The Depth Chart: Week 15

December 10th, 2008 - 8:46 pm

My power rankings for the NFL.

(Previous Rank; Last Week’s Result; Movement in the Depth Chart).

High Five

1. New York Giants (11-2)
(No. 1; L, 20-14 vs. Phi; No Change)
The Giants lost a hard fought NFC East battle to the Eagles, but they’re still the league’s best and most complete team.

2. Tennessee Titans (12-1)
(No. 2; W, 28-9 vs. Cle; No Change)
Cruised to an easy victory over the Browns. Have the league’s best record, but still a beatable team.

3. Pittsburgh Steelers (10-3)
(No. 4; W, 20-13 vs. Dal; Up 1)
Good defense sealed a victory late in the game against the Cowboys.

4. Indianapolis Colts (9-4)
(No. 5; W, 35-3 vs. Cin; Up 1)
Beat a team they should have, but they’re one of the league’s hottest teams having won 6 in a row.

5. Carolina Panthers (10-3)
(No. 6; W, 38-23; Up 1)
Huge Monday night victory over division rival Tampa Bay. They now claim the division lead by themselves and are one of the league’s toughest teams.

Contenders

6. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (9-4)
(No. 3; L, 38-23 vs. Car; Down 3)
Have been one of the top fundamental teams in the league but ran into a better Panthers team Monday night.

7. Arizona Cardinals (8-5)
(No. 11; W, 34-10 vs. Stl; Up 4)
Won the NFC West division championship, their first division title in 33 years. Will need to run the ball better to win in the playoffs, though.

8. Baltimore Ravens (9-4)
(No. 13; W, 24-10 vs. Was; Up 5)
Definitely one of the league’s most surprising teams this year. Not only are they solid defensively as usual, they’re also playing well offensively.

9. New York Jets (8-5)
(No. 7; L, 24-14 vs. SF; Down 2)
Have lost 2 in a row and have now fallen into a three-way tie for first place in the AFC East with the Patriots and Dolphins.

10. Washington Redskins (7-6)
(No. 8; L, 24-10 vs. Bal; Down 2)
When Clinton Portis isn’t healthy, this team struggles mightily. What started as a promising season has quickly turned downhill.

11. New England Patriots (8-5)
(No. 12; W, 24-21 vs. Sea; Up 1)
Narrowly squeaked by the Seahawks this week but are still in contention for a division title and/or playoff berth.

12. Atlanta Falcons (8-5)
(No. 9; L, 29-25 vs. NO; Down 3)
Lost a tough division battle with the Saints but are still in great shape to get a wild card spot in the postseason.

Muddled Middle

13. Denver Broncos (8-5)
(No. 14; W, 24-17 vs. KC; Up 1)
Cruising the past few weeks behind little known Peyton Hillis and the surprisingly solid Jay Cutler.

14. Philadelphia Eagles (7-5-1)
(No. 15; W, 20-14 vs. NYG; Up 1)
Big upset victory over the defending champion and division rival New York Giants keeps the Eagles in the playoff picture.

15. Dallas Cowboys (8-5)
(No. 10; L, 20-13 vs. Pit; Down 5)
First owner Jerry Jones guarantees his team will make the playoffs. Then Marion Barber misses the Steelers game and Jones publicly calls him out on his toughness. Sounds like a big baby trying to protect and justify his guarantee.

16. Minnesota Vikings (8-5)
(No. 16; W, 20-16 vs. Det; No Change)
Won the first meeting by 2 points and this matchup by 4 points. Why is it so hard for them to beat the winless Lions?

17. Chicago Bears (7-6)
(No. 17; W, 23-10 vs. Jac; No Change)
Rolled to an expected victory over a punchless Jaguars team. Still in the playoff hunt, but need some help.

18. New Orleans Saints (7-6)
(No. 18; W, 29-25 vs. Atl; No Change)
With a crucial victory over the Falcons, the Saints remain in the playoff hunt. This week’s matchup with the Bears could eliminate one of the two teams.

19. Miami Dolphins (8-5)
(No. 21; W, 16-3 vs. Buf; Up 2)
Who would have thought last year’s worst team would have been 8-5, tied for the division lead, and hunting for a playoff spot with three games to go?

20. Houston Texans (6-7)
(No. 22; W, 24-21 vs. GB; Up 2)
Waltzed into Lambeau Field, had just a three-point victory, but were in control for the whole game. If this team had a better defense to match its high octane offense, they’d be playoff contenders.

Pretenders

21. San Diego Chargers (5-8)
(No. 24; W, 34-7 vs. Oak; Up 3)
Easy division victory over the Raiders, but winding down a miserable season.

22. Buffalo Bills (6-7)
(No. 19; L, 16-3 vs. Mia; Down 3)
After starting 4-0, the Bills have gone 2-7 since. Dick Jauron just recently signed a contract extension, but his job could be in jeopardy already.

23. Green Bay Packers (5-8)
(No. 20; L, 24-21 vs. Hou; Down 3)
Were 5-5 and tied for first in the NFC North and have lost 3 in a row to be all but eliminated from the postseason.

24. Jacksonville Jaguars (4-9)
(No. 23; L, 23-10 vs. Chi; Down 1)
Jack Del Rio can only ask where did this promising team go wrong?

25. San Francisco 49ers (5-8)
(No. 25; W, 24-14 vs. NYJ; No Change)
Big victory over one of the top dogs in the NFL. This team is gaining confidence under Mike Singletary and could make some strides next season if he’s hired full time.

26. Cleveland Browns (4-9)
(No. 26; L, 28-9 vs. Ten; No Change)
Weren’t very good to begin the season; a whole lot worse now with Ken Dorsey leading the team.

27. Seattle Seahawks (2-11)
(No. 27; L, 24-21 vs. NE; No Change)
Made it close against the Patriots, but injuries, old age, and declining skills have led to a poor season.

Low Five

28. Kansas City Chiefs (2-11)
(No. 28; L, 24-17 vs. Den; No Change)
The Chiefs, who are one of, if not the youngest team in the league, pack a powerful punch on offense with their young playmakers, but need to improve particularly their run defense heading into next season.

29. Cincinnati Bengals (1-11-1)
(No. 29; L, 35-3 vs. Ind; No Change)
Quarterback Carson Palmer may look around him next season and see a new head coach and two new receivers if Marvin Lewis gets fired, T.J. Houshmandzadeh leaves via free agency, and Chad Johnson either is traded willingly or creates such havoc — think Terrell Owens in Philadelphia — that the team is forced to get rid of him.

30. St. Louis Rams (2-11)
(No. 30; L, 34-10 vs. Ari; No Change)
This team still has a lot of pieces it needs to fill, particularly on the offensive line and all over the field on defense, in order to be a competitive team next year.

31. Oakland Raiders (3-10)
(No. 31; L, 34-7 vs. SD; No Change)
In today’s NFL, a team can make huge strides from one year to the next, but to be honest, I just don’t see the Raiders seriously contending for another title during Al Davis’ lifetime with the way he runs his team.

32. Detroit Lions (0-13)
(No. 32; L, 20-16 vs. Min; No Change)
They were able to play Minnesota tough twice this season. Odds that they go 0-16 this season? Pretty good. Remaining games against Indianapolis, New Orleans, and Green Bay.

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