Home > NFL, Steelers > We Are All Witnesses (and Week 8 Power Rankings)

We Are All Witnesses (and Week 8 Power Rankings)

And what we are witnessing is the decline of the Patriots. Well, maybe not THE decline of the Patriots, to the extent that they’ll return to their tragic early 90’s suckdom, but certainly this year’s version of the Patriots seems to be deteriorating before our very eyes.

I’ll admit: On Sunday I was nervous. A little more nervous than usual because it was the Patriots and that meant something. They were viewed as a quality opponent, and the Steelers were 0-2 up to that point against quality opponents. It was a game I wanted to see the Steelers win for more reasons than just another notch in the W column.  And as the Steelers took a 17-7 lead into halftime I was saying I was nervous still, and I guess in some ways I was, but I was no more nervous than I would have been if the Steelers had been playing Cincinnati or Tampa Bay or Chicago. The Patriots simply did not frighten me in any way that second half, and I knew if the Steelers could avoid mistakes and score one more touchdown that the game would be over.

The thing is, the Patriots kind of stink.

Tom Brady is all-world, all-galaxy, all-universe, and aside from him the Patriots are all kinds of screwed up. Wes Welker – 30 years old, 5’9″ 185lbs.  – is their star receiver, along with a couple of tight ends who are wholly tight-endy in their speed and overall usefulness. They have a ceiling, and that ceiling is about 15 yards away from the line of scrimmage.  Chad Ochocinco is on this team and is supposed to function as a deep threat, although this is unclear. Their backfield consists of some combination of BenJarvus Green – Ellis/ Kevin Faulk / Danny Woodhead, I guess. And you don’t need to be a trained analyst to see their defense is beyond atrocious. Yes, they sacked Roethlisberger five times, but it didn’t matter much because Ben and the offense could get that yardage back the next play.

The Patriots could literally do nothing to stop the Steelers between the 10s. When New England had the ball the Steelers had to do nothing more than defend an area within 10 yards of the line of scrimmage and make sure Wes Welker and Rob Gronkowski were hit as they came off the line to disrupt the timing of their patterns. That’s it. That’s all the Steelers did. It was remarkable and pathetic that the Pats had no answer for this. They literally do not have any other personnel that can hurt a competent defense. Once Welker and the tight ends were neutralized the Patriots had no chance.

Something else I loved about that game was the way the Steelers completely dominated time of possession in the most non-Steeler way possible. The old strategy of “Brady can’t hurt you if he’s on the bench” was originally thought best applied by running, running again, and then running even more. But this version of the Steelers is built to pass, and it was almost as though you could see a light bulb go on over everybody’s head – as Roethlisberger completed short pass after short pass – that completing passes in bounds is just as effective a way of managing the clock as fruitlessly jamming a running back into the pile over and over again. In fact, it’s a much BETTER strategy because those completions tend to accrue more yardage and first downs. It helps, of course, that 1) Roethlisberger has the deepest receiving corps he’s ever had and  2) that he’s reaching that sweet spot of experience and youth where nothing confuses him AND he has the physical tools to pick apart a defense. It was a glorious thing to watch.

So now the week one pantsing at the hands of the Ravens is no longer the signature moment from this season. If the playoffs started today Pittsburgh would be the #1 seed and the Ravens would be spectators. Things have changed dramatically, but that should be the lesson. The Steelers went from, “Old, slow, and it’s over,” to the best record in the conference, but they can wind up right back where they were on September 12th if they lay another egg on Sunday. Baltimore looms.

****

Some rankings.

Biggest Movers:

  • UP: Eagles (19 to 12)
  • DOWN: Cowboys (9 to 16)

 TEAM

LAST_WEEK

RECORD

RANKINGS_INDEX

 1.

Packers

 1

(.7202)

 7-0

.7340

2.

Lions

 4

(.6718)

 6-2

.7198

3.

49ers

 1

(.6957)

6-1

.7193

4.

Ravens

3

 (.6901)

 5-2

.7012

5.

Texans

6

(.6457)

 5-3

 .6715

6.

Bills

10

(.5921)

 5-2

 .6563

7.

Bengals

 8

(.6285)

 5-2

 .6282

8.

Steelers

11

 (.5911)

 6-2

 .6237

9.

Saints

5

(.6461)

 5-3

 .6054

10.

Patriots

 7

(.6285)

 5-2

 .5878

11.

Giants

 15

(.5259)

 5-2

 .5557

12.

Eagles

19

  (.4672)

 3-4

 .5485

13.

Chargers

12

 (.5638)

 4-3

 .5422

14.

Jets

13

(.5511)

 4-3

 .5422

15.

Bears

14

 (.5370)

 4-3

 .5378

16.

Cowboys

9

(.5953)

 3-4

 .5105

17.

Falcons

16

(.5113)

 4-3

 .5077

18.

Titans

21

 (.4542)

 4-3

 .4815

19.

Raiders

18

 (.4786)

 4-3

  .4776

20.

Browns

17

 (.4947)

 3-4

  .4565

21.

Buccaneers

22

(.4508)

 4-3

 .4464

22.

Chiefs

24

 (.4106)

 4-3

 .4285

23.

Panthers

23

 (.4432)

 2-6

 .4197

24.

Redskins

20

 (.4567)

 3-4

 .4129

25.

Vikings

26

 (.3903)

 2-6

 .4109

26.

Jaguars

25

 (.3928)

 2-6

 .3735

27.

Seahawks

27

 (.3871)

 2-5

 .3673

28.

Broncos

28

(.3758)

 2-5

 .3184

29.

Cardinals

29

 (.3502)

 1-6

 .3005

30.

Rams

31

 (.1890)

 1-6

 .2571

30.

Dolphins

32

 (.2653)

0-7

 .2521

32.

Colts

32
(.1872)
 0-8  .1678
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