Dominant Dozen: Week 11 2006
Cold, Hard Football Facts for Nov 13, 2006
By Cold, Hard Football Facts contributor Jonathan Comey
The Colts were unimpressive in their win over Buffalo on Sunday, but they continue to hold onto the top spot in our Dominant Dozen.
What's the secret to their success? Well, they obviously have a ton of talent. And that talent was, in most cases, hand-picked by volatile general manager Bill Polian, who joined the organization at the end of the 1997 season.
The Colts are 92-61 in the regular season since the day he arrived. That includes a tremendous 86-35 (.711) mark from 1999 to the present.
Indy's No. 1 draft picks in the Polian Era read like a Who's Who of Pro Bowlers – or at the very least, key contributors: QB Peyton Manning (he could have had Ryan Leaf!), RB Edgerrin James, LB Rob Morris, WR Reggie Wayne, DE Dwight Freeney, TE Dallas Clark, DB Marlin Jackson and RB Joseph Addai.
THE DOMINANT DOZEN:
1. INDIANAPOLIS (previous rank: same)
2006 records: 9-0; 5-0 vs. quality opponents (teams over .500).
Last week: The Colts did just enough to win at home vs. Buffalo, 17-16.
Cold, Hard Football Facts: Peyton Manning is on pace to throw 32 TDS and 5 INTs; the lowest interception total in a 30-TD season is eight (Donovan McNabb, 2004).
Next: at Dallas.
2. CHICAGO (previous rank: same)
2006 records: 8-1; 2-0 vs. quality opponents.
Last week: Devin Hester's 108-yard TD return off a missed field goal put an exclamation point on an explosive road win over the Giants.
Cold, Hard Football Facts: Desmond Clark is the only tight end who ranks among the NFL's top 20 in first downs per reception: He has 25 first downs in just 30 catches (83.3 percent), tied for fifth in the league.
Next: at N.Y. Jets.
3. DENVER (previous rank: same)
2006 records: 7-2; 3-1 vs. quality opponents.
Last week: Another week, another nondescript win for the Broncos: They edged Oakland, 17-13.
Cold, Hard Football Facts: Javon Walker has led Denver in receiving yards in eight of its nine games this season.
Next: vs. Chargers (Sunday night on NBC).
4. SAN DIEGO (previous rank: 7)
2006 records: 7-2; 0-2 vs. quality opponents.
Last week: The Chargers scored 42 second-half points to beat Cincinnati.
Cold, Hard Football Facts: Philip Rivers is a rare breed – a first-year quarterback who excels on the road. His road passer rating of 103.9 is tops among full-time starters.
Next: at Denver (Sunday night on NBC).
5. BALTIMORE (previous rank: 4)
2006 records: 7-2; 2-2 vs. quality opponents.
Last week: The Ravens improved to 4-1 on the road with a 27-26 win over the Titans.
Cold, Hard Football Facts: Jamal Lewis is repeating his 3.4-yard average of a year ago, and hasn't had a run of more than 27 yards over the last two seasons – a span of 437 carries.
Next: vs. Atlanta.
6. N.Y. GIANTS (previous rank: same)
2006 records: 6-3; 3-3 vs. quality opponents.
Last week: Big Blue's five-game win streak came to a screeching halt against the Bears.
Cold, Hard Football Facts: The Giants are ninth defensively in yards-per-play (4.8), but have fallen apart on third down (46.2 percent opponent success, tied for 28th league-wide).
Next: at Jacksonville (Monday night).
7. NEW ORLEANS (previous rank: 8)
2006 records: 6-3; 2-2 vs. quality opponents.
Last week: The Saints scored 31 points for the second straight week on the road, but it wasn't enough in a loss to Pittsburgh.
Cold, Hard Football Facts: Rookie WR Marques Colston has four 100-yard games for the Saints, who had only five 100-yard games as a team in 2005. How far has the seventh-round pick come? He's achieved "undroppable" status with online fantasy leagues.
Next: vs. Cincinnati.
8. NEW ENGLAND (previous rank: 5)
2006 records: 6-3; 1-3 vs. quality opponents.
Last week: New England's 57-week run without consecutive losses ended with a 17-14 home loss to the Jets.
Cold, Hard Football Facts: Fourth down has been the charm for the Patriots; teams are 1-for-6 against them (best in the NFL), and their 11-for-14 success rate on offense is No. 2 in the league behind Denver (4-for-5).
Next: at Green Bay.
9. SEATTLE (previous rank: 12)
2006 records: 6-3; 1-2 vs. quality opponents.
Last week: The Seahawks took what could be an insurmountable two-game lead in the NFC West with a sweep of the Rams, 24-22.
Cold, Hard Football Facts: Running back Maurice Morris has a respectable 3.8-yard average after two good games in a row (262 total yards), but he has been stopped for a loss 22 times this year, second-most in the league behind Arizona's Edgerrin James (24).
Next: at San Francisco.
10. KANSAS CITY (previous rank: 9)
2006 records: 5-4; 2-1 vs. quality opponents.
Last week: The Chiefs became the latest victim of Miami's suddenly stout defense, 13-10; Herm Edwards was 6-4 vs. the Dolphins as the Jets' head coach.
Cold, Hard Football Facts: Tony Gonzalez, who will miss 2-3 weeks with a shoulder injury, is one of five tight ends currently leading his team in receiving yards (Atlanta's Crumpler, New England's Watson, Cleveland's Winslow, San Diego's Gates).
Next: vs. Oakland.
11. PHILADELPHIA (previous rank: 14)
2006 records: 5-4; 1-3 vs. quality opponents.
Last week: The Eagles stayed alive in the NFC playoff hunt with a 27-3 win over the sinking Redskins.
Cold, Hard Football Facts: Philly is the best big-play team in football: Donté Stallworth leads all NFL receivers with 21.1 YPC. Reggie Brown is third at 19.3 YPC. L.J. Smith is fourth among tight ends (13.1 YPC). And Brian Westbrook is second among RBs (10.7 YPC).
Next: vs. Tennessee, then four road games in five weeks.
12. JACKSONVILLE (previous rank: 10)
2006 records: 5-4; 3-1 vs. quality opponents.
Last week: The Jaguars faced their own personal kryptonite (Houston) and lost their first home game since Dec. 11, 2005 (Indy). They are now 4-6 all-time vs. the otherwise-inept Texans.
Cold, Hard Football Facts: Jacksonville is the only team with a winning record against quality opponents (3-1) and a losing record against non-quality opponents (2-3).
Next: vs. Giants (Monday night).
THE TEPID TWENTY:
13. DALLAS (5-4, previous rank: same) – Cowboys play five of last seven at home, but visitors include Colts, Saints and Eagles
14. CAROLINA (5-4, previous rank: 15) – WR Steve Smith averages 106.5 YPG game over last two seasons.
15. N.Y. JETS (5-4, previous rank: 19) – With the exception of ugly 41-0 loss to Jacksonville, all Jets games been decided by eight points or fewer.
16. ATLANTA (5-4 previous rank: 11) – Falcons are the only team in the NFL with more first downs running (83) than passing (79).
17. CINCINNATI (4-5, previous rank: same) – Don't blame DE Justin Smith for Cincy's defensive woes (34.3 PPG over last three weeks); he leads all DLs with 53 tackles and has 6.5 sacks.
18. ST. LOUIS (4-5, previous rank: same) – Steven Jackson is tops among RBs with 452 receiving yards.
19. PITTSBURGH (3-6, previous rank: 22) – Five more wins in a row and we'll talk.
20. GREEN BAY (4-5, previous rank: 23) – Wideout Greg Jennings is second among all rookies with 485 receiving yards and tops among first-year receivers with 16.7 yards per catch.
21. BUFFALO (3-6, previous rank: same) – Defense is clean: Bills have allowed league-low seven first downs on penalties.
22. MIAMI (3-6, previous rank: 26) – Dolphins D allows 4.4 yards per play, second-best in the NFL.
23. CLEVELAND (3-6, previous rank: 25) – Short-tossing Browns are 31st in yards per reception (9.6), yet tied for 26th in interceptions thrown (12).
24. MINNESOTA (4-5, previous rank: 16) – Vikes still have road trips left to Miami and all three NFC North opponents.
25. SAN FRANCISCO (4-5, previous rank: 24) – Note to 49ers: Run right more. They average a remarkable 11.6 YPA on their 26 runs in that direction.
26. HOUSTON (3-6, previous rank: 28) – Andre Johnson leads all receivers in catches (68) and YAC (284), and is fifth in first downs (37).
27. WASHINGTON (3-6, previous rank: 20) – Say it ain't so, Joe: Reskins are worst in the NFL in defensive penalty yardage, second-worst in offensive penalty yardage.
28. DETROIT (2-7, previous rank: 29) – Home loss to 49ers is the latest ugly feather in Matt Millen's cap.
29. TENNESSEE (2-7, previous rank: 30) – It could be worse: The Titans have fumbled 18 times but have lost only two of them (fewest in the NFL).
30. TAMPA BAY (2-7, previous rank: 27) – Jon Gruden a candidate for spontaneous human combustion.
31. OAKLAND (2-7, previous rank: same) – Despite six games against quality opponents, the Raiders are fifth in the NFL defensively, allowing 4.5 yards per play.
32. ARIZONA (1-8, previous rank: same) – Longest run from scrimmage in 2006: 14 yards.
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