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Author Topic: Finny's mid-season power rankings  (Read 816 times)
Finnegans Wake
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« on: Nov 12, 2009 at 14:42 »

After three games the Pittsburgh Steelers stood at 1-2, and while fans weren't exactly lining up on bridges with cinderblooks chained to their ankles, the proverbial Super Bowl Curse seemed to have struck again.  That nexus was ominous:  every phase of the game seemed to be misfiring (offense, defense, and special teams); star player Troy Polamalu was out with injury; and Pittsburgh was third in the division rankings behind 3-0 Baltimore and 2-1 Cincinnati.  

If Mike Tomlin had inherited one of the most talented teams any rookie coach could hope for, this was perhaps the first true test of his mettle as the man in charge.

Five weeks later, there is no shortage of early-season powerhouse teams that have suddenly and almost inexplicably fizzled out: the Giants, Ravens, Niners, Jets, Packers, and Bears all showed promise early on and now battle for diminished relevance in division races that have all but left them behind.  

Meanwhile, the Steelers did what the Steelers always do.  They didn't freak out.  They knew there was work to be done and they worked on it.  In short, the coaches coached, the players dug in, and the team improved.  Now they're ready for some revenge on the mouthy Bengals, who stole a win earlier in Cincinnati, and in the rematch the winner takes the division lead.  

The power rankings have gone MIA these last few weeks, the constraint on my time of work intruding.  Gone for good are the so-called "mathematical rankings," which always took more time to work on than they were worth.  More to the point, using a limited set of statistics, however manipulated, can only really produce a reflection of yesterday's news; it was sort of like having to read Peter King at Sports Illustrated, the Johnny-come-lately of blowing sunshine up the arse of whoever is hot, with no insight into how the coming weeks might really shape up.  If you think about it, there are simply too many variables, with all the player injuries, the intangibles of team dynamic and psychology, and the simple reality that no matter how well you analyze and deconstruct the numbers, on Sunday it's all up to the players on the field -- and they don't give a fuck about the numbers.

The NFL season of 16 games over 17 weeks can be looked at any number of ways, and most in the media have the attention span of a gnat and only see the most recent results.  But the season is much more of a marathon, and more easily understood broken down into four-game quadrants.  We're halfway through the race now, so these rankings will look at where teams are and what their outlook over the next four weeks might be.  For Broncos fans, this point last year will bring back some bad memories, as the Broncos pissed away a division lead that looked unshakeable, and with two back-to-back losses after a 6-0 start, it's entirely possible there will be some division shaekups.  

For a division like the NFC East, being able to claim king of the mountain almost seems like a curse, which should serve as warning the the NFC analog of the now-hot Steelers, the Dallas Cowboys.  The Cowboys, riding a four-game win streak now sit at a record of 6-2 as well, as the Giants and Eagles have both found ways to frustrate their fans.  But the Cowboys haven't done jack in the playoffs since some guy named Aikman was under center, and anyone thinking that Wade Phillips is the steadying presence that Mike Tomlin has been needs to put down the water pipe.

In any event, there is plenty of drama to be played out over the next eight weeks, and I guarantee you that it won't be exactly as I predict it.  It never is.  After all, what fun would that be?

As I was putting this list together, an odd symmetry struck me.  There are a handful of teams each year that are or could rise to the level of being truly elite.  This year especially, there seems to be an awful lot of dreck at the bottom of the standings.  But just as you can divide the season into four-week snapshots, there seems to be a neat series of four-team groupings that explains, in some way, who's for real, who has a shot at the post-season, who's clawing to save from drowning, who's god-awful, and so on.  

Of these, I group the first three quadrants as quality opponents, and only teams from these will be listed as "Quality Wins."  Next comes four teams in purgatory, not good enough to really qualify as quality wins, and certainly not bad enough that a loss to them is a head-scratcher.  As fully half of the league is utter shit right now, losing to any team belonging to those last four quadrants consistutes a "Bad Loss."  This denotation is arguable, as teams who look great in week one fade to wallflowers later, but them's the breaks.  They're shit now, and shit they shall be in the rankings.

The Four You Don't Want to Mess With

1. Pittsburgh Steelers, 6-2.
 Chalk it up to conceit that I have the Steelers atop the rankings, but with Polamalu back (and even with other defenders out) these Steelers are starting to show some of the fang that put the fear into their opponents last year.  With newcomers Rashard Mendenhall punching out a solid run game and receiver Mike Wallace acting like he's been there and done that, the offense has a multitude of offense threats.  Wallace leads all rookie receivers with 437 yards and could possibly be one of three Steelers receivers to break 1,000 yards by year's end.  

With Aaron Smith on IR and Travis Kirschke ailing the defensive line is a bit thin, but the Steelers have been taking care of business. The real Achilles' heel of this team seems to be its special teams.  Look for some adjustments to gameday inactives as the year progresses, including the elevation of some younger players like Keenan Lewis to add some spark here.

Unlike the steady-keeled Saints or Colts, who all-too-predictably wind up atop every power ranking list, the Steelers are showing a dynamic of improvement, and have a better recent post-season record to lean on as we head to the December games.  From 2000 onward, at this point in the season only the 2004 Patriots (7-1) and 2006 Colts (8-0) had better records than this year's Steelers, and perhaps more coincidentally four of those nine (2002 Buccaneers, 2003 Patriots, 2005 Steelers, and 2008 Steelers) had a 6-2 record identical to this year's Steelers.

Quality Wins: Vikings 27-17, @ Broncos 28-10.  Bad Losses: @ Bears 14-17.  Streak: Won 5.  Next Four: Bengals, @ Chiefs, @ Ravens, Raiders.

At worst I see a loss to one of the division rivals, more likely the Ravens in Baltimore.  But if the Steelers do win Sunday, and given the Ravens losing two this year to the Bengals, it's not impossible to see the Steelers going 4-0 over this stretch.  At the Chiefs, and hosting the Raiders, should be easy wins.  Outlook at the 3/4 Pole: 9-3.

2. Minnesota Vikings, 7-1.  The Steelers were lucky to outlast the Vikings at Heinz field, and for me the postseason is almost always about who has the most dominating defense.  Right now, the two best defenses are the Steelers and Vikings, and if my previous dire warnings that Brett Favre's arms are about to fall off at this point in the season, the old man hasn't shown any signs of that happening yet.  In fact, I expected a stretch of games against the Packers, Ravens, and Steelers to make Favre reconsider his retirement, but he looks like he's playing as well as he ever has.  

Part of the reason Favre is playing well is that he has that great defense and Adrian Peterson taking a lot of pressure off of him.  But Favre is clearly elevating the play of a middling group of wide receivers: Sidney Rice suddenly looks for real, and Percy Harvin seems all but a lock for offensive rookie of the year.  After those two, wide receiver Bernard Berrian and the running backs, Peterson and Chester Taylor, are Favre's top passing targets, so that seems to be one possible shortcoming of this group.  It's also hard to predict how Rice and Harvin may play in the postseason, being relatively callow, but for now the Vikings are clicking.

If the defense has a hole, one that the Steelers inexplicably failed to exploit, it's the pass defense.  The Vikings are ninth worst in yards per attempt allowed, giving up an average 93.3 passer rating to opposing quarterbacks.  Still, if you're going to put this defense against the Colts or Saints, I'll take the Vikings any day.

Quality Wins: Ravens 33-31.  Bad Losses: None.  Streak: Won 1.  Next Four: Lions, Seahawks, Bears, @ Cardinals.

The divisional games may be closer than the Vikings like, but the (improving) Lions and (free-falling) Bears are still nowhere near as good as the Vikings.  The Seahawks are in rigor mortis.  And who can tell whether the Cardinals are contenders or pretenders?  Vikings could easily run this group, but I sense a loss somewhere in there.  Outlook at the 3/4 Pole: 10-2.

3. Indianapolis Colts, 8-0.  With Marvin Harris pushed out to pasture, and up-and-comer Anthony Gonzalez an early injury casualty, Peyton Manning is predictably leading the league MVP blather, throwing the ball to Reggie Wayne and Dallas Clark... but also Austin Collie and Pierre Garcon?  I'll hold the dog and waiter jokes and just say that Manning is this team's engine, and he's got the Colts right where they always are.  If that seems bloody obvious, the tendency is for the media slobberers to over-rate the Colts.

The team not only survived the wide receiver changes, but also the changes in the coaching staff.  Still, if Caldwell as a Dungy protege isn't a systemic shock, the retirements of coaches Tom Moore and Howard Mudd were about as fleeting as that of, well, Brett Favre.  

But continuity also shows up in negative ways.  Again, difference-making safety Bob Sanders is injured, and this year he won't be back.  That alone should give pause as you consider the Colts' chances in the post-season.  And the run defense is predictably lacking as well, as the Monday Night game against the Dolphins proved, and the Colts are giving it up at a clip of 4.3 yards per carry.  That's just not playoff-caliber run-stopping.

For all the hyperbole heaped upon the Manning Mystique, this team looks awfully similar to the 2008 Colts, a team I felt was over-rated.  Manning started that season injured, and the team stumbled out of the gate 3-4.  Eight straight wins later, 12-4.  The only problem was that the Colts had largely feasted on inferior foes, and as predicted were a quick out in the playoffs.  The playoffs have been less than kind to the Colts, where their spectacular regular season record matters not one fucking iota to anyone.  This Colts team is following a predictable track, and the Poor Man's Colts of the division (the Houston Texans) showed how narrow the gap between those two teams are.  Granted, division games are always close-fought, but the next time you hear someone on TV prattle on about how great the Colts are just remember: They're only incrementally better than the Texans.

Still, their path to the top of the division looks assured, and the Colts still appear to be one of the three best AFC teams hands down.  That's less a contradiction than it appears: the Colts aren't the team they used to be; the Patriots aren't the team they used to be; the entire AFC dominance over the NFC has shrunk.  If putting the Steelers atop the overall rankings seems unduly giddy, it can at least be rationalized by the notion that the Steelers have not suffered the dropoff that the Colts and Patriots (and Ravens and Chargers and Titans, et al.) have.  You always have to reckon with any team Peyton Manning quarterbacks, but don't be too much taken in by the Manning Mystique.

Quality Wins: @ Cardinals 31-10, Texans 20-17.  Bad Losses: None.  Streak: Won 8.  Next Four: Patriots, @ Ravens, @ Texans, Titans.

The showdown with the Patriots has the media goobers all agog, but this matchup -- while promising to be a great game -- pits a diminished Colts team against a diminished Patriots team.  In other words, this isn't the classic Colts-Patriots of recent years.  That doesn't mean it's not a huge game, or that there isn't plenty to learn from it.   The Colts will get their biggest challenge in a schedule where the Cardinals and Texans have posed the biggest threat; likewise, the Patriots defense hasn't faced any offenses more potent than the Falcons and Ravens, teams that turn one-dimensional awfully quickly in losses.  Something tells me that the Colts drop either the Patriots game or the game in Baltimore, and that rematch in Houston looks like a potential loss as well.  I think the streak comes to an end, with two or possibly three losses looming.  Outlook at the 3/4 Pole: 10-2.

4. New Orleans Saints, 8-0.  Well, if they're not slurping the Colts, they're slurping the Saints.  Drew Brees is in that MVP race, the Saints aren't a finesse team any more, and their defense is for real.  OK, all of those points have some validity, but let's not go overboard just yet.  Brees is and always has been a quality QB who puts up great numbers in this Saints system.  Sean Payton has finally realized that Reggie Bush is more of a gadget player, and is relying on the punchier Pierre "Frenchy" Thomas, Rashard Mendenhall's predecessor at Illinois, and Michael Bush for slogging out the ground yardage that moves chains.  And yes, this defense is the best they've had in quite some time.

But aside from an 8-0 record, what most see are the fireworks: the Saints have scored 30 or more points in six of those wins.  The best of the defenses faced were arguably the NFC East teams, and against the Eagles they faced a team without Donovan McNabb, and by the time they ripped the Giants it was evident that the men in blue had some major defensive issues, particularly in the secondary -- never a good thing against the Saints.

Still, the Saints and their improved defense has also yielded 20 or more points in six of the wins.  Yes, but if they're scoring 30 or more, what's it matter?  Well, it matters when the level of competition gets tougher.  Like the Colts, the Saints must guard against living in a bubble world.  At this point, the Saints' sole quality win has been over the Falcons, and the Falcons have had no wins over quality opponents of their own.  The Saints have improved their pass defense, with a solid 6.3 yards per attempt allowed (tied with the Steelers) and a decent enough overall yardage allowed.  But they haven't faced many potent passing games, with the Falcons again the most notable.  Like the Colts, they're giving up too much on the ground: 4.4 yards per carry spells bad news in the post-season.

Quality Wins: Falcons 35-27.  Bad Losses: None.  Streak: Won 8.  Next Four: @ Rams, @ Bucs, Patriots, @ Redskins.

The Saints should cut through the three turds like the proverbial hot knife through butter.  But they may be surprised by the Patriots.  In fact, the Patriots and Saints have many similarities, with the exception being that the Patriots have faced years of better competition, and will likely come into this matchup better prepared.  Outlook at the 3/4 Pole: 11-1.
« Last Edit: Nov 13, 2009 at 10:05 by Finnegans Wake » Logged

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« Reply #1 on: Nov 12, 2009 at 16:00 »

The Four Teams Bubbling Under

Each of these teams is in some way less complete, less potent than the first four, but each has carved out a clear path to the post-season and could easily be in the mix in the playoffs.

5. New England Patriots, 6-2.  One thing I've heard repeated a few times in the media that does make a lot of sense is that for all the talk of the Patriots offense being back, the knee injury is still in Tom Brady's head.  He's showing the stuff of old throwing the rock downfield to Moss, but if you pit him against a defense with a hungry pass-rush, he'll be like Carson Palmer was after the Kemo von Oelhoffen incident in the 2005 season playoffs.  The other liability the Patriots have on offense is a running back by committe of geezers, with the less-than-enthralling Laurence Maroney thrown in for kicks.

Still, the Patriots -- like the Colts and Steelers -- have the kind of stability that ensures competitiveness.  Been there, done that.  If they have an off year, they're right back in it.  Their point differential is +110, more than the Colts (+109), and second only to the Saints (+129).  Like the Colts, they give up rushing yards in chunks (4.5 yards per carry), but that slows down opposing offenses, and like the Colts they zip right down the field and score.  So it's not surprising that they have allowed the second lowest number of points in the NFL (115) after the Colts (108): it's a formula that works.

The Patriots defense has improved some since last season, but getting rid of Richard Seymour was a mistake, in my opinion, and there's a good bit of age in that squad.  For heaven's sake, they just re-signed Junior Seau.  That's scary.  

Quality Wins: Falcons 26-10, Ravens 27-21.  Bad Losses: None.  Streak: Won 3.  Next Four: @Colts, Jets, @ Saints, @ Dolphins.

The Patriots will test and be tested, with games against the Colts and Saints.  My guess is they lose a close one in Indianapolis, but win a solid game in New Orleans.  The AFC East is all but locked up, but if the Jets get back to playing the way they did early on, there could be trouble.  And in a chippy division, any road game can be trouble.  Let's just call this win one, drop one against the undefeateds, and win one, drop one against the division foes.  Outlook at the 3/4 Pole: 8-4.

6. Denver Broncos, 6-2.  Has midnight struck for the Broncos?  Before the season started I didn't think they'd win six games all year.  The turmoil swirling around new head coach Josh McDaniels, the clumsy business with Jay Cutler, a recalcitrant Brandon Marshall, and a switch of defensive schemes should have spelled disaster.  Instead, the Broncos have turned into the anti-Broncos.  Last year, they faded badly down the stretch based on the fact that their defense was utter putrescence, and their chief threat was the deep-ball passing game of Jay Cutler.  

Under Mike Nolan, formerly the Ravens' defensive coordinator, this defense is for real.  They have a solid running game (not that you could tell against the Steelers), and Kyle Orton's short game is similar to the offense McDaniels ran in New England.  Getting two top AFC North foes, Baltimore at home and Pittsburgh just when they were getting white-hot, should not take too much shine off the Broncos' accomplishment this year, and I do not expect the Chargers to catch them fading this year.

With a defense that is third in yardage allowed, fifth in yards per attempt in passing, eighth in rushing yardage allowed, and seventh in yards per carry, the Broncos should remain a steady presence in the second half of the season.  Their biggest weakness is that the careful and methodical Orton, who had only one interception before his three to Pittsburgh, is absolutely no vertical threat at all.  The anti-Broncos, indeed.  Against mediocre defenses, Orton will be able to move the ball well enough for the running game and the defense to do the rest, but Josh McDaniels has to figure out how to get Eddie Royal and Brandon Stokely more involved in the passing game.  

The two-game losing streak obscures three quality wins, more than any team in my top twelve save the Bengals, but the Broncos should rebound soon.

Quality Wins: @ Bengals 12-7, Cowboys 17-10, Patriots 20-17.  Bad Losses: None.  Streak: Lost 2.  Next Four: @ Redskins, Chargers, Giants, @ Chiefs.

Look for the Broncos to make a statement against the Redskins, who aren't even trying any more.  Between the Chargers and the Giants there's the potential for a loss -- the Chargers need a head-to-head win here, but the Giants are outright desperate.  The Broncos already beat the Chargers in San Diego 34-23, though, and desperation may not be enough for either the Chargers or the Giants.  This team could easily win the next four.  Funny line from some commentator in the Chargers 21-20 win over the Giants: "The Chargers' defense is back!"  All because Shawne Merriman actually made a play and had to do his asinine celebration.  Uh, no they're not.  They still reek.  But let's just throw the Broncos an obligatory loss anyway.  Outlook at the 3/4 Pole: 9-3.

7. Cincinnati Bengals, 6-2.  The Bengals are getting way too much sunshine.  The sweep of the Ravens was impressive, and carried major playoff implications, but the Bengals are a team that gets punched in the face and turtles up.  Their defense is improved, Cedric Benson is running wild, and the passing game doesn't seem to miss T.J. Houshmandzadeh, but this team has the smell of a team whose seasonal dynamic is about to change.

Season-ending injuries to defense end Antwan Odom and wide receiver Chris Henry aren't negligible, but the Bengals are a team that's great when they're great and terrible when they're terrible.  Unlike teams that aren't carried on waves of emotion (Steelers, Colts, Patriots, Eagles), the Bengals are like a big-time player who just signed a big contract: about to get fat and lazy.  Without rehashing the ugly, the Bengals were thoroughly dominated by the Steelers, who managed to shoot themselves in the foot a second straight week.  That pretty much leaves two games against the suddenly-foundering Ravens as the bragging points.

Cedric Benson, who gave the most boring Five Minutes With segment on Pardon the Interruption I have ever seen, is keying this offense.  Teams that can take away the run can make the passing game one-dimensional.  Thanks to the scheduling gods, the Bengals should still make it into the playoffs, and there are some good teams who aren't so good at stopping the run.  But past Chad Ochocinco, the Bengals now have Andre Caldwell (272 yards) and Laveranues Coles (227) to flesh out the passing game.  The expectation that the Bengals will automatically have some potent air attack is just more media laziness.  While the Bengals are competent, the Steelers and even the Ravens are putting up better passing numbers.  

One big plus for the Bengals is that they are second only to the Steelers in rushing yards allowed, and eighth in yards per car with 3.8.  Running the ball and stopping the run, rather than a flashy passing offense, may be the core strength of this team.  And in fairness, the entire defensive roster has been getting better, through free agency and the draft.  That was evident in flashes last year, a nightmare season for the Bengals with Palmer out.  The corners, Leon Hall and Jonathan Joseph, can play on an island.  The outside linebackers, Rey Maualuga and Keith Rivers, are very active but a bit lacking in experience.  The line is also the best the Bengals have had in quite some time, even without Odom: Geathers, Peko, Johnson and Fanene are giving the Bengals some push.  

Like the Broncos, this has become the anti-Bengals.  But the constant for the Bengals is the coaching of Marv Lewis, and a culture of ineptitude that will be hard for the Bengals to overcome.

Quality Wins: Steelers 23-20, @ Ravens 17-14, Ravens 17-7.  Bad Losses: None.  Streak: Won 2.  Next Four: @ Steelers, @ Raiders, Browns, Lions.

Getting the Steelers in Pittsburgh is a tough draw.  From there out, it's all cake.  That's fine: the Bengals are just going to let it all go to their heads.  That shit'll bite 'em later.Outlook at the 3/4 Pole: 9-3.

8. Dallas Cowboys, 6-2.  In no way do I think the Cowboys are as good as the Steelers are right now, primarily because their defense is nowhere as good.  But there are some curious parallels between the teams.  At the four week mark of the season, the Cowboys -- like the Steelers -- were third in their division, flopping around at 2-2 behind the 3-1 Eagles and 4-0 Giants.  They seemed out of synch in all phases of the game.  And then a curious thing happened.

The Dallas Cowboys decided to go quiet.  No drama.  No media flash, no fancy boy filigree.  They just buckled down, as the Steelers did, and turned their season around.

Much of that can be credited to the emergence of rookie Miles Austin, whose week five emergence has keyed the offense, and whose 612 receiving yards lead the Dallas offense.  Except... Miles Austin ain't a rookie.  It's just most people have never heard of the fourth-year receiver from Monmouth College (!).  In years past, meddlesome owner Jerry Jones would disastrously assert his will in the draft (e.g., Quincy Jones), or in free agency (Terrell Owens, Roy Williams).  But this year, the biggest splash Jones caused in the off-season was a well-placed vote of confidence in Austin.

Imagine.  Taking the time to develop talent instead of trying to buy star players.  I have to check to see if this was in the Book of Revelations.

A few weeks ago, Ravens coach John Harbaugh said that the Cowboys represented everything that was wrong in football, a collection of stars and egos that superceded the team dynamic.  Harbaugh coaches the Ravens, in case I dind't mention that.  A team rife with egos and pampered babies who cry to the press whenver they don't like calls, a team that still shows an inability to rein in personalities and show collective discipline regardless of who's coaching.  Exhibit A, the Supernova meltdown of 2005.  Exhibit B, the Ravens bitching about the officiating after any loss to any top AFC foe: the Steelers (pretty much any game), the Patriots (ditto)...  just Google "Ravens," "officiating," and any of the top teams.  It's amazing.

Irony aside, Harbaugh's criticism seems belated.  With TO gone and the only weak attempt at "me-first" attitude coming from Roy Williams, the Cowboys are actually resembling a team that might make the playoffs.  (Williams still believes he's a number one receiver.  Williams, if he were on the Steelers roster, would have a hard time beating out Limas Sweed for the four spot.)  They're winning close games, and perhaps they don't look as potent on offense as they did in previous years, but it's worth noting that the Steelers are winning a games a little closer than they really should, too.  

As in previous years, the Cowboys need to shore up their defense, which is by an account mediocre.  They allow 4.1 yards per carry rushing (the league average is 4.2 yards), and their yards per attempt allowed passing is 7.0 (league average is 7.0).  They're slightly better than average in sacks with 20, behind only 10 teams in the league, keyed by DeMarcus Ware (5.0), Jay Ratliff (4.0) and Victor Butler (3.0).  But this is the same formula that Dallas employed last year: good number of sacks, not much else to differentiate them.  

They'll need to work on the defense to start clicking the way the offense is again, and they have to hope that neither the Eagles nor the Giants wake up.  Even if they do get to the playoffs, quarterback Tony Romo has to prove he is capable of playing in December and January without choking, as his claim to fame so far has more to do with fantasy football than playoff football.  

Quality Wins: Falcons 37-21.  Bad Losses: None.  Streak: Won 4.  Next Four: @ Packers, Redskins, Raiders, @ Giants.

The Cowboys remain very much a work in progress and are a tepid division leader, but their chief division rivals just look bad at this point, which could clear the way for the Cowboys to capitalize.  The Packers are in distress, the Redskins are making vacation plans, the Raiders are only great in the sugar plum dreams of the delusional Al Davis, and the Giants have gone into a stall.  Because the Cowboys are not winning games by thrashing their opponenets, I'll chalk them up for a loss to either the Packers or perhaps the Giants, if they can somehow revisve, but a sweep of the next four is not out of the question, and would go a long way to ensuring a playoff berth.   Outlook at the 3/4 Pole: 9-3.
« Last Edit: Nov 13, 2009 at 10:55 by Finnegans Wake » Logged

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« Reply #2 on: Nov 13, 2009 at 10:52 »

Four Teams Teetering

The following teams have shown flashes of being quality teams, possibly even being playoff contenders, enough so that I consider beating one of them a "Quality Win."  But it's close.  Really, really close.  They could all get right back into the thick of things and be playoff contenders, or they could be that team that everyone wonders What happened to...?

In the best of all worlds, my top 12 teams would have six from the AFC and six from the NFC, neatly corresponding to the 12 presumptive playoff teams.  But the final spot in the hallow 12 goes to the Houston Texans, who edge out the best NFC teams in the next quadrant because, frankly, they're playing more consistent football.  The twelve best are in, with a discussion of playoff odds to follow.

9. Baltimore Ravens, 4-4. Some teams are becoming their own antithesis and finding new strength from that (the anti-Broncos, the anti-Bengals).  And then there's the Ravens, or should I say, the anti-Ravens.  Oh, not to worry, they're still the same bunch of loudmouth thugs we all know and love.  But suddenly, the team identity -- brash, unyielding defense, a grind-'em-out running game, and just enough passing not to put everyone to sleep -- is gone.  As Joe Flacco was being chased around the backfield for a couple of game-ending sacks against the Bengals last week, I could have sworn he was wearing a tutu.

The Ravens have 17 sacks so far, tying them with the Bills, Buccaneers, Raiders, and Niners.  Only nine teams allow more passing yards per attempt (7.5), but at least they remain stout against the run: they allow the second fewest yards per carry (3.5) and are sixth in overall yards allowed (759).  This is more than a defense that has gotten older -- the graying has been going on for some time, but like the Steelers and their aging defense, the Ravens have always found a way to make needed replacements from within their organization.  It's about more than losing defensive coordinator Rex Ryan -- they've lost Ryan, but also Mike Nolan, and Marvin Lewis, without any appreciable decline.  And it's not just the fact that braying ass Bart Scott followed Ryan to the Jets -- the Ravens have lost other top players to free agency, like Adalius Thomas.

One problem is the secondary.  Domonique Foxworth and Fabian Washington at the corners are castoffs from the Broncos and Raiders, respectively, and they (along with Fred Walker) have been picked on.  When Ed Reed had Chris McAlister and Samari Rolle, he could afford to be the high-risk gambler.  That hasn't worked with these corners.

The anti-Ravens now have a good but not great defense.  You won't run on them, but you can pass and score 20 plus.  This team has a one of the best young running backs in the league in Ray Rice, but the running game isn't really the identity of this team.  No, this is Joe Flacco's team.  The anti-Ravens are a passing team that wins shootouts now.  There are some similiarities to the Steelers -- both are shifting the offensive focus to the passing game, both stop the run well, both have emergent running attacks -- but the Steelers are also stopping other teams' passers.  

Whatever the diagnosis, the Ravens have been streaky, winning their first three, then losing the next three.   They don't have the swagger on defense that was evident even a year ago.  They're still a tough team to take on in Baltimore, and they were the Steelers' nemesis in the 2008 AFC Conference Championship, but this Ravens team looks like it's forgotten how to take care of business.  Especially after being swept by the Bengals.

Quality Wins: Broncos 30-7.  Bad Losses: None.  Streak: Lost 1.  Next Four: @ Browns, Colts, Steelers, @ Packers.

Ravens will have a pair of home games that will likely determine their season.  Away games at the Browns and Packers should be much easier to handle, as the Browns are an abomination and the Packers can't pee straight right now.  Assuming a split with the Colts and Steelers, which will help the Ravens stay within striking distance of a wild card spot.   Outlook at the 3/4 Pole: 7-5.

10. Arizona Cardinals, 5-3.  The Arizona Cardinals are going to open up a can of whoop-ass on you.  Or you're going to open up a can of whoop-ass on them.  No one knows.  Asked about this on another boring Five Minutes With segment on Pardon the Interruption, Kurt Warner laughed and professed ignorance whether the Cardinals were great or horrible.  Here is my faulty recollection of the exchange:

Wilbon:  Kurt, we can't figure this team out.  One week you look great, the next week not so good.  Do you know whether you're a good team right now?

Warner:  Ummmm... ha ha!... cracker?

Wilbon:  What?

Warner:  Penny-penny-pennysworth?

Wilbon:  Are you having a bad med day?

Warner:  Ha ha, I'm, I uh, we're uh... hey lookie there it's Elvis.

Wilbon: No it's not.  Are you a good team or not, Kurt?

Warner:  [Falls out of chair pretending to be dead.]

Wilbon:  Kurt... KURT!  You're not hearing voices, and you're not dead.

Warner: [From floor.]  Yes I am!  

Wilbon:  No, you're not!

Warner:  Nibbles?

Wilbon:  Just putting together random words so you can avoid my question isn't going to get you off the hook...

Warner:  [Sitting up, shrugging.]  Meh.  Works with Brenda.

You get the point.

Kurt, incidentally, looked like a Yiddish grandma making matzoh soup early in the season, that is, back when the Niners were playing tough-nosed defense and winning games, the running game has been slow to awaken, and Anquan Boldin and Steve Breaston have been nicked up.  But Larry Fitzmotherfucker is playing like the Super Bowl never ended, and Warner's back to slinging the ball again.  

Meanwhile, the Cardinals suddenly are crazy bad at stopping the run, giving up the third fewest rushing yards, and allowing only 3.9 yards per carry.  They're strictly middle of the pack in yards per passing attempt allowed and are bottom-six in overall yardage coughed up, though, so the defense is basically one molded to the shootout.  If they can force the shootout, they can win.

Or not.

But like the Steelers, the Cardinals seemed to be shaking off a Super Bowl hangover with an identical 1-2 start to the season,  and trailing the Niners at 2-1.  Since then, the hard-slogging Niners look more like a dinosaur in a tar pit, with the Seahawks and Rams not even worth mentioning in the division race or any other discussion of football.  Looks like Coach Whiz will have these guys back in the thick of things after all.

Quality Wins: Texans 28-21.  Bad Losses: Niners 16-20, Panthers 21-34.  Streak: Won 1.  Next Four: Seahawks, @ Rams, @ Titans, Vikings.

Vikings are going to be a damned tough game for the Cardinals.  I'll be very impressed if they win that one, even though the passing matchup has some positives for Arizona.  As it is, I think Minnesota is the superior team, and the Cards are just maddening enough to lose one of the other three games that they damned well ought to win.  Outlook at the 3/4 Pole: 7-5.

11. Atlanta Falcons, 5-3.  The Falcons have lost to the Patriots, Cowboys, and Saints.  None of those losses are worth hanging your head about.  But they've also only beaten the Dolphins, Panthers, Niners, Bears, and Redskins.  Not much to brag about, either.

The Falcons are a likeable enough team, with Matt Ryan and Michael Turner driving the offense, and tight end Tony Gonzalez giving Ryan another viable target besides speedster Roddy White.  But the perceived strength of this team is its offense, and frankly they're just a middle of the pack bunch at best, almost the league average in overall yards, yards rushing, yards per carry, and even a little below average in yards per attempt passing.  

On defense, they're middle of the pack or worse.  They're fine against the pass statistically, but verging into the bottom third of the league in rushing yards allowed, which they let go by at 4.5 yards per carry.  That doesn't bode well for the post-season, and it looks like it's going to take some time for this team to really flesh out.  At least in the post-Vick and post-Petrino age, head coach Mike Smith has a developing star quarterback and hasn't had his team deflate.  They're on course for another playoff spot, although they're going to be trailing the red-hot Saints all season.  I can't see this team getting past the wild card round of the playoffs if they do get in, but if the rebuilding on defense begins to gel, this team could get dangerous.

Quality Wins: None.  Bad Losses: None.  Streak: Won 1.  Next Four: @ Panthers, @ Giants, Buccaneers, Eagles.

The Falcons should handle the Buccaneers, who are right now considering who they want to pick at the top of the draft.  The Panthers are not good, but at Carolina in a divisional game, who can say.  I figure either they drop that one, or of Delhomme doesn't pull his usual crap, maybe the Giants find a rebound game.  Eagles are also being schizophrenic, but when their defense is on they are the better team.  Anyway, should be two losses in there. Outlook at the 3/4 Pole: 7-5.

12. Houston Texans, 5-4.  As usual, the Texans looked like absolute slop to start the season, quickly quieting the annual whispers that they might be contenders rather than pretenders.  But the Texans won four of five before losing a squeaker to the Colts, a game they rallied back in and nearly won.  The Texans lead the league in passing yards, and are fifth in yards per attempt.  They're struggling to find a rushing identity, as Steve Slaton appears to have taken a step back in his sophomore year, and he keep fumbling away his (and the Texans') opportunities. 

The Texans' bugaboo has always been on defense.  Despite pouring a ton of draft picks into talented prospects, the results just haven't gelled yet.  They're near the bottom (again) in yardage allowed, and are equally bad agains the pass as the run.  Allowing 4.7 yards per carry is partially explained by the strength of some divisional competition (Maurice Jones-Drew for the Jaguars, Joseph Addai and Donald Brown for the Colts, Chris Johnson for the Titans), but that soggy number would spell almost certain doom if the Texans finally did reach the playoffs. 

But the Texans, or the Colts Lite as I like to call them, have an outside shot at the AFC wild card, especially if the Ravens keep struggling.  They have some real weapons in the passing game, with quarterback Matt Schaub's passer rating hovering near 100, uber-receiver Andre Johnson already at 800 yards receiving, the reliable Kevin Walter the possession man, and Slaton getting some touches as receiver as well.  They'll miss tight end Owen Daniel, but if the Texans catch fire, as they have lately, their various shortcomings may not stop them from getting to the post-season.

Quality Wins: Bengals 28-17.  Bad Losses: Jaguars 24-31.  Streak: Lost1.  Next Four: BYE, Titans, Colts, @ Jaguars.

I'm a bit bearish on the Texans, given the upcoming slate of division foes.  The Titans are playing better again, the Colts are the Colts, and the Jaguars already dealt the Texans a loss in Houston.  While I think their recent consistency makes them a quality opponent and a top-12 team, that could all change rapidly.  Lucky for the Texans, they have a bye week to prepare.  If they manage to go 2-1 rather than 1-2, they're right in the thick of it. Outlook at the 3/4 Pole: 6-6.
« Last Edit: Nov 13, 2009 at 14:31 by Finnegans Wake » Logged

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« Reply #3 on: Nov 13, 2009 at 15:15 »

A Look at the Playoffs from the Halfway Point

The folks at Football Outsiders generate an ongoing set of calculations of playoff odds, and while some of these odds will change greatly over the next eight weeks, we can begin to analyze some emergent trends. 

AFC East

The division is clearly in the Patriots' control, with a two-game lead over the Jets.  Football Outsiders calculates the Patriots' odds at making the playoffs at 94.1%, and 90.0% for winning the division.  They break down the odds for likelihood at winning the various seeds, and at this point the most likely seed is the three seed (23.3%). 

(In a quirk of the percentages, the Patriots actually have a higher percentage chance at winning the four seed, 30.4%, but if the three seed goes to the highest percentage chance team, that calculation becomes moot.)

The odds for the Jets (17.8%), Dolphins (14.0%), and Bills (0.4%) reflect my feeling that those teams have little chance of getting to the playoffs.  The 6:1 odds against the Jets and 7:1 odds against the Dolphins really show that that they would have to turn their seasons around and see the Ravens and Texans and Chargers all falter for the final wild card spot.

AFC North

The Bengals and Steelers are both looking good for playoff appearances: the only question is who will win the division.  Football Outsiders lists the Steelers as more likely (43.4% to 32.4%), but oddly their overall odds of making the playoffs are slightly lower than the Bengals (85.1% to 85.7%).  Whatever.  The Steelers can move into the driver's seat Sunday, although the calculations currently have the Bengals as the team most likely to win the four seed.

(Note: There's something not right if the Bengals have the better chance of winning the fourth seed, but a lesser chance of winning the division.  The only explanation is that the Steelers' odds are better than the Bengals for winning the one or two seed, and worse for winning the three or four seed.)

The Ravens are on the outside looking in at two games back, but the AFC North could field three playoff teams.  The Ravens are the favorites to nail down the final wild card spot (20.2%), and have a 38.2% chance of making the playoffs.  That just edges out the Chargers (34.2%) and Texans (27.9%) in a contentious battle for the caboose.

The Browns have a 0.0% chance of making the playoffs.

AFC South

No mystery here.  The Colts are most likely to win the one seed in the AFC (56.8%), to win the division (98.7%), and to get into the playoffs period (99.4%).  As noted, the Texans' best shot is for the final wild card spot.

The Jaguars have a scant 8.4% chance of making the playoffs, and Tennessee has all of 0.1% chance, having shat the bed early and often.

AFC West

The Broncos are in the familar position of leading the Chargers, but as noted in my team analysis, I think their strong defense and solid running game will ward off a late-stretch fade.  Football Outsiders likes the Broncos to be the two seed (22.6%), and gives them a 88.9% chance of winning the division and a 94.7% chance of making the playoffs.  The Chargers are in that wild card mix, but the rest of the division is awful.

Oakland and Kansas City have a 0.0% chance of making the playoffs, according to Football Outsiders' calculations.

AFC Seeding

1. Indianapolis Colts
2. Denver Broncos
3. New England Patriots
4. Cincinnati Bengals
5. Pittsburgh Steelers
6. Baltimore Ravens

Also knocking: Chargers, Texans.

I'll disagree with that.  I think the Broncos win the division, but slip from the bye position.  I think the Steelers win their division and a two or three seed. 

NFC East

Dallas is in the driver's seat here, with a 91.0% chance of getting to the playoffs and a 32.5% chance of coming in as the three seed.  They're also calculated as 64.1% likely to win this mess of a division outright.

The Eagles show some weird numbers.  They're fighting for the last wild card spot, and are 75.0% likely to make the post season.  But for that sixth seed, their numbers are only 19.3%.  In comparison, the Packers come in at 19.7% for the sixth seed, but only have a 31.6% chance overall of making the playoffs.  I'll give the edge to Philly on that one.

The Giants are a dark horse for the last wild card, at 33.3% even making the playoffs.

Washington has 0.00% chance, as one would expect.

NFC North

It's all Minnesota, baby, 99.7% chance of making the playoffs, 99.2% chance of winning the division, and the 40.8% chance winner of the two seed, only trailing the Saints for the one seed.

The Packers have a 31.6% chance of making the playoffs, which means they are going to be watching the Eagles and Giants very closely.

The Bears had a 2.8% chance before last night's loss; they're effectively done.

The Lions are a proud member of the 0.0% club.

NFC South

Again, not much drama.  Saints have the one seed (57.0%), the division (97.2%), and a playoff spot (99.8%) all in their control.

The Falcons have a good path to a wild card, most likely the five seed (30.7%), with a 58.5% likelihood of making the playoffs.

Carolina (1.3%) and Tampa Bay (0.0%) are out.

NFC West

The Cardinals have really taken charge of this division, and have an 86.5% chance of winning it and an 88.5% chance of making the playoffs.  If they do, the likely spot t the four seed (61.3%).

The Niners are sitting on odds similar to the Jets and Dolphins, with about a 15.0% chance of making the playoffs.  That will likely be a little higher after the win against the Bears, but they still have a long road.

The Seahawks (3.4%) and Rams (0.0%) are done.

NFC Seeding

1. New Orleans Saints
2. Minnesota Vikings
3. Dallas Cowboys
4. Arizona Cardinals
5. Atlanta Falcons
6. Philadelphia Eagles

Also knocking: Giants, Packers

The six seed is anyone's guess, but I'm inclined to think the rest of these ranking stay somewhat stable.  If anyone is going to choke it up, it'll be the Cowboys.

In this scenario, I like the Patriots to beat the Ravens again in New England, and the Steelers to take two out of three from the Bengals.  If the Cowboys hold the three spot, I think they defeat the wildly uneven Eagles in Dallas, and Arizona wins against the Falcons (as they did last year).  No upsets?  Oh well.

That's what the divisional round is for.  Steelers go into Indianapolis and steal a win from the one seed, while the Patriots return to Denver for a rematch and get revenge.  The Cardinals go to New Orleans and lose in the noisy dome there, and the Vikings shut down the Cowboys to seal the one seed meeting the two seed.

For the conference championships, the Steelers win payback against the Patriots in the playoffs that they've been burning for, and the Vikings defense overmatches the Saints offense. 

That makes the Super Bowl a replay of the Steelers-Vikings scrum the Steelers barely won.

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« Reply #4 on: Nov 13, 2009 at 16:00 »


These teams neither qualify as "Quality Wins" if you beat them nor "Bad Losses" if they beat you.  They could suddenly put it together and make a crazy playoff run, or they could swirl around the pot like the turd that didn't go down the first time you flushed it.

13. San Diego Chargers, 5-3.  For all the pre-season hype this team got -- many in the media said they had the best roster, or were the best team "on paper" -- their defense is shit (again), their franchise running back is gimpy (again), and they're hoping every week that the passing game will keep them in it (again).  

They may have a better record than the Ravens right now, but I think the sixth seed slips away from them.  Why?  Because they're just not very good.  In fact, they seem to regress a little every year.  I just can't get over how bad their defense is.  I think they're lucky to be 5-3, and they just seem off.

Quality Wins: None.  Bad Losses: None.  Streak: Won 3.  Next Four: Eagles, @ Broncos, Chiefs, @ Browns.

I don't see them beating the Broncos in Denver, and the crazy ass bitch Eagles may take them out this week.  They finish with the Cowboys, Bengals, Titans, and Redskins, and will be lucky if they finish in the convo at 9-7. Outlook at the 3/4 Pole: 7-5.

14. New York Jets, 4-4.  Has every New York team simultaneously decided to suck, every single week?  The Jets defense looked terrific.  Sanchez was cool under fire.  The running game was a three-headed monster.  Rex Ryan had some stomach thingey and wasn't an enormous pile of goo.  What happened?  The defense is giving up 30 to the Dolphins -- twice!  Sanchez is crying and eating hot dogs!  Leon Jackson is done for the year!  Rex Ryan is a fat fucking hog again!  

It's going to be tough for them to get back to their early season form.  Will they do it?  No, not really.  I mean, they'll give Jets fans this little inkling of hope here and there, but it will all be an illusion.

Quality Wins: @Texans 24-7, Patriots 16-9  .  Bad Losses: @ Dolphins 27-31, Bills 13-16,  Dolphins 25-30 .  Streak: Lost 1.  Next Four: Jaguars, @ Patriots, Panthers, @ Bills (Toronto).

See, two wins, two losses, illusion.  Like the fat chick at the bar, after beer goggles?  OK, I have no clue who they're going to win or lose to, and no one else does.  But that pile of dreck had better yield two wins, or the Jets should just shoot themselves.  More than that?  Don't get your hopes up.  Outlook at the 3/4 Pole: 6-6.

15. Philadelphia Eagles, 5-3.
 The Eagles are like that crazy assed motherfucker walking down the street talking to himself loudly.  One second he's kicking your head in for no reason except that he's crazy, the next second he's lying in the gutter getting pissed on by a dog.  The Eagles have mad talent on the offensive side of the ball, especially with the wideouts Jackson and Maclin.  Finally.  Finally!  McNabb, though, is doing his age-old trick of losing time to injury, the line must have been clandestinely swapped with the Steelers line of 2008, and the defense forgets whether to dominate or stay at home watching Lifetime.

Crazy, crazy motherfuckers.

Didn't we go through this same shit last year with these dickweeds?  Oh well, they're probably just good enough to win the last wild card spot again this year.

Quality Wins: None.  Bad Losses: @ Raiders 9-13 .  Streak: Lost 1.  Next Four: @ Chargers, @ Bears, Redskins, @ Falcons.

I have a feeling they knock the Chargers' teeth in.  Then they're due for a stupid loss again, either the Bears or (heaven forfend) the Redskins.  That will piss them off and they'll beat the Falcons.  Three wins boosts the Eagles' ugly asses to contenders again, barely.  These freaks really piss you off though.  Outlook at the 3/4 Pole: 8-5.

16. New York Giants, 5-4.  And you thought the Eagles were schizo.

How do you win five straight, looking like champs, then lose four straight, looking like chumps?  Will the Giants win a game?  Ever?  They have that same weird funky smell of something that spent too much time hiding in the back of the fridge that the Titans had, and unbelievably bad stench. You mean to tell me this delicious gourmet meal I had four months ago is now this parcel of walking death?

The Giants had enough depth at defensive line to field two pro teams.  They're another franchise whose consistency and ability to develop talent has resulted in quality year in and year out.

So what the fuck is wrong with the Giants?

Frankly, I'm surprised that coach Tom Coughlin hasn't rallied these bitches.  Oh sure, Eli Manning is showing that he's only in the conversation with Ben Roethlisberger by happy accident of his being drafted the same year, not from any overabundance of talent.  The defense has had key injuries, notably safety Kenny Phillips.  And none of the losses was to teams we would consider ridiculously bad, as was the case with Philly's 9-13 diaper smear in Oakland.

These Giants are now officially desperate.  I still think that if the Giants can turn the season around, they have a better shot than the Eagles.  But I also think there's less a chance that they turn it around.

Prove me wrong...

Quality Wins: @ Cowboys 33-31.  Bad Losses: None.  Streak: Lost 4.  Next Four: BYE, Falcons, @ Broncos, Cowboys.

I'm finding more than one win here a real reach.    Outlook at the 3/4 Pole: 6-6.
« Last Edit: Nov 13, 2009 at 17:48 by Finnegans Wake » Logged

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« Reply #5 on: Nov 13, 2009 at 18:30 »

The Final Four

You can argue that some inclusions into the top 12 are shaky.  You can argue that some of the purgatory teams are, well, hellishly bad.  But I feel pretty confident with the groupings, distinct tiers of four teams each, and don't think any of the teams to follow belong any higher ranked than they are. 

In fact, I find the bottom four tiers -- fully half the league -- so fucking horrendous, that there's little point in doing any kind of witty repartee, strained analysis, or desperate ways to shoehorn massive suckiness into minute playoff hopes.

These teams suck.  Each and every one of them. 

The Fresh and Steamy Turds

17. Jacksonville Jaguars, 4-4.  I believe Jack del Rio is made of Spam.

18. Green Bay Packers, 4-4.  These guys have to be one of the biggest disappointments of the year.  You've beaten the Bears, the Rams, the Browns and the Lions.  You lost to the Buccaneers.  You have all that talent, and yet you suck.  Fuck you.

19. San Francisco Forty-Niners, 4-5.  Oh, it was a game for the ages, if the ages are ages of unending crap.  You were evenly matched against the Bears and managed the narrow win.  Hint: that's not the good news.

20. Chicago Bears, 4-5.  How in the world did we lose to these bastards?  Jay Cutler had thrown, I dunno, only one or two of his five picks last night, and he's sitting on the bench looking like he's totally given up.  Body language slack, expression uninterested, just grabbing his orange little cap and wondering when he can punch out. 

I know Jay has diabetes and it's a serious illness.  He looked for all the world like someone whose decision-making and energy are fuzzed because their blood glucose is all whacked.  Maybe Jay had some gin and a few dozen Snickers bars before the game.  I kept envisioning him in about seven years, well out of the game, in some hayseed backwater spending his days fishing, bloated beyond recognition.  Flannel shirt, baseball cap, slits of eyes peeking through folds of facial fat, no one recognizing him as he buys bait and sandwiches and soda.  He looks old now.  Just wait until he's old.
Four That Fucked Up

21. Miami Dolphins, 3-5.  An irredeemable early hole.  Henne better than Penny at this point.  The Wildcat is really annoying.

You've surrendered 204 points thus far.  The Cleveland Browns have surrendered 209.  The Cleveland fucking Browns, man.

22.  Carolina Panthers, 3-5.  You signed Jake Delhomme to an extension.  After that Cardinals game.  You deserve to suck.

23. Seattle Seahawks, 3-5. Keep crying about Super Bowl XL.  It's about all you have to live for these days.

24. Buffalo Bills, 3-5. Wow, signing TO really provided that spark this team needed.  Defense is all busted up again.  Bills lost to the Browns, for the love of all that's holy.  Did almost -- almost --  beat the Patriots.  That would have been nice.  Kind of like winning any one of those four Super Bowls in the 90's would have been nice. 
OK, I'm Losing Patience Here

25. Tennessee Titans, 2-6.  So good last year you figured you'd spot the league six games?  What happens when Vince Young starts losing, too?

26. Washington Redskins, 2-6.  Could anything suck worse than working for Danny Snyder?

27. Detroit Lions, 1-7.  Call me crazy, but I think the Lions have some talent.  Maybe they'll be good in, like, five years?

28. Oakland Raiders, 2-6.  OK, working for Al Davis might suck worse than working for Danny Snyder.

As Bad as Hollywood Cataclysm Movies, or the Cataclysms they Purport to Depict

29. Kansas City Chiefs, 1-7.  At -79, the best point differential of the bottom four -- by far!

30. St. Louis Rams, 1-7.  Not to worry!  You're in the hands of Kyle Boller, the Baltimore Ravens all-time passing yards leader!

31. Tampa Bay Buccaneers, 1-7.  Rookie quarterback Josh Freeman is undefeated as a starter!

32. Cleveland Browns, 1-7.  Three starters at quarterback since the season began, and two of them have been Brady Quinn.  Well, at least Eric Mangini can't live forever.

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Have a cup o' joe.

« Reply #6 on: Nov 14, 2009 at 22:42 »

Great stuff as usual Finny.  I hope to finish reading it in time to begin your post season recap.   Grin

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« Reply #7 on: Nov 15, 2009 at 10:20 »

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