RankingsDecember 5, 2009


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2009 NFL Barometer: Week 13

By R.J. White

Indianapolis Colts v Houston Texans

In Week 12, it appeared that the Colts would finally suffer their first loss of the season. But mix a little Houston ineptitude with some Peyton Manning magic, and Indianapolis completed a big comeback to move to 11-0 on the season.

On the other hand, many people pegged last Monday night to be the game that the undefeated Saints finally suffered a loss. After a hotly-contested first quarter, the Saints completely dominated Bill Belichick en route to moving 11-0 as well.

Are those two teams on a collision course for Miami? The Colts have announced they won’t attempt perfection, instead choosing to rest their starters once home-field advantage is clinched. The Saints have made no such claim, and with the Vikings just one game back in the standings, they really can’t afford to rest on their laurels. A Saints-Vikings NFC championship seems inevitable, so expect something like Packers-Saints or Cardinals-Vikings instead.

Critical games

Minnesota at Arizona. With Kurt Warner aching, the NFC West is far from decided. The Cardinals have a two-game lead on the 49ers (who face division-rival Seattle), but they’ll be hard-pressed to win here with Matt Leinart under center. Meanwhile, Brett Favre is on the way to his best statistical season ever, which is significant when you consider his storied career.

Houston at Jacksonville. Looking like they may finally make the playoffs, the Texans have fallen apart in recent weeks. Another loss here and they can start preparing for 2010. Jacksonville started slow, but quietly crept to a winning record through 11 games. The Jaguars are currently in one of the two wild-card spots, but a lot can change by Week 17.

Philadelphia at Atlanta. The Eagles seemed to catch an injury break (funny when you consider how many of their players will miss this week’s game) when Matt Ryan went down. If Michael Turner’s high ankle sprain stops him from playing, the Eagles defense may have their way with the Falcons. Atlanta is 6-5 and in danger of falling out of the playoff picture.

Baltimore at Green Bay. Both teams are in the wild-card mix in their respective conferences, but with Pittsburgh likely to beat Oakland, Baltimore needs a win here to hold serve and keep up with the Steelers. The Packers are on a roll, winning their last three games and looking like the No. 5 seed in the NFC, which would likely mean a date with the Cardinals in the first round.

Dallas at New York. Cowboys fans, welcome to your Kryptonite: December football. Tony Romo has to travel to New York, New Orleans, and Washington, while facing Philadelphia and San Diego at home. A win by the Giants puts them right back in the NFC East race, but a loss sends them to 6-6 and on the outside of the playoff bubble.

RankChangeTEAMAvg RankD
Z
B
C
U
H
1upIndianapolis Colts (11-0)1.33121
Remaining: Ten, Den, at Jac, NYJ, at Buf. Tony who? Jim Caldwell opens his coaching career with 11 straight wins.
2upNew Orleans Saints (11-0)1.67212
Remaining: at Was, at Atl, Dal, TB, at CAR. Did you know that the Saints have scored over 100 more points than the Colts?
3upMinnesota Vikings (10-1)3.00333
Remaining: at Ari, Cin, at Car, at Chi, NYG. Does that schedule scare anyone? Two toughest games are at home.
4upSan Diego Chargers (8-3)4.67455
Remaining: at Cle, at Dal, Cin, at Ten, Was. After starting 2-3, the Chargers have won six straight games. First-round bye?
5upCincinnati Bengals (8-3)5.00546
Remaining: Det, at Min, at SD, KC, at NYJ. At 174 points, Cincy owns the league’s stingiest defense. Who’d have thought?
6upDallas Cowboys (8-3)6.33874
Remaining: at NYG, SD, at NO, at Was, Phi. Yikes. Get ready for another Cowboy collapse. Should I add another question?
7upGreen Bay Packers (7-4)7.00669
Remaining: Bal, at Chi, at Pit, Sea, at Ari. Aaron Rodgers for MVP? He’s been fantasy’s best QB thus far, and well worth the price.
8upNew England Patriots (7-4)7.33787
Remaining: at Mia, Car, at Buf, Jac, at Hou. After a Monday night shellacking, I don’t know who this team is anymore.
9upPhiladelphia Eagles (7-4)9.009108
Remaining: at Atl, at NYG, SF, Den, at Dal. Losses are to division leaders Dallas, San Diego, New Orleans … and Oakland.
10upArizona Cardinals (7-4)10.33101110
Remaining: Min, at SF, at Det, StL, GB. Two tough home games, three winnable road games. Their division for the taking.
11upDenver Broncos (7-4)10.6712911
Remaining: at KC, at Ind, Oak, at Phi, KC. Denver’s hoping that Indy clinches this week, as it could mean three straight wins.
12upBaltimore Ravens (6-5)12.33131212
Remaining: at GB, Det, Chi, at Pit, at Oak. How big is that Week 16 game? It won’t be for the AFC North, but it could be for a wild card.
13upPittsburgh Steelers (6-5)12.33111313
Remaining: Oak, at Cle, GB, Bal, at Mia. The Steelers should take their next two, setting up home games against Green Bay and Baltimore.
14upJacksonville Jaguars (6-5)15.00141714
Remaining: Hou, Mia, Ind, at NE, at Cle. Playoffs? A -53 point differential indicates that it’s unlikely.
15upNew York Giants (6-5)15.33161515
Remaining: Dal, Phi, at Was, Car, at Min. Three straight wins against NFC opponents could give them the division.
16upHouston Texans (5-6)16.33181417
Remaining: at Jac, Sea, at StL, at Mia, NE. Three straight losses for the Texans, but two were against the league’s best team.
17upTennessee Titans (5-6)17.00152016
Remaining: at Ind, StL, Mia, SD, at Sea. Six straight losses, then five straight wins. What’s next? The Colts.
18upAtlanta Falcons (6-5)17.67191618
Remaining: Phi, NO, at NYJ, Buf, at TB. 5-0 at home, 1-5 on the road, but the Falcons get the Eagles and Saints next.
19upMiami Dolphins (5-6)19.00171822
Remaining: NE, at Jac, at Ten, Hou, Pit. Last five games will be against teams with playoff aspirations, meaning Miami has none.
20upSan Francisco 49ers (5-6)20.00211920
Remaining: at Sea, Ari, at Phi, Det, StL. Win four of these games (including the Arizona one) and the Niners could win the division.
21upNew York Jets (6-6)20.67202319
Remaining: at TB, Atl, at Ind, Cin. A Thursday win keeps the Jets’ playoff hopes alive. Barely.
22upCarolina Panthers (4-7)22.67222125
Remaining: TB, at NE, Min, at NYG, NO. It’s time for the Matt Moore Era! The excitement in the room is palpable.
23upChicago Bears (4-7)22.67232421
Remaining: StL, GB, at Bal, Min, at Det. Losers of four straight, Chicago came unraveled in a hurry.
24upSeattle Seahawks (4-7)23.00242223
Remaining: SF, at Hou, TB, at GB, Ten. Mike Holgrem is reportedly interested in the vacated GM job, which is not surprising at all.
25upBuffalo Bills (4-8)25.00262524
Remaining: at KC, NE, at Atl, Ind. The Bills are once again playing for next year. At least Fred Jackson is a keeper.
26upWashington Redskins (3-8)25.67252626
Remaining: NO, at Oak, NYG, Dal, at SD. I have a funny feeling this week’s game against the Saints will be pretty close.
27upKansas City Chiefs (3-8)27.00272727
Remaining: Den, Buf, Cle, at Cin, at Den. The Chiefs are playing for 2011. At least Jamaal Charles is a keeper.
28upOakland Raiders (3-8)28.00282828
Remaining: at Pit, Was, at Den, at Cle, Bal. The league’s lowest scoring team hasn’t topped 20 points all season.
29upDetroit Lions (2-9)29.67302930
Remaining: at Cin, at Bal, Ari, at SF, Chi. The Lions are playing for 2012. At least Matthew Stafford is a keeper.
30upSt. Louis Rams (1-10)30.00313029
Remaining: at Chi, at Ten, Hou, at Ari, SF. Steven Jackson has been an elite back, yet remains unknown outside of fantasy football.
31upTampa Bay Buccaneers (1-10)30.33293131
Remaining: at Car, NYJ, at Sea, at NO, Atl. The offensive coordinator didn’t survive pre-season. Maybe they should’ve gave him a chance.
32upCleveland Browns (1-10)32.00323232
Remaining: SD, Pit, at KC, Oak, Jac. The Browns are playing for 2020. At least … uh … at least … I got nothing.

 

Legend:

DZ = daullaz
BC = 204BC
UH = utility-hook

 
R.J. White is a fantasy blogger at the sports site FanHouse. Check out his work both here and there, and feel free to talk to him in the forums, where he posts under the name daullaz.
 
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