Clearly home field advantage in the NFL is not as important as it once was, as the year-of-the-road team continues, with nine visiting teams coming away with wins and three others coming extremely close. One home team that took care of business was the Atlanta Falcons, as they moved to 19-1 in home games that Matt Ryan starts.
This week’s feel good story came from Monday Night Football as Brian Westbrook ran wild against the Arizona Cardinals after having just nine total rushing yards all season. Despite facing a poor run defense, it was good to see Westbrook show 49er fans what he is still capable of incase Frank Gore’s hip injury keeps him out for any length of time.
This week, the top 3 teams remain unchanged and early season favorites such as the Colts drop to their lowest ranking in over two years.
Teams’ previous rankings in ( ).
1. New England Patriots (1): After trailing at halftime, a 35 point second half propelled New England to their ninth win of the season.
2. Atlanta Falcons (2): The Falcons don’t lose at home, especially with Ryan behind center. Atlanta has a favorable schedule and could finish with the best record in the NFC. Can Ryan win on a neutral field?
3. Pittsburgh Steelers (3): Apparently God is a Steelers fan, or at least he was during Week 12.
4. Baltimore Ravens (5): Baltimore continues to be a favorite in the AFC. They have a tough schedule to finish the season, but the division just might be decided this week as they face the Steelers. The winner takes sole possession of first place in the North.
5. New York Jets (8): Hard to say a 9-2 team is overrated, but I’m not completely sold on the Jets yet. Three of their next four games come on the road and are against the Patriots, Steelers and Bears.
6. New Orleans Saints (6): New Orleans held on against the Cowboys and remain just a game behind the Falcons in the division.
7. Chicago Bears (10): The Bears finally got a win against a quality opponent and figure out how to slow down Michael Vick in the process.
8. Philadelphia Eagles (4): Costly turnover in the red-zone turned their game around. Philly is still the most talented team in the NFC.
9. New York Giants (11): It’s not how your start, it’s how you finish and the Giants dominated the fourth quarter against the Jags.
10. Green Bay Packers (7): Might be the best 7-4 team of all time. Green Bay is just seconds away from being 11-0. That’s why they play the game.
11. Kansas City Chiefs (15): Just when you didn’t think Dwayne Bowe couldn’t play any better (10 TDs in previous 6 games) he does (13 catches, 3 TDs against the Seahawks). The Chiefs must keep winning with a red-hot Charger team coming up behind them.
12. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (12): They played tough against a very good Ravens team. The fact of the matter is, they are 7-0 against teams under .500 and 0-4 against teams over .500.
13. San Diego Chargers (16): The Chargers continue their patented second-half dominance. They sit just one game behind the Chiefs for the division lead after roughing up the Colts in Week 12.
14. Indianapolis Colts (9): If the playoffs started today, the Colts would be sitting at home. Defense must play better if they want to be considered a playoff team.
15. Jacksonville Jaguars (13): The Jaguars’ luck ran out against the Giants. However, a decent schedule remains as the 6-5 Colts are the toughest team left that they must face
16. Miami Dolphins (19): The Dolphins got a much needed win against the Raiders. The division title is probably out of the question but they remain in the wildcard hunt.
17. Houston Texans (20): Despite a rough past few weeks, the Texans are just one game behind the division leaders. They face a tough test this week as they face the Eagles on Thursday night.
18. Oakland Raiders (15): The Raiders’ mid-season playoff push looks to have cooled off as they are now in third place in the division. Three division games remain for the Raiders and they must win all three to sniff the playoffs.
19. Washington Redskins (17): A late punt return for a touchdown that was nullified by a penalty killed the Redskins against the Vikings, and probably took Washington’s playoff hopes with it.
20. St. Louis Rams (23): The Rams are tied for the division but have a tough schedule remaining. Three division games remain and if they win all three, they might just win the division with an 8-8 record.
21. Cleveland Browns (24): The Browns continue to play well, but now have three straight road games. When they finally do return home, they must face the Ravens and Steelers to end the season.
22. Dallas Cowboys (22): Dallas came up just short of moving to 3-0 under new coach Jason Garrett. We’ll have a good idea as to how good this team will be next year based on their final five games, three of which come against the Colts and Eagles.
23. Tennessee Titans (18): The addition of Randy Moss has had absolutely no effect for the Titans offense, yet somehow they remain just one game back in the division.
24. Minnesota Vikings (25): With a trip to the Super Bowl on the line, Brett Favre threw a costlyinterception rather than running for what appeared to be an easy first down. At 3-7 with the season lost, Favre didn’t throw a costly interception and ran for the first down. I guess wisdom does come with age.
25. Seattle Seahawks (21): The Seahawks were 4-2 and looking like a favorite in the NFC West. They have since lost four of their last five, giving up 150 points in those four losses.
26. San Francisco 49ers (26): Even after a 1-6 start, the 49ers are just one game behind the division leader. However, with games remaining against Green Bay and San Diego, it looks like San Fran might come up just short of the playoffs.
27. Denver Broncos (27): The Broncos are so bad, they got caught videotaping an opponents practice and still lost that game. I’m not sure what’s worse: losing to a team in which you have extra help, or feeling the need to cheat against a team that has a record of 1-6.
28. Buffalo Bills (29): You’ve got to feel for Bills wideout Steve Johnson, after he dropped a game winning touchdown pass in overtime against the mighty Steelers. However, let’s not go blaming other people. I have no problem when athletes thank God for a great performance. No, God really didn’t have much to do with your success. However, let’s not blame him when you drop a pass that would have won the game, because he isn’t the reason you failed either (I do wonder who Johnson blamed for his other three dropped passes during the game).
29. Detroit Lions (28): The Lions played hard on Thanksgiving as they always do, but came up short for the 12th straight Turkey day.
30. Arizona Cardinals (30): Even with a weak schedule remaining, it’s hard to see the Cardinals winning more than one more game.
31. Cincinnati Bengals (31): The Bengals’ struggles continue and they are now playing for pride. Will Chad Ochocinco and Terrell Owens have enough patience to try it again next year? Or will one or both of them throw Carson Palmer (or Marvin Lewis) under the bus?
32. Carolina Panthers (32): Jimmy Clausen struggled to lead comebacks in college, and his struggles continue in the NFL. In fairness to him however, he did make some great throws in the final minutes that went for naught as John Kasay clanked a game winning field goal off the left upright.