Only Colts receivers could drop the Power Rankings on you faster than us.
Indy lost in San Diego on Monday night, with a little help from Philip Rivers and a lot of help from Coby Fleener, Trent Richardson and Reggie Wayne. Thus, the Colts take a small dip. And while Indy falls from top-five grace, another team finds it ...
It's been awhile since we received a tweet about unicorns. Personally, I always favored the Pegasus with Harry Hamlin on it, superimposed over frames of mountains while flying to face off with the Kraken ... who, we should mention, was completely ripped. Also, for the record, showponies < double rainbows.
New England's incredible comeback win over the New Orleans Saints clearly was the game of the weekend. This week in pro football was about the "next man up" theory, with several injury-ravaged teams pulling off clutch wins sans key contributors -- like three quarters of the NFC North.
That said, it was another NFC club with a significant injury concern that jumped five spots. So take a look and feel free to share your thoughts ... @Harrison_NFL is the place.
Now, let the dissension commence.
(Note: Arrows reflect change in standings from last week's Power Rankings.)
Kansas City now has tripled -- tripled!! -- its win total from last year. Heck of a performance from the defense, which survived Terrelle Pryor playing like Randall Cunningham circa 1990 in the first half to completely shut down the Silver and Black late. In the second half, the Chiefs held the Raiders to 113 net yards of offense while forcing three turnovers.
That was an all-timer, Tom Brady. With all the numbers swirling around about the fourth-quarter comebacks Brady has led in his career, I'll propose a breakdown I'd like to see: his fourth-quarter stats with the "Channing Tatum in Magic Mike" haircut of today vs. his fourth-quarter stats with the "Brad Pitt in True Romance" look of 2010 and 2011.
We're still not sure why defensive coordinator Rob Ryan rushed just three guys on several plays of
that last drive on Sunday, or how
Jabari Greer let Kenbrell Thompkins get behind him. But let's not forget the
Saints' offense failing to convert a single first down on their last two possessions. There also were points earlier in the game when
Sean Payton should've run the ball more, because it clearly was working when he did. (Instead, he waited until the bitter end, when he turned to the ground game to force the
Patriots to take their timeouts.)
Swallowed up by the tough loss were two things: a) the clutch catch Kenny Stills made to put the Saints up with three minutes to go, and b) safety Rafael Bush's failure to get to the corner and bracket Thompkins. Bush had his eyes on the inside receiver, who already was covered by both a corner and a defender to the inside. He needed to help with the guy on the outside -- i.e., the guy who caught the winning touchdown pass.
Tell me the 12th Man didn't get a little queasy late in the third quarter Sunday when it was 10-all and the Titans were at the Seattle 43. Close contest. Loved the play by reserve Seahawks holder Chris Maragos, who singlehandedly made Urkel, Lucas, Dan Orlovsky and millions of other people feel better about their respective athletic careers.
The Thad. Yet, rather than being disappointed in
their performance -- a sentiment felt by many
Patriots fans when New England narrowly escaped Buffalo with a victory
in Week 1 -- it's important to note how difficult it is to get a road win at Ralph Wilson Stadium these days.
The Ravens fell there two weeks ago,
as did the Panthers a couple of weeks before that.
Love the balanced approach by the Cincinnati offense, by the way: 41 runs, 43 pass plays (including three sacks). The Bengals haven't looked great, but they're still in first place in the AFC North.
That was a clutch win, but Green Bay clearly is in for tough times, what with all of the injuries. And now we've gone from linebackers to receivers, as two of Aaron Rodgers' three best weapons went down. James Jones actually has a chance to play Sunday, according to coach Mike McCarthy, but Randall Cobb is out until at least December with a fractured fibula. Before we go ... we must note the great performances from a depleted linebacker corps. A.J. Hawk played his tail off Sunday in Baltimore. So did Nick Perry -- who, of course, will miss Week 7 with an injury of his own -- and backup Jamari Lattimore.
the touchdown pass Matthew Stafford tossed to put the
Lions up 21-17 in the fourth quarter
against the Browns, I yelled out, "Wow, what a play by
Brandon Pettigrew! He
never makes clutch catches in traffic like that!"
Well, Pettigrew's (bad) reputation remains safe, as it was Detroit's shiny new toy, Joseph Fauria, and not Pettigrew, who proved impossible for the Browns to stop. Fresh out of UCLA, the 6-foot-7 tight end went undrafted in April; six months later, he was catching three touchdown passes in Cleveland.
Vince Young tweeted he's ready to get a call from the
Texans. Maybe Chicago should see if VY -- who looks to have some extra heft these days -- wants to come play defensive tackle, where the
Bears have been decimated unlike any other team.
Last Thursday night, Chicago's defense made ninth-year veteran Brandon Jacobs look like BJ2K. Julius Peppers pitched a shutout -- i.e., he recorded zero tackles -- partially because he's getting double-teamed all the time. This squad deserves to be 4-2, no doubt, but even the most ardent Bears backer will tell you the defense has its work cut out for it. Can't rely on pick-sixes and defensive scores every week.
It was almost the perfect bye week in Miami. First, the defense got healthier in body and spirit. Then, the Jets lost, the Bills lost, and it sure looked like the Pats were going to lose. Well, you can't have it all. In other news, we had Brian Hartline on "NFL Fantasy Live" last week. Says he knew early on that Finkle was Einhorn.
Seriously, how awesome is
Philip Rivers playing right now? It's great to see one of the more maligned players in pro football over the past few seasons enjoying such success in 2013.
Power Rankings side note: Seeing this uni matchup at Qualcomm reminded us of the Mike Scifres game, when a punter singlehandedly accomplished what the Bolts did Sunday night: stopping an explosive Colts offense. In that 2008 wild-card matchup between San Diego and Indianapolis, Scifres punted six times, with five landing inside the 10 and two boots landing inside the 5. Never seen anything like it in the NFL. Bet you Chargers fans remember, though.
At a couple points in the fourth quarter against the Redskins on Sunday night, with the outcome far from decided, the Cowboys played with these guys on their defensive line: Caesar Rayford, Drake Nevis, Nick Hayden and Kyle Wilber. The latter is the gold-star player of the group, and, uh, he was drafted in the fourth round in 2012. Hayden and Nevis are castoffs, and Rayford is an undrafted rookie. That's a menacing unit right there -- if you're playing Yale, that is. Dallas needs to get healthy, quick.
Tennessee gave the Seahawks a run for their money, but the Titans couldn't get enough going offensively to pull off a difficult road win -- they gained a mere 223 yards, while Chris Johnson rushed for just 33. Through six weeks, Johnson is averaging just over 50 yards per game at 3 yards per carry. This on a team that wants to run the football and play defense to win.
There is sure to be some disappointment in the two interceptions Geno Smith coughed up deep in Steelers territory Sunday. Hey, he's a rookie, and that was his sixth career start. The secondary, meanwhile, did not have its best day. Any time you go minus-two in turnover differential -- as much the fault of the Jets' defense, which has forced just three takeaways all season, as anyone -- you're gonna lose.
The two deep balls tossed by Nick Foles on Sunday were things of beauty. No offense, but you don't see that brand of downfield touch from Michael Vick. Said it over the summer and will say it again: There's no reason Foles can't play for Chip Kelly or start over Vick. With the latter suffering from a Miles Austin -- I mean, a hamstring injury -- Foles has the opportunity to prove it.
Brandon Weeden giveth,
Brandon Weeden taketh away. His fourth-quarter pick Sunday was the ugliest turnover by a quarterback since
the butt-fumble -- and that's hallowed ground right there.
Don't put this loss entirely on the second-year quarterback, though. The Browns' linebackers and safeties had some trouble in coverage, allowing four touchdowns to Lions tight ends and running backs. How those Cleveland defenders handle such matchups will be key in Green Bay this week, considering how banged up the Packers are at wideout right now.
Arizona hung tough in Candlestick, but once again, Carson Palmer could not limit the mistakes. Palmer's passer rating in his past five games: 73.5, 43.4, 62.2, 57.0 and 79.1. That is consistent sub-mediocrity. The run game had its moments against the Niners, rushing for 109 yards at a pace of 5.2 yards per crack, and the defense mostly has been a team strength. That makes quarterback play the difference-maker, which we saw Sunday, as both of Palmer's picks led to San Francisco points. Essentially, Arizona is capable of winning eight to 10 games -- provided its quarterback can play top-15 football.
Cam Newton was awesome against the Vikings on Sunday, tossing three touchdown passes with no picks while averaging more than 9 yards per attempt. The defense was particularly strong, but honestly, that's not what the Panthers were worried about. If Newton and offensive coordinator Mike Shula can continue to give this team pop through the air, perhaps everyone will stop speculating about Ron Rivera's future.
A weird thing happened Sunday while I was watching other games. I looked at the crawl at the bottom of the screen and noticed that
Matt Schaub hadn't thrown a pick. Then I noticed
Arian Foster had gained well over 100 yards.
Wow, I thought,
the Texans are back on track! Yep -- and they were
to the Rams 38-6.
There's a lot wrong in Houston right now, but nothing worse than fans showing up in Matt Schaub's driveway or cheering when he's down on the field. Come on.
If nothing else, Terrelle Pryor makes Raiders games exciting. Yes, the young quarterback threw three interceptions late at Arrowhead -- and yes, he continues to be the biggest rushing threat on an Oakland team that has gotten little to build on from Darren McFadden and the rest of the running backs. McFadden has 267 yards in five games, averaging 3.8 yards per carry.
With Julio Jones being out for the rest of the season, which was confirmed after last week's rankings were posted, the Falcons drop. The bye week in Atlanta brought an opportunity for this team to do three things: a) get Roddy White healthy, b) develop plays that will allow Harry Douglas and a bunch of wideouts you've never heard of to help White out, and c) create a pass rush.
Buffalo is 2-4, but I don't think there's a more exciting game to watch than " Bills vs. anybody." Every matchup comes down to a final possession. With Thad Lewis getting the start Sunday, you'd have thought things would be different. Not so. Yes, Doug Marrone made the correct decision in going with the undrafted Duke product over rookie backup Jeff Tuel.
Tough loss all around for Adrian Peterson, who was dealing with unspeakable off-field tragedy, and the Vikings' organization. Peterson didn't have an Adrian Peterson game, gaining just 83 yards from scrimmage. That said, game situation took the Vikings' ground attack out of the mix early. Once again, quarterback was and is a problem for Minnesota, as illustrated by Matt Cassel's stat line: two interceptions and a paltry 5.48 yards per throw. Of course, it's not just the signal-callers; the receivers have to make plays, too.
The Steelers begin a hopeful streak -- notching their first win of the season -- while ending one of futility, collecting their first turnovers of 2013 in the form of two key Geno Smith interceptions. Those were huge plays, too, as both came in the second half in the red zone. Next up: the 3-3 Ravens, at Heinz. The Steelers need to take care of business at home to save their season.
Mike Glennon might not be a world-beater, but he's been holding his own. It's tough for anyone -- outside of Jerry Jones -- to count moral victories, but at least the Bucs are developing a quarterback. Yes, Glennon's one pick Sunday led to points, but he certainly played better than Josh Freeman had this season.
We've heard about the stone-cold Eli in the Clutch, whose legend was burnished by the David Tyree ball and the 2011 Super Bowl run. But the fact is, Manning is playing flat-out turrible right now -- Charles Barkley couldn't stress it enough. The Giants quarterback has 15 picks through six games, putting him on pace for 40. "This Is 40" sucked, and even that was better than Manning is playing. All of this begs the question: If New York finishes 4-12 or worse and ends up with a top pick in 2014, would drafting a quarterback be discussed?
A lot of hopes were raised when
Maurice Jones-Drew scored in the third quarter to get the Jags within two points of the
Broncos, which was cool. Then
the rest of the game happened.
Well, the important point to make here is that this group isn't quitting on new coach Gus Bradley.
On another note, it was a big day for Chad Henne, who, despite throwing two picks, gives Jacksonville a better chance to win than Blaine Gabbert. After the game, Henne bolted to be with his wife, who went into labor. It's a nice reminder that these guys have bigger things on their plates than the AFC South standings.
Follow Elliot Harrison on Twitter @Harrison_NFL.