NFL Power Rankings: Despite Shaky Performance, Patriots Remain on Top

Torey ZiskaCorrespondent IIDecember 21, 2010

Woodson's dropped interception really hurt the Packers
Woodson's dropped interception really hurt the PackersJim Rogash/Getty Images

What a week it was in the NFL. Seven more road teams won, including, yes, the Detroit Lions!

After putting up 59 on the Broncos in their first meeting, the Raiders held back this time around, posting just 39.

Brett Favre was listed as out on Saturday, but upgraded to questionable on Sunday and started against the Bears, only to be knocked out in the second quarter.

However, the biggest stories this week came from Sunday Night Football between the Packers and Patriots, as well as the Giant’s pulling off one of the best choke jobs in NFL history. 

As an avid Green Bay Packers fan, it took everything I had to even write the power rankings article this week. I wanted to run away and hide from everything football from now until eternity. The Packers have been hit harder by injuries than any team in the NFL (14 players on IR). Yes, every team has injuries, but nobody has injuries to more key players than Green Bay. Ryan Grant, Jermichael Finley, Nick Barnett, Mark Tauscher and Brandon Chillar just to name a few of their biggest contributors. Not to mention Cullen Jenkins who has missed the past two games, and oh yeah, some guy named Aaron Rodgers that missed their game against the Patriots.

Despite all these injuries, the Packers are still in the playoff hunt. Their six losses are by a total of 20 points. Four losses came on last second field goals. One loss came to the lowly Lions after Rodgers left with a concussion, and their final loss, perhaps the toughest to swallow, came this week as backup Matt Flynn played his heart out against the Patriots.

The Packers dominated the Patriots. There is no way around it. They ran 75 plays to the Patriots 40. They had just under 400 yards of offense compared to the 300 by the Patriots. Of the 31 points New England put up, 21 of them were arguably unearned. Charles Woodson dropped arguably the easiest interception of his life, leading to seven points. Then a 300 pound linemen returned a kickoff 71 yards inside the 5, leading to a touchdown. And a pick-6 in the second half also gave the Pats 7 points.

Arguably, the Patriots only scored 10 offensive points against Green Bay and still won. That game was a microcosm of the Packers season. However, the Packers still control their own destiny; by winning their final two games, they will reach the playoffs as a wildcard.

Perhaps the craziest game the NFL has seen in many years was the Eagles vs. Giants. Down 21 points with less than eight minutes left, the Eagles scored 28 points in the final quarter to pull off the win. Tying the game was impressive enough. However with just seconds remaining in the game, the Giants were forced to punt. Inexplicably, Matt Dodge failed to punt the ball out of bounds. Instead, he kicked it to DeSean Jackson, who then muffed the punt. Jackson picked up the punt, and ran 65 yards as the clock hit 0:00 and the Eagles pulled off the incredible comeback. To say Giants fans were sick to their stomachs would be an understatement.

Many want to blame the punter for not kicking it out of bounds. Yes, even if it was a bad snap as he says, he should still be able to kick it out of bounds. But how about blaming the other 10 guys that failed to tackle Jackson? How about the defense for giving up three other touchdowns in the final minutes? How about the coaching staff that was not prepared for an onside kick? Nobody on the Giants is without blame, except possibly the offense.

If that was what Week 15 had in store for us, I cannot wait much longer for Week 16. Even after two heartbreaking losses, both the Giants and Packers remain alive in the playoff race. How fitting that they face off in Week 16 to likely decide the final wildcard spot.

Without further ado, here are the latest power rankings:

Teams’ previous ranking in ( ).


1.       New England Patriots (1)

Tom Brady finally looked human, throwing for just 163 yards but once again was without an interception.


2.       Atlanta Falcons (2)

They’ve now won four straight road games and it appears as if the NFC playoffs will go through the Georgia Dome.


3.       Baltimore Ravens (4)

Impressive win against the Saints shows the Ravens can light up the scoreboard when necessary.


4.       Philadelphia Eagles (6)

Remember that feeling last year that the Saints were in the middle of something special? That’s the feeling people are starting to have about Michael Vick and the Eagles.


5.       Pittsburgh Steelers (3)

I think the most staggering statistic in the NFL is this: The Steelers give up nine points less per game when Troy Polamalu plays compared to when he doesn’t play. He is hands down the most important defensive player in the league.


6.       New Orleans Saints (5)

Will arguably be the scariest wildcard team in the postseason.


7.       Chicago Bears (8)

A note to 31 other NFL teams: If you kick to Devin Hester, you should probably expect to be fined.


8.       New York Giants (7)

One of the most heartbreaking regular season losses in NFL history. They must bounce back fast or their playoff hopes will end this week.


9.       New York Jets (12)

This team is capable of flopping in the first round of the playoffs or dominating their way to the Super Bowl.


10.   Kansas City Chiefs (13)

Matt Cassel is one tough dude. Don’t be surprised if he pulls out a playoff win or two for them.


11.   Green Bay Packers (9)

Six losses by a total of 20 points. It’s not even fathomable that a team this talented could end up 8-8.


12.   Indianapolis Colts (15)

After a much needed win against the Jags, they now control their own destiny.


13.   Jacksonville Jaguars (10)

They’ve had an impressive year; don’t count them out quite yet.


14.   San Diego Chargers (14)

Two road games remain for the Bolts, but they shouldn’t have a problem winning either one. Will it be enough for them to reach the playoffs?


15.   Oakland Raiders (17)

They need to win out and get a lot of help, but they’re still alive. Finishing at least 8-8 would be a major success for this team.


16.   Tampa Bay Buccaneers (11)

They finally lost to a team under .500 and it likely cost them any shot at the playoffs.


17.   Dallas Cowboys (19)

They have scored at least 27 points in every game since Jason Garrett took over. Watch out for this team next season.


18.   Miami Dolphins (16)

After beating the Jets to keep their playoff hopes alive, losing to the Bills to end their hopes is not what they had in mind.


19.   St. Louis Rams (18)

After starting off the season well, the Rams have lost four of six and now are in a tight battle the final two weeks. They face a must win this week at home against the 49ers.


20.   Houston Texans (20)

It must be frustrating to be a Texan’s fan.  Maybe next year will finally be their year?


21.   Cleveland Browns (21)

Disappointing loss to the Bengals, but even if they lose their final two games, at 5-11 this team should consider 2010 a success.


22.   Minnesota Vikings (22)

I think it may be safe to say we have seen the last of Favre for good now. Then again he may wake up on Sunday and decide he can play. Who knows?


23.   San Francisco 49ers (23)

At 5-9, and in third place in the division, they may actually be the favorites to win the West.


24.   Tennessee Titans (26)

Finally the Titans get a win. At this point they might as well keep losing and get a higher draft pick.


25.   Seattle Seahawks (24)

They control their own destiny at 6-8. Week 17 against the Rams could be for all the marbles.


26.   Washington Redskins (25)

This team is a disaster right now. However Rex Grossman looked like a Hall of Famer against the Cowboys. Is he really their future?


27.   Detroit Lions (27)

Eight of their 10 losses are by just 33 total points. If they can stay healthy and play just a bit more consistent, they will be a relevant team.


28.   Buffalo Bills (30)

Two straight wins has them confident, but they end their season with the Patriots and Jets.


29.   Arizona Cardinals (28)

Losing to Carolina is embarrassing. Doesn’t leave much hope that they will beat Dallas or San Francisco.


30.   Cincinnati Bengals (31)

Terrell Owens is out for the season, but will he return as a Bengal next year?


31.   Denver Broncos (29)

Denver should really consider turning Tim Tebow into a fullback or running back.


32.   Carolina Panthers (32)

Finally, revenge! Okay so a 2-12 team beating a 4-10 team isn’t exactly revenge, but after getting embarrassed by the Cardinals two years ago in the playoffs, it’s got to feel good. Oh hell, winning any games right now feels good for this team.


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