Oct 092013
 

Rats RankingsWe lost a couple of the unbeaten teams this week, as the Seahawks fell to the Colts and the Bengals bested the Patriots in a defensive struggle. That leaves us with the Broncos, Saints and Chiefs all locked at 5-0. On the flip side, the Giants and Jaguars have both started the year at 0-5, while the Steelers and Buccaneers benefited from byes to stay at 0-4. In the stunner of the week, the Jets outplayed the Falcons on Monday Night Football, while the Raiders got out to an early lead and then held on the beat the Chargers in another relative surprise. Our contributors have been polled, and here are our rankings and questions as we move into Week Six. Last week’s rankings are in [brackets].

1. Denver Broncos (5-0, six first place votes) [1] – Can anyone but the Broncos beat the Broncos?
2. New Orleans Saints (5-0) [4] – Can Drew Brees keep taking a beating and keep on ticking?
3. Seattle Seahawks (4-1) [2] – Still the best team in the NFC?
4. Kansas City Chiefs (5-0) [7] – Will it be the 9-0 Chiefs versus the 9-0 Broncos?
5. Indianapolis Colts (4-1) [12] – Does the AFC South belong to Indy once again?
6. New England Patriots (4-1) [5] – Is that a Gronk sighting?
7. San Francisco 49ers (3-2) [8] – Isn’t Frank Gore amazing when he gets the ball?
8. Chicago Bears (3-2) [3] – Has the inevitable drama involving Jay Cutler begun?
9. Miami Dolphins (3-2) [6] – Does Miami now have two teams to cheer for?
10. Cincinnati Bengals (3-2) [10] – Was this a statement win, or just the rain?
11. Green Bay Packers (2-2) [13] – Ready to roll, or more hot and cold?
12. Detroit Lions (3-2) [14] – Why did they move up? Because reality settled in for #s 16 and 17.
13. Dallas Cowboys (2-3) [15] – Why is it that Tony Romo always manages to kill a brilliant performance with one stupid decision?
14. Tennessee Titans (3-2) [16] – Can they manage with Jake Locker gone?
15. Baltimore Ravens (3-2) [17] – Can they slow down the Packers?
16. Houston Texans (3-2) [9] – Will it be five games in a row for Matt Schaub to throw a pick six?
17. Atlanta Falcons (1-4) [11] – Is Mike Smith trying to coach the Falcons out of the playoff hunt?
18. New York Jets (3-2) [20] – Will the real Geno Smith please stand up?
19. Arizona Cardinals (3-2) [23] – When is the last time the Cardinals won games in spite of their quarterback? Oh yeah… guess nothing has changed.
20. Cleveland Browns (3-2) [27] – Is Brandon Weeden’s return the worst thing that could happen to this suddenly resurgent club?
21. St. Louis Rams (2-3) [18] – Think they are missing Steven Jackson? Yeah, and so are the Falcons.
22. San Diego Chargers (2-3) [22] – With this record, is it like Norv Turner is still there?
23. Philadelphia Eagles (2-3) [21] – Is Chip Kelly wishing the Eagles could play the Giants every week?
24. Minnesota Vikings (1-3) [25] – Is it time to move from one failed quarterback to another?
25. Carolina Panthers (1-3) [19] – They played like that AFTER a bye week?
26. Buffalo Bills (2-3) [24] – Is there a spike in barrels going over Niagara Falls with EJ Manuel injured?
27. Oakland Raiders (2-3) [30] – Is anyone else thinking this team is going to be deadly after they spend $50 million in the coming off-season?
28. Washington Football Club (1-3) [31] – Is that Daniel Snyder’s final answer on the name of his team? This is ours.
29. Pittsburgh Steelers (0-4) [28] – Is this team really going to lose to the Jets?
30. New York Giants (0-5) [26] – How is Eli still standing with an offensive line this bad?
31. Tampa bay Buccaneers (0-4) [29] – Did the bye help, or is this just an extra week between losses?
32. Jacksonville Jaguars (0-5) [32] – So what will the Broncos’ team tweets be like AFTER the game?

To be fair to Sharpe, he had a really good question that got preempted by our commentary. For Washington, he asks: “Do they need more French players?” It’s a fair question.

See you next time!

Jun 102013
 

Chip Kelly4. Philadelphia Eagles
Head Coach: Chip Kelly
2012 Record: 4-12
2012 Offense: 280 points scored, 29th in points, 15th in yards (13th passing, 13th rushing)
2012 Defense: 444 points allowed, 29th in points, 15th in yards (9th passing, 23rd rushing)

Key Additions
Head Coach Chip Kelly, FB/TE James Casey, S Patrick Chung, CB Bradley Fletcher, DT Isaac Sopoaga, LB Connor Barwin, LB Jason Phillips, S Kenny Phillips, CB Cary Williams, RB Felix Jones, P Donnie Jones, T Lane Johnson, TE Zach Ertz, QB Matt Barkley

Key Losses
CB Nnamdi Asomugha, T King Dunlap, LB Akeem Jordan, DT Derek Landri, CB Domonique Rodgers-Cromartie, G Jake Scott, DE Darryl Tapp, RB Dion Lewis

Why 2013 will be better
The injury bug took a heavy toll on the Eagles in 2012, and any improvement in this regard will increase the team’s win total. Perhaps Chip Kelly will have a better sense of how to utilize LeSean McCoy, who is one of the most talented running backs in the league, but who never seemed to be the centerpiece of Andy Reid’s offensive scheme. Perhaps Kelly will also be the coach who will get through to DeSean Jackson, and bring out his remarkable potential as well. But if 2013 is going to be more successful than 2012, it will be because the defensive additions will perform to their potentials and not force Michael Vick or Nick Foles to play from behind.

Why 2013 will be worse
Although the Eagles were 9th against the pass last season, they gave up a league high 32 touchdown passes, necessitating an overhaul to the secondary. The trouble is while they brought in Cary Williams from the Ravens, the rest of the “upgrades” in the secondary are unremarkable retreads that may not fare much better in 2013. Plus Williams has stayed away from the Eagles’ OTA’s and doesn’t seem to be off to a good start with Eagles’ management. Add this to the open question as to whether or not Chip Kelly can adapt his offensive approach to life in the NFL, and the eternal questions of how many games one can expect Vick to actually be on the field for, and how many mistakes he will make while on the field, and a repeat four win performance (or worse) is not entirely out of the question.

Outlook
On paper, the Eagles look like a team that will do better than 4-12, but how much better? Vick is not a reliable quarterback in terms of his health or his decision-making. He has fumbled the ball 32 times in the past three seasons, losing twelve of those while also throwing 30 interceptions. Toss in 85 sacks during this span of only 35 games (having missed another 13) and it is fair to say that even the most ardent Eagles’ fan should be cautious in setting on setting overly high expectations for the coming season. A final tally of six or seven wins would be a good improvement for this club as they continue to rebuild their defense and allow Chip Kelly a year to become acclimated with football beyond the college ranks. At least the days of the infamous “Dream Team” are behind them.

Jan 162013
 

Tostitos Fiesta Bowl - Oregon v Kansas StateSo much for staying in Oregon.

Chip Kelly, who was courted by the Cleveland Browns and Philadelphia Eagles but then seemingly decided to stay at the University of Oregon, has reversed course and been named Head Coach of the Eagles.

“Chip Kelly will be an outstanding head coach for the Eagles,” said owner Jeffrey Lurie in the statement. “He has a brilliant football mind. He motivates his team with his actions as well as his words. He will be a great leader for us and will bring a fresh energetic approach to our team.”

It’s unknown if this was solely a monetary issue for Kelly, or if he was influenced by a pending investigation of Oregon’s football program by the NCAA. In any event, the Eagles have certainly landed the most prized coaching candidate on the market.

Jan 022013
 

Broncos-PatriotsThe regular season is over and the NFL post-season is finally here. These will be our final power rankings until after the Super Bowl. This week’s list includes five word or less reactions, which we may keep as our format for all of next season. Enjoy!

 

Week 17 Power Rankings

1. Denver Broncos (13-3, W11, U) – Enjoy the bye week!

2. New England Patriots (12-4, W2, +1) – Defense better than last year

3. Seattle Seahawks (11-5, W5, -1) – No home field hurts

4. Atlanta Falcons (13-3, L1, U) – Are they all that?

5. San Francisco 49ers (11-4-1, W1, U) – Kicking woes are a problem

6. Green Bay Packers (11-5, L1, U) – Need to shore up defense

7. Indianapolis Colts (11-5, W2, +1) – Bright future for Indy

8. Houston Texans (12-4, L2, -1) – Tailspinning into playoffs

9. Washington Redskins (10-6, W7, U) – Character building win over Cowboys

10. Cincinnati Bengals (10-6, W3, U) – Better than advertised this season

11. Baltimore Ravens (10-6, L1, U) – Running on fumes

12. Minnesota Vikings (10-6, W4, U) – Is AP enough?

13. Chicago Bears (10-6, W2, +2) – No love for Lovie

14. New York Giants (9-7, W1, U) – Same record as last year

15. Dallas Cowboys (8-8, L2, U) – Will not win with Romo

16. Pittsburgh Steelers (8-8, W1, +1) – Big questions to answer

17. New Orleans Saints (7-9, L1, -1) – The year they deserved

18. St. Louis Rams (7-8-1, L1, U) – Good foundation for Fisher

19. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (7-9, W1, +1) – Overachievers crashed and burned

20. Miami Dolphins (7-9, L1, -1) – Big cap room for 2013

21. San Diego Chargers (7-9, W2, +1) – Norv’s right; they’re not close

22. Cleveland Browns (5-11, L3, -1) – Fat Jesus was right!

23. Carolina Panthers (7-9, W4, U) – Good ending to bad season

24. Buffalo Bills (6-10, W1, +1) – Canada called; they’re not interested

25. Detroit Lions (4-12, L8, U) – Abysmal defense and inconsistent offense

26. New York Jets (6-10, L3, U) – Start from scratch

27. Arizona Cardinals (5-11, L2, U) – Weren’t they 4-0?

28. Tennessee Titans (6-10, W1, +1) – Chris Who?

29. Philadelphia Eagles (4-12, L3, -1) – Chip Kelly?

30. Oakland Raiders (4-12, L2, +1) – Poor Reggie McKenzie

31. Jacksonville Jaguars (2-14, L5, -1) – Better off in SEC

32. Kansas City Chiefs (2-14, L4, U) – They kept Pioli?