As far as the regular season goes, it would appear the Packers aren't "in trouble" after all. No surprise there, though since New Orleans won (and Drew Brees broke Dan Marino's single-season passing yardage record), there isn't any movement at the top.
Here are the standings for Week 16:
I'm not sure why I picked Arizona over Cincinnati, but I did. That wasn't the only dumb move, obviously.
Here are the Rankings for Week 16:
1.) New Orleans (12-3) [no change]
I'm sure most people concentrated on Drew Brees' record-breaking performance on Monday; I noticed it as well and am pleased with his success. Let's not forget that the Saints are a really good team, even with some deficiencies on defense. It starts with Brees and his gaggle of receivers, of course, but there are a couple solid RB's in the mix too. Now we have to see how their success translates outdoors in the elements.
2.) Green Bay (14-1) [no change]
I should probably have the Packers back at #1, but I can't move the Saints down unless they lose in Week 17. That said, there's no guarantee the Packers take out Detroit. With "nothing to play for", they'll likely sit Aaron Rodgers for most or all of the game.
3.) New England (12-3) [no change]
As expected, the Patriots have rolled through the cake portion of their schedule with only a couple minor slip-ups. They can earn the #1 seed in the AFC with a win against Buffalo, and the likelihood of that happening is about as close to 100% as it gets.
4.) San Francisco (12-3) [no change]
Though it looked like the 49ers would get a bit complacent in the last couple weeks of the regular season, it appears that Jim Harbaugh and his staff limited the damage to one loss. It's likely that they'll end up #2 in the NFC, with a first-round bye and a playoff game in Candlestick as a reward for their great season.
5.) Baltimore (11-4) [+2]
Much as I admire the bluster of Terrell Suggs &co., I'm hard-pressed to see the Ravens in the Super Bowl this year. It's funny, since before the season I had them tabbed as one of a select few that could win multiple titles in the next 10 years. They have an excellent defense, running back, special teams, and coaching staff. But their QB has proven to be hit-or-miss, and that's a weakness the Ravens haven't been able to overcome since their breakthrough Super Bowl win 10 years ago.
6.) Pittsburgh (11-4) [no change]
With a win and a Baltimore loss, the Steelers take the AFC North. It's still conceivable for them to get the #1 seed in the AFC, though New England would have to lose to Buffalo for that to occur. Hard to see how/why Ben Roethlisberger plays in Week 17; the opponent is Cleveland and it looked like the Steelers could take them with a hand tied behind their back.
7.) Houston (10-5) [-2]
Two bad losses in a row for the Texans, who close out against the Titans. It may look like they have nothing to play for, but knocking the Titans out of the playoff race (presumably) should be enough of a stimulant.
8.) Detroit (10-5) [+1]
I was surprised that the Lions took out San Diego the way they did. After starting out 5-0, the Lions have looked more or less mediocre ever since, despite delivering a beatdown to the Broncos. They're locked into a Wild Card berth now and will go to the playoffs for the first time in many years.
9.) Cincinnati (9-6) [-]
It's possible the Bengals are here to stay. Who can tell, though? They could just as easily lose to Baltimore again and drop out.
10.) Atlanta (9-6) [-2]
The Falcons keep a spot here by the skin of their teeth. Losing to New Orleans isn't the worst thing in the world, obviously, and they're still a Wild Card team. So it appears that I was right about the Falcons; though they looked pretty bad earlier in the season, they rounded into form at the right time and will likely take on the Saints again in the playoffs.
The only team to exit the Rankings is the no-account Cowboys. Even though I'm a fan of the team, I do my best to remain objective about them in this space. That said, I don't like their chances in the (new) Meadowlands this week. It's a must-win situation; that only makes it seem more likely that they'll do something stupid to choke away a surefire chance at a playoff berth.
Then again, most of the pundits are jumping back on the Giants' bandwagon (after a few false starts).
I'm currently debating what I'll do during the playoffs. I might do a couple blogs for picks and such. We'll see.
That's all for this week. See you next week!