NFL.com has released this week’s power rankings. You can also see them and join in on their conversation at their site.
Analyst, NFL.com and NFL Network
Our Detroit Lions fall to 18th in the NFL.com power rankings. Do you agree with NFL.com, or do you think we deserve to be higher/lower? Comment below!
Neither of the top two teams looked dominant in Week 11, but both survived to improve to 9-1. Sometimes that’s what it takes in the modern NFL. The bright spot in the win was Andre Johnson, who looked like the guy who was once voted as the best wide receiver of Y2K. Fourteen catches, 273 yards and a walk-off touchdown. So much for being old and slow.
Big ups to the Atlanta Falcons’ defense. Mike Nolan’s unit continually bailed out Matt Ryan, who threw five picks against the Arizona Cardinals. The defense has not been dominant, or even formidable, but it has been quite effective at limiting big plays in the passing game. The Falconshave allowed only 26 pass plays of 20-plus yards (tied for sixth in the NFL) and just aren’t giving opposing offenses any gimmes down the field.
It has to make you ponder how much noise the San Francisco 49ers will make in the postseason when they win by multiple scores with their backup quarterback. Colin Kaepernick was fantastic Monday night. San Francisco now has head-to-head wins over Green Bay and Chicago, two of their three biggest competitors for home-field advantage. In case you’re wondering, the 49ers do not play Atlanta in the regular season.
The Green Bay Packers drop a spot to make room in the top three for the 49ers, who absolutely dominated the Bears. Mason Crosby must have had so many Packer fans holding their breath right before his field goal to go up 24-20 with under a minute to play in Detroit on Sunday. His two early misses loomed large, but the play in the win had to be M.D. Jennings’ 72-yard interception return for a touchdown. It was his second huge pick this season — except this one counted.
Joe Flacco at home: 66.5 completion percentage, 322.4 yards per game, 10 touchdowns and three interceptions.
All those people who flooded my Twitter inbox saying the Indianapolis Colts were gonna win? Crickets. Some might feel Denver is the best team in the AFC, but the Broncos have yet to pull off a 59-point demolition like the New England Patriots. Not to mention, Denver was soundly beaten in New England earlier this season. Thus, the Pats get this spot, and the Broncos get …
Who thought Brandon Stokley would give the Broncos this much production this season? Denver didn’t exactly have to fight off a bunch of suitors for the 36-year-old slot receiver. I saw him on the field after February’s Super Bowl, just walking around with his son, sporting a nondescript gray zip-up and jeans, looking at a bunch of confetti. Stokley had played two games for the New York Giants (catching one pass) and was at Lucas Oil Stadium to cheer on his teammates. How many people didn’t even know he was in the NFL last year? But there he was Sunday, catching a 31-yard touchdown pass for his fifth score on the year. That’s more than Miles Austin, Dez Bryant,Larry Fitzgerald, Antonio Gates and Roddy White.
I was about to write something deep here, but the 49ers ran a stunt and pummeled my laptop.
Seattle finds itself in the wild-card mix at 6-4, with the primary issue being a middle-of-the-road conference record (4-4). The Seahawks have to take care of business against four remaining NFC opponents to fare well come tiebreaker time. Seattle faces the Cardinals, 49ers and Rams at home, with a game against the Bears at Soldier Field.
The New York Giants move up a spot after a bye, thanks to the Steelers’ drop, as well as several Big Blue players getting an opportunity to get healthier ( Ahmad Bradshaw, Hakeem Nicks, etc.). Hopefully offensive coordinator Kevin Gilbride and quarterback Eli Manning put their heads together during the bye week to figure out the recent malaise afflicting the passing game. Over the last three contests, Eli Manning has completed just 54.5 percent of his passes with zero touchdowns and four interceptions. He’s also thrown for a grand total of 532 yards over that stretch. Considering he put up 510 in Week 2 alone …
Sunday’s win in Charlotte was absolutely ridiculous. The throw-and-catch from Josh Freeman to Vincent Jackson, down 21-13 with 15 ticks left, was unbelievable. Then Freeman’s ball placement on the subsequent two-point conversion said a lot about his development from last season. Speaking of which … the next couple games on the Bucs’ docket should speak volumes about the ilk of this team: vs. Falcons, at Broncos.
Injuries and a loss force a three-step drop. And expect a lot of those from Charlie Batch, too, because he ain’t throwing it deep.
Would you believe that if the Falcons were not able to pull out the win versus Arizona that we would be talking about the Saints’ chances at winning the division? A month ago, the playoffs seemed like a freaking pipe dream. A huge reason for the Saints’ success is the recent play of the secondary, which competed its butt off in Oakland. Next week, New Orleans plays host to the Niners in a rematch of the top game of 2011.
The Minnesota Vikings finally got a week off. Good thing, because the rest of the schedule is absolutely brutal: at Bears, at Packers, vs. Bears, at Rams, at Texans, vs. Packers.
From the brink of disaster to 5-5. And losses by both the Colts and Steelers gave Marvin Lewis’ group increased hope in the wild-card race. A win this Sunday at home against the lowly Raiders likely would make the Dec. 23 trip to Heinz Field the most important game of the season for Cincinnati.
Another solid showing by Tony Romo, who did not throw an interception for the third straight week. Interesting that another NFC quarterback threw five picks this week, which inspired this tweet …
The Indianapolis Colts are playoff-bound, says everyone.
The Detroit Lions are in serious trouble. Not only is Detroit last in the NFC North, but an 0-4 record in the division and a 3-5 conference mark means this team probably needs to run the table to make the playoffs. #Doubtful
Tecmo Super Bowl stat line of the week goes to Robert Griffin III: 14-for-15, four touchdowns, no picks, 84 yards rushing. Ironic it came against the Philadelphia Eagles, because that was a “QB Eagles” stat line from the greatest video game ever.
What a performance from Mario Williams last Thursday night versus the Fins. Jimmy Buffett must’ve let out a silent cry watching Williams thoroughly dominate rookie right tackle Jonathan Martin. Next up: at Indianapolis. Big game.
Who the heck is Ryan Lindley? Guarantee you that question was asked in dorm rooms, Hooters and snazzy luxury suites at the Georgia Dome thousands of times. The third-stringer was pressed into service after John Skelton (another household name) was benched. Lindley was so-so, at best. (Maybe that’s even a stretch.) The Arizona Cardinals’ offense couldn’t generate much, particularly Lindley, who went 9-for-20 for 64 yards. Nonetheless, you have to hand a pound of respect to a Cardinals’ defense that generated six turnovers and held the Falcons’ offense in check most of the day.
Some Tennessee Titans fans might be holding out hope for a late playoff push — or a .500 push — with a decent schedule down the backstretch. The best guess here would be a 7-9 finish, givingMike Munchak a .500 record through two years. The jury is still out on the coach and Jake Lockeras a tandem; they came in together, but Locker’s early-season shoulder injury derailed a true evaluation process. Either way, this team has looked miles better than whatever that was early in the season, particularly Chris Johnson, who, amazingly enough, is averaging over five yards per carry despite a horrid start.
Miami’s wideouts struggle mightily to get any separation. I found myself feeling bad for both Ryan Tannehill and Dolphins fans everywhere. For all who follow the little mammal with a helmet ( don’t change the logo!), there must be a certain sense of dread when this team falls behind two scores,like it did in Buffalo. This is not an offense that takes shots down the field, nor is it built to come from behind.
The San Diego Chargers had an opportunity to be just one game behind the Broncos with a tie in the head-to-head department. Now the Bolts are three games back and, in reality, four because of the 0-2 record versus Denver. Opportunity lost. Philip Rivers’ uneven play continues to maddenChargers fans, but the guiltiest party in another underwhelming season is a subpar running game that averages 3.8 yards per carry, 24th in the NFL. On Sunday, the Chargers ran 23 times and gained all of 53 yards. That’s brutal. That’s 4-6 football.
Nice to see the New York Jets playing like a cohesive unit Sunday in St. Louis. Mark Sanchez played well. The defense wouldn’t allow Sam Bradford to do the same. The Jets also ran the football a whopping 41 times, burning clock while not placing the hopes of an entire football team on Sanchez’s shoulders. Looks like Tebowmania ain’t happenin’, folks.
At some point, Sam Bradford has to start playing ball. His career has a Rick Mirer arc to it, at least at this stage. On Sunday he threw 44 passes … for 170 yards. Talk about no gas mileage.
Brent Celek says he’s “sick about this crap.” He’s sick of losing. He’s also surely upset about his drop that led to an interception. Well, if he’s back next season, he won’t be sick of faces; many of the familiar ones could be gone. With Michael Vick due $15.5 million next season … you get the point. Although, all those Philadelphia Eagles fans clamoring for the Nick Foles era got a trailer Sunday — as in, a trailer for movies of quality, like Terminator Salvation, The Green Lantern and Alexander.
Of all the losses in the Ron Rivera era, the 27-21 debacle in Week 11 has to be the worst. I mean, there’s nowhere to go but up from here. The Carolina Panthers were up 21-10 with just over two minutes to play. The reality is Rivera has only won eight of 26 games. The GM who hired him is gone. His quarterback has regressed. And the defense — Rivera’s side of the ball — has struggled late in games. Ironically, next Monday night, Rivera’s Panthers face a team in a tailspin of equal gravity: the Philadelphia Eagles.
Cleveland Browns fans have been forced to endure far too many close losses, starting all the way back in Week 1 versus the Eagles. Both Cleveland lines dominated the Cowboys, and yet, the team lost its eighth game of the season. That doesn’t make sense. Defensive penalties absolutely killedDick Jauron’s unit, which sorely missed cornerback Joe Haden. Look for the Browns to address the secondary in the 2013 NFL Draft. We’re already looking forward to the draft. Dude, is there any harder team to be a fan of than the Browns? Yes, this next team in the rankings …
While losing myself in the three overtimes from the early games Sunday, I did look up long enough to notice the Raiders were down 14-0. In two weeks, they’ve been outscored 93-20. Oakland Raiders football. Get excited.
Is there any question now that the Jacksonville Jaguars’ offense looks better with Chad Henne in there? It appeared that way in Oakland and against Indianapolis a few weeks ago. But after a huge day in Houston — and a narrow loss to the class of the AFC — it behooves Mike Mularkey to play Henne irrespective of Blaine Gabbert’s health. It’s only fair to the players, who must earn their jobs. Time to make Gabbert earn his.
We moved the Kansas City Chiefs up a slot for playing Pittsburgh so tough two Mondays ago. Any momentum possibly gained there was lost in another blowout loss to Cincinnati. Make that a home blowout loss. The Chiefs have been demolished by the Falcons, Chargers, Raiders and Bengals in front of one of the most supportive fan bases in pro football. And to think their lone win came in overtime.