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NFL Power Rankings Week 11: Spikes gives Patriots jagged edge

Posted by Obnoxious Boston Fan  November 16, 2012 11:40 AM

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Spikes AP.jpgNo apologies.

Few regrets.

Unlimted passion.

Brandon Spikes doesn't back off from anyone.

This Sunday, it will be rookie phenom Andrew Luck in his sights - along with anyone who happens to be carrying or catching the ball. Given the success of the Bills last week, Luck could hit the 500-yard passing mark against New England tomorrow. The Colts are ranked 14th in rushing in the league (109.4 yards per game) and the Patriots have had success stopping mediocre running teams. The Patriots - includning Spikes, Chandler Jones and Vince Wilfork - have had limited success putting pressure enough pressure on QBs at times this season. That will be the key against Luck, who can consistently connect with his receivers given enough time.

Spikes wasn't about to apologize for his hit on Ryan Fitzpatrick last week and wasn't phased at all when Fitzpatrick called him a "punk." Spikes doesn't hold back on Twitter, either, as we saw earlier this year when he chimed in the officiating in the Patriots' loss to the Ravens with his line: “Can someone please tell these f------ zebras foot locker called and they’re needed Back at work!!!! #BreakingPoint." That came about 24 hours before the epic Monday night game between the Seahawks and Packers that gave us the season's highpoint on social media thanks to T.J. Lang and about half the NFL.

He late stepped in it with a couple of weeks later with his ill-fated attempt at humor featuring homophobia and spiders. “I’m homophobic just like I’m arachnopobic. I have nothing against homosexuals or spiders but I’d still scream if I found one in my bathtub!’’ Spikes was hammered by followers and others and three hours issued a sort-of-non-apology by tweeting: “PEOPLE!!!! It’s a joke …seriously a JOKE!!! Chill out.’’ Not sure why he went there, or where he was headed with this line Friday: "Real ninjas never got to say no homo. #ImTru."

Friday he was fined $25,000 for his hit on Fitzpatrick, making it a total of $46,000 in fines in two games against Buffalo this season. His blindside hit on Scott Chandler during an interception run-back on Sept. 30 earned him a $21,000 penalty. No hard feelings. Plenty of hard knocks.

Most of his Twitter activity is fairly benign and spiced with occasional profanity. Friday's topics included his favorite NBA team, the Lakers, and a rare visit to McDonald's.

In case you were wondering, the Lakers beat Phoenix 114-102.

None of it seems to make any sense. Except maybe to Spikes. All that violence on the field needs an outlet and some balance off of it. Spikes doesn't come off as any sort of a thug on social media - profanity or occasional offensive comment notwithstanding. He's willing to engage and interact, much like the way plays. But the only thing he's ever bruised on Twitter was someone's sensibility or ego.

Spikes is truly politically incorrect in every real sense of the phrase. That brings cheers on the field even when that brings hefty fines and condemnation off it.

Kevin Garnett was chided as being a "fake tough guy" for his trash-talking that isn't always backed up with hard-inside play. There's nothing fake about Spikes' toughness, which has been evident on the playing field since his days terrorizing the SEC - not to mention Ohio State and Oklahoma in two BCS championship games. Those hits, even if they come after missed tackles and first downs, leave a toll. If the fear of getting flattened by Spikes causes a receiver to flinch for just a half-second before the ball arrives, that could be the difference between an incompletion and another opposition first down.

When he was a starter at UF, Spikes and the rest of the Gators defense was overshadowed by the presence of one Tim Tebow, who managed to pull out a few clutch victories in his college days.

Spikes is lost in the shadow of his quarterback in Foxborough, too. The Patriots, like the Gators of Tebow, will only go as far as their quarterback will take them. The Patriots are Brady's team, but Spikes has emerged as the angry soul of the anguished defense. Since the departure of Tedy Bruschi, the Patriots' defense has been a cowardly lion of sorts - packing plenty of roar but missing a heart, never mind some sharpened claws. Jerod Mayo makes more tackles and fellow captain Vince Wilfork is more of a leader on the field, Spikes simply hits, intimidates, mystifies and tackles opponents. He'll even force a fumble once in a while.

He's fueled by crybabies and whiners like Fitzpatrick - or anyone else who dares to criticize him.

The more you hate him the more he loves it.

Spikes leaves fans perplexed at times with some head-scratching penalties. Whether or not he flexed over But it's hard to take someone who plays with such ferocity and expect him to be completely rational and pensive when he's got a clean shot at Sam Bradford, Shonn Greene or Fitzpatrick.

“I gotta do business as business is being done,” Spikes said this week. “It is what it is.” Spikes had a premonition he'd be fined, telling the Globe: “It takes a little bit of my aggression away, but hey, it is what it is. It’s definitely discouraging, but that’s how I play. I’m physical.”

Physical. Not to mention fierce, fearless and even once in a while foolish.

It's the complete package. Take it or leave it. It's still a combination worth having on this roster and one that might be just enough to elevate the Patriots defense just enough to get this team deep into January.

Welcome Aqib Talib. Too back you can’t cover four receivers at once. Here are this week’s rankings. Notice the trend of starting quarterbacks (Jay Cutler, Mike Vick, Ben Roethlisberger among them) who are out because of injury. This trend is normal this time of year as the brutal NFL season begins to take a toll. So let’s be careful out there. Enjoy and have a happy Thanksgiving.

1. Texans (8-1; 2): Former Houston punter Brett Hartmann sued the operators of Reliant Stadium because he suffered a knee injury last year due to "unsafe turf" - and he included comments made by Bill Belichick as evidence in his suit. Does this mean we can sue the Patriots' secondary for breach of contract and site the Hoodie's press conference each week?

2. Falcons (8-1; 1): The 1972 Dolphins can rest easy now. But the rest of the NFC isn't going to be so lucky. They're still the team to beat in the NFC - at least until the playoffs start.

3. 49ers: (6-2-1; 4) Jim Harbaugh underwent a procedure Thursday due to an irregular heartbeat a day after Brandon Jacobs tweeted: "Never work in a place where you hate your boss so much, you should be happy at work #YouLiveAndLearn." Jacobs said he was talking about his brother's work situation. Oops, never mind.

4. Bears (7-2; 4): Jay Cutler will be sidelined for Monday night's game against the 49ers as he continues to recover from a concussion and Jason Campbell will get the start. Starting QBs start to fall be the wayside this time of year.

5. Ravens (7-2; 5): Got back on track with 55-20 beatdown of the Raiders last week. They face the Steelers twice in the next three weeks. That should settle things in the AFC North.

6. Patriots (6-3; 6): They're still first in points and total yards in the NFL. And they'll need every one of those points and every one of those yards to keep up with their defense.

7. Packers (6-3; 8): Last week, we noted that Aaron Rodgers was upset with the way he was portrayed in the final cut of his appearance on "60 Minutes." This week, the producers of the show told Mr. Discount-Double-Check to chill out, saying its report that Rodgers was "overly sensitive" proved to be accurate by the fact that Rodgers got upset by the report that he was overly sensitive. At least they didn't say he avoided service in the Texas Air National Guard.

8. Steelers (6-3; 10): QB Byron Leftwich will be leading the Steelers (see Bears above) Sunday night against the Ravens since Ben Roethlisberger is out with a shoulder injury. Advantage not Steelers.

9, Broncos (6-3; 9): Peyton Manning leads in Pro Bowl voting, according to the numbers released this week. Meanwhile, Dick Morris says Tom Brady will still carry Virginia, Ohio and Florida.

10. Giants (6-4; 3): All it took was one loss to the Bengals for Phil Simms to hedge his bets and take a step off the Manning-Coughlin bandwagon. Before the season, Simms had the duo headed to Canton but this week he said Manning was "not one of the elites." Guess that second Super Bowl ring didn't do it.

11. Colts (6-3; 11): This week's public service announcement: If you want to donate to fight cancer and see a cheerleader get her head shaved in the process - check out @ColtsCheerMegan on Twitter.

12. Vikings (6-4; 12): Resisting arrest charges against Adrian Peterson were dropped this week after just 25 minutes in front a grand jury. His lawyer - Rusty Hardin. I want that guy the next time I'm busted.

13. Seahawks (6-4; 13): Richard Sherman didn't like Green Bay cornerback Tramon Williams' attempt to steal the "Optimus Prime" nickname. "I'm Optimus Prime. I'm the leader of the Autobots," Williams said this week. Yes, these are actual adults.

14. Buccaneers (5-4; 21): Greg Schiano is quietly making his run at coach of the year honors. Easily the best team in Florida, the Bucs are on the verge of sneaking into the playoffs as a wild-card in the NFC even without Talib.

15: Lions (4-5; 15): "Megatron" - that would be wide reciver Calvin Johnson - gets his shot at the other "Optimus Prime" - Williams - and the Packers - this week. Got that?

16. Cardinals (4-5; 16): Once upon a time, they beat the Patriots in Foxborough.

17. Chargers (4-5; 17): Norv Turner melted down (just a bit) this week when asked about San Diego's loss to Tampa Bay. The holiday season must be around the corner.

18. Cowboys (4-5; 18): In more NFL police-blotter news, Dez Bryant joined the long list of players moving on from criminal or league-discipline issues. Prosecutors agreed to a deal that could lead to dismissal of domestic violence charges stemming from a fight with his mother.

19. Bengals (4-5; 25): Andy Dalton threw four touchdowns against the Giants last Sunday. Brady threw four touchdowns against the Giants in his last two Super Bowls.

20. Titans (4-6; 26): Jake Locker lit it up against the Dolphins last week heading into the bye. And he get the Jaguars next week. He's been a good boy this year.

21. Rams (3-5-1; 23): Illegal formation negates an 80-yard pass in OT and then the game ends in a tie. The only thing missing - replacement refs.

22. Bills (4-6; 24): Bounced back nicely after loss to the Patriots on Thursday night, but second place in the AFC East is going to mean as much as second place in the Electoral College.

23. Saints (4-5; 28): Still have the pieces to make playoff run late in the season, that meaning Drew Brees.

24. Dolphins (4-6; 14): Look at the bright side, at least they finished counting the votes in Miami-Dade County.

25. Jets (3-6; 19): The internal investigation into who called Tim Tebow "terrible" this week continues. Fingers were pointed at Bart Scott, who denied the charge, and Antonio Cromartie, who said "He ain't my kid, promise."

26. Eagles (3-6; 20): Don't expect to see Michael Vick playing again anytime soon, as he recovers from a concussion and the fact that the Eagles have no offense.

27. Redskins (3-6; 22): Mike Shanahan was a better coach with John Elway than he is with RGIII.

28. Raiders (3-6; 27): Their “Tradition of Excellence” is about as relevant as your broken VCR in the den. The last time the Raiders won a Super Bowl was on the same night the original “A-Team” premiered on NBC.

29. Panthers (2-7; 30): It was four years ago next week Cam Newton tossed a stolen computer out of the window of his dorm on the University of Florida campus. He's come a long way, baby.

30. Browns (2-7; 31): Brandon Weeden said he believes he's the Browns' franchise QB. Funny how this guy gets anointed at 2-7 but Tebow can't get a chance in New York after leading the Broncos to the playoffs last year.

31. Chiefs (1-8; 29): Belchick has severed all ties to Scott Pioli and Romeo Crennel, removing any reference to them in his official biography and unfriending them on Facebook.

32. Jaguars (1-8; 32): The chairman of the Waffle House is being investigated and may face a lawsuit because he allegedly demanded sex from his former housekeeper as part of her regular duties. The company has since scrapped its “Ready Made Meals 24 Hours A Day” sales slogan.

As always, let us know what you think. We'll be off this Sunday celebrating our 23rd wedding anniversary and hoping Andrew Luck forgets to throw the ball downfield into single coverage over the middle. Join our in-game Patriots-Jets fan chat Thanksgiving and bring your own dessert. Post your thoughts here, on our Obnoxious Boston Fan Facebook page or e-mail me obnoxiousbostonfan@hotmail.com. And don't forget to follow us on Twitter @realOBF.

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Obnoxious Boston Fan offers a fun, unique and biting perspective on the Red Sox, Celtics, Bruins, Patriots and whatever else people are talking about in the world of sports. We More »
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