September 18, 2012

LIAO | NFL Power Rankings

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Two weeks into the NFL season and there’s already been some huge upsets and stories. Some preseason favorites — Patriots, Packers, Ravens — were upset, while some bad teams — Cardinals, Eagles, Seahawks — have surpassed expectations.

Let’s take a look at these changes with America’s favorite pastime — NFL Power Rankings.

32. Jacksonville Jaguars

Blaine Gabbert is not very good at throwing an egg-shaped object. After an atrocious rookie season (he owned a quarterback rating of 65.4, making him dead last in the league), the Jaguars acquired wide receivers Laurent Robinson through free agency and Justin Blackmon through the draft to give him some help.

Blackmon performed well against (a bad) Vikings defense, but absolutely fell apart against the Texans’ defense, finishing 7-19 for 53 yards before leaving the game with an injury. It would be shocking if the Jaguars won more than three games.

31. Cleveland Browns

The Browns aren’t last! Huge victory for Cleveland!

30. Oakland Raiders

29. Tennessee Titans

28. Kansas City Chiefs

All three of these teams have been very disappointing; although no one expected them to win the Super Bowl, they were expected to challenge for a playoff spot, but they are all 0-2 and none of their games have been particularly close. There are many issues with all three teams, and the running game is one for all three. Chris Johnson forgot how to move his feet in a forward direction — carrying the ball 19 times for 21 total yards. Thus far, Darren McFadden has not done much better with 54 yards in 26 carries, while Jamaal Charles had just three yards on six carries against the Bills.

27. Minnesota Vikings

26. Indianapolis Colts

25. Cincinnati Bengals

24. Miami Dolphins

Unlike the last trio, these four teams have first- or second-year quarterbacks (Christian Ponder, Andrew Luck, Andy Dalton, Ryan Tannehill) and a lot of young talent. They are all 1-1 and have bright futures, but making the playoffs this year may be difficult.

23. Buffalo Bills

22. Washington Redskins

I was extremely optimistic about the Redskins going into Week 2; Robert Griffin III and the offense looked great and the defense was solid. Now after Week 2, we know that RGIII will regress to the mean and linebacker Ryan Orakpo and defensive end Adam Carriker were lost for the season due to injuries.

21. St. Louis Rams

20. New Orleans Saints

Oh, how the mighty have fallen. After their tumultuous summer, it seemed as if the Saints would be okay; Drew Brees was back, they were saying all the right things, and it looked like their record of excellence would keep them elite … but it didn’t. Turns out they miss Sean Payton more than anyone could have guessed. Not only do they miss his play-calling, but the interim head coach Joe Vitt seems incapable of making in-game adjustments and the team looks sloppy. With Brees, they can definitely turn it around, but they should be panicking in the Bayou right now.

19. New York Jets

“We want Tebow! We want Tebow! We want Tebow!” said every Jets fan in Week 5. That’s right, I can predict the future.

18. Carolina Panthers

17. Tampa Bay Buccaneers

The Falcons, Saints, Panthers and Bucs form the strongest division from top to bottom. It will be interesting to see if the NFC South can send two teams to the playoffs.

16. San Diego Chargers

With Antonio Gates injured, the Chargers now lack the big name players from past years, but are still a very effective team on both sides of the ball. Rivers is still leading the offense, while the defense has held Darren McFadden and Chris Johnson to a combined 40 yards rushing in their first two games. I know the Chargers routinely collapse as the season goes on, but this year just feels a little different.

15. Seattle Seahawks

14. Dallas Cowboys

13. Denver Broncos

12. Detroit Lions

11. Chicago Bears

Not a clue what to make of these five teams. They are all 1-1, had a good game and a bad game and have potential to make the playoffs.

10. Arizona Cardinals

They are 2-0 after beating the Seahawks and the Patriots with no resemblance of an offense. Is Kevin Kolb pulling some Tebow-esque magic?! No, probably not, but it is mighty impressive, even though I don’t see how it can continue. Their resume should put them in the Top-3, but their roster says they should be in the bottom 15. Let’s just stick them here and move on.

9. Pittsburgh Steelers

8. New York Giants

7. Philadelphia Eagles

We know exactly how the script will go with all three of these teams. The Steelers will be injured for most of the season, but get healthy by the playoffs and make a push. The Giants will win some huge games, lose some easy ones, have tabloids wondering when Tom Coughlin will be fired, then win the final two or three games before the playoffs and be the team no one wants to face. Michael Vick will get injured for the Eagles, DeSean Jackson will cause unnecessary drama and the team will underperform due to turnovers, an inability to run the ball inside and shaky timeout management by Andy Reid. Like clockwork.

6. Baltimore Ravens

5. New England Patriots

4. Green Bay Packers

All three of these teams took a lost to a less-than-stellar team, but are still elite. No one should be worried about them and we’ll see them come playoff time.

3. Houston Texans

It’s hard to trust a team that is not used to winning and is relying on an injury-prone quarterback, but all signs are pointing to a great year for the Texans. Their explosive offensive is back and healthy, their defense has a ton of improving young talent and the Peyton Manning Colts are forever out of their division.

2. Atlanta Falcons

The Falcons have always been know as a team solid in everything, but great at nothing; this may change this year, as their offense makes the jump from good to great. Matt Ryan seems more poised, Julio Jones is a year older and the rest of the offense — Roddy White, Michael Turner, Tony Gonzalez — are healthy and ready for another year. On the defense, they added Asante Samuel to an already formidable defensive backfield, while defensive linemen Jonathan Babineaux, Ray Edwards and John Abraham supply the pass rush.

1. San Francisco 49ers

The 49ers are a pretty unique team; they don’t rely on the strength of their star quarterback, but instead rely on beating the other team at all 21 other positions on the field. They have so much talent and depth everywhere, it doesn’t matter who their quarterback is, plus now that Alex Smith no longer fears being benched, it means even more trouble for the rest of the league.

Original Author: Albert Liao

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