Turn On The Jets NFC Mid-Season Power Rankings

Chris Gross with a power poll for the NFC at the halfway point of the season

Yesterday, Turn On The Jets brought you their mid-season AFC power rankings. Tonight, we breakdown how the NFC stacks up heading into the final half of the 2012 NFL season. Categorically, these rankings hold the same idea, with a slight variation. We will divide the 16 NFC teams into 4 separate categories, placing each team where we see them fitting at this point in the season. Explanations for each category will precede the respective rankings.

Contenders

The following teams have proved to be the real deal up until this point. All have a very realistic chance to win their respective division, and barring any unlikely second half meltdowns, all will earn trips to the postseason.

1.) Chicago Bears (7-1) – Yes, the 8-0 Atlanta Falcons continue to get very little respect as the only remaining undefeated team in the NFL. The Falcons have played great football, make no mistake, but Chicago is playing with all the intangibles necessary for a deep postseason, possible championship, run. Defensively, the Bears made history in Tennessee last week as they became the first NFL team to return 7 interceptions for touchdowns through their first 8 games. In fact, Chicago’s defense has 28 total takeaways (17 INTs, 11 Fumble Recoveries), resulting in a league best 3.5 takeaways per game, with an astounding league high +2.0 turnover differential. While the Bears statistically rank 6th in overall defense, they stand behind only San Francisco in points allowed per game, surrendering just 15 each week. Led by a strong veteran presence in the front 7 in Brian Urlacher, Lance Briggs, and Julius Peppers, Chicago ranks 3rd in the league in sacks with 25 total, helping propel them to a league best +116 point differential, which is by far the highest in the conference (SF +86).

Offensively, Chicago may not be jumping off any stat sheets, outside of Brandon Marshall who is putting together one of the greatest seasons you will ever see by an NFL wide receiver, but Chicago has the necessary weapons in place to complement their dominant defense, making them arguably the most balanced team in the entire league. While Jay Cutler is certainly sporadic at times, he has the tools and mental tenacity to take this team deep into the post season. Matt Forte is undoubtedly one of the most balanced backs in the NFL, and role players like Michael Bush and Alshon Jeffrey have contributed nicely at times. If the Bears’ continue to play at the level they have been playing at, they will likely nudge Atlanta for the coveted #1 playoff seed.

2.) Atlanta Falcons (8-0) – Although Atlanta has yet to face defeat all season, they are still partially untested, having beaten only one team with a winning record. However, while they currently rank behind the Bears here, the Falcons are certainly not pretenders. Matt Ryan has put together a fantastic first half, throwing for 17 touchdowns to only 6 interceptions. With a surplus of offensive weapons in Roddy White, Julio Jones, Michael Turner, and Tony Gonzalez, just to name a few, Atlanta certainly has the offensive fire power to compete with any defense, not only in the NFC, but in the entire league. To edge out the Bears as the top team in the NFC, Atlanta needs to win some games more convincingly, meaning not winning nail biters against Carolina, Oakland, and Dallas (combined 8-16 record) at home.

3.) New York Giants (6-3) – While the Giants surely disapointed this past week at home, most people are making this loss out to be a far greater upset than it actually is. The league seems to have fallen asleep on the Pittsburgh Steelers, despite the fact that they have a two-time Super Bowl Champion quarterback, and a Super Bowl coach, along with a defense that still has the pieces in place to dominate on any given Sunday. New York is surely notorious for poor play in the month of November, but Eli Manning has played MVP caliber football, despite going cold in recent weeks. What stands out about the Giants, and separates them from the teams that fall behind them here, is their ability to come up big in big spots. New York already has a very convincing 26-3 road victory, against an excellent team (SF) under their belts. Although they have struggled to defend the pass and have been relatively mediocre running the ball, New York excels in areas necessary for a championship team – quarterback play and rushing the passer.

4.) San Francisco 49ers (6-2) – The 49ers, aka Rex Ryan’s idols, are winning with the same formula that propelled them to the NFC Championship game last season – dominant defense and a strong rushing offense, ranking 2nd and 1st in the entire league, respectively. Like the Jets in the early days of the Rex Ryan era, though, San Francisco’s only handcuff may be the quarterback position. Can Alex Smith take that next step and lead his team to a Super Bowl? Probably not, but the way the rest of this team is playing, all he has to do is avoid preventing them from taking him there.

5.) Green Bay Packers (6-3) – While Green Bay started somewhat rocky, the Packers have rattled off four straight victories, a streak that began with a dominant road win over the AFC’s best Houston Texans. Aaron Rodgers seems to be finding that MVP form that helped win this team 15 games last season, despite losing top target Greg Jennings to injury.

Sink or Swim

These teams have been relatively up and down all season, and at the halfway point, will either take the step into the upper echelon of teams, or will sink to the bottom of the barrel.

6.) Seattle Seahawks (5-4) – Seattle has been a great story this season, led by rookie quarterback Russell Wilson, one of the greatest underdogs in sports today. The Seahawks, or as we call them “San Francisco Lite” posses a very talented, young, and fast defense, coupled with a dominant rushing offense, led by “Beast Mode” Marshawn Lynch. Pete Carroll seems to have gotten his guys to buy into his high energy philosophy, and this team has suddenly become fun to watch. However, like San Francisco, Seattle will ultimately end up being hampered by the play at the quarterback position. While Russell Wilson is surely a great story, and has played relatively above average, he is still a rookie whose inexperience will cause his physical limitations to be exposed down the road. If Seattle can overcome this, they too may be poised for a postseason run.

7.) Minnesota Vikings (5-4) – The Vikings have been a reflection of their young quarterback up until this point – the epitome of inconsistency. After an early season 3 game win streak, which began with a dominant defeat of the San Francisco 49ers, Minnesota has dropped 3 of their last 4, and quarterback Christian Ponder’s play has dipped dramatically. However, the Vikings still have Adrian Peterson at the helm of their 5th best rushing attack, along with players like Jared Allen who make their defense competitive each week.

8.) Detroit Lions (4-4) – Despite leading the league in passing yards per game (307.3), Matthew Stafford and Calvin Johnson have hooked up for a score just once this season. The defense has been average, and seems to have lost that nasty edge that it had last year. In a division that is all but sure to place at least two teams in the playoffs, Detroit will need to have an extremely strong second half to return to the postseason.

9.) Tampa Bay Buccaneers (4-4) – 2-2 on the road, 2-2 at home. The Bucs have been a very average team thus far. However, they may have found lightning in a bottle, or a muscle hamster, last week, after rookie RB Doug Martin exploded onto the scene for 251 yards and 4 touchdowns. Quarterback Josh Freeman is very quietly putting together an excellent season, having already thrown 16 touchdowns to just 5 interceptions. Tampa ranks 1st in the NFL in run defense, surrendering just 77.3 yards per game, and despite being only .500, have an average margin of defeat of just 5.5 points. The Bucs have won convincingly in three of their last four games, and could very well be poised to turn the corner as the season enters the final furlong.

10.) New Orleans Saints (3-5) – After an uncharacteristic 0-4 start, New Orleans has responded by winning 3 of their last 4, setting themselves up to make a second half postseason push. Despite the struggles, Drew Brees has still played at an elite level having completed over 61% of his passes for 2,549 yards and 22 touchdowns. Although the NFC South is likely lost to Atlanta at this point, the Saints could certainly find some fire down the stretch and steal a wild card spot. The world knows the NFL is a quarterback driven league, and New Orleans still has one of the best.

Free Falling

These teams had high expectations after starting the year hot, but have fell down a slippery slope as of late. While none are mathematically dead, the odds of any of these teams making the playoffs at this point are about the same as Mike Tannenbaum telling the truth about…well, anything.

11.) Arizona Cardinals (4-5) – After starting the year with 4 straight wins, Arizona has seemingly fallen into the abyss of the losers by dropping 5 in a row. The quarterback situation in the desert is more laughable than that of the Jets, and the Cardinals rank dead last in rushing offense, averaging a putrid 76.2 yards per game. Ken Whisenhunt is surely feeling the flames on his backside these days.

12.) Philadelphia Eagles (3-5) – There was once a time when this team was proclaimed “The Dream Team,” and Nnamdi Asomugha was viewed as an equal to Darrelle Revis. My, how the mighty have fallen. The Eagles have become the biggest disappointment in Philadelphia since Rocky Balboa was KO’d by Clubber Lang at the Spectrum in ’81. The defense has been horrible, resulting in the firing of Defensive Coordinator Juan Castillo, and the offensive line has seemingly been persuaded by PETA to let opposing defensive lineman tee off on Michael Vick. There is really no sign of any possible reconciliation in Philly, which will likely result in a complete regime overhaul this offseason, starting with Vick and Head Coach Andy Reid.

13.) Dallas Cowboys (3-5) – After an eye opening road victory against the defending Super Bowl Champions on opening night, Dallas has completely fallen apart. Tony Romo, for some reason, has the longest leash of any player in league history, as he continues to get a public backing from GM/Owner/Dictator Jerry Jones, despite throwing three more interceptions than touchdowns this season. Jason Garrett looks lost on the sidelines most of the time, and the entire offense seems to have no cohesion or continuity whatsoever. One bright spot has been Rob Ryan’s fifth ranked defense, but even Rex’s brother himself cannot save the Cowboys from their ultimate destiny of hardship.

14.) Washington Redskins (3-6) – The skins have dropped 3 straight after finishing the first 6 weeks at .500. Rookie sensation Robert Griffin III has looked magnificent at times, but has certainly shown his human side as well. Washington has a promising future ahead, but Mike Shanahan and co. do not quite posses the pieces to make a serious run this year.

Bottom of the Barrel 

These teams have already started planning their January vacations.

15.) St. Louis Rams (3-5) – The Rams have one of the most promising defensive front sevens in all of football led by emerging stars Chris Long, James Laurinatis, and Robert Quinn. However, Sam Bradford cannot stay off of his back, and Brian Schottenheimer is their offensive coordinator. Need I say more?

16.) Carolina Panthers (2-6) – Has the league caught on to Cam Newton? It sure seems that way based on the reigning offensive rookie of the year’s rather pedestrian play this season. Newton has thrown for just 6 touchdowns thus far, and has yet to surpass the 2,000 yard mark. General Manager Matt Hurney has already been dismissed of his duties, and more pink slips could certainly trickle down by the end of the year, including one to second year head coach Ron Rivera.

 

TOJ Week 14 NFL Power Rankings

TOJ with his NFL power rankings after three-fourths of the season

Your NFL Power Rankings, three quarters of the way through the season. Please feel free to discuss my idiocy in great detail in the comment section or on theTwitter and Facebook page –

1. Green Bay Packers (12-0) – It is fair to say that they should go 16-0 at this point. It was unbelievable how quick they went down the field for that winning field goal on Sunday.

2. Baltimore Ravens (9-3) – If they could handle subpar competition, they’d be 12-0. Their three losses have come to Jacksonville, Seattle, and Tennessee.

3. New Orleans Saints (9-3) – I am vaulting them over San Francisco because of how dominant they looked the past two weeks against potential playoff teams in the NFC.

4. San Francisco 49ers (10-2) – They should roll to the number two seed.

5. Pittsburgh Steelers (9-3) – Looking like the number five seed unless the Ravens slip-up.

6. New England Patriots (9-3) – Don’t be surprised if they finish 13-3.

7. Houston Texans (9-3) – Their defense and running game is good enough to carry them to a AFC South title with T.J. Yates under center.

8. Denver Broncos (7-5) – I keep thinking the next week will be the one when Denver finally gets burnt in a close game but it hasn’t happened yet.

9. New York Jets (7-5) – Too high? Look at the 7-5 teams below them.

10. Oakland Raiders (7-5) – Was getting obliterated by the Dolphins an aberration or the sign of a late season meltdown?

11. Dallas Cowboys (7-5) – An absolutely brutal loss to Arizona, means the NFC East is going to be a dogfight.

12. New York Giants (6-6) – There is some pride in losing to Green Bay only by 3, but a loss to Dallas this weekend would be their fifth straight and could be a nail in the coffin to their season, then again a win puts them in the driver’s seat for the NFC East.

13. Atlanta Falcons (7-5) – It has been a disappointing season for Atlanta but if they beat the teams they should, they will end up in the playoffs.

14. Chicago Bears (7-5) I put them below Atlanta out of anger for Brett Favre rumors starting again.

15. Cincinnati Bengals (7-5) – A humbling loss in Pittsburgh shows the injuries may be too much for this young team to overcome.

16. Tennessee Titans (7-5) – If Chris Johnson is really back, they could be very dangerous down the stretch.

17. Detroit Lions (7-5) – Undisciplined and dirty.

18. Miami Dolphins (4-8) – Imagine if they had won some of those close games early in the year.

19. Seattle Seahawks (5-7) – Sneakily not really that bad of a team.

20. Arizona Cardinals (5-7) – See above.

21. San Diego Chargers (5-7) – Philip Rivers looked like himself for the first time this season last night.

22. Kansas City Chiefs (5-7) – A good defense keeps them competitive, despite Tyler Palko.

23. Buffalo Bills (5-7) – It feels like a hundred years ago that they were the feel good story of the NFL.

24. Philadelphia Eagles (4-8) – A very different 4-8 than the Miami team they are facing this week.

25. Carolina Panthers (4-8) – They are going to give Atlanta everything they can handle this week.

26. Washington Redskins (4-8) – I guess you can’t win with Rex Grossman under center.

27. Cleveland Browns (4-8) – The most boring team in football?

28. Jacksonville Jaguars (3-9) – They shouldn’t be allowed on prime-time for another few years.

29. Tampa Bay Bucs (4-8) – What a disappointing year for the “youngry” Bucs.

30. Minnesota (2-10) – Well Percy Harvin is pretty good…

31. St. Louis Rams (2-10) – Maybe they are the most boring team in football.

32. Indianapolis Colts (0-12) – It is fair to say that they should go 0-16 at this point.

TOJ Mid-Season NFL Power Rankings

TOJ with his mid-season NFL Power Rankings. How much do you disagree?

Your mid-season NFL Power Rankings from TOJ, but first a necessary and brief rant

It is hard to mentally fathom the crimes committed by former Penn State defensive coordinator Jerry Sandusky. It is almost harder to fathom the protection he received from the infrastructure of the University he coached at. It does appear now that Joe Paterno won’t be back next year and he shouldn’t be. It is time to clean house. Clear the school and every last shred of any person who didn’t do everything in their power to report the crimes they were aware of. This situation is nothing short of sickening and to watch an institution placed over the safety of children is a disgrace. Hang your head in shame Happy Valley, your reputation will forever be tarnished.

1. Green Bay Packers (8-0) – It is hard to think that they don’t have a real shot of going 16-0.

2. San Francisco 49ers (7-1) – They should have that division clinched any day now.

3. Baltimore Ravens (6-2) – It was huge for this franchise to get a sweep of Pittsburgh.

4. New York Giants (6-2) – Pretty amazing what they have done considering their injuries.

5. Pittsburgh Steelers (6-3) – They may have to go on the road in the playoffs this year.

6. New Orleans (6-3) – Some inconsistencies but they are hard to beat when they are on point.

7. New York Jets (5-3) – If their defense plays like that, they could beat anybody.

8. Detroit Lions (6-2) – Now in battle with Chicago for second place in the NFC North.

9. Houston Texans (6-3) – They should roll the rest of the way in the AFC South.

10. New England Patriots (5-3) – Incredible how awful their defense has become.

11. Cincinnati Bengals (6-2) – I’m not sold yet.

12. Chicago Bears (5-3) – Gutsy win over Philly will keep them very relevant for second half of season.

13. Atlanta Falcons (5-3) – A chance to assert themselves as serious contenders this week against New Orleans.

14. Dallas Cowboys (4-4) – A soft schedule will give them a shot to hang with the Giants.

15. Buffalo Bills (5-3) – The early season hype seems like a long time ago.

16. Tampa Bay Bucs (4-4) – The “Youngry” Bucs haven’t lived up to expectations this year.

17. Tennessee Titans (4-4) – They have 8-8 written all over them.

18. Philadelphia Eagles (3-5) – Playoffs looking like a long shot after killer loss to Chicago.

19. San Diego Chargers (4-4) – The awfulness of their division keeps them a contender.

20. Oakland Raiders (4-4) – See above.

21. Kansas City Chiefs (3-5) – See above.

22. Denver Broncos (3-5) – See above.

23. Carolina Panthers (2-6) – They will be fun to watch the rest of the year.

24. Minnesota Vikings (2-6) – Will be competitive with Christian Ponder under center.

25. Cleveland Browns (3-5) – How bad is that offense?

26. Washington Redskins (3-5) – See above.

27. Jacksonville Jaguars (2-6) – See above.

28. Miami Dolphins (1-7) – Glad they don’t suck enough for Luck.

29. Seattle Seahawks (2-6) – Hey, they are in second place in their division.

30. Arizona Cardinals (2-6) – How much did they pay Kevin Kolb?

31. St. Louis Rams (1-7) – Frustrating step back after last year.

32. Indianapolis Colts (0-8) – It is hard to think that they don’t have a real shot of going 0-16.

TOJ NFL Power Rankings – Week 5

A quarter of the way through the NFL season, it is time for our first 2011 Power Rankings. Explain my stupidity to me on Twitter or Facebook

Also check out an early week 5 preview

The Elite

1. Green Bay Packers (4-0) – The champs are hitting on all cylinders right now.

2. New Orleans Saints (3-1) – They almost knocked off the Packers in week one. Darren Sproles was a complete steal for them in free agency.

3. Baltimore Ravens (3-1) – Laid an egg in Tennessee but look like they are ready to roll to a AFC North title.

4. New England Patriots (3-1) – They throw the football better than anybody in the league but what else can they do?

On The Rise

5. Detroit Lions (4-0) – Calvin Johnson is the best player in the NFL right now.

6. Tennessee Titans (3-1) – I trust them more than the Houston Texans to take the AFC South title.

7. Houston Texans (3-1) – Will this finally be the year they get over the hump?

8. San Diego Chargers (3-1) – An unimpressive 3-1…but considering their early season struggles in the past they will take it.

9. Washington Redskins (3-1) – Not as flashy of a team as their division counterparts but they could steal the NFC East.

10. New York Giants (3-1) – Rolling up wins in the first half of the season as they usually do.

11. Tampa Bay Bucs (3-1) – The young pups look like a legitimate playoff contender for the second year in a row.

12. Buffalo Bills (3-1) – Didn’t need that loss to Cincinnati with the schedule about to get more difficult.

13. Oakland Raiders (2-2) – Should be battling it out with San Diego for the division title out West.

14. San Francisco (3-1) – Solidly average is enough to roll in the NFC West.

Disappointments

15. New York Jets (2-2) – .500 never felt more like winless.

16. Atlanta Falcons (2-2) – They don’t look on New Orleans level this season.

17. Pittsburgh Steelers (2-2) – Offensive lines are important (see Jets for this fact as well).

18. Dallas Cowboys (2-2) – Tony Romo is completely bipolar.

19. Chicago Bears (2-2) – Quickly losing ground on both Detroit and Green Bay.

20. Philadelphia Eagles (1-3) – Dream Team quickly turning into nightmare.

Happily Mediocre

21. Carolina Panthers (1-3) – They will put up a fight every week with Cam Newton under center.

22. Cincinnati Bengals (2-2) – They already have more wins than I expected.

23. Cleveland Browns (2-2) – The Browns are at least beating the really crappy teams now.

Pretty Damn Bad

24. Seattle Seahawks (1-3) – You are always alive in the NFC West.

25. Arizona Cardinals (1-3) – See above.

26. Denver Broncos (1-3) – We want Tebow. We want Tebow.

27. Jacksonville Jaguars (1-3) – Going to be a rough rookie year for Blaine Gabbert.

28. Indianpolis Colts (0-4) – How many more times do we have to watch them in primetime?

Really Damn Bad

29. Kansas City Chiefs (1-3) – Advanced from a ACC caliber team to maybe a low end SEC caliber team as of late.

30. Minnesota Vikings (0-4) – It hasn’t been a fun couple of years for Donovan McNabb.

31. St. Louis Rams (0-4) – How much longer will ‘Spags hold on to his job?

32. Miami Dolphins (0-4) – I really enjoy putting them here.

TOJ Power Rankings – Divisional Weekend

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Some final thoughts on Wild-Card Weekend, a ranking of the remaining teams, and initial thoughts on the divisional round match-ups —

  • If you would have told me I would pick 3 of the 4 games right for the past weekend and the one I got wrong would be Seattle/New Orleans, I would have never believed you. Who could have seen that coming? Seattle grabbed the momentum and took advantage of a terrific game by Matt Hassleback. The funny thing now is that Seattle has already won in Chicago this year and has a decent shot at doing it again this weekend. Could you imagine the Seahawks actually hosting the NFC Championship Game as a 9-9 team?
  • It was a great weekend of games, outside of the complete dud laid by the Cheifs at home. Baltimore was the superior team but Kansas City could have put up more of a fight. How do you not target Dwayne Bowe once? It isn’t like the Ravens have Darrelle Revis out there.
  • The Packers are peeking at the right time, which is incredibly impressive considering all the injuries they sustained. It felt like Mike Vick was taking Philly in for a touchdown on that final drive but a few inches underthrown and a great play by Tramon Williams ended it.

Divisional Weekend Power Rankings

1. New England Patriots – They are the unquestioned favorite. Let’s see if the Jets can make Belichick and Brady look human again, like they did way way back in week 2.

2. Atlanta Falcons – Would anybody be surprised if Green Bay went into Atlanta and won this weekend? The Falcons don’t have the same clout as most number one seeds normally do.

3. Pittsburgh Steelers – Let’s see how their offensive line holds up in round III vs. the Ravens.

4. Baltimore Ravens – You can’t love football and not be beyond excited for Ravens/Steelers this weekend.

5. Green Bay Packers – The Packers have the feel of a team who is hot at the right time and with enough talent to win it all.

6. Chicago Bears – If Jay Cutler has his head on straight, the Bears should roll to the NFC Championship Game. However, I have a feeling Seahawks/Bears is going to be a tight one.

7. New York Jets – Nobody will give them a chance this weekend. Let’s see if they can shock the world.

8. Seattle Seahawks – Well they shut us up last weekend.

Initial Thoughts on Divisional Weekend

Ravens at Steelers – Tape the knuckles up and get ready for old-school, smashmouth, defensive football between a couple of teams who couldn’t know each other any better and couldn’t hate each other more. Take the under and look forward to one hell of a football game.

Packers at Falcons – Their regular season game a few weeks back was terrific and this one should be even better. A couple of great young quarterbacks and high powered offenses at work in the prime-time game.

Seahawks at Bears – I can’t help but have an early feeling Seattle is going to build off last week and take this game. This is coming from somebody who spent the entire year bashing the Seahawks as one of the five worst teams in the league. However, they did beat Chicago earlier in the year and I am not fully sold on the Bears yet. Remember the playoffs are about who is hot at the right time.

Jets at Patriots – Do I expect the Jets to win? No. Will I spend the whole week coming up with every possible way for them to win and talking myself into it happening? Yes.

Wild-Card Weekend Highlights

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.

TOJ NFL Power Rankings: Week 16

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It is hard to remember a year when so much of the seeding could be shakenup in the final two weeks, and I know there has never been a year when one division has been so putrid…

1. New England Patriots (12-2) – Bill Belichick won’t let them take the foot off the gas in the final two weeks, as they face the basement dwellers of the AFC East.

2. Atlanta Falcons (12-2) – A quiet 12-2. Let’s see how they handle New Orleans this Monday Night, but either way they have all but locked up home field advantage.

3. Philadelphia Eagles (10-4) – Players like Mike Vick and Desean Jackson mean the Eagles are never out of a game.

4. Baltimore Ravens (10-4) – Impressive win over the defending champs kept their NFC North title hopes alive.

5. Chicago Bears (10-4) – How many people picked them to win the NFC North?

6. New York Jets (10-4) – The best way to shoot up in the power rankings is by beating a quality opponent in their building. Can they do it two weeks in a row?

7. Pittsburgh Steelers (10-4) – Their offense has been inconsistent and their defense isn’t anywhere near the same without Troy Polamalu in the line-up.

8. New Orleans Saints (10-4) – They can be happy with likely playing the NFC West winner in the first round of the playoffs.

9. New York Giants (9-5) – Went from a potential number two seed to playing for their playoff lives in Lambeau this Sunday.

10. San Diego Chargers (8-6) – They’ll win out, but will they get the help needed to win the AFC West?

11. Kansas City Chiefs (9-5) – The Chiefs should be able to handle business to become the surprise winners of the AFC West.

12. Green Bay Packers (8-6) – Do or die against the Giants at home this week.

13. Indianapolis Colts (8-6) – One of the weaker Colts teams in recent memory but they will still be hosting a home playoff game, unless something strange happens.

14. Jacksonville Jaguars (8-6) – It was only a matter of time until the Colts caught them. Who wanted to watch Jacksonville host a playoff game anyway?

15. Tampa Bay Bucs (8-6) – Nothing for this young team to hang their head about, if they fall short of the playoffs this year.

16. Oakland Raiders (7-7) – The Colts will have their hands full with the Raiders in Oakland this Sunday.

17. Dallas Cowboys (5-9) – They have played very good football since Jason Garrett has taken over.

18. Miami Dolphins (7-7) – Another mediocre season for the Dolphins, who have some major questions to answer this off-season.

19. Tennessee Titans (6-8) – Took a few weeks too long to wake up out of their mid-season funk.

20. Houston Texans (5-9) – Are you really surprised the Texans were a “disappointment” this year?

21. St. Louis Rams (6-8) – The only team in the NFC West that I have a small amount of respect for.

22. Buffalo Bills (4-10) – Way too high? I don’t think so. They play with heart and remain competitive every single week.

I have to be honest…I can’t even rank beyond this point. It is just a pile of crap, that doesn’t deserve to be sorted through. It feels like the Seahawks lose by 30 every week and yet they could still host a playoff game. The 49ers are four games under .500 and could still host a playoff game. The Vikings have clearly quit. The Browns appear to have quit. The Bengals are a disaster. The Lions…well hey, they won a road game. The Cardinals and Panthers are unwatchably awful, and of course are both playing prime-time games this week.

TOJ’s Favorite Moments Of Week 15…

TOJ NFL Power Rankings: Week 15

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The Jets are falling down these power rankings faster than Mark Sanchez’s quarterback rating…

1. New England Patriots (11-2) – For the first time this season, there is a clear cut best team in the NFL. The Patriots are looking like they will roll to a 14-2 record and homefield throughout in the playoffs.

2. Atlanta Falcons (11-2) – There is no reason the Falcons shouldn’t be able to at least win 2 of their last 3 and wrap up the #1 seed in the NFC.

3. Pittsburgh Steelers (10-3) – Their defense must be licking their chops after watching Mark Sanchez’s game tapes from the past three weeks.

4. New Orleans Saints (10-3) – Funny enough, they might have to go on the road to beat the St. Louis Rams in the first round of the playoffs after smacking them around this past week.

5. Philadelphia Eagles (9-4) – They can basically wrap up a NFC East title with a win on the road over the Giants this Sunday.

6. New York Giants (9-4) – They are back to running the football and playing superior defense, which makes them tough to beat.

7. Baltimore Ravens (9-4) – They are far from a dominant team but will still be dangerous in January.

8. Chicago Bears (9-4) – Embarrassment to the Patriots doesn’t hurt as much because of the Packers loss.

9. Green Bay Packers (8-5) – Bad timing to finally lose to the Lions, even worse timing to have Aaron Rodgers banged up with a trip to New England on the schedule.

10. Jacksonville Jaguars (8-5) – The Jaguars can clinch the AFC South by beating Peyton Manning in his own building this Sunday.

11. Tampa Bay Bucs (8-5) – With Detroit and Seattle coming up on the schedule, there is no reason the young Bucs shouldn’t be playing for a playoff spot in week 17.

12. San Diego Chargers (7-6) – There is no reason they shouldn’t run the table with their remaining schedule, but will it be enough for a division title?

13. Kansas City Cheifs (8-5) – They need Matt Cassel back as soon as possible because playing in St. Louis won’t be a gimme with Brodie Croyle under center.

14. Indianapolis Colts (7-6) – Do or die this week against the Jags.

15. New York Jets (9-4) – It is hard to see 9-4 not turning into 9-6 very quickly with road games upcoming against the Steelers and Bears.

16. Miami Dolphins (7-6) – They need to run the table and get major help for a shot at the playoffs.

17. Oakland Raiders (6-7) – The Raiders should at least be a .500 team this year, which is a major step in the right direction.

18. Dallas Cowboys (4-9) – Too bad they aren’t in the NFC West.

19. Houston Texans (5-8) – Still have no clue on how to win close games. It is shame because they wasted a great comeback last night.

20. St. Louis Rams (6-7) – Tough day at the office for Sam Bradford but he is going to dominate the NFC West for years to come.

21. San Francisco 49ers (5-8) – If they can upset the Chargers on Thursday, they will be in pretty good shape to steal a division title.

22. Washington Redskins (5-8) – Botched extra point snap only added to a miserable season for the Redskins.

23. Tennessee Titans (5-8) – It feels like it has been 5 years since the Titans have won a game.

24. Minnesota Vikings (5-8) – Didn’t show any heart in competing against the Giants on Monday Night Football.

25. Cleveland Browns (5-8) – Eric Mangini might need to win out to save his job.

26. Buffalo Bills (3-10) – Ryan Fitzpatrick has put together a very good year for the Bills under center.

27. Seattle Seahawks (6-7) – Yes, I am saying I think the Bills would beat the Seahawks right now.

28. Detroit Lions (3-10) – Nice to see them finally beat Green Bay.

29. Cincinnati Bengals (2-11) – Starting to become impossible to picture Carson Palmer under center for them in 2011.

30. Arizona Cardinals (4-9) – Larry Fitzgerald is still counting the seconds until this season is over.

31. Denver Broncos (3-10) – Why not give Tim Tebow a look?

32. Carolina Panthers (1-12) – Not really a positive thing you can say about this team right now.

TOJ NFL Power Rankings: Week 14

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As the Jets tumble down…down…down

1. New England Patriots (10-2) – Flexed their muscle as the NFL’s best team by thrashing the Jets in front of the whole country. If they can take care of business in Chicago, no reason they can’t finish with at least 13 wins.

2. Atlanta Falcons (10-2) – Not as dominant as New England but they find a way to keep winning each week.

3. Pittsburgh Steelers (9-3) – Gutsy win in Baltimore, puts them in great position for a AFC North title and a bye week.

4. Chicago Bears (9-3) – The Bears have a chance to show they belong in the discussion as the NFL’s best team this week when they host New England.

5. Baltimore Ravens (8-4) – No shame in losing a hard fought game with Pittsburgh and settling for a season split. However, they will likely be stuck in the wild-card again.

6. New Orleans Saints (9-3) – They have kept themselves within striking distance of Atlanta.

7. Green Bay Packers (8-4) – The Packers took care of business this week but after next week’s match-up with Detroit, they have a brutal finish against New England, the Giants, and Chicago.

8. Philadelphia Eagles (8-4) – Need to avoid slipping up against resurgent Cowboys to set stage for showdown with Giants.

9. New York Giants (8-4) – Need to avoid slipping up against resurgent Vikings to set stage for showdown with Eagles.

10. Kansas City Chiefs (8-4) – The Chiefs can bury the Chargers by beating them for the second time this year.

11. New York Jets (9-3) – A little harsh? 45-3. They are lucky to be this high.

12. Tampa Bay Bucs (7-5) – Their inability to beat any team with a winning record will keep them out of the playoffs.

13. Jacksonville Jaguars (7-5) – It is starting to look like they have an actual chance to steal the AFC South.

14. Oakland Raiders (6-6) – Impressive win over San Diego kept their slim playoff chances alive.

15. San Diego Chargers (6-6) – Brutal loss to the Raiders, took a big shot into their playoff hopes. However, they can make up for it by beating the Chiefs this week.

16. Indianapolis Colts (6-6) – If they can’t handle the imploding Titans on Thursday night, than it may be time to throw in the towel on them as a playoff contender.

17. St. Louis Rams (6-6) – Very interested to see how they play the Saints this weekend.

18. Cleveland Browns (5-7) – The Browns should be able to pull to .500 in the next two weeks with games against Buffalo and Cincinnati.

19. Miami Dolphins (6-6) – Can play the role of spoiler by beating the Jets on the road this weekend.

20. Houston Texans (5-7) – Any playoff hope they have left should be buried by Baltimore this week.

21. Minnesota Vikings (5-7) – T-Jack didn’t look so bad out there.

22. Seattle Seahawks (6-6) – It would truly pain me to watch this team in the playoffs this year.

23. Dallas Cowboys (4-8) – Not sure anybody wants to play them the rest of the year.

24. Washington Redskins (5-7) – Their season has quickly turned into an absolute disaster.

25. Tennessee Titans (5-7) – See above.

26. San Francisco 49ers (4-8) – Sadly, could very realistically only be 1 game out of first place after next week.

27. Denver Broncos (3-9) – That Josh McDaniels sideline celebration after moving to 6-0 last year feels like 100 years ago.

28. Buffalo Bills (2-10) – They were due to get blown out…they are a 2-10 team after all.

29. Cincinnati Bengals (2-10) – Time to draft a new quarterback.

30. Detroit Lions (2-10) – Have no idea how to win a football game.

31. Arizona Cardinals (3-9) – One of the hardest teams to watch in recent years.

32. Carolina Panthers (1-11) – No stops on the 1-15 train.

TOJ NFL Power Rankings – Week 13

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December Football is hard to beat as is, but it should be even more interesting this year with every division race still open and tons of division games still left on the schedule. Here are the rankings heading into week 13, how stupid am I? This stupid…

1. Atlanta Falcons (9-2) – The Falcons have arguably the best home field advantage in the NFL and Matt Ryan is playing like an elite quarterback.

2. New York Jets (9-2) – Have a great opportunity to shut everybody up who refuses to give them respect this Monday Night.

3. New England Patriots (9-2) – Can hop into the driver’s seat of the AFC East by beating their rivals at home.

4. Baltimore Ravens (8-3) – They are looking for a season sweep of the Steelers, which would go a long way to locking down the AFC North.

5. Pittsburgh Steelers (8-3) – Their inconsistency has been concerning but they still are in position for a bye, if they can take care of the Ravens on the road this Sunday night.

6. Chicago Bears (8-3) – Time to give them some respect.

7. New Orleans Saints (8-3) – The defending champs could end up settling for a wild-card spot with how well Atlanta is playing.

8. San Diego Chargers (6-5) – It is hard to see them not winning at least 4 of their last 5 and taking the AFC West.

9. Green Bay Packers (7-4) – They have been playing very well but somehow still sit a game behind the Bears and don’t have the tiebreaker with them, thanks to an early season loss.

10. Philadelphia Eagles (7-4) – Mike Vick and company get a quick chance to bounce back on Thursday against Houston and their awful secondary.

11. New York Giants (7-4) – A big second half comeback keeps them in good position in the crowded NFC Playoff picture.

12. Kansas City Chiefs (7-4) – Dwayne Bowe is playing out of his mind right now. I still like the Chargers in their division though.

13. Tampa Bay Bucs (7-4) – They will eventually have to beat a team with a winning record if they want to make the playoffs. How about this week against Atlanta?

14. Miami Dolphins (6-5) – Impressive win over Oakland but they are 3 games out in the AFC East…playoffs just aren’t happening.

15. Jacksonville Jaguars (6-5) – They had a real chance to grab control of the AFC South but choked it away in the second half against the Giants.

16. Indianapolis Peyton Mannings (6-5) – The Colts aren’t a good football team right now but are still the favorites in the turd bowl AFC South.

17. Houston Texans (5-6) – They need to beat the Eagles this Thursday on the road to keep themselves relevant in the AFC South race.

18. St. Louis Rams (5-6) – Sam Bradford just might be able to pull a division title out at 7-9.

19. Minnesota Vikings (4-7) – Only in the NFC West is 4-7 good enough to compete for a division title.

20. Oakland Raiders (5-6) – A harsh fall back to reality for the Raiders who are done if they can’t get a victory this week.

21. Washington Redskins (5-6) – Bad loss at home to Vikings just about knocked them out of playoff contention.

22. Tennessee Titans (5-6) – The Rusty Smith era isn’t looking to promising in Tennessee.

23. Dallas Cowboys (3-8) – They will be a tough opponent in the spoiler role down the stretch.

24. Cleveland Browns (4-7) – An ugly, ugly win over the Panthers.

25. Buffalo Bills (2-9) – Three OT losses? Hard not to feel bad for the Bills and yes I am saying they are better than all the following teams.

26. Denver Broncos (3-8) – You don’t see too much of Josh McDaniels pumping his fist these days.

27. Seattle Seahawks (5-6) – I don’t care if they are still probably the favorites in the NFC West…they are a terrible football team.

28. San Francisco 49ers (4-7) – Sad that they are still in the thick of the playoff race.

29. Detroit Lions (2-9) – At least they kept us interested in for 3 quarters on Thanksgiving.

30. Cincinnati Bengals (2-9) – Ren and Stimpy have an awful television show and an even worse quarterback.

31. Arizona Cardinals (3-8) – Derek Anderson is going to put Larry Fitzgerald in a mental hospital.

32. Carolina Panthers (1-10) – At least John Kasay missing that field goal kept them on track for the number 1 pick.