"Roughing the Passer - A PK Frazier Novel"

My new book, "Offsetting Penalties - A PK Frazier Novel" is the follow-up to "Illegal Procedure" and "Roughing the Passer" and is now available in print and in e-formats at amazon.com, smashwords.com and iBooks. Follow me on twitter @kevinkrest.

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

NFL Rankings

Steelers Are A One-Week Wonder: Well, after climbing to number six in my rankings, the Pittsburgh Steelers fell out of the top ten after a dismal performance against a previously under-performing San Diego team. With Big Ben back in action at home, it was generally expected that the Steelers would extend the momentum gained by a big win over Baltimore the previous week. Oops! Another team to exit the list, the Chicago Bears, laid an egg in Minnesota as Jay Cutler went down with a shoulder injury. No Cutler, no wins and possibly no playoffs. Cutler insists he'll be back in the lineup this week. We'll see about that. And finally, the Baltimore Ravens fell out as well after losing to the Redskins and firing their offensive coordinator. Despite a strong 9-4 record, I just don't see them playing very good defense right now.

10. Washington Redskins 7-6 (Last Week: NR) : Despite being only one game over .500, the 'Skins are hard to ignore as they rang up their fourth consecutive victory over with a stirring comeback win in overtime against the Baltimore Ravens. The most impressive part was that backup rookie QB Kirk Cousins, not phenom RGIII, led the last drive in regulation that resulted in a TD and successful two-point conversion. The 'Skins don't control their own destiny to grab a playoff spot, but they have a favorable schedule as they try to end the season at 10 - 6.

9. Seattle Seahawks 8-5 (NR): The Seahawks destroyed a terrible Arizona Cardinals team 58-0 as they continue to push for a playoff berth. Led by another rookie, Russell Wilson, Seattle looks strong on both sides of the ball. A cross country trip to Buffalo and a return home to face the San Francisco 49ers await them the next two weeks before taking on the Rams in Seattle to complete the season. Win out and they're in the playoffs. One stumble and it gets more complicated.

8. New York Giants 8-5 (NR): The Giants redeemed themselves by soundly defeating the New Orleans Saints. That sets up a match up of division leaders as they travel to Atlanta to take on the Falcons who are smarting from a butt kicking they received in Charlotte by the then 3-9 Panthers. And they have to follow that up with a trip to Baltimore to face what may be an inspired if not desperate Ravens squad. With the 'Skins and the 'Boys breathing down their neck, the Giants can't afford a letdown.

7. Atlanta Falcons 11-2 (5): The Falcons stubbed their toe at Carolina, which illustrates why, despite their lofty record, I only had them ranked at number five last week. The Giants come to the Georgia Dome on Sunday and the Falcons had bettter strap on their chin straps as they take on the defending Super Bowl champs. Atlanta has the division locked up, but they haven't yet secured home-field advantage throughout the NFC playoffs. Perhaps the loss to the Panthers will get these guys motivated.

6. Indianapolis Colts 9-4 (9): I just can't continue to overlook this team. Andrew Luck continues to lead the Colts toward what would be an improbable playoff berth. A win over the Texans in Houston, who face a short week to recover last night's disappointing loss at New England, and the Colts will remain in contention for the AFC South division crown.

5. Green Bay Packers 9-4 (8): Aaron Rodgers seems to rounding this team into form for a playoff run. The Falcons don't have home field locked up and the Packers can still finish 12-4. They'll get a test against the Bears in Chicago's Soldier Field this week. Will Cutler play? If not, the Bears will be hard-pressed to slow down the Packers' late-season momentum and stay alive in the division.

4. Houston Texans 11-2 (2): Despite their smack down in Foxboro, I still see this as a very good football team. New England is now 23 - 1 at home in December since 2002 for a reason. Now Houston has to forget about the loss and get ready to stop Andrew Luck and the hot Indianapolis Colts, who I'm sure are already devouring game tape from last night to see if they can replicate what the Patriots did to put up 42 points on what is considered a premier defense.

3. San Francisco 49ers 9-3-1 (4): Colin Kaepernick appears to be the starter for the rest of the season. He better be prepared Sunday night as the Niners travel to Foxboro to see if they can do what the Texans failed to do last night. This is a huge game, considering the way the Seahawks are playing. What seemed a certainty three weeks ago, namely a division crown, is anything but with three weeks left in the season.

2. Denver Broncos 10-3 (3): As they head to Baltimore, the Broncos have wrapped up the division but need to keep winning to get a first round bye and maybe even home field throughout the playoffs if Houston and New England stumble. Peyton Manning has his team on an eight-game winning streak and will be facing banged up Raven defense and an offense going through a change at the coordinator level.  This is one of those classic trap games in the NFL. Manning's been around long enough to know to warn his teammates about getting too complacent.

1. New England Patriots 10-3 (1): Not much to say here. Ranked number one, played like number one, expect them to continue playing like number one, particularly at home again this week. Last time I checked, it's still December and the game is in Foxboro. Despite San Francisco's toughness, it will be surprising if the Pats' don't make it eight games in a row.