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INSIDER WEEK 15 POWER RANKINGS
By Glenn Bernardi
Jets Insider.com Contributing Writer
December 20th, 2006
The Bolts have won 8 in a row and remain on top.
The Bolts have won 8 in a row and remain on top.
1. SAN DIEGO CHARGERS {12-2} - Last Week #1
8 in a row, 9 out of their last 10, LaDainian Tomlinson is re-writing the record books, and the mission statement for SD is crystal clear .. SUPER BOWL XLI or BUST .. and I mean they are the chalk favorite to get there and WIN IT.

2. BALTIMORE RAVENS {11-3} - Last Week #2
The good news for Baltimore; they nipped the Chargers by a FG, at Baltimore, way back on October 1st. The bad news for Baltimore; they'll probably have to do it again to get where they want to go, and unless they run the table and SD slips up, they'll have to do it at San Diego.

3. INDIANAPOLIS COLTS {11-3} - Last Week #7
The good news for Indy; they got back on track by blowing out the Bengals. The bad news for Indy; they look tailor-made for the Chargers who can give their dreadful run defense a steady diet of LT, they run a 3-4 defense that tends to give Peyton more trouble than the standard 4-3, and they have the pass rush {Merriman as the catalyst} to give Peyton fits.

4. NEW ENGLAND PATRIOTS {10-4} - Last Week #9
Is NE a flawed team? Yes, but so is everyone else, even SD who has to wonder about Phil Rivers on the big stage in January, though their strengths far outweigh their flaws. But unlike most of the other flawed teams, NE still has Belly, Brady and tons of big game pedigree on their roster.

5. CHICAGO BEARS {12-2} - Last Week #6
The offense has come around, but I'd be worried about their defense {what made them special} if I were a Bears fan. They absorbed the loss of Mike Brown and remained dominant, but they haven't absorbed the additional loss of Tommie Harris nearly as well. 58 Points surrendered over their last two games, including 31 to the immortal Tim Ratty at Soldier Field.

6. NEW ORLEANS SAINTS {9-5} - Last Week #4
I'll attribute their clunker Vs the Skins to a letdown. I half expected it following their blowout of the Cowboys.

7. DALLAS COWBOYS {9-5} - Last Week #8
They thumped Atlanta and now Dallas has a huge home game verses Philly this week, division title likely on the line.

8. PHILADELHIA EAGLES {8-6} - Last Week #12
A late 4th Qtr TD drive, followed by a Trent Cole {high-stepping} INT returned for a TD, and the Eagles were dancing at the Meadowlands as the G-Frauds looked on in horror. Now Jeff Garcia will lead his troops into Dallas to take a run at the division title.

9. CINCINNATI BENGALS {8-6} - Last Week #3
One week ago they were my #3 ranked team. This week, after getting routed at Indy, they head to Denver with their playoff lives on the line. Isn't this time of year fun?

10. JACKSONVILLE JAGUARS {8-6} - Last Week #5
They severely out-played Tennessee, a staggering 44:22 to 15:38 advantage in time of possession, yet four critical turnovers, three returned for touchdowns, spelled Jacksonville's doom .. and "doom" might be the right word - now they have to beat NE this week or their playoff hopes will be hanging by a thread.

11. DENVER BRONCOS {8-6} - Last Week #15
Jay Cutler out-dueled Matt Leinart and set-up a critical home game {for both teams} verses Cinci this week. The winner will be sitting in the catbird seat, controlling their own destiny on the final weekend, while the loser will need a miracle.

12. NEW YORK JETS {8-6} - Last Week #17
A few things broke just right for the Jets as Jacksonville, Cinci and KC all went down in flames, and of course the Jets made it all matter by dismantling the Vikings. Now it's real simple, the Jets have zero margin for error, they have to win out and that all starts at Miami on Christmas night {MNF}. If you wish to sit down after a nice Christmas dinner knowing the Jets control their own destiny, just hope NE beats Jacksonville on Sunday. That's all the Jets need to control their own destiny, NE over Jacksonville on Sunday, that and nothing else.

13. BUFFALO BILLS {7-7} - Last Week #16
One week after feeding the Jets a bitter pill to swallow, Buffalo skunked Miami 21-0 and officially eliminated them from playoff contention.

14. TENNESSEE TITANS {7-7} - Last Week #19
This time it wasn't Vince Young, but two picks and a fumble recovery all returned for TD's. Whatever, they made a lot of Jet fans very happy and that's all that really matters.

15. PITTSBURGH STEELERS {7-7} - Last Week #20
They may not be going to the playoffs one year removed from winning the Super Bowl, but give the Steelers credit for this much, they're not going away without a fight, as Carolina learned to their dismay.

16. KANSAS CITY CHIEFS {7-7} - Last Week #14
Larry Johnson says the offense is too predictable, he feels like he's running into a brick wall, like the opposition knows what's coming and the Chiefs are unwilling or unable to adapt, but Herm insists the offense just needs to establish a rhythm. {LOL!!}

17. SEATTLE SEAHAWKS {8-6} - Last Week #10
They just lost back-to-back games to Arizona and Frisco. Needless to say, something is very wrong with this football team. At this point the only difference between the Seahawks and the Carolina Panthers .. the Hawks got off to a better start.

18. NEW YORK GIANTS {7-7} - Last Week #11
Want to hear something criminal? At 8-6 the Jets are fighting for their playoff lives, even running the table to 10-6 might not be good enough lest the Jaguars lose one more game, and these idiots would make the playoffs if the season ended today. Tiki Barber said it best, the G-Frauds are a mediocre football team being saved by a mediocre conference. Okay, he didn't word it exactly that way, but he should have.

19. ATLANTA FALCONS {7-7} - Last Week #13
Another team that should be done if not for wallowing in a sea of mediocrity known as the NFC.

20. MIAMI DOLPHINS {6-8} - Last Week #18
The fins were officially eliminated at Buffalo on Sunday. WARNING: Ever hear the old saying, misery loves company? It's true, all too true, and I hope the Jets realize it because these guys will be champing at the bit to stuff a giant lump of coal in their hated rivals Christmas stockings.

21. SAN FRAN 49ERS {6-8} - Last Week #26 Does beating the Seahawks even qualify as an upset anymore?

22. MINNESOTA VIKINGS {6-8} - Last Week #21
The NY Jets ushered in the Tarvaris Jackson era as they pretty much ran Brad Johnson out of the league. Word has it Brad Johnson's first head coach, Knute Rockne, called to console him.

23. WASHINGTON REDSKINS {5-9} - Last Week #29
I know the Saints had a letdown, I don't begrudge them that, but did they have to pick the Redskins and damage the value of that 2nd Round Pick Washington traded to the NY Jets!

24. ST LOUIS RAMS {6-8} - Last Week #24
So what did we learn about the Rams this week? They're better than the Raiders, but then again who isn't?

25. CAROLINA PANTHERS {6-8} - Last Week #22
This might be the answer to my last question. Don't laugh, I'm really not sure if these guys would even beat the Raiders nowadays, not after the way they flat out mailed it in to the tune of 37-3 verses Pittsburgh, at home!

26. GREEN BAY PACKERS {6-8} - Last Week #25
I should rank these guys ahead of the Panthers too, I really should, and don't think I didn't consider it heavily.

27. ARIZONA CARDINALS {4-10} - Last Week #23
Confession: I used to feel bad for the Cardinals. Tried to focus on their young talent and suggest a brighter future on their horizon. But after they did my Jets no favors this week verses Denver, they better start looking for a new defender. They owed me a favor and they didn't pay up, so now they're dead too me ala Fredo Corleone.

28. HOUSTON TEXANS {4-10} - Last Week #27
You know what I thought when I saw Houston @ NE on the schedule last week, after the Patriots were embarrassed at Miami? I thought the Texans were walking into a buzzsaw. Pats 40 Texans 7. Yep, that's pretty much what I had in mind.

29. CLEVELAND BROWNS {4-10} - Last Week #28
The Browns have Tampa and Houston remaining on their schedule. I'm not trying to start anything, call it a hunch, but I think it would really behoove Romeo Crennel to win one or both of these games down the stretch.

30. TAMPA BAY BUCS {3-11} - Last Week #30
Took the Bears to OT at Soldier field, losing 34-31, but it was a valiant effort by the Bucs.

31. DETROIT LIONS {2-12} - Last Week #32
The lions currently hold a slight SOS {strength of schedule} edge over the Raiders for the #1 Overall Pick, but that edge will switch back to the Raiders over the last two weeks with the Lions playing tougher competition down the stretch. So although I expect Detroit to lose out, that might not be enough if the Raiders do likewise.

32. OAKLAND RAIDERS {2-12} - Last Week #31
Unless my math is way off, the Raiders will own the #1 Overall Pick provided they don't do something foolish like win another football game down the stretch, or something criminal like beat the NY Jets {heaven forbid} in their season finale.