Week 16 NFL Power Rankings
by Robert Ferringo - 12/17/2008
Here is a look at Doc's Sports Week 16 NFL Power Rankings:
1. New York Giants (11-3) -The Giants have gone from "freakin' unreal" to "pretty good" in the span of 10 days. And "pretty good" teams get beat in January all the time. Eli Manning has developed into a second-tier quarterback, but that is when he has suitable weapons around him. But he is not like Tom Brady or Donovan McNabb, guys who can make plays and win games with any ass off the street. This team is on tilt, and has finally come back down to earth.
2. Tennessee Titans (12-2) -You can't understate what that loss of Albert Haynesworth and Kyle Van den Bosch means to this team. Their identity comes from their defense and from being able to physically dominate opponents. But with half of their D-line out this team is vulnerable. Now teams can move the ball and score some points. And points put pressure on a Titans offense that is the opposite of explosive. If Pittsburgh has anything left in the tank, physically, then the Titans aren't ready for the type of game that the Steelers just played with Baltimore. But the Titans might be getting a team that is spent.
3. Carolina Panthers (11-3) -When Steve Smith is as active as he has been over the last two weeks this team is incredibly tough to beat. However, they are running into a hornet's nest on Sunday night and might be coming out of The Bubble. John Fox dominated the Giants in his last trip to the Meadowlands but they are facing a wounded team that is backed into a corner. The road team has won three straight in this series, dating back to 2003.
4. Pittsburgh Steelers (11-3) -How much does this team have left in the tank? They have a great opportunity to knock off a wobbly Tennessee team and the Steelers have covered four straight.
5. Indianapolis Colts (10-4) -Peyton Manning might be having his best season to date. But let's not get too crazy about the Colts comeback. They were tied late in the fourth quarter at home against an 0-13 team last week and have exactly three wins by a touchdown or more. This team also has an outside shot at a first-round bye, but would need the Steelers to lose two straight to accomplish that. The Colts can't look past the Jags this week to a tilt at home with Tennessee to close the season.
6. Baltimore Ravens (9-5) -It's pretty disgusting that the Broncos are likely going to the playoffs and that there's a decent chance that the Ravens might not be playing in January. Especially considering the Ravens would beat Denver by 30. There is absolutely no time for this team to languish after their tough loss to Pittsburgh.
7. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (9-5) -I'm not going to ding the Bucs too much for an overtime loss on the road in a division where road teams dominate. Jeff Garcia will be starting this week for the Bucs, who are now in a position where they need to win out in order to secure a playoff berth. The issue is that the injuries on this team are mounting. Derrick Brooks is questionable, Jermaine Phillips is done for the year, and two defensive tackles (including Chris Hovan) are likely out this week as well.
8. Atlanta Falcons (9-5) -I do think that the Falcons are ready to bang with Minnesota this week. But we are about to find out if this young team is ready to win in a playoff atmosphere on the road. Minnesota is desperate for this game, and as good as the Falcons have played they have failed to cover in back-to-back games. Atlanta is just 3-7 ATS against teams with a winning record.
9. New York Jets (9-5) -The Jets late-season swoon and subsequent 0-3 run against the spread has little to do with Brett Favre and everything to do with their struggling defense. This team is just missing way too many tackles and Kris Jenkins has hit the wall. Without Jenkins dominating the interior like he was the opening two months, this house of cards is crumbling. The Bills gained nearly six yards per carry and pushed New York around. In Weeks 6-10 the Jets gave up an average of 15 points per game. In Weeks 11-15 they have surrendered an average of 26 points. They are also on a 6-1-1 'over' run.
10. Minnesota Vikings (9-5) -I am still killing myself not just for leaving the Vikes off the board, but also for not making them my Game of the Month. By far my biggest miss of the year on a play that I absolutely loved. This team is playing desperate, physical football right now, which is exactly how you want to be playing in December. However, the Karma Police made a move on this club and Pat Williams is done for the season. Just like Haynesworth for Tennessee, you can't overstate what Williams' loss does to this defense. I also think that T-Jack should stay at the helm. The kid just needed a break and needed someone to show him how to play quarterback in this league. Gus Frerotte did just that.
11. New England Patriots (9-5) -In breaking down the Pats' blowout of Oakland the thing that stood out was not the 49 points they rung up, but the 26 points they allowed to a JaMarcus Russell-led offense. Not good. The Patriots have lost their last two home games and are just 2-5 ATS in Foxboro this season.
12. Dallas Cowboys (9-5) - Last week's "big" victory over the Giants is really all for naught if the Cowboys lose this week to the Ravens. Dallas is just 1-7 ATS in its last eight December games and this will be the best rushing attack that they've faced in months. And it may seem petty, but it does show that the rift is real: Jason Witten and Tony Romo skipped Terrell Owens' birthday bash. Yeah, I know, I can't believe I'm writing about that either. But, again, when the stuff hits the fan you know this team is not unified.
13. Arizona Cardinals (8-6) -I can understand a letdown after clinching a playoff spot but the Cardinals can't afford to mail it in to close out the year. Momentum is so important this time of year and their offense is looking really out of sync. This will be Arizona's fourth trip to the Eastern Time Zone this season. They are 0-4 SU and 1-3 ATS in those games, with their losses coming by 28, 4, 21, and 7 points.
14. Miami Dolphins (9-5) -It's not pretty, but it is effective. Consider the Dolphins as Tennessee Lite. They are simply grinding their way through their baby soft schedule. This team has covered just one of its last six games even though it has won seven of eight outright.
15. Chicago Bears (8-6) -How much is that Atlanta loss coming back to cripple this team now? The Bears could be eliminated from playoff competition by Monday night. If Minnesota wins against Atlanta then they clinch the NFC North and this Packers game becomes meaningless. Well, except for the rivalry aspect. And the fact that Green Bay embarrassed Chicago in Lambeau a few weeks ago. But I don't know if I would touch this game before we know what happens in Minnesota.
16. Philadelphia Eagles (8-5-1) -This is a very dangerous game for Philadelphia this week. Granted, they are 10-3 ATS on the road and the visitor is 4-0 SU and ATS in the last four meetings with Washington. But teams hitting the road after a MNF win have historically been money burners. Especially as a road chalk against a divisional opponent.
17. Denver Broncos (8-6) -After dominating weak opponents through the first month, Brandon Marshall has all but disappeared. That is, except for the occasional drop. This week is a virtual must-win for Denver because they don't want to have to go to San Diego with a playoff spot on the line. And you know my feelings about "must win" teams in the NFL: fade the hell out of them.
18. New Orleans Saints (7-7) -Now I can see why Reggie Bush is such a pansy when he runs; he is made of glass. Bush, who is nothing more than a glorified third-down back, has been placed on IR and is done for the year. New Orleans has been eliminated from the playoffs, so is the fear of being The Team That Loses To Detroit enough motivation for them?
19. Houston Texans (6-7) -I have ragged on Houston's defense all year but their front seven stood tall at home last year. However, after three straight wins and two straight upsets I wonder if this is Letdown Week. Houston is favored by a touchdown in Oakland. This line is the most they have ever been favored by on the road and is just the third time they have been a road chalk. They lost both of those previous games outright and are 6-17 SU on the road under Gary Kubiak. Oh, and Mario Williams made the Pro Bowl this year. Reggie Bush and Vince Young did not. Case closed.
20. San Francisco 49ers (5-9) -It's a bit odd to see a 5-9 team laying nearly a touchdown on the road against a divisional opponent. But San Fran very well could run the Rams this week. The Niners are 7-1 ATS on turf and they are 7-1 ATS in their last eight games against St. Louis.
21. San Diego Chargers (6-8) - This team is still a joke. Turnovers, sloppiness, and terrible defense have been its trademarks. And there is no way that this club deserves a playoff spot. Also, there were rumors from a Kansas City reporter that several "key" Chargers were out partying late on Saturday night before Sunday's game.
22. Washington Redskins (7-7) -Why the Redskins thought Jim Zorn would be a good coach is beyond me, but it's obvious that the guy isn't up to task. And this again raises the issue: why the hell would NFL teams think that guys with no head coaching experience can get on-the-job-training? I'm not saying they should only hire retreads and scrap heap coaches, but teams just don't' seem very discerning about who they are brining in these days.
23. Green Bay Packers (5-9) -Green Bay will come to play on Monday Night Football, even if their season is over. They want to sweep the Bears and if they have a shot to knock them out of the playoffs, even better. The Packers downfield passing attack is a terrible matchup for the Bears and I think Green Bay will be able to hang a big number on them.
24. Cleveland Browns (4-10) -Romeo Crennel failed to challenge an apparent fumble on Asante Samuel's 50-yard touchdown interception on Monday night. Once again, Crennel has proven himself to be the worst game manager I have ever seen at the NFL level. And I've seen some doozies.
25. Buffalo Bills (6-8) -Being from Upstate New York I am privy to being friends with hordes of Bills fans. And what was hilarious this week was actually listening to them try to figure out whom to blame: Dick Jauron for the play call or J.P. Losman for the fumble. Classic. I mean, what do you expect from these assholes? Wait, you mean Dick Jauron blew a game? Really? And J.P. Losman cost his team a win with a crippling late-game turnover? No way! Those things never happen. Seriously.
26. Jacksonville Jaguars (5-9) -I wouldn't expect the Jaguars to roll over this week against Indianapolis. This is still a divisional game and it is in primetime. Jacksonville was fortunate to win in Indianapolis but they are still 5-2-1 ATS in the last eight meetings. Also,
27. Seattle Seahawks (3-11) -Seattle led last week's game for exactly one second. Actually, they never even had the lead. They just won it on the last play. Good show. Unlike St. Louis, this is a team that hasn't quit on its coaches. However, I was stunned at how slow Seattle was to react to the Rams' constant blitzing. It took them a full half to realize what was happening and to change up. Injuries crippled this team for this season, but you can't ignore some tactical errors that have plagued this team.
28. Oakland Raiders (3-11) -The Raiders are 7-20 ATS in their last 27 home games. Oh yeah, and they suck.
29. Kansas City Chiefs (2-12) -No, I don't give the Chiefs any credit for taking it to the Chargers for three quarters last week. You have to finish games and close doesn't cut it. And this week even players - young, underachieving, unproven players - were questioning the coaching staff. Not good. I will say that I love Tyler Thigpen's moxy and I think he should enter next season as the starter, while whomever they draft sits and learns.
30. Cincinnati Bengals (2-11-1) -Last week I read an article where one Bengal said Cincy intended to win its last three games. I laughed at first, but then thought that this is going to be a dangerous team over the next few weeks. With games against Cleveland and Kansas City on deck, they might not be far off.
31. Detroit Lions (0-14) - Here are the teams that Detroit has lost to in the last five weeks: Indy, Minnesota, Tennessee, Tampa Bay, and Carolina. They have only played two teams with a losing record - Jacksonville and at Houston - over the last 11 weeks. Yet they are 6-4 ATS in their last 10 games. That's a team that doesn't quit.
32. St. Louis Rams (2-12) -I rest my case on the Rams as the worst team in the league. The Lions pushed one of the best teams in the league to the limit on the road last week. St. Louis choked away a home game to a 2-11 team. Jim Haslett is pathetic and this team quit a month ago.