Week 15 saw a number of home teams go down, including the unbeaten New Orleans Saints. Ten of the 16 home teams took a loss and three others came extremely close. Eleven games were decided by a touchdown or less and at the end of the week, seven teams (six from the AFC) are sitting at 7-7 with two weeks to play. In the AFC is looks as if nine wins could be enough to make the playoffs, whereas in the NFC we could see a team finish with 10 wins and be on the outside looking in. The only thing we know for sure at this point is that the Indianapolis Colts appear to be the best team in all the land. Here are the rankings for week 16.
1. Indianapolis Colts (2): QB Peyton Manning locked up the MVP award this week.
2. New Orleans Saints (1): The Saints’ loss could be a blessing in disguise. Time to get their players healthy for a Super Bowl run.
3. San Diego Chargers (4): Nine straight wins and counting. Is it finally San Diego’s year?
4. Philadelphia Eagles (5): Just imagine how explosive they can be if they can finally get RB Brian Westbrook healthy.
5. Minnesota Vikings (3): No reason to panic, but plenty of reason to worry. Minnesota was 1-10 on first downs, had problems tackling and dropped too many passes. RB Adrian Peterson has been turned into a very average running back.
6. Dallas Cowboys (9): Still not a lock for the playoffs, but beating the Saints was a huge boost. The question is, which Cowboys team will show up if they make the post season? Perhaps the more important question is, which kicker will the team show up with?
7. Cincinnati Bengals (6): The death of a teammate can bring out the best in an entire team. Nobody wants to face the Bengals come playoff time.
8. Arizona Cardinals (8): Nearly lost to the Detroit Lions third string quarterback. QB Kurt Warner must get things straightened out soon.
9. New England Patriots (11): The defense played better, but they must step it up when they face better competition in the playoffs.
10. Green Bay Packers (7): The pass defense was awful. But this loss is on K Mason Crosby and more importantly the defensive coordinator. Ever heard of blitzing?
11. Baltimore Ravens (12): I guess nobody told QB Joe Flacco about the sophomore slump. He continues to play like a veteran.
12. New York Giants (13): The G-men getting hot when it matters most; will it be enough to propel them into the playoffs?
13. Denver Broncos (10): The latest playoff contender to go down to the Raiders. Denver is 2-6 in their last eight games; not how a team wants to head into the playoffs.
14. Tennessee Titans (15): Vince Young just keeps on winning. Despite the criteria, Young should garner serious consideration for Comeback Player of the Year.
15. Jacksonville Jaguars (16): Valiant effort against a great Colts team. At 7-7, the Jags face a must win this week against the Pats.
16. Miami Dolphins (14): Miami fell just a bit short after facing a large deficit. With two wins and a little help, they aren’t out of it quite yet.
17. Houston Texans (19): Probably need too much help for a playoff berth, but two more wins in their final two games will give them their first winning season since becoming a franchise.
18. Pittsburgh Steelers (20): Pittsburgh stopped the bleeding, but is it too late? Oh and props to QB Ben Roethlisberger for throwing for over 500 yards. I wonder if any fantasy owners dropped him due to possible bad weather and a tough matchup…. Oops.
19. Atlanta Falcons (21): QB Matt Ryan returned from injury and led the Falcons to victory. They need two more and some help from the Man upstairs if they want to play in January.
20. New York Jets (17): Rookie QB Mark Sanchez is hitting that rookie wall, and hitting it hard.
21. Carolina Panthers (22): Must be nice to have a backup quarterback and backup running back that play like Pro Bowlers.
22. San Francisco 49ers (18): Officially eliminated from the playoffs, but they play hard every week. I expect big things from this team next year.
23. Oakland Raiders (25): I give up on trying to figure out this team. I’m clueless as to how they have five wins, four over very good teams. QB Jamarcus Russell continues to do just enough to make everyone wonder if he will eventually pan out.
24. Washington Redskins (23): If for some reason there wasn’t enough reason to fire Jim Zorn, he gave them another one with that brilliant fake field goal attempt.
25. Chicago Bears (24): I wonder if QB Jay Cutler regrets his trade demand now.
26. Buffalo Bills (26): The Bills continue to greatly underachieve this season. WR Terrell Owens had another brilliant performance hauling in two passes for 20 yards.
27. Seattle Seahawks (27): I’m not sure what’s worse; scoring just seven points on the Bucs, giving up 24 points to the Bucs or simply losing at home against the Bucs. Either way, it doesn’t matter which is worse seeing as the Seahawks pulled off all three.
28. Cleveland Browns (30): Only the Browns could win a game with 66 total passing yards and two interceptions yet lose a game with 304 passing yards and four touchdowns.
29. Detroit Lions (29): Third-string QB Drew Stanton nearly pulled off the upset over the Cardinals. Just another sign that the Lions are moving in the right direction, despite just two wins in their past 30 games.
30. Kansas City Chiefs (28): Who saw the Chiefs winning fewer games then the Raiders this year?
31. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (31): Bucs rookie QB Josh Freeman took advantage of a depleted Seattle secondary and led the Bucs to their second win on the season.
32. St. Louis Rams (32): Looks like the Rams will indeed finish with a worse record then last season. Just imagine how great RB Steven Jackson would be if he played on a team that could throw the ball.