When I was hired by Baltimore Beatdown the first article I wrote for our website was one on refuting a batch of know-it-alls and unzipping my thoughts on how well the Ravens would fare in the 2014-15 NFL season.
After seven action-packed weekends, the birds not only nest on top of the AFC North, the team we root for resides in the toughest division in the league. Prediction was pretty darn good.
With a little push from parity, the worst team in the division, the 3-3 Browns, are stable enough to strike fear in the hearts of their opponents. They put up 26 unanswered points to slay the Titans in Tennessee, rumpled the Steelers a week later and ran out of gas against the winless Jacksonville Jaguars this past Sunday. Pittsburgh obliterated the Panthers with an astounding rushing attack, fell on their knees to the Buccaneers and then edged the Jaguars by a measly, according to our standards, differential of eight. After nabbing three consecutive wins, the Bengals squandered their luck – and should have lost three consecutive. If only Bengals kicker Mike Nugent had not missed a game-clinching field goal attempt. …
After my heart and mind wrestled for hours, my soul insisted this is how the rankings ought to roll.
Here, my soul:
1 – BRONCOS (5-1) EVEN
They look like a Super Bowl team. Every. Single. Week. Six total touchdowns against the mighty 49ers? Kaepernick was sacked six times? C’mon son. Peyton Manning deserves one more before retiRING.
2 – COWBOYS (6-1) EVEN
DeMarco Murray rushed for 128 yards on 28 carries. Dez Bryant broke for 151 yards on nine receptions. A second-year tight end named Gavin Escobar caught two touchdown passes. If Dallas doesn’t choke this season, they’re my pick to go to the NFC Conference Championship.
3 – COLTS (5-2) +3
No horseplay alert: the Colts slaughtered their visitors. #MadColtsDisease
4 - CHARGERS (5-2) -1
To be fair, I did say in my last week’s rankings that this team is skating on a thin iceberg surrounded by bloodthirsty sharks. Facing a must-win situation, the Chargers couldn’t seal the deal against a weak-powered team in the Chiefs. They’ll fall to 5-3 after losing to the Kings next week.
5 – PACKERS (5-2) -1
(-1 because) they did play a trash team, am I right? Aa-Rod had THREE incompletions (19/22) and passed for three touchdowns. …AND they’re not one-dimensional.
6 – EAGLES (5-1) -1
7 – RAVENS (5-2) EVEN
Once again, this is the BEST team in the AFC North, which is also the TOUGHEST division, record-wise, in the NFL. Nabbing a few quality wins later this season (Bengals, Steelers, Saints, Chargers, Dolphins, Texans), ought to push them towards the Top 5.
8 – CARDINALS (5-1) EVEN
Things get even more interesting for a quiet NFC West title contender these upcoming weeks: host Philly, play at Dallas, then host the Rams and Lions before flying to Seattle. For now the #CardinalsRule
9 – PATRIOTS (5-2) +2
The balanced Patriots walk a tightrope into my Top-10 list. Do they dare to stay?
10 – LIONS (5-2) +3 EVEN
I don’t really care how you get the job done. Just don’t cheat. The Lions defense disrespected the Saints, slapping Drew Brees in the face and intercepting his pass (courtesy of Glover Quinn), with three minutes left down six. #comebackJC
11 – SEAHAWKS (3-3) -2
The defending champions land in boiling water after losing to the nothing-to-lose Rams. Russell Wilson sure looks great but this is where suddenly the Peyton Manning Effect comes into play. The Legion of Boom is playing like the Legion of Brooms. #sweep
12 – TEXANS (3-4) +2
They were up 10-0. Lock down Antonio Brown and Laveon Bell tandem. Recover the rare fumble by Arian Foster. Erase a trick play and the Texans win to go 4-3. They beat themselves, and to me, just seems like nobody’s giving Houston the love they deserve.
13 – DOLPHINS (3-3) +3
Cruising against the Bears AT Soldier Field? OF course they’re climbing up the ladder.
14 – 49ers (4-3) -4
They were competitive against the Broncos…if they were playing the Boise State Broncos.
15 – BROWNS (3-3) -3
They deserve the 32 spot for losing to the Jaguars. Hats off to Gus Bradley’s defense for embarrassing Brian Hoyer and Co.
16 - BENGALS (3-2-1) -1
The Bengals went from partying in the penthouse suite to…renting out the basement in my parents’ townhouse.
17 – STEELERS (4-3) +4
Their win last night puts them back in their rightful place. I knew they’d be back, but still not convinced they could kick the Bengals out of my parents’ basement.
18 – CHIEFS (3-3) +4
Unplugging the Chargers in front of their home crowd? Nasty.
19 - PANTHERS (3-3-1) -2
This brings great sadness but the Panthers’ loss still makes them the top team in the NFC South.
20 – BEARS (3-4) -2
Ask Brandon Marshall.
21 – SAINTS (2-4) -2
After a bye week the Saints still got served. What is there to say? Jimmy Graham had no catches on two targets and Drew Brees probably believes they could still make the playoffs if they clinch the division title.
22 – GIANTS (3-4) -2
Whoever thought the Giants would continue their winning ways…sorry.
23 – FALCONS (2-5) -1
Remember last week I said this team was ‘lackluster at best?’ I’ll reiterate myself.
24 – BILLS (4-3) EVEN
Got a lonnng way to go before I put them in the Top 20.
25 – RAMS (2-4) EVEN
The Warm Seat, starring Jeff Fisher.
26 – REDSKINS (2-5) EVEN
I’m speechless. They were supposed to be 4-3 by this point with names like Alfred Morris, DeSean Jackson and Pierre Garc…off.
27 – TITANS (2-5) EVEN
28 – VIKINGS (2-5) EVEN
Minnesota must learn how to finish games. Rookie Sammy Watkins slayed their secondary on Sunday.
29 – JETS (1-6) EVEN
They almost upended the Patriots. I almost got into grad school. But I didn’t. I’m 29th on my list of friends.
30 – BUCCANEERS (1-5) EVEN
31 – JAGUARS (1-6) EVEN
The Jags’ defense is on their way to becoming something special. The journey might take three long movies to finish, but they’re on the way. #LordOfTheRings The humble Blake Bortles is on his way to superstardom, as well.
32 – RAIDERS (0-6) EVEN
I might be able to lead insert favorite team here to a victory of the Raiders.