Baltimore Ravens veteran LB Ray Lewis will his team into a crucial AFC North shutdown against the “hated” Pittsburgh Steelers in Week 13
Is it just me… or does everyone else feel like almost every NFL team still has a shot at the playoffs? After twelve weeks of play, “parity” is all over America’s game as shown by the current team standings. With only five weeks left in the NFL Season, the intensity has definitely picked-up around the league. And despite there being three teams with 9-2 records, there still doesn’t appear to be a “bully” team (i.e. 2007 New England Patriots) on the horizon. In fact, for the first time since the 2000 season there will be no teams clinching a playoff berth prior to week 14.
Hopefully in the next five weeks, we will start to see the remaining 23 NFL teams with records ranging from 5-6 to 9-2 self separating into “Contenders” and “Pretenders” as they fight it out for the NFL’s 12 coveted playoff berths. The upcoming NFL schedule has some great match-ups – including Week 13’s Super Games Pittsburgh Steelers at Baltimore Ravens and New York Jets at New England Patriots — that will surely make it easier to see which teams will survive the league’s regular season championship rounds (December and early January) to make the playoffs.
A common trend that I will be interested in seeing, if it will hold true again, is the number of new teams making the playoffs after missing them the prior year. In 2009, for the 14th consecutive NFL season, five or more teams qualified for the playoffs that were not in the postseason the year before (Dallas Cowboys, New York Jets, New England Patriots, Green Bay Packers, New Orleans Saints, and Cincinnati Bengals). This year the Chiefs, Rams, Steelers, Bears, Falcons, and Buccaneers are all strong contenders to make the playoffs after missing out on them in 2009. Speaking of the Chiefs, who look like 2010’s Cinderella, seem to be turning around their luck more than any team in the NFL — after making the playoffs in ’07 they have had only 10 wins in the last three years.
- In looking at the current NFL standings here’s the breakdown: The “Elite” – Patriots (9-2), Falcons (9-2), NY Jets (9-2), Bears (8-3), Ravens (8-3), and Saints (8-3); The “Contenders” — Steelers (8-3), Packers (7-4), Chiefs (7-4), Eagles (7-4), and Bucs (7-4); “Stuck in the Middle” inconsistent teams, who are caught in the NFL’s large parity-filled middle and need to either join the playoff hunt or fall back — Colts (6-5), Chargers (6-5), Seahawks (5-6), Raiders (5-6), Redskins (5-6), Browns (5-6), Texans (5-6) and Rams (5-6); The “Pretenders”, who are only a shade away from the league’s bottom rung – Vikings (4-7), Niners (4-7), Cowboys (3-8), and Broncos (3-8); and lastly the “Ugly” (All in the Andrew Luck Sweepstakes called the 2011 NFL Draft) – Cardinals (3-8), Lions (2-9), Bengals (2-9), Bills (2-9), and Panthers (1-10)
- The division standings also are very tight heading as we near the 4th quarter of the 2010 NFL Season. Eagles/Giants (NFC East — 2 game lead over WAS), Falcons (NFC South — 1 game lead over NO), Bears (NFC North — 1 game lead over GB), Seahawks/Rams (NFC West — 1 1/2 game lead over ARZ/SF), Colts/Jags (AFC South — 1 game lead over TEN/HOU), Steelers/Ravens (AFC North — 4 game lead over CLE), Patriots and NY Jets tied (AFC East — 2 game lead over MIA), Chiefs (AFC West — 1 game over SD)
But there is still is a lot of football left to be played and nothing has been guaranteed in a season where “perfection” left the door in Week 5. If nothing else, this has been one topsy-turvy season that has many scratching their heads (See Buffalo Bills being a “dropped” touchdown pass from pulling out an upset overtime win over the Steelers in Week 12). So buckle-up as the 2010 NFL regular season is almost ready to land.
Now on to the rankings for this week.
1. Patriots (9-2); LW1 – It took a second half wake-up call and a perfect QB rating from Tom Brady for the Pats to rid themselves of the pesky Detroit Lions on Thanksgiving. Next up in possibly Week 13’s biggest Grudge Match, Belichick and the Patriots will host the surging New York Jets on ESPN’s Monday Night Football.
2. NY Jets (9-2); LW2– The Thanksgiving nightcap was a real snoozer – must have been all of the Turkey – as the J-E-T-S thumped the reeling Bengals. Now we will see if Rex Ryan’s team is ready to make Tom Brady say his team “Stunk” again as he did after a Week 2 loss to the NY Jets. Are ready for some football…I know am ready for this AFC East slugfest on MNF.
3. Falcons (9-2); LW4 – Alright…I am a believer in Matt Ryan (19-1 in the Dome) and the Falcons as they take drove down the field late in the 4th quarter to beat the former NFC North leading Green Bay Packers – 5th consecutive win. In a potential trap game, the Falcons will travel to Tampa to face a looking for respect Bucs squad in a huge NFC South Match-up.
4. Saints (8-3); LW5 – The champs continue to succeed and fly under the radar. But they had to fight on Thanksgiving to get a win over the Cowboys – Thank You Roy Williams for the game-changing fumble. Look for Drew Brees to air the ball out to Colston, Bush, and the rest of the Saints when New Orleans travels to Cincy to face a Bengals squad falling apart everywhere.
5. Ravens (8-3); LW7 – To Baltimore head coach John Harbaugh’s credit, his team stayed the course and rode an early lead and their stingy defense to a quality home win over the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Now on Sunday Night Football, Ray Lewis and the boys will be looking to make it two in a row over the hated Steelers, but this time Big Ben (foot) will be on the field.
6. Steelers (8-3); LW6 — Pittsburgh survived in OT over the resilient Bills in a near trap game loss – they should definitely send Buffalo WR Stevie Johnson a fruit basket for his 5 drops for Buffalo including a potential GW-er. It will be a fireworks special on SNF as the Steelers will look to take control of the AFC North as they travel to the Charm City looking for revenge against the Ravens.
7. Bears (8-3); LW10 – In a quality effort game, the Bears and head coach Lovie Smith continued to make believers around the National Football League by taking advantage of an Asante Samuel-less Philadelphia Eagles squad. In an NFC North Black-And-Blue special, one of the oldest rivalries comes around again as the Bears travel to Detroit to face a-better-than-their-record Lions team.
8. Eagles (7-4); LW4 – Head Coach Andy Reid was nowhere near smiling as the Eagles came out flat in a loss to the NFC North leading Bears. The Birds will need to pick-up the pieces, including getting the ball to sulking WR DeSean Jackson, when they face the offensive-minded Houston Texans in an NFL Network Thursday Game.
9. Packers (7-4); LW8 – I guess the Packers still have some work to do, especially with their running game, as they were out-muscled by the surging Falcons in an NFC playoff type loss. In an intriguing match-up that reminds me of many Favre-Young battles in the ‘90s, the Packers will host the Niners and Comeback Kid quarterback Troy Smith.
10. Chiefs (7-4); LW12 – You would expect a division leader to get respect, but I need to see more. However Todd Haley’s team is proving to be a tough young team that can run the ball and play good defense as shown by their dominating win over the Seahawks last week. Next up are the AFC West rival Denver Broncos in an old-time Hank Stramm AFL Grudge Match.
11. Chargers (6-5); LW13 – Norv Turner’s team continued their ascension from the NFL’s depths by easily beating the Peyton Manning and the Colts on Sunday Night Football – 4th straight win. Hopefully the Chargers and MVP candidate QB Philip Rivers will not be looking ahead to their Week 14 Match-up with the Chiefs for the top of the AFC West when they host the “hated” Oakland Raiders in Week 13.
12. Colts (6-5); LW10 – NBC Sunday Night Football game was a disaster for Peyton Manning (4 INTs including 2 Pick-6’s) and the Colts as they were thumped by the Chargers. Surprisingly, head coach Jim Caldwell’s team is still tied at the top of the AFC South but to stay there they will need to bring their “A” game against the resurgent Dallas Cowboys.
13. New York Giants (7-4); LW15 – Don’t bury the G-Men so fast as Eli Manning, Kevin Boss, and the rest of the Giants showed some gumption in a tough come-from-behind win over the Jaguars. With an eye on staying at the top of the NFC East, the Giants host the determined Redskins in a huge divisional game.
14. Buccaneers (7-4); LW11 – Raheem Morris’ team want some R-E-S-P-E-C-T, but they came up short, including a subpar game from QB Josh Freeman, in a tough road loss to the Ravens. Next-up for the Bucs is another opportunity to prove they are a “true” contender as Tampa hosts the Atlanta Falcons in a huge NFC South battle.
15. Jaguars (6-5); LW14 – Only time will tell if head coach Jack Del Rio will survive and if the Jags really are AFC playoff contenders, but last week they came up short against the host New York Giants. In a must-win situation, QB David Garrard (wrist) and the Jags must play hard when they travel to Tennessee to face angry Titans squad.
16. Texans (5-6); LW18 – The reeling “quarterback-less” Titans proved the perfect medicine for the struggling Texans as they posted a 28-0 shutout win and bottled-up CJ2K. In a game where the loser will have a huge question mark, hometown QB Matt Schaub leads the Texans into Philadelphia to face the Eagles.
17. Dolphins (6-5); LW19 – It wasn’t pretty, but the return of a healthy Chad Henne was huge as the ‘Phins thumped the Oakland Raiders to remain in the AFC playoff hunt. In a game that will pit two AFC spoiler type teams against each other, the Dolphins will go on the road against the Cleveland Browns.
18. Browns (5-6); LW20 – RB Peyton Hillis continued his assault on the Browns’ Modern Record Book as Cleveland ran all over the horrible Carolina Panthers. Next-up in the Bernie Kosar Bowl, the Browns will host the Dolphins in a game where both teams hope to keep their playoff hopes alive.
19. Raiders (5-6); LW16 – Oakland continued their up-and-down ways as they had nary a running game in an ugly loss to the resurgent Miami Dolphins. You know Al Davis will have a special jumpsuit pressed and ready when the Raiders travel to San Diego in hopes of the knocking the Chargers from near the top of the AFC West.
20. Vikings (4-7); LW25 – Thanks to a nifty game-sealing first down scramble by QB Brett Favre, new Vikings head coach Leslie Frazier got his first win of his brief career in a big road win over the Redskins in DC. In a “Look Out” special, the Vikings hope to continue their mini-resurgence when they host the scrappy Buffalo Bills.
21. Redskins (5-6); LW17 – Everytime I think Shanahan and McNabb will get back in the playoff hunt, the Redskins lose another one, like last week against the Vikings. In an NFC East special, the Redskins will look to stay in the NFC Wildcard hunt when they face the New York Giants
22. Rams (5-6); LW23 – I guess all of the those high-round draft picks are finally starting to payoff as the Rams continued their resurgence under rookie QB Sam Bradford by outlasting the Broncos. With hopes of staying at the top of the terrible NFC West, St. Louis will travel to the Desert to face the reeling Cardinals in a divisional match-up.
23. Seahawks (5-6); LW20 – Once again the Seahawks showed that they are not ready for “Prime Time” by getting steamrolled by the Chiefs in an ‘80s NFC West battle. As crazy as this sounds, the Seahawks must thump the reeling visiting Carolina Panthers to stay respectable.
24. Titans (5-6); LW22 – In their first game sans VY2010, the Titans were punch-less as the Houston Texans made QB Rusty Smith look like the weak passer that he is. If Tennessee has any hopes of staying in the AFC South race, the Titans will need to take care of business against the visiting Jaguars.
25. Niners (4-7); LW26 – The Niners and competitive QB Troy Smith (now 3-1 as starter) made the Cardinals a ‘laughing matter” in a big win on Monday Night Football. In order to stay near the top of the rather weak NFC West, the Niners will need to answer the bell when they travel to Green Bay.
26. Cowboys (3-8); LW24 – Not even the magic of Jason Garrett could overcome the bad luck of receiver Roy Williams as the Cowboys could pull off a Thanksgiving Miracle in a heartbreaking loss to the Super Bowl champion Saints. In a game that is looking like “Mission Impossible”, the Cowboys will travel to Indy to face an angry Peyton Manning and a getting healthier Colts squad.
27. Lions (2-9); LW27 – Ho-Hum…Another Turkey Day loss for the Lions and this time the Patriots provided the pumpkin pie in their face. Despite being down to their 3rd string quarterback, Detroit will be looking to play spoiler when they host the NFC North leading Bears.
28. Broncos (3-8); LW29 – Can you say Spygate 2?…I know the Niners can. With allegations of a possible London, England taping fiasco in the air, the Broncos were thumped by the St. Louis Rams. In game that could prove to be big to embattled head coach Josh McDaniels, the Broncos travel to KC to face an upstart Chiefs’ squad.
29. Bills (2-9); LW30 – What a tough break for the Bills as they squandered chance after chance in a potential overtime upset win over the Steelers, but in the end Buffalo and Stevie Johnson dropped their opportunity. This week the Bills travel to Minnesota to face a confident Vikings team in a “Loser Goes to L.A” match-up.
30. Cardinals (3-8); LW28 – See what happens when you lose a Hall of Fame quarterback like Kurt Warner. The Cardinals were embarrassed on MNF by the Niners – 5th straight loss — then their quarterback Derek Anderson acted like a Big Baby in his press conference. In a big NFC West battle, the Cardinals will host the upstart Rams.
31. Bengals (2-9); LW31 – Marvin Lewis’ team was “stuffed” on Thanksgiving by the NY Jets and it is looking like a ton of changes are in the offing this offseason. Look for T.O and Ochocinco to get their stats, but not much more as Cincy hosts the surging Saints.
32. Panthers (1-10); LW32 – Well…maybe they could use Stanford quarterback Andrew Luck after all. The Panthers were soundly thumped by RB Peyton Hillis and the Browns as they move further into the NFL’s basement. We will see if the Panthers can continue to make “Contenders” out of “Pretenders” when they face the inconsistent Seahawks.
Filed under: 2010 NFL Power Rankings, 2010 NFL Season, 2010 NFL Week 13, NFL Rankings | Tagged: 2010 NFL Power Rankings, 2010 NFL Season, 2010 NFL Week 13, Baltimore Ravens, Football, NFL, Pittsburgh Steelers, Sports |