Tuesday, December 15, 2009

LRN Power Rankings: Week 15

Meet crunch time. The NFL regular season is winding down and positioning for the postseason is on center stage. In the AFC, the Ravens & Dolphins take care of business to stay alive while both the Broncos & Jaguars take one step back. In the NFC however, the Cowboys meet yet another December disaster while the Eagles & Packers begin to separate themselves from the playoff pretenders. With both the Colts & Saints continuing their undefeated campaigns we kick off The Week 15 LRN Power Rankings . . .

Get After It!

1. Indianapolis Colts (1) Broncos wide receiver Brandon Marshall broke the single game receptions record (21) and the undefeated Colts still overshadow the day by winning their 22nd consecutive and record breaking regular season win. At this point, no one can argue.

2. New Orleans Saints (2) With both Falcon quarterback Matt Ryan and running back Michael Turner on the sidelines, the Saints still had a frustrating afternoon allowing 303 through the air from backup Chris Redman. Still New Orleans finds a way to win and your going to need tough afternoons like this to prepare you for the playoffs in a month.

3. Minnesota Vikings (4) Minnesota took a hit two weeks ago in Arizona, coming out and exploiting Cincinnati was exactly what they needed to rebound this week. The Vikes allowed the Bengal offense in the endzone just once and got running back Adrian Peterson going with two touchdowns and almost 100 yards.

4. San Diego Chargers (3) The Chargers went down to Dallas and took care of the Cowboys. Still, you would like to see them put together a much cleaner game on the road. In the postseason, the Chargers are going to have to go through Indianapolis and you can't leave points on the field against Peyton and his offense.

5. Philadelphia Eagles (6) How many teams can allow Eli Manning to throw for nearly 400 yards with three (3) touchdowns and still come away with a win? The Eagles keep on moving and eye the NFC East crown.

6. Cincinnati Bengals (4) Just 16.8 ppg over their last six games. With offenses like Indianapolis, New England, and San Diego headed to the postseason, the Bengals and Carson Palmer are going to have to really start turning it on.

7. Green Bay Packers (10) Winners of five straight, it's hard to imagine this is the same team which gave the now 1-12 Bucs their sole victory back on November 8th. Aaron Rodgers is playing phenomenal throwing nine touchdowns and just two interceptions over this same winning streak.

8. New England Patriots (9) In the words of one Mary J. Blige, "No More Drama." I'll never understand what Randy Moss has to frustrated with. What's so bad about having a great coach, great quarterback, being on a playoff team, and having piles of money? Just because he wears the 'Flying Elvis' on his helmet doesn't make him reformed.

9. Arizona Cardinals (7) This is what Arizona does right? Smack down a 1-loss Vikings team then follow it up with a horrendous performance against a 7-loss San Francisco team. The biggest worry has to be the health of Kurt Warner, he just doesn't look comfortable moving around and without a healthy Warner, they won't get too far.

10. Denver Broncos (8) Four teams within a game of the Broncos for one of those two AFC Wild Cards. McDaniels better be careful here, a sneaky Raiders team coming up before traveling to Philadelphia two days after Christmas. The Broncos need wins right now, that's it.

11. Miami Dolphins (15) Why not? In two consecutive weeks against teams that are looking to get in the postseason, the Dolphins come out with tough wins. Chad Henne has got to be given a ton of credit, he's the Dolphin quarterback for the future and after the injury to Chad Pennington he went out and took this job by the horns.

12. Baltimore Ravens (14) Baltimore is still in this fight after a confidence boosting blowout win against Detroit. They'll have to fend off a Steeler and Raider team looking to salvage some late season wins if they plan to do it. This defense needs to get heatlhy and continue to play well.

13. New York Giants (11) With two wins against Dallas, the Giants have some wiggle room. On the road in Washington is a huge test for New York, both Dallas and Philadelphia have survived scares against those same 'Skins. This is the best 7-6 team with a path to the postseason there if they can just win out.

14. Tennessee Titans (13) With a win this week, the Titans can climb back to .500 after starting the season with six straight losses. I can't put a non-factor team much higher than 14th, but I have a ton of respect for them.

15. Dallas Cowboys (12) The Cowboys cannot play in December. An 8-3 record with a division lead in the NFC East and after two weeks in December, the Cowboys are looking up at the Eagles and need wins against a lossless Saints team and two very tough division games. All that being said, to win out would put Dallas in the postseason and give them a full head of steam. (I'm dreaming)

16. Washington Redskins (18) How a team that has played so well as of late once lost to Detroit and Kansas City, I'll never know. The 'Skins have rebounded nicely and with a win over Oakland have gained some confidence back.

17. New York Jets (20) If the NFL season were a heavyweight fight, the Jets would be somewhere close to the 9th round and getting stronger. With their third win in a row it brings them to seven overall. However, if the Jets were able to pull off wins against Atlanta, upsetting Indianapolis, and beating a good Bengals team, it'd be a successful 10-6 season. Those are alot of "If's."

18. San Francisco 49ers (23) That victory over Arizona gave them the confidence they needed. The 'Niners can beat good teams but are a year or two away from becoming elite. Good young receivers, active young defense, and a running back who can tear it up. A "feel good" team.

19. Jacksonville Jaguars (17) The Jaguars were borderline when they were 7-5, now their staring into Indianapolis and New England after getting beat by Miami? Good Luck with that!

20. Pittsburgh Steelers (16) Losing to a Brady Quinn lead Browns team has got to be the low point for a now 6-7 Steelers team. If you were to bet the Steelers would lose seven games this season, many people would have told you your crazy.

21. Houston Texans (21) The Texans won't fool me again, I don't buy a 34-7 victory over a bad Seahawks team. They've got three weeks and would love to finish over .500, but there is absolutely no way they win in Miami or against New England to finish the season. Put it in the bank.

22. Carolina Panthers (19) Hey, Chris Gamble! Bill was correct, how about you keep your trap shut after your team just lost their 8th game of the season. It'd be a miracle if the Panthers even won another game with the Vikings, Giants, and Saints finishing them off this season.

23. Atlanta Falcons (22) You have to give Atlanta credit for making a game of it against New Orleans. On the other hand, it's very upsetting to see the Falcons drop to 6-7 and their hopes of a second straight winning season for the first time in franchise history fading fast.

24. Buffalo Bills (29) The Bills have turned it around lately going 2-2 in their last four games. I'm not sure how Buffalo has got to five wins, but I like that they've yet to completely pack it in.

25. Cleveland Browns (32) The Browns win their Super Bowl. Beating Pittsburgh on a Thursday night national stage is the biggest win the Browns have seen in a while. Still, the entire thing is going to get blown up yet again.

26. Chicago Bears (24) Did anyone else suspect the Bears having just one more win than the Oakland Raiders this season? I did.

27. Oakland Raiders (25) It wouldn't shock me if the Raiders beat Denver at Invesco this weekend. What!?!? They win when you think they have no shot and lose every game that they probably could do well in.

Twist: For the remaining five teams, I'm not wasting my time discussing what is wrong with them. I'll give you the position they need help at most and how to solve it through the NFL Draft. Little Mock!

28. Seattle Seahawks (26) With Washington quarterback Jake Locker returning for his senior year, I'd say is the right time to begin positioning yourself for his 2011 arrival. Insert the best possible offensive lineman this coming year to set in place his protection; Bruce Campbel, OT Maryland

29. Kansas City Chiefs (27) In their last two games against division opponents San Diego and Denver the Chiefs gave up a combined 87 points. A big time defensive player is what Kansas City needs; Eric Berry, S Tennessee

30. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (30) Tampa Bay went offense early in the 2009 NFL Draft. It's time the Bucs faithful get back to rooting for power defenses like they had during the Super Bowl season; Ndamukong Suh, DT Nebraska

31. St. Louis Rams (31) The Rams are horrible, everyone knows that. Like the Lions were forced to do this year, the Rams must come back after the draft with an idea under center, a plan; Jimmy Clausen, QB Notre Dame

32. Detroit Lions (28) What Baltimore just did to them was a disgrace to Lions faithful. Two schools of thought are at play (1) Protect Matthew Stafford, which would lead you to selecting an offensive lineman with staying power (2) Get better on defense quickly, after giving up all those points to a bad Cleveland offense, could anything be more evident? I'd lean; No way Jim Schwartz sits idly while that defense gets embarrassed! Gerald McCoy, DT Oklahoma

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