There is alot to be learned from Week 16, however we've still got one more week and much is to be determined. As the Patriots and Eagles begin to flex their veteran playoff muscle, the Saints and Vikings continue to trip up down the stretch. Will the Jets back into the postseason? Who will be crowned champion of the NFC 'bEast'? . . .It's the LRN Power Rankings: Week 17
Get After It!
1. San Diego Chargers (2) A change at the top is in order. Ten game winning streak, locking up a first round bye, Phillip Rivers has the Chargers playing sharper than ever and poised for a deep postseason run. Vincent Jackson is licking his chops for a shot at that Patriot secondary.
2. Indianapolis Colts (1) While I agree with Jim Caldwell's decision, the pressure is on now. After coughing it up to the Jets, Peyton is going to have to take care of business and reach the Super Bowl for that to be justified.
3. Philadelphia Eagles (4) After six straight wins, the Eagles control their fate. Beat Dallas and win the NFC East, acquire a first round bye along with a second round home game. They could use some time to get healthy but they'll have to win in Dallas to get that.
4. New Orleans Saints (3) Chinks in the armour. After two straight losses, the Saints still have home field advantage as long as they are in the postseason. With a first round bye already in pocket, New Orleans has to come out and get in sync this week.
5. New England Patriots (6) Three straight victories, Randy Moss getting more involved in the offense, and finally the defense is showing their teeth. The Patriots are going to open up at home and you can bet they won't be playing soft. This is why you don't give up on Bill Belichick and Tom Brady.
6. Dallas Cowboys (8) Still flying under the radar. Dallas has won two straight on the road and after clinching a postseason birth they still have an opportunity to win the NFC East. Give credit where it's due, to Tony Romo and Miles Austin. Once a punchline, Tony Romo has hit his stride and in large part due to the play of one previously unknown wideout.
7. Green Bay Packers (10) One of the most fascinating stats used to describe the Packers season is the 41 sacks they gave up in the first half of the season compared to the 9 they gave up during the second half. Does it shock anyone their once 5-4 record ballooned to 10-5 heading into the final week?
8. Minnesota Vikings (5) Torched by Kurt Warner is one thing. But by Panthers backup Matt Moore and the interception happy Jay Cutler, well that's a problem. The Vikings defense hasn't gotten to the quarterback in weeks, and now they've blown whatever advantage they once had going into the postseason. Believe it, no team is more shaky at the top.
9. Cincinnati Bengals (9) They win some close games and have a knack for knocking off teams in their own division. Let's face facts, the Bengals are most likely to get upset at home in Wild Card weekend. Anyone want to dispute that?
10. Arizona Cardinals (12) The Arizona Cardinals do one thing very well, come to play when it matters. The biggest difference between this season and the Cardinals Super Bowl run last season is Chris Wells. The rookie running back deepens the Arizona backfield and should have the biggest impact come postseason time.
11. Carolina Panthers (18) If any team isn't giving up on this season, it's the Carolina Panthers. With consecutive wins against the Minnesota Vikings and delivering the knockout punch to the New York Giants on the legs of a 206-yard performance from Jonathan Stewart, the Panthers are playing great.
12. New York Jets (21) Win and they're in, I guess? Sure, the Jets probably don't deserve to be getting in after the Colts pulled their starters and allowed the Jets to get in the back door. Then again, they did win four of their last five to get them to 8-7 with a chance to get in the postseason on the final week.
13. Baltimore Ravens (11) Believe it or not, the Ravens still hold onto some cards. If they win this weekend against a very beatable Raiders team, they're in. Since late November, the Ravens have gone 3-3 losing two straight on the road. Baltimore isn't playing with the swagger they once had and are going to need a healthy Ed Reed to get in and not just be a one & out playoff team.
14. Denver Broncos (14) They'll need some help. Hard to believe that a team that went through eight weeks of the season and stood at 6-2. Then again, the Broncos did go 2-5 over the next seven. The 20-19 loss against Oakland just ten days ago will come back to haunt them by keeping them on the outside looking in.
15. Pittsburgh Steelers (15) The Steelers aren't getting all the help they need to get in, especially when Cincinnati is going to be resting starters against a Jets team they need to lose. After seeing Peyton get pulled early in the second half, the Steelers had to know they were on their way out. However, it isn't all bad for Pittsburgh, when they finish off the season they'll still be on South Beach after playing Miami this week.
16. Tennessee Titans (13) The Titans really put on a show in the second half of the season, I give them a ton of credit for that. However, they've still got to beat Seattle to reach an 8-8 finish. Hey! For a team that started out 0-6 after getting hammered by New England 59-0, 8-8 is impressive.
17. Atlanta Falcons (17) An extremely tough schedule to navigate just became too much for the young Falcons lead by second year quarterback, Matt Ryan. Even with Ryan sitting out several games due to injury as well as an injury plagued backfield, the Falcons still have the ability to reach a 9-7 mark with a victory in week 17. Which would mark the first time this franchise had back to back winning seasons in it's history.
18. San Francisco 49ers (22) The question had to be whether or not the 49ers were a year away. Turns out they were. Bringing back Vernon Davis, Frank Gore, and Michael Crabtree gives them a core on offense. Next up, give Patrick
Willis and that defense a little more bite on the defensive line.
19. Houston Texans (20) What can we expect from Houston? They can't get over the hump and proved it again this season. There is only so many times you can stack a defense and load up an offense but watch them remain the same team. Changes at the top are in order.
20. Miami Dolphins (16) I like what the Dolphins did this season, they made trouble for New England late in the season and got by with huge injuries on their offense. Going forward, they've got a quarterback for the future and need a big playmaking wideout catching balls.
21. New York Giants (7) Hahahahahaha, I hate the Giants. Not only was missing the playoffs embarrassing after starting 5-0, but they will watch two NFC East foes go to the postseason in the process. They closed out the Meadowlands in ugly fashion and are left with many questions heading into the offseason.
22. Jacksonville Jaguars (19) The Jaguars were fraudulent from the start. A 7-5 record just weeks ago should have fooled exactly no one. They've lost three straight and seriously need to find a way to fill seats when they're at home. Draft Tebow!
23. Chicago Bears (28) If Jay Cutler can give another performance this week like he just did (20 for 35 and 4 TD's) the Bears can leave this season looking to rebuild that defense and refocus the offense. While I don't cheer for Jay Cutler, he sure did impress me on Monday night.
24. Cleveland Browns (24) Amazing what a team will do when they're playing for their jobs after a new team president is announced. Winners of three straight, I still say the Browns only positive is Josh Cribbs. Oh, and someone should have let them know that they are ruining their shot at a #1 pick.
25. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (26) Will Raheem Morris really be a one year coach? The 3-12 Bucs have work to do, even if they beat the Saints in New Orleans this past weekend. If the Bill Cowher rumours are true, this is exactly what the Glaziers ordered.
26. Oakland Raiders (25) The Raiders have a good defense, I'll give them that much. I still think the Raiders need a personnel guy more than Tiger Woods needs a time machine, sorry Al.
27. Buffalo Bills (27) They're just bad.
28. Kansas City Chiefs (29) Do we think that Kansas City will surprise some people in the offseason? I think so. More importantly, I believe they'll have an even better 2010 NFL Draft.
29. Washington Redskins (23) Don't expect them to draft a quarterback folks. After watching what the Dallas defense did to their offensive line, would you put a rookie through that? The Jason Campbell may just be over, but this is someone elses nightmare.
30. Detroit Lions (30) Another week, another loss.
31. St. Louis Rams (32) Rumour has it they're sold on picking a quarterback, now you've got to find a way to protect said quarterback.
32. Seattle Seahawks (31) Is it possible that Jim Mora Jr. can submarine yet another franchise? You got it! Is Jim Zorn available next year?
With a week remaining, thank you for reading the LRN Power Rankings every week. As always you can catch me on twitter and also audio lynchy!