Wednesday, 26 September 2012

NFL Power Rankings - Week 4

1 (5) Atlanta Falcons (3-0) - The Falcons move to 3-0 and look like the real deal after a blow out victory in San Diego.  Matt Ryan had a good day, throwing for 275 yards, three touchdowns and an interception.  Once again, the standout receivers were Tony Gonzalez, Julio Jones and Roddy White.  They combined for 19 catches and 213 yards.  Gonzalez and Jones also picked up touchdowns.  The rushing attack was led by Michael Turner.  Turner picked up 80 yards and a touchdown off 14 carries.  The Falcons look like winning the NFC South at a canter and the biggest question should be, will they do enough to secure a bye week in the playoffs?
2 (10) Houston Texans (3-0) -
I had my doubts about this Houston team but they are now 3-0 and had a great win at the weekend over the Broncos, in Denver.  They are performing well in all phases of the game and already look guaranteed to win the AFC South.  Matt Schaub threw for 290 yards, four touchdowns and an interception.  The running game was led by Arian Foster who had 105 yards.  The defense doesn't seem to have slowed any despite losing a few high profile starters and they restricted the Broncos to just 59 yards off 21 carries and got pressure on Peyton Manning, forcing him into 26 incomplete passes and they also managed to sack him three times.  They are looking very strong at the moment and it is time to admit I got them all wrong.   

3 (6) Baltimore Ravens (2-1) – The Ravens had a great win on Sunday night, beating the New England Patriots, 31-30.  They were fantastic on offense and deservedly won the game.  Joe Flacco threw for 382 yards, three touchdowns and an interception.  Ray Rice had 150 yards from scrimmage and a touchdown.  However, the biggest story was the performance of receiver, Torrey Smith.  Smith caught 6 passes for 127 yards and 2 touchdowns.  The performance was good enough on it’s own but coming less than 24 hours after the death of his brother in a motorcycle accident, makes it all the more remarkable.

4 (7) New York Giants (2-1) - The Giants blew out the Panthers in Carolina to go 2-1 for the season.  Andre Brown was the star of the show, running for 113 yards and two touchdowns.  He was assisted by another decent performance by Eli Manning who had 288 yards and a touchdown.  The defense also had a good day, registering 3 interceptions, 2 fumble recoveries and 2 sacks.

5 (1) San Francisco 49ers (2-1) –
In probably the biggest upset of the season, the 49ers were beaten 24-13 by the Minnesota Vikings.  The 49ers gave themselves too much to do after a sluggish start and were 17-3 down at half time.  They scored 10 unanswered points in the 3rd quarter to bring it back to 17-13 but the Vikings got an early touchdown in the 4th quarter to seal the win.  The 49ers defense had a bad day and gave up 146 yards on the ground.  They were unable to get to Christian Ponder and failed to record any sacks.

6 (15) Arizona Cardinals (3-0) - The Cardinals are definitely the surprise package of the season so far and are 3-0.  They haven't had an easy schedule but the Cards have been impressive and blew away the Philadelphia Eagles on Sunday.  Arizona were good on both sides of the ball.  Kevin Kolb had a good game against his old team, throwing for 222 yards and two touchdowns.  Larry Fitzgerald caught 9 passes for 114 yards and a touchdown.  The running attack was led by Ryan Williams who picked up 83 yards off 13 carries.  The defense was superb, forcing three fumbles and sacking Michael Vick 5 times.  The Cardinals defense made the biggest play of the game when they forced Michael Vick to fumble just before half-time.  Philadelphia were on the Arizona 1 yard line and looked sure to score.  Arizona knocked the ball loose and to add insult to injury, James Sanders recovered the ball and ran it back for a touchdown.  That play killed the Eagles and won the game for the Cardinals. 

7 (2) Green Bay Packers (1-2) - I think we could be hearing about this defeat for a long time.  The Packers were enraged by the replacement official’s decision to award a touchdown on the final play of the game when they felt Michael Jennings had intercepted the pass.  My own thoughts were that Jennings caught the ball first but he did not have both feet down before Golden Tate had grabbed the ball and therefore the eventual call was correct.  However, Tate should have been called for pass interference before the ball got as far as Jennings and therefore Green Bay are well within their rights to feel aggrieved.  Regardless of that decision, there are other issues hurting the Packers this year.  Aaron Rodgers has been sacked 16 times which is more than any other quarterback in the league.  It is definitely effecting Rodgers and his numbers are not looking anywhere near as good as last year.        

8 (3) New England Patriots (1-2) – The Pats go below .500 for the first time in almost ten years after a narrow defeat in Baltimore.  They took a 9 point lead early in the 4th quarter but the Ravens scored a touchdown and then a field goal as time expired, to pick up the win.  Tom Brady threw for 335 yards and a touchdown but the Pats averaged just 2.3 yards per carry on the ground.  The defense gave up over 500 yards of total offense and it ultimately led to defeat.

9 (12) Chicago Bears (2-1) - The Bears picked up a comfortable win over the St Louis Rams on Sunday, winning 23-6.  It wasn’t a great game and neither quarterback had a touchdown.  The Bears only offensive touchdown was scored by Michael Bush.  The defense had a big day, picking up 6 sacks and two interceptions.  One of the interceptions was returned for a touchdown by Major Wright.

10 (14) Dallas Cowboys (2-1) - It wasn't pretty but it was a win and that's all that will concern the Dallas Cowboys.  Dallas averaged just 1.7 yards per rushing attempt.  Quarterback, Tony Romo, threw for 283 yards and an interception.  The Cowboys only managed one touchdown and that performance won't be enough most weeks but they were lucky that they were playing the Bucs, who were even worse on the day.  A big improvement is required if they want to challenge for a playoff spot. 

11 (4) Pittsburgh Steelers (1-2) – The Steelers were stunned by a 4th quarter comeback in Oakland against the Raiders.  Pittsburgh looked comfortable leading by 10 at the end of the 3rd but Oakland came back and scored a touchdown and two field goals in the 4th to steal the win.  Ben Roethlisberger had a huge day for the Steelers, throwing for 384 yards and four touchdowns.  It wasn’t enough though and Pittsburgh’s lack of a running game, cost them the win.

12 (8) Philadelphia Eagles (2-1) -
A terrible performance from Philadelphia and everything that has gone wrong in the Andy Reid era, was evident in this game.  Reid makes some ridiculous decisions and he was at his worst on Sunday.  Vick was having a horrible day and Reid kept putting the ball in his hands, until the last quarter when the Eagles needed to make some big plays, to try to save the game.  This in Andy Reid's mind, was the time to run the ball.  As an Eagles fan, I think we have a talented roster which is good enough to win the Superbowl but there is no chance of winning anything, with Andy Reid in charge.  Andy Reid doesn't seem to have an ability to change things during a game.  If Plan A doesn't work, Andy's philosophy is to keep on trying to make it work.  Good coaches will go to Plan B, Plan C and even Plan D. 

13 (9) San Diego Chargers (2-1) -
The Chargers of the last few seasons returned on Sunday as they lost heavily to the Atlanta Falcons.  Quarterback, Philip Rivers had a poor game, throwing for just 173 yards and two interceptions.  The Chargers were having a bit more joy running the ball and averaged 6.8 yards per carry.  The trouble was they only ran the ball, 17 times.  Turnovers were a huge issue on Sunday and they gave the ball away on four occasions.  The Chargers sit at 2-1 which is a good enough record to lead what is looking like a weak, AFC West.

14 (16) New York Jets (2-1) – The Jets just about secured an overtime victory in Miami, over the Dolphins.  The Jets weren’t great but managed to pick up the win and that’s all that matters.  Quarterback, Mark Sanchez had another mixed day.  On the plus side, he threw for over 300 yards and a touchdown but on the negative side, he completed just 46.7% of his passes and had two interceptions.  The Jets have lost star cornerback, Darrelle Revis, for the season, so coach, Rex Ryan has some work to do if the Jets want to build on their 2-1 start.

15 (17) Buffalo Bills (2-1) – The Bills go 2-1 after a win over the Browns in Cleveland.  Quarterback, Ryan Fitzpatrick had a solid game, throwing for 208 yards and three touchdowns.  The running game was led by Tashard Choice who picked up 91 yards off 20 carries.  The Bills defense also had a solid game, picking up 4 sacks and 2 interceptions.

16 (23) Cincinnati Bengals (2-1) - When the Bengals offense click, they are as good as any team in the NFL.  The offense got it done on Sunday in Washington putting up 38 points.  They even had three touchdowns, were the snap was taken by three different players.  The Bengals have a lot of young talent and are fast becoming one of the best teams to watch in the league.  Quarterback, Andy Dalton passed for 328 yards, three touchdowns and an interception.  Receiver, AJ Green caught 9 passes for 183 yards and a touchdown, including a 73 yard touchdown catch, thrown by receiver, Mohamed Sanu.

17 (22) Seattle Seahawks (2-1) – The Seahawks picked up a great win over the Green Bay Packers.  Regardless of whether the win was controversial or not, the Seahawks deserve a lot of credit for their performance.  The defense sacked Aaron Rodgers 8 times and rookie quarterback, Russell Wilson had two touchdown passes.  The Seahawks look like a decent side and at 2-1, can’t be ruled out of a playoff run.

18 (11) Detroit Lions (1-2) - The Lions slide to 1-2 after a tough loss in Tennessee against the Titans.  The Lions coach, Jim Schwartz will have to accept some responsibility for the defeat, as he went for it on fourth down in overtime, instead of kicking a field goal.  The Titans stopped the Lions and the game was over.  Lions quarterback, Matthew Stafford, picked up an injury late in the game and his status is as yet, unknown.  The Lions cannot afford to lose their quarterback, especially as he is relied on so heavily.

19 (13) Denver Broncos (1-2) - The Broncos lost another game in the first three quarters and despite making a comeback in the fourth quarter they had left themselves too much to do.  Peyton Manning threw for 330 yards and two touchdowns but he will be concerned about only completing 50% of his passes.  Denver couldn't get their running game going and averaged just 2.8 yards per carry.  The Broncos defense couldn't stop the Texans and Houston picked up a deserved win. 

20 (30) Minnesota Vikings (2-1) – What a victory that was for the Minnesota Vikings!  The unbeaten 49ers, came to Minnesota and were outplayed by a Vikings team who continue to surprise.  The Vikings ran all over the 49ers, recording 146 yards on the ground.  Adrian Peterson had 86 yards and quarterback, Christian Ponder picked up 33 yards and a touchdown.  Ponder also threw the ball for 198 yards, two touchdowns and no interceptions.  It was a great win for the Vikings and at 2-1 they are right in the middle of the battle to win the NFC North.

21 (18) St Louis Rams (1-2) – The Rams were unable to get anywhere near as much from their offense, this week and ended up with just 160 yards of total offense.  Quarterback, Sam Bradford had a difficult game, completing just over 50% of his passes and throwing two interceptions.  He was also sacked 6 times for a loss of 51 yards.  The running game never really got going, picking up just 59 yards.

22 (20) Washington Redskins (1-2) - Washington go 1-2 for the season after picking up a defeat in their home opener.  They lost 38-31 to the Bengals.  The Redskins put up good numbers on the ground, rushing for 213 yards.  RG3 and Alfred Morris combined for 163 yards and a touchdown each.  RG3 also threw for 221 yards but the biggest difference this week was, he was sacked 6 times and it cost his team 53 yards.  Almost 9 yards lost every time he is sacked, is a big loss and RG3 will have to learn that sometimes, it's better to just throw the ball away.

23 (27) Tennessee Titans (1-2) - The Titans exploded into life this week and picked up their first win of the season with an overtime victory over the Detroit Lions.  Jake Locker had a great game, throwing for 378 yards and two touchdowns.  He also had four runs and picked up 35 yards.  The Titans biggest concern right now will be, the form of running-back, Chris Johnson.  He had another poor game this week and picked up just 29 yards from scrimmage.

24 (31) Oakland Raiders (1-2) – The Raiders picked up their first win of the season with a 34-31 victory over the Steelers.  Sebastian Janikowski kicked the game winning field goal as time expired.  It was an improved display from the Raiders who scored 13 unanswered points in the 4th quarter to complete a fine victory.  Carson Palmer had three touchdowns and just one interception.  Darren McFadden rediscovered his form and ran for 113 yards and a touchdown.

25 (19) Tampa Bay Buccaneers (1-2) - A disappointing display from the Bucs in their16-10 loss to the Cowboys, in Dallas.  The Bucs only managed 166 yards of total offense and turned the ball over twice.  Quarterback, Josh Freeman, only completed 10 of his 28 pass attempts and has looked poor in his three outings.  Credit has to be given to the Bucs defense who managed to restrict the Cowboys to just one touchdown, on their five visits to the red zone.

26 (21) Indianapolis Colts (1-2) - The Colts can consider themselves very unlucky to have lost a game in which they were the better team.  For 59 minutes they done a great job and had kept Blaine Gabbert, to just 75 yards passing.  They had allowed Maurice Jones-Drew to put up some big numbers but the fact is, he is an elite back and he will put up big numbers against better teams than the Colts.  Andrew Luck had another decent game, throwing for 313 yards and two touchdowns.  His completion percentage was a bit low at 47.8% and he had an interception but he is progressing well.  Unfortunately for the Colts all the good work was undone with an 80 yard touchdown and it's an unfortunate 1-2 start for Luck and the Colts. 

27 (29) Kansas City Chiefs (1-2) – The Chiefs picked up their first win of the season with an overtime victory over the Saints, in New Orleans.  The Chiefs were deserving winners in the end but almost allowed turnovers to beat them.  The Chiefs turned the ball over 3 times but they weren’t to be denied and ended the game with over 500 yards of total offense.  Jamaal Charles led the way for the Chiefs.  Charles had 55 receiving yards but it was on the ground he done the most damage, rushing for 233 yards and a touchdown.  The Chiefs live to fight another day at 1-2 and are just one game behind the Chargers, for the lead in the AFC West.

28 (32) Jacksonville Jaguars (1-2) -
Jacksonville bounced back from their bad start and picked up their first win of the season in Indianapolis.  Maurice Jones-Drew was the main man, running for 177 yards and a touchdown.  However, much of the plaudits will go to Cecil Shorts III, who caught a pass and took it to the end zone with just 45 seconds to go.  It was an 80 yard completion and in that single play, quarterback, Blaine Gabbert's, total yardage for the day was doubled. This win papers over the cracks for the Jags but they are now 1-2 and I'm sure they won't care, that it wasn't a vintage performance.

29 (25) Carolina Panthers (1-2) – Turnovers killed the Panthers in this game.  They gave the ball away five times.  Cam Newton was intercepted 3 times and they also fumbled twice.  The Giants punished their mistakes but 5 turnovers in the NFL will not win very many football games.  The Panthers are 1-2 now and they don’t look like a playoff team. 

30 (26) Miami Dolphins (1-2) – That was a tough loss for the Dolphins and the game could have gone either way.  There was very little to separate the teams and in the end it came down to a field goal, in overtime.  Quarterback, Ryan Tannehill had a poor game, completing just 16 of his 36 attempts and he also had an interception.  The Dolphins once again relied on their running game and picked up 185 yards on the ground. 

31 (24) New Orleans Saints (0-3) – New Orleans bad start to the season continues to get worse and they drop to 0-3 after losing to the Chiefs.  The Saints defense has struggled against the run all year and yet again, it proved to be their downfall.  The Chiefs picked up 273 yards on the ground and until the Saints can learn to defend against the run, then the losses will keep piling up.

32 (28) Cleveland Browns (0-3) – The Browns drop to 0-3 after a defeat to the Buffalo Bills.  Their rookies, who they are relying so heavily on, didn’t have their best games.  Brandon Weeden was intercepted twice and Trent Richardson only managed 2.3 yards per carry.  The Browns find themselves at 0-3 now and with 5 divisional games left to play in the AFC North, they look like a serious candidate for the number one draft pick.

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