Sunday, September 23, 2018

The FGR's Week 2 NFL Power Rankings

I put a lot of time and effort into some quality content last week and then hardly anyone read it because I decided to get cute and call it The Thursday Morning FGR like anyone would have any idea what in the wide world of fuck that was all about. So this week I'm calling it what it is. POWER RANKINGS!!! Also, by not linking it to Thursday, I no longer have to post it by Thursday (yeah we noticed). 

Since this week's effort has now dragged into Saturday and I'm still whaling away on it while driving back from my daughter's soccer game on my way to my son's cross-country meet, let's be done with the preamble and get right to it. (Update: It's now 11:30 a.m. on Sunday and, after bailing on the idea of actually finishing this because I was supposed to play golf this morning but shocker it's raining in Maryland, I'm now wrestling to get some lipstick on this pig and make it suitable for publication. Adjust your expectations accordingly). 

1. (1) Los Angeles Rams (Projected Record: 13-3)

For years I have been preaching to essentially no one that teams with the same coach/quarterback combination that haven't made any noticeable improvement in three years should be blown-up and re-built. I offer you Exhibit "A" (you mean like how this website is Exhibit "A" that you're a douche?). 

2. (2) New England Patriots (Projected Record: 12-4)

As much as I would like to penalize the Patriots for that loss to the Jags by dropping them twenty spots, I can't do it because that will likely be the toughest game they play all season. They get the rest of their quality opponents at home (Vikings, Chiefs and Packers) because of course they do. I know there will come a day when the Patriots suck and Robert Kraft will go back to just being a miserable scowling prick like every other losing owner as we do the Watusi on his team's grave but I have just one question . . .

3. (3) Minnesota Vikings (Projected Record: 11-4-1)

Almost every Super Bowl team gets a gift or two along the way. The Vikings just got a big one from the refs in Green Bay. Clay Mathews put Kirk Cousins on the turf so gently that he might as well have been trying to set the final piece in a game of Jenga. WHAT IS THIS FLAG FOOTBALL?!?!?!  

4. (4) Philadelphia Eagles (Projected Record: 12-4)

I'm completely comfortable with the Eagles going 1-1 outside the division without their starting quarterback. Especially since the rest of their own division is complete dreck. 

5. (5) Kansas City Chiefs (Projected Record: 11-5)

One of the comments I got on Reddit last week (before being banned from the NFL Subreddit for self-promotion) was "Chiefs, led by a 2nd year QB with one start before this year and an incredibly shaky defense on paper is projected 11-5? Okay then . . ." Firstly, I take your "Okay then . . ." as lazy sarcasm to which I say do better next time. Secondly, Patrick Mahomes is the second coming of Brett Favre but hopefully without the reckless gun-slinging and adult form teenage angst. And thirdly, have you seen half the teams in the league try to play offense this year? If you can get to 20 points every week, 8-8 is your baseline.  

6. (11) Jacksonville Jaguars (Projected Record: 12-4)

I know it was just one game but the fact that Blake Bortles was even capable of such a performance against the Patriots has to be acknowledged. Good God next thing you know he's going to stroll into the diner wearing a double-breasted blazer and announce that he just landed a job with the New York Yankees.

7. (7) New Orleans Saints (Projected Record: 10-6)

The FGW and I spent the better part of three hours today helping our high school senior son complete his application to a college in Louisiana. If you haven't been through this recently, you'll be glad to know that they've come-up with something called the Common Application that you can complete once and then send to most schools. The problem is that this appears to have given admissions people license to get cute with different essay topics because 500 words on "who you would have dinner with and why?" or "if you could be any vegetable what would it be" or "I'm thinking of a number what is it?" is definitely going to provide the insight you need to determine whether a seventeen year old kid is going to prosper in your depraved college environment or if he's just going to tack $50K onto your bloated endowment before retreating to community college.        

8. (8) Green Bay Packers (Projected Record: 10-5-1)

The Packers head to Washington, D.C. today to play in a stadium that everyone hates against a team that no one wants to watch that's owned by a guy who is universally despised. We'll have more nice things to say about the Redskins later in the show.     

9. (9) Baltimore Ravens (Projected Record: 10-6)

When you have a career playoff coaching record of 15-10 with a Super Bowl win and no Hall of Fame quarterback, it means you do a lot more things right than you do wrong but man John Harbaugh and his staff have a major Achilles heel when it comes to in-game decision making. Take the following two examples from last Thursday night (CAUTION: HARDCORE AMATEUR FOOTBALL ANALYSIS AHEAD): 

(1) First and goal from the Bengals' 1 yard line with 24 seconds left in the half and one timeout. The Ravens run for no gain and have to use the timeout meaning that they have no choice but to pass on 2nd and 3rd down. Why not pass on first down and keep the timeout if you don't make it? At least keep the defense guessing for another down. Harbaugh got bailed-out on that one because, after an incompletion on 2nd down, Joe Flacco threw an elite one yard touchdown pass on 3rd down.

(2) The Ravens had crept back into a game they were losing 21-0 and 28-7 to now make it 28-17 and they had the ball 3rd and 2 at the Bengals 44 yard line in the middle of the 3rd quarter with all of the momentum. Flacco throws a less than elite pass outside to the running back and it's incomplete. Fine. The defense appeared to have righted the ship at the start of the second half. Punt and bury the Bengals inside their 10 yard line right? Wrong. Harbaugh decides to go for it and Flacco completes a 1.5 yard pass over the middle. Turnover on downs. The defense holds and they get the ball back . . . 50 yards behind where they should have. But here's what perplexed me. If you're going to go for it on 4th down, why not run it on 3rd and 2? Even on a shitty rushing night where they were averaging 3.0 yards per carry. Maybe you get a yard and a half and then Flacco can elitely sneak it on 4th down. The only thing more befuddling than that play calling is why I just spent ten minutes researching it.   

10. (10) Denver Broncos (Projected Record: 10-6)

Enjoy you visit to Baltimore today Denver. Our fair city presents really well in the rain if you like the sight and smell of moist solid waste flowing through the streets. It's kind of like being in Venice only everyone has a more romantic accent.  

11. (12) Carolina Panthers (Projected Record: 9-7)

As major parts of North Carolina bid to become the next Atlantis, people who don't currently have striped bass swimming through their living rooms are actually complaining because Florence didn't deliver the CAT 5 conditions that were forecasted. Yeah CNN went overboard on the fear-casting as usual but good lord people it's not a freakin' Jerry Bruckheimer movie. That's some very real shit going on down there and we're living in a society people!  

12. (22) Cincinnati Bengals (Projected Record: 9-7)

I may have been a little hard on the Bengals initially putting them in the 22nd spot but let's not go crazy after a home win against the Ravens that they tried to gag away in the second half. If you've been forced to witness the history of these two teams play as I have, you'd know that the Bengals are the Ravens' Kryptonite or whatever the equivalent of Kryptonite is for a lesser version of Superman who wears a purple costume and occasionally flies straight into trees, telephone poles and billboards. 

13. (25) Tampa Bay Buccaneers (Projected Record: 9-7)

Sometimes you need fate to intervene and tell you that it's time to abandon the quarteback you wasted a high draft pick on and go with plan B. Remember that it took Drew Bledsoe being blown-up by Mo Lewis for Tom Brady to get the full-time job that he would never relinquish. Imagine how different NFL history might be if Bledsoe had decided to slide instead of trying to lower his shoulder against one of the best linebackers in the league. Is Ryan Fitzpatrick the next Tom Brady? Of course not because Fitzpatrick seems remotely likable but it's pretty clear that Jameis Winston's self-inflicted hiatus may land him in a duel for the starting quarterback job with Johnny Manziel next season.      

14. (14) Atlanta Falcons (Projected Record: 9-7)

I have no thoughts on the Falcons. Feels like a good spot for Cheerleader of the Week.

15. (15) Pittsburgh Steelers (Projected Record: 8-7-1)

The once vaunted Steel Curtain has now given-up nine touchdowns in its last six quarters against a quarterback getting his third start and the Cleveland Browns. Meanwhile, their Pro Bowl running back continues to hold-out while his replacement racked-up 17 yards on 8 carries. It's just all so great.

16. (6) Houston Texans (Projected Record: 8-8)

Sorry Houston but you just lost to Blaine Gabbert. You gotta go down and go down hard.  

17. (16) San Francisco 49ers (Projected Record: 8-8)

If you want to maintain your "team on the rise" status, you've got to find a way to beat the Lions at home and they did . . . but barely. Now they go to Kansas City and San Diego. If they can split those games before coming home to crush the tomato can Cardinals, they might be on to something. 

18. (24) Indianapolis Colts (Projected Record: 8-8)

I would like to personally thank the Colts for rolling into whatever they call the shit part of Maryland where the Redskins play and, in a mere three hours, stifling all remaining hope and optimism for a sleazy franchise that filled 57,000 of its 80,000 available seats on a beautiful opening day. It looks like the 20,000 people on the Redskins season ticket "waiting list" are about to have their dreams come true. Now if we could only find them to tell them. 

19. (20) Miami Dolphins (Projected Record: 8-8)

If the Dolphins can take care of business at home against the Raiders today, they will achieve arguably the softest 3-0 start in NFL history and still find a way to finish with a .500 record. 

20. (13) Seattle Seahawks (Projected Record: 7-9)

The Seahawks will probably bounce back against some weak upcoming opponents but make no mistake, they're toast. Either teams have figured-out how to confuse Russell Wilson or his offensive line really sucks (or both) because he looks like he's running for his life on every play. That wouldn't be as big an issue except that the defense just gave-up 51 combined points to offenses led by two guys named Case and Mitch.  

21. (17) Washington Redskins (Projected Record: 7-9)

I ask myself at least once a day.
One of the Redskins fans in my fantasy league started Alex Smith over Patrick Mahomes last week. I am surrounded by Redskins fans which is actually a lot more fun than it sounds because they have a combination of irrational confidence and consequential amnesia that makes them a cross between Donald Trump, Jr. and Wil E. Coyote. 

22. (18) San Diego Chargers (Projected Record: 8-8)

One day Phillip Rivers is going to force the Hall of Fame voters to decide whether a stat machine is worthy of enshrinement despite a dismal playoff record (4-5) and no Super Bowl appearances. Rivers is currently 9th in all-time passing yards and he'll definitely pass John Elway to move-up at least one spot before he's done. He's 6th in touchdown passes and the five guys in front of him are already in the Hall or on their way (Manning, Favre, Brady, Brees and Marino). I guess you could argue that Rivers is the Marino of this generation. Good luck with that.  

23. (19) Chicago Bears (Projected Record: 7-9)

Is it too early for Bears fans to rue the day their GM traded away three draft picks to move up one spot to pick a quarterback that they could have had ten picks later while the Chiefs stayed in the 10th spot and picked Patrick Mahomes? I don't think so. 

24. (21) New York Giants (Projected Record: 7-9)

I know we're only two games in but, when you look at the Giants' schedule, you've got to do some major scrolling before you get to the Redskins game at home on October 28th before you think "yeah, they could win that." Maybe passing on Sam Darnold and rebuilding around Eli Manning (again) wasn't the most prudent move. Maybe.    

25. (23) New York Jets (Projected Record: 6-10)

The natural forces of gravity and reality did their things to the initial Jets optimism from last week but that should not temper the long range enthusiasm and, as Rich Eisen clearly demonstrates in TWEET OF THE WEEK #1 . . . it won't (this is pretty damn funny - I can't believe ESPN let Eisen get away while keeping Chris Berman. Oh wait. Yes I can):

26. (26) Dallas Cowboys (Projected Record: 6-10)

Good gracious this division got weak in a hurry. When you looks at the coaches, quarterbacks and ownership, it's not a reach to think that this could turn into an AFC East situation for the foreseeable future with Carson Wentz playing the Tom Brady role but without the part where he's the devil incarnate.     

27. (27) Tennessee Titans (Projected Record: 6-10)

Maybe Mike Vrabel is the guy who finally gives the Titans an identity other than being arguably the least interesting team in the league and in the process proves that at least one former Bill Belichik assistant can make it as a head coach (Charlie Weiss, Romeo Crennel, Josh McDaniel, Al Groh, etc., etc. etc.). It's almost as if having the greatest quarterback of all-time (ack I just threw-up in my mouth) made all of those guys look good. 

28. (28) Cleveland Browns (Projected Record: 5-10-1)

In the sad, dismal and sometimes tragic history of the Cleveland Browns the one thing that they at least had going for them were solid kickers. Phil Dawson, Matt Stover and Don Cockroft were guys you could count-on to convert their one extra point chance along with two or three field goals to get the Browns into the mid-teens. They'd even make the game winner back when those opportunities occasionally presented themselves. (Update: I feel like I need to address the fact that the Browns won. There. It's addressed).  

29. (29) Oakland Raiders (Projected Record: 5-11)
I don't see the resemblance
. . . oh wait, there it is.

The FGW and I just finished watching the first season of Succession on HBO and I highly recommend it. It's basically about the buffoonish son of a self-made billionaire who can't get out of his own way. Think Mark Davis if he stopped going to Hair Cuttery and started wearing Armani suits. Now we're in a bit of TV limbo not quite ready to make the emotional commitment to season 2 of Ozark and knowing that we need to grind our way through the last season and a half of The Americans. In the meantime, I've still got Ballers and my doppelganger Rob Corddry who recently had this drunken exchange with a parking lot attendant:

Corddry: I want my car now.

Attendant: I can't do that sir. You're not fit to drive.

Corddry: Fine. Call me an Uber to take me to my hotel.

Attendant: You're staying at this hotel sir.     

30. (31) Detroit Lions (Projected Record: 4-12)

If you think of the NFL as one big TV show like I do (hell I think of everything as one big TV show), then you see it as a bunch of concurrent story lines and an endless supply of characters - some likable, many distasteful and a few unintentionally comical. My current favorite of the latter is Matt Patricia with that perpetual scowl which I guess is supposed to convey a sense of deep football thought and a stupid fucking pencil sticking out of his hat which I guess is supposed to convey a sense that he's always ready to doodle.

31. (30) Arizona Cardinals (Projected Record: 3-13)

Sam Bradford's career record is now 34-47-1 and he's missed about fifty games nine years (seriously). I know that's a small sample size but do you think we might be nearing the conclusion that he's um, you know, not good?   

32. (32) Buffalo Bills (Projected Record: 2-14)

Bills defensive back Vontae Davis retired at halftime of this game which brings us to the TWEET OF THE WEEK #2!!!

It's 12:31 p.m. and it took 72 ounces of coffee but I MADE IT!!! Now how do I make myself stop shaking?

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