Posted on: October 12, 2010 2:42 pm
 

2010 NFL Power Rankings, Week 5

Five weeks down, and no undefeated teams remain.  Quite a quandary for this wannabe writer.  Usually, the main purpose of these Rankings is to tout the best teams in the NFL, especially the undefeated teams.  Now there are none remaining.  It still remains to be seen whether any of these ten are actually "good", or if they were just the best ten at this point in the season.  That's an arguable point, as there are currently ten 3-2 teams, all of whom look more or less Rankings worthy.  Let's go!

1.) Baltimore (4-1) [no change]
 If there's one thing I can appreciate, it's consistency.  The Ravens have shown that in recent weeks by winning consecutive games.  They seem to be getting better every week as well.  They might not actually be the best team so far, but they seem to be the most complete.  And with a lack of undefeated teams, Baltimore appears to be the best of the current group.

2.) NY Jets (4-1) [+2]
 Again I figured the Jets would succumb, and again I was proven wrong.  It figures, of course, that Brett Favre would throw an INT to seal his team's doom, and that the Jets' defense would be opportunistic enough to turn that INT into a game-winning touchdown.  The Jets are getting all the pieces back in place, and that loss against Baltimore is looking smaller and smaller.

3.) New England (3-1) [no change]
 New England was on a bye, so I couldn't see moving them up or down.  I changed my mind about the other team in the Rankings on a bye...see below.

4.) Atlanta (4-1) [+1]
 Another week, another win for the "never say die" Falcons.  I think it's safe to say that Matt Ryan has no effects from last season's sophomore slump.  Good thing, since they've needed him to be at his best at the end of every game.  Next week they draw the Eagles in what could be Michael Vick's first game against his former team.  They've got a better shot if Kevin Kolb is the Eagles' starter, I would guess, though that is no safe bet either.

5.) Chicago (4-1) [+5]
 I don't have the stats next to me to back this up, but I'm guessing that was one of the worst starts by a QB since 2000.  Heck, maybe since 1990, even.  Todd Collins was all sorts of awful, completing only six passes for 32 yards, with FOUR INT's.  Somehow, the Bears and Matt Forte (or maybe just Forte by himself, given their similarly dreadful O-line) made do without help from the QB and ran over Carolina.  Obviously, we can't count on that happening again.  Chicago must be loving Jay Cutler now; they might not have much hope with him, but they definitely have no hope whatsoever without him.

6.) Tampa Bay (3-1) [-]
 Somehow, these erstwhile young Bucs are 3-1.  Somehow.  Playing against Cincinnati, they proved to me that they're a good team, and that Carson Palmer is in no way an "elite" QB.  I doubt that Palmer is even "good" at the moment.  Josh Freeman, on the other hand, is looking like a winner, if nothing else.  Good for him.

7.) Kansas City (3-1) [-5]
 Luckily for the Chiefs, there are only so many 1-loss teams this week.  Their inclusion in the Rankings was a given, as a result.  Usually, I would have dropped them out entirely; falling from the ranks of the undefeated is not something I reward.  Despite losing at Indy, I think the Chiefs are a good team.  Or better than the remainder of the 3-2 teams that aren't in the Rankings this week.

8.) Pittsburgh (3-1) [+1]
 Like I said above, I don't usually move teams that are on a bye.  It just seems ...stupid.  Yet I've moved Pittsburgh up one spot this week because they're the "last" 3-1 team, and the other two teams below them have two losses.  What looks worse, a 3-2 team ranked higher than a 3-1 team, or a team on a bye moving up a single spot?  I thought so too.

9.) Indianapolis (3-2) [-]
 Thanks to that win at home, and my undying admiration for Peyton Manning in general, the Colts are back in the Rankings.  I guess that means I'm biased.  Anyway, I firmly believe that the Colts will rise above this rather uncharacteristic start and win 12-13 games.  Pie in the sky, I say.  Pie in the sky.

10.) Tennessee (3-2) [-]
 They've got Vince Young and Chris Johnson.  And they just so happened to beat the Cowboys.  OK, so maybe that's not worth as much as it used to be (like when the Cowboys were actually a good team).  But I have a feeling about these Titans.  I think they'll continue to prove their worth as the season goes on, as opposed to say, Jacksonville, or the NY Giants.

See you next week.  Thanks for reading.
Category: NFL
Posted on: October 5, 2010 5:18 pm
 

2010 NFL Power Rankings, Week 4

Just past the quarter pole in the 2010 season.  Not much has changed since Week 1, really, since we still don't know who's good and who isn't.  Let's go!

1.) Baltimore (3-1) [+7]
 Probably the most impressive win of the week, though New England might have something to say about it.  Baltimore didn't look great for much of the game, but that last play saved the day and kept them with a winning record.  It'll be great to see how the AFC North shakes out, because everybody is competitive.  Yup, including Cleveland, apparently.  Whether the Ravens keep their place at the top is subject to change.  Not a lot of consistency so far.

2.) Kansas City (3-0) [no change]
 Sometimes the best thing that can happen is not playing.  Kansas City had an early bye, and now they're the only undefeated team left in the NFL.  Hard to believe?  I didn't see this coming, for sure.  But I can't move them up or down since they didn't play.  So they stay at 2 this week, with a couple tough games to follow.

3.) New England (3-1) [+3]
 One of the few teams to actually win a couple games in a row, the Patriots had a very impressive win last night.  With all that special teams dominance, Tom Brady barely had to do anything.

4.) NY Jets (3-1) [+6]
 Riding high after a three-game winning streak (all in the division too), the Jets are looking pretty good.  In fact, their only loss is to the 1st place team in these Rankings, and that's not too bad after a quarter of the season.  I doubt they'll have it quite as easy as they did against Buffalo, but this should be a 12 win team.

5.) Atlanta (3-1) [no change]
 They pulled it out against San Francisco, but other more impressive performances keep the Falcons from moving up.  You can't beat an 0-3 team by three points and expect to move up.

6.) Green Bay (3-1) [-]
 A win is a win, I guess.  Yes, it was closer than it should have been, but they pulled it out and get back into the Rankings.  It is a bit of a surprise that the defense would give up that many points to a bad team.  But now they're tied for the division lead and look like the far better team after the Bears stunk out the joint.

7.) New Orleans (3-1) [-]
 Another team with a barely classifiable win in Week 4, New Orleans came out somewhat strong, but then fumbled away scoring opportunities, literally.  Going in at home against Carolina, I expected a beatdown of epic proportions.  What I got was nothing close to that.  Carolina should have won that game, really.  But the Saints refused to lose this time, and thanks to John Carney, they didn't.

8.) Houston (3-1) [-]
 For once, the Texans went on the road and got a win against a bad team.  Those who were expecting stumbles were almost proven right, but Houston pulled it out at the end.  Is Arian Foster the best RB in the AFC?  Or the NFL?  Chris Johnson and Adrian Peterson might have a claim to it, and LaDainian Tomlinson is rounding back into form.  Can the Texans keep this up?  I think so, because of Foster.  But I wouldn't bet on it just yet.

9.) Pittsburgh (3-1) [-8]
 Losing is tough in these Rankings.  Consistency is prized above all else, as is remaining undefeated for the longest period of time.  That's how I roll.  That said, the Steelers are far from a bad team.  In fact, they managed to stay in the Rankings because no one else is any better.  That might not sound like a good thing, really.  But there it is.

10.) Chicago (3-1) [-7]
 I really wanted someone else to come in and take the Bears' spot.  But no one did.  Thanks to Philadelphia and Indianapolis going belly up (among others), Chicago gets a reprieve from the axe and takes the bottom spot this week.  Don't get me wrong, Chicago played terribly, and really have no business in this week's Rankings despite being 3-1.  Losing to that team after their previous two games was really inexcusable.  At any rate, they're tied for the division lead and own the tiebreaker, for now.

See you next week.  Thanks for reading.
Category: NFL
Posted on: September 28, 2010 6:14 pm
Edited on: September 28, 2010 6:48 pm
 

2010 NFL Power Rankings, Week 3

Three undefeated teams left, and they take the top spots this week.  A whole lot of 2-1 teams are behind them as the season moves forward.  The only constant is change!  Let's go!

1.) Pittsburgh (3-0) [+2]
 Ben who?  The Steelers are now 3-0 after handing Tampa a nice smooth glass of beatdown; shaken, not stirred.  OK, I didn't see this coming either.  Then again, I had no idea Pittsburgh's defense would be rejuvenated, or that Troy Polamalu and Lawrence Timmons would continue to raise their game to new levels.  Oops.  I feel bad about not picking them to beat Atlanta and Tennessee too.  But here they are at 1, and as long as they keep winning, they're welcome to stay there.

2.) Kansas City (3-0) [+5]
 The Chiefs are a good team.  I think.  At any rate, they're 3-0 and they flat out spanked San Francisco this week, so that makes them worthy of 2nd in the Rankings.  They're winning with defense as well, though Matt Cassel might be turning into something.  And by something, I mean more like a real bonafide QB, and less something like a toad.

3.) Chicago (3-0) [+3]
 They lucked out.  That said, Chicago is the best team in the NFC after three weeks.  So I'm guessing the good far outweighs the bad.

4.) Indianapolis (2-1) [+6]
 Fresh off a beatdown of the Giants, Indy went out to Denver and played "aight".  Good enough to win, but not good enough to let go of all doubts people might have about them.  The defense in particular was messy.  How Kyle Orton throws for over 400 yards is beyond me.  Losing Bob Sanders (again) doesn't mean that much, does it?

5.) Atlanta (2-1) [+4]
 Their OT victory vaults the Falcons up and knocks New Orleans right out of the picture for a week.  Atlanta played better, and probably shouldn't have even had it go to OT.  We'll see how they play this week, though.  I have a feeling they're for real.

6.) New England (2-1) [-]
 The first new team this week is New England.  They might have won narrowly against Buffalo (especially compared to how Green Bay trounced them), but with Tom Brady and his gaggle of weapons, it's hard to discount the Pats.  Their defense isn't good again, but with that offense...do they really need to be the best?

7.) Philadelphia (2-1) [-]
 Count me as one of those who was right about Michael Vick.  I was of the opinion that starting him over Kevin Kolb (who is still getting over a concussion, like it or not) was not the worst thing in the world, for Kolb or the Eagles.  One beatdown of Jacksonville later, and Vick is looking golden.  Does it translate against a better team?  Maybe not, but it doesn't hurt to get Kolb rested up and ready for games when he might be less pressured.

8.) Baltimore (2-1) [-]
 Baltimore returns to the Rankings after a win against Cleveland.  I have a good feeling about the Ravens too; anytime they win, they will likely be vaulting up, or back into the Rankings, depending on the previous week's results.  I believe they're one of the top contenders in the AFC.  Their strength should be no surprise.

9.) Cincinnati (2-1) [-]
 The Bengals still aren't playing up to their potential, I think.  Still, the results haven't been too bad.  In one of the tougher divisions in football, they're 2-1 and tied with Baltimore for second, though they've already gotten the Ravens' number once.  How they play against Pittsburgh later in the season will determine how far they go.

10.) NY Jets (2-1) [-]
 What do you know, the Jets really can play.  It helps that Miami was inept on offense when it really counted, but I'm not really holding that against Ryan and Sanchez.  They can still play better too.

See you next week.  Thanks for reading. (I can't believe I had Cincy spelled wrong.  geez)
Category: NFL
Posted on: September 21, 2010 7:20 pm
 

2010 NFL Power Rankings, Week 2

With a second week of games in the books, eight teams are 2-0, another eight are 0-2, and the rest are 1-1.  Parity, you say?  Or is it mediocrity?  We'll see over the next fifteen weeks.

1.) New Orleans (2-0) [no change]
 The defending champions looked "aight" against San Francisco.  Count me among those who think that losing Reggie Bush is more of a story among the media than the team itself.  They're also the only team not to move an inch since last week.  Lots of turmoil all over the league is the reason.

2.) Green Bay (2-0) [+1]
 After winning on the road in Philly, Green Bay's encore was a resounding beatdown of the Bills.  That's what I like to see.  As a result, they move up.  Now the question is, are they better than the Saints?

3.) Pittsburgh (2-0) [+2]
 Now Dennis Dixon is out.  Byron Leftwich and Charlie Batch between them have to keep the train rolling.  It sounds like a difficult task, but both of the Steelers' games were won by defense and the running game.  So I don't expect much different in Week 3.  Heck, I might even pick them to win this time.

4.) Houston (2-0) [+5]
 One of the many teams I love to hate made good by beating...another of the teams I love to hate.  Consequently, I'm not really sure what to say.  Having been around this team since the beginning (2002), I've seen a lot that indicates this start is nothing more than a fluke.  That said, the Texans had never won an overtime game before 2010, and they were a measly 1-15 against Indianapolis as well.  Now both of those have been emended.  Does that mean playoffs for the Texans?  Or will Houston fans have to wait another year?  The big clash with the Cowboys is this week, and I don't think it could be more weird.

5.) Miami (2-0) [-]
 They won, and they're not looking too bad.  That's about all I know about this year's Miami team.  It's been bandied about that Cameron Wake and Koa Misi were the most important additions; they're on the defensive line and are expected to pressure the opposing QB (thank you, Peter King).  So far, they've been productive, and the Dolphins have won as a result.

6.) Chicago (2-0) [-]
 I'm as surprised as anybody that the Bears are in my Rankings.  As far as I know, this is a first...because since I started doing these in 2007 or 2008, the Bears haven't really been "good".  Or there were other teams that were clearly a step ahead.  Now the Bears are tied with Green Bay for the division lead, and despite what some say is a "porous" offensive line (I didn't see it after the first half, to be honest), Jay Cutler and his boys have done well for themselves.  Who do we credit more here, Cutler, or Mike Martz?  Martz is the supposed genius here, so I'll go with him.

7.) Kansas City (2-0) [-]
 Color me surprised, again.  Thanks to some stumbles by teams I figured would win (and one I figured would get crushed anyway), the middle and bottom of the Rankings are populated by surprise 2-0 teams.  The Chiefs debuted on Monday Night Football to great acclaim and lots of cheering from the fans at Arrowhead.  This week, they took on Cleveland and got the win.  The Browns look like an also-ran again, while the Chiefs are clearly trending upward.  I think this is good; at least the Chargers have some competition now to keep them from getting stale.

8.) Tampa Bay (2-0) [-]
 Dealing a loss to Carolina was big to me.  That means the Bucs are now in the Rankings again, along with their surprising 2-0 record.  I figured they would find a way against Cleveland, but the fact that they beat a division rival was huge.  Not only that, Carolina is now 0-2, while Tampa is tied with the Saints.  Atlanta is still a dangerous team, of course, but now that the Bucs and Saints have gotten a leg up, it should be an interesting race.  Tampa is another team winning with defense, and just enough contributions from QB Josh Freeman to not be one-dimensional.  Will this run last?  Probably not, but who knows.

9.) Atlanta (1-1) [-]
 Speaking of the dirty birds, here they are at 9.  After a tough OT loss to Pittsburgh last week, they came out firing on all cylinders this week.  It was an ugly game against Arizona, at least on the scoreboard.  I'm sure Falcons fans were pleased, though.  The beatdown had to have been welcome.  This puts them at 1-1 after the first two weeks.  I contend that they're still dangerous.  Carolina's going to a rookie QB, and Matt Ryan is clearly better than Moore, Clausen, or Freeman.  Is he up there with Drew Brees?  No, not yet.  But I don't imagine it'll be too long before he's accounted among the elite QB's.

10.) Indianapolis (1-1) [-]
 Though they're only coming in at 10 this week, Indianapolis had one of the better victories from Week 2.  They absolutely owned the Giants from kickoff to the final whistle, running up and down the field at will.  Joseph Addai and Donald Brown were pretty much unstoppable.  Peyton Manning didn't throw as much as he did last week, but he didn't need to.  Still, the throws he did make were crisp and on-target, and he's without an INT as well.  I guess the loss in Week 1 was an aberration.  Maybe it was needed to wake them up.  In any case, I expect great things from the Colts again this season.

See you next week.  Thanks for reading.
Category: NFL
Posted on: September 14, 2010 5:37 pm
Edited on: September 15, 2010 11:26 pm
 

2010 NFL Power Rankings, Week 1

Do we really know who is good (and more importantly, who isn't) after one week of games?  Probably not.  But I'm going to give it a try anyway.  Here we go!

1.) New Orleans (1-0)
 Why?  They're the defending champs.  Sean Payton might disagree, but since they're returning pretty much the same team....

2.) Baltimore (1-0)
 OK, so they didn't play well.  At all.  But they won, and they're expected to go far.  So one could say I'm drinking the Kool-Aid on them at this point.

3.) Green Bay (1-0)
 A more impressive win than Baltimore, sure.  I'm not certain about Philadelphia.  Green Bay played quite well.  Even Aaron Rodgers looked pretty good (and his game-winning TD toss was to Greg Jennings, who last I checked was his #1 receiver).

4.) New England (1-0)
 The Patriots with Tom Brady are perennial Super Bowl contenders.  And supposedly, they actually played some defense on Sunday.

5.) Pittsburgh (1-0)
 I'm impressed that they won with Dennis Dixon at QB.  Nothing against the former Oregon Duck (who is the cousin of Donald Duck, my sources tell me), but without Roethlisberger I was expecting a Dirty Bird Beatdown.  What the *%&$* happened, Atlanta?

6.) NY Giants (1-0)
 Bias alert!  I hate the Giants.  Still, I can't deny them what was an impressive win.  OK, so Carolina isn't expected to do much.  And Eli Manning threw three INT's (ouch).  They're still in first place.  Or tied, whatever.

7.) Tennessee (1-0)
 Holy crap, Vince Young is a quarterback.  Meaning, he doesn't just run around, he can hang back in the pocket and hit some receivers where it hurts.  Right in the nuts.  Now THAT is some accuracy.

8.) Arizona (1-0)
 I should probably lower AZ to 10th.  Why?  They barely beat St. Louis.  And by barely, I really do mean barely.  Ouch.

9.) Houston (1-0)
 Bias alert!  I hate the Texans.  They might have had the most impressive win of the week, though.  OK, so Indianapolis kinda stunk.  But the Texans were 1-15 against them overall.  1-15, OUCH.  Well, one fabulously historic day by Arian Foster later...the Texans are now TWO AND FIFTEEN against the Colts.  I also think the Texans are not going anywhere this year.  Just like last year.  And the year before that.  And the year before that.  You see where I'm going here.

10.) Washington (1-0)
 Bias alert!  I really hate the Redskins, especially after that fluke of a win against the Cowboys Sunday night.  Trust me, I'm angrier with the Cowboys for playing as badly as they did.  But the Redskins took advantage of the Cowboys acting like total idiots, and even I have to give them credit for that.

See you next week.  Thanks for reading.
Category: NFL
Posted on: January 4, 2010 3:07 pm
 

2009 NFL Power Rankings, Week 17

1.) San Diego (13-3) [+2]
 Is there any doubt that San Diego is the most prepared team in the AFC, as well as the best right now?  There shouldn't be.  Not only did they go out on top, they did so on an 11-game winning streak.  Better to finish strong than limp into the playoffs like Indy and New Orleans, I think.  Philip Rivers may merit MVP consideration, but after seeing the tumble that the aforementioned teams took without their star QB's, I think it may only strengthen their cases to onlookers.

2.) Minnesota (12-4) [+4]
 It appears that the Vikings did what they had to in order to stifle the dismay of fans and others everywhere with their win at home against the Giants.  It's a good thing they won, too, since they lost last Monday in an OT game that should have been theirs.  Favre and co. are off next week since they're the #2 seed in the NFC.  That's probably a good thing, but we'll see how it turns out.

3.) Dallas (11-5) [+2]
 The Cowboys didn't swoon in 2009 (though 2-2 in December is hardly cause for celebration), and started 2010 off quite well with their second consecutive shutout of a division rival.  They can make it three-in-a-row next week, same Bat time, same Bat channel.  I don't like their chances of shutting out Philly again, but I don't see any reason why they can't beat them for a third time this season.

4.) Green Bay (11-5) [+5]
 Green Bay made a big jump since I didn't have rankings out last week.  Plus, they won both their games rather convincingly, especially this week's romp in Arizona.  They have to go there again next week, and here's hoping they bring that same game.

5.) Indianapolis (14-2) [-4]
 One of the more disappointing teams the last couple of weeks has been the Colts.  They pulled their starters out of what could have been a fairly easy win, and then failed to show up yesterday in Buffalo.  True, I wouldn't have wanted to show up either, considering how bad the weather was.  But honestly, that's no excuse for professionals of any stripe.  I highly doubt that they'll show up well in the playoffs, considering that they have yet another week off and will likely face a feisty team looking to make a name for themselves by knocking off the #1 seed in the AFC.

6.) New Orleans (13-3) [-4]
 The Saints came off starting 13-0 by losing the next three games.  In addition to hardly showing up for any of those, they have another week off since they're the #1 seed in the NFC.  Trouble looming ahead for NOLA?  Perhaps.  My gut tells me that they're in the same boat as the Colts; they won't be able to turn it back on and will lose their first playoff game.  Even if they don't do that, they won't make it to the Super Bowl, thus casting a pallor on what could have been fabulously great seasons.

7.) Philadelphia (11-4) [-3]
 I'm not sure how much I can blame Philly for essentially not showing up yesterday.  After all, my Cowboys did the same thing last year in the final game of the season.  Also, the Eagles come back to Dallas next week with significantly more on the line than a division title.  On the whole, a much better season than I expected from them, the shellacking by New Orleans notwithstanding.

8.) New England (10-6) [-1]
 The Pats lost Wes Welker and eventually lost a very winnable game to the Texans, giving them and their fans a few hours of false hope.  Thankfully, the Jets also won, which keeps the Texans out of the playoffs.  But I digress.... Tom Brady and co. aren't on their best legs going into the playoffs, especially with the loss of Welker and the continuing malaise that has surrounded them almost all season.  They might win a game in the playoffs, but an extended run seems very unlikely.

9.) Arizona (10-6) [-1]
 This offseason might be a good time to address that backup QB situation the Cardinals have.  Kurt Warner won't be around forever, and this week's game was proof positive that Matt Leinart is NOT ready to take over the starting job any time soon.  I don't really like their chances in the playoffs either, since they just got shellacked by the opponent they'll be facing next week.  Plus, it's not like the Packers defense will be any less great against Warner than they were against Leinart.  Warner has trouble getting the ball to his best receivers on a good day; with Clay Matthews et al bearing down on him, it's hard to see how he gets the ball out successfully.

10.) Cincinnati (10-6) [no change]
 The worst game of the day was undoubtedly Cincinnati's lay down lack of effort against the Jets last night.  Why they bothered traveling to New Jersey, I won't know.  And let's make one thing clear: Carson Palmer is not and will never be an elite QB in this league or any other.  Cedric Benson is what makes this team go, and if their opponents stop him, there's nothing Palmer can do to win a game.  The Bengals will be extremely lucky to win a game in the playoffs, and if they have to face San Diego, there's no way they're moving on.
Category: NFL
Posted on: December 22, 2009 4:48 pm
 

2009 NFL Power Rankings, Week 15

1.) Indianapolis (14-0) [+1]
 By virtue of their win at Jacksonville and the Saints' loss on Saturday, Indianapolis takes the #1 spot this week.  They had been in #2 for a while now, mostly because the Saints hadn't tripped up and I don't like moving a team down when they win.  Also, I think the MVP chatter can subside for a little bit, at least until the Colts lose one (assuming they actually do).  The only other guy with a claim on the trophy at the moment is Philip Rivers; Brees and Favre both fell off the wagon, and Chris Johnson plays for a .500 team.  It remains to be seen how the Colts play it down the stretch regarding rest vs. going undefeated.  Personally, I'd want to play every snap as long as I was healthy.  Heck, even if I was a little banged up I'd probably want to play just for the historical value of going 16-0 and maybe 19-0.

2.) New Orleans (13-1) [-1]
 New Orleans finally took a tumble, losing at home to the Cowboys, a team many predicted had no chance of winning.  Drew Brees looked decidedly un-MVP like in his performance.  Of course, any QB getting pressured like that is bound to make a few mistakes.  It doesn't mean Brees isn't great, it just means he probably cost himself the MVP since Peyton Manning has given his opponents no margin for error.  I think we could see the Saints bounce back the next two weeks, motivated by their lack of perfection.  And no, I have no good reason for keeping them ahead of San Diego, other than 13-1 > 11-3.

3.) San Diego (11-3) [no change]
 Rivers + Turner in December = gold.  Who knew?  Certainly not me, or the hoards of people criticizing Turner's hiring a couple years back.  Even without LaDainian Tomlinson at his MVP form, the Chargers are a legitimately great team.  I won't go overboard with predicting playoff success for them, but it wouldn't be a surprise to see the Chargers go far.

4.) Philadelphia (10-4) [+2]
 Philly made some questionable decisions in their game against San Francisco, yet it didn't stop them from laying a beatdown on Sunday.  Donovan McNabb is playing very well, and it doesn't hurt that DeSean Jackson and LeSean McCoy are two of the best weapons the Eagles have gotten for him.  Even without Brian Westbrook and Jeremy Maclin (for the last couple games, at least), McNabb and the offense are firing on all cylinders.  This team will be a tough out in the playoffs.

5.) Dallas (9-5)
 Why is Dallas in the fifth spot, you might ask?  Because they beat the Saints.  Does this mean anything for the next two weeks?  Nope, not a chance.  But the Cowboys did get the biggest win of the season (maybe the past two or three seasons, even), and that's worth a lot this week.  They have a favorable schedule, at Washington next week and home against Philly in the final week; they already beat Philly in Philly, so that's not a terrible matchup (though I'm not betting the house on the Cowboys just yet).

6.) Minnesota (11-3) [-2]
 The Vikings lost again, so down they go.  They lost to a terrible team in Carolina, but this is likely a temporary (as in one week) move since they're playing Chicago next week and Dallas isn't likely to keep on winning (as much I think they will).  They're still the second seed in the AFC, and I fully expect them to advance to the title game.

7.) New England (9-5) [+1]
 An up-and-down season for New England continues, though they've now won two in a row.  They're looking a lot better in the AFC East thanks to some timely tripping up by Miami and the NY Jets.  Of course, I never thought either of those teams had enough to pass the Patriots anyway, even with the Pats playing like stink is the new black.  Brady-to-Moss was a working combo again, and even though Wes Welker didn't contribute his usual mammoth's share, the Pats won decisively.  I still don't see how they go out in the first round of the playoffs, since the AFC wild card teams are likely to be pretty weak.

8.) Arizona (9-5) [+2]
 Nice bounce back for Kurt Warner and the Cardinals; he fumbled another ball and threw a 100-yard INT returned for a touchdown.  Despite those gaffes, the Cardinals won.  They also won their division after San Francisco's loss in Philadelphia.  So they're in the playoffs, and now they're fighting for position.  It might not be unlikely that Warner sits in the 2nd half of the next couple of games, to try and rest for the playoffs.  I'm not predicting it, exactly, but it wouldn't surprise me to see Matt Leinart get some more playing time in the next two weeks.

9.) Green Bay (9-5) [-4]
 The Packers take a dive after losing late to Pittsburgh.  It'll be hard for them to not get a wild card, though.  Green Bay could be a dangerous team in the playoffs, especially if Aaron Rodgers is shooting straight to the right guys (meaning Greg Jennings and Donald Driver).

10.) Cincinnati (9-5) [-3]
 The Bengals drop after a tough loss in San Diego.  One good sign was Carson Palmer's "revival" of sorts, as he threw for 300 yards for the first time in a while.  They played about as well as could be expected, and the only reason they lost is because San Diego is just a better team at this point.  Cincy should be in the playoffs, though, and they should be hosting a game.  That gives them a good shot at advancing.
Category: NFL
Posted on: December 15, 2009 1:10 pm
 

2009 NFL Power Rankings, Week 14

1.) New Orleans (13-0) [no change]
 It's possible that the Saints are just making things exciting for themselves.  Either that, or something is up with them as they've had more than a few close shaves in recent weeks.  It might be something to worry about if they were playing a good team this coming Saturday.  Instead, they have the Cowboys in full swoon.  If it's as competitive as New Orleans' recent games have been, I'll be pleased.

2.) Indianapolis (13-0) [no change]
 Peyton Manning threw 3 INT's and won.  Does that say more about him and his team, or the team they were facing (at home)?  At this point it might be saying more about Denver, though they certainly were trying hard.  Indy pulled out another win, though, and stay in second place where they've been for quite awhile.  They take on the Jaguars on Thursday in a game where some starters will get rested.  I'm not sure where I come down in that debate; obviously, I've seen what happens to teams that rested and I saw what happened two years ago when the Patriots went for broke and failed.  I'm not certain that momentum really means anything, especially when you have Manning running the offense.  As long as he's right, the Colts will continue to win.  Even when he throws two or three picks, the Colts STILL win.

3.) San Diego (10-3) [no change]
 The Chargers are the third-best team, despite being down in the standings to Minnesota.  Sure, they had a couple bad losses (and a bad win in Oakland the first Monday night of the season), but they've won eight in a row and are well-prepared for their playoff push.  It has to be AFC Championship or bust for the Chargers, especially with Cincinnati looking beatable.  The Chargers also have favorable recent history with the Colts; I'm not a complete believer in San Diego just yet.  Nor am I going to go out on a limb and say that the Chargers would definitely beat the Colts in Indianapolis.  Let's just say that the odds are on San Diego's side, and the Colts might want to hope for someone else knocking them off before they head to Indy.

4.) Minnesota (11-2) [+5]
 Adrian Peterson produced one of those games that fantasy owners go nuts for.  Brett Favre was back to his efficient form of every game besides the one in Arizona, and the defense was tough as usual.  I figured Cincinnati would put up a better fight, but Minnesota was prepared in every way to take them out.  They likely won't catch the Saints for home-field, but they've got the #2 seed locked up for the playoffs unless something really bad happens.

5.) Green Bay (9-4) [no change]
 Somehow, the Packers have maneuvered themselves into a very favorable position for the playoffs.  Of course, they won't win their division, which means they have to go on the road, but they're still doing better than most other teams in the NFC.  Aaron Rodgers had a mediocre game in Chicago, and outside of Ryan Grant the rest of the offense was pretty moribund.  The Packers still have Pittsburgh and Arizona on their schedule, which could mean two more tough tests (though with the way both teams have played lately, it's a toss-up).

6.) Philadelphia (9-4) [no change]
 Philadelphia leads the NFC East with their win and Dallas' loss.  But the division title isn't theirs just yet.  They still have to go to Dallas in the final week of the season (and Dallas fans know how having the last game be against the Eagles doesn't really work out).  I think the one thing the Eagles' win says is that the Giants are all but eliminated as playoff contenders.  Dallas and Philly showed that their defense still isn't where it needs to be.  And the Eagles won thanks to big plays and a long 4th quarter drive that was made out of grit and efficiency.  The Eagles' defense might not be the best, but with their offense, it's hard to see how they don't make the NFC Championship Game.

7.) Cincinnati (9-4) [-3]
 The Bengals were one of the bigger disappointments in Week 14.  They couldn't get it going on offense and were fairly abysmal on defense.  Dirty little secret: When they're not playing the AFC North, they're not very good.  They swept their division, but are 3-4 in games outside of it.  Cincy has also been pretty inconsistent too.  Despite that, they're in decent shape, as they'll be hosting a Wild Card game with an excellent chance of advancing.  The teams below them aren't much better than the Bengals, if at all.  They'll likely be in a position where one or two playoff wins is expected, and a first-round loss is indefensible.

8.) New England (8-5)
 Speaking of disappointments...oh wait, the Patriots won this week.  It wasn't the best game for Brady and co., but I'm sure they'll take it.  In fact, it might provide some needed motivation for the coming weeks.  The AFC East looks more wide open than it did a couple weeks ago, with the Pats sliding and the Dolphins and Jets coming on, for the most part.  I would still pick the Pats to win the division, though; they have the better team, and more importantly the best QB of the contenders.  If their defense shapes up even slightly, they could be in a comparable position to Philadelphia in the NFC.

9.) Denver (8-5) [-2]
 The Broncos had a tough matchup going in, so it's not surprising that they lost.  What may have been surprising was the emphasis they put on the passing game, and how well Kyle Orton dealt with the increased workload.  He and Brandon Marshall have some chemistry, to be sure, as Marshall set an NFL record for receptions in a single game that was previously held by Terrell Owens.  I wasn't expecting that kind of performance from Orton or Marshall, to be honest.  The loss does hurt, but the rapport between QB and WR bodes well for the future; during the Broncos' midseason swoon, their offense was worse than moribund, particularly in the passing game.  So if Orton can keep it up, their chances of taking one in the playoffs go way up.  I wouldn't put any money on it, but it wouldn't surprise me either.

10.) Arizona (8-5) [-2]
 Finally this week we have the once again disappointing Arizona Cardinals, who couldn't stand their own prosperity (again, it must be said) and laid an egg in San Francisco.  Division rivalry aside, that was a game that Arizona should have won, and they should have won it by about 20-25 points.  I guess that because it is a rivalry, SF was ready for them and had the proper motivation to run their gameplan.  Whatever the case may be, Arizona stunk, and look like near-total frauds after convincingly making Minnesota their pinata last week.  I think Arizona wins the toothless NFC West, but I'm not all that sure.  The schedule is not terribly difficult; they play Detroit, St. Louis, and Green Bay.  So they should be 11-5 when all is said and done (though Green Bay might be up for their game), and 10-6 at worst.  Of course, that assumes that they don't do anything mind numbingly stupid against the two bad opponents remaining.  After yesterday's game, who knows what will happen.
Category: NFL
 
 
 
 
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