NFL Power Rankings at 2008-2009 NFL Divisional Playoff Round. The men are separated from the boys in the NFL Divisional Playoffs. Flawed teams often escape the Wild Card Round on the strength of a lucky bounce, spot, or a maniacal home crowd. Shortcomings will be exposed in the divisional playoff round as the conference leading NFL Heavyweights enter the mix:
1: New York Giants (12-4 / Last Week #1) – The NFC road to the Super Bowl runs through the Meadowlands. Defending Super Bowl Champions hold the crown until another team takes the position by successfully imposing its will on the G-Men.
2: Pittsburgh Steelers (12-4 / LW #7) – Ben Roethlisberger has used the first round bye week to shake off the cobwebs from Week 17’s gruesome concussion. The Steelers are built for NFL Playoff football. The top-ranked defense and effective ground game is set to out-physical the upstart San Diego Chargers this weekend.
3: Baltimore Ravens (12-5 / LW #6) – Ed Reed does it again with two interceptions and the “Greatest of All Time” debate has begun in earnest. The Ravens feed off of road hostility and are set to terrorize Kerry Collins and his Titans with their chaotic defensive scheme.
4: Tennessee Titans (13-3 / LW #3) – Tennessee is just happy to be here. The Titans will be exposed at Nashville in the NFL Divisional Playoffs versus the Ravens. Better luck next year.
5: Carolina Panthers (12-4 / LW #5) – Smash and Dash DeAngelo Williams / James Stewart duo are set to gash the Arizona front line at Charlotte. The frenzied Carolina faithful will propel the Panthers into the NFC Championship Game.
6: New England Patriots (11-5 / LW #4) – Arguably the Greatest Team of All-Time not to make the NFL Playoffs. Although the Patriots are largely acknowledged to be superior to half of the NFL Playoff field – San Diego’s strong NFL Wild Card showing last week has quieted the chatter. Matt Cassel will be The Man in New England again next year.
7: San Diego Chargers (9-8 / LW #10) – Ladainian revisited NFL Playoff injured Darth Vader mode while Darren Sproles was the Player of the Game versus Indianapolis with 328 total yards. Sproles must take a page out of T.O.’s playbook and lobby for more touches. Where has this guy been? How talented was the Chargers backfield of Sproles, Tomlinson, and Michael Turner? How talented is San Diego? Why was this team 8-8 in the regular season?
I am ordering the San Diego Chargers franchise to wear the powder blue uniforms for every home game. This will account for three to four extra wins per season.
8: Indianapolis Colts (12-5 / LW #2) – Peyton Manning returns to his house of horrors and is booted out of the NFL Playoffs shortly after laying claim to the NFL MVP Trophy. Other than Michael Jordan, why do MVP’s always flop following the coronation? Ex: Dirk Nowitzki, David Robinson, Karl Malone.
9: Philadelphia Eagles (10-6-1 / LW #11) – The Eagles have a strong chance of stealing a road NFL Playoff victory versus the hated New York Giants. Still, the curious play calling and absolute dearth of any ground game is not the ideal equation for NFL Playoff success.
10: Miami Dolphins (11-6 / LW #8) – The Wild Cat was destroyed at South Florida versus the Ravens on Wild Card weekend. The “noodle arm” of Chad Pennington versus the physically imposing Baltimore defense is not a good look for the Dolphins. The NFL Comeback Player of the Year was grounded by four interceptions and driven into the turf repeatedly by blockades of Raven defenders that relished their transition role as Ed Reed’s offensive line.
11: Arizona Cardinals (10-7 / LW #14) – The Party is over at Carolina.
12: Atlanta Falcons (11-6 / LW #11) – Atlanta goes West with a Rookie quarterback on the road, but features the NFL’s7th ranked ground game led by 1,699 yard (2nd in NFL to Adrian Peterson) big money free agent Michael Turner. Memo to Atlanta Falcon Head Coach Mike Smith: More carries for Michael Turner.
Who does Smith think he is? Andy Reid or something?
13: Houston Texans (8-8 / LW #13) – This upstart franchise carries the misfortune of battling the Indianapolis Colts and Tennessee Titans for AFC South supremacy twice a year. The late season surge to 8-8 will galvanize 2009-2010 “sleeper” status for the Houston Texans. Houston will be exposed by midseason. The Colts and the Titans are not ready to relinquish the crown just yet.
14: Dallas Cowboys (9-7 / LW #15) – Terrell Owens is getting his popcorn ready to watch the NFL Divisional Playoffs this weekend from the comfort of his very own home. Romo must be vacationing somewhere in Mexico with Jessica Simpson.
15: Minnesota Vikings (10-7 / LW #12) – “Game manager” quarterbacks, rejoice. The stout defense / fierce running game model goes ca-put without effective quarterbacking. Adrian Peterson was largely shut down while Tavaris Jackson launched ground ball missiles into the Metrodome carpet. Brad Childress is on 2009-2010 probation. Win or Die.
16: Washington Redskins (8-8 / LW #17) – Will the Washington Redskins nameplate spark more controversy than Rick Warren at the January 20 Barack Obama Inauguration?
17: Chicago Bears (9-7 / LW #18) – Kyle Orton degenerated as the year progressed. Da Bears are positioned to nab a cannon armed small school quarterback in the mold of Ben Roethlisberger or Joe Flacco in the mid first-round of the NFL Draft. But these are the Bears. Drafting a quality starting quarterback would make too much sense. Seriously.
18: New Orleans Saints (8-8 / LW #19) – Is Reggie Bush a bust? Is dating Kim Kardashian his greatest claim to fame? I am recommending that opposing stadium technicians blare Ray-J’s music every time that Bush touches the football next season.
19: Tampa Bay Buccaneers (9-6 / LW #20) – The Tampa 2 defense is old. Never mind that. Gruden will draft 8 quarterbacks this year and call up Vinny Testaverde for a try-out. Is Jeff Garcia the loyal boyfriend that is repeatedly dumped only to come back for more punishment – while his girlfriend maintains the charade by making eyes at every available gentleman in the room?
20: New York Jets (9-7 / LW #16) – Thomas Jones does his best 50 Cent impersonation by taking to the airwaves and sparking beef on Hot 97 versus Brett Favre. Favre has retreated back to the booth at his Mississippi farm and the response is set to hit the New York City underground mix-tape circuit shortly.
21: Denver Broncos (8-8 / LW #20) – Mike Shanahan cannot win without John Elway; and the Denver Broncos are not built to win without Shanahan right now.
22: San Francisco 49’ers (7-9 / LW #23) – USC is the most significant operation of West Coast football. This is a disgrace. We are anxiously awaiting the return of competitive Bay Area NFL Football.
23: Buffalo Bills (7-9 / LW #22) – Canada does not seem to want these guys.
24: Oakland Raiders (5-11 / LW #28) – The Oakland Raiders may have the most stacked backfield in the NFL. Of course, at 5-11, nobody cares. Will Al Davis fall in love with yet another high-profile running back draft pick? Al Davis is a rich Matt Millen with a tailback fetish. The fundamental problem is that the owner will not fire his own self.
25: Green Bay Packers (6-10) / LW #27) – Maybe the Pack should have rethought this whole Favre thing: Brett Favre. Brett Favre has limited edition coins. Brett Favre is the all-time NFL leading passer. Favre. Brett Favre! Brett Favre!!!
The Madden curse lived on to destroy two franchises this year.
26: Seattle Seahawks (4-12 / LW #24) – Seattle = Detroit NW. That about sums it up, folks.
27: Cleveland Browns (4-11 / LW #25) – Copycat Browns are in love with the New England Patriots. The Browns want Patriot GM Scott Pioli and are angling for ex Belichick sidekick Eric Mangini. Has not Cleveland learned its lesson after the Romeo Crennel debacle? Success cannot be transferred from Boston to Cleveland with a fat contract and a moving van.
28: Jacksonville Jaguars (5-10 / LW #26) – This team shrinks from high expectations and triumphs amidst underdog status. Let’s set the bar low for next year: Generate more buzz in the Jacksonville area than the SEC Florida Gators and Georgia Bulldogs.
29: Cincinnati Bengals (4-11-1 / LW #29) – Remember the “Cincinattica” era? Who cares about lawful citizenship at 4-11-1, anymore? Would Bengals fans rather have a 4-11-1 team of Saints, or a 12-4 collection of NFL Playoff bound thugs?
Yes, this is a rhetorical question. The desperate Bengals actually re-signed Chris Henry to wide receiver this season. Henry had been dismissed from the team in April 2008 following his laundry list of arrests ranging from speeding, drunk driving, firearms, marijuana, and serving alcohol to teenage girls in a hotel room. We are not making this up.
The Bengals would have done better to host a reality television wide receiver tryout show. At least, they would have sold some more tickets.
30: Kansas City Chiefs (2-14 / LW #30) – Mike Shanahan wins two Super Bowls and gets fired, Eric Mangini is issued a pink-slip after being eliminated from the NFL Playoffs in the final game of the regular season, and Romeo Crennel is shown the door after struggling through a brutal schedule with an injury depleted group. Herm Edwards is 2-14 and still has a job.
Edwards is built for politics. We hear that the Illinois Senate seat is now open – that is unless Rod Blagojevich does not decide to hire Herm Edwards to oversee his public relations department.
31: St. Louis Rams (2-14 / LW #31) – The countdown to Spring Training begins!
32: Detroit Lions (0-16 / LW #32) – Trade the number one pick for more selections. No quarterback (other than Jesus) exists that could turn around this Detroit franchise. Do not bow to the Motown pressure of drafting Matthew Stafford with the first pick. Then again, these are the Detroit Lions. Multiple draft picks in the hands of the Detroit Lions is synonymous with handing the keys of a Ferrari over to an eight-year old.