2010 NFL Power Rankings: Week 3

PITTSBURGH - SEPTEMBER 02: Troy Polamalu  of the Pittsburgh Steelers calls out signals during the preseason game against the Carolina Panthers on September 2, 2010 at Heinz Field in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Jared Wickerham/Getty Images)

I gave the Cowboys and Vikings a mulligan after their opening week performances, but I wouldn’t be able to look myself in the mirror if I ranked them in the top 10 again this week.

So I dropped them sons of bitches like a Ryan Grant fantasy owner.

Let’s do this…

Check out Week 2’s Power Rankings

1. Green Bay Packers
Previous Week: 1
No letdown for the Pack last week at home against the Bills. Their defense held Buffalo scoreless in the second half and Aaron Rodgers rebounded from a shaky Week 1 performance to throw two touchdown passes. Although…Brandon Jackson only rushed for 2.6 yards per carry? Ayeeh.

2. Indianapolis Colts
Previous Week: 2
I didn’t want to drop the Colts too far down after their loss to the Texans in Week 1 and I’m glad I didn’t. That was child’s play for Peyton and the defense on Sunday night against the Giants.

3. New Orleans Saints
Previous Week: 4
The Saints’ offense seems to lack the explosiveness it had last season and now Reggie Bush is out for six weeks with a leg injury. Still, Drew Brees and company are 2-0 and did well not to dump that game last night in San Francisco.

4. Baltimore Ravens
Previous Week: 3
It’s a little jarring that Joe Flacco looked so bad against a defense that Tom Brady absolutely shredded in Week 1, but give credit to Cincinnati’s defense for stepping up. Flacco and the Ravens will get back on track this weekend against the Browns.

5. Houston Texans
Previous Week: 7
The Texans were about five minutes away from the media crucifying them for being their inconsistent selves. But what a performance by Matt Schaub, who put the game on his shoulders and willed Houston to a victory in Washington. If he plays even half as well as he did last weekend then the Texans are going to win a lot of ballgames.

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Whatever the Falcons are paying Jason Snelling, it isn’t enough

ATLANTA - SEPTEMBER 19: Jason Snelling  of the Atlanta Falcons cuts back against Greg Toler  of the Arizona Cardinals at Georgia Dome on September 19, 2010 in Atlanta, Georgia. (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)

With Jerious Norwood already out of the game after suffering an injury on the opening kickoff, the Cardinals had to have felt pretty good about their situation once Michael Turner hurt his groin early in the second quarter. “The Burner” had already rushed for 75 yards on nine carries in the first quarter alone and the last man standing for the Falcons was four-year player Jason Snelling.

Granted, Snelling already proved last year that he could handle a full rushing load by gaining 613 yards on 142 carries as a fill-in for Turner. But still, Turner had just got done shredding them in the first quarter, so Jim Brown in his prime would have looked better to the Cardinals at that point.

Too bad Snelling played like Brown for the final three quarters.

Snelling rushed for 129 yards and two touchdowns on 24 carries in the Falcons’ 41-7 rout on Sunday. He also chipped in with five catches for 57 yards and caught a touchdown pass from Matt Ryan, who followed up a shaky game in Pittsburgh last week with a 225-yard, three-touchdown effort today.

Even without Turner (whose injury is considered mild), the Falcons’ offense resembled the unit that everyone thought it would entering the year. They racked up 33 first downs, 444 total yards of offense and 221 rushing yards. They were also 5-of-8 inside the red zone and only turned the ball over once, which came when Ryan fumbled right before the half after scrambling for six yards.

Of course, Bert and Ernie could have compiled 444 yards of total offense on the Cardinals, who must have forgotten that they had to play today. Their normally solid front seven was absolutely abused by the Falcons’ offensive line and was blown backwards on nearly every snap. Snelling and Turner would gain at least two yards before an Arizona defender would come close to laying a hand on them and even then, the Cards failed to properly wrap up Atlanta’s running duo. ‘Zona was also flagged 10 times for 109 yards, with most of the penalties coming in the first half.

It was a day that the Cardinals would like to forget, although something tells me they’re going to have many more Sundays like this. Ken Whisenhunt may want to pick up the phone and dial Kurt Warner’s number just for the hell of it.

“Hey Kurt, it’s Ken. Just wanted to see if maybe you wanted to swing by the old stomping grounds and check out a game……………………while also suiting up and taking all of the snaps?”

“Sorry Ken, those days are over for me.”

“I’m begging you, Kurt.”

Turner due for a bounce back year in 2010?

Michael Turner didn’t want to hear about the “Curse of 370” heading into last season, but after ankle injuries limited him to only 871 yards on 178 carries, it appears as though “the Burner” is well aware of the damages a full workload can have on a running back.

And so are the Falcons.

Turner recently admitted that he fell out of shape last offseason, which may have contributed to his slow start. Turner didn’t really resemble the ’08 version of himself until a Week 8 Monday night effort against the Saints in which he rushed for 151 yards on 20 carries with one touchdown. Until that point, Turner didn’t appear to be hitting holes with much authority and even looked slow at times.

But Turner apparently learned a lesson from last offseason, because he reported to a recent Falcons mini-camp in great shape according to several reports. Head coach Mike Smith was even quoted as saying his running back was in “outstanding shape” and was moving “extremely well” in his first day back. That’s great news for Turner, the Falcons and a handful of fantasy owners that were burned (no pun intended) by the running back’s production (or lack thereof) last season.

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Coaching staff not getting enough credit for Saints’ run at perfection

Do you know why the Saints are currently 13-0 right now? No, it’s not because of their high-powered offense, Drew Brees or their remade defense. It’s not because of their outstanding receiving corps, Darren Sharper’s playmaking ability or a trio of running backs.

Actually, it’s because of all those things. But one thing that seems to be taking a backseat in the Saints’ run at perfection is their coaching staff, and I’m not only referring to coach of the year candidate Sean Payton either.

There were two plays in the Saints’ 26-23 victory over the Falcons in Week 14 that had more to do with coaching and less to do with the players on the field.

The first play came early in the third quarter when the Saints were up 16-9. The Falcons had been getting pressure on Brees by sending multiple defenders throughout the game, and with the Saints facing a 3rd and 19 from Atlanta’s 21-yard line, the Falcons decided to blitz a bevy of players in order to disrupt the play. But the Falcons played right into Payton’s play call, because Reggie Bush took a 21-yard screen pass into the end zone untouched.

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2009 NFL Week 11 Picks & Predictions

Here are my locks (locks, ha!) for Week 11 in the NFL:

Chargers (6-3) at Broncos (6-3), 4:15PM ET
Denver quarterback Kyle Orton is questionable this week with an ankle injury, which means Chris Simms could make his first start of the season. Simms looked Brady Quinn-like bad in a loss to the Redskins last week and I wouldn’t expect much out of him if I were a Broncos fan. If Simms starts, I fully expect the Chargers to load up to stop Knowshon Moreno and force the former Bucs’ QB to beat them through the air. It’s not going to happen and even if Orton does start, how effective can he be on a bum ankle? About as effective as he was last year for the Bears on a bum ankle? The Chargers are hot, have revenge on their minds and are eyeing sole possession of first place in the AFC West. Plus, Philip Rivers is playing just as well as Peyton Manning, Drew Brees, Tom Brady and Kurt Warner. I’m taking the Chargers to win outright and to cover.
Odds: Chargers –2.5.
Prediction: Chargers 31, Broncos 16.

Redskins (3-6) at Cowboys (6-3), 1:00PM ET
Now that the Cowboys have once again established that they’re still the same inconsistent team under Wade Phillips as they’ve always been, I’m wondering if the Redskins can pull off a huge upset this week in Dallas. Then again, without the brutal play of Chris Simms’ aiding them in victory, I can’t see Washington winning this weekend. In fact, I see this game being a blow out since the Redskins will once again be without running back Clinton Portis and Albert Haynesworth is doubtful to play as well. The Redskins have shown the ability to stop the pass, but if the Cowboys can control this game with Marion Barber and Felix Jones then Washington doesn’t stand a chance. Dallas’ offense should rebound from its horrid performance last week as long as the ground attack can help set things up for Tony Romo and the passing game. Washington just doesn’t have the players to compete with Dallas for four quarters and given how bad the Redskins’ O-line has played this season, they’re going to have trouble stopping the Cowboys’ solid pass rush.
Odds: Cowboys –11
Prediction: Cowboys 34, Redskins 13.

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