Wednesday, September 18, 2013

NFL Power Poll, Week 2

The Dennis Green Edition.

Once again, we'll take each team and pose the question: "Who are you?" Are you the team we thought you were heading into the season? Or are you in the process of surprising us?

Note: For more background on "They are who we thought they were" and Dennis Green, see last year's week 2 power poll (be sure to scroll to the bottom for the video).

Rank (Last)
Who are you?
1 (3)
You are who we thought you were: A legitimate Super Bowl contender (with the usual caveats about injuries and it being week 2), who looks unbeatable at home. The offense hasn’t really gotten it going yet, and there are quite a few starters who should be returning from injury soon - a scary thought.
2 (2)
You are who we thought you were: The offense looks every bit as breathtaking as we expected. Wes Welker has fit into his new surroundings seamlessly. The defense actually looks a little bit better than expected, and they too are looking at getting a couple of reinforcements over the next few weeks. One fly in the ointment here: LT Ryan Clady was placed on season-ending IR today.
3 (1)
We don't know yet: I'm not over-reacting to the loss iN Seattle. Depsite the final score, San Francisco's defense also put the clamps on Seattle's offense pretty effectively. My bigger concern is the rushing game. Both the 49ers rushing offense and their rushing defense look significantly less impressive than the past couple of years.
4 (5)
We don't know yet: Last year the defense was a train wreck. It seemed unlikely they'd be that bad again, but the prevailing mindset was they'd again have to outscore teams to win. They held both of their opponents (one of whom was Atlanta) under 20 points. If the defense has improved that much, they could contend for the Super Bowl.
5 (6)
You are who we thought you were: A top-notch offense led by perhaps the top QB in the league. The defense is a bit weak, and they matchup terribly with the NFC West superpowers.
6 (7)
You are who we thought you were: A team that plays less than the sum of its parts. The offense looks a little better than expetced while the defense looks a little worse.
7 (4)
We don't know yet: I treat the Patriots like the Yankees: I'm not predicting any demises until I actually see a dropoff over the course of a season. Too often they start a bit slower than normal, the obituaries get written, and then we look up at the end of the season and they've won their division by a comfortable margin. That being said, if Brady doesn't get Amendola and Gronkowski back soon it's going to get ugly in Foxboro.
8 (9)
We don't know yet: It looks a lot like the same Jay Cutler roller coaster we've been watching for years now. The offense does look a little more complex than chuck-it-to-Brandon-Marshall, which is a plus. And the defense doesn't seem interested in falling off from last year's perch.
9 (8)
We don't know yet: We expected a high-flying offense and a defense good enough to get them to the playoffs, and then we'd see. The defense looks as suspect as we expected, but the offense hasn't hit the ground running. Injuries have played a role, but this team will only go as far as the offense takes them, so they need to shake off the cobwebs in a hurry.
10 (16)
We don't know yet: In actuality, this team is pretty much what we expected: they're bouncing back by not beating themselves. The unclear part is just how far can a steady, consistent team go in 2013?
11 (10)
You are who we thought you were: A good, but not great, team. Whether it's his red hair, or his mediocre arm, Andy Dalton will limit their potential. He's good enough to get them beat in the early rounds of the playoffs.
12 (18)
We don't know yet: The defense is just as stout as last season, but Ryan Tannehill looks better than expected in year 2.
13 (11)
You are who we thought you were: A good defense paired with a neutered offense. This is what happens when your quarterback triple-downs on his own ability and then wins the bet: you have to give up pieces around him. Losing Boldin in the offseason hurt their receiving corps. Losing Jacoby Jones in week 1 turned it skeletal.
14 (13)
You are who we thought you were: A decent team with a very good quarterback that can't possibly be nearly as lucky as last season.
15 (12)
You are who we thought you were: The Dallas Cowboys of the Tony Romo era: you'll put up yards and points, but somehow it will all end up about 8-8.
16 (19)
We don't know yet: The running game isn't a surprise. But the defense is playing at a higher level than anticipated. If they can keep it up, and enable the team to shelter Jake Locker on offense, they have a chance to steal one of the wildcard spots.
17 (17)
We don't know yet: The yearlong referendum on Sam Bradford continues. We simply don't have enough info to declare boom or bust yet.
18 (20)
You are who we thought you were: The defense looks better than anticipated, but this is a team that has not responded well to pressure since Cam Newton and the coaching staff got there. At this point, I'm thinking the coaching staff is more the problem than Newton.
19 (14)
We don't know yet: We're used to the Giants Jekyll and Hyding us over the course of the regular season, but 10 turnovers in 2 games is a little much, even for them.
20 (22)
You are who we thought you were: An entertaining, fast-moving team that a) will get Michael Vick killed, and b) can’t stop anybody.
21 (15)
We don't know yet: Griffin clearly isn't close to back yet. This team needed his spark and sizzle last year, because the rest of the team is only average. The defense isn't winning them many games, so without the explosive offense, the losses are going to pile up. Really, we had unrealistic expectations for RG#'s recovery, mostly thanks to Adrian Peterson's MVP year last year.
22 (25)
You are who we thought you were: A much more competitive team than last year, but they're still looking up at everyone else in that division.
23 (26)
We don't know yet: EJ Manuel looks much better than expected. That Carolina game is one Buffalo would have lost in years past.
24 (23)
You are who we thought you were: Talented, but wildly undisciplined, to the point that it costs them games.
25 (30)
We don't know yet: Rivers is doing a much better job of limiting the turnovers. But the defense is still made of swiss cheese, and if that continues, Rivers will return to his Captain Turnover ways.
26 (21)
We don't know yet: Right now they look old and decrepit. Roethlisberger is stuck trying to win games by himself in an offense he clearly doesn't believe in.
27 (24)
We don't know yet: We knew they were a solid team with a giant ? at quarterback. Honestly, I thought offensive coordinator Norv Turner could scheme to mitigate the weakness under center. So far that hasn't happened.
28 (31)
We don't know yet: The fact that they have been competitve so far is a huge step forward for this team.
29 (27)
We don't know yet: The offense is about as bad as expected, but the defense is carrying them towards competence. Usually one-sided teams like this don't last a full season, as the competent side of the ball eventually wears down trying to win games by itself.
30 (28)
We don't know yet: I don't know that anyone could have predicted the civil war that's brekaing out on this squad.
31 (29)
We don't know yet: Maybe Adrian Peterson made a deal with the devil and it only lasted one season. I mean, Christian Ponder wasn't any good last season either.
32 (32)
You are who we thought you were: A terrible team in year 1 of a total overhaul.

Biggest Risers: 
Kansas City, Miami (6 spots)

Biggest Fallers:
Washington,  (6 spots)
New York Giants, Pittsburgh (5 spots)

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