NFL Power Rankings for September 11th, 2013

peyton-manning-broncosThe 2013 NFL season is officially underway after a largely unsurprisingly weekend. Most of the top teams secured victories as expected, with no major upsets happening. Of course, as with every NFL season, we can expect the power rankings to get shaken up throughout the year. But for now, you won’t see a lot of shockers in our Week 2 NFL power rankings.

1. Denver Broncos (1-0); beat Baltimore 49-27 – The offseason loss of DE Elvis Dumervil and the six-game suspension of LB Von Miller figured to impact this team in a terrible way. But the defense did well enough against Baltimore to inspire hope. More importantly, Peyton Manning crushed the Ravens with 462 passing yards, 7 touchdowns and zero interceptions. The addition of Wes Welker only makes this offense more dangerous than last year’s version.

2. San Francisco (1-0); beat Green Bay 34-28 – Colin Kaepernick has an obvious connection with Anquan Boldin already. Kaepernick threw for 412 yards and 3 TD’s, while Boldin showed he still has plenty of juice left with 13 catches, 208 yards and a TD. A tough road game against Seattle this week could vault the Niners to the top.

3. New Orleans Saints (1-0); beat Atlanta 23-17 – Following a one-year suspension, head coach Sean Payton is back and you can definitely tell. The Saints won a high-profile matchup on the strength of Drew Brees’ arm (357PYDS, 2TD, 1INT). The defense was surprisingly effective at keeping Atlanta off the board.

russell-wilson4. Seattle Seahawks (1-0); beat Carolina 12-7 – A win is a win, especially on the road. But you’d like to see Seattle beat the Panthers a little more handily. Russell Wilson picked up where he left off from last season with 320 passing yards and one TD. This team has a serious chance to move up with a victory over San Francisco.

5. New England Patriots (1-0); beat Buffalo 23-21 – New England continued their domination of the Bills with a come-from-behind win. Stevan Ridley’s fumble turned into a 74-yard defensive TD for Buffalo. But Tom Brady was still able to lead this team back with 288 passing yards and a pair of touchdowns.

6. Houston Texans (1-0); beat San Diego 31-28 – Falling behind 28-7 to the Chargers is a terrible way to start the year. But give Houston credit for battling back on the road and taking this game. LB Brian Cushing’s late 18-yard interception return proved to be the difference maker.

7. Green Bay Packers (0-1); lost to San Francisco 34-28 – You can’t fault the Pack for losing a close one on the road to the Niners. The secondary is cause for concern though after giving up monster games to Kaepernick, Boldin and Vernon Davis. At least Aaron Rodgers and the passing game is as rock solid as ever.

NFL: AUG 16 Pre-Season Colts v Falcons8. Atlanta Falcons (0-1); lost to New Orleans 23-17 – Toss up between Atlanta and Green Bay for the seventh spot; but the Falcons struggled to put points on the board. Still, their offense moved the ball well with Matt Ryan throwing for 304 yards and Steven Jackson adding 122 total yards.

9. Cincinnati Bengals (0-1); lost to Chicago 24-21 – The Bengals suffered a loss at Soldier Field, but hung tough despite three turnovers. A.J. Green looks virtually uncoverable after racking up 162 yards, 2 TD’s and drawing some crucial pass interference penalties. Now if only the running game could catch up (63 yards).

10. Chicago Bears (1-0); beat Cincinnati 24-21 – Wait, didn’t Chicago beat the Bengals? Yea, but Cincinnati actually looked more impressive in this game. If not for some late game heroics by Jay Cutler (242PYDS, 2TD, 1INT) and home field advantage, Chicago wouldn’t even be in the top 10.

11. Philadelphia Eagles (1-0); beat Washington 33-27 – This game was much more of a blowout than it appears since Washington added some garbage-time touchdowns. The offense features a lot of dimensions, with LeSean McCoy racking up 181 yards on the ground and DeSean Jackson adding 104 receiving yards and a TD.

reggie-bush12. Detroit Lions (1-0); beat Minnesota 34-28 – Detroit looks to be back this year after a strong game against the Vikings. Following a 78-yard touchdown run by Adrian Peterson, the Lions D-line did a good job of bottling him up. Reggie Bush seems to be the extra weapon that this offense needed after compiling 191 total yards.

13. Dallas Cowboys (1-0); beat NY Giants 36-31 – Here’s the good news: Dallas beat their NFC rivals, and Tony Romo looked good with 263 passing yards and 2 TD’s. The bad news? They needed six turnovers from their opponent to pull off this home game victory.

14. Indianapolis Colts (1-0); beat Oakland 21-17 – Is the Raiders line really this good, or does Indianapolis have pass protection concerns? Despite getting knocked around, Andrew Luck threw a pair of touchdowns and rushed for the game-winning, 19-yard TD to earn this comeback victory.

15. Baltimore Ravens (0-1); lost to Denver 49-27 – We had doubts that the defending champs would be as good as last year. And their secondary looked pretty bad against a stellar Broncos team. But let’s see how this club performs against the non-elite before passing judgement.

16. Miami Dolphins (1-0); beat Cleveland 23-10 – Nice road win for a young team. The defense is among the league’s best after sacking Brandon Weeden six times and intercepting him three. QB Ryan Tannehill looked good in posting 272 passing yards, 1 TD and 1 INT. But the running game is somewhat of a mess at this point.

eli-manning17. New York Giants (0-1); lost to Dallas 36-31 – New York doesn’t deserve an honor badge for committing six turnovers. But if they don’t cough the ball up this much, we might’ve been discussing a very good road win.

18. St. Louis Rams (1-0); beat Arizona 27-24 – In a battle between two much-improved teams, St. Louis emerged victorious. After a couple of down seasons, Sam Bradford (299PYDS, 2TD, 1INT) and the passing game look to be back. TE Jared Cook is quite a weapon after collecting 141 receiving yards and 2 TD’s in his Rams debut.

19. Kansas City Chiefs (1-0); beat Jacksonville 28-2 – We can’t truly tell how good Kansas City is because they beat the worst team in the league. But then again, it was a dominating road-game performance that saw the Chiefs dismantle Jacksonville. Stayed tuned for more on this team after they play the Cowboys at home.

20. Tennessee Titans (1-0); beat Pittsburgh 16-9 – Tennessee opens the year with an impressive road win in Pittsburgh. But almost all of the impressive stuff happened on the defensive end, with the Titans holding Pittsburgh to just 195 yards. Now it’s up to QB Jake Locker to actually show he can lead a successful team.

21. Carolina Panthers (0-1); lost to Seattle 12-7 – This wasn’t a great day for Carolina as QB Cam Newton struggled mightily with just 163 total yards. But they nearly pulled out the victory, until a late DeAngelo Williams fumble inside of the 10.

robert-griffith-thanksgiving22. Washington Redskins (0-1); lost to Philadelphia 33-27 – After playing terribly for most of the game, Robert Griffin III came alive, ending the contest with 329 passing yards and 2 TD’s But his earlier pair of interceptions put this one out of reach.

23. Minnesota Vikings (0-1); lost to Detroit 34-28 – Adrian Peterson can’t carry this offense alone. Especially with quarterback Christian Ponder tossing three picks and fumbling once.

24. Pittsburgh Steelers (0-1); lost to Tennessee 16-9 – If this weren’t Pittsburgh, we’d probably be ranking them lower. Mustering 195 yards of offense at home is pathetic. But this team has the tools to win – especially on defense – so we’ll wait and see what happens.

25. Buffalo Bills (0-1); lost to New England 23-21 – Part of why Tom Brady and company didn’t look so hot is because of the Bills defense. The Buffalo running game will be much better in future games (specifically CJ Spiller), while EJ Manuel showed good poise for a rookie QB.

26. Arizona Cardinals (0-1); lost to St. Louis 27-24 – After opening up a 14-point lead, the Cardinals couldn’t hang on in this road contest. Still, there is hope with Carson Palmer (327PYDS, 2TD, 1INT) directing the offense.

27. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (0-1); lost to NY Jets 18-17 – The Bucs were a late-game Lavonte David penalty from winning their first game. But the fact that they let the Jets beat them in any way is bad.

28. San Diego Chargers (0-1); lost to Houston 31-28 – San Diego started with a bang as Philip Rivers came out firing four TD passes. However, things began spiraling downward late in the third as they blew a 28-7 lead.

29. New York Jets (1-0); beat Tampa Bay 18-17 – The Jets will take wins any way they can get them. Geno Smith was better than expected with 256 yards, 1 TD and 1 INT. Unfortunately, Smith appears to be the team’s only legitimate running threat after gaining 47 yards on six carries.

30. Cleveland Browns (0-1); lost to Miami Dolphins 23-10 – After an uninspiring home loss, Cleveland has deflated all of the hype they gained in the preseason. This team’s hopes rest on the arm of Weeden, which isn’t exactly a thrilling prospect.

31. Oakland Raiders (0-1); lost 23-17 to Indianapolis – The D-line looked good against the Colts, and Terrelle Pryor gives this team life after throwing for 217 yards and running for another 112. As a whole, the Raiders will look bad at times, but not nearly as bad as people expected.

32. Jacksonville Jaguars (0-1); lost to Kansas City Chiefs 28-2 – After making the Chiefs look like a Super Bowl contender, it’s clear that Jacksonville is in for a very long year. They only moved past their own 36-yard line once in the entire game!

Aaron Hernandez released from Patriots – Who’s Left for Brady to throw to?

aaron-hernandez-patriots

EDIT: At the time of our original article, no official charges were filed against Hernandez. Now he’s been charged with murder.

The New England Patriots released Aaron Hernandez after the tight end was arrested this morning in connection with a murder case. The body of semi-professional football player Odin Lloyd was found near Hernandez’s home nine days ago.

Once the death was ruled a homicide, the investigation led police to Hernandez’s North Attleborough, MA. home. Lloyd’s family says he was with Hernandez the night that he died. After questioning the former University of Florida standout, police found that his house had been scrubbed down and security equipment was broken.

At this point, it’s unclear why Hernandez was arrested since no formal charges were filed. All that’s known is he’s no longer a member of the Patriots and could be in major trouble. The Patriots released the following statement after letting the 23-year-old go:

A young man was murdered last week and we extend our sympathies to the family and friends who mourn his loss. Words cannot express the disappointment we feel knowing that one of our players was arrested as a result of this investigation. We realize that law enforcement investigations into this matter are ongoing. We support their efforts and respect the process. At this time, we believe this transaction is simply the right thing to do.

rob-gronkowski-patriotsIn light of this tragedy, New England now has to worry about whom Tom Brady is going to throw the ball to. Last year, the Patriots opened with two outstanding tight ends in Rob Gronkowski and Hernandez. Seeing as how Gronkowski probably won’t be ready for Week 1 after undergoing back surgery, Hernandez was expected to be a huge part of the offense.

However, those plans are out the window and the Patriots will be looking for other players to step up. Obviously Danny Amendola is going to be a big target since New England signed him to a 5-year, $31 million deal this past offseason. The thinking is that Amendola can help replace Wes Welker’s 118 catches from the slot last season. He had a nice 2012 campaign after catching 63 passes for 666 yards and 3 touchdowns. However, there are major injury concerns with Amendola since he’s played just 12 games in the past two seasons.

Former Minnesota Vikings wideout Michael Jenkins has looked good in OTA’s. The 10-year veteran caught a modest 40 passes for 449 yards and two touchdowns last year, but could be in line for a much bigger season if he starts in the Patriots high-powered offense.

danny-amendolaJulian Edelman may have a larger role too after being resigned in the offseason. He only caught 21 balls for 235 yards and three TD’s in 2012, but was really coming on strong before getting injured. Second round draft pick Aaron Dobson is one more guy to watch. The Marshall product recorded a 4.37 forty-yard dash, which at 6’3″ is quite impressive. But he’ll have to be a little more consistent than what he showed in OTA’s to get quality playing time.

As for the currently vacated tight end position, Jake Ballard and rookie Zach Sudfeld should get plenty of chances until Gronk is healthy. Sudfeld, who stands 6’7″ and weighs 255 pounds, had an excellent senior year at Nevada (45 catches, 598 yards, 8 touchdowns). But like many other Patriots receiving options, he has injury issues. As for Ballard, he spent most of 2012 on the PUP list, but had a strong 2011 campaign after catching 38 passes for 604 yards and four touchdowns.

Most of the receiving options for Brady look pretty solid, although they come with question marks. Of course we know that somebody is going to catch the ball for New England and Brady should have another strong year. Last season saw him throw for 4,827 yards, 34 TD’s and just 8 INT’s. However, New England lost to the Baltimore Ravens in the AFC Championship – a defeat that Brady will no doubt be hoping to avenge.

Reggie Bush to Lions, Wes Welker out in New England

reggie-bushThe NFL offeseason continues to be action-packed as a number of big-name stars are finding their way to new teams. Earlier this week, Percy Harvin found a new home in Seattle after the Minnesota Vikings traded away the fourth-year player. Apparently, Minnesota had grown tired of his antics, contract demands, and insistence that QB Christian Ponder stinks. In exchange, the Seahawks will receive the 25th overall pick in the 2013 NFL Draft, along with a seventh round pick (2013) and third round pick (2014).

The Harvin news is already a bit old, but a brand new story has veteran running back Reggie Bush going to the Detroit Lions. The exact dollar figures haven’t been released yet, but the deal is for four years. Considering that Bush had a two-year, $9.75 million deal with the Miami Dolphins and played his best football there, it’s likely that he could be earning more than the annual $4.88 million from the old contract. Bush has run for 4,162 yards and 29 touchdowns, and caught 372 passes for 2,730 yards and 15 touchdowns in his seven-year career.

After being selected by the New Orleans Saints with the second overall pick in the 2006 NFL Draft, Bush was largely viewed as a disappointment during his time in New Orleans. However, he experienced something of a career revival with the Dolphins by rushing for 2,072 yards and 12 touchdowns, and adding 78 catches for 588 yards.

During this time, Bush proved that he can be an every-down back – something which definitely wasn’t apparent in New Orleans. Of course, the USC product won’t have to carry the full load in Detroit since the Lions also have Mike LeShoure. After missing the first two games of the 2012 season with an injury, LeShoure ran for 788 yards, which ranked 23rd in the NFL last year.

Bush should fill the gaping void left by Jahvid Best, who Detroit hoped would be a speedy, explosive back after using their 2010 first round pick on the California star. However, Best dealt with serious concussion issues before being released by the Lions in 2012.

Reggie Bush signing with the Detroit Lions isn’t the only big news from today, so here’s a look at what else is currently happening in the NFL.

wes-welkerWes Welker unhappy with New England Offer

Following another fine year in which he caught 118 passes for 1,354 yards and 6 touchdowns, Wes Welker was hoping to get a nice fat contract renewal from the New England Patriots. But what he got instead was a “laughably low” first offer that has the 10-year veteran ready to test the free agency market.

Apparently, the Patriots are going after Cleveland do-it-all receiver Josh Cribbs and don’t consider Welker a top priority – despite his incredible route running skills and impressive yards-after-the catch stats. It’s unclear where Welker will fit in elsewhere, but Philadelphia would be a nice spot since new head coach Chip Kelly loves to run screen routes.

rashard-mendenhallRashard Mendenhall signs with Arizona Cardinals

Two years ago, this would have been much bigger news. However, Mendenhall suffered through a dismal, injury-plagued season with the Pittsburgh Steelers and only rushed for 182 yards in 2012. Nevertheless, this one-year deal could definitely benefit both sides because Mendenhall can immediately step into the starting role for Arizona.

After all, the Cardinals were terrible at running the football since they averaged just 3.4 yards per carry; their leading rusher was third-down back LaRod Stephens-Howling, who had 356 yards on 110 carries. Beanie Wells (234 RYDS in 2012) was expected to be a full-time starter last year, but suffered a turf toe injury and was released this offseason.

As for Mendenhall, he has 3,549 rushing yards in five seasons, including a 2010 campaign where he ran for 1,273 yards and 13 touchdowns.

mike-goodsonMike Goodson visits Cincinnati Bengals

One more piece of recent NFL offseason news worth reporting is that former Oakland Raiders running back Mike Goodson is visiting the Cincinnati Bengals. He’s also being pursued by the New York Jets and Dallas Cowboys, but appears closest to signing with the Bengals.

Cincinnati already has BenJarvus Green-Ellis, who ran for 1,094 yards and 6 touchdowns last year; however, Green-Ellis isn’t a great receiver or breakaway back, which makes Goodson a perfect compliment. In five years, Goodson has ran for 722 yards, caught 78 passes for 524 yards, and scored four touchdowns in a third-down role.