(Philadelphia, Pa) —- We have reached the third quarter pole of the NFL season, so buckle up as we are coming in for a playoff landing. This time of year has brought the usual separation pattern of contenders and pretenders in the “Championship Rounds” (November and December). We are starting to see:
- Championship level teams showing their mettle (Patriots, Colts, Jaguars, Cowboys, Steelers, and Packers)
- Early season potential playoff upstarts coming back to earth i.e. “Frauds” — Lions, Ravens, and Titans (Giants???)
- Bunch of other teams fighting for their playoff lives weekly as parity continues (There nine 5-6 teams including the Eagles, Redskins, Bears, Vikings, Cardinals, Texans, Broncos, Bills, and Saints).
- Teams getting ready for the draft in April (Panthers, Rams, Jets, Falcons, Niners, Raiders, and most importantly the winless Dolphins who seem assured of picking first – Arkansas RB Darren McFadden is quickly moving up my list, but I still like the pro prospects of Kentucky QB Andre Woodson)
For the second week in a row the NFL schedule for this week kicks off on Thursday as NFL Network will have the marquee match-up of 10-1 NFC leaders the Packers and Cowboys. The game is a flashback to the mid ‘90’s where these two teams went at it routinely for NFL superiority. The game will also feature America’s New Sweetheart, Dallas quarterback Tony Romo against his former hero growing up in Wisconsin, Packers quarterback Brett Favre.
R.I.P Redskins Safety Sean Taylor — We are all grieving over the tragic shooting death of the maturing player at such a young age (24) and hopefully time will help to heal our remorse. My thoughts and prayers are with the Redskins and Sean’s family/friends.
Now on to the rankings for this week.
1. Patriots (11-0) – Got a scare from the Eagles on SNF, but they showed why they are the NFL’s best when it counted most. Will travel to Baltimore to face a reeling and in-fighting Ravens’ squad on Monday Night Football.
2. Cowboys (10-1) – The Jets played the role of the turkey as the ‘Boys feasted on the reeling team on Thanksgiving. Host the Green Packers in a huge NFC deciding battle on NFL Network Thursday Night Football (BTW: Am I the only one that can’t see the game).
3. Colts (9-2) – Their Thanksgiving day match-up with the Falcons sure looked better when the schedule came out, but after a slow start the champs pounded the “dead” Birds. Host the Jaguars in a game for AFC South superiority.
4. Packers (10-1) – Made their annual Thanksgiving turkey of the Lions as they won easily in Detroit. It will be the battle for NFC dominance as they face the Cowboys in Dallas (BTW: Favre is 0-9 in Texas Stadium).
5. Steelers (8-3) – Had an UGLY win over the winless Dolphins in the slop and soup that they call a field. Hopefully Heinz Field will be playable as they host the spoiler Bengals.
6. Jaguars (8-3) – Avoided a letdown by punching the tiring Bills into submission with their tough physical style led by their ground-churning running attack. It is time to put up or shut as they travel to Indy to face the champs in a huge AFC South battle.
7. Browns (7-4) – Dominated the Texans led by a rejuvenated Jamal Lewis and an improving defense. Travel to Arizona to face a Cardinals team who are the definition of inconsistency.
8. Buccaneers (7-4) – They are not pretty, but boy are they tough!!! Beat the Redskins in a game where it seemed the Bucs were constantly defending their goal line. They are beat-up and now they have to travel to New Orleans to face the Saints in a NFC South make or break game.
9. Chargers (6-5) – May have finally realized the formula for saving their season is to ride LT, Gates, and their tough defense. Must stop Kolby Smith as they travel to KC to face the Chiefs and the “red storm” crowd.
10. Seahawks (7-4) – This team is winning, but they didn’t show me much as they hung on to beat the reeling Rams. Must face the Eagles in a game that will have huge NFC wildcard implications.
11. Giants (7-4) – The Vikings dominated them in the Meadowlands and everyone is asking “Is Eli the player to take them to the promise land?” Will face the Bears in the cold of Soldier Field and here is a tip don’t kick to the ball to Hester.
12. Titans (6-5) – Lost for the third time in a row as V.Y and his boyz on offense couldn’t move the ball and on defense the secondary keep the Bengals out of the endzone. Will try to end their losing streak at home against the Texans in another V.Y bowl.
13. Bears (5-6) – It was the world’s greatest returner Devin Hester to the rescue as they found a way to beat the Broncos led by their special teams and defense. Host the Giants in a “must-win” game if they want to have any chance of making the playoffs.
14. Lions (6-5) – The Packers showed the kitty cats what a “real” contender looks like as they filleted them in front of the entire country on Thanksgiving. Will travel to the Metrodome to face an upstart Vikings squad, who are looking to get back in the playoff hunt.
15. Saints (5-6) – Knocked the hapless Panthers right into the upper portion of the draft with a dominating NFC South win, but can they catch the Bucs. They will get their chance at home to pickup some ground on the Bucs in a NFC South battle.
16. Broncos (5-6) – For some reason they kept kicking the ball to Devin Hester, which led to a tough overtime loss in Chicago. If they want to stay on the division leading Chargers tails they will need to dispose of the tougher than their record Raiders in Oakland.
17. Texans (5-6) – Were no match for the Browns Air and Ground attack as the Dawgs rode Jamal Lewis to victory. Will need to contain V.Y as they travel to Tennessee to face the reeling Titans.
18. Eagles (5-6) – Led by backup AJ Feeley they almost pulled off Mission Impossible winning in New England, but there are no moral victories in the NFL. Whom ever is quarterback will need to keep this team moving forward at home against the Seahawks.
19. Redskins (5-6) – Couldn’t punch the ball in at the red-zone leading to a disheartening loss to the Bucs. Will try to pickup the pieces of their season and quell their grief over the loss of comrade Sean Taylor at home against the Bills.
20. Bills (5-6) – Were thoroughly run over by the physical Jags in Jacksonville. Travel to DC to face a ‘Skins team dealing with their heavy hearts.
21. Vikings (5-6) – They humiliated the Giants in the Meadowlands as their defense seemed to catch everything Eli threw and taking them back to the house. Host the Lions in a must-win game that has wild card implications.
22. Cardinals (5-6) – Blew a great opportunity to stay in the hunt for the NFC West title behind the Seahawks by coughing up an overtime win to the Niners. Host the new “Cardiac Kids” as the surging Browns come to town.
23. Chiefs (4-7) – Hello Kolby Smith, but they could not convert a crucial 4th and 1 when the game was on the line against the Raiders. Host the Chargers in a game they must win to keep their flickering playoffs hopes alive.
24. Panthers (4-7) – Showed that they are not a very good team right now by losing badly to the Saints and we maybe seeing the end of the John Fox era. Host the Niners in a pride game for two teams going nowhere fast.
25. Ravens (4-7) – The Chargers sent them to their 5th straight loss as they slept-walked through another game, which may lead to some changes at the top of this reeling organization. It will be interesting to see if the Ravens can summon up their defensive swagger as they host the angry Patriots on MNF.
26. Falcons (3-8) – With Vick unavailable, this Thanksgiving night game was a bowl of gravy for the champion Colts. They will be singing “Meet me in St. Louis” as they go on the road to face the equally hapless Rams.
27. Raiders (3-8) – Showed that they still had a little pride by finally stopping the run when it mattered most against the Raiders in an old-time AFL rivalry game. Host the Broncos in an old-time AFL battle of two rivalry teams.
28. Bengals (4-7) – Their fantasy football dream team finally came to play as they pushed the Titans further toward the playoff exit. We will see if the Bengals Chad Johnson gets to ham it up for the cameras in Pittsburgh against the Steelers.
29. 49ers (3-8) – Tried everything possible to let the Cards off the hook, but Warner fumbled in overtime and the Niners finally ended their eight game losing streak. Travel to Carolina to face the Panthers in a game that only has draft spot implications.
30. Jets (2-9) – Showed no fire or heart in an embarrassing loss on Thanksgiving Day to the ‘Boys. Another bottom of the barrel game as they travel to Miami to face winless the Dolphins, who want just one win.
31. Rams (2-9) – Had the Seahawks on the ropes in a home pride game, but Ferotte couldn’t get the snap at the goal line. Host the Falcons in a game that only the players’ Moms can stomach.
32. Dolphins (0-11) – In the mud and the slop this team continued their march toward the NFL draft in April. They even lost comeback player Rickey Williams for the season after only six carries. This maybe the week they finally get their win as they face the equally terrible J-E-T-S.