Pretty much everyone can throw their “pre-season” predictions out the window because it has been a crazy NFL season so far. The worst team in the NFL in 2012 is now undefeated, we have two teams that have only won one game, and we have teams that were supposed to be Super Bowl contenders just fall off the face of the earth. But, thats whats fun about football; you never know whats going to happen. We are now 10 weeks into the 2013 season and a playoff picture is now starting to form. There are some teams that we can tell are playoff bound, and at the same time I really think we will have a crazy Wild Card race going into the playoffs. So, with that being said here is the current NFL Power Ranking; along with some other interesting facts.
1. Kansas City Chiefs (9-0) – Ten weeks ago when it was Week 1 the Chiefs were ranked at #22. People will make the argument that the Chiefs have not played a tough team yet, but the fact remains they are undefeated. The Chiefs defense has really been a surprise and they have been holding opponents to under 18 points a game. The Chiefs offense is not the best in the NFL, but Smith and Company have been doing something that most teams do too much of and thats NOT turning the ball over. It is very rare that the Chiefs turn the ball over and when you add that to a stout defense it equals victories. In the next 3 weeks the Chiefs will play the Broncos twice so we will really see what they are made of.
2. Denver Broncos (8-1) – Peyton Manning has been a thrill to watch this year and he is leading the NFL in pretty much every passing category. Another surprise on the Broncos offense has been Knowshon Moreno, he has found the endzone 8 times this season. The Broncos defense has suffered some setbacks, but when you get an offense that will score almost 40 points a game it really helps. The 3-headed monster on the team is the combo of Welker, Thomas, and Decker and with those 3 running routes at the same time makes it almost impossible to defend. The lowest the Broncos ranking has been this year was 4th; I dont see a way that the Broncos wont be deep into the playoffs.
3. Seattle Seahawks (9-1) – When the season started the Seahawks were ranked #1 and the lowest they have gone is 5th. The Seahawks have had one of the best defenses in the NFL, not to mention a very high powered offense. Lynch has already scored 7 rushing TDs and is second in the NFL in rushing yards. Between Richard Sherman and Earl Thomas they have combined for 8 interceptions which makes it very difficult to pass on the Seahawks. I really cant see anything slowing Seattle down between Russell Wilson, Lynch, Golden Tate, and a powerful defense it would not surprise me to see Seattle playing in the Super Bowl.
4. New Orleans Saints (7-2) – When the season started the Saints were ranked at 14 and had a terrible defense in 2012. It has been a major turn around this season with Brees throwing 25 TDs already and over 3,000 passing yards. Lets not forget Jimmy Graham who has been a dominating force with 10 receiving TDs and 54 receptions; which is more than most receivers on other teams. Someone that gets overlooked on this offense is Pierre Thomas; with Sproles not being as productive as usual Thomas has been the primary running back to shoulder the load in the running game and he has made a bigger impact this year than he has in previous years.
5. New England Patriots (7-2) – The Patriots have had their struggles this year, but they have made the adjustments they need to still win games. Brady has been doing his best to utilize the young receivers he has and the running game has almost been non-existent up until a few weeks ago with Blount and Ridley. Now with Gronkowski coming back into the mix it has given Brady a reliable target in the pass game and the young receivers have been improving every week.
6. Carolina Panthers (6-3) – Yes you are reading this right; the Panthers are in the top 10 in the Power Rankings. Just 10 weeks ago they were ranked down in the 23rd spot and now with a 5 game win streak they have cracked the top 10. Its mostly the defense that is making this possible by holding opponents to under 19 points a game for the last 5 weeks. Obviously Cam Newton has been keeping the offense rolling, but the defense is their best weapon as of late. Players like Charles Johnson with 8.5 sacks, Mike Mitchell with 3 interceptions, and Luke Kuechly with 75 tackles is keeping the Panthers in games. Believe it or not, but the Panthers could make a playoff run this season which would be the first in almost a decade.
7. Indianapolis Colts (6-3) – Despite getting handled by the Rams this week the Colts are still looking pretty sharp. They have the weapons in Luck, Richardson, Hilton, and Fleener but they need to utilize them more. Everyone thought that Richardson would be the answer to the run game, but so far it has been a disappointment and with Reggie Wayne going to IR the load has fallen on Hilton and Heyward-Bey. The Colts defense has stepped up when needed as well in tough games. What fans are hoping for is that Luck and Company can continue to get the ball to the endzone and make another playoff run.
8. San Francisco 49ers (6-3) – Once again the 49ers defense is one of the best in the NFL; but the offense is not doing their part. The 49ers have an incredible running game with Gore, Hunter, and James; but Kap is literally dead last in passing yards. The Niners have weapons too in Vernon Davis, Anquan Boldin, and Mario Manningham. Eventually Crabtree will come back, but its not going to matter if Kap cant get the ball to them. It would not surprise me if the Niners still make a playoff run, but it will be short lived unless the offense steps it up soon. The good news is that the defense is stepping up big time. When you have players like Patrick Willis, Navarrow Bowman, and Justin Smith you are bound to have a solid defense, but the Niners cannot rely on them to get them to another Super Bowl.
9. Detroit Lions (6-3) – When I think of the Lions there are 3 names that come to mind; Calvin Johnson, Matthew Stafford, and now Reggie Bush. Between those 3 guys the Lions have become a very powerful offense. Calvin has already found the endzone 9 times and is almost to 1,000 receiving yards already. Reggie Bush has been a double threat by being the main rusher on the team and a safety valve for Stafford. Picking up Bush was the best thing for the Lions and Bush has taken advantage of it by having 4 total TDs and almost 1,000 total yards. Lets not forget about the defense, DeAndre Levy leads the NFL with 5 interceptions and Stephen Tulloch with 72 tackles. The Lions actually do have a good chance at a playoff run with the Packers and the Bears both multiple games in the last few weeks.
10. Cincinnati Bengals (6-4) – The Bengals have now dropped 2 straight games; both in overtime, but dont count them out yet. AJ Green leads the NFL in receiving yards and second in receptions; and between Bernard and Green-Ellis the running game has gotten a lot better. To me, the issue is Dalton. He is a good QB, but he is still making bad decisions in crucial times of the game. When Dalton is hot he is almost impossible to stop, but when he is cold he is ice cold. The Bengals have had an incredible defense this year and it is because of the defense that the Bengals are leading in their division. If the Bengals can pull the offense together they should be able to take the NFC North with no problem.
11. Chicago Bears (5-4) – I had high hopes for the Bears after they came out of the gates with 3 straight wins, but recently they have been a bit disappointing. Part of it was the fact that Cutler was injured, but you cant blame all of it on that. The Bears main weapon is still Brandon Marshall, but Alshon Jeffery has been a nice compliment in the pass game. Also, the emergence of Martellus Bennett has been a nice addition in the pass game. My problem with the Bears is that they have re-vamped offensive line and a killer RB in Forte, but they are not giving him the ball enough. Forte is almost to the 700 yard mark and a solid 7 TDs, but I feel he should be used more like an Adrian Peterson type back. With Cutler back under center I think the Bears can give the Lions a run for their money, but only time will tell.
12. New York Jets (5-4) - The Jets were ranked dead last when the season began, but they have clawed their way up to #12. The best thing that the Jets did was bench Sanchez; I am not saying Geno Smith is that much better, but it is definitely an improvement. You cant blame everything on Smith though; the offensive line has given up a lot of sacks and the running game has not been too impressive. So, how are the Jets 5-4? Simple answer; defense. The offense has stepped up in big situations, but the defense plays a full 4 quarters of football.
13. Green Bay Packers (5-4) – Very rough season for the cheese heads. The Packers have just been plagued with the injury big with key players going down, such as; Aaron Rodgers, Randall Cobb, and Jermichael Finley. The bright spot though has been the outstanding play of rookie Eddie Lacy. The Packers have been searching for a franchise RB and they found it big time. Lacy as a rookie is ranked 8th in rushing yards and 7th in rushing attempts in the league. This may not be the year that the Packers do well, but this team is going to be extremely tough for years to come.
14. Philadelphia Eagles (5-5) - Its been an up and down season for the Eagles, but I think they are on the right track now. I think its official that Vick is not going to have a job next year, but Foles has played very well in a short amount of time. And when you add in LeSean McCoy to the mix it just makes the offense that much better. The Eagles have also found a star in Riley Cooper who is playing for the injured Jeremy Maclin; who also may not have a job next year. The offense is finally coming together and even with the NFC East being a sloppy division, the Eagles could take the division easily.
15. Dallas Cowboys (5-5) - Speaking of NFC East its time to talk about the Cowboys. What bothers me with the Cowboys is that they have all the weapons they need on offense and defense. You have a better Tony Romo, Dez Bryant, Jason Witten, and DeMarco Murray. And on defense you have Sean Lee and Ware who are having Pro Bowl years. So whats the problem? With the schedule that the Cowboys have I really thought they would be 7-3 right now. Everyone wants to blame Romo (because its a habit), but I cant say its all his fault. The Cowboys are going to need to step up their game if they hope to win this horrible division.
16. Arizona Cardinals (5-4) - Another team that has an awesome defense, but a mediocre offense. I dont see the Cardinals making a playoff push, but if they can get some better offensive players I think they could be a contender in the NFC West. In my opinion it starts with the offensive line. The Cards have a decent run game and they have weapons in Fitzgerald and Roberts, but if Palmer cant throw the ball they will be useless.
17. San Diego Chargers (4-5) - They have had some bright spots in Woodhead, Rivers, and Gates, but they are having a tough time stopping teams from scoring. Rivers is having a Pro Bowl type year, but that wont be enough in their division to make a playoff push. They are competing in the AFC West that has the Broncos and the Chiefs; so I dont really see them going to the post-season.
18. Baltimore Ravens (4-5) - Even with the Ravens being this low they could still make the playoffs. The AFC North has the Bengals (who the Ravens just beat), the Steelers, and the Browns. Over the alst few weeks the Ravens have been playing like the defensing Super Bowl Champs; especially the defense. The biggest difference in the Ravens offense has been the poor play of Ray Rice who is barely averaging 3 yards per carry. But, its not all his fault either the pass game has been almost non-existent this season. But even with that said the Ravens could slip into the playoffs as long as they keep pulling in the wins.
19. Cleveland Browns (4-5) - Obviously in a re-building year trading away Richardson and going through QBs like I go through underwear. The two bright spots have been the emergence of Jordan Cameron and Josh Gordon. The Browns and the Ravens have the same record, but dont expect the Browns to be a playoff team. There are a lot of holes in the offense, defense, and staff that will not benefit them for the remainder of the season.
20. St. Louis Rams (4-6) - Sam Bradford is out for the rest of the year, the running game is finally working, and Tavon Austin finally had a breakout game. There were some high hopes for the Rams coming into the season but they were quickly put to rest. Up until last week the Rams didnt even have a rushing TD and we were just waiting for Austin to show why he was a first round pick. The Rams could improve for future seasons, but I dont see them advancing for this season.
21. Tennessee Titans (4-5) - Even being ranked this low the Titans could push to be a Wild Card team. In their division its the Colts, Texans, Jags, and the Titans. Obviously the Jags and Texans have sealed their fate for this season, but the Titans still have a sliver of a chance. You wont find any of the offensive players leading in any stats, but when you combine Chris Johnson, Jake Locker, Kendall Wright, and Nate Washington I think they could slide into a Wild Card spot if they get more wins under their belt.
22. Miami Dolphins (4-5) - Everyone was shocked when the Dolphins came out guns blazing winning 3 straight games. But it has not taken long for the whole team to just crumble. Since their 3 win start they have only won one more game which was in OT against the Bengals. People thought having Mike Wallace in Miami would be an improvement and that has proven to be a disappointment, and most people listed Lamar Miller as a sleeper for fantasy players which has also been a disappointment. Now with the Dolphins getting a lot of negative attention its only going to add to a growing problem for the franchise.
23. Washington Redskins (3-6) - I just dont understand this team at all. Alfred Morris is probably one of the more reliable backs in the game, yet he is getting a lot less carries than his rookie year and more importantly, Morris is getting a lot less redzone carries which confuses me greatly. I really cant tell what is going on with RGIII either. One week he is unstoppable then the next week he cant do anything right. It has been a treat to see Garcon play to his potential this season and I think he is one of the main reasons that the Redskins have won 3 games. The Redskins have a long road ahead of them, but I still think that RGIII is the answer to most of the problems.
24. Pittsburgh Steelers (3-6) - Another team that just baffles me. They are just letting games slip through their fingers. Antonio Brown leads the NFL in receptions and has proven to be a reliable target for Big Ben, but he cant get in the endzone. When it comes to the running game its literally hit or miss. Le’Veon Bell is a good runner when he is healthy, but they do not have that reliable RB to back him up if something happens. The “Steel Curtain” has not been up to par either this year and I cant tell what the problem is. The Steelers are a good team and they have been for decades, but this has not been a good year and I dont see a playoff birth for 2013.
25. New York Giants (3-6) - Talk about a team that just fell right on their face. It was mostly in the running game when they released Bradshaw, then Wilson played poorly, then Wilson and Brown got hurt, then Jacobs got hurt, then Hillis stepped in, and now Brown is back. The defense has been really soft this year too by allowing well over 20 points a game which equals a lot of losses. I know the Giants are a good team, but they got off on the wrong foot this year and they are paying for it now.
26. Buffalo Bills (3-7) - Between having a rookie QB and Spiller being a bust its just been one thing after another for the Bills this year. People were really putting a lot of faith into Spiller and Manuel going into the season, but injuries put a stop to that quickly. The Bills also have weapons that can add up tp wins, but they need to be able to put all the pieces of the puzzle together. Eventually I could see the Bills being a playoff contender; just not this year.
27. Oakland Raiders (3-6) - It has been a treat to see how much Pryor has improved since the beginning of the season and I think Oakland finally has a QB they can groom to be a franchise QB. One piece of this puzzle though is DMC needing to stay healthy for a full season. McFadden has put up good numbers this year, but he is still plagued with the injury bug. I gotta give the Raiders defense some credit because the few wins they have had this year have been won by the defense.
28. Houston Texans (2-7) - I really thought the Texans were going to be a solid playoff team this year; was I off or what? It was very hard to watch Matt Schaub literally throw this team into the ground for the first 4 weeks, but its even tougher now with Foster being injured and the defense has fallen apart now that they are talking about cutting Ed Reid. I am hoping this is just an “off” year for the Texans and they come back next year and get back on track.
29. Atlanta Falcons (2-7) - Roddy White, Julio Jones, Matt Ryan, Steven Jackson, and Tony Gonzalez. When you look at those names all you see is Pro Bowls, TDs, and great players. The fact that they are all on the same team you would think that it would be an unstoppable offense; well its been a different story this year. I was predicting the Falcons to make another deep playoff run, but between injuries and just poor play they find themselves searching for answers. 2013 was not kind to the Falcons, but they will be better next season that much I know.
30. Minnesota Vikings (2-7) - I can sum up this teams season in two words; QB issues. I can seriously say that the Vikings can blame the majority of this crappy season on the poor play of all 3 of their QBs. Adrian Peterson is playing well and carrying the team as best as he can right now, but the QB (no matter who it is) is not helping matters.
31. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (1-8) – With the loss of Josh Freeman and Doug Martin the Bucs have been using inexperienced players to try and carry the team. Its been a sad year for the Bucs, but its mostly sitting on the offense to pick up the slack for next season.
32. Jacksonville Jaguars (1-8) - They finally got a win. To be honest I dont really think too many people had high hopes for the Jags this season.