LOS ANGELES — With apologies to Don Draper and Walter White, an argument could be made the two most popular television programs in the country right now are anything involving the National Football League and “Game of Thrones.” So, logically, we here at The Chris Brockman Website decided to combine the two, matching our favorite backstabbers, schemers, and philanderers of Westeros with their respective NFL counterparts. You don’t need to be a loyal book reader of the George R.R. Martin series to appreciate these footballers are who we say they are. (some spoilers ahead)
TYWIN LANNISTER — Bill Belichick, Patriots: Leader of a dynasty and the self-proclaimed “smartest guy in the room,” the similarities between Belichick and the eldest Lannister are endless. Watching Tywin talk down to his Small Council, you can almost hear his Belichikian tone. All that’s missing is cutoff armor and hooded chainmail. There’s no question these two weathered veterans are winners, leaders, and probably not as smart as they or everyone thinks they are. But any time they’re on camera, you can’t look away.
TYRION LANNISTER — Steve Smith, Panthers: Both the undersized Carolina receiver and the Imp have been counted out their whole adult lives because of their physical stature, and while Tyrion has used his brain to get ahead, Smith has used his giant heart and fierce determination. The pair are extremely crafty despite being overlooked from most. Additionally, and this is a point we can’t harp on enough, each are equally despised by their own family as evidenced by Joffrey trying to have Tyrion killed at the Battle of Blackwater, and Smith getting in multiple fights with teammates and his alleged feud with Cam Newton.
BRONN — Aaron Rodgers, Packers: Money and winning are the only pure motivators for Bronn, who is fearless, reckless, and doesn’t play by anybody’s rules. Sounds a lot like the newly-minted, richest-man-in-the-NFL Rodgers if you ask me. Bronn is also funny – have you seen a Rodgers post-game press conference? – and petty – Rodgers got miffed at “60 Minutes” for suggesting he was short for a quarterback. Just not sure if the evil notions in Green Bay come free.
PODRICK PAYNE THE SQUIRE — Josh Scobee, Jaguars: Podrick has proved to have a way with the ladies, to the amazement of Tyrion and Bronn, and the same can be said for Scobee, who has one of the hotter wives in the NFL. Like the young squire, Scobee, as a kicker, knows his role on the team and when to speak up. And like Podrick saved his Lord’s life at the Battle of Blackwater, Scobee on occasion has lifted his teammates to victory in the closing seconds with a game-winning kick.
JAIME LANNISTER — Eli Manning, Giants: By virtue of being a Manning, Eli was automatically enshrined into NFL royalty, and like the one-handed Lannister, Eli has shown his prowess for taking what he wants. You could easily pass on the moniker “Kingslayer” to No. 10 for taking down the league’s Golden Boy not once, but twice in the Super Bowl, thusly denying Tom Brady championships 4 and 5.
WALDER FREY — Al Davis, Raiders: Old, crotchety, respected and always one to hold a grudge, there may not be a better Game of Thrones / NFL match that these two, especially after what took place at the Red Wedding. Davis is renowned for suing the league he helped create and living by his “Just Win, Baby” mantra, and well, we all know how Lord Frey likes to party.
BRIENNE OF TARTH — Joe Thomas, Browns: It takes someone lacking fear to defend a blindside, and no one does that better than Joe Thomas, even though whichever QB the Browns trot out any given Sunday is likely worthless. And like Brienne, a left tackle has to be big, bullheaded, and full of duty and honor. Often overlooked in the stat line, like the lady of Tarth, Thomas often has an impact when his master is unscathed.
DAENERYS TARGARYEN — Russell Wilson, Seahawks: Like the Mother of Dragons emerged from a hopeless girl to dominate across the Narrow Sea, Wilson came out of nowhere to be a real NFL power player after a breakout 2012 season. And while Khaleesi now has a trio of new weapons in her dragons, Wilson now has Percy Harvin’s plethora of talents at his disposal. Both are now major contenders to wear the crown after being unknowns when the season (and show) began.
JORAH MORMONT — Pete Carroll, Seahawks: Jorah was disgraced and booted out of Westeros, which is not unlike Carroll’s tail-between-his-legs exit from Southern Cal following the Reggie Bush scandal. Now, both are fortunate to have fallen into backing big-time winners. Loyal, slick, wise, and cheerleaders, Jorah and Carroll are cut from the same mold and seem to have positioned themselves for long-term success.
BARRISTAN SELMY — Dick LeBeau, Steelers: It’s not often that a battle-tested warrior lives to become an old man in the Seven Kingdoms, much like the NFL translates to “Not For Long.” So it makes sense that Barristan and LeBeau are counterparts. A pair of grizzly veterans of the game, they’ve seen it all, done it all, and have survived to pass on their defensive genius to a new crop of players.
ROBB STARK — Tom Brady, Patriots: Brady is the unquestioned leader of the North, untouchable, and received this tutelage from the best; very similar to Robb, who trained under his well-respected father, Ned. And like Robb, Brady has had moments of resounding brilliance (multiple Super Bowl championships & MVPs) and ones of shake-your-head foolishness (dancing in Brazil, water sliding, ridiculous haircuts). Brady’s big-game performance of late has also matched well with the eldest Stark son, whose actions have left his men wondering if he’s fit to be King.
TALISA STARK — Gisele Bundchen: Like Talisa, Gisele stole the heart of the King of the North, and an argument could be made both Robb Stark and Tom Brady haven’t won anything since. Brady has come up short in two Super Bowls since hooking up for the former Victoria’s Secret model. Stark, meanwhile, has upset his own men, soiled the faith of an ally, and been blundering away strategic position since shacking up with the battlefield Volantis nurse.
EDDARD STARK — Brett Favre: One of only two deceased GOT characters to make the list is a fitting match for Favre. Both Ned Stark and the Ole’ Gunslinger were honorable statesmen, loyal to their homeland for many, many years before abandoning what they knew for the perils of the Big City. Favre jettisoned Green Bay for New York and then Minnesota, figuring his built-up good faith would carry over into this new surroundings, not realizing he was out of his element. And while Ned showed he could hang briefly at King’s Landing – like Favre’s career year with the Vikings – he ultimately ended up backstabbed and without his head; Favre’s magical journey ended on the sideline, consecutive games-played streak history, and after he retired, he’s barely been heard from.
JON SNOW — Wes Welker, Broncos: You could say undrafted players are the bastard children of the NFL, which would make Welker much more than Jon Snow given his success. And whether it was by his own doing or not, Welker left the safe haven of the North and joined up with the enemy on the other side of The Wall, or on his case, the Rocky Mountains. If Welker is still working for his new team’s enemy or knows more than nothing, a la Snow, has yet to be seen.
BRAN STARK — Adrian Peterson, Vikings: Both heirs of the North, Bran was thrown from a tree and lost the use of his legs, while Peterson was chopped down and needed reconstructive knee surgery. Bran has since been running like the wind in his dreams, while Peterson went out and nearly broke the NFL single-season rushing record in 2012. You almost get the feeling that Bran is destined for great things and likewise Peterson is only scratching the surface of what he could accomplish, especially after his recent 2,500-yard pronouncement.
ROOSE BOLTON — Bill Parcells: So let’s say you’ve worked your entire career for one team, had a lot of success with that team and grown really close to that team. Now let’s say, a little later on you went to work for that team’s most hated rival because they paid you a lot of money and it’s gotten to the point so much that your other team doesn’t even know you anymore. Maybe you died your hair blond, I don’t know. That would make you kind of a traitor, huh? Thought so.
HODOR — Rob Gronkowski, Patriots: Could you imagine if Gronkowski had a press conference and just said, “Hodor, Hodor, Hodor” every time someone asked him a question? It would be the greatest YouTube moment in sports. Just a big, lovable galoof is what Hodor is, and you could make a serious argument that’s exactly what Gronk is, only with more alcohol. Now if we can just get GOT’s writers to work in “Yo Soy Fiesta” as a battle cry.
THEON GREYJOY — Mark Sanchez, Jets: No one has taken public abuse and been the brunt of more media scrutiny (warranted or otherwise) and sports radio rants than Sanchez, who like Theon, can’t seem to get out of his own way. Seemingly the toast of the New York only a few years ago when he had the Jets in the AFC Championship, Sanchez is practically in shackles after the drafting of Geno Smith. Theon tried to make a bold move in taking Winterfell only to have it backfire into this weird torture play that’s hashing out slowly in Season 3. Neither is a bad guy on the surface, and unfortunately not a winners either, and I suspect both will have an unhappy ending.
STANNIS BARATHEON — Jay Cutler, Bears: When coming up with words to describe Stannis a few immediately came to mind: dull, boring, and pussy-whipped. That led me to only one NFL counterpart: Jay Cutler. Who else embodies Stannis’ spirit of being at times awesome at his position while being an enormous d-bag? Stannis had his best friend, Davos, thrown in jail! Doesn’t that remind you of Cutler screaming at his offensive line for getting sacked all the time? Literally all that’s missing is a Smokin’ Stannis Baratheon Tumblr page and we have Internet perfection.
DAVOS — Ronde Barber, Buccaneers: Davos stood by his King, Stannis, until the bitter end at the Battle of Blackwater, and you could say the same for Ronde, who remained a faithful Buccaneer following their Super Bowl title in 2003, when he no doubt had opportunities to just ship and play for a contender. While he didn’t get made to walk the plank by ownership, he might have well been, as Tampa Bay went 69-91 over the next decade.
JOFFREY BARATHEON — Tim Tebow: The most hated man in the Seven Kingdoms easily could be the most talked about, over-hyped, and dare I say, hated man in the NFL in Tim Tebow. Both Joffrey and Tebow were unfairly placed in their position of power (one by his scheming mother, the other by the scheming media machine and Josh McDaniels) and seemingly have no idea what to do. Joffrey can’t lead his men at the Battle of Blackwater, and while leading seems to be only what Tebow can do, his elsewhere skills so limited at the pro level, as evidenced by his current ouster from the league all together. Joffrey, meanwhile, doesn’t seem likely to sit on the Iron Throne for much longer.
ROBERT BARATHEON — Rex Ryan, Jets: Robert was a terrible king, but by all accounts, a great guy to be around, and he was a helluva warrior. Rex really isn’t that great of a head coach, but he sure looks like he’d be a fun guy to go to the Old Country Buffet with, and he used to scheme a good defense. Robert really liked fathering bastards and Rex, well, he liked to, well, make weird videos with his wife. Both were blubbering idiots who were mostly all show and no go. We know what happened to Robert, so I’m guessing Rex’s days are numbered.
GENDRY — Andrew Luck, Colts: Whether he knows it or not, Gendry is the rightful heir to the Iron Throne, and by virtue of Peyton Manning’s bum neck, Luck is the future of NFL quarterbacking. The best prospect at the position since the man he replaced, Luck’s upside is exponential, especially after his record-breaking rookie campaign. And the best thing about him, is there’s no ego. Much like Gendry, who just wants to be a part of SOMEthing, Luck is happy to be here and help his team win. The future is bright for both these young, goofy men.
SANDOR CLEGANE — Ben Roethlisberger, Steelers: Natural counterparts, The Hound and Roethlisberger are both larger than life, fierce warriors, and survivors of life-altering facial injuries – Big Ben’s after his June 2006 motorcycle accident and The Hound’s after his brother shoved him in a fire. Both like to party (though Ben’s days appear to be over) and never back down from a challenge. Ben is known for always playing through pain and keeping plays alive by being nearly impossible to take down, and The Hound is lauded whooping serious ass and being loyal to those he has a soft spot for.
PETYR BAELISH — Jerry Jones, Cowboys: No other owner can truly stake claim to being the NFL’s Lord of Coin like Jerry Jones, who out of his own pocket practically built the world’s greatest sports stadium. Like Baelish, Jones is extremely crafty and always scheming (how else do you explain the multitude of Draft-day trades?), likens himself as the smartest guy in the room (what other owner is also his team’s General Manager?) and commands an audience. Though you get the feeling others in Westeros laugh at Littlefinger behind his back, as I suspect those across the NFL do as the Cowboys blunder away season after season.
VARYS — Mike Shanahan, Redskins: Not similar in stature but definitely in mind, Varys and Shanahan are without a doubt the ultimate backroom deviants who know who they are and are completely comfortable in their own skin. Varys waited his whole lifetime to get his revenge on the mad scientist who crippled him while Shanahan lived through all the Raiders madness before achieving success with the Broncos. Now, he has the ear of Robert Griffin III and knows good things are on the horizon.
BERIC DONDARRION — Peyton Manning, Broncos: Manning being able to come back and have the kind of MVP 2012 season that he did after four, count ‘em four, neck surgeries is damn near the equivalent of Beric coming back from the dead a half dozen times after suffering fatal battle wounds. You could also make the argument now Manning is closer to the Lord of Light given Denver’s mile-high altitude, but you’d need to check with Thoros first, since he’s the one who actually returns Beric from the other side, which we know is dark. Speaking of.
THOROS OF MYR — John Elway, Broncos: If it wasn’t for Elway and his belief in Manning returning to his Colts championship and MVP form, then the Broncos No. 18 jersey wouldn’t be flying off shelves at ludicrous speed in the 303 and 720. It’s well known The Duke likes to throw ‘em back, too, and that fits well with the Brotherhood Without Banners’ red priest’s mantra of getting drunk and searching for ways to swindle gold. Thoros was a renowned warrior who now is an adviser of sort to Beric, which fits well with Elway, who is arguably the greatest quarterback in NFL history and is doing a mighty fine job thus far as an executive.
MANCE RAYDER — Clay Matthews, Packers: Maniacs, defensive leaders who don’t play by anyone’s rules but their own, and strong men of the North, Matthews and Mance are quite the pair. While Mance doesn’t quite have Clay’s hair, they are both giant, rugged figures, who elicit loyalty from their men and fear in their opponents.
TORMUND GIANTSBANE — Brett Keisel, Steelers: The man with the best beard north of The Wall and the man with not only the best beard in the AFC North, but the entire NFL, are a match made in facial hair heaven.
— thanks to James Wright for his contributions to this column.
LOS ANGELES — The Divisional Round of the NFL Playoffs is always the most exciting. The final eight teams. The truly best eight of a long, arduous season left standing. And if you break down who’s remaining as we enter Week 19 there’s no question these are the elite eight: Patriots, Texans, Broncos, Ravens in the AFC, and Falcons, Seahawks, Packers and 49ers in the NFC. My preseason Super Bowl pick is still alive and we’ll see if Green Bay and New England make it through the weekend. I know I’m pretty excited after a lackluster Wild Card Weekend.
With the end of the season comes the end-of-the-year awards. Here are my picks:
MVP — Adrian Peterson: carried Vikings to the playoffs and averaged more yards per carry than Christian Ponder averaged per pass. Oh yeah, he blew out his knee just over a year ago and didn’t miss a single snap due to injury this season.
Comeback Player of the Year — Peyton Manning: missed the entire 2011 season and made most who said he should have retired or wouldn’t be the same eat crow with a remarkable 2012.
Offensive Rookie of the Year — Russell Wilson: didn’t get injured or turn the ball over as much as the other rookie candidates, and led the Seahawks to 11 wins and a playoff triumph. Good enough for me.
Defensive Player of the Year — J. J. Watt: 20.5 sacks and another 15 pass deflections. A must-double team on every play or risk him blowing up your whole offensive game plan.
Coach of the Year — Pete Carroll: with all due respect to Chuck Pagano/Bruce Arians, the Colts got some fortunate in-game luck this season (no pun intended) while Seattle played in a tough division, went with a rookie QB and finished undefeated at home. Always compete.
This will double as my end-of-the-regular season You’re The Man Rankings column as well as recapping my preseason Burning Questions for each of the 32 teams. Check that out here to see how I did.
Been an awesome season and it’s only gonna get better the next 3 weeks. Enjoy and thanks for coming along for the ride with me.
32.) Jacksonville Jaguars (final record: 2-14) (preseason YTM rank: 28) – Back before the season started, one of the cornerstones of my fantasy team was Maurice Jones-Drew and one of my questions was what week do I start him in fantasy after his offseason holdout? Well the answer should’ve been NEVER. Like never start him ever. Or trade him immediately. Or how about this: don’t keep him AT ALL. Don’t even consider keeping him. He ruined my fantasy season. Also, me not executing a trade the same week he got injured forced me into scramble mode the entire second half of the year; 418 yards and a TD from my keeper!!?! Sigh. And as for Justin Blackmon, he thrived with Chad Henne at QB and finished the season strong with 38 grabs and 5 TDs in the last 7 games. Certainly something to build on heading into 2013 and on his way to living up to my Anquan Boldin comparison.
31.) Kansas City Chiefs (2-14) (17) – Clearly, I missed pretty bad on my preseason prognostication of the Chiefs; like 14 spots bad. Though, I wasn’t alone. The Chiefs had all the tools to be a contending team this season and it just never got together. And it started with the quarterback. Matt Cassel was atrocious. Like got-his-coach-fired atrocious. I asked if Cassel was the man like people thought he was, well those who thought that are clearly idiots. He turned the ball over at Sanchezian rates – 12 interceptions and 7 lost fumbles – before he was benched in Week 10 and it appears his career as a starting QB are over. Hope he invested his large signing bonus wisely. I’m not sure where Cassel ends up next season, but wherever it is, it’ll be as a handsome backup.
30.) Oakland Raiders (4-12) (22) – Could the Raiders defense carry its weight; that is what I asked to start the season, guessing the offense would be in good shape. Well, let’s take a look at the numbers, shall we. Oakland finished 18th in total offense (8th in passing yards, 28th in rushing), 26th in points scored and 27th in 1st downs. Defensively, the Raiders were 15th in total yards (13th in passing yards allowed, 15th in rushing) and 28th in points allowed. So, in a way, you could say the the defense out-performed the offense but it just gave up too many points, which translated to only 4 wins. Oh, and Darren McFadden getting hurt AGAIN didn’t help anything. Wait, Carson Palmer just threw another interception.
29.) Philadelphia Eagles (4-12) (16) – Debacle. Disaster. Deserving. An overrated player didn’t use any of these D-words to describe the Eagles but they would’ve fit pretty much from Week 1 through their Week 17. This year didn’t just cost Andy Reid his job but it might’ve cost him his sanity. He had LeSean McCoy but barely used him. He benched Michael Vick for Nick Foles. And he thinks he can coach up the Chiefs into a playoff contender. After what Reid went through in the preseason he probably should’ve sat out this season. Then again, I said Peyton Manning should’ve retired. What do I know?
28.) Arizona Cardinals (5-11) (30) — I nailed this one right on the head this preseason. I wondered if I was up next on the Cardinals QB Carousel and as it turned out, they trotted out four different jamokes. FOUR!!?! Kurt Warner changed his phone number at least that many times this year ducking Ken Whisenhunt’s calls. Poor Wiz got canned, too. That was a theme this offseason.
27.) New York Jets (6-10) (26) – So as it turned out, Tim Tebow got used as much by the Jets as much as I did. I wondered how bad their offense was going to be this year and let’s find out: 30th in total offense; 30th in passing yards per game; 12th in rushing yards per game. Mark Sanchez was 31st in passer rating, ahead of only Matt Cassel, 26th in passing yards, 2nd in interceptions and 1st in turnovers. Yup, that’s pretty terrible.
26.) Cleveland Browns (5-11) (32) — So, the running game ended up being pretty decent in Cleveland, this fall. Trent Richardson ran for 950 yards and the 5th most rushing TDs in the league with 11. I may have cut Greg Little from my fantasy team in Week 4 or 5 (I’ve really tried to forget this season already) but Brandon Weeden (3,385 yds, 14 TD, 17 INT) wasn’t as bad as Mark Sanchez, so that’s a win. Sort of. The Browns were 30th in First Down Percentage, and whatever that means, I’m guessing it’s not good.
25.) Tennessee Titans (6-10) (24) – I figured the Titans would go as far as Chris Johnson took him, what with Jake Locker being the consistent starter for the first time, and I wasn’t exactly wrong. Surely, they expected more than 6 wins, but after a disappointing 2011 campaign, CJ bounced back with 1,243 yards and 6 TDs this season. Locker was again hurt and questions should be asked about his durability.
24.) Detroit Lions (4-12) (11) – Matthew Stafford finished 2nd in the NFL in passing yards this season, which we all kind of figured; he just missed a second straight 5,000-yard season by 33 yards. But 2012′s 4-win effort was definitely a disappointment especially after being a playoff team in 2011. I wondered if the secondary would let them down and it wasn’t terrible. Their unit allowed the 19th most passing yards per game but the 13th most touchdown passes. Still, how do you go from the playoffs to 4 wins in just one year?
23.) Buffalo Bills (6-10) (18) – Mario Williams did his part this year, registering 10.5 sacks and the Bills defense gave up the 23rd most passing yards per game. However, the offense was mediocre at best: 19th in total yards and you could argue C.J. Spiller was underutilized. Either way, it’s now former Syracuse head coach Doug Marrone’s problem. Rumored to be replacing Chan Gailey on Sunday, Marrone led my beloved Orange to its second bowl win in 4 years.
22.) San Diego Chargers (7-9) (19) – Again, I nailed this one. There’s no way the Chargers weren’t finishing out of the playoffs and there’s no way Norv Turner and A.J. Smith weren’t getting fired and there’s no way I’m speaking proper English right now. Regardless, the Chargers were a disaster from the second half of the Denver game, on. Why? Who knows. Was Philp Rivers the problem? Beats me. Is Ryan Mathews a bust? I mean, it looks that way. Who’s gonna be the coach? Can they catch the Broncos next season? Should they just wear the powder blues all year? Probably.
21.) St. Louis Rams (7-8-1) (27) – I was really at a loss when it came to words for this Rams team in 2012, but back in the preseason I wondered who would emerge as a legitimate pass-catcher for Sam Bradford. This no-name group of receivers needed someone to emerge and that man appeared to be Danny Amendola, who despite missing 5 games and parts of two others, had 63 receptions. As a team, the Rams had 7 guys catch TD passes so we’ll see if anyone steps up next season. As for Steven Jackson, he did take a pounding this year but managed to gain 1,000 yards for the 8th consecutive season.
20.) Miami Dolphins (7-9) (31) — At the risk of sounding like a broken record, if you thought, watching Hard Knocks, the Dolphins were going to win 7 games, you’re the big winner at the casino tonight, Mikey. I was hoping Mrs. Tannehill would suit up at WR this year, but the Dolphins’ band of no-names led by Brian Hartline wasn’t terrible catching the ball. Sure, Reggie Bush didn’t lead the league in rushing or even 1,000 yards (he was 14 short), but this team was one of the surprises in the league and will contend for a playoff spot next year. Oh, and Mrs. Tannehill will be around A LOT.
19.) New Orleans Saints (7-9) (7) – Turns out the head coach is pretty darn important. Turns out the interim coach is pretty important, too. Turns out you can’t start the first 4 weeks winless and expect to have it be in the Super Bowl game being played in your stadium. The Bounty Gate situation was a black cloud over the team, city and league for what seemed like the entire season. New Orleans would love nothing more than to put 2012 behind it. Sure, Drew Brees signed a bajillion dollar contract, his coach did, too, and he threw for more than 5,000 yards (again), but he surely would’ve given it all up (and those terrible Pepsi commercials) to have made the playoffs. Next year.
18.) Dallas Cowboys (8-8) (21) – One of the big Cowboys stories heading into this season was Jerry Jones giving Dez Bryant his own set of bodyguards. Well those guys did their job as Dez had one of the more memorable receiver seasons by someone not named Calvin or Johnson. All Dez went out and do was haul in 92 passes for 1,382 yards and 12 touchdowns, including 10 scores in the last 8 weeks and doing it with a broken finger. He balled out. No question about it and really answered the bell when many were questioning him throughout the year. He’s an elite receiver. Wish the Patriots had him.
17.) Carolina Panthers (7-9) (15) – If you have a younger sibling, you remember what it was like when they were born and suddenly you weren’t the toast of the town anymore. I get the feeling Cam Newton’s feelings were hurt by all the buzz around Andrew Luck and My Good Friend Robert. Look at the season splits; in the first 10 weeks the Panthers were 2-7 and came had 10 INTs and only 8 TDs. Down the stretch, Cam lit it up as Carolina saved not only its miserable season but Ron Rivera’s job, throwing for 11 TDs and only 2 INTs. Sophomore slump? Sure. But I’d be back on that Camwagon next season, if I was you.
16.) Tampa Bay Buccaneers (7-9) (13) – I thought this Bucs team was going to make the playoffs; even said so when they started 2-4. I believed. And was looking even better after rattled off 4-straight wins to get to 6-4 and were in the drivers seat for the Wild Card. Josh Freeman was in shape, making plays and Doug Martin was running rampant. Then … yeah, I don’t know. Then the wheels came off and the Bucs lost 5 in a row and Freeman threw 10 picks. It was brutal. 6 and 4 became 7 and 9 with lots of questions heading into the offseason.
15.) Pittsburgh Steelers (8-8) (12) – Nailed this one, too, and I don’t feel good about it. Mike Wallace couldn’t have been more terrible; don’t know the exact number but he had to have led the league in drops while killing my fantasy team in the process. Ben Roethlisberger nearly got himself killed by playing with fractured ribs and Rashard Mendenhall probably won’t even be on the team next year. Oh, and Todd Haley is talking to the Cardinals about their coaching vacancy. Yup, a season to forget in Pittsburgh.
14.) New York Giants (9-7) (1) – Normally it’s the Super Bowl loser who struggles the following season but the Giants gave Tom Coughlin little to smile about this season. I’m not sure if it was the 3-5 collapse after a 6-2 start or if it was watching the hated Redskins win the division for the first time in 13 years or if it was just he constantly has a sour puss look on his face. Actually, his A Football Life was one of the more enjoyable this year and gave some insight as to why Coughlin is who he is. Check it out if you haven’t had the pleasure.
13.) Chicago Bears (10-6) – Brandon Marshall was tied for 2nd in targets (195) with Reggie Wayne and receptions (118) with Wes Welker, trailing only Calvin Johnson in both. Marshall was 3rd in receiving yards (1,508) behind Megatron and Andre Johnson. BM15 also scored 11 touchdowns. So, yeah, I’d say he and Jay Cutler made sweet music this season on the Midway and should be a great combo moving forward. Though we’ll see who the Bears new coach is what he has to say about it.
12.) Minnesota Vikings (10-6) (29) — Remember all those ones I said I nailed earlier? Well I definitely screwed the pooch on this one. Here’s exactly what I said again about Mr. Adrian Peterson before the season: “If I’m Adrian Peterson, for starters I’d probably spend an uncomfortable amount of time staring at myself in the mirror, but I also wouldn’t be in any rush to get back on the field in Minnesota.” Yeesh. So 2,097 yards later, how’s that taste, Brockman? But my real preseason question was about the Vikings defense, so a quick statistical analysis tells me that it was it gave up the 9th most passing yards in the league, and worst in the NFC North.
11.) Cincinnati Bengals (10-6) (8) – The 2011 Bengals went 9-7 and were the AFC Wild Card. Andy Dalton threw for 3,398 yards, 20 TD and 13 INT and made the Pro Bowl, while rookie wide receiver A.J. Green caught 65 balls for 1,057 yards and 7 TDs. But they ultimately lost in the opening round of the playoffs to the Texans. The 2012 Bengals went 10-6 and were the AFC Wild Card, Dalton threw for 3,669 yards, 27 TDs and 16 INTs, Green caught 97 passes for 1,350 yards and 11 TDs but lost to the Texans in the AFC Wild Card. So yeah, I’d say they equaled last year.
10.) Washington Redskins (10-6) (20) – What went on in the NFC Wild Card aside, there’s no question that My Good Friend Robert (as he’s been known as this season in this very column) was one of the chief stories of the 2012 NFL Season. What he did to shock to life the football-crazed DC area was nothing short of a miracle and to call him a Cam Newton-lite, like I tried to do in the preseason was a vast understatement. Here’s Cam’s 2011 season numbers: 4,051 passing yards, 21 TDs, 17 INTs, 706 rushing yards, 15 TDs. Here’s Robert’s 2012 season stats: 3,200 passing yards, 20 TDs, 5 INTs, 815 rushing yards, 7 TDs, AND he was 3rd in the league in passer rating behind two guys named Rodgers and Manning. Ho hum. Unreal. And Mike Shanahan went the other direction used just one main running back this year, another rookie, who only rushed for 1,600 yards in Alfred Morris. Football is back in Washington.
9.) Indianapolis Colts (11-5) (25) – What an amazing season in Indianapolis from the play of their rookies, a rejuvenated Reggie Wayne and the story of Chuck Pagano and Bruce Arians, who deserve to share Coach of the Year honors. I had the Colts 25 in the preseason and predicted that would be their lowest ranking of the year. Turns out I was more than correct. I didn’t envision a playoff team, but thanks to Luck’s astounding rookie season (4,374 passing yards, 23 TDs, 17 INTs, 5 rushing TDs) and some timely big plays, the Colts won 11 games and should be again contenders for the next decade or so.
8.) Baltimore Ravens (10-6) (4) – The Ravens began this year with an undrafted, 22-year-old rookie kicker from Texans named Justin Tucker, who replaced Billy Cundiff, who if you remember, missed from 32 yards in last year’s AFC Championship game and cost Baltimore a trip to the Super Bowl. So I wondered if its new kicker could indeed make a 32-yard field goal. And while Tucker had a fine 2012 season in which he only missed 3 field goals the entire year, he did not make one from 32 yards out. He was 8-for-8 on kicks between 30 and 39 yards, including three each from 38 and 39 yards, but not from 32. Tucker was perfect from 50-plus yards, but none from 32. So we’ll see this weekend and beyond if he is called upon can he deliver from that distance.
7.) San Francisco 49ers (11-4-1) (5) – Maybe the real question I should’ve asked was whether or not someone OTHER than Alex Smith will make everyone forget Jim Harbaugh tried to woo Peyton Manning last offseason. Man. Poor Alex Smith. Who saw his benching coming? Guy was leading the league in passer rating, got knocked out, and then Wally Pipp’ed. Colin Kaepernick has come in and gone 5-2-1 as a starter and looks explosive and unguardable at times. He has a cannon and runs like a gazelle. He beat the Saints and Patriots on the road and the Bears at home. Battle tested? Not exactly. We’ll find out very, very soon against Green Bay. But remember, Smith got them to within a few minutes of the Super Bowl last year, anything less is a disappointment out of CK1.
6.) Seattle Seahawks (11-5) (23) – This will be my shortest response of the column. I asked if Russell Wilson could make the Seahawks a contender when the games counted for real: YES. YES. YES. I’m a believer. He did it. And he kills it on this week’s Eisen Podcast, listen for yourself and tell me you’re not all-in on this kid.
5.) Houston Texans (12-4) (6) – Arian Foster continues to dominate NFL defenses and the Twitterverse, while the bow is catching on as a favorite end zone celebration. He bowed a total of 17 times this season and led the league with 351 rushing attempts, so clearly Gary Kubiak was a fan of the bow, as well.
4.) Green Bay Packers (11-5) (3) – Well, as it turned out, Cedric Benson wasn’t the answer for the Packers running game, and in reality, there have been a few answers to that question this season. In all, the Packers used 6 different running backs (including fullback John Kuhn) with Benson being the go-to guy before his Week 5 injury. From there, James Starks picked up on his 2011 postseason run, then Alex Green and now DuJuan Harris appears to be the featured back. Still, when you have Aaron Rodgers, you’re offense is in good shape.
3.) New England Patriots (12-4) (2) – Lost in the amazingness that was Peyton Manning and Adrian Peterson’s 2012 seasons was the once again masterful season-long campaign of Thomas Edward Patrick Brady Jr. A strong case could be made Brady should win this third MVP award. All he did was lead the Patriots to another ho-hum 12-4 season by throwing for 4,827 yards, 34 TDs and only 8 INTs; his third career season of single-digit interceptions. I wondered preseason if Brady could get better looking and the answer is, duh. Look at him. Whenever I see his Uggs billboards I scream “TOMMY!!” at them. People look at me like I’m nuts. They’re not wrong. I also asked if the dreadful 2011 Patriots defense could be better than 31st and they improved slightly to 25th. Hey, offense (and being attractive) wins games, right? (reminded of Super Bowl 42 and 46) Sigh.
2.) Atlanta Falcons (13-3) (9) – For the first few weeks of the regular season, probably up until he threw 5 picks against the Cardinals, Matt Ryan was a legitimate MVP contender. The Falcons were rolling everyone in their path and while they stumbled going 2-2 the last month of the year, they still finished 13-3 and the top seed in the NFC. Ryan, my fantasy QB I might add, accumulated 4,719 passing yards, 32 TDs and 14 INTs; all career highs. Still, if they don’t beat the Seahawks this weekend it’ll be considered an unmitigated disaster year and both Mike Smith and Ryan will take an enormous amount of offseason heat for failing, once again, to win a playoff game. Not to mention, Tony Gonzalez will retire winless in the playoffs.
1.) Denver Broncos (13-3) (14) – In a way, it’s fitting that my biggest whiff of the preseason predictions would go on to become the top team the NFL as we enter the Divisional Playoff Round. Peyton Manning had a throwback season for the ages after missing 2011 in its entirety following four neck surgeries, and most think he’s at least a 50/50 shot at winning his record 5th MVP. Hard to say he transformed the Broncos since they were a playoff team (and winner) a year ago, but he gave them a true identity and a definitely attitude and swagger they haven’t had since John Elway roamed the backfield. Riding an 11-game winning streak, I wouldn’t want to come anywhere near them in the playoffs. That’s good enough to earn you billing as The Man.
Stay tuned for my final 2012 NFL Season You’re The Man rankings which will come after the Super Bowl, where I’ll focus on the one thing each team has to look forward to or be concerned with heading into the 2013 offseason.
LOS ANGELES — Week 13 was the wildest we’ve had this season and in quite some time.
Let’s find out who’s the Man.
32.) Arizona Cardinals (record: 4-8) (last week: 31) – That’s eight straight losses, if you’re scoring at home, for the Cardinals. And in the last three games Larry Fitzgerald has 5 catches for 65 yards and probably single handily killing fantasy teams across America. #FreeFitz
31.) Jacksonville Jaguars (2-10) (26) – Of course Rex Ryan went with Mark Sanchez as his starter this week. He has 8.5 million reasons as to why he did this. And as if things can’t get any worse for Jacksonville, guess who’s coming to town in Week 14? Mr. Timothy Tebow and his two cracked ribs! Will he be active? Will he get more than 2 plays? Will the Jets score more than 6 points? So many questions. #FreeTebow
30.) Oakland Raiders (3-9) (28) – Remember 6 weeks ago or something when I said the Raiders were “close.” Well, I want to explain what I meant by that. I meant Oakland was close to securing the Top Pick in the 2013 NFL Draft which they will undoubtedly take on whomever runs the fastest 40 at the Combine.
29.) Philadelphia Eagles (3-9) (30) – As you watched the Sunday night game, was there at least a part of you that hoped Nick Foles would somehow engineer an upset win over the Cowboys and give Andy Reid something to smile about? Part of you?
28.) Kansas City Chiefs (2-10) (32) – There’s not much I can or want to add to the story surrounding the Chiefs. I’m glad they played and I’m glad they won. I hope everyone can heal and find some peace and find a way to move forward. It’s just terrible.
27.) Carolina Panthers (3-9) (25) – This team is not good and it’s not good for my fantasy team that I was forced to start DeAngelo Williams. But he did have 67 rushing yards. So thanks for the 4.5 points.
26.) Tennessee Titans (4-8) (24) – I don’t really have anything to say about the Titans so allow me to gripe about my DirecTV DVR for a second. I haven’t been on board with this season of “Boardwalk Empire” but I still recorded them, same with this season of “Homeland,” which I’ve never seen but heard is quite good. However, I just realized that my DVR has only saved the most recent 5 episodes. Apparently, that’s the default setting when you record a series. Talk about a wicked bummer.
25.) San Diego Chargers (4-8) (22) – Hey, remember when the Chargers were 3-1? Nope, me neither. They were actually 3.5-1 if you count them being up 24-0 on Peyton Manning and the Broncos (I just instinctively wrote “Colts” just now)? Well since then they’ve lost 7-of-8. Who hires Norv Turner next year? And has anyone seen Philip Rivers?
24.) New York Jets (5-7) (29) – I’m not gonna say I enjoyed what went down Sunday at the Meadowlands but it was pretty hilarious. Mark Sanchez getting benched has been on the verge of going down for weeks and it took three 1st half interceptions for Rex Ryan to pull the trigger. It’s only too bad that Tim Tebow was inactive. That would’ve been something and it would’ve been interesting to see how Jets fans reacted.
23.) Cleveland Browns (4-8) (27) – Rookie quarterbacks had a great Week 13 and that includes Brandon Weeden, who went into the Black Hole and threw for 364 yards and a TD (2INT) in a 20-17 win. Don’t look now, but the Browns have won 2 in a row. OK, you can look now.
22.) Detroit Lions (4-8) (19) – Back at the beginning of the year, I predicted Matthew Stafford would lead the league in passing yards. After 13 weeks, look who’s sitting atop the standings: Mr. Stafford at 3,742 passing yards. He has a 68-yard lead on Drew Brees. I feel proud of this because I picked Darren McFadden for the rushing title (currently 30th) and Lovie Smith for Coach of the Year (Bears fading).
21.) St. Louis Rams (5-6-1) (21) – Looked at the NFL standings today and did you know the Rams are currently unbeaten in the NFC West at 4-0-1? How in Sam Bradford’s bad hair did that happen? If they win out, they’ll win the division and make the playoffs. At least it’s better than the time they nearly made it with a losing record. Or did Seattle make it that year at 7-9? Man, the NFC West sucks.
20.) Miami Dolphins (5-7) (20) – OK, Dolphins. You’ve been my punching bag all season and now I turn to you. This week. Week 14. ROFFL Playoffs. One time. Let’s do this. See, there’s no chance I’m playing the Texans Defense against the Patriots this week so with the slim pickens on the free agents list, I went with the Dolphins at the 49ers this week, figuring (hoping) Colin Kaepernick struggles for the second straight game and throws the ball around the yard and takes some sacks. Either way, gonna take a Herculean effort from the Mammals. I believe in you.
19.Buffalo Bills (5-7) (23) – This literally has nothing to do with Buffalo, since I’m guessing he’s never been to the All-American City, but did you see that video of Jay-Z riding the subway to his 8th and final Barclay Center opening concert next to that old lady who didn’t know who he was? It was pretty awesome and and Jay-Z came off as cool as you’d expect him to handle a situation like that. Whether that was staged or not, it makes him look like a down-to-earth dude, which he has every right not to be. Well done.
18.) Minnesota Vikings (6-6) (17) – Adrian Peterson is not human, contrary to what he told Rich Eisen on his Thanksgiving Special, and is making a real threat to 2,000 yards rushing this season. With just 4 games remaining, he needs to average 138 per to to become AD2K. And big ups to Christian Ponder, who announced he’s engaged to ESPN personality Samantha Steele. #PodcastBump
17.) New Orleans Saints (5-7) (15) – This season can’t get over fast enough for the Saints, though they think they probably still have a shot at the playoffs; which they don’t. It’s o-v-a. Which makes this weekend’s game against the Giants interesting. They have traditionally struggled on the road and the giants can’t beat anybody at home.
16.) Dallas Cowboys (6-6) (18) – The Cowboys are so bad they barely beat the carcass Eagles on national television. If Nick Foles was anyone other than Nick Foles the Eagles would’ve won that game and then maybe kept Andy Reid’s job hopes alive. But man, can Dez Bryant ball out when he wants to or when his knucklehead isn’t in the way.
15.) Tampa Bay Buccaneers (6-6) (11) – I’ll admit to being semi-wrong about this Bucs team. Sure, there’s a chance they win out and make the playoffs, but it seems unlikely. I thought for sure they’d be the 6th seed in the NFC, but it seems like that’ll be reserved for the 12th man. In other news, I have some conflicts with Doug Martin this weekend. Playing against him in ROFFL but have him in a 4-letter league. Let’s hope he throws up a 12-carry, 35-yard crapfest.
14.) Cincinnati Bengals (7-5) (16) – Here’s how this is gonna play out: the Bengals are going to rally to beat Dallas this week when they should beat them by 2 scores because the Cowboys aren’t any good. That sets up Week 16′s cage fight against the Steelers; winner takes the last AFC playoff spot.
13.) Pittsburgh Steelers (7-5) (14) – Mike Tomlin announced Thursday Ben Roethlisberger is starting against San Diego, which is both shocking and not surprising at all. Roethlisberger had potential life-threatening injuries a mere 3 weeks ago and is now going back out to the field where he is most likely to get hit again in the same manner which levied the previous injuries. Only this time he’ll be wearing a Kevlar chest sleeve of some sort. Like anyone on Chargers cares. Wait, he’ll be fine. The Chargers haven’t hit anyone in weeks.
12.) Seattle Seahawks (7-5) (13) – Just when you think they’re out, Russell Wilson pulls you back in. It’s amazing, but Wilson not only has the Seahawks locked into the 6th seed in the NFC right now, but has vaulted himself into the discussion for Offensive Rookie of the Year. Coming into the season, it seemed like a two-man race, so that there’s even a debate on a third is impressive. Speaking of impressive, we uncovered the song Deion Sanders is referencing when he sings for RW. Enjoy.
11.) Washington Redskins (6-6) (12) – Mike Shanahan should declare the season over more often. All that’s happened since is My Good Friend Robert has beaten in succession the Eagles, Cowboys and Giants and gotten the Redskins back into the playoff picture. He’s the toast of D.C. He could run for president and win. He can balance the budget and avoid the cliff. I’m not changing the channel when he has the ball and I’d still rather have Andrew Luck.
10.) Baltimore Ravens (9-3) (7) – I said this a couple weeks ago and I’m going to repeat it: Wild Card loss to Indianapolis. There’s a small chance that the winner of Bengals/Steelers in Week 16 will win the AFC North. Baltimore is primed to blow it.
9.) New York Giants (7-5) (8) – It’s December, this means the Giants aren’t supposed to lose. This means they should be ramping up and hitting their stride. This means. They aren’t supposed to lose division games, especially to second-tier teams like the Redskins. Maybe these Giants aren’t on the same path as their predecessors.
8.) Chicago Bears (8-4) (6) – So the Bears lost a December game at home? There’s a very good chance that this team collapses and misses the playoffs. I think Chi-town should be prepared for this. Brian Urlacher is out for the season, too, doesn’t help that defense which has been killing it.
7.) Indianapolis Colts (8-4) (10) – Nothing that Andrew Luck does anymore surprises me. Nothing. Dude is a baller.
6.) Green Bay Packers (8-4) (9) – I hope you’re all prepared for a ESS-LOAD of chatter in the coming weeks about the screw job in Seattle from the Replacement Ref Era, because it’s coming. And it may end up costing the Packers a home playoff game.
5.) San Francisco 49ers (8-3-1) (4) – OK, so maybe benching Alex Smith wasn’t the best idea. Actually, it still was. Colin Kaepernick will be better for the 49ers in the long run.
4.) Denver Broncos (9-3) (5) – Is Denver the best team in the league? I don’t know. Is Peyton Manning the MVP? Yes. Can the Broncos win the Super Bowl? If Von Miller is playing out of his mind still through the playoffs? Yes. Will that be absolutely insane considering
3.) Atlanta Falcons (11-1) (3) – The most disrespected 11-1 team in NFL history? Very likely.
2.) New England Patriots (9-3) (2) – Caught some of Aqib Talib’s locker room comments this week about the Texans; consider me still worried about the Patriots secondary. They’re going to give up a big play that’s going to cost them a game. Big time. Seattle redux.
1.) Houston Texans (11-1) (1) – Monday night is going to be a badass game. But until the Texans lose, they are the Man.
LOS ANGELES — Can’t believe it’s Week 13 already. Seems like Hard Knocks just ended and we were getting ready for Dallas and New York to kickoff on the Wednesday Night opener. Nope. Twelve weeks down. Only 10 remain. Who’s the Super Bowl favorite? Beats me. Who’s MVP? Your guess is as good as mine. Coach of the Year, who’s getting fired, your fantasy football league champ? Color me clueless.
One thing is known, though, who’s the Man. Let’s find out.
32.) Kansas City Chiefs (record: 1-10) (last week: 32) – So who’s going to be coaching the Chiefs next year? Chip Kelly? Bill O’Brien? Bill Cowher? And who’s going to be the quarterback? Now that Matt Barkley’s stock has fallen, is it Tyler Wilson from Arkansas? Alex Smith? Blaine Gabbert? Tim Tebow? Kevin Kolb? Michael Vick?
31.) Arizona Cardinals (4-7) (26) – Losers of 7 straight don’t get mentions in this column.
30.) Philadelphia Eagles (3-8) (28) – See #31.
29.) New York Jets (4-7) (27) – The biggest news to come out of Jets camp this week: Tim Tebow jersey sales down! Oh no!
28.) Oakland Raiders (3-8) (23) – When the Raiders play the Browns this week, do you think Carson Palmer and Brandon Weeden have a side bet of who’s going to throw the first Pick 6? Because they should.
27.) Cleveland Browns (3-8) (30) – See #28.
26.) Jacksonville Jaguars (2-9) (31) – Chris Law is jealous of Chad Henne’s Mo-vember ‘stache. And that’s saying something.
25.) Carolina Panthers (3-8) (29) -- Hey, Cam Newton, you actually won a game, so doing your whole Superman TD celebration actually made sense for once! Congrats!
24.) Tennessee Titans (4-7) (20) – Nate Washington has been in my fantasy starting lineup for a majority of the season. That should tell you all you need to know about the Titans and the Colt .45 Hollywood Bandits.
23.) Buffalo Bills (4-7) (24) – Did you catch the Amish Rifle on “The League” a couple weeks ago? That was far and away his best performance of the season. Oof.
22.) San Diego Chargers (4-7) (19) – There are several famous sport plays where things have yet to be finalized: Albert Pujols’ ball he hit off Brad Lidge still hasn’t landed, Matt Holiday still hasn’t touched home plate, Bo Jackson still hasn’t stopped running and Ray Rice still hasn’t crossed the 34-yard line. Still, they should show that 4th and 29 play to high schools across the country and how NOT to tackle someone.
21.) St. Louis Rams (4-6-1) (22) – Alert to all fantasy football owners: Steven Jackson had 100 yards! Steven Jackson had 100 yards! Only the 2nd time all season.
20.) Miami Dolphins (5-6) (25) – When you watched Hard Knocks at the end of the summer, was there any shot you thought you’d be watching a 5-win, on-the-verge-of-the-playoffs team? Didn’t think so.
19.) Detroit Lions (4-7) (18) – Yes, the Lions got semi-hosed on Thanksgiving. Yes, Jim Schwartz should know the rules. Yes, Ndamukong Suh is driving his way out of the league.
18.) Dallas Cowboys (5-6) (16) – I can’t wait until these guys are sinking and the national media can stop talking about them. However, with a matchup with the hapless Eagles in Week 13, which will get Dallas to .500, we’re not out of the woods just yet. Sigh.
17.) Minnesota Vikings (6-5) (15) – Hey, Jimmy, how you feelin’ about your boys now: “You know it’s a bad day when the punt holder scores on you … I think we have 13 total yards this half … My team is so bad today that Fox switched games at the half … I can wait another year for a Super Bowl appearance.”
16.) Cincinnati Bengals (6-5) (17) – This is a team I’d be afraid to play down the stretch, along with the Bucs. Andy Dalton is quietly having himself another Pro Bowl season.
15.) New Orleans Saints (5-6) (12) – Losing last weekend really hurts the Saints playoff chances, but a win against Atlanta would certainly keep them in the mix. But they don’t play any defense, which is kind of a problem in the NFL, unless you’re the Patriots. And how Marques Colston got up after getting upended like he did, I’ll never know.
14.) Pittsburgh Steelers (6-5) (10) – It baffles me that Pittsburgh didn’t call or David Garrard or Donovan McNabb to fill in at quarterback while Ben Roethlisberger is out. Maybe they did, and we don’t know it, but I feel like that report would’ve gotten out. You can’t roll with Byron Leftwich and Charlie Batch. You can’t. Not when you still have a shot to win the Super Bowl
13.) Seattle Seahawks (6-5) (11) – Let’s see how good that Seahawks defense is when it has to go on the road (Chicago) and defend a red hot Jay Cutler and Brandon Marshall without their two best defensive backs. Guessing Seattle falls by the wayside.
12.) Washington Redskins (5-6) (21) – I mean seriously, Robert Griffin The Third, if ya need him. So all My Good Friend Robert did on Thursday was annihilate the Cowboys, at JonesMahal, on Thanksgiving, in front of America. AND he did it by becoming the first rookie quarterback EVER to throw 4 TDs in consecutive games. NBD. I said it before and I’ll say it again, you are NOT changing the channel when the Redskins have the ball. EVER. I love caps lock.
11.) Tampa Bay Buccaneers (6-5) (9) – Are the Bucs the best of the 6-5 and 5-6 group? I’d say so, though if you can’t defend the home turf against a division rival, maybe you don’t deserve to make the playoffs. That was a tough one to lose, especially when you’re looking up at the Falcons. But two of these teams are going to be playing in January. My hunch is Tampa is there.
10.) Indianapolis Colts (7-4) (13) – Who’s making whom better this season: Andrew Luck or Reggie Wayne? Little of each, right? And to think, we all laughed at Reggie when he announced he was re-upping with the Colts for two more years. Insane! We all said. Who’s laughing now. Colts, back in the playoffs (almost). Crazy. And if they play Denver? Twitter might break.
9.) Green Bay Packers (7-4) (2) – ”Paging someone who can block for Aaron Rodgers. Anyone out there who can block for Aaron Rodgers. Please report to Green Bay, Wisconsin immediately. We have a jersey waiting for you.”
8.) New York Giants (7-4) (14) – Man, where has THAT Giants team been all season?! That sure was something on Sunday night. Guess Eli really needed that bye week to rest his dead arm, and the defensive line needed some time off to hone their hunting skills. Sure, the Packers offensive line is about as good as a group of 7th graders, but Green Bay had been rolling lately and New York made it look like chumps. I may have to amend my Super Bowl pick.
7.) Baltimore Ravens (9-2) (7) – Nothing about this Ravens team inspires me. They are ripe for a Divisional Round upset to the Colts.
6.) Chicago Bears (8-3) (8) – Should Jay Cutler be in the MVP discussion? The stats are telling.: 1-6 without him in the last two years, 15-5 with him. Despite his hideous mustache, bro balled out this past weekend and has put himself in the Top 5.
5.) Denver Broncos (8-3) (6) – Is Denver the best team in the NFL? Not yet. But they are playing like it. Pretty unconvincing win against the hapless Chiefs for the best team in the league. That game should’ve been a boat race, but it wasn’t. Still, Peyton Manning is the MVP until someone rips it from him. Arian Foster has a chance. Outside chance.
4.) San Francisco 49ers (8-2-1) (5) – It’s hilarious to me that every former coach-turned-analyst on television right now is saying that Jim Harbaugh is doing the right thing by sticking with Colin Kaepernick, while every player is saying that Alex Smith is getting a raw deal and should get his job back. I’m not saying Smith isn’t a good player, but hell, what CK is doing can’t be duplicated.
3.) Atlanta Falcons (10-1) (4) – There’s a lot of people talking trash about the Falcons; calling them the worst one-loss team this late in the season in quite some time. Well, they’ve won 10 of their 11 games. Whether it was by one point, or 100 points, they’ve done it. Matt Ryan throws 5 picks? No worries, they still win. No running game? They still win. Still, people won’t be satisfied until Ryan and Mike Smith win a playoff game.
2.) New England Patriots (8-3) (3) – Can’t tell you how enjoyable that Thanksgiving Day game was to watch. When this Patriots team has it cookin’ on all cylinders they are a fun group to watch. And say what you want, but if you don’t want Tom Brady out there up 30 points throwing darts downfield, stop him. Just really hope they don’t look past Miami this week toward that Monday Night showdown with the Texans in Week 14.
1.) Houston Texans (10-1) (1) – To play 10 quarters of football in roughly 4-and-a-half days, wow, and to win both games (albeit a tad controversially), hell, that’s enough to make you The Man.
LOS ANGELES — It was Halloween this week; such an interesting “holiday.” Kids obviously still love it and department stores still set up months ahead of time with candy and decorations. Since I’ve lived in Los Angeles, I’ve warmed to the idea of dressing up and going out to enjoy it with other adults. I still don’t feel right about it, but clearly I’ve participated and enjoyed myself. Past costumes have included Bill Belichick, Al Capone, Tim Tebow and Mr. Blonde. While I’m sure the Halloween celebration across the country has its own unique flavor, here it really is like another big holiday. City streets close off, neighborhoods go all out and parties are sponsored by liquor companies. Halloween takes people watching to the next level. It’s really interesting to me to see, with all the creative people in such a small area, what these artistic minds come up with in terms of intricate and unique costumes. It’s hard to explain but one of those things you need to experience to appreciate.
Let’s see who’s dressed up as The Man.
32.) Kansas City Chiefs (1-6) (32) -- For the second week in a row, there will be no change in the bottom of these rankings and the three teams you’re about to read about have 3 combined wins. Now stop me if this sounds a little wacked: Jamaal Charles, who rushed for 233 yards in a game earlier this year, had just 5 carries for 4 yards this weekend against the Raiders, when you started Brady Quinn at quarterback. Romeo Crennel’s days are numbered in K.C.
31.) Jacksonville Jaguars (1-6) (31) – Saw some tweets floating the Twitterverse last night about how the Jaguars offense is better without Maurice Jones-Drew and how Blaine Gabbert looks better without MJD in the backfield. I hate to go all 2010 on everyone, but CHILD, PLEASE! If Blaine Gabbert can’t succeed with a Top 5 running back in the backfield that’s on HIM, not the Top 5 running back.
30.) Carolina Panthers (1-6) (30) – This week in “Let’s Blame Cam Newton For Everything”: 5th straight loss, 20-for-39, 314 yards, Zero TDs, 2 INTs and a 57.0 Passer Rating. Cam did conduct himself better at the postgame press conference
29.) Cleveland Browns (2-6) (29) – SOMEONE BREAK UP THE BROWNS!! Not sure if you saw this game on Sunday, but there was a monsoon in Cleveland and the only thing worse than Norv Turner calling plays dry is Norv Turner calling plays soaking wet. 7-6 is kinda setting today’s pass-happy game back a few decades, but that was a game made for Trent Richardson (122 yards, TD) and he delivered.
28.) Buffalo Bills (3-4) (27) – Let’s be honest, a bye week was just what the doctor ordered in Buffalo.
27.) Arizona Cardinals (4-4) (18) – You know how much I love stats. Here’s one for ya: three teams have started the year 4-0 and then lost the next four games. The 1993 Philadelphia Eagles, the 2002 Oakland Raiders … and the 2012 Arizona Cardinals. The ship, be a sinkin’. #FreeFitz
26.) Oakland Raiders (3-4) (28) – Don’t look now but the Raiders are only a game back of the Broncos for the AFC West division lead. OK, no one really thinks they have a shot, not with how Peyton Manning is playing, but still. This team was a mess a few weeks ago, and now Carson Palmer has strung together a couple solid performances in a row the #FreeDMC campaign has sunk faster a lead balloon. Which is a good thing. The league is better when the Raiders are competitive. Let’s hope this continues.
25.) Tennessee Titans (3-5) (24) – Heartbreaking loss by my brother Matthew’s team on Sunday after a third-straight win was lost when Vick Ballard leaped towards the pylon in overtime. Ballard’s amazing play aside, the Titans have looked much better in recent weeks. Hasselbeck has averaged a respectable 233 yards per and a TD in 4 starts, and has only turned it over twice in that span. Chris Johnson has averaged 102 yards in his last 4 games. So it’s coming back.
24.) St. Louis Rams (3-5) (23) – I have yet to travel abroad in my 32-year existence (I plan to get to it at some point, please don’t deride) but it appeared to me that the Rams left their game back in St. Louis. And did anyone find it odd that Wembley fans cheered for the Patriots? Ya know, U.S. Revolution and all that stuff?
23.) Philadelphia Eagles (3-4) (21) – So getting boat raced in the pouring down rain by the Atlanta Falcons is Juan Castillo’s fault, too, I’m guessing? Right, Andy Reid? And now we’re talking about Michael Vick being benched for Nick Foles? Seriously? Someone panicked in my fantasy league and actually picked up Foles. If Nick Foles starts a game this year I’ll be more shocked than that time I was shocked about something shocking.
22.) New York Jets (3-5) (19) – I’m not gonna say I predicted this, but I did pick up the Dolphins defense with Houston on a bye because I felt a Mark Sanchez game coming. And lo and behold: 4 sacks, a couple of turnovers, 2 blocked kicks, a TD and 29 points later and I had myself an upset fantasy win. And what’s with this news Tim Tebow is taking some actress? Yup, this’ll end well.
21.) Cincinnati Bengals (3-4) (22) – I really hope during this bye week the Bengals figured out what’s going wrong with their defense that’s given up 58 points in their last two games.
20.) Dalllas Cowboys (3-4) (17) – No one gets blown out, comes back, only to blow the game in stupid fashion quite like the Cowboys. I know this has been asked all week, but the the hell, Tony Romo? It’s funny to me people are trying to figure out if he can ever lead the team to the Super Bowl. These guys like Romo and Rivers give us so much evidence that they are who they are. Romo blew a playoff game back in 2006. We had hard evidence 6 years ago! He’s never gonna get it and Dallas is never going to win with him. Period.
19.) San Diego Chargers (3-4) (14) – Groundhog Day in the NFL is every year around this time the talk around the league is how the San Diego is in the tank, Norv Turner and A.J. Smith should be fired and Philip Rivers isn’t as good as everyone thinks he is. Then the Chargers rattle off 5 wins in 6 weeks, save their season, finish 9-7 and sneak into the playoffs.
18.) Detroit Lions (3-4) (25) – Fact: I had no idea who Ryan Broyles was until the third quarter of Week 7. Fact: I picked him up and started him this week. Fact: He scored a touchdown for the second straight week. Fact: I won this week. I’m not sure where I’m going with this, but Calvin Johnson has to be hurt or something. That’s the only explanation I’m accepting.
17.) Indianapolis Colts (4-3) (20) – Is that the play of the year from Vick Ballard? Take a look. Watch it again and again. Have you ever seen someone hit the pylon with his head?! A leap is one thing, but a leap, eskimo roll into the head off the pylon. Ridiculous. And don’t look now, but if the playoffs started today, the Colts are in.
16.) New Orleans Saints (2-5) (16) – Really surprised the Saints didn’t play better in Denver last week. Brees has looked a little off all season and that defense, I mean, I didn’t think there was a worse secondary than the Patriots, but good golly. New Orleans is porous. They couldn’t stop my high school, which has it’s Western Maine Class A semifinal playoff matchup this Saturday. Go Trojans.
15.) Minnesota Vikings (5-3) (13) – Pretty bad loss by the Vikings, at home, on Thursday night against the Bucs. This season, home teams have dominated the Thursday games and I was expecting more of the same. The Purple Pistol hasn’t looked great in the last 4 games, throwing 7 interceptions. I still think this team can make the playoffs, but a brutal schedule awaits. “Seriously? WTF” was all Jimmy had for me this week.
14.) Washington Redskins (3-5) (12) – This team is close, but still shows signs of not being that close. Alfred Morris has been out of this world good but you get the feeling against good teams they don’t know how to win yet. It’ll happen. My Good Friend Robert is too special.
13.) Tampa Bay Buccaneers (3-4) (26) – Yes, I have the Bucs jumping up 13 spots this week. Yes, that is a record in the 9 weeks of this poll (I think). Yes, this may be an overreaction. Yes, Doug Martin is fast, and yes, Josh Freeman has a snake named Eisen.
12.) Miami Dolphins (4-3) (15) – As much as I feel for Lauren Tannehill’s husband for getting injured, I’m really glad for Matt Moore, whom I always thought got a raw deal down in Miami. Good to see him come in and play well. And like I said earlier, big ups to that defense for getting me a win in fantasy this week.
11.) Seattle Seahawks (4-4) (8) – The SeaChickens better hope they win the NFC West and get homefield, because that’s the only way they have a chance of winning a playoff game. Never seen a team struggle so much on the road. They’re the Bizarro Giants.
10.) Pittsburgh Steelers (4-3) (11) – I don’t know who Jonathan Dwyer is or how much he weighs, but he sure looks like Jerome Bettis, doesn’t he? Runs like him, too. Could be dangerous for opponents going forward if they start playing like the Steelers of old.
9.) Baltimore Ravens (5-2) (6) – When you’re coming off a bye week, I generally don’t have much to say about you. But by no fault of their own, the Ravens have gotten skipped over by a few teams who just have that mojo working right now.
8.) Denver Broncos (4-3) (10) – We may be witnessing the greatest Peyton Manning season in his 15-year career. Call me crazy, but what he’s doing is incredible. I was on record, here and everywhere, that I thought Manning should have retired. Four neck surgeries. A season off. I didn’t think there was any way he could come back and be the Peyton we’ve known. All he’s done lately is 4 straight 300+ yard, 3+ TD games and has the Broncos in the driver’s seat in the AFC West.
7.) New England Patriots (5-3) (9) – The Patriots brought their full artillery to the motherland and put down a full musket whooping of the Rams. Tom Brady leads the league in passing yards (2,408) and Stevan Ridley is 5th in rushing (716 yards). Sure, we all say the former coming but no one saw the latter. If that maintains, and this Thursday trade for Aqib Talib pans out. Look out.
6.) San Francisco 49ers (6-2) (7) – I know the Cardinals have gone in the tank since starting the season 4-0, but dang did the 49ers put the bang thing (@richeisen voice) on them this Monday. And nice of Randy Moss to dust off the cleats and show us some of that 2007 speed.
5.) Houston Texans (6-1) (5) – Arian Foster was out in California last week to have his jersey retired by his high school. That’s pretty awesome, but shouldn’t every player in the NFL have their jersey retired by their high school? It goes to figure if they made it to the NFL, they’re at least in the 99.9% of players who’ve EVER played at their high school? What in the hell took so long for Foster? What is taking so long Thornton Academy? Oh, right, I wasn’t any good.
4.) Green Bay Packers (5-3) (3) – Aaron Rodgers is still ballin’ out of control right now, and as long as that’s happening, who cares if the Packers only beat the hapless Jaguars 24-15?
3.) New York Giants (6-2) (4) – Only the Giants are good enough to go on the road and rack up a 23-0 lead against a division opponent who beat them earlier in the year. And only the Giants are bad enough to blow that lead and then hold on to win the game because the opponent’s star receiver’s fingers are an inch too long. They’ll probably win the Super Bowl again.
2.) Chicago Bears (6-1) (2) – Before the season we made preseason prediction on the Rich Eisen Podcast and for Coach of the Year, I said Lovie Smith and was laughed at. I said, if the Bears have a good season, which they could with a healthy Jay Cutler (they were on their way last year before he got hurt), then Lovie was going to get serious consideration. I think I’m sitting pretty at the season’s midway point.
1.) Atlanta Falcons (7-0) (1) – The Falcons showed no rust coming out of the bye week; going on the road and putting it down on the Eagles. Matty Ice (or the Mattural) strengthened his MVP campaign with 3 more TD passes as Atlanta remained unbeaten. It hosts the Cowboys this week in what will either end their season or keep their chatter on our tongues for some time to come. Please let it be the reaper (Frasier Crane voice).
LOS ANGELES — Admit it, as you got ready for Monday Night Football this week and went through your normal routine of reading online articles, scrolling Twitter and watching pregame shoes you came across the nugget that it was 666th editing of MNF. And as you let that sink in, it also dawned on you that Monday’s game was to feature one Tim Tebow. And knowing what we know about Tim Tebow you thought to yourself: “hmm… something screwy might happen tonight.”
It was then, I came to the slow realization that I would not complete an epic fantasy football comeback (down 48 with Arian Foster and the Texans defense) and that yes, something screwy is DEFINITELY going to happen tonight. Well, we were all duped. Yes, the Jets were in the game, but it had nothing to do with anything Tim Tebow did, which sucks. Rex Ryan totally deprived us of a classic Tebow moment when, down 6 and with the ball with 3:28 to go Mark Sanchez trotted out under center and naturally he didn’t do jack and the Texans won.
Seriously, how great would that last drive have been if it was all Tebow? No doubt he would’ve found a way to win the game and implode Twitter all at the same time.
While God Blesses you, let’s find out who’s the man.
32.) Jacksonville Jaguars (1-4) (31) — Did you know in the last two games Maurice Jones-Drew has 25 total carries, while Blaine Gabbert has thrown it 77 times, with three of those landing into the hands of the Jaguars opponents? No, it’s true. I looked it up. That ratio seems kinda off kilter to me. Hopefully during the bye week Mike Mularkey can get that ironed out. #FreeMJD
31.) Tennessee Titans (1-4) (30) — Chris Johnson is proving to be that girl you grew up with who always talked the talked but never walked the walk when walking was required, if ya know what I mean. Either do something or shut the hell up. And I feel for my brother Matt Hasselbeck. He’s not getting ANY help out there. At he’s still handsome as f–k.
30.) Kansas City Chiefs (1-4) (28) — Eric Winston is my new favorite player in the NFL. Kudos for standing up for your quarterback and everyone in the NFL. Having said that, the fans still have a right to boo. Doesn’t make it right or make them tasteful for doing it.
29.) Cleveland Browns (0-5) (32) — You may be looking at this list and wondering how a winless team is not ranked as the worst team. If not, then you and I are on the same page. I think of it like this, at least the Browns CAN score and have proven they have the ability to put the ball in the end zone. After 5 games they have 100 points, which is more than the 1-win Chiefs (94), Titans (88) and Jaguars (65). Trent Richardson is proving he’s past the knee problems.
28.) Oakland Raiders (1-3) (29) — There’s a good chance I may only have the Raiders this high because I picked up Carson Palmer on my fantasy team for a bye-week replacement for Matt Ryan in Week 7. Maybe. #FreeDMC
27.) Carolina Panthers (1-4) (24) — I wasn’t buying the “What’s Wrong With Cam?” headlines after Week 2, but five weeks is a good enough sample size to start wondering what’s going on with him. Newton is 17th in the NFL in yards, 20th in Passer Rating, has just 4 TD passes and has been sacked 13 times. Not exactly Superman efforts.
26.) Buffalo Bills (2-3) (19) — I hope Matt Barkley owns some winter clothes, knows how to operate a wood stove and can drive in the snow, because those Buffalo winters are FRIGID!! Seriously, it’s time to set the Ryan Fitzpatrick (1,057yds, 12TD, 8INT) ship out to sea blazen with that green stuff from Game Of Thrones. All that’s missing is Braun launching the flaming arrow into Lake Erie.
25.) Tampa Bay Buccaneers (1-3) (26) — The best thing that could’ve happened for the Bucs was that they were off last week, which means their coach couldn’t do something stupid and their players couldn’t poorly execute his stupid decisions. I want to like this Tampa Bay team. And with the Chiefs coming to town, it better get a win if it wants any shot at the postseason.
24.) Detroit Lions (1-3) (25) — Ya know, every year Maloney and I wonder who’s the first coach to get fired. It’s a fun little game we play and he always says it’s Lovie Smith and I try to really think about it. Well, the Bears are 4-1 so it won’t be him, but maybe it’s time to ask: is Jim Schwartz on the hot seat?
23.) New York Jets (2-3) (22) — I posted on Twitter during the game Monday how the Jets are who we thought and the Texans needed adjusting. Then someone said how I should give the Jets some credit. Credit for what? Showing up for a Monday Night Football game? So I should get credit for showing up to work today? It’s like that Chris Rock sketch about Ns and black people. Ns always trying to take credit for stuff they’re SUPPOSED to do. I would hope you’d come out and play during a nationally televised game. I would hope. God Bless.
22.) New Orleans Saints (1-4) (27) — Drew Brees throwing a touchdown pass Monday night was as likely to occur as me pulling up for 3 on a fast break in pickup basketball on Saturday. But, what made that record special was that it was caught by #19, since that was Johnny U’s number AND his son Joe being in attendance. However, this record doesn’t impress me that much given how advanced today’s passing games are and how easy it is for receivers. What’s more impressive in regards to Brees, is his longevity and consistency.
21.) Miami Dolphins (2-3) (23) — When watching “Hard Knocks” earlier this summer, I didn’t even think this Dolphins team would get to 2 wins for the season, let alone after 5 weeks of the NFL year. It’s clear that starting Lauren Tannehill’s husband and cutting Chad Johnson were the right moves. However, would like to see some more defense before they climb out of the 20s.
20.) Dallas Cowboys (2-2) (17) — Jerry Jones and I have nothing in common. He’s a billionaire. I’m a thousandaire. He owns Texas. I’ve been there once. He likes plastic surgery. I have still a scar on my back from falling out of an avocado tree earlier this spring. However, we both have this going for us: we’ll be on the Season 4 Premiere of the FX fantasy football comedy “The League” this Thursday at 10:30pm ET. Tune in.
19.) Washington Redskins (2-3) (16) — I’m not saying I saw the Robert Griffin injury coming, but when he rounded the corner I braced myself for a collision from my couch. And when he got hit, I knew he wouldn’t be getting up and returning to the game. You can’t keep playing with a reckless abandon and live to see the next week. There’s a reason Michael Vick has played just ONE full season in his 9-year career. Slide. Run out of bounds. Throw it away. Do something other than get KTFO.
18.) Indianapolis Colts (2-2) (21) — You wanna know why I love sports? For moments like what happened in the second half of the Colts/Packers game. Indy had no business being in that game on Sunday. Down 21-3 at halftime. That baby was over. But strange things happen when other forces are at work. You think the Raiders winning last year a couple days after Al Davis died as a coincidence? Brett Favre going ape balls the day after his dad passed away. Sports are crazy man. I love them. #ChuckStrong
17.) St. Louis Rams (3-2) (20) — Wow, that was some defensive performance last week. Now, I probably could’ve probably went all Reggie White against that Arizona offensive line but still, I was impressed. Tough break for Wes Welker Lite 2.0, Danny Amendola, who was killing it in PPR fantasy leagues. Some guys are just injury prone, that’s a cruel reality of football.
16.) Seattle Seahawks (3-2) (18) — I was about to call Sunday’s victory over the Panthers an “impressive road win” before I remembered they beat Carolina, which sucks. Seriously, it’s terrible. We’ll find out how good this team really is this weekend when the Patriots visit. In fact, did you know it’s Tom Brady’s first-ever game against the Seahawks? AND, I have a little wager on the line with the creator of the FX hit comedy “The League,” Jeff Schaffer, who’s a big Seattle fan. Fast forward to the 50:09 mark of this week’s Rich Eisen Podcast and take a listen.
15.) Philadelphia Eagles (3-2) (9) — I played quarterback in high school and my coach used always tell me the same thing over and over: make sure we come back to the huddle after each play with the ball. Meaning, don’t turn it over. He had to say this often, because, well, I had a knack for giving it away to the other team. This is the problem with Michael Vick. One week after saying he knows what to do with the ball, etc., he turns it over twice on fumbles, raising his giveaway total to 11 on the season. I guess, if there’s good news here, he hasn’t thrown an INT since Week 2. So he’s got that going for him, which is nice.
14.) Arizona Cardinals (4-1) (7) — How much do the Cardinals actually like Kevin Kolb? Based on how they tried to get him killed with their offensive line play last Thursday, I’d say not much. Kolb is the most-sacked QB in the league at 22 take downs, and with upcoming games against Buffalo, Minnesota and San Francisco coming up, that number doesn’t appear to be doing anything but going up. Good luck (Taken voice).
13.) Denver Broncos (2-3) (11) — Has there been a team with more white skill players than these Broncos? Seriously, Peyton Manning, Eric Decker, Joel Dreeson, Brandon Stokley. That’s half a fantasy team right there. They need to trade for Peyton Hillis and Danny Woodhead, pull Jason Sehorn away from retirement and living off Angie Harmon’s TNT money and make this official. They’re like the NFL’s BYU or Utah Jazz. And seriously, WTF is that red blotch on Manning’s head? He’s played football for the last 20 years and he still hasn’t found a helmet that fits him?
12.) Cincinnati Bengals (3-2) (5) — You know how on Wall St. there is such a thing as a Market Correction? Well, this was a Man Correction on the Bengals. What in the hell was that against the Dolphins? So maybe these cats aren’t as good as we think, but man, can A.J. Green play some football, huh? He’s the top-rated WR in my fantasy league and the guy who has him would rather start Donald Brown and Kendall Hunter at running back rather than trade me Green for MJD. That tells you all you need to know.
11.) New York Giants (3-2) (15) — Allow me to channel Chuck Klosterman for a minute: Victor Cruz has some above average football skills. He’s able to make plays that differentiate him from 95% of the receivers currently playing the game of football. But what are the chances the general public, not specific to the American Football viewing segment of the populous has vastly overrated the person Victor Cruz is due to his seductive salsa dancing?
10.) San Diego Chargers (3-2) (12) — Week 5 was one of those “weird forces are at work in the NFL” weeks with the Colts and then with the Saints. Though New Orleans might’ve been a league-influenced scenario. But did you really think Drew Brees WASN’T going to break Johnny Unitas’ record and they weren’t going to win with Sean Payton, Joe Vitt and Mickey Loomis in the house on special permission? And I still hate how Philip Rivers throws. Shot putting is not throwing.
9.) Green Bay Packers (2-3) (6) — The stories making the rounds this week are how the Packers offense is mediocre, a severely flawed version of the 2011 model, which lit the NFL on fire. Well, since numbers never lie, let’s see what the stats tell us: Total Offense – 21st (338 ypg); Passing – 15th (240.8 ypg); Rushing – 20th (95.6 ypg). Yup, that’s below average. For perspective, that’s less total yards per game than juggernauts Chiefs (4th), Dolphins (13th) and Bills (17th). Yikes.
8.) Pittsburgh Steelers (2-2) (14) — Rashard Mendenhall looked pretty good coming back from ACL surgery against the Eagles; 107 total yards and a TD. But does it seem like the Steelers are always bitten by the injury bug? And could this be it for Troy Polamalu?
7.) Minnesota Vikings (4-1) (13) — Christian Ponder is a good dude, but he’s like Ebbie Calvin Laloosh; he needs a nickname. That said, here’s what my Maine buddy Jimmy had to say about his Vikings this week: “4-1 baby, the machine rolls on!!” Wow, the Vikings are a machine now? And can anyone stop Percy Harvin? Dude seems to take a kick back every other week right now.
6.) Baltimore Ravens (4-1) (3) — If you can’t score more than 9 points against the Chiefs, then yes, I don’t care if you win, you are not worthy of being The Man and must drop in rankings of that name. Some teams want it, and some don’t. Right now the Ravens do not want it.
5.) Chicago Bears (4-1) (10) — Remember a couple weeks ago when everyone was skewering Jay Cutler like he was tailgate BBQ? Man, those were fun days, weren’t they? Well, now, ole smoking Jay has thrown for an average of 283 yards and 2 TDs in the last two games, the Bears are in first place and no one remembers how he screamed at his lineman in Week 2.
4.) New England Patriots (3-2) (8) — We all knew the Patriots offense has been on a different level since 2007 but when did they turn into Oregon? I was waiting in the second half for them to come out in matte red helmets with flaming muskets on their neon blue jerseys and fluorescent white cleats. They ran 80-something plays and got 35 first downs against the Broncos. That’s not even video game shh. When you’re No. 1 in total yards (439 ypg) and No. 1 in scoring (33 ppg), that’s like the level above All-Madden.
3.) Houston Texans (5-0) (2) — Had Houston lost on Monday, it would have dropped further than just one slot. But the Texans inability to put away an inferior Jets team slightly discouraged me. They’re still undefeated though, and as long as they have Arian Foster (532 yds, 5 TD) bowing and not knowing who random Dolphins are, they’re going to be near the top of these rankings.
2.) San Francisco 49ers (4-1) (4) — So, lemme get this straight: the game management, Alex Smith led 49ers offense has outscored its last two opponents 79-3? That’s right, right? No big deal, Smith just leads the NFL in Passer Rating (108.7).
1.) Atlanta Falcons (5-0) (1) — Remember when everyone said the Falcons were going to be pass first, pass second, pass third, run fourth? Well, that hasn’t been entirely untrue five games into the season. Sure, Matty Ice (sorry @richeisen, I’m riding with the original nickname over The Mattural) is 3rd in attempts (199) but Michael Turner has run for 250 yards in the last three games. I’m guessing it’ll be another high-flying offensive game for the Falcons this weekend the Raiders.
LOS ANGELES — I wasn’t paying attention this weekend, did anything controversial happen?? What in Hank Stram’s jet black toupee went on in Week 3!!?! Was there something in the sideline Gatorade? Did these replacement refs have a bad shift at the toll booth before their games? Seriously. Between Pole Gate and Golden Gate the only thing I really have to say is:
Before this post gets flagged for pass interference, let’s find out who’s the man.
32.) Cleveland Browns (record: 0-3) (last week: 28) – I actually don’t think the Browns are all that bad, but Brandon Weeden is killing them after three games. He’s tied for the lead league in interceptions (6) and is 30th in Passer Rating (60.7). The defense has been formidable but you get the feeling it’s going to take something flukey or a big special teams play to turn the tide and get in the W column.
31.) Miami Dolphins (1-2) (29) – Yes, the Dolphins should’ve beat the Jets last weekend. No, they did not. Yes, I’m jealous of Dan Carpenter’s luscious flowing locks. No, I’m not jealous of his kicking abilities in pressure situations. Crazy to think if Miami had pulled that out, it’d be in first place in the AFC East. It’s going to be one of those years.
30.) St. Louis Rams (1-2) (23) – I don’t know what to make of this Rams team, gotta be honest. Kinda goes with how the NFC West is shaking out this year, don’t ya think?
29.) Oakland Raiders (1-2) (32) – Our buddy Jantzen, a life-long, rabid Steelers fan, went up to the Black Hole last weekend for the Pittsburgh/Oakland game and texted these nuggets about the ambiance: “I’ve gotten a lot of ‘Fuck the steelers’ chants in our direction. It seriously is scary.” And then there was this one: “the Raiders fans just booed the Steve sabol tribute cause it ends with the immaculate reception.” Stay classy, Oakland.
28.) Jacksonville Jaguars (1-2) (31) – Has anyone seen Justin Blackmon? Is he all right? Did he get another DUI and no one bailed him out of jail yet? I know it’s extremely early to throw around bust talk, but when you draft a receiver 5th overall you expect him to have more than 4 catches for 31 yards. I know Blaine Gabbert is throwing him the ball, but how many weeks can that be an excuse?
27.) Tennessee Titans (1-2) (30) – That was some wild game but Jake Locker suddenly doesn’t look terrible (this week). But seriously, Chris Johnson, what gives? It wasn’t cool when you blamed the offensive line for not creating holes and this 1.4 yards per carry thing isn’t gonna fly since it’s doubtful you’ll get 1,200 carries this season. But ah, nice hair?
26.) New Orleans Saints (0-3) (17) – Panic Button, meet the Saints. Or at least their fans. Yeah, I’d say it’s nearly time to think about 2013 and with the Packers up next 0-4 is a real strong possibility. I love these research nuggets: since 1990 exactly ONE TEAM has made the playoffs after starting 0-4, that highly memorable 1992 San Diego Chargers, led by the late great Junior Seau and the Stan Humphries/Marion Butts offensive combo.
25.) Colts (1-2) (25) – Andrew Luck threw for 313 yards but the Colts rushing attack is only 23rd in the league (90.3 ypg). He’s gotta get some help and the defense needs to not have brain farts that lead to 80-yard touchdown passes to the Jaguars if Jim Irsay’s playtoy wants to have a successful season. Oh, and how about the Reggie Wayne resurgence. He leads the league in targets (40) and is 4th in receptions (23).
24.) Carolina Panthers (1-2) (16) – So it appears the Cam Newton backlash has started and is quite real, as evidenced by this Hello Kitty mock cartoon. Look, I didn’t like the Superman TD celebration down 23-0 either and Cam does seem to have a sulking problem, but he’ll be fine. I was more concerned with the whole getting straight up punked on national TV at home.
23.) Kansas City Chiefs (1-2) (27) – Because #KickersArePeopleToo, has there been a better Mr. Irrelevant than Ryan Succop? He’s made all six of his field goals this season, including the game-winner in overtime to beat the Saints last week. Oh, and Jamaal Charles appears to be back. Man, did he ever look fast on that 91-yard touchdown run.
22.) Detroit Lions (1-2) (18) – Defense struggled. Offense kept them in the game. Calvin Johnson leads the league in 20+ yard plays. That all sounds about right for the Lions. But I’m rolling with the Vikings in the NFC North for now.
21.) Buffalo Bills (2-1) (24) – If the Bills really want to prove they belong in the playoff discussion they best show up and play like they mean it this week at home against the semi-reeling Patriots. Poor C.J. Spiller had one week as the best player in the NFL before injuring his shoulder, though Fred Jackson somehow thinks he’s going to play this weekend (poorer guy). That leaves Tashard Choice has the Amish Rifle’s offensive cohort. Yikes.
20.) Minnesota Vikings (2-1) (26) – Just before the game my buddy Jimmy the Vikings fan texted me: “how bad are the Vikings gonna get a– raped today,” so confidence was high going in. After Minny got ahead by two scores he chimed in: “quick stop the game. Isn’t there a tornado or something in the area.” It’s gonna be one of those seasons in the Homerdome. In other news, I picked up Christian Ponder to be my backup in fantasy. So he’s now on two first place teams.
19.) New York Jets (2-1) (22) – I have no idea what’s going on with the Jets and don’t really want to try and figure it out. Darrelle Revis is out for the year with an ACL tear, which obviously hurts their heavily-relied upon defense. And what are they doing with Mark Sanchez and Tim Tebow? I know what they’re NOT doing: completing passes.
18.) Tampa Bay Bucs (1-2) (13) – I get the feeling this Bucs team is going to do well at home and struggle on the road. Though, I did confidently prognosticate they’d make the playoffs a week ago, so START PLAYING WELL ON THE ROAD!!
17.) San Diego Chargers (2-1) (12) – Perhaps this speaks more to how good the Falcons are than how bad the Chargers really are, but seriously. You had Atlanta coming cross country on a short week and you STILL got blown out. That’s just embarrassing.
16.) Washington Redskins (1-2) (11) – Did I see that the Redskins signed running back Ryan Grant this week? Really, Mike Shanahan? ANOTHER running back? Patriots:Tight Ends = Redskins:Running Backs. Yeah, I just went SAT on your ass.
15.) Philadelphia Eagles (2-1) (10) – When you stop and realize the Eagles are a dropped INT in the end zone and a bogus replacement ref P.I. call away from being 0-3, you come to the wonder just a.) how bad are they, really? and b.) should Andy Reid be on the hot seat? Hell, here’s a c.) is Michael Vick gonna get benched or carted off the field first?
14.) Seattle Seahawks (2-1) (21) – The good thing about this Seahawks roller coaster is you don’t have to wait in line for 90 minutes to ride it. And it lasts 3 hours instead of 5 minutes. OK, look, we all know (except Golden Tate, Pete Carroll and the NFL apparently) that it was an interception on Monday, so really, Seattle should be lower. But like Mr. Parcells says, you are what your record is and Carroll’s crew is 2-1. Don’t forget to fasten your seatbelt.
13.) Dallas Cowboys (2-1) (15) – Funny how with all that’s going with the replacement refs, Belichick, Rodgers, the crappy Saints, Cardinals shocking everyone, Eagles, that the Cowboys are seemingly flying under the radar. Who thought we’d ever say that?
12.) Chicago Bears (2-1) (14) – The defense won this game for Chicago last week, we can all agree on that. I’m not saying its carrying Jay Cutler’s dopey ass so far this season but Mr. Cavallari is tied for the lead league in INTs (6), 4th in times sacked (11) and 2nd to last in passer rating (58.6). But he currently is in 1st in Picking On Guys On Your Team Twice Your Size. So good job!
11.) Arizona Cardinals (3-0) (20) – Overreaction jump in the rankings! Kevin Kolb! Defense! Loud Noises!
10.) Pittsburgh Steelers (1-2) (8) – More from diehard Steelers fan Jantzen: “There was a woman behind me that said ‘I’m gonna beat the shit out of a steeler fan tonight’ after DHB got knocked the fuck out. When Antonio Brown fumbled, that same woman jumped on the back of my seat, put her arms around me and started shaking me. The closest steeler fans were 10 rows away from us. I thought I was gonna get shanked. Lucikly she left me alone. Part of me is glad we lost.” Raiders fans, everybody!
9.) Denver Broncos (1-2) (9) – Some of the tweets during the Texans/Broncos game this week were interesting. A lot of “Peyton Manning can’t throw anymore” floating around out there. Look, Peyton’s never thrown the prettiest ball but it always got there and in a HURRY. Through 3 weeks it’s clear we’re not seeing that just yet. Now, will it come back? Or is this the Peyton 2.0. But it was kinda cool seeing him get back the Broncos back in the game they had no business being in.
8.) New England Patriots (1-2) (6) – You’ve all seen the stat by now: the Patriots haven’t been under .500 since Week 1, 2003 when they got routed by the Bills. Now, New England went on to win the Super Bowl that year so maybe that’s a good sign for this year, but so far the offense is out of sync (except when they go no-huddle) and the defense can’t make a big stop. What do you think of the 50 large Bill dropped for “getting the referee’s attention?” Worth it? I saw an interesting tweet that said it was basically like us regular folk being fined $400. I don’t know if anything is worth 4 bones. Wait, I’ve lost more than that in one night at the craps table. Nevermind.
7.) Cincinnati Bengals (2-1) (19) – This Bengals team is that girl who works at the coffee shop you see on Tuesday mornings for 5 minutes and you can’t decide if she’s cute or not. Some days she is and you talk yourself into her, and other days you hide your face behind the paper so she doesn’t make small talk at the counter. So, yeah, Cincy gave up a big lead to the Redskins, but still, did you see it build a huge lead on the road against a team most thought was pretty good? It was impressive. The Ginger Rifle was throwing darts and there’s big play guys all over the field. Then again, Marvin Lewis is the coach, so we’ll see how long this lasts. But two games in a row is pretty good.
6.) Green Bay Packers (1-2) (5) – The Mike Silver Revolution is nearly complete with this latest WTFJH craze. So besides that, here’s the Top 5 Things to Result From Golden Gate: 5- “I don’t know what you’re talking about.”; 4- Aaron Rodgers apologizing on behalf of the entire NFL; 3- Pete Carroll doing anything; 2- Free Ed Hochuli movements; 1- T.J. Lang’s Twitter account.
5.) San Francisco 49ers (2-1) (1) – Is it possible the 49ers just had a bad week in Minnesota? Sure. If it happens again this week in New Jersey, then maybe it’s time to re-think the Harbaugh genius.
4.) New York Giants (2-1) (7) – My favorite items from the Tom Coughlin “A Football Life” in no particular order: he went to Syracuse and all the shots of the Hill, Coughlin created chaos during the family moves, Coughlin telling the guy to put on longer pants and stop wearing “bermuda shorts,” Fred Taylor saying he got injured “once,” the “N-O” button on his desk, his wife saying “I don’t want him around full time,” John Madden’s phone message after Week 17 in 2007 and the emotion in his voice, taking 3 shots to make can in trash: “ugh, basketball,” Floyd Little, “is the Gatorade bath really sticky?” question from the kid and Frierson coming in and saying “it looks like Philip Rivers!” at his college photo.
3.) Baltimore Ravens (2-1) (4) — Joe Flacco. I know the Ravens have Ray Rice and he’s a top 4 back in the league, but seriously, this team will come and go as far as #5. And Justin Tucker, you get one free pass in this league; Sunday night was your pass. Next time, don’t make it that close. It was a 27-yard field goal. Seriously, bro. High School girls can make that kick with ease.
2.) Houston Texans (3-0) (3) – One of the final three unbeatens, the Texans looked like a true contender last week until the final 5 minutes when they let Peyton back in the game. But let’s get to the real issue: did you see Matt Schaub get decapitated?! He ended up losing a piece of his ear on the hit! Watching live, I thought he was dead. Or at least KTFO. But yeah, the Texans are good.
1.) Atlanta Falcons (3-0) (2) – A couple weeks ago I said that Ed Reed is an ageless wonder, well double that for Tony Gonzalez. He’s got 3 TDs in the first three games and is 7th in the league in receptions (21). He said before the season he was 99% decided this was his last year, well if he keeps playing like this, he may reconsider. And hands down, Matty Ice is the MVP of the first three weeks of the NFL. I’m riding him to the ROFFL Title this year. Bank it.
LOS ANGELES — So, how was that Week 1 for ya? Go down smooth like Saturday’s scotch? How you feelin’ down in NOLA? Up in Green Bay? Out in Philly? Hit the panic button yet? Think Mark Sanchez slept the sleep of kings Sunday night? How about Mike Shanahan? Oh yes, the NFL is back in a big way. Many dazzled (cough, Peyton Manning, cough) and others fizzled (looking right ya, Carson) but you can’t dispute now being the best time of the year. Replacement refs? We’re stuck with them. Oh, and my fantasy teams went 4-1 over the weekend. Four letters. One world. Bang.
The only question I have left: Who’s the Man? Let’s run it down.
32.) Miami Dolphins (record: 0-1) (last week: 31) — I’m guessing the ‘Fins might run their own occupy movement this season. Like, how many consecutive weeks can they occupy the bottom spot in my rankings. I, on the other hand, am going to occupy a new picture of Lauren Tannehill on this space until they climb out of the cellar. Good luck (“Taken” voice.)
31.) Oakland Raiders (0-1) (22) – Sweet mother of Al Davis, Oakland looked terrible. I’m not going to pile on the poor backup longsnapper, but he’s not a real person. Some analyst said the three keys for the Raiders this year is to get the ball to Darren McFadden, get the ball to Darren McFadden and get the ball to Darren McFadden. I can’t disagree.
30.) Cleveland Browns (0-1) (32) – I’m not saying Brandon Weeden would’ve been better off if he just stayed trapped under the giant American Flag like some rightwing R.Kelly, but he would’ve been better off staying under that gigantic American Flag in pregame. Not even 17-year-old Chris Brockman threw 4 picks in a game and I threw a LOT of picks in high school.
29.) Jacksonville Jaguars (0-1) (28) — Maurice Jones-Drew’s 95 total yards squashed the notion that Pocket Hercules was being relegated to “third down back” like Mike Mularkey originally stated. Now, for that defense.
28.) Tennessee Titans (0-1) (24) — So Chris Johnson had 4 rushing yards and Jake Locker got hurt trying to make a tackle on an interception. But hey, Nate Washington had a TD catch (Fantasy Team Alert!) so all is good in Nashville!
27.) Buffalo Bills (0-1) (18) — Well, well, well. This is Earth, Bills fans. Welcome back to it. Look, I thought Buffalo would beat the Jets, too. But but New York went all TSA and stripped down the Amish Rifle and Co. I think this says more about how the Bills are PREtenders than the Jets being CONtenders, but yes, you should be panicking in the 716.
26.) Arizona Cardinals (1-0) (30) — So let me get this straight. Kevin Kolb is the guy now? After one good drive? What week does Larry Fitzgerald demand a trade to New England? It’s election season; I’m starting a “Free Fitz” campaign.
25.) Indianapolis Colts (0-1) (25) — I’m sticking by what I said last week about 25 being the lowest the Colts are all season. Luck is going to have times this year where he looks like a rookie, but these numbers are worth noting: 21-of-37, 302 yds, TD, 3 INT. Not #12′s from Sunday, but Peyton Manning’s from his 1998 debut. #18′s doing all right.
24.) St. Louis Rams (0-1) (27) — Yes, the Rams should’ve beaten the Lions. No, they did not. But that defense sure looked feisty. Once Sam Bradford gets some viable offense weapons not named Steven or Jackson, he’ll be in good shape. He can sling it, though.
23.) Minnesota Vikings (1-0) (29) — My buddy from home texted me right after Blair whatever his name is’s (#StillNotSureKickersArePeopleToo) kick went through the uprights at the Homer Dome: “Perfect season.” So yeah, there’s hope in Minnesota. But let’s not carried away after one week.
22.) Seahawks (0-1) (23) — So the bandwagon got a little less crowded Monday, but that still doesn’t mean the Seachickens aren’t a good team, or any less likely to make the playoffs. They still play tough at home, have a good (we think) coach and Russell Wilson is going to make plays. Starting 0-2, however, not a good look.
21.) Chiefs (0-1) (17) — In Kansas City’s defense, a lot of teams are going to have trouble stopping the Falcons this season. HOWever, Jamaal Charles looked nice in his return from knee surgery, but Matt Cassel has to play better. That’s just the bottom line.
20.) Eagles (1-0) (16) — The funniest thing I’ve read headline-wise in a while is the “Here A Vick, There A Vick, Everywhere A Vick Pick” from the Philly Daily News on Monday. As my high school coach used to say, if you have any confusion, Michael, you’re in green, they’re in white.
19.) Panthers (0-1) (15) — Cue the sophomore slump talk! These are the facts of the case: Cam Newton had just one TD and generated 10 points. But he still threw for 300+ yards and completed 69.7% of his passes. Let’s call it rust and wait a few weeks, shall we?
18.) Bengals (0-1) (8) — So the Bengals have the biggest drop this week, dropping 10 spots. They just looked overwhelmed on the big opening night stage and Dalton appeared to take a step back. That’s the Tuesday Morning QB theme. And who is Andrew Hawkins and could he be the next Darren Sproles? That’s what Marc is hoping in my fantasy league.
17.) Jets (1-0) (26) — So THAT’s where all the good plays have been hiding! Look, the Jets couldn’t beat my high school with how they looked in the preseason, but if this is how Mark Sanchez is gonna play then maybe they’ll be contenders after all. Still don’t know what to make of the “Tebow Package;” is it a ruse? He lined up at WR but only had 5 rushes. I still say Sanchez should’ve demanded a trade the day Tebow was acquired.
16.) Chargers (1-0) (19) — So after blowing out his ACL on the opening kickoff last season, Nate Kaeding kicked 5 field goals in Monday’s win over the Raiders. Yup, same old Chargers.
15.) Steelers (0-1) (12) — So the Steelers were playing without their leading defensive back AND linebacker and barely lost to a resurgent Peyton Manning? Oh, and their running back is out and top WR has only practiced a couple of hours. What was the score again? And a couple linemen were hurt? I can’t tell if Mike Tomlin’s team is fine or in reeeeeeeallllllly bad shape moving forward.
14.) Lions (1-0) (11) — Truthfully, I wanted to drop the Lions even more than 3 spots but they’re definitely better than all these teams below them. But, seriously, come on, Matt Stafford, you’re better than this. Three picks to the Rams? I get all the passing yards, and thanks, since I picked you in the #REPPicks contest, but you gotta do better than a last-second TD pass to win. You made the playoffs last year, for crying out loud.
13.) Broncos (1-0) (14) — Yes, Peyton Manning looked pretty good. I thought for sure he’d leave that game not under his own power. But let’s remember the Broncos beat a pretty banged up Steelers squad. Let’s see how they do on Monday, on the road, against an explosive team. Oh, and good to have you back, #18.
12.) Bucs (1-0) (13) – Well color me surprised. In fact, rain on me surprised and watch me twirl my head around and kick my legs like those strippers on the sideline disguised as Bucs cheerleaders. Seriously, is there another set of pom-pom toters hotter than Tampa Bay’s? So the Bucs are off to a good start. Any time you can hold Cam Newton to 10 points, you’re doing something right. And I’d really like to love me some Josh Freeman again. Say hit to Calypso for me. Don’t let him escape the house again.
11.) Saints (0-1) (7) – It’s too early to tell if it’s panic time in NOLA, but the Saints defense sure didn’t look too good, now did it? I know the player suspensions have been overturned, but they’re not gonna matter much. We’re gonna really find out how important a head coach is to the team this year in the Bayou.
10.) Giants (0-1) (1) – Sorry, but me oh my, Giants fans. Here we go again. Why is it every year your team puts you through this? Wouldn’t you just like to have a normal season, where it’s clear whether you’re going to make the playoffs or you not? Sure, I get it, you’ve won 2 titles in the last 5 years, I’ll shut my mouth now. Go about your season however you see fit.
9.) Redskins (1-0) (20) – How many burgundy “Griffin III” jerseys are going to be sold this week in the Beltway? 100,000? 200,000? Perhaps I’m overreacting to how good this Redskins team is, but I’m OK with that, ’cause damn are they exciting. Finally, VA and Scotty Watt and Archie’s dad have something cheer for. Not even Mike Shanahan can screw this up. Wait, can he?
8.) Cowboys (1-0) (21) – An over-reactive, dramatic rise? Perhaps. Is Jerry Jones’s personal eye-glass cleaner actually writing this? Maybes. But I thought there was no way the ‘Boys were winning the opener. Not when the Super Bowl champs were 8-0 in these games. And Tony Romo showed me something. Well, he basically showed me the same thing he’s showed everyone in the last few years: he can win during the regular season in sometimes spectacular fashion. Let’s see what ya got in January, dimples.
7.) Packers (0-1) (3) — So the Packers still aren’t gonna play any defense, is that what they’re saying? Just let me know so I can adjust my Super Bowl pick accordingly. Cripes, Alex Smith looked like … quick, who’s a good quarterback named Smith … umm … well, he looked like a good player. And by a show of hands, who thought (hoped) Randy Moss was going to moon the Green Bay crowd? [raises hand] How awesome would that have been? How do you think Joe Buck would’ve called it? Better than this, I’m guessing.
Eat it, Joe Buck.
6.) Bears (1-0) (10) — Did you see any of Jay Cutler’s press conference on Tuesday? Good to see ole’ Jay found his inner douche in the offseason. Glad being a dad hasn’t taken that inner Hamptonite out of him. Seriously, this guy. If he didn’t have a missile launcher for a right arm, he’d be just another mail man from Santa Claus. And not the cool kind who wears pointed shoes and a fuzzy ball on his hat.
5.) Texans (1-0) (6) — This is my darkhorse for the Super Bowl this year, no pun intended. Potentially great defense. Explosive offense. I mean, did you see how many times Arian Foster bowed on Sunday!?! Twice!! I was singing Rocky Top and slapping my logger Melanie’s hand repeatedly. She was pretty clueless as to my joy. She doesn’t play fantasy football.
4.) Falcons (1-0) (9) – Well hello there, Julio Jones. So that’s why Thomas Dimitroff traded all those picks to take you two years ago. I knew there was a reason. Winning on the road was impressive, but will the Falcons’ new uptempo style of play be ready for Monday Night and Peyton Manning? I’m ready. Nearly dropped a few dollars on some Falcons gear on NFL Shop this week. Another Matty Ice performance like Week 1′s and I’ll click “buy” this time around.
3.) New England Patriots (1-0) (2) – OK, I jinxed Tom Brady’s handsomeness. New England’s prince charming possibly broke his nose in the Patriots win over the Titans on Sunday (but Gisele likes it, so that means I like it). But the big story was New England’s rush attack. Stevan Ridley ran for 120 yards and is possibly Antoine Smith reincarnated. OK, maybe not. Certainly Rob Gronkowski won’t flub up the spike and Aaron Hernandez won’t NOT make it rain after touchdowns moving forward.
2.) 49ers (1-0) (5) — We knew the 49ers were good. But on the road in the Green Bay good? Yup. And we see you Randy Moss. Welcome back.
1.) Ravens (1-0) (4) – Their field goal kicker doesn’t need to worry about making chip shots when Joe Flacco and Co. are throwing it all over the schoolyard like 10-year old Chris Brockman at Valley Park Elementary. Oh, and Ed Reed. That is all.
LOS ANGELES — Riding the tidal wave of last year’s rousing success, I decided to bring back my NFL Burning Questions column, only this time with a twist. Instead of doing one question for each number of Super Bowls, I’m going to borrow an idea I’ve seen elsewhere in the sports blogosphere and do an inquiry for all 32 teams and put them in a pre-Week 1 “You’re The Man” power ranking. (I mean, I have to be somewhat original, right?) Perhaps each week I’ll revisit the previous week’s question to see if an answer as been reached and re-rank accordingly. Hmm… (hamster gets off couch and peers at the wheel…)
So without any more adieu, let’s boast about other people’s football manhood!!
32.) Cleveland Browns — I have Greg Little on my main fantasy team this year, but will there be enough of a run game to allow Brandon Weeden time to throw him the ball and focus on something else other than all the 2nd- and 3rd-and-longs the Browns will eventually be in all season?
31.) Miami Dolphins — The only way Miami’s going to be able to score is if Ryan Tannehill’s wife lines up at WR and distracts the defense, thus allowing Reggie Bush to run rampant. So the question is, can Mrs. Tannehill play WR? I mean, no one else can on that team.
30.) Arizona Cardinals — At this rate, I’m next up in the QB Carousel down in Arizona. Seriously, does Kurt Warner really not want to play anymore? I’ve seen him in the hallways at NFL Network and I’m willing to bet he can still sling it better than Skelton/Kolb.
29.) Minnesota Vikings — If I’m Adrian Peterson, for starters I’d probably spend an uncomfortable amount of time staring at myself in the mirror, but I also wouldn’t be in any rush to get back on the field in Minnesota. However, with the aerial assassins in that division – Packers, Lions, Bears – can the Vikings defense be able to stop anyone?
28.) Jacksonville Jaguars – PHEW! Maurice Jones-Drew is back. Now, what week do I start him in fantasy? Can Justin Blackmon keep himself out of trouble long enough to become the next Anquan Boldin?
27.) St. Louis Rams – Can Jeff Fisher’s mustache play WR? Who is Sam Bradford supposed to throw it to? I feel for Steven Jackson because I’m guessing he’s going to take another pounding this season.
26.) New York Jets – If Tim Tebow comes in the game and scores a touchdown, would you take him out? What if the defense scores; can you send them out on offense? That’s how bad their offense is.
25.) Indianapolis Colts – I’m guessing this is the lowest the Colts will be all season. Just a hunch and my faith in Luck’s talent. He’s that good. Put it this way: would you rather have the Jets defense and their mess at QB or Andrew Luck? Yup, me too.
24.) Tennessee Titans – Jake Locker officially has the reigns of the Titans offense, having won them from my brother Matt Hasselbeck this preseason, but can Chris Johnson regain his 2010 form?
23.) Seattle Seahawks – I’ll be the first to admit I was wrong about Russell Wilson, but remember: he dominated the PRE-season. Different beast when the games count for real. Can he legitimately make the Seahawks a challenger to the 49ers in the NFC West?
22.) Oakland Raiders – The good news for Rolando McClain is the Black Hole is probably the only place were shooting off your guns in public is considered tame behavior. I’m guessing the Raiders offense is going to be fine; can the defense carry its weight with Peyton, the explosive Chiefs and potentially deadly Chargers in the way?
21.) Dallas Cowboys – Will Dez Bryant’s “bodyguards” be with him on the sideline to let him know when to go out in the huddle? More importantly, and for Tony Romo’s sake, will they actually suit up and play offensive line?
20.) Washington Redskins – I’m among those who think Robert Griffin III has the potential to have a Cam Newton-Lite type of season but will Mike Shanahan’s penchant for using 18 running backs during the season screw with Robert’s mojo?
19.) San Diego Chargers – The only question is will the Chargers start out hot and then fizzle to finish 8-8 or fizzle and get hot down the stretch to finish 8-8? Either way, they’ll be watching the playoffs from their over-priced recliners.
18.) Buffalo Bills – The offense started hot in 2011 as the Bills were the league’s darling. Now the defense is better with the addition of Mario Williams. Who will lead them this season?
17.) Kansas City Chiefs – Now that the Chiefs have a coach they like and a young defense said likable coach, who has a few Super Bowl rings, is creating schemes for, is Matt Cassel the man everyone in Arrowhead thinks he can be?
16.) Philadelphia Eagles – Dream Team. Dynasty. Is there another D-word an overrated player on the Eagles can throw out describing their underachieving ball club?
15.) Carolina Panthers – I’m not sure how many of you know this, but Cam Newton is not liked but a certain Southern California native wide receiver who happens to be his teammate. That said, can the offense stay as surprisingly explosive in Year 2?
14.) Denver Broncos – Peyton Manning is one of my favorite players. I have an autographed 8×10 he sent me when he was in college after I wrote him a letter as a high school junior. I think he should have retired after last year. I don’t think he’ll make it through this year unscathed. I hope I’m wrong. If he’s healthy, how will he make those around him better?
13.) Tampa Bay Buccaneers – This is not the same Bucs team that lost 10 straight last year. I think. Can Greg Schiano inject some new life into the organization and can Josh Freeman bounce back from his disaster 2011 campaign to lead this young, potentially dangerous team?
12.) Pittsburgh Steelers – Ben Roethlisberger said during a sideline, preseason interview that he called his own plays. Hmm. So why was Todd Haley brought in again? Will Mike Wallace feel the effects of his hold out? And who’s the running back again? Get the feeling the trend of the last few years of this not being my daddy’s smashmouth Steelers will continue.
11.) Detroit Lions – You wanna talk about a team that throws it all over the school yard; your Detroit Lions, everybody! But can their secondary stop anyone? We know Ndamukong Suh has the front seven on lockdown, but can the back four prevent Matthew Stafford of having to engineer 4th Quarter comebacks all season?
10.) Chicago Bears – The Cutler & Marshall band is back together at Soldier Field this season, but will they make the same sweet Denver music?
9.) Atlanta Falcons – The Falcons are running out of excuses as to why they haven’t won a playoff game. Is Matty really Ice or is he the Cooler?
8.) Cincinnati Bengals – No one saw the 2011 Bengals coming, not even themselves. Can they equal last year’s surprising season or will a sophomore slump bite Andy Dalton and A.J. Green?
7.) New Orleans Saints – We’re going to find out in a hurry just how important a head coach is to a professional football team. Hell, we’re going to find out in a hurry just how important an INTERIM head coach is to a football team. Can Drew Brees be both AND the greatest passer this side of a 10-year-old Chris Brockman with a Nerf ball?
6.) Houston Texans – Arian Foster likes to bow after scoring touchdowns. I like to watch him bow after scoring touchdowns because that means 6+ points for my fantasy team. With Matt Schaub and Andre Johnson healthy, and Ben Tate the best backup RB in the game, how often does Gary Kubiak like watching Foster bow after scoring TDs?
5.) San Francisco 49ers – Can Alex Smith come out and make everyone forget his coach tried to woo Peyton Manning and then lied about it by showing how he nearly got the 9ers to the Super Bowl last year?
4.) Baltimore Ravens – Can the Ravens new kicker make a 32-yard field goal?
3.) Green Bay Packers – Quick Aaron Rodgers story: I was at the same ESPY’s after-after party earlier this summer as the 2011 NFL MVP, and he walked around like James freakin’ Bond. It was uncanny the control of the room (or rooftop in this case) he had. I ended up exiting the party with him, the Hasselbecks (all 3), Sage Steele, among others, and Rodgers made fun of us for all being bald. I said something inconsequential back and the night ended. Just thought I’d share. Oh, and is Cedric Benson really the answer for the Pack’s running woes?
2.) New England Patriots – I think we all know what to expect from the Patriots offense, but what about the defense? They can’t get much much worse than 31st in total defense, as they were in 2011. Oh, I thought of an offensive question: can Tom Brady get better looking this year? Like physically. He’s so dreamy. Seriously, look at those eyes.
1.) New York Giants – You all remember the Giants, don’t you? They’re the OTHER team that plays in New York (or New Jersey, but who cares about geography). You may know them as the ones who actually win in that town. You probably haven’t heard much from them since the Jets have dominated the back pages. Oh, right, a question … hmm … Will Tom Coughlin smile at all this season?
LOS ANGELES — Sundays at the NFL Network are a beast all their own. The energy and buzz in the building can be felt from studio to newsroom and behind the scenes as one-by-one the games come to a close and the highlite shows go on the air. That feeling has without a doubt carried over this year into the offseason.
That’s why I was excited to finally track down my Sunday partner in crime for the last two NFL campaigns, Justine Brown, and have her on The Crossover to talk about one of the wildest weeks the NFL offseason has seen in quite some time, possibly ever. And she KILLS IT. (click here to listen)
From Peyton Manning finally deciding the location he wants to finish his career – Denver?! – to penalties levied against the Saints for their Bounty Program of the last few years to yes, wait for it, Tim Tebow being traded to the J-E-T-S, Jets, Jets, Jets! What could happen next is anybody’s guess and we break all that down.
Of course, Justine is a huge hoopster, so we analyze the NCAA Men’s Tournament as we hit Sweet 16 weekend, talk about the upcoming Syracuse/Wisconsin matchup and if we really think Kendall Marshall’s injury is going to derail North Carolina.
We finish up the show with a little NBA talk as we near the end of the shortened season, re-live Linsanity and wonder if Dwight Howard can really be The Man in Orlando or another franchise. To close the show, we look back on how the both us, two small-town kids, came to land in Los Angeles and find our own niche and enjoy ourselves is this crazy place.
As always, thanks for listening, and spread the word!