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WEEI NFL Power Rankings: Week 15

12.14.10 at 8:05 am ET

Tom Brady and the Patriots sit atop the WEEI NFL Power Rankings for the fifth straight week. After another dominating performance against a nine-win team, the Patriots are clearly the best team in football fourteen weeks into the season. The Falcons are at No. 2 for a second straight week and share the best record in the NFL with New England.

Week 15 will bring many key matchups that will have serious playoff implications. The Jaguars (12) will travel to Indianapolis to take on the Colts (13) in a battle for the AFC South. The Giants (7) will get their rematch against the Eagles (5) and will fight for sole possession of first place in the NFC East.

The Packers (11) and Chiefs (14) both dropped after losses and uncertainity at the quarterback position. Both teams are fighting for a playoff spot but are also dealing with injuries to their starting QB.

1. (1) 11-2 The Patriots have wins against almost every team in playoff contention in the AFC. The Ravens, Chargers, Steelers, Colts, and Jets have all tasted defeat at the hands of Tom Brady and the Pats. In the last two weeks, against nine-win teams, the Patriots have outscored their opponent 81-10. Bill Belichick’s team also has not turned the ball over in five straight games. If the above doesn’t sound like a Super Bowl caliber team, I don’t know what does.

2. (2) 11-2 Offensively, the Falcons can beat teams with the run or the pass. Matt Ryan, Michael Turner, and Roddy White are consistently putting up big numbers. Ryan has over 3,000 yards passing, Turner has over 1,100 yards rushing, and Roddy White has over 1,200 yards receiving.

3. (3) 10-3 Teams can not run against Pittsburgh. The Steelers are ranked first in the league in run defense; they allow 60 yards per-game on average. One concern for the Steelers should be the health of Ben Roethlisberger. “Big Ben” has been taking a beating back in the pocket. His offensive line needs to protect its quarterback a lot better.

4. (4) 10-3 The Saints offense is clicking. They’ve put up 30 or more points in five straight games.  Perhaps, their biggest test of the season so far will come this Sunday against the Ravens in Baltimore. The Saints will need to win and extend their six-game winning streak if they want to have a realistic chance of winning the NFC South.

5. (8) 9-4 The Vick-McCoy-Jackson combination can take the Eagles all the way to the Super Bowl. That’s of course if they can keep Michael Vick healthy. The 30-year-old quarterback continually gets nailed by opposing defenders.

6. (5) 8-4 The Ravens should be concerned about their defense giving up 21-straight points in the second half and how tired they looked late in the fourth quarter.

7. (10) 9-4 The Giants last loss came against the Eagles in Philadelphia. This Sunday they’ll be looking for revenge at home. The last time these two teams met, the G-Men defended Michael Vick well but beat themselves with five turnovers. If they can protect the ball, the Giants may find themselves sitting atop the NFC East when Week 15 is in the books.

8. (6) 9-4 It just may be time to push the panic button in New York. Rex Ryan’s second-year quarterback, Mark Sanchez, has turned the ball over in nine straight games. Meanwhile, the Jets receivers continue to drop passes in key moments. Looking ahead, the Jets have two very tough matchups in the next two weeks. They travel to Pittsburgh and then to Chicago.

9. (12) 7-6 The Chargers have a “cupcake” regular season schedule remaining. They are playing teams with a combined record of 10-29. The “Super” Chargers have a strong possibility of finishing the year 10-6.

10. (7) 9-4 The Bears were outmatched and embarrassed at home last Sunday against the Patriots. They played horrible on both sides of the football. Luckily for them, they still have two games against divisional opponents and are able to control their own destiny.

11. (9) 8-5 It can be argued that no playoff contending team needs their quarterback more than the Packers need Aaron Rodgers. With a poor running game, the Packers playoff hopes lie in the hands of Rodgers. Right now, it does not look good for Packers fans. This is the second concussion their starting quarterback has suffered this year.

12. (13) 8-5 The Jaguars have won five of their last six games. Much of their success can be credited to the run game. Maurice Jones-Drew has rushed for over 100-yards in his last five games. In result, David Garrard has played well enough to lead his team to wins.

13. (14) 7-6 The Colts biggest game of their season will come this Sunday at home against Jacksonville. They have a tough matchup ahead of them. Indy’s D has struggled against the run all year (currently ranked 29th in the NFL). The Jags have the second-best rushing attack in the league.

14. (11) 8-5 The Chiefs need Matt Cassel to return if they want to be able to stand their ground in the AFC West. In his last three games, Cassel has thrown seven touchdowns and zero interceptions.

15. (18) 7-6 Linebacker Cameron Wake is turning into one of the most feared defensive players in the league. He has at least one sack in his last four games and leads the league with 14-total. The Dolphins are now an astonishing 6-1 on the road.

16. (16) 8-5 Rookie first-round draft pick Gerald McCoy will miss the rest of the season with a biceps injury. That’s a tough loss to swallow for Bucs fans. In their remaining three games, the Bucs have two games against teams with a below .500 record. They will take on the Lions and Seahawks at home in the next coming weeks.

17. (15) 6-7 The Raiders haven’t been able to stop the run all year and once again they were torched on Sunday. They allowed the Jaguars to rack up 234-yards on the ground. Their record reflects exactly what type of team they are ‘€” a little below average.

18. (19) 5-8 The Texans offense showed how dynamic it can be when Matt Schaub and company scored 21-straight points in the second half. However, the Texans made one too many mistakes and found a way to lose for the eighth time this year. This has been the story of their season: they can compete, but in the end, they always find a way to make a key mistake.

19. (17) 5-8 The Browns have proven they can beat the good teams, but also lose to the bad teams. Three turnovers against the Bills reminded the football world that the Browns are still a young team trying to rebuild. They’ll take on the two win Bengals this Sunday.

20. (21) 6-7 Franchise quarterback Sam Bradford took a beating in Sunday’s loss to the Saints. Bradford was sacked three times and hit eight times. The Rams have to do a better job protecting their future. The Rams remain atop the NFC West despite their loss and below .500 record. They are tied for first place with the Seattle Seahawks.

21. (22) 4-9 I like what the Cowboys have done since the departure of Wade Phillips. In their last five games, the Cowboys have scored 30 or more points. In the two games they’ve lost, they’ve at least played competitive football. The final in both those losses has been 30-27.

22. (20) 5-8 Last year the Vikings were three-points away from reaching the Super Bowl. This year, they’ve been eliminated from playoff contention after thirteen games.

23. (24) 5-8 Was there a reason Jeff Fisher decided to claim Randy Moss off waivers? The former Patriots wide receiver was targeted zero times Sunday and has five catches for 52 yards since joining the Titans. They are also 0-5 since he joined the team. The Titans have lost six in a row.

24. (26) 5-8 The 49ers have a shot of winning the division if Alex Smith can continue to play well. Smith is at his best when he’s asked to simply complete the short passes to his tight ends and running backs. The 49ers are one game out of first place with two divisional games remaining on their schedule.

25. (25) 5-8 Just when the Redskins thought it couldn’t get any worse, they suffered their most agonizing loss of the season. The Redskins are just waiting for this season to end so they can prepare for next year. They’ll play the Cowboys on the road this Sunday.

26. (23) 6-7 Does five turnovers, eight penalties, and a 19-point loss to the 49ers sound like a first-place team? The NFC West is pathetically bad.

27. (27) 3-10 Starting wide receiver Lee Evans will reportedly miss a couple weeks due to an ankle sprain. Buffalo is already thin at the receiver position. The Bills will close out their 2010 season with their remaining three games all against AFC East opponents.

28. (29) 3-10 The Lions win over the Packers snapped a 19-game losing streak against divisional opponents. Lions fans can go into the end of the 2010 season with optimism for the future.

29. (30) 4-9 Arizona fans finally saw a strong performance from the Cardinals defense. Arizona was able to keep Kyle Orton and Denver’s passing attack in check. The Cardinals have a great chance of winning back-to-back games for the first time this year when they take on the Panthers this Sunday.

30. (28) 3-10 In their latest loss, the Broncos turned the ball over six times. Denver also gave up 43 points to the Cardinals (the 31st ranked team in points scored in the NFL).

31. (31) 2-11 The Bengals are back to being the “Bungles”. Their last win came in Week 3 and they have now lost ten straight games – the longest losing streak in the NFL.

32. (32) 1-12 The Panthers need to continue to give Jimmy Clausen experience behind center and let the rest of this nightmare of a season play out. John Fox has just a few games remaining as coach.

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