Another week in the books in the National Football League, and while it appears that most of the divisions are wrapped up, there is still plenty of battles left for the wild card spots. With that, here is our week 14 power rankings.
NFC Top 5
1. Dallas (1) – The Cowboys took care of their biggest challenge on Thursday night in the Packers, and now should be able to cruise into the playoffs as the number one seed. They have played well all the way around, and will be favored to be the NFC rep in Super Bowl 42.
2. Green Bay (2) – We all knew the game in Dallas would be a tough one, and it was as Brett Favre was knocked out, as were the Packers. Now the team has to refocus, and hope that the Cowboys have a letdown so they can sneak back into the #1 spot in the NFC. This team still has a great shot to be in Glendale in February.
3. Seattle (3) – At 8-4 the Hawks are the team that no one is talking about in the NFC. Sunday they won an impressive road game at Philly in tough conditions against a team that they have had issues with in the past. Maurice Morris has to get the ball more, as he looks better than Shaun Alexander at this point in the season.
4. Tampa Bay (4) – The Bucs seem headed towards the NFC South crown, as they pulled off a huge win in New Orleans Sunday without Jeff Garcia. A loss and the South could have been a dogfight down the stretch. Is there another wide out that is having a huge yet almost forgotten season as Joey Galloway?
5. New York Giants (5) – Two late TD’s helped the Giants overcome the Bears on the road, and keep what appears to be a stranglehold on the 5th spot in the NFC. They seem certain to be headed to either Tampa Bay or Seattle in the opening weekend of the playoffs, and if they play as well as they have for most of the season, they have a shot.
NFC Bottom 3
1. Atlanta (1) – The Falcons have cemented the top spot with their loss to the Rams Sunday. Joey Harrington was lifted as the team was getting beat bad, and seldom used backup Chris Redman did a nice job in making a game of it. I can’t believe we have to watch the Falcons on Monday night this week vs Saints. Ugh.
2. San Francisco (3) – In Carolina the 9’ers were beaten up by a Panthers team that had yet to win a home game in 2007. Trent Dilfer was not very good, despite getting the team close to back in it in the third quarter. The Niners will have to answer a lot of questions this offseason about the direction of the team.
3. St.Louis (2) – Give the Rams some credit for overcoming a ton of injuries, and with Marc Bulger not playing Gus Ferrotte actually played well against a bad Falcons team in a home win. The Rams will use the offseason to re-tool and get healthy to try and get back to form in 2008.
AFC Top 5
1. New England (1) – The last two weeks the Pats have looked beatable to two teams that are not going to the playoffs. A letdown? Or are they just human? We’ll find out Sunday when they have to raise their level of play against a Steelers team that has the number one ranked defense in the league. I have a feeling at home they will be up for the task to keep the perfect season going.
2. Indianapolis (2) – Talk about everyone else in the AFC all you want, the Colts are more than happy to go 14-2, slide into the playoffs as the #2 seed, and then hopefully set up for an AFC title game rematch with the Pats. The makeup of this team is clear they will not go down without a fight.
3. Pittsburgh (3) – The Steelers looked back to form Sunday night after they allowed an early TD to the Bengals they basically controlled the game from that point in a 24-10 win. Of course Willie Parker has to work on holding onto the ball (4 fumbles) and this team needs WR Santonio Holmes and safety Troy Polamalu back if they are going to challenge the Colts and Pats in the conference.
4. San Diego (-) – Time to start thinking about the Chargers and what they will bring to the table in the 2007 playoffs. They will have to play a home game (likely vs the Jags) then win two on the road to make it to the big game. Can they do it? Probably not. But if they do get hot, they can give teams some problems like the Pats and Colts.
5. Jacksonville (4) – The Jags have had two shots to make life tough on the Colts this season, and both times they didn’t play all that well and lost. Sunday at the RCA Dome, the Jags were in a dogfight, and almost made it all the way back, but again just didn’t have enough. Bottom line if this team wants to win this division someday, they have to start beating the Colts on a yearly basis.
AFC Bottom 3
1. Miami (1) – Looks like we are going to go down to the wire with the Fins and their season of perfection. Last week at home they hit another low – not scoring an offensive TD for the third straight game, and allowing 40 points on defense to a Jets team that is not all that good. John Beck simply looks lost as a rookie QB, and right now 0-16 looks very possible.
2. Baltimore (3) – The Ravens seemed to be on the verge of pulling off the huge upset against the Ravens Monday night, but then their lack of control got in the way and penalties killed them as they lost 27-24. Steve McNair is on the IR, putting his career in question, and the defense is getting older. A complete rebuild may be in the works for 2008.
3. New York Jets (2) – The Jets have won two of three, and vs the Dolphins they had their way with them on the road for their first win away from home in 2007. This week they play the high powered Browns at home, and if they run the ball well and keep away from turnovers, they have a shot in this matchup.