Thursday, September 11, 2014

2014 Week 2 NFL Power Ratings (September 11, 2014)

With the first week of NFL football in the books, it's time to go back to the drawing board and make some adjustments to the power ratings.

Most of the teams remain unchanged after the first week of games. However, there were a couple of squads that jumped out and got my attention, for better or for worse. While it may be dangerous to overreact to 60 minutes of football, it can also be detrimental to underestimate what occurred during Week 1. It's difficult to strike a balance between the two, and as a result I don't like moving any team too far up or down the spectrum based on one game of football. 

Here are my updated power ratings for Week 2...

85.0 Seattle
84.0 Denver
83.0 San Francisco
82.5 New Orleans
82.0 New England
81.5 Green Bay
78.5 Cincinnati, Philadelphia
78.0 Pittsburgh, Indianapolis
77.5 Detroit, Arizona, San Diego, Atlanta, Chicago
77.0 Carolina, Miami, Baltimore
76.5 Tampa Bay
76.0 Minnesota, Houston, Kansas City
75.5 NYJ, Tennessee
75.0 Buffalo, Washington, Dallas
74.5 NYG, Cleveland, St. Louis
73.5 Jacksonville
73.0 Oakland

Note: St. Louis has a * because they are down to their third-string quarterback. If Shaun Hill is available to start Sunday's game, then St. Louis would be more like a 76. 

Upgrades:
Detroit (77 to 77.5)
Atlanta (77 to 77.5)
Miami (76 to 77)
Minnesota (75.5 to 76)
Tennessee (75 to 75.5)
Buffalo (74.5 to 75)

Atlanta showed some resiliency in their comeback win against New Orleans, which definitely warrants some respect. In case we had forgotten, Matt Ryan reminded us that he is one of the upper echelon quarterbacks in the league (I'd take him over Foles any day of the week) after his 2013 campaign was sort of swept under the rug due to a poor performance by the team as a whole. I'm not sold on the defense, but boy did that Atlanta offense look impressive on Sunday. This team is nowhere near the 4-12 mark they put up last year, and it cannot be forgotten that the Falcons went 13-3 just two short years ago.

Minnesota looked impressive against St. Louis, although the final score may not give a true indication of how good each team is. Not only were the Rams forced to turn to third-string quarterback Austin Davis after Shaun Hill left the game due to injury, but St. Louis also committed 13 penalties resulting in 121 yards, as well as two turnovers. It was a sloppy performance overall to say the least. However, the Vikings averaged 6.1 yards per play and 6.0 yards per rush attempt against what is thought to be a stout, above-average defense, so you've got to give them some credit there. Overall, I was impressed with Mike Zimmer's debut and it's safe to say Minnesota proved to be the better team in this one.

Status Quo:
Seattle (85)
Denver (84)
San Francisco (83)
New Orleans (82)
Cincinnati (78.5)
Philadelphia (78.5)
Pittsburgh (78)
Indianapolis (78)
San Diego (77.5)
Baltimore (77.5)
Arizona (77.5)
Carolina (77)
Tampa Bay (76.5)
Houston (76)
NYJ (75.5)
Dallas (75)
Cleveland (74.5)
Jacksonville (73.5)
Oakland (73)

San Diego and Arizona are two teams to keep a close eye on during the next few weeks. Both teams looked fairly even on Monday night, but neither of them impressed me. San Diego had trouble moving the ball various times throughout the night and they could never really get into a rhythm. Similarly, Arizona's offense was mostly held in check, aside from a few big plays. Arizona's run defense was stellar, despite the absence of Darnell Dockett which was a positive sign. I was tempted to lower each team down to a 77, but decided to take the wait-and-see approach. It's tough to judge these two teams (compared to the rest of the league) based on that head-to-head matchup, and thus will keep my eyes peeled. 

Cincinnati's offense moved the ball with relative ease on Baltimore, but struggled mightily to convert in the red zone. The Ravens offense looked horrible in the first half, but nonetheless they still managed to spark a comeback and almost steal a game they had no business winning. Flacco threw the ball 62 times, which is absolutely ludicrous to me. The Bengals kicked five field goals (three of which occurred inside the red zone), which is obviously not a recipe for success. However, Cincinnati managed to scrap out a tight one, but the jury is still out on both of these teams as far as I'm concerned.

Philadelphia made survivor pool entrants like myself extremely weary after mailing in a first half clunker and finding themselves down 17-0 at halftime to a team that has been an NFL bottom dweller for years. Chip Kelly made some adjustments at the break and the Eagles ended up outscoring the Jags 34-0 in the second half. Despite the impressive comeback, Philadelphia's offensive line is decimated, and that 17-0 halftime deficit is nothing to gloss over. The division they play in might be terrible, but the Eagles are far from world beaters and I still have my reservations about this team.

Downgrades
New England (82.5 to 82)
Green Bay (82 to 81.5)
Chicago (78 to 77.5)
Kansas City (76.5 to 76)
St. Louis (76.5 to 74.5)
Washington (75.5 to 75)
NYG (75 to 74.5)

New England may have just come out flat in Week 1 and gone through the motions, but in the same token, Miami committed three turnovers so it's not like the Dolphins were sharp in this one either. Miami ended up blowing the game open in the second half, outscoring the Patriots 23-0. I was only able to see bits and pieces of this game, but I thought Bill Lazor's offense looked light-years ahead of the one we were accustom to seeing down in Miami.

Green Bay's defense couldn't have looked softer on Thursday night. Granted they had to face the Seahawks in Seattle, but the defense simply couldn't get stops and struggled to make tackles. We will find out more about the Packers as the season progresses, but the offensive line and defensive unit are two question marks that I would keep an eye on. After Brian Bulaga left the game with a knee injury, the offensive line fell apart once Derek Sharrod took over at right tackle. Aaron Rodgers was under all sorts of pressure, and as a result Green Bay couldn't move the chains on offense. I'm not a fan of Dom Capers and his defensive scheme and I wouldn't be surprised to see the Packers continue to struggle against above-average offenses.

Tampa Bay's offense couldn't have looked worse against Carolina. The Bucs were shutout for the first three quarters until they strung a few scoring drives together in the fourth. Some of Tampa Bay's struggles on offense could be attributed to the inexperience of their play-caller (offensive coordinator Jeff Tedford was unavailable to call plays), but nonetheless, it's tough to feel good about this offense. The offensive line did not look good to say the least, and to make matters worse Logan Mankins was injured during the game. However, I will take the wait-and-see approach with this team for now because I have respect for the defense and head coach Lovie Smith.

Week 2 Projected Point Spreads
Pittsburgh @ Baltimore (-2.5)
Detroit @ Carolina (-2)
Miami @ Buffalo (PK -120)
Jacksonville @ Washington (-4
Dallas @ Tennessee (-3)
Arizona (-2) @ NYG
New England (-3 -120) @ Minnesota
New Orleans (-5.5) @ Cleveland
Atlanta @ Cincinnati (-3 -120)
St. Louis @ Tampa Bay (-6)
Seattle (-5) @ San Diego
Houston (-1.5) @ Oakland
NYJ @ Green Bay (-8)
Kansas City @ Denver (-10.5)
Chicago @ San Francisco (-6.5)
Philadelphia @ Indianapolis (-2.5 -120)

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