NFL Power Rankings: Week 14

Following a 27-17 loss to the Colts, I bet Titans coach Jeff Fisher (above) would like to slip back into that Peyton Manning jersey.
1. Indianapolis Colts (12-0) The Colts jump the Saints this week because they convincingly beat their opponent. They ended the Titans’ five-game winning streak and their hope for a playoff-berth with a 27-17 win. The defense was able to slow red-hot Vince Young and keep Chris “4.2 second 40” Johnson under 120 yards (yes, that’s an accomplishment) and out of the end zone. The team was very balanced in their game against the Titans, as Joseph Addai ran for 80 yards and 2 scores, and Peyton Manning completed passes to 7 different receivers. Pierre Garcon is returning to form, as he caught 6 balls for 136, and picked up the slack for Reggie Wayne (48 yards on 4 catches). Overall, this team is solid all-around, as Peyton Manning is one of the greatest quarterbacks to ever step onto a football field, Joseph Addai is looking like the old Joseph Addai that fantasy team owners loved, and Pierre Garcon, Austin Collie, Reggie Wayne, and Dallas Clark give Manning an array of options. Not to mention, the defense is deceptively speedy and rather good, despite a multitude of injuries. This week they play the Broncos (8-4), who are perhaps the hardest team in the NFL to figure out, but I’m sure Jim Caldwell and Peyton Manning are up to the challenge.
2. New Orleans Saints (12-0) Saints: 33    Redskins: 30

Alright so the Saints probably should have lost this week, as they needed a miraculous Robert Meachem fumble recovery touchdown, a missed 23-yard field goal, and a ball to bounce off a Redskins player’s back to win the game. Yeah, they got lucky, but so what! The fact of the matter is that the Saints have beaten good times convincingly, while struggling against teams like Tampa Bay and Washington. My answer: big deal! Who do you play in the playoffs, hmm…let’s think…good teams. So, my theory is the Saints should play fantastically as they have all year against playoff caliber teams. Don’t worry Drew Brees, you guys are going undefeated and have more weapons on your team than Tiger Woods has excuses.

3. Minnesota Vikings (10-2) The Vikings let me down pretty badly this past Sunday, losing to Arizona 30-17 on primetime television. Brett Favre looked like the old Favre, as he threw as many picks as touchdowns (2), bringing his total for the year up to 5. Adrian Peterson, widely considered the best back in the NFL, rushed for 19 yards on 13 carries (maybe it’s because Favre makes the handoff more obvious than his decision to return to football). Clearly, the Vikings have some problems to get adjusted before the playoffs, as their explosive offense was silenced by an impressive Cardinal defense. For their sake, let’s hope that Favre doesn’t mimic his late-season collapse from a year ago with the Jets.
4. San Diego Chargers (9-3) The Chargers just keep winning, as they beat the Cleveland Browns 30-23 for their seventh straight win. The road gets tougher here, however, as they travel to Dallas this weekend to play an 8-4 Cowboys team. In week 15, they host the Bengals, which could end up being the deciding game in who wins the #2 seed in the AFC. The Chargers won’t slow up anytime soon, as the Denver Broncos are hot on their tail for the division lead, so look for San Diego to leave everything out on the field every week from here on out.
5. Cincinnati Bengals (9-3) The Bengals defeated the Motor-City Lions last week 23-13 to get their 9th win of the season and clinch their second winning season since 1991. They need just one more win in order to clinch the AFC North, as the Steelers and Ravens each are 6-6 and the Bengals have defeated them both twice. These low requirements are definitely good news for the Bengals, as they get the Vikings this week, followed by the Chargers in Week 15. With Cedric Benson back, however, the offense is balanced once again and will definitely present a tough challenge for any team in the NFL.
6. Arizona Cardinals (8-4) How ‘bout them defending NFC Champions! They absolutely dominated the Minnesota Vikings, whom many considered to be the best team in the NFC. Kurt Warner showed a national audience and Brett Favre that he’s the best gray-haired quarterback in the NFL. Although the offense was clicking on all cylinders with both Anquan Boldin and Larry Fitzgerald having big days, the defense was the story. They forced two Favre interceptions and held last year’s rushing champion, Adrian Peterson, to 19 yards. NFL beware: the Cardinals are in playoff form much, much earlier than last year.
7. Green Bay Packers (8-4) The 27-14 win against Baltimore Monday night was just another statement of how good these Cheeseheads are. They are led by a quarterback who should be getting significant MVP consideration. Aaron Rodgers has 25 touchdowns, 3300 yards passing, and has completely revamped the franchise. Last year, the Packers finished 6-10, this year, they have a legitimate chance to finish 12-4 as they finish the season against the Bears, Steelers, Seahawks, and Cardinals, respectively. I’m starting the movement now: Aaron Rodgers for MVP!
8. Philadelphia Eagles (8-4) It’s real easy to tell you how good the Eagles are right now. First, they beat the Falcons 34-7. Secondly, back-up quarterback Michael Vick scored two touchdowns. Reflections: Does anyone remember how prolific Vick was in his prime? Yeah, downright scary. The Eagles just won the NFC East as far as I’m concerned.
9. Denver Broncos (8-4) Alright, the Broncos are winning again as they defeated the Chiefs 44-13 for their second straight win. The reason: they finally are running the ball again. Knowshon Moreno and Correll Buckhalter ran all over the Chiefs, racking up a combined 199 yards and two touchdowns. It’s a mystery to me why an offensive mastermind like Josh McDaniels never realized that you have to run the ball sometimes and not just pass. He has that figured out now, however, and with the defense playing in early-season form, I look for the Broncos to end the Colts’ undefeated season this week.
10. Dallas Cowboys (8-4) Can’t Jerry Jones just buy a winning record in December? Or at least keep his starting quarterback from partying in Vegas during the regular season?
11. Miami Dolphins (6-6) Following the impressive 22-21 win against divisional-foe New England Patriots, the Dolphins are finally getting the recognition I’ve given them for weeks. Ricky Williams is doing a fine job as the feature back for Miami and Chad Henne is to Justin Verlander what Chad Pennington was to Tim Wakefield (I’m talking about throwing-speed. If I was talking about wins my argument would be ridiculous). Miami’s wide-receivers are also finally getting some attention, as Davone Bess  caught 10 balls for 117 yards and a touchdown. Plus, Ted Ginn, Jr. is finally panning out, and Anthony Fasano is making the Cowboys look stupid for trading him away. The schedule gets pretty tough right here, however, as the Dolphins get Jacksonville this week, followed by the Titans, Texans, and the ever-dangerous Steelers. The Dolphins need these games as all of their remaining games are against teams in the hunt for the AFC playoffs. Therefore, they control their own destiny.
12. New England Patriots (7-5) Biggest Disappointment of the Year…by far! Tom Brady is still a top 10 quarterback in the NFL, but the days of the 2007 Brady have fallen by Bill Belichick’s waist-side. Either way, there is no way this team is going to beat the elite teams in the AFC. That’s assuming of-course that they even get the chance, as they have in no way wrapped up a playoff spot.
13. New York Giants (7-5) Well, the Giants actually look like the Giants again…at least for one week. The 31-24 win versus the Cowboys was impressive and kept them in the race for an NFC East Championship. They are now just a game back of the Eagles and Cowboys (each 8-4), and have two tough games left in their remaining four. They should beat the Redskins (Week 15) and Panthers (Week 16), however, this week they play the red-hot Eagles. The last time these two teams met, the Eagles blew the Giants out by the score of 40-17. To have any shot at the division title, the G-Men must win this week. If they don’t, I expect them to still finish 9-7 (other loss coming to the Vikings in season finale) and earn a wild-card berth in the NFC.
14. Pittsburgh Steelers (6-6) Mike Tomlin must of unleashed hell in the wrong place because Bruce Gradkowski and the Raiders felt nothing but glory in their 27-24 win this past Sunday against the Steelers.
15. Jacksonville Jaguars (7-5) Despite the impressive win over the once playoff-hopeful Houston Texans (23-18), the Jacksonville Jaguars are not going to make the playoffs. After playing the Dolphins this week, they get the pleasure of playing the unbeaten Colts, followed by the furious New England Patriots. They then wrap up the season with a win..oh..I mean game versus the Browns. So, at the very best, I see the Jaguars finishing 9-7, which is not good enough to make the playoffs, especially in the AFC.

The Best of the Rest (16-32)

16. Baltimore Ravens (6-6)

17. Tennessee Titans (5-7)

18. Atlanta Falcons (6-6)

19. New York Jets (6-6)

20. Chicago Bears (5-7)

21. Seattle Seahawks (5-7)

22. Houston Texans (5-7)

23. Buffalo Bills (4-8)

24. Carolina Panthers (5-7)

25. San Francisco 49ers (5-7)

26. Washington Redskins (3-9)

27. Oakland Raiders (4-8)

28. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (1-11)

29. Detroit Lions (2-10)

30. Kansas City Chiefs (3-9)

31. St. Louis Rams (1-11)

32. Cleveland Browns (1-11)

-Jon Harris

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