Week 13… one month to go until the end of the season!
With five games left to play this season, things are certainly heating up but some teams are cooling down.
As mentioned last week, the Bears (#7, 4.24) struggled without Jay Cutler at the helm, and may be at the beginning of a skid with their offense in the very unsure looking hands of Caleb Hanie. Their defense and Matt Forte will keep them in games, but with Hanie looking like Rex Grossman minus the talent, turnovers may kill this team’s hopes of playing in January.
Lucky for the Bears the Lions (#10, 2.00) also lost a star player when Ndamukong Suh decided to curbstomp the Packers’ backup guard Evan Deitrich-Smith on Thursday. After grabbing Deitrich-Smith’s head and smashing it into the turf a few times, Suh was pulled away from the guard by other players. Suh was not quite finished and with clear intent stomped on Deitrich-Smith’s arm while the player was still on the ground. Suh was immediately ejected in the loss, and for the brutality of the infraction as well as his apparent lack of remorse for the act (he later claimed to be trying to regain his balance, but has since admitted his mistake) he has been suspended for the next two games as well.
The Texans (#6, 5.48) are on a roll and with the Colts (#32, -12.10) finally out of their way the AFC South title seems to be in their grasp. But two weeks ago Matt Schaub’s season ended with an injury, and last week his replacement Matt Leinart, who was playing well, also succumbed to a season ending injury. Tyler Yates finished the game and is slated to start this week, but Yates is just not the guy to inspire confidence in a team as they come down the homestretch and into a playoff run. Kellen Clemens has been brought in as a virtual 4th string quarterback in the event that Yates’ season also ends abruptly, but do not expect big things out of either player. Even though the Texans have thrived on solid defense and a dynamic running game, Yates invites opponents to stack the box against the run and put Houston to the test. With only a two game lead over Tennessee (#13, 0.86) the Texans might be headed for more heartbreak than glory.
Oakland (#14, 0.30) is playing well and looked good driving the ball against Chicago’s stout defense last weekend. Unfortunately for them, the Tim Tebow tide is taking over. The Broncos (#18, -1.25) are nipping at the heels of the Raiders in terms of The Power Rank, and after a four game win streak are only one game behind the division leader, and are only one game out of the second wild card spot as well. The real secret to Tebow’s success, unless you believe in divine intervention, is a combination of an emerging defensive powerhouse led by this year’s second-overall draft pick, Von Miller, and Tebow’s excellent ball security. Denver’s defense has allowed Tebow’s anemic offense to win games in spite of averaging less than 20 points per game. It’s not so much that Oakland is hurting… in fact, they are doing fairly well under veteran replacement Carson Palmer. It’s more that Denver seems to be getting hot at the right time. If they keep their momentum going Oakland may take a back seat in the division and miss a shot at the playoffs.
Finally, the Giants (#17, -0.70) are starting to match their record with their mediocre rank on The Power Rank. Our numbers have shown them to be overachievers all season long, and they have finally allowed slow starting Dallas take control of the NFC East with their recent three game losing streak. With a probably loss at home against Green Bay (#1, 12.54) this weekend, the Giants will fall to 6-6, a mediocre .500 record that matches their inconsistent play this year.
Expect these downward trends to continue as the season winds down.