The San Diego Chargers and WR Ledegu Naane will be looking to rebound against the AFC West division-leading Kansas City Chiefs in Week 14’s marquee game
I am calling Week 14 of the 2010 NFL season, “Do or Die Week”, as several “on the bubble” teams can either join the push toward the playoffs or start planning for their off-season this week.
With only 4 weeks left in the regular season, the intensity has definitely picked-up around the league. And despite the New England Patriots (10-2) being able to clinch a playoff berth with a win in Week 14, there is still an infinite number of other playoff scenarios to be played out in the league’s regular season championship rounds (December and early January).
Hopefully in the next four weeks, we will start to see the remaining 24 NFL teams with records ranging from 5-7 to 10-2 self separating into “Contenders” and “Pretenders” as they fight it out for the NFL’s 12 coveted playoff berths.
Eagles head coach Andy Reid said of the last part of the NFL regular season, “It’s that time of the year, the last quarter”. Big Red added, “If you’re still in the hunt, things get a little faster, guys play a little faster and so on. That’s the nature of the game. That’s where we’re at. It’s important that we keep practicing the way we’ve been practicing and preparing the way we’ve been preparing. The guys have been very focused the past few weeks.”
A common trend that I will be interested in seeing, if it will hold true again in 2010, 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, Seahawks, Steelers, Bears, Falcons, and Buccaneers are all strong contenders to make the playoffs after missing out on them in 2009.
Speaking of the Kansas City Chiefs and St. Louis Rams, they are both trying to continue a very interesting recent NFL trend – trying to make 8 consecutive seasons where a team has gone from worst to first in their division. In 2009, the New Orleans Saints won the NFC South making it the seventh consecutive season that a team has gone from “worst-to-first” in its division, the longest such streak in NFL history.
- In looking at the current NFL standings here’s the breakdown: The “Elite” – Patriots (10-2), Falcons (10-2); The “Almost There’s” — NY Jets (9-3), Bears (9-3), Steelers (9-3), Saints (9-3), and Eagles (8-4); The “Contenders” — Packers (8-4), Chiefs (8-4), Ravens (8-4), and Bucs (7-5); “Stuck in the Middle” inconsistent teams, who still have a playoff chance but are stuck in the NFL’s parity-filled middle — Colts (6-6), Chargers (6-6), Seahawks (6-6), Raiders (6-6), and Rams (6-6); The “Pretenders”, who are only a shade away from the league’s bottom rung – Redskins (5-7), Browns (5-7), Texans (5-7) Vikings (5-7), Niners (4-8), and Cowboys (4-8); and lastly the “Ugly” (All in the Andrew Luck Sweepstakes called the 2011 NFL Draft) – Broncos (3-9), Cardinals (3-9), Lions (2-10), Bengals (2-10), Bills (2-10), and Panthers (1-11)
- The division standings also are very tight heading as the 2010 NFL Season’s 4th quarter begins. Eagles/Giants (NFC East — 3 game lead over WAS), Falcons (NFC South — 1 game lead over NO), Bears (NFC North — 1 game lead over GB), Seahawks/Rams (NFC West — 2 game lead over SF), Jags (AFC South — 1 game lead over IND), Steelers (AFC North — 1 game lead over BAL), Patriots (AFC East — 1 game lead over NYJ), Chiefs (AFC West — 2 game lead over SD)
However, “Let’s not get too far ahead of ourselves” as there is still is a lot of football left to be played and nothing has been guaranteed in this crazy topsy-turvy season. If I have learned anything from my years covering the NFL it is that nothing is predictable about the world’s most popular league. So buckle-up as the 2010 NFL regular season is entering it’s 4th quarter.
I also want to remind fans to vote for their favorite players as balloting for the 2011 Pro Bowl will conclude soon http://www.nfl.com/probowl/ballot
Now on to the rankings for this week.
1. Patriots (10-2); LW1 – Brady and Belichick were all smiles as they dominated – ran the score-up on – the J-E-T-S on MNF, turning the “Game of the Year” into a laugher. Next-up is another playoff-worthy game as the Patriots will look to stay at the top when they travel to the Windy City to take-on the defensive Chicago Bears
2. Falcons (10-2); LW3 – It wasn’t pretty, but Matty “Ice” and his team showed they could win outside of the Georgia Dome as they outlasted the scrappy Tampa Bay Bucs in an NFC South showdown game. The Falcons and stout head coach Mike Smith should move another step closer to the NFC South crown when they travel to Carolina in WK14.
3. Steelers (9-3); LW6 — In a tough physical Northeast-style football game, Big Ben overcame injuries (broken nose and persistent foot problem) to lead Pittsburgh over the Ravens, of course Troy Polamulu helped too. The Steelers will need to jump on the reeling visiting Bengals early as sometimes rivalry games easily turn into “Trap Game” loses.
4. Saints (9-3); LW4 – Fueled by a great goalline stand, the champion Saints continued to fly under the radar by outlasting the falling-apart Bengals in WK13. With an eye on continuing their winning streak before their highly-anticipated WK 16 showdown with the Falcons, New Orleans will need to take care of business against the NFC West leading St. Louis Rams.
5. Bears (9-3); LW7 – This team rightly or wrongly, continues to get no respect around the NFL. Chicago stayed in the playoff hunt by pulling out a skin-of-their-teeth victory over the host Detroit Lions. We will now see if the Bears deserve to be near the top of the NFL Power Rankings as they host No. 1 New England Patriots in a “Statement Game”.
6. Eagles (8-4); LW8 – After jumping out to big early lead, the Eagles needed to put together 14 unanswered points in the 4th quarter to defeat the Houston Texans in the NFL Network Thursday Game. In a possible letdown spot, QB Michael Vick and the Eagles will need to be on their “P’s” and “Q’s” when they travel to Dallas for a huge NFC East rivalry game against the resurgent Cowboys on SNF.
7. Ravens (8-4); LW5 – On Sunday Night Football, the Ravens were in control of the Steelers until they were undone by a huge turnover in their end of the field. In a “playoff push” kind of game, Baltimore and QB Joe Flacco will need to forget about their Steelers’ loss and concentrate on the host Houston Texans on MNF.
8. Chiefs (8-4); LW10 – It wasn’t even close as the upstart Chiefs continued their climb from worst to first in the AFC West by dominating the falling-apart Broncos. After the loss…Yes, HC Todd Haley shook Josh McDaniel’s hand (later in the week, Boy Wonder was canned). In a total shocker, quarterback Matt Cassel will not be part of the Chiefs big game against the Chargers (appendectomy) in Week 14.
9. NY Jets (9-3); LW2– I t wasn’t even close as the J-E-T-S were no match for the Patriots on Monday Night Football as Sanchez floundered in a big spot (3 INTs). HC Rex Ryan needs to preach to his team that the season is not close to being over as New York must re-group when they host division-rival, the Miami Dolphins.
10. Packers (8-4); LW9 – I thought this one would be closer, but the QB Aaron Rodgers and the Packers dominated the Niners even though they seem to have injuries everywhere (Clifton, Woodson, and others). Green Bay will need to continue getting a running game behind rookie James Starks when they travel to Detroit for an NFC North black-and-blue special.
11. New York Giants (8-4); LW13 – The G-Men continued to stay right in the middle of the NFC East division crown hunt by thumping the error-prone Redskins. It is “Do or Die” time for Tom Coughlin’s team as they have 3 out of 4 road games to end the season including traveling to Minnesota in Week 14.
12. Jaguars (7-5); LW15 – People better start changing their thinking of the Jags as QB David Garrard continued his resurgence in a rather-easy win over the struggling Tennessee Titans. In a game that will have huge playoff implications, the Jaguars will host the Raiders in Week 14.
13. Buccaneers (7-5); LW14 – It looks like next year may be the year (if their isn’t Labor Unrest) for the upstart Bucs as they suffered a very close loss to the Atlanta Falcons. The next 4 games will tell us everything we need to know about Raheem Morris’ team and it all starts this week in the Nation’s Capital.
14. Raiders (6-6); LW19 – Don’t bury the Raiders just yet as Al Davis’ team continued their unlikely climb from their over 7–year slumber (Super Bowl Hangover) by spanking the Chargers. Everything will be on the line as Oakland travels to J-ville for a huge game with playoff implications.
15. Chargers (6-6); LW11 – Holy Crap… the Chargers’ 18-game December winning streak is over and of all the teams to stop it, the Raiders answered the bell against their AFC West rival. San Diego and high-flying quarterback Philip Rivers must play with less mistakes against a Kansas City Chiefs team looking to move closer to an improbable AFC West crown.
16. Vikings (5-7); LW20 – New Vikings head coach Leslie Frazier is now a sparkling 2-0 after backup Tarvaris Jackson and powerback Adrian Peterson led Minnesota to dominating win over the Buffalo Bills. Looking to become the NFL’s biggest spoiler, the Vikings will host the playoff-minded New York Giants and everyone is wondering if Brett Favre (shoulder, ankle) will play…he will.
17. Rams (6-6); LW22 – Wow… it is incredible the precipitous fall of the reeling Arizona Cardinals as the Rams dominated them to claim the top spot in the NFC West. In a “Show Me, Something” game, the Rams and Rookie of the Year candidate QB Sam Bradford will travel to New Orleans to play the surging Saints.
18. Seahawks (6-6); LW23 – I don’t know what to make of this inconsistent team as HC Pete Carroll’s team stayed at the top of the dreadful NFC West by dominating the host Panthers. Well someone has to win the NFC West, right?? And we will start to get some answers when the Niners host the Seahawks in Week 14.
19. Colts (6-6); LW12 – What in the world has happened to the perennial 12-win Colts? It was another Pick Parade for Indy QB Peyton Manning as the upstart Dallas Cowboys fought back to win in overtime at Lucas Oil Stadium. The Colts will need to win-out from here if they want to win the AFC South and make the playoffs and it all starts in Week 14 against the Tennessee Titans on NFL Network Thursday Night Football.
20. Browns (5-7); LW18 – In a boring ugly game, the Browns continued their climb back to respectability as they outlasted the offensively-challenged Dolphins. In the “Lake Erie” bowl, the Browns and rhino running back Peyton Hillis will travel to Buffalo for a frigid battle with the scrappy Bills.
21. Dolphins (6-6); LW17 – There was a ton of Wildcat as QB Chad Henne was awful in a close home loss to the Browns that showed Miami’s offensive struggles. We will see if kicker Dan Carpenter can kick another 60-yarder when the ‘Phins travel to the New Meadowlands to face an angry NY Jets’ squad.
22. Texans (5-7); LW16 – Two words, “No Defense” and clearly it was evident on Thursday Night as the host Eagles and comebacking QB Michael Vick rode their offense to a 10-point win. Sure the Texans can move the ball, but they will need to win-out to equal last year’s win total and Houston has a tough game on MNF with the angry Baltimore Ravens.
23. Cowboys (4-8); LW26 – Some say it is new interim head coach Jason Garrett (now 3-1) as the Cowboys surprised the Colts in OT. But I think this team had too much talent to begin with to continue their losing ways. Now Dallas is the NFL’s toughest spoiler team and they will line-it-up against the Eagles in a huge NFC East battle on Sunday Night Football.
24. Redskins (5-7); LW21 – This team is in total disarray as the G-Men took advantage of no Hayensworth (over 150 rushing yards) and turnovers (6) to thump Washington. With their playoff hopes hanging by a thread, the Redskins and veteran quarterback Donovan McNabb will host the upstart Tampa Bay Bucs.
25. Niners (4-8); LW25 – San Francisco looked very cold and disinterested as the Packers thumped them at Lambeau. Hard to believe…the Niners still have a chance for the weak NFC West crown. But they can’t have a single misstep in their last 4 games including a Week 14 battle with the Seahawks.
26. Titans (5-7); LW24 – Hard to believe after a 6-3 start, Tennessee has totally collapsed including an embarrassing loss to the Jaguars in Week 13. Next-up, the Titans will have little time to pick-up the pieces as they host the Colts in a crucial AFC South battle on Thursday Night Football.
27. Lions (2-10); LW27 – If nothing else, Detroit is an entertaining team. But the name of the game is wins and the Lions just can’t get any including a tough Week 13 loss to division rival, the Chicago Bears. However we are all waiting for the upset-minded Lions to surprise someone and possibly it could be in Week 14 when QB Drew Stanton leads his team against the visiting Packers.
28. Broncos (3-9); LW28 – After an embarrassing loss to the Chiefs and a million of other factors, Denver owner Pat Bowlen mercifully pulled the plug on the Josh McDaniels’ era. Now we will see if interim HC Eric Studesville will have the same magic as Frazier and Garrett when he leads his team against the equally awful Cardinals in this Week’s Toilet Bowl.
29. Bills (2-10); LW29 – Surprisingly, the scrappy Bills had no fight in them as the host Vikings annihilated them in the Metrodome. We will see who the kings of Lake Erie are when the Bills host the Browns in an anticipated snowy battle.
30. Cardinals (3-9); LW30 – You know Larry Fitzgerald is still looking for Kurt Warner to walk in the door as the Cardinals lost –again—this time to the Rams. It will be a Toilet Bowl special when the Cardinals host the equally putrid Broncos in Week 14.
31. Bengals (2-10); LW31 – Marvin Lewis’ team did everything but win the game against the surging Saints – “They Let Them Off, The Hook”. With not much else to play for but pride, the Bengals will travel to P-Burgh to face the playoff-minded Steelers.
32. Panthers (1-11); LW32 – I hope they are scouting Stanford QB Andrew Luck, because the Panthers are at the bottom and it showed against the Seahawks. Next-up, look for the host Panthers to get thumped by the NFC South leading Atlanta Falcons.
Lloyd Vance is a Sr. NFL Writer for Taking It to the House and Sports Journey Network , who is also an award-winning member of the Pro Football Writers of America (PFWA)
Filed under: 2010 NFL Power Rankings, 2010 NFL Season, 2010 NFL Week 14, NFL, San Diego Chargers | Tagged: 2010 NFL Playoff Scenarios, 2010 NFL Power Rankings, 2010 NFL Season, 2010 NFL Week 14, Football, Kansas City Chiefs, NFL, San Diego Chargers, Sports | 24 Comments »