Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Powerlines: Week 14 NFL Power Rankings

If nothing else, I dig this guy's haircut.

Only three regular season weeks left. It's time for your team to make a playoff push, or if your team is eliminated, time to hope that they fall flat on their faces to end the year so that they get a better draft pick. Either way, there is a lot of excitement in the air in the NFL as we head down the stretch. Here is how I see the NFL this week...

1. Colts - How good is Peyton Manning? He threw for 4 touchdowns on Sunday and his team won by 12, and yet the general consensus was that he had a terrible game. If the Colts don't go undefeated, it's only because they don't want to go undefeated.

2. Saints - The Saints endured yet another close call to remain perfect, and even though a three point win against an undermanned Falcons team is far from impressive, it is impressive to find ways to win even when they are not playing a their best. Plus, who doesn't like the Saints??

3. Chargers - San Diego went into Dallas and shut down the Cowboys. Although the score was close, the outcome was never in doubt, and it only looks close thanks to a garbage time touchdown in the closing moments. Phil Rivers and company are rolling.

4. Vikings - Throttling a very solid Bengals team was exceptionally impressive. Favre and Peterson get the most ink, but the Vikings defensive line is scary, and the secondary is much improved with Antoine Winfield back again. The buzz around the NFL is that a Colts vs. Saints Super Bowl seems likely, but don't be surprised if the Chargers and Vikings meet up in Miami.

5. Eagles - The Eagles won the defense optional game in the Meadowlands, and with that victory likely the division. If anyone is going to screw up a Vikings-Saints NFC Championship matchup, it will probably be Philly.

6. Bengals - The Bengals have been solid this season, but Carson Palmer is struggling. The Bengals have only scored over 20 points once in the last six games, and that was against Detroit. Cincy has a fantastic defense, but the offense may be their Achilles heel. After seeing how they were trounced in Minnesota, I'm selling on the Bengals. They need to be able to score to win a championship.

7. Packers - My preseason pick to win the Lombardi trophy has been pretty solid of late. I don't think they can win it all, but they'll go on the road and put a scare into some division winner in the playoffs. Aaron Rodgers is making Green Bay not look completely stupid for ditching Favre with a stellar season of his own this year.

8. Ravens - Is this too high for a team that's only a game over .500 right now? Probably, but I think the Ravens are primed to soar into the playoffs as the #5 seed right now, which if they do, I think they'll beat New England and be tough on the road in either Baltimore or San Diego. They are mired in the playoff morass, but I think they pull through to clinch the first wild card.

9. Patriots - Randy Moss takes plays off and doesn't play hard when the play isn't designed for him? This is SHOCKING news! The Patriots are getting old, their defense is mediocre, and their running game is pathetic. Tom Brady basically has Wes Welker, a pouting Randy Moss, and NOTHING else. Let's just say that I don't think putting a bet down on the Patriots to win it all is a very good idea at this point. If their schedule wasn't so tame, I would think it possible that they cough up the division, but the Dolphins and/or Jets aren't going to be able to make up enough ground when the Pats finish with Buffalo, Jacksonville, and Houston.

10. Cardinals - Just when the Cards suck you in to believing in them, they go and lay an egg in San Francisco. No team in the world is going to win when they turn the ball over seven times in a game. You can possibly chalk that one up to a fluke, but good teams don't give the ball to the other team seven times. They're going to win the West because the NFC West is atrocious, but I'm not anticipating a second run to the Super Bowl.

11. Broncos - I feel better about Denver after losing to the Colts than I did after some of their wins. After spotting the Colts a 21-0 lead with terrible defense to start the game, they buckled down and went toe to toe with Indianapolis, and they could have possibly won the game if they could have stopped Peyton Manning just one more time. I don't think the Broncos have anything approaching a team good enough to make some noise in the playoffs, but I do think they get there and could possibly even win a game if they do everything right.

12. Cowboys - Every year I try to talk myself into the Cowboys not stinking in December, and yet every year they stink in December. Their closing schedule is brutal, and I just don't think that they will make the playoffs this year.

13. Dolphins - They have an excellent shot at qualifying for the playoffs, but they'll need to sweep through the Titans, Texans, and Steelers to do so, and I'm not sure this team can be consistent enough to win those three in a row. Losing to the Bills at the end of November really hurts this team...if they win that game like they should have, I think they're close to a lock to make the postseason.

14. Titans - It would take a small miracle for the Titans to qualify for the playoffs, but they haven't given up yet and I guarantee you that the Dolphins and Chargers are none to happy to have Tennessee on their schedule. So much depends upon the health of Vince Young's hamstring on how competitive the Titans will be to finish the year.

15. Giants - New York can't buy a break, and while they are definitely in the playoff hunt, they're going to need to shore up the defense to have a legit shot. Very rarely do teams give up 45 points and win games.

16. Jets - The final three games are too tough for Matt Sanchez and the Jets. With games against the Falcons, Colts, and Bengals, I'll be shocked if they are in the mix at the end.

17. Texans - It seems unlikely that Gary Kubiak will keep his job without making the playoffs, and it REALLY seems unlikely that the Texans will be able to make the playoffs. Sorry, Gary.

18. Steelers - This team has completely fallen off the map. In their embarrassing 5 game skid, they have lost to the Chiefs, Raiders, and Browns. That is absolutely unconscionable, those teams are beyond dreadful. It's completely conceivable that this team that looked like world beaters on a Monday Night in Denver (oh, and they're the reigning champs, too.) could lose every game in the second half of the season. I'm sure the 6 Lombardi Trophies help lessen the sting, but I am sure glad I'm not a Steeler fan right now.

19. Jaguars - Somehow this team is currently one of the 6 playoff seeds in the AFC if the season ended today. I'm not sure what would confuse me more, though. If they actually ended the season with three games to go or the fact that the Jags would actually be in the playoffs in that scenario. Mark my words, the Jags DO NOT make the playoffs.

20. 49ers - Thumping the Cardinals was a textbook case of too little, too late.

21. Falcons - After a Cinderella season of sorts last year, it's important to remember that the Falcons just aren't all that good. Not having Matt Ryan or Michael Turner doesn't help things, either. Although Chris Redman didn't exactly embarrass himself with 303 passing yards and a touchdown against the Saints.

22. Panthers - What a disappointing season for the team that had the second best record in the NFC last season. Carolina is going to have to find some way to get a legit quarterback, which is going to be tough without a first round draft pick.

23. Bears - Has a town ever fallen in and out of love with a football player faster than Chicago has with Jay Cutler? There is something that is just hard to love about that guy, and tossing 22 picks and going 5-8 certainly doesn't help matters.

24. Bills - Yes, Buffalo is a lousy team, but you need to take them seriously or they'll ruin your playoff chances...just ask the Dolphins, Panthers, or Jets.

25. Seahawks - If the Seahawks were a pet, you'd take them to the Vet and have them put to sleep. There just is no reason for them to be around anymore and it's painful for both us and them that they need to play their final three games.

26. Redskins - Another team that is dreadful, but that get frisky and take down teams that aren't prepared for them...Oh wait, that was just the Broncos that got tripped up by them...no one else has dropped a game to this sad sack bunch of losers. Other than that, their other three wins come against the power troika of the Rams, Bucs, and Raiders.

27. Raiders - Just as Oakland was enjoying their first glimmer of hope in years in the form of Bruce Gradkowski, that hope is crushed with a season ending injury and what's even worse for Raider fans is that the reigns are being given back over to JaMarcus Russell. Talk about soul crushing, it's to the point that I actually almost feel sorry for the Raiders. A dark dark cloud hangs over that franchise.

28. Chiefs - In what is certainly the least anticipated game of the week, the Chiefs host the Browns at Arrowhead. Thank God for fantasy football, or there would be absolutely zero reason to pay attention to this game at all. Actually, even with fantasy football...It's hard to make a case. These teams are putrid.

29. Lions - Not sure there are too many positives that can be gleaned from being trounced 48-3 by the Ravens. Hey, at least you didn't get shutout, Detroit! Way to go!

30. Browns - After losing 12 straight games to Pittsburgh, I guess the Browns were due. Let us in no way pretend that beating a nosediving Steelers team means that the Browns are actually a decent team.

31. Buccaneers - 3 Interceptions and only 93 yards passing...Josh Freeman is who we thought he was...or at least he is if you thought he was terrible. Rough season in Tampa this year.

32. Rams - Could the Rams offensive players have more appropriate names? On Sunday their starting guard was Richie Incognito and they were quarterbacked by someone named Keith Null. The only thing that could be better would be if they had a wide receiver named Jonathan Cantcatch and a running back named LaMarcus Fumble. Yup, the Rams are atrocious.

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