I know, I know. These rankings are late again. I apologize. But I've spent all week trying to get confirmation on whether or not AJ Green and Calvin Johnson were filming the football version of Space Jam last Sunday. (Space Hands? Star Receivers? Terrestrial Wideouts? Galactic Grab? I just realized all of these sound like nerdy porno titles, so let's move on.) Anyways, no one ever denied that this was the case, so it's still a possibility.
In related news, Andy Dalton played the game of his life, and he still couldn't top the Week 7 Power Rankings...
1. Megatron vs The MerchandiseThat was like a dueling concert between the Beatles and the Rolling Stones in their prime. That was like going on a date with Mila Kunis AND Scarlett Johansson. Calvin Johnson and AJ Green both finished the afternoon with 155 yards, Calvin earning his on nine catches with two touchdowns (one of which was equivalent to Michael Jordan dunking from halfcourt) and AJ pulling in six catches with one touchdown that went for 82 yards.
2. Andy DaltonIt was all anyone in and around Cincinnati (and around the league when it came to analyzing the Bengals) could talk about: Can Dalton win games with his arm? He sucked against Cleveland, was very meh against New England, put up great numbers but with a lot of YAC and help from his receivers against Buffalo. And then he had what the kids would call “a GAME” against Detroit: 24-34, 372 yards, 3 TDs, no picks, 10.9 yards-per-attempt, QB rating of 135.9, ESPN QBR of 92.8, PFF grade of +2.9, NFL QB #BossRating of 1.6 trillion, and a collective crotch-chop “suck it” sign to the doubters. What do you think of those numbers, Mr. Samuel L. Jackson?
Also, I made up the #BossRating thing. That's not real.
3. Onions!!!As in the Bill Raftery definition of “onions.” First, from Kevin Huber, who yet again had a monster punt late in the game to pin the Lions deep in their territory. Then from Dalton, who completed two quick passes to get the team into field goal range and call the final timeout with seconds left. And then from kicker Mike Nugent, who for the second time in as many weeks, put a field goal through the uprights to win the game. Clutch.
4. Carlos DunlapHe had yet another impressive game on the defensive line (five tackles, two QB hits, six hurries—according to Pro Football Focus—and a PFF grade of +2.7), but he's in the Power Rankings because of his field goal block in the second quarter. With the Lions up 10-7 following a Nugent missed field goal, Dunlap forced a miss by Detroit by slashing through the line and swatting the David Akers kick, Dikembe Mutombo style. The Bengals took over at the Detroit 40-yard line and scored seven plays later on a Dalton pass to Marvin Jones, giving them a 14-10 lead. They never trailed the rest of the way.
5. ChallengesAs Joe Reedy notes, Marvin Lewis hasn't always excelled when it comes to throwing the challenge flag. This year, he's 4-for-4. Now if he could just figure out the whole “three timeouts a half” thing.
Honorable Mention: Long-snapper Clark Harris for downing the late punt to pin the Lions deep in their own territory. Anytime long-snappers do anything positive other than long-snap a ball, it's a big deal.
Pour one out for Leon Hall: Hall is (likely) done for the year after tearing his Achilles while defending Calvin Johnson in the endzone. A couple weeks ago, when I wrote about Terence Newman and the narrative of him being under-appreciated by fans, I mentioned that I felt Leon was under-appreciated in his own right around the league. He doesn't get as much buzz as guys like Darrelle Revis or Richard Sherman, but he's right there with them. Hall entered Week 7 with a +9.4 overall grade from PFF, a top five performance amongst corners in the NFL. Fortunately for the Bengals, they do have some depth. Terence Newman has played well this season. Pacman Jones—who started two games while Hall was out with a hamstring injury and plays a bunch of snaps in the nickel package anyways—has really improved and is a more-than-serviceable replacement. Dre Kirkpatrick will likely struggle with an increase in snaps, but he needs on-field reps if he's ever going to develop. Ditto for Brandon Ghee (if he can stay healthy). Heck, the team beat the Patriots without Leon Hall in Week 5 in their most impressive defensive performance this year. And none of that changes the fact that losing him for the rest of the season is a huge blow.
Andy Dalton: Can't he just live, dammit?: We've already discussed the stats, and yet there are still those who were unimpressed, rumblings about the one, maaaaayyyyyybbbeee two plays in the second half where Dalton under-threw AJ on deep balls when AJ had his defender beat. Blergh. I have no problem criticizing Dalton when he deserves it—that comes with the territory of playing QB in the NFL. But not this game. Does he have to complete every pass he throws now? Look at how many open receivers Matt Stafford waisted on Sunday. Tom Brady and Peyton Manning missed passes. Andrew Luck missed a WIDE OPEN Reggie Wayne so egregiously that it resulted in Wayne blowing out his knee. QBs miss passes every game. Quit being douches.
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