The Depth Chart: Week 16

December 18th, 2008 - 4:36 pm

My power rankings for the NFL.

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

High Five

1. New York Giants (11-3)
(No. 1; L, 20-8 vs. Dal; No Change)
Minus Brandon Jacobs and Plaxico Burress, Eli Manning looked more like he did as a rookie and less like the Super Bowl MVP.

2. Tennessee Titans (12-2)
(No. 2; L, 13-12 vs. Hou; No Change)
Couldn’t go on the road and beat divisional rival Houston. Could only manage four field goals in the loss and had no answer for Andre Johnson.

3. Pittsburgh Steelers (11-3)
(No. 3; W, 13-9 vs. Bal; No Change)
Were the beneficiaries of a questionable — and possibly wrong — call at the end of the game in which the ball never crossed the goal line — or, at least, didn’t appear to. Nevertheless, clinched the division title with the victory.

4. Indianapolis Colts (10-4)
(No. 4; W, 31-21 vs. Det; No Change)
The Lions kept things close for a while, but the game was never in any serious trouble. They have now won 7 in a row.

5. Carolina Panthers (11-3)
Carolina (No. 5; W, 30-10 vs. Den; No Change)
Could possibly be the NFC’s most dangerous team right now and they’re running the ball at will and dominating on both sides of the ball.

Contenders

6. New England Patriots (9-5)
(No. 11; W, 49-26 vs. Oak; Up 5)
Kept pace with the Jets and Dolphins for first place in the AFC East with a big, 49-26 victory over the Raiders. Matt Cassel played as I expected him to following the death of his father, with an inspired effort that resulted in 218 yards and 4 touchdowns.

7. Atlanta Falcons (9-5)
(No. 12; W, 13-10 vs. TB; Up 5)
Big victory over Tampa Bay brings them closer to a postseason berth, but they still need help.

8. Baltimore Ravens (9-5)
(No. 8; L, 13-9 vs. Pit; No Change)
Could have been hosed by the replay at the end of the game, but they’re still in great shape to make the postseason and look on top of their game.

9. Dallas Cowboys (9-5)
(No. 15; W, 20-8 vs. NYG; Up 6)
The Cowboys put aside dissension and took advantage of a hurting Giants team to remain in control of the No. 5 seed in the playoffs.

10. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (9-5)
(No. 6; L, 13-10 vs. Atl; Down 4)
Have lost two in a row and not only fell from first in the NFC South, but are clinging to the No. 6 seed.

11. Minnesota Vikings (9-5)
(No. 16; W, 35-14 vs. Ari; Up 5)
Went on the road and not only won, but obliterated the host Cardinals to gain the edge for the No. 3 seed in the NFC.

12. Arizona Cardinals (8-6)
(No. 7; L, 35-14 vs. Min; Down 5)
Were they lazy against the Vikings because they clinched the division a week earlier? Probably. But now that loss could hurt them in the playoffs as far as homefield is concerned.

Muddled Middle

13. New York Jets (9-5)
(No. 9; W, 31-27 vs. Buf; Down 3)
Gutted out a tough victory over division rival Buffalo to avoid a third straight loss. They’re still in a three-way tie for first.

14. Philadelphia Eagles (8-5-1)
(No. 14; W, 30-10 vs. Cle; No Change)
Are still alive in the playoff hunt with a victory over the Browns on Monday night.

15. Washington Redskins (7-7)
(No. 10; L, 20-13 vs. Cin; Down 5)
It can’t get much worse for the Redskins losing to a team as bad as the Bengals.

16. Chicago Bears (8-6)
(No. 17; W, 27-24 vs. NO; Up 1)
Still pushing for the postseason, but odds are bleak at this point. Could be one of only a handful of teams to finish 10-6 and not make the playoffs.

17. Miami Dolphins (9-5)
Miami (No. 19; W, 14-9 vs. SF; Up 2)
With the victory over San Francisco, they remain in a three-way tie for first place in the AFC East. Who would have thought it possible?

18. Denver Broncos (8-6)
Denver (No. 13; L, 30-10 vs. Car; Down 5)
Not a very consistent team this year and proved it by being on the receiving end of a 30-10 drubbing by the Panthers.

19. Houston Texans (7-7)
(No. 20; W, 13-12 vs. Ten; Up 1)
How good is Andre Johnson? 11 catches for 207 yards and a touchdown. He’s a monster and the Texans picked up a big victory over the Titans.

20. New Orleans Saints (7-7)
(No. 18; L, 27-24 vs. Chi; Down 2)
Eliminated from playoff contention with loss to Chicago. Great offense just couldn’t produce this year outside.

Pretenders

21. San Diego Chargers (6-8)
(No. 21; W, 22-21 vs. KC; No Change)
They’re lucky a game is 60 minutes because they played poorly for about 50 of them. They’re also lucky that Kansas City missed the game-winning field goal as time expired.

22. Jacksonville Jaguars (5-9)
(No. 24; W, 20-16 vs. GB; Up 2)
Managed to squeak by a pretty good, yet dysfunctional, Packers team this week, but still an utterly disappointing season.

23. Buffalo Bills (6-8)
(No. 22; L, 31-27 vs. NYJ; Down 1)
They had the Jets right where they wanted them and then ran a pass play when they should have been winding down the clock. 2-8 after starting 4-0.

24. Green Bay Packers (5-9)
(No. 23; L, 20-16 vs. Jac; Down 1)
Couldn’t even beat the lowly Jaguars and now have lost 4 in a row. There was even fighting amongst teammates and coaches in this one.

25. San Francisco 49ers (5-9)
(No. 25; L, 14-9 vs. Mia; No Change)
Although they lost, they played Miami tough and their arrow is definitely pointing up after months and years of it pointing downward.

26. Seattle Seahawks (3-11)
(No. 27; W, 23-20 vs. Stl; Up 1)
A win is a win, even if it’s against an equally inept St. Louis Rams team.

27. Cincinnati Bengals (2-11-1)
(No. 29; W, 20-13 vs. Was; Up 2)
Trying to make some noise late in the season, the Bengals’ victory over the Redskins does little but hurt their draft position.

Low Five

28. Kansas City Chiefs (2-12)
Kansas City (No. 28; L, 22-21 vs. SD; No Change)
Played San Diego tough for almost the entire game before blowing it in the end. This team definitely has promise and could be a team to reckon with in the near future.

29. Cleveland Browns (4-10)
(No. 26; L, 30-10 vs. Phi; Down 3)
I’ve got good news, football fans: the last of the Browns’ five prime time games is over! Thank you and good night. The NFL will think long and hard about scheduling these jokers that many times in prime time anywhere in the near future.

30. St. Louis Rams (2-12)
(No. 30; L, 23-20 vs. Sea; No Change)
Couldn’t take advantage of their homefield edge and are now in sole possession of last place in the NFC West.

31. Oakland Raiders (3-11)
(No. 31; L, 49-26 vs. NE; No Change)
Is the season over yet? It is for them, and has been for quite a while. Which draft pick will they land?

32. Detroit Lions (0-14)
(No. 32; L, 31-21 vs. Ind; No Change)
Were tied with the Colts at one point, but are still on track to be the first team in NFL history to finish 0-16.