Tuesday, September 18, 2018

2018 NFL Power Rankings-Week two

1.Los Angeles Rams(no movement)-Let's first preface this by saying I'm fully aware that the Arizona Cardinals are an abomination however by saying that the Los Angeless Rams did what was needed and playmakers Todd Gurley and Brandin Cooks were as advertised. I've mentioned this before but the amount of quality weapons Jared Goff has at his disposal is staggering. A force to be wreckoned with in the NFC.

2.Kansas City Chiefs(up three)-The water cooler conversation revolved around whether heir apparent Patrick Mahommes was ready to take over incumbent Alex Smith and he's quickly proved any doubters wrong.Six touchdowns against an all of a sudden reeling Steelers squad is impressive and what's more is week one standout Tyreek Hill was a non factor until late yet the points continued to be piled on. The skeptics will point to Head Coash Andy Reid's shoddy playoff track record but I'll go on record that Mahommes won't fall victim to the same fate Donovan McNabb did.

3.Green Bay Packers(unchanged)-Aaron Rodgers at 50% effectiveness is greater then 80% of the starting quarterbacks starting in the NFL. The scary part about the Pack is through the first two weeks they haven't played anywhere close to their best football yet find themselves 1-0-1 in what experts deem a difficult opening schedule. What I'll be watching for the next few weeks is can Mike McCarthy get any semblance of a running attack going.

4.Atlanta Falcons(up six)-Patience was harped on in my week one synopsis and as it turns out what the Falcons really needed was more aggressiveness. Once Taylor Gabriel signed on with the Chicago Bears it was extremely important that secondary receiving stepped up and today Calvin Ridley stepped up to the plate, off-setting some of the pressure bestowed on Julio Jones. Also, it's worth noting that after trash talking his way through the 2017 draft, Takkarist McKinley again laid a goose egg and needs to start putting up for shutting up.

5.Denver Broncos(up sixteen)-A narrative that will remain a constant throughout these power rankings is how much disdain I share for Denver however I'll give credit where credit is due, this 2018 version is a fun team to watch. Not too far removed from the Super Bowl the defence receives back to back average grades but this explosive offence has been revitalized under Case Keenum. Emmanuel Sanders is stretching the field and DeMaryius Thomas is back to doing what he does best, use his frame and revert back to being a premier possession receiver.Two wild games but two wins in the Mile High.

6.Minnesota Vikings(up one)-The 2017 playoffs was evidently Stefon Diggs' coming out party and he's carried forward that strong post-season into what's been a sizzling start to 2018. Patrons in Wisconsin are(justifiably) irate over a late game roughing the passer penalty but what Minnesota did in the grand scheme, presuming you're ready to pencil in both Minnesota and Green Bay into the playoffs is create separation from NFC North compatriot the Chicago Bears. This defence was already a top five one but what General Manager Rick Spielman did was take a leap of faith that Kirk Cousins would push this team over the edge and so far so good. They'll have plenty of time to recuperate from this barn burner in next week' bye against the Buffalo Bills.

7.Los Angeles Chargers-Who is the Chargers starting QB and what did he do with the real Philip Rivers? This proficient, disciplined passer can't be the same Rivers I've grown accustomed to watching over the years, can it? The old joke was that Rivers was a double agent working for the opposition for how turnover prone he was. He's certainly turned over a new leaf(Charger fans can appreciate the pun).

8.Jacksonville Jaguars(up six)-Josh Gordon, according to multiple sources, will be officially released from the Cleveland Browns on Monday. I bring this up as when I evaluate the strengths and weaknesses of the Jaguars, the receiving core is an overwhelming weakness. They foolishly allowed Allen Robinson to walk, Marqise Lee is hurt and Donte Moncrief would make Jared Lorenzen look fast. Attitude issues aside, wouldn't bringing Gordon in on an affordable salary assist Blake Bortles giving him more playmakers? It's too much of a fit for it to likely happen.

9.Chicago Bears(up seven)-What a statement on Monday night from Khalil Mack,Roquan Smith and former University of Regina Ram, Akiem Hicks and that Bears defence.  If it wasn't for an epic meltdown against the Packers, Matt Nagy and company should be 2-0 inspite of their quarterback play. Mitch Trubisky got fortunate early in the football game when up I believe 7-3 at the time and in field goal position he threw a ball into the endzone right to a Seattle cornerback which was fortunately dropped. There's tangible upside with Trubisky and the chemistry formed with Allen Robinson has been positive.

10.Cincinnati Bengals(up fifteen)-Many within the industry were left mystified that Bengals management elected to retain coach Marvin Lewis however early dividends would suggest its results have been pure genius. Where the Bengals have impressed me is unlike previous years where the offensive attack was overly structured and predictable, they've lightened the reigns and we've all been privy to a rejuvenated A.J Green. He wants the ball, is catching the ball and has been a nuisance to bring down. Green the last couple of campaigns was slipping down receiver rankings however the ascension back to greatness has begun.

11.Pittsburgh Steelers(down three)-To use a hockey analogy, the 2018 edition of the Pittsburgh Steelers reminds me alot of the 2017-2018 Western Hockey League, Memorial Cup hosts Regina Pats. The Pats like the Steelers were both at the end of their current competitive windows and unfortunately for both respective fanbases were content with just being good, lacking the desire to be great. The Steelers CAN be great. Great QB, great WR in Antonio Brown, respectable o-line but unless they want to settle for mediocrity it's time to play nice with Le'Veon Bell and make the most of what projects to be the last competitive Steel Curtain we'll see for a while.

12.Carolina Panthers(up six)-Cam Newton is showcasing a determination not seen through his entire career, even the magical Super Bowl achievement in 2015. Former teammate Kelvin Benjamin attempted to defame his character and thankfully for Carolina it's been a motivator and Cam has never looked better. I don't put a lot of solace into the week two loss as Atlanta is an exceptional team. Hurricane Florence may serve as a team rallying cry.

13.New England Patriots(down nine)-After week two the Patriots shockingly do not possess the AFC East divisional lead however need not worry supporters of Foxboro as they're assured of six divisional wins as frankly all three of Miami, New York Jets and Buffalo are inferior and time will show this. My biggest takeaway from the New England-Jacksonville was that the offensive line was exposed forcing Tom Brady to rush his throws all afternoon. The Patriots are the masters of bouncing back and will do just that week three against the lowly Lions.

14.Dallas Cowboys(up one)-It's a shame for the fine folks of Dallas that they're stuck with a group of rag tag receivers because when I break down the Cowboys, they don unquestionably the leagues best offensive line, Ezekiel is a heralded running back and that defence through two weeks appears serviceable. Tavon Austin is at this moment the top receiving option! The same Tavon Austin that the St.Louis Rams were forced to endure throughout multiple losing seasons with. Josh Gordon is an option(speculated as per CBS Sports) but failing that a receiver in the 2019 NFL Draft is a necessity.

15.Tampa Bay Buccaneers(up four)-QB controversy in Tampa? One's certainly approaching as the one Tampa faithful are deeming "Fitz-money", Ryan Fitzpatrick has taken the starting quarterback by the bullhorns and I fail to see based off of current performances how Jameis can take back the job when he comes off suspension. Regarding DeSean Jackson, he's renowned as not being the best teammate which sours his reputation amongst teams and media a like but you're not going to find a speedier receiver who consistently makes plays.

16.Washington Redskins(down three)-Alex Smith. Game Manager. King of the screen pass. NFL defences clamour over opposing a Smith led offence because he refuses to stretch the field. Is it an arm strength issue? Perhaps, but at this rate running back Chris Thompson who caught thirteen balls out of the backfield may at some point exceed 20 in a game. This is a talented group,  a darkhorse of mine but the onus is on Matt Cavanagh to draw up an attack that actually works. If he doesn't, he could be an early casualty of this campaign.

17.Philadelphia Eagles(down fifteen)-A lot of the pre-game focus, particularly on Sunday NFL countdown was chronicling the infamous "Philadelphia special" that saw Nick Foles catch a Touchdown pass in the Super Bowl. If the Eagles entire narrative is based off of capitalizing on trick plays, they're in for a long year. Simply put, even after last week's win I was hesistant to rank them as high as I did because frankly, I think the Eagles are one of the weakest defending champions in NFL history.

18.Houston Texans(down twelve)-Admittedly the Houston Texans were my AFC pick in the pre-season but after  a 0-2 start in which they've had two legitimate games, concern has set in over whether DeShaun Watson has mentally got past his 2017 season ending injury. I'm not sensing that same swagger and fearlessness that made him so dangerous in his shortened '17 season. Do I think the Texans are the deepest team in the AFC South? I do but it's a lost cause if Watson doesn't believe in his legs and the team continues to lose confidence in him. Call me crazy but I'd start Brandon Weeden in week three to light a fire under DeShaun.

19.Indianapolis Colts(up ten)-One of my biggest movers from week one to two. Lest we forget how dominant Andrew Luck used to be and although injuries were beginning to pile up, he's healthy now and Colts dismantled a very underrated Redskin club. Tight end Eric Ebron, former Lion has come in and connected with instant chemistry with Luck. It wasn't a move that gained much notoriety in the off-season but it's paid off in spades.

20.Miami Dolphins(up eleven)-Two ugly wins, but two wins nonetheless. The departure of Jay Ajayi at last year's trade deadline opened up an opportunity for Kenyon Drake and he's running with ut. He's a small running back that has no presence in the interior but get him out to the wings and he'll outpower the covering secondary. Sam Darnold had an turnover propensity in college and the fins D took full advantage. The strategy in neutralizing Darnold is sitting back as he has limited mobility and allow Darnold to beat himself.

21.Oakland Raiders(up six)-I struggled where to place the Raiders in these rankings. On one hand, they got beat in the Monday Night opener by the best team in football and were the better team through the majority of the Denver game therefore even at an 0-2 mark, there are some things to get excited about(Jared Cook, Amari Cooper) however unfortunately a lot more to be concerned with, team discipline at the forefront. With the lead late in the fourth quarter, a late hit from Bruce Irvin on Case Keenum is completely unacceptable and with Jon Gruden being a no non sense type of coach it will be interesting to see if Irvin anf Gruden can regain trust with one another.

22.San Francisco 49'ers(unchanged)-If it wasn't for an opposite field holding penalty Jimmy Garropolo would've lost the game for his team throwing an ill conceived slant in tight coverage but luckily for his sake was bailed out by the official. Jimmy G was Kyle Shanahan's big splash at last year's trade deadline but I can't be the only one who thinks he capitalized in garbage time football last season and is an average quarterback.

23.Tennessee Titans(down three)-You're probably inquiring, how does a team win versus a self described quality opponent yet drop in these power rankings? The Tennesee Titans in week one handed the game to the Dolphins by unnecessarily splitting carries with it's two running back and in week two DeShaun Watson's hesistance worked right into the Titans favor. In all likelihood I'm being too hard on the Titans and I remain a cynic when it comes to the competence of Mike Vrabel. It was nice to see Corey Davis break out with a six reception game.

24.Baltimore Ravens(down fifteen)-After week one's thumping over the hapless Buffalo Bill, Joe Flacco reverted to his usual self in the all important AFC North Thursday night clash. That first half performance across the board was abysmal and it starts with the veteran #5. I feel sorry for the city of Baltimore, they've had to put with the Orioles all summer and now after a false sense of optimism, the Ravens are nothing more then a 6-10,7-9 club.

25.Seattle Seahawks(up one)-Offensive coordinator Brian Schottenheimer has openly said he's encouraging Russell Wilson to scramble out of the pocket more frequent and keep the d-line honest which is great other then the fact that in order for that to work one must utilize his receivers at least occasionally. Late in the game, arguably too late Tyler Lockett showed up however in the absence of Doug Baldwin, Brandon Marshall was invisble. The legion of boom has suddenly become the Legion of doom.

26.New Orleans Saints(down fourteen)-What is this team's identity? The offence came to play v the Buccaneers without the defence showing up and the reverse happened versus the Browns. I was a believer in the pre-season but the lack of cohesion from an entire team perspective puts into question it's playoff questions. On a warmer note, incredible sportsmanship showed by kicker Will Lutz consoling the now waived Browns kicker Zane Gonzales after a heart wrenching, disastrous outing.

27.Cleveland Browns(down ten)-Hue Jackson is 1-32-1 in three seasons with the Browns. Shocking. We've seen coaches, most notably Claude Julien get fired when he had led his New Jersey Devils to the playoffs only for him to be dismissed shortly before the post-season began. A Cleveland Browns insider was on the Fan 590 Monday afternoon and eloquently explained the reason for Jackson holding onto the job is because simply it wouldn't be fair to the new coach to come in and inherit this in-season mess. As fair as that opinion may be, the fact is i'm befuddled Browns ownership seems willing to sacrifice yet another season.

28.New York Jets(unchanged)-I feel as if this particular weekly power ranking has been fairly upbeat so instead of pointing out the negatives let's examine a bright spot, and of note to prospective fantasy owners of Quincy Enunwa. 13 receptions with a touchdown has solidifed his placement at the top of the Jets receiving depth chart and with a matchup looming over the dysfunctional Browns, if Enunwa is available in your league, pounce!

29.New York Giants(down five)-I'll make a bold proclamation that will likely see me eventually eat my words but Saquon Barkley, due to a lack of productivity won't be with the New York Giants within three years. Full apologies for sombering the tone of this synopsis but through two weeks dare I say Barkley, while renowned for his football IQ doesn't have the breakaway speed to compete with the upper echelon. At Penn state and pretty much every other Big ten program sans Ohio St they pride themselves on structure and zap out the creativity of it's offensive weapons. The G-Men are in a world of hurt.

30.Detroit Lions(unchanged)-Matt Stafford still hucks it like no other however he should take a page from best friend Clayton Kershaw's playbook. Dodger Ace Kershaw as his career has matured has become a more disciplined, strategic pitcher on the mound knowing when to pick his spots. 347 passing yards v the 49ers is incredulous but it was the two sacks as Detroit was marching down the field that were detrimental especially considering Detroit clawed back late. Again, not to harp on  a narrative thousands of NFL "experts" are, but I thought Patricia was brought in to be a defensive guru but I've seen better defences in beginner mode in EA sports "Madden".

31.Buffalo Bills(down eight)-Sean McDermott finally learned his lession and called upon rookie pivot Josh Allen. I don't blame Allen for the loss against the Chargers as that offensive line is horrific. I've long been a proponent of Allen but let's not forget this was a playoff team a year ago and with the seventh overall selection I pose the question if they were better off keeping Tyrod Taylor and beefing up the O-line with UCLA's Kolton Miller?

32.Arizona Cardinals(unchanged)-The Rams are legit but they weren't exaclty opposing the second coming of Jake Plummer.Sam Bradford as a NFL starting QB is equivalent to Eddie Lack being a starting goaltender in the National Hockey League. People have juxtaposed whether the Cards would contemplate trading star running back David Johnson but it truly won't make a difference. This ball club might go 0-16 wih or without Johnson.

UPDATE:Josh Gordon negates most of my speculation by getting dealt to the Patriots.

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