Week 15 Power Rankings have got you covered -- and yes, we even decide to cover Julio Jones.
The Packers didn't, but considering they could have put up another 50-burger if they'd wanted to, we're not removing them from the top spot. A week after beating the former No. 1 in our Power Rankings, Aaron Rodgers and Co. did not come out flat against the Falcons in prime time -- they just didn't flatten anyone on defense. In other news ...
Here they come ...Here is that report card. So ... more or less than "Maid in Manhattan"?
OK, enough shenanigans -- we have a whole league to discuss (and rank). And in addition to the content below, be sure to check out the "Power Rankings Show" on NFL.com and NFL NOW. We go in-depth on the league hierarchy -- and show some video, to boot! Lastly, be sure to share your take: @HarrisonNFL is the place.
Let the dissension commence!
(Note: Arrows reflect change in standings from the most recent Power Rankings.)
We laid out some general
Packers thoughts above, so let's go more micro here ...
Aaron Rodgers now has 23 touchdowns and zero interceptions at home, with a 132.6 passer rating. Seriously, those are Tecmo
Super Bowl numbers. And thus, this is also an appropriate time to mention that many people took umbrage with
my comment in last week's Power Rankings that
Tom Brady is the best quarterback since Joe Montana. Rodgers' name was mentioned quite often on my Twitter feed
(@HarrisonNFL) and in the comments section. As fantastic as he is, A-Rodge doesn't have the time served (this is his seventh year as a starter) to threaten. Here is how I have the post-Montana QBs stacking up -- i.e., here are the best of all the guys who entered the NFL in the '90s and beyond. (For now, anyway.)
1) Tom Brady
2) Peyton Manning
3) Brett Favre
4) Drew Brees
5) Aaron Rodgers
Sure, Denver allowed things to get a smidge too close for comfort against the Bills on a day that wasn't Peyton Manning's -- Sunday's passer rating of 56.9 was the lowest for Manning since he posted a 46.8 on Nov. 30, 2008 in Cleveland. But the Broncos' defense took care of business for the most part -- well, until garbage time. The two interceptions of Kyle Orton were huge.
Some 24-14 games are actually close deals, but the Seahawks' win in Philadelphia was not. Although it was interesting listening to Eagles fans boo when Seattle cornerback Tharold Simon's injury stopped the game in the fourth quarter, thereby slowing Philly's fast-paced offense. You see, they really wanted to watch Mark Sanchez hurry up and throw another 3-yard pass. ...
Andrew Luck's career continues to parallel that of John Elway, with Luck committing multiple turnovers before overcoming his own mistakes late. The third-year pro displayed incredible resilience once again in leading the Colts to a comeback victory over the Browns. At the same time, perhaps the highlight shows of the world could point out that Luck's turnovers were what put Indy in the position of having to come from behind in the first place. The Colts' defense, on the other hand, was solid for both halves in Cleveland.
Sunday's loss to the visiting Seahawks must've driven Philly's fans crazy. At some point, don't you have to push the ball downfield? I mean, I love none-yard passes to Darren Sproles and Jeremy Maclin, but come on, you're down 24-14 late in the fourth ... I agreed with Troy Aikman's in-broadcast analysis that the play-calling left something to be desired.
Dallas got a much-needed road win in Chicago on Thursday, dispelling those stupid December stats we'd been hearing about ad nauseam -- as if some kind of monumental shift actually happens on Dec. 1 every year. DeMarco Murray continued his on-field brilliance with yet another 100-yard day. That's all I'm gonna say about that.
Nice to see Detroit control the flow of
Sunday's win over the Bucs, although the
Lions don't get a move up in our rankings -- not with nearly every team in front of them also winning. They'll have to win on the road to get that to happen.
By the way, I faced a guy in my fantasy football playoffs who started Joique Bell on Sunday -- and of course, that tipped Matthew Stafford pass fell right into Bell's hands in front of the goal line. Exactly how you draw it up.
It was gut-check time for the Steelers, and Mike Tomlin's guys responded in Cincinnati. Watching Le'Veon Bell rack up 148 of his 235 total yards (and all three of his touchdowns, including one through the air) in the second half on Sunday, I found myself wondering if there's any back in the NFL as good as him -- including DeMarco Murray. I think Bell takes the cake, easily. Thoughts? (@HarrisonNFL)
Let's be honest: Kansas City must win out to (possibly) reach the playoffs. Here's the rest of the Chiefs' schedule: vs. the Raiders, at the Steelers and vs. the Chargers. It's not impossible for Kansas City to make it, but the postseason might have slipped away in the fourth quarter of Sunday's loss in Arizona.
We don't get do-overs in sports very much, but don't you think the Bengals would like to replay everything that happened after that third-quarter bomb to A.J. Green? Following that score, Mike Nugent kicked off to start the fourth quarter. From that point forward ... Steelers 25, Bengals 0. Fortunately for the Bengals, they will get a do-over of sorts: Week 17 at Pittsburgh.
Missed opportunities ruined the Bolts' evening in San Diego. Yet, at 8-5 and currently in line for a wild-card berth in the AFC, they're still in control of their own destiny. What a game we'll see this week, when the Broncos come to town. Don't underestimate these Chargers, who were just a few plays short of upending the Patriots on Sunday night.
What a Grade A team performance from the Ravens in Miami, starting with Baltimore's defense. Yes, we saw Joe Flacco and Justin Forsett perform -- but oh, that Ravens defense put it on the board. Ryan Tannehill ate more grass Sunday than that annoying granola bar chick in your freshman Geology class. Six sacks ain't too shabby for Baltimore's pass rush.
... aaand the Dolphins continue to make their backers absolutely bonkers. This team has cornered the market on mediocrity since Y2K, or at least given Nic Cage a run for his money. Spoke with a Dolphins beat writer Sunday morning who told me the club views Lamar Miller as someone who gets weaker as the game progresses, hence the limited carries. Methinks running the football 18 to 20 times -- especially given Miller's 4.8 yards-per-carry mark -- would slow down pass rushes like the Ravens'.
Ryan Fitzpatrick what you will: placeholder, bus driver, game manager ... well, alright, so he
is kind of a game manager. But it's his baby right now, and at least he didn't make plays to hand his opponent a win, à la
Josh McCown and
Brian Hoyer. So let's allow this thing to play out.
Power Rankings side note: I might be coming around on that " J.J. Watt for MVP" push. Maybe.
Bills made it interesting in the end
at Denver; in fact, they accumulated 285 yards of offense in just five second-half possessions. Of course, the
Broncos had already jumped out to a 21-3 lead.
The bottom line is, this club is eventually going to have to enter the expectation phase, in which the Bills will actually be expected to beat a good team on the road as opposed to getting kudos for keeping it close. Not trying to be harsh; that's just what this pro game is all about.
Do you realize the
Rams have won their last two games by the combined score of
76-0?! How does that even happen in today's world, what with every spot getting reviewed and 2-yard runs deciding games in the giant parity party that was Paul Tagliabue's grand vision? How do the
Rams, of all teams, go back-to-back like that, jack?
Well, you can start with the pass rush. Been saying it all year, but Chris Long's absence and return were underreported. Did you see how the Rams got to the quarterback in Washington on Sunday? Colt McCoy did.
It's not looking good for San Francisco these days. Colin Kaepernick seems more skittish in the pocket than Newman trying to escape Jurassic Park with the dino DNA in that shaving-cream can. Speaking of, he would probably have more luck running for a touchdown than these Niners, who have scored all of one TD in their past 24 drives.
Big ups to the
Vikings. Entering this season, not sure a lot of people would have put them at 6-7 at this stage of the season, not with Minnesota playing in the NFC North. In fact, I think most analysts had them at 6-10 for the year. Kudos to first-year coach
On another front, even the most ardent Vikings supporter (#SKOL) has to laugh at the idea that Teddy Bridgewater was "clutch" for "throwing the winning touchdown pass." Dude, it was a bubble screen that Lucas could've completed. Calm down, highlight commentators.
That Atlanta offense gave Green Bay all it could handle
Monday night. This is how the
Falcons' injury report should read this week:
William Moore: Questionable (foot)
Paul Soliai: Probable (shoulder)
Julio Jones, Questionable (exhaustion -- toasting Packer DBs too many times)
Robert Alford, Questionable (wrist)
Roddy White, Probable (ankle)
Of all the crazy things to happen in Week 14's games, tell me anything -- anything -- matches what the Panthers' defense accomplished in New Orleans. How often does a defense go into the Superdome and limit a Sean Payton/ Drew Brees offense to three points past the halfway mark of the final quarter? I went back and looked at every home game in the Payton era, and it's never happened. What we're saying is, Ben Watson's late touchdown came in what was the very definition of garbage time. What a performance.
If you didn't read the
Panthers blurb, do so now; we'll wait a few moments. ...
OK. So what's the issue, Saints fans? New Orleans has never played like this in front of the home folk. Sure, Rob Ryan's defense is deservedly coming under fire, but what about the offense? Is it the play-calling? Drew Brees? The receivers? The offensive line? (Hit me up @HarrisonNFL.) The crazy thing here is that New Orleans can still win the NFC South.
While it's certainly been a challenging season for Big Blue, I've been saying on both "NFL Fantasy Live" and NFL NOW that you never see a Tom Coughlin-coached team quit. How about that defense in Sunday's win over the Titans? Three turnovers forced, one touchdown, eight sacks and zero points allowed. Tennessee converted just three of 16 combined third and fourth downs. And if you played against someone in fantasy who started the Giants' D [raises hand], you got deep-sixed, dude.
Sorry to see that Brandon Marshall will miss the remainder of what's been a very tough year for a guy who was arguably as premier as anyone entering 2014. One thing is true about Marshall: He really cares. Can you say that about every single one of his 'mates? I know a lot of people who would answer that question with some passion.
Hated to see Colt McCoy falter on Sunday. Hint to Washington: There's this new invention called "pass protection" that allegedly helps quarterbacks thrive. Speaking of thriving, can a Redskins fan explain to me how this team is supposed to do anything close to that when the head coach and "starting" quarterback -- or the front office and the head coach -- don't seem to be on the same page?
If you're a Raiders fan, you have permission to run around the house in your underwear, hootin' and hollerin' for a week. Don't do the dishes, forget the laundry and let all those address labels sent to you by charities sit on the floor. So happy for that fan base. The team, meanwhile, deserves big props -- which you see reflected in this jump.
As happens so often with bad football teams, the Jaguars let the second half get away from them Sunday. That's OK; the same fate befell the last "Planet of the Apes" movie. Jacksonville came out of halftime with a 13-10 lead over the Texans -- then proceeded to run 13 plays over their next three drives for a total of minus-1 yard. Oy.
Rough start for Geno Smith. I can only imagine the reaction across sports bars in Brooklyn, Long Island and Jersey when Geno got pizza rolled right off the bat, throwing a pick-six on the first play from scrimmage against the Vikings. But how about the way the kid didn't fold? Don't know about you, but I saw a team that kept playing Sunday.
Follow Elliot Harrison on Twitter @HarrisonNFL.