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Friday, 30 September 2011

The Pulling Linemen's Power Rankings: October

For the second month in a row, the
Packers and the Patriots top our power
A new month, a new set of power rankings from The Pulling Linemen. The biggest improvement in rank comes from the still undefeated Buffalo Bills, who rise an incredible 19 places to break into our top ten. Conversely, the biggest drop in the rankings goes to the hapless Kansas City Chiefs, who tumble all the way to last, joining the Green Bay Packers as the only two teams whose rankings were unanimous. Other big movers include the Oakland Raiders (from 26th to 11th), the Indianapolis Colts (from 20th to 30th), the Carolina Panthers (from 31st to 21st), and the St. Louis Rams (from 13th to 22nd), while only the Packers (1st), New England Patriots (2nd), and Tennessee Titans (18th), remain unchanged.

1 (1). Green Bay Packers (3-0) (TD: 1, PG: 1, GS: 1)

While the pass rush from Clay Matthews et al has slowed somewhat in 2011 Aaron Rodgers hasn’t. JerMichael Finley has picked up where he left off before injury in 2010 and looks like a miss-match no matter who you try to cover him with.

2 (2). New England Patriots (2-1) (TD: 3, PG: 2, GS: 4)

The big comeback from Buffalo highlighted yet again the flaws in New England’s defense. They need to get them sorted soon because Brady will sometimes have a non-MVP performance like he did on Sunday. But Welker and Gronkowski. Wow.

3 (4). New Orleans Saints (2-1) (TD: 4, PG: 4, GS: 2)

Darren Sproles is making people quickly forget about Reggie Bush, and while Drew Brees continues to be excellent the run game and defense need work. Especially their tackling, it could really hold them back come crunch time.

4 (8). Baltimore Ravens (2-1) (TD: 5, PG 3, GS 3)
Rookie Torrey Smith
has emerged as a big time
deep threat for the Ravens

Hot one week, not the next. If the Ravens want to take the AFC North away from Pittsburgh they’ll need to string together performances. Can Torrey Smith be the deep threat they’ve needed for so long??

5 (2). Pittsburgh Steelers (2-1) (TD: 2, PG: 5, GS: 8)

Escaped a fired up Indianapolis on Sunday night with a W, and they still have a lot of issues on the O-Line, but Big Ben seems to make it work. The run defense is a worry though, teams are finding it easier than normal to get their ground game working against them.

6 (7). New York Jets (2-1) (TD: 7, PG: 7, GS: 9)

They’re airing it out more and more as their O-Line declines. Missing Nick Mangold is huge too. Defense looked shaky against the Raiders, but I get the feeling Darren McFadden will make plenty of D’s look bad.

7 (10). Houston Texans (2-1) (TD: 8, PG: 10, GS: 5)

Lacked the killer instinct to put the Saints away last week. Will they have enough to put away the division? Arian Foster’s injury doesn’t seem to hamper the running game, they could be the new Broncos in that regard.

8 (5). San Diego Chargers (2-1) (TD: 6, PG: 8, GS: 13)

Vincent Jackson is as dangerous as ever, and Ryan Mathews is starting to put it together in the backfield but the defense is struggling. September is finished, which will help them considerably.

9 (14). Detroit Lions (3-0) (TD: 11, PG: 6, GS: 10)

Early Risers: the Detroit Lions and
Buffalo Bills are both 3-0
The biggest bandwagon in America is 3-0 and feeling good, but they have some issues. While the passing game looks impressive, the run game is anything but. Jahvid Best is going at just 2.9 yards a carry and will need to improve if Detroit want to build on their good start.

10 (29). Buffalo Bills (3-0) (TD: 13, PG: 9, GS: 6)

2 massive comebacks and suddenly everything's rosy in Buffalo. The O-Line is performing far above expectations so far and allowing the talents of Ryan Fitzpatrick and Fred Jackson to blossom. Of course the comebacks were necessary because the defense got shredded. Which will bring the Bills down to earth sooner rather than later.

11 (26). Oakland Raiders (2-1) (TD: 16, PG: 11, GS: 7)

One of the few run-heavy teams left in the NFL. Darren McFadden has finally shown the talents that made him so great in college while the front 7 has been mighty impressive. They have a serious test coming on sunday as an angry New England come to town. We'll know much more about the Raiders after that one.

12 (11). Tampa Bay Buccaneers (2-1) (TD: 12, PG: 14, GS: 11)

The Bucs have flashed all the elements they’ve needed for success this season across different games – Freeman’s led a fourth quarter comeback, Blount has dominated on the ground, and the defense has proven it can suffocate its opponents – but have not yet proven they can put all those pieces together, and that maddening inconsistency might cost them a shot at the post season if it doesn’t all come together soon.

13 (9). Philadelphia Eagles (1-2) (TD: 9, PG: 13, GS: 18)

Dream Team? 1-2 start is more a thing of nightmares than dreams. The O-Line is struggling to keep Vick clean and he’s suffered for it. The defense was woeful against the Giants last week, rookie linebacker Casey Matthews looks lost in the middle of that D. But if you want entertainment #25 LeSean McCoy is where you’re gunna get it. They guy is electric.

14 (6). Atlanta Falcons (1-2) (TD: 10, PG: 15, GS: 16)

After all the pre-season hype the Falcons are in a 1-2 hole and, outside of the Georgia Dome, have looked largely unimpressive. The offensive line has some serious issues and needs to improve if they are to get back to the playoffs.

15 (16). New York Giants (2-1) (TD: 19, PG: 12, GS: 15)

Injuries have decimated their defence, and now receivers are dropping like flies. Victor Cruz managed to save the day against the Eagles, but there's only so many times he can do that. The re-worked OL looks susceptible, and better passing attacks will be able to pick their secondary apart. Kolb, Fitzgerald and the Cardinals welcome them in week 4, and it might tell us a lot.

16 (12). Chicago Bears (1-2) (TD: 14, PG: 17, GS: 17)

Deja vu in Chi-town
Guess who leads the NFL in sacks allowed? You can't say we didn't warn you Bears fans. Things aren't helped by the traditionally strong D ranking 25th in the NFL. On the plus side, Matt Forte is looking dynamic catching out of the backfield, they could still do with a receiver that can actually score some points (other than Dane Sanzenbacher that is...)

17 (15). Dallas Cowboys (2-1) (TD: 15, PG: 16, GS: 19)

They're at 2-1, they should be 3-0, and Romo has had the most ridiculous flip-flop in press in a 3 week period: from choking game loser, to heroic punctured lung OT winner, to shotgun snap botcher. Let's qualify this though:  He threw MNF away week 1, he barely beat an NFC West team week 2, and he couldn't score a TD against the 'Skins in week 3... 2-1 is generous.

18 (18). Tennessee Titans (2-1) (TD: 20, PG: 18, GS: 12)

Forget CJ2K, he's CJ2.1YPC at the moment. Seriously, Chad Henne has more rushing yards than him. The Hasselbeck - Britt connection has been holding the Titans above water, but Britt's knee now has numerous loose bits of ligament floating about in it, and this could spell trouble.

19 (28). Washington Redskins (2-1) (TD: 17, PG: 22, GS: 14)

Another big surprise of the year so far. Rex hasn't looked totally horrific, and they've benefited from poor play from their opposition. After a trip to St Louis on Sunday the Redskins could be at 3-1 - is it just false hope or could they be for real?

20 (23). Cleveland Browns (2-1) (TD: 21, PG: 19, GS: 23)

Benefiting from a weak schedule, the Browns could (and perhaps should) be 3-0 right now. A loss to Cincinnati was unforgivable, and wins over the 0-3 Dolphins and Colts are nothing to write home about. A match-up with a decent team will tell us a lot about how Colt and this offense is really going to fare, whilst the D has looked excellent so far.

21 (31). Carolina Panthers (1-2) (TD: 24, PG: 21, GS: 20)

Cam Newton: living up to the hype
Cam Newton has exceeded all expectations already, and now has his first win. The loss of Jon Beason on the D cannot be overstated - it's massive. They managed to keep an impotent Jaguars team in check in week 3, but the Bears, Saints and Falcons are next in line...

22 (13). St. Louis Rams (0-3) (TD: 18, PG: 27, GS: 22)

Everyone knew their opening schedule was tough, but their performances in the opening weeks have been disheartening. Having placed 6 CB's on IR already this season, the secondary has been easily picked apart by Vick, Manning and Flacco, and the Rams receivers haven't been able to catch more than a cold to keep the offense in games. Week 4 against the Redskins presents their best (read "only") chance for a win before week 9.

23 (32). Cincinnati Bengals (1-2) (TD: 23, PG: 28, GS: 30)

The Bengals D is currently 3rd in the NFL in YPG. If that doesn't help a rookie QB settle in then nothing will. 1st and 2nd round picks Dalton and Green look to have chemistry, but defeats to weak Broncos and 49ers teams don't bode well for the rest of the year,

24 (27). San Francisco 49ers (2-1) (TD: 26, PG: 20, GS: 27)

There is possibly no team that tells the tale of the NFC West as comprehensively as the Niners: a team whose only real scoring threat is a kick returner has a very, very good chance of playing in the post season. Frank Gore can't stay healthy, and Vernon Davis has been made redundant thanks to an offensive line that has allowed the fifth-most amount of sacks on a guy who's a pretty bad quarterback on the best of times; but the NFL's 7th best defense means that the NFC West title is still a real possibility - but a win-loss record above .500, less so. 

25 (21). Jacksonville Jaguars (1-2) (TD: 22, PG: 30, GS: 21)

Desperate men do desperate things – that’s the only possible explanation for the perennially hot-seated Jack Del Rio starting Luke McCown during the first two games of the season. That horrible experiment aborted, the Jaguars are going to have to rely heavily on their 4th ranked defence until Blaine Gabbert finds his feet.

26 (22). Arizona Cardinals (1-2) (TD: 25, PG: 23, GS: 26)

Trading away one of your best defensive players, pinning your hopes on a rookie making an instant impact, for a largely unproven QB was a gutsy decision. And, as it turns out, a bad one. When an offense featuring one of the most elite receivers in the NFL can only put up 10 points on the lowly Seahawks, your team has serious issues.

27 (19). Minnesota Vikings (0-3) (TD: 28, PG: 25, GS: 25)

Dear Bill Musgrave
Football games last for sixty minutes, not thirty.
Adrian Peterson

28 (25). Denver Broncos (1-2) (TD: 27, PG: 24, GS: 28)

An anaemic run game, a below average pass game, and a decidedly middle of the pack defence. If anyone out there can explain to me how on earth starting Tim Tebow is going to change any of those things, please, please do get in touch.

29 (24). Miami Dolphins (0-3) (TD: 29, PG: 29, GS: 24)

There’s a very good chance that the Dolphins will be 0-4 by the end of this weekend. If that happens, there’s an even better chance that Tony Sparano will have been exiled from South Beach by the time the team returns from its week 5 bye.
Tony Sparano: hanging by a thread?

30 (20). Indianapolis Colts (0-3) (TD: 30, PG: 26, GS: 31)

Some people say that a single player does not make a team what it is. Other people have watched the Indianapolis Colts play in 2011. However Dwight Freeney and Robert Mathis continue to make life tough for opposing QB's that come to town. If the D continue to play the run as tough as they did on sunday night vs. Pittsburgh then there could be hope still. Then again, there's Curtis Painter...

31 (30). Seattle Seahawks (1-2) (TD: 31, PG: 31, GS: 29)

There are two ways to view the Seahawks’ win over the Cardinals: the ‘Tavaris Jackson’ school of thought – “I’m proving that I am a viable starting quarterback in the NFL” – and the ‘every other person in Seattle’ school of thought – “Tavaris Jackson’s only job is to make sure we get Andrew Luck, and he can’t even do that properly”.

32 (17). Kansas City Chiefs (0-3) (TD: 32, PG: 32, GS: 32)

Every cloud has a silver lining: Jamaal Charles is on IR,
but Andrew Luck beckons.
Despite having both their best offensive and defensive player on IR, and being delivered their third loss of the season at the hand of the Chargers, the Chiefs were the real winners last week. (See: entry for Seattle Seahawks).

1 comment:

  1. Got some issues with this. Well mainly Gurs picks. So the Bills 3-0 start ranks them at number 6, moving them up from a previous 26 (by Gurs ranks), yet the 3-0 start for the lions only moves them up 3 places to 10, behind the Raiders who with the worse record (2-1) climb 20 places into 7th spot! All the time the chargers with a 2-1 record (the same as the Raiders who climbed 20 spaces) with that one loss coming against the Patriots drop from 5th place down to 13th, all the whilst similar teams with 2-1 records e.g. Ravens, Steelers, Jets who were rated highly in the previous rankings stayed relatively the same. Some highly questionable movement and inconsistent rankings.