2014 NFL TEAM POWER RANKINGS Week 3: Broncos Take Over Top Spot

NFLTeamsA power ranking of all 32 NFL teams after week two play.

The Twist: Each week my top 12 ranked teams will consist of 6 NFC teams and 6 AFC teams since 6 from each conference will qualify for the post season. I reflect the top 12 teams most likely to make the playoffs each week.

Each week, I have one NFC team and one AFC team in the top two to reflect who may end up in the super bowl.

NEW LEADER:
The Seahawks lost on the road at San Diego while the Broncos managed to hold off a late threat by the Chiefs to remain undefeated. So this week the two teams swap places at 1 and 2. With the Broncos going to Seattle next week, it may be a short time spent at the top for the Broncos.

After week 2 Biggest Surprise Teams:
Bills- Can’t say I had much confidence in the Bills and their QB play before the season but here they are 2-0 and at the top of the AFC East. Are the Bills for real? Starting to look like it.
Texans- Finished at the bottom of the NFL in 2013 but are now 2-0 and at the top of the AFC South.

Biggest Disappointing Teams:
Saints are “road kill”- As the joke goes, the Saints are changing their name to the N.O. Possums because they get killed on the road. The Saints are 0-2 on the road this season similar to their performance away from home last year. They need a home game in the worst way.
Chiefs- Made the playoffs last season but are struggling this year at 0-2. Yet to recover from that epic playoff melt down last season.

Week 3 Change
1. Broncos (2-0) +1
2. Seahawks (1-1) -1
3. Bengals (2-0) +1
4. Panthers (2-0) +2
5. Ravens (1-1) 0
6. 49ers (1-1) -3
7. Packers (1-1) 0
8. Patriots (1-1) 0
9. Eagles (2-0) +1
10. Cardinals (2-0) +1
11. Chargers (1-1) +1
12. Texans (2-0) +7
13. Bills (2-0) +8
14. Colts (0-2) -5
15. Falcons (1-1) -2
16. Lions (1-1) -1
17. Bears (1-1) +6
18. Jets (1-1) -1
19. Cowboys (1-1) +7
20. Steelers (1-1) 0
21. Dolphins (1-1) -5
22. Redskins (1-1) +8
23. Vikings (1-1) -5
24. Browns (1-1) +5
25. Saints (0-2) -9
26. Titans (1-1) -2
27. Rams (1-1) +3
28. Chiefs (0-2) -1
29. Giants (0-2) -7
30. Jaguars (0-2) -5
31. Bucs (0-2) -3
32. Raiders (0-2) 0

The NFL: Five Things We learned in week 2.

ap_roger_goodell_mt_140911_16x9_9921. The Cowboys can win the less Romo throws the ball. The Cowboys figured out how they can win a game. a) Don’t let Romo pass much. b) keep the defense off the field. When Romo just hands the ball to Murray, and the Cowboys dominate time of possession, suddenly their defense isn’t so bad and Romo stays out of trouble. .Against the Titans, the Cowboys rushed for over 200 yards and held the ball for 2/3 of the game. Now that’s the formula they won with back in the day.

2. The Redskins offense is much more effective with Kirk Cousins at QB instead of RG3 and out. It took RG going out with an ankle injury early in the game Sunday for the Redskin leaders to figure out that their best chance to win is with Cousins running the offense. Or maybe they don’t want to admit they invested too much into RG. Last week a total of 6 points with RG at QB and this week 41 points with Cousins. Pretty emphatic I would say. As Cowboy fans, let’s just hope for a speedy recovery for RG and a return to the bench for Cousins.

3. The New Orleans “Possums” get killed on the road. So far the Saints are 0-2 on the road and last season wasn’t much better as they were 3-5 away while going 8-0 at home. Let’s just go ahead and change it to the N.O. Possums since, (all together now) “they get killed on the road”.

4. These Falcons can’t fly out doors. By losing at the Bengals, the Falcons have lost seven games in a row played in outdoor stadiums. Plans for their new stadium allow for the top to open but they may want to consider keeping it closed all the time.

5. Video evidence. There is a saying in business that, “nothing is more devastating to an opinion than a number”. For the NFL I would say we found out nothing is more devastating to an opinion than a video. As in the Ray Rice in the elevator video, that dominated NFL news this week and caused the shady NFL commissioner to do a 180 on his opinion. It made Goodell look bad or maybe he made himself look bad by evidently conducting a drive by investigation to keep a star player on field as much as possible.

Anyone else think the main stream news has become like TMZ and TMZ has become the news?

On to week 3!

These Six 2013 NFL Playoff Teams Could Fall to 0-2 This Week.

NFLTeamsTwelve NFL teams qualify for the postseason each year. After week one, currently half the teams who made the playoffs in 2013, are looking at falling to 0-2 this weekend. The season may not come to a crashing end for a team at 0-2 but history indicates 0-2 teams tend to not make the postseason. In fact, NFL history indicates that only 12% of teams starting the season 0-2 make the playoffs.

In 2013, 7 of 8 teams that started 0-2 did not make the playoffs. Only the Carolina Panthers were able to accomplish the unlikely feat of coming back from 0-2 to make the playoffs.

In 2012, all 7 teams that started the season 0-2 failed to make the playoffs. That means in the past two seasons only one NFL team out of 15 overcame a 0-2 start to make the playoffs. With 14 of 15, failing to make the playoffs.

A look at six NFL teams who made the playoffs last season but are looking at falling to 0-2 this week and I start with the teams I think are the most likely to fall to 0-2 and work my way to the ones who have the best chance to go 1-1. A must win week for these teams? Only if they plan to go to the postseason.

1. (0-1) Chiefs @ (1-0) Broncos
The Chiefs had one of the best come back seasons last year after finishing at the bottom in 2012. They made the playoffs in 2013 but blew a big lead to lose to the Colts 45-44. The Chiefs only managed to score 10 points in week one against the Titans and now they face a solid Broncos team in Denver. It could be a long season for the Chiefs if they lose this one and it is going to be a tough place to get a win.

I look for the on the road Chiefs to fall to 0-2 and miss the playoffs this season.

2. (1-0) Seahawks @ (0-1) Chargers
Seattle is not a good place to go play when a team needs a win so the Chargers are fortunate to get them in San Diego however it still will be a challenge. Perhaps the Chargers can score some points against the NFL’s best defense to avoid the 0-2 hole.

I look for the Chargers to likely fall to 0-2 and struggle to return to the postseason in 2014.

3. (0-1) Patriots @ (1-0) Vikings
Last week surprisingly the Patriots lost to the Dolphins and now must go play a 1-0 Vikings team that is much improved over last season. It’s going to be difficult for Brady and the gang to get a win at Minnesota this week to go 1-1.

The Patriots can win this game but I don’t think it will be easy at all. If they do fall to 0-2, could the Patriots miss the playoffs in 2014?

4. (1-0) Eagles @ (0-1) Colts
Last week the Colts lost at Denver which is certainly understandable but this week they need to get a win at home against an Eagles team that can score some points. Last week the Eagles started slowly but came from behind to beat the Jaguars. Last season the Eagles were much better on the road than at home so the Colts could have their hands full to get their first win.

I think the Colts are in for a real battle to avoid an 0-2 start and make the playoffs again.

5. (1-0) Jets @ (0-1) Packers
The Packers lost at Seattle like everyone else does but this week they return home to face a Jets team they should be able defeat.

I like the odds that the Packers win and improve to 1-1 keeping playoff hopes alive.

6. (0-1) Saints @ (0-1) Browns
Last week the Saints lost an important NFC South game to the Falcons in O.T. The Saints Defense allowed 37 points and a very generous 448 yards of offense. Their defense must play better this week in Cleveland for the Saints to get their first win and remain in the playoff hunt.

I expect the Saints to out score the Browns and go to 1-1.

Time For Tony Romo To Refer To Parcell’s “11 Quarterback Commandments”

romo sackedWe all saw it Sunday and it was an ugly performance from Romo. Even the most avid Romo supporters who often defend and protect the Dallas Cowboy QB, are pointing the finger at him after this game. His three interceptions and poor decisions hurt the team and Garrett said it wasn’t because he was rusty either. Basically the coach said he just stunk up the joint or as close to that as you will ever hear an imperturbable Garrett say. PFT STORY

I’ve been quite critical of Romo’s play for the last couple years and in the preseason, I blogged of my observations of weaker throws and I just never bought into “Romo is all good to go” which Jerry Jones and the gang were selling. But kicking him now would be too easy.

After a poor performance in any sport, I’m a firm believer in getting back to the basics. It’s the most effective way to climb out of the hole he finds himself in currently.

HOF Coach of Romo:
Coach Bill Parcells is a Hall of Fame Super Bowl winning coach who was Romo’s coach as an undrafted rookie QB in 2003. It was Parcell’s first year as coach of the Cowboys. Prior to 2003, the Cowboys had three straight 5-11 seasons but in his first year, Parcells led Dallas to the playoffs. And he led them to the playoffs with Quincy Carter as their QB. Let that sink in! An automatic qualifier for the HOF in my opinion.

In 2004 Carter was released due to substance abuse. Parcells had this interesting comment about Carter,
“He was smart. He understood it. But I just couldn’t save his ass. I really couldn’t. “You just didn’t have the time. There he is, he got his team in the playoffs, he’s the starting quarterback of the Dallas Cowboys, he’s playing good, he’s improving, he can get out of trouble, he’s pretty smart, he can make almost every throw — and it’s just, some people just can’t fight the pressure to succeed. They just can’t fight it. It’s too much on them once the bar gets up a little bit. It’s too much. I don’t know all the problems or the demons exactly, but that’s what eventually took him down.”

Carter’s release helped open the door for a young gunslinger, named Tony Romo. Could he “fight the pressure to succeed?”

11 Commandments from Bill Parcell’s Bible of football:
Coach Parcells had a list of 11 quarterback commandments and evidently Romo keeps this list in his locker. Parcells gave the list to Romo prior to a MNF game in 2007 with the Bills, that will be remembered as a classic. In that game Romo threw five INTs and had a fumble but still led Dallas to an incredible 25-24 victory.

Tony, it may be time to get that list out and highlight a couple of them. COMPLETE LIST

Here are a few I recommend for Romo’s consideration.
1. Ignore other opinions – Press or TV, agents or advisors, family or wives, friends or relatives, fans or hangers on – ignore them on matters of football, they don’t know what’s happening here.

DTR Comment: This week everyone and their brother will have advice and criticism. The same people who told you how great you are when it was going good. May just want to turn off Sportscenter and sink yourself into focusing and preparing for the next game.

6. Be the same guy every day – in condition. Preparing to lead. Studying your plan. A coach can’t prepare you for every eventuality. Prepare yourself and remember, impulse decisions usually equal mistakes.

DTR Comment: I would add even with a huge contract be humble and remember what the heck got you here. And it wasn’t trying to be a hero. Football is the ultimate team game so trust your teammates and watch the impulse decisions.

If your back is OK like you say, then show up for EVERY practice and lead your teammates. If he isn’t able to practice, then someone else should start the game. No more special treatment.

9. Get your team in the end zone – passing stats and TD passes are not how you’re going to be judged. Your job is to get your team in the end zone and that is how you will be judged.

DTR Comment: Evidently Parcells came up with this one before fantasy football became so popular. When I read this one, I thought of the play Sunday where Dallas had a 2nd and 1 at the two and Romo decided to check out of the run to Murray into a pass play which resulted in a sack. The team had to settle for 3 points when they were in excellent position to tie the game at 7. Even if there are 11 defenders lined up in the hole, just give the ball to Murray. Trust your highly rated offensive line and get in the endzone. DON’T TRY TO BE A HERO.

I also think of the critical red zone interception when Romo appeared to be looking for his BFF Jason Witten when Harris was obviously wide open for a TD in the endzone. Don’t over think it, hit the open guy and score.

And last but certainly not least,
11. Don’t be a celebrity QB – we don’t need any of those. We need battlefield commanders that are willing to fight it out, every day, every week and every season and lead their team to win after win after win.

DTR Comment: I love this one from Parcells. In the off season I was critical of Romo attending high profile sporting events with Coach Garrett. Funny, it’s hard to picture Coach Parcells hanging with his QB at basketball games isn’t it?

The photo of Romo in the best seats at AT&T hanging out with owner Jerry Jones and a couple former presidents gives the impression this Cowboy QB has won super bowls and reached the highest point in his sport. But he hasn’t even been in the playoffs in recent years.

Tony-Romo-HeatAlso photos with high profile athletes (LeBron James) make Romo just another Johnny Football out there soaking up his five minutes of fame. See, rolling with champions doesn’t make you one it just makes you a groupie.

It all needs to stop because as the QB, you are leading guys into battle and they need a guy like them not a Prima Donna, lime light seeking, Kardashian.

Let’s keep it real Romo, you aren’t a super bowl winning HOF quarterback yet, so to quote the late Casey Kasem, “keep your feet on the ground and keep reaching for the stars.” Time spent at all the photo opportunity events is time you could spend getting better.

DTR Final Snap:
How Romo responds next week remains to be seen but it’s time to get that commandment list out and get back to football basics. It was Parcells that sagely warned:
“Success is never final, but failure can be.”

2014 NFL Team Power Rankings WEEK 2

NFLTeamsA power ranking of all 32 NFL teams after week one play.

WEEK 3

The Twist: Each week my top 12 ranked teams will consist of 6 NFC teams and 6 AFC teams since 6 from each conference will qualify for the post season. I reflect the top 12 teams most likely to make the playoffs each week.

Each week, I have one NFC team and one AFC team in the top two to reflect who may end up in the super bowl.

Biggest Movers UP:
Falcons- Big division win at home over the Saints in OT.
Dolphins- Surprising win over the Patriots.
Vikings- Rolled up the Rams with no problem.
Bills- Low expectations for the Bills but they defeat the Bears in OT.

Biggest Movers Down:
Rams- Look good on paper but still look bad on the field.
Chiefs-Listed them as a team I expected to decline in 2014 but it’s even worse than I thought.
Saints- Not even Drew Brees can score enough for a Rob Ryan defense.
Redskins- Only 6 points against the worst team in the NFL last season.

       Week 2        Change
1. Seahawks   (1-0)  0
2. Broncos      (1-0)  0
3. 49ers          (1-0) +3
4. Bengals      (1-0) +4
5. Ravens       (0-1)  0
6. Panthers     (1-0) +6
7. Packers       (0-1)  0
8. Patriots       (0-1) -4
9. Colts           (0-1)  0
10. Eagles      (1-0) +1
11. Cardinals  (1-0) +2
12. Chargers  (0-1) -2
13. Falcons    (1-0) +8
14. Saints       (0-1) -11
15. Lions        (1-0) +1
16. Dolphins   (1-0) +11
17. Jets          (1-0) +1
18. Vikings     (1-0) +7
19. Texans     (1-0) +7
20. Steelers  (1-0) +4
21. Bills          (1-0) +10
22. Giants      (0-1) -5
23. Bears       (0-1) -8
24. Titans        (1-0) +6
25. Jaguars     (0-1) -2
26. Cowboys   (0-1) -6
27. Chiefs        (0-1) -13
28. Bucs          (0-1)  0
29. Browns      (0-1)  0
30. Redskins   (0-1) -11
31. Rams        (0-1) -9
32. Raiders     (0-1)  0

A Look Back at The Cowboys/49ers OT Classic in 2011: And Sunday’s Matchup

jesse-holley-203x300A look back the last time these two teams met back in September 2011 that provided an exciting game that was decided in overtime. And a comparison to the matchup to be played on Sunday the first game of their season.

In 2011, QB Tony Romo hit wide receiver Jesse Holley for the winning score in overtime. Jesse Holley was the survivor of Michael “Play Maker” Irvin’s reality show “4th and long” and that’s how he got an opportunity with the team after playing football and basketball at UNC. Holley was a member of the basketball team that won the National Championship in 2005. Prior to appearing on “4th and Long” Holley was selling cell phones back in NC.

In OT, Dallas faked a run to the right and Romo pulled up and hit a wide open Holley who had slipped behind the defense completely undetected. He was chased down and tackled at the one setting up the game winning field goal 27-24.

Romo Gutsy Perfromance:
It had been a 49er type game that was plenty physical in fact Romo was hit by CB Carlos Rogers after a pass that cracked Romo’s ribs and even punctured his lung. After making a few painful pass attempts that looked off target, Romo left the game and backup QB Jon Kitna took over eventually throwing two interceptions.

In a display of courage, Romo returned to the game with Dallas trailing by 14 points. As far as I’m concerned, this was the most gutsy performance in Romo’s career and ranks high among all NFL QB gutsy performances for that matter.

He led Dallas back to a win including that strike to Holley. Romo passed for 345 yards and two TDs that day and that was after throwing a late interception the previous week against the Jets that resulted in a loss. It is the familiar roller coaster ride that Cowboy fans experience with Romo as QB. He makes a late game blunder one week and then provides the winning pass the next.

Romo 2014:
Romo’s ribs are OK now, but this time Romo faces the 49ers after back surgery so another gutsy performance will no doubt be required to survive 4 quarters against the 49er defense. In preseason, Romo has looked fine passing for the most part but perhaps not as mobile as fans are use to seeing. The highly regarded offensive line will need to be on top of their game. Romo took some hits with 3 sacks against the Dolphins and while he missed some practice, he appears ready to go.

WR Jesse Holley No Longer in NFL:
In 2011, WR Dez Bryant missed the game with injury and Miles had gone out with a hamstring injury (sound familiar?) which provided Holley an opportunity for heroics. Austin injured his hamstring on an odd play call that had him line up in the backfield and run a toss sweep. Holley was a solid special teams contributor for Dallas who made a big play when his team needed him.

2014: With Holley gone, does Dallas have a guy who can make a big play Sunday? Yes I believe Dwayne Harris can make a game changing play on kick returns and/or as a backup wide receiver. He is the type that may be overlooked but comes up big in the game Sunday.

WR Miles Austin now on Browns Roster:
In 2011, Holley may have had the big catch but it was Miles Austin who had a HUGE game against the 49ers. He scored three TDs and caught a total of 9 passes for 143 yards. Most of the damage came with Austin lined up as the slot receiver.

2014: Austin moved on to Cleveland so does Dallas have a receiving threat in the slot on their roster? Yes I think Cole Beasley can be difference maker for Dallas coming out of the slot. While matching Austin’s performance will be challenging, I do think Beasley who will start for the first time this season, could be a player that finds the open spots in the secondary on Sunday. Defenses will game plan for a beast like Dez if they are wise, but it could be Beasley that benefits from that attention.

Dallas with Five Sacks in 2011:
In 2011 against the 49ers, the Dallas defense managed to sack QB Alex Smith five times. Ware and Hatcher had two sacks each and Ratliff had one. All three of those guys are absent from the Cowboys roster in 2014.

2014: With those three defensive linemen gone, does Dallas have guys who can step up and fill their shoes? This is an area of major concern because answers on the defensive line have yet to emerge. They signed DT Henry Melton in the off season and hope he can replace a guy like Hatcher. At DE, Dallas has had to scramble to find healthy bodies. Selvie is injured and Lawrence will be out for several weeks.

Alex Smith wasn’t much of a threat to run for a first down in 2011, but in 2014 QB Kolin Kaepernick has the ability to beat you when he runs. He provides an even bigger challenge for a defense that struggled last season and has a lot of question marks. On Sunday, Dallas will need a defensive lineman or two to step up and make a play.

Dallas goes into the game Sunday with a defensive line that pales in comparison to that line in 2011 that sacked Smith five times.

Final Wrap:
Dallas has offensive weapons that can keep them in the game with a tough 49er defense. Similar to 2011, the Cowboys will need another gutsy performance from Romo and some new faces will need to step up.

While the Dallas defense faces a 49er offense that has struggled some recently, they come into the game with enormous question marks on their defense particularly on the defensive line. I think they must come up with a couple turnovers to hang in this game to have a chance for another exciting finish like in 2011. And perhaps a heroic play from an obscure player like Holley provided.

Kyle Orton Pump Fakes Jerry and Signs with Bills

Kyle_Orton_072512_250Just last December Kyle Orton was leading a Dallas Cowboys drive that he hoped would be a game winning drive to put the Cowboys in the playoffs. But a pass behind Miles Austin was intercepted by the Eagles which prompted owner Jerry Jones to turn away and yell in disgust. CLIP

In June there was talk of an Orton retirement and also reminders from Jerry that his attendance was mandatory and Orton could face big fines if he didn’t honor his contract. In July, Jerry cut Orton after Orton didn’t show up at all, didn’t retire, and consequently didn’t pay any fines either.

Recently Orton signed with a quarterback needy Bills team for what is reported will pay him $5 million this season. He sits behind a young and struggling EJ Manuel. And he didn’t even have to show up to a single preseason practice or workout. That’s after walking away with a nice signing bonus from Jerry of $3.4 million he would have lost had he retired. And he did not fulfill his contract either thank you very much.

Orton pump faked Jerry out of his star covered boxer shorts on this one. Orton should write a book called, “Punking NFL Owners for Dummies.” He showed us all how it’s done.

It should be clear to all of us now that Orton never had any intentions of playing another down in Dallas for Jerry and he is not the first player to recently display this kind of rebellious attitude.

Jeremiah was a bull frog named Jay
Last year it was defensive lineman Jay Ratliff (goes by Jeremiah Ratliff in his post Cowboys career) who put the swim move on Jerry by making the most of his groin injury to stay off the field much to Jerry’s frustration. Jerry was talking that same old contract obligation stuff but eventually, Jerry cut him (which clearly Jay wanted) and Ratliff’s groin miraculously healed and now he plays for the Bears. Is there a doubt in anyone’s mind that Ratliff wanted out of Dallas and away from Jerry?

In the off season defensive linemen DeMarcus Ware and Jason Hatcher also signed with other teams it would appear primarily because they were offered bigger contracts than Jerry was willing to offer. Hatcher commented that Jerry didn’t even try to work out a deal and seemed a little miffed about it all.

Player Morale an Issue in Dallas?
After safety Will Allen was cut by the Cowboys in 2013, he described an atmosphere that was very tense with pressure on players and over all not conducive to player success. “It was a very micro-managed atmosphere. You just need a cohesion there that allows players and coaches to really execute and do their jobs and it’s not something hanging over their heads”, Will Allen said.

A case of sour grapes from a cut player? Maybe, but when you put it all together, something seems out of synch in Dallas and that could explain the lackluster results on the field and total lack of player loyalty to the organization at times. Something just doesn’t seem quite right.

Defensive lineman Marcus Spears was a respected voice in the Cowboys locker room as a player from 2005-2012. Spears is not one described as a renegade or problem child by any means. In April, Spears posted a tweet, “RT @mspear96: Wonder if any other players get invited to these events off the cowboys team! Sends the wrong message to me”

His comment was in reference to two players Romo and Witten in a suite with Jerry the owner, Jason the coach, and a couple ex presidents (Bush & Clinton) during a sporting event. Spears explained, ” I raised the question about how that recurring scene — the head coach frequently hanging out with certain guys — could affect the rest of the team. Romo and Garrett have been spotted lately hanging out at SMU basketball games and even a Duke basketball game in Durham, N.C.”

Spears suggest that preferential treatment or the appearance of it, may exist in Dallas and it can potentially interrupt unity on a football team off the field and on it. We can’t dismiss Spear’s observations as completely off base. Romo also attended a George Strait concert at AT&T in June and was observed hanging out with Jones who had just passed on drafting Johnny Manziel in the NFL draft. At the time Romo said of decision to not draft Manziel, “More than anything,” Romo said, “it just shows a lot of people that we’re here to win — not just be a flashy program.” Oh really? Seems like a “good old boy” system in Dallas. Just sayin’.

Romo certainly appears to be a happy Cowboy with his phat contract, luxury box seats at basketball games, and a reduced practice schedule to accommodate his recovering back.

So far Orton is not talking about if he wanted out of Dallas or why. But he appears to be the most recent ex-Cowboy to give Jerry and his contract the middle finger like Johnny Football to a heckling Redskin bench. Back in December if Orton leads the Cowboys to a game winning drive and into the playoffs, things could have turned out mighty different. Or would they?