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Football Relativity Week 12

Each week, we compare all 32 NFL teams using our Football Relativity comparison. On the comparison, the 10 level is reserved for the best teams, and the 1 level for the worst. We’ll note throughout where teams have moved up or down from last week.

Patriots QB Tom Brady and WR Wes Welker celebrate a big win vs. the Eagles, via huffingtonpost.com

10 – Green Bay Packers – The Packers moved to 11-0 with a win in Detroit on Thanskgiving Day. This week’s trip to the Giants is another upset alert, but Green Bay continues to prove it is the most consistently great team in the league.

9 – Baltimore Ravens (UP A LEVEL), New England Patriots (UP A LEVEL), New Orleans Saints, Pittsburgh Steelers, San Francisco 49ers – We covered the implications of the Ravens’ big win over the 49ers in Rise/Sink/Float and the Saints’ win over the Giants in a post coming later Tuesday. We didn’t dock the 49ers for losing across the country on a short week, but we’d like to see them take care of business easily at home against the Rams this week. The Patriots whipped the Eagles in Philadelphia and seem to have recovered from their early November swoon. The Steelers won ugly in Kansas City, but they will need a better effort at home against the Bengals this week.

8 – Atlanta Falcons, Houston Texans – We covered the Texans’ QB quandary in this post and in Rise/Sink/Float. They host the Falcons this week, which is no bargain, because the Falcons are building momentum. Atlanta jumped out to a big lead against the Vikings and held on for another win to stay in the NFC playoff hunt.

7 – Chicago Bears (DOWN A LEVEL), Cincinnati Bengals, Dallas Cowboys, Detroit Lions, New York Giants, New York Jets, Oakland Raiders (UP A LEVEL) – We covered the Jets’ win over the Bills in this post and the Giants’ loss to the Saints in a post coming later today. The Bears lost in Oakland, and while that’s not a bad loss, the Caleb Hanie experience didn’t get off to a good start. Hanie and company can get well against the Chiefs this week. The Raiders travel to Miami this week, and they need a win to stay ahead of the Broncos in the AFC West. The Bengals broke a two-game losing streak against the Browns, but they still need to prove they can play with the big boys. This week’s home game against the Steelers is a chance to do that. The Cowboys overcame a slow start to beat the Dolphins on Thanksgiving, and with the Giants loss they now have a one-game NFC East lead. They will try to build on that lead in Arizona this week.

6 – Denver Broncos (UP A LEVEL), Tennessee Titans (UP A LEVEL) – The Broncos and Titans both moved to 6-5. The Broncos won in San Diego, and their defense continues to play at an elite level. They need to keep their hot streak going in Minnesota this week. The Titans beat the Buccaneers at home to stay in the playoff hunt. They are two games behind the Texans, but given Houston’s quarterback situation, that’s not an insurmountable lead. Tennessee needs a win in Buffalo this week to keep up the pressure.

5 – Philadelphia Eagles, San Diego Chargers (DOWN A LEVEL) – We covered the Chargers’ collapse in Rise/Sink/Float. The Eagles were blasted at home by the Patriots to fall to 4-7. We leave these teams above the ones below not because of results but because their talent level means they remain dangerous.

4 – Buffalo Bills, Miami Dolphins, Tampa Bay Buccaneers (DOWN A LEVEL) – We discussed the Bills in detail in this game post. The Dolphins lost in Dallas but again played well. Miami is going to spoil some playoff pushes, perhaps beginning with Oakland’s this week. The Buccaneers lost in Tennessee and cannot seem to win a close game. They finally get a bit of a schedule reprieve by hosting the Panthers this week.

3 – Arizona Cardinals, Carolina Panthers (UP A LEVEL), Cleveland Browns, Jacksonville Jaguars, Kansas City Chiefs, Minnesota Vikings, Seattle Seahawks (DOWN A LEVEL), Washington Redskins (UP A LEVEL) – The Redskins beat the Seahawks in Seattle 23-17. Washington has had more offensive punch since Rex Grossman returned to the lineup at quarterback. The loss showed that the Seahawks, while they have played well at times, still have a long way to go. The Jaguars played well defensively against the Texans, but their offense is epically bad. The Chiefs played the Steelers close on Sunday night, and now that Kyle Orton is in town, their offense should get at least a little better. The Vikings played the Falcons close on the road but fell to 2-9. The Browns lost a lead against the Bengals, and while it was a game effort, it was another loss. The Cardinals beat the Rams and the Panthers beat the Colts, but while the wins are nice, they were both against inferior competition.

2 – St. Louis Rams – The Rams played the Cardinals close but ultimately lost. While they have two wins, the Rams are playing as poorly as any team in the league.

1 – Indianapolis Colts – The Colts had a chance at home against the Panthers but lost again. A trip to New England this week should lead to a 12th loss on the season.

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Pick ’em Week 12

We’re thankful that Week 11 was good to us with a 7-2-1 record. We’ve got an extra-sized smorgasbord of picks this week, which is fitting since we will be eating 2 Thanksgiving meals today. (We’re also thankful to have both sides of the family in town.) Here are this week’s picks:

DE Elvis Dumervil and the Broncos take on QB Philip Rivers and the Chargers, via denverpost.com

NCAA picks
Houston -3 vs. Tulsa
LSU -11.5 vs. Arkansas
Georgia -6 at Georgia Tech
Auburn +21 vs. Alabama
Virginia +4 vs. Virginia Tech
Clemson +4 at South Carolina
Stanford -7 vs. Notre Dame

NFL picks
Green Bay -7 at Detroit
Dallas -7.5 vs. Miami
Baltimore -3 vs. San Francisco
Chicago +4 at Oakland
Denver +6 at San Diego
New Orleans -7 vs. N.Y. Giants

Last week: 4-1 college, 3-1-1 pro, 7-2-1 overall
Season: 36-27-2 college, 30-31-4 pro, 66-58-6 overall

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Football Relativity Week 10

Each week, we compare all 32 NFL teams using our Football Relativity comparison. On the comparison, the 10 level is reserved for the best teams, and the 1 level for the worst. We’ll note throughout where teams have moved up or down from last week.

WR Marques Colston and the Saints beat the Falcons, via ajc.com

10 – Green Bay Packers – The Packers cleaned up yet again with a dominating Monday-night win over the Vikings. Green Bay is cruising right now, and their Thanksgiving Day trip to Detroit looks better and better every day.

9 – New Orleans Saints (UP A LEVEL), Pittsburgh Steelers, San Francisco 49ers (UP A LEVEL) – The Saints got a hard-fought road win in Atlanta to take control of the NFC South. They head into their bye with a 7-3 record and with momentum. The Steelers went to Cincinnati and got a seven-point win that keeps them in the AFC South hunt. They too are 7-3 entering the bye. The 49ers beat a good Giants team  27-20 to move to 8-1, and they should be thinking about what it will take to lock up not just the NFC West but a first-round playoff bye as they enter the NFC West-heavy portion of their schedule.

8 – Atlanta Falcons, Baltimore Ravens (DOWN A LEVEL), Chicago Bears (UP A LEVEL) Houston Texans (DOWN A LEVEL), New England Patriots, New York Giants – We explained why the Giants stay here and why the Bears are now at this level in Rise/Sink/Float. The Falcons lost at home to the Saints, thanks in part to a controversial fourth-down call in overtime. They need to rebound against the Titans this week.The Ravens suffered a let-down in a 22-17 loss in Seattle, giving up their AFC North advantage in the process. They can bounce back with a home game against the Bengals this week. The Texans won to move to 7-3 entering their bye, but they lost QB Matt Schaub for the season. The Patriots bounced back from two straight losses by thumping the Jets, and they have a chance to build momentum at home on Monday night against the Chiefs. Despite their recent struggles, New England still is the team to beat in the AFC East.

7 – Cincinnati Bengals, Dallas Cowboys (UP A LEVEL), Detroit Lions, New York Jets – The Bengals and Jets both lost key divisional games that hurt their playoff chances. Cincinnati can’t lick its wounds because it must go to Baltimore this week; the Jets face a quick turnaround in a Thursday-night trip to Denver. The Cowboys blasted the Bills to take a step up among NFC playoff contenders. They can confirm that status in Washington this week. The Lions got killed in Chicago, although that game got out of hand because of special-teams and defensive return touchdowns by the Bears. Detroit can get well against Carolina at home heading into their Thanksgiving Day special against the Packers.

6 – Oakland Raiders, San Diego Chargers (DOWN A LEVEL) – The Raiders beat the Chargers in San Diego to throw the AFC West into complete chaos. Both teams have road games this week, but Oakland’s journey to Minnesota is far more favorable than San Diego’s trip to Chicago.

5 – Buffalo Bills (DOWN A LEVEL), Philadelphia Eagles (DOWN A LEVEL), Tampa Bay Buccaneers (DOWN A LEVEL), Tennessee Titans (UP A LEVEL) – We covered the Eagles’ decline in Rise/Sink/Float. We discussed the Titans in this game review; now Tennessee has a shot in the AFC South because of Matt Schaub’s injury. The Bills lost 44-7 in Dallas and seem to be falling apart before our eyes. So are the Buccaneers, who lost big to Houston at home and must now go to Green Bay.

4 -Denver Broncos (UP A LEVEL), Seattle Seahawks (UP A LEVEL) – The Broncos have figured out a style that lets Tim Tebow succeed, and they are in the AFC West race because of it. A Thursday-night home game against the Jets is an opportunity for another win, given the scheduling situation. The Seahawks haven’t always played well, but they beat the Ravens as well as the Giants this year, which is pretty impressive. Now the question is whether they can find consistency of that kind of effort.

3 – Arizona Cardinals (UP A LEVEL), Jacksonville Jaguars, Kansas City Chiefs (DOWN A LEVEL), Miami Dolphins (UP A LEVEL), Minnesota Vikings, St. Louis Rams (UP A LEVEL) – The Cardinals, who nearly won at Baltimore a few weeks back, got a road win in Philadelphia. The Jaguars beat the Colts as they should have. The Chiefs lost to the Broncos and even worse lost QB Matt Cassel for the rest of the season. The Dolphins got their second straight win by beating the Redskins. The Rams beat the Browns in an ugly 13-12 game. The Vikings got blasted by the Packers on Monday night, which was pretty much expected.

2 – Carolina Panthers (DOWN A LEVEL), Cleveland Browns, Washington Redskins – We covered the Panthers in this game review. The Browns lost at home to the Rams thanks to a special-teams gaffe, but the real problem in Cleveland is an offense completely devoid of playmakers. The Redskins have the same problem, and like the Browns they look horrible despite three early-season wins.

1 – Indianapolis Colts – The Colts lost handily to the Jacksonville Jaguars and will struggle to find a win this season. How Lucky.

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Football Relativity Week 8

Each week, we compare all 32 NFL teams using our Football Relativity comparison. On the comparison, the 10 level is reserved for the best teams, and the 1 level for the worst. We’ll note throughout where teams have moved up or down from last week.

S Troy Polamalu and the Steelers took down WR Wes Welker and the Patriots, via nytimes.com

10 – Green Bay Packers – The undefeated Packers were on bye. They face a tough game at San Diego this week that will be their biggest test in weeks.

9 – New England Patriots, Pittsburgh Steelers (UP A LEVEL) – The Steelers beat the Patriots 25-17 in Pittsburgh, and both teams now have two losses. The Patriots’ defense isn’t great, but the offense is so good that it will generally lead them to wins. That’s what should happen in a home game against the Giants this week. The Steelers have no time to celebrate because they host the Ravens this week in a game that will have a huge impact on the AFC North race.

8 – Atlanta Falcons, Baltimore Ravens, Houston Texans, New Orleans Saints (DOWN A LEVEL), San Francisco 49ers (UP A LEVEL) – We covered the Saints’ collapse against the Rams and the Ravens’ survival against the Cardinals in Rise/Sink/Float. The Saints host the Buccaneers in a key NFC South game this week, while the Ravens face the Steelers in an AFC North battle. The Falcons were on bye. The Texans took care of business in a home game against the Jaguars and now have a firm grip on the AFC South. The 49ers beat the Browns at home, and have a chance to add another win on the East Coast in Washington this week.

7 – Buffalo Bills, Detroit Lions, New York Giants, New York Jets, Oakland Raiders, Philadelphia Eagles (UP A LEVEL), San Diego Chargers (DOWN A LEVEL), Tampa Bay Buccaneers – The Bills blasted the Redskins in Toronto and re-took the AFC East lead. A home game against the Jets this week will be another litmus test. The Lions killed the Broncos in Denver to end a two-game losing streak, which is a good way to head into the bye week. The Giants nearly gagged at home against the Dolphins, but they found a way to sneak out a win. They’ll have to play better against the Patriots in Foxboro this week. The Eagles finally looked like the dream team in a 34-7 win over Dallas, and heading into a Monday night game against the Bears they’re back in the NFC East race. The Chargers to the Chiefs, and their solid 4-1 start now is a disappointing 4-3 record and a three-way tie in the AFC West. The Chargers missed an opportunity to seize control and now have a fight on their hands, both in division and at home against the Packers this week. The Jets, Raiders, and Buccaneers were on bye.

6 – Chicago Bears, Cincinnati Bengals (UP A LEVEL), Dallas Cowboys (DOWN A LEVEL) – We covered the Bengals’ ascent in Rise/Sink/Float. They face the Titans in Nashville this week, and if the past is any guide, they’ll rise to the challenge. The Cowboys got blasted in Philly; now they try to rebound in a home game against the Seahawks. The Bears were on bye; they travel to Philadelphia on Monday night.

5 – Kansas City Chiefs (UP A LEVEL) – The Chiefs continued their unlikely winning streak with a 23-20 overtime victory at home against the Chargers on Monday night. After a horrific start, the Chiefs are 4-3 and tied for first in the AFC West. Now they host the Dolphins this week with a chance to run their winning streak to five games. It’s an incredible turnaround, especially given the major injuries the Chiefs sustained early in the season.

4 – Tennessee Titans – The Titans beat the Colts 27-10 at home to move to 4-3 and stay within shouting distance in the AFC South. Their home game against the Bengals this week is an underrated matchup.

3 – Carolina Panthers, Cleveland Browns (DOWN A LEVEL), Jacksonville Jaguars, Minnesota Vikings (UP A LEVEL), Seattle Seahawks (DOWN A LEVEL), Washington Redskins – The Vikings knocked off the Panthers in a game we covered here. The Browns couldn’t mount much offense in San Francisco, while the Jaguars played tough but fell short in Houston. The Redskins were blanked by the Bills, as the John Beck experiment continues to devolve. The Seahawks lost at home to the Bengals.

2 – Arizona Cardinals, Denver Broncos (DOWN A LEVEL), St. Louis Rams (UP A LEVEL) – The Rams finally broke out of the winless group with a surprising 31-21 victory over the Saints. They’ll try to build on that in Arizona facing the Cardinals, who put a scare into the Ravens but didn’t get the win. The Broncos fell short in Tim Tebow’s second start and now must travel to Oakland. Our hunch is that Tebow and the Black Hole won’t mix.

1 – Indianapolis Colts, Miami Dolphins – Another week, another loss for the Colts and Dolphins. Miami put up a big fight against the Giants on the road, but this week’s trip to Kansas City isn’t promising. The Colts lost at Tennessee and now must host the Falcons. Looks like the Andrew Luck sweepstakes will be a dead heat for another week.

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Football Relativity Week 5

Each week, we compare all 32 NFL teams using our Football Relativity comparison. On the comparison, the 10 level is reserved for the best teams, and the 1 level for the worst. We’ll note throughout where teams have moved up or down from last week.

The Chargers and RB Ryan Mathews avoided stumbling in Denver, via cbs8.com

10 – Green Bay Packers – The Packers fell behind early but still rebounded to beat the Falcons on the road 25-14. Green Bay continues to show that it can overcome obstacles and win on the road, two traits of a fine team. They’re still the best team in the league.

9 – Baltimore Ravens, New England Patriots, New Orleans Saints (UP A LEVEL) – We discussed the Saints’ key win in this post. The Patriots knocked off their AFC East nemesis the Jets, which allows them to keep up with the resurgent Bills in the AFC East. The Patriots have gotten their running game going the last two weeks, which is a good sign that makes their offense even more potent. The Ravens were on bye.

8 – Detroit Lions, Pittsburgh Steelers (UP A LEVEL), San Diego Chargers – The Lions took care of business on Monday night against the Bears, and while it may not have been artistic, it moved them to 5-0. It’s kind of a shame that we won’t see Packers/Lions until Thanksgiving day. The Steelers got well in a 38-17 victory over Tennessee, and with a favorable schedule the Steelers have a chance to return to the form we expect from them. The Chargers went on the road and won 29-24 in Denver. San Diego hasn’t looked like world beaters, but unlike previous seasons they’re off to a quality 4-1 start. Do they have another gear later in the season like they have in the past?

7 – Atlanta Falcons, Buffalo Bills (UP A LEVEL), Houston Texans (DOWN A LEVEL),  New York Giants, New York Jets, Oakland Raiders (UP A LEVEL), Tampa Bay Buccaneers (DOWN A LEVEL) – We covered the key win by the Bills and the disappointing losses by the Giants and the Texans in Rise/Sink/Float.  We discussed the Buccaneers’ blowout loss in this post. The Falcons fell to 2-3 with a home loss to the Packers; they must win against the Panthers this week or else they are in serious trouble. The Raiders honored Al Davis’ memory with a win against the Texans in Houston. Oakland is 3-2 and still in the thick of things in the AFC race – and they’re good enough to continue making noise.

6 – Chicago Bears, Dallas Cowboys, Philadelphia Eagles (DOWN A LEVEL), San Francisco 49ers (UP A LEVEL), Washington Redskins – The Redskins and Cowboys were on bye, but they moved up the NFC East standings thanks to the losses by the Giants and the Eagles. Philadelphia lost to a good team on the road, but the key mistakes they keep making are limiting their ability to show off their talent. They need to fix things fast or else the playoffs will slip away. The Bears lost on the road to the Lions, and while there’s no shame in that, being 2-3 raises problems. The 49ers moved to 4-1 with a dominating win over the Buccaneers. While we don’t know how good the 49ers can be, it’s safe to at least say that they are the class of the NFC West.

5 – Tennessee Titans – The Titans lost at Pittsburgh 38-17; the question is whether that loss or the previous 3-1 is a better indicator of Tennessee’s talent and future. That’s a story that bears watching in the coming weeks.

4 – Cleveland Browns, Cincinnati Bengals (UP A LEVEL), Seattle Seahawks (UP A LEVEL) – The 2-2 Browns were on bye. The Bengals moved to 3-2 with a win in Jacksonville. Cincinnati continues to pile up wins, which is impressive. But we can’t shake the feeling that we’re already seeing QB Andy Dalton’s ceiling. The Seahawks crossed the country and beat the Giants to move to 2-3. It was the best win of the weekend, and it showed that Seattle could still challenge the 49ers in the NFC West.

3 – Carolina Panthers, Denver Broncos, Kansas City Chiefs – We discussed another close Panthers loss in this post. The Broncos fell short against the Chargers but, more significantly, made the switch at quarterback to Tim Tebow. The upcoming bye week will reveal whether that switch is permanent. The Chiefs got their second straight win by beating the Colts at home. The schedule gave K.C. a break, but the Chiefs capitalized with two wins and seem to have stabilized after an atrocious start.

2 – Arizona Cardinals (DOWN TWO LEVELS), Indianapolis Colts (DOWN A LEVEL), Jacksonville Jaguars (DOWN A LEVEL), Miami Dolphins, Minnesota Vikings (UP A LEVEL) – The Cardinals fell to 1-4 in a blowout loss to the previously winless Vikings. Maybe that win is a turning point for the Vikes, who have started well but hadn’t finished a game until this week. The Jaguars lost at home to the Bengals, and while they were close (again), they haven’t been able to get over the hump either. The Colts got a much better performance out of QB Curtis Painter, but they couldn’t hold a lead against Kansas City. The Dolphins were on bye.

1 – St. Louis Rams – The 0-4 Rams were mercifully on bye.

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Week 4 Transactions

Max Starks

OT Max Starks returns to Pittsburgh. Image via Wikipedia

Each week, we note and comment on the NFL’s biggest transactions. Here are the transactions between the end of Week 4 and the beginning of Week 5.

Steelers (add OT Max Starks, cut OT Chris Scott) – To address a banged-up offensive line, the Steelers brought back Starks, who was cut in the preseason for being overweight. Starks, a former starter, jumps right back into the lineup at left tackle.

Dolphins (put QB Chad Henne on IR, add QB Sage Rosenfels) – Henne suffered a shoulder injury and opted for surgery, so the Dolphins held quarterback tryouts and settled on the veteran Rosenfels. Rosenfels will back up Matt Moore.

Jets (put OLB Bryan Thomas on IR, promote LB Eddie Jones) – Thomas, a former first-round pick who has been a long-term contributor as a pass-rushing outside ‘backer, suffered a season-ending Achilles injury against the Ravens in Week 4.

Rams (put WR Danny Amendola on IR) – Amendola, the Rams’ leading receiver last year, suffered a setback in his attempt to recover from a triceps injury and landed on IR instead.

Colts (put OT Ben Ijalana and DT Eric Foster on IR, add OTs Michael Toudoze and Quinn Ojinnaka) – We covered the injuries to Foster and Ijalana in this post. Toudoze and Ojinnaka add needed depth at a banged-up offensive line position.

Lions (add S Vincent Fuller) – Fuller, an ex-Titan, joins up with former Tennessee coaches Jim Schwartz and Gunther Cunningham in Detroit to add secondary depth.

Panthers (cut S Sean Considine and DE George Selvie, sign S Jermale Hines and DE Antwan Applewhite) – We discussed the reasons behind this move in the mid-week Panthers report. Selvie, a waiver pickup earlier this season, lost his spot to Applewhite, who played for Panthers head coach Ron Rivera in San Diego.

Eagles (put DT Antonio Dixon on IR, sign DT Derek Landri) – Dixon, part of the Eagles’ rotation up front, suffered a season-ending torn triceps injury. In his place, the Eagles brought back Landri, the ex-Panther who was in training camp with them.

Giants (add CB Justin Tryon, cut CB Brian Williams) – Looking for more cornerback depth, the Giants cut the veteran Williams and replaced him with Tryon, an ex-Colt who isn’t as big but who has more speed.

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Rise/Sink/Float Week 4

Each week, we look through the Sunday NFL results to find one team that’s rising, one team that’s sinking, and one team that stays at the same level. You’ll see these changes reflected in our weekly Football Relativity comparison of all 32 teams. This week, we present an all-NFC version.

Lions WR Calvin Johnson celebrates after another TD, via guardian.co.uk

Rise – Detroit Lions – The Lions continue to make it hard on themselves, but for the second consecutive week they overcame a huge deficit on the road and rallied for the win. Sunday, it took two interceptions returned for touchdowns, and then two Calvin Johnson touchdown catches, but Detroit overcame the Cowboys 34-30. Detroit isn’t a perfect team – the secondary showed again this week that it can be vulnerable – but the high-caliber offense and hyper-competitiveness make the Lions a tough out. Their 4-0 record is legit.

Sink – Philadelphia Eagles – The Eagles fell to 1-3 with a home loss to San Francisco that featured a blown lead, missed field goals, and more mistakes. Philly is talented, but the Eagles’ offensive line has become a major problem, and the defense has yet to hit its stride. We won’t give up on the Eagles yet, but at this point we’ll move them down the comparison until the results match the roster.

Float – Washington Redskins – The Redskins moved to 3-1 with a 17-10 road win in St. Louis. The Rams are moribund, but the Redskins deserve credit for another strong defensive performance. Rex Grossman is still a major question mark, but the Redskins have a solid running game to go with their defense, and that’s a recipe to a solid run at the playoffs.

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