2009 NFL Power Rankings: Week 15

Drew Brees taps Dallas Cowboys quarterback Tony RomoThis can be done better by people elsewhere, but I wanted to say that regardless of his off the field issues (I’m not absolving him of convicted crimes like some seem ready to do), on his day Chris Henry could ball.

It’s the job of those who know him better to really say whether he was a changed man, not mine to speculate, but he obviously formed a close bond with the Cincinnati franchise (Carson Palmer likened him to Randy Moss preseason), the people of Ohio and his teammates – evident by the emotionally jarring scenes of Sunday afternoon.

Abstracted from a personal life I’m not at liberty to make judgements on, Chris Henry was an intriguing prospect and player with a promising few seasons ahead of him. As a footballer he will be gravely missed, and massive respect to all involved – including the Bengals on Sunday – for the classy way this tragedy has been handled.

Player of the Week

Anthony Spencer – Nobody will deny that Drew Brees is the driving force behind New Orleans’ season, and in this matchup Spencer eliminated him. 2 huge sacks (he had a 3rd ruled out for a non-incidental infraction elsewhere) and pressure all night was made especially impressive since Spencer was asked to table most of DeMarcus Ware’s (who managed 2 sacks and a forced fumble himself) workload at weakside, with the phenom sidelined for most of this contest. Spencer’s versatility was impressive, and his pressure vital in making Jermon Bushrod look bush league (I’m so sorry, I really am), and the Saints succumb to their first loss.

Under the Radar Performance of the Week

Jonathan Joseph – We all know Leon Hall is Pro Bowl calibre muscle on one side of the Cincinnati secondary, but this guy is a start in the making as well. Billed at 5’11 he had no easy task handling the bullish 6’5 Malcolm Floyd, but he did, masterfully. Yeah Floyd scraped 60 odd yards, but Joseph made a huge play in the redzone, was ferocious in his tackling, supported the run well and mustered his 6 INT of the year. Hats off to you Mr Joseph.

The Biggest Movers and Shakers

downGetting dummied, at home, by one of the worst teams in the league. Not cool Seattle, not cool.

upSan Diego move up 3 to (conveniantly) the #3 slot after an emotional victory on Sunday against a proper tough opposition.

Here’s how the rest of the NFL played itself out in week 15:

Rank Team Record Change Comment
1 Indianapolis Colts 14-0 Peyton Manning’s 12 for 12, 116 yard, 2 TD first half was a thing of beauty. Had Dallas Clark not batted a ball in the air for a Jaguar INT, Manning may still be completing passes as you read this. Up Next: New York Jets
2 New Orleans Saints 13-1 Suck ’em in and burn ’em deep. Without Sed Ellis up front New Orleans were a sieve against the run, opening up the game for a red hot Tony Romo to torch their secondary. It was a nice run that maybe was a little lucky to last this long. Up Next: Tampa Bay Buccaneers
3 San Diego Chargers 11-3 up3 With Denver, Kansas and Oakland putting up such mediocre fights in the last few years, San Diego perennially boasted 6 wins at a canter. Norv Turner has struggled in the ‘big game’ meaning he’s the only double digit win regular to have not made a Super Bowl in recent memory. Wins over Dallas and now Cincinnati are a slap in the face to this theory. Up Next: @Tennessee Titans
4 Cincinnati Bengals 9-5 The criticism was that Carson Palmer didn’t have ‘it’ anymore. The intangible factor that seperates the Hennes from the Mannings, but on Sunday Palmer had ‘it’ and more… he just didn’t have a defense that could stop Malcolm Floyd from icing the clock, giving Nick Kaeding the time needed to find the H. Up Next: Kansas City Chiefs
5 Minnesota Vikings 11-3 down2 Cedric Benson almost broke 100 last week, but Jonathan Stewart picked up where Ced left off. Gone is the IRed EJ Henderson and the impenetrable Williams wall; Minnesota allowed its first 100 yard rusher in 36 contests. The wheels are starting to fall off… Up Next: @Chicago Bears
6 New England Patriots 9-5 down1 New England may have been missing a host of starters along both lines, but nothing can excuse their uninspiring limp over the line in both this game, and their season. Up Next: Jacksonville Jaguars
7 Philadelphia Eagles 10-4 up2 Philadelphia clinched a wildcard spot, but I doubt they’ll need if they keep putting in carving performances like they did on Sunday. Up Next: Denver Broncos
8 Dallas Cowboys 9-5 up1 Nick Folk can’t kick and Flozell Adams can’t pass protect, but a feasting pass rush and lights out quarterback performance got Dallas a vital win. Up Next: @Washington Redskins
9 Green Bay Packers 9-5 down1 If you dare believe in Green Bay for a fraction of a second they’ll kick you in the teeth. I’d say ‘fool me once…’ but this must be the millionth time they’ve flattered to deceive in 09. Up Next: Seattle Seahawks
10 Arizona Cardinals 9-5 Maybe Kurt Warner wanted Detroit to win so St. Louis can draft #1. I don’t know, but he tried his hardest with multiple pickable balls. Fortunately for Arizona, a maturing Beanie Wells had other ideas (17 for 110, 1 TD) Up Next: St. Louis Rams
11 Baltimore Ravens 8-6 up1 Baltimore got every result in their favour this weekend, and saw their offense continue to resurge after a lacklustre midseason. Good times. Up Next: @Pittsburgh Steelers
12 Denver Broncos 8-6 down1 This game went on hiatus midway through because a fan was shining a lazer at players. Here’s hoping that idiot got hit by a train on the way home. Up Next: @Philadelphia Eagles
13 New York Giants 8-6 New York decided to turn on the burners as they torched Washington for 45 points, 5 sacks and 3 turnovers. Too little to late methinks… Up Next: Carolina Panthers
14 Pittsburgh Steelers 7-7 Ben Roethlisberger threw for 500+ yards and a miracle play touchdown. Well… maybe he wouldn’t have to throw so much if this defense wasn’t atrocious and soft as butter in the middle. Up Next: Baltimore Ravens
15 Tennessee Titans 7-7 Tennessee were just too far back to ever really threaten January, but hey, you got to be in it to win it, and no one else seems to want the second AFC wildcard place. Up Next: San Diego Chargers
16 Miami Dolphins 7-7 Chad Henne was good… but threw picks when he couldn’t afford to. Ricky Williams was good… but fumbled when he couldn’t afford to. Sense a pattern? It’s called missed opportunities and an almost certain playoff-less 2010. Up Next: Houston Texans
17 Jacksonville Jaguars 7-7 Jacksonville’s game of the year is likely their last. I think it’ll be very tough for this team to pick itself up, despite saving their best stuff till last. Take solace in the fact that this is a young team that is only 2 or 3 additions from being a nailed on playoff contender. Up Next: @New England Patriots
18 Houston Texans 7-7 up1 Endzone drops and redzone fumbles tarnished the scoreboard of an otherwise dominant display. Up Next: Jacksonville Jaguars
19 Atlanta Falcons 7-7 up1 No, no, no. Atlanta didn’t WIN, New York LOST. Up Next: Buffalo Bills
20 New York Jets 7-7 down2 New York beat themselves. Mark Sanchez tossed nasty picks, whilst their field goal unit looked clueless; blundering on 3 seperate occasions. Up Next: @Indianapolis Colts
21 Carolina Panthers 6-8 up2 Early on this year Jonathan Stewart was labelled as injury prone and likely to be bothered by niggles all year. He just rushed for 100 yards on the Vikings. This guy can ball. Up Next: @New York Giants
22 Washington Redskins 4-10 down1 Washington have picked up a little in recent weeks on offense, so I’m left bemused as to why in an ‘anything goes’ division tilt they should revert to playing the dross that plagued them weeks 1 through 10. Up Next: Dallas Cowboys
23 San Francisco 49ers 6-8 down1 Offenses live or die on 3rd downs and turnovers. San Fran were 0 and 11 and had 4. Hence, their playoff hopes died. Up Next: Detroit Lions
24 Buffalo Bills 5-9 up2 Buffalo had more offensive yards than New Enlgand and were a Josh Reed drop from tying up the game, Fred Jackson even ran the ball well (15 for 80). So why did they fail? Well the fact that Buffalo benched Ryan Fitzpatrick at the half and then unbenched him when Trent Edwards blew up his knee shows is indicative of how this is one of the worst quarterbacking situations in the league. Up Next: @Atlanta Falcons
25 Chicago Bears 5-9 Chicago are counting down the days till the end of the season. When will this nightmare end?!. Up Next: Minnesota Vikings
26 Oakland Raiders 5-9 up1 Somehow Oakland stopped the production of an underated Bronco tailback troupe, and won with JaMarcus Russell playing as the last man standing after a Charlie Frye injury. Yeah… I have no idea either. Up Next: @Cleveland Browns
27 Tampa Bay Buccaneers 2-12 up1 It pains me tow move a team with 2 wins this high, and they’ll likely finish in the bottom 3 as far as final records go, but there is a something about Tampa that screams light at the end of the tunnel. Up Next: @New Orleans Saints
28 Seattle Seahawks 5-9 down4 The mystique of QWEST field is gone, Matt Hasselbeck’s back is done, Julius Jones is marginally inferior to me right now and their secondary is one of the worst of all time. Too much? Up Next: @Green Bay Packers
29 Cleveland Browns 3-11 up1 I have a dream where Cleveland’s entire offense isn’t based on kick returns and playing the Chiefs each week. What?! A man can dream. Up Next: Oakland Raiders
30 Kansas City Chiefs 3-11 down1 On their brightest offensive display of the season, it was Kansas City’s defense and special teams that opted to capitulate. Seriously dudes. 286 yards rushing and a pair of kickoff TDs?! Up Next: @Cincinnati Bengals
31 Detroit Lions 2-12 Detroit are almost unrankable right now, because until Megatron and Stafford are in the lineup together this franchise is spinning its wheels. Up Next: @San Francisco 49ers
32 St Louis Rams 1-13 Other than Steven Jackson and James Laurainitis, I can’t find a single good point about this franchise. Up Next: @Arizona Cardinals

Be sure to check back next week with our NFL Power Rankings post week 16.

Tags: 2009, afc, football, nfc, NFL, power rankings,