Week 17 NFL Power Rankings
by Robert Ferringo - 12/24/2008
Here is a look at Doc's Sports Week 17 NFL Power Rankings:
This weekend is Week 17 in the NFL, but it's actually Week 1 of the NFL postseason. At least a half-dozen teams are fighting for their postseason lives and are in win-or-go-home situations, which will make for a fantastically entertaining Lord's Day. But it isn't just the postseason overtones that are driving this weekend's pulse pounding potential. The incredible subplots at the foundation of these matches are enough to leave a handicapper's head spinning.
And with that in mind, here is a look at Doc's Sports Week 17 NFL Power Rankings:
1. New York Giants (11-3) - I don't care what Tom Coughlin has to say, there is no way that this weekend's game against Minnesota is anything but a throw-away for the Giants. They could potentially face the Vikings again in the postseason, so they won't want to tip their hand. Plus, they were reeling a bit prior to last week's comeback win. This team needs to regroup, and that has nothing to do with this Sunday.
2. Tennessee Titans (13-2) - I still am certain that their lack of a playmaker in the receiving game is going to be the downfall of this team: too many drops, not enough RAC, and no go-to target. The Titans will meet teams that can stop the run. Can they adjust and be efficient in the passing game? Regardless, I think that's going to be tough for them to cover some of the lines over 4.0 this postseason.
3. Carolina Panthers (11-4) - It's certainly disappointing to the Panthers to not have home field advantage through the postseason. But I get the impression that they left that game even more confident in knowing that they CAN go into the Meadowlands and beat the Giants. Also, DeAngelo Williams just keeps getting better and better.
4. Pittsburgh Steelers (11-4) - It's going to be very interesting to see how the Steelers handle this weekend's game with Cleveland. They desperately need to get/stay healthy, but this is still a divisional rivalry and under Bill Cowher they never showed any mercy - ever - against those divisional teams. The favorite is 6-2-1 ATS in the last nine meetings and the home team is 7-2-1 ATS in the last 10.
5. Indianapolis Colts (11-4) - The Colts are kind of the anti-Packers, in that they have won eight straight, but only two of the games were won by more than six points. But in a way this team is reminding me of their Super Bowl squad in that they are doing what they have to do in order to get a win. Indy lost by 10 against the Titans in Tennessee but if you recall that was a tie game late in the fourth quarter. And that was when Tennessee was playing its best ball.
6. Baltimore Ravens (10-5) - The NFL moved the Ravens game to 4 p.m. this Sunday and that is a critical distinction for anyone trying to wager on them or Jacksonville. Baltimore will be watching the Buffalo-New England score in a game played at 1 p.m. If the Pats lose, Baltimore will rest its regulars because they will be in the playoffs. If not then that is a win-and-in game.
7. Atlanta Falcons (10-5) - Just really can't congratulate Mike Smith and Matt Ryan enough for orchestrating one of the bigger turnarounds I've seen in the past 10 or 15 years. It would be made that much more incredible if Miami wasn't a win away from nearly equaling what Atlanta has done. And don't think they won't be gunning hard for that No. 2 seed. A home playoff game would be incredible for that city.
8. Minnesota Vikings (9-6) - Minnesota is a choke franchise. Don't ever forget to factor that in. However, considering that we should see Adrian Peterson get around 35 touches on Sunday I would have to think that the Vikings are safe. If this one were on the road, the Vikes would be in trouble. But they will take care of business against a disinterested Giants squad.
9. New England Patriots (10-5) - Buffalo has been New England's whipping boy for years, as the Pats are 8-2 ATS in the last 10 meetings. Also, New England is 9-3 ATS in its last 12 Week 17 games. It is critical in this game that the Patriots set the tone early. This Bills team isn't a comeback waiting to happen. If the Pats get a couple quick scores I think Buffalo folds.
10. Chicago Bears (9-6) - I've been watching football a long time, and the amount of random, fluky plays and calls that bounced the Bears' way on Monday night rivals anything I can recall seeing lately. Does their charmed life continue on the road though? And here is why Lovie Smith is firmly in the lower tier of coaches in the NFL - Chicago has had virtually the same core of players since the 2003 division title team. Yet they have just one NFC title to show for it and are on the verge of missing the playoffs for a second straight year. This is one of the most underachieving teams in the NFL.
11. Miami Dolphins (10-5) - Does it get any better than Chad Pennington returning to his old haunts to face his replacement, who just happens to be Brett Favre, with a playoff spot on the line? You can't make this stuff up. Will Pennington stuff it down the throats of the Jets fans that I always thought were way to hard on him, or will he prove the naysayers correct by folding in a key spot? The Dolphins are No. 23 in the NFL in third-down conversions at just 36 percent. Ironically, that is the exact same number as the Titans. However, it's still a huge Achilles Heel if they are not able to string some time-consuming drives together this weekend against a very suspect Jets defense.
12. Philadelphia Eagles (8-6-1) - It is Owens vs. McNabb yet again in the City of Brotherly Love. Donovan has gotten the better of this matchup in the last few seasons with the Eagles taking three of the last five. Over the last five years the first meeting between these two teams has been the higher scoring of the two. However, Philly has been a horrid small favorite.
13. Dallas Cowboys (9-6) - Dallas is just 1-4 ATS in their last five against the Eagles, but the underdog is a solid 7-1 ATS in the last eight meetings. Tony Romo's December struggles continue (now 1-8 ATS in his last nine) but the Cowboys have been a great bounceback team. They are 17-7-1 ATS after a loss and 22- ATS after giving up more than 30 points.
14. Arizona Cardinals (8-7) - That's quite the hangover from a single division title, eh? They say, "Act like you've been there before." But Arizona hasn't, and they have proven over the last two weeks that they aren't ready mentally of physically for the postseason.
15. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (9-6) - For the second straight week the Bucs will be facing a West Coast team playing at 1 p.m. Hopefully it will go a little better for these scumbags. The 'under' is 7-3 in Tampa's last 10 games in Week 17.
16. New Orleans Saints (8-7) - With the exception of maybe the NFC East, if the Saints were in any other division in football they would be 10-5 or 11-4 going into this weekend. The Saints are on a 5-0-1 ATS run and have covered eight of their last 10 games.
17. New York Jets (9-6) - Never underestimate the fact that the Jets have owned Miami more than another single team in the NFL has owned an opponent over the last 15 years. The Jets are an unreal 20-4-2 ATS in the last 26 meetings.
18. Denver Broncos (8-7) - Don't count this team out for one second. I know that the odds of them going to San Diego and winning this weekend are slim, and that the young Broncs likely blew their opportunity with last week's loss to Buffalo. However, this team won at New York and at Atlanta this season. The Underdog is actually their best role, and they are 3-0 ATS in their last three games getting points.
19. San Diego Chargers (7-8) - Even with a win at Tampa Bay last week, there is no way that this team deserves a shot at the postseason. None. San Diego's only four wins over the last three months have come against Kansas City (twice) by a combined two points, Oakland, and Tampa Bay. The Chargers are 7-1 ATS in December games and they are 20-7-4 ATS against the AFC West. I will say that their secondary couldn't stop Denver in Week 2 and I haven't seen much out of them since then to think they'll be much better this time around.
20. Houston Texans (7-8) - This weekend's game with Chicago really is a great matchup for the Texans because the Bears can't matchup with Houston's second and third wideouts. Look for Kevin Walter to have a big day.
21. Green Bay Packers (5-10) - The Packers are going to get dogged for losing 10 games in Year 1 A.B. (After Brett). They have lost seven of their last eight games. But those losses have come by a combined 18 points and none of them were by more than four points. Two were in overtime. Last year Green Bay was winning those games. If you want to attribute it to Favre, go for it. But in my opinion that's just life in the NFL: one year you're getting the breaks and the next you aren't. Just ask Baltimore.
22. San Francisco 49ers (6-9) - Fear the mustache. The Niners are going to sport 'staches this weekend as a tribute to their throwback uniforms this weekend at Candlestick. Now, does that indicate that this team is loose and ready to go or are they lax and not ready to play?
23. Washington Redskins (8-7) - I hate to burst the Jim Zorn bubble, that last week's Skins win was more of a Philly collapse. And the true test of whether he has any control over this veteran team is if he can keep them motivated this week while going cross-country to face an energized opponent.
24. Buffalo Bills (7-8) - I would love to sit here and tell you that Buffalo can rise up and bite New England, tripping them up on their way to a potential AFC East title and another trip to the postseason. I would love to tell you that the Bills - playing at home - could be the spoiler. But that is not what this organization does. I think Buffalo gets hammered this weekend, even though they have the talent and motivation to beat the Pats by 20.
25. Jacksonville Jaguars (5-10) - Well Jaguars fans, I know you're not going to want to hear this, but let the quarterback search begin. I have done a 180 on David Garrard. I am not blaming this poor season on him, but this year he proved time and time again why he is a backup by making questionable decisions in key times and by causing inexplicable and crippling turnovers.
26. Cleveland Browns (4-11) - There is no sum of money great enough to top what I would have paid to watch Shaun Rogers punch Brady Quinn in the face, which is exactly what happened last week in a workout room.
27. Seattle Seahawks (4-11) - That was a fitting way to go out for Mike Holmgren: a win in his final home game against former pupil Brett Favre. One thing about Seattle this year is that they never quit on this season and I don't expect them to lay down for the Cardinals this week either.
28. Oakland Raiders (4-11) -The Raiders are 8-20 ATS in their last 28 home games. Oh yeah, and they still suck.
29. Cincinnati Bengals (3-11-1) - A few Bungles stated a couple weeks ago that they fully and completely intended to win their last three games. I listened, I just didn't have the balls to pull the trigger on a game that I knew Cincinnati would win. Gotta expect a solid effort out of them this weekend and it's not often you see a three-win team as a favorite.
30. Kansas City Chiefs (2-13) - The Chiefs lost their previous nine games to nondivisional opponents by an average of 15.1 points per game this season. That is compared to a 2-4 mark against division rivals with the average loss by just 6.0 points per game.
31. Detroit Lions (0-15) - Green Bay will be only the second team with a losing record that the Lions have faced in last 14 weeks. Bottom line: their schedule has been absolutely brutal. That doesn't excuse them not winning one game. But it's important to note. Detroit is also 7-2-1 against the total in the last 10 weeks.
32. St. Louis Rams (2-13) - Losers. And they are the worst team in the NFL. Each of the last two weeks they inexplicably blew games that they had no reason losing. Losers find ways to lose games. And if you think this team is not going to mail it in if they fall behind this week you are sorely mistaken.