Wednesday, November 27, 2013

NFL Power Poll, Week 12

Since this is the last power poll before Thanksgiving, I thought I'd look at what each team in the NFL (and their fans) should be thankful for as they sit around the dinner table (or entertain us while we do).

For me, I'm very thankful for my family and friends, especially as they're my entire audience here. If you're lucky enough to share the holiday with yours, enjoy it. If not, think of them as you eat and watch football.

Rank (Last)
What Their Fans Are Thankful For
1 (1)
Umm, everything The rookie salary cap in the new CBA - The Seahawks have their franchise quarterback, and he's making peanuts. And thanks to the new CBA, they can't re-do his deal until the end of next season, enabling them to surround him with an abundance of talent.
2 (3)
Getting Sean Payton back - Drew Brees is clearly more comfortable this season, the team is more sure of its identity this season, and Payton sunstantially upgraded at defensive coordinator by going from Steve Spagnuolo to anyone Rob Ryan.
3 (5)
The Belichick/Brady combination - The comeback from down 24-0 at halftime last week just added to the legacy these two have put together.
4 (4)
Patience - A large reason for Carolina's surge this year is substantial improvement from a) Cam Newton and b) head coach Ron Rivera. Newton is balancing the run/pass game much better, and Rivera is no longer afraid to take risks. Giving the two a chance to grow has paid off hansomely for the Panthers.
5 (8)
Michael Crabtree comes back this week - Maybe the 49ers can approach a 19th century passing offense now.
6 (2)
Peyton Manning - Manning choosing the Broncos has them firmly in the AFC Elite. Of course, the fine print says any and all warantees are no good if Manning is used in environments where the ambient temperature drops below 32 degrees Farenheit.
7 (9)
Competent quarterbacking - That's the main difference between last season and this one in Arizona. Remember, last year's team was 5-11 thanks mostly to John Skelton and Ryan Lindley. Carson Palmer is a mammoth upgrade on those two.
8 (6)
Competent coaching - We knew last year's 2-14 train wreck of a team had talent, they sent 5 guys to the pro bowl (again, they were 2-14!!!) But to turn the ship around that quickly and start 9-0? That's a minor miracle.
9 (10)
The sorry state of the AFC North - Depsite some catastrophic injuries, the Bengals lead the rest of their division by 2 games.
10 (12)
Landing Chip Kelly - If he can make this kind of music with Nick Foles, imagine what he can do once he stocks the roster with his players too.
11 (7)
Picking the right year to bottom-out - You still have Andrew Luck, the hardest part of the rebuild is done, and you'll probably make the playoffs again this season.
12 (11)
Calvin Johnson - Never take the ability to watch greatness for granted.
13 (15)
Winning the right games - They have 6 wins total, and 4 have come against their NFC East brethren, which will come in handy for tie-breaking purposes.
14 (17)
Modern medicine - Aaron Rodgers will supposedly be back next week despite breaking his collarbone about a month ago.
15 (20)
Recent History - This year may not look very pretty, but this team has 3 Super Bowl appearances (and 2 wins) in the last decade.
16 (19)
The young defensive line - When they're right they can absolutely terrorize quaterbacks with their front four. In another division they would have a record that better showed this.
17 (13)
Marc Trestman - The first-year head coach is making Josh McCown look good, and Jay Cutler look expendable.
18 (23)
Quarterback whisperer Mike McCoy - In the last three seasons, McCoy has designed offenses around Tim Tebow, rusty Peyton Manning, and Philip Rivers, and been successful all three times.
19 (21)
Last season - A recent title can wash away a great deal of stink. That's good, because the current offense (behind $120 Million dollar man Joe Flacco) is rancid.
20 (16)
So you're saying there's a chance - Despite all of the problems they've encountered this season, they are tied (with half of the conference) for the final playoff spot in the AFC.
21 (24)
The pathetic state of the AFC - This team is in the playoffs as of today despite a 5-6 record and starting Ryan Fitzpatrick due to injury.
22 (18)
Being the only team to inspire fear in Belichick/Brady - What, you wanted me to pick something from this season? I don't have that kind of time.
23 (14)
At least Mark Sanchez is gone
24 (22)
The dumb Colts front office - The Browns will enter the 2014 Draft with a) 2 1st round picks, b) a clear understanding of what they have at quarterback (nothing), and c) Brandon Weeden will qualigy for social security payments, which may get them some cap relief. Sure one of those is made up, but the rest is true.
25 (27)
They won the Schiano/Freeman feud - Freeman has done nothing with Minnesota, and the Buccaneers are riding a very solid 4 game stretch. Either Schiano's turnign things around, or the Bucs can get rid of him and the next coach will have good talent to work with.
26 (25)
Mario Williams decided to play this season - The $100 Million man of the defense is looking almost worth the contract this season after being nothing but an albatross last season.
27 (28)
Adrian Peterson - See Johnson, Calvin above.
28 (26)
The amount of salary cap space they'll have this offseason - These last two seasons have been the Raiders finally taking their medicine and purging the roster of all of the bad contracts and deals Al Davis stuck them with. Starting this offseason, they can sign real players again.
29 (30)
The power of distraction - At least people aren't constantly talking about how the team name is racist anymore. Sure they're talking about how the quarterback hates the coach, the coach didn't really want the quarterback, the coach is going to be/should be fired, and how the quarterback's teammates won't help him up anymore, but still.
30 (31)
The chance to get JaDeveon Clowney - On a stars and scrubs team, getting their injured stars healthy and adding a dynamic force to their defensive line could easily have the Falcons back in the playoffs next season.
31 (32)
The cyclical nature of the NFL - After all, no team can stay down forever, right? Please be quiet, Cleveland.
32 (29)
The chance to be this year's 2011 Colts - Teams with this much talent almost never get the chance to get an elite player in the draft. The 2011 Colts showed that a complete implosion, combined with the right year and the right pick, can immediately rejuvenate a franchise.

Biggest Risers:
Pittsburgh, San Diego (5 spots)
San Francisco, Green Bay, St. Louis, Tennessee (3 spots)

Biggest fallers:
New York Jets (9 spots)
Denver, Indianapolis, Chicago, Miami, New York Giants (4 spots)

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