Power Rankings Week 12: Separation at the top
Posted on 11/29/2011 11:41:56 PM
By Jonathan Comey
Cold, Hard Football Facts Power Ranker
Call them the Magnificent Seven.
The Packers are solid at No. 1, and are in an LSU-like state heading down the power-rankings stretch -- even two losses probably wouldn't take them out of the top spot, regardless of what the field does.
But realistically, teams 2-through-7 could have been stacked in just about any order. We have Houston second and Pittsburgh seventh, but a case could be made to switch them. Baltimore and San Francisco are playing spectacular defense, New England and New Orleans spectacular offense.
And then there's a pretty good dropoff to Dallas at No. 8, leading a pack of 6-to-8 more basically interchangeable teams.
Cliques. They ruin everything.
On to the rankings!
1. GREEN BAY (11-0)
Last week: 27-15 win at Detroit
Next three weeks: at NYG, vs. OAK, at KC
The Cold, Hard Football Facts: Another Aaron Rodgers stat to chew on – he’s as far ahead of No. 2 man Tom Brady on the passer rating chart (+22.6) as Brady is ahead of the long-benched Donovan McNabb (+22.2) down in 16th place. A more interesting note? The undefeated, barely threatened Packers are dead last in yards per play allowed (6.19) this year.
2. HOUSTON (8-3)
Last week: 20-13 win at Jacksonville
Next three weeks: vs. ATL, at CIN, vs. CAR
The Cold, Hard Football Facts: Why are the Texans No. 2 on this list? They rank in the top 10 in all 13 of the Quality Stats we track on CHFF Insider.
3. BALTIMORE (8-3)
Last week: 16-6 win vs. Baltimore
Next three weeks: at CLE, vs. IND
The Cold, Hard Football Facts: Joe Flacco threw 489 passes last year and 499 passes in 2009; this year, he’s on pace to throw 598 times. He’s one of 17 quarterbacks this year, all still starting, that are on pace to throw 500+ passes this year. In 2010, nine QBs threw 500, and one of them wasn’t MVP Tom Brady (492).
4. SAN FRANCISCO (9-2)
Last week: 16-6 loss at Baltimore
Next three weeks: vs. STL, at ARI, at SD
The Cold, Hard Football Facts: The 49ers have won the turnover battle in 9 of their 11 games (they lost it 1-0 in the loss to Baltimore); this is why they’re 9-2 despite being outgained on the season (3,484-3,395).
5. NEW ORLEANS (8-3)
Last week: 49-24 win vs. New York Giants
Next three weeks: vs. DET, at TEN, at MIN
The Cold, Hard Football Facts: Tight end Jimmy Graham is on pace for 1,392 yards receiving, which would break Kellen Winslow (the elder)’s record of 1,290. Not bad for a late third-round pick in his second year.
6. NEW ENGLAND (8-3)
Last week: 38-20 win at Philadelphia
Next three weeks: vs. IND, at WAS, at DEN
The Cold, Hard Football Facts: Bill Belichick’s Patriots are No. 4 in scoring differential (+108); they’ve ranked in the top six in this all-important stat for each of the last six seasons and eight of the last nine.
7. PITTSBURGH (8-3)
Last week: 13-9 win at Kansas City
Next three weeks: vs. CIN, vs. CLE, at SF
The Cold, Hard Football Facts: Ben Roethlisberger hasn’t lost two games in a row with a passer rating under 80 since September 2006. We had so much more hair then.
8. DALLAS (7-4)
Last week: 20-19 win vs. Miami
Next three weeks: at ARI, vs. NYG, at TB
The Cold, Hard Football Facts: The Cowboys have had seven games decided by four points or fewer … and three by 27 points or more. It’s all about balance, doesn’t Jerry Jones take yoga?
9. CINCINNATI (7-4)
Last week: 23-20 win vs. Cleveland
Next three weeks: at PIT, vs. HOU, at STL
The Cold, Hard Football Facts: The Bengals have averaged 26.8 PPG on the road, 19.6 PPG at home this year.
10. CHICAGO (7-4)
Last week: 25-20 loss at Oakland
Next three weeks: vs. KC, at DEN, vs. SEA
The Cold, Hard Football Facts: The Bears are being outgained, on a per-play and per-game basis, for the second straight season … but they’re 18-9. And yet, Lovie Smith always seems to be a two-game losing streak away from “Fire Lovie!” talk in Chicago.
11. ATLANTA (7-4)
Last week: 24-14 win vs. Minnesota
Next three weeks: at HOU, at CAR, vs. JAX
The Cold, Hard Football Facts: According to the play-trackers at Pro Football Focus, Matt Ryan is the league’s worst downfield passer; he’s only completing 23.8 percent of throws that travel more than 20 yards downfield. Even Tim Tebow is better (27.0 percent).
12. OAKLAND (7-4)
Last week: 25-20 win vs. Chicago
Next three weeks: at MIA, at GB, vs. DET
The Cold, Hard Football Facts: Michael Bush and Darren McFadden are on pace to combine for 2,484 yards from scrimmage and 17 total TDs; last year it was 2,513 and 18 TDs. That’s one hell of a tandem.
13. DETROIT (7-4)
Last week: 27-15 loss vs. Green Bay
Next three weeks: at NO, vs. MIN, at OAK
The Cold, Hard Football Facts: Since Jim Schwartz took over in 2010, the Lions are 0-9 when they score fewer than 20 points, 13-5 when they score 20 or more. Way to help out the cause, defense.
14. NEW YORK JETS (6-5)
Last week: 28-24 win vs. Buffalo
Next three weeks: at WAS, vs. KC, at PHI
The Cold, Hard Football Facts: Plaxico Burress is in the top 100 all-time in receptions (No. 96, 539), receiving yards (No. 69 with 8,324) and receiving touchdowns (No. 58 with 62).
15. NEW YORK GIANTS (6-5)
Last week: 49-24 loss at New Orleans
Next three weeks: vs. GB, at DAL, vs. WAS
The Cold, Hard Football Facts: Who’s last in the league with 905 rushing yards? Yep. The G-Men. Pretty remarkable, since Tom Coughlin’s prior 15 years as a head coach had only featured one team to finish outside of the top 18 league-wide in this stat (his 2001 Jaguars).
16. DENVER (6-5)
Last week: 16-13 win at San Diego
Next three weeks: at MIN, vs. CHI, vs. NE
The Cold, Hard Football Facts: Tim Tebow has now taken part in 368 non-handoff plays as a pro quarterback and turned it over a total of four times (four interceptions, no fumbles). He also leads the league in yards per rush (5.8). He also would have been passed over for the role as Dennis Quaid’s stunt double in “Any Given Sunday” because he wouldn’t have appeared credible as the Miami Sharks’ quarterback.
17. TENNESSEE (6-5)
Last week: 23-17 win vs. Tampa Bay
Next three weeks: at BUF, vs. NO, at IND
The Cold, Hard Football Facts: If the Titans seem to be a perfectly average football team, it’s because they are – on our Relativity Index that measures teams against their schedule with 0.00 as the base score, Tennessee is +0.05.
18. PHILADELPHIA (4-7)
Last week: 38-20 loss vs. New England
Next three weeks: at SEA, at MIA, vs. NYJ
The Cold, Hard Football Facts: The Eagles are No. 4 in yards per play (6.3) but No. 14 in points per game (23.3). Why? They’re No. 1 in offensive turnovers (25).
19. MIAMI (3-8)
Last week: 20-19 loss at Dallas
Next three weeks: vs. OAK, vs. PHI, at BUF
The Cold, Hard Football Facts: If the Dolphins fail to win out, it’ll be the first time Miami has had three straight losing seasons since merging into the NFL in 1970.
20. SAN DIEGO (4-7)
Last week: 16-13 loss vs. Denver
Next three weeks: at JAX, vs. BUF, vs. BAL
The Cold, Hard Football Facts: Charger fans can blame Norv Turner, A.J. Smith and Philip Rivers all they want, but a downturn from the No. 2 Defensive Hogs last year to No. 25 this year is as big a reason for San Diego’s slide as anything.
21. BUFFALO (5-6)
Last week: 28-24 loss at New York Jets
Next three weeks: vs. TEN, at SD, vs. MIA
The Cold, Hard Football Facts: The Bills are now -20 in scoring differential, which isn’t surprising – they’ve been outscored by their opponents in 10 of the last 11 years.
22. TAMPA BAY (4-7)
Last week: 23-17 loss at Tennessee
Next three weeks: vs. CAR, at JAX, vs. DAL
The Cold, Hard Football Facts: The Bucs are 14-13 over the last two seasons, which isn’t too bad. You know what is bad? Their 0-12 record vs. Quality Opponents. In other words, Tampa can dish it out, but they can’t take it.
23. SEATTLE (4-7)
Last week: 23-17 loss vs. Washington
Next three weeks: vs. PHI, vs. STL, at CHI
The Cold, Hard Football Facts: Tarvaris Jackson's last 16 starts: six wins, 23 turnovers. In other news, Tarvaris Jackson has had 16 starts in the NFL.
24. CLEVELAND (4-7)
Last week: 23-20 loss at Cincinnati
Next three weeks: vs. BAL, at PIT, at AZ
The Cold, Hard Football Facts: Colt McCoy has 470 QB dropbacks this year (i.e. non-handoffs), third-most in the league behind Drew Brees and Matthew Stafford. Despite this, he’s only been responsible for 10 total turnovers (fumble + INTs); only Tim Tebow and Aaron Rodgers have taken better care of the ball on a per-dropback basis.
25. JACKSONVILLE (3-8)
Last week: 20-13 loss vs. Houston
Next three weeks: vs. SD, vs. TB, at ATL
The Cold, Hard Football Facts: Four straight scoring differential seasons in the bottom 10 was enough to seal Jack Del Rio's fate -- but all in all, a 68-71 record in the NFL is nothing to sneeze at.
26. CAROLINA (3-8)
Last week: 27-19 win at Indianapolis
Next three weeks: at TB, vs. ATL, at HOU
The Cold, Hard Football Facts: Kicker Olindo Mare is one of four kickers to miss an extra point this year, all who have missed just once. In 1978, when the league went to a 16-game season, there were an average of 4.9 extra points missed EVERY WEEK, and no kicker had a perfect year.
27. ARIZONA (4-7)
Last week: 23-20 win at Arizona
Next three weeks: vs. DAL, vs. SF, vs. CLE
The Cold, Hard Football Facts: Since Kurt Warner retired, the Cardinals have only won one game by more than 10 points.
28. WASHINGTON (4-7)
Last week: 23-17 win at Seattle
Next three weeks: vs. NYJ, vs. NE, at NYG
The Cold, Hard Football Facts: The Redskins have quietly turned around their front seven, up at No. 5 on the Defensive Hog Index after finishing the 2010 season in a tie for 26th.
29. KANSAS CITY (4-7)
Last week: 13-9 loss vs. Pittsburgh
Next three weeks: at CHI, at NYJ, vs. GB
The Cold, Hard Football Facts: Tyler Palko's career thus far -- two starts against the two most successful franchises in the NFL, two losses, no touchdowns, countless dazed looks to the sidelines. Good stuff.
30. MINNESOTA (2-9)
Last week: 24-14 loss at Atlanta
Next three weeks: vs. DEN, at DET, vs. NO
The Cold, Hard Football Facts: The Vikings are ahead of only Indianapolis in the all-important Passer Rating Differential stat (-27.21).
31. ST. LOUIS (2-9)
Last week: 23-20 loss vs. Arizona
Next three weeks: at SF, at SEA, vs. CIN
The Cold, Hard Football Facts: Offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels is on an epically terrible run. Dating back to his head coaching job in Denver, McDaniels has lost 11 of 13 games and his offenses have scored 13 points or fewer in 10 of those games.
32. INDIANAPOLIS (0-11)
Last week: 27-19 loss vs. Carolina
Next three weeks: at NE, at BAL, vs. TEN
The Cold, Hard Football Facts: Even in the context of their overall ineptitude, the Colts’ return units are shockingly bad. They have only 423 total return yards (38.5 per game), and are last in kick-return average (18.0) and punt-return average (2.2).
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