Each week on Tuesday ESPN releases their Power Rankings on Tuesday around noon. While they have no impact on the season, many look forward to their release and the debate that follows. Each week we will review the Browns’ ranking, their previous week’s opponent, their upcoming opponent and the 5 above and 5 below them in the rankings. We will look at how the Browns can climb in the rankings and avoid falling.
Thoughts: The Browns rose 6 spots this week by defeating a winless Vikings team. Seems a bit of a jump given the quality of win but just like the win the Browns will take it. They now actually have 5 teams, 7 to be exact, below them for this analysis. ESPN notes the great impact that Josh Gordon had on the offense but wonders who will be able to run the football. For this week we will just enjoy the win. A win this week against the highly ranked Bengals would shoot the Browns up the charts.
Last Week’s Opponent: Minnesota Vikings
Thoughts: The Vikings drop 3 spots after the loss. ESPN notes that the Vikings pass defense has given up the most passing yards in the league. In a passing league this is problematic. The Vikings have talent at a number of positions but it looks like they may end up in alot of shoot outs this year. Christian Ponder does not seem to have the quality of arm or football IQ to win many of those. The Vikings are the highest ranked 0-3 team and ranked above the Raiders who are 1-2.
This Week’s Opponent: Cincinnati Bengals
Thoughts: The Bengals rose 4 spots after their huge win over the Packers. The Bengals are the highest rated 2-1 team and is ranked above 2 teams with no losses. Obviously the Browns will have their hands full with this stout defense and great receivers, including tight ends. Injury and possible suspension to Leon Hall and Adam Jones respectively could cause issues in the secondary. ESPN notes that Andy Dalton has a 73 QBR good for 10th in the league after finishing 26th last year.
Thoughts: The Bills are also 1-2. They lost another close game, by a touchdown, this weekend to the Jets. The Bills were unable to make the Jets pay for their plethora of turnovers. Their win against Carolina looks even better after the Panthers beat the New York Giants. The Bills play the Browns in 2 weeks which should have great influence on who is higher then each other. Both teams have to get through tough AFC North opponents this week, the Bills face the Ravens.
Thoughts: The Eagles continue to drop after losing their second straight. After a dynamic opening half to the season the Eagles have looked disjointed, which is to be expected with Chip Kelly’s new offense and all the pieces brought in. The defensive ineptitude is their biggest issue though as the team continues to give up big points and is on the field alot with the high paced offense. This week the Eagles will try to slow down the Broncos, good luck with that.
Thoughts: Another 1-2 team the Cardinals are also breaking in a new starting QB this year, starting with the Browns and going up thats 4 teams in a row. Carson Palmer has had his moments but has done nothing to ease the long term concerns of Cardinal faithful. ESPN notes that Palmer only converted 3 of 11 3rd downs when he dropped back and only targeted star WR Larry Fitzgerald once on those 11 plays. The team’s defense is holding opposing rushers down but giving up the 6th most passing yards.
Thoughts: The Panthers rose 6 spots after defeating the still winless New York Giants. The rise in the rankings can be attrituted to the Giants history, not their standing this year, as well as the dominate shut out performance the Panthers put on the Giants. ESPN notes the increase in vertical passing this week as a noted improvement for Cam Newton. Can Newton stay consistent? Will a matchup with the Cardinals defensive backfield again inflate his numbers this week?
St. Louis Rams
Thoughts: The Rams are also 1-2 and are coming off 2 straight losses where they have given up 31 points. Sam Bradford has mastered checkdown throws but has started to attempt more down the field passes which can only improve the team. Their rushing on the other hand has been terrible. They are ranked 4th worst in the league in rushing yards and their top tailback was injured on the first play this week. A game against the all of a sudden vulnerable San Francisco 49ers could be a make or break for both teams.
Minnesota Vikings (See Above)
Thoughts: The Redskins are 0-3 and have struggled after high hopes coming off last years playoff run. ESPN notes that Griffen is now a drop back passer but last year ranked second lowest in drop back percentage last year. How Griffen recovers from his knee injury will be a big story line for the rest of the year. The defense however is a bigger issue. The Redskins are giving up the second most yards in both passing and rushing.
Thoughts: For Browns fans seeing the Steelers ranked below them is always a positive thing, especially when it comes with also being above them in the real standings. The Steelers seem uncomfortable when they play this year. Where in years past everything seems to have a reason and a flow to it, this year players seem out of joint. This has led to some testy confrontations and some players look to be trying to do to much to stem the tide. The Steelers have the second worst run offense and the 22nd ranked run defense, very un-Steeler like. Luckily for the Steelers they face the high ranked, but also winless, Vikings this week. One team will rise a bit, one will fall in next weeks rankings (unless they tie then all bets are off).
New York Giants
Thoughts: The once powerful Giants are now 0-3. Eli Manning is throwing passes to the other team like his brother is throwing touchdowns. They aren’t able to run the ball and last week got lit up by Newton. They dropped 9 spots in the rankings and it makes sense that they are ranked here with Pittsburgh. A game with Kansas City this week is now looking very difficult for the Giants. Could these stalwarts of the NFL really go 0-4?
Thoughts: After a loss to the Broncos the Raiders drop 1 spot. The lowest ranked 1-2 team, 5 behind the Browns, the Raiders win over the 32nd ranked Jaguars isn’t getting the team alot of respect. ESPN notes that Terrelle Pryor has 2 games of Total QBR above 55 something noted QBs “Colin Kaepernick, Matt Schaub, Eli Manning and Andy Dalton can’t say.” The Raiders meet the winless Redskins this week, but could be without Pryor after his concussion. Matt Flynn might finally get his chance to shine.
How the Browns fair this year compared to the 5 Above and 5 below will be very interesting. Just like the standings change each week so will these opinion based rankings. They make for fun debate. You can debate me here on Twitter or continue the discussion below.
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Topics: Arizona Cardinals, Buffalo Bills, Carolina Panthers, Cincinnati Bengals, Cleveland Browns, Minnesota Vikings, New York Giants, Oakland Raiders, Philadelphia Eagles, Pittsburgh Steelers, St. Louis Rams, Washington Redskins