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 13 (Nov. 28th, 2013)

drew-breesThis year is shaping up to feature one of the most exciting playoff races in NFL history. Now 12 and a half weeks into the season, the AFC Wild Card race is no clearer than it was in Week 1 – with five teams tied at 5-6, and three more teams still in the mix with a 4-7 record. Currently, Tennessee is at the top of the 5-6 heap for the sixth seed; but that could easily change over the next five games.

Divisional races don’t look much clearer since the NFC East, NFC North and AFC West titles are still up for grabs. Taking all of this into account, our job for the Week 13 NFL power rankings is a VERY difficult one! But here goes anyways…

1. Denver Broncos (9-2); lost to New England 34-31 (OT), retains same ranking – Denver easily looked like the NFL’s most dominant team against New England as they jumped out to a 24-0 halftime lead. However, the Patriots came storming back and scored on their first five possessions of the second half. But provided this game was at Mile High, we think the Broncos would’ve walked away.

2. Seattle Seahawks (10-1); bye week, moves up one spot – With losses by the Broncos and Chiefs, Seattle suddenly finds themselves with the league’s best record. They’ll have to fight to keep this pretty 10-1 mark as the Saints come to town in Week 13.

3. New Orleans (9-2); beat Atlanta 17-13, moves up one spot – Road wins usually aren’t easy to come by, even against a two-win team. The Saints didn’t look their sharpest, but they did enough to get the job done. Now a huge road contest against Seattle looms ahead.

4. Kansas City Chiefs (9-2); lost to San Diego 41-38, drops two spots – Nobody expected the Chiefs defense to give up 41 points to the Chargers at home. So this one was a definite shocker for a top-3 defense. But we do have to say that the Kansas City offense looked the best it has all year – especially Alex Smith, who threw for 294 yards and three touchdowns in keeping pace with Philip Rivers (392YDS, 3TD).

tom-brady5. New England (8-3); beat Denver 34-31 (OT), moves up one spot – Tom Brady sparked a huge comeback as he threw all three of his TD’s in the second half. The Patriots got a little help in overtime, as Denver’s Tony Carter ran into Ray Allen’s punt, giving New England the ball at the Broncos’ 13-yard line. From here, it wasn’t difficult for Stephen Gostkowski to kick the game-winning field goal.

6. San Francisco 49ers (7-4); beat Washington 27-6, moves up one spot – The Niners’ vaunted running game wasn’t at the level it usually is (76 yards on 33 carries). But Colin Kaepernick made up for this with one of his best games after throwing for 235 yards, 3 TD’s and no interceptions.

7. Carolina Panthers (8-3); beat Miami 20-16, moves up two spots – Aside from the Chiefs, the Panthers have quietly become the NFL’s second-biggest surprise team. They’ve now won seven straight games and are looking like a playoff team for sure.

8. Arizona Cardinals (7-4); beat Indianapolis 40-11, moves up two spots – Yet another surprise team among our top 10, Arizona is quickly moving up the ranks. Their defense was particularly stout against the Colts, led by a Karlos Dansby 22-yard interception TD. Carson Palmer continues to make all the difference at quarterback, after throwing for 314 yards and two TD’s.

9. Cincinnati Bengals (7-4); bye week, drops one spot – A road win against the Chargers would go a long way towards sewing up the AFC North title for Cincinnati. But San Diego is playing at a high level right now, so it won’t be easy.

karlos-dansby-interception10. Indianapolis Colts (7-4); lost to Arizona 40-11, drops five spots – The Colts continue their struggles with Reggie Wayne shelved for the season. A team that has road wins over Seattle and San Francisco, they’ve now been blown out by the Rams and Cardinals at home. This team should still win the AFC South, but that could change if they under perform yet again at home against Tennessee.

11. Dallas Cowboys (6-5); beat New York Giants 24-21, moves up two spots – Dallas finally cooled off New York and their four-game winning streak. Tony Romo (250YDS, 2TD) looked particularly good in leading a 14-play drive that set up the game-winning field goal.

12. Philadelphia Eagles (6-5); bye week, moves up two spots – Nick Foles is riding the hot streak to end all hot streaks as he’s thrown 16 TD’s and no INT’s in the last four games. He’s going to need to continue being this good against a tough Cardinals defense.

13. Detroit Lions (6-5); lost to Tampa Bay 24-21, drops two spots – Matthew Stafford filled up the stat box in both good and bad ways after throwing for 297 yards, 3 TD’s and 4 INT’s. His last interception could be contributed to Calvin Johnson, though, as it went in and out of the star receiver’s hands on a potential game-winning drive.

14. Chicago Bears (6-5); lost to St. Louis 42-21, drops two spots – Nobody can seem to pull away in the NFC North as both the Bears and Lions failed to capitalize on great opportunities. In Chicago’s case, their run defense was atrocious as they gave up 258 rushing yards on just 29 attempts.

philip-rivers15. San Diego Chargers (5-6); beat Kansas City 41-38, moves up three spots – San Diego’s remaining schedule isn’t exactly the NFL’s easiest. But they still remain in the thick of the AFC Wild Card race thanks to a difficult win at KC. Their reward: hosting a tough Bengals team this week.

16. Green Bay Packers (5-5-1), tied Minnesota 26-26 (OT), drops one spot – After horrendous stints in Seattle and Oakland, Matt Flynn is back with a team where he can excel. The career backup came in for an ineffective Scott Tolzien and threw for 218 yards and a TD, helping Green Bay close a 16-point deficit. With Aaron Rodgers still out, Flynn will start against Detroit.

17. Baltimore Ravens (5-6); beat New York Jets 19-3, moves up two spots – Joe Flacco connected with Jacoby Jones on a 66-yard touchdown throw, and that’s pretty much all Baltimore needed to dust off a struggling Jets team.

18. Miami Dolphins (5-6); lost to Carolina 20-16, drops one spot – Miami was dominated in the second half, as they were outscored 14-0. With a complete lack of a running game, the Dolphins may be one 5-6 team that’s not truly in the AFC Wild Card race.

19. New York Jets (5-6); lost to Baltimore 19-3, drops two spotsGeno Smith is playing awful right now as he’s thrown 7 INT’s and no TD’s in the last four games. With New York in the midst of a playoff race, you have to wonder how long he’ll remain the starter.

20. Tennessee Titans (5-6); beat Oakland 23-19; moves up two spots – Ryan Fitzpatrick played really well in this contest, as he threw for 320 yards, 2 TD’s and no turnovers. Most importantly, he threw a 10-yard touchdown to Kendall Wright with just 10 seconds remaining, which kept Tennessee very much alive in the playoff hunt.

21. Pittsburgh Steelers (5-6); beat Cleveland 27-11, moves up three spots – After starting the year 0-4, Pittsburgh has now made a miraculous comeback, winning 5 of their last 6 games. The Steelers ended Jason Campbell’s good run at quarterback, after giving him a head injury and forcing him out of the game.

benny-cunningham22. St. Louis Rams (5-6); beat Chicago 42-21, moves up three spots – Whether it’s Zac Stacy or Benny Cunnhingham running the ball, St. Louis has suddenly put together a very good running game. Of course, they’ll hope that Stacy is ready to go after he was forced out of the Chicago contest with a mild concussion.

23. New York Giants (4-7); lost to Dallas 24-21, drops two spots – New York has definitely played better over the past five weeks, after starting the year a miserable 0-6. However, they missed a big chance to beat a quality opponent at home.

24. Cleveland Browns (4-7); lost to Pittsburgh 27-11, drops four spots – Cleveland can’t seem to run or pass the ball, which really puts pressure on their solid defense. Now they’re back to Brandon Weeden at quarterback, who gets a fairly soft matchup at home against the Jaguars.

25. Oakland Raiders (4-7); lost to Tennessee 23-19, drops two spots – The Raiders really have to be disappointed with how they gave up a near-last-second touchdown pass to lose. If only Sebastian Janikowski hadn’t missed two late field goals…

26. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (3-8); beat Detroit 24-21, moves up two spots – Is it too late to save Greg Schiano’s job? If Tampa Bay keeps winning, anything is possible.

27. Buffalo Bills (4-7); bye week, retains same ranking – Buffalo finally got a much-needed bye week. Now let’s see if CJ Spiller comes out fresher from his injuries and can live up to the preseason hype.

28. Washington Redkins (3-8); lost to San Francisco 27-6, drops two spots – Bad teams seem to find controversy throughout the season. Last week, it was RG III seemingly bashing the coaching staff; this week, it’s his dad causing a stir by coming into the Washington locker room right after the game.

29. Minnesota Vikings (2-8-1); tied Green Bay 26-26, moves up two spots – Minnesota really missed a chance to grab a win in Green Bay. But a tie is no doubt better than a loss.

30. Jacksonville Jaguars (2-9); beat Houston 13-6, moves up two spots – For the first time all year, Jacksonville moves out of the league cellar! A big reason for this is running blocking and MJD, who ran for 84 yards and a TD against Houston.

31. Atlanta Falcons (2-9); lost to New Orleans 17-13, drops one spot – Atlanta overachieved last season, and they certainly weren’t built for injuries this year. But at least the defense showed some life against an excellent New Orleans offense.

32. Houston Texans (2-9); lost to Jacksonville 13-6, drops three spots – A team that was built to win a championship this season, Houston has truly been the NFL’s biggest disappointment. And now, they lose to the league’s former worst team at home.

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 5 (Oct. 2nd, 2013)

alex-smith-kansas-cityWho would have thought coming into this season that after four weeks, the Kansas City Chiefs would be among the league’s unbeatens? Thanks to a stingy defense, the Chiefs have looked marvelous over the first four games. They’re in a truly elite class now since New England, Denver, New Orleans and Seattle are the only other undefeated teams. Now it’s time to sort out how they all rank, along with the rest of the league.

1. Denver Broncos (4-0); beat Philadelphia 52-20, retains same ranking – Another game, another blowout. Denver will face some tough tests eventually, but these tests will be few and far between. The only thing the Broncos see ahead of them right now is a title.

2. Seattle Seahawks (4-0); beat Houston 23-20 (OT), retains same ranking – The Seahawks looked dominated in the first half after falling behind Houston 20-3. But they showed the heart of a champion after storming back, thanks to a second-half shutout pitched by the defense. Whenever Russell Wilson breaks out, this team can truly compete with Denver.

3. New Orleans (4-0); beat Miami 38-17, retains same ranking – The Saints defense once again turned in an impressive defensive performance against a tough team. Although they keep the same spot, New Orleans did gain some ground on Seattle in our rankings.

4. New England Patriots (4-0); beat Atlanta 30-23, retains same ranking – To go into Atlanta and grab a win against a desperate Falcons team really shows something. Tom Brady has turned spare parts into gold in the early season. Just think what he’ll do with a healthy Danny Amendola and Rob Gronkowski.

5. Kansas City Chiefs (4-0); beat New York Giants 31-7, moves up 3 spots – The Chiefs just keep winning and rising. Aside from a blown coverage on Victor Cruz, this team thoroughly dominated the Giants and will be extremely tough to beat at Arrowhead.

6. San Francisco 49ers (2-2); beat St. Louis 35-11, moves up 3 spotsfrank-gore-san-franciscoFollowing two rough weeks against Seattle and Indianapolis, the Niners looked strong in St. Louis. Frank Gore finally had his first good game after racking up 153 yards and a TD on just 20 carries.

7. Chicago Bears (3-1); lost to Detroit 40-32, drops 2 spots – The Bears could’ve fallen further, but multiple top 10 teams lost this week. Jay Cutler made a nice fourth-quarter comeback after giving up four turnovers. But you have to worry about the defense, which was gashed by Reggie Bush.

8. Detroit Lions (3-1); beat Chicago 40-32, moves up 7 spots – The difference between having and not having Reggie Bush is tremendous for this team. He racked up 139 yards and a TD on only 18 carries. Detroit vs. Chicago on a neutral field would be a real nail-biter.

9. Miami Dolphins (3-1); lost to New Orleans 38-17, drops 2 spots – This is another team that could have tumbled a lot further. And they were largely noncompetitive on both sides of the ball against New Orleans. However, losing on the road to one of the NFL’s elite isn’t such an embarrassment.

10. Indianapolis Colts (3-1); beat Jacksonville 37-3, moves up 3 spots – No complaints with how they handled the Jaguars. The defense has looked rock solid for two straight weeks. And the offense is complete with Andrew Luck behind center and Trent Richardson running the ball.

11. Green Bay Packers (1-2); bye week, moves up 4 spots – It’s funny how good you can look just by not playing. The NFC North race should be hotly contested with Green Bay, Detroit and Chicago all gunning for the title.

12. Cincinnati Bengals (2-2); lost to Cleveland 17-6, drops 6 spots –  Nobody saw this one coming, especially when the Browns traded away Richardson two weeks ago. It’s an ugly loss for the Bengals, but they are still tied for first in the AFC North.

13. Houston Texans; lost to Seattle 23-20, drops 2 spots – The Texans couldn’t finish off the NFC’s top team while they had them on the ropes. Houston has the pieces to be good, they just need to put everything together.

14. Baltimore Ravens (2-2); lost to Buffalo 23-20, drops 4 spots – A bad joe-flaccoweekend for the AFC North as the defending Super Bowl champs lost to the Bills. This defense can’t continue to cover for the mistakes of Flacco, who threw a career-worst five interceptions.

15. Atlanta Falcons (1-3); lost to New England 30-23, drops 3 spots – After a very strong year in 2012, the Falcons just don’t look the same. The defense is mainly to blame, especially since they surrendered 30 points at home to a team that’s missing several key starters.

16. San Diego Chargers (2-2); beat Dallas 30-21, moves up 4 spots – Philip Rivers has truly re-emerged this year. His performance against the Cowboys, which included 401 yards and 3 touchdowns, is perfect evidence of this.

17. Tennessee Titans (3-1); beat New York Jets 38-13, retains same ranking – In any other situation, the Titans would be 4-5 spots higher and in playoff contention. But now that they’ve lost QB Jake Locker for “multiple weeks,” this team will be hard-pressed to continue doing well. A brutal three-game stretch against Kansas City, Seattle and San Francisco awaits.

18. Dallas Cowboys (2-2); lost to San Diego 30-21, drops 2 spots – How bad is the NFC East if Dallas is the best team with a .500 record? Even if Dallas continues on the same trajectory, they’re going to win the division and grab a postseason bid.

19. Carolina Panthers (1-2); bye week, moves up 2 spots – Once off to a dismal 0-2 start, Carolina is coming off a bye week and into a friendly four-game stretch against Arizona, Minnesota, Tampa Bay and St. Louis. They could win all four of these contests before things get tough again.

20. Buffalo Bills (2-2); beat Baltimore 23-20, moves up 5 spots – The Bills got a nice home win against the Ravens, but it took five interceptions to pull this one out. Will a banged-up Fred Jackson and CJ Spiller take its toll?

21. Cleveland Browns (2-2); beat Cincinnati 17-6, moves up 6 spotsbrian-hoyer-clevelandIt’s hard to know if the Browns are for real at this point. But Brian Hoyer, Jordan Cameron and Josh Gordon have breathed new life into this team, which has them thinking about the playoffs.

22. Arizona Cardinals (2-2); beat Tampa Bay 13-10, moves up 1 spot – CB Patrick Peterson came alive in the second half, picking off two crucial passes to lead Arizona to a come-from-behind victory.

23. New York Jets (2-2); lost to Tennessee 38-13, drops 5 spots – The fact that New York is .500 at this point is already surprising. If only rookie Geno Smith could quit making careless mistakes, this team could really exceed expectations.

24. Washington Redskins (1-3); beat Oakland 24-14, moves up 2 spots – Things looked bleak for the Redskins when they were down 14-0 in the first quarter. However, they battled back and finally notched a win. Amazingly, they’re just one game out of the NFC East lead.

25. Minnesota Vikings (1-3); beat Pittsburgh 34-27, moves up 3 spots – Christian Ponder remains the starting quarterback, despite the fact that backup Matt Cassel led Minnesota to their only win. But how long will Ponder start if he continues losing?

26. Philadelphia Eagles (1-3); lost to Denver 52-20, drops 7 spots – Nobody expected the Eagles to walk into Mile High and shut down the Broncos. But isn’t offense supposed to be Chip Kelly’s specialty?

27. St. Louis Rams (1-3); lost to San Francisco 35-11, drops 5 spots – The Rams started the season respectably, but have regressed in the last two blowout losses. However, they have an excellent shot at winning in Jacksonville this weekend.

28. New York Giants (0-4); lost to Kansas City 31-7, drops 4 spots – Few would’ve predicted that New York would be this bad in the early going. They’ll try to get their first win against a slumping Philly team.

29. Oakland Raiders (1-3); lost to Washington 24-14, moves up 1 spot – They lost, but move up because Terrelle Pryor returns this week. Oh, and if there was any inkling of Matt Flynn regaining his starting job, it ended Sunday.

30. Pittsburgh Steelers (0-4); lost to Minnesota 34-27, drops 1 spot – The falling cry of the Steelers this year has always been “At least their defense is good.” Well it turns out that this isn’t even true. There is some promise in rookie RB Le’Veon Bell though.

31. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (0-4); lost to Arizona 13-10, retains same ranking – Are the Buccaneers drafting a quarterback next year, or is rookie third-rounder Mike Glennon the future? If it’s the latter, he’s got to stop making stupid decisions like throwing towards Peterson late in a game.

32. Jacksonville Jaguars (0-4); lost to Indianapolis 37-3, retains same ranking – Is there any reason to believe this team can avoid going 0-16? We can’t think of one.

Top 10 Worst NFL Draft Picks since 2000

jamarcus-russellThe 2013 NFL Draft is set to begin tomorrow, on April 25th, and 32 teams will be looking to find some gems. Of course, this might be a little difficult because the 2013 Draft class isn’t expected to feature many superstars. In fact, this week’s draft could be downright bad as an anonymous executive told NFL.com the following:

Worst draft in past 10 years or longer. When we look back at this draft in five or 10 years we might view it as one of the worst we’ve seen in some time. There will be 13-15 players picked in the first round that are true first-rounders. That’s a fairly low number.

This NFL exec isn’t the only person who’s questioning the 2013 NFL Draft. John Elway, who now serves as the Denver Broncos executive vice president of football operations, bluntly said “It’s not top-heavy.”

With what many perceive to be a weak draft class, there figure to be plenty of duds picked this week. But hopefully, none of them live up to the 10 worst drafts picks since 2000, which you can see below.

10. Peter Warrick, WR Cincinnati Bengals – 4th Pick in 2000 Draft

peter-warrickAfter an outstanding college career in which he caught a record 32 touchdowns at Florida State and achieved All-American honors twice, Warrick seemed like he could be a pretty dynamic pro player. However, the smallish 5’11” receiver never gained more than 667 receiving yards in his first four seasons.

Warrick finally had a solid year in 2004, when he caught 79 passes for 819 yards, rushed for 143 yards, and scored seven touchdowns. But he was injured for most of the 2004 season and watched seventh-round pick T.J. Houshmandzadeh take over his spot. Warrick was released by the Bengals in 2005, had a short stint with the Seahawks after that, then bounced around the CFL and Arena League.

9. Robert Gallery, OT Oakland Raiders – 2nd Pick in 2004 Draft

Robert GalleryComing out of Iowa, Gallery was the ideal left tackle size at 6’7″, 325 pounds. This being said, he was expected to be a star in the NFL who could follow in the same vein as five-time All-Pro left tackle Orlando Pace. However, Gallery never quite lived up to these expectations.

He was moved from left, to right, and back to left tackle in his first three years. 2006 was especially a disaster because Gallery gave up 10.5 sacks in just 10 games. By 2007, he found his calling at left guard; however, you don’t draft left guards with the second overall pick. This is especially bad when you consider the talented players that Gallery was taken over, including Larry Fitzgerald, Philip Rivers, DeAngelo Hall and Ben Roethlisberger.

8. Courtney Brown, DE Cleveland Browns – 1st Pick in 2000 NFL Draft

courtney-brownYou can’t exactly fault Cleveland for taking Brown with the first overall pick in 2000. Not only did he rack up 33 sacks and 70 tackles for losses at Penn State, but Brown also ran a 4.52 forty-yard dash, had a 37-inch vertical, and benched 225 pounds 26 times. Add in the fact that Brown was 6’4″, 285 pounds, and you have the perfect defensive end.

But size and combine performances don’t always equal success, which turned out to be the case with Brown. He had a solid rookie season with 70 tackles and 4.5 sacks. But injuries started coming in 2002 and drastically cut down the South Carolina native’s time on the field. When Brown retired in 2006, he had just 19 sacks over a five-year career.

7. Aaron Maybin, LB Buffalo Bills – 11th Pick in 2009 Draft

aaron-maybinSome people might think it’s unfair to put Maybin on this list because he was only drafted four years ago and even had a solid year in 2011 – recording 6 sacks for the New York Jets. However, this doesn’t erase three other years in which Maybin was almost nonexistent on his teams.

After the Bills drafted Maybin 11th overall out of Penn State, he responded by pitching in just 18 tackles and 0 sacks. The next year was even worse since the 6’4″ linebacker recorded just six tackles in 11 games. Buffalo simply scratched Maybin from several contests, despite him being healthy. Most recently, the Jets released him after he made only one tackle in 2012.

6. R Jay Soward, WR Jacksonville Jaguars – 29th Pick in 2000 Draft

r-jay-sowardThe 2000 NFL Draft was certainly a big one for busts since Soward is the third player from 2000 to make this list. The California native was so talented that, despite scoring 32 touchdowns during his career at USC, he fell short of expectations. The Jaguars were willing to spend their first round pick on the troubled wide receiver based on his potential alone.

However, this potential never materialized because he was frequently late to team meetings, violated the league’s substance abuse policy several times, and was arrested for threatening police after being pulled over. Soward was suspended by the league, and the Jaguars released the wideout after he turned in 14 catches for 108 yards in one year. These would be Soward’s only NFL stats because he never played in the league again.

5. Matt Leinart, QB Arizona Cardinals – 10th Pick in 2006 Draft

Matt LeinartFew college players ever had as storied of a career as Matt Leinart. He compiled a 37-2 record as the starting quarterback for USC, won two national championships, and earned the Heisman Trophy in his junior year. Based on his impressive collegiate resume and size (6’5″, 225 pounds), Leinart was a top prospect going into the 2006 NFL Draft – despite concerns about his weak arm.

After being drafted by the Cardinals, Leinart had a lengthy holdout, which lasted up until preseason games. But the holdout did end, with the rookie picking up a 6-year, $51 million contract. Leinart’s lucky that he got a fortune upfront because he certainly wasn’t worth the money. He started just 13 games in four seasons for the Cards and eventually lost his job to Kurt Warner.

4. Mike WIlliams, WR Detroit Lions – 10th Pick in 2005 Draft

Minnesota Vikings v Detroit LionsWilliams has never exactly lit the league on fire, with 127 catches, 1,526 yards, and 5 touchdowns in seven seasons. Of course, Williams career didn’t get off to a very good start when he left USC after his sophomore year and hired an agent, thinking he was draft eligible because Maurice Clarett successfully challenged eligibility rules. However, a federal judge overturned the ruling, which meant both Clarett and Williams had to sit out the 2004 season.

When the 6’5″ receiver was finally draft eligible, he was taken by the Detroit Lions in a very questionable move. Detroit had already spent first round picks on Charles Rodgers (2003) and Roy Williams (2004) the previous two years, and overloaded on wideouts when they scooped up Williams. But then again, foolish moves like this were a staple of the Matt Millen era in Detroit.

3. Vernon Gholston, DE New York Jets – 6th Pick in 2008 Draft

vernon-gholstonLike Courtney Brown, Gholston is another player who looked and worked out like a future Hall-of-Famer. The 6’3″, 260-pounder had an incredible bodybuilder physique, ran a 4.58 forty, had a 41-inch vertical leap and benched 37 reps at the combine. Gholston was also coming off of a season at Ohio State where he tallied a school record 14.5 sacks.

Unfortunately, neither his physical tools nor college production paid dividends for the New York Jets. Gholston failed to record a sack in three seasons with the Jets after being shuffled around from outside linebacker to a traditional defensive end role. He was eventually released in 2011 and has been waived by both the Chicago Bears and St. Louis Rams since.

2. Charles Rogers, WR Detroit Lions – 2nd Pick in 2003 Draft

charles-rogersRogers put together a spectacular college career at Michigan State, where he set an NCAA record with 13 consecutive games with a touchdown catch. The 6’3″, 220-pounder had enough highlight reel plays that the Lions decided he was worthy of the second overall pick. Things started out alright for Rogers since he caught 22 passes for 243 yards and three TD’s in his first five games.

However, he’d soon break his clavicle in practice and go on injured reserve. Rogers suffered the same injury in 2004 and was granted permission to leave the team after being very distraught. He was suspended for four games after violating the league’s drug policy in 2005 and barely played much when he returned. The Lions cut him the following offseason, thus bringing an end to Rogers’ football career.

1. JaMarcus Russell, QB Oakland Raiders – 1st Pick in 2007 Draft

jamarcus-russell-1It isn’t exactly original putting Russell here because just about every draft busts list ranks him number one. However, that’s a testament to just how big of a failure the LSU product was in his three-year stint with Oakland. And this is mind-boggling when you consider his 6’6″ frame and cannon arm.

After holding out until the first week of the regular season, Russell finally inked a deal worth $61 million, with $31.5 million guaranteed. This resulted in him only starting one game and playing four games total in his rookie season. His second year was fairly decent since he threw for 2,423 yards, 13 TD’s and 8 INT’s. However, Russell’s third season was a disaster as he threw for 1,287 yards, 3 TD’s, 11 INT’s and lost his starting job.

2010 would mark the end of his Raiders career as he showed up to the Oakland mini-camp weighing between 290-300 pounds. With five quarterbacks on the roster, Russell was an easy cut going into the regular season.