Week 14 2008 Power Rankings

Cold, Hard Football Facts for Dec 01, 2008



By Jeremy Gottlieb
Cold, Hard Football Facts firearms safety expert
 
Try to move the ball on Pittsburgh. Go ahead, try it.
 
We guarantee you'll get an even ruder, more violent response than if you told a CHFF staffer that the buffet just closed.
 
The Steelers continued their assault on NFL offenses last week in Foxboro, limiting the previously red-hot passing game of the Patriots to 169 yards and just 3.3 yards per pass play. They also caused five turnovers, all of which led to points. In the process, Pittsburgh held onto the top spot in all major defensive categories.
 
This edition of the Steel Curtain even plays tough in defeat, holding opponents to less than 300 total yards in each of its three losses. Imagine what kind of damage these guys could do with a better offense: They currently rank no higher than 19th in rushing, passing, scoring or total yards.
 
Having beaten New England to a pulp, the Steelers are now 9-3 and in control of their own destiny for a first-round bye and at least one playoff game at Heinz Field. All they have to do is hold fast for four more weeks while facing teams (Dallas, Baltimore, Tennessee and Cleveland) with a combined 31 wins among them.
 
You think that scares the Pittsburgh D? Well, do ya, punk?
 
THE DOMINANT DOZEN
 
1. N.Y. GIANTS (11-1, previous rank: same)
Record vs. Quality Opponents: 7-0 (+12.3 PPG)
 
Last week: With their star receiver suffering from a self-inflicted bullet wound, the Giants went out and dominated the host Redskins, 23-7, to retain a three-game lead in the NFC East with four games to play.
 
Cold, Hard Football Facts: Eli Manning delivered his first 300-yard passing game (305) since Week 6 of last season.
 
Week 14 matchup: vs. Philadelphia. Outside of the inexplicable loss at Cleveland in Week 6, the G-Men's stiffest test of the season came from the Eagles, who possessed the ball with under two minutes left, trailing by less than a touchdown, before falling 36-31.
 
2. TENNESSEE (11-1, previous rank: 3)
Record vs. Quality Opponents: 3-1 (+1.3 PPG)
 
Last week: The Titans got what every NFL team dreams of, regardless of a short week – a game against Detroit – and waxed the Lions, 47-10, on Thanksgiving.
 
Cold, Hard Football Facts: With both Chris Johnson and LenDale White rushing for more than 100 yards and scoring twice, Tennessee posted its highest point total since scoring 48 against the Packers in 2004.
 
Week 14 matchup: vs. Cleveland. Tennessee's fifth-ranked defense (281.8 YPG) will likely make life miserable for a Browns squad led by third-string quarterback Ken Dorsey.
 
3. TAMPA BAY (9-3, previous rank: 4)
Record vs. Quality Opponents: 3-2 (+7.6 PPG)
 
Last week: In a quagmire at Raymond James Stadium, the Buccaneers blew a 10-point fourth-quarter lead to the Saints, but got a game-winning field goal from Matt Bryant in the final two minutes to win their fourth straight, 23-20.
 
Cold, Hard Football Facts: Tampa's third-ranked pass defense (184.1 YPG) forced Brees into three interceptions and a season-worst 60.2 passer rating.
 
Week 14 matchup: at Carolina on Monday night. First place in the tight NFC South will be on the line, with the Panthers looking to avenge their 27-3 loss in Week 6.
 
4. INDIANAPOLIS (8-4, previous rank: 6)
Record vs. Quality Opponents: 4-1 (+5.6 PPG)
 
Last week: The Colts defense picked up the slack for an unproductive offense, registering three sacks, two takeaways and a touchdown in a 10-6 victory at Cleveland.
 
Cold, Hard Football Facts: Of Indy's eight wins this season, only one has been by more than six points.
 
Week 14 matchup: vs. Cincinnati. The Cold, Hard Football Fact listed above is about to change.
 
5. PITTSBURGH (9-3, previous rank: 7)
Record vs. Quality Opponents: 3-3 (+3.8 PPG)
 
Last week: The Steelers forced five second-half turnovers and ran the Patriots off the field in a 33-10 rout.
 
Cold, Hard Football Facts: Pittsburgh held New England's offense, which had rolled up over 500 yards in each of its previous two games, to a mere 267, with a net of just 145 through the air.
 
Week 14 matchup: vs. Dallas. The teams have split their two regular-season meetings since Super Bowl XXX, with each winning on the other's home turf.
 
6. CAROLINA (9-3, previous rank: 5)
Record vs. Quality Opponents: 2-3 (-6.4 PPG)
 
Last week: Breakout back DeAngelo Williams ran for four touchdowns, and the Panthers beat the host Packers in a 35-31 shootout.
 
Cold, Hard Football Facts: Williams has scored in a team-record five straight games, rushing for 541 yards and nine TDs over that span.
 
Week 14 matchup: vs. Tampa Bay on Monday night. The Panthers were held to just 40 yards rushing by the Bucs in Week 6's 27-3 pounding.
 
7. N.Y. JETS (8-4, previous rank: 2)
Record vs. Quality Opponents: 4-2 (+4.2 PPG)
 
Last week: Just when things were beginning to look prosperous, the Jets allowed 484 yards of offense and got doubled up by Denver at home, 34-17.
 
Cold, Hard Football Facts: In surrendering a career-high 129 yards to Denver rookie back Peyton Hillis, the Jets allowed their first 100-yard rusher of the season.
 
Week 14 matchup: at San Francisco. Brett Favre's only loss in 12 career games against the 49ers came in a 1998 wild-card game.
 
8. DALLAS (8-4, previous rank: 10)
Record vs. Quality Opponents: 3-3 (-2.8 PPG)
 
Last week: The Cowboys continued their roll with a 34-9 trouncing of hapless Seattle on Thanksgiving.
 
Cold, Hard Football Facts: In the last two games, both comfortable wins against NFC West foes, Tony Romo has nearly identical yardage totals (341 and 331) and passer ratings (113.3 and 113.7).
 
Week 14 matchup: at Pittsburgh. Dallas may have to rely on its defense, which has accumulated 14 sacks and caused five turnovers in the last three games.
 
9. BALTIMORE (8-4, previous rank: 12)
Record vs. Quality Opponents: 2-4 (-1.8 PPG)
 
Last week: Stomping on the reputation of past Ravens teams, Baltimore featured another well-balanced attack and crushed the lowly Bengals, 34-3.
 
Cold, Hard Football Facts: By averaging 24.3 PPG and allowing just 15.8 PPG, the Ravens boast the third-best differential in the league.
 
Week 14 matchup: vs. Washington on Sunday night. Baltimore will be looking for a third straight game in which it scores 30 or more points and holds its opponent to six or fewer.
 
10. ATLANTA (8-4, previous rank: 13)
Record vs. Quality Opponents: 1-4 (-6.0 PPG)
 
Last week: Another pair of huge performances from Matt Ryan (17 of 23, 207 yards, 2 TDs, 130.2 passer rating) and Michael Turner (31 carries, 120 yards) propelled the Falcons to a 22-16 road win over San Diego, keeping them within a game of the NFC South lead.
 
Cold, Hard Football Facts: The offense is getting most of the headlines, but Atlanta ranks eighth in points allowed (20.2 PPG) and hasn't given up 30 points in a game all season.
 
Week 14 matchup: at New Orleans. The Falcons have a chance to finish off the Saints in the Superdome, where they haven't won since 2002.
 
11. NEW ENGLAND (7-5, previous rank: 8)
Record vs. Quality Opponents: 3-4 (+1.3 PPG)
 
Last week: Matt Cassel crashed back to earth, turning the ball over four times, taking five sacks and passing for just 169 yards in a 33-10 drubbing by the Steelers.
 
Cold, Hard Football Facts: In their first 10 games, the Patriots allowed only 13 points off of turnovers, but they have given up 30 in their last two contests.
 
Week 14 matchup: at Seattle. If the Patriots don't improve their third-down numbers (1-of-13 on offense and 8-of-16 on defense against Pittsburgh), they won't even beat the 2-10 Seahawks.
 
12. MINNESOTA (7-5, previous rank: 18)
Record vs. Quality Opponents: 1-3 (-3.0 PPG)
 
Last week: Immediately after a four-play goal-line stand, the Vikings got a 99-yard touchdown pass from Gus Frerotte to Bernard Berrian, leading the way to a 34-14 home blowout of the Bears.
 
Cold, Hard Football Facts: Adrian Peterson has a rush of longer than 20 yards in six straight games, and his 59-yarder against the Bears was his longest of the season.
 
Week 14 matchup: at Detroit. The NFC North's sole leader takes on the division's 0-12 laughingstock.
 
  THE TEPID TWENTY
 
13. WASHINGTON (7-5, previous rank: 11) — The Redskins have a losing record at home and have managed just 43 points over their last four games.
 
14. ARIZONA (7-5, previous rank: 9) — In his last three games, Kurt Warner has thrown five interceptions, and his YPA has dropped from 9.0 to 6.8 to 6.0.
 
15. DENVER (7-5, previous rank: 19) — Following up a 21-point home loss to the Raiders with a 17-point road win over the Jets, the schizophrenic Broncos have now won three straight away from Mile High.
 
16. PHILADELPHIA (6-5-1, previous rank: 21 ) — In response to being benched at Baltimore in Week 12, Donovan McNabb threw four touchdown passes for the first time all season.
 
17. MIAMI (7-5, previous rank: 15) — How do you win and still drop two spots in the CHFF Power Rankings? By needing a late interception to preserve a victory over the woeful Rams.
 
18. CHICAGO (6-6, previous rank: 14) — While remaining in the top 10 in run defense (sixth, 88.8 YPG), the Bears shockingly rank just 29th against the pass (240.5 YPG).
 
19. NEW ORLEANS (6-6, previous rank: 16) — For all of their fireworks in the passing game, the Saints are weak on the ground, ranking 28th in rushing offense (88.3 YPG) after managing only 44 yards last week at Tampa.
 
20. BUFFALO (6-6, previous rank: 17) — On the heels of racking up a season-high 54 points in a win at Kansas City, the Bills scored a season-low three points (despite four trips to the red zone) in a home loss to San Francisco.
 
21. GREEN BAY (5-7, previous rank: 20) — Even Brett Favre would have trouble winning with a defense that's allowed over 141 rushing yards per game.
 
22. HOUSTON (5-7, previous rank: 23) — In his last three games, rookie running back Steve Slaton has 359 rushing yards and three touchdowns.
 
23. SAN DIEGO (4-8, previous rank: 22) — Not only have the Chargers lost three in a row, but the losing streak would be twice as long if Kansas City had been able to convert a potential game-winning two-point attempt in Week 10.
 
24. SAN FRANCISCO (4-8, previous rank: 27) — Over the last four games, Shaun Hill has completed 59.5 percent of his passes, tossed seven TDs and posted a passer rating of 93.1 –  helping the 49ers go 2-2 since Mike Singletary dropped his pants. 
 
25. CLEVELAND (4-8, previous rank: 24) — In last week's 10-6 loss, the Browns allowed just 215 total yards and kept Indy's explosive offense out of the end zone for the first time all season.
 
26. JACKSONVILLE (4-8, previous rank: 25) — With four games left on the schedule, David Garrard has thrown nine interceptions – three times as many as he had all of last year.
 
27. KANSAS CITY (2-10, previous rank: 30) — When Maurice Leggett ran back a fumble on a fake field goal attempt against the Raiders, it marked the Chiefs' first special teams touchdown since the 2006 season.
 
28. SEATTLE (2-10, previous rank: same) — One of the few bright spots for the Seahawks has been the play of rookie tight end John Carlson, who has 38 catches for 456 yards and three TDs.
 
29. OAKLAND (3-9, previous rank: 26) — Since their Super Bowl appearance in January of 2003, the Raiders are a Lions-esque 22-70.
 
30. CINCINNATI (1-10-1, previous rank: 29) — Third-string QB Jordan Palmer didn't exactly make Bengals fans forget big brother Carson, going 0 for 2 with a pick against Baltimore.
 
31. ST. LOUIS (2-10, previous rank: same) — Since winning 10 games and Coach of the Year honors in his first season in New Orleans, Rams interim coach Jim Haslett is 37-51.
 
32. DETROIT (0-12, previous rank: same) — The Lions have allowed 20+ points 11 times, 30+ points eight times and 40+ points twice in giving up a league-high 393 this year.

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