Thursday, December 18, 2008

Powerlines Week 16

The NFL is getting down to crunch time, and it's starting to make a little more sense from week to week. There are your teams with a chance to win it all...My short list is Carolina, Pittsburgh, Dallas, New York Giants, Indianapolis, New England and Baltimore. You have the playoff first round fodder: Broncos, Jets, Vikings, Cardinals, and Bucs. You have the plucky teams who fall just short: Falcons, Texans, Saints, and Dolphins. And of course, you have the teams we have known are TERRIBLE all season long, Bengals, Browns, Lions, Rams, Chiefs and Raiders. Here is my weekly attempt at ranking them from top to bottom.

1. Panthers - This is based off of more than just their shellacking of the Broncos last Sunday. They have a swarming defense, two stallions at tailback, and the best wide receiver in the NFL, Steve Smith. Their glaring weakness is at quarterback with Jake Delhomme, and quarterback is not the greatest place to have your biggest weakness, but Jake at times rises to the level of adequate, which may be all they need. I am ready to declare my pre-playoff Super Bowl pick. Panthers and Steelers, with Carolina winning a close game.

2. Steelers - Was the ball in the end zone when Santonio Holmes caught it? Did it break the plain? Who cares? I think the Steelers were going to win that game regardless...the real controversy that is overlooked in the wake of the close call on the goal line is what in the name of Vince Lombardi was Ben Rothlisberger doing spiking the ball on first and goal at the four when there was almost a minute left. Did he want to raise the degree of difficulty for the Steelers by giving the Ravens time after they scored and creating a situation in which he had only two downs to get into the end zone rather than three? That was perhaps the most head scratching play in the NFL since last season when the Broncos ran a draw play on the goal line against the Packers with only one time out and down three on Monday Night Football that likely cost them a chance to win. Fortunately, the refs bailed Ben out by reversing the call on the field, or else we may have heard more noise about just how terrible a call that was to kill the clock.

3. Giants - Is there anything scary about the way this team is playing ball over the past two weeks? Half a month ago they looked like an unstoppable bohemoth, and now I could easily see them losing in the first game of the playoffs.

4. Titans - They have been at or near the very top of the rankings for so long, but I feel much more comfortable with them here at number four. No team with Kerry Collins playing a significant role should be a favorite to win it all.

5. Colts - Peyton Manning is re-establishing himself as the top Manning in the league. This Colts team would not even be sniffing the playoffs without his contributions. The powers that be say that this year's MVP race is too close to call, but not in my book. The award should be shipped to Indiana.

6. Cowboys - One thing that may be lost in the soap opera in Dallas is that this team is becoming scary good on defense while all the attention is being placed on the Terrell Owens drama. I think all of this negative attention will likely rip apart the team, but I also could see them raising the Lombardi Trophy in February if they can keep it together. This weekend's Texas stadium finale against the Ravens is HUGE, and not just because it is the final game for the stadium with the stupid hole in the roof.

7. Ravens - I didn't believe in the Ravens earlier this year, but I do now. The crazy thing is that there is an excellent chance that they miss the playoffs altogether, while significantly worse teams like the Broncos and Cardinals should make it.

8. Patriots - Pray that the Jets and Dolphins win this weekend, and somehow the Patriots are kept out of the playoffs. Not just because I'm tired of the Patriots and want Belicheck to go away,
but also because...Okay, so it's mostly because I just want the Pats to just go away.

9. Vikings - This is a significantly flawed team that just keeps winning. I still don't believe in them, even as they continue to solidify their standing as the best team in the NFC North. Their Defense and Adrian Peterson are both quite good, but at some point their horrible situation at quarterback and their horribly incompetent coach WILL cost them. I keep thinking this is the case, at least.

10. Buccaneers - I think that loss against the Panthers on Monday Night Football has sent this team into a bit of a tailspin. They may still make the playoffs, but I think they have been exposed as a non-contender.

11. Eagles - Donovan McNabb and company have really put it together recently, but they need to keep winning AND they need help just to have a chance to show they are for real. I say they fall short of the playoffs this year, but I could be wrong.

12. Falcons - I want this team to make it just because I think they are fun and a great story. They have a Tampa Bay Rays type vibe about them. No one expects anything from them, they are young, but they are also pretty darn good and could surprise people if they are able to make it to the playoffs. I don't think they follow the Rays and make it to the championship round, but they are definitely likable.

13. Saints - They seem to have found another gear in the past month, but they may have found it too late for it to mean anything this season.

14. Dolphins - They hold their own fate in their hands for the division title with two weeks to play. Pretty good for a team coming off of a 1-15 season, eh?

15. Broncos - The Panthers exposed just about every single weakness and wart on the Broncos this year. The truth is that they are just not that great, and they are so banged up that it's hard to see the Broncos doing much this year. I can easily see them collapsing to the point that the Chargers still win the AFC West, although, I am hoping that they are able to beat the Bills this weekend to keep that from happening. Although, it is obvious that this team will be the weakest in the AFC field should they actually make the postseason.

16. Texans - Gary Kubiak's team seems to be very good at playing great when it is too late. They look like world beaters now that they have no chance for the playoffs.

17. Jets - Brett Favre looks very much like an aging quarterback right now, and the Jets look very much like a team looking for a soft place to fall.

18. Chargers - Everything was going so swimmingly in the first 55 minutes of this game for both the Broncos and my fantasy team. Then Phil Rivers (whom I was playing against in the semi-finals of my fantasy league) starts going nuts and suddenly the Chargers win keeping the Broncos from clinching the division, and I am in a big hole in my fantasy game. Fortunately, I was able to come rushing back and win my fantasy game. Hopefully, the Broncos are also able to come back and clinch the division.

19. Cardinals - Really? We have to have this team playing a postseason home game? Between them and the Broncos, Roger Goodell really needs to look at the way that teams qualify for the playoffs. There is no way that the Cards and Broncos should be looking at hosting playoff games, and yet, the Cards definitely will, and the Broncos should.

20. Bears - They still have a shot at the playoffs, but I don't think they get there.

21. Jaguars - This team really needs to change it's uniforms. Teal is an abomination.

22. Packers - What can I say about the Packers? I am in shock that they have gone into freefall mode, and I can easily see them losing at home to the Lions to both solidify the sadness of their first post Favre season and to keep the Lions from making it to winless on the year.

23. Redskins - Losing to the Bengals? Really? Remember a few months ago when there was noise that they might be able to win the NFC East? Seems like such a long time ago.

24. Bills - The third team in a row in my rankings that has completely fallen apart in the second half. Everyone is roasting Dick Jauron for throwing the ball with a lead right before the two minute warning. Leading to JP Losman fumbling the ball and costing I actually don't mind the call, but the problem I have with Jauron is forgetting that his quarterback was JP Losman and THEN making that call. If you don't have a turnover machine at quarterback, the reasoning for going for a pass in that situation is acceptable. If you have Losman behind center, there is no WAY you should make that call. Hopefully this team can do the right thing and be terrible in Mile High this weekend so that the Orange and Blue are able to clinch. I do NOT want to see them trying with nothing to play for. Take a page from the Jaguars, and STOP TRYING!

25. 49ers - Coach Crazy should be able to finish the season on a two game winning streak and solidify his job position as permanent head coach in San Francisco. He has a fairly easy final two games with the Rams and the Redskins.

26. Chiefs - Thanks for nothing, Kansas City. The first time in eons that I am earnestly rooting for your team, and you go and blow a huge lead at the end to cost the Broncos an easy division title clinch. Man, I dislike the Chiefs.

27. Seahawks - The good news for Mike Holmgren is that it's almost over.

28. Browns - The bad news for Romeo Crennell is that it's amost over.

29. Bengals - The Bengals blew a chance at having some nice symmetry in their final record by winning against the Redskins. They could have been 1-14-1 at the end of the season which would have looked so much nicer than 2-13-1. Perhaps they can still pull this thing out by getting another tie against the Browns and finishing at 2-12-2.

30. Rams - The most interesting thing I could think to say about the Rams is that they are the only team in the league this year with both four and eight game losing streaks AND a two game winning streak.

31. Raiders - It does my heart good to see the Raiders be this terrible. They have just set a record for the first team in league history with six straight seasons of eleven or more losses; So congrats to Al Davis on the bang up job he's doing in the East Bay.

32. Lions - Only two more losses from immortality. Man, I hope the Lions keep their eyes off the prize and finish this thing up right, but I don't trust them in Week 17 against the Packers. I can see them finding a way to blow this and beat Green Bay.

1 comment:

Scott said...

hey, I like the Jag's uniforms!