goTitans.com NFL Power Rankings: Week 14
By David Barbour
Posted December 13th, 2006
San Diego Chargers (11-2)
Last Week: 1st
With the real Philip Rivers returning to average 10.9 net yards per pass play, LaDainian Tomlinson continuing to score touchdowns at a record-setting pace, and the defense holding the Denver Broncos to 5.3 yards per offensive play, the Chargers showed with what ease they can dispatch an NFL team. The rest of the NFL is on notice.
Baltimore Ravens (10-3)
Last Week: 5th
With the Ravens continuing to play such great pass defense, the team can afford to only average 2.7 yards per carry and rely on McNair to carry the entire offense, which he was able to do against the Kansas City Chiefs. That is a winning formula that is working so far. Letï¿½s see how it does in the playoffs.
Chicago Bears (11-2)
Last Week: 4th
With his playing future on the line, Rex Grossman returned to play just well enough to keep his starting job, but not too well that it is clear he will implode again when he plays a defense better than St. Louis possesses. As for Devin Hester, all he has done is to turn Bears special teams from embarrassingly bad, which they were last year, to among the most dangerous in the league. Turns out the Bears can win a game without the defense giving the offense great field position after all.
New Orleans Saints (9-4)
Last Week: 7th
For the longest time I wanted to believe the Saintsï¿½s wins were just mirages and that they would eventually fade from the top of the NFC. I no longer think that after watching them absolutely dismantle the Dallas Cowboys. Drew Brees for President provided he does not use his motherï¿½s likeness in his campaign without her express permission.
New England Patriots (9-4)
Last Week: 2nd
What happened to the Patriots and Tom Brady is really no surprise. The Patriots always struggle in South Beach and they always lose to the Denver Broncos. Since they will face neither in the playoffs, I think itï¿½s safe to say they will be able to amass more than 3.3 yards per offensive play going forward.
Dallas Cowboys (8-5)
Last Week: 3rd
When you only convert one of eight third-down conversions, turn the ball over twice, and donï¿½t score touchdowns on your two red zone possessions while your opponent converts on nine of fifteen third-down conversions, commit no turnovers, and score touchdowns on three of four red zone possessions, it doesnï¿½t really matter if you average 6.6 yards per offensive play. At least it didnï¿½t matter for the Cowboys on Sunday night.
Cincinnati Bengals (8-5)
Last Week: 8th
Even with Palmer throwing three interceptions, the Bengals were still able to average 6.5 yards per offensive play, convert 64% of third-downs into first downs, and score four touchdowns on six red zone possessions. That was more than enough to dismantle the Oakland Raiders and more than enough to keep the Bengalsï¿½ winning streak going.
Jacksonville Jaguars (8-5)
Last Week: 10th
Those who may have questioned my love for Maurice Jones-Drew last week now see what I was referring to. Over 300 all-purpose yards later and three touchdowns later, my love for Jones-Drew has only gotten stronger.
Indianapolis Colts (10-3)
Last Week: 6th
Unless the Colts plan to magically average 45 points per game in the playoffs, then that porous defense of theirs needs to learn a very important lesson. It is not all right to allow 375 rushing yards, 8.9 yards per rush, and four rushing touchdowns in a single game. Otherwise, too much pressure is put on the offense to play perfect football with every single down.
New York Giants (7-6)
Last Week: 14th
Do not imagine for a second that the Giants victory over the Panthers gives an indication that the Giants are back. It is not every week that they will face off against an opposing quarterback who has not started since the Depression Era and it is certainly not every week they will win a game after only averaging 4.4 yards per offensive play.
Philadelphia Eagles (7-6)
Last Week: 16th
Iï¿½m not sure what it is about Eagles back-up quarterbacks, but they always seem to play at least competently when Donovan McNabb goes down, provided their name is not Koy Detmer. Jeff Garcia is the latest example, throwing two touchdowns to help lead the Eagles to another victory, keeping them in line for a wild-card playoff spot.
Seattle Seahawks (8-5)
Last Week: 9th
Other than those three pesky lost fumbles, the Seahawks matched or surpassed the Arizona Cardinals in almost every offensive category. Of course, those three pesky lost fumbles were turned into fourteen pesky Cardinals points, hurting Seattleï¿½s chances of obtaining a first-round bye.
Pittsburgh Steelers (6-7)
Last Week: 15th
There is nothing that the Steelers were unable to do against the Cleveland Browns this past Thursday. Average 10.7 net yards per pass play? Check. Average 5.8 yards per carry? Check. Outscore the opposing team by 20 points? Check.
New York Jets (7-6)
Last Week: 11th
The Jets won the AFC East game they were supposed to lose when they beat the New England Patriots and now they have lost the AFC East game they were supposed to win, losing to the Buffalo Bills. The difference between the two games was the play of Chad Pennington. Whereas he played well against the Patriots, he threw two interceptions and averaged only 4.4 net yards per pass play, never a winning recipe.
Tennessee Titans (6-7)
Last Week: 17th
Vince Young continues to make Floyd Reese look like a genius by engineering his third come from behind win, doing so with both his arm and his legs. With the play of the Titans being so impressive of late, maybe Jeff Fisher will be working again in Tennessee come next year.
Denver Broncos (7-6)
Last Week: 12th
Itï¿½s a really good thing the Broncos were not in contention for a playoff spot when Jay Cutler, a rookie, was handed the keys to the Broncos offense. Otherwise, we might have to criticize Mike Shanahan for the mid-season quarterback move. Just kidding; Jake Plummer would be driving the Broncos right out of the playoffs, too.
Kansas City Chiefs (7-6)
Last Week: 13th
Unless the Chiefs offensive line wants Trent Green to suffer another severe concussion and miss the rest of the season, they might want to keep him from being sacked five times. Not only will it keep Green healthy, but it may keep him from throwing two interceptions and help them win an important game next time.
Atlanta Falcons (7-6)
Last Week: 19th
It cannot make Falcons fans happy to only average 4.7 yards per offensive play versus the Tampa Bay Buccaneers even if the team walks off the field with one more victory than they had walking on it. With the two running back injuries suffered, the question now is if Jim Mora, Jr. has the intestinal fortitude to shift Michael Vick to running back to allow Matt Schaub to run the show for a week.
Miami Dolphins (6-7)
Last Week: 21st
Excuse me for not getting too excited about the Dolphins victory over New England. When Miami, under Nick Saban, decides to win games in the first half of the season to make their December games meaningful, then maybe I will get excited about these types of wins. Until then, I will continue to yawn at their December box scores.
Buffalo Bills (6-7)
Last Week: 24th
Maybe the Bills should call in a hypnotist to make Willis McGahee believe that Jonathan Vilma plays for every team on the Bills schedule. Then they will get a 100+ yard performance game in and game out with no problem. Itâ€™s worth a shot, at least.
Minnesota Vikings (6-7)
Last Week: 22nd
Before they took advantage of the Detroit Lionsâ€™ futility on Sunday, I was uncertain whether or not the Vikings knew that it was actually legal and encouraged for them to win a game. Now, letâ€™s see if they know they are allowed to win two in a row. My educated guess is that they do not.
Arizona Cardinals (4-9)
Last Week: 25th
Cardinals offensive line: see how much better the offense looks when the running game is actually gaining a respectable amount of yardage per carry and you keep Matt Leinart from even getting sacked once. Keep it up and people will even talk about you as belonging in the NFL.
Carolina Panthers (6-7)
Last Week: 18th
The Panthers will eventually discover that having a decent running game, especially one that averages more than 3.0 yards per carry, will help out their quarterbacksâ€™ play. They will also eventually discover that to get that running game off the ground, they will need to rid themselves of the oft-injured, oft-ineffective DeShaun Foster.
St. Louis Rams (5-8)
Last Week: 23rd
The good news is that the Rams scored touchdowns on all four of their red zone possessions. The bad news it that two of the touchdowns did not come until the game was already decided and so did nothing more than to make the final score a little more respectable.
Cleveland Browns (4-9)
Last Week: 20th
Perhaps lost in the midst of such the blowout loss handed to the Browns by the Pittsburgh Steelers is that fact that Derek Anderson played reasonably well, averaging 7.1 net yards per pass play. Charlie Frye had better get healthy soon or Anderson will have played himself into a permanent starting position.
Green Bay Packers (5-8)
Last Week: 29th
It looks like Brett Favre still has the ability to dig around in his bag of tricks and pull out a 293-yard, two touchdown, 8.0 net yards per pass play game, like he did against the 49ers. If only he could still do so consistently, I would vote for him staying around for one more year.
Washington Redskins (4-9)
Last Week: 28th
In Clinton Portisâ€™s absence, Ladell Betts is running like heâ€™s playing for a contract, evidenced by another 100+ yard performance, this time running for 171 yards on 33 carries. Itâ€™s just too bad a great running game like that was wasted in a loss.
Houston Texans (4-9)
Last Week: 26th
Itâ€™s a good thing that the Texans did not lose in overtime to a division rival being quarterbacked by a player whom the Texans passed over in the draft in favor of a defensive end that has had a limited impact on their season. Can you imagine how angry Texans fans would be if that happened?
San Francisco 49ers (5-8)
Last Week: 27th
Now I am confused. Frank Gore has a good enough game, running for 130 yards on 19 carries, and Alex Smith still has a sub-par game, throwing two interceptions and being only a 52-yard touchdown pass away from 4.7 net yards per pass play. Itâ€™s a good thing there is only Trent Dilfer backing up Smith or there might be a call for a quarterback change.
Detroit Lions (2-11)
Last Week: 30th
Iâ€™m beginning to think that the Lions offense is trying to turn the ball over on purpose. Thatâ€™s the only conclusion I can come up with after they turn the ball over six times this past Sunday after turning the ball over five times on the Sunday before that one. Well, to the Lionsâ€™ credit, they are very good at it.
Oakland Raiders (2-11)
Last Week: 31st
Oaklandâ€™s defense was kind enough to give the ball to the offense three times by intercepting Carson Palmer thrice. And how did the offense show their appreciation? By fumbling the ball right back to the Bengals once, scoring a field goal once, and then turning the ball over on downs once. With that sort of ingratitude, the defense is likely to stop giving gifts to the offense at all.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers (3-10)
Last Week: 32nd
When a team is already on the bottom, it is certainly not easy for them to continue to get worse, but I think the Buccaneers are actually doing that. Jon Gruden for Coach of the Year, anyone?