Week 16 NFL Power Rankings
by Drew Mangione - 12/20/2006
It takes a week, only one week. That's the moral of the NFL season. One week and your faults can be forgotten. One week and what was easily ignored before is now glaring at everyone. One week and Saints become forgotten sinners. One week and a defense that let running backs flow through like water through a delta is suddenly bound for the Super Bowl again. One week goes by and teams like Jacksonville and Cincinnati are no longer seen as this year's Pittsburgh.
Wow. I guess it works in this business as well. I've been down and out this year, with a streak of picks that just haven't been good. I guess that's why you pay for picks from skilled prognosticators like Master Robert Ferringo, who usually writes these power rankings, and I'm here to spark discussion for free.
However, here's the surprise. I'm coming in for a full attack. Like Hannibal crossing the Alps I see the sight of Turin on the plains and I'm ready to battle my way down to Rome. See, this Carthaginian has his sights on Week 16's power rankings and though you may think I've been salted already, I've got 1,750 troops, 32 elephants to rate and some room for growth.
Relax everyone, in just two weeks, these rankings will have an objective quantifier in the form of playoff brackets and we can start a brand new season, but for now, here are my thoughts. And don't worry. Even though the Carthaginians had the young Roman Republic on the ropes, Scipio Africanus won and 200 years later Julius Caesar built the empire.
Enough with the history lesson, Robert will be back next week with his vas deferens reattached. Here's the scoop:
1. San Diego (12-2) - Nine Pro-Bowlers and one more on the way if the selection committee knows what's up. Rookie Marcus McNeill deserves the slot that would have gone to injured Colts tackle Tarik Glenn. This team is legit and I'm a man, so despite my contempt for Marty, I'll give credit where credit is due.
2. Chicago (12-2) - The Tank is in trouble for his arsenal and the lowly Buccaneers gave them a run for the money. Of course, this is a Bucs team that finally gave the ball to their best quarterback. It hurt the Colts to rest up the starters last year, but seriously, the NFC is a conference in which rest is best.
3. Baltimore (11-3) - Steve McNair is hurt. Just ask the Titans if that matters. This man's career has been a medical journal and a banged up hand should be ok. If not, Kyle Boller has played well without the pressure he had as a full-time starter. The Ravens are 4-1 ATS against the Steelers since '04.
4. Indianapolis (11-3) - Rumors of Peyton's demise were greatly exaggerated, but I'm not a one week man. This team has had plenty of holes in the wrong line and the weapons are banged up. Tony Dungy can right the ship, though, with games against Houston this week and Miami to close the season.
5. New England (10-4) - The Patriots can clinch their division and put a nail in the coffin of the Jacksonville Jaguars and we all know how Brady plays in games that matter.
6. Dallas (9-5) - Tony Romo is in the Pro-Bowl and yet his coach had to trim the playbook for him. It worked. Don't worry Cowboy haters, T.O. is salivating at the change to expectorate on his team's expectations.
7. New Orleans (9-5) - The Redskins' pass defense injured Drew Brees's chances at surpassing Marino's yards record, but, don't worry, the Giants are 3-4 at home this year and giving up 233 yards a game-28th in the NFL.
8. Cincinnati (8-6) - It's so hard to pick which teams should be ranked 8 through 14. Three offensive Pro-Bowlers at tackle, quarterback and wide receiver give this team the nod. After all, it's easiest to think offense first.
9. Jacksonville (8-6) - The Jags dominated the Titans on paper, but came back to earth on turnovers. Maybe fans will see that while David Garrard was a nice story, there's a reason Byron Leftwich's absence hurts the team.
10. Philadelphia (8-6) - This town is used to its superstars carrying the team, but the Sixers never put any talent around Iverson. The Eagles are deeper than McNabb and with their backs to the wall, the wideouts are running better routes and Andy Reid is calling running plays.
11. Pittsburgh (7-7) - Last year's Super Bowl isn't looking so super. It's hard to forget that the Steelers ran off eight straight to end last year, but the team also hasn't lost in Week 16 since 2001. Don't sleep on the Steel City Defense, which is 9th in the league at 296.5 yards per game. If Big Ben & Co. protect the ball, they can gain ground too, ranking 6th in total offense.
12. New York Jets (8-6) - Win the games you are supposed to win. That's a good formula, especially with this schedule. Perhaps the best coached and least talented team in the race, yet the J-E-T-S are in the best position to dance.
13. Seattle (8-6) - A loss to the Chargers this week and then it could be all or nothing against the Bucs.
14. Denver (8-6) - Has Shanahan lost the magic? The Bells don't ring true. Sure they beat Arizona and Cutler has a 90.1 rating, but this team has fallen fast. Face it Mike, a running game can't be entirely plug-n-play. Look for a first day back (without a drinking problem) this draft.
15. Tennessee (7-7) - If it's not Vince Young winning the game, then this team has arrived. Jeff Fisher is the most underrated coach in the league and the team is 9-2 ATS with the rookie starting.
16. New York Giants (7-7) - Are there any Belichick disciples available? Say goodbye to Coughlin.
17. Kansas City (7-7) - Herm Edwards's loss to the Browns came at a bad time, unlike the same loss for his old team. Fortunately, Oakland is the vacation spot this weekend.
18. Buffalo (7-7) - The Bills have won seven straight ATS. J.P. Losman has 19 TDs to 12 picks, 3,061 yards and a ratting of 88.8. Did you know that?
19. Atlanta (7-7) - Has Jim Mora Jr. registered his new Web site? Firetywillingham.com? It's the Panthers this week and though the Falcons are 0-4 ATS on turf recently, the defense is 4-1 ATS after getting walked on for 30 points or more.
20. San Francisco (6-8) - A division title still in reach? The NFC west is pathetic.
21. Miami (6-8) - Reason No. 1 why analysts suck. This was their trendy pick at the season's start, but this is the one thing I had right from the get-go. Too bad Jason Taylor can't play every position.
22. Carolina (6-8) - Quarterback Stefan LeFors had to learn sign language to communicate with his hearing-impaired family. Can John Fox understand the signs that Chris Weinke sucks?
23. St. Louis (6-8) - How much do Rams fans hate Josh Brown right now? Believe it or not, the Rams have won all but one of the games they were supposed to win, but unlike the Jets, they've had a tougher schedule…barely.
24. Washington (5-9) - One team has to be at the bottom of the NFC's best division.
25. Green Bay (6-8) - The Packers are 2-8 ATS in the team's last 10 games after a straight-up win. Anyone want to watch them play the Vikings Thursday? I've got shopping to do.
26. Minnesota (6-8) - Despite Chester Taylor's emergence as a No. 1 back, head coach Brad Childress has carried on the Philly tradition of saturating the play call with almost 57 percent passes, even though Brad Johnson faltered and Tavaris Jackson (who?) is at the helm.
27. Tampa Bay (3-11) - Let the Tim Rattay era begin. He's better than you think. In 16 career starts (plus snaps in 18 other games), he has completed 60.7 percent of his passes for 4,292 yards, 27 TDs and 19 interceptions for a rating of 82.6.
28. Arizona (4-10) - And now back to our regularly scheduled programming. The Cards are 1-4 ATS in the last five games at San Francisco.
29. Cleveland (4-10) - Where for art though Romeo?
30. Houston (4-10) - With the third pick in the 2007 draft, will there be anyone named Luigi to pick?
31. Detroit (2-12) - Matt Millen may want to consider picking a wide receiver with every pick this year. Why not? It's worked so well thus far.
32. Oakland (2-12) - If they played the Loser Bowl: Lions 7, Raiders 4.