Power Rankings: At least we're not Theismann

Cold, Hard Football Facts for Dec 21, 2011



By Jonathan Comey
Cold, Hard Football Facts Factsmanship Award Winner

If you ever wonder why you keep coming back for the Cold, Hard Football Facts power rankings, check out Joe Theismann’s.

You’re welcome.

We may not be perfect, but at least we have the sense God gave a rabbit.

Green Bay stays No. 1 this week, and we didn't drop the solid Texans like a bad prom date off one game (which wasn't as lopsided as the score suggests). We considered taking the Colts out of the bottom spot, but they hang on to the cellar for one more week.

On to the rankings!

1. GREEN BAY (13-1)

Last week: 19-14 loss at Kansas City
Next two weeks: vs. CHI, vs. DET
The Cold, Hard Football Facts: Your Super Bowl favorite, one-loss, legends-in-the-making Packers have exactly as many yards (5,569) as their opponents this year.

2. NEW ORLEANS (11-3)

Last week: 42-20 win at Minnesota
Next two weeks: vs, ATL, vs. CAR
The Cold, Hard Football Facts: Safety Roman Harper has 7.5 sacks, more than pass rushing stars like Clay Matthews, Brian Orakpo and Osi Umenyiora.

3. NEW ENGLAND (11-3)

Last week: 41-23 win at Denver
Next two weeks: vs. MIA, vs. BUF
The Cold, Hard Football Facts: If the Patriots can manage 63 points in their last two games, they’ll join the Greatest Show on Turf Rams as the only teams to score 500 points or more in back-to-back seasons (the Rams crossed that incredible milestone three straight years from 1999 to 2001). It’s worth noting that San Francisco's great offensive dynasty only did it once ever (1994). Bonus note! The Patriots are the only team ranked in the top 12 in scoring this year that possess the ball less than half the game (28:35).

4. SAN FRANCISCO (11-3)

Last week: 20-3 win vs. Pittsburgh
Next two weeks: at SEA, at STL
The Cold, Hard Football Facts: If the 49ers play two more turnover-free games, they’ll tie the 2010 Patriots for an all-time low in a 16-game season (10). Add their rushing touchdown streak (still none allowed), and we’re looking at one of the more remarkable seasons in history – not bad for a team that has been completely nondescript for a decade.

5. HOUSTON (10-4)

Last week: 28-13 loss vs. Carolina
Next two weeks: at IND, vs. TEN
The Cold, Hard Football Facts: The Texans have only lost by 20+ points six times over Gary Kubiak’s 94-game tenure as coach, a pretty remarkable number for a .500 team that never made the playoffs (47-47).Pete Carroll already has five such losses in his two seasons with Seattle.

6. BALTIMORE (10-4)

Last week: 31-14 loss at San Diego
Next two weeks: vs. CLE, at CIN
The Cold, Hard Football Facts: If their current form holds, the Ravens will finish No. 3 in PPG allowed for the fourth straight year under John Harbaugh. They only placed in the top three twice during Brian Billick’s eight-year tenure.            

7. PITTSBURGH (10-4)

Last week: 20-3 loss at San Francisco
Next two weeks: vs. STL, at CLE
The Cold, Hard Football Facts: With the Week 15 loss, Pittsburgh is now No. 22 in scoring at 20.4 PPG; the Steelers haven’t been that low for a full season since 1998.

8. ATLANTA (9-5)

Last week: 41-14 win vs. Jacksonville
Next two weeks: at NO, vs. TB
The Cold, Hard Football Facts: Matt Ryan has passed for more yards than the opposing quarterback in eight straight games, six of them wins.

9. DETROIT (9-5)

Last week: 28-27 win at Oakland
Next two weeks: vs, SD, at GB
The Cold, Hard Football Facts: Offensive coordinator Scott Linehan has been a head coach or coordinator since 2002, and his four different teams have never ranked lower than 15th in passing attempts.

10. DALLAS (8-6)

Last week: 31-15 win at Tampa Bay
Next two weeks: at TB, vs. PHI, at NYG
The Cold, Hard Football Facts: If Tony Romo throws one pick (or none) in the last two games, he’ll add his name to a short list of QBs with two seasons of 4,000+ yards and 10 or fewer interceptions (only Peyton Manning has done it more than once).

11. NEW YORK JETS (8-6)

Last week: 45-19 loss at Philadelphia
Next two weeks: vs. NYG, at MIA
The Cold, Hard Football Facts: The Jets are actually producing the same number of yards per offensive play as lowly Indianapolis (4.9, 27th), but they’re scoring 24.7 PPG to Indy’s 15.1.

­­12. CINCINNATI (8-6)

Last week: 20-13 win at St. Louis
Next two weeks: vs. ARI, vs. BAL
The Cold, Hard Football Facts: Marvin Lewis’ defenses were in the top 10 in takeaways each year from 2004-07; they’ve been 17th, 19th, 21st and 17th (this year) since.

13. SAN DIEGO (7-7)

Last week: 31-14 win vs. Baltimore
Next two weeks: at DET, at OAK         
The Cold, Hard Football Facts: The Chargers are currently ranked No. 5 in scoring offense (25.6 PPG). If they finish in the top 5, it’ll be their eighth straight season in the top 5. The only common thread in all eight offenses? Tight end Antonio Gates. Remarkable stuff.

14. NEW YORK GIANTS (7-7)

Last week: 23-10 loss vs. Washington
Next two weeks: vs. WAS, at NYJ, vs. DAL
The Cold, Hard Football Facts: Since 2005, the Giants’ second season under Tom Coughlin, they haven’t had a sub-.500 record after Week 5 in any year.

15. DENVER (8-6)

Last week: 41-23 loss vs. New England
Next two weeks: at BUF, vs. KC
The Cold, Hard Football Facts: The Broncos are No. 20 in scoring, No. 24 in scoring defense and No. 26 in turnover margin, and have played what pro-football-reference.com estimates is the second-toughest schedule in the AFC … and they’re probably going to make the playoffs?

16. OAKLAND (7-7)

Last week: 28-27 loss vs. Detroit
Next two weeks: at KC, vs. SD
The Cold, Hard Football Facts: First-year defensive coordinator Chuck Bresnahan (in a second stint with Oakland) hasn’t exactly been a stopper over his career. From 2003 in Oakland to three years in Cincy (2005-07) and back in the Bay, his teams finished ranked 30th, 28th, 30th and 27th in yards allowed. This year’s Raiders? No. 27.

17. PHILADELPHIA (6-8)

Last week: 45-19 win vs. New York Jets
Next two weeks: at DAL, vs. WAS
The Cold, Hard Football Facts: The Eagles have been mocked for their offseason acquisitions, but newcomers Cullen Jenkins and Jason Babin have 23.5 sacks between them and have started all 14 games for the No. 7 Defensive Hogs.

18. SEATTLE (7-7)

Last week: 38-14 win at Chicago
Next two weeks: vs. SF, at ARI
The Cold, Hard Football Facts: The Seahawks are all the way up to 12th in our Quality Stats Power Rankings – that’s a hell of an improvement from their No. 29 showing in 2010.

19. ARIZONA (7-7)

Last week: 20-17 win vs. Cleveland
Next two weeks: at CIN, vs. SEA
The Cold, Hard Football Facts: Patrick Peterson is one good return away from No. 2 all-time on the single-season punt-return yardage list – he’s got 636, just 56 shy of No. 2 Fulton Walker (1985 Raiders). But Desmond Howard’s 1996 season (875 yards) might never be topped.

20. MIAMI (5-9)

Last week: 30-23 win at Buffalo
Next two weeks: at NE, vs. NYJ
The Cold, Hard Football Facts: Reggie Bush had 60+ carries over a three-game span for the first time in his career this month – and managed to run for 406 yards and a 6.7 YPC average.

21. CAROLINA (5-9)

Last week: 28-13 win at Houston
Next two weeks: vs. TB, at NO
The Cold, Hard Football Facts: The Panthers were last in the league in yards per play at 4.3 in 2010. This year, it’s 6.12 (6th), which would have been good enough for No. 1 ahead of San Diego in 2010.

22. TENNESSEE (7-7)

Last week: 27-13 loss at Indianapolis
Next two weeks: vs. JAC, at HOU
The Cold, Hard Football Facts: The Titans under Jeff Fisher were always known for strong Defensive Hogs before a fade to No. 20 in 2010 contributed in part to his ouster. Apparently it wasn’t all Fisher’s fault; the Titans are dead last on the D.H.I. in 2011.

23. CHICAGO (7-7)

Last week: 38-14 loss vs. Seattle
Next two weeks: at GB, at MIN
The Cold, Hard Football Facts: This will mark Josh McCown’s 32nd career start at quarterback; he’s 12-19 as a starter with a career 70.9 passer rating.

24. WASHINGTON (5-9)

Last week: 23-10 win at Giants
Next two weeks: vs. MIN, at PHI
The Cold, Hard Football Facts: Jabar Gaffney has started at least six games in all 10 of his NFL seasons, but has yet to top five receving TDs in any year (four this year). Read more about this in Jabar Gaffney’s autobiography “Yeah, I Was Pretty Decent, But Nothing Special For Sure.”

25. KANSAS CITY (6-8)

Last week: 19-14 win vs. Green Bay
Next two weeks: vs. OAK, at DEN
The Cold, Hard Football Facts: Chiefs QB coach Jim Zorn is on his fourth team in five years, with at least one common thread: low interceptions. His QBs threw 13 in 2007, followed by 6 in Washington in 2008, 16 in 2009, 10 with Baltimore in 2010. This year, Matt Cassel and Kyle Orton have combined for 9 in their 10 starts (we won’t count the seven Tyler Palko INTs).

26. BUFFALO (5-9)

Last week: 30-23 loss vs. Miami
Next two weeks: vs. DEN, at NE
The Cold, Hard Football Facts: Ryan Fitzpatrick is who we thought he was; a gutty QB who’s not good enough to win. He’s 17-32 as a starter in the NFL now with three different organizations.

27. CLEVELAND (4-10)

Last week: 20-17 loss at Arizona
Next two weeks: at BAL, vs. PIT
The Cold, Hard Football Facts: There haven’t been more than 46 total points scored (by both teams) in any Browns game this season. We can’t help thinking a helmet logo would add some needed spice for the faithful fans. How about a zombie cartoon version of Paul Brown harvesting the brains of a football? Just sayin’.

28. JACKSONVILLE (4-10)

Last week: 41-14 loss at Atlanta
Next two weeks: at TEN, vs. IND
The Cold, Hard Football Facts: Maurice Jones-Drew leads the league in rushing, which is good. What isn’t good is that a team hasn’t won a playoff game with the league’s top rusher since LaDainian Tomlinson and the Chargers in 2007.

29. TAMPA BAY (4-10)

Last week: 31-15 loss vs. Dallas
Next two weeks: vs. CAR, at ATL
The Cold, Hard Football Facts: If the Super Bowl win for Tampa seems like a long time ago, it was; the Bucs haven’t won a playoff game in the 10 years since (and look to be about a decade away from another one in the NFC South).

30. MINNESOTA (2-12)

Last week: 42-20 loss vs. New Orleans
Next two weeks: at WAS, vs. CHI
The Cold, Hard Football Facts: The Vikings’ pass defense is picking up where the improved Detroit Lions left off, making sure that the league’s worst secondary resides in the NFC North. The Vikings are allowing opponents a 110.81 passer rating, comparable to Detroit’s 107.58 in 2009 and 110.88 in 2008.

31. ST. LOUIS (2-12)

Last week: 20-13 loss vs. Cincinnati
Next two weeks: at PIT, vs. SF
The Cold, Hard Football Facts: When Kellen Clemens turns in your best QB performance of the season (95.7 rating), it hasn’t been a very good season. The previous “best” was an 85.8 from Sam Bradford in Week 11.

32. INDIANAPOLIS (1-13)

Last week: 27-13 win vs. Tennessee
Next two weeks: vs. HOU, at JAX
The Cold, Hard Football Facts: Dan Orlovsky’s passer rating is a more-than-respectable 85.9 … screw Manning and Luck, this kid’s the future!
 
 

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