|WEEI NFL Power Rankings||05.23.10 at 8:34 pm ET|
With free agency and the draft behind us, now is a good time to take a look at all 32 NFL teams and see where they stack up at the midway mark of the offseason. No real surprises, as the top two teams ‘ the Saints and Colts ‘ earned their way to the No. 1 and 2 spots following dominating 2009 campaigns and solid offseasons. After a great draft and the addition of some key free agents, the Ravens shoot up to No. 3, while the Packers and Cowboys round out the top 5. As for the AFC East, the “J-E-T-S, Jets, Jets, Jets” are two spots ahead of the Patriots after a great offseason in which they added more depth in the secondary and at the wide receiver position.
And now, I leave you with the first offseason edition of the 2010 rankings. Give it your best shot and tell me why I’m wrong. I’m waiting.
1. The defending Super Bowl champs are poised and ready to make another run at the title. The Saints will benefit from their soft regular-season schedule ‘ based on opponents’ 2009 regular-season record, they have the sixth-easiest schedule in the NFL in 2010. They used their first-round pick to select cornerback Patrick Robinson from Florida State to shore up their pass defense, which was ranked 26th in the NFL last year.
2. The Colts have focused on their defense this offseason with the re-signing of linebacker Gary Brackett to a five-year deal and the drafting of Jerry Hughes, a defensive lineman/outside linebacker, with their first-round pick. Hughes is an extremely fast and dominant pass rusher and will fit in nicely with Robert Mathis and Dwight Freeney. Hughes can rush the passer from either side, and Mathis and Freeney will benefit greatly from having a younger defensive end to shoulder some of the load.
3. The Ravens have had an excellent offseason to this point. They certainly transformed the wide reciever position from a position of weakness into a position of strength with the addition of Anquan Boldin and Donte’ Stallworth. They added great depth to their front seven in the draft with linebacker Sergio Kindle and defensive tackle Terrence Cody.
4. The Packers’ main concern this year will be protecting quarterback Aaron Rodgers, who was sacked 57 times last season. Green Bay used its first-round pick on offensive tackle Brian Bulaga. If the Packers can figure out a way to keep Rodgers off the turf, they can get to the Super Bowl.
5. Dallas was in the top 5 in most major offensive categories last year, and now the Cowboys add Dez Bryant to the mix. Not bad. The Cowboys also have a great front seven, highlighted by DeMarcus Ware and Anthony Spencer. Read the rest of this entry »
|WEEI NFL Playoff Power Rankings and Predictions||01.05.10 at 3:52 am ET|
1. (Last week, 1) 13-3 Right now, San Diego is the best team in the NFL. This offense is a nightmare to game-plan against. The Chargers have a great quarterback in Philip Rivers, a solid running game and great balance at the receiver position. San Diego plays the Colts well every year and will give Peyton Manning and Co. a lot of trouble if the two teams collide in Indianapolis for the AFC championship.
2. (2) 14-2 The Colts are great on both sides of the ball. On defense, they’ve got one of best lines in the game with Robert Mathis and Dwight Freeney coming off the edge and getting pressure on the passer. Offensively, Manning has proven he can do it all, and he has the luxury of passing the ball to receivers such as Reggie Wayne and Dallas Clark.
3. (3) 13-3 One of the most important statistics in the playoffs is turnovers. The Saints were the best team in the NFL this year in creating turnovers. They had a total of 39 takeaways. The Saints also have the luxury of having Drew Brees leading the way. The road to Miami in the NFC goes through the Superdome and “Who Dat” Nation.
4. (6) 11-5 With all the weapons the Eagles have on offense, the Cowboys managed to shut them out Sunday. Dallas’ defense, led by the defensive line, has been outstanding over the past couple of weeks and there are no signs to make you think things will be any different Saturday night. Tony Romo has been terrific, throwing just two interceptions in the last six games.
5. (9) 12-4 Lots of question marks surround this team as it enters the playoffs. Minnesota has played very inconsistently down the stretch. A blowout win over a Giants team that gave up three weeks ago means nothing. The Vikings offensive line needs to step up, Adrian Peterson needs to protect the football, and Jared Allen and the Vikings defensive line need to return to that dominant form Minnesota fans got accustomed to watching in the beginning of the season.
6. (4) 11-5 Six straight wins for the Eagles means nothing after their demolition by the Cowboys. The loss to Dallas had huge consequences. Now Donovan McNabb and the Eagles have to win three road games instead of having a first-round bye and home-field advantage against every NFC playoff team except the Saints.
7. (5) 11-5 Green Bay has played well down the stretch, but is the Packers offensive line strong enough to last throughout the playoffs? Although the O-line was much improved the last three weeks of the season, many question marks surround a line that contributed to Aaron Rodgers being sacked 50 times this year.
8. (7) 10-6 The loss of Wes Welker all but put a fork in the Patriots’ playoff chances. Without Welker, this offense will have a rough time getting into a rhythm and moving the chains. Julian Edelman and Ben Watson will have to step up if the Patriots want to make noise in the playoffs. The Patriots defense will have to do a better job containing Ravens running back Ray Rice. Rice averaged 9.4 yards per carry the last time Baltimore and New England met.
9. (8) 10-6 The injuries are piling up for the Bengals. Chad Ochocinco has a banged-up knee, but more importantly, defensive tackle Pat Sims is out. With Rey Maualuga already out and Domata Peko still recovering from a knee injury, the Bengals will have a very difficult time defending the run.
10. (10) 10-6 The loss of Anquan Boldin could really slow down the Cardinals offense. The defense has an extremely tough task ahead as it tries to stop Green Bay’s Aaron Rodgers and Ryan Grant. Arizona has played well all year on the road (6-2) but has struggled at home (4-4). The defending NFC champs will have a tough time getting out of the first round.
11. (12) 9-7 I don’t like the Ravens’ chances when their road to the Super Bowl likely would have to go through New England, Indianapolis and San Diego.
12. (15) 9-7 A few weeks ago, coach Rex Ryan apologized to fans for failing to make the playoffs; a few breaks and weeks later, the Jets find themselves sitting in the No.5 seed in the AFC playoffs. Super Bowl teams can only get as far as their quarterback can take them, and despite a great running game and solid defense, Mark Sanchez won’t be able to lead his team to victory in the postseason.
NFL Playoff Predictions:
AFC Wild Card
NFC Wild Card
AFC Divisional Round
NFC Divisional Round
|WEEI NFL Power Rankings–Week 17||12.29.09 at 2:56 am ET|
After one of the most controversial and exciting weeks in the 2009 regular season, the San Diego “Super” Chargers hold the longest current winning streak in the league and also the top spot in the last regular-season edition of this year’s NFL Power Rankings. The Chargers have been blowing out their opponents week after week and are playing the best all-around football in the NFL.
The Colts drop one spot not merely because of the potential backlash against the decision to throw perfection out the window, but also because San Diego has been annihilating its opponents week after week.
The Packers are the newest team to enter the top five, with the Cowboys, Patriots and Bengals lurking in striking distance. The Vikings fall four spots after suffering their fourth loss of the season Monday night in Chicago. The plummeting Vikings now sit at No. 9.
In the AFC playoff race for the final two wild card spots, seven teams remain alive. The best ranked teams of that bunch are the Steelers (11) and Ravens (12). Baltimore controls its playoff fate, while Pittsburgh needs to win and receive some help to slither into the playoffs.
1. (Last week, 3) 12-3 The hottest team in the NFL. Philip Rivers‘ squad has posted 18 straight wins in December. The Chargers started off the season slow but have rattled off 10 straight wins. No playoff team will want to take on the Super Chargers, who will be playing with loads of confidence (following a first-round bye).
2. (1) 14-1 Shocking to hear Don Shula say on Monday that the Colts made a “wise” decision to take out Peyton Manning. The decision to pull the potential 2010 MVP in the third quarter could be a costly mistake. It will be interesting to see how the players respond to the decision.
3. (2) 13-2 The Saints are playing mediocre football at the wrong time. Giving up a 14-point lead to a two-win team in December is a clear sign that New Orleans is not playing at the high level it has been playing at all year. It’s bad timing to start slumping. However, the Saints can score at will, and once playoff time hits, this team will be the clear favorite to win the NFC. The Vikings’ loss on Monday night gives the Saints home field advantage throughout the playoffs.
4. (4) 11-4 The Viking’s loss gives the Eagles a great chance to get that first-round bye. Philly proved how dynamic its offense is after tearing up one of the best defenses in the NFL. Philadelphia is rolling and will be a tough team to defend once playoff time hits.
5. (6) 10-5 Aaron Rodgers and the Packers are clicking at the right time on offense and defense. Green Bay has won six of its last seven and officially clinched a playoff spot. Now every football fan in America has his/her fingers crossed for a potential Green Bay-Minnesota matchup in the playoffs.
|WEEI NFL Power Rankings — Week 16||12.22.09 at 2:49 am ET|
The Colts are well on their way to finishing the regular season undefeated and accomplishing a remarkable feat. Peyton Manning and his Colts move into the No. 1 spot for the first time all year in this week’s WEEI NFL Power Rankings. Indianapolis is at 23 straight regular season wins and counting as it continues to roll straight into the playoffs with a first-round bye.
One new team enters the top 10: America’s Team. The Cowboys found a way to beat the Saints, something that 13 prior opponents were unable to do. The win, most importantly, came in December. If the Cowboys win out, they will secure a playoff spot.
Going into Week 16, there are eight AFC teams that still are mathematically in the wild card race. Baltimore, Denver, Jacksonville, Pittsburgh, Miami, New York (despite what Rex Ryan says), Tennessee and Houston all are still alive. The best two teams right now, according to the rankings, are the Ravens (No. 11) and the Titans (No. 12). If the season ended today, the Ravens and Broncos would be the two teams that would make the playoffs. The final two weeks are guaranteed to be an eventful and exciting finish to the 2009 NFL regular season.
2. (1) 13-1 OK, now the Saints can focus on winning the Super Bowl rather than going undefeated. The loss to the Cowboys could benefit them in the long run; the Saints still are the elite team in the NFC.
3. (4) 11-3 Nine straight wins for the Chargers have left many wondering if they are ever going to lose another game. Great win for the Chargers against a very strong and talented Bengals team.
4. (5) 10-4 The Eagles — winners of five straight — are the Chargers of the NFC. Philadelphia’s explosive offense will give any defense in the league trouble in the playoffs.
5. (3) 11-3 Two very telling losses in the last three games for the Vikings. The offensive line has to be better if the Vikes want to win playoff games. Brett Favre was sacked four times and hit 10 times in the loss to the Panthers.
|WEEI NFL Power Rankings — Week 15||12.15.09 at 9:41 am ET|
The top four teams remain in the same position from last week in this edition of the WEEI NFL Power Rankings. The Saints prevailed in another close game, the Colts clinched home field throughout the playoffs, the Vikings destroyed the Bengals, and the Chargers continued to streak.
The newest edition to the top five is the Eagles. Donovan McNabb and Philadelphia’s dynamic offense hurdle two spots and stand tall at No. 5.
The biggest loser of the week is the Giants. The G-Men came out flat against the Eagles in a game that could have put them in prime position to make the playoffs. Now the Giants are on the outside looking in and drop all the way to No. 17.
Down South, the Dolphins continue to climb in the rankings. After a great win against the Jaguars, Miami jumps four spots and now is at No. 13.
1. (Last week, 1) 13-0 The Saints make the big plays in crunch time. Even though they’ve had a tough time defeating the Redskins and a Matt Ryan-less Falcons team, the Saints find a way to win. Look back at 2007, the Patriots were the same way.
2. (2) 13-0 With the Colts’ 13th win of the season, they clinched home field advantage in the AFC and broke the Patriots’ regular-season consecutive win streak record, a record that seemed to be untouchable at the time. Twenty-two straight wins for the Colts and counting. It seems like they are on a collision course to face the Saints in the Super Bowl.
3. (3) 11-2 A statement win for the Vikings. The Bengals are one of the best teams in the AFC, and the Vikings crushed them by 20 points. This defense is one of the best in the league. Read the rest of this entry »
|WEEI NFL Power Rankings — Week 14||12.08.09 at 12:42 am ET|
All Saints Day came this past Sunday for Who Dat? nation. New Orleans pulled off an unimaginable comeback win and remain the NFL’s cream of the crop. For the ninth straight week, the Saints own the No. 1 spot and the Colts are No. 2 in WEEI’s NFL Power Rankings. The teams in this week’s top five stay the same ‘ however, the Chargers jumped ahead of the Bengals one spot after their seventh straight win.
The Patriots dropped to their lowest spot all year after another poor second-half performance against the Dolphins. Tom Brady and crew sit at No. 12 and hope to bounce back at home Sunday against a poor Carolina team. The Patriots have been terrible on the road, and with that loss to Miami they’ve all but eliminated themselves from getting a first-round bye.
As for some other notables, the Super Bowl XLIII champion Steelers plummet two more spots and now are looking up from No. 15.
Eli Manning and the New York Giants made the biggest jump and enter the top 10 at No. 9 after a huge NFC East win against the Cowboys. The Giants will face another division foe when the Eagles visit the Meadowlands Sunday night.
1. (Last week, 1) 12-0 Unbelievable win for the Saints, as they continue to cruise toward the playoffs. They have intelligent players that continue to make big plays. Robert Meachem‘s strip and return for a touchdown is the type of play you only see on Super Bowl teams. Patriots fans have seen this before, and Saints fans are witnessing this now.
2. (2) 12-0 The Colts can soon start preparing for the postseason. It will be interesting to see if they decide to rest their players once they clinch home field advantage throughout the playoffs. Historically they have done so under Tony Dungy, but now the decision lies in the hands of Jim Caldwell.
3. (3) 10-2 The Vikings lacked a balanced offense because their run game was nonexistent. I wouldn’t count on Adrian Peterson having that type of performance ever again. However, the Vikings are still one of the best teams in the NFL despite the loss to Arizona.
|WEEI NFL Power Rankings — Week 13||12.01.09 at 9:17 am ET|
Any doubts that the Saints were the best team in the league certainly went out the window after their Monday night shellacking of the Patriots. MVP candidate Drew Brees played arguably the best game of his career in the Saints’ biggest game of the season. They remain at the peak of the WEEI NFL Power Rankings.
The Bengals jump two spots and leap into the top five after completing a sweep of the AFC North with a win over Cleveland on Sunday. The Bengals now have the luxury of having one of the best 1-2 running back combinations in the league when Cedric Benson returns on Sunday.
The Patriots are looking up at three AFC teams that now have better records than them. The embarrassing loss to the Saints has many questioning if the Patriots can actually compete with the top teams in the NFL.
Arguably the best story of the year is the Titans’ resurgence. Five straight wins for the Vince Young-led Titans and they continue to move up the ladder. Despite having a worse record than some teams behind them, the Titans stand tall at No. 12. The rankings aren’t based on records, they are based on how teams currently are performing, and Tennessee can compete with anyone right now.
1. (Last week, 1) 11-0 A dominating performance for the best team in the NFL. Monday night’s blowout of the Patriots was a statement to the rest of the league. Drew Brees and the offense moved the ball with ease, while the defense pressured Brady and held Randy Moss and Wes Welker to a combined nine catches.
2. (2) 11-0 The Colts have come back in the fourth quarter in five straight games. They don’t get frazzled in crunch time, they get better. A true sign of a championship team. Congrats to the 2009 AFC South champs.
3. (3) 10-1 Brett Favre has thrown just three interceptions all year and leads the league in passer rating. The Vikings remain unbeaten at home after demolishing the Bears. Favre is a true MVP candidate.
4. (6) 8-3 The Larry Johnson signing really paid off for the Bengals on Sunday. Props go to Marvin Lewis for preparing this team and putting Cincinnati in a position to win each week. This team is soaring with confidence.
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