LBS NFL Power Rankings Week 10

1. Pittsburgh Steelers (6-2, +1)

The Bengals almost came from behind to beat the Steelers. That would have been Pittsburgh’s second straight loss with a match-up against the Patriots looming. They hung on for the win and appear to be the more confident team headed into Sunday night’s key match-up.

2. Baltimore Ravens (6-2, +2)

Whether Le’ron McClain spit in Channing Crowder’s face or not, Baltimore dominated the Dolphins and has won five of its last six. Thursday Night Football kicks off this week and the Ravens face the Falcons in what should be a great match-up of 6-2 teams.

3. New York Giants (6-2, +4)

The G-men were the hottest team in football headed into their bye week and Charlie Whitehurst was the perfect candidate to keep that going.  They haven’t played many great teams lately, but they’re destroying everything in their path.

4. New England Patriots (6-2, -3)

New England looked downright awful against the Browns, but I don’t want to drop them too far just yet. The 20-point road loss looks like a classic example of a team looking ahead to it’s next match-up. We’ll know more about the AFC after the Pats-Steelers game on Sunday night.

5. New York Jets (6-2, -2)

After being shutout by the Packers, we expected the Jets to bounce back in a big way against the lions. That didn’t happen. As a matter of fact, if Ndamukong Suh didn’t have to attempt an extra point the Jets probably would have lost. They aren’t looking like the dominant team we saw through the first seven weeks.

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It Is About Time Professional Football Returned to Los Angeles

Fall conjures up so many great images. The changing of colors of Randy Moss’ uniform. Another World Series which rates lower than a Mary Lou Retton floor routine. And then there is All Hallows Eve. Over 17,000 fans who dress up in costume in the Superdome to watch the Saints, the fact that it was Halloween just a coincidence. Or, what about the schmo who thought it would be a good idea to dress up as a Wolverines fan during a Penn State home against Michigan (this is what Charles Darwin was talking about). It also means political elections. As if voters weren’t apathetic enough, now they have an opportunity to vote for Chris Dudley, presumably running on a campaign promise to eliminate free throw shooting from basketball, and Heath Shuler, who has a chance to get intercepted by guys in suits this time.

What fall also means, though, is the opportunity to cherish America’s most popular sport, football. That is, unless you are a Los Angeles resident who is a graduate of UCLA, two of Dante’s Circles of Hell as far as the sport is concerned. In case you haven’t noticed, L.A. has not seen a professional player lead a sustained drive since a white Ford Bronco did an end-around down the 405. Al Davis departed but not before causing a big fuss and leaving a barren hole in the ground which we now call Irwindale. The Rams departed; someone said they won a Super Bowl in someplace called St. Louis but I don’t believe it. As far as the Bruins, I didn’t know bears went into hibernation for 12 years, but now I do. What the number two media market in the nation is left with are the semi-pro, well-paid USC Trojans (commentary redacted) and legions of confused NFL fans cheering for teams in places some have never been. Are you from Pittsburgh? “No, but I have used Heinz ketchup.” Perplexed Angelenos who are Patriots fans have had a difficult time spotting New England on the globe, but it is there people, just to the left of old England.

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Tom Brady, Patriots Offense Hurting Without Randy Moss

We knew Tom Brady’s stats would go down without Randy Moss and that the Patriots would be a less-potent offense without the star, but we could not have figured they’d be struggling as badly as they are. Don’t get me wrong, they still were the top team in our power rankings last week, but the Pats’ offense hasn’t lit it up since trading the Pro Bowler.

ESPN provided some excellent analysis of Brady’s stats in the four games with Randy Moss and the four games without him. Here are some of the highlights:

Tom Brady Without Randy Moss

    + Completion percentage is down 11.4%
    + Yds/attempt is down 0.9 (from 7.5 to 6.6)
    + Four fewer touchdown passes (9 vs. 5)
    + Sacked three more times (8 vs. 5)
    + Passer Rating down 24.8 points (109 vs. 84.1)

Wes Welker’s stats without Randy Moss

    + Six fewer targets (24 vs. 18)
    + Eight fewer catches (26 vs. 18)
    + Catch percentage down 12% (76% vs. 64%)

I always said Randy Moss made Wes Welker and it looks like that’s exactly the case. That’s not a knock on Welker because he was the ideal complement to Moss, but on his own he can’t create the type of plays he could with Randy there.

The Vikings meanwhile experienced a similar change in production with and without Randy Moss. They averaged 21.5 points per game with Randy and just 17.5 without him. Brett Favre’s passer rating was 80.8 on average in games played with Moss but 71.5 without him.

Even though Randy’s stats might not show he’s doing much, it’s pretty clear he has a large, positive impact on any offense of which he’s a part. Obviously this is good news for the Titans’ prospects the rest of the year.

Photo Credit: AP Photo/Amy Sancetta

Brandon Marshall Guarantees Dolphins Will Make the Playoffs

Finally.  Almost week 10 and we haven’t had a player from a mediocre team guarantee the playoffs yet?  Better late than never, I suppose.  Leave it to the outspoken Brandon Marshall — the same guy who lashed out at the NFL network and once said he f***** hates the city of Denver — to be the first big mouth to put the pressure on his squad.

As told by Pro Football Talk, Marshall has guaranteed the Miami Dolphins will make the playoffs and contend for a Super Bowl.  Here’s what he told WQAM on Monday:

No one is happy, sitting at 4-4,” Marshall said. “There’s some concern there. But we have a Dolphins team that will be in the playoffs and will contend in the championship game.”

“This is not a Tim Tebow moment. We have what we need to be a championship team. Guaranteed, from here on out we will compete, we won’t lay down and we’ll make the plays necessary to win the game,” Marshall said.

Love the casual jab at the God of Gainesville.  Compete?  Probably.  Be in the playoffs?  That will be no easy task.  The Dolphins are one of four AFC teams sitting at 4-4, and they’re in one of the tougher divisions.  More importantly, their tie-breakers are not looking good.  They still have to play the Patriots and Jets on the road after losing at home to both.  They’ve already lost to the Steelers and Ravens — two teams they could be in competition with for a playoff spot at some point.  Miami’s AFC record is 1-4 and their AFC East record is 1-2.  They have their work cut out for them if they want to prove No. 19 right.  As usual, Marshall has nothing to gain and everything to lose from making these comments.

Matthew Stafford Likely Out for the Season, Shoulder Becoming a Big Concern

The news regarding Matthew Stafford’s shoulder has gotten progressively worse since he injured it on Sunday against the Jets.  Preliminary tests indicated he may have suffered a Grade 3 separation of his right shoulder, which is not good.  That would mean three ligaments in the quarterback’s AC joint have been damaged.  This is Stafford’s second shoulder injury of the season, the first being a Grade 2 separation which he suffered week two against Chicago.

According to FoxSportsDetroit.com, Stafford is going to miss the remainder of the year.  Even if the injury were the same one he suffered week two (and it appears worse), he’d need six weeks to recover.  Lions coach Jim Schwartz would be wise to give him the remainder of the year and off-season to properly heal rather than bringing him back for the final two games of 2010.

While Schwartz claims the two shoulder injuries Stafford has suffered this year are unrelated, they’re both to the same shoulder.  I’m no doctor, but that sure sounds related in my book.  Whether one injury led to the other or not, two shoulder injuries to your franchise signal caller’s throwing arm in the same season is bad news.

If Stafford needs surgery — and I’m guessing he will — this will be a huge concern for the Lions organization.  It may not be time to panic just yet, but Detroit has been making strides toward improving their abysmal squad and a lot of that starts with it’s quarterback.  After watching one of their potential saviors separate his shoulder twice in one season — his second in the NFL — I’m sure Lions fans are in “here we go again” mode.  I would be, too.

Photo: Leon Halip/Getty Images

Chad Ochocinco Gets Into Fight with Carson Palmer After Lack of Involvement

All great players want the ball because they believe they have the ability to help their team win. The problem is you have to know the right and wrong time to voice a complaint. Memo to Chad Johnson Ochocinco: the 4th quarter when your team is trying to make a comeback is the wrong time to bitch at your quarterback.

Ocho was conspicuously missing from the team’s gameplan on Monday night, double-teamed constantly by the Steelers. While Terrell Owens was going off for 10 catches, 141 yards, and two touchdowns, Chad was dealing with the extra coverage and hardly targeted by Carson Palmer. Carson targeted Chad seven times but he didn’t record his first and only catch until the 4th quarter.

In the 3rd quarter, Chad actually caught a pass but it was negated because of a holding penalty. Ocho was so pissed after making the play that he spiked the ball causing a delay of game penalty that was declined. Then early in the 4th quarter with his team down 27-7, Chad was overthrown on a short post over the middle and immediately started going off on his quarterback. One of the lineman had to push Chad away from Carson, and after Palmer completed the first of three straight passes to T.O., Ocho headed straight to the sidelines in anger. The Enquirer says Marvin Lewis pulled Chad for those plays, but it’s hard to know exactly what happened.

Now don’t get it wrong — Chad was happy to see T.O. have success as we saw in this celebration — but he wanted some love too. Owens addressed the issue after the game saying they need to find a way to get 85 the ball while Carson said the double-coverage played a big role in Chad’s lack of action. I understand Chad’s frustration because he wants to help his team win, but bitching towards the end of the game only makes things worse, and he’s hurting the team when he’s not in the game. He has to have much more composure than that.

Photo Credit: The Enquirer/Jeff Swinger

Terrell Owens Goes Pantomime in Classic Touchdown Dance (Video)

The Bengals fell behind early against the Steelers on Monday night but got within three on a touchdown catch by Terrell Owens. It was the 150th receiving TD of T.O.’s career and he celebrated with an awesome pantomime show. Check out the T.O. mime touchdown dance video:

Even if you’re not a Bengals fan, you almost have to root for T.O. to score just to see him dance. That was sweet.