by Matt Loede, NFL Gridiron Gab
Unreal to think that the final week of the regular season is here. 16 weeks down, just one to go, and some big games this weekend that will decide playoff births that teams going home for the holidays. With that, here are our power ranking for the final week of the regular season.
NFC Top 5
1. NY Giants (1) - With their backs against the wall and needing a kick to go wide, the Giants proved their worth on Sunday night at home vs the Panthers. This team is going to be tough to beat in two games at home in January, but how can you not want to see a rematch with the Panthers, who are the second best team in the conference, in the NFC Title game?
2. Carolina (2) -They showed Sunday night they could hang with the big boys, but at the same time, they just couldn't finish and put the G-Men away. A shame, as they would have had a great shot to win two games at home in January. Nevertheless, they will be tough to stop in the playoffs with that running game and defense.
3. Atlanta (-) - Are you kidding me? Yes, the Falcons jump out of nowhere to third in our rankings, and don't look now, but if some things fall in place, they could actually be the #2 seed in the NFC after Sunday's action. Mike Smith had better win coach of the year for the turnaround of this franchise, a team that a year ago was one of the bottom three in the conference.
4. Minnesota (3) - I still see this team winning the North, and then playing a home game next weekend vs a wild card team. They have to be more careful with the ball, as they put it on the turf seven times in their loss to the Falcons. They still have a very good defense, and a star in Adrian Peterson that can make some noise in the playoffs.
5. Arizona (5) -It's a good thing this team is in the NFC West, or they would be playing their final game of the season on Sunday. They didn't even want to get off the bus Sunday in New England, and played like it in their 47-7 loss. I actually think they may win their home wild card playoff game, but the following week on the road they are as good as done.
NFC Bottom 3
1. Detroit (1) -The fact people thought they were going to beat the Saints is beyond me. This team has more holes than a piece of swiss cheese, and it's only getting worse. I really feel bad for Rod Marinelli, but after this week his name will embrace the NFL record book - for all the wrong reasons.
2. St.Louis (3) - Yes, they once again found a way to lose at home Sunday, falling to the 49'ers. They will wrap up the year with two wins, and it was interesting to see that a lot of players want Jim Haslett to return in 2009. Why - so he can win three or four games? They need a difference maker as coach, and Haslett is just not that guy.
3. Seattle (2) - Congrats to the Hawks and Mike Holmgren for winning their final home game this past week vs the Jets. Where that effort was the whole season was beyond me. It will be interesting to see the changes to the roster come the offseason, and I for one think that Holmgren will be somewhere coaching again in 2-3 years.
AFC Top 5
1. Tennessee (1) - Kerry Collins and the Titans stomped out the Steelers and their towels on Sunday, and in doing so made a statement that the AFC will have to go through Tennessee. They get a week off next week to get ready for that divisional round, and how interesting that would be if it's the Colts for a third meeting in 2008 - the second one will come this Sunday.
2. Pittsburgh (2) - They had a 14-10 lead in the 3rd quarter Sunday vs the Titans, then things simply fell apart. Penalties, turnovers, and mistakes by a defense that we have not seen this season led to a downfall that will now have them for sure at the two spot in the postseason. Nevertheless, they showed a rematch vs the Titans are within their reach, and I wouldn't doubt if we see it on January 18th.
3. Indianapolis (3) -Make that eight in a row. They didn't look very good vs the Jags for a good portion of the night, then they turned it on when they had to, and put them away with a big pick six and some tough D with Dwight Freeney and friends at the end. Now they can rest vs the Titans, a team that they may see if they make it to round two.
4. Baltimore (4) - Props to this gutsy club for their big plays and big win in Dallas as they spoiled the final game at Texas Stadium. They still have some work to do to be the wild card, but they have made leaps and bounds this season, and will continue to be a thorn in the side of some teams around the conference come this postseason and beyond.
5. New England (-) - They may win on Sunday and still not make the playoffs, but this is a team that has fought all season long, and in the process may have the most interesting question of the 08 offseason - what do you do with Matt Cassel? He could make some awesome trade bait if the team wants to go that route. For now, they are still thinking playoffs.
AFC Bottom 3
1. Kansas City (1) -Another tough home loss to the Dolphins in the cold, and now it comes out that Carl Peterson is done at the end of the year. The big question has to do with Herm Edwards and his future. I think that they will look to see what is out there, and realize that Edwards is still their best option for 09.
2. Cleveland (-) - Has any team been a big of a bust than the Cleveland Browns? They have not scored an offensive TD in five games, and now Sunday have to play the Steelers. Hope Romeo Crennel enjoys his final plane ride as the teams head coach, because he'll be cleaning out his desk early Monday morning.
3. Oakland (3) -Tom Cable wants to make it known he thinks he should stay as the teams head coach in 2009. Why? The Raiders have beaten the Jets and Sunday they stopped the Texans, but I wouldn't say that means that Cable should be brought back. If anything, it shows that this team does have enough talent to compete, and why have they not for so much of this season?
by Matt Loede, NFL Gridiron Gab