Week 15 NFL Power Rankings
by Robert Ferringo - 12/14/2006
So this week the Super Bowl is San Diego over New Orleans. The Chargers are the champions. We have co-MVPs with Drew Brees and LaDainian Tomlinson sharing the hardware. Devin Hester is the rookie of the year and the greatest return man since Travis Williams. And Brady Quinn will be in a Lions jersey before you can say "Fire Millen".
Everything's already been decided, so why bother play these games? Let's call it a season and spare all of our wives and girlfriends any more heartache.
Well, maybe it's just me, but I think that the general public, popular opinion, national media, and fair-weather fan don't know dick about football. The recent fad of Whatever Happened Five Minutes Ago Is the Greatest And Most Important Thing EVER is enough to make me want to puke on Sean Salisbury and the rest of the bobbleheads. Go ahead; keep buying what these hucksters and carnival barkers are selling.
It's a joke. It's December football and there are still about 18 teams alive and in the hunt for the playoffs. Nothing's been decided. Nothing's predetermined. If you don't think there's a chance that Dallas could miss the playoffs you're kidding yourself. If you think the Bengals and Jaguars are both locks for the postseason you probably still believe in Santa Claus. There's teams waiting to spoil, coaches waiting to choke, and no-names ready to break out and screw over fantasy owners across the country. In short: it's the best time of the season.
Don't believe the hype, and don't think for one second that Pride and Pain aren't intense motivators when some undermanned, overmatched scrub team lines up against someone who thinks that they've accomplished anything. It's a bloody trail to the playoffs, and in Week 15 we've reached a fork in the road. You can either follow me or follow Tony Kornheiser. Which way are you going to go?
And without further ado here are my Week 15 Power Rankings:
1. San Diego (11-2) - The Chargers are 3-1 ATS against the Chiefs at home and are 14-11-3 ATS against the AFC West since the start of 2002. That was the type of killer instinct I've been waiting to see from this team.
2. Chicago (11-2) - With Tommie Harris done for the year and Mike Brown already gone, the Bears are getting thin on defense. You don't just lose two Pro Bowlers and keep rolling on.
3. Baltimore (10-3) - In his last 11 games vs. Cleveland, Jamal Lewis is averaging 130 yards rushing. The Ravens average three sacks and 2.5 forced turnovers a game. They're 11-2 ATS off a straight-up win as an underdog.
4. Indianapolis (10-3) - Even after losing three out of four, this team is still 10-3. The true problem is that without a No. 3 wideout, a go-to running back or a tight end they aren't as potent offensively. That's what is exposing that porous defense: not playing with a lead.
5. New Orleans (9-4) - Beware of the Trendy Team in the NFL - it never ends well. The Saints are 0-6 ATS when playing at home the week after a double-digit win. And Sean Payton never coached the Redskins.
6. Jacksonville (8-5) -The Jags have only been outrushed four times this year and they are 1-3 in those games. They are 7-2 when outrushing their opponent. The Titans have been outrushed seven times, but only once in their last five.
7. New England (9-4) - Since 1999, the Patriots are 4-4 ATS after traveling to Miami. Those four victories are by an average of 10 points, but only once have they won their following game by double digits.
8. Dallas (8-5) - Tony Romo has just one TD and four INTs in his last two games after throwing 10 TDs and just two INTs in his first five. Bill Parcells admitted that he'd be shortening the playbook this week for him.
9. Cincinnati (8-5) - Their front four has been more physical, but the secondary still looks lost at times. But they get away with it because they're so good at forcing turnovers, especially in the red zone. But those LB's don't scare anyone.
10. Seattle (8-5) - With a chance to clinch the NFC West at home we'll see what this Seahawks team has in the Heart Dept. Bobby Engram will play, Darrell Jackson won't, and Pork Chop Womack won't.
11. Kansas City (7-6) - Kendrell Bell may be getting benched/scapegoated because of the Chiefs' recent meltdown on defense. The Chiefs have given up an average of 400 total yards against two bad offenses - the Ravens and the Browns - over the past couple weeks.
12. Denver (7-6) - A colleague of mine made a great point about Cutler when he took over for Plummer: "He's not used to winning. He doesn't know what that feels like." Interesting. The guy did lose 75 percent of his college games.
13. New York Giants (7-6) - I'm not going to get too excited about one win over a depleted team. Rumor has it Mike Strahan isn't going to be back this year at all. Also, Shaun O'Hara (ankle) and Kareem McKenzie (neck) are both iffy this weekend.
14. Philadelphia (7-6) - Over the past 10 years there's only been one time (2002) when the Eagles and Giants split their season series straight up. It's been all sweeps. Philly is 4-6 ATS in their last 10 in New York.
15. New York Jets (7-6) - The Jets are 4-0 ATS vs. the Vikings. It will be interesting to see how they bounce back from such a debilitating loss at home.
16. Buffalo (6-7) - Since 2000, the Bills are just 3-8 SU after a SU dog win. However, all three of those wins came when they played at home after an upset road victory.
17. Tennessee (6-7) - Tennessee has covered in five of their last seven at home against the Jaguars. Through Vince Young's first 10 games he was completing just 45.7 percent of his passes. Over his past three games he's completing 65.2 percent of his passes.
18. Miami (6-7) - Miami is just 1-3 ATS in their last four trips to Orchard Park. The Fins are 3-3 SU in the past 10 years when playing on the road after a win over the Patriots, but are 0-2 when facing a divisional opponent on the road the next week.
19. Carolina (6-7) - Chris Weinke has lost his last 16 NFL starts. The Panthers are 0-3 ATS against the Steelers.
20. Atlanta (7-6) - Losing Warrick Dunn and Jerious Norwood for this week's game could be mitigated by the fact that the Falcons use Alex Gibbs' zone blocking scheme, which is generally successful no matter who is running. Atlanta is 3-1 ATS vs. Dallas.
21. St. Louis (5-8) - You have no idea how happy I am that the Rams are playing the Raiders this week. That's one game to stay far, far, far, far, far, far, far, far away from.
22. Pittsburgh (6-7) - Since 1999, the Steelers are 16-11-2 ATS against the NFC. That includes an 8-3-1 ATS mark against the NFC over the past three seasons.
23. Minnesota (6-7) - Players have been criticizing Brad Childress lately for poor discipline and play calling. Minnesota has surrendered just 54.08 yards rushing per game. The modern (since 1970) record is 60.63 rush yards by the 2000 Ravens.
24. Green Bay (5-8) - In six home games the Packers are 1-5 SU with 11 turnovers. Since the start of 2004 the Pack is just 5-15-2 ATS.
25. San Francisco (5-8) - Corner Shawntae Spencer will be ready on Thurs., but CBs Sammy Davis and Don Strickland were placed on IR. They'll have practice squad players vs. the Seahawks. Also, LB Jeff Ulbrich has a strained foot.
26. Washington (4-9) - This will be the first time in over a decade that the Redskins have played three games in domes in one year. They are 7-4 ATS in domes since the start of 1996 and 4-1 ATS since 2001. They lost in Indy earlier this year.
27. Arizona (4-9) - A big part of Arizona's recent ATS success (3-1 run) has been the offensive line. No, I'm serious. They've started the same combo for four straight games and have only given up four sacks in their last five games.
28. Cleveland (4-9) - That team quit against Pittsburgh. With extra preparation time we'll see if Romeo has them ready to play against another division rival. The Browns are 7-16 ATS against the AFC North since the start of 2003.
29. Houston (4-9) - You'd think a team that doubled its win total from a year ago would be feeling a bit better about itself. I guess not.
30. Detroit (2-11) - If I get a vote, I'm keeping Millen in Detroit. The Lions are an easy bet against in the Millen Era. Especially on the road.
31. Tampa Bay (3-10) - The Bucs have scored over 10 points only once over their last five games and are averaging just 8.3 points per game on the road.
32. Oakland (2-11) - Yup, they still suck.
Questions or comments for Robert? E-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org or check out his Insider Page here.