NFL Power Rankings: Teams That Must Make Statement in Week 15

Richard Langford@@noontide34Correspondent IDecember 11, 2012

Make no mistake about Week 15, this is when the true Super Bowl contenders must step to the forefront. 

Top teams can get away with coasting in Week 17, and maybe even part of Week 16, but teams must be all systems go this week. The edge must be honed. 

Of course, for teams battling for a spot in the playoffs, every week is crucial.

So, keep all of that in mind as the teams badly in need of a statement win will be highlighted in the below power rankings. 


Langford's Week 15 Power Rankings


1. New England Patriots (10-3)

Look out for the Patriots. They easily handled the Texans without the services of Rob Gronkowski, and they now have a strong shot at capturing the AFC's top seed. 


2. Denver Broncos (10-3)

The Broncos have won eight straight, and Peyton Manning and his teammates are becoming a more cohesive group each step of the way. 


3. San Francisco 49ers (9-3-1)

Colin Kaepernick continues to make mistakes that come with lack of experience. While this defense helps the Niners overcome those mistakes, he will need to be a more polished player come playoff time. 


4. Houston Texans (11-2)

Why the Texans Must Make a Statement

The Texans sport a sexy 11-2 record, but this team seems way more vulnerable than that record suggests. 

Look at their two losses. They gave up 42 points to both the Packers and Patriots, and the pass defense was full of holes in both those games. 

This week, they will host the surging Indianapolis Colts in a game that has serious playoff implications. 

Houston must prove it can perform at an elite level on a big stage. Also, Matt Schaub needs to bounce back from a horrendous performance against the Patriots. 

If the Texans are going to make a run at the Super Bowl, they need Schaub to be at his best. He needs to reestablish his confidence in this game. 


5. Atlanta Falcons (11-2)

Why the Falcons Must Make a Statement

The Falcons are strikingly similar to the Texans. They have the nice record, but they aren't exactly striking fear into their opponents. 

They are also coming off a bad loss to the Carolina Panthers that highlighted what is wrong with this team. The Falcons struggle with the run game, and that is on both sides of the ball. 

They were outgained on the ground against the Panthers to the tune of 195 yards to 35. That ineptness on the ground is not going to cut come playoff time. 

This week, the Falcons will face a stiff test as they host the New York Giants, and Atlanta needs to prove it can hang with the big boys. 


6. New York Giants (8-5)

Speaking of the Giants, they continue to roll along. They will have games where they look awful and games where they look unbeatable, but you get the feeling that this experienced group has its sights set on peaking for the playoffs. 


7. Green Bay Packers (9-4)

The Packers' poor offensive line is killing this prolific offense. Aaron Rodgers is getting hit way too often. They need to clean that up if they want to make a deep playoff run. 


8. Seattle Seahawks (8-5)

The Seahawks will play their last road game of the regular season this week against the Bills. If they can win that one, they will have an excellent shot at finishing the regular season 11-5. 


9. Baltimore Ravens (9-4)

Why the Ravens Must Make a Statement

The Ravens have dropped two straight, and they are watching their chances at earning a first-round bye fly out the window. 

They can rejuvenate those hopes a bit with a win this week as they host the Denver Broncos. But this game is about more than just seeding. The Ravens need to show they can get back to their winning ways while beating an elite team. 

This will help restore their confidence, and they are going to need it. Following the Broncos game, the Ravens will host the Giants and then travel to take on the Bengals. 

If they aren't careful, they could end this season on a five-game losing streak. 


10. Indianapolis Colts (9-4)

The surprising Colts face a huge test this week as they travel to take on the Texans. Their playoff chances will be looking great if they can pull out a win. 


11. Washington Redskins (7-6)

Washington's playoff hopes hinge on the recovery of Robert Griffin III's knee. With him under center, they can win any game. 


12. Minnesota Vikings


Despite receiving some of the worst quarterback play in the league, the Vikings, thanks to Adrian Peterson, are hanging in there. 


13. Dallas Cowboys (7-6)

The Cowboys have won four of their last five, and playoff hopes in Dallas are alive and well. 

14. Pittsburgh Steelers (7-6)

The Steelers have lost three of four, and the return of Ben Roethlisberger last week did not help change this trend. 


15. Chicago Bears (8-5)

Things were going so well for the Bears. Now they have lost four of five and have a huge game against the Packers this week. 


16. Cincinnati Bengals (7-6)

The Bengals' playoff chances took a big hit with last week's loss to the Cowboys. 


17. New Orleans Saints (5-8)

The Saints need to set their sights on next season. 


18. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (6-7)

Tampa Bay must try to find a way to end this promising season with some momentum. 


19. St. Louis Rams (6-6-1)

The Rams have made huge strides under new head coach Jeff Fisher. 


20. Cleveland Browns (5-8)

Do my eyes deceive me, or have the Browns actually won three straight? 


21. New York Jets (6-7)

The Jets have won two straight, and they have three winnable games remaining. For as big a train wreck as this season has felt like for the Jets, they have a strong shot at ending the season at .500. 


22. Detroit Lions (4-9)

This is a season of so close, yet so far away for the Lions. They have lost five straight, but they have lost those games by an average of just 5.2 per game. 


23. Miami Dolphins (5-8)

The Dolphins offense is moving in the wrong direction. 


24. Carolina Panthers (4-9)

Cam Newton is putting a promising end to a season that was, not long ago, on the verge of complete disaster. 


25. San Diego Chargers (5-8)

The Chargers put together a nice win over the Steelers last week, but don't expect this late-season charge to save Norv Turner


26. Buffalo Bills (5-8)

The Bills defense has made some nice strides, but this team still isn't doing much winning. 


27. Tennessee Titans (4-9)

The Titans need to figure out what they like about this team before embarking on a much-needed overhaul this offseason. 


28. Philadelphia Eagles (4-9)

The Eagles snapped an eight-game losing streak last week. So they've got that going for them. 


29. Oakland Raiders (3-11)

The Raiders don't have anything going for them. This team is regressing in all phases of the game. 


30. Jacksonville Jaguars (2-11)

The Jaguars don't have much to be excited about. They need upgrades all over the field. 


31. Kansas City Chiefs (2-11)

Jamaal Charles is getting better as this season goes along and he gets further away from his knee injury. So at least Chiefs fans have that. 


32. Arizona Cardinals (4-9)

The Cardinals should be suspended as a team for conduct detrimental to the league after last week's 58-0 loss to the Seahawks. 


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