LBS NFL Power Rankings Week 17
Securing home-field advantage was obviously very important to the Patriots, as they looked as good as they have all year against the Bills. They forced seven turnovers and committed none and have become historically efficient at protecting the football.
The Falcons stumbled against the Saints, but New Orleans is one of the best teams in the NFC and Atlanta can still secure a No. 1 seed with a win over the lowly Panthers. Matty Ice finally showed he’s human — especially in the Georgia Dome — when he couldn’t bring the troops back with about 4:00 remaining.
If the Saints’ defense can play like they did against the Falcons on the road, the defending champs could be headed back to the championship. Drew Brees overcame two interceptions to lead his team to a comeback win. No one should be itching to play New Orleans in the playoffs.
Joe Flacco is going to have to play better in the postseason, but Baltimore’s defense got it done on the road against a tough Browns team. Ed Reed’s two interceptions were the difference in the game, and having him back and healthy is huge for the team heading forward.
Spanking the Panthers is no real achievement, but the Steelers offense should build off of a very efficient game where Ben Roethlisberger threw for over 300 yards. We know the defense will be there, but the offense will be put to the test in the playoffs at some point in cold weather.
Nobody expected a shootout between the Bears and Jets in Chicago, but that’s exactly what we got. Weren’t these defenses supposed to be good? Matt Forte ran for over 100 yards, and the Bears will need those types of performances from him in the playoffs to be successful.
Talk about taking a night off. The Eagles let Joe Webb and the Vikings manhandle them on Sunday/Tuesday Night Football. Michael Vick was sacked six times, and I didn’t think that was possible. Andy Reid is hoping his squad got their stinker out of the way before the playoffs.
For once, it was the Jets defense that couldn’t get it done in a loss. You can’t ask for more than 34 points, so Rex Ryan would be right to criticize the defense after Sunday’s loss. Mark Sanchez threw a pick to end the game and his shoulder is a concern heading into the playoffs.
The Packers are much better than their 9-6 record indicates, and a shellacking of the Giants should be enough to prove that. They now control their own destiny and are one of the most dangerous teams in the NFC with Aaron Rodgers under center. Definite sleeper in the NFC playoffs.
Defeating the Raiders on the road is not an easy task — surprisingly — but the Colts got it done to remain in control in the AFC South. Their defense is still in need of some work, but this is a team that a lot of people have written off because of injuries. Never doubt Peyton Manning.
I think everyone has been waiting for the Chargers to overtake the Chiefs in the AFC West, but it didn’t happen. The Kansas City Chiefs have clinched the AFC West. Matt Cassel will need to remain efficient in the playoffs. Kansas City’s running back tandem can take them places if they don’t turn it over.
The Giants went into Lambeau Field and completely embarrassed themselves with a lot on the line. They now have to win and hope for a Packers loss to get into the postseason. Between the meltdown against the Eagles and this blowout loss, they don’t deserve a playoff spot.
The Bucs needed a win over the Seahawks to remain in the playoff hunt and Josh Freeman threw five touchdown passes to make sure they got it. They need to win in New Orleans this weekend and have the Packers and Giants lose, but give Tampa Bay credit for even staying in the race.
The Jags shot themselves in the foot with a tough overtime loss to the Redskins, especially with the Colts getting a win. They could still get in with a win over the Texans and a Colts loss to the Titans, but they’ve made it very tough on themselves by losing to a bad team.
The Chargers needed to win out to get into the playoffs and they had an easy schedule to do it with. Too bad they allowed the 4-11 Bengals to stomp them and Carson Palmer to have his best game in two years. Blame injuries all you want, but San Diego had plenty of chances to make the playoffs.
This Sunday’s game between the Rams and Seahawks is an early playoff game, with the winner clinching the NFC West. The Rams owe it to football fans across the world to make sure a 7-9 team doesn’t win a division. 8-8 is embarrassing enough as is.
The Raiders had a chance to play spoiler and knock the perennial powerhouse Colts out of the playoff race. They couldn’t establish anything on the ground against one of the league’s worst rush defenses. Still, I’m sure Raiders fans are surprised to have a team that could finish with a .500 record.
Once again, we’ll throw the Seahawks a little higher than they should be because they’re one win away from winning the NFC West. Regardless of the game being in Seattle, I’ll take Sam Bradford over Charlie Whitehurst. The Qwest Field crowd will be a huge boost with the division on the line.
I don’t even think the Dolphins know who the Dolphins are at this point. If they’re known for anything it’s having a fairly tough defense, yet Miami will finish the season a measly 1-7 at home. It will be interesting to see who the quarterback of this team is next season.
Joe Webb — really? The Eagles completely underestimated the Vikings and Joe Webb played like a seasoned veteran. I’m not ready to call him an NFL starter, but not turning the ball over and leading your team to a win over one of the NFC’s best is nothing to turn your nose up at.
Rex Grossman led the Redskins to a hard-fought, overtime victory against the Jaguars and played spoiler. I’m surprised to see the Skins doing anything hard-fought at this point in the season, so I’ll give them credit for that. I wonder if Donovan McNabb will be the backup next season?
The Lions may only be 5-10, but they’ve now won three straight. Those games have been against some pretty tough teams, and this is a team that won two games over the previous two seasons. A 5-11 or 6-10 season would be a huge step in the right direction for Detroit.
I don’t know if we can call it a slip up with a 5-10 team, but the Cardinals are a team the Cowboys should have destroyed. It didn’t help that Jon Kitna left with an injury, but then again it didn’t help that Kitna threw two pick-sizes to put his team in a hole at the beginning of the game.
The Titans picked up a win last week against the Texans but were back to their pathetic ways in getting torched by the Chiefs. They have a chance to play super spoiler against the Colts this weekend, who they nearly came from behind to beat a few weeks ago.
The Texans jumped out to an early lead against Denver and should have come away with the win, but Tim Tebow channeled his inner Florida Gator and led the Broncos to a comeback win. Gary Kubiak has most definitely coached his way onto the hot seat, and I doubt he’ll be in Houston next season.
The Bengals have come on way too late, but they actually don’t look bad without Terrell Owens. Even after back-to-back wins, this is a 4-11 team that is likely going to have a much different look next season. If Marvin Lewis’ contract is extended, I’ll be speechless. Ha, who am I kidding?
Could Tim Tebow actually be an NFL starter? No way, right? It’s tough to tell against Houston, but Tebow and the bible verse on his wristband had a stellar day and showed a lot of guts. It’s one thing to win as a rookie. It’s another to lead your team from down 17 points.
If not for two pick-sixes thrown by Jon Kitna early in the game, the Cardinals probably wouldn’t have been in this one. They took an early lead and then allowed Stephen McGee and the Cowboys to crawl back into the game and nearly win. More of the same. Yawn.
The Browns really didn’t have much of a chance against a Ravens team fighting to clinch a playoff spot, but they didn’t look horrible. Colt McCoy’s injury seemed to throw him and the team out of rhythm a little. Still, things could look worse heading into 2011.
Mike Singletary and Troy Smith’s argument was one of the most entertaining moments of the weekend. It probably wasn’t all that funny to Singletary, who was finally canned shortly thereafter. He talked a lot of game coming in, but Singletary has proven he’s not head coach material.
I hate to drop the Bills this far after the way they’ve played lately, but a -7 turnover margin is absolutely hideous. They may have been playing the best team in the NFL, but Buffalo looked like a Pop Warner squad. It would have been nice to see them put up a fight against New England.
Now that’s more like it. The Panthers shouldn’t be winning games, they should be allowing opponents to smoke them and assure that they end up with Andrew Luck in April. They’ve secured the No. 1 pick in the draft, and that’s as important as a playoff spot at this point.