NFL POWER RANKINGS: WEEK 14
With the end of the regular season nearing quickly, the AFC and NFC playoffs are still wide open for a lot of teams. This is how I have all 32 teams stacked up.
1.) Green Bay (13-0) – Even in a 46-16 rout of Oakland on Sunday, the packers quest for a perfect 16-0 season may have come to an end. After seeing Greg Jennings carted off the field in the 3rd qtr. of the blowout, with what has been reported as an MCL injury on his left knee, Coach McCarthy may take a different approach in the last few weeks of the regular season. Green Bay can clinch home field advantage throughout with one more win.
2.) New Orleans (10-3) – The Saints potent offense bogged out for 3 qtrs. in Tennessee on Sunday, but a pair of Brees to Colston touchdown passes in the 4th was enough to slide past the Titans 22-17.
3.) Baltimore (10-3) -Baltimore got there turn with the NFL’s whipping boy on Sunday, and they did just that. Holding Indy to 153 total yards, 53 through 3 qtrs. The colts scored on the last play of the game to make it respectful. Terrell Suggs was anything but respectful, unleashing an assault on Dan Orlovsky, sacking the QB 3 times, and causing 3 fumbles in the game.
4.) Pittsburgh (10-3) – Heading into the championship months,Pittsburgh looks poised for another deep rush in the playoffs. A defensive showdown withSan Francisco awaitsPittsburgh this week, and could go a long way in determining ifPittsburgh can over takeBaltimore in the AFC North. With 3 games remaining, the two are tied at 10-3; howeverBaltimore holds a 2-0 advantage overPittsburgh which could be the determining tie breaker.
5.) New England (10-3) – Despite a heated exchange between Tom Brady and offensive coordinator Bill O’Brien, the Patriots offense continues to carry the team. They have scored 30+ points in 5 straight games. Rob Gronkowski set an NFL record on Sunday catching his 14th touchdown of the season. The record was previously set by Antonio Gates in 2004 and matched by Vernon Davis in 2009.
6.) Houston (10-3) – Although I don’t buyHouston in the long run behind T.J. Yates, they still run the ball extremely well and play great defense. Yates is now 2-0 as a starter and engineered the game winning drive againstCincinnati Sunday.
7.) San Francisco (10-3) – Even after the 49ers stumbled in Arizona Sunday, San Fran. is still in great position in the NFC in what seems to be a two-way race for 2nd. This could guarantee a first rd. bye and a home playoff game. The Niners hostPittsburgh on Monday night in a game both teams need for their playoff positioning.
8.) NY Jets (8-5) – The Jets played their best game of the year Sunday, and with it moved into the last playoff spot in the AFC with 3 to go. Shonn Greene rushed for a season high 129 yards, a TD, and caught 3 passes for 58 yards. The performance did not come without a cost though. Jet’s safety, Jim Leonhard is out for the season with a torn patella tendon in his right knee.
9.) Atlanta (8-5) – The Falcons erased a 16-pt halftime deficit to get a much needed road win in Carolina. With the win, the Falcons improved their playoff hopes. They control their own destiny with 3 games left, and they have a short week this week as they hostJacksonville Thursday. Then they get a few extra days of rest before a big decision showdown withNew Orleans the following week.
10.) NY Giants (7-6) – Coming off 4 straight losses, the Giants resurrected the season Sunday night in Dallas. The Giants are now in the driver seat in the NFC East and Eli Manning, who is having one of the best years of his career lead the g-men back from a 12pt. 4th qrt. deficit to upend the Cowboys. The Giants don’t leaveNew York the rest of the year, hostingWashington, and then playing “away” vs. the Jets before hosting the Cowboys to close out the year in a game that the NFC East could be on the line.
11.) Denver (8-5) – Tim Tebow improved to 7-1 asDenver starter and the Broncos have now won 6 straight, once again in dramatic fashion. After another terrible start, Tebow helped leadDenver back from a 10-0 deficit in the final 2:08. After cutting the lead to 10-7, Tebow gotDenver just far enough for Matt Prater to hit a 59 yarder towards the end of regulation. Then again in OT Prater hit from 51 to win.
12.) Dallas (7-6) – AfterDallas dropped its second heartbreaker in a row, most may say this is a little high. I just see too much talent on this team,I having them righting the ship and at the least carry a great chance to win the East of the season finale in the meadow lands.
13.) Detroit (8-5) – After dropping 2 straight, the Lions got back on track Sunday holding off the Vikings in a division game. After being up 21 in the first half, it took a late stand to earn their 8th win on the year and keep themselves in the thick of things in the NFC.
14.) Cincinnati (7-6) – The Bengals playoff hopes took a big hit Sunday as they saw a 9 pt. 4th qtr. lead erased by rookie T. J. Yates. Cincinnati has now lost 4 of 5 and find themselves on the outside looking in of the AFC playoffs.
15.) Tennessee (7-6) – The Titans watched Matt Hasslebeck limp off the field Sunday and their playoff hopes may have limped away as well. The Titans couldn’t capitalize on a couple chances to win the game late in 4th qtr. behind rookie Jake Locker. Tennessee is most likely looking at must wins the rest of the way and need a little help.
16.) Arizona (6-7) – Don’t look now butArizona has now won 5 of 6. Still not much of a chance for a playoff spot, they could still play spoiler to at least one team when they travel toCincinnati in week 16.
17.) Oakland (7-6) – The Raiders who have lost back to back games by 20 or more points are watching their playoff hopes sink into a black hole. Carson Palmer has thrown 13 int. in 7 games this year, and has Raider Nation wondering when he may go back into retirement.
18.) San Diego (6-7) – The Chargers offense seems to have finally gotten on track, but too little too late. They have scored 35+ in 2 straight games and play teams in playoff races the rest of the way.
19.) Seattle (6-7) – The Seahaks with a win Monday night over the Rams, although very slim, kept there playoff hopes alive.Seattle has now won 4 of 5 after starting 2-6. Marshawn Lynch has been on fire as of late, rushing for 115 yds and a score. He has now scored in 9 straight games and eclipsed 100 yards in 5 of 6.
20.) Philadelphia (5-8) – In what has been a disappointing season in Philly, the Eagles seem to be getting healthy just in time to be a thorn in the side of a couple playoff contenders down the stretch. The Eagles host the Jets, then travel to Jerry’s world in a divisional rivalry that could be a must win forDallas.
21.) Chicago (7-6) – 3 Weeks ago, the Bears were 7-3 and looking like maybe the most dangerous teams in the NFL. A broken thumb and busted Knee later, the monsters of the midway look like just another middle of the pack team.
22.) Miami (4-9) – The Dolphins, who had won 4 of 5 before losing to Philadelphia Sunday, were playing really good football the second half of the season. The Dolphins never quit on their coach Tony Sparano, unfortunately the owners quit on him both in the off season as they courted Jim Harbaugh and on Monday when they fired the 4th year coach. Sparano went 29-32 as the head man inMiami. Todd Bowles will take over as head coach on an interim basis.
23.) Buffalo (5-8) – After starting the season 5-2, the Bills have now lost 6 straight games. Buffalo’s season seems to really turn south when they lost their best player Fred Jackson to a season-ending leg injury. With one more loss the Bills will secure their 7th straight losing season.
24.) Carolina (4-9) – A season of ups and downs for the Panthers, has gotCarolina fans excited for the future. They won back to back games for the first time this year before losing a big first halftime lead at home toAtlanta on Sunday.
25.) Kansas City (5-8) – A season plagued by injuries has not only killed the Chiefs chance for another AFC West title, on Monday it also killed head coach Todd Haley’s job. The chiefs fired the 3rd year coach who went 19-27. Defense coordinator Romeo Crennel takes over as head coach.
26.) Jacksonville (4-9) – The Jags plays without a doubt their best game of the year on Sunday, in a lopsided 41-14 beating ofTampaBay. The Jags scored in all 3 phases and were led by MJD’s 136 total years and 4 TD’s. The win snapped a 3 game losing streak.
27.) Washington (4-9) – After the Redskins good start to the season, they find themselves at 3-1 a quarter of the way through. Sunday’s loss to New England was the 8th in their last 9 games.
28.) Tampa Bay (4-9) – Tampa Bay came into 2011 with high expectations, but key injuries have found the Bucs in last place in the NFC South and in a current 7 game skid. TampaBay has been outscored in their last 2 by a combined 79-33.
29.) Minnesota (2-11) – It’s been a year to forget for the Vikes. Minnesota lost another close game Sunday, one they had a chance to win on the final drive in Detroit. Sunday’s 6 pt. loss was the 7th game this year they have lost by 6 or less.
30.) Cleveland (4-9) –Cleveland was a hot pick before the season to make a playoff run, but things quickly cooled down. Inept offense in large part due to a contract dispute/hamstring injury to madden cover boy Peyton Hillis. The Browns will end 2011 with more questions than answers about the direction of the team.
31.) St Louis (2-11) – The dreadful season continued Monday night for the Rams, with the loss they have now dropped 4 straight. 2011 will mark the 8th straight season the rams will fail to have a winning record.
32.) Indy (0-13) – Peyton Manning MVP? Without ever stepping on the field, Peyton may have never proved more valuable than this year. That being said, the Colts have a big decision in the off season. Welcome back maybe the best QB in league history or trade him to make room for can’t miss prospect Andrew Luck.