Trying something new this week, I'm expanding on the BCS Poll to give you commentary as well as the ranking.
Yes I know a guy on ESPN's Page 2 does this. Now I do too. Deal.
32. ST. LOUIS RAMS (2-8)
Last Week- Lost at SF 16-35; This Week- vs. Chicago
Remember when the Rams were all hot and bothered to sign Jim Haslett long term and remove the interim tag but couldn't because the Rooney Rule says they have to interview a minority candidate? Yeah me neither. Ironically, they may now actually be better off with Art Shell or Bobby Jindal coaching them next year.
31. DETROIT LIONS (0-10)
Last Week- Lost at CAR 22-31; This Week- vs. TB
"But Mr. Football," you exclaim, "How can an 0-10 team possibly not be the worst in the league?? Your rankings are flawed." No, they are not. Yes, the Lions have yet to win, but only 1 of their past 6 losses have been by 10 points or more, and 4 have been by 8 points or less. If you look at the number of touchdowns for and against, the Lions have scored 14 less TDs than they've given up, the Rams have given up 21 more than they've scored. The Rams are way worse. Too bad we will never know for sure, because they don't play each other this year.
Thank You, Week 11, for reminding me that Daunte Culpepper has Kizarny Hands that cause him to fumble all the time.
30. CINCINNATI BENGALS (1-8-1)
Last Week- Tied PHI 13-13; This Week- at PIT Thurs Night
A special thanks from Fantasy Land to TJ Houshmandzadeh, who shows up about once every month and puts up a 20 point game. Which makes him just good enough to kill your team if you own him, because then you start him waiting him for him to replicate that like you are waiting for the Great Pumpkin, and he puts up a string of 4 and 5 point stink-ors. Shayne Graham could have won the game and saved Donovan McNabb the embarrassment of not knowing an NFL rule I've known since I was 8 if he could've hit a 47 yarder in the waning seconds of OT. Coulda but didnta.
29. KANSAS CITY CHIEFS (1-9)
Last Week- Lost v. NO 20-30, This Week- vs. Buffalo
1-9 isn't the record most associated with the Chiefs. It's 1-18, which is their record over their last 19 games. I urge KC fans to remain patient. It's all part of Herm's master plan to go almost two years without winning any games, and give up 30 or more points every time out. I do think it's funny that Larry Johnson was back in the lineup and fumbled twice, both of which I am pretty sure were out of spite.
28. OAKLAND RAIDERS (2-8)
Last Week- Lost at Miami 15-17; This Week- at Denver
In Patrick's latest PNFM he talks about Jim Fassel writing a handwritten letter to Al Davis expressing his interest in being the Raiders coach. I say nuts to that. If this is not a situation crying out for a reality show on Bravo I don't know what is. I would gladly plunk down an hour out of my week to watch Al Davis running 15 candidates thru a series of ridiculous challenges as he whittles the field down to his new Top Coach, who will coach the Raiders next year. I would love to see him telling someone he is tired of their propaganda and to pack up their headphones and leave.
27. CLEVELAND BROWNS (4-6)
Last Week- Won at Buffalo 29-27, This Week- vs. Houston
The Browns get a win on their Primetime Victory Tour with a last second 55 yard field goal by Phil Dawson.Yaaaay. There are still rampant reports that they are pitching woo to Bill Cowher to get him to coach them next year. $7 to $8 million bucks a year of woo. Job #1 for Cowher if I were him, get an offense that doesn't involve completing 1 out of every 3 passes thrown. I used to think this was just because Derek Anderson was really bad, but Brady Quinn was 14 for 36 against Buffalo.
26. JACKSONVILLE JAGUARS (4-6)
Last Week- Lost vs. Tennessee 14-24, This Week- vs. Minnesota
Aaaand that's a wrap for the Jags. They'll need people to start wearing hats on their feet to make the playoffs now. They can't hold on to a 14-3 halftime lead against Tennessee because, well, in order to protect a lead you have to be able to run and Jones-Drew diving into his offensive lineman's asses every time he touches the ball isn't going to cut it. WR Troy Williamson wants to fight Vikings coach Brad Childress this weekend though. Childress responded by saying that Williamson would be dealing with 190 lbs of "Rompin' Stompin' Dynamite". Eh. Williamson sucks as a football player and Childress sucks as a football coach. I say let them beat each other up.
25. SEATTLE SEAHAWKS (2-8)
Last Week- Lost vs. Arizona 20-26, This Week- vs. Washington
Hasselbeck returned against the Cardinals and looked like Charlie Frye. On the plus side, you have to love his Matt Damon in Good Will Hunting-esque Bahston accent in those Expedia commercials. Hah-bor. It brings to mind the scene where Will is in the psychiatrist who looks like Peter Gammons' office, where looks like Peter Gammons is telling him, "No more shenaningans, no more ballyhoo".
24. HOUSTON TEXANS (3-7)
Last Week- Lost at Indianapolis 27-33, This Week- at Cleveland
It is absolutely mind boggling how the Texans defense can be as bad as it is when they've got players like Mario Williams, DeMeco Ryans, and Dunta Robinson on it. My personal theory is that they draft all these defensive players and then make their head coach an offensive specialist in Gary Kubiak, which makes no sense. If the defense was average instead of horrible the Texans would be challenging for a wildcard spot.
23. NEW ENGLAND PATRIOTS (6-4)
Last Week- Lost vs. NY Jets 31-34 OT; This Week- at Miami
It's surprising that I have a 6-4 team ranked this low, but if there was ever a team that wins games because of who they are and not what they are it's this year's Patriots. They don't do anything really well, and they do some things really poorly, among them being defending the pass, a weakness which was exposed last week agains the Jets. This week they have a very crucial game at a Dolphins team that embarrassed them earlier this year in a game we will all remember as the great unveiling of the Wildcat formation that this really poor year of NFL football will always be remembered for.
22. ATLANTA FALCONS (6-4)
Last Week- Lost vs. Denver 20-24; This Week- vs. Carolina
The Falcons have been a nice story this year, but unless they can get a little better at stopping the run this story is not going to end in the postseason. The Broncos rolled up 5 yards per carry against them last week in giving the Falcons their first home loss of the season. This week the Falcons have another home game, against an 8-2 Carolina team that has been a lot of success running the ball with DeAngelo Williams and Jonathan Stewart his year.
21. SAN FRANCISCO 49ERS (3-7)
Last Week- Won vs. St. Louis 37-16; This Week- at Dallas
A pretty well kept secret about the Niners is that they have had an absolutely murderous schedule this year. Yes, they have 7 losses, but every single one of them are against teams with winning records. I officially crown them the best bad team in the NFL, and the robot that does these rankings for me apparently seems to think they are even better than a couple of "good" teams.
20. DENVER BRONCOS (6-4)
Last Week- Won at Atlanta 24-20; This Week- vs. Oakland
The Broncos got their second road win in as many weeks thanks to an efficient running game, a well-timed big third down play to Brandon Marshall, and a costly third down penalty that killed the Falcons' final drive. The defense is still terrible, but it's been just good enough to keep the team in the game and give the offense a chance to win it. With the Chargers sputtering and a home game against the Raiders this week, the Broncos can conceivably have a 3 game AFC West lead with 5 to play after this week, which would pretty much wrap up a playoff spot.
19. BUFFALO BILLS (5-5)
Last Week- Lost vs. Cleveland 27-29; This Week- at Kansas City
Make it five losses in six games for the Bills after Ryan Lindell lost his kicking contest against Phil Dawson on Monday Night. The team that was riding high in September is now in last place in the AFC East. Good thing Dick Jauron nailed down that contract extension when he was 4-0, ay guvnah?
18. SAN DIEGO CHARGERS (4-6)
Last Week- Lost at Pittsburgh 10-11; This Week- vs. Indianapolis
The Chargers have been losing all year, but at least they've been doing it with distinction. They now not only became the second team to lose a regular season game in Europe, they are the only team ever in NFL history to lose a game 11-10. They will be playing for their 2008 lives this Sunday night at home against the Colts. If they lose they are pretty much done. And you know Norv Turner is in trouble because the general manager is saying emphatically in press conferences that he isn't.
17. WASHINGTON REDSKINS (6-4)
Last Week- Lost vs. Dallas 10-14; This Week- at Seattle
Not only have the Redskins not won a game in November, they've only scored on touchdown. Last week was a statement game for them, and that statement was "We are not going to the playoffs." Now they have to go all the way across the country to face a Seattle team that has a lot of the guys they've been missing all year, and gave Arizona a tight game last week. Then it's at home against the Giants and at Baltimore. It's not looking good.
16. CHICAGO BEARS (5-5)
Last Week- Lost at Green Bay 3-37; This Week- at St. Louis
This was the first time the Bears have lost at Lambeau under Lovie Smith, and it's the worst loss the Bears have had since he's been their coach. Chicago sports talk radio has been reduced to 24 hours of rending of the garments over how the defense cannot stop anyone from throwing the ball, and the seas are pretty much turning to blood over here. If they lose to the Rams this week, I fully expect Doug Buffone and Ed O'Bradovich to commit ritualistic seppoku on the Jiffy Lube Postgame show.
15. INDIANAPOLIS COLTS (6-4)
Last Week- Won vs. Houston 33-27; This Week- at San Diego
Peyton Manning is the MVP of the league this year. I will beat this drum relentlessly. Yes, the Colts finally got Joseph Addai involved in the offense in the win over Houston last week, but the Colts are in good playoff position thru the sheer force of Peyton Manning's musk right now. What's more, he's made his best commercial ever. The one that ends with him on the balcony of a hotel in San Diego drinking coffee when the cleaning lady tells him "Take a hike", and he says "I think I'll do that". That's even better than the "Cut That Meat" commercial.
14. GREEN BAY PACKERS (5-5)
Last Week- Won vs. Chicago 37-3; This Week- at New Orleans
The Packers played about as close to a perfect offensive game as you'll ever see last week. They ran for 199 yards against a Bears defense which completely shut down the vaunted Chris Johnson and LenDale White the week prior, and Aaron Rodgers spread the ball around and completed almost 80% of his passes. They are back in a 3 way tie for first, and go to the Superdome to face the Saints on Monday Night. That should be an exciting matchup of two good offensive teams who both need to win really badly.
13. NEW ORLEANS SAINTS (5-5)
Last Week- Won at KC 30-20; This Week- vs. Green Bay
I definitely had the Saints on deathwatch last week. They came off their bye week and their win in London and just got throttled in Atlanta the week before, and Kansas City had been looking like they are actually going to beat someone one of these weeks. The Saints took care of the Chiefs though, and finally got a decent ground game going, switching to Pierre Thomas as the feature back instead of Deuce McAllister. It'll be another must win for them on Monday Night against the Packers, as they play their first home game this month. The pass defense is going to have to be better than it's been this year, ranking 23rd in yards per attempt, or else the Packers are going to eat them alive.
12. TAMPA BAY BUCCANEERS (7-3)
Last Week- Won vs. Minnesota 19-13; This Week- at Detroit
The Bucs hold Adrian Peterson under 100 yards, which nobody ever does, and pick up an impressive, workmanlike win over the Vikings last week. Can they really continue to win with Warrick Dunn as their running back now that Earnest Graham is out for the year? Against the Lions, yes, yes they can.
11. ARIZONA CARDINALS (7-3)
Last Week- Won at Seattle 27-20; This Week- vs. NY Giants
We already know the Cardinals are going to the playoffs, as they have a 4 game lead with 5 to play. They acted like they've accomplished what they set out to do this year when they won at Seattle in what was kind of an NFC West coronation game for them last week. Beating the defending Super Bowl Champs would be another sign that they are for real, but you aren't going to beat the Giants thru the air, and that's the only way the Cardinals know how to win.
10. MIAMI DOLPHINS (6-4)
Last Week- Won vs. Oakland 17-15; This Week- vs. New England Patriots
I know I like to make fun of the Dolphins a lot for running plays that involve silly string , shaving cream pies, and Ronnie Brown and Ricky Williams coming out of a clown car. I do that because they win but they don't win by a lot and it seems like they are always playing Seattle or Oakland or some shitty team and what's more playing them at home. That and I truly despise Bill Parcells. Their numbers say they are a good team, which is why they are ranked so high. They stop the run and they are very efficient on offense. This week is going to be one of those Line In The Sand games for them. They truly embarrassed the Patriots in the first meeting this year, and you know Belichick will have something for them this time. That and the Dolphins weakest phase of the game is their pass defense, something that the suddenly competent Matt Cassel may be able to exploit this week.
9. MINNESOTA VIKINGS (5-5)
Last Week- Lost at Tampa Bay 13-19; This Week- vs. Jacksonville
The loss at Tampa last week illustrated why the Vikings record never seems to match up to what their ability to run the ball and stop the run suggests it might be. The difference between them and a team like Tennessee, is that the Titans have proven that if they face a team that can contain the run, Kerry Collins is good enough to still beat them thru the air. Gus Frerotte is not. Add to that the impending suspension of both pieces the Williams Wall, and this may be the highest in the rankings we see the Vikings the remainder of the year.
8. BALTIMORE RAVENS (6-4)
Last Week- Lost at NY Giants 10-30; This Week- vs. Philadelphia
Give the Ravens credit, when they lose, they LOSE. Their last 3 losses have been by a combined score of 74-23. Their wins this year have come over Cleveland twice, Cincinnati, Oakland, Miami, and Houston. So far they are a team that's good enough to beat bad teams and get killed by good teams. The fact that the Giants ran at will against them when it seemed like the Ravens could keep anyone from running the ball is unsettling too.
7. DALLAS COWBOYS (6-4)
Last Week- at Washington 14-10; This Week- vs. San Francisco
Everyone was so quick to shovel dirt on the Cowboys because of how they played when Romo was out. But, I mean, come on, what were people expecting with Brad Johnson and Brooks Bollinger? A 4 fingered Romo was good enough to get a road division win last week. This team is good enough to beat anyone in the NFC in the playoffs except for the Giants, because that's a horrible matchup for them because their one true weakness is stopping the run.
6. PITTSBURGH STEELERS (8-3)
Last Week- Won vs. San Diego 11-10; This Week- Won vs. Cincinnati 27-10
In his last 4 games, Roethlisberger has thrown 1 TD and 4 INT's. Yet on the radio broadcast of the Thursday Night shnorer against the Bengals, I heard something called "Roethlisberger Magic" referred to. What?
5. PHILADELPHIA EAGLES (5-4-1)
Last Week- Tied at Cincinnati 13-13; This Week- at Baltimore
I don't even know where to begin with McNabb not knowing there could be ties in the NFL. OK, first of all, I'm pretty sure Peyton Manning knows there are ties in the NFL. Tom Brady probably knows that too. Know what those 2 guys have in common besides knowing there are ties? They've won Super Bowls. Donovan McNabb did not know there are ties, and will never win a Super Bowl. Secondly, OK, even if he didn't know there are ties, why would he share that with the media? Was he expecting that like NOBODY else knew there were ties either, and it was the rules' fault for existing and not his for not knowing it? Why would you admit not knowing that? He may as well gone up the podium and said, "My cousin and I touched weiners once." It would have been less embarrassing.
4. NEW YORK JETS (7-3)
Last Week- Won at New England 34-31 OT; This Week- at Tennessee
You know what would be awesome, is if the Jets wore their New York Titans throwbacks to play the Titans today, then you'd have Titans vs. Titans. That would blow everyone's minds, man. Defensively, the Jets are alot like the Bears team the Titans beat a couple of weeks ago, they are good at stopping the run, challenged against the pass. Kerry Collins will have to beat them, and it should be interesting to see if he can. Regardless of what happens today, consider me surprised the Jets are whey they are. I thought this whole thing would flop spectacularly, but I was wrong.
3. TENNESSEE TITANS (10-0)
Last Week- Won at Jacksonville 24-14, This Week- vs. NY Jets
I think the Titans are the second best team in the NFL. But my quantitative model says they are the third best team. Why is that? It's almost entirely because they rank 26th in the league in yards per pass attempt. Can a team with a pronounced inability to throw the ball continue to succeed in the playoffs, where pretty much everyone you play can stop the run? The model says this game against the Jets is an AFC Championship preview, so I guess we'll find out a lot about that question today.
2. CAROLINA PANTHERS (8-2)
Last Week- Won vs. Detroit 31-22, This Week- at Atlanta
The quant model loves the Panthers in part because they got to fatten up their numbers playing Oakland and Detroit the last couple of weeks. The Oakland game was good for their defensive stats and the Detroit game for their offense. This team hasn't been tested since they beat Arizona 27-23 in Week 7, but they will be today. In the first Falcons/Panthers game this year, they held Michael Turner to 56 yards on 18 carries, and Matt Ryan to a 50% completion percentage, and won 27-6. If they can dominate them again today, I think they've earned their keep as at least the second best team in the NFC.
1. NEW YORK GIANTS (9-1)
Last Week- Won vs. Baltimore 30-10; This Week- at Arizona
Brandon Jacobs is just one horrifying running back. Sometimes I don't know how anyone ever tackles him. Then you add Ahmad Bradshaw into the mix and you can see why the Giants are averaging 176 rushing yards a game, which makes them almost impossible to beat. They also rank 3rd best in the league in yards per pass attempt against, so unless the Cardinals can all of a sudden run the ball today, the Giants are going to win this big matchup.