In his first start returning from a long absence (and receiving very little help from the rest of his team), EJ Manuel had a bad game against a defense that is built to destroy rookie QBs. On the road. I think we can wait a little longer before declaring EJ a bust. Holy crap. That said, that whole game was UGLY all over. We are now in the “Win out and get tons of help on the way and MAYBE make the post-season” mode. I can accept that our chances are slim to none. I hope our team keeps fighting until mathematically eliminated, regardless. Time to burst the Jets’ bubble.
1. Kansas City Chiefs (same): They’re fresh off the Bye and heading into the game of the year in Denver on Sunday night. I can’t wait.
2. Denver Broncos (same): Despite trailing the Chiefs in record, I believe the Broncos are convinced they are a better team. That COULD work against them, as underestimating the Chiefs hasn’t worked out for anyone this year.
3. Seattle Seahawks (same): Convincing wins are finally coming the Seahawks’ way, and they’ll likely get another one against the Vikings. Their record (9-1) is technically better than the Broncos, but they just haven’t been as dominant.
4. New England Patriots (same): The Pats come off the Bye and get the Panthers on Monday night, giving us easily the best prime-time weekend of the season. Tom Brady CAN get flustered when under pressure, and Carolina knows how to create pressure.
5. New Orleans Saints (same): There’s no doubt the Saints are rolling, and the destruction of the Cowboys showed that. The Niners pose a tougher challenge this week, though.
6. Carolina Panthers (+7): The Panthers are on an incredible streak, and they’re taking down good teams along the way. It’s difficult to point at any one thing that is leading to the Panthers’ success. They have epitomized the idea of “team victory” over the past several weeks.
7. Detroit Lions (+2): After being last in the NFC North last year, the Lions now own the lead in their division late in the season. As long as they don’t let up, this team can be a force in the post-season.
8. San Francisco 49ers (-1): The Niners are USUALLY a great team, but there have been a few games this year where they look TERRIBLE. Inconsistency like that leads to disappointment in the playoffs. Now they’re faced with the daunting task of derailing the Saints to get themselves back on track.
9. Cincinnati Bengals (-3): The Bengals have lost two overtime games in a row, which can crush a team’s spirit. Now they face the Browns, who smell blood in the water. The Bengals need to turn things around fast, or risk losing their lead in the division.
10. Indianapolis Colts (-2): Wow. That was a pathetic performance against a “bad” team. The Colts offense only managed a useless touchdown and 2-point conversion late in the game… and that’s it. Proof positive that Andrew Luck needs to respond better to the pass rush.
11. Chicago Bears (same): They did lose, but it was a close game against a division rival… and they’re still well in the hunt for the playoffs. A win over the Ravens will help, but the Cutler injuries are getting old. If they can’t have him for the majority of the remaining games, the Bears may fall short.
12. Green Bay Packers (-2): In Green Bay, however, there’s no “may” about it. This team WILL miss the playoffs without Aaron Rodgers. Their schedule is relatively soft for the rest of the year, but I doubt Matt Flynn will repeat his former heroics in Green Bay.
13: Baltimore Ravens (+4): Just when I thought the Ravens were done, they bounced back hard. Upsetting the Bengals has left the door open for a comeback, though it still looks unlikely. Even without Cutler, the Bears could prove too much for them.
14. Cleveland Browns (+1): Watching the Bengals lose last week has the Dog Pound licking their chops. The Browns look rejuvenated with Jason Campbell at QB, and they will be HIGHLY motivated against Cincy.
15. San Diego Chargers (-1): Well, I think we knew the Chargers weren’t the Broncos. This is still a good team that kept things competitive, but the Chargers need to work on minimizing mistakes. The Dolphins look like easy-pickings right now.
16. Arizona Cardinals (same): It’s not like the Texans put up much of a fight against the Cardinals last week. Arizona continues to take advantage of an easy schedule against the Jags this week. Insane as it sounds, the Cardinals are still in the playoff conversation.
17. Philadelphia Eagles (+2): Being the best in the NFC East isn’t saying much. Beating a third-string Packers QB isn’t saying much either. Still, Nick Foles is playing MONSTROUS ball, and that Eagles offense is finally starting to look like it did in Week 1. Speaking of which, this week is a rematch of that very game against the Redskins.
18. Dallas Cowboys (-6): Despite being tied for the lead in their division, the Cowboys just look like a mess. They likely need the Bye week at this point to get things figured out. How they come out of it will determine their fate.
19. New York Jets (-1): Every other Power Ranking I’ve seen has the Jets significantly higher. I don’t care. I’ll reserve judgment until we get our chance for revenge this week. I hope Geno Smith is embarrassed.
20. St. Louis Rams (+7): Oh my. Tavon Austin just blew the top off that game against the Colts. You can imagine the Rams will start getting the ball to him more, and Kellen Clemens deserves credit too. It’s not like the playoffs are more than a longshot at this point, but the fans in St. Louis have to be excited for the future. They’ll be grinning during the Bye week.
21. New York Giants (+5): Ok, so the Raiders aren’t a great team or anything, but the Giants are starting to turn the corner. They’ve won three straight, and now their running game is finally materializing (in the form of Andre Brown). If the Packers are playing without Rodgers, the Giants have a good chance of making it four in a row.
22. Miami Dolphins (-2): HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAAAA!!! Ok, seriously though, this has become a train wreck. When you think about it, the Dolphins just lost two Offensive Linemen. Those guys aren’t exactly easy to replace. The losses clearly showed on Monday night. The Chargers are WAY better than the Bucs, and all the Dolphins want to do right now is hide under a blanket.
23. Buffalo Bills (-2): Ugh. Well, my friends, we’ve now entered the “praying for a miracle” stage of our season. Despite Manuel’s difficult return, he’s still our guy for the season. Hopefully he can turn things around against the Jets.
24. Washington Redskins (-2): The Redskins just can’t seem to win two in a row, even against really bad teams like the Vikings. You can imagine they want to get back at the Eagles for embarrassing them so badly in the season opener, but it’s hard to believe that will happen at this stage.
25. Houston Texans (-1): The Texans are in a 7-game skid, and I bet fans are starting to regret turning on Matt Schaub. He still is the ONLY Texans QB who has won a game this year. The Raiders may help them along, and they still get to play the Jaguars twice this year… but even those games aren’t guaranteed wins for these guys. How do they have the best passing defense in the league?
26. Tennessee Titans (-3): Poor Fitz. He’s playing some of the best football he’s ever played, and the rest of his team is letting him down. Chris Johnson was limited to 30 yards against the freaking JAGUARS. I’ll be rooting for the Titans to upset the Colts, but…. They lost to the JAGUARS.
27. Atlanta Falcons (-2): The Falcons are starting to get healthier, but the Seahawks weren’t messing around on Sunday. Can you believe the Falcons need to beat the Bucs this week to stay out of last place in the NFC South?
28. Pittsburgh Steelers (+1): I’m gonna go ahead and say that the Steelers (specifically Dick LeBeau’s Steelers) still own rookie QBs and leave it at that. This team is still in the basement of their division. I don’t see them doing to the Lions what they did to us.
29. Minnesota Vikings (+1): They got another win! Who do they have next? The Seahawks? Oh.
30. Oakland Raiders (-2): Teams are starting to wise up to Terrelle Pryor. The Texans may seem like a chance for the Raiders to bounce back, but that Texans defense is still stout. Pryor may have another rough game.
31. Tampa Bay Bucanneers (same): Everything kind of lined up perfectly so the Bucs could poach a vulnerable team. Despite the win, this team is still VERY bad. That said, they have a shot against the Falcons this week.
32. Jacksonville Jaguars (same): Think about the roller-coaster of emotions when the Jags won and they thought, “WE AREN’T THE WORST TEAM IN THE LEAGUE!!!” and then the Bucs won on Monday night, and then the Jags realized… They’re STILL the worst team in the league.