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NFL Power 15 – Week 16

A little late this week getting the NFL Power 15 out, but the holidays will do that to you! Everything is pretty well set heading into Week 17. If Indianapolis & Green Bay win, we know who is in the playoffs! Oh yeah, the winner of Rams/Seahawks gets in too.

RANK TEAM COMMENTS
#1 What can you say at this point? The team hasn’t scored less than 30 points since the beginning of November. In their last 4 games, they’ve given up 10ppg, and those have come against the Packers, Jets, & Bears. One thing to keep in mind when talking about New England is their ridiculous turnover margin. So far this year they are +27 this season! Statistically you might say there should be some regression there, but sometimes teams are just great. The Pats take the ball away, have an incredible QB, can run, has a very solid defense & are good at special teams. This is the best team in football.
#2 The Ravens are too quiet. Scary quiet in a way. Ray Lewis talked a lot of junk about how Peyton Hillis wasn’t going to run on Baltimore this past week. He wrote a check and he cashed that baby with results. Then again, Colt McCoy was the QB so who else was capable of keeping the Browns in the game? The Ravens are using Ray Rice as the bell cow, but I’m not sure how I feel about it. Rice is incredible so why not just grind games out and let the defense pound away? It’s good strategy to be sure. But Flacco’s arm? Good grief! I can’t believe this is a Wild Card team. That’s insane.
#3 The Packers are coming in as the #6 seed which is just insane when you think about it. Not only that, but they are going to have to travel to Philadelphia to play potentially the NFL MVP on his home field. Green Bay beat the Eagles in their season opener in Philly. It’ll be tough doing it twice in one season. Even still, the Packers are RIDICULOUS. In the last two weeks they go up to New England & almost win with Matt Flynn playing QB. The next week Aaron Rodgers comes back, looks like the best QB ever and rips the Giants’s hearts out. Green Bay has the best defense in the NFL, and nobody is stopping Aaron Rodgers if he’s on.
#4 Solid effort by the Saints this week. They returned the favor after Atlanta beat them in New Orleans earlier in the year. It was a great road win against the team in the NFC with the best record, but it was also only a 17-14 win in which Drew Brees didn’t play particularly well and had to throw the ball 49 times. The Saints were able to keep Atlanta off the field, but a couple of turnovers & 9 penalties looks like a black eye. You really can’t count Drew Brees & Sean Payton out of any game & you can be sure the Saints will win their Wild Card game before taking on most likely the Bears in Chicago.
#5 Maybe the Bears are really this good? They beat the Jets which seems pretty impressive. In the last 8 games, the Bears rank 29th in the NFL in total offensive yards. In those 7 games they are 7-1. On the other hand, they rank 11th in total offensive yards allowed. What is also weird is that the Bears rank 11th in points scored & 11th in points allowed in the last 7 games. That’s an efficient offense right there. The Bears have the #2 seed wrapped up which means they are likely taking on the Saints in the Divisional Round if the Packers get by in the 1st round. I really don’t know. I want to say the Bears suck, but they are 11-4! Who knows!?
#6 The Steelers are a different team without Troy Polamalu, but they have to play like beasts still in order to secure the #2 seed, get Polamalu some rest and go into the playoffs in 100% condition. The win over Carolina this past week really doesn’t tell us too much, but Roethlisberger played well & the defense held the Panthers to 3 points. Here is something interesting. When Big Ben sat out the first 4 weeks of the season, Pittsburgh still went 3-1 & people were wondering if he should come back & start. During that time the Steelers ranked 29th in total yards. Since then they’ve ranked 8th. Big Ben definitely needs to start!
#7 A very tough loss at home to the Saints although in reality you are talking about the defending Super Bowl champions who the Falcons already beat in New Orleans. Beating them twice in one season probably borders on the impossible so it’s not like it was surprising. Still, I think Atlanta would have much rather lost early in New Orleans & won late in Atlanta for purposes of momentum. The Falcons didn’t play particularly well, but they didn’t allow the Saints to play well either. Brees didn’t look so hot and despite all that, the Falcons still only lost by 3. The NFC is going through Atlanta. It won’t be easy.
#8 Losing to the Vikings? Wow! Nobody say that coming & it has to be a major disappointment. The Eagles are still going to win the East, but they now have 3 VERY TOUGH playoff games ahead because they are likely to draw the Packers in the Wild Card & then the Bears in the divisional. Losing at home to the Vikings is nuts & remember that Philly is only 4-3 in Lincoln Financial. Green Bay is about 100x better than the Vikings right now so you do the math. Talk has already heated up about whether Vick’s body can take the beating he’s in store for. Green Bay & Chicago? Seriously?
#9 The Colts did what they had to do & now are one win away from winning the AFC South in a season marred by injury & struggle. With Jacksonville playing at Houston without David Garrard, Indy might not even have to beat the Titans this week. The more interesting part here is how Kansas City & Oakland turn out. If the Raiders & Colts win this week, the Colts get the #3 seed & a home date against the Jets. They’ll also avoid the Patriots in the divisional game. The AFC is downright nasty either way, but if I had to choose, I’d rather face Jets & Steelers than Ravens & Patriots.
#10 As I just mentioned, a win for Kansas City here puts the Chiefs in the #3 seed with a home date against the Jets which I would feel would be very winnable for the Chiefs. How odd is Kansas City right now? They come off a BRILLIANT performance against the Titans winning 34-14. In the next week we hear OC Charlie Weis could be going back to college, Josh McDaniels is the likely new OC who will finally get to coach Matt Cassel, the guy he wanted in Denver but didn’t get. That’s quite a bit of drama for a team on the verge of 11-5 that could be quite dangerous in the playoffs. Odd.
#11 Losing to Green Bay 45-17 certainly didn’t do much for Tom Coughlin’s job prospects, but if you take a step back from the ledge, things become a bit more clearer. Green Bay was coming off a game where they should have beaten the Patriots in Foxboro with Matt Flynn playing QB. That had to be an INCREDIBLE confidence booster. Then they come home facing a Giants team reeling from the Miracle in the New Meadowlands. Did I mention Aaron Rodgers was coming back from injury? The Giants are still an excellent football team, but really losses to the Titans & Cowboys are more to blame than recent losses to the Eagles & Packers.
#12 Losing to the Bengals is horrible, but getting blown out by the Bengals!? San Diego is still an excellent team if you look at advanced metrics, and I think it’s pretty obvious the rest of the AFC exhaled a big sigh of relief when the Bolts eliminated themselves from the playoff race with the loss to Cincinnati. At 8-7, the Chargers can look back to losses against the Seahawks, Rams & Bengals and simply shake their heads. Wins there make them 11-4 fighting for the #2 seed. Norv Turner & AJ Smith are back next year, but both need to realize the games in September & October are important as well.
#13 The Jets backed their way into the playoffs with the Jaguars loss. I’m not sure how to take the loss to Chicago. On the one hand the Jets scored 34 points on the road against a very stout defense. On the other, they gave up 38 points to a fairly bad offense. Tons of talk has circles around Rex Ryan, his wife & foot fetishes this past week. It’s odd to day the least, but in the bigger sense it’s another distraction for New York in a season that has a million distractions. Which one finally breaks the camel’s back? To me the bigger issue is Mark Sanchez. The kid simply isn’t ready yet. Not with Brady, Manning & Roethlisberger in the same playoff chase.
#14 How awesome was that 38-15 win over Seattle? I know it was the Seahawks, but Josh Freeman was 21/26 for 237 yards & 5TD! LeGarrette Blount rank for 164 yards. Kellen Winslow caught 7 passes for 98 yards & 2TD. Mike Williams caught 3 balls for 44 yards & 2TD. Arrelius Benn caught a ball for 16 yards. TB could still make the the playoffs if Green Bay & New York lose while they beat New Orleans. It could happen I think. The Seattle win kept with the norm in 2010. This is an exceptional young team that only needs to learn how to beat good teams to reach elite status. That’s scary.
#15 Oakland didn’t beat Indianapolis, but they played well enough to earn a little respect. The final of 31-26 was actually 31-19 before Oakland scored a garbage TD, but the Raiders picked Peyton Manning off twice & played reasonably well given the circumstances. Oakland had the same trouble Jacksonville & Tennessee had in recent weeks. They couldn’t stop Indianapolis from running the football and they couldn’t run the football on the Colts defense. Oakland is taking steps in the right direction. It’ll be interesting to see if Al Davis sticks it out with Tom Cable. The Raiders are 5-0 in the division this season!

DROPPED OUT

#14 Jacksonville Jaguars: It’s one thing to lose to Indianapolis in Indianapolis, but going home & losing to the Redskins which practically eliminates you from playoff contention? Just insane. The Jaguars still have a shot if Indy loses to Tennessee at home while Jax goes on the road to Houston & wins despite not having starting QB David Garrard under center. I really don’t get it. I think the Jaguars are the least talented team in the AFC South, yet a bad year by the Colts, Texans & Titans gave them a prime opportunity to get to the playoffs. Now it looks as if they squandered that opportunity. I’ve never thought David Garrard was the answer at QB, but maybe Jack Del Rio isn’t the answer at HC either? A very tough situation.

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January 1, 2011 - Posted by | Atlanta Falcons, Baltimore Ravens, Chicago Bears, Green Bay Packers, Indianapolis Colts, New England Patriots, New Orleans Saints, NFL Power 15, Philadelphia Eagles, Pittsburgh Steelers

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