NFL Week 3 Picks and Power Rankings

By | September 20, 2012

This year I am introducing my own NFL Power Rankings.  Each week I will send along the updated power rankings with the picks.

The rankings are strictly statistically based.  The computer has no bias toward any team.  As teams play their schedule the rankings will look to determine who is the best current team based on their performance in each game.  The rankings very well may look differently than the actual standings.  It may also differ from some popular power ranking systems.  It will most certainly differ from the power ranking system the so called experts on ESPN or NFL Network will have.  One of my favorite forms of entertainment is seeing who the “Super Bowl Winner” is each week.  What I mean by that is each week there is a team or a few teams that the media will crown the Super Bowl Champion.  They will talk up a team each week until that team falters.  Then they will look to someone else as the darling.  They make you think certain teams are unbeatable.  With recent Super Bowl history we can not say anyone is unbeatable anymore.


1. Houston Texans – 31.76

The Texans have not exactly played the toughest of opponents thus far but their win over Miami looks a bit better after Miami dismantled the Raiders this week.  Houston may have been the best overall team going into the playoffs last season had they had a healthy Schaub.  The Texans face their toughest opponent to date this week. They head out to Denver to face a very good Bronco team who have a QB that will try and test the #1 ranked defense.

2. Philadelphia Eagles – 29.27
Philly is off to a 2-0 start but they could just as easily be 0-2.  Philly has been dominant in both games they played, especially offensively.  Where they are hurting is in the turnover department.  Philly has 9 turnovers already this year.  Luckily for them their defense has forced 6 turnovers of their own.  If they can finish the season +6 or more they may very well have the best record in the NFC.  That is a huge if however and one I am not sure they are capable of.

3. San Francisco 49ers – 29.11
Maybe a surprise they are below Philly after two impressive wins to start the season.  The formula last season was, take it away and don’t give it up.  SF finished the regular season +28 in turnovers which helped give them the 2nd best NFC record.  Ironically it would be 2 special teams turnovers that would do them in in the Championship Game.  This season they seem to be relying more on Alex Smith and he has answered so far with a 115.9 passer rating.

4. Denver Broncos – 27.85
Denver comes in a bit higher than most would have anticipated and is our first 1 loss team on the list.  That loss coming Monday night in Atlanta.  The Broncos turned it over 4 times in the 1st quarter and were still in the game late.  Denver’s defense kept games close until Tebow could work his magic last season.  This season the defense has a QB who can put points up and take some pressure off them.  If the defense stays in form this team will win the AFC West and have a possible bye come playoff time.

5. Baltimore Ravens – 27.10Many had the all Harbaugh Super Bowl penciled in after both looked good against playoff opponents in week 1.  But not so fast.  Baltimore was turned away in Philly Sunday.  The once vaunted defense gave up 357 yards passing and 129 yards on the ground in week 2.  This team is making a transition from the Ray Lewis, Ed Reed Ravens to the Joe Flacco, Ray Rice Ravens.  We will see if this offense is good enough to pick up the slack on the defensive side of the ball.  So far they are the top rated offense in my rankings.  Hard to believe I am typing that about a Ravens team.

6. Arizona Cardinals – 27.03
Yes that’s right the Arizona Cardinals are 6th on the list.  Quite frankly why not.  They are 2-0 and the defense has looked pretty good holding Tom Brady to just 18 points at home.  Their win over Seattle looks a bit better after the Seahawks dismantled the Cowboys last week. Philly is next up on the schedule for the Cards.  We will get a much better picture of whether this team is for real or not after this week.

7. Miami Dolphins – 25.91

Really?  Yeah I know I am a bit surprised myself.  I personally thought the Dolphins were the worst team in football this season.  Clearly after two weeks they are not.  They were able to handle Oakland rather easily.  That was an Oakland team who probably beats the Chargers in week 1 had they had a long snapper.  After two weeks they are ranked 12 in total defense but just 18th on my list.  We will see if they can improve on that as they face the Jets this week.  Depending on which team shows up for the Jets maybe Miami moves even higher?  Gasp!!!

8. Green Bay Packers – 25.88
Do I think Miami is better than GB?  No.  But right now the Packers have not played any better than Miami has.  If you watched both games the Pack played this year they have no looked very much like the 15-1 team of a year ago.  In 2011 they averaged 405.1 YPG.  Thus far in 2012 only 322.5 YPG.  I would not count that offense out just yet but there have been some troubling signs in the first two weeks.  They face a defense that has looked good so far in Seattle next weekend.  A place that is always tough to win.  Perhaps Finley will stop dropping balls.  That would help.

9.  Dallas Cowboys – 25.16
After handling the Super Bowl champs in their building on the night they got their rings, the Cowboys go into Seattle and lay a dud.  One of the Cowboys issues is they are not forcing turnovers.  Just one take away in 2 weeks won’t get it done in this league.  We can give Dallas a pass on the Seattle game if they can take care of business at home against a Tampa team that almost pulled an upset in NJ this past week. 

10. Seattle Seahawks – 24.77Speaking of Seattle here they are making the top 10 after an impressive win over Dallas.  Pete Carroll is a defensive minded head coach and he has his team playing well on that side of the ball.  They are 6th in total defense and 8th on my list.  They easily could have won the Arizona game and be 2-0.  It appears SF may have some competition in that division this season.

11.
Pittsburgh Steelers – 24.63

The Steelers avoided going 0-2 by handling the Jets soundly last week limiting them to 10 points and 219 yards of total offense.  Their ranking may be a bit inflated do to the fact that the Jets looked so good offensively in week 1.  A trip to Oakland is next for the Steelers.  They may be able to move their way up the rankings if they come up with a solid effort in a hostile environment.  Everyone expects that division to be tight but I have some doubts about Pittsburgh.

12. Detroit Lions – 24.14
The Lions have not started off looking very impressive.  Part of that was going on the road to play one of the best teams in the league last week.  But in week 1 at home they were lucky to have gotten away with a win.  If not for poor officiating they could be 0-2.  The 5th ranked offense in yards last season is just 14th this season.  With Tennessee up next this team had better show a major improvement or they will not be returning to the playoffs.

13. Atlanta Falcons – 23.42
Most think this team is the class of the NFC South and many think they may be the class of the NFC.  Thus far on the field they haven’t shown it despite being 2-0.  Last weeks win, while a win, was still troubling.  They were given 4 early turnovers and yet could not put away the Broncos.  Atlanta is 26th in rushing yards per game.  I know they want to throw it more and feel they have the weapons to do it. That said they need to run it much better than they have shown to be a contender for the NFC title.

14. New England Patriots – 21.03
Easily the most shocking game of 2012 was New England losing at home to Arizona.  Sometimes these early season shockers are not as big a shocker as the season plays out.  I am not ready to pour dirt on New England just yet but you have to be troubled if you are a Patriots fan with their performance.  The Pats are still 6th in total yards.  What you worry about is if the defense is good enough.  Currently they rank 2 in total yards on defense.  The problem is they have not faced a great offense yet.  This week they face my number 1 offense.  If the Pats want to make a move up the list this game will can do it for them.

15. Washington Redskins – 20.88
They set the NFL world on fire in Week 1 defeating the Saints in the Dome but that win looks a little less impressive after the Saints looked bad in Carolina.  In week 2 if not for a dumb personal foul late they may have gone to 2-0.  So far you have to like RGIII who is 5th with a 111.6 passer rating.  He can throw it and adds a weapon to one of the best play callers in the leagues arsenal, his speed.  RGIII might be a fantasy darling when its all said and done but is it enough to move the Redskins into the playoffs?

16. NY Jets – 20.68
So who are the real Jets?  The week 1 team that had a QB look like an all pro or the week 2 QB that has all of NY asking when they will see Tebow.  What carried this team to back to back AFC championship games was its defense.  And that defense was average at best last season and has not shown to be much better this year.  I have them ranked 18th in defense right now.  They will need to be at a minimum in the top 10 if they are going to make the playoffs.  Early on this looks like a 7 or 8 win team.

17. St Louis Rams – 20.67
The Rams may have made the best offseason transaction of all when they signed Jeff Fisher.  Coach Fisher is always one of the most prepared coaches in the league.  After 2 weeks he has a team that could be 2-0 but they also could be 0-2.  I guess 1-1 is about right.  Bradford has been great so far with a 112.4 passer rating.  If the defense can step up maybe this team can win more games than expected in the NFC West.

18. San Diego Chargers – 20.25
A bit low on the list for a team that is 2-0.  The reason for the 18th rank is really who they have played so far.  And it is not impressive.  Neither Oakland nor Tennessee has shown much this season.  A lot of the names have changed on offense for San Diego.  They rank just 25th on my list in offense.  Interesting matchup this week as Atlanta comes in to town in a game that may tell us a lot more about both teams.

19. Chicago Bears – 20.05
Once again there was a lot of hype around the Bears offense.  They bring in a Jay Cutler favorite in Brandon Marshall this season but thus far the pair have not been able to help this offense move the ball.  They are averaging 298 yards in total offense in the first two weeks.  Forte is now down but they have a very good back up in Bush.  Cutler needs to live up to his talented arm to get this team to where they think they should be.

20. Oakland Raiders – 19.76
Oakland gets a pass in week one as losing the long snapper hurt their chances against San Diego.  Although I think they could have done some things to help the snapper out.  But then they go into Miami and allow Reggie Bush to gain 172 yards on the ground.  On a positive note Carson Palmer has 670 yards tossing it.  The problem is he is connecting on only 59.6% of his passes.

21. Jacksonville Jaguars – 18.78
Not much to get excited about here.  A lot of hope that Gabbert would take a step up this season but thus far we have not seen that.  He is connecting on just 51.6% of his passes.  That will not lead to many wins in a league that is relying more on more on the passing game.  Defensively its not that much better.  Jacksonville is giving up 400 yards per game currently 23rd. 

22. New York Giants – 18.63
This may be the biggest surprise on the list.  The Giants are defending Super Bowl champs but they are currently 22 on my rankings behind some pretty bad teams.  The fact is the Giants have not looked good.  The rankings can not factor in how good Eli Manning is at the end of games however.  Last season he had 6 4th quarter comebacks and this season he adds another.  The real question is how many times can you rely on him to do that.  This could be a disappointing season for the Giants who are trying to validate their title this year.

23. New Orleans Saints – 17.20

The computer doesn’t know anything about the Saints other than they have not been good at all on defense this year.  The Saints rank dead last in yards allowed with 922 and dead last in giveaways at -4.  No matter how well the offense performs they will need to get a lot better on defense to be a team that is going to contend.  One of the worst teams in the league comes into the Dome this week so its a good week to get healthy for the Saints.

24. Tampa Bay Buccaneers – 17.00
Heartbreaking loss last week as they had the champs down late in the game but they could not finish.  What stands out is they are being very stingy against the run at just 52 yards per game.  The flip side of that is they got torched by Eli last week for 510 yards passing.  I do think they are improved over last season but are they ready to make a push to a playoff spot.  I don’t think so yet.

25. Carolina Panthers – 16.55
After a big season from Cam Newton last year Panther fans are expecting this team to make a big jump in the NFC South.  The question is has the league figured out Cam Newton?  Cam slowed down in the last 6 games of 2011.  In Week 1 Tampa was able to handle him holding the QB to just 4 yards rushing and turning him over twice.  In week 2 they faced an awful Saints defense and Cam looked like Cam again.  Lets see how they look Thursday against a team that has not been great on defense either the NY Giants. 

26. Indianapolis Colts – 15.97
Peyton is gone and the Luck era has begun.  So far mixed reviews.  They are 1-1 but have looked shaky at times in both games.  Luck has thrown 3 picks so far in his young career.  There may be some growing pains here.  Not much is expected from a team that is looking to rebuild.

27. Buffalo Bills – 15.85
Many picked the Bills as the surprise team of the AFC East.  It is still early and they very well may be.  Everyone in the division are 1-1 so nobody has taken the early hold on it.  The Bills may have found something with CJ Spiller.  Spiller has been the man in fantasy leagues so far rushing for 292 yards in two games.  Buffalo is favored to go to 2-1 and move up the rankings this week in Clevaland.

28. Cleveland Browns – 15.50
Same old Browns so far.  They had a chance at the big upset in Week 1 against Philly but they couldn’t pull it off.  They are +1 in turnovers and still 0-2.  That is troubling.  The defense has been torched for 831 total yards so far.  Their offense is no where near good enough to make up for that.

29. Kansas City Chiefs – 15.34
To the eye I am not sure any team has looked worse than the Chiefs so far.  Cassel has never panned out to be the QB they thought they were getting from NE.  He is also running for his life most games.  The opponents have sacked him 8 times thus far.  I am not sure where to look for a positive here.  The Chiefs look bad.

30. Tennessee Titans – 14.04

If anyone could look worse than the Chiefs it would be the Titans.  So far they have not been in either game they played.  They have played two opponents who figure to be tough however.  Next up for Tennessee is Detroit so it does not get much easier.  This defense ranks 29 on my list.  The Lions offense has not clicked yet.  Which side will figure it out?

31. Minnesota Vikings – 13.99

Despite a 1-1 record the Vikings are way down at 31 on my rankings.  They squeaked by a bad Jacksonville team at home and then lost at Indy.  I have this team ranked 28th in offense thus far.  Adrian Peterson needs to be this offense and he has gotten off to a luke warm start with 144 yards on the ground.  Ponder has looked good with a 110.6 passer rating and a 75.8 completion percentage.  But that was against two poor defenses.  Lets see what they can do against the best defense in football this week.

32. Cincinnati Bengals – 13.33
The Bengals are a playoff team from a year ago but find themselves at the bottom of my list early on despite being 1-1.  The main reason for that is when they played Baltimore they were dominated statistically and they were not able to dominate a bad Cleveland team in the same way.  The Bengals will no doubt finish the year much higher than this but how good are they really?

It is very early and as the season goes along the rankings will normalize a bit more.  One great or horrible game can really move you up or down.  It will be interesting to see if the ones that look surprising now continue to surprise or if they will revert back to what we think they should be. 

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There are 8 home dogs this week.  It was 9 until all the injuries for the Giants were reported.  That is highly unusual.  The squares bet with two fists on weeks like this.  They see the stronger team laying a small number and it looks too good to be true.  Its an “easy” play.  Hopefully for us this week is a week the books do very well, because if they do we should also.

Week 3 picks

1. Kansas City +9………………..72%
2. Seattle +3……………………….
71%
3. New England +3……………….70%
4. Cincinnati +3……………………70%
5. Arizona +3.5…………………….
66%
6. Denver +2.5……………………
…65%
7. Chicago -7……………………….
62%
8. Tennessee +3.5………………..58%
9. Atlanta +3……………………….
58%
10. Pittsburgh -4…………………..57%
11. Tampa Bay +7.5………………53%

Kansas City is a top play once again.  After getting destroyed in Weeks 1 and 2 this looks like suicide, and perhaps it is.  But remember the oddsmakers set a line and are willing to take action on either side of that game.  They know they wont have any KC bets outside of Matt Cassels dad.  So without a doubt they have to inflate the line.  They just can not push it too high or they will be bombarded by sharp money.  Sharps do not fear betting any team at any time.  Squares do.  No team goes 16-0 ATS and no team goes 0-16.  Will KC cover?  I hope so, but even if they don’t it will not deter me from taking them in the future.  Last year I had a lot of emails on the Colts and Miami early on in the season.  Both of those teams wound up finishing pretty strong in the second half of the year ATS. 

Some of the games may not agree with the power rankings above.  The power rankings are strictly based on how teams have performed so far this season.  The picks are based on historical trends.  Teams in certain situations covering a certain percentage of the time.  Lines are based more on perceptions than anything else which is why the trend system has been successful.  The betting public knows only what it has seen and has a hard time of seeing what has not yet happened.  Much like in trading.  A stock is trading at its all time high of $50.00.  Many traders are hesitant to buy at the high.  It then moves to $60.00 in the next few weeks.  If the stock retraces back to $50.00 then more people will feel comfortable buying it there because they have seen it go higher.  The first time at $50.00 they could not envision it going to that $60.00 price.  This is how Elliot Waves work.  I wont get into details on that here but if interested there is plenty of material on EW on the net.

BOL

-Stats

Twitter:@statsational