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Friday, April 20, 2018

LBS NFL Power Rankings Week 16

1. New England Patriots (12-2, –)

New England has a tendency to make young quarterbacks look like Joe Montana, and that’s what they did with Matt Flynn on Sunday. It’s possible the Packers would have won if Rodgers played, but it’s also possible the Patriots underestimated Flynn. We’re going with the latter.

2. Atlanta Falcons (12-2, –)

Winning in Seattle is no easy task, but the Falcons made it look like one. Atlanta hasn’t really stumbled since week six, and if you believe in teams wearing themselves out that should be your only concern with this team as we head into the postseason.

3. Philadelphia Eagles (10-4, +2)

A mistake from Matt Dodge helped, but the Eagles completed the greatest comeback of the season against the Giants.  We knew Philadelphia had the talent, but now we know they have the fight needed to win a championship.  Michael Vick is a legitimate leader for the first time in his career.

4. Baltimore Ravens (10-4, +3)

After their defense looked pretty soft against the Texans last week, the Ravens were able to hold off arguably the best offense in the NFC with a potent rushing attack. Ray Rice’s return to form will be crucial in determining how far they go in the postseason.

5. New Orleans Saints (10-4, -1)

New Orleans’ rushing defense is a bit of a concern. They have no questions on offense, but if their defense is unable to stop the run Drew Brees will be forced to stand on the sidelines. They may have a tough time against great offenses like the Eagles and Falcons in the playoffs.

6. New York Jets (10-4, +2)

The Jets win over the Steelers was enormous. Their offense was still unimpressive, but New York couldn’t afford to lose three straight games at this point in the season. A win over one of the AFC’s best should help get them back on track, but Sanchez is still going to have to make some plays down the road.

7. Pittsburgh Steelers (10-4, -4)

It’s no secret that the Steelers need their defense to play great in order to win. It’s also no secret their defense needs Troy Polamalu in order to be great. If their defense can stay healthy, they’ll be as good as anyone. If not, they will become very vulnerable in the postseason.

8. Chicago Bears (10-4, +2)

They are who we thought they were! Actually, that’s not the case at all. Chicago clinched the NFC North by dismantling the Vikings. This team would have surprised me if they earned a wild card spot, let alone beating out Green Bay and Minnesota for the division crown.

9. Green Bay Packers (8-6, –)

The Patriots haven’t lost at home in over two years, and the Packers nearly ended their streak with Matt Flynn at the helm. if not for Flynn’s mismanaging the clock at the end of the game, they may have done it. Rodgers has been cleared to play this weekend and I can’t see him missing the playoffs.

10. New York Giants (9-5, -4)

Tom Coughlin can blame his punter for the Giants’ meltdown if it helps him sleep at night, but the loss showed a complete lack of discipline. New York thought they had the game in the bag. Clearly they forgot the most explosive player in the NFL was taking the snaps for the team they were beating by 21.

11. San Diego Chargers (8-6, +2)

Step 1 of Operation Win Out is complete for the Chargers. The next two opponents: Cincinnati and Denver. Anything less than 10-6 would be a surprise, and that record should be enough to win the AFC West. They’ll need to get Antonio Gates back for the playoffs.

12. Indianapolis Colts (8-6, +2)

The Colts may not make the playoffs, but if they do I wouldn’t want to face them. Indy could turn into one of those teams that starts playing its best football at a perfect time. Austin Collie’s third concussion is a huge blow, but the Colts are still alive after coming out on top in a must-win.

13. Kansas City Chiefs (9-5, +2)

The Chiefs control their own destiny after beating the Rams, but they can’t afford to slip against Tennessee or Oakland with the Chargers breathing down their necks. Still, no one would have believed Kansas City would be in the best position to win the AFC West after 14 games.

14. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (8-6, +1)

Tampa Bay kept itself in the postseason hunt last weekend with a win over Washington, but they likely blew it with a home loss to the Lions. They couldn’t have picked a worse time to underachieve. They’ll need to win out and get a lot of help in order to make the playoffs.

15. Jacksonville Jaguars (8-6, -3)

The Jags had a very simple formula to clinch the AFC South: beat the Colts. They couldn’t get it done. With the Colts facing Oakland and Tennessee for their final two games, you can’t help but get the feeling Jacksonville let a huge opportunity slip away.

16. Oakland Raiders (7-7, +1)

The Raiders spoiled the party for Tim Tebow and they’ll have a chance to spoil it for the Colts this weekend. Indy can’t stop the run, and Oakland has Darren McFadden. It’s very fitting that the Colts playoff hopes now hinge on their ability to stop an opponent’s rushing attack.

17. Miami Dolphins (7-7, -1)

The up-and-down ride continues for the Dolphins. Beat one of the AFC’s top teams one week and lose to one of the AFC’s worst the following. Ryan Fitzpatrick outplayed Chad Henne to spoil any hope Miami still had of making the playoffs.

18. St.Louis Rams (6-8, –)

The Rams really could have used a win at home over the Chiefs, but they knew the Seahawks would lose and wanted to make sure a team wins the NFC West with the worst record possible. Losses by Seattle and St. Louis clinched a division title for a .500 or below team.

19. Dallas Cowboys (5-9, +2)

Make that 4-2 for the Cowboys since Jason Garrett took over. Dallas almost let the Redskins come back to beat them, but they hung on for the win. Jerry Jones would be silly to bring in another head coach next season. Garrett has earned at least a full one-year tryout.

20. Seattle Seahawks (6-8, –)

Are the Seahawks the 20th best team in the NFL? Probably not, but they could very well make the playoffs. With the way the NFC West teams are playing, winning one out of the last two will probably lock up the division since St. Louis and Seattle are facing off week 17.

21. Tennessee Titans (6-8, +6)

The Titans finally won a game after losing six straight. Guess who still didn’t catch a pass? Kenny Britt? Na, he hauled in six. Nate Washington? Na, he grabbed a couple. You guessed it — Woody! R.I.P. Randy Moss.

22. Houston Texans (5-9, -3)

After putting up a great fight to force overtime against the Ravens last week, the Texans came out with a stinker against Tennessee.  Their offense has the tools needed to be successful, but their defense is in need of a complete overhaul this offseason.

23. Washington Redskins (5-9, –)

Rex Grossman actually gave the Redskins a chance to win in place of the benched Donovan McNabb.  McNabb’s days are obviously numbered in Washington, but Mike Shanahan shouldn’t be off the hook, either. His ego may not be the right fit for the Redskins.

24. Minnesota Vikings (5-9, -2)

Unfortunately for the Vikings, Brett Favre’s season-long Broadway production has cost them a chance at success. Favre has become a constant sideshow and his teammates have to be fed up with it. Good thing they won’t have to deal with it next year — we think.

25. San Francisco 49ers (5-9, -1)

The 49ers were romped by the Chargers, but that came as no surprise. What has come as a surprise is that the Niners have five wins after starting out 0-5. Unfortunately, the slow start resulted in a huge missed opportunity. You have to suck really badly to not win the NFC West this season.

26. Buffalo Bills (4-10, –)

You could make an argument that the Bills have shown more resiliency than any team in the NFL. Most teams would have cashed it in after an 0-8 start, but Buffalo has continued to chip away and won four out of it’s last six. Ryan Fitzpatrick has locked down the quarterback spot.

27. Cleveland Browns (5-9, -2)

Cleveland finally got Colt McCoy back and he played very well. However, the Browns could not stop Cedric Benson and ended up losing to the lowly Bengals. Hey, it’s not their fault Benson finally decided to try. It would have taken me off-guard, too.

28. Detroit Lions (4-10, +1)

Like the Bills, the Lions haven’t quit on 2010. They somehow mustered up an overtime win on the road against Tampa Bay. Winning four games is already a step in the right direction for Detroit. At least they have their quarterback situation sorted out and can focus on other needs in the draft.

29. Cincinnati Bengals (3-11, +2)

Terrell Owens misses a game and the Bengals finally come up with a win. Go figure. If Marvin Lewis is still the coach of this team in 2011, we’ll be left to assume some sort of side deal is being worked out. Maybe he’s working for free? Who knows.

30. Arizona Cardinals (4-10, -2)

You know things have gone wrong when you lose a game to the Carolina Panthers. Come to think of it, I’m surprised there was a single fan in the stands for a Panthers-Cardinals game. Can it get any worse than that? I sure hope not.

31. Denver Broncos (3-11, -1)

The Broncos decided to look toward the future by giving Tim Tebow the start. They were trounced by the Raiders, but defense was the issue. Tebow didn’t actually look that bad and even had success running the ball, which most believe he won’t be able to do in the NFL.

32. Carolina Panthers (2-12, –)

What are the Panthers thinking? They shouldn’t be winning games at this point. Don’t they realize the Broncos only have three wins? Carolina has yet to lock down the No. 1 pick in next year’s draft. They better get their heads on straight and throw the next two games.

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