NFL Power Rankings Week 16: Does Any NFC West Team Belong In Top 25?
NFL Power Rankings Week 16: Does Any NFC West Team Belong In Top 25?
After tonight's Monday night game, week 15 will be behind us.
And what a week it was.
We saw a last-second punt return for a win in New York by DeSean Jackson and the longest kick return by a lineman in NFL history.
We saw four 10-loss teams win games, including two on the road.
The NFC West stands pat with all four teams losing, but do any of the teams crack the top 25?
Read on to find out and let us know what you think.
Bottom Of The League
32 (28) Arizona Cardinals: How the heck did this team win four games this year? They have been the worst team for a few weeks, but they officially proved it by losing to the Panthers.
31 (32) Carolina Panthers: Why in the world would the Panthers be trying to win games at this point? They have a chance at the top overall pick—winning takes that pick away from them.
30 (31) Cincinnati Bengals: Luckily for the Panthers, the Bengals decided to win a game too, for some inexplicable reason.
29 (30) Denver Broncos: Despite the loss, the Broncos looked like a competent football team with Tim Tebow at the helm. I'm sure that will get the Tebow lovers and haters riled up, but that's better than nothing for Denver.
28 (25) San Francisco 49ers: Boy, what a terrible season to be a 49ers fan. Lots of preseason buzz followed by a flop of a season. There needs to be serious change in San Francisco and it might have to start with a coaching change.
27 (27) Washington Redskins: The good news? The Redskins looked halfway decent against the Cowboys with Rex Grossman at the helm. The bad news? Mike Shannahan looks smart.
26 (22) Seattle Seahawks: The Seahawks have played well at home this year, that is until the Falcons came to town and put up 34 points.
25 (23) Cleveland Browns: People are starting to figure out who Peyton Hillis is. Looks like it's time for the Browns to find another playmaker after losing to the lowly Bengals.
24 (29) Detroit Lions: The Lions went on the road and beat the Tampa Bay Buccaneers to snap a road losing streak that has spanned three years and 26 road games.
23 (26) Tennessee Titans: And the award for Most Schizophrenic Team goes to...
22 (24) Buffalo Bills: A year ago, the Bills looked like a lock to be the worst team this year and they looked desperate for a quarterback. Both of those thoughts appear to be wrong. Ryan Fitzpatrick has done some nice things and looks like a competent starter of a possible up-and-coming team.
21 (19) Houston Texans: Not many people thought the Texans would be in the bottom of the league after starting the season with a win over Indianapolis, but after their latest loss, Houston is another team in need of some change.
20. Minnesota Vikings
Last Week's Rank: 20
Why They Stay The Same: The Vikings have yet to play this week, but win or lose, this is where they belong.
On a side note, the Vikings are playing in their first outdoor home game since 1981, does anyone else think there is something wrong with that? Every NFC North team needs to have open air stadiums. Watching games in the snow and frigid weather is what makes your division so great.
19. St. Louis Rams
Last Week's Rank: 18
Why They Drop: This week was a perfect example of how the Rams are a young team that has holes to fill. Sure, adding Sam Bradford was great for St. Louis' future, but he can't do it alone.
The Chiefs showed that the Rams' defense needs to be addressed this offseason after giving up nearly 400 yards of offense.
It is shocking that this team, despite a 6-8 record, could host a playoff game.
18. Dallas Cowboys
Last Week's Rank: 21
Why They Climb: The Cowboys did everything they could to make Rex Grossman look like a competent NFL starting quarterback. They gave up 322 yards passing and four touchdowns tho the former Bear. However they also forced him into three turnovers.
Despite all that, the real slap in the face to Grossman was that Tashard Choice didn't want his autograph after the game.
17. Miami Dolphins
Last Week's Rank: 16
Why They Drop: The Dolphins lost this week at home to the Buffalo Bills. Miami is 1-6 this season at home. If I were the owner of a team that was 1-6 at home, I would be looking for a new head coach.
The Fins looked like a dark horse in the AFC East coming into this season—now they look like they are on the decline with Chad Henne struggling and the running back duo of Ricky Williams and Ronnie Brown underachieving.
Something needs to happen with this team to push them forward, and I am not sure Tony Sparano is the guy to do that.
16. Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Last Week's Rank: 12
Why They Drop: The Bucs desperately needed a win this week to keep their slim playoff hopes alive. Many thought that a win was a foregone conclusion with the lowly Detroit Lions coming to Tampa. The same Lions that had lost their last 26 road games.
However, games are not played by perception. The Lions win and the Bucs playoff hopes are nearly gone.
This was a bad loss for a Bucs team that was looking like it had made a leap this year.
15. Oakland Raiders
Last Week's Rank: 17
Why They Climb: The Raiders foiled Tim Tebow's starting debut this week, beating the Broncos 39-23. Oakland is the only undefeated team in the AFC West, but they are still on the outside looking in when it comes to the playoffs.
Raiders head coach Tom Cable needs to be in the Coach of the Year discussion. His team may only be 7-7, but those seven wins are the most for Oakland since 2002.
14. Jacksonville Jaguars
Last Week's Rank: 8
Why They Drop: It was a simple task for the Jaguars coming into this week—win and you're in. However, Indianapolis was not going to go quietly. Now, if the playoffs started today, the Jags would be going home.
Jacksonville still has a chance to get into the playoffs, but they can't afford another loss.
13. Kansas City Chiefs
Last Week's Rank: 13
Why They Stay The Same: The Kansas City Chiefs did exactly what they were expected to do. They won a game they were supposed to win. However, the pressure is on. If they drop a game in their next two and the Chargers win out, the Chiefs will be watching the playoffs from home.
However, even if the Chiefs don't make the playoffs, Matt Cassel is a quarterback on the rise and Kansas City is a team on the rise. If they don't get in this year, they will be back and ready to go next year.
12. Indianapolis Colts
Last Week's Rank: 15
Why They Climb: The rumors of the Colts' demise have been greatly exaggerated. Indianapolis has the inside edge at the AFC South division crown—all they have to do is match Jacksonville for the last two weeks of the season.
Honestly, this team could be 8-8 and I still wouldn't want to face them in the playoffs. Peyton Manning puts the fear of God in me.
11. San Diego Chargers
Last Week's Rank: 14
Why They Climb: The Chargers made short work of the 49ers on Thursday night. However, the Chargers are still a game behind the Chiefs in the AFC West division race.
The good news for San Diego is that they have a ridiculously easy schedule for the remainder of the season and a fresh Vincent Jackson providing Phillip Rivers with a reliable weapon.
10. Green Bay Packers
Last Week's Rank: 11
Why They Climb: Despite a loss in New England to the Patriots, the Packers looked frisky behind backup quarterback Matt Flynn. They also were helped greatly by the Philadelphia Eagles who beat the New York Giants. Now the Packers control their own destiny with a game next week against the New York Giants.
The Packers could also be helped tonight if Minnesota finds a way to beat Chicago.
9. Chicago Bears
Last Week's Rank: 9
Why They Stay The Same: The Bears have not played yet this week, but they could lock up the NFC North crown with a win tonight over the Vikings. Win or lose, the Bears are ranked just about were they should be.
If this Bears team blows its division lead, Lovie Smith needs to go.
8. New York Giants
Last Week's Rank: 7
Why They Drop: The Giants absolutely blew their game this week to the Eagles. Giving up 28 points in the fourth quarter is an unacceptable thing.
But the Giants can't afford to dwell on the missed opportunity. They are still in control of a wild card spot and will need to focus on beating the Packers next week to keep their playoff spot.
7. New Orleans Saints
Last Week's Rank: 4
Why They Drop: The Saints defense looked terrible against the Ravens this week, giving up 153 rushing yards to Ray Rice and 30 points to the Baltimore offense. The lack of a consistent running game has really hurt New Orleans this year.
The Saints have two more tough games to end the season and they could actually drop out of the playoff race if they fail to win another game.
6. Pittsburgh Steelers
Last Week's Rank: 3
Why They Drop: The Steelers loss this week to the Jets showed me that they might be just too banged up to do much of anything the rest of the season. Ben Roethlisberger's foot and nose have both caused problems on offense for Pittsburgh, but the loss of Troy Polamalu changes the team as a whole.
Now Polamalu will probably be back next week, but they need everyone at full strength if they are going to win a Super Bowl.
5. Philadelphia Eagles
Last Week's Rank: 6
Why They Climb: The Eagles walk-off win in New York was the most exciting finish in the NFL this year. The fact that it came in a game that had division implications makes it that much more special.
With Michael Vick at the helm, this is one team that I would not want to face in the playoffs.
4. New York Jets
Last Week's Rank: 10
Why They Climb: This might seem a little high for a team that has been struggling to score points since Thanksgiving, but going into Pittsburgh and winning over the Steelers has to count for something.
I think this is a team built for the playoffs. With the playoffs starting in a few weeks, I expect the Jets to get back in the swing of things pretty quick.
3. Baltimore Ravens
Last Week's Rank: 5
Why They Climb: The Ravens beat one of the best teams in the NFC this week with a win over New Orleans. Their offense appears to be hitting its stride with Ray Rice finally breaking out this season. With the defense that they have, it is hard to count out this Ravens team.
The real question will be whether Joe Flacco can lead this team through the playoffs, a road that possibly could go through New England.
2. Atlanta Falcons
Last Week's Rank: 2
Why They Stay The Same: The Falcons went to Seattle this week and beat a hapless Seahawks team. While it isn't an impressive win, it is what they were supposed to do.
If they had played a better opponent I would be tempted to have the Falcons jump New England, but because it was a bad opponent, they stay where they are: ranked as the best team in the NFC.
1. New England Patriots
Last Week's Rank: 1
Why They Stay The Same: This week the Patriots showed that they can win any kind of game. Green Bay came to New England playing like a team fighting for their playoff lives. The Pats took the Packers best shot and responded by winning late.
The Pats are playing better than any other team in the NFL right now and if they don't win the Super Bowl this year, it will be an upset.