2012 NFL Power Rankings - Week 2
by Robert Ferringo - 9/11/2012
I have a long-standing theory that rookies and freshmen suck.
I understand this theory is at odds with the national obsession with potential, but in my experience no players are more overrated and no one’s impact is more overstated than a rookie or a freshman.
First-year signal callers were all the rage this preseason. Fans and media bobbleheads were busy tossing their faces into the collective laps of rookie quarterbacks, either lobbying for them to obtain starting jobs or pushing the narrative that the promise and potential of this year’s quarterback class has the potential to be all-time great.
The problem is that rookies, generally, suck. They don’t know what they are doing and they are little boys playing a man’s game. The game is too fast for them. They have never seen, and therefore don’t handle, these specific pressure situations on the NFL field. And those issues are exacerbated when the rookies are under center and in charge of leading an offense and a team.
Not surprisingly, rookie quarterbacks went just 1-4 straight up and 2-3 against the spread on Sunday. Andrew Luck, Brandon Weeden and Ryan Tannehill were turnover machines and, truthfully, looked terrible. I understand that media bobbleheads and fan boys will say, “Well, they’re rookies.” But teams don’t get handicapped because they are playing rookies. And right now these first-year guys are much worse than a lot of veteran backups holding clipboards right now.
Now, that doesn’t mean that in the long term these quarterbacks can’t develop into something. (Except Tannehill. He stinks.) Or that starting them right now isn’t the right decision in the long term. But it does mean that their respective teams will have a tough time trying to overcome their incompetence RIGHT NOW.
Also, three other games with relatively green second-year starters (Carolina-Tampa Bay, Tennessee-New England and Cincinnati-Baltimore) saw the team with the more experienced starting quarterback take the cash.
Overall, first- and second-year starters at quarterback went just 2-6 ATS last week.
I am sure that this will be a consistent trend with these inconsistent signal callers throughout the season. (In fact, I am willing to bet that at least three of the first- or second-year quarterbacks that started on Sunday won’t be starting by Week 12.) And you should keep the Implosion Factor of these young pups in mind when considering a wager on any of their teams this season.
Here is Doc’s Sports Week 2 NFL power rankings:
1. San Francisco 49ers (1-0) – I have been saying all offseason that people are sleeping on Alex Smith. He is accurate, he makes good decisions, and he throws a catchable ball. He is a veteran and understands game management. He can win games with his arm against lower-level defenses and is smart enough not to beat his own team against top-tier defenses. What more do you want? The Niners looked dominating on both sides of the ball and now they get a shot at the undisciplined Lions. San Fran is 19-7-1 ATS in its last 27 home games and 15-5-1 ATS in its last 21 games overall.
2. New England Patriots (1-0) – The Patriots took some early punches from the Titans. And their sloppy play early didn’t snowball on them. That is the mark of an experienced team, even if New England is young at certain spots. I thought Steven Ridley was a standout on offense. Wes Welker was a bit of a nonfactor and there is some scuttlebutt that his contract situation might be having an impact on how he is being used. I think that’s ridiculous, but it bears watching. The Patriots are 4-0 ATS in the last four meetings with the Cardinals, including several blowouts.
3. Baltimore Ravens (0-0) – The Ravens just savaged the Bengals on Monday night. Joe Flacco looked great and Baltimore had an excellent scheme in place to counter when teams try to overcommit to stopping Ray Rice. I will say that for a couple quarters there Baltimore’s defense got pushed around. But that isn’t likely to happen often this year. Ed Reed also hurt his back after his pick-six. That play completely changed the game and once again illustrates why he is one of the best ever and why he is so crucial to have healthy and on the field.
4. Green Bay Packers (0-1) – If you can block Clay Matthews and account for Charles Woodson this team can’t stop anyone. I feel like this is still way too high to rank the Packers. But I can’t crucify them because their offense is still so potent and accomplished. But the last two times they took the field this team was pushed around like a grade schooler. They can’t control either line of scrimmage and, frankly, including the preseason this team hasn’t executed well at all or played with any urgency. The Packers are 12-4 ATS at home and 22-10 ATS in their last 32 overall.
5. Houston Texans (1-0) – Most of the time when a team wins by 20 points finding fault seems a bit like nitpicking. But Houston didn’t look nearly as good as their 30-10 final suggested. Houston was lucky to cover the 13-point spread and if it wasn’t for that comical sequence in which Miami turned the ball over four times in nine snaps (yes, that actually happened) then I think Houston would’ve been in trouble. Even with that tremendous turnover edge it took some incredible catches by Andre Johnson to get this milquetoast offense going. Houston is 13-6-1 ATS against Jacksonville and only two of the last 10 meetings have been decided by less than a touchdown.
6. New York Giants (0-1) – I have to give Peter King credit for this stat: the Giants are 10-10 in their last 20 regular season games. I am sure that Tom Coughlin put the extra time to work in between his Week 1 and Week 2 contest to good use. And watching Washington and Philadelphia both win last Sunday should have caught New York’s attention. I don’t know how much I trust this secondary right now, especially when the G-Men are instilled as large favorites. I still think this is going to be a heavy ‘over’ team this season.
7. Atlanta Falcons (1-0) – The news in Atlanta’s 40-24 win over Kansas City last Sunday (which was a 7-Unit Game of the Year winner for yours truly) wasn’t all rosy and cheerful. Atlanta lost playmaking corner Brent Grimes out for the year. And Atlanta’s defense looked passive and easily manipulated by the Chiefs even before Grimes went out. Julio Jones is an animal, though. And he and Matt Ryan should put up some killer numbers this season.
8. Chicago Bears (1-0) – Jay Cutler put up some nice numbers on Sunday but he was shockingly cavalier with the ball and was fortunate not to have more than just the pick-six interception that he threw. The much-maligned Bears offensive line played a great game and deserves credit. They were very good against the run and the pass and helped Matt Forte – who is amazing and underrated – have a big day. Brandon Marshall, like Cutler, had some solid stats in his Chicago opener. But he still dropped a touchdown pass, something that plagued him last year in Miami, and had some alligator arms on some of Cutler’s throws. The Bears have lost seven of nine to the Packers, both SU and ATS, going back to 2008, and none of those losses were by less than six points.
9. Denver Broncos (1-0) – Peyton Manning just toyed with the Steelers. He absolutely toyed with them and it was simply amazing to watch. This is the most talented roster that Manning has been on in five years and I have to say I was very impressed with how easily this group handled a very good Pittsburgh team. Tracy Porter is a guy that I have written about often in my NFL power rankings and my Ferringo Report. I’m glad the rest of the country has finally caught on to just how good this guy is. He will likely have the tall task of taking on Jones this week in Atlanta on “Monday Night Football”.
10. Pittsburgh Steelers (0-1) – So, do you think that the Steelers defense is going to have a chip on its shoulder this week when New York and the 48-point-scoring Jets offense comes to town? Me too. And let’s not understate the fact Pittsburgh has had to play its last two games in Denver without key safety Ryan Clark, who is a defensive leader. He will be back in uniform this week and I expect him to make his presence known. The Steelers bounced back from a blowout road loss in their season opener last season with a 24-0 home victory over Seattle.
11. New Orleans Saints (0-1) – I expected this group to come out rabid, focused and determined. Instead they looked soft, depressed and defeated. This team was hanging its head and playing lackadaisically when they fell behind even though they still had a shot to win. That was shocking and a big red flag to me. If just two or three plays and calls had gone the other way in this game the Saints would have won going away – even as poorly as they played. But their defense was pathetic, and they have now given up an average of 38 points in their last two games and are 7-2 against the total (all but two were 50 or above) in its last nine games. The road team in the Saints-Panthers series is 17-4 ATS.
12. Dallas Cowboys (1-0) – Yes, I was impressed with the Cowboys on Wednesday night. But you, me, and everyone watching that game knew that if Dallas didn’t convert that game-clinching third-and-10 then the Cowboys were going to kick the ball back to the Giants, give up a tying touchdown, and lose in overtime. It will be interesting to see if Dallas comes out flat in a difficult road spot in Seattle or if they gain some confidence from finally slaying the Giants. Their most impressive player was Demarco Murray, and Dallas pushed the G-Men around. I don’t think Jason Witten should be playing until his spleen recovers. He was a liability out there.
13. Philadelphia Eagles (1-0) – When, oh when, will people finally realize that this team is merely mediocre? They are too soft on offense and – as I have been saying for nearly 10 years – Mike Vick is a terrible NFL quarterback. He is the type of guy you just never want to have your money down on. I think the defense is good enough where they can carry this team this season. And I will be looking to hit a lot of Philly ‘unders’ this year. I think it will be a good confluence of an overrated offense and an underrated defense. The Eagles are just 3-8 ATS at home.
14. Detroit Lions (1-0) – Matt Stafford had three INTs against a pretty weak St. Louis secondary and probably should have had two more. What is most worrisome is that the picks weren’t fluke bounces, tipped passes or miscommunication on routes. They were just really amateur reads by Stafford. Were it not for his ability to just throw the ball up to Calvin Johnson I would say that this offense has serious issues. This week the Lions have a revenge situation after last season’s heartbreaking last-second loss in the Motor City (and subsequent handshake fiasco between Jim Schwartz and Jim Harbaugh).
15. Cincinnati Bengals (0-0) – Monday night’s blowout loss really was a bit misleading. The Bengals were very much in the game at 17-13 midway through the third quarter. But their defense just had no answer for the Baltimore offense and things really snowballed. The Bengals are 12-3 SU in their last 15 games against Cleveland, but only two of the last six games have been a Cincy win by a touchdown or more.
16. Carolina Panthers (0-1) – Cam Newton looks a little too cocky and a little too comfortable right now. His footwork and his fundamentals were awful last week and he was way too loose with the ball. This team should be embarrassed to only rush for 10 yards on 13 plays. They will benefit from being at home this week, since they had to vacate early last week in deference to the Democratic National Convention. The Panthers are 6-2 ATS in their last eight against New Orleans and this is a really big game for both teams. One of these NFC South favorites will be 0-2 after Sunday.
17. San Diego Chargers (0-0) – This team does not impress me. But the general betting public still perceives this team as a threat in the AFC and they will be a thick favorite in most of their games this year. I think we will be able to use that against the books. San Diego’s offensive line is still a farce and I think they lack big play guys on defense. Oh, and there is the fact that Norv Turner is still asleep at the wheel for this group so don’t read too much into their road win over Oakland on Monday.
18. Washington Redskins (1-0) – Whoever plays the Redskins better be ready to defend some wide receiver screens and read option runs. The Redskins played with a lot of confidence in the Superdome. You can tell that they are all drinking the RG3 Kool-Aid. Beware: 88 percent of the early betting on the Washington-St. Louis game has come in on the Redskins. Apparently the betting public is sipping on that Kool-Aid as well.
19. Jacksonville Jaguars (0-1) – My sleeper team nearly stole a road win to open the season. It has to be heartbreaking to blow a three-point lead with just 20 seconds left. But the Jaguars have to feel good about the potentially game-winning drive that Blaine Gabbert led just prior to giving up the OT-forcing field goal. The Jaguars offensive line held up brilliantly against Minnesota’s fierce front four. But they were pushed around a little bit in the defensive front seven and they showed quite a bit of bend in their secondary. But I still like how the offense is falling into place. And if the defense can bow its back a bit (and force some turnovers) then the Jags could remain live dogs.
20. Minnesota Vikings (1-0) – I feel like this defense has a chance to be very, very good if the starters hold up. And the Vikings brutish style managed to work in their favor for one week. I know the big story is how good Adrian Peterson looked. And he did; he ran well. But this team still needs to find ways to get the ball to Toby Gerhardt. It seems like the guy just picks up six or seven yards every time he gets a touch. I like the earning potential at the window for this team. But Christian Ponder’s accuracy issues – and the turnovers they will most certainly breed – are a major sticking point.
21. New York Jets (1-0) – Let’s not get carried away here. The Jets played aggressively and with a chip on their shoulders on Sunday after weeks of being lampooned by the local media. But I still think the Jets have depth and scheme issues, and I don’t think their skill players are good enough to generate offense against a top-tier defense (like Pittsburgh’s).
22. Kansas City Chiefs (0-1) – I know a lot of people are still hesitant to bet against the Chiefs in Arrowhead. But after Sunday’s rout the Chefs are just 15-26-1 ATS at home over the last six seasons. Kansas City’s defense was a train wreck, but you have to remember that they were without four starters (and several other key players were banged up). Tamba Hali will be back this Sunday but the key player’s status to keep an eye on is cornerback Brandon Flowers. The good news for Chiefs fans has to be how good the offense looked for the first two-and-a-half quarters. Their offensive line manhandled the Falcons and their skill players were sharp.
23. Seattle Seahawks (0-1) – Russell Wilson looked completely lost and overwhelmed in his first start. He still plays like he is in college, wanting to run around and make sandlot plays. But as we saw when he failed to find the end zone despite seven attempts inside the 15 in the last final minute, Wilson struggles to make plays inside the pocket. All four of Seattle’s scores were set up by either a turnover in the Arizona side of the field or a monster return (82 and 52 yards) by Leon Washington. The Seahawks lost Russell Okung for a few weeks from an offensive line that was underwhelming on Sunday.
24. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (1-0) – I think some people are sleeping on the Bucs right now. The core of this team won 10 games just two seasons ago and they seem to relish the new tough, physical style of play that Greg Schiano is pushing. The additions of Vincent Jackson, Dallas Clark, Carl Nicks and Doug Martin have completely overhauled the offense and they have enough bullets to shootout with anyone. The only problem is that Josh Freeman looked lost and confused for most of Sunday’s game. If he figures things out (and takes care of the ball) this will definitely be a team to watch.
25. Oakland Raiders (0-0) – This week is a difficult spot for the Raiders. They are a road favorite against the pathetic Dolphins, but Oakland has been a money burner laying points over the last decade. The spread is bad enough on its own. But the Raiders are at a situational edge having to make one of the longest treks in the league to Miami to play a 10 a.m. PST kickoff in a letdown spot after their “Monday Night Football” appearance. I know they are under a new regime, but that looked like the same old Raiders on MNF. And, literally, every time I see Carson Palmer release the ball I am expecting it to be a turnover or near turnover?
26. St. Louis Rams (0-1) – Jeff Fisher’s teams have always been very spry in the underdog role and I expect that to be the case this season as well. This team seemed to have a much better structure on the field on Sunday and they pushed the Lions to the limit. I think Sam Bradford has the tools to be a Top-12 quarterback and anyone who thinks there are still question marks about this guy is a clown. Unfortunately, Bradford’s job just got even harder (again). Tackle Rodger Saffold could be out for the year and center Scott Wells will miss at least six weeks. These guys just can’t catch a break on the injury front.
27. Tennessee Titans (0-1) – This ranking is obviously a lot lower than a lot of people have the Titans. But outside of Colin McCarthy there isn’t a lot on this team that I can get excited about. I think that Jake Locker is going to be a failure at quarterback and he looks like a college kid pretending to be a starting QB rather than a man in control of his team. Chris Johnson is still shying away from contact and there are locker room rumblings and complaints about loser coordinator Chris Palmer. It has only been one week, but this team has a brutal schedule early in the year and is already wobbly.
28. Buffalo Bills (0-1) – My exact statement when a friend of mine asked me about putting down some money on the Bills to go over their season win total: “No way. This is a loser organization and that type of stench doesn’t wash off overnight.” Ryan Fitzpatrick wouldn’t be a CFL backup. He is a joke. Their flimsy skill position depth chart took a hit with David Nelson going out for the year and Fred Jackson set to miss at least two weeks. This team is terrible. You can’t underestimate the Loser Quotient of head coach Chan Gailey and DC Dave Wannstedt. But you also had to laugh about watching a defense that was supposed to be vastly improved get picked apart by Mark Sanchez.
29. Indianapolis Colts (0-1) – Wait, Andrew Luck isn’t going to the Hall of Fame? I will admit that this Colts team looked a little more active. But defensively they looked really confused in their new 3-4 defense and their secondary is still suspect. Offensively, if it weren’t for some superhuman efforts from Reggie Wayne then Luck’s numbers would have looked a lot worse. These guys have a long way to go. The Colts are just 4-10 ATS at home.
30. Cleveland Browns (0-1) – Joe Haden’s suspension begins this week so the Browns will head to Cleveland without one of their best playmakers on defense. Brandon Weeden denies that he was overwhelmed in his first NFL start, but you could’ve fooled me. I know the final score suggests that the Browns were able to play the Eagles tough. But Cleveland was outgained 456-210, had a 10-minute time of possession deficit, and went just 2-for-13 on third down. They were close in that game because Vick is an incompetent. The underdog is 9-1 ATS in the last 10 games between the Bengals and Browns.
31. Arizona Cardinals (1-0) – Kevin Kolb is in and John Skelton is out due to injury. I know this team won last week and some people might think that they deserve to be rated higher. But their quarterback situation is still comical and were they facing a competent quarterback on Sunday they would have lost by double-digits. They will face that (and then some) on Sunday in Foxboro. Arizona has shown a propensity to roll over when they get down by two scores or more. They are also a dreadful 6-13 ATS in their last 19 road games. This is another West Coast team heading east for the dreaded 1 p.m. EST (10 a.m. local) start.
32. Miami Dolphins (0-1) – Weird. No one saw that coming. And by “no one” I mean everyone. This Miami team is pathetic. Ryan Tannehill absolutely should not be a starting NFL quarterback. Truthfully, I don’t even know if he should be an NFL backup right now. The Dolphins are a pathetic team and it will be interesting to see how far they sink. Counting the preseason this team is 0-5 ATS so far but they are only small home dogs this week to the Raiders.
Robert Ferringo is a professional NFL handicapper and has posted back-to-back profitable winning weeks to start the year. Robert nailed his 7-Unit NFL Game of the Year last week and picked up $2,000 in profit with his college and pro selections. Robert has banked $11,800 in football profit over the last 10 months he has had football picks and will keep it going this week. He is looking forward to building on his stellar football handicapping resume again this fall and you can check him out here.