FINAL NFL POWER RANKINGS and Post Season Predictions

NFLTeams

My final 2012 rankings and they are exactly the same top 12 teams as were listed here last week. The Vikings beat the Packers to secure the 6th NFC playoff spot and the Redskins defeated the Cowboys Sunday night to win the NFC East.

Eight of the top twelve teams are the same as I had in week 1 of the season. I keep the Falcons ahead of the Broncos because the Falcons beat the Broncos earlier in the season. That gives them a slight edge even with the Broncos playing better now.

AFC championship:
I have the Broncos and Patriots meeting for the AFC championship as they are my top 2 ranked AFC teams. It’s easy to picture a showdown between the sheriff Manning and Brady. A game not to be missed. The Texans appear to be losing momentum now.

NFC Championship:
I think the NFC is more up for grabs for several teams but in my rankings I have the Falcons hosting the 49ers in the NFC championship. The Packers are certainly capable of making it to the NFC championship and the Seahawks along with the surging Redskins could be the surprise team that make it too.

Super Bowl:
I expect it to be the Falcons and the Broncos playing for the NFL championship.

FINAL Ranking 2012 (0 = no change)

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

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Cowboys and Redskins Analysis: This one Comes Down to Turnovers

Round 1 went to RG3.

Round 1 went to RG3.

It’s all on the line Sunday night when the Cowboys play at Washington to determine the NFC East Champion. These teams met back on Thanksgiving Day and the Redskins spoiled the turkey for Dallas as they exploded for 28 points in the 2nd quarter and held on to win 38-31. Romo had a huge second half finishing with 441 yards passing, but the Cowboys just fell short.

Obviously one key of the game for Dallas will be get off to a quicker start in order to quiet the Redskin home crowd a little and prevent the explosion of points.

I expect that Sunday night’s game will have a playoff game feel to it as Dallas will be eliminated if they lose and while the Redskins could still make the post season with a loss, it would require help that they aren’t likely to get. In playoff games, turnovers usually play a big role in determining the winners.

Give away/take away
So far this season the Redskins have a plus 14 margin in give away/take away which puts them at the top of the NFC in that category only behind the Bears who have a plus 16. Dallas has struggled in this area and while it has improved late in the season, they still have a minus 10 margin in give away/take away. It puts them toward the bottom of the NFC in this important category.

The Redskins have been excellent at taking care of the ball as they only have 14 turnovers (fumbles and interceptions combined) this season. That is the least amount of turnovers of any team in the NFL!

For Dallas to win in Washington, their defense and/or special teams must come up with at least a couple turnovers while Romo and the offense can not afford to give the ball away. It has not been a strength for them this season but to beat a good team on the road, they will have to find a way to get turnovers.

On Thanksgiving Day, the Cowboys had 3 turnovers (2 INTs and 1 fumble) while the Redskins had only one INT. The Redskins had a plus 2 advantage in turnovers that game and they won.

Panthers Beat Redskins on November 4:
The last time a team beat this hot Redskin team was on November 4 when the Carolina Panthers went to D.C. and came out with a 21-13 win. How did they do it?

-Neither the Redskins or Panthers had turnovers in that game so no turnover advantage for the Redskins in that one.
-The Panthers sacked RG3 four times that game. Dallas had 3 sacks last time they met and will need to pressure RG3 again.
-The Panthers were able to run the ball effectively for more than 100 yards which most teams have not been able to do against the Redskin defense that has been only allowing 95 yards rushing/game. That is 5th best in the NFL.

Last time, the Cowboys only rushed the ball for 29 yards as they were without DeMarco Murray who was injured. And once they fell so far behind, they were forced into all passing. They were also without their starting LT Smith and their starting center too. All are expected to play this time. It should help the run game.

Keys to Dallas winning the game:
Turnovers: The Cowboys can not afford to let the Redskins have a turnover margin advantage.
Rushing: With Murray playing this game, the Cowboys will need to have a much better effort rushing the ball and avoid putting it all on Romo. The Panthers were effective at running draws and delays against the Redskins.
Pressure: Like the Panthers did in their win, the Cowboys must sack and consistently pressure RG3.
Big Plays: On Thanksgiving, the Cowboy secondary allowed long pass plays in that disastrous 2nd quarter. The safeties can not allow Redskin receivers to get behind them ever. As they found out, RG can throw it a mile.

The Redskins are favored in this game and with good reason. They whipped Dallas last time and have not been beaten since then either. To have a chance at winning this one, Dallas will have to come out on top of the turnover margin, have success running the ball, and sack RG3. Also avoid the long back breaking pass plays with blown coverage.

Everyone of these areas have been a weakness for the Cowboys all season. But they just need to put it all together for 60 minutes Sunday night.

Does Jason Garrett’s Fate Rest on Sunday’s outcome with the Redskins?

Jason Garrett

Jason Garrett

Owner Jerry Jones has not said that Jason is playing for his job Sunday night when the Cowboys have a show down with the Redskins for the NFC East title. In fact, Jerry has dismissed that he is even considering replacing Jason right now.

I would expect an owner to say that with a big game coming up where a victory would win the NFC East and have the Cowboys hosting a playoff game. There is still a possibility that this all will have a happy ending for Jason and Cowboy fans.

Earlier this season former Cowboys coach Jimmy Johnson said he believed Jason was coaching for his job this year. I tend to believe that Jimmy should have a good idea about the situation in Dallas since Jerry was once his boss.

When the Browns played in Dallas, Jerry visited with former coach and soon to be ex-GM of the Browns, Mike Holmgren. Both Jerry and Mike denied anything was up with that visit. Again, you would expect them to say that even if something was up.

If the Cowboys manage to pull out an upset against the Redskins in Washington, finishing 9-7 and consequently winning the NFC East, then I think there is little doubt that Jason will remain as the Cowboys head coach. I can’t imagine there being any coaching change at all in that scenario. It will be easy to make the case that some progress has been made at that point.

But what if Dallas losses the game to finish the season 8-8 and miss the playoffs again this season? Last season Jerry was on a mission after the Cowboys lost their last game of the season to the Giants, which caused them to miss the playoffs and finish 8-8. He replaced long time secondary coach Dave Campo and brought in a new offensive line coach too. Several player personnel changes were made with an emphasis on revamping the secondary.

If the Cowboys lose to the Redskins, then I think Jerry must take a serious look at replacing Jason Garrett as head coach. If he doesn’t replace him, then we can come to only one reasonable conclusion…..Jason has photos of Jerry with an inflatable doll! I mean what else could save this guy for crying out loud?

Mark Twain is credited with saying, “Never let the facts get in the way of a good story” and that reminds me of the situation in Dallas. The Jason Garrett as head coach of the Cowboys story is a good one, but it’s the unfortunate facts or results on the field that get in the way of the nice story.

Fans realize a lot is at stake in that game Sunday night but Jason’s fate as the Cowboys coach just may be on the line too.

NFL POWER RANKINGS: WEEK 17: Still a Couple Spots in the Post Season Available.

NFLTeams

All 32 NFL teams ranked.

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 12 Teams:
My top 12 teams remain the same this week with just the Redskins and Vikings holding on to spots that are not locked yet. The Redskins will need to defeat the Cowboys to win the East and the Vikings are being challenged by the Bears along with other teams as well. The Vikings play a Packers team next week that has little at stake in the game since they have clinched their division.

At this point I have a Falcons/Broncos super bowl but let’s see what happens next week. The last ranking will reflect the way I see it all ending in the post season.

The Texans are cooling off at the wrong time and I wouldn’t read too much into the beat down the Seahawks put on the 49ers. I don’t think the game had much meaning for the 49ers who will still win the division and lock up the 2nd spot in the NFC with a win over the pathetic Cardinals.

WEEK 17 2012 (0 = no change)

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

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The Cowboys and Redskins Meet in Final Regular Season Game: Two different Coaches Represent Two Different Approaches

shanahan

Jason Garrett

Jason Garrett


With a Giants loss to the Ravens, the NFC East will come down to the final game with Dallas at Washington. It’s all on the line and as they come into the game, the Redskins held on against the Eagles to win while Dallas lost at home in O.T to the Saints who have a losing record.

If Dallas defeats the Redskins, they would have tie records overall, split two games, and tied in the division however the tie breaker would be common games where Dallas holds a slim advantage. Giving them the NFC East title.

Back on November 4, the season hit a low point for the Redskins after losing to the lowly Panthers. It was their 3rd straight loss and to say the least Coach Shanahan, who has a super bowl win, wasn’t a bit happy about it. They were heading into their bye week and at the post game press conference Shanahan stated coldly,

“Now you’re playing to see who obviously is going to be on your football team for years to come,” Shanahan said, via the Washington Post. “Now we get a chance to evaluate players and see where we’re at. “Obviously, we’re not out of it statistically, but now we find out what type of character we’ve got and how guys keep on fighting through the rest of the season.”

Since then the Redskins have won six straight games including defeating the Cowboys on Thanksgiving Day. I would say his team got the message.

At the time, some were critical of such a blunt approach to his players but now there is no arguing the results.

You are not going to hear that kind of evaluation talk from the Cowboys head coach Jason Garrett, who often coddles his players when they perform poorly and lose. No more was that on display when he had Josh Brent hanging out on the sideline after he killed a teammate in a drunk driving accident.

Garrett’s support of players mistakes goes too far and sends a message that we are one big happy family. But are they really? What happens if they continue to represent mediocrity and not make it to the post season? Does the family get broken up?

I think Shanahan has it right when he treats his players like men and tells them if you don’t perform, your career with this team may be short. It’s only a disservice to the players to make them feel like it will all be OK even if they fail to perform or win. History in the NFL would suggest other wise.

It has been inspiring to see how Shanahan’s team has responded with a determination to win since that call out from the coach. It’s like every week has been a playoff game for them.

The way the Cowboys have responded to their head coach hasn’t been a complete failure by any means as they won three straight after losing to the Redskins, before losing to the Saints in O.T. today. But few would argue with the fact that the Redskins are coming into the final game with more momentum and are the hotter team right now.

Earlier in the season former Cowboys coach Jimmy Johnson described the Cowboys environment as “country club” like where everyone feels the love. Will it remain that kind of environment if Dallas loses at Washington next week to go 8-8 and miss the playoffs again this year?

Or will it become a more realistic environment where coaches and players are fighting to survive every week? Looks like it’s working for Washington but we will see next week right?

Josh Brent on Sideline Not a Smart Move.

brent-josh-121216

During the Dallas Cowboys and Pittsburg Steelers game, Josh Brent was caught by cameras roaming the Cowboys sideline like any other inactive player. Problem is that he recently was charged with manslaughter when he wrecked while intoxicated killing teammate Jerry Brown. It’s turning into a P.R. nightmare for the Cowboys.

Brent has now been banned from the sideline after a stink was raised about it and both Jerry Jones and Jason Garrett cowardly say they had no idea he was going to be there. HERE If you choose to believe that they knew nothing of him being there, go ahead, but this blogger is calling bull on that one.

Wasn’t Brent in the locker room prior to the game? How could Jason not know? Did Brent just hide in a player’s locker then run out with them on the field? Some teammates gave him a ride there (he isn’t allowed to drive).

Brent is a very big dude and he was the one not wearing a Cowboys uniform. Should have been easy to spot. Just sayin’.

Jason has been out spoken in his determination to support Brent during this time. Jason is not going to let a little thing like getting drunk, driving, and killing a teammate in a wreck while intoxicated, stand in the way of backing up his players. While I can appreciate supporting teammates, this is going a bit too far.

The mother of the victim spoke out that she wanted Brent to receive support and help that he needed. I think Jerry and Jason need to use caution in not reading too much into that statement. Yes he needs help with his problem and the organization should see that he gets it, but she didn’t say go on like nothing ever happened. Brent must face some serious consequences for his poor choices and judgement that night.

Jason has stated that the team doesn’t condone drinking and driving but the problem is Sunday in front of a national audience it appeared that the organization didn’t have much of an issue with what Brent did. Those images said much more than Jason could ever say at some lame press conference.

As a long time Cowboys fan, I can’t say it made me proud to see Brent hanging out on the sideline.

Is it really a good idea to have a guy with a known drinking and driving problem hanging out with the team? Can anyone else see how that may go wrong? Again….

UPDATE 12/27/12: New Details just make the Cowboys look worse for even having him on the team to begin with.
Brent had served 30 days in an Illinois prison for driving drunk in 2009. He had an expired and suspended Illinois driver’s license, and is barred from driving unless he has a valid license.

NFL POWER RANKINGS WEEK 16: Angry Birds Back on Top of NFL

NFLTeams

All 32 NFL teams ranked.

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.

Angry Birds:
After the Falcons were embarrassed by the Panthers last week, the Angry Birds took it out on the Giants with a 34-0 beat down. That’s impressive enough for me to put them back on the top as they will likely cruise to a home field advantage throughout the NFC playoffs.

NFC: While the Falcons sit in a good position, they will face tough competition in the playoffs from the 49ers, Packers and the high scoring Seahawks. The NFC East is in a 3 way tie and the final wildcard spot is yet to be determined but with two weeks left, the Vikings are sitting in that spot.

AFC: Even after the 49ers game Sunday night, I think the Patriots are still the team to beat in the AFC. The Pats will likely have to go on the road in the playoffs but with Brady, they can make it back to the super bowl. The Pats drop 2 spots this week but remain the top ranked AFC team.

The Texans beat a good Colts team and will likely have home field in the playoffs but right now I believe the Broncos are the hotter team. The Broncos are higher ranked now.

TOP 12:
The Bengals win and the Steelers lose in OT to Dallas so the Bengals for now are in the 2nd AFC wildcard spot. These two teams play next week with a chance to settle things. The Bears lost to the Packers and the Vikings bump them out of the top 12 spot. However the remaining schedule favors the Bears to get back in the top 12 as they play the Cardinals and Lions.

Biggest Movers
Down: The Giants move 6 spots down after getting blown out in Atlanta and allowing the Redskins and Cowboys to tie them in the East.
UP: The Redskins take advantage of the opportunity and move up 5 spots. Also the Vikings move up 5 spots taking advantage of the Bears loss.

WEEK 16 2012 0 = no change

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

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