Week 11 Record: 14-2 (Season High-Up 5 wins from Week 10)
Week 12 Record: 8-8 (Down 6 wins from Week 11)
Season Record: 106-70
Welcome to the season finale of The Word. I didn’t finish as well as I would have liked last week but I’m very pleased with the outcome of Week 11’s picks. Because this is the final installment before an extended break, I figured I’d deliver a brief recap of where things stand now, where things could end up and what I ultimately believe the outcome of the regular season will be:
NFL Power Rankings (Entering Week 13):
1. New England Patriots (9-2)
2. Atlanta Falcons (9-2)
3. Chicago Bears (8-3)
4. Baltimore Ravens (8-3)
5. Philadelphia Eagles (7-4): A minor setback this week, but don’t sell them short just yet.
6. New York Jets (9-2):The wins have been less than convincing lately. A win Monday night over the Patriots will surely move them back into the running for the top spot.
7. Pittsburgh Steelers (8-3)
8. New Orleans Saints (8-3)
9. Green Bay Packers (7-4)
10. Kansas City Chiefs (7-4): The Chiefs, Saints and Steelers are all under the radar teams, looking to play spoiler to one of the current favorites come January.
11. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (7-4)
12. New York Giants (7-4)
13. San Diego Chargers (6-5): Here come the Chargers again. Phillip Rivers has turned San Diego’s annual resurgence into a November tradition in its own right.
14. Jacksonville Jaguars (6-5): They already own the tiebreaker over Indianapolis, who is the only team with a winning record left on their schedule. Every season there seems to be a handful of teams that reach this juncture of the season and wind up in control of their own destiny. This time around, it’s the Jaguars. Can they capitalize or will they bungle the opportunity?
15. Indianapolis Colts (6-5): Peyton Manning could be the NFL’s incarnation of Superman, but he can’t do everything on his own. The injuries to key players are really starting to take their toll.
16. Miami Dolphins (6-5): They have an uphill battle ahead of them. If they win the games they’re supposed to and are able to squeak out one or both upsets against New England and the Jets, the Dolphins could find themselves with a wild card spot. Don’t count on it, but the possibility is there.
17. Oakland Raiders (5-6): It was a good story while it lasted, but alas, the Raiders are back to playing like the team we expected from the start. The remaining schedule doesn’t favor a strong finish.
18. St. Louis Rams (5-6): Thanks in large part to a miserable NFC West, the Rams will likely sneak into the playoffs with an 8-8 record as a result of winning the division. I feel bad for the 10-6 teams in the NFC that will miss the playoffs because of the weak link of the conference.
19. Houston Texans (5-6): Houston should count their lucky stars that Andre Johnson didn’t get suspended for his brawl with Tennessee’sCortland Finnegan. They’re already going to lose Thursday night to the Eagles, who’ll be looking to establish breathing space in the NFC East again, but without Johnson, the game would have been downright ugly.
20. Tennessee Titans (5-6): Despite all of the drama and attitude issues, Vince Young still gives the Titans their best chance to win. Kerry Collins is due back this week, but can he right the ship with four critical divisional games in front of them?
21. Washington Redskins (5-6)
22. Seattle Seahawks (5-6)
23. Cleveland Browns (4-7)
24. Minnesota Vikings (4-7)
25. Dallas Cowboys (3-8)
26. San Francisco 49ers (4-7)
27. Denver Broncos (3-8)
28. Buffalo Bills (2-9)
29. Detroit Lions (2-9): Save for a few miscues here and there in each game, the Lions and Bills could easily be among the 6-5’s and 7-4’s of the league. That’s just how competitive they’ve been this season. They deserve at least that recognition.
30. Arizona Cardinals (3-8): A study in futility. And yet, they’re still in contention for the NFC West title. Am I the only one that sees something wrong with this picture?
31. Carolina Panthers (1-10): They have the worst record in the league, but they’re not the worst in the league, that distinction belongs elsewhere.
32. Cincinnati Bengals (2-9): Don’t bother "getting yo’ popcorn ready." The Bengals are the most classic example of an overhyped bust the NFL has produced in recent memory. The hype of T.O. and Ochocinco on the same team had all of the so-called experts expecting to see "Avatar" and Cincinnati gave them "Cutthroat Island"instead.
The playoff picture is beginning to take form, and in accordance, NFL.com is starting to make projections regarding who would be in and out if the season were to end today. While they haven’t yet started listing playoff scenarios in order for each team to clinch a spot or which teams are effectively eliminated from the chase altogether, this is how I’ve come to decipher the standings: