Thursday, 6 December 2012

NFL Power Rankings: Week 14

1.       Houston Texans 11-1 (U1)
Another week another win for Houston, this time over the hapless Titans. Their season has been consistently excellent, but this Monday’s stellar game with the Pats is a potential play-off preview, and one that if they lose will place doubts in everyone’s minds as to whether they can launch a real Super Bowl challenge.

2.       Atlanta Falcons 11-1 (U3)
I definitely dropped the Falcons too soon last week, which was an error. They comfortably handled their rival Saints, and at 11-1 they deserve their place in the top two. The play-off concerns will remain until they win there, but I don’t believe they have some inherent post-season weakness. Next they face off with Carolina, which is not one they should be losing even with one foot in the door.

3.       Denver Broncos 9-3 (-)
Another win for Denver but no change (it’s tough at the top). Barring an injury to Peyton they will be a force in the post-season. Next they play Oakland on Thursday in a game where it would be shocking if they squandered the win.

4.       New England Patriots 9-3 (-)
The Pats sail past Miami and really nothing more needs to be said at this stage. No Gronk? No problem when Brady is at the reigns. Hosting Houston next will be as tough as they come at this late stage.

5.       San Francisco 49ers 8-3-1 (D4)
A surprise loss to the Rams, and for a minute there it almost looked like an unprecedented double draw! There’s still a lot of debate who should be starting for SF after Kaep gave up a costly TD to St. Louis late on, but to his credit helped tie the game up with an impressively long run. I don’t think there’s a clear cut answer as both have strengths and weaknesses, but with a play-off spot almost guaranteed at this stage (they could still lose out to Seattle for the NFC West title) they will be happy to give Colin the experience. Next up they have an easy match-up vs the visiting Dolphins.

6.       Green Bay Packers 8-4 (U2)
The Pack see off the Vikings to set the NFC North wide open. At this point I believe they are favourites to take the title, but the Bears should also grab at least a wildcard berth. They will also be getting key players back from injury at just the right time, with a divisional hosting of Detroit looming.

7.       Seattle Seahawks 7-5 (U3)
The Hawks squeeze past Chicago in dramatic fashion, proving their doubters wrong with a big away victory. Up until the point Sherman and Browner’s  suspensions kick in Seattle will be as dangerous as an opponent as anybody in the league (update: Browner will be serving his 4 game ban immediately), and must fancy their chances of stealing the West off of SF with 3 divisional home games coming up, starting with the Cardinals.

8.       Indianapolis Colts 8-4 (U3)
Luck continues to impress, leading his team to a dramatic comeback against Detroit. The Colts are the real deal with their rookie QB leading them, and Rookie of year this season will be a very tough choice (although in my opinion it is RG3 that deserves the honour more). Next they host the Titans in another very winnable encounter. Yes their schedule has been easy, but they’ve still been winning a lot of the tough ones.

9.       Chicago Bears 8-4 (D3)
The Bears falter versus Seattle, and will have to fight back hard against the Vikings this week (especially with the loss of Urlacher) to avoid having peaked far too early this season – entering the play-offs (if they make it) on a damp note.

10.      Baltimore Ravens 9-3 (D3)
The Ravens lose to the Steelers led by Charlie Batch, which is slightly embarrassing. However, they are still an extremely dangerous team and one that shouldn’t be taken lightly either in the regular or post-season. Next they face the Redskins in what should be a great game.

11.   Pittsburgh Steelers 6-6 (U6)
Unfair for Pittsburgh to not jump Baltimore in the rankings with that win? Maybe, but they did grab a sizable boost as it was, and one key divisional game aside they have looked extremely shaky in their starting QB’s absence. They will be hoping he can make it back in time for SD this weekend (although even with Batch the Chargers aren’t exactly a scary prospect right now).

12.   New York Giants 7-5 (D3)
A tough loss to the Redskins, and the Giants will hope it wasn’t a sign of things to come. The NFC East was sprung wide open for the taking with that result, and NY will have to hope they can beat the Saints this weekend to avoid being caught in a real playoff dogfight.

13.   Cincinnati Bengals 7-5 (-)
The Bengals beat the Chargers to give their wildcard hopes a huge boost, but I can’t justify moving them up (just yet) with the quality of teams above them. They have another tough game vs Dallas this weekend, but one they should see as very winnable.

14.   Washington Redskins 6-6 (U1)
A crucial victory (and vindication for my prediction) over NY sets the Skins up with a real shot at the post-season. I’m hoping they make it (if only to prove wrong), but the visiting Ravens this weekend will be another tough test.

15.   Tampa Bay Buccaneers 6-6 (D1)
Tampa lose out to the dominant Broncos, but haven’t had a terrible season by any means. They have assembled the pieces of a winning franchise, they just need more time to build and a little luck. The Eagles at home next shouldn’t be too tough a match-up.

16.   New Orleans Saints 5-7 (D4)
The Saints lose out to the Falcons and can essentially say good bye to their post-season hopes. Brees throwing 5 picks is ugly, but this team will be back as strong as ever next year to challenge Atlanta (and potentially Carolina, Tampa as well – this division looks tough next season!). Next up is the Giants.

17.   Dallas Cowboys 6-6 (U2)
The Cowboys comfortably beat the Eagles, and are starting to look like they  might have finally slotted the pieces together, with Bryant becoming the stud we all know he is capable of being, and DeMarco Murray back healthy. Let’s hope for the Cowboys’ sake it’s not too little too late, and with a tough game vs Cincinnati coming up they’ll need to avoid the typical mistakes and inconsistencies they’ve become all too familiar with to have a play-off shot.

18.   Minnesota Vikings 6-6 (D2)
The Vikings lose a crucial divisional game to the Packers, but aren’t completely out of the hunt. They’ve had a promising year, especially AP’s dramatic return from injury, but I feel like the playoffs are just a bridge too far for this young squad. Next they face the Bears in another must-win game.

19.   Detroit Lions 4-8 (D1)
Detroit are definitely better than their record suggests, but they’ve been unable to get it done when it counts, losing 3 consecutive games by less than a score. Had those narrow defeats gone their way they would be 7-5 and sitting pretty in the NFC North. As it is they lost and are done for the year. A trip to GB next looks unlikely to offer much solace.

20.   St. Louis Rams 5-6-1 (U1)
St. Louis have been one of the most inconsistent teams this season, and have left me guessing whether they are going to give a lack-lustre performance or a gritty fight week in week out. Travelling to Buffalo next is another game that could swing wildly in either direction.

21.   Miami Dolphins 5-7 (D1)
Even at 5-7 the Dolphins are doing much better than many expected, and will take heart from their young teams’ solid performances. A scary match-up at SF this weekend looks like an uphill battle from the start, however.

22.   Cleveland Browns 4-8 (U1)
Don’t look now, but Cleveland are quietly developing into a solid football team. They still have a major weak spot at the QB position, but their defence is as reliable as you’ll find in the league, and with a powerful running game to boot they can overcome such passing deficits. Another very winnable encounter in visiting KC is up next.

23.   San Diego Chargers 4-8 (D1)
San Diego are another team better than their record would suggest, they have just been the polar opposite of clutch in key situations this season. Right now all they can look forward to is saying a very fond farewell to HC Turner and ideally GM Smith as well. The Steelers are next, but at this point the Bolts are just playing for pride.

24.   Buffalo Bills 5-7 (U1)
Buffalo are another talented but wildly inconsistent team. Fitting then that they should be playing St. Louis next, in a game I am loath to predict either way.

25.   Arizona Cardinals 4-8 (D1)
The Cardinals have one of the best defences in the NFL. It’s just a shame that they have literally the worst QB situation (yes, even Brady Quinn is better than Ryan Lindley). They’ll be starting Skelton this week at Seattle, but against that match-up he’s not going to look a lot better.

26.   Carolina Panthers 3-9 (-)
You know you’re having a bad season when you lose to the Chiefs. It’s also ridiculous that they are 0-13 on coin tosses this year (I might start using the Martingale roulette system on their flips), so can basically blame bad luck for their shoddy season. Also a leaky defence, shaky run game and a QB who turns into a 4 year old whenever he makes a bad throw doesn’t help. A scary game vs the visiting Falcons is coming up.

27.   New York Jets 5-7 (U2)
What a mess NY is in. Mistake number 1: signing the Sanchise to a big contract and not admitting your draft mistake. Mistake number 2: trading for Tebow and not playing him. 3. Having maybe the least talented offensive personnel in the league. With most of the struggling teams on this list there is some bright spot, or one over-riding deficit that can be corrected in the draft or FA. With the Jets there are so many problems, such a complete lack of talent, that I can’t see any new coach having an impact. The fact they are 5-7 is a credit to their defence and Ryan who, in my opinion, is taking the rap for a shoddy team that even Lombardi couldn’t turn into winners. They play the Jags next in one they shouldn’t ever lose (but probably will).

28.   Jacksonville Jaguars 2-10 (D1)
The Jaguars have shown a lot of promise in recent weeks, but just lost convincingly to the Bills. It was probably just a flash of false hope for the Jags fan(s) but at this stage he/they will take it. The good news? They get to play Mark Sanchez next.

29.   Tennessee Titans 4-8 (D1)
The Titans lose again, and whilst they are probably a better team than #29 would suggest, they do need to win some games to prove it. Going to Indy next is another tough encounter.

30.   Philadelphia Eagles 3-9 (-)
Still definitely the most talented team down here in the beggars’ nest, the Eagles well and truly crumbled under their own expectations this year. Starting Nick Foles for the remainder of the season is as good an indication as any that they’ve given up on this year, and likely Reid/Vick as well. Playing Tampa Bay next is another tough one.

31.   Kansas City Chiefs 2-10 (U1)
The Chiefs have to move off the bottom spot after finally winning another game. It’s a shame it had to come amidst such tragic circumstances, but so often in sports a team or player responds to situations like this by raising their game and playing without the fear of losing (look at the Colts’ season, or Torrey Smith’s huge game earlier this year). Next they travel to the Browns in a game that seems unlikely to light up the scoreboard.

32.   Oakland Raiders 3-9 (D1)
The Raiders lose to the Browns, and can have no complaints with their lowly ranking after that performance. Luckily they look to have D-Mac returning from injury this week, unluckily they are playing the Broncos. Good luck.


  1. Missed out the Seattle record :)

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