We’re down to just two weeks left in the NFL regular season, and this week we have two monster games on tap that will likely decide home field in both the AFC and NFC. With that, here are our power rankings for week 15 around the league.
NFC Top 5
1. NY Giants (1) – Now more than ever the Giants are going to have to reach down and come up with something to find their way out of their recent funk. They have lost two in a row, have faltered on defense stopping the run, and can’t see to get it going themselves on offense. The Panthers are coming to town, and this team has to find a way to keep that home field in the NFC.
2. Carolina (3) – Home field in the NFC is theirs for the taking with a road win in the Meadowlands on Sunday night, and there is no reason to believe they can’t get it. Steve Smith is a play-maker on offense, and the run game is doing the job. Plus the defense is playing well, and in the end, it could add up to a trip to Tampa Bay in February.
3. Minnesota (-) – The team we’ve forgotten about all season is suddenly really in the mix with the playoffs right around the corner. They have found a reborn QB in Tarvaris Jackson, and the defense did a great job vs a flat team in the desert on Sunday. The question now is do they have the depth on defense to not falter with Pat Williams out of the lineup for a few weeks.
4. Dallas (5) -All that drama between the club that was started by ESPN reporter Ed Werder at the end of the day only made this team better. They played maybe their best game of the year on Sunday night vs the Giants, and didn’t allow themselves to have a 4th quarter letdown like they did vs the Steelers. This is going to be a dangerous team in the postseason.
5. Arizona (3) – If they play like they did Sunday vs the Vikings at home, they will for sure be one and done in the playoffs. Why they came out so flat is anyone’s guess, but they had better find a way to get it turned around. This team has too much talent to not show up week in and week out, and they had better find that swagger again.
NFC Bottom 3
1. Detroit (1) – They hung in with the Colts, but per usual they didn’t have enough plays in the end to get the job done and fell to 0-14. It’s going to be tough to beat the Saints and Packers the last two weeks, and the injuries are not helping matters much for a team already lacking talent.
2. St.Louis (3) – They will reshape this team in the offseason, and for good reason. There are too many people trying to have input on this club, and they need to start from the top and make a number of changes. They have a good RB in Steven Jackson, and some young talent, so they should find a decent head coach that would want the job this offseason.
3. Seattle (2) – Mike Holmgren goes out at home this week with a bang, getting ready for the Jets and old pal Brett Favre. They beat the Rams Sunday, and Seneca Wallace looks more and more like the QB this team may turn to in the future. Injuries have also been a huge factor in why they are 3-11.
AFC Top 5
1. Tennessee (1) -Suddenly this is a team in a heap of trouble. They lost Albert Haynesworth, they have a struggling QB, and the running game didn’t do much on Sunday. Oh, and they play the best defense maybe in the last 8 years on Sunday in the Steelers. It’s going to be tough for this team to hang on to home field as they are losing steam.
2. Pittsburgh (2) -Finding a way. That’s about all you can say about the 2008 Steelers, a team that over the past two weeks have found a way to win when maybe they shouldn’t have. They played a tough Ravens team tooth and nail, and found one huge drive in them to go the distance for the score and the AFC North title. Now they have a beat up Titans team with home field maybe on the line. I wouldn’t bet against them.
3. Indianapolis (3) – Winners of 7 straight, the Colts train just keeps going along at full speed. They can win 12 games and still be a wild card, but make no mistake, no one wants to play them in January. They toyed around with the Lions Sunday till they were able to put them away. Now they play the Jags Thursday before closing out with the Colts in week 17.
4. Baltimore (4) – A tough loss for a team that led the whole day but could not close out the Steelers. Now they have to refocus and get ready for the Cowboys in a game that is for sure not going to be easy. Another loss and they may find themselves looking in on the playoffs. If they just could have hung on for another minute.
5. New England (-) – They overcame a steady rain in Oakland and put up a lot of points in a big win that keeps them as co-leaders in the AFC. They have two big games left vs the Cards and at the Bills, but right now with the way the offense has been able to score, they could be tough to beat if they find their way into the second season.
AFC Bottom 3
1. Kansas City (3) – The Chiefs jump to the top as the worst team in the AFC, and boy, they had a great shot to win on Sunday again vs the Chargers, only to blow it in the end. It’s tough to think this team is going to get much better in 09, but now they have to get ready to search for a new President and GM after Carl Peterson decided to walk away on Monday.
2. Cincinnati (1) – The Bengals got their 2nd win of 2008 on Sunday, as they topped the Redskins at home. Cedric Benson has turned into a nice little pickup for this team, and he had a big catch and some tough yards on the ground. They can show up and beat the Browns, who are about as equally as awful on Sunday in Cleveland.
3. Oakland (2) -They got washed away in the rain vs a good Patriots team at home. Now more off the field issues with James Cregg leaving the team to join Lane Kiffin at Tennessee. The team needs to be overhauled in the offseason, so in the end it was probably smart for Cregg to leave, as he probably would not have had a job beyond the last two games anyway.