Wednesday, 12 December 2012
NFL POWER RANKINGS - WEEK 15
1 (3) New England Patriots (10-3) - The Patriots just keep doing this year after year. There is usually an early season blip from New England which leads to their critics claiming they are finished and the Brady/Belichick era is coming to an end. By December, the critics are usually having those words rammed down their throats. The Patriots seem to have the timing of the playoff run down to a fine art. They have been AFC Champions five times in the last eleven years and went on to win three Superbowl's. It would take a brave man to go against the Patriots reaching another Superbowl in their current form. The 42-14 win over the Texans will have sent out a message to the rest of the NFL that the New England Patriots are looking for another title. Tom Brady threw for 296 yards and 4 touchdowns. Brandon Lloyd and Aaron Hernandez were the leading receivers. Lloyd caught 7 passes for 89 yards and a touchdown. Hernandez caught 8 passes for 52 yards and 2 touchdowns. Stevan Ridley had another good day, running for 72 yards and a touchdown.
2 (4) Denver Broncos (10-3) - The Denver Broncos kept their winning run going by picking up a win over divisional rivals, the Oakland Raiders. The Broncos are looking good and on current form the AFC Championship should be decided between them and the New England Patriots. I have no loyalties in the AFC and as a neutral I would love to see the Broncos and Patriots go head to head for a place in the Superbowl. Peyton Manning v Tom Brady is always a big game but for them to meet in a Championship game at this stage of their careers would be mouth watering. On Thursday, Manning threw for 310 yards, a touchdown and an interception. His leading receivers were Eric Decker and Demaryius Thomas. Decker had 8 catches for 88 yards and Thomas had 5 catches for 83 yards. Knowshon Moreno had a big day on the ground, rushing for 119 yards and a touchdown.
3 (1) Houston Texans (11-2) - The Texans have looked poor in recent weeks against teams who aren't in the playoff race. Once they came up against a team who could challenge them for supremacy in the AFC, they were beaten off the field. The Texans had a great start to the season but in the last month or so they haven't been impressive. I don't know whether they are holding a little bit back for the playoffs but this is a dangerous time of the year to hit bad form. On current form, I'd put the Patriots and Broncos ahead of them in the AFC. Houston need to sort themselves out quickly as they have two big games with Indianapolis coming up and if they can't win one of those, they will find themselves in the wildcard places. On Monday, Matt Schaub threw for 232 yards and an interception. Arian Foster and Ben Tate both ran for 46 yards. Foster also picked up a touchdown. Andre Johnson was the leading receiver, catching 8 passes for 95 yards.
4 (5) Green Bay Packers (9-4) - The Packers picked up a win over divisional rivals, the Detroit Lions, on Sunday night. That win and the Bears loss in Minnesota means that a Packers win in Chicago, next Sunday, would hand the Packers another NFC North title. The Packers have won seven of their last eight games and will be a danger to any team when the playoffs start. Aaron Rodgers threw for just 173 yards but he did pick up a rushing touchdown. Randall Cobb was the leading receiver, catching 7 passes for 102 yards.
5 (7) San Francisco 49ers (9-3-1) - The 49ers got back to winning ways with a routine victory over the Miami Dolphins. The win keeps the 49ers just ahead of the Green Bay Packers in the NFC playoff seeding. As things stand the 49ers would have the two seed and a first round bye but they travel to New England and Seattle in the next two weeks so they are far from guaranteed the bye and a defeat to Seattle could even result in them having to start their playoff campaign on the road, as a wildcard. Colin Kaepernick got the nod ahead of Alex Smith again and threw for 185 yards. He also scored a touchdown after a 50 yard run. Frank Gore led the running game with 63 yards and a touchdown. Michael Crabtree was the star receiver, catching 9 passes for 93 yards.
6 (2) Atlanta Falcons (11-2) - The Falcons lost their second game of the year after a defeat to the Carolina Panthers. The final score flattered the Falcons and they never really looked like winning. The Falcons have already secured their playoff place and they still hold the NFC's number one seed. The Falcons are 11-2 for the year and their closest rivals, San Francisco and Green Bay, have nine wins. The Falcons have a tough schedule but should still be able to do enough to get a bye in the playoffs. Matt Ryan threw for 342 yards, 2 touchdowns and an interception. Roddy White led the receivers with 9 catches for 117 yards and a touchdown. The Falcons abandoned the running game and ran the ball just eleven times.
7 (6) Baltimore Ravens (9-4) - The Ravens lost their second game in a row on Sunday, losing in overtime to the Washington Redskins. The two defeats have saw the Ravens drop from the number two seed in the AFC to number four. The Ravens face a tough finish to the season and still have three games to come against potential playoff teams. They host the Broncos and the Giants before finishing with a trip to Cincinnati. I think the Ravens will have to win at least one of those to guarantee themselves a playoff place. Joe Flacco threw for 182 yards, 3 touchdowns and an interception. Anquan Boldin caught 3 passes for 78 yards and 2 touchdowns. Ray Rice had another good day on the ground, running for 121 yards and a touchdown.
8 (10) New York Giants (8-5) - The Giants picked up a blow out win over the New Orleans Saints to keep themselves ahead in the NFC East. With Washington and Dallas both winning the pressure was on the Giants but they responded well and won easily. The Giants face a tough finish to the regular season with trips to Atlanta and Baltimore before finishing at home to the Eagles who despite having a bad year, have a great record against the Giants and would take great pleasure in killing off their playoff hopes. Eli Manning threw for 259 yards, 4 touchdowns and 2 interceptions. Victor Cruz led the receivers with 8 catches for 121 yards and a touchdown. David Wilson had a great day for the Giants. He ran for 100 yards and 2 touchdowns but it was his kick returns that done the most damage. Wilson returned four kicks for a total of 227 yards including a 97 yard touchdown.
9 (9) Indianapolis Colts (9-4) - The Colts picked up yet another win and are now 9-4 for the season thanks to a big second half comeback. The Colts were 13 behind at one stage but fought back to take a 27-23 victory. The Colts are almost guaranteed a playoff place and if they can win there last three games, they will be crowned AFC South champions. They face the Texans twice in their last three games and two wins would have the teams level but the Colts would take the tie breaker due to having the better head to head record. Three wins is a big ask but it is certainly not beyond this Colts team. Andrew Luck had a poor game on Sunday, completing less than half his passes for 196 yards, a touchdown and 2 interceptions. Reggie Wayne caught 6 passes for 64 yards and a touchdown. Vick Ballard led the rushers with 94 yards from 19 carries.
10 (12) Seattle Seahawks (8-5) - The Seahawks maintained their perfect home record with a blowout victory over the Arizona Cardinals. The final score was 58-0 to the Seahawks and it truly was one way traffic for the whole game. The Seattle defense will take much of the credit as they forced eight turnovers and scored two touchdowns from them. The offense finished the job off in what was a remarkable display. Russell Wilson had a quiet game and only played for 35 minutes of it. He threw for 148 yards, a touchdown and an interception. Anthony McCoy was the leading receiver, catching 3 passes for 105 yards. It was the Seattle running game that done the bulk of the damage. Their rushers combined for 284 yards at 6.8 yards per carry. Marshawn Lynch ran for 128 yards and 3 touchdowns. Robert Turbin also picked up 108 yards in what was a dominant display.
11 (8) Chicago Bears (8-5) - The Bears have lost four of their last five games and find themselves right in the middle of a battle for their playoff future. At 8-5 they are currently in position for the NFC's sixth seed but they are only one game ahead of the three teams who have 7-6 records. The Bears have a huge game this weekend, when the Green Bay Packers come to Soldier Field. A win would see the Bears level the Packers at 9-5 although the Packers would still lead the division courtesy of a better divisional record. In Sunday's game, Jay Cutler threw for 260 yards, a touchdown and 2 interceptions but had to leave the game after a head injury. Brandon Marshall was the leading receiver, catching 10 passes for 160 yards and a touchdown. Matt Forte led the ground game, rushing for 85 yards.
12 (14) Washington Redskins (7-6) - The Redskins picked up a huge overtime win over the Baltimore Ravens to reach 7-6 for the season and keep their playoff hopes alive. The win came at a price though as explosive quarterback, Robert Griffin III picked up a knee injury. It's still not clear how serious the injury is but early indications are that RG3 will miss this weeks trip to Cleveland. Kirk Cousins will start at quarterback and although he isn't as good as RG3, he also arrived with a big reputation. On Sunday, RG3 threw for 246 yards and a touchdown. The leading receiver was Pierre Garcon with 5 catches for 87 yards and a touchdown. Alfred Morris had another good rushing game, picking up 122 yards and a touchdown.
13 (15) Minnesota Vikings (7-6) - The Vikings picked up a big win over the Chicago Bears to keep themselves in the race for the playoffs. I didn't expect much from the Vikings last year but they have been one of the surprise packages. Many people wrote off running-back, Adrian Peterson after he suffered such a serious injury last year. There are players who have had that injury who have never played again and most who have played on after it, have never been able to reach the same level of performance. Adrian Peterson is different though and he looks even better than he was before the injury. He has ran for 1600 yards this year and needs another 506 yards to break the record for the most rushing yards in a season. 506 yards in three games is a big ask but if anyone can do it, it's Peterson. On Sunday, Christian Ponder threw for 91 yards and an interception. Once again, the Vikings star man was Peterson who ran for 154 yards and 2 touchdowns.
14 (11) Pittsburgh Steelers (7-6) - The Steelers lost at home to the San Diego Chargers on Sunday but they still hold the sixth seed in the AFC playoff race as the Bengals also lost. The Steelers are 7-6 and they play Cincinnati in week 16 which looks like being a decider for the AFC's final playoff slot. The Steelers have had injuries to key players all year but they should have most of their team back if they make the playoffs. Ben Roethlisberger threw for 285 yards, 3 touchdowns and an interception. His leading receiver was Mike Wallace who caught 7 passes for 112 yards and 2 touchdowns.
15 (17) Dallas Cowboys (7-6) - The Dallas Cowboys kept their season alive with a last gasp comeback win over the Cincinnati Bengals. The Bengals led by 9 midway through the 4th quarter but a Dez Bryant touchdown and a Dan Bailey field goal won the game for the Cowboys. The win keeps the Cowboys one win behind NFC East leaders, the New York Giants and they are also just one game behind Seattle and Chicago in the wildcard places. Tony Romo threw for 268 yards, a touchdown and an interception. Jason Witten led the receivers with 4 catches for 62 yards.
16 (13) Cincinnati Bengals (7-6) - Cincinnati conceded ten points in the last 6:35 of the game to lose 20-19 to the Dallas Cowboys on Sunday. The Browns looked like they had the game won but Dez Bryant scored a touchdown and then Dan Bailey kicked the game winning field goal as time expired to send the Bengals to 7-6 for the year. Fortunately for the Bengals, the Pittsburgh Steelers also lost so nothing has changed in the race for the final playoff place in the AFC. Andy Dalton threw for 206 yards, a touchdown and an interception. BenJarvus Green-Ellis had another good game, rushing for 89 yards at 7.4 yards. The Bengals offensive coordinator will have to explain why he was restricted to just 12 carries.
17 (19) St Louis Rams (6-6-1) - The Rams picked up a win over the Bills in Buffalo on Sunday. At 6-6-1 the Rams still have an outside chance of the playoffs but it looks very unlikely as their is a lot of teams ahead of them. The Rams can take some positives from this season. Sam Bradford is growing into a good quarterback and they also have some good young talent on both sides of the ball. Bradford threw for 209 yards, a touchdown and an interception. Brandon Gibson caught 6 passes for 100 yards and a touchdown. Steven Jackson led the rushers with 64 yards.
18 (23) New York Jets (6-7) - The New York Jets won in Jacksonville on Sunday to reach 6-7 for the season and they are just one win behind the Pittsburgh Steelers and the Cincinnati Bengals who are currently battling it out for the sixth seed in the AFC playoff bracket. Those two have to meet so one is guaranteed at least eight wins but the Jets could certainly give themselves a chance if they can win their last three games. Their last three games are all against losing teams so they have every chance of getting to 9-7 and at least making the Bengals and the Steelers earn the wildcard. Mark Sanchez threw for 111 yards but it was the running game that done the damage. The Jets picked up 166 yards on the ground. Bilal Powell ran for 78 yards and a touchdown. Shonn Greene had 77 yards and also picked up a touchdown.
19 (16) Tampa Bay Buccaneers (6-7) - The Bucs gave away an eleven point lead in the last four minutes and lost to the Philadelphia Eagles by a score of 23-21. The defeat leaves the Bucs at 6-7 and will most likely mean the end of their playoff chances. Officially they are still alive but the list of results they need to go their way looks to be too long and I don't think they will be in the playoffs this year. Josh Freeman threw for 189 yards and 2 touchdowns. Vincent Jackson caught 6 passes for 131 yards and a touchdown. Doug Martin had another good day, running for 128 yards and a touchdown.
20 (25) San Diego Chargers (5-8) - The Chargers snapped their four game losing streak with a good win over the Steelers in Pittsburgh. The Steelers got two late touchdowns to add some respectability to the score line but it was a dominant and fully deserved win for the Chargers. At 5-8 they are still mathematically alive but it would take three wins and a lot of other results to go their way to secure a playoff spot. It's highly unlikely but performances like this will give the team a boost ahead of next season. Philip Rivers threw for 200 yards and 3 touchdowns. His star receiver was Danario Alexander who caught 7 passes for 88 yards and 2 touchdowns.
21 (18) New Orleans Saints (5-8) - The New Orleans Saints feint playoff hopes died on Sunday with a heavy defeat to the New York Giants. The Saints had a bad start to the year and got themselves into too deep a hole. Next year the Saints should be back to normal after Bountygate and I would expect them to be competing at the top end of the NFC. Drew Brees threw for 354 yards, a touchdown and 2 interceptions. The Saints had a good day on the ground with their rushers picking up 142 yards at 5.9 yards per carry. Unfortunately for the Saints, they fell behind early and had to abandon the run.
22 (21) Detroit Lions (4-9) - The Lions suffered another tough loss on Sunday night, this time to the Green Bay Packers. The Lions started well and went 14-0 up early in the second quarter. The Packers got it back to 14-10 by the half and then outscored the Lions in the second half to run out 27-20. The Lions have been hugely disappointing this year and I had predicted a playoff spot for them. On Sunday, Matthew Stafford threw for 264 yards, a touchdown and an interception. His leading receiver was Calvin Johnson who caught 10 passes for 118 yards.
23 (24) Cleveland Browns (5-8) - The Browns are having a great run late in the season and have now won three in a row after their win over the Kansas City Chiefs. Cleveland have some good young players and I believe they will be competing for the playoffs within a season or two. They have had a good return from Trent Richardson in his rookie year and I genuinely believe he will go on to have a very good NFL career. On Sunday, Brandon Weeden threw for 217 yards. Trent Richardson picked up two touchdowns on the ground. Josh Gordon had another good game, catching 8 passes for 86 yards.
24 (20) Buffalo Bills (5-8) - The Bills lost to the St Louis Rams on Sunday and the defeat all but ends their playoff hopes. The Bills were winning inside the last minute but the Rams scored a touchdown with just 0:48 left and hung on for the win. Buffalo won't be in the playoffs and this season will be best remembered as CJ Spiller's breakout season. Ryan Fitzpatrick threw for 247 yards, a touchdown and an interception. Steve Johnson was the leading receiver and caught 6 passes for 71 yards. Spiller ran for 37 yards but only got 7 carries.
25 (27) Carolina Panthers (4-9) - The Panthers bounced back from a bad loss to the Kansas City Chiefs with a big win over divisional rivals, the Atlanta Falcons. The Panthers were excellent and fully deserved their win. They were very unlucky not to have beat the Falcons in Atlanta but they made sure there would be no late comebacks this time. Cam Newton was the star of the show. He threw for 287 yards and 2 touchdowns. He was even better on the ground, running for 116 yards and a touchdown from 9 carries. Steve Smith also had a good game, catching 7 passes for 109 yards.
26 (22) Miami Dolphins (5-8) - The Dolphins are now 5-8 for the year after a defeat to the 49ers in San Francisco. They kept the game tight for a long time but their offense struggled to pick up yards against a tough San Francisco defense. Miami ended the game with 227 yards of offense which isn't enough to win games in this league unless your defense are picking up turnovers and on this occasion they weren't. Ryan Tannehill completed just over half his passes for 150 yards and a touchdown. Reggie Bush had a decent day on the ground, running for 65 yards from 14 carries. Bush also caught 5 passes for 38 yards which gave him 103 yards from scrimmage.
27 (26) Tennessee Titans (4-9) - The Tennessee Titans suffered a tough loss in Indianapolis on Sunday. The Titans led by thirteen at half time and after the Colts came back in the third quarter, they took another lead in the fourth quarter. It wasn't to be though as Adam Vinatieri kicked two late field goals to win the game for the Colts. At 4-9 the Titans are done for the year but they will fancy their chances of picking up a win or two in their remaining fixtures. Jake Locker threw for 262 yards, a touchdown and 2 interceptions. He also led the rushers with 51 yards from 4 carries. Titans receiver, Kenny Britt had a big day, catching 8 passes for 143 yards.
28 (32) Philadelphia Eagles (4-9) - The Eagles won their first game since week 4 and as an Eagles fan, my first reaction was how will this affect next years draft pick? Maybe that's not the right attitude but I genuinely believed the players had given up and were destined to finish 3-13. This has been a bad year to be an Eagles fan and I was hoping for as early a draft pick as possible. Having said that, we got the win and there is no doubt positives to be taken from that. Rookie quarterback, Nick Foles, had an excellent game, throwing for 381 yards and 2 touchdowns. Foles has been improving and if we can get a decent offensive line ahead of him I think he could be the man to lead the Eagles in the future. On Sunday, his leading receivers were Jason Avant and Jeremy Maclin. Avant caught 7 passes for 133 yards and Maclin caught 9 passes for 104 yards and a touchdown.
29 (28) Kansas City Chiefs (2-11) - The Chiefs have dropped to 2-11 after a heavy defeat to the Cleveland Browns. The Chiefs took the lead on the opening play of the game but the Browns scored 30 unanswered points to run out 30-7 winners. As things stand the Chiefs would have the number one pick in the 2013 draft and unless they win in Oakland this week, I can't see them picking up anymore wins. They finish with Indianapolis and Denver so Oakland looks like their last chance of a win. Brady Quinn threw for 159 yards and an interception. The Chiefs star player was Jamaal Charles who ran for 165 yards and a touchdown.
30 (30) Jacksonville Jaguars (2-11) - The Jags suffered a defeat at home to the New York Jets that sends them to 2-11 for the season. The Jags have had a bad year and things haven't worked out for them at quarterback. They started the year with Blaine Gabbert and then replaced him with Chad Henne. Henne started well but has returned to the player I remember in Miami in the last two weeks. In Sunday's game he threw for 185 yards and 2 interceptions. Montell Owens was their best player and ran for 91 yards and a touchdown.
31 (31) Oakland Raiders (3-10) - The Raiders suffered yet another defeat, this time at the hands of Peyton Manning and the Denver Broncos. The Raiders are 3-10 now and as things stand they would have the third pick overall in the 2013 draft. This franchise has suffered for a long time and I would like to see them improve in the coming years as the Raiders are one of the most storied franchises in the NFL. Carson Palmer threw for 273 yards, 2 touchdowns and an interception. His leading receiver was Rod Streater who caught 4 passes for 100 yards.
32 (29) Arizona Cardinals (4-9) - There's not much you can say about Arizona's latest defeat. They lost 58-0 to the Seattle Seahawks in what is now their ninth defeat in a row. The Cardinals were terrible and I know if I was a Cardinals fan I would be questioning the players desire. They turned the ball over a remarkable eight times in what must have been one of the most humiliating days in the history of the franchise. John Skelton was horrible and threw for 74 yards and 4 interceptions. He also fumbled the ball which resulted in another turnover. Ryan Lindley came in and wasn't much better, completing less than half his passes for 59 yards and he too had a fumble which was recovered by the Seahawks. The future looks bleak in Arizona and at this point I'd imagine even the fans want this season to be over.