It took 15 weeks, but the New Orleans Saints undefeated bid is over. Amidst countless discussions of Indianapolis resting their starters, the Colts are still winning and still undefeated. It's week 16 and these are the LRN Power Rankings!
Get After It!
1. Indianapolis Colts (1) Peyton Manning wants to go undefeated. His four touchdown performance against Jacksonville was PeytonESQUE and with remaining games against the Jets and Bills, he can taste it.
2. San Diego Chargers (4) Clinching the AFC West while winning their ninth straight on Sunday is as good as it gets for Norv Turner and the Chargers. No team is playing as well as San Diego, no team.
3. New Orleans Saints (2) In consecutive weeks against Washington and Atlanta, the Saints played bad and pulled out victories while remaining undefeated. Against a playoff hungry Cowboy team, their bad play came back and bit them.
4. Philadelphia Eagles (5) Winners of five straight, Philadelphia is still playing for an outside shot at a first round bye. With both Minnesota and New Orleans hitting late season road bumps, the Eagles are yet again in the hunt for an NFC crown.
5. Minnesota Vikings (3) The Carolina Panthers came out and whipped Minnesota on Sunday night. The once dominating Viking offense couldn't keep Brett protected and the vaunted ground attack was held to just 41 yards on 14 carries.
6. New England Patriots (8) I've got to admit sixth may be a stretch. Yes, the Pats recorded their first actual road win of the season, albeit in week 15, but they've recorded it. The first drive of the game the Bills pounded the ball right at the center of the Patriot defense, good teams can expose weakness all over the field and would have went back to it. See New Orleans v. New England.
7. New York Giants (13) Is Washington really that team we just saw on Monday night? Or, are the New York Giants just playing with their backs pushed against the wall? A complete game, the Giants smashed the Redskins all over the field and did hold notice to the NFL, they aren't dead yet.
8. Dallas Cowboys (15) Dallas will have to earn the NFC East crown and a postseason birth. They'll be no backing in, the Giants are taking shape, the Eagles are hotter than ever, and Washington would love to play spoiler to Jerry & Co. Beating the Redskins next week and Philadelphia for the division would really turn tides in the NFC.
9. Cincinnati Bengals (6) As much as I want the Bengals to go on a deep run, the loss of a teammate is too much. They've got to try and block something so tragic out, while 31 other teams focus on winning games. Someone will always be weighing heavy on their hearts and I just don't believe they can overcome that so quickly.
10. Green Bay Packers (7) Ben Roethlisberger had a field day on that Packers secondary (480+ yards passing). The playoffs are only weeks away and Green Bay is trying to make some noise, that isn't how you do it.
11. Baltimore Ravens (12) Gut check time. In Pittsburgh with a chance to punch your playoff ticket or give the Steelers second life. Even a depleted Steeler defense is better than the Lions and Bears defenses the Ravens have eaten alive the last two weeks.
12. Arizona Cardinals (9) Knock, Knock. Can the Arizona Cardinals come out to play? The 9-5 Cardinals lost to San Francisco then eeked out a victory against 2-12 Detroit! At some point Arizona has to begin to put some of these good wins together, the playoffs are coming faster than expected.
13. Tennessee Titans (14) With a HUGE overtime win over Miami, the Titans have come all the way from an 0-6 start to 7-7. If your not going to say it, I will: I'm humbled.
14. Denver Broncos (10) Can Denver get in the postseason with a 9-7 record? After losing to Oakland and now having to travel to Philadelphia, the possibility of a 9-7 finish and missing he playoffs is very possible.
15. Pittsburgh Steelers (20) This is the scariest playoff contender, with players returning from injury it will get very interesting to see how the Steelers finish. First thing is first, drop Baltimore this weekend and move forward.
16. Miami Dolphins (11) The Dolphins had to have that game in Tennessee. With the loss, they're playoff hopes are all but dashed. However, I wouldn't be hanging my head in Miami. Here's a team which dropped both its starting running back and quarterback and still remained in contention for the division.
17. Atlanta Falcons (23) This team is still playing for something after being mathematically eliminated from playoff contention. At 7-7 with two games remaining, the Falcons can win out and complete their first back-to-back winning seasons in franchise history. I'd say that is something for a season marred by inconsistency and injury.
18. Carolina Panthers (22) The show they put on Sunday night was more than impressive. Shutting down Adrian Peterson, and keeping the Viking offense from ever getting into the game. The Panthers are always one of those teams who will come to play and have the weapons to play well.
19. Jacksonville Jaguars (19) The Jags get credit for playing Indianapolis just as tough as any other team has. However, being the unfortunate team that has to play Indy and New England in back to back weeks, you don't get many positives from that.
20. Houston Texans (21) The Texans will have to split the next two, in Miami and against New England, in order to get to their usual 8-8 record. No team is more disappointing than Houston, none.
21. New York Jets (17) Buh-Bye! After losing late, the Jets are more than likely not reaching the postseason. However, as much as Mark Sanchez has had an up and down season, they've got their quarterback.
22. San Francisco 49ers (18) With the Lions and Rams being their final two opponents, you can expect the 'Niners to finish 8-8. Up from their 7-9 finish a season ago, they're growing and can only expect to get better next season. The 49ers are building a pretty solid young core.
23. Washington Redskins (16) Let's face it, they just took a huge step in the wrong direction on Monday night. Laying that kind of egg the way they've played the last month is a major turn of events. However, all is right with a victory over Dallas next weekend. For a team going through turmoil, it's their Super Bowl.
24. Cleveland Browns (25) Mike Holmgren is a solid move for Cleveland. However, it's about time they bring in a quarterback who can get it done and put some players around him. Oh, and Josh Cribbs is filthy.
25. Oakland Raiders (27) Again, I have no idea how they beat Philadelphia, Cincinnati, Pittsburgh, and now Denver. Smoke and mirrors?
26. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (30) You have to like what rookie quarterabck Josh Freeman has done thus far. In their 24-7 win in Seattle, Freeman threw for 205 yards on 16 completions reaching the endzone twice.
27. Buffalo Bills (24) The quarterback situation is so glaring in Buffalo. They have quality players around like Lee Evans and Fred Jackson, but no one to take charge on the field. Whomever becomes the new head coach needs to bring a quarterback with him.
28. Chicago Bears (26) Three more interceptions in the Bears 31-7 loss to Baltimore makes that 25 on the season. Bears fans were hoping Cutler set career highs this year, in everything but interceptions.
29. Kansas City Chiefs (29) The Chiefs just don't have enough talent yet. After a loss to Cleveland, Scott Pioli has got to be frustrated in his first year not in New England.
30. Detroit Lions (32) The Lions deserve credit for playing Arizona so well this past weekend. Still, it's more of a knock on Arizona for their inability to put away teams like Detroit. On a positive note, you have to love the fire from 1st year head coach Jim Schwartz, doesn't seem like he's taking bull from anyone.
31. Seattle Seahawks (28) The 'Hawks have been outscored 58-14 in their last two games combined. Mind you they've played the likes of the Texans and Buccaneers. Seattle just isn't any good and get the Packers & Titans in the next two games.
32. St. Louis Rams (31) The Rams are 1-13 and haven't scored more than 23 points in any game this season. Time to go on the offensive in next years draft, the Rams very, very, bad.
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