Cubicle GM NFL Power Rankings: Week 17 Edition

Jacob NitzbergAnalyst IDecember 29, 2009

Welcome to the Week 17 edition of the Cubicle GM NFL Power Rankings. Every Tuesday since September, you have been treated to composite NFL Power Rankings from members of our team, as well as a bit of brief insight and analysis about each of the 32 teams.

This week, in honor of the final week of the NFL regular season, you can expect something a bit different. For Week 17 we’ve taken a look back at each team’s journey throughout the 2009 season, pointing out their highs, lows and overall season rank, which represents where each team falls in the rankings after taking the average of their 16 weekly regular season rankings.

In addition, for all of you who follow a potential playoff team or one that has already clinched, within each team’s rank we have all the scenarios for what it will take for your team to miraculously make the postseason or clinch that first round bye.

As always, the Week 17 rankings are determined by taking the average of each of the contributors here at The Cube. This week, we have rankings from five members of the Cubicle GM team, including me, Gideon, Mickey, Walker and Smokey. So remember, if you disagree with some portion of our rankings, be sure to check the individual rankings to find the culprit.

This past Sunday, the previously undefeated Colts decided to rest their starters in the second half and fell to the Jets, while the formerly 13-0 Saints fell for the second straight week, but this time did it by giving up 14 fourth quarter points to the lowly Buccaneers. Meanwhile, the San Diego Chargers took care of business in Tennessee for their 10th straight victory.  As a result, the Colts stayed on top, but the Chargers jumped the Saints for the No. 2 spot in the ranks.

For the first time in five weeks, the Top 10 did not lose any teams, though there was a bit of movement among those teams. The Eagles and Patriots both benefited from Minnesota’s loss to Chicago, moving up to No. 4 and No. 5 respectively, while the Vikings fell three spots to No. 7 on the heels of their second straight loss. In addition, the Cardinals and Packers swapped spots at No. 9 and No. 10 in anticipation of their Week 17 and possible playoff matchup.

The bottom six of Detroit, Kansas City, Oakland, Tampa Bay, St. Louis and Seattle changed again this week, as Cleveland made a huge jump to No. 24 after their third straight victory, this one over the Raiders. Oakland dropped to No. 27 after that loss, but did not finish far behind Washington, who looked helpless again this week. And as it has been 12 of the 16 weeks this year, St. Louis stayed put at the very bottom.

You might think that by the Week 17 rankings that teams would have found their place and remained settled, but that was definitely not the case. There were 24 teams changing spots in the ranks, and a whopping 10 teams moving three or more spots up and down the ranks.

There were three teams tied for the biggest positive movement this week, as both Houston and the Jets jumped four spots after getting wins that kept them in playoff contention, while the aforementioned Cleveland Browns jumped four spots after their third straight win to separate themselves from the bottom. The biggest downward mover was the Jacksonville Jaguars, who dropped five spots after getting crushed by New England and all but eliminating themselves from playoff contention.

After seeing 10 disagreements of seven spots last week, we were more in sync for Week 17, as there were just three disagreements of 7 or more spots in the rankings, with one reaching double digits.

Baltimore Ravens (10) – Gideon 5, Walker 15

New York Jets (8) – Jacob 12, Smokey 20

Carolina Panthers (7) – Smokey 15, Walker 22

On the divisional side, the AFC South remains at the top with an average score of 12.15, followed by the NFC East with an average score of 13.20. The NFC West has been the bottom division for 14 consecutive weeks, checking in with a 22.85 average score.

As a reminder, you can check out all the backup data here. As always, last week’s ranks are in parentheses. Without further ado, onto the rankings.