LBS NFL Power Rankings Week 15
The Patriots dominated the Bears in a snowstorm, but that’s understandable because they’re a cold weather team. Oh wait, so is Chicago. Tom Brady is playing the best football of his career and the Patriots are looking unstoppable. Anything less than a trip to Dallas would now be a disappointment.
The Falcons haven’t had the toughest schedule, but they’ve completely dominated it. Since a week one loss to the Steelers, Atlanta has won 11 out of 12 including its last seven in a row. There’s a long way to go, but a Matt Ryan-Tom Brady Super Bowl would certainly be fun to watch.
Fortunately for Pittsburgh, their defense is phenomenal. Otherwise, their struggles on offense would come back to haunt them more frequently. Carson Palmer threw two pick-sixes and the Steelers cruised to a win. Without the play of their defense, they could have lost to a terrible team.
There’s a good chance the Saints’ week 16 game against the Falcons will determine home-field advantage throughout the NFC playoffs. New Orleans stayed red hot with a win over the Seahawks and has now scored 30+ points in its last five games. It’s safe to say their offense is locked in.
Michael Vick has been so impressive that his opponents ask for his autograph when he beats them. Teams are starting to figure out how to make Vick throw more, which makes him slightly less dangerous. While his legs are a valuable weapon, Vick will have to keep making throws to win.
You can say the Giants caught a break when Brett Favre was ruled inactive for Sunday’s game, but Tavaris Jackson probably gave the Vikings a better chance to beat New York. The Giants’ pass rush kept Jackson from taking off and the result was an impressive road (sort of) victory.
The offense was back, but the Ravens have to be concerned about letting the Texans force overtime in a game where they were in control. A pick-six in OT saved the day, but there’s no excuse for letting up 15 unanswered points in the fourth quarter. They need to put together more 60-minute games.
The Jets needed a win badly after being embarrassed by the Patriots last weekend. Instead, they let the Dolphins come into their house and beat them. Mark Sanchez and the offense are not playoff quality and Rex Ryan is in danger of losing his locker room if they don’t turn it around quickly.
The Packers offense went completely stale after Aaron Rodgers suffered his second concussion of the season. No surprise there. His status remains unclear for Sunday night’s game against the Patriots, but there’s no question the Packers will need him back a.s.a.p. to continue their playoff quest.
It’s one thing to lose to the best team in the NFL. It’s another to lose 36-7 at home. The Patriots shouldn’t be that much better than the Bears in the snow, but they were. If it’s the weather that bothered Chicago and not the opponent, they’ll be in for a long December and January if they get there.
The Bucs may have gotten lucky that Washington botched an extra point that would have sent the game to overtime, but they remain very much in the wild card hunt. With games remaining against Detroit and Seattle, Tampa Bay could be looking at 10-6 and a well-deserved playoff spot.
The Texans and Titans lost, so they’re out of it. The Colts squeaked by Tennessee while Jacksonville hung on to beat the Raiders. Having already beaten the Colts earlier this year, a win at Indy this weekend would all but lock up the AFC South for the Jags. Wow.
The Chargers are getting healthier by the week and have a great chance to win out with games against San Francisco, Cincinnati, and Denver remaining. That would likely be enough to win the AFC West crown, and San Diego would be a tough out in the playoffs.
When the Colts jumped out to a 21-0 lead against the Titans, we thought to ourselves, “there they are.” When they allowed the Titans to crawl back into the game and barely hung on for the win, we were reminded that this is a team with a lot of problems that is no lock to make the postseason.
The Chiefs are 8-5, but Sunday’s game against the Chargers showed who the team to beat in the AFC West is. Matt Cassel is readying himself to play this weekend which should prevent any more 31-0 blowouts, but it may not be enough to hold off the Chargers.
The Dolphins could be the most inconsistent team in the NFL. They’ve alternated between wins and losses every week since week six, mostly because they can’t seem to score enough points. Luckily, the Jets offense looked worse than Chad Henne and company on Sunday.
Darren McFadden went off in an epic battle against the Jaguars, but the Raiders came up short. They aren’t going to make the playoffs, but they’ve certainly won enough games to piss Patriots fans off, who were hoping they traded Richard Seymour for a top-5 pick in the Draft.
The 49ers win over the Seahwaks made the NFC West more of a mess than it already was. However, I think the Rams still have the edge. They won the first head-to-head match-up with Seattle and should win two out of their remaining three, which sadly enough would win the division.
The Texans showed a lot of resiliency when they forced overtime against Baltimore. Andre Johnson’s play this season despite a bad ankle sprain is one of the more impressive story lines of the year. Matt Schaub’s mistake in OT cost them the game and likely the season.
At 6-7, the Seahwaks are tied for first place in the NFC West. As unbelievable as it may be, a team with a 7-9 record could make the playoffs this season. That team could be Seattle. With games against Atlanta and Tampa Bay upcoming, that seems unlikely.
Since Jason Garrett took over as head coach, the Cowboys have gone 3-2 through an extremely tough stretch. The two losses were by a combined six points to the Eagles and Saints — two teams in the top 5 of our rankings. I wouldn’t be surprised if Garrett sticks around for another season.
Brett Favre’s consecutive games played streak is over and the only person that seems to care is Chris Berman. It’s too bad Tavaris Jackson had to wait this long to start for the Vikings, because he probably would have given them a better shot at making the playoffs.
A botched extra point in overtime? Really? The Redskins have become tougher to watch as the season has progressed. They’ve lost three straight games and have scored less than 17 points in their last four. Obviously Donovan McNabb isn’t getting it done. Maybe they’ll use that opt out after all.
The 49ers successfully shook up the most pathetic division in football with a win over Seattle on Sunday. They’re still alive like every other team in the NFC West not named the Cardinals. A game against the Chargers on Sunday will likely put an end to their playoff hopes, however.
You know you’re heading in the wrong direction when you lose to Buffalo. The Colt McCoy injury has really hurt the Browns’ development. They’ve gone from grinding out wins to Jake Delhomme. Yes, the two of those things are opposites.
The Bills have won three out of five and are turning their season into something they can build on for next year. Ryan Fitzpatrick’s play has been a huge surprise, even if it hasn’t translated into a lot of wins. When Buffalo has lost, it generally hasn’t been by much.
Make that six straight losses for the team that must have no idea why it traded for Randy Moss. The Titans are the coldest team in the NFL and Moss could be the coldest player. He can probably kiss his hope of a multi-year deal goodbye when the season ends.
The Cardinals proved that the Broncos have become the doormat of the NFL when they slaughtered them on Sunday. John Skelton managed to not turn the ball over, which is more than any other Cardinals starter could have done. Tim Hightower even showed a pulse. Those Broncos must really stink.
Aaron Rodgers or no Aaron Rodgers, the Lions fought hard to pull out a win against the Packers. Brace yourselves, Lions fans, you may not have the first or second pick in the 2011 NFL Draft.
Knowshon Moreno anyone? He’s certainly helping my fantasy team, so that’s all I care about. Other than that, this is a terrible team that’s future hinges on Tim Tebow, and who knows if he can cut it at the NFL level.
Did I say the Titans are the coldest team in the NFL? I guess it slipped my mind that the Bengals have lost 10 straight games. Carson Palmer is suddenly one of the worst quarterbacks in the NFL. Cincinnati needs to go in a different direction next season, even if it means eating salary.
Steve Smith finally called out Jimmy Clausen. Took him long enough. You can’t blame Clausen considering he’s only a rookie, but he certainly isn’t the answer at quarterback. Carolina will likely draft Andrew Luck with the first overall pick next season.