NFL Power Rankings WEEK 9: Dolphins No Shame in Their Game.

All 32 NFL teams ranked after week 8. Previous week.

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.

Top 8 Teams solidified:

No movement in the top 8 teams as they are holding their spots at the top.

Dolphins Stepping UP: The Dolphins now have a winning record (4-3) after beating down their division rival Jets. I moved the Dolphins up 5 spots into the top 12 as they are a team that is on a roll currently. Rookie QB Tannehill has improved and looks like a solid NFL QB.

The Dolphins replace the Chargers in my top 12 as they lost to the Browns who had only one win coming into the game. The Chargers appear ready to fold up like they do every year. The Chargers tumble down 10 spots to #21.

WEEK 9  2012      0 = no change.                           

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

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Polarizing QB Tony Romo: Time For Dallas to Move On?

There were boos in Texas Stadium Sunday and they had nothing to do with Halloween being a few days away either. Romo commented, “I would have booed us too.” Well hate to be the messenger Romo, but the boos weren’t for the team…they were for you! This is a case where you should take it personal.

Is Romo keeping the Dallas Cowboys from becoming a winning team?  That question was being debated today by NFL talking heads. At some point, doesn’t Romo have to be held accountable for his turnovers? Some fans will point to his ability to lead a comeback and his amazing numbers at the end of the game while others will point to the 4 interceptions that put the Cowboys in the hole early.

Last week in beating the Panthers, I pointed out in my blog that Romo finally had a game with no INTs. ROMO  But against the Giants, Romo returned to the Romo who makes even the most loyal Romo fan swear him off. Or just swear in general.

It was certainly a strange game with the Giants, where we saw a horrible start by Dallas followed by a remarkable come back that almost resulted in a victory that would be talked about for a long time in the future. Instead we are left to focus on what went wrong in this one.

Romo had 437 yards passing while Dallas couldn’t even manage 20 yards rushing in the absence of RB DeMarco Murray. Romo passed 62 times mostly because the Cowboys found themselves in a big hole in the first quarter led by Romo’s turnovers. Witten and Austin had monster games as they combined to catch 27 passes for 300 yards.

Defense Not the Whipping Boy Any Longer:

Have to give the defense credit for limiting the Giants to mostly FGs after the Cowboys offense set the Giants up. Eli Manning was kept in check with only 192 yards passing which normally would have been good enough to win. Last year often the defense was to blame for losses however they can’t be blamed for this one.

ROMO TD/INT Ratio:

So far this year in 7 games, Romo has thrown 13 INTs and only 9 TDs. Throwing more INTs than TDs is a real red flag for QBs in the NFL. Most the time teams lose when their QBs are on the wrong end of the INT/TD ratio. Last season every team with a QB who had more INTs than TDs, had a losing record.

Four other QBs in the NFL have thrown more INTs than TDs this year. Two of the QBs are rookies and 3 out of 4 are on teams who have lost much more often than won. The exception to that rule is Dolphins rookie QB Tannehill (4 TDs/6 Ints) who has the Dolphins with a winning record now. His play has improved a great deal since the beginning of the season. Soon I think his ratio becomes in favor of TDs.

The other 3 QBs are Cassel (Chiefs), Newton (Panthers) and Weeden (Browns).

What jumps out is that all the other QBs with more INTs than TDs, are very inexperienced compared to Tony Romo. Romo has too much experience to be playing like he has been playing. The INTs are very rookie like where a young QB is trying to read defenses and gets confused at times. Forgivable for a rookie but not a veteran like Romo.

Last year in the 2011 season, Romo only threw 10 INTs the whole year with 31 TDs. That should put it in perspective just how off he has been so far.

Turnover problem:

The Cowboys are worst in the NFC in give away/take away ratio with a dismal -11. The only team worse than them in the entire NFL are the Chiefs. Leading the way are Romo’s 13 INTs which are the most of any NFC QB. As you might guess, teams that turn it over more than take it away tend to lose.

Bench Romo?

Yes. It’s time to move on.

Sorry Romo loyalist but when any player is performing this poorly a coach must play the next guy in order to not only give the team a better chance to win but send an important message that everyone (even Romo) must earn their spot every week. Would the Cowboys tolerate a kicker who was missing FGs more often than making them? Of course not.

It’s not writing him off because he may put it together later in the season. Watching a game could be good for him and good for the offense too. It’s time for Jason Garrett to send a message to Romo and the entire team. Has Jason got the guts to do it? Don’t count on it.

When asked if Jason thought about benching Romo he said absolutely not. When asked why in the name of winning football games not, he said,

“Just watching him play football for the last five years,” Garrett said. “He’s an outstanding football player and I think everybody saw that. He did a great job of overcoming a lot of different things in this game. We became one-dimensional because of their commitment to stop the run, and I thought he did a great job giving us a chance to win the game at the end.”

Garrett evidently loves him some Romo kind of like T.O. “that’s my quarterback” in tears. Remember that? This fan has seen enough INTs this year to last me a lifetime and think it’s time for Dallas to try to win without Romo.

Giants Game Sunday is a Must Win for Dallas and Here is Why.

After squeezing out a victory against the Panthers, the Cowboys are now 3-3. Taking a look at the remaining 10 games for Dallas, I have come to the conclusion that they can not afford to lose to the Giants on Sunday.

After Giants, 2 brutal road games:

The Cowboys would next go play the undefeated (6-0) Falcons in the Georgia Dome where the Falcons rarely lose. Not likely to get a win there similar to playing at the Ravens and Seahawks where Dallas has previously lost.

Then the Cowboys would play in Philadelphia where the Eagles always up their game for the Cowboys. No matter how bad the Eagles have been playing, they will show up in a big way for the Cowboys. Forget winning, just getting out of there with your team still in tact is an accomplishment. Not feeling this one.

Can’t afford to be 3-4 headed to Atlanta and Philly facing the possibility of being 3-6.

However, if Dallas wins against the Giants then loses those 2 road games, they would be 4-5 but then there is light at the end of the tunnel. Five out of the last seven games would be at home in Cowboys Stadium. Realistically I think Dallas could win 5 of those 7 to finish the season 9-7. Good enough to make the playoffs? Maybe or maybe not. But better than last years 8-8.

The Last 7 Games:

WIN: First Dallas would be at home for the Browns who have only won one game so far. Like the Cowboys chances.

WIN: Then Dallas has another home game on Thanksgiving Day with their rival Washington. Yes they will bring in RGIII but I like the Cowboys chances on Turkey Day no matter who comes to town on that short week. Cowboys are 28-15-1 on Thanksgiving.

WIN: Then after a long week to prepare, the Eagles come to town. The Cowboys were swept last season by the Eagles but I like their chances to get a win at home.

WIN and a LOSS: Next two games are @ Bengals and home for the Steelers. Both the Steelers and Bengals have struggled this year and are not unbeatable. I just look for Dallas to win one of these two games.

WIN: Home against the struggling Saints. Yes they still have Brees at QB but they have a very generous defense. I think Dallas wins this one.

LOSS: The last game is at Washington where I picture RGIII having a good game. Not feeling great about this one already and it’s pretty far down the line.

Giants game the key:

Remains to be seen if a 9-7 record will be good enough to play in the post season but if Dallas loses to the Giants Sunday, I’m convinced they are looking at another 8-8 season at best, and I am confident that will not get it done.

NFL POWER RANKINGS WEEK 8: Vikes and Steelers move Into Top 12 Teams

All 32 NFL teams ranked after week 7. Previous week.

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.

NFC: The Vikings beat the Cardinals 21-14 so that moved the Vikes into my top 12 teams while the Cards move down from #7 to #13. Starting to think the Cards are not for real.

AFC: The Jets lost in overtime to the Patriots while the Steelers beat the Bengals in Cincinnati. That makes the Jets move down to #15 while the Steelers move up to #12. Not sure if Steelers are going to make a run now or if the Bengals are just that bad?

WEEK 8  2012                                 

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

It’s Not What Romo Did, But What he Didn’t Do, That Helped Cowboys Win

It’s the first game this season out of six games where Romo did not throw an interception as the Cowboys managed to hold off the 1-4 Panthers and get a hard fought 19 to 14 win. Had Romo thrown a pick in this game, I just don’t think the Cowboys would have been able to over come it and win. The game had that feel to it.

I said in my pregame blog that if Cam Newton throws an interception, the Panthers always lose. He did and they did. With a chance to score in the 2nd quarter, Cowboys rookie CB Claiborne intercepted Cam Newton in the endzone.  Who knows, that just may have been the difference in this one as the Cowboys offense struggled to score again in this game. It’s only the second interception for Dallas this season.

Claiborne the rookie top pick also made a key pass break up on 4th down late in the game to give the ball back to Dallas so they could eat up clock and add a little FG insurance.

Romo threw a TD pass to Miles Austin for their only TD and Bailey went 4-4 on FG attempts to give the Cowboys just enough points to win this game. But it’s more of what Romo didn’t do which is throw an interception, that helped the Cowboys win a game that they really had to win.

The Cowboys were without RB DeMarco Murray so they were never able to get the running game cranked up like they did last week against the Ravens. Felix Jones gave a good effort in producing 44 yards on 15 carries and backup RB Tanner also contributed 30 yards to the cause.

Romo was not sacked at all this game so another good effort by an offensive line that has been called out all year for being inadequate. Center Ryan Cook had to come in and play in place of Costa after he left the game in the 2nd quarter with an injury. Some of Cook’s snaps weren’t perfect but they managed to play through it well enough to stay out of trouble.

Having Spencer back on defense was a big help as he had a sack and 6 tackles. Not sure Dallas pulls this one out without him in the line up today. The Cowboys defense held the Panthers offense to a miserable 2 of 10 on 3rd down.

Sometimes less is more and Romo not throwing an interception helped the Cowboys escape with a win they just had to have.

Cowboys @ Panthers Preview: Both These Teams Could Use a “W”.

Last week the Cowboys had their opportunities to pick up a huge win at the Ravens but some clock mismanagement, missed FG, penalties and a plethora of blunders kept Dallas from winning a game they should have won. Similarly a few weeks ago the Panthers played a great game at the unbeaten Falcons but they couldn’t close it at the end and came away with a stinging loss.

Both teams were recently beaten by Seattle too and both desperately seek a “W”.

QBs: Tony Romo and Cam Newton are not having great seasons as both have thrown more INTs than TDs. Throwing more picks than TDs is a sure way to have a losing record which is where Dallas (2-3) and Carolina (1-4) find themselves. Romo has a pedestrian 82.1 QB rating and Newton has a 80.9 rating.

Cam has been sacked 13 times this season and Romo has been sacked 9 times. Newton provides a unique run threat that the Dallas defense will have to account for in their preparation. Cam has 209 yards rushing this season which is second only to RG3 among QBs.

The Cowboys passing game has been more productive than the Panthers passing game with 287 yards/game compared to 223.

A KEY to the game: Every game that Cam Newton has thrown an INT, the Panthers have lost going back to his rookie 2011 season as well. However Dallas has not been very effective at getting INTs as Sean Lee, a linebacker, has their only pick this season. In that category Dallas is dead last in the NFL.

If Dallas can manage to get Cam to turn the ball over, it almost guarantees a win.

Scoring has been boring: Carolina and Dallas average 18 points a game which has them ranked 29 and 30 in the NFL. Clearly the offenses have struggled scoring points this season.

Dallas Discovered Running Game? The Cowboys have been one of the weakest teams in the NFL at rushing the ball so far this season but pounded out over 200 yards rushing against the Ravens last week. An isolated success or has Dallas figured out that their linemen like to run the ball down hill instead of finesse?

It think this week offers another excellent opportunity for Dallas to pound the ball as the Panthers haven’t defended the run well for two years. Their tackling is laughable at times and while they have a real find in rookie LB Kuechly, overall the team isn’t real tough against the run.  Kueckly’s pursuit of the ball will remind Cowboys fans of their own Sean Lee.

The Panthers have allowed 127 yards a game rushing which is just a little better than how the Ravens have performed.

Unfortunately for Dallas, RB DeMarco Murray will miss the Panthers game with an injured ankle. Felix Jones who played his best game so far this season against the Ravens, will see a lot of carries. Felix had a TD and ran for 92 yards last week.

Undrafted rookie RB Lance Dunbar could also see action as he has displayed outstanding quickness and instincts in his limited opportunities. Dunbar could be a surprise to Panther defenders who can’t be looking for him to be as explosive as he actually is.

Panthers Defense: Charles Johnson and Dwan Edwards have been the Panthers most productive defensive linemen and C.J. had a monster game against the Falcons.

While the Cowboys secondary is top ranked in the NFL in yards allowed, the Panthers defensive secondary is ranked 19th. The Cowboys have a profound advantage in this area. Panthers middle LB Beason, once a pro bowler, has been a liability defending the pass this year as he isn’t the player he once was. Beason is expected to play against Dallas after suffering an injury. Whom ever Beason matches up with, is who Romo should give a serious look to when passing.

The Panthers have also had sub par play at safety this season as it is blamed by most Panther fans for why they lost to the Falcons.

A KEY to the Game: Dallas should do more play action pass since they ran the ball so well last week, and exploit the Panther safeties with deep passes.

Summary:

Both teams need a win in the worse way and face miserable seasons if they can’t pull this one out.

Dallas Offense: Pound the running game like last week and play action pass deep to Dez and Austin on running downs occasionally.

Dallas Defense: Cowboys should match up well with Panthers WRs but be aware that Cam likes throwing deep to Steve Smith. Pressuring Cam with a good pass rush will pay off. The Panthers are playing without their excellent center Ryan Kalil.

Please no more 3 man rush scheme crap that doesn’t work. This week Ryan, bring the heat and get after Cam.

NFL Power Rankings Week 7: Falcons Still Fly Above Rest of NFL After Texans Exposed by Packers

                     All 32 NFL teams ranked after week 6.  Previous week.

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.

Falcons Only Unbeaten:

For the past 3 weeks, I have had the Falcons ranked at the top while almost all other rankings have had the Texans. Sunday night Packer QB Rodgers carved up the Texans defense and handed them their first defeat. The schedule doesn’t get easier for the Texans coming up either. The Falcons have enjoyed a soft schedule so far but their schedule will get tougher too but for now, they are on top.

Giants are Back:

While I had the Falcons at the top, I have always believed that the 49ers actually may be the best team in the NFC but the Giants came into SF and put a beat down on the 49ers. That showed us that while the 49ers are a very good team, they have to show up every week. I thought rematches were made for the losing team to get revenge but the Giants were having none of that. This game is the first where the Giants looked like the super bowl champ Giants to me.

Moved them up into the top 5 teams this week. With Dallas and The Eagles losing, the Giants have moved to the top of the NFC East.

Jets in top 12?

Yes I moved the Jets into the top 12 and I couldn’t believe I was doing it either. Remember I put the best 6 teams in each conference in the top 12 and with the 3-3 Patriots losing at Seattle, the Jets and Dolphins (both 3-3 records) are now very much in the hunt of the AFC East title. The Bengals and Steelers both lost which opens the door for the Jets and Dolphins as AFC wildcard contenders.

WEEK 7  2012                                 

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