By Paul Gallant, SportsRadio 610By Paul Gallant

I kicked off my Power Rankings last week with a Game of Thrones twist. Because I keep things current. Whether making references to shows that haven’t been on in five months, having hot takes on Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer and It’s A Wonderful Life, or quoting everything Boobie Miles said in Friday Night Lights, you know I’m ALWAYS on top of the now. …Somewhat.

So – keeping with that trend – I made this batch of Power Rankings with Boardwalk Empire on the brain.

WARNING…THERE ARE SO MANY SPOILERS…INCLUDING SOME FROM SUNDAY’S SEASON PREMIERE

Season five kicked off Sunday Night. Week two kicks off this coming Thursday.

“Put your…mick in a box
32. Oakland Raiders 0-1 (LW: 32)
31. New York Giants 0-1 (LW: 29)
30. St. Louis Rams 0-1 (LW: 24)

Technically, the only difference between Owen Slater’s current state and these three walking dead are the 15 games left for each. But I’d rather stare at Owen’s deadness – or listen to Margaret cry over her boo for hours – than watch any of these three teams the rest of the season.

Fun Fact: I’ll HAVE to watch Oakland and New York “play football” the next two weeks against the Texans. 3-0 anyone?

‘Cause You [Always] Have A Bad Day…
29. Washington Redskins 0-1 (LW: 28)
28. Dallas Cowboys 0-1 (LW: 19)

You hated Nelson Van Alden in seasons one and two. The man was cuckoo. But ever since the “baptism” in that second link, the dude has been cursed. He gets mocked at his door-to-door iron salesman job. And before long, O’Banion and Capone are pushing him around. Maybe you should just join a monastery, bro.

I’m starting to feel bad for Robert Griffin III and Tony Romo. RG3 seems to be having a really tough time learning Jay Gruden’s new offense – at least based off of preseason performances and how he played against the Texans. Meanwhile, Tony Romo – a WAY over-criticized QB –continues to do Tony Romo things.

The Buster Douglas Award Goes To…Chalky White
27. Cleveland Browns 0-1 (LW: 31)

Let’s be honest…who expected Chalky to keep that fight going as long as it did? Sure, he needed Daughter Maitland to come out of nowhere with the chair the knife to walk away alive. But given that Dunn Purnsley annihilated a guy with a broken bottle while his pants were around his ankles, Chalky grappling with Dunn that long has to be one of the upsets of the century.

Cleveland was down 27-3 to the Steelers at halftime. With no Josh Gordon. Game over right? WRONG. A solid performance by Brian Hoyer and 183 yards on the ground helped the Browns tie things up in the fourth quarter. They move up in the rankings, simply because they showed balls.

Remus Can’t Run
26. Kansas City Chiefs 0-1 (LW: 20)

And somehow, neither could Jamaal Charles, who pissed off every fantasy owner ever with 7 carries for JUST 19 YARDS against the Titans.

Meanwhile, Alex Smith got sacked 4 times and tossing 3 picks. All he does is win bro. Elite game manager. So why draft any of the quarterbacks available to you in May – Bridgewater, Carr, Garoppolo – when you can tie yourself to him for the next four years?

Watching Chad Henne Play QB Is Like…
25. Jacksonville Jaguars 0-1 (LW: 17)

…watching that messed up scene. #FreeBlakeBortles. #JimmyDarmodyForeverUnclean

Classic Eli Underachieving
24. New York Jets 1-0 (LW: 23)

I can’t stand Eli Thompson. He’s always whining, drunk, or blaming people other than himself for the problems that HE digs himself into. Considering the position of his brother in Atlantic City…you’d think he’d have made more of himself. Also, sweet speech bro.

The Jets played the worst team in the NFL (the Raiders). And they beat the worst team in the NFL. But with that defense against Oakland’s offense of castoffs and a rookie QB, they should have done so by more. MUCH more. Rex Ryan knows it. Still…a win is a win.

Everything. Worked. Out.
23. Buffalo Bills 1-0 (LW: 30)
22. Houston Texans 1-0 (LW: 25)
21. Tennessee Titans 1-0 (LW: 26)

Nucky was all but dead towards the end of season three. Yet somehow he was able to take EVERYONE out AND regain control of A.C. in that season’s finale. Including somehow offing Gyp Rosetti, which didn’t seem possible.

The Bills, Texans, and Titans had similar luck in week one wins…
Bills: Ran for nearly 200 yards, E.J. Manuel didn’t screw up, and Jay Cutler did.
Texans: Offense made ONE more big play than Washington, who fumbled twice inside Texans 10. A special teams touchdown and a blocked extra point were the cherries on top.
Titans: Saw KC – described above – poop their pants, and Jake Locker actually didn’t die get hurt

Obviously Office Space Guy Roy Was Faking
20. Baltimore Ravens 0-1 (LW: 10)
19. Tampa Bay Buccaneers 0-1 (LW: 13)
18. Chicago Bears 0-1 (LW: 9)

Gillian is the worst character in Boardwalk Empire and it’s not even close. Forget that she sleeps around to get ahead and was always a total you know what to Jimmy, Richard, everyone ever, etc. UHHH…SHE SLEPT WITH HER SON.

Did anyone actually buy that extended sub-plot in season four? That Roy was in actually in love with that actually soul-less ginger? I didn’t. And I thoroughly enjoyed it when he popped her fantasy-land dreams like he smashed that printer.

Three teams I was optimistic about were exposed as frauds this week. Gary Kubiak can’t save Joe Flacco from Joe Flacco. Lovie Smith can’t make Josh McCown go Chicago-mode again. And Jay Cutler makes too many stupid mistakes to lead a team to a Super Bowl.

Classic Lucy Danziger
17. San Diego Chargers 0-1 (LW: 15)
16. Detroit Lions 1-0 (LW: 22)

Lucy’s hot. And that’s about it. No substance. Likely no backbone.

I feel the same way about the Chargers and Lions. Both teams look great on paper – especially on offense. When Lucys like the Lions take on hopeless train-wrecks like the Giants, OF COURSE they’re going to look good. Stafford and Megatron will massacre some secondary, and Detroit will cruise to a win.

But when those Lucys/Chargers go up against someone tough – like Margaret Schroeder/the Cardinals defense – things are probably going to go South in a hurry.

Oh, Derek Anderson’s Starting? I’m Relaxed
15. Carolina Panthers 1-0 (LW: 27)

Said no Panthers fan ever on Sunday. I’ll be honest…I didn’t even know HE WAS STILL IN THE LEAGUE until it was announced that Newton wouldn’t play last Sunday. And without Newton, a decent offensive line, AND with mediocre receivers, Carolina is 1-0. Riverboat Ron, you sly dog you!

That Escalated Quickly…
14. Pittsburgh Steelers 1-0 (LW: 12)

Based off of this preseason, the Browns are going to be garbage. After a half of football against the Steelers, they looked the part.

But then, Pittsburgh’s run defense parted like the Red Sea. Without Charlton Heston present.

One half and 193 rushing yards later (to Terrance West and Isaiah Crowell) …BOOM. The Terrible Towels needed a Sean Suisham field goal to escape Heinz Field alive. That second half performance cost the ‘Burgh two spots.

Uhhh…Who’s This Guy?
13. Arizona Cardinals 1-0 (LW: 18)
12. Minnesota Vikings 1-0 (LW: 16)

Bobby Cannavale’s performance as Gyp Rosetti made the rest of Boardwalk‘s cast look better suited for Two Broke Girls [insert random bad NON CBS sitcom here]. Remember this rant? Just an episode earlier, we had no idea who this guy was. All it took were a couple of scenes in the season three premiere for him to steal the show.

For the Cardinals and Vikings, their “Bobby Cannavales” were ‘Zona’s defense, Carson Palmer, and Cordarelle Patterson.

  • Arizona’s Defense: Shut down a high powered Chargers offense without Darnell Dockett and Daryl Washington
  • Carson Palmer: Didn’t throw an interception (I know right?), and was 24-37 for 302 yards and 2 TDs
  • Cordarelle Patterson: Out rushed teammate Adrian Peterson…on 3 carries (102 yards)…and he’s a WR

 

How Has No One Killed Off Mickey Doyle Yet?
11. Indianapolis Colts 0-1 (LW: 11)

The people who like Mickey’s laugh probably think “Fireflies” by Owl City is the musical Mona Lisa. Get out of your room and get some sunlight bro.

I know I’m beating a dead horse here, but I will never stop complaining about the improbability of the Colts actually being good. They have Andrew Luck, Reggie Wayne, T.Y. Hilton, and suspended Robert Mathis. That is it. Ryan Grigson is easily one of the worst general managers in the NFL because 1 – he makes terrible trades (Traded for Trent Richardson, traded away Jerry Hughes to Buffalo where he promptly had 10 sacks) and 2 – this team has had THE SAME EXACT HOLES FOR THREE YEARS.

I was ecstatic when I saw Indy was down 24-0 with minutes remaining in the first half. “Finally,” I thought. “This team will be exposed for what they truly are.” Thirty minutes later, I was sweating about Andrew Luck potentially leading ANOTHER game-tying TD drive. Despite no offensive line and a terrible offensive coordinator, Andrew always finds a way to keep Indy in games. The ABSURDITY of this recurring phenomenon is slowly turning me INSANE.

Everybody Got…Guns?
10. Miami Dolphins 1-0 (LW: 14)
9. Atlanta Falcons 1-0 (LW: 21)

Golf claps for the Dolphins and Falcons, who were both impressive in surprising week one victories.

Miami’s guns? An underrated pass rush (led by Cameron Wake) that sacked Tom Brady 4 times and forced two funbles, plus Knowshon Moreno’s legs. Moreno gashed the Patriots for 134 yards and a TD, which had to be surprising especially after the stories about him being out of shape when he reported to Dolphins training camp.

As for Atlanta? It was 2012 all over again. No Tony Gonzalez? No problem. Matt Ryan threw for a career high 448 yards and 3 TDs. His usually targets – Julio Jones and Roddy White – combined for 188 receiving and a TD. But the real surprise? Devin Hester (5 catches, 99 yards), who actually might be a good wide receiver.

The big question for both teams are this: Were these just two impressive games against the NFL’s elite? Flashes in the pan like Gyp Rosetti in season 3? Or can these teams consistently play well for 16 games? We’ve seen it before from Atlanta. As for Miami, that remains to be seen.

A Depressing Realization
8. New England Patriots 0-1 (LW: 5)

Thinking Richard was finally going to be happy – only to find out he was dying underneath a boardwalk – is by far the most depressing scene in Boardwalk Empire. It was 10 times the disappointment of Jimmy being killed off.

For me, seeing New England’s offensive line struggle the way it did – both in protecting Tom Brady and establishing the run – leads me to believe there’s a HUGE gap between the Patriots and Broncos. Sure…maybe Miami’s heat had something to do with their struggles over 60 minutes. But that offensive line still has another game against Miami’s rush, and 4 more against skilled defensive lines in New York and Buffalo. That division is a cupcake buffet no more.

Yeah…I’m Going To Stay In Atlantic City/New Orleans From Now On
7. New Orleans Saints 0-1 (LW: 4)

Nucky Thompson is the king of Atlantic City (don’t tell “the mayor” that). Much like the Saints have arguably – though a team below begs to differ – the best home field advantage in the NFL. But when Nucky goes to Ireland? Sheesh. Things are pretty bleeped up. Time to head home.

The Saints seem to have that same problem whenever they go on the road. Their loss to Atlanta wasn’t a bad one by any means. But it could cost them chance to make it to a Super Bowl. Acquiring home field advantage should be New Orleans’ main priority this coming season. To do that, they’ll need to start winning games on the road. Otherwise, the NFC road to Super Bowl 49 will go through Seattle again.

Trusting Dalton = Trusting Capone
6. Cincinnati Bengals 1-0 (LW: 8)

The Bengals have the talent on defense. And they have a slew of weapons on offense. With a better quarterback, the AFC would be a two horse race between the Broncos and them. Unfortunately, that isn’t where they stand. Because just like you can’t trust a wild card like Capone, you can’t have faith in Andy Dalton to help the Bengals put points on the board.

Dalton may have tossed for 301 yards and a TD. But those are misleading statistics. Cincy was 4-14 on third downs, and had to settle for FIVE! first half field goals…3 of which came in the red zone.  It’s on Dalton to put points on the board. He put up the points when it mattered, courtesy of a 77 yard touchdown pass to A.J. Green late. But he wouldn’t have needed that toss if he’d finished drives earlier in the game.

Just When You Thought They Were Down & Out…
5. San Francisco 49ers 1-0 (LW: 7)

Chalky is a master survivor. His fight with Dunn Purnsley. Escaping the police. And living through the prison escape in the season 5 premiere because he knows how to use a phone. This guy ain’t dying until the end.

Jim Harbaugh is made in that same mold,  minus the whole escaping certain death all the time part. He turned a dreadful Stanford program into a powerhouse. He took over a 6-10 team with Alex Smith at quarterback, and led that team to within a muffed punt of a Super Bowl appearance his first year on the job. He’s been to the NFC Championship game for three straight years.

So why WOULD ANYONE buy into the rumor that he’s lost this locker room? San Fran had beaten Dallas by halftime on Sunday. They love playing for this guy. And if that organization is smart, they’ll stop beefing with him and give him free reign. Otherwise, he could be heading back to Michigan real soon…

Jimmy Knew What He Was Walking Into
4. Green Bay Packers 0-1 (LW: 4)

And so did the Packers. You just don’t win in Seattle. This is still an exceptionally talented team with a legitimate shot at the Super Bowl. But like the Saints, they’ll need to find a way to get home field advantage for themselves. Otherwise, the season will end in a stadium away from home.

Hid In Chalky’s Basement…Then Figured Their Bleep Out
3. Philadelphia Eagles 1-0 (LW: 6)

Boardwalk Empire isn’t Game of Thrones. No matter how bad things look for Nucky Thompson, you know he’s AT LEAST going to survive until the last season. And probably until the last episode. Still, you couldn’t have had him more against the ropes than he was at the end of season 3.

That was the Eagles on Sunday…who were AWFUL in the first half against the Jaguars. Nick Foles couldn’t stop turning the ball over. And Philly’s defense pulled a ’13 Texans Special: actually making Chad Henne look good. Then in the second half, BAM. 34 unanswered points. The NFL’s best teams can win after playing horribly. Chip Kelly continues to prove every week he’s one of the league’s best.

Arnold Rothstein Has A Problem
2. Denver Broncos 1-0 (LW: 2)

Rothstein is the Tywin Lannister of Boardwalk Empire. He masks his emotions. And every decision he makes seems to go exactly as he plans. But unlike Tywin, he has one huge weakness. Gambling. Which ended up costing the real Rothstein his life.

Denver doesn’t seem to have many weaknesses themselves – other than closing out games that they get huge leads in (Patriots last year, Colts Sunday night). So I’ll point out the obvious “weakness”. They aren’t the team below.

Remember When Richard Killed Everyone?
1. Seattle Seahawks 1-0 (LW: 1)

The Seahawks are going to do a lot of that this season – especially in Seattle. That victory over the Packers was never in doubt. With their defense, coaching, and now offense with Percy Harvin healthy…can any team really challenge them? Right now, I say no.

Week 1’s Game of Thrones Rankings

Paul Gallant hosts the “B-Straw and Pauly G” show – Tuesdays 9-11 PM, Wednesdays 8-11 PM, and Fridays 8-11 PM – with Brien Straw. Get in contact with Paul on Twitter – @PaulyGSays – or on Facebook – Paul Gallant.

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