By Joseph Fafinski
Week 13 Power Rankings
1. Atlanta Falcons, 9-2
The best team in the NFL proved they were the best team in the NFL by beating a very good Green Bay Packers team at home. Matt Ryan won his 15th game in a row at the Georgia Dome, setting his career record at 19-1 inside those friendly confines. This is a complete team that is poised to go all the way to Dallas. The Roddy White-to-Matt Ryan train station hope to have roundtrips all the way to February. I wouldn’t be surprised if the Falcons had a little trouble this week though as they hit the road to face the playoff-hungry Buccaneers.
2. New England Patriots, 9-2
Placed in front of a national audience for the third time this year, Tom Brady and the crew confused millions when they came out flat in the first half, going into the break down by a touchdown. Then the real Pats came out and outscored the poor Lions 35-7 in the second half. ESPN must be salivating at the matchup they snagged for this week. Number 12 has created new playmakers this year (Danny Woodhead, BenJarvus Green-Ellis) and rediscovered old ones (Deion Branch). We will figure out which Patriots come out when they face the national stage for the fourth time with the long anticipated matchup with the Jets. We’ll see how much Tom Brady hates the Jets after this one.
3. Baltimore Ravens, 8-3
Winners of four out of their last five, the Baltimore Ravens are excited to prove to everyone that the win in Week 4 at Heinz Field was no fluke. Everything seems to be clicking now that the run game in back intact and the defense is healthy. Joe Flacco is becoming the quarterback they expected him to be, and he will be ready to take down Roethlisberger. The Ravens are riding a ten-game home winning streak dating back to November 2009 and have no intentions of ending it. My prediction for Sunday night’s contest: the winner of the game wins the AFC North.
4. New York Jets, 9-2
For a head coach Rex Ryan sure does talk a lot of smack. Just as he built up the season-opening Monday night duel with the Ravens, Ryan is back at it with this week’s battle with the Patriots. While I may not be the biggest fan, he does believe that his team hasn’t reached its peak, and that the team will face doubters “all the way to the Super Bowl.” That shows that he truly believes in his franchise to take care of business (or he is just stupid, which could be it). This week’s matchup is a clash of two teams who want nothing to do with each other. Going to Foxboro is harder than it seems, but that won’t stop Ryan from believing his club is the best.
5. New Orleans Saints, 8-3
The defending champs know that they are lurking under the radar that is currently shining brightly on the division rival Falcons. No one is talking about the fact that they have won four in a row or that only one of those games was closer than ten points. Nope; instead they talk about how the Saints have looked weak, or that they lost to the Browns. Well, forget about it America. The Saints are hot and will have no problem on the road against T.O., Ocho, and the sad opera that is becoming the 2010 Cincinnati Bengals. Look out, NFC: the road to the Super Bowl may have to cross New Orleans once again. Ask the Cardinals and Vikings how that worked out for them last postseason.
6. Chicago Bears, 8-3
Da Bears proved their record was no fluke by beating the Vickadelphia Eagles 31-26. It was the Eagles’ first loss in five weeks, and with the Packers loss in Atlanta the Bears took sole possession of first place in the NFC North. Jay Cutler looked like an MVP. The defense took Vick’s first post-behind bars interception, and ran with the opportunity. The Bears hope to move on with ease against the Lions, but it isn’t as easy as it has been in recent years. I expect two things: a close game, and lots of Calvin Johnson, who is looking for Week 1 revenge.
7. Green Bay Packers, 7-4
One of the NFL’s hottest teams suddenly cooled in Week 12. Here’s a painful fact: it was the fourth time in four losses this season that they have lost courtesy of a game-winning field goal. Matt Bryant of the Falcons did the same thing that Robbie Gould, Graham Gano, and Dan Carpenter all previously achieved. One thing I learned from the Pack in Week 12: Aaron Rodgers is a clutch quarterback. With six minutes remaining, he directed a 16-play, 90-yard drive that ended with an absolute bullet of a throw for a 10-yard touchdown to Jordy Nelson. Unfortunately it was too early and Atlanta won the battle. I see no trouble on the Week 13 horizon in Green Bay, as they host the inferior 49ers.
8. Philadelphia Eagles, 7-4
A week ago they were a hot pick for the NFC East crown, and even had some talking about Dallas. Now? They are tied for first with the Giants (who beat the Jaguars) and have gambled with the expectancy of their season. They have been overcoming injuries all year, and for the first time since before his arrest, Mike Vick struggled. With only three days to practice, the Eagles play tomorrow (Thursday) night in front of a national audience. Remember what happened the last time they were on the tube? Donovan McNabb sure doesn’t want to. Beating the oft-fined Texans will be an interesting game that will be wide open, but you can bet that Vick will be back at it going for it all.
9. Pittsburgh Steelers, 8-3
On October 3, quarterback Ben Roethlisberger was in the fourth and final game of a league-constituted suspension. That time around 35-year old Charlie Batch struggled, throwing for just 141 yards off 12 completions. However, the team only lost by a field goal. This time around Batch (who coincidentally turns 36 on Sunday) will be on the bench as Ben Roethlisberger tries to win another AFC North crown. This game is vital in determining the outcome of the Steelers’ season, and the Ravens know they need to buckle down on defense when they come to the Keystone State this time.
10. San Diego Chargers, 6-5
The AFC West has been so unpredictable this year. The Chiefs in first? The Raiders around .500? Denver’s air time is more than that of an international businessman? The Chargers are on a winning streak after a slow start? Oh wait, one of those doesn’t belong with the rest. The fact of the matter is that the Chargers are the best closing team in the NFL, and no one is playing better right now than Philip Rivers, who is still firing away despite injuries. LaDainian Tomlin– er, I mean, Mike Tolbert– is playing very well for being used as just a replacement. Oakland at home could be tricky, but I don’t see it happening as long as the Rivers are still flowing.
11. New York Giants, 7-4
There they were, losing 17-6 to a mediocre Jaguars team at home at intermission. There they were, five offensive starters down, including two top lineman and up-and-coming star receiver Hakeem Nicks. Yet there they were after the game, celebrating a 24-20 victory. Credit falls on the shoulders of quarterback Eli Manning, who (shhh!!) might be having a better season than his sacred older brother Peyton. The best pass defense in the league welcomes Donovan McNabb and the struggling ‘Skins to NYC for a divisional matchup that will surely be a pass-heavy game. Do the Giants have what it takes to have a legit shot at the playoffs? Tune in Week 13 to find out, where it is a must-win before back-to-back weeks against the Eagles and the Packers.
12. Kansas City Chiefs, 7-4
Kansas City, Missouri hasn’t had this much buzz since the Royals won the World Series in 1985. Although the Chargers sit right on their tail (but not in these power rankings), the Chiefs can simply win and get in. Dwayne Bowe and Matt Cassel have been dating for two months now, and it is a relationship that may go a long way in KC; fans are hoping it lasts until at least January. They’ve hooked up 14 times this year, a team record. Upcoming divisional matchups are important for them since they have already lost to Denver and Oakland once apiece. The Chargers are on their way and seek revenge next week in a must-see masterpiece. First they have to get by the Broncos, who came out throwing hot and embarrassed them in Denver by three touchdowns.
13. Miami Dolphins, 6-5
Don’t count them out just yet. After being shut out on a Thursday night groaner to the Bears, South Florida’s team came back and beat a Raiders team who had been playing well prior to the showdown. Chad Henne is back, and with a courageous start he has earned his job back (bless Pat White for backing out instead for a baseball career). I am surprised that Brandon Marshall hasn’t complained about getting the ball thrown to him lately. He has kept his mouth shut this year in hopes of winning. Week 13 foe Cleveland has played tough in the last two months, beating excellent teams like the Saints and Patriots (and barely losing to the Jets and the Jags) with their barreling running back and gritty defensive play. If the ‘Fins want to get back in the playoff hunt they need to emerge as victors on Sunday.
14. Tampa Bay Buccaneers, 7-4
Maybe, just maybe this is a little too low for this team. A few defensive players still remain from the 2002 Super Bowl team, highlighted by cornerback Ronde Barber. So that means experience isn’t a problem? Absolutely. So what’s the problem? Oh yeah, there is the fact that they are 0-4 against teams that .500 and better and 7-0 against the loss-prone ones. That brings me to my final point: how about the Bucs prove to me that they belong higher on this list? How better of an opportunity is there to climb the incline of this list than to play the #1 ranked team at home? So do it, Tampa Bay. A win and you’re in the top 10.
15. Houston Texas, 5-6
The picture on the right tells the story of the beatdown the Texans issued the injury-riddled Titans en route to a 20-0 shutout. Andre Johnson was seemingly the bad guy in the fight from most viewers’ eyes, but wasn’t it awesome to see a little punching in the NFL? The Texans are going to need some of that toughness if they want to bring down the Eagles in Philly. Shockingly Dre wasn’t suspended by the No Fun League (sorry, Rog) and will start Week 13. This is good for my fantasy team because I am in a higher stakes league and next week the three-week long playoffs begin. I am facing my high school dean; I find this kind of ironic because I was sent to his office multiple times throughout my years because of my fantasy football participation in class. Mr. Dols, if you read this, you’re going down. Anyways I’m rambling, aren’t I? This was supposed to be about the Texans, not reliving my glory days in high school.
16. Jacksonville Jaguars, 6-5
The Jaguars are honestly one of the most streaky teams that I have seen in recent years. One week they lose by three scores; the next, they win by the same margin. Maurice Jones-Drew is emerging from his early season shell though, and that can take the Jags a long way, as well as the suddenly good play by the veteran David Garrard. Facing the struggling Titans at home this week will be an interesting task for the Jaguars. If the Titans can get their run game going it could be a blowout. They have no passing game however, so an interesting game indeed it will be.
17. Indianapolis Colts, 6-5
The Colts are hoping that they have hit rock bottom. If they haven’t, they may as well start packing their bags. Suddenly they’re tied with the Jags, and the Texans certainly have a shot the way the rest of the division is playing. Peyton Manning has not been Peyton Manning, throwing for seven picks in the last two games. For the third time in his illustrious career he threw for two pick sixes. Although he is the team’s leader, he is not the entire team. The defense deserves some blame in this mess, giving up 67 points in the last two weeks. I wouldn’t be surprised if the Cowboys give them a run for their money on Sunday in Indy. Doesn’t it seem though like the Horseshoes play at home every single week?
18. St. Louis Rams, 5-6
Just last week I blabbed about how the St. Louis Rams couldn’t win a game away from home and that it wouldn’t get them into the playoffs. I also predicted three wins in my NFL preseason preview. Well, I am here today to apologize for those statements after a big win in the Rockies for St. Louie that brought them to 5-6 and into a tie for first place in the West. It may have been ugly, but with my favorite to win 2010 Rookie of the Year, Sam Bradford, anything is possible apparently. He has turned Danny Amendola, a seemingly spot slot receiver in September, into a seven catch a game type of guy. This week the co-leaders of the awful division have a not-so-difficult “challenge” when they hit the road (er, excuse me, airway) and face the Cardinals? Only Derek Anderson’s laugh will tell.
19. Oakland Raiders, 5-6
- Eagles 7 over Texans
- Saints 16 over Bengals
- Bears 4 over Lions
- Packers 14 over 49ers
- Chiefs 8 over Broncos
- Browns 3 over Dolphins (upset!)
- Vikings 13 over Bills
- Giants 6 over Redskins
- Jaguars 6 over Titans
- Chargers 11 over Raiders
- Rams 12 over Cardinals
- Colts 5 over Cowboys
- Seahawks 12 over Panthers
- Falcons 3 over Buccaneers
- Ravens 7 over Steelers (sweep!) GAME OF THE WEEK #1
- Patriots 10 over Jets (split!) GAME OF THE WEEK #2
Overall Record: 101-75
Against the Spread: 89-81-6
Last Week Overall: 10-6
Last Week Against the Spread: 8-7-1
-Well I hope everyone had an awesome Thanksgiving as I did!! Thanks for reading and I’ll have next Week 14’s report up next Wednesday as well!!