Two weeks left in the regular season and still lots up for grabs with plenty of playoff spots still open. With that, here are the power rankings for week 15 of the NFL.
NFC Top 5
1. Chicago (1) – Nothing more to play for as they have the division and home field wrapped up for the playoffs. Sunday they nearly had a disaster on their hands as they needed OT to overcome a scrappy Tampa Bay crew. Concern has to be the defense, which has somewhat struggled the last two weeks. Nice thing is that it looks as if Rex Grossman is back to early season form. Look for a lot of tweaking, but not many starters to get a lot of playing time the next two weeks.
2. Dallas (3) – Despite a spitting incident with superidiot Terrell Owens, the Boys are back at #2 after Saturday night’s win at Atlanta. I think the loss to the Saints two weeks ago has given this team the motivation to say that they still have a ways to go, and in the end, the loss may be a good thing. They really would benefit from moving up to the two spot in the NFC. If not, they have a first-round showdown looming with either the Giants or Eagles at home.
3. New Orleans (2) – A young team will have lapses, and Sunday at home vs the Redskins, that is exactly what happened in a 16-10 loss. The offense was sleep walking most of the afternoon, and the defense gave up way too many yards on the ground. They have to refocus and maintain that #2 spot in the conference, and get the offense going again as they set up for the playoffs.
4. Philadelphia (5) – Jeff Garcia is playing as well as ever right now, and with Brian Westbrook finally looking like he is 100 percent, the Eagles look as if they can make some noise in the second season. A huge road win Sunday vs the Giants is followed by another huge road test – Christmas Day at Dallas. Their confidence in Garica and overall is growing, and they will be dangerous in that first round.
5. Seattle (4) – After blowing a lead Thursday night vs the 49’ers I think it is safe to say that they are a far cry of the team that steam rolled to the Super Bowl a season ago. This looks like a team that is going to struggle just to get to the second round, and even with a home game a win in the wild card game in no lock. Two straight losses to the Cardinals and 49’ers have many inside the team shaking their head s.
NFC Bottom 3
1. Detroit (1) – Another tough game this past Sunday in losing 17-9 to the Packers on the road. This week they play their “Super Bowl” as they host the Bears. They actually have a shot since Chicago will sit just about everyone. While they will not fire Rod Marinelli, look for some major shakeups this offseason, and with a 2-14 record to end the year they will be able to rebuild with the 1 or 2 pick come April.
2. Tampa Bay (2) – A gutsy outing Sunday in Chicago, and a QB change to Tim Rattay this week may pay off as they head to Cleveland for a Christmas Eve showdown. 21 points in the 4th quarter against the best team in the conference shows this team has the ability, but the problem is at 3-11 they have not shown that ability much this season.
3. Arizona (-) – A two-game winning streak was snapped with a home loss to the Broncos on Sunday. There are still plenty of whispers about what is going to happen with this team this offseason, and most of it revolves around what do you do with Denny Green? My gut says that he is sent packing, and with a new voice the Cards are a team that finally shows their ability in the 2007 season.
AFC Top 5
1. San Diego (1) – Another ho-hum week for Phillip Rivers, but again, the defense was good and L.T. was great, which is why the Chargers are 12-2. Closing in on home field for the playoffs, Rivers’ play has been a concern the last few weeks with two games of QB ratings of 44.2 and this past week of 12.4. The defense did a nice job vs the Chiefs, and this week will be an interesting test against the Seahawks on the road. A dangerous team to say the least in the playoffs.
2. Indianapolis (3) – The Colts move back up to two, as Monday night vs the Bengals they showed that despite what everyone is saying, this team will have to be dealt with come January. As long as Peyton Manning gets time, they can score points, and with a running game that produced 112 yards they look like a team that is going to need to get between 20-30 in the playoffs to win. Getting that #2 seed would be ultra-important for the Colts, as they need a week off and a home game to have a chance to make it to Miami in February.
3. Baltimore (2) – The Ravens won Sunday 27-17, but ugh, they had better do whatever it takes to make sure Steve McNair is ready to go come playoff time. This team is not going to beat anyone with the type of effort that Kyle Boller showed Sunday in relief of McNair. He was 13-21 for 238 yards and two TD’s with a pick. The numbers don’t tell the story though, as against a good defense he would have been eaten up. One positive is that Jamal Lewis has another good game Sunday, rushing for 5 yards per carry. The defense may have to carry them in the postseason.
4. New England (-) – A big home win against the Texans puts the Pats back in the rankings, and who are we all kidding, we know this team is going to be tough to beat in January. Yes, they will have to play a first round game, and yes, they are not the Pats of old, but let’s be real, this team is going to not just roll over and play dead in Indy, Baltimore or San Diego in the second round. With Tom Brady getting time to throw, I think the Pats can still hang with anyone in the conference.
5. Cincinnati (4) – A setback Monday night in Indy, and two tough games to end the season have put the Bengals playoff hopes in doubt. At 8-6, they still own the #6 spot, but have a game at Denver vs the #5 seeded Broncos, then a home game on New Year’s Eve night (that’s the rumor, that the game will be the Sunday night game) against the rival Steelers. If they lose even one of the two, they may need some help to make it in the playoffs. This team has way more talent to score more than 16 points on turf against a suspect defense like the Colts.
AFC Bottom 3
1. Oakland (1) – The Raiders actually outgained the Rams 260-251 on Sunday, but forgot to score and lost 20-0 at home. They are scoring just 11 points per game, and QB Aaron Brooks stated Monday that he is thinking “what have I got into?” Well, Aaron, let me break it down for you – you got into the worst team in the league that commits too many penalties, has little offense, an old defense, an overmatched coach, and a crazy owner who won’t stop getting involved. Other than that you and the Raiders are fine.
2. Cleveland (2) – Well, at least they didn’t allow 300 + yards rushing this week. The Browns did however, lose to Kyle Boller, which is pretty bad, and now at 4-10 just look like a team playing out the stretch. They went 0-6 in the AFC North, the first time in franchise history they did not win a division game. They will have plenty of turnover again this offseason, and its time to see once and for all if GM Phil Savage knows what he is doing. So far, the verdict is still out on him.
3. Houston (3) – Sunday the Texans were blown out in New England, allowing a kickoff return for a score, and quarterback David Carr threw four interceptions. Carr may be on his last legs as a starter for this team, as early in the year it seemed he was turning it around, but now he looks like the Carr of old. They have the Colts and Browns at home to finish up the season, and are another team with big changes ahead in the offseason.