J.J. McDermott, NFL Columnist at Fantasy Football Maniaxs
The 2008 NFL season is coming to a close but things are just heating up as we prepare for the NFL playoffs! The game of the week in Week 16 is the red-hot Carolina Panthers heading to New Jersey to battle the Giants.
But let us not beat around the bush, it is time for Week 16’s Power Rankings!
32. Lions 0-14
Two more games to go until we find out the faith of the 2008 Lions team. With the Saints and Packers left on the schedule, going 0-16 is quite doable.
31. Rams 2-12
After winning two contests in a row after a coaching change, the Rams have lost eight in a row to bring them to 2-12 on the year. There is still a lot of rebuilding to do in St. Louis come 2009.
30. Raiders 3-11
Before we blast this team, we all must admit that Al Davis is the route of all evil now that he has past his prime. A continuous revolving door of coaching staffs, players, and poor drafting have hurt the Raiders since their loss in Super Bowl XXXVII.
Here is to another year in the can, Raiders fans. One day, the Raiders shall return to there motto of ‘Commitment to Excellence’.
29. Chiefs 2-12
How do you blow a 21-10 lead heading into the fourth quarter against the Chargers? Forget a logical explanation; the Chiefs flat out blew it in Week 15. The team will have to continue their rebuilding process in 2009 without longtime GM, Carl Peterson who stepped down earlier this week.
With the way things are looking in Kansas City, how much longer will Herm Edwards be able to keep his job?
28. Bengals 2-11-1
Surprise! Maybe the Bengals are not done in 2008 just yet. A competitive game played by Ryan Fitzpatrick helped bring the Bengals to 2-11-1 on the year as they head into Week 16 trying to win two in a row against a 4-10 Browns team down to their third-string quarterback.
27. Seahawks 3-11
The Seahawks did rally from a 7-17 deficit in Week 14 to secure their third win of the year, but Mike Holmgren’s last season with the Seahawks has been a complete nightmare. It may be the last year of his contract but will Holmgren really retire from coaching after 2008?
26. Browns 4-10
You know things are bad when your only touchdown in the past four games is from a returned interception by Brandon McDonald for a score. Third string quarterback, Ken Dorsey is clearly not the answer in Cleveland as the team struggles to make it to the finish line of this 2008 season.
25. Jaguars 5-9
Fred Taylor is out of the remainder of the season as the rest of the team has given up as they await the overhaul this offseason. None of those reasons stopped the Jaguars from ending their four game losing streak in Week 15. Do not get too happy Jaguars fans; you get to face the red hot 10-4 Colts in Week 16.
24. 49ers 5-9
The 49ers came up short in Week 15 losing 9-14 to the Dolphins. The important thing to realize after the loss is the fact that the 49ers seem to be improving with each week.
Mike Singletary is 3-3 since taking over the team and should go 4-3 after this week’s matchup against the 2-11 Rams.
23. Packers 5-9
Since starting the season 4-3, the Packers have gone on to lose six of their last seven games. After their Week 15 meltdown to the Jaguars, do the Packers throw in the towel for 2008 or do their play to ruin the 8-6 Bears playoffs hopes in their Week 16 showdown?
22. Chargers 6-8
They’re alive! Not really, the Chargers fought back from their 10-21 deficit to beat a 2-11 Chiefs team in Week 15. As crazy as it may seem, the Chargers still have a chance to make the playoffs. The Chargers next step towards the playoffs; beating the Buccaneers on the road in Tampa Bay.
21. Bills 6-8
From 5-1 to 6-8 season letdown; the Bills have come a long way since the beginning of the season. The Bills are 0-3 with J.P. Losman at the helm and there are talks of benching him for Week 16.
The Bills have dropped seven of their last eight heading into Week 16 and could very possibly go 6-10 on the year after facing the Broncos and Patriots to end the year.
20. Saints 7-7
I am sure somewhere that Drew Brees would trade his pace to break Dan Marino’s single season total yardage record for a Saints Super Bowl berth. Unfortunately for Brees, the Saints getting into the playoffs at this stage of the game is looking very bleak.
Reggie Bush was placed on the injured reserve this week leaving Pierre Thomas and Deuce McCallister as the top two running back options in New Orleans. At least Brees and the Saints can take out their frustrations on the win-less Lions in Week 16.
19. Redskins 7-7
From early season hopefully to late season letdown, the Redskins have gone from a healthy 6-2 start to an ugly 7-7 record by Week 16. Jim Zorn seems to be taking his team’s play to heart as the Redskins have sunk to last place in the NFC East.
With a healthy Clinton Portis, the Redskins are a tough team to beat; without Portis, the team struggles completely.
18. Texans 7-7
They are hot, they are not, they are hot, and they are not...The Texans have been all over the place this season but seem to have found their stride heading into the last stretch of the season.
Now healthy, the team has gone on to win four in a row and look to make it five against the help-less Raiders this week.
17. Broncos 8-6
The Broncos are as streaky as they come; the whole AFC West is a mess if you look at it. The Broncos somehow have made it to the top, trading for new running backs countless times this season.
The Broncos better stay on top of their game with the Chargers looking to climb back into the mix if the Broncos get sloppy but do not fear Broncos fans; you take on J.P. Losman and the forgotten Bills in Week 16.
16. Bears 8-6
If not for their loss to their division leading rival Vikings in Week 13, the Bears would still be in the mix after winning three of their last four. The Bears have accomplished a lot this season by finding their future quarterback and running backs in Kyle Orton and Matt Forte respectively.
15. Cardinals 8-6
At No. 15 on our Power Rankings, some may think the Cardinals are sitting too low, on the other hand, when you give up four touchdown passes to Tarvaris Jackson and still are lacking a running game; you have plenty of room to improve.
With running back Tim Hightower hitting the rookie wall, will the Cardinals rely back on their veteran "Edge" to lead them into the playoffs?
14. Dolphins 9-5
Talk about a rags-to-riches story. The Dolphins have gone from a 1-15 record to a three way tie for the AFC East lead at 9-5. Chad Pennington has gone from team outcast with the Jets to team MVP in Miami.
With a win at Kansas City this week, the Dolphins will reach the 10-win mark on the year; can Chad Pennington and this revamped Dolphins team pull it off?
13. Eagles 8-5-1
Cleveland Browns, no problem. The Eagles dispatched of the help-less Browns in Week 15 and set their sights on a fallen Redskins team in Week 16 to stay in the hunt for the playoffs.
With a fairly healthy Brian Westbrook and company, will the late-season heroics going to be enough for the Eagles to make the playoffs in 2008?
12. Vikings 9-5
Tarvaris Jackson and four touchdown passes in Week 15 against the Cardinals? No, this is not a dream Vikings fans, after being benched for most of the season, Jackson and company blew up the Cardinals defense on their way to their fourth win in a row.
With every hard played win, there is always a catch, defensive tackle Pat Williams is out the remainder of the season. With Pat Williams out, will the stout Vikings defense continue their ways on their way to a divisional title just two wins away?
11. Patriots 9-5
Week 14 was quite brutal for the Raiders who were pounded by the Patriots for 49 points on the day. With Week 15’s win, the Patriots are still deadlocked in a three-way tie for the AFC East lead. With matchups against the Cardinals and Bills on the way, the Patriots have the ability to go 11-5 while waiting for the Jets or Dolphins to mess up their chances.
10. Jets 9-5
Some may say the Jets got lucky on Sunday but a win is a win. The momentum is still on the Jets side as they hold the tiebreaker in the AFC East lead. The Jets must stay on top of their game against the Seahawks and Dolphins to finish the season and go to the playoffs. There is no room for mistakes for this 9-5 Jets team.
9. Buccaneers 9-5
Just when the Buccaneers thought the NFC South might be in reach, the Bucs’ have gone on to lose two in a row against division opponents. Jeff Garcia missed last week’s matchup against the Falcons so Brian Griese played in his absence but came up short.
After dropping their last two, can the Buccaneers win out against the Chargers and Raiders in hopes of making the playoffs this season?
8. Ravens 9-5
The Ravens are an up and coming team with a lot of promise. The Ravens five losses have come at the hands of the Steelers twice, as well as the Titans, Colts, and Giants; all playoff teams. The Ravens now must take on the Cowboys and Jaguars to finish the season strong looking for a wild-card berth.
7. Falcons 9-5
Matt Ryan has the Falcons soaring high in Atlanta. After the team’s Week 15 win over divisional rival Buccaneers, the Falcons are in the hunt for a wild-card berth. The Vikings not must keep their playoff dreams alive by beating the Vikings and Rams to finish the season.
6. Cowboys 9-5
The Cowboys got back on track in Week 15 by beating their arch rival Giants 20-8. With last week’s win, the Cowboys inch closer to making the playoffs. Week 14’s win was huge, but the next two weeks against the Ravens and Eagles will decide the Cowboys playoff faith.
5. Colts 10-4
Seven in a row! The Colts are on a roll and Peyton Manning is in the running as a legitimate MVP Candidate with his play down the stretch. At 10-4, the Colts are in the running for wild-card berth, but with a win and a Titans loss this week, they will have a chance to tie the Titans for the division lead heading into Week 17.
4. Panthers 11-3
The Panthers are quite possibly the NFL’s hottest team at the moment. Winning seven of their last eight with a solid running game complimented by a hard-nosed defense, the Panthers are on the prowl as one of the NFL’s best teams.
The Panthers' biggest test of the season will be in Week 16 as they must head to New Jersey to take on the Giants in what could be a preview of this season’s NFC Championship game.
3. Giants 11-3
With two losses straight, maybe the Giants are feeling the effect of not having many of their best players on the field after all. Could the drama of Plaxico Burress’ off-field issues caught up to the Giants? The Giants will need to get it together fast as they head into the last stretch of the season.
2. Steelers 11-3
The Steelers have proved themselves as a team over the last several game span. Their offense has not been stellar but their shutdown defense has set the pace in winning six of their last seven games.
1. Titans 12-2
Ok, they should have stuck with kicker Rob Bironas and kicked the game-winning field goal against the Texans in Week 15. Jeff Fisher screwed the pooch by getting cocky and going for it on 4th-and-short late in the fourth quarter.
Even with the loss, the Titans are still the most dominating team in the NFL, but how will they fair with injuries to top defensive weapons, Albert Haynesworth and Kyle Vanden Bosch?
This is the way the rankings look for right now; stay tuned to next week to see how your team fares!