J.J. McDermott, NFL Columnist at Fantasy Football Maniaxs
Week 14 contained many exciting, nail biting games. The Steelers beat the Cowboys late in the fourth quarter to improve to 10-3, the Giants dropped a heartbreaker to the Eagles, the 49ers upset the Jets making the AFC East a three-way tie, and the Lions inched closer to that 0-16 mark, and much more.
Speaking of the Lions let us move onto Week 15’s Power Rankings!
32. Lions 0-13
You have to love how Rod Marinelli will not answer a simple question of wondering if his team will go winless in 2008. With the Colts, Saints, and Packers on the list of teams to still play, will the Lions make the history books by going 0-16 in 2008?
31. Bengals 1-11-1
The Bengals are officially punchless, and Marvin Lewis is on the hot seat in Cincinnati. The Bengals have dropped three in a row now in which they have been outscored 16-96 in that span. Somewhere, Carson Palmer must be counting his blessings and praying to play for a winning team someday.
30. Rams 2-11
Even with Steven Jackson back in the lineup, the Rams still could not get close to winning a football game. The Rams have now gone on to lose their last seven games. This is still plenty of work to do before the Rams are even able to compete.
29. Raiders 3-10
That had to hurt. The Raiders dropped another one, this time to another division rival team in the Chargers in Week 14 to take them to 3-10 on the season. With recent draft selections of JaMarcus Russell and Darren McFadden, who would have thought that scoring would be this difficult?
28. Chiefs 2-11
They came close to winning back to back games but lost in dramatic form once again losing to the Broncos 17-24 in Week 14. Could the Chiefs have found their quarterback of the future in Tyler Thigpen?
How about a better question, how will the Chiefs fix their defensive woes?
27. Seahawks 2-11
Seneca Wallace and company were so close to upsetting an 8-5 Patriots team in Week 14. I am sure this was not what Coach Mike Holmgren had in mind for his final year with the club. I feel for the guy, his successor will have plenty of work to do come 2009.
26. Jaguars 4-9
We had such high hopes after last year’s great run, now the Jaguars have little hope left. Speaking of little hope, rumors are out that veteran Fred Taylor may be out for the remainder of the season. What else could go wrong in Jacksonville?
25. Browns 4-9
Poor Browns. Brady Quinn, Derek Anderson, and now, Ken Dorsey are thrusted into action. The Browns have a mess to deal with in the offseason with plenty of decisions to be made regarding the team’s future. Better yet, will Romeo Crennel be coaching the Browns come 2009?
24. 49ers 5-8
Can you believe the 49ers have won three of their past four games? I have to hand it to Mike Singletary and his excellent decisions he has made in recent weeks. Last season, we saw Shaun Hill perform well when called upon, Singletary called on Hill to take his team to victory and boy has Hill not disappointed.
Can Hill and his rejuvenated 49ers upset the up and coming Dolphins in Week 15?
23. Chargers 5-8
I said it in previous weeks, but I’ll say it once again. Talk about an off year for the Chargers.
At least the Chargers were able to flex their muscles by blowing out the Raiders once again this season in Week 14.
With all the Chargers struggles this season, will Norv Turner be back at head coach come 2009 or will we see a passing of the baton in San Diego?
22. Bills 6-7
Poor Bills fans. After a spectacular start, things have gone all downhill for the Bills. They have lost six of their last seven games and now must rely on backup quarterback, J.P. Losman to take on the Jets, Broncos, and Patriots to finish off the season.
21. Packers 5-8
Is it time for Green Bay to pack it in for 2008? The Packers lost another nail biter in Week 14 and have lost five of their last six games. Similar to the Chargers fashion, the Packers have lost all eight of their games by 12 points or less.
With a fairly easy remaining schedule, can the Packers turn things around and make it to .500?
20. Texans 6-7
Nothing like having a healthy Matt Schaub back at quarterback for the Texans. Schaub threw for 414 yards and two scores to help the Texans battle back towards the .500 mark. Schaub and his Texans take their three-game winning streak back home to take on the one-loss Titans in Week 15. Now on a roll, can the Texans break the .500 mark before season’s end?
19. Saints 7-6
Drew Brees is on pace to break Dan Marino’s single season total yardage record, but more importantly his play helped lift the Saints over the 8-5 Falcons in Week 14. With a healthy Reggie Bush now back, Brees and the Saints look to stay in the playoff hunt by facing the Bears and their 28th ranked passing defense in Week 15.
18. Redskins 7-6
The Redskins are drowning in the NFC East. The Redskins have now lost four out of their last five games as they have sunk to the bottom of their division. With the Redskins sudden demise, fans are already asking for new head coach, Jim Zorn’s head. Can Zorn and his Redskins turn it around starting with the 1-11-1 Bengals in Week 15?
17. Bears 7-6
The Bears may have lost against the Vikings in Week 13, but they got right back on track in Week 14 by beating the helpless Jaguars for their seventh win of the season. The Bears now must try to catch up to the NFC North leading Vikings by beating the Saints, Packers, and Texans in hopes of reaching the playoffs in 2008.
16. Broncos 8-5
Let's spin the wheel and just see who wins in the AFC West! The Broncos have been extremely unpredictable this season, but they have gone on to win four of their past five games. That was the good news for Broncos fans, the bad news being that they have added another running back to their injured reserve list for the season: Peyton Hillis.
15. Dolphins 8-5
Talk about a turnaround. The Dolphins have not been beached this season. The team has improved from last year’s 1-15 record and now are in a three-way tie for the AFC East lead. Chad Pennington has gone from team outcast with the Jets to team MVP in Miami. The Dolphins odds increase as they face the 49ers, Chiefs, and Jets to finish off the year. Can the Dolphins go from 1-15 in 2007 to possibly 10-6 in 2008?
14. Eagles 7-5-1
Impressive. The Eagles are soaring high once again after upsetting the heavily favored Giants in Week 14. Even better news for Eagles fans, by the look of things, Brian Westbrook is the healthiest he has been all season, and it has shown. With a healthy Westbrook in the lineup, the Eagles now must face the Browns, Redskins, and Cowboys in hopes of making the playoffs.
13. Vikings 8-5
Phew…that was close! The Vikings fought a battle against themselves in their Week 14 win over the winless Lions. The Vikings overcame a Gus Frerotte injury and three Adrian Peterson fumbles to stay atop of the NFC North standings. The Vikings will face large tasks in the Cardinals, Falcons, and Giants to finish the year. Now can the Vikings overcome their slow start and make the playoffs in back to back seasons?
12. Patriots 8-5
No fear Patriots fans, you are back in the AFC East division race. Matt Cassel has continued his impressive poise that definitely showed in Week 14’s comeback win over the Seahawks. With Cassel and a healthy running game now in place, can the Patriots make the playoffs without big names like Tom Brady, Laurence Maroney, and Rodney Harrison?
11. Falcons 8-5
Matt Ryan has taken the Falcons from a laughable team to a team with a playoff berth in sight. Ryan and the Falcons may have lost a close battle against the Saints in Week 14, but they will be given another chance to get on track against another division rival, the Buccaneers in Week 15. Can Ryan pull off an upset and bring his team closer to the playoffs?
10. Cowboys 8-5
They almost beat the Steelers; too bad they did not call it a game after three quarters. Tony Romo’s struggles at quarterback have fans in Dallas shaking in their cowboy boots. Romo needs to improve on handling quality blitzing defenses, speaking of the devil, good luck against the Giants on Sunday!
9. Cardinals 8-5
Kurt Warner put a whipping on his former team to solidify the Cardinals first NFC West Championship in decades. With Warner in charge of the passing game, where and who is in charge of the running game out in Arizona?
Before the playoffs begin, the Cardinals need to solidify a running game but good luck solidifying a rushing attack against the Vikings!
8. Jets 8-5
After two huge wins over the Patriots and Titans, where have the Jets gone? Brett Favre and his new team have become punchless of the past two contests in what should have been easier wins. The Jets now have fallen into a three-way tie for the AFC East lead as they head into Week 15’s battle versus the Bills. Can they fix their offensive and defensive struggles to take a step towards becoming AFC East Champions?
7. Ravens 9-4
The Ravens defense put the exclamation point on their win over the Redskins in Week 14. The difference between Matt Ryan and Joe Flacco’s success this season has relied on their team’s defense. Flacco gets the nod for the better defense. The Ravens fell to their division rival Steelers 20-23 in overtime back in Week 4. The Ravens will look to settle the score in Week 15’s defensive battle in what should be one of the week’s best match-ups.
6. Colts 9-4
Talk about a nice comeback for Tony Dungy and the Colts. After a slow start, the Colts have won six games in a row and should make it seven after facing the Lions this week in Indianapolis.
5. Buccaneers 9-4
Just when the Buccaneers thought the NFC South might be in reach, their defense that had only given up just one rushing touchdown all year, gave up four in Monday’s loss to the Panthers. The Bucs’ may have hit a wall after last week’s loss but they will have to get back on the ball against another division rival, the Falcons this Sunday to stay in the hunt for the playoffs.
4. Panthers 10-3
After releasing DeShaun Foster in the offseason, many critics were unsure if DeAngelo Williams could shoulder the team’s load until the Panthers drafted Jonathan Stewart this past draft. The duo of Williams and Stewart makes one of the best running back combinations in the NFL. With their punchy offense and ferocious defense, can the Panthers make the Super Bowl?
3. Steelers 10-3
The Steelers showdown with the Cowboys was hands down one of the best games of Week 14. The Steelers defense proved to be defining factor in the team’s win once again. Their defense will not always be able to put the points on the board, to go deep into the playoffs the Steelers will have to rely on Big Ben and their offense to finally put points on that scoreboard.
2. Titans 12-1
Another week, another weak team, and another win for the Titans. Unless the Giants blow it again before season’s end, the Titans will have to settle for the title as the NFL’s second best team. The Titans grind it out mentality and hard-nosed defense have equaled AFC South champions. How far can the Titans go in 2008?
1. Giants 11-2
The Giants meltdown at home was ugly from start to finish. Neither the offense nor the defense looked to be in rhythm. The Giants were due for a letdown loss at some point this season and Sunday’s loss is sure to be a true reality check. With the drama surrounding the team due to Plaxico Burress and Antonio Pierce’s legal allegations, will the Giants overcome? Needless to say, the Giants are still the most complete team in the NFL, regardless of records.
This is the way the rankings look for right now. Stay tuned to next week to see how your team fares!