Monday, September 24, 2018

2018 NFL Power Rankings-Week three

1.Kansas City Chiefs(up one)-Patrick Mahomes is making team General Manager Brett Veach look genius in lieu of the decision to part with game manager Alex Smith in favor handing the reigns over to Mahomes. 13 touchdown passes in three weeks? That's not supposed to happen to a defacto running back but it doesn't hurt when you have the likes of Kareem Hunt, Tyreek Hill and Travis Kelce at your disposal. Team to beat in the AFC.

2.Los Angeles Rams(down one)-It was an all Los Angeles battle in which the Rams continued their double digit winning ways. A couple reasons for slating them behind the Chiefs. For starters, I fear as if they're beginning to wear down Todd Gurley with over usage and as a prospective fantasy owner of #30, I'm beginning to postulate that he won't be as effective as the weeks progress and secondly the secondary looked like a fish out of water. Marcus Peters ever since the move from Kansas City has yet to find his niche and the reports from the game were that corner Aqib Talib's injury is believed to be serious.

3.Tennessee Titans(up twenty)-The rollercoaster in Nashville continues to undulate as my thoughts on the Titans vastly change from week to week. At 2-1, arguably should be 3-0 but yet each victory hasn't been pristine but it's the tenacity of this group that has me believing. This is not a team who is must watch television, I mean versus the Jags today Marcus Mariota only threw for one hundred yards but is being proficient with the football and isn't beating himself. The counter argument will be that Blake Bortles at quarterback is the equivalent to Derek Stepan in hockey however you can't argue with the Jaguars offensive fortitude up until this week which speaks to a GREAT defence. Kenny Vaccaro who was brought over from the New Orleans Saints has been a rock in the secondary.

4.Green Bay Packers(down one)- The Green Bay Packers without a healthy Aaron Rodgers are frankly a shell of their former selves. This narrative has been a staple of my Packer synopses to date however after a tentative performance in a loss to Washington the reason I chose to not slide the Packers down too far was for that explanation, specifically. Pat Mahomes is beginning to make a case but unquestionably Aaron Rodgers is the best quarterback in the National Football League. His calling card,turning coal into gold with the likes of Davante Adams and Gerinomo Allison. Hands up if you had any familiarity with Allison before the campaign began.

5.Philadelphia Eagles(up twelve)-By his own admission Carson Wentz was largely sluggish against the Colts but just through the sheer presence of Wentz alone it completely changes the complexion of the Eagles game plan. They can be more proactive on the play action because of Wentz's arm strength opening the door for Corey Clement and Wendel Smallwood to showcase their creativity out of the backfield. When I analyze the Eagles I'm reminded of Rich Gannon led Oakland Raider teams from the early two thousands as similar to Wentz, Gannon had limited mobility(don't even try to proclaim Wentz is a good mover) yet could pick apart secondaries with his precision. The enticing component about this group is it's seasoned and knows what it takes to win.

6.Jacksonville Jaguars(up two)-Riddle me this, why isn't SMU alum Courtland Sutton a Jaguar? With all due respect to Keelan Cole and Didi Westbrook, they aren't number one receivers which has me sympathetic to the plight of Blake Bortles. I've ragged on Bortles throughout the years and at most junctures deservingly but the Jaguars regime has done nothing in the way of appropriately supplying Blake a competent supporting cast of receivers. Unlike the aforementioned Cole and Westbrook, Sutton DOES have number one potential.

7.Los Angeles Chargers(unchanged)- A 1-2 team at number seven of these rankings? Look at who they've lost to, the two organizations occupying the top of these rankings. Nothing to be ashamed of at bowing down to the Chiefs and Rams. Even in this afternoon's tilt, they gave themselves a chance. Melvin Gordon will carry most of the accolades but first rounder receiver Mike Williams is beginning to turn heads. Eighty one yards and a couple of touchdowns has provided Rivers with a legitimate dynamic duo amongst he and Keenan Allen.

8.Pittsburgh Steelers(up three)-A couple reasons for the Steelers upgrading to the eighth position. Tenacity. The Steel curtain all week had to hear the noise pertaining to team dysfunction and there's no question many within Pennsylvania deemed this a must win contest and Big Ben and company perservered. Secondly, although they sit at 1-1-1, can you actually see anyone else prevailing in the AFC North? As much as I would love to see the Bengals, Browns or Ravens provide resistance, this Monday night slugfest woke the Black, white and yellow up and to put it blunty, I wouldn't want to be the Ravens next Sunday night.

9.Denver Broncos(down four)-A lot of the water cooler banter from the Broncos perspective was whether or not Case Keenum was invogorating or hindering the Broncos see-saw first two weeks. It's my opinion that Keenum's "struggles" were being overblown and what should really be looked at with a magnifying glass is the offensive line. From what I've seen Keenum has been forced to rush throws not giving ample time for playmakers such as Sanders and Thomas to do what they do best. Keenum is not somebody that is effective when forced to scramble(who is really) so the onus is now on Vance Joseph to refine the blocking schemes to aid this explosive team infront of him.

10.Washington Redskins(up six)-In week one I labelled the Redskins as a darkhorse of mine only to have that hit me like a pile of bricks with how they responded against the Indianapolis Colts. Jay Gruden was quoted on Sunday's broadcast when queried with the identity of his team and he promptly stressed that the mold of the 2018 version is it's smash mouth physicality. I couldn't agree more as when it hauled in Adrian Peterson it reformed it's running identity as Peterson at age 33 isn't the slasher he once was but will still run it down the interior of the defence. It's a terrific compliment as the sheer presence of AP offsets the strength of the receiving core which is breakaway speed and probably not a ton of physicality. I've laid down the inevitable jinx again but remember this on September 24th,2018 when I suffice to say I wouldn't be shocked to see the Redskins in the 2019 Super Bowl.

11.Miami Dolphins(up nine)-I didn't want to do this but at 3-0 with a pivotal divisional contest against the Patriots upcoming, I had no other choice but to provide the Dolphins a lofty ranking. Let's review the week one they were handed a gift against Tennessee and against New York they exploited a turnover laden Sam Darnold. Today was a generally more consistent performance but where I still take issue with Miami is did they really earn the win, or, for a third straight week did Jon Gruden coach his team with a paper bag over his head. My real takeaway from this game is will Gruden be retained for 2019 and not necessarily the excellent 3-0 record.

12.Chicago Bears(down three)-Legion of boom 2.0. This was nearly an unforgivable upset loss at the hands of the Arizona Cardinals however reslience was shown and a comeback was mounted. Early viewings of Mitch Trubisky have taught me the following, he definitely has the arm strength to be a viable starting quarterback in the league however his IQ is coming into question.I'll chalk this up to playing down to the level of the opponent but in summary Mitch needs to put forth a better effort.

13.New Orleans Saints(up thirteen)-Who are the New Orleans Saints? Are they the team that got scorched for eighty five points in weeks one and three collectively? Are they a team that can score at will and eventually their defence will figure this out? Tip of the cap for edging Atlanta but the storyline that will surely develop is how much longer Dennis Allen(D-coordinator) will be given to figure this out. I seem to recall Allen had similar problems when overseeing the Raiders.

14.Atlanta Falcons(down ten)-At the end of the day squared up against the Saints, Matt Ryan exited with a clean stat sheet so where are things falling off the rails? My theory is I'm not convinced that Tevin Coleman can singularly handle the running load and the absence of Devonta Freeman was magnified. Don't take this the wrong way but Coleman is a A LOT more useful when utilized in a Theo Riddick-esque role but when he's summoned to be an every down back, the issues exponate. On a brighter note, Calvin Ridley continues to evolve and as I teased last week this is all welcome news for Julio Jones.

15.Carolina Panthers(down three)-I look back now and laugh that I was so skeptical over the Panthers decision to draft Christian McCaffrey eighth overall in the 2017 draft. Why was I timid over the selection? Well, it's apparent I was late to the party in the sense that the style of McCaffrey, someone who's not a north/south runner whatsoever and specializes in tosses and screens could actually succeed in the NFL, and spoiler alert, it can! The Cincinnati Bengals defence came into this contest with momentum but it was the son of Denver Bronco receiver Ed that put the Panthers in the back with a gigantic win that keeps pace with the Saints in the NFC South.Looking forward to the Panthers-Redskins match is three weeks time.

16.New England Patriots(down three)-The mentoree got the best of the mentor in the Matt Patricia/Bill Belichick battle. The Pats lose again, this time to a much inferior opponent but need not worry fans of the Patriors, they do after all reside in the AFC east. I can't believe I'm saying this but all of a sudden the coupling of the Dolphins and Patriots in week four is a must win game. Lose that one and then I'll co-sign the panic button being pushed.

17.Minnesota Vikings(down eleven)-I harken back to the 2002 Open Championship where sir Eldrick himself, the great Tiger Woods walked into Muirfield the massive favourite only to shatter his tournament hopes by firing a 81 on Saturday. The moral of  the story, everyone is entitled to an off day and evidently the Vikings are no different. What happened to the Vikes today against the hapless Buffalo Billls is unexplainable. Kirk Cousins needs to do a better job securing the football otherwise the Purple and Yellow will  be prone to a multitude of these kind of afternoons. The absence of Dalvin Cook was noticeable.

18.Tampa Bay Buccaneers(down three)-Dirk Koetter has an interesting decision week. At the end of the day, Ryan Fitzpatrick ended up exceeding the 400 yard passing mark for  a third consecutive week however most of the yards came in the fourth quarter where the deficit(temporarily anyway) was rather large. It was a sloppy first half where he transitioned to the Fitzpatrick we used to know that threw a lot of careless balls. At 2-1, the Bucs have passed the litmus test that was the three week audition without Jameis Winston but at the same time this franchise has heavily invested in the former first overall pick which begs the question if they're willing to ride with Fitz at risk of alienating Winston. Not to get overly technical but I felt Fitzpatrick's arm angle was getting too low at the time of release which had a causal effect of too many deflected balls. I haven't seen a gunslinger get that low on release since infamous former Oakland Athletics submariner Chad Bradford.

19.Cincinnatti Bengals(down nine)-Again, and apologies for sporadically bringing in fantasy football gripes but at what point did Tyler Boyd become Andy Dalton's favourite target? It seems as if when the game is on the line, #83 is called over the reputable #18 A.J Green. With the Steelers seemingly in shambles I still view the division title attainable but this fantasy football addict would love to see Green and Dalton re-acquaint with one another.

20.Indianapolis Colts(down one)-Quite possibly my most difficult grading for week three. Why you ask? Well, it's because I'm starting to inquire asto whether or not this organization has hit it's ceiling with Andrew Luck at quarterback. A quality football man in Chuck Pagano lost his job last year over the tire fire collection of quarterbacks he was mandated to send out in wake of Andrew Luck's injury but now Luck is back and (fully?)healthy, I'm not sure if this team can prosper. I think in a round about way what I'm trying to theorize is their's not not a glaring weakness in the organizational depth chart, but yet don't seem to have any budding superstars either. They're stuck in the no-mans land, the Calgary Flames of the NFL if you will.

21.Baltimore Ravens(up three)-In what will amount to a pointless tidbit, I'll point out that former Texas Tech superstar Michael Crabtree has long been a favourite of mine and for whatever reason in every market he frequents he tends to fade into obscurity.Jim Harbaugh was quoted in the lead up to the contest v Denver that he needed Alex Collins to be more assertive. From thirteen yards in week one, to thirty five in week to rising to sixty eight with a touchdown this week, the aforementoned assertiveness was their but is it enough? ESPN insider Adam Schefter reported Sunday that the Steelers are looking to move Le'Veon Bell and I understand hell would have to freeze over in order for the Steelers to trade Bell to a divisional rival but it's worth pointing out the fit exists.

22.Dallas Cowboys(down eight)-The accountability of this group is strong. It's perfectly clear that third year pro Ezekiel Elliott solely through post game scrums has embraced a leadership role with the Cowboys as after the loss to the Seahawks he was blunt in his assessment that he was behind the loss. 127 yards on sixteen carries and unarguably laying claim to being the leagues second best running back is harsh self critique but what I appreciate is he's not satisfied with status quo. I'm still a proponent of America's team but Allen Hurns is fastly approaching bust territory. #wheresdez

23.Cleveland Browns(up four)-Similarly to the Tennessee Titans who in retrospect should be 3-0, ditto applies for the Cleveland Browns. Kicker Zane Gonzalez was the scape goat and also unfortunately why they find themselves 1-1-1 and not undefeated. The more you scour through these rankings, and it's already happened aplenty is I enjoy throwing in different sport references to complete my synopses, so try this on for good measure.... Is it a fair comparison to group the way casual fans view the Browns to that of how the Chicago Cubs were scrutinized prior to their infamous 2016 World Series win?  The Browns beat the New York Jets, not a herculean achievement yet the consensus is it was an inspirational win. That's after one win!! Imagine the hysteria in Cleveland if they were to ever win the Super Bowl.

24.Seattle Seahawks(up one)-I couldn't of been watching the same Seahawks this week hosting Dallas that I saw in last Monday nighter against 'da Bears. First of all, Russell Wilson for the first time all year was engaged in the action and Chris Carson is paving a name for himself in Seattle football lore. Okay, so it's not exactly presenting Marshawn Lynch flashbacks but compared to his predecessor Thomas Rawls he looks like the second coming of Emmett Smith. Additionally, for a player who reportedly was on the verge of being traded, Earl Thomas wasn't sulking, he was thriving. When Earl Thomas is in the Hawks lineup it creates an entirely new identity and while he's lost the majority of his running mates over the last couple years, he's reminding football purists what makes him the games premier safety.

25.San Francisco 49ers(down three)-I didn't like the hire of Kyle Shanahan initially for the fine folks of Santa Clara but their's no denying the fact that the 49ers have been incredibly hampered by signficant injuries, the type of ailments that are near impossible to recover from. As if the loss of back Jerick McKinnon wasn't costly enough now comes word that the team if fearing Tom Brady's former backup, Jimmy Garropolo has tore his ACL.  Shanahan is saying all of the right things to the media but my fear now is once the 49ers inevitably miss the playoffs that they'll give Shanahan a free pass heading into 2019 because the injuries are piling up. It's a fear of mine because I maintain the roster management was flawed to begin with and the injuries are an excuse that won't allow the upper hierarchy to recognize defencicies. The last point on the 49ers is George Kittle is quietly putting together a solid season. The Iowa Hawkeye product has two sixty +yard receiving outputs but I just know fantasy owners are screaming for a touchdown. Will the inclusion of C.J Beathard stymie Kittle's production? One would say it's likely.

26.Houston Texans(down eight)-If Bill O'Brien doesn't start scheming ways to target star receiver DeAndre Hopkins more effectively then tension is bound to brew. As we all know, anytime  a rift between a player and coach festers, the coach is more times than not the fall guy. If he wasn't already, the looming Hopkins feud not withstanding, the 0-3 start has planted O'Brien on the hot seat as for gosh sakes I thought this was the best team in thee AFC. I found Phil Simms thoughts on the pre-game panel awfully interesting as he opined the Texans best part ways with former first overall pick Jadeveon Clowney. Do I agree? Not totally as it's abundantly clear Clowney may never live up to his former first overall billing but he's not the reason behind the atrocious start, heck he was a Pro Bowler in 2017. The part of Simms surmization that I can partially cosign is maybe it's time, similarly to what I was hinting at in my Colts analysis you move on because his presence as a core player isn't pushing Houston to the forefront.

27.New York Giants(up two)-What's being shoved down our throats repeatedly is this notion that rookie running back Saquon Barkley has maturity beyond his years but again I'LL repeat that I'm not seeing a superstar running back. A good running back is the cap. What aided Saquon's stat line today was the early lead the G-men got off to which caters to a running back being the focal point of the offence in the second half. As opposed to laying the credit on Barkley, I'll instead give kudos to that offensive line. The Giants made the controversial off-season decision in packaging out University of Regina grad Brett Jones to the Minnesota Vikings due to having sustainable depth and so far the decision hasn't bit them as the O-line has been every thing as advertised and them some. 33 year old John Greco has earned a spot on Broadway after that performance.

28.Oakland Raiders(down seven)-Two years ago many people, including myself were convinced the Oakland Raiders were on a Super Bowl trajectory, at the very least on a path to perenially contend for AFC championshipss. O, how the mighty have fallen. Jon Gruden was lured from his Monday Night football gig to lead the Raiders to the promised land but those promises aren't currently being cashed in. He's an egotistical coach that would rather lose and have it done his way as opposed to win in a more structured team environment. Everyone is pondering how this perceived rift amongst Gruden and Reggie McKenzie will end but if the Raiders finish 2-14,3-13, are we sure Gruden isn't a one and done? With how maligned the performance of Jason Witten performance has been on MNF, a return to the booth may be in store.

29.Detroit Lions(up one)-What strikes me about Detroit, more so then Matt Stafford hucking the pigskin seemingly forty time a game is the two headed monster in the backfield with LaGarrette Blount and Kieran Johnson. Part of the transition when Patricia took over the reigns was shifting the Lions from a completely pass-centric attack to a more  balanced, innovative strategy and that suits the running backs just fine as in previous years the RB's were decoys at the best of times. Blount's threat to pound inside backs off the lineman which allows the more verstatile Johnson to locate the holes and grind out significant yardage. I considered ranking the Lions a bit higher but what held me back is the absence of an actual number one receiver.

30.Buffalo Bills(up one)-The defence evidently got an earful after another embarassing loss to the Los Angeles Chargers. It was a put up or shut up week three tilt v the Vikings and another snooze fest would've silenced any semblance of hope in the Bills locker room but the Bills rallied around Josh Allen, in particular Stanford DE Trent Murphy was exceptional wreaking havoc for Kirk Cousins all day long. Some will suggest the trademark of the game was Cousins' inability to secure the football but credit the ferociousness of Murphy and the rest of that Bills D. Myth has it that things are currently so happy go lucky in the Bills locker room and Vontae Davis was seen in the locker room talking to Sean McDermott post game.

31.New York Jets(down three)-It's  been a well known fact for a while now that quarterback Sam Darnold was turnover privy while a member of the USC Trojans and even at the NFL draft the Jets General Manager was asked if that was considered prior to the Darnold selection for which was quickly shut down. In week one he shredded the Detroit secondary but since then he's reverted back to his collegiate ways which has Jet fans panicking. My take personally is Darnold looks lethargic in the pocket and when you watch some of the other younger quarterbacks play, Josh Allen and Mitch Trubisky to name a couple, at the very least they're willing to nix their first read and scramble out of the pocket if necessary. I'm not seeing that in Sam's repertoire.

32.Arizona Cardinals(unchanged)-There's little to say about the Cardinals, they're just an awful football team. As mentioned earlier, rumours have run rampant that Le'Veon MAY be on the move but what I'll pose, is a very serviceable running back in David Johnson who presumably will come cheaper then Bell a better alternative for a contending team. I can think of a handful of teams, the Ravens, Buccaneers, Eagles, Broncos and Falcons(if the Freeman injury lingers) that could be logisitcal fits. Something has to give as I wouldn't want this group playing CFL teams at this juncture.

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