NFL Power Rankings – Week 15

December 10, 2008 | Thyrl Nelson

We’re getting down to the stretch run for the playoffs, and there’s still a great deal left to be decided. The Panthers were able to sure up their stake for a first round playoff bye this week, while the Jets stumbled again to an opponent that they should have beaten, giving new life to the rest of the AFC East.

 

This weekend could be a clincher for quite a few teams in terms of their positioning, if scenarios fall the right way. Now we’ll see how those teams whose playoff tickets get punched early handle the balance between finishing the string out healthy, and going into the playoffs with momentum on their side.

 

Week 15 NFL Power Rankings

 

NFL Power Rankings Archive3- 4567 - 8 - 9 - 10 - 11 - 12 - 13 - 14

 

(last week’s rankings in parentheses)

 

1. Tennessee Titans (2) – 12-1 – They haven’t set the world on fire lately, but they haven’t needed to either. As the only team in the AFC to have officially clinched a playoff berth so far, the Titans could have the #1 seed sewn up too if things go their way this weekend. Next Week: @ HOU

 

2. New York Giants (1) – 11-2 – Another wake up call for the Giants last week gives them something to work on going into the playoffs, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing. You’d think that sooner or later the rash of injuries and players lost would catch up to them, maybe we started to see that last week. Next Week: @ DAL

 

3. Pittsburgh Steelers (3) – 10-3 – They aren’t getting it done in a pretty fashion by any means, but they do continue to get things done nonetheless. The Steelers have a big chance this week, they can either bury the Ravens in the divisional race and keep the pressure on the Titans for the top seed in the AFC, or they can allow the Ravens back into the hunt for the division and allow Tennessee to walk away with the top seed in the conference too. Next Week: @ BAL

 

4. Carolina Panthers (5) – 10-3 – I think that we all had a feeling that the Panthers were legit, but until Monday night, I’m not sure any of us knew just how legit they could be. Jake Delhomme is still a liability for them at this point, but he has experience to rely on, and so far the Panthers have been winning despite his struggles. Next Week: vs. DEN

 

5. Arizona Cardinals (6) – 8-5 – They may not scare you like a number of other teams on this list, but the Cardinals have earned their place in the rankings and have their first home playoff game in over 40 years to look forward to as a reward for it. It will be tough for the Cards to keep this spot though; the next two weeks should be a real test for them. Next Week: vs. MIN

 

6. Indianapolis Colts (8) – 9-4 – Reports of the Colts’ demise appear to have been greatly exaggerated, and at his point their appearance in the post season seems all but assured. Something tells me that the rest of the conference could be sorry that they didn’t finish the Colts off early when they had the chance. Next Week: vs. DET

 

7. Baltimore Ravens (9) – 9-4 – The Ravens are in control of their own destiny in seemingly every capacity, but it all starts with defending their home field against the Steelers this week. A win here would legitimize their claim to the division, and while a loss probably wouldn’t put them out of the playoff hunt, it would certainly be a blow to their chances. Next Week: vs. PIT

 

8. Minnesota Vikings (12) – 8-5 – The Vikings went from being a preseason Superbowl contender, to seemingly exposed and floundering by mid season, but the struggles of the rest of the NFC North have left the door open for them. The pending suspensions of the Williams’ could be a big deal for their playoff hopes, and now it could be affecting playoff games too. Next Week: @ AZ

 

9. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (4) – 8-5 – Despite their impressive showing so far, Monday’s loss proved that the Bucs still have significant work to do. Defensively, you can call it an anomaly and write it off, but on offense, particularly in the running game the Bucs still need to find some answers. Next Week: @ ATL

 

10. Denver Broncos (11) – 8-5 – Deservedly or not, Denver is all but assured of not only an invite to the post season, but a first round home game too. The city of Denver in January can present all sorts of problems for opponents, and the Broncos offense is dangerous. They’re probably not long for the playoffs, but could definitely make their impact felt. Next Week: @ CAR

 

11. New York Jets (7) – 8-5 – The Jets can’t seem to sustain their own success, and have allowed the AFC East to become a race again. Something about the top of this division seems to send teams into freefall. Clearly the Jets have issues with traveling to the west coast, and they’ll have one more chance to fix that. If not, their claim to this division, and the playoffs in general could be fleeting. Next Week: vs. BUF

 

12. New England Patriots (13) – 8-5 – The Patriots need help if they’re going to get back into the post season this year. The schedule appears set up for them to finish strong, but that may still not be enough for the Pats. Next Week: @ OAK

 

13. Miami Dolphins (15) – 8-5 – Regardless of what happens, the rags to riches story of Tony Sparano and these Dolphins shouldn’t be overlooked. But as they stand right now, the Dolphins can’t be overlooked when it comes to the playoff hunt just yet either. Next Week: vs. SF

 

14. Dallas Cowboys (14) – 8-5 – It’s almost amazing, the difference that just a couple of plays can make in the grand scheme of a football season. Clearly this hasn’t been the Cowboys year, and now that that Jerry Jones is stirring the pot again, it should be interesting at least in Dallas for the rest of the way. Next Week: vs. NYG

 

15. Atlanta Falcons (10) – 8-5 – There’s no doubt that the Falcons are for real. The question is whether or not they’re for real enough to get to the playoffs from the NFC South. In a year full of rags to riches tales, the Falcons might be the most compelling story of all. We’ll see if it has a happy ending. Next Week: vs. TB

 

16. Chicago Bears (17) – 7-6 – The Bears offense has grown by leaps and bounds this season it seems, but their defense may have backed up just as much. They’re still right in the mix for the NFC North, but look like they’re running out of gas. Next Week: vs. NO

 

17. Philadelphia Eagles (21) – 7-5-1 – The Eagles seem to have responded nicely to the McNabb benching incident, and may be playing as well as any team right now. Unfortunately for their playoff chances it may have happened a week too late. Next Week: vs. CLE

 

18. Washington Redskins (16) – 7-6 – The Redskins are in freefall, and now with friction between the head coach and his workhorse running back, things look to be falling apart at the seams in Washington. They may be more fun to follow off of the filed than on it from here out. Next Week: @ CIN

 

19. New Orleans Saints (18) – 7-6 – When 2008 is in the books, the Saints will probably be regarded as the best team to not make the playoffs. Injuries and other issues have taken their toll on the Saints this year, but more than anything, it just took them a while to figure out how to finish games. They’re not done yet, but they’re pretty close. Next Week: @ CHI

 

20. Houston Texans (23) – 6-7 – The Texans have things going in the right direction, and can be absolutely scary at times on offense. It’s too late for them to be a factor this season, but they could be an up and coming threat in the AFC. Next Week: vs. TEN

 

21. Buffalo Bills (20) – 6-7 – The Bills had this division well within their grasp and didn’t just let it slip away, they’ve fallen to the basement. I can’t think of a single positive thing that the Bills can take away from this season so far. Next Week: @ NYJ

 

22. Green Bay Packers (22) – 5-8 – Ted Thompson will probably take lots of heat over this season and deservedly so. But of you really think about it, it was the perfect time to move from Favre to Rodgers. The division was very winnable, if the Packers defense could have simply kept them in games instead of selling out for big plays. Next Week: @ JAX

 

23. San Francisco 49ers (24) – 5-8 – The Niners under Mike Singletary have very quietly gotten on a little bit of a roll. Based on Singletary’s debut, it’s incredible that they could do anything quietly, but they could still be a spoiler down the stretch. Next Week: @ MIA

 

24. San Diego Chargers (19) – 5-8 – With just 3 games remaining in the season, the Chargers no longer enjoy the inflated rating that remaining in contention for the AFC West allowed them. When 2008 is in the books the Chargers will be one of the biggest disappointments of the entire season. Next Week: @ KC

 

25. Cleveland Browns (25) – 4-9 – The disappointing season that the Browns have had offensively will probably overshadow the fact that their defense is much improved. They’re down but not out, the Browns could rebound in a hurry next season. Next Week: @ PHI

 

26. Jacksonville Jaguars (26) – 4-9 – There have been plenty of disappointing teams this season, but no one has seemingly done less with more than the Jags. This team looks like one that simply quit weeks ago. It could be a crazy off-season in Jacksonville. Next Week: vs. GB

 

27. Kansas City Chiefs (27) – 2-11 – The league looks like they’ve caught up with Tyler Thigpen and the resurgent Chiefs offense. Unfortunately for the Chiefs, there don’t appear to be many pieces worth building around in place there either. Next Week: vs. SD

 

28. Oakland Raiders (28) – 3-10 – Everything in the NFL starts with line play, and the Raiders are largely overmatched there in most weeks. With the way that things have been going in Oakland lately, there isn’t a whole lot of reason to be hopeful for the future either. Next Week: vs. NE

 

29. Seattle Seahawks (29) – 2-11 – The Seahawks seemed to enter this season with a clear blueprint of where they were and where they were headed for the future as well. As it winds down, there have to be more questions than answers as it pertains to the Seahawks future. Next Week: @ ST.L

 

30. St. Louis Rams (30) – 2-11 – The Rams are flat and old, they’ll have to pretty much start over in order to get back to contention. The good news is that anything is possible in the NFC West. Next Week: vs. SEA

 

31. Cincinnati Bengals (31) – 1-11-1 – The Bengals will probably have to do some organizational soul searching this off season, and figure out whether it’s time to blow it up and start over or not. Next Week: vs. WAS

 

32. Detroit Lions (32) – 0-12 – The Lions almost picked up an improbable win last week, but held on for the loss. They should be in great shape at draft time, and are probably not as far away from contention as most of the bottom third of this list. Next Week: @ IND

 

Peace,

T

(thyrl@wnst.net)

 

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