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PFT Preseason Power Rankings #16: San Diego Chargers

Discussion in 'Chargers Fan Forum' started by Blue Bolt, Jul 15, 2014.

  1. matilack

    matilack #therealagent47

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    Healthy for all 16 games in 2011, only started 2.
    Healthy for all 16 games last year, only started 5.

    I worry that the problem is more than durability, because even when the guy is healthy he doesn't play much.
     
  2. Jesse Kemp

    Jesse Kemp BoltTalker

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    The playing time is somewhat mystifying, as he's outperformed the guys around him over the past three seasons. Ballard and Richardson played more snaps than he did, but they weren't better.

    What makes the most sense to me is coaching staff change. He was inherited by the Pagano crew; they weren't in on drafting him. Arians (and Pep) like grinding backs who they can pound 25 times a game. And they're not big on throwing passes to them. Doesn't really fit with Brown's style.

    But if anyone knows Brown, it would be Telesco. TT was 2nd in command when the Colts drafted him.
     
  3. Blue Bolt

    Blue Bolt Persona Non Grata

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    PFT just put up the Ravens at #7......... yeah, they really deserve that slot. :laugh:
     
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  4. LT-Express

    LT-Express Bolttalk.com Janitor since 06' Staff Member Super Moderator

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    I have a hard time believing that we are the 16th strongest team in the rankings. We added Flowers, drafted Verrett, we get Freeney, and a healthy Ingram back, and we drafted Attouchu. Our pass rush should be significantly better as well as our secondary. I believe our offense will be top 5 in the league this year getting Floyd back, and our running game should be on par with last year if not better. We should be in the top 7 or 8 in that.
     
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  5. matilack

    matilack #therealagent47

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    We are flying under the radar big time right now. I think part of it is people are too concerned about our schedule, which I actually think will work out in our favor.
     
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  6. Jesse Kemp

    Jesse Kemp BoltTalker

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    Not to mention that strength of schedule has nothing to do with how good a team is.
     
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  7. Jesse Kemp

    Jesse Kemp BoltTalker

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    Florio's suck. I made my own.

    Tier One: The Elites

    These are teams that I absolutely believe will make the playoffs and I would be surprised if they didn't win at least one postseason game. My Super Bowl favorites are also housed in this group.

    1. Seattle Seahawks

    I've been seeing some chatter here and there about a Super Bowl hangover for the reigning champs. And while I realize there are examples of teams coming off a SB win slumping the next season, the effect has a much stronger correlation to SB losers. See the 2007 Colts, 2011 Saints, and 2012 Packers for examples of SB winners coming back even stronger (for the regular season). This doesn't mean that I think SEA will repeat, as that's a daunting task regardless of talent level. But I do think they still boast the league's best roster, and I only see Russell Wilson getting better.

    2. New Orleans Saints

    The Saints shocked the league in 2013 by fielding a stronger scoring defense (4th) than scoring offense (10th). It's hard for me to come up with a reason why the defense would take a step backwards, especially with the addition of Byrd. And with the offense reloading (Cooks/Stills... <3 <3), I wouldn't be surprised to see them nudge upwards towards their normal levels in the top 5. That sort of combination of defense and scoring is hard to find anywhere in the league, and I genuinely think it could end up carrying the Saints to a league best record.

    3. San Francisco 49ers

    For all intents and purposes, the NFCCG was the Super Bowl last year. It isn't difficult at all to envision the Niners bulldozing the Broncos in much the same way that Seattle did. Well SF has reloaded on offense in order to give Kaep his best possible chance to take a step forward. Stevie Johnson, the returning Michael Crabtree, and newly drafted Carlos Hyde could all be big additions. And while last year's 3rd ranked scoring defense might take a small step backwards, I don't see it being very significant.

    4. Denver Broncos

    The first AFC team on my list, the Broncos would normally be the team that I'd put under the "SB Hangover" scrutiny if it wasn't for Peyton Manning. I have no doubt that he will light a fire under anyone that isn't putting out, and they will cruise through the regular season once again. Whether or not they've done enough to produce a different outcome once they get there remains to be seen. Much will depend on how the returning Von Miller and new defensive additions perform. If Ware has a healthy season and Miller is his same old self, that could be enough.

    5. Green Bay Packers

    We all know that GB was a much better team than the 8-7-1 record they put on paper last year. Rodgers' injury limited their regular season success, but may end up helping them in the long run. His absence forced the Packers to discover a really effective ground game, the likes of which hasn't been seen there in years. With Lacey toting the rock, and Rodgers helped by a full compliment of weapons, there shouldn't be any concern over their ability to score. And I think their defense will get a bump from the young talent that's been developing on the roster (esp. Hayward, Daniels, Jones).

    6. New England Patriots

    Tom Brady hovers around 60% completion, the running game is top ten, and the defense may be on the rise? This team is taking me back to 2002. And much like that team, I can envision this one pushing for a SB berth if things break right. First, they'll need their defense to improve in reality as much as it has on paper. Getting Mayo back, the development of Jamie Collins, and the addition of Darrelle Revis are the main factors that will make or break that unit. On offense, much and more hinges on Gronkowski's health. He may carry the single biggest impact of any offensive player in the league, excluding QB's.


    Tier Two: Playoffs Plus...?

    These are teams that I favor to make it into the playoffs. Once there I wouldn't be shocked to see any of them get hot and go on a run towards the big game.

    7. Indianapolis Colts

    The Colts are a strange team for me to gauge, because they feel like they're trending downwards for some reason (Richardson? Their draft? Mathis' suspension?), but they did a lot of really impressive things last year (e.g. beating the 49ers, the Seahawks, and the Broncos). I like the addition of Nicks, and love what they're getting back from injury (Allen, Thomas, Ballard, and Wayne). I think Luck will be in a position to take the next step in his development. It's hard to say whether the defense will improve or decline. Adding Arthur Jones is big, but missing Mathis for 4 games will hurt. Maintaining status quo as a top 10 scoring D wouldn't surprise me.

    8. Carolina Panthers

    Pundits and media types have been quick to bury the Panthers this offseason after cap troubles and retirements dictated that they lose some marquee players. And while I think Gross' retirement will sting some, I really think the "losses" on the whole are overblown. The defense (pending Hardy's legal troubles) should be just as good, if not better due to the development of young players (especially the DT's). Too much was made of Munnerlyn and Mitchell leaving-- this stop unit is about the front 7. And on offense, Cam Newton gives the Panthers the perfect player to win close games. He can use his legs to keep crunch time drives alive. And while I don't think this passing game will be pretty, what exactly did he lose that was so important? 35 year old Steve Smith with his 745 yards? Please...

    9. San Diego Chargers

    The Chargers experienced some growing pains under a new staff during last year's regular season and gave up some winnable games. But they got it going down the stretch and ended up notching 6 victories against PO teams. This offseason, they didn't sustain any important losses and made helpful additions in the form of Brandon Flowers and Donald Brown. The offense should keep on rolling as it did during the 2nd half of 2013; the defense is what will need improvement (though not as much as you'd think; 11th in scoring D last year). That will depend on the talent returning from injury (Ingram), the development of young players (Reyes, Te'o, Wright), and whether or not the 2014 draft class can contribute as much as the previous year's did. Given the schedule, a 10 win season would be an impressive feat but it's doable.

    10. Philadelphia Eagles

    Much like last year, the Eagles rate as one of the more intriguing teams of 2014. There is still a fair bit of mystery surrounding Nick Foles. Regardless of whether or not he's as good as he looked last year, it's fairly certain that this team is going to put up yards and points. The stop unit is what will need to take a step forward if this team is going to continue its improvement under Chip Kelly. Unfortunately, the secondary still looks like a mess. So any improvement is going to have to come up front and trickle back. I expect a lot of production out of a young and talented DL group (Cox, Logan, Curry, Thornton, etc.). If we expect a normal regression from that ridiculous INT rate for Foles, the defense will need to be better than 26th in takeaways to balance it out. The Eagles really overachieved for a team that was -10 in turnover differential last year. They can't count on that again.

    11. Chicago Bears

    The Bears strike me as a team very similar to the Eagles in that the offense looks poised for several big games, and the concerns hover around the defensive side of the ball. The offensive line is solidified, and by season's end Chicago could prove to have the top unit of pass catchers in the league. I really like what they've done on defense to shore up the line (esp. Houston). If you're going to pour the majority of your resources into one level of the defense, that's the right choice. We will see if those improvements translate into better production on the 2nd and 3rd levels. Adding Kyle Fuller was a great move and the Bears can hope for one more good campaign from Briggs. It will be interesting to see how a healthy Jay Cutler looks in his second season with Trestman.

    12. Cincinnati Bengals

    A team that boasted top 10 marks in both scoring offense and defense, the Bengals underwent a fair bit of change in the offseason, especially in terms of coaching. There's been a lot of optimism around Hue Jackson, but I'm not certain that enough has been said about the losses of Zimmer and Gruden. In any case, the team is going to try and run the football more, and I can see how that would work out well. The biggest concerns are Any Dalton's persistent mediocrity and the question marks on defense. Atkins and Hall are top players at their positions, but both are coming off injury. And Michael Johnson's replacement is still something of a mystery. Ultimately, the talent level on this team will keep them in contention for a PO spot but I don't think much will improve while Andy is still at the helm.


    Tier Three: Great Parts, but what about the Whole?

    This tier is full of teams with lots of high end talent which, when put together correctly, should translate to postseason play. But for whatever reason (coaching, fatal flaw, etc.) it hasn't worked out yet (or lately). That doesn't mean that it can't this year.

    13. Pittsburgh Steelers

    It's becoming an offseason tradition for the Steelers to make a statement to the press about how "it's time to get back to Pittsburgh Steeler football." By which they mean that they want to suck less at running the ball and defense. But now, with a real talent at RB and some youth on D, could this be the year that they actually do it? One thing's for certain, if the offense picks up where it left off they will be a tough out for anyone (29 pts/game weeks 11-17 in 2013). On defense, they need to get some help from their young players-- especially Heyward, Shazier, and Jones. If that happens, and the additions pan out (e.g. Mike Mitchell), I think this team challenges for the division.

    14. Detroit Lions

    There simply is no excuse for the Lions. They have pro-bowl caliber talent all over the place, and have not been able to put it together as of yet. I like Caldwell to assemble an offensive approach that will be a lot more efficient than what's been going on there lately. But the bigger improvement could be on defense, where Teryl Austin's defense should be a lot less predictable than the vanilla 4-3 that Jim Schwartz employs. The Lions might actually blitz every now and then, and I think they have the personnel to do so effectively. Is this the year? It's going to be tough in the NFC North, but we'll see.

    15. Atlanta Falcons

    I hate to be "this guy," but I saw 2013's implosion coming before the season and took a lot of heat from some angry Falcons fans for saying so. To their credit, they've fixed a few of the problems-- the offensive line looks much better, the receivers should be healthier, and the run defense ought to be a lot stouter. But one of their fatal issues from 2013 persists: pass rush. And as far as problems for a team to have, that's a big one. Where is it supposed to come from? I think ATL fans have to hope for a really effective offense, and a manufactured pass rush by committee that gives them enough to get by. That, or a trade for a real talent who can get after the QB are the only ways I see this team challenging for a spot at the table come January.

    16. New York Giants

    I think a lot of people could be sleeping on the Giants this season. Let's examine the evidence: 1) While it's possible that Eli has regressed, it would make a lot more sense to me that the real issue was an antiquated Gilbride offense mixed with general offensive underperformance (including Eli). But they've switched over to the promising Ben McAdoo, and made some nice additions (OBJ, Schwartz, and Jennings). Not hard for me to see this unit getting back to respectability. And I'm yet more optimistic on defense, where JPP should be healthy and joined by emerging talent like Hankins, Amukamara, and Moore. The X Factor is DRC. If he plays like he did for the Broncos last year, that's a huge boost. Things are going to need to break right, but the Giants might surprise a lot of people this season.

    17. Tampa Bay Buccaneers

    I really love almost everything that TB did this offseason. They canned Shitano, shed underperformers on the offensive line, added some quality weapons on offense, and made a HC hire that absolutely fits what they have on D, especially after swapping Verner for Revis. But they also signed Josh McCown and it looks like he's going to start over the promising Mike Glennon. I really don't buy McCown at all... he's sucked for 8 years and suddenly at 34 the light comes on? Lolno. He was in a perfect situation with a coach that made it easy on him and receivers who have enormous catch radii. If Tampa Bay expects more of the same this season, I'm telling you right now they will be disappointed. Bucs fans need to hope Glennon wins the job back in camp. If he does, I think the defense makes a big step forward under Lovie and this team makes some noise (though PO's more likely in 2015, IMO).

    18. Baltimore Ravens

    The Ravens really underwhelmed in 2013, due in large part to the inexplicably horrible performance of their offensive line. The running game disappeared, and the offense was too much for Flacco to handle on his own. While I tend to despise Kubiak's system, I do think it could be a quick fix improvement for this offense. The talent they have along the line and in Bernard Pierce seems to fit his approach and could revitalize the running game. Emerging stud Torrey Smith is the perfect player to hurt defenses off PA bootlegs. I also think their defense will improve markedly this year. The real question is whether or not Flacco can be the glue that holds the whole thing together and leads the team back to the postseason.

    19. Arizona Cardinals

    I was down on the Cards in 2013, and Arians proved me wrong. So why are they #19? A couple reasons. 1) I think the offensive side of the roster is improving just as Carson Palmer is really declining. The yardage and TD totals were great last year, but 22 picks? Turning 35 this year, it's really hard for me to believe that he's going to clean that up. Especially in Bruce's offense. And 2) while the defense was awesome last year, it looks like they've taken a step back. The heart of the unit (ILB's Washington and Dansby) is gone. Meanwhile, the edge rusher situation looks shaky at best and they're going to start the season with a still recovering Tyrann Mathieu. Wouldn't surprise me at all to see them fall off on both sides of the ball from their 2013 totals.

    20. Washington Redskins

    Bob Griffin's return is going to be one of the major story lines of the 2014 season. He should be healthy, he has a good offensive mind at HC, and his pass catchers are a great looking group. However, the offensive line could still have some major issues. On defense it's all going to come down to Orakpo and Kerrigan getting a consistent rush going. Because the back end of the defense still looks suspect and could get lit up if opposing QB's aren't getting banged around. So if Griffin and the pass rushers shine, this team is right back in the PO conversation. But it's easy to envision that not being the case, which would mean this team is a mess once more.


    Tier Four: Mediocrity is Where you Live

    These are teams that belong right around the 8-8 mark. A confluence of amazing circumstances might lead to them exceeding that mark, but it remains unlikely.

    21. Tennessee Titans

    The Titans seem to be the most forgettable team in the league for whatever reason, but I really like what they did with their coaching staff this year. Ken Whisenhunt is a stud HC, and Ray Horton is a top 5 defensive coordinator. I don't really know what to expect from Jake Locker, but the supporting cast is full of quality players, so if things break right they might be pretty formidable. The defensive transition to a 3-4 can be rocky at times, but Horton's brand of defense uses a lot of 4-3 concepts so I think it will be smoother than expected. If I'm picking a team to pull a 2013 Chiefs and shock the league, it's this team (esp. because they play in the AFC South). I just can't rank them much higher because Locker is such a fragile unknown.

    22. Kansas City Chiefs

    Kansas City proved a lot of pundits right and took a huge step forward in 2013 from their 2-14 performance of the year before. A lot of factors fed into that, one being schedule. And not just a weak schedule, but one that included 5 backup quarterbacks. Their overall record belied a 1-6 mark against teams heading to the postseason. But despite all that, I still think the Chiefs were a very respectable club in 2013, deserving of top 16 ranking had nothing changed. But much has, and not for the better. KC has lost over 2000 quality snaps on the offensive line between Albert, Schwartz, and Asamoah. Their lone offensive addition of note is career whipping boy Jeff Linkenbach. Jamaal Charles is still there, but then so is Alex Smith. The front seven on defense should be just as good, now with Hali/Houston injury insurance in the form of Dee Ford. But the secondary looks like a big liability. Sean Smith was ok last year, but the rest of the corners are all unknowns. And Eric Berry's counterpart will be Husain Abdullah. I think this team surprises people again in 2014, but for the wrong reasons.

    23. Dallas Cowboys

    There's a lot of glitz on that Dallas offense. Romo, if healthy, should still be Romo. The pass catchers look fantastic, and the offensive line should be great too. But peel back the surface just a bit and you'll find just about nothing for depth, especially at WR and OL. On the other side of the ball, they don't have a depth problem as much as they have surface problems. Every level looks highly suspect. Dallas might win some shootouts in 2014, but not enough to be a contender. And if just the normal amount of injuries hit their roster, things could get ugly in a hurry. Brandon Weeden ugly.

    24. New York Jets

    Rex Ryan is full of hot air, but he can coach football. He may end up getting fired, but I don't think he deserves to be let go. Much hangs on how Geno Smith looks this coming year. I understand that he was a hot mess at times in 2013, but I still think there could be something there. His supporting cast is by no means full of world beaters, but it will be better than it was. And I think the defense will play well enough to keep them in most contests. Playoffs aren't in the cards for this team, but respectability and a brighter future well may be.

    25. St. Louis Rams

    The Rams look ideally built to achieve the kind of grinding 8-8 season that Jeff Fisher stakes his sterling reputation upon. The offensive line should be pretty strong, allowing Stacy and Mason to put up good numbers. And there is a big enough smattering of OK pass catching talent that the totals should be at least average there too. The defense will keep them in most every game. But ultimately Bradford or his backup won't play well enough when it counts and they'll limp along to mediocrity the way Fisher's teams are wont to do.

    26. Minnesota Vikings

    You guys have no idea how badly I want Teddy to play and prove everyone wrong. And I can honestly envision that happening, given the supporting cast he has to play with. But the Matt Cassel factor still looms, and could really sink my hopes. So until I know Teddy won the job, and see him play well, I think this is right about where Minny belongs. That said, the roster is stocked with young talent, the coaching staff projects to be strong, and the arrow is pointing up for the future.

    27. Houston Texans

    Houston's depth chart looks tailor-made for a 7-9 season. The defense abounds with high level talent (if it can stay healthy) that will help them win a few ugly ones. The offensive line should keep a viable ground game going, and when the games are close they can just let Fitzpatrick take high % shots so he doesn't turn the ball over. That's a great formula for beating bad teams, but it probably won't work when they play quality. This team isn't far off once they land a QB, but until that happens I don't see them surpassing the middle of the pack.


    Tier Five: There's always 2015

    28. Cleveland Browns

    Hoyer or Manziel? Who cares... who are they going to throw to? Teams can basically quadruple cover Cameron and dare whoever is at QB to find someone else. Johnny might be the better fit in that situation because of his mobility, but not to the point that the offense becomes anything more than below average. I see the defense putting out quality play, but not to the point that they win games all on their own. The Browns will be punting quite a bit, and eventually the stop unit will crack.

    29. Miami Dolphins

    This is strange, because I actually like Tannehill, but I just have no faith in this coaching staff at all. The offensive line will be better, so they might move the football. But I still think they'll come up empty in big situations, play bad situational football, and turn the ball over plenty. The defense is a Jekyll and Hyde situation. There's some real talent (Grimes, Jones, Wake, Starks), but it could have been so much better. The FO has made some really stupid moves adding Jordan, Wheeler, Ellerbe, and Finnegan. There are enough weak links in the chain that I think this defense will be breaking plenty.

    30. Buffalo Bills

    Poor E.J. Manuel, getting outperformed by Thad Lewis. Now the coaching staff is in a bind. The player they should start isn't their first round pick, so they're going to have to trot E.J. out there and let him suck bad enough to be pulled before they're allowed to make the right move. Minus Pettine, Alonso, and (possibly) Dareus, I don't think the defense is going to be able to make up for much of the offense's issues. I won't be terribly surprised if the Browns are picking #1 overall in 2015 with Buffalo's pick.

    31. Jacksonville Jaguars

    The Jags seemed to end 2013 on an optimistic note, with players buying in to Bradley and notching 4 wins in the second half (HOU twice, CLEV, and TEN). And they've made some respectable additions this offseason. I don't deny any of that, but this is still a Chad Henne led team that was 28th in scoring D and 32nd in scoring O last year. You're still talking about a bad QB behind a bad OL throwing to inexperienced receivers. The defense will be better, but better in this case could still mean somewhere in the 16th-20th range. That won't be nearly enough to make up for the offense. Best case scenario, the Jags discover a good ground game with Gerhart and that, combined with the defense, pushes them towards the 7-8 win mark.

    32. Oakland Raiders

    The Raiders are getting better. I mean it. McKenzie is a smart GM, and I hope they fire him before he has a chance to really make a difference in Oakland. But much like with Jacksonville, any improvements need to be kept in perspective with just how terrible the baseline was here. And before any of those additions were made, Oakland lost their two best players. So now they're relying on a boatload of over-the-hill veterans who have never played together. Undoubtedly a couple of them will play well, but not nearly enough of them. Counting on this many players whose best football is behind them is really dangerous (Schaub, Penn, Boothe, Jones, Woodley, Tuck, Smith, Roach, Rogers, and Woodson).
     
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  8. Blue Bolt

    Blue Bolt Persona Non Grata

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    So, are you saying Rex is wrong......... the Pats don't have to worry about the Jets? ;)
     
  9. matilack

    matilack #therealagent47

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    Love it dude, but here's the ones I disagree with just to make some conversation.

    8. Carolina - Way too high for me. They have no go to receiver, or #2, or #3 really. Cam is super talented in an individual type way but he's not Tom Brady or Peyton Manning who can make due with guys like Jacob Tamme and Kenbrell Thomkins. DeAngelo Williams is now 31, Jonathan Stewart is never on the field. THEN you add the fact that they lost Jordan Gross and are now looking at a camp competition between Byron Bell and Nate Chandler.....ouch. Defensively they lost half their secondary, and their best pass rusher is facing a suspension.

    My rank: 18-22 range, prediction 7-9 with high implosion potential.


    25. St. Louis - I dunno about this one. This is one game on our schedule that scares me because they can get pressure only bringing 4, which will make what is a young secondary look better than they are. I also like their LBs corps a lot. Honestly I would trade our defense for theirs EVERY day of the week. Sam Bradford was playing better last year (14Tds, 4Ints, 61%) on pace to have his best year before he got injured, and they still managed 7 wins with Kellen Clemens. I think they have enough weapons with Austin, Cook, Givens, and Kenny Britt that Cam Newton looks on with jealousy.

    My rank: 13-16 range, prediction 9-7, only because of the division they play in, I basically see them swapping with Arizona.
     
  10. Jesse Kemp

    Jesse Kemp BoltTalker

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    The Panthers' WR situation is terrible, but it was terrible last year and didn't stop them from being a really good team. I don't see what the big difference is that's going to drop them 5 games in the win column. The Jordan Gross retirement is the only big loss as I see it. They'll have to overcome it. But it helps that they're a defensive team first and foremost.
     
  11. boltssbbound

    boltssbbound Well-Known Member

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    Not sure that I'd agree with the Pats being clearly a cut above us. We both got beaten pretty easily by the Donks in our last game, but I definitely think we gave them more of a scare. Also, I think the Chargers can point to more improvements with the draft/free agency/players returning from injury than the Pats. But I agree with your general premise. If you get into the playoffs and win a game, you should at least be in the top 12, especially if you don't suffer any significant losses.
     
  12. Jesse Kemp

    Jesse Kemp BoltTalker

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    I don't think one common opponent is really a valid way to compare us and them. And they won 12 games. Plus they added potentially the best corner in football. And they get back Gronkowski, Amendola, Mayo, Vereen, and Wilfork from injury. So I see a pretty clear path to ranking them above us. Not that we'd be helpless against them, but I'm not sure how you make the case for us being as good or better without a pretty heavy bias in our favor.
     
  13. boltssbbound

    boltssbbound Well-Known Member

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    Not just any common opponent but the same road playoff road opponent in consecutive weeks. I wasn't arguing that the Chargers should be ranked higher, just that I don't see the Pats as being clearly better. They deserve to be ranked ahead of us at this point, absolutely. That does not make them clearly better.
     
  14. boltssbbound

    boltssbbound Well-Known Member

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    Not just any common opponent but the same road playoff road opponent in consecutive weeks. I wasn't arguing that the Chargers should be ranked higher, just that I don't see the Pats as being clearly better. They deserve to be ranked ahead of us at this point, absolutely. That does not make them clearly better.
     

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