J.J. McDermott, NFL Columnist at Fantasy Football Maniaxs
Thanksgiving week 2008 provided fans with a bevy of blowout games that either raised question marks or actually answered questions surrounding many teams.
The Plaxico Burress story may have topped the headlines but the Boy’s down in Dallas are back, Pittsburgh proved flaunted their top defense of the NFL, the Bolts’ proved that they are this season’s complete bust, and the Lions proved to many that there is little hope for a single win in 2008.
Speaking of the Lions, let us get right to it and move on to Week 14’s Power Rankings!
32. Lions 0-12
It was not as happy as a Thanksgiving could be for the Lions in Week 13. They Lions were slaughtered by the previously undefeated Titans who put a beating on the helpless team. The Lions offense and defense are both top five as the league’s worst. Will the Lions make the history books by going 0-16 in 2008?
31. Bengals 1-10-1
Another week for the Bengals, another lopsided loss. With no improvement insight, there is one question that must be asked; will Marvin Lewis be the head coach in Cincinnati in 2009? Lewis and company now must head to Indianapolis in Week 14 for a battle against the up and coming Colts and then face a 7-5 Redskins team in Week 15.
30. Rams 2-10
The Rams are like Swiss cheese when it comes to a football team. They have a lot of positions to fill before they will be able to hold their own and win a few ball games. The offensive line actually performed well in Week 13 by not allowing any sacks but on the other hand, Marc Bulger has continued his poor play by throwing three interceptions in last week’s game.
29. Raiders 3-9
Just when many fans thought the Raiders might be climbing out of the cellar, the team blew what would have been back to back wins. Turnovers killed the Raiders once again, especially Shane Lechler’s fumble in the second quarter that was turned for a touchdown. In Week 14, JaMarcus Russell and company will look to get back on track against the divisional rival 4-8 Chargers in hopes of sparking a possible upset.
28. Chiefs 2-10
Tyler Thigpen struggled but played well enough to lead the Chiefs to their second win of the season. The Chiefs defense recovered a Raiders fumble in the second quarter to take the lead and not let go. One last note on the Chiefs defense, they went sack-less in Week 13 and only have a total of six total sacks for the year. Who knew life without Jared Allen would be this harsh in Kansas City?
27. Seahawks 2-10
To add insult to injury on a horrible season for the Seahawks, being blown out 9-34 on Thanksgiving Day was added to the last of this year’s disappointments for the team. Not even the addition of Matt Hasselbeck back at quarterback has been enough to stop the bleeding in Seattle. Hasselbeck will have his hands full having to face the Patriots in Week 14.
26. Jaguars 4-8
Things are real bad when your team leaders and own coach has given up on the team. The Jaguars lost their third straight on Monday night and now must head to Chicago to take on a 6-6 Bears team fighting to stay in the playoff hunt.
25. Browns 4-8
Let us check the Browns options at quarterback for the remainder of the season, Brady Quinn, Derek Anderson, Ken Dorsey, and newly signed Bruce Gradkowski. After sustaining a season ending knee injury, Derek Anderson’s future as a Brown is up in the air.
24. 49ers 4-8
Not bad Mike Singletary, not bad. The 49ers have surprised many by going on to win two of their last three games. Can the 49ers take their new-found success back home to San Francisco to upset the New York Bretts?
23. Chargers 4-8
4-8? I said it last week but I’ll say it again - talk about an off year for the Chargers. All eight losses have been decided by nine points or less. With LaDainian Tomlinson’s decline and the Chargers struggling horrifically, is there any chance that Norv Turner will return to coach in San Diego come 2009?
22. Texans 5-7
During the draft were critics really saying Steve Slaton was too small and would not surmount to much? Slaton has been the man and has performed terrifically in place of the always injured Ahman Green. Now the Texans are on their second win streak of the season and come Sunday, the Texans may be welcoming Matt Schaub back into the lineup.
21. Bills 6-6
The Bills have fallen apart at the seams in Buffalo. The team has gone from 5-1 to losing five of their last six games bringing them to 6-6 on the year. To make matters worse, Trent Edwards went down with a groin injury in Week 13’s loss. With Edwards out, J.P. Losman must now step in for the Bills in the last month of the season. With Losman at the helm, there is not much hope left to turn things around this season, sorry Bills fans…
20. Packers 5-7
Brett Favre left quite the mess in Green Bay. I feel for Aaron Rodgers and one tough 2008 schedule for the Packers. There is still time for the Packers to get back on track, all four of their next contests are against opponents with records below the .500 mark.
19. Saints 6-6
Drew Brees is on pace to break Dan Marino’s single season total yardage record but Brees three interceptions sealed the Saints loss in Week 13. The Saints loss to the Buccaneers dropped them to 6-6 on the year but also put them in a tough spot. If the Saints want any chance at a playoff spot, the team must win out the remainder of their season games that include two showdowns with division rival Falcons and Panthers.
18. Bears 6-6
The Bears not only lost three of their past four games but also lost their division lead after losing to the new NFC North leading Vikings in Week 13. Kyle Orton’s streak of 206 passes without an interception came to a sudden stop in Week 13’s loss. Do not fear, there is good news for Bears fans. The Bears remaining match ups are all against opponents with records below the .500 mark.
17. Eagles 6-5-1
Just when we thought the season may be lost and Brian Westbrook was too gimpy to return to his former self, the Eagles silenced the critics on Turkey day by defeating the Cardinals 48-20. Donovan McNabb was able to get back on track, throwing for four touchdowns while Brian Westbrook rushed for over 100 yards and tallied four total touchdowns on the day. Westbrook and company will have to carry their newly re-found confidence against a Plaxico Burress-less Giants in Week 14 in hopes of climbing up the NFC East ladder.
16. Broncos 7-5
What is with the AFC West division? Teams like the Raiders, Chargers, and Broncos themselves have been some of the most unpredictable teams of the NFL in 2008. The Broncos have lost to teams like the Chiefs and Raiders but have beaten teams like the Jets and Falcons. Spin the wheel and take a chance, these Broncos may lead the AFC West division but are too unpredictable to predict on a weekly basis.
15. Dolphins 7-5
The Dolphins win over the Rams in Week 13 was their fifth of their past six games. Who would have ever thought the Dolphins would be in this position after going 1-15 in 2007? With match-ups against the Bills, 49ers, and Chiefs before season’s end, the Dolphins will be shooting for the ten win mark. My hat is off to Bill Parcells and Tony Sparano for turning this club around at such a radical pace.
14. Vikings 7-5
They did it! The Vikings fought back, beat the Bears, to earn their spot at the top of the NFC North division. Now how will the Vikings fare without top defensive tackles Pat and Kevin Williams if both are suspended following the taking of banned substances?
13. Patriots 7-5
After throwing for back to back 400+ yard games, Matt Cassel and the Patriots were brought back down to earth in Week 13. Cassel and company committed five turnovers in Sunday’s bone crushing loss. The Patriots will have their chance to get back on their feet starting Week 14 as they face the 2-10 Seahawks and then take on the 3-9 Raiders in Week 15.
12. Redskins 7-5
Houston we have a problem… The Redskins barely pulled off an upset in Week 12 beating the Seahawks 20-17 but following Week 13’s loss, the Redskins have dropped three of their last four games. The Redskins main man and star, Clinton Portis is suffering from a long list of injuries that is hurting the Redskins running game. With a less than 100% Portis, the Redskins must face the Ravens and Eagles in the final few weeks. Will the Redskins hold on and prevail to make a playoff run?
11. Cardinals 7-5
After a hot streak of three games in a row, the Cardinals have hit a brick wall, losing their past two games. Where has the running game been? There is good news for Cardinals fans, Kurt Warner and company face the Rams in Week 14 and look to bring the pain against his former team.
10. Ravens 8-4
Talk about a hot streak. The Ravens have won six of their past seven contests heading into Week 14’s match-up against the fallen Redskins. 8-4 with a first year coach and quarterback? If this was any other team I would say keep dreaming but it has happened to our #9 and #10 teams.
9. Falcons 8-4
Matt Ryan is still at the top of my list to be named this year’s Rookie of the Year. The Falcons have won six of their last eight with Ryan at the helm. Ryan has been able to spread the ball around while Michael Turner keeps the chains going on the ground. The Falcons biggest tests come in Weeks 14 and 15 against fellow NFC rivals, Saints and Buccaneers.
8. Cowboys 8-4
First, they get back Tony Romo and they begin to pick up the pieces; rallying for three straight wins. Now the Cowboys have reactivated ‘Pacman’ Jones to help revive their banged up secondary. The timing could not be better for a Cowboys team hungry for a playoff birth but first they must take on tough games against the Steelers, Giants, Ravens, and Eagles during the remaining four weeks of the season.
7. Colts 8-4
After a slow start, the Colts have won five in a row; not too shabby for a team that started off the season 3-4. Even with a lacking running game, Peyton Manning has found a way to win and the timing could not be better. Manning and company will look to continue their current win streak against the Bengals, Lions, and Jaguars over the course of the next three weeks.
6. Jets 8-4
After two huge wins against the Patriots and the previously undefeated Titans, the Jets were due for a letdown loss. Week 13’s soggy loss to the Broncos was a heart-breaker for this up and coming Jets team as they will look to add to their AFC East lead against the 49ers in Week 14.
5. Panthers 9-3
Even with struggles on both sides of the football, the Panthers have won five of their past six games to tie with the Buccaneers for the NFC South division lead. Will Jake Delhomme and Julius Peppers round up the troops in their effort to seek revenge on their divisional foe?
4. Buccaneers 9-3
Like the Panthers, the Buccaneers have won five of their past six contests. Their defense has held them in games while Jeff Garcia has done a fantastic job managing time at quarterback. The Buccaneers will let their stout defense do all the talking in Week 14 against their division rival Panthers for what looks to be the showdown for the NFC South.
3. Steelers 9-3
Critics speak about the frustrations with the Steelers offense that they never mention how dominate their defense has really been this season. After Week 13’s demolition of the Patriots in which the Steelers defense forced five turnovers, four by Matt Cassel himself, the Steelers must face the Cowboys, Ravens, and Titans to stay on top of their division.
2. Titans 11-1
After finally dropping their first game of the season to the Jets in Week 12, the Titans put a whopping on the Lions on what was a Thanksgiving Day Massacre. The Titans reestablished their running game by pounding away for 292 yards and four scores on the day. The Titans will continue to bring the pain against a Browns team starting their third string quarterback in Week 14.
1. Giants 11-1
Drama drama drama. The Giants punished the Redskins in Week 13 with a score of 23-7. The Giants win was overshadowed by the Plaxico Burress arrest. Burress shot himself in the leg, literally and metaphorically in what may be his last season in a Giants uniform. After placing Burress on the injured reserve for the remainder of the season, can the Giants go all the way and win back to back Super Bowls without their star wide receiver?
This is the way the rankings look for right now; stay tuned to next week to see how your team fares!