NFL Top 5 Power Rankings
By: Daniel Park
October 17, 2012
1. New York Giants
Why does the best team in the NFL hold a 4-2 record?
Simply put, in the season opener, Cowboys’ wide receiver Kevin Ogletree had the best day of his career (8 catches 114 yards). Of the 114, a 13-yard reception on a 3rd-down conversion with 2:17 left sealed the deal. The Giants burned their last time-out with confidence before his clutch-grab and the remaining two minutes were enough for Romo to escape The Meadowlands.
With 10 seconds left against the Eagles some might argue that the G-men had one more play in them to progress the ball closer for Lawrence Tynes, who usually boots game-winning field goals. If it weren’t for Barden’s offensive-pass interference, he would’ve split the uprights from the Philadelphia 27-yard line, which would’ve been a much-favorable 34-yard attempt.
The Giants potentially could be sitting at 6-0 – and unlike all the other shaky teams out there – they proved last Sunday in San Francisco that they’re victorious when it comes to must-win games. How’s forcing a hot-handed Alex Smith into throwing three interceptions and sacking him six times? For a defense many proclaimed as “suspect” and “average,” those are bad numbers. How many of the sacks recorded were contributed by Umenyiora or Tuck? Another alarming statistic: 0.
2. Denver Broncos
We all know that nothing is new under the Sun.
But what is it about Monday Night Football that Peyton Manning illuminates brighter than the moon?
By halftime on October 6, 2003, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers were up 21-0 against the Manning-led Colts, feeling confident heading into their locker rooms. Brad Johnson just threw his second touchdown pass with four minutes left in the second quarter and I’m sure he, with the rest of the squad, was thinking the same thing: preserve the lead.
Enter: the great Monday Night Manning.
That plan, to protect the lead diluted faster than grocery-brand soda when the Colts’ offense hit the field. They reached the endzone on their opening possession. Tampa Bay’s lead vanished as Manning and the Colts defense went on to score 38 points, just enough to win the game by a 3-point margin in overtime, 38-35.
By halftime on October 15, 2012, the San Diego Chargers were destroying the Broncos – making it crystal clear that they were the top seed in the AFC West. Winning 24-0 heading into the half, the team and Phillip Rivers, who already threw three touchdown passes, were on the same page; Chapter 3: Protect the Lead. Peyton Manning again, struck under the first five minutes in their first drive to cut the lead by 17. The Broncos went on to score a total of 35 points, all unanswered to drill his point: we’re actually the best team in the AFC West.
Manning countenance was that of an an orchestra conductor from the marines. The way he yelled and pointed across the field. In one of the drives, Manning changed Brandon Stokley’s route while you can hear Broncos center J.D. Walton screaming, “Let’s go! Let’s go!” because the play clock is winding down to its last second. Manning snaps the ball in time and throws a magnificent pass to Stokley towards the right rail of the endzone. Manning changed every play in the two drives that they scored on. If the Broncos can sustain their leads and most importantly, stay healthy throughout the next batch of games, they will be Super Bowl contenders.
3. Seattle Seahawks
Before anything else, I’d like to say that the Golden Tate controversy in the Packers game was a…
Catch. Them while you can. Especially when they’re not playing at home! The Seahawks lost in two close games in Arizona and in St. Louis–all within the last two minutes. Second-year receiver Doug Baldwin quietly raises his yardage totals with each game, Marshawn Lynch remains consistent and enjoys himself to an average of 91.5 yards, and Russell Wilson is 3-0 in games when he’s not intercepted. Yes I’m aware that the Seahawks offense is ranked 29th in total yardage, but when a team, any team, overcomes a thirteen-point deficit in the fourth quarter against a Bill Belichick-coached group of men, it should never go by unnoticed. I’ll bet coaches are studying that game tape right now.
The outcome against the 49ers on Thursday night will speak volumes because the Seahawks are currently 0-2 against NFC West rivals. The Seahawks need to blow out the candles at Candlestick Park this Thursday and if their defense can execute the way the Giants did last week, I don’t see any reasons to doubt a Seattle victory.
4. New England Patriots
Fourth is the perfect number for this team. In their three losses, they’ve lost by a short sum of 4 points. Remember to try and forget about the current record of a team. Looking at the upcoming schedule, the Patriots are projected to finish 13-3. Of the ten left over, they play in two dome games (STL, IND), under the sun in the west coast (SF), in the heat of Texas (HOU), and mild weather (JAC, MIA twice). The team schedule’s forecast is clear, as long as they tweak their secondary a little bit and reincorporate their running game.
I think the crisis here is an easy-fix, as it appears to me that they’ve misplaced a few holes buttoning up their shirts. Coach Belichick rarely loses in games after a loss, and with the chance to knock the pesky Jets off of the AFC East throne is looking looking favorable for the Patriots in Foxborough. Thanks for keeping the seat warm.
5. Washington Redskins
You were wrong if you assumed this last spot should be a team from the NFC South or the AFC South. Washington sticks out like a swollen kneecap on this list, but maybe because they should. This team is that special. Mike Shanahan has no more excuses to spare as Redskins fans are now evaluating him as a coach with all the pieces of the puzzle– in his hands. While we’re witnessing a sensational rookie campaign presented by RG3 and Alfred Morris, Shanahan must not get distracted and keep level-headed each week. Robert Griffin III has solidified his role as their starting quarterback in their first six games. Check: when your QB is able to complete 17 out of 22 passes–to 8 different receivers–run for 138 yards, account for three touchdowns…with a 23-year-old rookie running back contributing 47 yards and 6 points of his own…And on top of THAT, against a tough Minnesota Vikings team? I can only expect more from DC. If you’re wondering where I got these sky-high expectations check the rest of their schedule.
For 6-11, plug in any of the following teams: Ravens, Texans, 49ers, Packers, and….the Bears.