. Jacksonville Jaguars (3-9); beat Cleveland 32-28, moves up five spots – It’s finally time to consider the Jaguars a legitimate NFL team again. Chad Henne led a late comeback after finding Cecil Shorts in the end zone with 40 seconds remaining.

26. Cleveland Browns (4-8); lost to Jacksonville 32-28, drops two spots – As if it were possible, Cleveland is about to get a lot worse! Now both Jason Campbell and Brandon Weeden are hurt, leaving the Browns picking at the bottom of the barrel for a healthy QB.

27. Oakland Raiders (4-8); lost to Dallas 31-24, drops two spots – After some ups and downs this season, Oakland is having yet another bad season. Perhaps they’ve found a quarterback for next year in Matt McGloin, though.

28. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (3-9); lost to Carolina 27-6, drops two spots – At this point, it’s very difficult to see Greg Schaino keeping his job. So Tampa Bay will essentially go back to the drawing board this offseason.

29. Atlanta Falcons (3-9); beat Buffalo 34-31 (OT), moves up two spots – Atlanta finally got the type of all-around offensive production they’ve been looking for, with Matt Ryan throwing for 311 yards and 1 TD, and Steven Jackson rushing for 84 yards and two touchdowns.

30. Buffalo Bills (4-8); lost to Atlanta 34-31 (OT), drops three spots – The good news is that CJ Spiller (149RYDS, 1TD) finally looked like the back that Buffalo was expecting this year. The bad news is that it comes when this team’s season has already gone down the drain.

31. Washington Redskins (3-9); lost to New York Giants 24-17, drops three spots – Washington has now been eliminated from the postseason in 17 of the last 21 years. After this season’s disappointment, some wonder if Mike Shanahan will be around in 2014.

32. Houston Texans (2-10); lost to New England 34-31, retains same ranking – Another close call for Houston, another loss. The Texans haven’t won since September 15th and it’s questionable if that will change before 2013 ends.

 

NFL Power Rankings for Week 12 (Nov. 20th, 2013)

peyton-manning-chiefsLast Sunday night marked the year’s most anticipated game as the Denver Broncos hosted the Kansas City Chiefs. The latter was trying to keep their perfect record alive while Denver wanted to assert their dominance as the league’s best team. Peyton Manning had a pretty solid day after racking up 323 yards and a touchdown, and his line held off KC’s vaunted defensive line the entire game. This proved to be the difference as the Broncos were in command of the contest, coasting to a 27-17 win. You can see the flip-flop this created in our Week 12 power rankings below.

1. Denver Broncos (9-1); beat Kansas City 27-17, moves up one spot – Denver may not have come close to their league-leading 41.2 PPG, but remember that they were facing a Chiefs defense which holds opponents to 12.8 PPG. Demaryius Thomas burnt the KC secondary for five catches and 121 receiving yards.

2. Kansas City (9-1); lost to Denver 27-17, drops one spot – The Chiefs don’t have to wait long for revenge because they face the Broncos in two weeks at Arrowhead. Alex Smith definitely kept pace with Manning after throwing for 230 yards and two TD’s, plus adding 52 rushing yards. However, Jamaal Charles (16CAR, 78RYDS) seems like he’s a little slower at this point in the season.

3. Seattle Seahawks (10-1); beat Minnesota 41-20, retains same ranking – This is about what everybody expected. Percy Harvin looks ready to contribute now after returning a kickoff 56 yards, setting up a Russell Wilson touchdown pass.

4. New Orleans Saints (7-3); beat San Francisco 23-20, retains same ranking – It was a hard-fought victory, but the Saints were able to down the Niners thanks to three fourth-quarter field goals by Garrett Hartley. The Saints defense continues to be vastly improved, as evidenced by how they held the tough San Francisco running game to 81 yards on 22 total carries.

5. Indianapolis Colts (7-3); beat Tennessee 30-27, moves up two spots – The Colts andrew-luckare now 8-0 coming off a loss under coach Chuck Pagano. It didn’t look good in the beginning, though, as the Titans went up 14-0 early on. However, Indy used three rushing touchdowns from Donald Brown (2) and Andrew Luck (1) to make a comeback.

6. New England Patriots (7-3); lost to Carolina 24-20, drops one spot – A controversial no-call marred the end of this game. Given that New England was on the road against a red-hot team, we can’t fault them too bad for losing this one.

7. San Francisco 49ers (6-4); lost to New Orleans 23-20, drops one spot – The same road-loss rule applies to San Francisco because it’s nearly impossible to win in the Superdome, no matter how good you are. However, it’s worth mentioning that the Niners offense looked a little anemic.

8. Cincinnati Bengals (7-4); beat Cleveland 41-20, moves up one spot – The Bengals virtually assured themselves of winning the AFC North with this victory. Their defense/special teams stepped up big-time in light of a terrible start by Andy Dalton as they scored on a blocked punt and a fumble. The 31 points in the second quarter set a Cincy franchise record.

9. Carolina Panthers (7-3); beat New England 24-20, moves up one spot – Cam cam-newtonNewton is really starting to look like he did his rookie year – except this time he has a team behind him! The third-year QB is now a legitimate MVP candidate, while the Carolina defense has never looked better.

10. Arizona Cardinals (6-4); beat Jacksonville 27-14, moves up one spot – How do you win with 14 yards on 24 carries? Well for the Cardinals, it was a combination of good defense and 419 passing yards from Carson Palmer. The run game is a huge question mark moving forward, but Arizona keeps winning, so whatever…

11. Detroit Lions (6-4); lost to Pittsburgh 37-27, drops three spots – Detroit missed a chance to take command of the NFC North after blowing a second-half lead. Give credit to Pittsburgh, though, as they rebounded from a terrible second quarter and shut Detroit down the rest of the way.

12. Chicago Bears (6-4); beat Baltimore 23-20, moves up one spot – Many people, including ourselves, thought that Chicago was done when Jay Cutler went down with an injury a few games ago. But Josh McCown has stepped in and done admirably while keeping his team in playoff contention.

13. Dallas Cowboys (5-5); bye week, drops one spot – Dallas comes out of the bye week, suddenly finding themselves trailing the Eagles in the NFC East. Even their opponent this week, the New York Giants, is back in the thick of things thanks to a four-game win streak.

14. Philadelphia Eagles (6-5); beat Washington 24-16, moves up five spots – My how quickly things change in the NFL. Once ripped for an awful stretch of offense, Philadelphia has been revitalized with Nick Foles under center. Sure Foles may not have the perfect speed to run Chip Kelly’s read option; however, it doesn’t matter when he keeps throwing touchdown after touchdown.

15. Green Bay Packers (5-5); lost to New York Giants 27-13, drops one spot – Scott Tolzien is certainly no Aaron Rodgers….maybe not even Seneca Wallace. That said, will the Packers be too far out of the NFC North race by the time Rodgers returns from his broken collarbone?

16. New York Jets (5-5); lost to Buffalo 37-14, drops one spot – Geno Smith played geno-smith-billsabsolutely terrible as the Bills’ pass rush forced him into three interceptions and a fumble. With the Jets in a muddled AFC Wild Card race, you wonder how long Geno will continue to start since New York needs wins now.

17. Miami Dolphins (5-5); beat San Diego 20-16, moves up four spots – Despite losing Jonathan Martin and Richie Incognito to the bullying scandal, the Dolphins are still neck and neck with New York for the last AFC Wild Card spot. Miami relied on a bend-but-don’t-break defense to pull out this victory.

18. San Diego Chargers (4-6); lost to Miami 20-16, drops two spots – This will be a season of big regrets for the Chargers since they could’ve have easily been in the playoffs if a couple of plays here or there had gone their way. Last Sunday’s game against the Dolphins was a great indication of this as they missed several opportunities to win.

19. Baltimore Ravens (4-6); lost to Chicago 23-20 (OT), drops one spot – Every time Baltimore looks like they’ve got some momentum going, it gets deflated the next week. Of course, it was hard for them to get momentum of any kind going in Chicago, where high winds and monsoon-like rains delayed the game.

20. Cleveland Browns (4-6); lost to Cincinnati 41-20, drops three spots – Cleveland jumped out to a 13-0 lead after Joe Haden’s 29-yard interception TD. However, the bottom completely fell out in the second quarter as they allowed a 31-0 Bengals run.

21. New York Giants (4-6); beat Green Bay 27-13, moves up one spot – The NFL is about taking advantage of opportunities, and this is exactly what New York has done during their four-game winning streak. Beating a Scott Tolzien-led Packers squad was a good example of this. Now let’s see what they can do at home against a talented Dallas squad.

22. Tennessee Titans (4-6); lost to Indianapolis 30-27, drops one spot – Chris chris-johnsonJohnson had a big first quarter as he ran for 70 yards and two touchdowns. However, the Titans fell flat after this and have now lost five out of their last six games.

23. Oakland Raiders (4-6); beat Houston 28-23, moves up one spot – Given that they’ve used three quarterbacks this season and are still the Raiders, Oakland shouldn’t be alive in the AFC playoff race. But then again, it seems like nobody wants that last Wild Card slot.

24. Pittsburgh Steelers (4-6); beat Detroit 37-27, moves up two spots – Ben Roethlisberger looked good while throwing for 367 yards and four touchdowns, and the defense made some great second-half adjustments.

25. St. Louis Rams (4-6); bye week, retains same ranking – The Rams have plenty of momentum coming off a bye after the way they handled Indianapolis on the road. Now they host a difficult matchup with the Bears.

26. Washington Redskins (3-7); lost to Philadelphia 24-16, drops three spots – Robert Griffin III’s comments about how predictable his team’s offense was certainly doesn’t bode well for a team that’s already had a tough season. But the sad part is, he’s right and the Eagles subpar defense took full advantage of this.

27. Buffalo Bills (4-6); beat New York Jets 37-14, moves up two spots – So much for that stingy New York defense. Buffalo had their way in this one after harassing Geno Smith into four turnovers – two of which were Jairus Byrd interceptions.

28. Tampa Bay (2-8); beat Atlanta 41-28, moves up two spots – If Tampa Bay were in the AFC, they’d be in the hunt for a postseason bid. All jokes aside, the Bucs have played quite well over the past three weeks.

29. Houston Texans (2-8); lost to Oakland 28-23, drops one spot – Nobody can really figure out Gary Kubiak’s decision to play Matt Schaub towards the end, even though Case Keenum wasn’t playing too badly. It may be harsh to say, given Kubiak’s mini-stroke a couple of weeks ago, but he’s almost assuredly gone after eight years in Houston.

30. Atlanta Falcons (2-8); lost to Tampa Bay 41-28, drops three spots – Atlanta played pretty lifelessly in the first three quarters, making it seem like they’ve given up. Tampa Bay called off the dogs in the fourth quarter, which allowed Atlanta to score 15 points and make this game look less horrid.

31. Minnesota Vikings (2-8); lost to Seattle 41-20, retains same ranking – After 129 yards, 1 TD and 2 INT’s from Christian Ponder, is the Josh Freeman experiment back on?

32. Jacksonville Jaguars (1-9); lost to Arizona 27-14, retains same ranking – Give credit to Jacksonville for obliterating the Cardinals’ running game and jumping out to a first-quarter lead. But they are still bad…

NFL Power Rankings for Week 11 (Nov. 13th, 2013)

Dallas Cowboys v New Orleans SaintsThis past week was a big dividing line in the playoff hopes of many teams. The Chargers, Dolphins, Titans and Redskins all had realistic postseason chances going into last week’s games; but they all missed huge opportunities to legitimize their hopes of making the playoffs. Meanwhile, the Cardinals, Eagles, Lions, Panthers and Ravens all took big steps forward in trying to win a postseason bid. There’s still a lot of time left in the season, but keep an eye on these five teams as we move forward. Now let’s look at the Week 11 NFL power rankings.

1. Kansas City Chiefs (9-0); bye week, retains same ranking – Despite their undefeated ranking, many still question the Chiefs billing as the NFL’s top team. They have a huge opportunity to put these questions to rest as they travel to Mile High to face Denver.

2. Denver Broncos (8-1); beat San Diego 28-20, retains same ranking – The Broncos weren’t caught looking ahead as they were able to beat a tough San Diego team on the road. Peyton looks to be handling his ankle issues well after throwing for 330 yards and four TD’s. Now he faces KC in what will be a true test of offense vs. defense.

3. Seattle Seahawks (9-1); beat Atlanta 33-10, retains same ranking – After narrowly grabbing a win two weeks ago against Tampa Bay, the Seahawks looked themselves again in Atlanta. The offense really seems to be clicking, with Russell Wilson throwing for 287 yards and 2 TD’s, and Marshawn Lynch adding 145 yards and a score on the ground.

4. New Orleans Saints (7-2); beat Dallas 49-17, moves up two spots – New Orleans showed why nobody wants to play them in the Superdome after manhandling the Cowboys. Drew Brees (392PYDS, 4TD) looked like he was passing on a JV team, while Mark Ingram had his best game as a pro with 145 yards and a touchdown on just 14 carries.

5. New England Patriots (7-2); bye week, moves up two spots – With a healthy team, improved passing game, and the two teams above them losing, New England moves up two spots. Now they travel to take on a red-hot Panthers team in Charlotte.

6. San Francisco 49ers (6-3); lost to Carolina 10-9, drops one spot – Given how good Carolina is playing, it’s not a shame to lose to them. However, what is shameful is the way that the Niners offense played. Colin Kaepernick has got to get more going if this team is to make a deep postseason run.

 andrew-luck-rams7. Indianapolis Colts (6-3); lost to St. Louis 38-8, drops three spots – It’s still tough sorting out what happened with this game. A team with wins over Denver, San Francisco and Seattle loses to the Rams by 30 at home!? Andrew Luck had what may be his worst game ever after throwing for 353 yards, 1 TD and 3 INT’s. And the running game was absolutely nonexistent for the Colts.

8. Detroit Lions (6-3); beat Chicago 21-19, moves up one spot – Detroit took advantage of a hobbled Jay Cutler and grabbed a good road victory. Now in sole possession of first in the NFC North, the Lions are in great shape to win the division, given their closest competitors’ injury struggles.

9. Cincinnati Bengals (6-4); lost to Baltimore 20-17 (OT), drops one spot – The Bengals looked pretty bad in this game, namely because of a ton of penalties. Even still, they got a second chance when Andy Dalton’s Hail Mary pass was tipped into the hands of AJ Green. Still, they couldn’t capitalize after failing to score in overtime and allowing Baltimore to drive down for a game-winning field goal.

10. Carolina Panthers (6-3); beat San Francisco 10-9, moves up four spots – Is it time to believe in the Panthers? Maybe so after Carolina’s defense pitched a second-half shutout and stopped San Francisco’s five-game winning streak. This team gets no time to celebrate, though, since they face New England at home.

11. Arizona Cardinals (5-4); beat Houston 27-24, moves up two spots – Few would’ve predicted that, with the season over halfway done, the Cardinals would be a game behind Seattle and San Francisco in the NFC West. Arizona has another very friendly matchup as they travel to Jacksonville this week.

12. Dallas Cowboys (5-5); lost to New Orleans 49-17, drops two spots – The Cowboys lived up to the “boys” part of their name after being dominated by the Saints. The big story following this game was how Jerry Jones publicly regretted getting rid of defensive coordinator Rob Ryan, who’s completely transformed New Orleans’ D.

jay-cutler-injury13. Chicago Bears (5-4); lost to Detroit 21-19, drops two spots – Marc Trestman rolled the dice on starting an iffy Jay Cutler and lost big-time. It was plain to see that Josh McCown would’ve been the better option after he came in for the limping Cutler and led a late-game scoring drive. However, a missed two-point conversion sealed this loss.

14. Green Bay Packers (5-4); lost to Philadelphia 27-13, drops two spots – The backup QB couldn’t even stay healthy as Seneca Wallace left early on with a groin injury. This meant Scott Tolzien was left trying to win this very important game. He performed fairly well with 280 yards, 1 TD and 2 INT’s, but it wasn’t enough as Green Bay falls into a tie with Chicago for second in the division.

15. New York Jets (5-4); bye week, moves up one spot – The Jets actually have a solid shot to win a Wild Card berth if they take care of business the rest of the way. But this playoff push starts with a tricky road game against division rival Buffalo.

16. San Diego Chargers (4-5); lost to Denver 28-20, drops one spot – San Diego played well against a superior Denver team, but not good enough. We said it before: their loss last week to Washington probably killed their playoff chances. After all, a road game at Mile High and two contests against the Chiefs still await.

17. Cleveland Browns (4-5); bye week, moves up two spots – The Browns’ season has been a true odyssey, with Brandon Weeden starting at QB, then Brian Hoyer, then back to Weeden, and now Jason Campbell. The latter has definitely provided the best results for Cleveland recently.

18. Baltimore Ravens (4-5); beat Cincinnati 20-17, moves up two spots – Baltimore isn’t totally dead yet this year. Sure the running game is still busted, with Ray Rice gaining just 30 yards on 18 carries. However, the Ravens still have a strong defense, and decent passing game behind Joe Flacco. The next few games are all winnable too, assuming Baltimore plays up to their potential.

nick-foles-eagles19. Philadelphia Eagles (5-5); beat Green Bay 27-13, moves up three spots – Give this team credit for winning two straight games behind Nick Foles and climbing into a first-place tie with Dallas in the NFC East. Many think that Foles has played well enough to keep the starting job, even when Michael Vick does get healthy.

20. Tennessee Titans (4-5); lost to Jacksonville 29-27, drops three spots – Not only did Tennessee lose to the worst football team in the NFL, but they also lost Jake Locker for the rest of the season. A fairly capable Ryan Fitzpatrick will start the rest of the way.

21. Miami Dolphins (4-5); lost to Tampa Bay 22-19, drops three spots – It wasn’t a good day for 4-4 teams since Miami also lost to a winless team. You have to wonder if the bullying scandal has dismantled a once-promising season.

22. New York Giants (3-6); beat Oakland 24-20, moves up two spots – Eli Manning (140PYDS, 1TD, 1INT) still looked bad with a soft matchup staring him in the face. But Andre Brown gave the Giants a big boost in his first game of the season after rushing for 115 yards and a touchdown.

23. Washington Redskins (3-6); lost to Minnesota 34-27, drops two spots – With Washington, it’s just a case of a team that can’t get over the hump. Every time they look ready to jump into the NFC East race, they drop a winnable game.

24. Oakland Raiders (3-6); lost to New York Giants 24-20, drops one spot – The excitement that Terrelle Pryor brought earlier has now been deflated. He had his most anemic game of the season after throwing for just 122 yards and an interception.

25. St. Louis Rams (4-6); beat Indianapolis 38-8, moves up four spots – ‘Wow’ is the only word that describes this one. Tavon Austin emerged as a star in this game after returning a punt for 98 yards, then adding two long touchdown catches for a combined total of 138 yards.

26. Pittsburgh Steelers (3-6); beat Buffalo 23-10, moves up two spots – All the talk about CJ Spiller and Fred Jackson taking advantage of the Steelers weak run defense meant nothing. Pittsburgh looked like their old selves with a dominant defensive performance.

27. Atlanta Falcons (2-7); lost to Seattle 33-10, drops two spots – It’s pretty clear that this has been a busted, injury-plagued year for Atlanta. Maybe they can get a spark going and win a few games to build momentum for next season.

28. Houston Texans (2-7); lost to Arizona 27-24, drops two spots – Give Houston credit for playing hard a week after their coach was hospitalized. Much like Atlanta, Houston has just suffered too many injuries to play at the level they were at last year.

29. Buffalo Bills (3-7); lost to Pittsburgh 23-10, drops two spots – EJ Manuel’s return meant very little as Buffalo managed just 227 total yards. The Bills’ biggest mistake this season has been letting CJ Spiller play game after game with a high ankle sprain.

30. Minnesota Vikings (2-7); beat Washington 34-27, retains same ranking – It was a good day for the bottom of the league. Minnesota grabbed their second win on the strength of John Carlson’s breakout performance (98YDS, 1TD).

31. Tampa Bay (1-8); beat Miami 22-19, retains same ranking – While Tampa Bay lost another running back for the season in Mike James, they did pick up their first win. However, it’s still surprising that it took this long to win for a team that spent so much offseason money.

32. Jacksonville Jaguars (1-8); beat Tennessee 29-27, retains same ranking – The Jaguars took advantage of four Tennessee turnovers, and turned these into 17 points. They thankfully avoided the embarrassing 0-16 mark that many thought they were headed for.

NFL Power Rankings for Week 10 (Nov. 7th, 2013)

sean-smith-chiefsThis past weekend’s NFL action was filled with a number of surprises, which made for extremely exciting storylines. The Dolphins knocked off the Bengals, the Jets beat the Saints, Washington beat San Diego and a Jay Cutler-less Bears team downed the Packers. This is a complete turnaround from last week, when there were hardly any upsets. And this means that our Week 10 power rankings will be much more entertaining, with quite a few teams moving around.

1. Kansas City Chiefs (9-0); beat Buffalo 23-13, retains same ranking – This wasn’t the Chiefs’ best defensive effort from a yardage perspective, as they gave up 241 yards on the ground to CJ Spiller and Fred Jackson. However, the defense came up with two big scores – one on a Tamba Hail fumble recovery and the other on a Sean Smith 99-yard interception return. And this was all they’d need against the Bills.

2. Denver Broncos (7-1); bye week, retains same ranking – The Broncos didn’t play, and nobody did anything significant enough to overtake them for the second spot. Peyton and company travel to San Diego this week in what could be a tough matchup against their division rival.

3. Seattle Seahawks (8-1); beat Tampa Bay 27-24, retains same ranking – For the second week in a row, Seattle was in a tight game against a subpar opponent. This time, Seattle had to claw their way back from an early 21-0 deficit. But thanks to some strong play by Russell Wilson down the stretch, Seattle was able to pull out another victory.

 ty-hilton-touchdown4. Indianapolis Colts (6-2); beat Houston 27-24, moves up one spot – The Colts were in a very similar position to the Seahawks: having to rally against a bad team. In the Colts’ case, it meant overcoming an 18-point deficit thanks to three touchdown passes from Andrew Luck to T.Y. Hilton.

5. San Francisco 49ers (6-2); bye week, moves up one spot – Given the way San Francisco played in weeks leading up to their bye week, they may be playing the best football of anybody in the NFC right now. With a strong running game, a quarterback who can run, and a very good defense, the 49ers will be tough to beat in the playoffs.

6. New Orleans Saints (7-2); lost to New York Jets 26-20, drops two spots – Losing to the Jets on the road isn’t such a terrible thing. But with the Colts and San Francisco continually winning, it’s hard to keep the Saints above them after this loss. It certainly shouldn’t keep New Orleans from winning the NFC South, though.

7. New England Patriots (7-2); beat Pittsburgh 55-31, moves up two spots – Look who’s back! With a healthier team, the Patriots piled up over 600 yards of total offense against the Steelers, including 432 passing yards and four TD’s by Tom Brady. His tight end, Rob Gronkowski, also put up 141 receiving yards and one touchdown on a career-high nine catches.

8. Cincinnati Bengals (6-3); lost to Miami 22-20 (OT), drops one spot – Just when Andy Dalton starts to look like a franchise quarterback, he follows it up with a poor performance by throwing three picks and no touchdowns. This team still has plenty of weapons, though, and can’t be counted out moving forward.

9. Detroit Lions (5-3); bye week, moves up one spot – Detroit visits Chicago with first place in the NFC East on the line. The offense is clicking after the come-from-behind win against Dallas, so expect the Lions to score plenty of points in this pivotal game.

dwayne-harris10. Dallas Cowboys (5-4); beat Minnesota 27-23, moves up two spots – One week after allowing Detroit to beat them with less than a minute left, Dallas staged their own comeback to beat Minnesota. Tony Romo found Dwayne Harris in the end zone with 35 seconds left for the go-ahead score. This victory keeps the Cowboys a game ahead of Philadelphia in the NFC East.

11. Chicago Bears (5-3); beat Green Bay 27-20, moves up two spots – Few people gave the Bears a chance to win at Lambeau Field with Jay Cutler sidelined. But Chicago knocked Aaron Rodgers out of the game with a shoulder injury and proceeded to shut down Green Bay. Now they’ve forced a three-way, first-place tie in the NFC North standings.

12. Green Bay Packers (5-3); lost to Chicago 27-20, drops five spots – Green Bay is still a good football team without Rodgers. But with number 12 sidelined for 4-6 weeks, simply being “good” might put Green Bay behind Chicago and Detroit in the North. Look for Eddie Lacy and James Starks to carry the load while Rodgers is out.

13. Arizona Cardinals (4-4); bye week, moves up one spot – Arizona’s compass is pointed north since they come out of the bye week with games against Houston and Jacksonville. Of course, nothing in the NFL is guaranteed, but it wouldn’t be a shock to see the Cardinals move to 6-4 soon.

14. Carolina Panthers (5-3); beat Atlanta 34-10, moves up three spots – The Panthers have turned their season around thanks to a four-game winning streak. Defense has been the key to this run, which, in this particular game, included three interceptions of Atlanta QB Matt Ryan. Carolina is now a formidable team, especially with Jonathan Stewart back from injury.

15. San Diego Chargers (4-4); lost to Washington 30-24 (OT), drops four spots – The Chargers may have seen their playoff chances go out the window with this loss. They now move into the meat of their schedule, and it won’t taste good. Two games against both Denver and Kansas City loom ahead.

16. New York Jets (5-4); beat New Orleans 26-20, moves up two spots – Nobody can figure the Jets out. One week, they lose by 40 to the Cincinnati Bengals; the next week, they’re beating a team that’s contending for the NFC title. New York seems to have found an offensive identity in running the ball more with Chris Ivory.

17. Tennessee Titans (4-4); beat St. Louis 28-21, moves up two spots – Chris chris-johnsonJohnson looked like the player that amazed people two years ago after racking up 150 yards and two touchdowns on 23 carries. Shonn Greene adds another dimension to the running game and could help preserve Johnson down the stretch.

18. Miami Dolphins (4-4); beat Cincinnati 22-20 (OT), drops one spot – What should be a celebratory week for the Dolphins after their big victory over Cincinnati has turned into a nightmare. Richie Incognito’s bullying of Jonathan Martin has likely left both linemen done for the season (or career in Incognito’s case). And there are rumors that Miami assistant coaches could be on the chopping block too.

19. Cleveland Browns (4-5); beat Baltimore 24-18, moves up three spots – As long as Brandon Weeden isn’t quarterbacking this team, it seems like the Browns have a chance to win. This is especially the case when Jason Campbell throws for three touchdowns!

20. Baltimore Ravens (3-5); lost to Cleveland 24-18, drops five spots – These Ravens definitely don’t look like repeat Super Bowl champions. Their traditionally strong running game has hit rock bottom, as evidenced by Ray Rice’s 17 yards on 11 carries.

21. Washington Redskins (3-5); beat San Diego 30-24 (OT), moves up three spots – After starting the year a dismal 0-3, Washington has now won three out of their last five to improve to respectability. This effort was led by fullback Darrell Young, who literally came out of nowhere (2 car. on the season) to score three touchdowns.

22. Philadelphia Eagles (4-5); beat Oakland 49-20, moves up five spots – It’s hard to tell if Nick Foles is the guy who looked completely lost running Chip Kelly’s read option three weeks ago, or an ultra-talented QB of the future. This time around, he most definitely looked the latter part.

23. Oakland Raiders (3-5); lost to Philadelphia 49-20, drops three spots – Just when the Raiders looked like they had something special going, they give up an NFL-record-tying seven TD passes to Nick Foles. They’ll try to re-create the magic as they face the Giants.

24. New York Giants (2-6); bye week, moves up two spots – The Giants seek their third win in a row against a Raiders team that’s traveling across the country. They’ll get a boost from RB Andre Brown, who’ll play his first game this year.

25. Atlanta Falcons (2-6); lost to Carolina 34-10, drops four spots – Any delusions of a mid-season turnaround were cut down with this loss. Matt Ryan has now thrown seven interceptions in his last two games.

26. Houston Texans (2-5); lost to Indianapolis 27-24, drops one spot – Houston really let this one slip through their fingers, as they were leading 21-3 at the half. A healthy Arian Foster would’ve enabled them to grind out the clock and grab a victory. The good news is that head coach Gary Kubiak is expected to be coaching again by Week 11 after collapsing at halftime.

27. Buffalo Bills (3-6); lost to Kansas City 23-13, drops one spot – The Bills were actually controlling this game with a strong running effort (241 RYDS). The defining moment came when Jeff Tuel threw an interception at the Chiefs 1-yard line that went all the way back for a touchdown.

28. Pittsburgh Steelers (2-6); lost to New England 55-31, retains same ranking – After giving up a franchise-record 55 points, it’s clear that Pittsburgh needs to go into full-on rebuilding mode.

29. St. Louis Rams (3-6); lost to Tennessee 28-21, retains same ranking – St. Louis has now lost their third game in a row and appears to once again be headed for a high pick in next April’s draft.

30. Minnesota Vikings (1-7); lost to Dallas 27-23, retains same ranking – After giving up a last-minute win to the Cowboys, Minnesota players were questioning both of their coordinators. Defensive players were especially peeved that they only ran three-man rushes during the Cowboys game-winning, 90-yard drive.

31. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (0-8); lost to Seattle 27-24, retains same ranking – This team can’t even win when they’re practically gifted a 21-0 lead. Seattle dominated the remainder of the game and kept Tampa Bay winless.

32. Jacksonville Jaguars (0-8); bye week, retains same ranking – After a week to rest, maybe Jacksonville can come out and be more competitive throughout the second half of the season.