Tuesday, December 4, 2012

2012 NFL Power Rankings: Week 14

1- Houston Texans - 11-1 (+0) - After two weeks of needing overtime to beat much weaker opponents, they finally get a double digit win when they should get one. Now for the big test at New England this next week.

2- New England Patriots - 9-3 (+0) - That win in Miami wasn't a convincing one for the first time in several weeks, but they often tend to struggle against the Dolphins late in the season, so that isn't too surprising. Huge test this week as the top ranked Texans come to town.

3- Atlanta Falcons - 11-1 (+2) - They now have something more to put on their resume after these past two weeks besides a bunch of close wins against average at best opponents. A week after beating a surging Bucs team, they shut down a good Saints team that really is better than their records indicates. Also, thanks to the Broncos giving the Bucs a loss, the Falcons have officially clinched their division.

4- Denver Broncos - 9-3 (+4) - They just seem to be coasting along right now, but that seven game winning streak looks really good headed into the final weeks of the regular season. They get to have a party in Oakland this week before they get to play the Ravens for playoff positioning the following week as a win against the Bucs officially gave them the division title.

5- Green Bay Packers - 8-4 (+4) - They rise this high in the rankings based more on the struggles of others in the top 10, but also you can't this Packers team out. Despite not winning impressively, they have still won six of their last seven and they have the pieces in place and the experience needed to do some damage come playoff time.

6- San Francisco 49ers - 8-3-1 (-3) - I hope that the Niners learned that Alex Smith needs to start right now when he's healthy. Kaepernick is really talented, but he doesn't have the experience needed to take the Niners all the way, as seen by some rookie mistakes he made down the stretch that cost the Niners the game.

7- Baltimore Ravens - 9-3 (-1) - The Ravens are still two games ahead of both the Steelers and the Bengals with only four weeks left, so a lot needs to happen for them to give up the division title, but they need to pick up their game. Their next three games are against the Redskins, Broncos, and Giants.

8- Chicago Bears - 8-4 (-1) - Was it the fact that they played poorly or that the Seahawks played really well. I'd actually vote for the latter, but that was a costly loss as now the Packers have the heads up in the divisional race and if they fall too far the Seahawks own the tiebreaker over them.

9- Indianapolis Colts - 8-4 (+2) - Now that was an impressive win. It's one thing to be in the playoff picture because of an easy schedule. It's another thing to score two touchdowns in the last few minutes of a game to pull of an impressive comeback win, which included a game winning touchdown with zero seconds on the clock. That is the sign of a great quarterback. Andrew Luck is going to do great things for this franchise and definitely did not look like a rookie on Sunday.

10- New York Giants - 7-5 (-2) - Another costly setback for the Giants. They are now just one game ahead of both the Redskins and Cowboys and with a 2-3 divisional record, they are currently losing the tiebreakers. In a tough NFC playoff race, losing their division could easily lead to them missing the playoffs. To make things worse, they play the Saints, Falcons, and Ravens next.

11- Seattle Seahawks - 7-5 (+2) - That was a huge win for the Seahawks on Sunday. They own the tiebreakers against most teams fighting for the NFC wild card spot. With the Bucs and Vikings both losing, they now have a huge advantage. But they have no room for error these next two weeks against the Cardinals and Bills because they end the season with games against the Niners and Rams. Despite how good they have been, winning a game in their division is a feat they have not yet accomplished this season.

12- Cincinnati Bengals - 7-5 (+0) - The Steelers beating the Ravens on Sunday put a minor wrench in their plans as it looks like they will actually have to earn a spot in the playoffs by beating the Steelers and Ravens. The Colts getting a last second win against the Lions didn't help either. You often hear the phrase in the NFL of teams "controlling their own destiny". This is not the case for the Bengals.

13- Pittsburgh Steelers - 7-5 (+1) - They may have just saved their season with that win over Baltimore on Sunday. They didn't play great, but they did just enough to win and if they can do that until Big Ben comes back they can pull this off. They have winnable games against the Chargers, Cowboys, and Browns as well as a critical week 16 showdown against the Bengals.

14- Tampa Bay Buccaneers - 6-6 (-4) - They put up a valiant effort against both the Falcons and the Broncos, but unfortunately a tough schedule is going to be the death of them in this tough wild card race. They have the Eagles coming in to town, so that should put them back on track.

15- Washington Redskins - 6-6 (+2) - A three game winning streak is impressive, but a three game winning streak against teams in their division is something that will end up putting them into the playoffs. I'll be the first one to admit that I was wrong when I said they were done a few weeks ago. They'll need a bit of help to pull it off, but all they need to do is win one more game than the Giants in this final stretch. An upset win against the Ravens this week will really help.

16- Dallas Cowboys - 6-6 (+2) - Just like the previously mentioned Redskins, they still have a shot to pull off a divisional title as both the Redskins and Cowboys are one game back of the Giants. However, the difference between the two teams is that the Cowboys have a much harder schedule down the stretch with the Bengals, Steelers, and Saints on the docket before the season finale against the Redskins.

17- Minnesota Vikings - 6-6 (-2) - After starting a promising 6-2, they have now only won one game in their last five. They end with the Bears, Rams, Texans, and Packers, so it looks like they are done as Adrian Peterson is the only Viking to have shown up recently.

18- New Orleans Saints - 5-7 (-2) - They still had a glimmer of hope before this past Thursday, but the Falcons essentially put a nail in the coffin of their season. Now they get the opportunity of playing spoiler as their next three opponents, the Giants, Bucs, and Cowboys, are all fighting for their playoff lives right now.

19- Miami Dolphins - 5-7 (+0) - The Dolphins put up a good fight against the Patriots on Sunday, but unfortunately the only thing that matters is that they needed to beat the Patriots to keep their playoff hopes alive and they didn't. Now they are two games back of the final playoff spot and they still have to go through the Niners and Patriots again.

20- Buffalo Bills - 5-7 (+3) - Technically the Bills still have a shot. Three of their last four games are at home and only one of them is a playoff team. However, as stated with the Dolphins, they are two games back and so they will have to win out and hope that both the Bengals and Steelers only win one more game, so the chances are quite slim.

21- St. Louis Rams - 5-6-1 (+1) - The Rams are still undefeated in their division after five divisional meetings, that being a 4-0-1 record. It's too bad they have gone 1-6 against everyone else they have played. The playoffs are a long shot, but with the Bills, Vikings, Bucs, and Seahawks left on their schedule, they could still end with a winning record.

22- San Diego Chargers - 4-8 (-1) - Might I once again remind you that another week has passed and its still been since week two that the Chargers have beaten a team not named the Chiefs? At 4-8 they are only a week maybe two away from being officially eliminated from the playoffs, but with the Panthers, Jets, and Raiders on their schedule after they visit the Steelers this week, they have a shot at at least ending the season on a positive note.

23- Detroit Lions - 4-8 (-3) - I'm not sure which to blame for Sunday's game. A motivated, clutch Andrew Luck for just putting together two great late fourth quarter drives or a Lions defense that completely collapsed. Either way the Colts and Lions have inverted records right now and the Lions are stuck on a four game losing streak.

24- Tennessee Titans - 4-8 (+0) - The silver lining to another no show for the Titans is that Jake Locker broke 300 yards passing in the game. Now if he just builds on the performance and the Titans play like they have the potential to play like, this could be a good team in the future.

25- New York Jets - 5-7 (+0) - On paper they may have won that game against the Cardinals, but in my opinion, both teams lost. Many times you can credit the defense for a low scoring game. This time it was two horrible offenses that couldn't put anything together. And let me add my opinion on this quarterback situation. Mark Sanchez is awful. Tim Tebow isn't much better. Greg McElroy has never been great, but what he has done his whole life is win games, which is what he did for the Jets when he came in. This job needs to be his going forward for the rest of the season.

26- Cleveland Browns - 4-8 (+2) - Don't look now, but the Browns are on a two game winning streak. I'd say the team has potential to be good in the future when they all gain more experience, but their rookie quarterback is older than several season veterans already, so it could be challenge. They do have a huge bright spot in Trent Richardson. He's going to have a great career.

27- Arizona Cardinals - 4-8 (-1) - The thing that makes this eighth straight loss for them is that Mark Sanchez did everything in his power to make sure the Cardinals won, but the offense still couldn't do anything about it. There are 32 players (most of them quarterbacks) that can brag that they personally got more yards than the entire Cardinals offense did.

28- Carolina Panthers - 3-9 (-1) - It's always embarrassing losing to a team that has more losses than most teams have wins, but it's a little different when you are playing a team that is has motivation to play well in wake of a horrible tragedy. But nonetheless, its still another game where the Panthers couldn't pull it together in the fourth quarter to grab the win in a close game.

29- Philadelphia Eagles - 3-9 (+0) - That was a valiant effort against the Cowboys, but it still led to their eighth straight loss. The worse news for them is that their remaining four opponents are all fighting for their playoff lives and will welcome in a horrible eagles team to boost their moral. The good news is that they found one player on their team that has decided to show up. Rookie runningback Bryce Brown has ran for 347 yards and 4 touchdowns in the last two outings.

30- Oakland Raiders - 3-9 (+0) - I'm trying to look for some upside on this Raiders team, but right now there really isn't much. Their offense consists of Carson Palmer and that's it. Their defense can't even stop the Browns as Brandon Weedon threw for the second most passing yards of any quarterback this past week.

31- Jacksonville Jaguars - 2-10 (+0) - The brief surge of good performance was put to a stop as they traveled to Buffalo and got trounced by the Bills. They have a chance to end the season off good as three of their last four are against non-playoff teams, starting this week with a Jets team that has absolutely no identity.

32- Kansas City Chiefs - 2-10 (+0) - Things could not get any worse for this Chiefs team this year. Your starting linebacker committing suicide in front of the coach and owner is not how you want to follow up a 1-10 start. My condolences go out to his family, friends, and the entire Chiefs squad. I'm glad they got the win against the Panthers in his honor. I can't imagine having to play a game just a day after that tragedy happened.

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