Meadow Muffins of the Mind

The droppings of some guy's imagination.

Tag: New England

2011 NFL Power Rankings #7

With Green Bay taking its bye week this week, the focus was on some of the other teams, especially San Francisco and whether it could retain it’s surprising to say the least status in the Top 5.  Sure, Cleveland was not a great opponent, but still required work.  Moreover, the Eagles on Sunday night delivered a stern message, that does not show in the rankings yet, but could be a harbinger down the road … maybe.  Without further ado.  As always, teams are compared on RPI (with a road win component), record vs good teams, record vs common opponents, head to head and adjusted scoring margin.

Rank Team W L RPI Margin PairWins
1 Packers 7 0 0.743 (1) 15.367 (2) 30
2 49ers 6 1 0.678 (2) 15.838 (1) 30
3 Bills 5 2 0.657 (4) 15.03 (3) 29
4 Ravens 5 2 0.616 (7) 13.132 (5) 27
5 Lions 6 2 0.63 (6) 13.54 (4) 27
6 Patriots 5 2 0.664 (3) 12.086 (6) 26
7 Bengals 5 2 0.607 (8) 8.084 (11) 23
8 Saints 5 3 0.594 (9) 8.483 (10) 23
9 Steelers 6 2 0.64 (5) 7.721 (12) 22
10 Texans 5 3 0.554 (13) 10.402 (7) 21
11 Bears 4 3 0.53 (17) 9.254 (8) 19
12 Falcons 4 3 0.576 (10) 5.628 (15) 19
13 Chiefs 4 3 0.557 (11) -1.137 (24) 18
14 Jets 4 3 0.532 (16) 6.487 (13) 17
15 Raiders 4 3 0.543 (15) 1.589 (16) 17
16 Chargers 4 3 0.553 (14) 1.066 (18) 15
17 Titans 4 3 0.508 (19) 0.979 (20) 13
18 Bucs 4 3 0.523 (18) -0.321 (22) 13
19 Cowboys 3 4 0.494 (21) 5.699 (14) 12
20 Giants 5 2 0.556 (12) 0.994 (19) 12
21 Eagles 3 4 0.496 (20) 8.863 (9) 11
22 Redskins 3 4 0.442 (22) -1.191 (25) 9
23 Jaguars 2 6 0.347 (27) -0.355 (23) 7
24 Broncos 2 5 0.399 (25) -3.636 (28) 7
25 Seahawks 2 5 0.408 (24) -2.449 (27) 7
26 Vikings 2 6 0.376 (26) 1.112 (17) 6
27 Browns 3 4 0.425 (23) -4.376 (29) 4
28 Panthers 2 6 0.313 (28) 0.851 (21) 4
29 Rams 1 6 0.302 (29) -8.356 (31) 3
30 Cardinals 1 6 0.268 (30) -2.349 (26) 2
31 Dolphins 0 7 0.235 (32) -4.913 (30) 0
32 Colts 0 8 0.248 (31) -10.517 (32) 0

The team making the strongest statement is Cincinnati, shooting up to a very impressive 7th.  Much of it is on the back of an NFC West oriented schedule, the same one the rest of the AFC North has, but their defense has been wonderful all season.  They are not going to go away – though I don’t see a 12-4 season in them either.  The Patriots, after being thumped by the Steelers, plunge to 6th – and really until the defense gets fixed, they don’t deserve much better.

Schedule quartiles:

Toughest schedules (opponent’s record, avg RPI)

  1. Bills (27-15, .555)
  2. Lions (27-22, .551)
  3. Raiders (25-18, .546)
  4. Falcons (25-19, .546)
  5. 49ers (25-18, .545)
  6. Bears (27-19, .541)
  7. Cowboys (24-19, .540)
  8. Patriots (24-19, .535)

Easiest schedules

  1. Steelers (22-29, .468)
  2. Chargers (18-25, .466)
  3. Titans (20-26, .463)
  4. Panthers (22-29, .460)
  5. Browns (17-26, .457)
  6. Redskins (16-27, .436)
  7. Cardinals (19-26, .433)
  8. Giants (13-29, .414)

NFL Power Rankings – Week 13

With the schedule getting harder and the results getting bigger, it’s time for some blatant homerism … as always, this is a combination of scoring margin and opponents scoring margin.

Rank Team W L T Margin Sched Rtg SOS Rank Last Wk
1 Patriots 11 2 0 15.224 3.455 3 1
2 Steelers 10 3 0 12.302 3.513 2 3
3 Packers 8 5 0 11.766 1.401 23 2
4 Falcons 11 2 0 10.898 2.167 13 4
5 Chargers 7 6 0 10.693 1.539 20 6
6 Eagles 9 4 0 9.031 2.339 12 5
7 Ravens 9 4 0 8.652 1.767 18 7
8 Saints 10 3 0 6.786 -1.484 32 12
9 Giants 9 4 0 6.529 -0.528 29 10
10 Jets 9 4 0 6.426 2.022 14 8
11 Colts 7 6 0 5.951 1.836 16 11
12 Titans 5 8 0 5.491 1.971 15 13
13 Bears 9 4 0 4.108 0.8 24 9
14 Dolphins 7 6 0 3.866 3.443 4 16
15 Chiefs 8 5 0 3.294 -0.668 30 14
16 Browns 5 8 0 3.03 2.454 11 15
17 Lions 3 10 0 3.015 3.63 1 18
18 Raiders 6 7 0 2.802 1.476 21 17
19 Texans 5 8 0 1.944 3.329 5 19
20 Cowboys 4 9 0 1.595 3.191 7 21
21 Bucs 8 5 0 1.38 0.034 27 22
22 Vikings 5 8 0 0.988 2.757 9 20
23 Jaguars 8 5 0 0.63 1.784 17 23
24 49ers 5 8 0 -0.834 0.397 25 28
25 Rams 6 7 0 -0.843 -1.208 31 25
26 Bills 3 10 0 -1.264 2.87 8 27
27 Redskins 5 8 0 -1.328 2.479 10 24
28 Bengals 2 11 0 -2.023 3.246 6 29
29 Seahawks 6 7 0 -3.538 -0.422 28 30
30 Broncos 3 10 0 -4.292 1.554 19 26
31 Cardinals 4 9 0 -6.347 0.326 26 31
32 Panthers 1 12 0 -10.205 1.448 22 32

Some observations?

  • Talk about running a gauntlet.  The Patriots, since the debacle against Cleveland have beaten the Colts, Steelers, Bears, Jets and the better than their record Lions.  This has firmly established them as #1, and perhaps by a margin that will hold the rest of the way.  I don’t think they are the favorites, but hey – makes as much sense as any other I suppose.
  • The Packers remain in the top 3 – although with Aaron Rodgers going out – their prognosis does not look good – well whatever prognosis Matt Flynn portends.

NFL Power Rankings – Week 9

Just when the Patriots seem to be growing, they get whomped by the Cleveland Browns.  The Seahawks show some serious mirage-properties.  The Bengals look finished.  Yep, it’s the NFL wildness.  As always the rankings are a combination of scoring margin and opponents scoring margin against other teams.

Rank Team W L T Margin Sched Rtg SOS Rank Last Wk
1 Titans 5 3 0 13.786 2.942 7 1
2 Steelers 6 2 0 13.03 4.499 3 2
3 Packers 6 3 0 10.734 1.067 20 7
4 Jets 6 2 0 10.097 1.847 13 4
5 Giants 6 2 0 9.004 0.848 21 10
6 Colts 5 3 0 8.97 0.658 23 6
7 Chargers 4 5 0 8.225 1.781 15 5
8 Falcons 6 2 0 8.126 1.501 17 8
9 Eagles 5 3 0 8.052 4.209 5 9
10 Lions 2 6 0 7.917 4.917 1 11
11 Ravens 6 2 0 7.482 1.232 19 13
12 Patriots 6 2 0 7.306 1.837 14 3
13 Chiefs 5 3 0 6.971 0.471 25 12
14 Browns 3 5 0 6.113 4.863 2 21
15 Raiders 5 4 0 5.801 0.634 24 14
16 Saints 6 3 0 5.299 -1.423 31 19
17 Vikings 3 5 0 2.401 2.151 11 15
18 Redskins 4 4 0 2.204 2.329 10 18
19 Bears 5 3 0 1.843 -1.345 30 16
20 Texans 4 4 0 1.656 4.469 4 20
21 Dolphins 4 4 0 1.518 3.33 6 17
22 Bengals 2 6 0 0.134 1.259 18 23
23 Rams 4 4 0 0.076 -1.518 32 22
24 Bucs 5 3 0 -2.166 0.209 28 28
25 49ers 2 6 0 -3.167 0.208 29 26
26 Broncos 2 6 0 -3.619 2.443 9 27
27 Seahawks 4 4 0 -3.998 0.252 27 24
28 Cardinals 3 5 0 -4.579 1.577 16 30
29 Cowboys 1 7 0 -4.768 1.951 12 25
30 Jaguars 4 4 0 -5.069 0.806 22 29
31 Bills 0 8 0 -5.737 2.888 8 31
32 Panthers 1 7 0 -10.036 0.464 26 32

Some of the key observations as the Thursday night schedule starts to heat up?

  • Holy blowout!  The Patriots getting demolished by the Browns sent them plummeting to 12th from 3rd.  I am not sure they are this bad, but they do not have a ton of margin for error as their receivers gel.  That said, the Browns are THIS close to being a good team.
  • Ditto for 10th ranked Detroit.  Another tough loss to a good team.  They are THIS close to breaking through with all that talent on the offensive side of the ball.
  • Dallas and Carolina might consider taking the rest of the season off.
  • Seattle falls to 4-4 with a destructive loss to the surging Giants.  On the surface the loss is not a shock – but could this start the trend of Pete Carroll teams falling down the toilet as the season evolves?

NFL Power Rankings – Week 4

Four weeks in the books, and this past week got some real key results – the Steelers no longer being unbeaten and the Bears being undressed in New York in maybe the worst football game of the season so far.  Add in the Patriots well rounded demolition of Miami, and we get a lot of change. As always, 50% of the rating is average margin of victory with adjustments for home field and diminishing marginal returns (so running up the score has less value) and the other half is the average margin of victory of a team’s opponents in all the other games those opponents play. (i.e. a team’s 3 opponent rating is 50% based on the team’s effort, and 50% on the average margin of the 3 opponents in their other games against the other teams on their schedule to date)

Rank Team W L T Margin Sched Rtg SOS Rank Last Wk
1 Steelers 3 1 0 20.708 10.021 1 1
2 Jets 3 1 0 14.604 1.604 16 5
3 Chiefs 3 0 0 14.278 3.111 9 8
4 Ravens 3 1 0 13.021 8.896 2 11
5 Chargers 2 2 0 12.042 0.167 22 10
6 Patriots 3 1 0 11.479 1.292 20 14
7 Titans 2 2 0 11.271 2.896 11 4
8 Packers 3 1 0 8.854 -1.146 28 3
9 Colts 2 2 0 8.417 -0.458 24 7
10 Falcons 3 1 0 8.354 -0.896 25 2
11 Eagles 2 2 0 5.688 0 23 9
12 Redskins 2 2 0 5.625 5.375 4 23
13 Broncos 2 2 0 4.958 2.708 12 21
14 Cowboys 1 2 0 4.833 2.167 14 13
15 Texans 3 1 0 4.479 1.229 21 12
16 Bengals 2 2 0 4.438 1.563 17 20
17 Seahawks 2 2 0 4.208 2.958 10 15
18 Bears 3 1 0 3.958 1.958 15 6
19 Browns 1 3 0 3.646 4.146 5 19
20 Rams 2 2 0 2.813 -4.313 31 24
21 Lions 0 4 0 0.708 4.083 6 22
22 Saints 3 1 0 0.333 -2.292 29 16
23 Vikings 1 2 0 0.167 -2.667 30 16
24 Giants 2 2 0 -1.75 1.375 19 28
25 Bucs 2 1 0 -2.833 -1 27 25
26 Dolphins 2 2 0 -3.188 1.563 17 18
27 Jaguars 2 2 0 -3.75 5.375 3 31
28 Raiders 1 3 0 -6.938 -0.938 26 26
29 49ers 0 4 0 -6.979 3.146 8 30
30 Cardinals 2 2 0 -9.563 2.5 13 27
31 Bills 0 4 0 -10.688 3.563 7 29
32 Panthers 0 4 0 -13.083 -4.583 32 32

Some observations:

  • The Chiefs are the last unbeaten – amazing.  They bubble up to #3 based on positive results by teams they’ve beaten, the Chargers and Browns specifically.
  • The Redskins probably are not this good.  But their win at Philadelphia paired with the Rams and Texans victories elevated them the most this week.  The Patriots did not have that sort of schedule jump, but their battering of Miami was big.
  • The plunge of the week thusly goes to Chicago after that disgrace in New York.  Add meh performances by Green Bay get you spiraling downward.
  • Despite the close loss to the Ravens, the Steelers hold the top for another week.  No team has played better against a better slate – for now.

Wild Card Weekend and The Divisionals

Full disclosure – I had a previous commitment which precluded me from watching the best (and perhaps, only good) one of the four wildcard matchups – the hellacious Arizona 51-45 win over Green Bay – aside from highlight form.  I expect it will be NFL Network’s game of the week – so some more complete thoughts are warranted then.  Obviously sounded like a great game – if not a great defensive performance until the end – and full marks to Arizona for stemming the tide when the Packers seemed to have turned things around.  As for the rest of it:

Jets 24, Bengals 14 – The Jets continued their physical, mauling defense and stifled the Bengals passing game.  Darrelle Revis is the best cover CB in the league obviously, and the Jets front seven is good enough to not make him defend more than he (or any defensive back) can.  But the offensive side of the ball was where the Jets triumphed.  The Jets have been ultra careful not to expose Sanchez – and they did a great job keeping him from being stuck in “pass when we have to pass” situations.  They remained unpredictable with their running game and used it to give Sanchez some easy throws which he made.  And hey he showed poise.

Cowboys 34, Eagles 14 – The Eagles are an outstanding football team.  They hung 45 up on the Giants very recently, they beat some good opponents, their offense is young and gifted in so many places.  The Cowboys just match up very well with them, especially in the trenches where so many games are won.  The Cowboys just flogged the Eagles up front and the rest took care of itself.  The way the Cowboys have played since shocking New Orleans a few weeks back, they are going to be a very tough out.

Ravens 33, Patriots 14 – A complete wipeout.  The Ravens and Patriots have been different teams all season – the Patriots have been so beaten up by injury and attrition, their lack of depth at receiver was exposed.  Their defense has been below average much of the season.  The Ravens suffered from a lot of bad luck and lot of close losses.  But their upside is so much greater than the Patriots and they played near the top of their form.  This was a physical beat down – and the shocking beginning upset any game plan the Patriots might have had.  Just a sad day in Mudville.  The Patriots Era is not over – not by any stretch – but Belichick (one of his poorer coaching seasons) has some work to do.

So now the iron enters the fray.  The Wild Card memories reek with the bias of recency – and we tend to forget that the reason the teams with byes got them was because they deserved them largely.  Does this mean we will see four servings to the firing squad?

Cardinals at Saints – The Cardinals defense got lit up by a very talented Green Bay team.  The Saints indoors might be even more gifted.  Kurt Warner has proven how good he is when is protected.  Facing a very aggressive Gregg Williams defense, the challenge will be to rob Warner of time.  Can it happen?  Sure – especially with Anquan Boldin hurt (though he might be available, who knows – either way not 100%).  The Saints ended the season on a 3 game losing streak, including a varsity-free Week 17.  However, the bye, being at home, and their ability to generate speed all bode well.  I admire the Cardinals toughness – this is a better team than the one that stumbled into the Super Bowl last season – but the Saints have too much firepower under the dome.  Saints 34, Cardinals 24

Ravens at Colts – This is not your father’s Colts team.  I am not sure how much I have seen them really light it up.  It is a testament to Peyton’s brilliance that they have not dropped off offensively.  That said, the Ravens defense is good – maybe not as good as they looked against the fossilized Patriots attack, but good.  The Colts though have had trouble exploding at times – though augmented by better defense than normal.  Their first meeting was a 17-15 tight game where the Ravens had 5 FGs, and against a good team you need more TDs.  Colts inside though should have a little better luck.  Colts 24 , Ravens 17

Cowboys at Vikings – Vikings stumbled down the stretch.  Cowboys are surging and riding a nasty physical defense and an explosive balanced offense.  The Vikings, aside from pasting a character-free Giants team, have shown vulnerability.  The size on the inside of their defensive front bodes well against the Cowboys, but the outside defense, I am less certain.  Also Favre has been good at serving up key turnovers against good teams.  There are so many pro Cowboys signs that I should veer the other way and pick a Vikings rout, but the Cowboys have looked so strong.  I will hate myself for this: Cowboys 27, Vikings 24

Jets at Chargers – The Jets defense and blitzing will cut into what the Chargers like doing – throwing the ball deep.  The Chargers will have to be patient, and might have to win a rock fight.  The Jets running game also plays well against a very suspect Chargers defensive front.  And as last week showed, Sanchez can make a play or two if the situations are handled smartly.  That said, the firepower for th Jets is limited with Braylon Edwards being more likely to drop a big play than make one.  The Chargers will struggle, but not enough.  Chargers 20, Jets 10

Happy New Year – NFL Playoffs are Back

With 17 weeks in the book, it is time to offer some thoughts on each of the Wild Card matchups, going in chronological order:

However first of all, some comment on the Wes Welker injury.  It happens – first quarter, guy makes a cut, untouched, season over.  (or whatever, given how coy Bill Belichick is)  It is tempting to say that this validates the Colts decision to sit their starters and turn their backs on an unbeaten season (not accomplished since the 1972 Miami Dolphins) – which has its eloquent defenders.  The defenses are fair and reasonable.  However, the argument misses a couple of key points:

  • History.  The unbeaten season is historically a fairly big deal – there is a reason that it has not been chased down in 37 years – it’s hard!  No true football fan believes that the 1972 Dolphins are the greatest team of all time.  But they are the one that never lost a game, and so there is immortality.  Maybe the players don’t care – somehow I doubt it.
  • Causation.  The 2007 Patriots did not lose the Super Bowl due to the chase of history.  There may have been stress factors, and dealing with being cast as villains – but really that might have been 2% of the cause.  The Giants were just better once – which is how single elimination tends to work.
  • You never know.  Welker blew out his knee in a somewhat meaningless game.  But it was the first quarter, he was not touched.  Manning could have been hurt in the same manner.  Football is a hard game.  Heck, airplane travel is dangerous – but the Patriots made the trip.  They are not faberge eggs – you hope they don’t go out like this, but it’s a risk with the sport.
  • Customer service.  The teams that DO play preseason games in January should declare their intentions.  Fans deserve (especially paying ones) to watch football.  They already are saddled with 2 preseason games, they should not be forced to buy a third or fourth.

Rant over.  Now to the playoff games:

  • Jets at Bengals:  One of three Week 17 rematches this weekend.  The Bengals did play their varsity against the Jets and the Jets, in a win or else mode, pasted them.  That said, the scenery changes to Cincinnati this weekend.  Both teams have stout defenses and pedestrian offenses, though the Bengals can throw the ball better.  The Jets are trying to keep Mark Sanchez away from having a role in the final result of games, but you cannot hide him forever.  He has star ability and presence, but he is a rookie and has looked like one.  The Jets have the league’s best defense and it’s best defensive player (Darrelle Revis).  The team can run and win bad weather games.  But the Bengals have a little more firepower and I suspect they held back a bit tactically.  Bengals 17, Jets 13
  • Eagles at Cowboys:  This is a little different.  Eagles had a lot to play for – a division title and a bye.  The bye of course increases the odds of winning it all geometrically.  The Cowboys manhandled them up front and won with defense and running.  There is the usual adage about the difficulty of beating a team three times, but the Cowboys physicality makes it hard to pick against them.  Cowboys 27, Eagles 17
  • Ravens at Patriots:  The Ravens are 9-7, theoretically limping into the postseason, like the 10-6 Patriots are.  However, I look at the Ravens 7 losses, and see that they were all to playoff teams except for a loss to the Steelers, and that they were outscored in those games by a combined 38 points.  In other words, the losses were competitive.  Add their second in the AFC +130 scoring margin, and the resume looks more impressive.  The Patriots have a higher scoring margin and 10-6, and playing at home, so they are in good shape, right?  Well, there is the Welker injury, that is one thing.  Tom Brady’s 3 broken ribs and resulting mediocre play is another thing.  They smashed bad teams and played well at home.  On the road their defense seemed not very good, and they had a knack for collapsing facing adversity.  The character seems lacking a bit.  They can beat the Ravens, but I have a hard time picturing it, with the injuries and all.  Ravens 23, Patriots 20
  • Packers at Cardinals: Well the Packers belted them 33-7 this past Sunday.  However, Arizona did play Matt Leinart extensively, and I am not sure how much they cared about the result.  The Cardinals have a true track record now, and this year even have some very big high profile wins.  The inconsistency is there (really the NFC is wide open), but the Cardinals know how to work in big games, especially if the weather is not a big deal.  The Packers with Rodgers can flat out score, and Charles Woodson has been magnificent defensively.  However, their protection has been an issue at times this season and I am not convinced they are ready to win this sort of game – not yet anyway.  Cardinals 30, Packers 27

I Would Be Remiss if I Did Not Mention

my shout out in ESPN’s Tuesday Morning Quarterback!   Thanks Gregg!

Going For it on Fourth Down Rocks …

Just not when the Colts need a touchdown! Aaahhhhh!

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