Seahawks.NET Power Rankings - 1/16/06

What a fantastic weekend of football! Every game went deep into the fourth quarter before being decided. Say what you want about parity, but this is one fan who's all for it. 

Here’s a few observations from the Divisional Playoffs:

n       Joe Gibbs played not to lose against the Seahawks.  He didn’t challenge the Seahawks deep until the fourth quarter, and when he finally did, the Redskins finally scored a touchdown.  I think his play-calling cost Washington the game more than his players' execution did. 

n       The Seattle defense sniffed out and squashed every WR screen to Santana Moss last week.  That will help them this week against Steve Smith.

n       Here’s the danger in having your QB call all your plays.  After going down 14 points in the first quarter, Peyton Manning got pass-happy.  He called a measly 12 runs for the entire rest off the game.  When you’re behind 14 but have 3 quarters left to play, you don’t abandon the run.

n       Pittsburgh defenders didn’t watch Manning or the linemen before the snap; they watched the play clock.  Memo to Manning:  if you wait until one second is left on the play clock before snapping the ball, it’s like telling the defense “We’re gonna snap it on three.  One.  Two.  Three.”  You need to break that habit.

n       Evidently, Bill Cowher has never heard of Joe Pisarcik and the "Miracle at the Meadowlands".  He didn't pay for his mistake thanks to a great tackle by Ben Roethlisberger and a horrendous kick by Mike Vanderjagt.  Don't expect any gifts like that from the Broncos.  NFL Maxim Number One:  Always take the points.

n       I don’t understand why the Bears' defense didn’t make any halftime adjustments to counter Steve Smith.  A great defense is supposed to make adjustments.

n       Much has been said about Ben Watson’s incredible hustle to keep Champ Bailey out of the endzone, but what about the TWO Denver players who could’ve blocked him if they hadn’t slowed down?  I understand they’re defensive players and not used to blocking, but c’mon guys, keep your eyes open.

n       The NFL has GOT to do something about the officiating.  With the unlikely exception of the crew in the Washington/Seattle game, the refs were horrendous.  I’m thinking it’s time to make being an NFL referee a full-time job.  These guys obviously need to be spending the offseason working on their game instead of going back to selling insurance .   

n       With Peyton Manning and Tom Brady gone, sportswriters are going to need a new player to place on a pedestal.  My money is on Jerome Bettis.

This Week
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The Seahawks proved they can win without the NFL MVP on the field against Washington last week. With Alexander in the backfield, they're unquestionably the best team in the NFC. Seattle hasn't lost at home all season, and hasn't lost a meaningful game since October 3rd.
The Broncos are extremely well-coached, Jake Plummer has obviously turned a major corner, and Denver is playing virtually mistake free football. Combine that with their 9-0 home record, and they're the favorite to represent the AFC in Detroit.
The Panthers exposed the Chicago defense, much like Pittsburgh did earlier this season. The Panthers are a well-balanced team but the loss of DeShaun Foster threatens to upset that balance. The key to the NFC Championship may be Nick Goings.
Fourth-quarter handoff aside, Bill Cowher completely outcoached Tony Dungy. Stretching the field on the first few possessions was brilliant. The Colts defense adjusted to it by the start of the second quarter, but by then the damage had been done.
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