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NFL Power 15 – Week 14

How about this baby! I’m getting the Power-15 out EARLY! A couple of thoughts about the Power-15 this week. The first is that right now it really does seem like the Patriots are the best team in the NFL and it’s not even really close. The Jets & Bears are a combined 18-8 right now and New England beat them by a combined score of 81-10! Since losing to Cleveland, the Patriots are 5-0 with wins over the Steelers, Bears, Jets, Lions & Colts! GOOD GRIEF! In those 5 games they have averaged 39.2ppg! They have allowed just 17.6ppg. There are 4 likely playoff teams in those 5 games that New England isn’t just beating, but humiliating. The power-15 is really a power-1 with 14 others just filling up spots. By the end of the season the Saints could have something to say about that, but right now it’s New England & everyone else.

The other thought is that there are really only 17 good football teams this year with 15 that sort of suck. The Power-15 that I have represents the 15 but the Dolphins & Raiders probably deserve to be there as well. The other 15 teams are seriously flawed and I think you could even argue that teams like Green Bay & Indianapolis are flawed in significant ways unfortunately. I’m not sure that is the parity that Roger Goodell and the NFL was hoping for.

Let’s get to the Power 15!

#1 It’s becoming pretty clear than in 2010 there are the New England Patriots & everyone else. I predicted the Pats would hammer Chicago, but then I watched the game & it was snowing & Brian Urlacher was talking trash & I thought, “Gee, maybe Chicago is more fired up than I thought. Maybe they have a shot?” Then before you could blink the Patriots were up 36-0 early in the 3Q. I’m not sure this proved much for New England’s defense b/c Chicago’s offense was so bad, but what it did prove is New England will put 40-50 points on all comers.
#2 A pretty ho-hum 31-13 win over the Rams, but the Saints have now won 6-straight games and the offense is putting up 32-33ppg. Bush & Thomas were heavily involved in the offense this past week which only gives Drew Brees & Sean Payton even more weapons to utilize. Defensively the Saints did a good job bottling up Sam Bradford although the Rams were able to run. Outside of giving up 57 to Dallas & Cincinnati, the Saints defense has been top-10 quality late in the year. Scary.
#3 After giving up a ridiculous 39 points to the Patriots 5 weeks ago in a loss at home, Pittsburgh has brought the thunder giving up 9ppg in their last 4 games, all victories. Last week I said that Pittsburgh is greater than the sum of their parts, but I might of had that backwards. They rank 16th in the NFL in PS/G which is ridiculous. The Steelers have a 1,000 yards rusher in Rashard Mendenall. A 2-time Super Bowl winning QB. A big time deep threat in Mike Wallace along with solid pieces in Hines Ward, Heath Miller & Antwaan Randle El. It’s ridiculous the offense is that average.
#4 The Falcons didn’t really do anything to get knocked down a couple of spaces, but relative to how the Saints & Steelers are playing, I dropped them to #4. They hammered the Panthers 31-10 in Charlotte this week, but there were some odd signs. Matt Ryan wasn’t as sharp as I would have liked to have seen him while the Falcons rush defense had a terribly difficult time stopping Carolina’s rushing attack. The Falcons gave up 212 yards rushing (7.6ypc). The very best parts of Atlanta are their rush defense & Matt Ryan. Maybe it just an off game.
#5 We’ve been pimping Michael Vick all season long it seems, but how about LeSean McCoy (149 rushing yards, 9.3ypc) & DeSean Jackson (210 receiving yards, 1TD) in Philly’s 30-27 road win over the Cowboys. Dallas made a game of this one and there were times where you felt like momentum was playing towards Dallas, but the Eagles met every challenge and prevented the upset. The Eagles are a win over the Giants this week away from being NFC East champions. They have a real shot at the #2 seed if they can beat New York.
#6 Is there a more resilient team than the NY Giants? The Giants start the year 1-2 & the media starts to talk about how Tom Coughlin has lost the team. The Giants respond by winning 5 straight to get to 6-2 which put them as the #1 seed in the NFC. They lose 2-straight to Dallas & Philly to drop to 6-4 which put them completely out of the playoffs. Again, people thought the Giants were losing it. Now they’ve won 3 straight to get to 9-4 & the #6 seed with a shot at winning the NFC East and getting a 1st round bye. This is a dangerous offensive team, but note they’ve allowed 10ppg in their last 3 wins.
#7 Watching the game last night with Houston sporting the red jerseys was pretty sweet. I think it was Suzy Kolber who did the sideline report, but it was something to the effect of Ray Lewis saying that this year’s Ravens team was eerily similar to the 2000 Ravens that won the Super Bowl. I might have a fault memory, but I don’t think the 2000 Ravens were getting up by 28-7 margins to let a 5-7 team force OT at 28-28. Furthermore I don’t think the 2000 Ravens would have needed a pressured QB pick to seal the deal. Baltimore is 9-4, but how confident?
#8 The 38-7 humiliation on Sunday afternoon was bad, but Chicago simply has to let it go & avoid what happened to the Jets after they suffered the same fate. If Brett Favre isn’t going for Minnesota, then the Vikings have no shot at beating the Bears even in the Metrodome (if it’s viable!). At 9-4 the Bears still control their own destiny and if Favre is out & Aaron Rodgers is done for the year, the Bears defense is good enough to get them to 12-4 & a 1st round bye. The Bears looked awful against New England, but so does everyone.
#9 Incredible 31-0 demolition of AFC West leaders Kansas City on Sunday! It made you all the more curious as to how San Diego could lose to Oakland the previous week. Advanced metrics say San Diego is possibly the best team in the NFL. That’s borderline ridiculous, but those stats are only going to look better after a 31-0 win. Would the outcome have been any different had Matt Cassel been in the lineup? It’s possible, but San Diego was playing like a team possessed. The Chagers have CIN, SF & DEN on the schedule. They’ll cruise to 10-6.
#10 Is Tennessee down this year? Sure, but never underestimate anytime the Colts go into Nashville and get a road win over the Titans no matter how down they might be. Tennessee showed up on Thursday night & despite a near perfect night by Peyton Manning, the Colts only came away with a 30-28 win. Some of that was odd game management by Jeff Fisher which allowed the Titans to score a TD, but used up the entire clock ensuring Tennessee couldn’t win. I don’t know if this will right the ship, but it was a huge win for Indianapolis. They are certainly a dangerous team.
#11 Wow did the Jags take a HUGE shot from Oakland & still come out on top!? Jason Campbell was outstanding. Darren McFadden had 209 total yards & 3TD. It didn’t matter as the Jaguars beat Oakland 38-31 in Jacksonville. Normally none of this doesn’t matter because #18 plays for the Colts, but watching this game gave me a certain feeling that it might be destiny for the Jags to make the playoffs. I say that because this was a tremendous win over a solid team in Oakland. I also say that because Indianapolis can’t stop the run. If the Jags win in Indianapolis this week, they win the South.
#12 The Sports Guy once wrote that he thought Mike McCarthy was the next version of Wade Phillips. That’s is crazy bad news for Packers fans because it means Green Bay will not win a Super Bowl unless they can McCarthy. If McCarthy keeps winning 12-13 games b/c of Aaron Rodgers & a great defense, he’ll never get fired. I don’t care of Rodgers is out of the game, you cannot lose to the Lions by the score of 7-3 with your season on the line. This game proved that without Aaron Rodgers the Packers completely and totally suck. Now those concussions become basically the biggest story in the NFL right now. An organization depends on it.
#13 Let’s not completely overreact here. The Jets have lost 2 straight games to the Patriots & Dolphins. The Patriots are playing at an all-time great level while the Dolphins might win every other division in the NFL other than the AFC East. That being said, Mark Sanchez is absolutely horrendous and it can’t be good for team morale to have the HC come out saying he considered benching the starting QB because his play was so awful. The Jets defense forced 3 turnovers, allowed only 6 first down & 131 total yards, yet New York loses the game? They are still 9-4 & will make the playoffs, but they should be 10-3.
#14 You never want to lose 31-0 to a division rival, but if QB Matt Cassel’s injury had to be taken care of, it was a game that was questionable whether KC could win anyway. With the Chargers losing to Oakland the week before, KC has to beat the Rams, Titans & Raiders to win the West outright. That won’t be an easy feat. The only road game is in St. Louis, but the Titans & Raiders can show up to play. San Diego is all but guaranteed to finish 10-6 so the pressure will certainly be on Kansas City to match the Chargers game for game.
#15 How ridiculous are the Redskins. They play Tampa Bay at home and play a helluva game, but miss a less second PAT to lose 17-16? That’s absurd! On the other hand, Tampa Bay improves to 8-5 and keeps up their streak of beating all the teams they should while not quite being able to get over the hump against playoff caliber teams. Tampa Bay could ensure the Packers do not make the playoffs as TB has the tiebreakers on the Pack right now. It might not matter if NYG & PHI keep playing well. Unfortunately for TB, they are getting inundated with injuries. Going 10-6 seems likely, but with injuries piling up, that last game in New Orleans looks like a loss.


#14 Oakland Raiders: To be honest, I should be doing power-17 rankings because the Raiders & Dolphins deserve to be there. The Raiders loss is fairly devastating for a couple of reasons. First of all the loss puts Oakland at 6-7 which is a game behind the Chargers and 2 games behind Kansas City. The other reason why the loss hurts so much is because Oakland has all the tie-breakers bound up. If Oakland had beaten Jacksonville, they would have been 1 game behind KC and even with San Diego. However, Oakland swept the Chargers so there was no tiebreaker for San Diego to win. Oakland also has beaten KC already once this season meaning if they beat KC later then they would have swept both KC & SD and would easily dominate any tie-breakers they might incur against either squad. What isn’t easily discerned is that Oakland needed the win mostly to keep pace with San Diego. The Chargers last 3 games are nothing more than a joke meaning they are likely to end the season at 10-6. The Raiders have the Chiefs, Broncos & Colts remaining. Even if they had beaten Jacksonville, Oakland’s road to 10-6 was much more difficult than San Diego’s. This is one helluva 6-7 team.


December 14, 2010 - Posted by | Atlanta Falcons, Baltimore Ravens, Chicago Bears, New England Patriots, New Orleans Saints, New York Giants, NFL Power 15, Philadelphia Eagles, Pittsburgh Steelers, San Diego Chargers

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