Wednesday, October 2, 2013

NFL Power Poll, Week 4

Once again it's time to take stock of my preseason predicitions now that 30/32 teams have played 4 games. We'll take a look at where I had each team in my preseason poll, and see just how awful poor my prognosticating skills were so far. 

Rank (Last)
How Am I Doing?
1 (2)
3rd - I had them pegged as the class of the AFC (correct), but not the NFL (incorrect). And while I didn't forsee just how lethal their offense would be, they have really surprised me by not missing a beat defensively despite a couple injuries and Von Miller's suspension.
2 (1)
1st - The defense may have taken a step forward from last year (scary thought), but the offense is still struggling to find its way after a terrific 2nd half of 2012. If they ever do get untracked, watch out NFL.
3 (3)
10th - I underestimated the strides they'd be able to make on defense. Though much like with the Broncos, the offense clicking on all cylinders puts the opposition behind the 8-ball from the get-go.
4 (6)
6th - The early season injuries to Gronkowski and Amendola may turn out to be a blessing. Despite looking beyond ugly at times offensively, the Patriots are 4-0 (thanks in large part to a Charmin-soft schedule), and both their unknown receivers and defense seem to be coming into their own.
5 (5)
17th - The collapse of the NFC East makes it hard to get a good read on the Chiefs, but in 2013 simple competence puts a team bordering on elite, and Alex Smith has picked up right where he left off before his concussion last year.
6 (9)
15th - I wasn't alone in expecting a bit of a regression from the Colts, but instead they have replaced the luck of 2012 with a better team in 2013. I don't fully understand how they manufactured a good running game and defense with the parts they added this offseason, but I can't argue with the results.
7 (4)
21st - I completely underestimated Ryan Tannehill in his second year. Instead of holding this team back, he's leading them to legitimacy despite the complete absence of a running game.
8 (7)
11th - Well, Marc Trestman isn't a savant capable of turning Jay Cutler into a consistent quarterback, but even minimizing the occurrences of Bad Jay to 25% of the time is a vast improvement.
9 (12)
2nd - The defense has suffered a bit of a drop-off, and the offense has taken two or three big steps back (the St. Louis game notwithstanding). I glossed over a serious weakness (the receiver corps) in annointing the 49ers just as good as the last 2 years.
10 (18)
27th - This team has been looking for a complimentary receiver for Calvin Johnson for years, I didn't see that they had found him in Reggie Bush. With Calvin drawing so much attention, Bush has more space than he's ever seen to work his shifty magic.
11 (11)
7th - This team has essentially sleep-walked through the first quarter of the season, with the exception of the 1st half of the Seahawks game. The dreadful ending to that game will either a) finally wake this team up and get them back playing to a level closer to their potential; or, b) thoroughly shake their confidence (especially Matt Schaub's) to a degree where they get stuck in a downward spiral for the rest of the season.
12 (17)
24th - I expect they'll fall closer to my initial prediction over the next quarter of the season, thanks to the dirty hit the Jets put on Jake Locker last weekend.
13 (21)
20th - I'm not buying on Brian Hoyer as a franchise quarterback, but I'm coming around on the Brian Hoyer as NOT a franchise anchor like Brandon Weeden, Brady Quinn, and essentially everyone else Cleveland has trotted out at quarterback since re-joining the league in 1999. This team has talent, and if Hoyer can stay consistent, they could do some damage in a division that currently features a complete power vacuum. 
14 (8)
8th - Unlike many other young quarterbacks in the league, I overestimated the strides Andy Dalton would make in the offseason. Dalton appears to have entered the league as a finished product, which sounds like a good thing, but usually ends with disappointment.
15 (10)
9th - Much like San Francisco, an injury-depeletd stable of receivers has really put the screws to this offense. Also like San Francisco, they have struggled with their offensive identity (like throwing 50 times to 9 carries against the Bills), contributing to their current woes.
16 (14)
4th - I have grave concerns about this defense. They have given up 34 points to the 49ers (15.0 ppg in their other 3 games), 20 points to the Redskins (23.7 ppg), and 34 points to the Bengals (15.7 ppg). Sure the Bengals game includes a defensive score, but this defense isn't putting up much of a fight against anyone except Washington with their rusty quarterback and offensive identity crisis.
17 (13)
5th - This team had to be explosive offensively to cover for their defense. The Roddy White ankle injury has exposed the lack of depth to their passing game (Jones, White, and Gonzalez are great, but there's no one else). White is getting healthier week by week, but what will their record look like when he's finally close to 100%?
18 (16)
23rd - I wasn't far off on them, the talent is only so-so, and the coaching staff doesn't do them any favors by playing things tea-party-level conservative.
19 (15)
16th - What a surprise, a Dallas team that looks playoff-ready one minute, and like bumbling buffoons the next. The only surpise is they could be both at the same time, considering the state of their division.
20 (20)
29th - While Marc Trestman hasn't cured Jay Cutler of being Jay Cutler, Mike McCoy appears to have cured Phillip Rivers of Phillip Rivers disease. McCoy has now steered Tim Tebow to a playoff win, Peyton Manning to a terrific year coming off of a neck injury, and turned the clock on Phillip Rivers back at least 4 years.
21 (26)
28th - Not a good team, but a heck of a lot more competitive than I gave them credit for. EJ Manuel in the first round looks smarter and smarter every week.
22 (23)
26th - If anything I might have given them too much credit when I considered the upgrade they made at quarterback (Carson Palmer replacing the vortex of suck they used last season). The defense is still stout, and Palmer is better than what they had, but their offensive line continues to undermine their chances of having a competent offense.
23 (24)
31st - The defense is keeping them in games, and Geno Smith has shown enough to make fans believe he could turn into something decent. Mark Sanchez staying far away from this team is also only helping them.
24 (31)
22nd - Adrian Peterson isn't superhuman after all. When he has to carry Christian Ponder's mediocrity on his back alone, he will falter.
25 (19)
18th - This team is regressing by the week. The defense has gotten worse from last year, the offense looks like the same train wreck it did without all the new toys, and Sam Bradford is inspiring no confidence that he will ever justify the Rams using the #1 pick in the draft on him (even though they appear eager to sign him to an extension).
26 (22)
25th - I got this team right: interesting offense with no defense.
27 (28)
13th - I didn't anticipate the total collapse of their defense.
28 (29)
32nd - Terrelle Pryor gives them exactly what they need: an opportunity to turn broken plays into something positive. Considering the dearth of talent on this team as they get out of salary cap jail, there are plenty of broken plays each game.
29 (27)
12th - Both lines are getting steamrolled. Sure Eli has a metric ton of interceptions, but he has to try and make a play because no one else will.
30 (25)
14th - People have being predicting the demise of the Steelers due to age and a perennially terrible offensive line for so long that I had become numb to said predictions. So of course, this year they finally came true.
31 (30)
19th - It's amazing that Greg Schiano was able to get 1 of the 32 NFL head coaching jobs when almost no one who will speak about the guy seems to like him one bit. Sure Bill Parcells and Vince Lombardi were hard-asses, but many of their former players love them. Schiano seems like both a hard-ass AND petty, which is a pretty brutal combination.
32 (32)
30th - It's amazing, I was off by 2 spots, but Jacksonville has looked so inept that I feel obligated to chalk this one up as a "miss".

Biggest Risers:
Detroit, Cleveland (8 spots)
Minnesota (7 spots)

Biggest fallers:
Cincinnati, St. Louis (6 spots) 
Baltimore, Pittsburgh (5 spots)

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