Week 14 NFL Power Rankings
by Robert Ferringo - 12/03/2008
Here is a look at Doc's Sports Week 14 NFL Power Rankings:
1. New York Giants (11-1) -The fact that this team is 10-2 ATS, given the fact that they play in New York, are the defending champions, and have undergone as many injuries and off-field issues as they have is stunning. Stunning. I thought watching the Patriots flatten 20-point spreads last year was incredible. But I think what the G-Men have done is even more impressive. The question is whether or not they can avoid the same late-season collapse (ATS) that engulfed the Pats.
2. Tennessee Titans (11-1) -It's a bit odd to see a 14-point favorite in a game with a total of just 37.5. Both of these defenses have been playing really well recently so I can see this one turn into a grinder. The Titans are 7-1 ATS in their last eight conference games and are 10-2 ATS overall.
3. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (9-3) -Jeff Garcia isn't going to get much MVP love, but the guy is a superstar. He has less weapons to work with than any of the Top 10 teams and he simply finds ways to win. Even though the Bucs were hung on the hook last week in their home win against the Saints, NFC South road teams are still just 1-7 ATS this season with the average loss by two touchdowns. That said, the underdog is 8-3 ATS in the Bucs-Panthers series.
4. Carolina Panthers (9-3) -That catch that Steve Smith made on Charles Woodson to essentially win the game for the Panthers last week was one of the best non-touchdown plays of the season. Just an amazing effort. The Panthers have one of the top big-play rushing attacks in the league. Their 14 rushes of 20-plus yards ranks fourth in the league and is one of the keys to their attack.
5. Pittsburgh Steelers (9-3) -The Steelers absolutely lit up the Patriots in the second half last week. But the final score was a bit misleading considering the multiple gift turnovers that the Pats gave them. Pittsburgh is 1-8 ATS at home after a win of over two touchdowns and the 'over' is 37-14-2 in Pittsburgh's last 53 home games.
6. Atlanta Falcons (8-4) -The Falcons are on pace to finish in the Top 2 in rushing for the fourth time in five years. From 2004-2006 they actually led the league three consecutive seasons. I know you don't normally think of the Falcons as a smashmouth organization, but the numbers are certainly leaning that way. The Falcons beat up on New Orleans at home last month despite getting outgained by 160 yards. Atlanta is 9-4 ATS in its last 13 trips to New Orleans.
7. New York Jets (8-4) -That was the definition of a letdown performance last week by the Jets. Now how will Mangini get them to bounce back? This is really a critical four-game stretch for Eric Mangini, who is now just 22-22 SU as the coach of the Jets. New York is 3-8 ATS in its last 11 games against a team with a losing record and just 1-5 ATS against the Niners.
8. Indianapolis Colts (8-4) -What a Lazarus job by Peyton Manning and the Colts. They have won seven of nine games overall. But the most impressive thing about their run is that six of the nine games have been on the road. The Colts are 1-6 ATS in their last seven home games but are 10-4 ATS after scoring less than 15 points in their previous game.
9. New England Patriots (7-5) -New England is still having a hard time getting its defense off the field on third down. Opponents are converting 45 percent of third downs against them, fourth worst in the league. The Patriots are 19-7-1 ATS in their last 27 games after a loss.
10. Baltimore Ravens (8-4) -Ho-hum. Just another blowout win last week for the best team that no one is talking about. However, I read an interesting column from The Baltimore Sun's Mike Preston this week. Apparently a lot of the high-profile veterans on this team - guys like Willis McGahee, Ed Reed, Chris McAlister, Todd Heap, Bart Scott, and Samari Rolle - are at odds with head coach John Harbaugh. Looks like there are some rough feelings boiling beneath the surface, and you don't want that to impact a team down the stretch. Also, while this team has played well they have still taken advantage of one of the easiest schedules in the NFL.
11. Arizona Cardinals (7-5) -Arizona is actually 10th in total defense, in terms of yards per game, but they are 27th in points allowed. They have actually given up as many points on the season (313) as they have allowed yards per game. They've allowed the same amount of points this year as the 49ers and just 27 less than the Chiefs.
12. Dallas Cowboys (8-4) - If the Cowboys want to prove that they are really back in the race then a win this week at Pittsburgh is a must. But in order to do that they are going to have to show a set of stones I haven't seen from this franchise in years. Dallas is 4-3 ATS on the road against AFC opponents since the start of 2005, with a win at Cleveland so far this year. But they haven't covered two straight AFC road games in a season in over a decade and are 6-15 ATS in that situation dating back to 1998.
13. Minnesota Vikings (7-5) -If you are wondering why everyone seems to be conceding the NFC North title to the Vikings it's for good reason. Except most bobbleheads don't realize why it's for good reason. The Bears essentially have to win out in order to pass Minnesota in the No. 3 and No. 4 tiebreakers. The four-game suspensions of mammoth tackles Pat and Kevin Williams is a tremendous blow to the Vikes.
14. Washington Redskins (7-5) -.The Skins join the Broncos as one of just two teams that have actually been outscored on the season but have a winning record. Washington has played five of seven games at home but have not been able to make up any ground. That is a death knell for their season. In fact, they went 0-5 ATS in this five home games.
15. Miami Dolphins (7-5) -I really think that this is a key game for the Dolphins this week, and it could be a season-defining one. Miami really shouldn't have beaten the Bills earlier this year when they played in South Beach, with the Bills offering up five turnovers - most of them unforced - in a 25-16 Fins win. Miami is just 6-21-2 ATS in divisional games and just 1-8 ATS against the Bills.
16. Denver Broncos (7-5) -The Broncos are actually being outscored on the season (292-319) and they are still in first place. Bizarre. They have lost to the Chiefs and Raiders, but have also beaten the Falcons and Jets on the road. You try to figure it out. All I know is that I want nothing to do with this team as a favorite and will be taking the points when they're getting them.
17. Chicago Bears (6-6) -Who made Chicago's schedule this year, Major League Baseball? The Bears followed up three straight home games (they went 2-1) with three straight road games (1-2) and now have three more straight home games. The Bears are a pathetic 2-5 ATS in their last seven games and have been outgained in eight of their last 10.
18. Philadelphia Eagles (6-5-1) -How many season-saving wins can one mediocre team have in one season? If you think that a blowout win, at home, on a short week, against a team traveling cross-country after getting thumped by the Giants, is at all impressive to me you are mistaken. This is still a last-place team, even if it is in a stellar division. Andy Reid is 10-2 ATS as an underdog after a double-digit ATS win.
19. Green Bay Packers (5-7) -People are going to be quick to point out what a disappointment the Packers have been this season, just one year after being a quarter away from the Super Bowl. However, their struggles mirror Chicago's and are emblematic of the struggles the NFC North has had this year. Green Bay has lost to Carolina (by four), at Minnesota (by one), at Tennessee in overtime (by three), to Atlanta (by three), at Tampa Bay (by nine), and to Dallas (by 11). That is four losses by a combined 12 points and a loss margin of 5.3 to six of the best teams in the NFL.
20. New Orleans Saints (6-6) -If you thought the Saints couldn't stop anyone before, just watch and see what happens to this defense without Charles Grant (who was recently put on IR) and Will Smith. By the end of the year I wouldn't be stunned to see an over/under line of 60 in a Saints game.
21. Cleveland Browns (4-8) -Don't sleep on Ken Dorsey. He's an NFL vet that's produced in limited duty and he throws a real nice ball. The issue is with the fact that they are losing Kellen Winslow as well. And even if he is the most overrated player in the NFL, teams still slide coverage his way. I will give Romeo Crennel credit for keeping this defense playing hard, but the word is finally out and it looks like these will be his last four games as coach.
22. Buffalo Bills (6-6) -Even if Trent Edwards and his strained groin start this weekend in Toronto against the Dolphins, don't be surprised if you see some J.P. Losman. I still say that this team needs to get Fred Jackson and Roscoe Parrish a total of 15-20 touches every single game. Those are their two most explosive playmakers and they absolutely need the ball in their hands.
23. Houston Texans (5-7) -Even though the Texans are mired in what will likely be another losing, disappointing season, that was a great win for this franchise on Monday Night Football. That is now three straight covers and two straight 'under' games after a 10-1 run against the total.
24. San Francisco 49ers (4-8) -Even though they have no playoff aspirations this is going to be one of the most dangerous teams in the NFL over the last month of the year. They are playing loose and with energy. And with their pass-wacky offense they are the last team that a defense wants to prepare for. Their early season finals against Arizona, New England, and Philadelphia were all very misleading, and I think this team will be a solid play on in December. However, they are just 5-11 ATS at home.
25. San Diego Chargers (4-8) - No team in the NFL has dominated a divisional opponent like the Chargers have dominated the Raiders. They've won 10 straight against Oakland and are 10-1 ATS in the last 11 meetings. San Diego was actually outplayed in Oakland earlier this year and managed a fluke cover. But this week's spread is essentially the same as the line that they've covered in the last three meetings: 9.5 points.
26. Jacksonville Jaguars (4-8) -This is a team that you really have to be careful of over the last month of the season. They already appear to have mailed it in on the year, but they still have just enough talent to jump up and bite someone if properly motivated. The Jags are on a 2-7 ATS slide and have lost three straight games by double-digits. That smells like quitting to me.
27. Seattle Seahawks (2-10) -The 4.5-point spread in the Seattle game is easily the most shocking line of the weekend. Both the Seahawks and the Patriots are coming off blowout losses, but the difference is that one of these teams seems to be going somewhere. The Hawks used to be tough at home. Used to be.
28. Oakland Raiders (3-9) -When you figure this team out, let me know. I generally refuse to bet on teams with 10 losses before December, but I think I'm an idiot for not betting my house against the Raiders last week. It's a simple rule: if the Raiders are laying points you bet against them.
29. Kansas City Chiefs (2-10) -Herms boys continue to be road warriors. The Chiefs are a solid 10-3 ATS in their last 13 road games. However, the road team in this Denver series is a pathetic 4-12 ATS in the last 16 meetings.
30. Cincinnati Bengals (1-10-1) -The 'under' is 5-1-1 in the last seven meetings between Cincy and Indy. Of all the games going down this weekend I think this one will get ugly.
31. St. Louis Rams (2-10) -Congrats Rams backers. You are bolder than I. And congrats St. Louis. You almost beat a team that had absolutely no interest in playing football last Sunday. That was "almost" won.
32. Detroit Lions (0-12) - Detroit covered at Minnesota earlier this season in a tough two-point loss. However, they are just 1-5-1 ATS in their last seven against the Vikes and are 1-9 SU in the last 10 meetings. The Vikings are going to own the same matchup advantage this week against the Lions that the Titans had over the Lions: a dominating rushing attack against a team that has no chance of stopping the rush.