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WEEI NFL Power Rankings — Week 15

12.15.09 at 9:41 am ET
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The top four teams remain in the same position from last week in this edition of the WEEI NFL Power Rankings. The Saints prevailed in another close game, the Colts clinched home field throughout the playoffs, the Vikings destroyed the Bengals, and the Chargers continued to streak.

The newest edition to the top five is the Eagles. Donovan McNabb and Philadelphia’s dynamic offense hurdle two spots and stand tall at No. 5.

The biggest loser of the week is the Giants. The G-Men came out flat against the Eagles in a game that could have put them in prime position to make the playoffs. Now the Giants are on the outside looking in and drop all the way to No. 17.

Down South, the Dolphins continue to climb in the rankings. After a great win against the Jaguars, Miami jumps four spots and now is at No. 13.

1. (Last week, 1) 13-0 The Saints make the big plays in crunch time. Even though they’ve had a tough time defeating the Redskins and a Matt Ryan-less Falcons team, the Saints find a way to win. Look back at 2007, the Patriots were the same way.

2. (2) 13-0 With the Colts’ 13th win of the season, they clinched home field advantage in the AFC and broke the Patriots’ regular-season consecutive win streak record, a record that seemed to be untouchable at the time. Twenty-two straight wins for the Colts and counting. It seems like they are on a collision course to face the Saints in the Super Bowl.

3. (3) 11-2 A statement win for the Vikings. The Bengals are one of the best teams in the AFC, and the Vikings crushed them by 20 points. This defense is one of the best in the league.

4. (4) 10-3 Sixteen straight wins for the Chargers in December. This team knows how to step it up in crunch time. Philip Rivers is playing great football and just went over the 3,500 mark in passing yards. San Diego looks like the only team that has a chance to take down the Colts in the AFC.

5. (7) 9-4 The offense has so many weapons, and the Eagles do a great job using all of those weapons. Great win on the road against a division opponent. This was an extremely important game for them and they managed to pull it off and win their fourth straight.

6. (8) 9-4 Aaron Rodgers didn’t play as well this week, but running back Ryan Grant stepped up and so did the Packers defense. Five straight wins, and the stat that sticks out most is the number of times Rodgers has been sacked: just six in the last four games.

7. (5) 9-4 Carson Palmer continues to insist that there is nothing wrong with his health, but his lack of production over the past few weeks has raised questions whether he is 100 percent. A 97-yard passing performance against the Vikings will raise those types of questions. It will be interesting to see how the Bengals play against another really tough opponent in the Chargers next week in San Diego.

8. (6) 8-5 This has been the story for the Cardinals all year: inconsistency. Coming off a huge victory over the Vikings, the Cards turned the ball over seven times, including five times in the first half.

9. (12) 8-5 Randy Moss and Bill Belichick had a “good talk” following the disciplinary action that was taken after Moss showed up late last Wednesday. This is according to Belichick during his appearance on The Big Show Monday. Unlike Adalius Thomas and his coach, Moss and Belichick have a good, open line of communication, and that is one of the reasons I believe Moss isn’t dogging it or giving less than 100 percent. Also, when was the last time we heard Belichick criticize another team? There’s no way he would have done that if he thought Moss wasn’t giving his all.

10. (11) 8-5 Twenty-one catches for Brandon Marshall, but the rest of the Broncos receivers were held to just eight catches and 77 yards. Kyle Orton needs to be able to spread the ball around better if Denver is going to be successful. Marshall was targeted 28 times in the loss.

11. (15) 7-6 The Ravens are in a great position to make the playoffs as a wild card. Their next three games are against teams that are below .500.

12. (10) 8-5 The potential loss of DeMarcus Ware, the Cowboys’ best pass-rusher, would make it even more difficult for Dallas to beat the Saints next week. It’s a bad time for Ware to get hurt as the team continues to struggle in December.

13. (17) 7-6 The job Chad Henne has done filling in for Chad Pennington has been outstanding. Ricky Williams has been running the ball extremely well and the Dolphins are playing great, physical football. If the Dolphins continue to play at a high level, they might be able to pull out their second consecutive AFC East title with a little help.

14. (13) 7-6 The Jags desperately needed a win against the Dolphins because their next two opponents are the Colts and the Patriots. Although the Jags are in the driver’s seat for a playoff spot, the schedule down the stretch isn’t easy.

15. (19) 7-6 A win against the Bucs is not impressive. Let’s see how the Jets do the next three weeks against the Falcons, Colts and Bengals.

16. (16) 6-7  The injury to Vince Young is a tough blow for the Titans, who have rallied around the young QB and have won six of their last seven games. Tennessee needs to win its remaining games for even a shot at the playoffs, and that certainly will be a tough task.

17. (9) 7-6 The Giants’ performance in what was practically a must-win game was pathetic. They came out in the first quarter and let the Eagles jump out to a quick lead. They also have major troubles on defense. The Giants won’t make the playoffs this year.

18. (18) 6-7 Great effort against the undefeated Saints by a Falcons team without Matt Ryan and Michael Turner. If the Falcons can get their two best players on offense back and win the rest of their games, they’ll have a shot at making the playoffs.

19. (21) 6-7  Great defensive performance by San Francisco. The 49ers shut down a powerful Cardinals offense and forced seven turnovers. The 49ers have some great young talent on both sides of the ball and have the potential to be a great team in the years to come.

20. (20) 6-7 The Texans snapped their four-game losing streak with a blowout win over the Seahawks and showed how dominant they can be on offense. Their inconsistency throughout the season has buried them. Gary Kubiak’s days in Houston may be numbered.

21. (14) 6-7 The Steelers will become the fourth Super Bowl champion this decade to miss the playoffs the following season. Watching this team play, it is difficult to believe they won a Super Bowl just a year ago.

22. (22) 5-8 Jay Cutler has continued to make the same bad decisions week after week. This has been a very disappointing year for a Bears team that was thought to be a major contender in the NFC North at the beginning of the season. It will be interesting to see what the Bears will do in the offseason to help fix their franchise QB’s mistakes.

23. (24) 5-8 The Bills will finally get their rematch against the Patriots on Sunday after suffering a devastating and crushing defeat in Week 1. Despite their losing season, the Bills can take some good from this year with a win against the Patriots Sunday.

24. (23) 4-9 The Skins had been close to getting wins the previous three weeks but hadn’t been able to get over the hump. On Sunday they finally pulled out a win behind a solid defensive performance. Despite three losses in their last four games, the Redskins have played well over the last four weeks.

25. (25) 5-8 Bill Belichick said it best on Monday when he addressed the Panthers defensive backs talking trash after the game: “My response would be, that’s a lot of conversation for a team that just lost another game.” This is a team that has dramatically underperformed this year and has rarely been able to take pride after a win this season, so the Panthers have to do it when they shut down one player on the opposing team.

26. (26) 5-8 The Seahawks played poorly on both sides of the ball. The offensive linemen played awful, and coach Jim Mora called them out after the game. They allowed three sacks, and Matt Hasselbeck was hit six times. The offense was 1-for-14 on third down.

27. (27) 4-9 The Raiders’ lack of a running game has really hurt them this year, and it was inefficient again Sunday against the Redskins. It’s a shame Bruce Gradkowski went down after playing well since filling in for JaMarcus Russell.

28. (28) 3-10 Another poor performance for Matt Cassel. His four interceptions against the Bills moves his total to 13 on the year. Going into the season many were interested to see how Cassel would perform outside of New England, and he surely has proved his doubters right.

29. (32) 2-11 The Browns came out last Thursday night like it was their Super Bowl and pulled off an unthinkable win. That type of win can be a huge positive that Cleveland players can take as the season closes.

30. (30) 2-11 It’s been another frustrating season for the Lions, and the bad news continues to mount. Running back Kevin Smith suffered a serious knee injury and is out for the season. Hopefully for Smith and the Lions it won’t affect him next year, but coach Jim Schwartz said after the game, “He’s got it bad.”

31. (31) 1-12 Josh Freeman has played awful in his last two games ‘€” eight interceptions and no touchdown passes. Freeman is a young, talented QB and could really use a seasoned head coach to help him develop. Somebody like Tony Dungy would be perfect for the job.

32. (29) 1-12 It’s all draft talk with the Rams going forward. Will they draft a QB or will they go after Michael Vick and draft Nebraska’s Ndamukong Suh? Decisions, Decisions.

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