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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. Read the rest of this entry »

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WEEI NFL Power Rankings — Week 14 12.08.09 at 12:42 am ET
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All Saints Day came this past Sunday for Who Dat? nation. New Orleans pulled off an unimaginable comeback win and remain the NFL’s cream of the crop. For the ninth straight week, the Saints own the No. 1 spot and the Colts are No. 2 in WEEI’s NFL Power Rankings. The teams in this week’s top five stay the same ‘€” however, the Chargers jumped ahead of the Bengals one spot after their seventh straight win.

The Patriots dropped to their lowest spot all year after another poor second-half performance against the Dolphins. Tom Brady and crew sit at No. 12 and hope to bounce back at home Sunday against a poor Carolina team. The Patriots have been terrible on the road, and with that loss to Miami they’ve all but eliminated themselves from getting a first-round bye.

As for some other notables, the Super Bowl XLIII champion Steelers plummet two more spots and now are looking up from No. 15.

Eli Manning and the New York Giants made the biggest jump and enter the top 10 at No. 9 after a huge NFC East win against the Cowboys. The Giants will face another division foe when the Eagles visit the Meadowlands Sunday night.

1. (Last week, 1) 12-0 Unbelievable win for the Saints, as they continue to cruise toward the playoffs. They have intelligent players that continue to make big plays. Robert Meachem‘s strip and return for a touchdown is the type of play you only see on Super Bowl teams. Patriots fans have seen this before, and Saints fans are witnessing this now.

2. (2) 12-0 The Colts can soon start preparing for the postseason. It will be interesting to see if they decide to rest their players once they clinch home field advantage throughout the playoffs. Historically they have done so under Tony Dungy, but now the decision lies in the hands of Jim Caldwell.

3. (3) 10-2 The Vikings lacked a balanced offense because their run game was nonexistent. I wouldn’t count on Adrian Peterson having that type of performance ever again. However, the Vikings are still one of the best teams in the NFL despite the loss to Arizona.

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WEEI NFL Power Rankings — Week 13 12.01.09 at 9:17 am ET
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Any doubts that the Saints were the best team in the league certainly went out the window after their Monday night shellacking of the Patriots. MVP candidate Drew Brees played arguably the best game of his career in the Saints’ biggest game of the season. They remain at the peak of the WEEI NFL Power Rankings.

The Bengals jump two spots and leap into the top five after completing a sweep of the AFC North with a win over Cleveland on Sunday. The Bengals now have the luxury of having one of the best 1-2 running back combinations in the league when Cedric Benson returns on Sunday.

The Patriots are looking up at three AFC teams that now have better records than them. The embarrassing loss to the Saints has many questioning if the Patriots can actually compete with the top teams in the NFL.

Arguably the best story of the year is the Titans’ resurgence. Five straight wins for the Vince Young-led Titans and they continue to move up the ladder. Despite having a worse record than some teams behind them, the Titans stand tall at No. 12. The rankings aren’t based on records, they are based on how teams currently are performing, and Tennessee can compete with anyone right now.

1. (Last week, 1) 11-0 A dominating performance for the best team in the NFL. Monday night’s blowout of the Patriots was a statement to the rest of the league. Drew Brees and the offense moved the ball with ease, while the defense pressured Brady and held Randy Moss and Wes Welker to a combined nine catches.

2. (2) 11-0 The Colts have come back in the fourth quarter in five straight games. They don’t get frazzled in crunch time, they get better. A true sign of a championship team. Congrats to the 2009 AFC South champs.

3. (3) 10-1 Brett Favre has thrown just three interceptions all year and leads the league in passer rating. The Vikings remain unbeaten at home after demolishing the Bears. Favre is a true MVP candidate.

4. (6) 8-3 The Larry Johnson signing really paid off for the Bengals on Sunday. Props go to Marvin Lewis for preparing this team and putting Cincinnati in a position to win each week. This team is soaring with confidence.

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WEEI NFL Power Rankings — Week 12 11.24.09 at 11:14 am ET
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It’s time to start separating the pretenders from the contenders in 2009. After 11 weeks of football, it’s getting easier to tell which teams are for real. The Bears, 49ers and Jets made many believe they had a shot of doing big things early in the season, but now it looks like all three won’t be playing football in January. Others, such as the Ravens, Texans and Falcons, also could find themselves on the outside looking in as early as next week.

The Saints and Colts once again are the top teams in this week’s rankings. With six games to go, both teams continue to find ways to win. The Saints will face off against the best team on their schedule Monday night when the Patriots visit New Orleans. It could be smooth sailing the rest of the way if the Saints walk away with a win Monday.

The Broncos are falling and falling fast. Denver dropped seven spots and sits at No.15. The Super Chargers continue to climb their way toward the top. San Diego enters the top five for the first time this year after winning its fifth straight game. In the last three years, the Chargers are 23-7 in their last 10 games of the season.

The Titans also are rising in the rankings after winning their fourth straight. Tennessee stands tall at No. 14.

1. (Last week, 1) 10-0 The Saints have found many different ways to win games this year and will face their toughest test of the season Monday night against the Patriots. The secondary has had trouble covering stud wide receivers and will have to keep Randy Moss in check if they want to stay undefeated.

2. (2) 10-0 The Colts’ bend-but-don’t-break defense stepped up in the red zone and held the Ravens to field goals instead of touchdowns. Indianapolis leads the league allowing an average of 15.7 points per game.

3. (3) 9-1 Who thought Brett Favre was going to be this good? He leads all quarterbacks in the NFL with the best passer rating and has 21 touchdown passes, which puts him in a tie for second.

4. (5) 7-3 The Patriots lead the AFC in takeaways to giveaways with a plus-12. If they win the turnover battle on Monday night, they will leave the Saints with their first loss of the season. New England’s offense can be just as explosive as the Saints offense. Wes Welker leads all receivers with 79 catches despite missing two games with an injury and Randy Moss is second in the league in receiving yards and receiving touchdowns.

5. (7) 7-3 The Chargers are known for finishing off the regular season strong and are doing it again in 2009. Just a few weeks ago, it looked like the Broncos had a strangle hold on the AFC West title, but now the Chargers are the ones on top.

6. (4) 7-3 The Bengals’ loss to the Raiders makes you scratch your head and wonder. Cincy let a great opportunity to gain a two-game lead in the division and improve to 5-0 on the road slip away against one of the worst teams in the league.

7. (9) 7-3 Arizona is now 5-0 on the road. The main concern is the health of Kurt Warner, because Matt Leinart won’t be able to lead the Cardinals back to the Super Bowl.

8. (10) 7-3 The Cowboys need to figure out their offensive problems if they want to go deep into the playoffs. The offensive unit, particularly the passing game, has struggled greatly in the past two games.

9. (12) 6-4 The Eagles will be relying on their young players down the stretch to make a serious playoff run. LeSean McCoy and DeSean Jackson are two players that will step up and help Donovan McNabb and the offense make that run.

10. (6) 6-4 Early reports indicate that Ben Roethlisberger will play next week, but if he suffered a concussion Pittsburgh will be in trouble, as backup Charlie Batch may miss the rest of the season with a wrist injury. There are a cluster of teams fighting for playoff spots in the AFC, and there is no guarantee the Super Bowl champs will have a chance to defend their crown.

11. (15) 6-4 The Packers suffered two key injuries on Sunday that will seriously hinder their chances of making the playoffs. Aaron Kampman and Al Harris are two Pro Bowl-caliber players that the Packers will surely miss.

12. (18) 6-4 If the season ended today the Jaguars would make the playoffs, but the majority of their wins have come against mediocre teams. The Jags beat the Rams, Jets, Bills, Chiefs and a Titans team that was playing awful in the first half of the season. Jacksonville has to prove it can win against playoff-caliber teams to prove it is indeed a contender.

13. (16) 6-4 The Giants need to establish a solid run game to help Eli Manning and balance the offense. The Falcons are at the bottom of the league in defending the run but were able to hold Brandon Jacobs and Ahmad Bradshaw to under 40 yards rushing each.

14. (21) 4-6 With Vince Young calling signals, the Titans are one of the hottest teams in the NFL. Young looks like a completely different quarterback and has won every game he’s started this year. After starting the season with six straight losses, the Titans now are in the hunt for a playoff spot. Lots of credit has to go to coach Jeff Fisher.

15. (8) 6-4 The Broncos lost the division lead for the first time this year. Denver has allowed 27 points or more in the four-game losing skid. This was a team that led the league in fewest points allowed through the first six weeks of the season.

16. (11) 5-5 Two weeks in a row the Texans have had a great chance to win but haven’t been able to close games out. The loss to the Titans on Monday night put their playoff hopes on life support.

17. (14) 5-5 The Ravens had plenty of opportunities to beat the Colts but went 0-4 in the red zone. A tough loss for the Ravens, who are now entering must-win territory if they want to make the playoffs.

18. (19) 5-5 The Dolphins finally are back to .500 after starting the season 0-3. Miami’s run game is one of the best in the league, but this team lacks great play-making wide receivers and will struggle to win games if they get into a shootout with solid passing teams.

19. (13) 5-5 Atlanta has lost five of its last six games. The Falcons have a great opportunity to get back on track Sunday against Tampa Bay.

20. (17) 4-6 The 49ers need a quarterback that can lead and put them in a position to win week in and week out. Alex Smith and Shaun Hill have proven they cannot get the job done.

21. (20) 4-6 If Jay Cutler isn’t throwing interceptions he is missing wide-open receivers. The Bears could have easily beat the Eagles on Sunday but made key errors throughout the game that gave Philadelphia the victory. The Bears will miss the playoffs for the third year in a row.

22. (22) 4-6 Carolina saw its playoff hopes dwindle after the loss to Miami on Thursday night. The Panthers certainly have improved since the start of the season but aren’t doing enough to win games.

23. (23) 4-6 The Jets should focus on developing Mark Sanchez and worry less about this season because they have no chance of making the playoffs. Sanchez continues to make bad decisions on the field, and that is putting the Jets in a tough position to win games.

24. (24) 3-7 I’m sure the Redskins already have the big-name offensive free agents circled to help solve their offensive woes next season.

25. (27) 3-7 The win over the Steelers snapped a 10-game home losing streak for the Chiefs. Great job by Matt Cassel and his team coming back and beating the defending Super Bowl champs in overtime.

26. (29) 3-7 Impressive win for the silver and black. They probably could have had a couple more wins already this season if Tom Cable had benched JaMarcus Russell in favor of Bruce Gradkowski earlier.

27. (25) 3-7 Matt Hasselbeck can’t be expected to win games when his leading rusher gains just nine yards on nine carries. The Seahawks are in desperate need of a solid run game to help balance a pretty solid passing game.

28. (26) 3-7 It took until Mid-November for  Terrell Owens to have a 100-yard game, but he finally got it done on Sunday against the Jaguars. The Bills offensively looked like a completely different team after the departure of Dick Jauron. Buffalo passed the ball 31 times and handed the ball off just 17 times. First time we saw the Bills pass more than run all year.

29. (28) 1-9 The Rams have competed in back-to-back weeks against two teams that will make the playoffs. What more can you ask for from the Rams?

30. (31) 2-8 Who would’ve predicted that the Lions-Browns game was going to be the most exciting game of Week 11? It’s great to watch Matthew Stafford develop.

31. (30) 1-9 The demotion of defensive coordinator Jim Bates has to mark one of the only times when both coordinators on one team didn’t make it to the end of the season. Jeff Jagodzinski was fired before the season began and now Bates will no longer be calling plays on the defensive side of the ball.

32. (32) 1-9 Eric Mangini made the bonehead coaching move of the year in 2009 by calling a timeout and allowing Matthew Stafford to come back into the game for one last play that won the game for the Lions.

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WEEI NFL Power Rankings — Week 11 11.17.09 at 9:30 am ET
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The battle of the undefeated continues this week in WEEI’s NFL Power Rankings. The Colts were on the brink of falling out of their No. 2 spot for the first time since Week 5 but found a way to stop the Patriots and overcome a 17-point deficit in the fourth quarter. The Saints stay at No. 1 as they continue to creep closer and closer to 16-0.

The Bengals have made the AFC North teams “Kiss the Baby” and now sit in the driver’s seat in the best position to win the division. They continue to claw their way up the rankings and now sit at No. 4.

The Super Chargers also are on the rise. Four straight wins has them on the brink of taking over the top spot in the AFC West for the first time this season. The Bolts jump five spots and move into No. 7.

The J-E-T-S Jets Jets Jets continue to fall, this time out of the top 20. Rex Ryan and his team are at No. 23 and on their way down.

1. (Last week, 1) 9-0 Questions have been raised about this team after New Orleans defeated the Rams by just five points. However, the Saints remain unbeaten and continue to get the job done week after week. With a very soft schedule going forward, the Saints have a great opportunity at 16-0.

2. (2) 9-0 Peyton Manning can’t be stopped, but the Colts secondary was very much exposed Sunday night. The Colts will need their defensive backs to step up. I doubt they receive any more gifts like the one Bill Belichick gave them.

3. (4) 8-1 Brett Favre is showing no signs of slowing down like he did last year in the second half of the season. Adrian Peterson needs to protect the ball better. If he does, the Vikings could be a serious Super Bowl contender.

4. (7) 7-2 The sweep of the Steelers and Ravens is a big statement, telling the National Football League that the Bengals definitely are for real and able to compete with the best teams.

5. (5) 6-3 The Patriots can take a lot of positives out of the loss to the Colts. For the most part, they dominated the game. The offense has struggled in the red zone all year and it came back to bite them against Indianapolis. If they can solve their red zone troubles and learn from the mistakes they’ve made, the Patriots can be the best team in the AFC, which they proved by their performance against Indy.

6. (3) 6-3 The Steelers suffered another blow on Sunday, potentially losing Troy Polamalu for a long time after he injured the same left knee that kept him out for four weeks.

7. (12) 6-3 Four straight wins for the Chargers and three straight losses by the Broncos has San Diego riding high with confidence going into a big divisional game in Denver this Sunday.

8. (6) 6-3 If Kyle Orton‘s injury is serious, the Broncos’ magical season is over. The loss to the Redskins opened a lot of eyes.

9. (14) 6-3 The Cardinals offense can be scary good if the run game can continue to take the pressure off Kurt Warner. Beanie Wells has showed signs this season that he can do it.

10. (8) 6-3 Dallas lost starting right tackle Marc Colombo and starting safety Ken Hamlin in the loss to the Packers. These are two key players that could significantly impact the Cowboys if they can’t find the personnel to step up and fill these roles.

11. (11) 5-4 The Texans run into a hot Titans team on Monday night. Houston can’t afford many more losses down the stretch if it wants a chance to win a wild card spot in the AFC.

12. (10) 5-4 The Eagles need to have more of a balanced attack on offense and take pressure off Donovan McNabb. This will be a tough task now that Brian Westbrook is out indefinitely with his second concussion in as many games.

13. (9) 5-4 Matt Ryan is having some growing pains and is turning the ball over too much to keep his team in games. The Falcons defensive line has been unable to establish an effective pass rush.

14. (13) 5-4 After realizing they were tied against the Browns going into the second half Monday night, the Ravens began to play inspired football and scored 16 unanswered points. There are a lot of question marks surrounding this team and it will be a dogfight to the end as Baltimore competes with several other solid AFC teams for a spot in the playoffs.

15. (20) 5-4 Green Bay brought pressure on the quarterback and allowed just seven points to Dallas on Sunday. However, more of the same problems continued on offense, as Aaron Rodgers was brought down four times. Rodgers has been sacked 41 times this year. The next closest in the league is Matt Cassel (29 sacks).

16. (16) 5-4 The Giants must have enjoyed their bye week watching both the Eagles and Cowboys lose. Let’s see if they can take advantage and rebound from their losing streak.

17. (19) 4-5 Alex Smith needs to rely on his supporting cast for the 49ers to win games. If San Francisco can take the ball out of Smith’s hands and not allow him to make mistakes, it can be competitive. The defense has been solid most of the year. This is a team that could be very good in the next year or two.

18. (22) 5-4 Maurice Jones-Drew has put this team on his back and is leading by example. Everyone but Jets fans has to love the smart, selfless play where he downed the ball on the 1-yard line instead of walking into the end zone, not allowing the Jets another chance to touch the football.

19. (15) 4-5 A near loss to the Buccaneers and Ronnie Brown on crutches following the game has the Dolphins dropping three spots.

20. (17) 4-5 After his five-interception performance, Jay Cutler has passed Jake Delhomme on the interception list and sits at top with 17. That’s four more than Delhomme. The Bears can’t win games if Cutler can’t protect the football.

21. (25) 3-6 Owner Bud Adams was fined $250,000 for flipping off Buffalo fans following his team’s stomping of the Bills. Must see video if you haven’t seen it yet. The Titans are one of the hottest teams in the NFL and are led by arguably the league’s best running back (Chris Johnson) and a quarterback (Vince Young) who is doing a tremendous job managing the game and not turning over the ball.

22. (24) 4-5 Three games in a row with no interceptions for Jake Delhomme.

23. (18) 4-5 The Jets’ playoff chances are hanging by a thread, and it won’t get easier for them Sunday when they travel to Foxboro to face a Patriots team thirsty for revenge.

24. (27) 3-6 The Redskins have a tough schedule ahead of them. Two games on the road against the Cowboys and Eagles then back home to face the Saints.

25. (23) 3-6 It’s tough not to respect a coach such as Jim Mora Jr. who defends his players to all ends. The Seahawks‘ mediocre secondary will have its hands full Sunday against the Vikings.

26. (21) 3-6 Worst free agent signing of the year: Terrell Owens.

27. (28) 2-7 Larry Johnson‘s replacement, Jamaal Charles, is averaging 5.4 yards per carry and has almost as many yards rushing with less than half as many carries.

28. (29) 1-8 Got to give some props to the Rams for being able to stay competitive against the Saints and only allow Drew Brees to throw for 223 yards.

29. (26) 2-7 JaMarcus Russell certainly is not the answer. The Raiders have some talent on defense and can be successful if they fix their problems at the QB position.

30. (30) 1-8 On the brink of victory, the Bucs fell just short. It was tough not to feel bad for Tampa Bay after the loss to the Dolphins.

31. (31) 1-8 The Lions have a great shot at getting their second win of the season next week against the Browns. While the Lions have one of the worst defenses in the league, the Browns offense could be worse.

32. (32) 1-8 The Browns offensive struggles are pathetic. Will it be one year and done for Eric Mangini?

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WEEI NFL Power Rankings — Week 10 11.10.09 at 7:06 am ET
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Surprise, surprise ‘€” the Saints and Colts are in the top two spots in this week’s WEEI NFL Power Rankings. New Orleans and Indianapolis both improved to 8-0 and stay at their respective spots for the sixth week in a row.

The Steelers jump two spots to No. 3, ahead of the Vikings, who have a better record and were on a bye this week. The Broncos fall two spots to No.6 after their second loss in a row on Monday night. Denver now is looking up at the Patriots. Let the controversy and angry comments begin!

A steady decline for the Packers has been the pattern over the past couple of weeks. Green Bay now falls to No.20 after an embarrassing loss to the previously winless Buccaneers.

The Browns didn’t play in Week 9, nonetheless, they fall to the No. 32 spot after Tampa’s victory. I think we all know if the Browns were playing this week they would’ve lost. Browns fans probably thought they had a week off from misery, but not even a week off can prevent bad news for Cleveland fans.

1. (Last week, 1) 8-0-0 The Saints step up and know how to get the job done in the fourth quarter. These comeback wins can only help the Saints become more confident and help them improve.

2. (2) 8-0-0 Two straight weeks of mediocre play from the Colts. However, they still were able to pull out the win in each game. It will be interesting to see how the injuries on defense will affect them.

3. (5) 6-2-0 The Steelers are rolling and are a team that nobody in the NFL wants to face. That is usually the case when the defense is the best in the league. An 18-point victory on the road vs. Denver is impressive.

4. (3) 7-1-0 It will be interesting to see how Brett Favre performs in the second half of the season.

5. (6) 6-2-0 Now is the time for the Patriots to prove what they are capable of. The play of Laurence Maroney over the past few games has really helped balance this offense.

6. (4) 6-2-0 The Broncos need to find a way to establish a run game with their talented backs, Knowshon Moreno and Correll Buckhalter. The two combined for 27 yards against the Steelers, which is an unacceptable total no matter which team they face.

7. (7) 6-2-0 People continue to doubt Cincinnati, and the Bengals continue to make those doubters “kiss the baby.” The Bengals still have the Lions, Chiefs, Raiders and Browns on their schedule.

8. (9) 6-2-0 There is a lot of confidence in the Cowboys locker room. That is what a four-game winning streak will do for a team. In this stretch of wins, Dallas has managed to beat two solid teams in the Falcons and Eagles. If Tony Romo can continue to protect the football, this team can compete with the best in the NFC.

9. (11) 5-3-0 Michael Turner turned in another great performance and is helping the offense become more balanced and effective.

10. (8) 5-3-0 The Eagles have four divisional games to play in the second half of the season and will be a tough team down the stretch because of their defense. They are able to get great pressure on the quarterback and that is resulting in a lot of sacks and interceptions. The Eagles are ranked second in the league in both those categories.

11. (16) 5-4-0 The Texans showed signs they can play with the elite teams in the NFL. Losing after missing a field goal that could have sent the game into overtime against the division rival Colts must be a tough pill to swallow. Lots of credit has to go to Houston for being able to shut down Peyton Manning for the most part of the second half. The Texans can take a lot out of this loss.

12. (18) 5-3-0 Impressive final drive by Philip Rivers and the Chargers. San Diego needed a win against a team with a winning record and it got that on Sunday. We’ll learn a lot about this team in the next couple of weeks with Philadelphia and Denver next on the schedule.

13. (10) 4-4-0 Baltimore’s inconsistency continued to be a problem Sunday. The offense relies too heavily on Ray Rice, and that has cost the Ravens this year. They’re lacking a big-play wide receiver.

14. (20) 5-3-0  The only thing we really can take from the Cardinals’ victory over the Bears is that Kurt Warner and his team play really well on the road and know how to win. Four of their five wins have come on the road. This team has been extremely inconsistent. Unfortunately for the Cards, they have to play in Arizona this week.

15. (13) 3-5-0 Dolphins players must be scratching their heads after Joey Porter‘s performance Sunday. Miami has yet to prove it can beat a solid team in the NFL.

16. (12) 5-4-0 Four straight losses and the Giants might be ready to press the panic button. Eli Manning is playing mediocre at best, the pass rush hasn’t been consistent, and the play-calling has been questionable. If any team was in desperate need of a bye week, it’s the Giants. Let’s see if they’ll be able to figure it out and get back to their winning ways.

17. (15) 4-4-0 The Bears allowed the Cardinals to score on their first six possessions. Chicago’s defense can’t get any pressure on the quarterback, and the way Cardinals manhandled the Bears proves Chicago needs to figure something out fast defensively before the playoffs are out of reach.

18. (19) 4-4-0 Rex Ryan will be called a genius or an idiot after giving his team six days off during its bye week. The Jets certainly will come out rejuvenated at the Meadowlands this Sunday against Jacksonville.

19. (14) 3-5-0 The 49ers‘ main problem all season has been at the quarterback position, and that continued on Sunday. Three interceptions really puts a team in a hole, and San Francisco wasn’t able to climb out.

20. (17) 4-4-0 Aaron Rodgers committed turnovers and the Packers lost to one of the worst teams in football. This loss could have bounced the Packers out of a playoff spot. Teams that are competing for that last wild card spot in the NFC ‘€” the Falcons, Cowboys and Eagles ‘€” are playing way out of the Packers’ league.

21. (21) 3-5-0 Got to like the idea of Michael Vick going to the Bills. It seems like a perfect fit.

22. (24) 4-4-0 The Jaguars responded well to the change to the 4-3 defense. Jacksonville got good pressure on the quarterback and forced some interceptions. However, it’s tough to take much from a win over the offensively challenged Chiefs.

23. (23) 3-5-0 Take a look at the box score from Seattle’s win over Detroit and you’ll see that Matt Hasselbeck was able to complete a pass to nine different receivers. Six of those receivers caught five passes or more. The Seahawks didn’t get rattled after falling to a 17-0 deficit in the first quarter and did a great job coming back.

24. (22) 3-5-0 Jake Delhomme didn’t throw an interception for the second straight game, but the offense still is struggling. The Panthers are in desperate need of Steve Smith to step up and make big plays offensively, but that has happened very rarely this year.

25. (25) 2-6-0 Vince Young is playing with a lot of confidence and led his team to another victory on Sunday. The key to the Titans’ success over the past two weeks is Young has been able to protect the football and not commit any turnovers while relying on Chris Johnson to make the big plays and score points.

26. (26) 2-6-0 The Raiders are expecting four starters to return to the lineup this week, including wide receiver Chaz Schilens and running back Darren McFadden. However, I’m more interested to see how the Tom Cable story plays out for the rest of the season.

27. (27) 2-6-0 Will good news ever come out of Washington? Just when Redskins fans thought things couldn’t get any worse, Clinton Portis suffers a concussion.

28. (28) 1-7-0 One step in the right direction for the Chiefs with the release of disgruntled running back Larry Johnson. Great chance for the Chiefs to get their second win of the season this week against Oakland.

29. (29) 1-6-0 The Rams have one of the worst defenses in the league and will play the Saints in week 10. St. Louis has trouble putting pressure on the passer, and with Drew Brees having all kinds of time back in the pocket, I don’t like the Rams’ chances of getting their second win of the season.

30. (32) 1-7-0 After getting their first win, will the Bucs wear those creamsicle uniforms for the rest of the season? I hope so.

31. (30) 1-7-0 Growing pains were expected from No. 1 overall draft pick Matthew Stafford. The Lions need to concentrate more on ways to help Stafford improve and less on winning games.

32. (31) 1-7-0 With the way things are being run in Cleveland, the Browns could continue to be a horrendous team into the next millennium.

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WEEI NFL Power Rankings — Week 9 11.03.09 at 4:15 am ET
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Let the 16-0 talk begin.

The Saints squeezed out their seventh victory of the year and remain at No.1 in the WEEI NFL Power Rankings. The  Colts are knocking on the door, waiting patiently for just one mistake from the Saints so that they can take over the top spot. New Orleans and Indy sit comfortably in the top two spots for the fifth week in a row.

Three new teams enter the Terrific 10. The Eagles, Cowboys and Ravens, all coming off big victories, enter elite status, for this week at least. The biggest loser in the rankings was the Cardinals. One week after a huge win on the road against the Giants, the Cardinals lost at home to the Panthers. The defending NFC champs’ inconsistency cost them 12 spots this week and they fall all the way from No. 8 to 20.

We have a new team at No. 32 (drumroll please). The Buccaneers are now the only winless team in the NFL and sit at the bottom of the pile. What do you do when you’re a fan of a team that is worse than the Rams, Lions and Browns? Wear a double-bag on your head?

1. (Last week, 1) 7-0-0 Coming up with big turnovers late in the game in the red zone is one of the reasons why the Saints continue to be undefeated. Drew Brees and his offense look like a well-oiled machine.

2. (2) 7-0-0 The Colts seem to be able to find a way to win whether it looks good or not. Despite Peyton Manning having zero TD passes against the 49ers, the Colts still managed to win the game. Great teams will struggle at times but always find a way to win.

3. (5) 7-1-0 It hasn’t just been Brett Favre and Adrian Peterson this year. Jared Allen is the front-runner for NFL Defensive Player of the Year and leads the league in sacks with 10.5, while wide receiver Percy Harvin is the leading candidate for Rookie of the Year. The Vikings are playing great football on offense, defense and special teams and that is why they continue to roll.

4. (3) 6-1-0 Josh McDaniels said after the game the Broncos will learn from the loss and move forward. It’s not tough to believe him. This game was virtually a must-win for the Ravens, creating a significant challenge for Denver. Let’s see how the Broncos respond Monday night against Pittsburgh.

5. (4) 5-2-0 Will the time off give the Steelers enough time to get healthy on defense? They will need a great pass rush to beat Kyle Orton. Someone needs to step up in place of Aaron Smith.

6. (6) 5-2-0 The next four weeks will tell us what type of team the Patriots really are. The bye week came at a perfect time for the Pats as they needed some time to get healthy. Ty Warren said on the Dale & Holley show yesterday that he is “OK” and it looks like he should be ready to play. That is great news because the Pats don’t have much depth on the defensive line and they will need Warren against the Dolphins.

7. (7) 5-2-0 It’s time for the Bengals to show the world what they are made of. They have Baltimore and Pittsburgh coming up in the next two weeks. It’s great to see a healthy Carson Palmer throw to Chad Ochocinco again.

8. (15) 5-2-0 No Brian Westbrook, no problem for the Eagles. It’s hard to believe this team lost to the Raiders a few weeks ago after this dominating performance against the Giants. DeSean Jackson has turned into an elite playmaker in the NFL. The main question mark for the Eagles is: can they be consistent?

9. (11) 5-2-0 Once again we have another exciting race in the NFC East. The Cowboys offense has been dominating during the current three-game winning streak. Tony Romo is spreading the ball nicely to his talented receivers.

10. (13) 4-3-0 The Ravens entered Sunday’s game needing a win against an undefeated Broncos team and got the job done. Baltimore stepped up on pass defense and became the first team able to stop Kyle Orton.

11. (12) 4-3-0 First time in Matt Ryan’s career he has suffered back-to-back losses. Ryan and the Falcons are close to becoming an elite team. The young QB just needs to eliminate his mistakes in the red zone and the Falcons will be fine.

12. (9) 5-3-0 The Giants are making all kinds of mistakes on both sides of the football and it looks like they still haven’t been able to rebound from their blowout loss to the Saints. The defense of the G-Men doesn’t look like the defense we’ve been accustomed to watching. They’ve allowed 40 or more points twice this season.

13. (18) 3-4-0 Last year, after the Dolphins beat the Patriots with the Wildcat formation, the Pats came back the next game and held the Dolphins to just 66 yards rushing. With Bill Belichick having two weeks to prepare for the Dolphins, Miami will have to find something other than the Wildcat to beat the Patriots. New England will also undoubtedly be ready to stop Ted Ginn Jr. One advantage the Dolphins do have going into their game against New England is that they hold a 3-0 record in the AFC East.

14. (19) 3-4-0 The 49ers have been on the brink of beating two of the top teams in the NFL but have fallen just a bit short both times. San Francisco’s defense did not allow a touchdown pass from the hottest quarterback in the league, and that says a lot.

15. (20) 4-3-0 The Bears finally got a solid performance out of Matt Forte and the result was a blowout win. If the Bears want to be successful they need Forte to gain strong yards on the ground to help balance out the offense. With all that said, you can’t take much from a win over the Browns.

16. (17) 5-3-0 Three straight wins for the Texans has them riding high right now. It will be interesting to see how Matt Schaub responds to the loss of tight end Owen Daniels. A confident Texans team now has the challenge of facing Peyton Manning and the Colts in Indianapolis.

17. (10) 4-3-0 Aaron Rodgers and his offensive line have to figure something out very quickly if the Packers want to have a shot at making the playoffs. It seems like a combination of holding the ball too long and not having enough time in the pocket, but Green Bay can’t afford this many sacks if it wants to be successful. Rodgers has been taken down behind the line of scrimmage 31 times now.

18. (16) 4-3-0 San Diego has yet to prove it can beat a good team this year. It’s tough to have confidence in any Norv Turner-coached team, especially when two of SD’s four wins have come against the Raiders.

19. (14) 4-4-0 When you have 13 more first downs than your opponent and hold them to just 104 total yards, there is only one excuse for losing the game: poor coaching. Rex Ryan deserves all the blame in this loss to the Dolphins.

20. (8) 4-3-0 The inconsistency continued on Sunday. Instead of Carolina’s Jake Delhomme turning the ball over, Kurt Warner took over that duty and it cost the Cardinals the game.

21. (21) 3-5-0 Buffalo is the most penalized team in the NFL, and the Bills continue to struggle converting on third down. With great offensive weapons such as Lee Evans, Terrell Owens, Marshawn Lynch and Fred Jackson, it is tough to figure out why the Bills have been so bad offensively.

22. (24) 3-4-0 Jake Delhomme didn’t turn the ball over and the result was a Panthers win. Big win for Carolina on the road.

23. (23) 2-5-0 Despite many injuries and another loss, coach Jim Mora Jr. urged his team not to give up. The remaining games on the schedule will show a lot about the character of the players on this team.

24. (22) 3-4-0 Just over 100 yards passing against one of the worst pass defense teams in the league is pathetic. I wasn’t expecting a Brady-esque performance, but at least 200 yards would’ve been respectable.

25. (29) 1-6-0 Vince Young played with confidence on Sunday and completed 15-of-18 passes. The Titans can finish the season strong if they let Young manage games instead of making him do too much. Chris Johnson leads the league in rushing yards and is a great weapon for Young.

26. (25) 2-6-0 Curious to find out when was the last time in professional sports that the coach or manager was more of a distraction to the team than any player on that team. Tom Cable should be watching anger management films instead of game film.

27. (26) 2-5-0 It was refreshing not having to watch another Redskins debacle this week. Too bad the Redskins can’t be on a bye every week.

28. (28) 1-6-0 Matt Cassel still has yet to get on the same page as Dwayne Bowe and the Chiefs offense, which has struggled. Hopefully for Chiefs fans, Cassel and Bowe were able to figure things out during the bye week. Let’s see how the team responds without running back Larry Johnson.

29. (32) 1-6-0 One positive the Rams can take out of this season is that Steven Jackson is having one hell of a year. Congratulations to the Rams for snapping their 17-game losing streak.

30. (27) 1-6-0 The Lions seem lost without Calvin Johnson. When a team can’t move the ball offensively against the Rams, it says a lot about how bad its offense really is.

31. (30) 1-7-0 Five turnovers in their latest loss and just 972 total yards after eight games. Pitiful.

32. (31) 0-7-0 The Bucs are now the only winless team in the NFL and sole owners of the dreaded No. 32 spot.

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