POWER RANKINGS: WHO NEEDS PLAXICO?

POWER RANKINGS: WHO NEEDS PLAXICO?

Posted by Bob LeGere on Tue, 12/02/2008 - 03:53
1. New York Giants (11-1): This is supposed to be a tough schedule, but they've won 7 straight, the last 6 against teams with winning records. Their final 4 opponents are all over .500, too. Last week: 1. 2. Tennessee Titans (11-1): Bounced back big time from only loss by doing what every team does, beating up on the Lions. Have held 4 of last 5 opponents under 17 points. Last week: 2. 3. Pittsburgh Steelers (9-3): Destroyed Patriots on the road and have held last 3 opponents to exactly 10 points. Killer schedule continues with 8-4 Cowboys at home followed by road tests against 8-4 Ravens and 11-1 Titans. Last week: 3. 4. Baltimore Ravens (8-4): QB Joe Flacco's not playing like a rookie anymore (82.3 passer rating), and they've outscored last 2 opponents 70-10 and have won 6 of last 7. Last week: 6. 5. Dallas Cowboys (8-4): Enjoyed easy Thanksgiving rout of Seahawks before things get tough down the stretch, on the road against 9-3 Steelers, at home against 11-1 Giants and 8-4 Ravens, then finale at 6-5-1 Philly. Last week: 7. 6. Indianapolis Colts (8-4): 5 straight wins have been by a total of just 20 points, including most recently an unimpressive 10—6 victory over Browns in which offense failed to reach end zone. Next 2 should be easier -- Bengals and Lions at home. Last week: 5. 7. Carolina Panthers (9-3): Bounced back from first loss in 5 games (vs. Falcons) to upset Packers in Green Bay and maintain share of NFC South lead with Bucs, who they face at home Sunday. Last week: 9. 8. Tampa Bay Bucs (9-3): Prepped for Panthers showdown with hard-fought 23-20 victory over Saints, stretching win streak to 4. NFC's stingiest defense has allowed more than 20 points just once in last 2 months. Last week: 8. 9. New York Jets (8-4): After dominating then-unbeaten Titans 34-13, somehow got blown out at home by Broncos to end 5-game win streak but still held on to AFC East lead. Last week: 4. 10. Atlanta Falcons (8-4): They're 7-0 when Michael Turner rushes for 96 yards or more, as he did last week (120 on 31 carries) in homecoming, helping to upset Chargers in San Diego and keep his team a game back in tough NFC South. Last week: 13. 11. Minnesota Vikings (7-5): Scored 28 or more in 5 of past 6 games and have won 4 of 5 as Adrian Peterson has taken over NFL lead with 1,311 rushing yards and defense has held last 3 opponents under 20 points. Last week: 14. 12. Philadelphia Eagles (6-5-1): Recovered from blowout loss to Ravens by trashing Cardinals 48-20 on Thanksgiving but remain in NFC East basement with slim playoff hopes, although they'll have a say in the race with games against all 3 division foes upcoming. Last week: 19. 13. New England Patriots (7-5): QB Matt Cassel and high-scoring offense got taken down a few notches by Steelers defense in 33-10 loss but still just a game out in AFC East. Three of last 4 are on the road. Good news is they're at Seahawks, Raiders and Bills, who are a combined 11-25. Last week: 11. 14. Arizona Cardinals (7-5): Looked more like pretenders than contenders in blowout loss to Eagles, but they still hold commanding 3-game lead in weak NFC West and should clinch with Rams coming to town this week. Last week: 10. 15. Washington Redskins (7-5): As Portis goes so go the Redskins, and he didn't go far (22 yards on 11 carries) in 23-7 loss to Giants that exposed offensive concerns. Averaging just under 11 points in last 4 games, 3 of which are losses. Last week: 12. 16. New Orleans Saints (6-6): Needed victory at Tampa last week to stay alive in division race but fell just short in 23-20 loss. Still have games left with NFC South Falcons and Panthers sandwiched around road games vs. Bears and Lions. Last week: 15. 17. Denver Broncos (7-5): Shocking rout of Jets on the road was just their third win in last 7 games, but that's good enough for a 3-game lead in ragged AFC West. Chiefs at home this week should be easy, but they rarely do anything easy. Last week: 20. 18. Miami Dolphins (7-5): Talk about winning ugly. Barely got past doormat Rams and 3 wins in last 4 weeks have been by total of 8 points against teams with combined record of 7-29. Last week: 19. 19. Green Bay Packers (5-7): Appeared to have character-building comeback victory over Panthers wrapped up until classic Steve Smith big play turned the tables in 35-31 loss. Have lost 4 of last 5 with only win vs. Bears. Last week: 16. 20. Chicago Bears (6-6): They are who we thought they were: a .500 team. But, in the mediocre-rich NFC North, they still aren't out of it. Have a chance to make a run with 3 straight at home. Last week: 17. 21. Houston Texans (5-7): Won impressively vs. Jaguars on Monday night, continuing season-long trend of defeating bad teams but losing to good ones. Last 4 wins are against teams with a combined 9 victories. Last week: 23. 22. San Diego Chargers (4-8): Have lost 4 of last 5 by a total of 15 points, and victory was a 1-pointer vs. Chiefs. Still alive in AFC West and face all 3 division foes down the stretch. Last week: 21. 23. San Francisco 49ers (4-8): Won for the second time in 3 weeks despite being outgained 350-195 but have still lost 17 of last 23 games vs. AFC opponents, and they host the Jets this week. Last week: 25. 24. Buffalo Bills (6-6): Lost for sixth time in 8 games to ruin 4-0 start and drop into AFC East cellar, where they could be spoiler with 3 remaining division games. Scored 3 points last week after getting 54 a week earlier. Last week: 22. 25. Cleveland Browns (4-8): Didn't allow an offensive TD to Colts yet still lost 10-6 and are down to third-string QB Ken Dorsey after losing Brady Quinn and Derek Anderson to injuries. Outlook gets worse, considering road games down the stretch at Tennessee, Philadelphia and Pittsburgh, who are a combined 26-9-1. Last week: 27. 26. Jacksonville Jaguars (4-8): Head to Soldier Field after losing on Monday night for the fifth time in last 6, and they haven't scored more than 19 points in any of the losses. Only NFL team with losses to Bengals and Browns this season. Last week: 24. 27. Kansas City Chiefs (2-10): Topped Raiders in Oakland 20-13 to snap 7-game losing streak and give QB Tyler Thigpen his first victory in 7 starts. Defense stepped up after allowing 84 points in previous 2 games. Last week: 30. 28. Oakland Raiders (3-9): Loss to Chiefs clinched sixth straight losing season following 2002 Super Bowl season. Have scored less than 19 points in 8 of last 9. Last week: 26. 29. Seattle Seahawks (2-10): After 34-9 loss to Cowboys on Thanksgiving, they get 3 extra days' rest to prepare for visit from Patriots, but they're just 1-5 at home and have scored more than 20 points just once in last 9 games. Last week: 28. 30. St. Louis Rams (2-10): RB Steven Jackson (94 yards on 21 carries) returned from thigh injury, but he couldn't prevent a sixth straight defeat, although they kept it respectable in 16-12 loss to Dolphins. Last week: 31. 31. Cincinnati Bengals (1-10-1): Since “hot streak” of one win and one tie, they've been outscored 61-13 by Steelers and Ravens. Scored 14 points or less in 7 of last 9. Last week: 27. 32. Detroit Lions (0-12): Winless season looks even more probable after they mailed it in on Thanksgiving in 47-10 loss to Titans. Defense has allowed more than 30 points in each of last 4 games and an NFL-worst 393 for the season. Last week: 32.
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