Week 13 proved to be unlucky for some power house teams. The Patriots go down to the Dolphins and the defending champion Steelers go down to… the Raiders? Yes, it’s true; the defending champs lose at home to the Raiders and are in serious trouble of missing the playoffs. Elsewhere, the Giants upend Dallas and the Cardinals beat the Vikings in a pair of miniature upsets. And who could ignore QB Michael Vick’s return to Atlanta? With just over a month until the playoffs, here are the week 14 rankings and how each team’s playoff chances are looking.
Teams' previous ranking in ( ).
1. New Orleans Saints (1): QB Drew Brees threw for over 400 yards in the Saints improbable comeback victory. They remain undefeated but the injuries to their defensive secondary are showing. With the Falcons loss, the Saints clinched the NFC South.
2. Indianapolis Colts (2): The Colts remained perfect and tied the record for most consecutive regular season wins. Unless the Saints falter, the Colts will continue to occupy the No. 2 spot. They have clinched their division and are close to clinching home field advantage throughout the playoffs.
3. Minnesota Vikings (3): Despite the loss, the Vikings remain at No. 3 and in very little danger of being overtaken in the division. However it was at this time last year the QB Brett Favre began to struggle. Is he running out of gas again?
4. Cincinnati Bengals (5): Cincinnati notched another win and move into the top four for the first time this season. They face a tough test next week as they play the Vikings; should they come out with a win, they will have the AFC North title wrapped up.
5. San Diego Chargers (4): The Chargers fall a spot in the rankings because their defense could not stop QB Brady Quinn. San Diego leads their division at 9-3 but face two division leaders in their next two games. They are most likely playoff bound, the question is can they hold off the Broncos for the division?
6. Philadelphia Eagles (8): Philly keeps their wildcard lead with a beat down of the Falcons. QB Michael Vick was booed in his return to Atlanta, and responded with his first rushing and passing touchdowns of the year.
7. Arizona Cardinals (9): Impressive home victory over a dominant Vikings team. The offensive and defensive line of the Cardinals controlled the game. The Cardinals appear to be a better team this year then the team that nearly pulled out a Super Bowl victory last season, and will be crowned division champs if they can get a W next week.
8. Green Bay Packers (10): This team can play with anybody on both sides of the ball. The defense has been a big reason for their four game winning streak. CB Charles Woodson should be the defensive player of the year. Green Bay still controls their own destiny but have got to play smarter; penalties are going to come back to bite them at some point.
9. Dallas Cowboys (6): The Cowboys lack of running game did them in against the Giants. Dallas still leads the division at 8-4, but it is entirely possible they will fail to make the playoffs, as they have the toughest remaining schedule of any team currently in the playoffs.
10. Denver Broncos (11): RB Knowshon Moreno added to his impressive rookie numbers in his push for Rookie of the Year as the Broncos crushed the Chiefs 44-13. Denver is in control of a wildcard berth but still fighting for a division title.
11. New England Patriots (7): Despite an offense that can explode at any given time, the Patriots take a hit in the rankings as they fell to 7-5 after a one point loss to the Dolphins. It doesn’t appear that the Pats are in danger of missing the playoffs and once they are in, they are still as dangerous as anyone.
12. New York Giants (14): The Giants didn’t seem to dominate the Cowboys in any aspect, but were solid in every aspect. The G-Men seemed to have turned things around just in time for the stretch run, but a tough schedule over the final four games could keep the Giants home for the playoffs.
13. Baltimore Ravens (12): Though the Ravens offense was shutdown, they hurt themselves with penalties and turnovers. Baltimore’s playoff hopes are still alive, but they have got to find their offense ASAP. I’m thinking next week’s matchup against the Lions is just what the doctor ordered.
14. Miami Dolphins (18): With an upset win over the Pats, the Dolphins playoff hopes remain alive at 6-6. They play some tough teams but after a win against the Pats, and two near wins against the Colts and Saints, there is no reason to believe Miami couldn’t finish 10-6.
15. Pittsburgh Steelers (13): The defending champs have lost four straight games, two of which came against the Raiders and Chiefs. Pittsburgh likely needs to win its final four games to make the playoffs and with games against the Packers, Ravens and Dolphins, that will be a tough task.
16. Jacksonville Jaguars (19): The Jags also keep their playoff hopes alive and move to 7-5. Two of their final four games are against the Colts and Patriots, but there is still reason to be optimistic for Jags fans.
17. Atlanta Falcons (15): The Falcons have fallen hard and fast. Without QB Matt Ryan and RB Michael Turner the Falcons had no offense against the Eagles. Atlanta sits at 6-6 and still are in the hunt for a wildcard, but unless they get healthy by next week when they face the Saints, it would appear that their playoff hopes are slim.
18. Tennessee Titans (17): QB Vince Young and the Titans five game winning streak came to an end and for all intents and purposes, so did their playoff chances. At 5-7, the Titans would need to win all four of their remaining games, and then need a ton of help. Either way, the turnaround has been impressive and gives the Titans hope for the future.
19. New York Jets (21): The Jets beat the Bills in the Thursday night game to move to 6-6. They are still in the thick of the wildcard, and only one game out in the division, but with games against Indy and Cincy still on the schedule, it looks as if their mid-season slide may cost them a playoff berth.
20. Houston Texans (16): Four straight losses by an average of less than five points per game has cost the Texans their first playoff appearance.
21. San Francisco 49ers (20): QB Alex Smith is playing extremely well right now and TE Vernon Davis has emerged as an elite tight end. Look for this team to be a playoff contender next season. Barring something short of a miracle, the 49ers are out of playoff contention this year.
22. Carolina Panthers (22): The Panthers beat the Bucs without starting QB Jake Delhomme and without RB DeAngelo Williams. Carolina will not be making an appearance in this year’s post season, but with a couple improvements in the off season, they could find themselves in the thick of things next year.
23. Chicago Bears (25): The Bears beat the Rams, but it wasn’t the prettiest of games. Either way at 5-7 and three straight tough games coming up, the Bears are all but out of the post season picture.
24. Oakland Raiders (28): Break up the Raiders! Two wins in their past three games, against the Bengals and Steelers. Throw in a win against a good Philadelphia team and it’s hard to figure out why this team looks so bad at times. QB Bruce Gradkowski has played out of his mind since taking over as the starter. Don’t believe me? He threw three touchdowns in the fourth quarter against the Steelers. Jamarcus Russell has thrown two touchdowns ALL SEASON. In case you weren’t aware, the Raiders won’t be making the playoffs.
25. Seattle Seahawks (26): The Seahawks played spoiler this week, ending any hopes the 49ers had of reaching the playoffs. At 5-7, the Seahawks have an outside shot at finishing with a respectable 8-8 record, and an excellent chance of not making the playoffs.
26. Washington Redskins (24): Valiant effort against the unbeaten Saints. In fact they really dominated the Saints for most of the game. They won’t be making the playoffs this season but despite the poor record, the Redskins are playing hard every week.
27. Kansas City Chiefs (23): After beating the defending Champs in week 11, the Chiefs have given up 87 points in their past two games. On the bright side the Chiefs have two winnable games in a row next on their schedule. The Chiefs too have been eliminated from playoff contention.
28. Buffalo Bills (27): The Bills continued their disappointing season with a loss on Thursday night to move to 4-8. I wish WR Terrell Owens would say or do something noteworthy so there would be more to say about this team. Mathematically Buffalo is still alive, but it’s a safe bet they will be watching the post season from home.
29. Detroit Lions (29): The rough season continues for the Lions. However, the Stafford to Johnson connection will be a great one for years to come. With just two wins, the Lions have been long eliminated from playoff contention.
30. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (31): Poor Kellen Winslow. To leave a bad Cleveland team, to a possibly worse Tampa Bay team. This guy would be a top three tight end if he was ever put on a decent team. As you may have guessed, the one win Bucs will not be making a late season surge for the playoffs.
31. St. Louis Rams (31): K Josh Brown provided the only offense for the Rams, kicking three field goals against the Bears. RB Steven Jackson continues to play hard for a bad team. Despite playing in the worst division in football, the Rams have been eliminated from the playoffs for quite some time.
32. Cleveland Browns (32): Quinn had one of his best games as a pro, throwing for 271 yards and three touchdowns. It wasn’t quite enough for the Browns to pull the upset but maybe Cleveland has finally found their quarterback of the future. The Browns are ranked dead last in almost every set of power rankings; do I really need to tell you their playoff outlook?