The Depth Chart: Week 17

December 25th, 2008 - 12:00 pm

My power rankings for the NFL.

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

High Five

1. New York Giants (12-3)
(No. 1; W, 34-28 vs. Car; No Change)
Clinched homefield advantage throughout the NFC playoffs with a come-from-behind overtime victory over the Panthers.

2. Tennessee Titans (13-2)
(No. 2; W, 31-14 vs. Pit; No Change)
The terrible towels came out in force in Tennessee, but it was the Titans making a mockery of the towels in the end as they picked up a big conference victory over Pittsburgh.

3. Indianapolis Colts (11-4)
(No. 4; W, 31-24 vs. Jac; Up 1)
Eight straight wins for the Colts. Simply impressive.

4. Pittsburgh Steelers (11-4)
(No. 3; L, 31-14 vs. Ten; Down 1)
The Steelers lost the chance to get homefield advantage throughout the AFC playoffs, but they’re still in line for a first round bye.

5. Carolina Panthers (11-4)
(No. 5; L, 34-28 vs. NYG; No Change)
The Panthers seemed to control the majority of the game against the Giants, but couldn’t hold on in the end. Something tells me these two teams will meet up again in the conference championship.

Contenders

6. New England Patriots (10-5)
(No. 6; W, 47-7 vs. Ari; No Change)
It’s strange, and somewhat enticing, to know that the Patriots could be 11-5 and miss the playoffs. But they pounded the Cardinals anyway to prove they’re a good team.

7. Atlanta Falcons (10-5)
(No. 7; W, 24-17 vs. Min; No Change)
Unbelievable that this team was in disarray last year cleaning up after the Michael Vick and Bobby Petrino disasters and now they’re in the playoffs.

8. Baltimore Ravens (10-5)
(No. 8; W, 33-24 vs. Dal; No Change)
Pushed the Cowboys around and imposed their will, handing Dallas a loss in the final game at Texas Stadium.

9. Dallas Cowboys (9-6)
(No. 9; L, 33-24 vs. Bal; No Change)
They have control of their own playoff hopes but can’t seem to close the deal. This week’s game in Philadelphia is going to be tough.

10. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (9-6)
(No. 10; L, 41-24 vs. SD; No Change)
Their defense seems to have collapsed the past few weeks against San Diego, Atlanta, and Carolina. Is Monte Kiffin already thinking about next year and joining his son’s staff at the University of Tennessee?

11. Minnesota Vikings (9-6)
(No. 11; L, 24-17 vs. Atl; No Change)
Another team, like the Cowboys, who is in control of their playoff chances but cannot capitalize.

12. Arizona Cardinals (8-7)
(No. 12; L, 47-7 vs. NE; No Change)
The Cardinals better hope for some fortuitous breaks in the playoffs so they don’t have to travel to a cold weather city. They’re certainly not a well-rounded team.

Muddled Middle

13. Washington Redskins (8-7)
(No. 15; W, 10-3 vs. Phi; Up 2)
A week after losing to the pitiful Bengals, the Redskins play gritty defense against division rival Philadelphia and pull out a victory.

14. Chicago Bears (9-6)
(No. 16; W, 20-17 vs. GB; Up 2)
Did not look good at all against the Packers, but fought back with defense and special teams to knock off their rival and stay in the playoff hunt.

15. Miami Dolphins (10-5)
(No. 17; W, 38-31 vs. KC; Up 2)
In the coldest game the Dolphins had ever played, they picked up a tough victory over the Chiefs to take possession of first place. If they win in Week 17, they become division champs a year after finishing 1-15 and picking up the first overall draft pick.

16. Philadelphia Eagles (8-6-1)
(No. 14; L, 10-3 vs. Was; Down 2)
The Eagles collapsed offensively against the Redskins and now are on the brink of elimination from the playoff chase.

17. New York Jets (9-6)
(No. 13; L, 13-3 vs. Sea; Down 4)
The Jets are 0-4 out west and Brett Favre has not played well at all in the past four weeks.

18. Denver Broncos (8-7)
(No. 18; L, 30-23 vs. Buf; No Change)
Unbelievable that the Broncos were sitting alone atop the AFC West, appearing as if they were coasting to an easy division title, yet now have to beat the Chargers this week in order to secure the crown. Very unstable team.

19. New Orleans Saints (8-7)
(No. 20; W, 42-7 vs. Det; Up 1)
Sure, the Saints were able to beat up the Lions in the climate-controlled Ford Field. But it’s playing outdoors that has killed the Saints this year.

20. San Diego Chargers (7-8)
(No. 21; W, 41-24 vs. TB; Up 1)
After struggling all season, the combination of the Chargers playing well down the stretch and the Broncos collapsing has given San Diego an opportunity to win the AFC West with a victory over Denver this week.

Pretenders

21. Houston Texans (7-8)
(No. 19; L, 27-16 vs. Oak; Down 2)
How a team that has looked so good the last few weeks was beaten soundly by the Raiders is beyond me. Hopefully they collapse against the Bears, too.

22. Buffalo Bills (7-8)
(No. 23; W, 30-23 vs. Den; Up 1)
I never thought the Bills had a chance at invading Denver’s home field and knocking them off. Maybe Dick Jauron will stick around after all.

23. Jacksonville Jaguars (5-10)
(No. 22; L, 31-24 vs. Ind; Down 1)
Played tough, but could not bring down the Colts last Thursday night.

24. San Francisco 49ers (6-9)
(No. 25; W, 17-16 vs. Stl; Up 1)
Had a nice comeback victory over division rival St. Louis. Maybe the young players will learn what winning is about and pick up some momentum for next year.

25. Green Bay Packers (5-10)
(No. 24; L, 20-17 vs. Chi; Down 1)
Have dropped five straight since manhandling the Bears at Lambeau Field in Week 11. Can’t seem to close out games as they have now lost 7 games this year by 4 points or less.

26. Seattle Seahawks (3-11)
(No. 26; W, 13-3 vs. NYJ; No Change)
The Seahawks gave head coach Mike Holmgren one last hurrah at home before he steps aside. It must have been a sweet victory over a competitive Jets team headed by Holmgren’s former quarterback in Green Bay, Brett Favre.

27. Cincinnati Bengals (3-11-1)
(No. 27; W, 14-0 vs. Cle; No Change)
Two in a row! The Bengals have a little win streak going. In my mind, it’s not enough to save Marvin Lewis’ job.

Low Five

28. Kansas City Chiefs (2-13)
(No. 28; L, 38-31 vs. Mia; No Change)
This is their third straight loss by one possession and they’re putting up decent scores. They just can’t stop anybody.

29. Oakland Raiders (4-11)
(No. 31; W, 27-16 vs. Hou; Up 2)
Big, unexpected victory over a Houston team that has looked good as of late.

30. Cleveland Browns (4-10)
(No. 29; L, 14-0 vs. Cin; Down 1)
The Browns continue their downward spiral. Romeo Crennel will be fired at season’s end. I would have never hired him in the first place.

31. St. Louis Rams (2-13)
(No. 30; L, 17-16 vs. SF; Down 1)
Almost beat a suddenly competitive 49ers team, but gave up a late lead.

32. Detroit Lions (0-15)
(No. 32; L, 42-7 vs. NO; No Change)
15 down, 1 more to go before the Lions become the first 0-16 team in NFL history. They’re already the first 0-15 team, but the season isn’t official yet.

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