TOJ NFL Power Rankings: Week 17 – Extended Edition

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Our final installment of the NFL Regular Season Power Rankings…don’t shed a tear on me. Don’t worry, the show doesn’t stop in the playoffs, but here is a very special edition of TOJ NFL Power Rankings…

The Favorite

1. New England Patriots (13-2) – There is no way around it, New England is the team to beat heading into the 2010 playoffs. How many hours are going to be spent pouring over the game tape from when Cleveland beat them way back on November 7th? They are the best but not unbeatable because of a sometimes shaky defense and young players in many key spots.

The Top Contenders

2. New Orleans Saints (11-4) – They know what it takes to win in the playoffs and regardless of likely being a wild-card, their road to the Super Bowl isn’t looking too intimidating. Big win over Atlanta last week in their building, showed they are still the team to beat in the NFC.

3. Baltimore Ravens (11-4) – The team I am most confident can knock off the Patriots in the playoffs. However, they will likely have to get by Peyton Manning first which will be no easy task.

Super Bowl Capable

4. Pittsburgh Steelers (11-4) – They need to handle business against the Browns or Sunday or risk falling all the way to a #6 seed. It would be a tall task for any wild-card team to come into Heinz Field and get a victory.

5. Atlanta Falcons (12-3) – The road to the Super Bowl still goes through Atlanta in the NFC but they now have it in their head that New Orleans can beat them in their building. Beyond that, the Falcons simply aren’t a dominant team who could be knocked off by any playoff team in their conference.

6. Chicago Bears (11-4) – Clinched a bye thanks to Philadelphia laying an egg last night. If Jay Cutler plays like he did against the Jets, they will be a tough out. It will be interesting to see how they handle the Green Bay game on Sunday, which is meaningless to them.

7. Philadelphia Eagles (10-5) – I know, I know…they looked awful last night but Mike Vick makes them a scary match-up for anybody in the NFC. They will have to beat Chicago at some point, however, who banged them up earlier in the year.

Dangerous

8. Kansas City Chiefs (10-5) – 7-0 at home and they are peeking at the right time. However, it remains to be seen how the key young players on their team handle their first playoff action.

9. Green Bay Packers (9-6) - Chicago would be doing the rest of the conference a favor by doing everything in their power to keep them out of the playoffs.

10. Indianapolis Colts (9-6) – It doesn’t matter how banged up they are, Peyton Manning makes them capable of reaching February.

11. New York Jets (10-5) – If they remember how to play defense and to give Shonn Greene the football, they could roll off a few wins in January especially if Mark Sanchez stays hot. After all the talk, a one and done showing would be a major disappointment.

Just Kill Them Already

12. Tampa Bay Bucs (9-6) – The young Bucs exceeded everybody’s expectations this year and are going to be a serious contender for a long time. However, it is doubtful they will receive enough help to reach the playoffs this time around.

13. New York Giants (9-6) – There is no overcoming the meltdown they had against the Eagles, which looks like it will take them from a potential #2 seed to having a new head coach.

14. Jacksonville Jaguars (8-7) – They had every chance in the world to take advantage of the Colts struggles but failed to do so.

If Only They Were in the NFC West

15. Oakland Raiders (7-8) – Not a bad year for the Raiders, who helped the Jets out just a little by not being their usual 4-5 win selves which would have resulted in a top 10 pick for the Patriots in next year’s draft.

16. San Diego Chargers (8-7) – Inexcusable let down in Cincinnati ended their playoff hopes. Oh well, they weren’t going to win a playoff game anyway.

Pulling For You Sunday Night

17. St. Louis Rams (7-8) – Is there anybody who would rather see the pitiful Seahawks in the playoffs than the young, surprising Rams led by Sam Bradford and Steven Jackson?

A Moment to Laugh

18. Washington Redskins (6-9) – For the way they handled the Albert Haynesworth and Donovan McNabb situation, along with thinking they could be a playoff team by starting Joey Galloway at receiver.

19. Miami Dolphins (7-8) – For thinking Chad Henne was a franchise quarterback and to everybody (I am looking you Bill Williamson) who argued they’d rather have him than Mark Sanchez.

20. Minnesota Vikings (6-9) – To how much better they would have been starting Joe Webb all along.

21. Dallas Cowboys (5-10) – To people like me who thought they were a Super Bowl contender.

22. Detroit Lions (5-10) – To them throwing the ball on third down when the Jets had no timeouts with Drew Stanton way back in November.

Deserve Some Respect

23. Buffalo Bills (4-11) – They have fought hard every week and are a handful of plays away from being a 7 win team despite lacking talent on both sides of the ball.

24. Cleveland Browns (5-10) – Fought hard all year but then dropped some winnable games late in the season that will likely cost Eric Mangini his job.

Deserve No Respect

25. Tennessee Titans (6-9) – Completely meltdown and quit in the second  half of the year…kind of like Vince Young when he gets taken out of games.

26. Houston Texans (5-10) – Kind of funny to think about what everyone was saying about them after they beat the Colts in week one.

Just Awful

27. Seattle Seahawks (6-9) – If you haven’t been able to tell yet this year, it absolutely disgusts me that Seattle can still make the playoffs. Over the last 9 games, Seattle has lost by 30, 34, 15, 18, 19, 16, and 23 and beaten the Cardinals and Panthers aka a pair of college teams. Just disgusting that we have to watch them on Sunday night.

28. Cincinnati Bengals (4-11) – It would have been real interesting to watch how their season would have went without T.O. and Ochocinco.

29. Denver Broncos (4-11) – At least they have Tebow to look forward to next year.

30. San Francisco 49ers (5-10) – Mike Singletary was always entertaining.

31. Arizona Cardinals (5-10) – Funny to see Kerry Rhodes run his mouth on Twitter about the Jets as he is a key part of one of the NFL’s worst defenses.

32. Carolina Panthers (2-13) – Should be in last place for a long, long time in the NFC South.