Michael Vick and the Eagles pulled off a great win on Sunday
The NFL playoff picture is slowly rounding into form, and the contenders are separating themselves from the pretenders. Is there a team capable of taking down the Patriots? Is Sunday’s miraculous victory just what the Eagles needed? Here are the power rankings for Week 16.
1. New England Patriots (12-2) - That Sunday Night Football game meant very little, if anything, to the New England Patriots. Despite that, they were able to fend of a talented and energized Green Bay team. That game had an ‘07 feel to it, did it not?
2. Atlanta Falcons (12-2) - Matty “Ice” Ryan is leading the Falcons to home field advantage in the NFC. This past week they went cross-country to Seattle and pounded the NFC West leading Seahawks, who are tough to beat at home. Ryan is starting to carry his home success into his road games. Look out NFC.
3. Philadelphia Eagles (10-4) - How in the world did Philadelphia win that game? A win like the one the Eagles had on Sunday can be just what a team needs to catch fire. I would not be surprised if that win starts Philly’s run to Dallas.
4. Baltimore Ravens (10-4) - Taking down the defending Super Bowl Champions warrants a spot in the top five of these rankings. The play of Ray Rice is very encouraging for this team moving forward.
5. Pittsburgh Steelers (10-4) - The Steelers were a different team on defense without the service of Troy Polamalu. Still, losing a home game this late in the season is underwhelming. The play of that offensive line is not going to win them many games in the playoffs.
6. San Diego Chargers (8-6) - The Chargers really need to start getting it done in September. They now need some help to sneak into the post season. If they find a way into the tournament, they could be Tom Brady’s most legitimate threat.
7. New Orleans Saints (10-4) - Drew Brees and company once again disappointed on the road. The Saints’ play in outdoor games has got to be a concern heading into the playoffs.
8. New York Jets (10-4) - The Jets bounced back in a big way with a victory over the Steelers at Hines Field. The Jets were fortunate that Troy Polamalu was out for this contest, but they got the job done with a solid ground attack and sturdy defense. We’ll see if this win gets them back on track heading into the postseason.
9. Chicago Bears (10-4) - Not to sound like Jon Gruden, but Jay Cutler was very impressive last night. Broncos and Bears fans alike always seem to be hyper-critical of the gunslinging quarterback, but Cutler is far from the weak point of this Bears’ team. The offensive line and his receivers are still questionable, and should prevent this team from making a postseason run.
10. Kansas City Chiefs (9-5) - The Chiefs have earned a spot in the top ten. They have the inside track to the AFC West title with games at Tennessee and then home against the Raiders. The Kansas City ground attack is among the league’s best, and the defense is nothing to complain about. If they had a quarterback, the Chiefs would be dangerous.
11. Green Bay Packers (8-6) - Don’t count out the Packers. If they take down the emotionally defeated New York Giants next Sunday, and the Jets are able to beat the Bears, then the Week 17 match up between Chicago and Green Bay will decide the NFC North title. I have thought all along that the Packers are the more talented team, but they have not been healthy enough to string together the victories. However, they still have an outside shot at the postseason. They have as bright of a future as any team in the league.
12. Indianapolis Colts (8-6) - The Colts are now in charge of their own destiny. Speaking of destiny, it seemed to me like Indianapolis had it on its side on Sunday. That block in the back call on the punt that gave the Colts possession in the red zone was shady. I have never heard of loss of possession being the result of a penalty. Without that penalty, Josh Scobee wouldn’t even have had to kick the worst onsides kick I have ever seen.
13. Jacksonville Jaguars (8-6) - We’ll see how the Jaguars respond to this loss. If they are able to win out against Washington and Houston, there is still a chance they could win the division. The Colts would need to lose to the Raiders, which is not out of the question. The bottom line is that the Jaguars are playing meaningful football in December, which is proof that their development is well ahead of schedule.
14. New York Giants (9-5) - A loss like the one the Giants suffered on Sunday is enough to destroy a season. How can a team possibly recover from that sort of collapse?
15. Oakland Raiders (7-7) - The Raiders have to be one of 2010’s biggest surprises.
16. Dallas Cowboys (5-9) - Perhaps Wade Phillips should have been fired sooner? 2008 may have been a more appropriate time.
17. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (8-6) - Another team with a bright future that couldn’t put it all together in 2010.
18. Detroit Lions (4-10) - Given the amount of injuries this team has endured, how much they have beat themselves, their record is almost impressive. The talent is in place in Detroit, now they need to put it together.
19. St. Louis Rams (6-8) - Has the NFL figured out Sam Bradford already?
20. Seattle Seahawks (6-8) - Is this really a playoff team?
21. Buffalo Bills (4-10) - The Bills better settle down. They don’t want to ruin their chances at landing a top five prospect.
22. Miami Dolphins (7-7) - Chad Henne needs to find some consistency.
23. Minnesota Vikings (5-9) - Joe Webb? Really? What a brutal performance.
24. Tennessee Titans (6-8) - Give the Titans credit, they are not mailing it in.
25. Washington Redskins (5-9) - Is Mike Shanahan a genius for starting Rex Grossman? Perhaps. Is he a moron for trading for Donovan McNabb? Certainly.
26. San Francisco 49ers (5-9) - Alex Smith loves throwing the ball to the wrong team.
27. Houston Texans (5-9) - The Texans are not even trying anymore.
28. Cleveland Browns (5-9) - I am not sold on Colt McCoy as the franchise quarterback of this team.
29. Cincinnati Bengals (3-12) - The Bengals could have had the first overall pick, but they just had to beat the Browns.
30. Arizona Cardinals (4-10) - That was an uninspiring effort by John Skelton.
31. Denver Broncos (3-11) - Is Tim Tebow going to be the guy in Denver going forward?
32. Carolina Panthers (2-12) - Poor Jimmy Clausen. He played well enough to earn a win and potentially save his job by playing Carolina out of the number one overall pick. However, the Bengals also won, meaning the Panthers will likely be picking first. Stay tuned for my article this week on why the Panthers should not draft Andrew Luck.