Wednesday, November 11, 2015

2015-16 NFL Power Rankings (Week Nine)


Just when you think you got it made ... suddenly, you ain't

By: Jimbo X
JimboXAmerican@gmail.com
@Jimbo__X

THE ELITES

01
New England Patriots
Season Point Differential: (+133)

The Pats continue their unbeaten ways, pounding the hapless Redskins 27-10 on Sunday. Dion Lewis getting injured is a big blow, but considering how potent this offense has been all season long, there's really no reason for New England fans to fret. I mean, it's not like inexplicably bad things happen to the Patriots whenever they play the Giants, right? 

02
Arizona Cardinals 
Season Point Differential: (+110)

The Cards had the week off,  setting up this weekend's NFC West showdown with the Seattle Seahawks. With 417.4 yards per game, only three times are putting up higher offensive numbers than Arizona. Allowing just 312.8 yards per game, they also possess the League's third best defense. 

03
Cincinnati Bengals
Season Point Differential: (+87)

Andy Dalton threw for 234 yards and three touchdowns -- in the process, going 21 for 27 on passing attempts -- as his still-undefeated Bengals breezed past the in-state rivals Cleveland 31-10 last Thursday. With the trifecta of Marvin Jones, Tyler Eifert and A.J. Green, Cincy could legitimately lay claim to having the League's best receiving corps ... and with Giovani Bernard and Jeremy Hill in the backfield, they certainly have one of the better one-two halfback combos in pro football.

04
Carolina Panthers
Season Point Differential: (+63)

Cam Newton and pals had few problems getting past the Packers Sunday, as the Panthers jumped out to 27-7 lead at halftime. Green Bay attempted a comeback, but it was all for naught, as Carolina wound up winning the interdivisional NFC clash 37-29. Newton, who went 15 for 30 on pass attempts for 297 yards, hit three different receivers for touchdown passes, and scrambled for another 57 yards and a follow-up rushing TD. Finishing last season with a sub-.500 record, the Panthers are 8-0 and the only unbeaten team in the NFC remaining.

05
Denver Broncos
Season Point Differential: (+53)

The Broncos tasted defeat for the first time all season on Sunday afternoon, as Andrew Luck's Colts bested Denver 27-24. Peyton had 281 yards passing, going two and two on touchdowns and interceptions. Owen Daniels and Emmanuel Sanders combined for 192 receiving yards and two end zone laps, but the running game was atrocious: C.J. Anderson could only muster 34 yards on the ground, while Ronnie Hillman concluded the game with A yard on seven carries. 

06
Atlanta Falcons
Season Point Differential: (+39)

For a team with so much talent, it really doesn't make sense that the Falcons would struggle against - and ultimately lose to - the lowly 49ers. Alas, Atlanta indeed dropped a 17-16 heartbreaker to San Fran on Sunday, with Matt Ryan passing for 300 yards but just one touchdown. The rushing differential in the game is almost inexplicable: San Fran, with Shaun Druaghn and Kendall Gaskins in the backfield, put up 133 yards on the ground, while the Falcons, with Devonta Freeman and Tevin Coleman, finished the game with an unbelievable 17 rushing yards. 

07
New York Jets 
Season Point Differential: (+38)

The Jets struggled against Jacksonville, but they still pulled out a 28-23 home victory over the weekend. Ryan Fitzpatrick went 21 for 34 and had 272 yards and two touchdown passes, while Chris Ivory turned 26 yards on 23 carries into two end zone visits. Strangely enough, the Jags had almost triple the amount of rushing yards as the Jets and 100 more passing yards, but still came out without the W. 

08
Green Bay Packers
Season Point Differential: (+36)

Although Aaron Rodgers had four touchdown passes in Sunday's game against the Panthers, it wasn't enough to help Green Bay seal the comeback. Randall Cobb, Devante Adams and James Stark combined for almost 300 yards and two receiving touchdowns in the Packers' 37-29 loss, but they really couldn't get the run game going; they finished the contest with just 71 yards on 19 carries, with no touchdowns on the ground. 

THE PLAYOFF HOPEFULS

09
Philadelphia Eagles
Season Point Differential: (+29)

It may have required overtime, but Sam Bradford was nonetheless able to lead his squad to a 33-27 win over loathed divisional foes Dallas. Bradford had only one touchdown pass the entire game (the 41-yard Jordan Matthews game winner), but he did go 25-for-36 with 295 yards total. The run game looked great, too, as DeMarco Murray and Ryan Matthews combined for 150 rushing yards and two touchdowns. 

010
Minnesota Vikings 
Season Point Differential: (+28)

Terry Bridgewater got hurt in the Vikes' 21-18 win over the Rams, as Shaun Hill marched Minnesota down field to set up the game clinching field goal. It was another big day for A.P., who ran for 125 yards and one score on 29 carries. Just, uh, overlook his two fumbles, though.

011
Seattle Seahawks 
Season Point Differential: (+27)

The 'Hawks sat the week out, awaiting a contest this weekend against divisional adversary Arizona. With 139.5 rushing yards per game, Seattle has the third best run attack in the League; allowing just 284.9 total yards per game, they also own the NFL's second-best overall defense. 

012
Pittsburgh Steelers
Season Point Differential: (+24)

In a pyrrhic victory, the Steelers outlasted the resurgent Raiders 38-35 at home, but in the process, Big Ben got hurt AGAIN and is expected to sit out until at least week 12. Alas, Pittsburgh had quite a bit of success against the porous Oakland secondary; DeAngelo Williams finished the game with 225 rushing and receiving yards for two touchdowns, while Antonio Brown TORCHED the Raiders for 284 receiving yards and 22 more on the ground.

013
New York Giants 
Season Point Differential: (+21)

Don't look now, but Eli and the G-Men are now 5-4 and slowly, slowly pulling ahead to the front of the colossal clusterfuck we sometimes call "the NFC East." In their 32-18 win over Tampa Bay, the younger Manning went two and two on touchdowns-to-interceptions, racking up 213 total yards on 40 passing attempts. Meanwhile, Odell hit the 100 yard mark again, although he produced no touchdowns in the contest. 

014
Buffalo Bills
Season Point Differential: (+19)

Buffalo ran all over Miami in their 33-17 win on Sunday, as LeSean McCoy and Karlos Williams tag teamed for 222 yards and three rushing scores. T-Mobile, in his first game back after a few weeks relegated to the sideline, looked all right, going 11 for 12 on passing attempts, averaging 15.1 yards per play  for 181 yards and a solo TD pass to Sammy Watkins. 

015
Kansas City Chiefs
Season Point Differential: (+13)

The Chiefs, last seen dropping 45 on the lowly Lions, sat out week nine. They re-emerge this weekend for a showdown against divisional foe Denver, still smarting from their first loss of the season against Indy. Posting 345.4 yards per game, KC owns the 23rd ranked offense in the League; allowing 356.5 yards per game, they rank 17th defensively. 

016
St. Louis Rams 
Season Point Differential: (+07)

The Rams gave the Vikings all they could handle in their 21-18 overtime loss, as Nick Foles tossed the rock for 168 touchdown-less yards and Todd Gurley rumbled for 89 yards and another end zone visit. St. Louis is a solid team, all right, but until they get their aerial attack up and flying (their top receiver, Kenny Britt, had just 87 yards on the day), this team is definitely going to struggle, especially in a division with defensive heavies like Arizona and Seattle. 

THE MIDDLE OF THE PACK

017
Oakland Raiders
Season Point Differential: (+02)

Derek Carr had 301 yards and four touchdown passes in the Raiders' 38-35 heartbreaker loss to the Steelers on Sunday. Although Amari Cooper and Michael Crabtree played well (they combined for three scores and almost 200 yards) the defense forgot to show up, allowing Pittsburgh to post nearly 600 yards of total offense (with Antonio Brown alone chalking up over 300 on the day.) And those five fumbles -- three of which the team lost -- were positively backbreaking.

018
Baltimore Ravens
Season Point Differential: (-24)

The lagging Ravens had a much-needed bye-week, ahead of a must-avoid-TV hootenanny against the Jags in week 10. At the moment, the 2-6 Ravens rank 14th overall in yards posted per game (357.3), while their defense is ranked 24th in yards allowed per game (383.6). The silver lining? Somehow, the team also has the 10th most passing yards per game in the League ... which may not be as impressive as it sounds, seeing as how the Lions are ranked ninth overall.

019
Indianapolis Colts
Season Point Differential: (-27)

Andrew Luck and company knocked Denver off the rolls of the unbeaten Sunday evening, taking down the Broncos 27-24 at home. The Bearded One had 252 yards and two touchdowns, with the Colts rushing attack out-yarding Denver 120 to 35. And give the Colts' D some props, too; they picked up two interceptions and held Peyton Manning to a relatively low 281 passing yards. 

020
New Orleans Saints
Season Point Differential: (-27)

The 4-5 Saints, after some impressive wins, dropped a close one to Tennessee over the weekend, losing 34-28 in overtime. With 387 yards and three touchdowns, Drew Brees still looked impressive, though, and if his aerial performance wasn't enough? He even scrambled for an additional score on the ground. Alas, the team's inability to get anything out of their run game doomed them, as the Saints could only muster 61 rushing yards, compared to the Titans' 112. 

021
Tennessee Titans
Season Point Differential: (-28)

Marcus Mariota made his triumphant return this weekend, and he looked absolutely fantastic, thrashing the Saints' secondary for 371 yards and four touchdowns. The Titans no-name receiving corps (Delanie Walker, Dorial Green-Beckham and Harry Douglas) combined for well over 250 yards and two end zone trips in the 34-28 OT victory, with the two-tone blue defense holding New Orleans to just 61 yards on the ground in an hour-plus of play.

022
Houston Texans 
Season Point Differential: (-31)

As poor as the AFC South has been this season, the 3-5 Texans still have an outside shot of winning the division down the stretch. Awaiting a contest against the undefeated Bengals this weekend, the Texans currently possess the League's ninth-ranked offense in terms of yards posted per game (369.4), while their defense is ranked 14th, allowing 350.9 yards per game. 

023
Miami Dolphins
Season Point Differential: (-35)

Despite airing the ball out for 309 yards, Ryan Tannehill couldn't hit anybody in the end zone, and while Lamar Miller did fairly well (44 yards and two touchdown rushes on 12 carries), the Dolphins just couldn't do enough offensively to surmount the Bills' defense in their 33-17 loss over the weekend. The run defense for the orange and teal was especially bad, allowing the Bills to chew up the field for 266 yards and three touchdowns. 

024
Washington Redskins
Season Point Differential: (-37)

Kirk Cousins and company did about as well as you'd expect them to do against the Patriots, as they dropped Sunday's tilt against New England 27-10. Kirk had a 1:1 touchdown-to-INT ratio, racking up 217 yards on 22 completions. The run game, to put it delicately, was utter crap: the 'Skins backs combined for a ridiculously low 37 rushing yards on 15 carries when the final whistle blared. 

ANXIOUSLY AWAITING THE DRAFT

025
San Diego Chargers
Season Point Differential: (-39)

The Chargers dropped the seventh game of the season Monday night, falling to the Bears 22-19. With 280 yards on 26 pass completions, Philip Rivers could only muster one touchdown throw, while the running back committee could only put up 77 yards with no end zone visits. And on top of it all, San Diego's defense just imploded, allowing Chicago to post 345 aerial yards, with another 109 on the ground. 

026
Dallas Cowboys
Season Point Differential: (-44)

The good news? Matt Cassel actually played fairly well against the Eagles, throwing three touchdown passes and racking up nearly 300 yards in the air. The downside? The Cowboys still lost a heart breaker, 33-27, thanks in no small part to Dallas' inability to stop Philly's run game, which produced 172 yards on the ground and two trips to the end zone.

027
Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Season Point Differential: (-50)

Old Crab Legs has decent numbers (247 yards on 19 completions), but Mr. Winston couldn't lob any of those passes to the end zone. That was a pretty big factor in the Bucs' 32-18 loss to the G-Men on Sunday. Well, that, and the fact that they turned the ball over three times. 

028
Chicago Bears
Season Point Differential: (-59)

Jay Cutler's 345 passing yards and two touchdowns were impressive, but the key variable in the Bears' 22-19 Monday night win over the Chargers had to have been standout receiver Alshon Jeffrey, who averaged a ridiculous 15.1 yards per carry during his 151 yard performance. Also worth noting? Fellow wideouts Jeremy Langford and Martellus Bennett, who combined, posted 127 receiving yards. 

029
Jacksonville Jaguars
Season Point Differential: (-65)

The Jags definitely put the squeeze on the Jets in their 28-23 loss over the weekend. Blake Bortles had 381 yards and a 2 and 2 TD-to-INT ratio in the losing effort, but surprisingly, Jacksonville's anemic run game actually triple New York's lethargic output on the ground. If you're wondering how Jacksonville lost the game despite outrunning and outpassing their adversaries, the three turnovers - plus Bortles getting sacked six times for a cumulative loss of 43 yards - is probably the solution. 

030
Cleveland Browns
Season Point Differential: (-70)

Woes continue for the Browns' faithful, as Cleveland get drubbed by 21 points in last Thursday's ass-whooping at the hands of Cincy. Johnny Football was just OK with 168 yards and one TD pass, but the run game - which only put up 68 yards - flat out sucked. Then, there's the defense, which allowed the Bengals to rack up almost 400 total offensive yards by the time the final whistle was blown. 

031
Detroit Lions 
Season Point Differential: (-96)

As the Lions anxiously await getting their ass kicked by an irate Packers team this weekend, what do you think Matt Stafford, Megatron and the rest of the gang did during the bye week? I ain't no soothsayer, but I reckon they were probably wishing for some better offensive numbers: with 337 yards per game, they rank 26th overall in the NFL;and with just 69.6 puny yards per game, they own the League's absolute worst rushing figures. 

032
San Francisco 49ers
Season Point Differential: (-97)

Although the 3-6 Niners pulled off an upset win against the Falcons, the team remains an absolute dumpster fire. THE GABBERT broke even with two and two on touchdowns-to-interceptions, and even then he only posted a fairly paltry 185 yards. With 133 yards, the run game looked better, and the run defense looked starting great, holding Atlanta to just 17 rushing yards for the day. Alas, the team still gave up a considerable chunk of yardage in the air, and this was really more an example of Atlanta blowing it than San Fran rising to the occasion; a win is a win, but before you start exalting this as the turnaround point of the season, just remember: a fluke victory over a slowly imploding team at the midpoint of the season is a whole lot more iron sulfide than it is a golden nugget.

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