I feel like last week did as good of a job as any at separating the contenders from the pretenders. So I did a new power rankings
32. Carolina Panthers (1-9) – My favorite Tweet from Sunday’s games came from @fauxjohnmadden: “UFC champion Georges St. Pierre could play quarterback better than Brian St. Pierre.”
31. Cincinnati Bengals (2-8) – I really can’t believe there hasn’t been a TO-Ocho blowup yet. We had a mini one with Owens, but something truly wonderful is going to happen at any time. Stay tuned.
30. Arizona Cardinals (3-7) – Unless the Cardinals get a quarterback soon, Larry Fitzgerald is going to turn into Kevin Garnett circa 2001. Except less of a douche bag.
29. Denver Broncos (3-7) – Of all the coaches on the hot seat, why is nobody mentioning Josh McDaniels? Think about how quickly he’s driven this franchise into the ground. Remember that the Broncos traded Peyton Hillis to the Browns for Mike Bell before the season started. MIKE FREAKING BELL!
28/27. Buffalo Bills/Detroit Lions (2-8) – I’m combining these two because I’m confident they both deserve to be here but don’t know which one is better. These might be the two best, most unlucky 2-8 teams in NFL history.
26. San Francisco 49ers (3-7) – Is it crazy to think this team could still win the NFC West? Maybe a little.
25. Minnesota Vikings (3-7) – Cue the “Frazier has rejuvenated this team! Favre likes Frazier! Look how much fun he’s having! This team looks like they’re enjoying the game again!” headlines.
24. Dallas Cowboy (3-7) – See above, except replace Frazier with Garrett.
23. Houston Texans (4-6) – With Childress and Phillips gone, McDaniels and Gary Kubiak are the current “most likely to be hired next” titleholders.
22. Tennessee Titans (5-5) – This team gets dropped below a few with worse records for one reason: Rusty Smith.
21. Cleveland Browns (3-7) – I’m convinced the Browns are going to win this season’s award for “team that makes late season surge, leading to pundits anointing them as next season’s sleeper, leading to them stumbling horribly next season because of the pressure.” Or for short, the “San Francisco 49ers and Houston Texans” award.
20. Miami Dolphins (5-5) – Maybe this ranking is too high because of Tyler Thigpen. In fact, it probably is.
19. Washington Redskins (5-5) – The most confusing team in the league. Easily.
18. St. Louis Rams (4-6) – The Rams are the Browns’ closest contender for the award previously mentioned.
17. Seattle Seahawks (5-5) – I have to put them here because ranking an NFC West team higher than 17 causes kittens to die.
16. Oakland Raiders (5-5) – Sorry, Oakland. It’s San Diego’s year yet again. Some things never change.
15. Kansas City Chiefs (6-4) – I know they’re still ahead of the Chargers in the standings, but raise your hand if you think the Chiefs finish the year in first place in the AFC West.
14. Jacksonville Jaguars (6-4) – The Jags at No. 14 means there are three first place teams ranked 14th or lower in the power poll.
13. Indianapolis Colts (6-4) – This is extremely low for the Colts, but it’s where they belong with the way they’ve played thus far. I still expect them to end up winning the AFC South by 2-3 games.
12. New York Giants (6-4) – The fact that the Colts and Giants are 12th and 13th just shows how much parity is in the league this year. I’m pretty sure both were in the top five just a few weeks ago. But Eli Manning is in a lot of trouble without Steve Smith and Hakeem Nicks.
11. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (7-3) – Bill Simmons puts it best in saying it: Josh Freeman just wins football games. I know their competition has been soft and they’ve gotten blown out by good teams, but right now this is where they belong. When they finish in third behind Atlanta and New Orleans, that is where they will belong as well.
10. Chicago Bears (7-3) – Some may say this is too low for the first place team in the NFC North, but I want you to look at the next nine teams and say there is one the Bears are definitively better than.
9. San Diego Chargers (5-5) – Ridiculously high ranking for a team at .500, but I guarantee the Chargers finish no worse than 10-6 this season. I also guarantee they lose their first playoff game.
8. New Orleans Saints (7-3) – The Saints must be loving the fact that nobody is talking about them. They have quietly won three straight and the defending Super Bowl Champions will be very dangerous come playoff time.
7. Green Bay Packers (7-3) – Defense is playing better than any team in the NFL right now. Worries about a late-season defensive collapse like last season. The week 16 game against Chicago is shaping up to be a doozy.
6. New York Jets (8-2) – The luckiest team in the NFL. I think they are a shoo-in for top two seed most likely to lose its first playoff game.
5. Pittsburgh Steelers (7-3) – The offensive line means they are in real trouble going forward. But no defense is more dangerous come playoff time.
4. Baltimore Ravens (7-3) – This is the year that Joe Flacco sets his place in history as either a clutch quarterback or a guy who can’t get over the hump.
3. Philadelphia Eagles (7-3) – I know Michael Vick is playing out of his mind right now, but let’s not forget who is still coaching this team. I know Eagles fans didn’t forget when the Giants were inexplicably still in that Sunday night game late.
2. New England Patriots (8-2) – I’m waiting for a defensive meltdown. Still waiting… Tom Brady is playing out of this world right now. I know because ESPN keeps reminding me.
1. Atlanta Falcons (8-2) – The only Falcons fan I know in the world is my friend Brad, and I know he’s going to be horrified that I have them at No. 1. Falcons fans just wait for bad things to happen, but right now they’re the best team in the NFL. Side note: How epic would a Falcons-Eagles NFC Championship Game in Atlanta be? Think about it.
Week 12 Picks:
New England Patriots (-7) at Detroit Lions
This has upset written all over it. Too bad I don’t have the balls to pick it. Patriots to win, Lions to beat spread.
New Orleans Saints (-4) at Dallas Cowboys
Vegas is giving Dallas way too much credit for those back-to-back victories. This one has blowout written all over it. Saints to win and cover.
Cincinnati Bengals at New York Jets (-9)
I don’t think they can make this line high enough. Jets to win and cover.
Carolina Panthers at Cleveland Browns (no line)
This has no line because of Colt McCoy’s injury status, but I read about 5 minutes ago that Jake Delhomme is going to start because McCoy is out. You know what that means? Revenge game! Panthers to win outright.
Green Bay Packers at Atlanta Falcons (-2)
I’m torn over this game. And you know what I do when I’m torn? I go with the homer pick. Packers to win outright.
Jacksonville Jaguars at New York Giants (-7.5)
Giants/Eli Manning aren’t nearly as good without Hakeem Nicks and Steve Smith. Giants to win, Jaguars to beat spread.
Minnesota Vikings at Washington Redskins (-1.5)
I’m a firm believer in the “team fires coach and wins next game” concept. Vikings to win outright.
Pittsburgh Steelers (-6.5) at Buffalo Bills
I think we’re giving the Bills a little too much credit for being the sucky team that’s actually good. Steelers to win and cover.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers at Baltimore Ravens (-7.5)
What was that about the Bucs getting blown out against all the good teams they’ve played this year? Ravens to win and cover.
Tennessee Titans at Houston Texans (no line)
Which declining AFC South team is more of a mess right now? I vote for the team that’s starting Rusty Smith. Texans to win outright.
Kansas City Chiefs (-1.5) at Seattle Seahawks
The Seahawks are good at home. The Chiefs are bad on the road. Seahawks to win outright.
Miami Dolphins at Oakland Raiders (no line)
I was just kidding about that whole, being a believer in Tyler Thigpen thing last week. Raiders to win outright.
Philadelphia Eagles (-3.5) at Chicago Bears
This week is a win-win for me. My opponent in fantasy football has Michael Vick. So either: A) Vick does awesome and the Bears lose, or B) The Bears defense shuts down Vick and my fantasy team wins! I’m going with the former. Eagles to win and cover.
St. Louis Rams at Denver Broncos (-4)
I don’t think Vegas has realized yet just how bad the Broncos really are. Rams to win outright.
San Diego Chargers at Indianapolis Colts (-3)
This is the worst possible time for the Colts to play a team that has owned them in the past. Chargers to win outright.
San Francisco 49ers (-1) at Arizona Cardinals
Does this really have to be the Monday Night Football game this week? 49ers to win outright.
Week 11 – 10-6 (10-6 against spread)
Overall: 90-68 (79-76-3 against spread)