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Week 15 NFL Power Rankings

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There has been a slight shake-up at the top and the Patriots now claim #1. The division between the top 10 teams and everyone else has been clearly defined, and the also-rans are jockeying for draft position. Although the Jets are #10 because of their record, I don’t include them in that list of contenders. What remains to be seen is if anyone can stop the Patriots. They look primed and ready to roll their way to Dallas.

Without further ado:

1. (2) New England Patriots (11-2) – The Patriots aren’t just winning games, they are embarrassing top notch defenses. In 4 games since their inexplicable loss to Cleveland, they have averaged 40 points a game, with 3 of the 4 against the Bears, Jets, and Steelers.

2. (1) Atlanta Falcons (11-2) – Through no fault of their own the Falcons dropped from the top spot. In the last two weeks Atlanta has won by a combined 59-24 and still dropped to #2. That’s how good the Pats are playing.

3. (3) Pittsburgh Steelers (10-3) – The Steelers quietly have amassed a 10-3 record. Injuries are decimating their offensive line and they have a propensity of letting teams back into games, both are scary thoughts in January. However, with their defense, hopes are high in Six-burgh.

4. (4) New Orleans Saints (10-3) – If the Steelers are a quiet 10-3, the defending Super Bowl champs are ninja-like. Yes, Drew Brees has already matched his career high in interceptions, but he is also on pace to match his career high in touchdowns.

5. (6) Baltimore Ravens (9-4) – Sorry Baltimore, but this Ravens team has no chance of winning the Super Bowl. Their famed defense looks, dare I say, soft. The Ravens get a lead, and then give it up faster than a virgin on prom night. Ray Lewis still has the bark, but is living solely on his reputation at this point.

6. (7) Philadelphia Eagles (9-4) – Slowly Michael Vick is gaining his swagger back. On the field it’s been apparent, but his interviews have changed from happy to be there to brimming with confidence. This is not without reason as he is better than he has ever been and a win this week would put them in the driver seat in the NFC East.

7. (5) Green Bay Packers (8-5) – This team just can’t catch a break. The injury bug has hit the Packers from all angles, the latest being Aaron Rodgers 2nd concussion. They might as well rest him this week when they travel to New England, because even with him, they have no chance right now.

8 (10) New York Giants (9-4) – The QB killing defense knocked out another one in Tavaris Jackson, they had better rise up and do it again if they want to stop Michael Vick. It should be a playoff like atmosphere in the New Meadowlands, as the winner will control their destiny in the East.

9. (8) Chicago Bears (9-4) – Prior to Sunday’s game, Brian Urlacher thought that the Bears were better than the Patriots. After a 36-7 beatdown in a blizzard, he might not think they are much better than the Panthers.

10. (9) New York Jets (9-4) – In the words of Dennis Green, they are who we thought they were. The Jets played like the 5-8 team that they should be in a 10-6 loss to the Dolphins. Still, they are 9-4 and control their fate for the playoffs, but with the Jets fate in the hands of Mark Sanchez, the only way they are getting to Dallas is if they buy a ticket.

11. (13) Indianapolis Colts (7-6) – Hey look, Peyton Manning is back. He didn’t think that he was ever gone, but if they don’t win out, they will be from the playoffs. Thankfully they have the Jaguars, Raiders, and Titans left on the schedule, and a first round matchup with the offensively-challenged Jets is looking likely.

12. (12) Tampa Bay Buccaneers (8-5) – It’s amazing that the Bucs will probably get to 10-6. Unfortunately it’s the wrong year to be 10-6 in the NFC. They will be watching the playoffs from home, but shouldn’t be upset. They are getting there, but can’t hang with the big dogs yet.

13. (14) Jacksonville Jaguars (8-5) – With a win on Sunday the Jags will lock up the AFC south for the first time in their history. It’s a good story, but I don’t see any chance that it happens. It’s a statement game for Indy, and I think  Peyton will make it loud and clear who the division winner will be.

14. (11) Kansas City Chiefs (8-5) – The Chiefs had a chance to put a stranglehold on the AFC West and were embarrassed 31-0. Matt Cassel or no Matt Cassel, the Chiefs now have the Chargers breathing down their necks. Both teams have 3 winnable games on their schedules, so it will come down to who falters first.

15. (15) San Diego Chargers (7-6) – The Chargers bowed up and dominated the Chiefs on Sunday to pull within a game of the division lead. They have the 49ers, Bengals, and Broncos left, so 10-6 is easily doable, but they will still need a little help from the Chiefs.

16. (17) Miami Dolphins (7-6) – The Dolphins have alternated wins and losses for the past 10 weeks. If that holds true, they will finish at 8-8, which is exactly the record that this mediocre team deserves. If there was a VORP stat in football, the Dolphins would be the Replacement Player of the equation.

17. (18) Houston Texans (5-8) – The Texans are really good at losing games. You would think that they work on it during walkthroughs. They have had the lead or been tied in the 4th quarter of their last 6 games and won just once. They can thank the league’s worst defense for that.

18. (16) Oakland Raiders (6-7) – The Raiders rebounded back into form this past week. After their surprising win over the Chargers, they lost to the Jaguars in one of the most uninteresting 38-31 game in league history.

19. (19) St. Louis Rams (6-7) – After beating up 2 cripples, the Rams finally took on someone bigger than they are and they have the lumps to prove it. They are still in the driver’s seat for the CFL South title, and the playoff home game that comes with it.

20. (21) Dallas Cowboys (4-9) – The Cowboys are a completely different team under Jason Garrett. So much so, that they now resemble an NFL football team. They were game in defeat on Sunday night, and primed to have a high draft pick in April.

21. (22) Seattle Seahawks (6-7) – The entire CFL South has a negative point differential. The Seahawks are 2nd worst only to Arizona with a -68, and each of their 7 losses has come by double-digits. They should add to that total this week when they take on Atlanta.

22. (20) Minnesota Vikings (5-8) – After 297 straight starts Brett Favre missed Monday’s game. Now, after 1 straight start, Tavaris Jackson has been placed on IR to make way for the Joe Webb era. Next year’s ticket sales may rival the Metrodome roof in terms of biggest collapse in Minneapolis.

23. (26) San Francisco 49ers (5-8) – Blaming Troy Smith for the 49ers struggles is like blaming Haiti’s economy on the Earthquake. Sure it didn’t help, but the place wasn’t exactly thriving as it was.

24. (23) Cleveland Browns (5-8) – Rumor is that Mangini is gone at the end of this season. They have officially turned the reigns over to Colt McCoy to see what he can do. When they tried that with Brady Quinn, in true Cleveland fashion he promptly got injured and shown the door out of town, let’s hope Colt has better luck than that.

25. (24) Tennessee Titans (5-8) – 6 weeks ago, after taking apart the Eagles, I had the Titans in the teams that could contend for a Super Bowl. Now, after 6 straight losses, they are angling for a top 5 pick. With Houston, KC, and Indy on the schedule, they just may be able to get it done.

26. (25) Washington Redskins (5-8) – The Redskins cut their punter/holder after a botched extra point would’ve put the game into overtime. Sure, he’s been one of the worst punters in the league, but at 5-8, this team isn’t going anywhere anyway so what’s the point.

27. (27) Buffalo Bills (3-10) – Thanks to Jake Delhomme succeeding in what he attempted to do the prior week and throwing a late INT, the Bills hung on to beat the Browns. With 3 wins in 5 weeks they can kiss Andrew Luck goodbye, but to be fair, Ryan Fitzpatrick hasn’t been the problem.

28. (30) Detroit Lions (3-10) – It took a matchup against Matt Flynn to get it done, but the Lions got a win against the Packers. The NFL was so proud of them that they moved the Vikings-Giants Monday night game to Detroit. To make things even more realistic, the Vikings were the home team and went out and got slaughtered.

29. (31) Arizona Cardinals (4-9) – The Cardinals kept their postseason hopes alive by shellacking Denver 43-13. The 43 points matched their total from their previous 4 games combined. Things get even easier this week when they face the Panthers. If they win Sunday, they will be on a winning streak…it has happened before.

30. (28) Denver Broncos (3-10) – The success of interim coaches came to a screeching halt on Sunday when Eric Studesville watched his team get lambasted by one of the worst teams in the league. They have some winnable games left, but the only thing people care about in Denver these days is Mark Schlereth’s “Stinkin” Good Green Chile.

31. (29) Cincinnati Bengals (2-11) – The Bengals have now lost 10 in a row, and if they play their cards right could be in line to land Andrew Luck. In true Bengal fashion it’s likely they would pass on him to take Jeremiah Masoli instead.

32. (32) Carolina Panthers (1-12) – I give the Panthers credit for continuing to show up for games. Yes, they are highly paid athletes, but this team is a train wreck. All they have to do is avoid winning this week, and that should pave the way for 1-15 and Andrew Luck. Let’s see how Carolina screws this one up.

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