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Tuesday, August 14 2018

NFL Power Poll 9/22/04

SportRoad teams picked up another 6 wins last week moving their record to 13-19 for the season and in an amazing bit of scheduling just 2 teams played their first pair of games at home. That would be Philly who won them both and New Orleans who split. Only 2 teams played their first pair on the road and both were playoff teams last year. Indy split their set and Seattle, who had a ton of problems away from home last year with a 2-6 record, won both of theirs. Overall just 7 teams are 2-0 and only three of them (Philly, New England and Seattle) made last yearís playoffs. Another 7 teams are 0-2 and that group features 5 teams who had a losing record last year including 4 who finished with double digits in the ďLĒ column. The exceptions are Miami who was 10-6, but lost the farm as we all know when Ricky Williams retired and David Boston got hurt, and Kansas City who began last year 9-0. Every team has allowed an offensive touchdown, and Tampa Bay is the only team that has failed to score one.
#1 (1) Seattle (2-0): Drawing 6 of 9 on the road to start seemed like a problem for a team that was 2-7 away from home last year, but two wins and a total of 13 points allowed later they are in excellent shape. A nice home win over SF this week will put them 3-0 and they will have the bye week to prepare for a crucial two game set against the Rams and at the Patriots.

#2 (2) Philadelphia (2-0): This was a game they should have won, but the manner in which they did it impressed me. They didnít have much of a ground game, and let the Vikings control the ball for most of the game with a 70-47 edge in total plays. However, they stuffed them in the red zone and came up with a big kickoff return and long field goal conversion when it mattered most to ice the game. Now they draw 5 of 7 on the road with a bye week to lessen the load and weíll see how tough they are.

#3 (3) New England (2-0): Pretty sloppy win in Arizona, but I was glad to see them unleash Dillon as he had more than double the carries he did in the opener. Graham is turning into a playmaker at tight end and the defense did the job albeit against a very poor Cardinals offense. Twenty wins in a row is incredible, and with games at Buffalo and against Miami on deck after the bye there is no reason they wonít break the NFL record for consecutive victories in the regular season.

#4 (4) Indianapolis (1-1): Now you see what Iím talking about with these guys. Trailing into the fourth quarter on the road they kept their cool and unleashed James. They have too many weapons to contend with and if Wayne keeps having games like this (119 yards with a score) it will be tough to match points with them.

#5 (8) NY Jets (2-0): What can you say about this offense? Pennington had another big day with 76% of his passes finding their target with 2 touchdowns and no interceptions. Martin carried the rock 31 times for 118 yards and 2 scores of his own. The only concern is that the defense gave up 372 yards and 21 points to an offense that really only has one good player. Nevertheless, they exit this weekís bye with games at Miami followed by home dates with Buffalo and San Francisco so it is conceivable they could be 5-0 when they travel to New England, which is why I am comfortable putting them this high. Look out.

#6 (12) Atlanta (2-0): This is the Vick we expected. He had an efficient day passing the ball going 14 of 19 for 179 yards and made a killing on the ground with 109 yards rushing. The defense clamped down on the St. Louis running game, produced 2 turnovers, sacked Bulger 5 times and scored a touchdown. They are gaining a lot of confidence and with Arizona, Detroit and San Diego visiting them over the next 4 games (sandwiched around a trip to Carolina) we are looking at a playoff contender.

#7 (5) Minnesota (1-1): They really sputtered in the red zone and failed to use Onterrio Smith when they needed him most. Once Williams and Bennett are back in the mix this offense will be impossible to stop. They wonít need a defense to mow past most teams and while this loss could hurt their playoff seeding they are still going places.

#8 (13) Tennessee (1-1): For as big of a game Chris Brown had rushing (152 yards) they didnít use him as a hammer to hold the lead, letting Indianapolis put up 21 unanswered points in the fourth quarter and blowing a golden opportunity to take a two game lead in the AFC South. Their defense held James down for much of the day, but let him roll over them when it mattered. They will look back on this one and cringe when they miss the playoffs.

#9 (14) New Orleans (1-1): When McAllister left with an injury, Brooks took over. It is one thing to complete 74% of your passes, but quite another when you do that by going 25 of 34 and throw for 279 yards with 3 touchdowns. If Stecker can give them anything on the ground this offense should be okay, but the defense is still in trouble. Against a team without their starting center and going with a completely untested quarterback they gave up 27 points and 370 yards. That is not the play of a team heading to a winning season.

#10 (6) Green Bay (1-1): Stunning home loss for them, but ultimately the game changed on one play. If Ahman Green doesnít fumble and instead scores we might be talking about an ugly 17-14 win instead of a 21-10 loss. For the Packers to get chewed up by Thomas Jones on the ground after shutting down Davis/Foster last week is puzzling. Putting up 404 yards and only scoring 10 points is simply unacceptable.

#11 (15) Carolina (1-1): Talk about a team banding together after two notable injuries. Without their top rusher or leading receiver they simply mugged the Chiefs in the second half. Foster was a monster with 174 yards on 32 carries and the defense chipped in with 3 sacks and 2 turnovers. Huge win for them as they enter the bye week and prepare for a crucial game against Atlanta.

#12 (7) St. Louis (1-1): Pretty soon they should think about turning the running game over to Steven Jackson. Faulk had just 20 yards on 12 carries. That kind of lack of production is what kills drives and leads you into third down and long. Bulger had another productive day statistically, but made a crucial fumble in the end zone for an Atlanta touchdown. With 5 games that feature four games they have a great chance to win weíll see what this team is made of very quickly.

#13 (16) Cincinnati (1-1): They probably wanted to make a statement for the ESPN viewing audience, but instead they struggled against the Dolphins badly. The good news is that they crushed the running game. The bad news is that their young quarterback Palmer needed 38 throws to reach just 148 yards passing. They had only 211 yards and picked up 60 of those on the final drive. With plenty of chances to put the Dolphins away they failed time after time as they never got much of a ground game going on their own. None of that really matters at this point because with Baltimore coming in we will know exactly where this team stands.

#14 (17) Jacksonville (2-0): After picking up 402 yards total in two games, they have somehow found a way to win both of them. This time it took a little more luck with a vital fumble on Denverís final drive and I wonder how much good fortune they have left. They are starting to remind me of Carolina from last year with the close wins, but sooner or later they will need to mix in some offense with the strong defense that hasnít allowed a touchdown in the past 7 quarters. Weíll find out how good they are in the next two games (at Tennessee, vs. Indianapolis).

#15 (19) Detroit (2-0): Another win, but it wasnít pretty. They were out-gained 390-267, but used a 3-1 edge in turnovers to get the job done. More importantly, however, Roy Williams and Joey Harrington developed chemistry as Roy caught another 4 passes including a pair of scores. Streets and Hakim combined for 6 receptions and 58 yards, which offset the loss of Rogers somewhat and rookie Kevin Jones averaged 4.7 yards per carry in a much better outing than last week. Now come the tough teams as Philadelphia visits followed by a trip to Atlanta (following the bye) and then a game against Green Bay.

#16 (9) Washington (1-1): It is easy to lose when you have 7 turnovers and one of them is taken to the house. Portis had a very mediocre day running the ball and hurt his team badly with a pair of fumbles. The defense let Warner burn them regularly as he completed a staunch 67% of his passes and suddenly the Redskins look very ordinary again. They must be hoping Brunell can get back in the lineup after Ramsey tossed 3 picks in relief. My how things change in a week.

#17 (10) Denver (1-1): I saw this one coming a mile away. The offense folded when it counted and had just two field goals even though they picked up 356 total yards. I donít know how you run 75 plays to the oppositionís 40, holding them to 177 total yards and 1 of 10 on third down and still lose. It boiled down to a key Griffin fumble when the Broncos should have been kicking a game winning field goal, which is just poor coaching.

#18 (18) Pittsburgh (1-1): If nothing else they got a glimpse of what they have in Ben Roethlisberger after he picked up 2 touchdown passes in the fourth quarter and completed 60% of his throws. However, they got thumped and didnít build on the momentum of their win over Oakland last week. Burress continues to struggle and Staley is not capable of carrying this offense. Plus, the run defense that was solid last week gave up 138 yards on 33 carries to the Lewis/Taylor combo. On the upside, only the Pats, Jets and Jags are 2-0 in the AFC so nothing is lost just yet.

#19 (20) Oakland (1-1): They dominated the Bills a lot more than the final score would indicate, allowing them just 61 total yards in the first half and 171 if you discount the garbage time last drive. The much hyped run defense finally showed up as they held Henry to a 3.2 yard average and no Buffalo player caught over 2 passes. On offense another young receiver emerged as Curry picked up 90 yards and a touchdown even though Jerry Riceís streak of 274 games with a reception ended. The running game stalled again though as Zereoue, Wheatley and Redmond combined for just 54 yards on 21 carries. With the division faltering around them there is still hope in the Raider Nation.

#20 (22) Dallas (1-1): They continue to lean on Testaverde and he keeps coming through. Yes he was picked off 3 times, but he had 322 yards and kept the chains moving all day. He also got tight end Witten into the act with 6 receptions for 82 yards. The running game picked up a notch as George and the rookie Jones combined for 77 yards on 23 carries and a score. Even better, the defense dominated Garcia and the Browns completely. They have righted the ship and with a trip to Washington next week, followed by a bye and visits from the Giants and Pittsburgh they could be right back in the mix.

#21 (11) Kansas City (0-2): This is a team with no defense and no wide receivers. Other than Morton (5 catches, 76 yards) only Kennison (1 catch, 20 yards) caught a pass from the position this week and for the second game in a row Green, who had over 4,000 yard passing last year, failed to reach 200 yards passing. Meanwhile they let Delhomme throw 3 touchdowns even though he was without top receiver Steve Smith. They also gave up 174 yards rushing to Foster who was invisible last week against the Packers. These are big problems for the Chiefs who fortunately for them have a few mediocre teams coming up.

#22 (21) Cleveland (1-1): This is not what Cleveland thought they were getting when they picked up Jeff Garcia. He was just 8 of 27 for 71 yards with 3 interceptions. Nearly 25% of Clevelandís offense came from backup rusher James Jackson who picked up 50 yards on 3 carries. They let old man Testaverde throw for 322 yards even though they did intercept him 3 times and fellow senior citizen Eddie George picked up 61 yards and a score. Perhaps more embarrassing was allowing linebacker Dexter Coakley ramble 33 yards on a fake punt. Last week is looking like an aberration and this is looking like reality for the Browns who might lose rookie Kellen Winslow II for the season.

#23 (24) Baltimore (1-1): It was a nice rebound win for them in a crucial spot. They still canít throw the ball a lick, but the running game got going and the defense played well holding Pittsburgh to 3 of 13 on third down and scoreless through the first three quarters. That is really their recipe, build a lead and sit on it. Boller threw just 18 passes and that is probably how they like it. Six of his ten completions resulted in first downs and he protected the football. Now they are in position to regain control of the division with a win at Cincinnati this week.

#24 (28) Chicago (1-1): Their upset of the Packers is by far the biggest of the young season as they staved off threat after threat to pull out a win. The game turned on a defensive touchdown on a 95 yard fumble recovery from Mike Brown, but it was won on the ground where Thomas Jones had 152 yards on 23 carries. The passing game did pretty much nothing as last yearís standout Terrell was held without a catch, but Grossman had only 1 interception and six of his ten completions were for first downs. The defense gave up 404 yards and with a trip to Minnesota and visit from Philadelphia up next I think their good fortune stops here.

#25 (30) NY Giants (1-1): Stunning win, but letís not get carried away. It took them 7 turnovers to win 20-14, and if you throw out their defensive touchdown they might have lost the damn game. The offense converted only 1 of 10 on third down which is surprising considering that Warner completed 67% of his passes. The running duo of Dayne/Barber had only 52 yards on 27 carries and their kicker missed two field goals. In other words, all is not that well for the G-Men who are fortunate a better team was not on the other side of the line. Still, they have a little confidence and could build on it with a win over Cleveland this week.

#26 (26) San Diego (1-1): The offense might be getting it done with mirrors, but they did put up another 21 points and 326 yards. Tomlinson did his thing with 166 of those yards, but the quarterback combo of Brees/Flutie completed only 44% of their passes. That might be a product of having crappy receivers, but Iím not sure. The defense was ripped up pretty good, but against a team like the Jets when you fall by 6 and lose the turnover battle 4-0 it is pretty easy to see how to turn the corner. This club might be one to watch out for down the line.

#27 (23) Buffalo (0-2): The offense was again badly out of sync and seems to waste their weapons. Rookie Lee Evans was invisible until catching a 65 yard pass when the game was out of reach. Youngster Josh Reed had only 2 receptions for 29 yards. Featured receiver Eric Moulds caught only two passes for 41 yards and a last minute score. McGahee was given only two rushes which resulted in a 7 yard gain and 10 yard loss, and did not catch a pass. Defensively they were solid overall, but allowed the Raiders to dictate the tempo of the game and never really made a big play with just two sacks and no turnovers. Things are suddenly desperate for them because after their bye this week they draw New England and a trip to the Jets. Can you say 0-4?

#28 (25) Tampa Bay (0-2): I donít think Simms gives the Bucs a better chance to win games, but I donít blame Gruden for turning to him with the season quickly fading away. He showed pretty well in completing 66% of his balls with just 1 pick in 32 throws, but the offense again failed to produce a touchdown. That might have been okay when their defense was in their prime, but now that they are down a step it isnít going to work. On the upside Garner woke back up with 99 total yards on 19 touches and the rookie Clayton caught 6 balls for 61 yards. The aforementioned defense limited Seattleís offense to just 182 total yards, a huge accomplishment but itís still a loss.

#29 (29) San Francisco (0-2): Barlow had himself a day with 123 total yards and two scores while Dorsey had a very respectable first start as a pro throwing for 205 yards. However, they couldnít contain Brooks, especially when it mattered the most. They also lost the turnover battle 3-1 and had 125 yards worth of penalties. That is just too much to overcome for a young team trying to find their identity. The close losses are piling up, and with a trip to Seattle and visit from St. Louis up next I think it is likely they will dig an 0-4 hole.

#30 (27) Miami (0-2): They are going to scrap for a while, but as the losses pile up I wonder how much longer their defense will put up this kind of an effort. Having held the Bengals to 151 total yards they finally collapsed at the end, allowing a 60 yard drive that culminated in a game winning field goal. This is a game that was theirs for the taking if they could have found a running game, but Gordon managed a piss poor 1.2 yards per carry as they hammered him at the line 19 times. Heck, throw out his long run (8 yards) and he had 18 carries for 15 yards. Thatís ugly. Feeley made a terrible interception in Cincinnati territory that didnít help and this is a team that needs to play flawlessly to win. Most teams would be 2-0 after giving up 17 and 16 points, they are 0-2.

#31 (31) Houston (0-2): They lost the turnover battle 3-1 after losing it 4-0 last week and thatís how you lose to a pair of not great teams. Even out-gaining Detroit 390-267 couldnít make up for it. On the upside Carr had himself a great day throwing the ball with 311 yards and a 68% completion rate with 2 touchdowns and a pick. Unfortunately a lot of that came on screens to Davis who had 11 catches for 95 yards. Take those away and his line reads 12 of 23 for 216 yards which is what it usually is. Again Davis picked up a ton of yards, but hurt his team with two lost fumbles. They arenít good enough to make mistakes and still win. A loss in Kansas City this week means another season in the tank.

#32 (32) Arizona (0-2): It would have been easy to roll over for the defending champs, but they fought to the end and made it respectable. Emmitt looked like an old man again with 30 yards on 13 carries, and McCown again struggled without top threat Boldin as he completed only 45% of his passes. Overall New England had 380 yards to Arizonaís 167 and converted over half their first downs while the Cards were 2 of 10. With Shipp and Boldin this is a team that would have posed problems and been pretty feisty, but without them they are just a win on every teamís schedule.


NFL Power Poll 9/22/04 | 16 comments | Create New Account
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