Thursday, September 22, 2016

2016 NFL Power Rankings - Week Two!

ESPN and Sports Illustrated can eat it - these are the only pro football power rankings anybody needs.

By: Jimbo X

This Week's Episode:
"No rhyme, no reason, no rationality"

The Elites

Philadelphia Eagles (2-0)
Season Point Differential: +34

Like everybody else in America, I'm completely in the dark as to whether the suddenly high-flying Eagles are legitimately a good team or if they just had the benefit of playing two of the worst teams in pro football back to back. Carson Wentz (190 yards and a touchdown on 21 completions) and Ryan Matthews (32 yards and two scores on nine carries) are both overproducing offensively, but the defense still remains a little suspect: while Philadelphia did a very good job stopping the Bears' run Monday night (they held Chicago to just 64 yards on the day), they also let the frayed remnants of Jay Cutler's and Brian Hoyer's career lob the rock for a pretty decent 220 yards in their 29-14 victory.

Arizona Cardinals (1-1)
Season Point Differential: +31

After getting shown up by the Pats and their second-string quarterback last week, the Cardinals took out their frustrations on the hapless Buccaneers, who were absolutely creamed 40-7 by Carson Palmer and pals. The ginger gunslinger finished the game with 308 yards and three touchdowns on 18 completions, with Jared Brown, Larry Fitzgerald and David Johnson all posting 75-yard-plus receiving days. And then, there was Arizona's defense, which sacked Jameis Winston three times and intercepted him not once, not twice, not thrice but four fucking times.

Pittsburgh Steelers (2-0)
Season Point Differential: +30

It was a hard fought victory, but the Steelers nonetheless manager to triumph over their much loathed rivals Cincinnati 24-16. Big Ben had a mixed bag of a performance (three touchdowns, two interceptions and 250 yards after being sacked), but the usual suspects - Antonio Brown, DeAngelo Williams and Sammie Coates - did their part to keep the offense competitive. Defensively, it was an even more jumbled picture last Sunday: while PIT managed to hold the Bengals run game to just 46 yards, they also let Andy Dalton air the shit out of the ball for 366 yards.

Carolina Panthers (1-1)
Season Point Differential: +18

After a disappointing outing last week, the Panthers rebounded in a huge way, absolutely throttling the 49ers (and their hatred of America) 46-27. Cam Newton finished the game with 353 yard and four touchdown passes, with receivers Greg Olsen and Kelvin Benjamin teaming up for 230 yards and three waltzes into the end zone on 12 catches. And the Panthers defense, finally, is beginning to look like the Panthers defense, having held San Fran to 65 yards rushing and intercepting Blaine Gabbert twice.

San Diego Chargers (1-1)
Season Point Differential: +18

Well, the Chargers didn't blow away this week's lead. In a commanding 38-14 win over the Jaguars, Philip Rivers collected 220 passing yards and four touchdowns on 17 completions, while Travis Benjamin (115 yards and two touchdowns on six catches) and Melvin Gordon (102 yards and a touchdown on 24 carries) also made fantasy footballers very, very happy. The big downside to the win? The Chargers also lost running back Danny Woodhead, who was carted off the field with a torn ACL, for the remainder of the season.

Houston Texans (2-0)
Season Point Differential: +16

The minimalist Texans bested the Kansas City Chiefs in usual minimalist Texans fashion. In their 19-12 win, Houston QB Brock Osweiler went 19 for 33 for 268 yards, a touchdown and two interceptions, with DeAndre Hopkins (113 yards and a solo TD on seven receptions) doing the bulk of the team's offensive production. Still, you have to give the Texans' defense credit - in a relatively understated performance, they managed to hold Alex Smith to 172 yards (after sacking him four times) and keep the potent Chiefs run game grounded at a relatively low 119 yards. And hey, how about those three turnovers for Houston's D?

Denver Broncos (2-0)
Season Point Differential: +15

In a 34-20 win over Indianapolis, Denver's D was definitely the x-factor, as Shane Ray and Aqib Talib combined for 14 defensive points. With numbers like that, you can probably overlook Trevor Siemian's fairly lackluster showing (266 yards, an INT and no TD passes) and Demaryius Thomas' and Emmanuel Sanders' inability to whiff end zone. And the Broncos rushing attack did indeed look pretty good, ultimately wrapping up the contest with 134 total yards, with C.J. Anderson finishing the game with 74 yards and a TD on 20 carries.

Minnesota Vikings (2-0)
Season Point Differential:+12

Through what can only be explained as some sort of magical voodoo, the Minnesota Vikings somehow managed to beat the Packers 17-14 in their new stadium home opener ... this, despite their franchise quarterback watching the game at home and LOSING Adrian Peterson early on in the contest. Give Sam Bradford all the credit in the world, because he was able to keep the Vikes' ship sailing along, finishing the contest with 286 yards and two touchdowns on 22 completions. His number one target? None other than Stefon Diggs, who finished Sunday night's matchup with 182 yards and a solo receiving TD on nine carries ... meaning, he averaged more than 20 yards per catch against one of the League's most proficient defenses. 

The Playoff Hopefuls

Baltimore Ravens (2-0)
Season Point Differential: +11

At the end of the first quarter, the Cleveland Browns led the Baltimore Ravens 20-2. Of course, Cleveland being Cleveland, they then proceeded to let Baltimore score 23 consecutive, unanswered points en route to 25-20 Ravens victory, because "fuck knowing what winning feels like" is the state motto of Ohio or something. As far as Joe Flacco's play, it was definitely a mixed bag: pro football's favorite non-elite QB concluded the game with 302 yards and a 2:2 TD-to-INT ratio on 25 completions.

New England Patriots (2-0)
Season Point Differential:+09

The good news for New England is that back-up Jimmy G managed to lob three touchdown passes before going down with an injury - aye, receivers Julian Edelman and Martellus Bennett finished the contest with a touchdown and 280 yards on a combined 12 catches, while Danny Amendola had two scores and 50 yards on four receptions. Expect the Pats to rely on LeGarrette Blount (who had 123 yards and a score on 29 carries in the Pats' 31-24 win over Miami last weekend) now that Jacoby Brissett looks like he will be the starter for New England until Tom Terrific returns in week five.

San Francisco 49ers  (1-1)
Season Point Differential: +09

Despite the 46-27 final score, the Niners/Panthers game was actually surprisingly close up until the third quarter. Blaine Gabbert (243 yard, two TDs and two INTs on 17 completions) had a pretty lackluster showing, while the Panthers' D completely neutralized Carlos Hyde and the San Fran rushing attack. And defensively, the 49ers just fell asleep, allowing the Panthers to rack up 353 aerial yards and another 176 on the ground.

New York Jets (1-1)
Season Point Differential: +05

In last Thursday's "defense optional" contest against divisional foes Buffalo, Ryan Fitzpatrick concluded the affair with 374 passing yards and a touchdown on 24 completions, while Matt Forte carried the rock 30 times for 100 yards and three saunters into the Bills' end zone. Of course, the 37-31 final tally lets you know not all is well with the Jets D - indeed, in a winning effort, they still let T-Mobile rack up 297 yards and three touchdowns, with Darrelle Revis at one point getting absolutely torched by Marquise Goodwin on a highlight reel-worthy 84-yard catch and run.

New York Giants (2-0)
Season Point Differential: +04

Hey, the Giants are undefeated, ya'll. And Eli Manning, for the first time in ages, seems to actually be, you know, good. In his team's 16-13 win over the Saints, he posted 368 yards (but no touchdowns) on 32 completions. The G-Men's key to victory in that one? Believe it or not, an early defensive score, courtesy of a blocked punt scoop-and-run from Janoris Jenkins. Considering how close the Giants' wins have been this year, it's only natural to be suspicious about the team's all of a sudden good fortunes - time well tell whether the Giants are the real deal or just plain lucky, and a whole lot sooner rather than later.

Dallas Cowboys (1-1)
Season Point Differential: +03

How about them 'Boys, going out there and beating them nasty, uncivilized Redskins 27-23 over the weekend? Dak Prescott razzle dazzled the Injuns with 292 yards on 22 completions (uh, just overlook the fact that he didn't lob any touchdowns and he got sacked four times) in addition to walking the ball in for a six-yard scrambling score. Making the win even sweeter, Ezekiel "She Fell Down Officer, I Swear" finally put up some substantial numbers, finishing the game with 83 yards on the ground and a TD on 21 carries. Sure, you could criticize Dallas' awful pass defense - which let Kirk Cousins air the ball out for 364 yards - but by that same token, you could also praise the Cowboys D for their efficiency in stopping the run. Hey. holding Matt Jones to just 61 yards on 13 carries is kinda' impressive. Well, sorta.

Detroit Lions (1-1)
Season Point Differential: +03

Talk about letting a game slip away! At the beginning of the fourth quarter, the Lions were up 15-3 against the Titans, who were having difficulty in the red zone all afternoon. And - this still being Detroit, after all - they slowly let Tennessee crawl back into the contest, en route to a late, late come from behind 16-15 victory. If you are looking for bright spots, though, Matt Stafford (260 yards on 22 completions, with a 1:1 TD-to-INT ratio) did look pretty good, and standout wide receiver Marvin Jones (118 yards on eight carries) is slowly turning into an almost ready for the Pro Bowl type player.

Green Bay Packers (1-1)
Season Point Differential: +01

There are inexplicable losses, and then there's the Packers losing to the Vikings 17-14 over the weekend. While the Pack held the Vikes to just 30 yards of rushing offense (having AP injured will do that, I suppose), they just couldn't step Stefon Diggs, who lit their cheese-eatin' asses up for nearly 200 receiving yards. Offensively, the team played fairly well, I suppose, with Aaron Rodgers finishing the game with 213 passing yards, a TD and an interception on 20 completions. Oh, and did I mention that he got sacked five times for a cumulative loss of 30 yards? Well ... he did

The Middle of the Pack

Atlanta Falcons (1-1)
Season Point Differential: 0

In the most defense-phobic game since the last Raiders outing, Matt Ryan and company managed to outlast the high-powered Oakland offense en route to a 35-28 victory. Ryan had 396 yards and three touchdowns on the day, while the Falcons' run game managed to accumulate 139 yards on 29 carries. Defensively, though, Atlanta had little to be proud of: by the final horn, they had let Derek Carr rack up 299 yards of passing offense and three touchdowns of his own, in tandem with 155 yards of total Raiders rushing offense.

Kansas City Chiefs (1-1)
Season Point Differential: -01

The Chiefs offense definitely struggled in their 19-12 loss to the Texans. Alex Smith had no touchdown passes in the contest, ultimately concluding the game with just 186 aerial yards. Furthermore, the highly touted Chiefs' rushing attack just couldn't get it going either, with Charcandrick West and company producing no end zone appearances and a total of 119 point-less rushing yards. KC did manage to pick off Brock Os twice, though, but seeing as how the Chiefs had three lost fumbles of their own, I guess you can call their defense performance a great big wash in the grand scheme of things.

Seattle Seahawks (1-1)
Season Point Differential: -04

How did the Seahawks bounce back from their get-the-fuck-outta'-here 12-10 super-duper-narrow win over the Dolphins in week one? By putting even less points on the board en route to a 9-3 loss to the Los Angeles Rams. Russell Wilson's numbers were good (254 yards on 22 completions), but really, who gives a shit about passing states when none of those aerial strikes result in digits on the scoreboard? The 'Hawks rushing game was even worse: they finished the day with just 67 yards on 28 carries.

New Orleans Saints (0-2)
Season Point Differential: -04

Yeah, it's kind of a backhanded compliment, but the Saints really are the best win-less team in pro football. The Saints' sour luck continued over the weekend, as Drew Brees and pals lost a competitive (and surprisingly low-scoring) 16-13 contest. Indeed, Brees "only" had 263 passing yards on the day, while the Saints run game was a non-factor, contributing just 41 yards to the team's total offensive output. But at least they can take some solace in their run defense, which held the G-Men to a paltry 64 yards over the course of the afternoon.

Oakland Raiders (1-1)
Season Point Differential: -06

Hoo boy, the Raiders defense - after spending so much money on the likes of Sean Smith, Reggie Nelson and Bruce Irvin - has somehow not only gotten inexplicably worse compared to last year, but is now posting historically bad defensive numbers. Indeed, not since the fucking 1960s has an NFL team allowed their opponents 500 plus yards of offense in back-to-back games, but what do you know, these new look Raiders show do love them some NFL Fever 2003 style football. In a tough (albeit, competitive to the wire) 35-28 loss, the Raiders mustered plenty of offense (299 receiving yards, 155 rushing yards), but hot Christ, did the secondary got torched by Matt Ryan. Julio Jones, despite being covered by half the defense throughout the entirety of the game, put up 106 yards on five completions all by himself, while the Raiders D was all too obliging to let Austin Hooper and Jacob Tamme collect upwards of 75 yards a piece. And in case you missed it? You can relive all of the whimsy and wonder of the game through my less-than-unbiased peepers right here.

Cincinnati Bengals (1-1)
Season Point Differential: -07

Andy Dalton (336 yards and a touchdown on 31 completions) did his part, but the rest of the Bengals dropped the ball (literally) against hated rivals Pittsburgh. Giovani Bernard (100 yards and a TD on nine receptions) was really the only Cincinnati player to do anything of note, and even then, he still fumbled the pigskin and gave Pittsburgh an easy opportunity to score. In the 24-16 loss, the Bengals defense looked fairly anemic, allowing the Steelers to rack up 259 yards of aerial and 124 yards of ground offense.

Tennessee Titans (1-1)
Season Point Differential: -08

Marcus Mariota may have had a largely forgettable day on the field (224 yards, two TDs and an INT on 25 completions), but DeMarco Murray certainly helped bail out the anemic offense when it counted in the Titans come from behind 16-15 win over the Titans. He finished the game with 89 rushing yards plus another 56 receiving, while Delanie Walker concluded the contest with 83 yards and the game winning touchdown reception. And don't discount that defense, neither, seeing as how the Titans secondary managed to sack Matt Stafford four times for a cumulative loss of 22 yards. 

Miami Dolphins (0-2)
Season Point Differential: -09

In a 31-24 loss to the Brady-less Pats, Ryan Tannehill  had 389 yards and a two TD/two INT ratio with 32 completions, with receivers Jarvis Landry and DeVante Parker both collecting north of 100 yards a piece in the contest. Still, the Dolphins run game sputtered, with the team finishing the affair with a combined 70 yards on 16 rushing attempts ... and yeah, the less said about this team's pass coverage, I assure you the better.

Anxiously Awaiting the Draft

Buffalo Bills (0-2)
Season Point Differential: -12

After putting up 31 points and allowing 37 points in last Thursday night's loss to the Jets, the Bills management did the only thing that made any sense: they fired their offensive coordinator. If you ever find yourself up late at night, wondering why this franchise hasn't been to the playoffs since 2000 ... well, I reckon that's your answer.

Indianapolis Colts (0-2)
Season Point Differential: -18

The Colts did absolutely nothing in their 34-20 loss to Denver. The Broncos held the offense to a meager 170 passing yards (once you factor in the lost yardage due to the five times Andrew Luck was sacked) and Frank Gore and pals could only contribute 83 yards of rushing offense to the final tally. And if that stagnant "O" wasn't bad enough, it looks like Indy's defense is quickly crumbling, as well, having allowed Trevor Siemian to put up 266 passing yards while the Broncos run game collected 134 yards on the ground.

Los Angeles Rams (1-1)
Season Point Differential: -22

After getting positively "rekt," as the kids say, by the Niners in week one, the Rams made the hometown faithful happy with an upset 9-3 win over the Seahawks. In the first regular season pro football match up in the City of Angels since 1994, Case Keenum went 18 for 30 with 239 total passing yards, while Todd Gurley, uh, kinda ran for 51 yards and no scores on 19 touches. Still, holding the Seahawks ... just two years removed form a Super Bowl run ... to only a field goal has to be considered nothing short of impressive. Well, that is, unless the Seahawks just flat out suck offensively this year, which, frankly, may indeed be the case if these first two games of the season are any indication.

Chicago Bears (0-2)
Season Point Differential: -24

There are no real positives to take away from Chicago's 29-14 loss to the Eagles on Monday. Neither Cutler or Hoyer could lob any touchdown passes and the entire Bears run game was restricted to a meager 64 yards. Still, the defense put on a statistically decent showing, having held Carson Wentz to 190 yards and the Eagles running back corps to about 100.

Cleveland Browns (0-2)
Season Point Differential: -24

I don't know if modern science will ever figure out how the Browns managed to blow a 20-2 lead en route to their perplexing 25-20 loss to the Ravens over the weekend. Josh McCown was just sort of OK, throwing two touchdowns and two interceptions in his 260 yard day. Receiver Corey Coleman had two touchdowns and 104 yards on five catches, while cop-killing advocate Isiah Crowell finished the game with 133 yards and a score on 18 touches. And yet, despite all of this, the Browns still managed to find a way to barf up the keys to victory and FedEx it to Joe Flacco and pals - because come on, it's Cleveland ... what else would you have expected?

Tampa Bay Buccaneers (1-1)
Season Point Differential: -26

What a stunning reversal of fortune here! Last week, the Bucs looked like a legitimate NFC South championship contender, and now, they are getting reamed out the ass by Arizona by a 32 point margin. Jameis Winston had his worst day since being accused of raping Florida State students last Sunday, finishing the game with four INTs, one touchdown, 221 passing yards after the sacks and a downright astonishingly low QBR of 26.4 Going 27 for 52 on passing attempts is no way to go through life, son.

Washington Redskins (0-2)
Season Point Differential: -26

Arch rival Dallas didn't whomp 'em as bad as the Steelers did in week one, but in many ways, week 2's narrow loss to the Cowboys was much, much more painful than the blowout loss at home to Pittsburgh. Kirk Cousins went 1-1 in the TD-to-INT department, finishing the contest with 350 total yards once you factor in the two times he got sacked. Alas, even with four receivers picking up 50 plus yards in the game, the Skins just couldn't punch the rock into the end zone ... which, seeing as how that's traditionally how you win football games, really can't be seen as anything other than a huge, season-sinking problem already.

Jacksonville Jaguars (0-2)
Season Point Differential: -28

After giving Green Bay everything they could handle last week, the Jags responded with a very, very bad showing against the Chargers, in which the men in teal were befalled 38-14. Blake Bortles had decent stats (329 yards and two touchdowns), but he also lobbed two interceptions and finished the game with an extremely poor 18.5 QBR. The running game also looked like crap, with the Jags running back corps only able to produce 69 yards on 11 carries. And way to give up four facile touchdown passes, guys!


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