This week has the chance to be one of the most entertaining and unpredictable weekends of the season. With six games featuring teams with winning records and host of teams still alive to make the playoffs (10 of the 16 teams in the NFC are still very much alive), we should see a very high level of football played on Sunday as the fighting and clawing for postseason positioning continues throughout the league.
With that in mind, here are Doc’s Sports Week 15 NFL power rankings:
1. New England Patriots (10-3) – I cannot believe that I am probably going to take a “push” on my New England Season Win Totals bet (“over” 12.0) because the Patriots lost at home to Arizona. Seriously, how ridiculous does that loss look now? The Patriots will not be able to throw the ball with such abandon against the 49ers this week. And, in fact, one of my takeaways from the Monday night game was that Josh McDaniels just still doesn’t get it. There is a guy that is more concerned with running up the score and padding his own numbers (maybe to try to get another head coaching job) than he is salting away a game. That attitude could definitely come back to haunt this team.
2. San Francisco 49ers (9-3-1) – San Francisco has given up 119 points in its last 10 games, good for a ridiculous 11.9 points per game. They will absolutely be more prepared to bang heads with the Patriots than the Texans were (mainly because San Fran has a better coach), and I expect a much tighter game. The Niners are 22-9-1 ATS in their last 32 games overall, and I expect them to go balls out on Sunday night.
3. Denver Broncos (10-3) – The Broncos have never won in Baltimore. The home team is 9-1 straight up in this series and the Ravens are 7-1 ATS in the last eight meetings. The public is piling on Denver this week, and the line is holding firm under a field goal. Every trend and red flag is pointing toward a vintage Baltimore romp. But is there any way in hell that you can bet against Peyton Manning right now? Me either.
4. Houston Texans (11-2) – The Texans looked like deer in the headlights on Monday night at New England. Gary Kubiak looked clueless and unprepared and the Texans players followed suit. I hate to say it, but this team is not a realistic Super Bowl contender. That may seem harsh after one blowout loss. But that judgment is based on much more from this team, which simply does not have the coaching staff or the top-end talent to be a real threat.
5. Atlanta Falcons (11-2) – Don’t underestimate the revenge factor for the Falcons this week against the Giants. They had their season ended in New York last year, and Atlanta was much more competitive in that game than the score indicates. Also, this matchup reminds me a bit of the Giants going to New Orleans, where they always struggled, and I really think the Falcons can win in a blowout this week. But the whole matchup comes down to the health of Asante Samuel and William Moore in the secondary. If they don’t play the Falcons might give up another 30 this week to the G-Men.
6. New York Giants (8-5) – That was a great performance by the Giants on Sunday. And I am not in a hurry to bet against this team down the stretch. (Which is to say that I won’t bet against them at all down the stretch.) However, with games at Atlanta and at Baltimore and then a trickier-than-it-sounds finale against the Eagles looming, this team is absolutely still in danger of missing the playoffs. The odds are on their side. But don’t say I didn’t warn you.
7. Green Bay Packers (9-4) – I still don’t like having the Packers up this high, but what am I going to do with them? They have Aaron Rodgers and apparently that is enough. Green Bay has a chance to drive a stake in its rival’s heart this week in Chicago. They have covered four straight against the Bears and four of five meetings in Chicago, and Green Bay has simply dominated this series while going 8-2 SU and ATS in the last 10 meetings. Green Bay has won and covered seven straight divisional games, and they should keep on rolling this week.
8. Pittsburgh Steelers (7-6) – It is simply impossible to take any team seriously that is this pathetic along the offensive line. I really have no idea what the Steelers and Bears front office people have been doing the last four years in not addressing their lines. Pittsburgh’s is embarrassing. The Steelers have been amazing after a loss, going 10-2-1 ATS in their last 13 after an “L”. But it is still very difficult to trust this offense against a dangerous Dallas front seven.
9. Baltimore Ravens (9-4) – Jim Caldwell? Jim Caldwell is the answer to the Ravens woes? Wow. I have been a seller on the Ravens all season. I simply do not like what I see on either side of the ball from this team. They may get Ray Lewis and Terrell Suggs back on defense. But Jim Caldwell? You are taking your life into your hands if you bet against the Ravens at M&T Bank Stadium. They have one of the most pronounced home field advantages in the league. But these guys are just 3-7-1 ATS in their last 11 games, and I have not seen this team play well in over a month.
10. Seattle Seahawks (8-5) – Wow. That’s all I can say about the Seahawks performance last week. That was a peak performance if ever I’ve seen one, and anyone (myself included) that bets against the Seahawks at home is a stone cold moron. That being said, Seattle is back on the road this week after an amazing win and they absolutely are looking ahead to a home game against San Francisco next week. That makes this week’s contest at Buffalo a dangerous one. Or, at least it would be dangerous if the Hawks were playing anyone but the Bumbling Bills.
11. Washington Redskins (7-6) – I saw an early release spread for this week’s game at Cleveland, and the Redskins were seven-point underdogs. However, that number was clearly assuming no Robert Griffin. The early reports are that he will play. But I don’t trust Mike Shanahan. Even if Griffin does play, I expect the line to be somewhere around 4.0 and 5.0 because A) everyone knows he is not 100 percent, B) the Browns are playing well, and C) this is a massive letdown situation for the Redskins after back-to-back hyper-emotional wins versus the rival Giants and Ravens.
12. Chicago Bears (8-5) – I am thoroughly disgusted with this Chicago team. Like Pittsburgh, it is just asinine that they are going to waste another season because of glaring offensive line deficiencies. The Bears will be without Brian Urlacher again this week, which doesn’t help. And for all those idiots that suggest he is overrated, the Bears are 7-16 in their last 23 games without him. Chicago’s Cover-2 has given the Packers trouble in the past.
13. New Orleans Saints (5-8) – New York essentially ended New Orleans’ playoff hopes and doomed their season. How will the Saints respond? They were also somewhat vindicated in the Bounty Scandal this week when former commissioner Paul Tagliabue rescinded all of the suspensions. That has to make the Saints even more frustrated at their lost season. Does it have any spillover onto the field? Gauging where the Saints are mentally down the stretch will be the biggest challenge in handicapping them.
14. Cincinnati Bengals (7-6) – Eventually the Bengals will have to beat a team with a winning record. But not this week. I think that having a quick turnaround at Philadelphia on Thursday is the best thing for this team. That was a heartbreaker on Sunday, and that loss definitely could’ve lingered. Cincinnati is still 11-4-1 ATS in its last 16 road games, and they have given up just 12.4 points per game in their last five. But this one is all about how the Bungles bounce back mentally after giving one away to the Cowboys.
15. Dallas Cowboys (7-6) – Speaking of which, if you buy into the Cowboys down the stretch you are an idiot. I’m sorry, but this team is Lucy holding the football, just begging you to kick it. I believe Dez Bryant will play this week despite his broken finger. But this team has been outscored by 14 points on the season and had absolutely no business winning in Cincinnati last week. The Cowboys are 5-17 ATS in their last 22 home games and 3-13 ATS after a win.
16. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (6-7) – At some point you have to be able to stop people through the air. But the Buccaneers and their No. 32-ranked pass defense simply can’t. I mean, if you can’t get off the field against Nick Foles, how are you supposed to stop Drew Brees? The “under” has actually been the play in the Tampa Bay-New Orleans series, hitting in seven of the last eight meetings. That is now three straight losses for a Bucs team that had gotten itself into playoff contention. And how they respond mentally this week is just as important as how they fix that horror show in the secondary.
17. Minnesota Vikings (7-6) – I have to tip my hat to the one-man-gang that is Adrian Peterson. Last year it was Jared Allen singlehandedly carrying the Vikings defense. This year it is AP piggybacking the offense. However, Christian Ponder is just 3-9 in his career outside of Minnesota, and at some point the Vikings will have to throw the ball. Minnesota is just 1-5 away from home this year, and they have lost their last four road games by an average of 11.2 points per game.
18. Indianapolis Colts (9-4) – Weird: Andrew Luck has another embarrassingly inefficient game (16-for-34, 196 yards, one TD and two INTs – including a pick-six), yet this week people continue to just fall over themselves to praise the rookie. One ESPN bobblehead even mentioned him on the short list of MVP candidates. The blind praise and fanatical hype around this guy has nearly reached Tebow-level absurdity. Luck has not completed more than 54 percent of his passes in his last four games, for crying out loud! The perfect stat for the Colts season: in the last five games the Colts have been cumulatively outgained by 47 yards and outscored by five points…….yet they are 4-1.
19. Carolina Panthers (5-8) – The Panthers have become a team that I don’t know that I can bet on or against. I know this much: this team is much better than its record. The majority of their losses have been close, competitive games. And they have played – by far – the most difficult schedule in football. But I still don’t know how much I trust this group away from home.
20. Miami Dolphins (4-9) – The Dolphins have simply run out of gas. They have lost five of their last six games, and I think this team is OK building for the future. I really liked their waiver claim on Cincinnati castoff Armon Binns. He is a huge target with a lot of upside. I also think that Joe Philbin really wants to make a statement in this week’s Battle For Florida against Jacksonville. Philbin would understand the PR edge that a convincing win would give his organization going into the offseason. Miami is 24-52-1 ATS in its last 77 home games.
21. St. Louis Rams (6-6-1) – The Mustache rides again. Jeff Fisher just continues to get the job done and has this team playing its best football at the right time. The Rams defensive front seven has really come alive over the last month, and that has been the biggest reason for its improved defensive play. The Rams have only been favored one time this year, though, and that was the disastrous 27-13 home loss to the Jets. Going back to 2005 the Rams are just 1-5 ATS when laying points.
22. Cleveland Browns (4-8) – The Browns are now an overtime loss in Dallas away from having won five of their last six games, and they are playing as well as any team in football right now. The Browns are pounding teams into submission with the running game, and the defense has been playing past its talent level. Cleveland has held three straight opponents to 17 points or less and has held six of seven opponents to 20 or less in regulation. Not surprisingly, the Browns are 1-6 against the total the last two months. Right now they are playing vintage Pat Shurmur football: close, low-scoring, low-risk, grind-it-out games.
23. Detroit Lions (4-9) – That is now five straight losses and a 1-4 ATS romp by the Lions. The Lions have played four straight emotional games. I know I don’t trust them not to throw up on themselves this week in Arizona. I will say this though: Gunther Cunningham is one of the worst defensive coordinators of the last decade. But as bad as he is, if he can’t find a way to hold Arizona under two touchdowns this week he should fired immediately. I’m just saying: don’t be surprised when they cut to him screaming at some special teams player or No. 5 corner on the sideline after Larry Fitzgerald’s third touchdown.
24. New York Jets (6-7) – The Jets and Jaguars combined for 14 three-and-out drives on Sunday. There were two other drives where a team picked up a first down with their first play and then immediately went three-and-out. And if the Jets were facing anyone other than the Jags they would have been down about 21-0 at halftime. Were it not for the Jets cupcake schedule this year this team would be staring down a 3-13 or 4-12 season.
25. San Diego Chargers (5-8) – I will give the Chargers credit for their big win at Pittsburgh last week. After the season it is going to look as ridiculous as the Arizona-over-New England game does now, but hey, the Chargers were better on Sunday. Philip Rivers still looks completely shell-shocked. He was getting rid the ball much earlier than he needed to. San Diego is still missing three starters from his horrific line (and Nick Hardwick was injured during the game as well), but Rivers needs to cool it with the happy feet.
26. Tennessee Titans (4-9) – Let me end the suspense: Jake Locker is not the answer at quarterback. The faster this team realizes that the better off they will be. It is going to be a long couple years in Tennessee, though, as the Titans just seem blind to Locker’s shortcomings. The Titans are 4-1 ATS in their last five “Monday Night Football” games and did show up well earlier this season on Thursday night against the Steelers. However, this team is just 2-6 ATS at home and has dumped six straight meetings with the Jets ATS.
27. Buffalo Bills (5-8) – Call me crazy, but I actually will be looking hard at Buffalo this week. This franchise is full of losers. And the Bills never come to play when they should. However, they are 4-0 ATS against the Seahawks in a series where the underdog is 5-2 ATS. The Bills have a big situational advantage with the long travel and 1 p.m. EST start, and they are catching Seattle in a letdown/look ahead situation. Also, the Bills haven’t been blown out in eight weeks (that qualifies as progress for Buffalo), and their last four losses have been respectable showings against the Rams, Colts, Patriots and Texans.
28. Philadelphia Eagles (4-9) – You can say what you will about the Eagles talent – and I am on record as saying that they have UFL-quality talent right now – but this team will not quit under Andy Reid. They have a chance to be a spoiler on Thursday night at home against the Bengals and potentially in Week 17 against the Giants. This team is bad but it has not thrown in the towel.
29. Arizona Cardinals (4-9) – Any time that people are suggesting that Vince Young would be a “major upgrade” at quarterback, you have serious problems. That was a humiliating loss for this pathetic team last week in Seattle. But we’ve seen teams bounce back from embarrassment quickly in the past, and teams off a shutout loss are usually pretty active underdogs the following week. But lord knows I’m not betting on a team that has lost nine straight while averaging just 10.5 points per game.
30. Jacksonville Jaguars (2-11) – The Jaguars absolutely look like another team that is ready to mail it in for the holidays. The offensive line is in absolute shambles, the receivers can’t catch, and the defense looks constantly disorganized. The road team is 3-1-1 ATS in the Dolphins series, and I expect more effort out of the Jags this week. But they just don’t have the talent to compete.
31. Oakland Raiders (3-10) – It is stunning to me that people are just now wondering about Carson Palmer’s future in Oakland. The guy is AWFUL! He is not an NFL-caliber quarterback and should not be starting anywhere, other than maybe Arizona or Jacksonville. The Raiders are going to give Terrelle Pryor some looks in the last three weeks, and I would expect more hilarity to ensue.
32. Kansas City Chiefs (2-11) – Don’t worry guys, it’s almost over. And do you know how bad you have to be for Oakland to be favored over you? The underdog is 19-7-1 ATS in the last 27 meetings with the Raiders, and the home team is a stunning 21-5-1 ATS when these clowns get together.
Robert Ferringo is a professional NFL handicapper has banked nearly $10,000 in football profit over the last 12 months he has had football picks. He has earned four of five winning NFL weekends and will have another full card this week. You can check him out here.