Week 15 NFL Power Rankings
by Robert Ferringo - 12/10/2008
Here is a look at Doc's Sports Week 15 NFL Power Rankings:
1. New York Giants (11-2) -Team Distraction is still the best in the business, despite a lackluster loss to the Eagles last week. The issue with this team isn't the loss of Plaxico Burress. That hurts, but it isn't a crippler. The issue is Brandon Jacobs' knee. He is the unstoppable one and he really sets the tone for the offense. That the G-Men are underdogs this week is a huge red flag. However, they are 22-6 ATS in their last 28 road games and 14-2 ATS against a team with a winning record. You gonna bet against them?
2. Tennessee Titans (12-1) -Home field advantage is still up for grabs for this squad, so they still have some value. However, if Pittsburgh loses and Tennessee beats Houston then you have to wonder where the motivation is. But first things first. Houston has won three straight and covered four straight overall. But Tennessee has owned this series, winning seven straight outright and posting a 6-1 ATS mark since 2005 against the Texans.
3. Carolina Panthers (10-3) -That was a Statement Game made by the Panthers on Monday Night Football. However, while everyone is stroking this team I will say that Jake Delhomme is still a mess. He had two picks, and if a team is able to double Steve Smith while still being able to stop the run (Minnesota, the Giants, etc.) then Delhomme will not be able to carry this offense.
4. Pittsburgh Steelers (10-3) -Pitt has been the best underdog in the NFL over the last decade, posting a 30-16 ATS mark as a dog dating back to 1999. The Steelers have been doing it with smoke and mirrors on offense, and that is a major issue heading into this week's tilt with Baltimore. Ben has been sacked 38 times, the team is 26th in offense and 29th in rush yards per carry. And with their next two games against the No. 2 and No. 3 defenses I don't see those numbers improving anytime soon.
5. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (9-4) -It was clearly disheartening to see the Bucs get torn up in the fourth quarter of that game Monday night, but I expect a bounce back. At least, they better with Mike Turner on deck. The Bucs are 6-2 ATS in their last eight trips to Atlanta and are 11-5 ATS in the last 15 meetings overall. Oh, and just remember who was saying months ago that Antonio Bryant was a great pickup for this team and would be a perfect compliment to Joey Galloway.
6. Indianapolis Colts (9-4) -Bob Sanders and the Colts defense hasn't allowed a touchdown in eight quarters. Sanders and center Jeff Saturday both appear to be healthy and should line up against Detroit this weekend. But which Colts team will show up: the one that won five games by a total of 20 points or the team that hammered the Bengals last week? There really is no reason they shouldn't beat Detroit by 30 this week. But will they? I think so.
7. Baltimore Ravens (9-4) -Even though five of the last 10 meetings have been decided by six points or less, and three of those have gone into overtime, the points won't make a difference on Sunday. What is impressive about this team is not that they are 7-1 SU and ATS over the last couple months, but that all of their wins have come by double digits.
8. Atlanta Falcons (8-5) -NFC South teams are 24-2 SU in all games this year. Home teams in divisional games are 9-1 ATS with an average win of nearly two touchdowns. Tampa Bay has been Atlanta's nemesis for years, and the Falcons have lost three straight in the series. However, Atlanta is a solid 6-0 ATS following a loss and 6-1 ATS at home. Also, this team continues to be an 'over' machine. They have sailed over the total in eight of 10 home games and 11 of 15 conference games.
9. New York Jets (8-5) -Man, this collapse would be surprising if it wasn't typical Jets football. When you count this team out they surprise you. But when they are a favorite they always disappoint. It's been that way for years. Now they are taking heavy action as a touchdown favorite against a division rival. Just a dicey situation all around. The Jets are just 3-9 ATS against a team with a losing record.
10. Arizona Cardinals (8-5) -Have to wonder about the letdown here from the Cardinals, who are in uncharted territory after clinching the division last week. Clark Haggans isn't going to play, and when do they start to rest guys? Minnesota is the eighth team with a winning record that the Cards have faced this year. They are just 2-5 SU and 3-4 ATS against the previous seven, and have lost the last three.
11. New England Patriots (8-5) -This is the second time this year that the Patriots have had back-to-back West Coast games, and this is the second time that they stayed in Cali in between games. But last time they got smoked 30-10 at San Diego. The only way for the Pats to make the playoffs is to win the division. They lose all tiebreakers with the Jets and the Dolphins and they'll lose Wild Card tiebreakers with the Ravens and Colts. Everything to play for - and no healthy linebackers.
12. Minnesota Vikings (8-5) -This Vikings team is playing frantically right now. They know that they need every win they can get before Pat and Kevin Williams get suspended, because this team is going to fall apart when that happens. I believe that Gus Frerotte will play this weekend, sore back and all. But even if he doesn't I think that T-Jack will be much sharper now that he's actually watched and learned how the position is supposed to be played.
13. Dallas Cowboys (8-5) - I still don't understand why this team is still getting so much credit. This team has not accomplished anything and hasn't proven that it can play with the Big Boys in the NFL. Also, Tony Romo apparently turns into a pumpkin each year on Dec. 1. His shaky play is setting the tone for a team that still might be dazed from that collapse in Pittsburgh. The Cowboys are 1-7 ATS in divisional games and are 2-6-2 ATS against the Giants over the last few years.
14. Miami Dolphins (8-5) -At this point in the year the Dolphins have scored just nine more points than they have given up (269-260) so let's not act like this is a dominant force. I will say that Miami's secondary matches up very well with what the Niners want to do offensively, and if Miami gets some early turnovers they could get up big, quickly. The Dolphins are just 10-23-1 ATS after a win against the spread and just 12-32-1 ATS at home.
15. Chicago Bears (7-6) -The federal blockage of the NFL's suspension of the Saints and Vikings players that violated the substance abuse policy is hurting the Bears more than any other team. They play the Saints this week and are chasing the Vikings (and their tiebreakers) in the NFC North. Chicago has jut one win over a team with a winning record since Oct. 1, but they are 3-0 SU and 2-0-1 ATS in their last three against the Saints.
16. Philadelphia Eagles (7-5-1) - Are we really supposed to all jump back on the Eagles bandwagon? Really? We need to just ignore the ass-ramming they took at Baltimore and that bizarre tie with Cincinnati? I'm not so sure. The Eagles are 11-4 ATS as a home favorite on Monday night and they are 7-1 ATS on MNF after a SU and ATS win.
17. Denver Broncos (8-5) -I have bashed this team all season long - and I still don't think they are very good - but don't sleep on the Broncos this week. However fluky it was, this team went into Atlanta and handled the Falcons, which is something even the Panthers couldn't do. Denver is 3-0 SU and ATS in its last three road games, winning each outright as an underdog. Tatum Bell is slated to be the No. 1 running back for this club this Sunday. No word yet if he tried to steal Peyton Hillis' luggage.
18. New Orleans Saints (7-6) -This is a great matchup for the Saints this week against a Bears secondary that has been suspect all season. I think New Orleans will once again be able to move the ball at will. However, the Saints are just 1-5 SU in their last six games on grass. The lone win was at Arrowhead last month.
19. Washington Redskins (7-6) -Yup, the wheels have officially fallen off. It wasn't enough to get embarrassed by a regional rival. But now Clinton Portis is bringing to light what I mentioned last week: the Redskins locker room doesn't respect Jim Zorn. But what is really going to cripple this team is the fact that Chris Samuels is done for the year (tricep) and Jon Jansen is doubtful for this week. Those are their two best linemen for a team that is just 29th in scoring.
20. Houston Texans (5-7) -Before you get on the Texans train consider this: Houston has played three winning teams at home - Baltimore, Indy, and Miami. They are 0-3 ATS in those three games. Yet, the Texans have won six of nine games overall and three straight. The Houston papers have started to refer to this club as "Team Turnover". That's not good heading into a game with the team with the No. 1 turnover margin in the league at +19.
21. San Francisco 49ers (5-8) -I won't speak as to Mike Singletary's long-term prospects with San Fran, but he certain has this team's attention right now. Look for Frank Gore to give it a go on Sunday against Miami. That's his home town and he expects between 150 and 200 family and friends to be in attendance.
22. San Diego Chargers (5-8) - The Chiefs are really the only AFC West team that the Chargers have had trouble cashing against recently. San Diego is 20-6-4 ATS in its last 30 divisional games but just 4-2 ATS in its last six against Kansas City. Norv Turner apparently still has this team playing focused football, and the schedule helps out a wager on San Diego this week. Denver doesn't play until 4 p.m., so the Chargers have to win and then bank on a Denver loss to keep their playoff hopes alive. With at least that to hang their hat on San Diego should come to play.
23. Green Bay Packers (5-8) -The failure of Green Bay's season goes right back to what I pointed out at the start of the year: they were absolutely decimated along the defensive line and they never went out and addressed that glaring need. Hence, this defense gave up nearly 600 yards at home in December to a soft team from a warm climate. Green Bay moved Charles Woodson to safety last week. Yeah, that didn't work.
24. Cleveland Browns (4-9) -This is the hell that is my life: the Browns have only covered one game since October, and that was my Game of the Month play on Buffalo. The Bills completely outplayed the Browns, but Cleveland managed to scum out the cover. Sometimes I love this job.
25. Buffalo Bills (6-7) -Buffalo is 7-3 ATS in their last 10 games against the Jets and the underdog has covered six straight (and eight of 10) in this series. But other than that, this team sucks. And they obviously aren't reading this space: one week after I am screaming for Fred Jackson to get touches he received not-a-one against Miami.
26. Jacksonville Jaguars (4-9) -Matt Jones has been suspended for the final three games, and can now head back to the trailer park and smoke all the meth that he likes. Jacksonville completely mailed it in (again) at Chicago last Sunday. I don't see any way that the Jags can stop the Green Bay passing attack without Rashean Mathis.
27. Seattle Seahawks (2-11) -Here is the difference that coaching makes: unlike St. Louis, Seattle is still playing hard and still playing for pride. That is a direct reflection of the two head coaches, and you can't rule this team out for covering a game or two over the last three weeks. Seattle is 5-2 ATS in its last seven against the Rams.
28. Oakland Raiders (3-10) -Oakland is 17-36-1 ATS at home and 22-46-1 ATS after a loss. They are a money burner, and the only option is to bet against them.
29. Kansas City Chiefs (2-11) -Not that there's really much controversy about it, but Herm absolutely should have gone for it on fourth-and-five to tie the game late in the fourth quarter. Kansas City has won 10 of 13 games against the Chargers in Arrowhead and only lost by one point in their first meeting. In fact, the Chiefs are 2-2 SU and 4-0 ATS in divisional games this year.
30. Cincinnati Bengals (1-11-1) -Marvin Lewis said that he might play Carson Palmer over the last three weeks if he's healthy. This team hasn't scored a TD in 11 quarters, but jeopardizing their franchise quarterback in a lost season would just be another pathetic decision for a guy who should have been out of chances a year-and-a-half ago.
31. Detroit Lions (0-13) - Look for veteran corner Brian Kelly to catch on with a team playing the Tampa-2 (Hey Chicago, CAN YOU HEAR ME). The Lions cut Kelly this week. Oh yeah, and Google Dominic Raiola's name in the news this week and see what pops up. Priceless.
32. St. Louis Rams (2-11) -Yeah, right now the Rams are the worst team in the NFL. And no, I'm not joking. If you look at the schedules that these two teams have played it is not even close. Further, despite playing a softer schedule the Rams have been noncompetitive. Nine of their 11 losses have come by 17 or more points, where just six of Detroit's 13 losses have been by more than two touchdowns. St. Louis also has six losses of 24 or more while Detroit has just three. It's not even close who the worst team in the NFL is. I don't care what the records say.