2014 NFL First Quarter Power Rankings

RaiduhsAccording to the Caveman

One quarter of this season is in the books. A lot of changes have been made from the pre-season rankings, and now we have a pretty good idea who are contenders and who are failsauce.

32. Oakland Raiders (0-4) – Wow. This team sucks so much. They just fired head coach Dennis Allen, but even Vince Lombardi couldn’t win here. Rookie QB Derek Carr was a lone bright-ish spot, but he may be out a while with a knee injury. If I could feel bad for the dirty silver and black, I would. This team has a very good chance of going 0-16.

31. Jacksonville Jaguars (0-4) – At this point, even Kevin has to admit that this team is total crap. This supposedly solid defense has given up an average of 38 points per game. Wretched.

30. Tennessee Titans (1-3) – This team is poop. It doesn’t matter how bad their division is, they have no hope.

29. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (1-3) – The Bucs finally won a game in week 4 against the Steelers, and are now on pace to go 4-12. That sounds about right.

28. Washington Redskins (1-3) – I thought they’d climb the rankings with Cousins starting in place of RG3. But Captain Kirk is a backup for a reason. And the rest of the team is so bad, it doesn’t matter much anyway.

27. St. Louis Rams (1-2) – Never was a big fan of Bradford, but the Rams do seem to be missing him. The defense is surprisingly soft

26. New York Jets (1-3) – Geno Smith started the season looking like he might actually be a serviceable starting QB. Then he started throwing to other teams more than his own.
Viqueens25. Minnesota Vikings (2-2) – A lot of people have the Vikings squarely in the middle of their power rankings, but I’m not convinced. They’ve won a couple of blowouts, and looked horrendous in their two losses. Bridgewater does look surprisingly good.

24. New England Patriots (2-2) – It’s really difficult to put the Patriots all the way down here and feel legit about it. But all the other teams above them on this list would beat them in a head-to-head, so this is where they are. Let’s face it: the Patriots are not for real…and that’s spectacular!

23. New Orleans Saints (1-3) – Another team falling rapidly. The defense is bad, and the offense doesn’t look like it should. The talent is there, but something’s missing. I still think they can turn it around, but it’s looking pretty bad for da Who Dat’s.

22. Cleveland Browns (1-2) – The highest ranked of the 1-win teams are the Cleveland Browns. The Browns lost by 3 points to Pittsburgh and 2 points to Baltimore. They look okay on defense, and Hoyer the Destroyer is the surprise QB of the season. I can see this team going 8-8.

21. Pittsburgh Steelers (2-2) – The Steelers have looked good in exactly one game – against Carolina. The once legendary defense is one of the worst in football. Their strength is now their offense, particularly their run game. I don’t think there’s a better 1-2 combo than Le’Veon Bell and LeGarrette Blount.

20. Carolina Panthers (2-2) – The Panthers looked like the Panthers for the first twoCam games. Then their defense decided to not give a crap anymore, giving up 75 points in their last two games. Cam needs to get healthy soon.

19. Buffalo Bills (2-2) – They would be higher, but Kyle Orton Is now the starter. Yuck.

18. Miami Dolphins (2-2) – They don’t make ‘em more average than this. Major kudos to them for not only beating the Raiders, but then proceeding to stomp them into the dirt with an iron boot to the throat. They have some drive for a mediocre team.

17. New York Giants (2-2) – Ex-Bronco Robert Ayers is going all beast-mode for them, and the Playbook of Eli is actually effective. Finally, for the first time in 18+ games, he looks like he gets it.

16. Dallas Cowboys (3-1) – The Cowboys have surprised everyone by having a decent defense. Meanwhile, the offense has figured out how to be good with Tony Romo as QB: rely on a great run game.

15. Chicago Bears (2-2) – Da Bears. Like the Steelers, the once dominant defense now sucks. And like the Steelers, they have a bipolar QB. But they have more talent than the Steelers.

14. Atlanta Falcons (2-2) – They have a lot of issues to be this high, but Matty Ice is the equalizer. The offense is good enough to go punch-for-punch with anyone.

13. Houston Texans (3-1) – This team is legit. If you put a top-10 QB in there, they might be nearly Broncos-level. Forget defensive player of the year, J.J. Watt should be MVP.
 Cheifs12. Kansas City Chiefs (2-2) – This is a totally different team with Jamaal Charles playing. Who said that running backs don’t matter anymore? The Broncos could learn from them…

11. San Francisco 49ers (2-2) – Defense covers a multitude of sins, and there are not many defenses better than San Francisco’s.

10. Green Bay Packers (2-2) – Green Bay looks like a team that’s slowly starting to figure everything out. They will make the playoffs, and I’m still not convinced that they are only the second-best team in the division. I think that they will overtake the Lions…

9. Detroit Lions (3-1) – …who are having themselves a nice start to the season. Detroit is doing everything right: playing defense, and adding just enough offense to pull out wins.

8. Indianapolis Colts (2-2) – After starting 0-2, the Colts got everything clicking in the last two weeks, putting 40’s on the board against two bad division rivals. Their weak division is their benefit for making the playoffs, but will bite (and has bitten) them when they actually play good teams.

7. Baltimore Ravens (3-1) – I’ll admit, the Ravens kind of scare me. Kubiak’s offensive scheme is already getting huge results, and they look like a team that could make some noise in the AFC.

6. Philadelphia Eagles (3-1) – The offense had an off game against the Niners, scoring exactly zero points. Some of that was San Fran’s good, but a lot of it was Philly’s bad. They’ll bounce back.

5. Arizona Cardinals (3-0) – How can a team with a below-average QB (who’s been injured) be this good? By doing everything right, especially coaching. If the Cards’ coaching staff were in Denver, the Broncos would be one of the best teams in football history.

4. San Diego Chargers (3-1) – This team has it all: a sizzling QB, talented skill players, and a thumping defense. Denver will be neck and neck with them all season.

3. Cincinnati Bengals (3-0) – Wow, what a defense. Best in the NFL right now. And anbengals offensive line that makes QB’s everywhere shed jealous tears. Could this be the year of the tiger?

2. Denver Broncos (2-1) – I thought about dropping them below the Bengals and Chargers, but I wizened up. This team is still the best in the AFC. That said, if the playoffs were to start right now, the Broncos would be the 6-seed. I hope that the pathetic excuse for coaching and play calling we’ve seen so far is intentional sandbagging, with the hope that this team can “peak” at the right time.

1. Seattle Seahawks (2-1) – What can I say, they beat the Broncos. They wouldn’t have won on a neutral field, nor would they have won if Denver had good coaching. But the fact of the matter is that they deserve to be in the #1 spot. For now.

Game of the Week – Iggles beat Niners in San Fran Land

According to Mr Gillikin,

I’m a devout Denver Broncos fan and since they’re on a bye this weekend I decided to write about my favorite game of the week.

So without further ado…

3-0 Philly heads West to take on the Jim Harbaugh, Colin Kaepernick led 2-1 49ers.

BoldinThe 9ers have been touted as one of the leagues top teams since, well….since March. I have been very open in disagreeing with the assessment and I really don’t understand why people think this is a top 3 or even top 5 team.

“Look at their defense”, “Look at their depth”, “Look at their QB”, “Look at their coach”.

Blah blah you don’t know what you’re talking about blah.

The last few seasons their defense has been near the top in the league and they got consistent production from their front seven and backfield. BUT then they lost their best D player, Navorro Bowman to a brutal ACL tear in the postseason. They lost superstar pass rusher Aldon Smith to…being an idiot. They lost Big hitting Safety Whitner to the Browns (the Cleveland Browns that is…..) They lost more depth to free agency or just to cuts and now have a top CB with the name of Tremaine Brock….ever heard of him?  Point is, the defense isn’t as good as it was and there’s no reason to think it’ll be an elite defense all season.

As for their depth, the only position I see it all that clearly is at WR. Boldin, Crabtree,Conte Brandon Lloyd, Stevie Johnson…respectable. But great? Eh. Their best receiver is Tight End, Vernon Davis. The receiving corp is wildly unpredictable and I don’t even know if they’re a strength of the team. As for the depth on the rest of the team….I don’t see it. I imagine people smarter than me can point out where the depth is but as an outside observer and impartial fan, I don’t see the incredible depth that people keep talking about.

As for their QB….he has the skills, he has the arm, the legs and the talent around him but there’s one thing it appears he doesn’t have and it’s rather important. A brain. He makes way too many mistakes to be even mentioned in the same breath as Russell Wilson or Andrew Luck and in some ways I think Alex Smith gives a team a better shot at winning a game. Disagree? Good for you.

San Francisco 49ers v Dallas CowboysJim Harbaugh is all fire and brimstone and gutsy and ballsy and a winner and etc,…I see a guy who loses his cool and has lost the locker room. Again, 49ers fans keep telling me that it’s a bunch of crap and I know nothing and I should just stop talking about things I know nothing about. Well, ask any “expert”, something is NOT right about this team. Something is off and as the saying goes, where there’s smoke there’s fire and I’m seeing a lot of smoke.

In other words, the 49ers are the most overrated team in the NFL this season and I don’t even have them as a top ten team.

Oh, there’s another team in this match up? Right…the Iggles.

Caveman’s Game of the Week; Week 4 – Chiefs vs Patriots

NFL 2014 Season Week 4 – Game of the Week
According to the Caveman

Lyncher3A Denver Broncos bye week always sucks for me. It’s even worse when it comes after a loss (that shouldn’t have been a loss) to a team that blew us out in the Super Bowl. But that’s a topic I’ve already beaten to death.

The loss of a Broncos football Sunday is soothed by a great lineup of games. We have the struggling Green Bay Packers facing the underperforming Chicago Bears. We have the two surprise AFC teams thus far in Houston and Buffalo squaring up. Philly and San Francisco is definitely interesting. But the game that I’m going to be most interested in is a less flashy showdown between the New England Patriots and the Kansas City Chiefs.

This is a game that has a very interesting association for the Broncos: which of these competitors from a year ago has fallen the farthest? Last year, the Chiefs went 11-5, grabbing the first Wild Card berth with an iron fist. Only a magical playoff comeback by Andrew Luck kept them from winning a playoff game. Kansas City was good last year. So were the Patriots – Tom Brady and his wide-receiving corps of nobodies went 12-4, losing to the Broncos in the AFC Championship.

What has happened?

The Pats have had a horrible start to the season. Putrid, in fact. After getting utterlyBrady dominated by the Miami Dolphins (a team that looks squarely mediocre), the Pats managed to get a win against the Adrian Peterson-less Vikings (aka a team with no good players) and BARELY scrape out a win AT HOME against the worst team in the NFL in the Oakland Raiders. The Pats’ score sheet says 2-1, and yes, wins and losses are the only stats that really count. But if I were a fan in New England, I’d be worried sick that this team will only win 7-8 games.

There are only two explanations I have for the struggle this team is facing. First, the loss of Logan Mankins is a sign that the Belichick Way is starting to crumble. After Mankins (the Pats’ best offensive lineman by far) refused to take a ridiculous pay cut, Darth Hoodie traded him for basically nothing. The result is a much weaker offensive line protecting Tom Brady. Which brings me to my second reason – Tom Brady is going downhill quickly. Right before the season started, Brady famously stated that he would only retire once he sucks. Well, that time could well be approaching. Brady has been AWFUL the past three weeks, going 67 for 114 and only 3 TD’s. Thank goodness he has no INT’s. The even worse stat line (for Patriots fans, I personally love it): Brady is 3 for 20 on passes that travel more than 15 yards. That is horrendous! He can literally only dink-and-dunk, and it’s not working. Patriots fans should be afraid. They should be very afraid.

NFL: Tennessee Titans at Kansas City ChiefsThe other team in my matchup of the week also had a rough start. The Chiefs looked helpless at home versus the Tennessee Titans. They looked much better against the Broncos (albeit against a Broncos team that was in prevent defense the entire second half). And then they pounded the Dolphins. Kansas City – a team that started out with 9 straight wins in 2013 – is now 1-2, looking up at both the Broncos and Chargers. What happened there? Again, key losses have hurt them., but I think the problem runs deeper. Kansas City was not a true playoff team last year. Some magic mojo happened with Andy Reid, but that was an 8-8 Chiefs team that just got lucky. This year, the Chiefs are the same boat. They have good players and a good coach. But they are only a decent team, also destined to miss the playoffs.

This matchup has less to do with the victory of the winner, and more to do with the deep doo-doo the loser will be in. Both teams are in dire straits, but this game could potentially break one of them beyond repair in 2014. Who am I picking? I think Kansas City wins by 10. It’s in Arrowhead, and I think the core of KC’s team is stronger than NE’s.

Looking forward to it.

Broncos vs Seahawks recap – You Can Whine About This One

By Eric Caveman

LyncherWhat the hell did I just watch on Sunday? The Denver Broncos did their darndest to repeat their Super Bowl performance by turning the ball over on their first drive. Thank you, Montee Ball. Thank you for showing us that you are nowhere near as good as Knowshon Moreno. But hey, the Broncos gave Know-show 5 years to get his act together…is that what it’s going to take you too?

Anyway, Ball was the least of Denver’s problems. For 3 full quarters, Denver managed one decent drive capped by a field goal. This, the greatest offense in the history of the NFL, held to 3 points in 3 quarters. The sad thing is this: that the Seattle Seahawks’ defense was not the biggest obstacle to the Denver offense. No, the reason the Broncos scored one field goal in 45 minutes of play was sitting on the visitor’s sideline.

I don’t know if it’s Foxy’s fault or Adam Gase’s fault (even PFM might have a little blameSEA in it), but the offensive play calling was what killed Denver’s drives. I’m a huge proponent of establishing the run, but let me tell you something – CONSISTANTLY running Ball into a huge pile of 300-pound men is NOT the way to establish the ground game. In fact, it will never work. You will lose yards, you will lose turnovers, and you will lose games. That’s not how the great running game of the Shanahan era happened. RB’s from Terrell Davis to Clinton Portis were given opportunities to double-reverse. To run around the pile, for crap’s sake. Seattle’s defense was good. But the Broncos’ horrible play calling was the true enemy.

Don’t believe me? Look at what happened when the Broncos got desperate. Through 3 and ½ quarters, they tried to run up the middle, and sprinkled in some poorly-designed screen plays. Then, at the last desperate moment, they let Peyton throw down the field. What happened? Two touchdowns. Yes, there was a pick from Seattle’s D, but I’ll take a 2-to-1 TD-to-INT ratio over absolutely nothing. The Broncos were deep in their own territory with 50 seconds left and no timeouts. And they scored a touchdown. And a 2-point conversion. If they had called that kind of game for 60 minutes, the Broncos would have BLOWN OUT the Seahawks. If the Broncos had called that kind of game for one damn quarter, they would have won easily. Screw Seattle’s defense. This one is all on the Broncos. The friggin’ Chargers figured it out, and gave us the blueprint last week. Did Denver follow it? Nope. Does anybody miss Mike McCoy yet? I do.

BallThat’s the offense. The defensive side of the ball has a similar story. We all have a bad taste in our mouths from Overtime…but I’ll get back to that later. During the first 60 minutes, the Broncos D played pretty well. They gave up two touchdowns, but both field goals came off of turnovers. Really, if the Denver defense holds a team to 20 points, that should be good enough for a win, right? And they had a safety, which definitely shows some toughness on that side of the ball. So effectively, the defense just gave up 18 points, definitely doing enough for a win, and the offense simply didn’t do its job (see above).

Until overtime, that is. Then the Broncos defense crumpled like a weightlifting benchPete Carroll, John Fox made of sauerkraut. I’ll give you one guess why. (Jeopardy music). What is play calling? CORRECT! You just proved that you know football better than John Fox.
The Seahawks won the toss. Yes that sucks, but let’s not blame the cosmos. Seattle has the ball at their own 20-yard line. If the Broncos can stop them, there is a good chance to win the game. So what does Fox decide to do? Prevent defense of course! Let’s rush 3, maybe 4, and hope that Super Bowl winning QB Russell Wilson makes a mistake on his own. Brilliant, just brilliant. By the time the Seahawks were in the red zone, it was too late. Play calling had directly lost this game. This game that meant so much to the Denver fan base. This game that would have established the Broncos as a no-nonsense Super Bowl team. This game that could have shut up the millions of Seahawk bandwagon fans. But no, now we have two weeks to think about a loss that we dealt to ourselves.

I just asked Broncos fans to stop whining until horrid play calling actually lost us a game. Well, feel free to resume. It just happened.

The Broncos Lose a Game and I Lose My Cool

PFM1It’s just a game.

No reason to be upset, it’s just a game.

One team must win and one must lose, it’s the obvious eventuality of every sporting event.

They played well and almost came back so it’s a moral victory at least.

All things that I tried to tell myself after the Denver Broncos overtime loss to the hated Seattle Seahawks. Though Peyton Manning led the Broncos back in the fourth quarter to an unbelievable and unlikely 20-20 tie, the defense was just too gassed to keep the birds out of the end zone in OT. The home hawks marched right down the field on the first possession in extra time and eventually punched the winning score in with Marshawn Lynch who lived up to his nickname (Beast Mode) for one day at least.

The Broncos showed that they have some toughness and that they can hang around in a brutal road game in against one of the best teams and THE best crowd in football. They also dropped passes, missed tackles and had some wild throws from the elderly superstar, Peyton Manning.

The fact remains that the team was down 17-5 late in the fourth quarter not onlyDenver Broncos v Seattle Seahawks because of their play on the field but also from their deplorably conservative play calling. John fox (Head Coach), Adam Gase (Offensive Coordinator) and Jack Del Rio (Defensive Coordinator) continue their seemingly poor start to the season with yet another lack luster coaching performance. It seems week in and week out that the Broncos have zero chance at out coaching any team in the NFL and with the talent this team has that’s just a shame. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying this loss is all on the shoulders of the coaching staff. It isn’t. The players didn”t show up either excluding a few standouts (Von Miller, Wes Welker and Emmanuel Sanders) and unless these guys start playing with more urgency I don’t see this team ever reaching it’s potential of greatness.

As I sat at home watching the game (primarily so I could scream and curse alone and not get arrested for disturbing the peace) I asked myself what makes  team truly great. There have been “dream teams” on paper many a time. Great coaches have gone long careers without winning a Superbowl. Players have attacked each week with passion and vigor unrivaled and yet still have not gone the distance. In the end it’s a mix of everything and a bit of luck that makes a great team on paper a truly great team on the field.

SandyThis Denver Broncos team in 2014 has the “dream team” on paper but does it have the coaches, passion and luck that are needed to go all the way? It’s yet to be seen but I think there’s still a chance that this could be a great team.

It’s certainly not time to panic if you’re a Denver fan. They lost to a very good team, on the road in a tight, well contested game. On the other hand it’s also not time to proclaim any sort of greatness and until this team puts it all together like they should I claim the right to be a tad worried.

Bye week next Sunday so a bit of rest for my stress bone and a deep breath before heading into week five and the rest of the NFL season!


Degenerate Gambling in a Deranged NFL

BookI dabble in the Vegas NFL betting scene.

Money isn’t really much of a factor and my future won’t be hurt or helped in any way from this degenerate gambling. I gamble in sports because I like the thinking mans bet and I like the rush of risk and the fact that nearly every game means something. Even if it’s $10 it has that appeal of winning or losing something personally.

Each week my brothers, my Dad and I sit down and make our picks on a shared spreadsheet and with the combined picks me put a bit of money on the games that as a group we liked the most. It’s too complicated to get into now (and I don’t understand it well enough) but someday maybe I’ll get my pops to write a post about the algorithms and scientific theories that have been put into our betting strategies.

My Dad picks matchups a lot in his strategy. Broncos O-line vs the Seahawks frontBron seven type stuff. He’s also the most liberal bettor and tends to have the best and the worst weeks.

My older brother bets conservatively and seems to bet trends. Home teams, hot QBs, bad offenses etc…

My younger brother I think bets at random. By record maybe or just whoever the heck he thinks will win the game.

Before I tell you how I bet I should say that we all have been almost exactly even with each other (Paul has had a very slight edge) and we have been good enough to not lose money but not good enough to win any.

I bet…well…I don’t know how I bet anymore. Before this season I looked a lot into stats and into injuries and into the human factor. Pete Carroll vs John Fox, Peyton Manning in a revenge game, San Diego playing on the East coast. After these first two weeks I’ve lost faith in everything I thought I knew.

NFL: Preseason-Jacksonville Jaguars at Detroit LionsThe Detroit Lions are the second best defensive team in football through two weeks….The Patriots are 27th in overall offense and the Browns have more offensive yards than the Broncos. The Saints and Colts are 0-2 and the Texans and Bills are 2-0. Buffalo beat Chicago, Bills beats Patriots and the Packers and 49ers barely look like playoff teams.

You get my point.

The NFL is great because of it’s parity. Each week all 32 teams have a shot at winning and all 32 fan bases have a shot at a small measure of utter joy.

This year hasn’t been parity. This year has been stupid and chaotic. Who are the elite QBs anymore? Does anyone know how to play defense? Is the AFC somehow better than the NFC?

It boggles my mind.

We head into this week with so much disparity in our betting that we almost couldn’t putCar anything down. I love Carolina, my brothers love Pittsburgh. I like Cincinnati, my brothers pick Tennessee. My frustration for betting is dulled only from the fact that my Broncos are 2-0 and I believe they will be 3-0 after this week.

In the end the one bet we all agreed on and perhaps it was due simply to homerism and pride. Or maybe we just think the National media is a bunch of Denver haters….but in the end we bet “big” on Denver to cover the 5 points in Seattle.. Through all the ugliness and pain of this early part of the NFL season, a Bronco win would make me a very happy boy in so many different ways.

Broncos Fans: Stop Whining!

By Eric Caveman

Bron SeaTwo weeks of the 2014 NFL season are in the books. The Denver Broncos are 2-0, and are unanimously ranked atop the power rankings by the national media. The rest of the AFC West has 1 win combined. The despised Seahawks are reeling from a San Diego thumping. Most everyone on the Broncos’ team is healthy, and Wes Welker is back practicing with the team after his suspension snafu. Prater is soon to follow.
So everything’s all happy and buzzing in Denver. There’s talk of going 16-0 and winning the Super Bowl flooding the headlines. Couldn’t be better, right?


The reaction from fans and the local media is that the Broncos are pathetic. Their offense has taken a significant step backwards. Their defense is Swiss cheese. Their play calling is horrendous. I’ve even heard talk that John Fox needs to fired.

What??? 31 other fan bases are probably wondering who stuck a stick up our collectiveAFC Championship - New England Patriots v Denver Broncos butts, and wishing they had our problems. Why should we not be stoked? When a team goes 2-0 to start the season, and is quarterbacked by a first-ballot Hall-of-Famer, it has a 99.96% chance of making the playoffs (yes, I made that up). Who is going to beat us in the AFC? Buffalo? Cincinnati? Certainly not the Patriots. The Broncos are about as sure to get back to the Super Bowl as a team can be.

So why all the fuss? Some say that Peyton Manning is having a bad start. I disagree – he’s 43 for 62 with 6 touchdowns and 0 interceptions. Shut up. Others say that we’re having trouble scoring. Not really – in the first half of games (before a huge lead is established), the Broncos have scored touchdowns on 6 out of 9 drives. That’s ridiculous.

The only legitimate complaint is the play calling. We get these huge leads and then coast the rest of the way. This itself causes the other imaginary issues. For example, the Broncos defense is actually amazing…when they’re not handicapped by the prevent system. When the Broncos are 4-3-4, they get pressure, they stop runs, they cover well, and they give up almost no points. Then Fox puts them in a prevent defense, and they give up 10 yards a clip. The unit does what a prevent is designed to do: bend and not break. Is it frustrating? Yes. Has it failed? Nope.

Bron cray crayThe Broncos are 2-0 against playoff teams from last year. They COULD have scored 50 points per game, and held their opponents to 10 if Fox were more aggressive. But even if they had done that, they’d still be 2-0. And until the Broncos actually lose a game due to horrible play calling, Fox can keep his job. Everyone in Denver needs to calm down, stop whining, and appreciate the fact that we have the best team in the NFL right here. And no amount of play-calling sandbagging can hide that.

Now, who’s up for a little revenge?