Wednesday, October 1, 2014

NFL Quarter Pole Power Rankings: Part 2 - Party Like It's Not The Late 90's

Comin Atcha Like Dark Horses


13) Kansas City Chiefs (2-2)
12) San Francisco 49ers (2-2)
11) Chicago Bears (2-2)
10) Green Bay Packers (2-2)
9) Detroit Lions (3-1)
8) Indianapolis Colts (2-2)
7) Baltimore Ravens (3-1)

Since the aforementioned Tennessee stinker in week 1, the Chiefs have passed the smell test. A very credible loss in Denver in week 2 and now two straight blowouts over joke AFC East. They look very dangerous going forward and their city clearly has some special sort of mojo going on right now.

The 49ERS might actually be even weirder than the Giants so far this year. That Philly game on Sunday and the resulting media backlash to their pick-your-adjective locker room alone might be enough but they also have that bizarre 4th quarter collapse to open their new stadium, an even more bizarre complete offensive no show in Arizona and the most (okay maybe the least) bizarre of all - Tony Romo gifting them a week 1 blowout. Like Jim Harbaugh's job status, who the hell knows?

The Packers looked a hell of a lot more than one spot better than the Bears on Sunday but as I took great pains to explain, Green Bay ALWAYS wins in Chicago. That aside, the Packers looked as dreadful as the Bears did on Sunday in their two losses and they needed a furious comeback to beat the worst team in the AFC East at home (yes, I know the Bears lost at home to EJ Manuel BUT STILL.)

Even more impressive than the Lions 3-1 start is that they've done it with Calvin Johnson on a milk carton. But there was that Carolina loss and only beating the Jets by a touchdown is kind of like a loss.

The Colts had a opening night revenge loss in Denver and a second half collapse allowing the Eagles to storm back on Monday Night in week 2. On the flip side of the coin, their wins are over the two dregs of their division, even if they dominated both. Andrew Luck is the best player in fantasy football so far this season, which means the offense is humming and these guys are a huge threat going forward.

As for my Ravens, they lost to the best team in the league in week 1 but have dominated their last two home games (albeit against poor competition)....but they were very unimpressive in their one road game thus far, trading the lead back and forth with Cleveland before Justin Tucker won it at the buzzer. Truthfully, I have them above the Colts because fuck you Kraft family. No, I'm not hyperlinking anything on that one.

The Early Favorites

6) Philadelphia Eagles (3-1)
5) Denver Broncos (2-1)
4) Seattle Seahawks (2-1)
3) San Diego Chargers (3-1)
2) Arizona Cardinals (3-0)
1) Cincinnati Bengals (3-0)

Philly's had a wild season thus far, haven't they? Down 17 at the half at home to the Jags in week 1 before winning by 17. Down 14 in the second half in Indy before a Cody Parkey field goal at the horn gave them the win and their first lead all night. Then the REDACTEDs game happened - the early leader in the clubhouse for wildest game of the season. Then their defense and special teams score 21 in the first half in Santa Clara before the Niners came back to give them their first loss. Here's what we know - the offense is really good and has arguably more weapons than any other in football. The defense is shaky. The special teams is explosive but erratic. And they still have 5 more division games to go which means we're still in the opening act of this epic drama.

Last year's Super Bowl participants are getting a bit of benefit of the doubt....but both also have decisive, credible week 1 wins, played an excellent overtime game against each other and close, credible road losses as their only blemishes.

Denver's close, credible road loss was to Seattle. Seattle's was to San Diego. The Chargers are actually the best team in football if you subtract their fourth quarter in week 1. But as much as they wish they could, they can't and as it stands, the Cardinals came back to beat them in that last game of week 1 and Arizona hasn't lost since, notching good wins at the Giants and against the 49ers. Their quarterback since week 2 has been Drew Stanton, who literally hadn't done anything noteworthy since leading the largest comeback in college football history EIGHT YEARS AGO. Oh and Andre Ellington's been banged up, Larry Fitz hasn't done a damn thing and Mike Floyd hadn't either until he had 5 catches for 114 yards against San Francisco. This is a complete football team with a dominant defense that has EVERYONE stepping up.

But they're not the best team in football. That's....the Cincinnati Bengals? What? Yep. Best point differential in the league despite playing a game less than just about everyone else sums it up. Already won their toughest divisional game - @Baltimore - in week 1. As I already mentioned, they totally dominated Atlanta in a game that wasn't as close as the 24-10 final indicated. Then they gave the Titans their worst loss of the season in week 3. Oh and AJ Green hasn't even been 100% most of the season. Luckily, Giovani Bernard looks to be making The Leap and rookie Jeremy Hill has taken over for BenJarvus Green-Ellis IMMEDIATELY. Seriously, they've only given up 33 points all season. Again, one less game played....but nobody else in the AFC has given up less than 60. As I already said, they'll probably lose in Foxboro on Sunday Night because that's what the Patriots do and this is the NFL but even if/when that happens, that won't change that they're clearly the best team in football in my eyes.

Rankings will be updated - and likely greatly modified - after week 8/9. Until then, let the madness continue.

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