We debut something new, as we close out September with our first edition of the F.F.I. Power Rankings of the three NFL and five prominent college football programs we cover.
We will rank the college and NFL teams together on the same list with the following brief criteria: how has your team looked and importantly, against what type of competition? Have they won easily or in nail bitter fashion? How injured/beat up are they at this point? How’s your team on the “it factor” of star players and looking good, etc?
So, without delay, here goes to this point (and it will change) in descending order:
8. Florida State- The Noles are reeling after their lost last Saturday to N.C. State and at 0-2 are the only winless team in our rankings. Now, you can argue that Alabama would easily hang the “L” on the other four college teams, but, the Noles played them and got handled.
No one is saying that QB James Blackman won’t grow and FSU won’t start winning some games, but for now? They are at the bottom of our list.
7. Miami Dolphins- At 1-1, the Dolphins overcame Hurricane Irma relocation to Los Angeles and beat the Chargers in the in the final minute of week one. But, followed it up with a dismal showing last week at the Jets. The Fins have stars like Ajayi, Landry, Parker, Suh, Wake, etc., but traveling to London for the Saints game Sunday will be challenge for them. Will they pull it together and move up our rankings? Let’s see.
6. Miami Hurricanes- Mark Richt’s team is 2-0. That’s the good news. The bad news is we don’t really know how improved they are. They struggled at the beginning and then blew out Bethune-Cookman. Then, after Hurricane Irma postponed their next two games with Arkansas State and FSU, they looked a bit stale last Saturday with Toledo.
Yet, RB Mark Walton ripped off a 200 yard game and they pulled away. Canes have Duke Friday night as an ACC road test that they need to pass before having the Noles in Tallahassee next week.
5. USF- We know. They are 4-0, but as Olivia Stacey wrote earlier this week, the competition was suspect these first few games for the Bulls. And we’re not sure if they will get much of a game on the road against East Carolina this Saturday.
Yes, Quinton Flowers is a talented QB. But, he has been erratic throwing and just “pretty good” with his legs, so far. There is no doubt while talented, the Bulls have benefited from playing bad teams. We simply need to see more, unbeaten or not, to move them up.
4. Tampa Bay Bucs- An impressive blowout of the Bears at home week one was undone by being manhandled by the Vikings and backup QB Case Keenum in game two. Jameis Winston is the focal point for the Bucs and he threw three INTs last week.
And, the Bucs could not run the ball and really abandoned it last week in Minnesota. They are 1-1, with two large home games coming with the Giants and then a massive Thursday nighter with the Patriots. Time to see what they are made of and if they will move up.
3. UCF- The Knights were very impressive at Maryland in a 38-10 win last week. In fact, when you consider all the prominent college teams games last Saturday, UCF had the most decisive win against the best opponent. And they did so, having just like FSU, and Miami to wait three weeks in between their first game and their second game.
QB McKenzie Milton is a true dual threat and the Knights have run the ball well in their two victories. It is a small sample and they do have a showdown in the American conference with Memphis in a re-scheduled game Saturday night. For now, UCF deserves this slot.
2. Jacksonville Jaguars- Yes. It’s early. But, yes. They are 2-1 with two blowout wins. And while you could dismiss their easy victory over the Texans in week one, you can’t ignore the 44-7 shallacking of the Ravens in London last Sunday. The Jags defense led by veteran newcomer Calais Campbell and young stars in the making like Jalen Ramsey, Myles Jack and Dante Fowler has looked good in the wins.
Also, Leonard Fournette has provided the power run game to help take the pressure off Blake Bortles. Borles responded with a 4 TD game last week. You can question the competition a bit, but the Jags have two lopsided victories. They deserve this spot.
1. Florida Gators- Ok. We know this will generate debate and criticism, but let’s be honest. When we all saw how dismal Florida looked on offense in Arlington, TX, against Michigan week one, there were a lot of people speculating the Gators might lose to both Tennessee and at Kentucky. Well, in both cases, Florida did the opposite and gutted out dramatic wins. So, they deserve a ton of credit. The SEC is hard. Ask Missouri the last two years. Ask Vandy, year in and year out.
And Jim McElwain continues to succeed in close games with these last two moving him to 9-1 in SEC games decided by seven points or less. The Gators are still trying to figure out the QB spot. They will go with veteran Luke Del Rio to start this week against the Commodores. Here’s the reality. The Gators won’t stay on the top spot for very long. But for now, those two wins? In the SEC? They deserve this bump.
Who is headed to Miami and Super Bowl XLIV after Sunday?
Two games remain to determine whom will tee it up at Super Bowl XLIV in Miami. Will the upstart Titans pull off a third straight upset in Kansas City? Can the Packers get revenge over a San Francisco team that humbled them in late November?
We know this: the unexpected has already happened several times in these playoffs and don’t rule out the upsets Sunday.
First, the Baltimore Ravens had been favorites to win Super Bowl LIV for some time now. Pretty much since they destroyed the Pats in the middle of the season. They had already beaten the K.C Chiefs and a handful of other solid teams. And, once they defeated the the 49ers in December, it looked like the Ravens were the best team in the NFL .
Then, last Saturday night, this happened:
The Ravens appeared to be the most complete team in the NFL, but that’s the thing about the playoffs, all it takes is one bad game and you’re out.
The Tennesse Titans went into M&T Bank Stadium and surprised them last Saturday night. Jim Harbaugh got outcoached and the Ravens hit a brick wall of a Mike Vrabel defense. So, now they are gone.
But who fills the void, now that the supposed “best team in football” got eliminated, and whom is the favorite to win it all now headed in to Championship Sunday?
The Titans and veteran QB Ryan Tannehill are on an epic run. They are the beast slayers, so to speak. But it isn’t them. Aaron Rodgers is arguably the best QB in the NFL, and the Packers have won six games straight games after last week’s close one at Lambeau over Seattle.
However, it’s not them either. The 49ers are in a position to win it all for the first time since 1994 and they have the best pass defense in the league. But again, it’s not them.
That leaves just one team: Andy Reid and his “Kool-Aide-Colored” Chiefs.
Kansas City leads the Super Bowl Futures odds charge at +135. The SF 49ers can be found around +165 and both the Packers are Titans are sitting at +650. So, Las Vegas has the Chiefs to win, with the 49ers close at second.
But does this mean the Chiefs and their perennial runner-up coach, will win out?
Many smart sports handicappers have their picks with the Titans to at least keep the game close enough to cover the point spread Sunday. More like the rolling Titans to win outright.
The same goes for the San Francisco 49ers and Green Bay Packers game. The Niners are big favorites, but we are dealing with a team whose recent situation performance shows, they would actually win –but maybe not cover.
So, we have two conference championship games with clear, heavy favorites … that could both lose.
The Chiefs showed us a few things in their incredible Division-Round win over the Houston Texans. The first thing they showed us is that their defense and special teams units are vulnerable. This was made apparent when the Texans went up 24-0 and looked to be dominating the game.
Next, the Chiefs showed us that they can adjust better than anyone. They shook it off and put up 28 points in the second quarter to retake the lead. Then they poured it on in the 3rd and 4th, adding 23 more to the board, showing us that they are still the best second-half team in football.
That said, the Texans are not the Titans. They showed us this season that they really only get consistent wins against sub-500 teams. Houston ranked way back at No. 23 in the league for scoring defense (and way worse in their last 3 games allowing 35 per affair) and 26.7 overall while playing on the road.
The Titans on the other hand, only allow 16.6 points per game on the road. They have a top-ten defense overall and have been absolutely stellar in recent games. In their last 3, they’ve only allowed 13 points per game. KC has allowed 18.3 per game in their most recent three.
On the flip side, the Super Bowl favorite has scored 29 points per game at home and averages the same overall. But, the Titans have upped their average to 25 points per game both overall and on the road. So, we should see a very close game, indeed.
Can the SB LIV favs beat the Titans and go on to win it all in South Florida? Perhaps, but it won’t be easy.
Titans QB Tannehill on Wednesday- “I wanna win”
The Tennessee Titans are readying to play in the AFC Championship game against the Kansas City Chiefs on Sunday. And on Wednesday, former Dolphins quarterback now turned Tennessee starting QB, Ryan Tannehill, met with the media about the opportunity for he and his teammates to play their way into Super Bowl 54.
And, Tannehill made something abundantly clear again, it doesn’t matter about his own personal pass attempts or stats, he’s mainly concerned with getting another victory:
— Tennessee Titans (@Titans) January 15, 2020
“We’ve put in a lot of work to win multiple ways this season. You don’t forget how to throw and catch…. Being a quarterback, I love throwing the ball, but I just wanna win.”
Tannehill has only thrown the ball a total of 29 times with 15 completions in the Titans two playoff wins over the Patriots and the Ravens. So, it’s obvious the Tennessee’s game plan of grinding teams with the run and Derrick Henry bruising them, and, then, playing sound, physical and opportunistic defense has worked thus far.
However, Tannehill also acknowledged Wednesday that it might be different against the Chiefs, who certainly are more explosive then either New England or Baltimore on offense. The Texans found that out firsthand at Arrowhead Stadium on Sunday, when their 24 – 0 lead evaporated in the second quarter and Patrick Mahomes and Co. proceeded to put 41 unanswered points on them.
Now, Tennessee’s defense is better than Houston’s overall and it’s one of the big reasons why they’re still alive at this stage of the postseason. Still, Tannehill may be called upon to make a bunch of big throws and plays in this game if the Titans are going to have any chance.
His first start was at home against the Chargers and threw for 312 yards and two touchdowns in a win. Tannehill then led them on a run of winning six of seven starts total. And, in every one of those games, Tannehill threw for either at least 300 yards or for at least two touchdowns or a combo of both.
His play has been consistent, and at times, very good for Tenneessee.
Further, when you total up his 11 games started, Tannehill now has an 8 – 3 record (including these two playoff wins), and he has only one game, a 30 – 20 loss at Carolina in early November, where he had two interceptions.
One, essentially “bad game” in 11 starts.
And, since that November Carolina game, Tannehill has thrown only 3 picks total, while throwing 19 TDs. Oh, and Tennessee is now 7 – 2 over those next nine games.
And, one of those games is the previous win over Kansas City in Nashville on November 10th, when Tannehill threw for 181 yards and two scores and no picks.
Now, they will head to frigid K.C. to play the biggest game of Tanehill’s and several of the young stars on offense’s biggest professional game ever. And, you get the sense that the veteran signal caller whom the Dolphins gave up on this off-season, is ready to throw it 10 times or 40 times to try to get it done.