Whitaker's NFL Power Rankings (Week 17 Edition)
1. Green Bay Packers - 14-1 – Last week #1 – Soon to be MVP, quarterback Aaron Rodgers might sit this week. That would give free agent too be Matt Flynn an unofficial audition to the rest of the NFL.
Week 17 – vs. Lions
MVP - QB - Aaron Rodgers – A-Rod bounced back from his worst game of the season to throw five touchdowns against the Bears on Christmas night. It's safe to say he's ready for the Playoffs.
Weak Link - LG/RT - TJ Lang – The Packers aren't a perfect team. And Lang is far from a perfect player.
2. New Orleans Saints - 11-3 – Last week #4 – The Saints looked like an unbeatable team last Monday night. Can they keep that up going into the post-season?
Week 17 – vs. Panthers
MVP - QB – Drew Brees – Dan Marino meet Drew Brees. Drew meet Dan. Is everybody acquainted with each other? Good.
Weak Link – OLB – Scott Shanle – Shanle was never an elite player. Now he's not even a reliable every-down starter.
3. New England Patriots - 11-3 – Last week #2 – Down 17-0 in the first half? No problem.
Week 17 – vs. Bills
MVP – QB - Tom Brady – Brady only threw one touchdown pass last week. That's OK, because he ran for two, as well.
Weak Link – SS James Ihedigbo – Ihedigbo is strictly a special teamer talent wise. But don't tell Bill Belichick that.
4. Baltimore Ravens - 11-4 – Last week #3 – This team has no excuse for not clinching a first round bye and a home game in the Playoffs.
Week 17 - @ Cincinnati
MVP - OLB/DE - Terrell Suggs – All 'T-Sizzle' wants for Christmas is his first Super Bowl.
Weak Link – CB – Cary Williams – The Ravens Super Bowl chances will decrease with every snap he plays in the Playoffs.
5. San Francisco 49ers - 11-3 – Last week #5 – I've never seen an NFL team win so many games, in spite of their quarterback, before in my life.
Week 16 – @ Seattle
MVP - K – David Akers – Akers and Niner punter Andy Lee have formed one of the greatest kicker/punter tandems in NFL history. Three cheers for kickers! Hip hip... nobody wants to join me in this cheer? Oh well...
Weak Link - QB - Alex Smith – Eagles running back LeSean McCoy has 17 rushing touchdowns this season. Smith has 17 overall.
6. Pittsburgh Steelers - 11-4 – Last week #6 – The Steelers will probably be without a first round bye and home-field advantage in the Playoffs. But the biggest issue for Pittsburgh right now is the heath of their quarterback.
Week 17 – vs. Rams
MVP - QB - Ben Roethlisberger – 'Big Ben' will need both ankles to work with. If Pittsburgh wants to make another Super Bowl run, this season.
Weak Link – RG – Ramon Foster – Foster looked good last week but everyone has looked good against the Rams this year.
7. Detroit Lions – 10-5 – Last week #11 – The Lions are in the Playoffs!!!
Week 17 – @ Green Bay
MVP - WR - Calvin Johnson – 'Megatron' has been so good this season he deserves votes for the NFL's MVP award.
Weak Link – CB – Eric Wright – The Lions have found a trusty starting corner in Chris Houston. They just need another cornerback to complete the set.
8. Atlanta Falcons – 9-6 – Last week #8 – The Falcons are going to have their fourth straight winning season. That stat alone isn't going to cut it anymore, for Head Coach Mike Smith and this franchise.
Week 17 – vs. Buccaneers
MVP - MLB – Curtis Lofton – Lofton seems to be pulling away from teammate Sean Weatherspoon, after weeks of musical chairs, at this spot.
Weak Link - RG - Joe Hawley – Hawley continues to struggle opening holes for Michael Turner. Turner continues to struggle to run the football, as a result.
9. New York Giants – 8-7 - Last week #17 – One Ryan brother down, one to go.
Week 17 – vs. Cowboys
MVP – DE – Jason Pierre-Paul – JPP put up two sacks and had eight tackles against the Cowboys the first time around. I wonder what he'll do in the re-match.
Weak Link – MLB – Chase Blackburn – He's been a liability in coverage ever since his interception of Aaron Rodgers, in Week 13.
10. New York Jets - 8-7 – Last week #10 – If the Jets don't sneak their way into the Playoffs I will hurl myself off of Rex Ryan's bandwagon.
Week 17 – @ Miami
MVP - CB - Darrelle Revis – The Jets may be embarrassing themselves but Revis sure isn't.
Weak Link - RT - Wayne Hunter – There have been few pass blockers worse than Hunter this year.
11. Dallas Cowboys - 8-7 – Last week #10 – I can't imagine how tense Jerry Jones is right now.
Week 17 - @ NY Giants
MVP - OLB - DeMarcus Ware – The Cowboys are now 1-4 when Ware records 2 or more sacks in a game, this season. Huh?!
Weak Link - CB – Terrence Newman – Week 17's match-up with the Giants, could be the final game for the 33-year-old Newman as a Cowboy. Newman has played 132 games in the NFL and all of them have been with Dallas.
12. Houston Texans - 10-5 – Last week #7 – OK Houston. As far as your quarterback situation is concerned, it's panic time.
Week 16 – @ Indianapolis
MVP – OLB Connor Barwin – This Texans front seven is relentless. And it all starts with Barwin and defensive end J.J. Watt.
Weak Link – QB – T.J. Yates – Losing to Cam Newton in your third ever NFL start: that's OK. Losing to a Dan Orlovsky and a 1-13 Colts team at anytime during your NFL career: that's not OK.
13. Cincinnati Bengals - 9-6 – Last week #13 – All the Bengals have to do is win and they are in the Playoffs. The only hiccup is that win has to come in Baltimore, against the 11-4 Ravens.
Week 17 – vs. Ravens
MVP – DT – Geno Atkins – Atkins has been one of the most overlooked players in the League this season. He's been so overlooked that even though he leads all AFC interior lineman with eight sacks, he still didn't get an invite to the Pro Bowl.
Weak Link - CB – Adam Jones – Jones hasn't made an interception since September 12th of 2010. Ironically that game was at home against the Ravens.
14. Seattle Seahawks - 7-8 – Last week #12 – It's too bad the Seahawks weren't playing this well to start the season.
Week 17 – @ Arizona
MVP – RB – Marshawn Lynch – No running back had rushed for 100 yards or scored a rushing touchdown this season against the 49ers. Lynch went for 107 yards on the ground and punched in a touchdown, in a loss to the 49ers last week.
Weak Link – LT Paul McQuistan – The Niners defense just kept coming and coming at McQuistan and company last week. Eventually Aldon Smith picked up sack #14 on the season.
15. Denver Broncos - 8-7 – Last week #9 – I don't know if it's 'Tebow Time' or not. But I know it's the eleventh hour in Denver.
Week 17 – vs. Chiefs
MVP – OLB – Von Miller – The Broncos are now 0-4, this season, when Miller fails to record a sack.
Weak Link – TE - Daniel Fells – Fells caught his first touchdown pass in over two months last week. He has three on the season.
16. Arizona Cardinals - 7-8 – Last week #18 – Unless the team preforms a serious overhaul of their offensive line, Arizona mind as well get rid of quarterback Kevin Kolb in the off-season
Week 17 – vs. Seahawks
MVP - WR - Larry Fitzgerald – The Cardinals are 3-6 when Fitzgerald leads them in receiving this season. It's safe to say the Cardinals need to improve their running game.
Weak Link – LT Levi Brown – Brown and the rest of the Cardinals offensive line went back to normal last week. They gave up five sacks to the Bengals and didn't open many running lanes either (Beanie Wells rushed for 3.8 YPC).
17. Philadelphia Eagles – 7-8 - Last week #16 – At least the squad formely known as 'the dream team' can still avoid a losing season.
Week 17 – vs. Washington
MVP - RB - LeSean McCoy – LeSean McCoy has had one of the greatest seasons in NFL history, with over 1,600 total yards and 20 touchdowns. He's also had one of the most wasted seasons in NFL history because of Philadelphia's 7-8 record.
Weak Link – FS – Nate Allen – Eagles defensive coordinator Juan Castillo recently said Allen should remain the starter in 2012 and has shown vast improvement down the stretch. There's a reason why it will be a major upset if Castillo is back in Philadelphia, heading the defense next season.
18. Carolina Panthers - 6-9 – Last week #21 – Who had the Panthers sweeping the Bucs this season? Because I sure didn't.
Week 17 - @ New Orleans
MVP – QB – Cam Newton – There have been a lot of unbelievable rookies this season. But it's hard to say Cam isn't at the top of that list.
Weak Link – K – Olindo Mare – When the pressure is off, Mare is still a pretty good kicker.
19. Miami Dolphins - 5-10 – Last week #22 – Former Defensive Player Of The Year and long-time Dolphin Jason Taylor would love nothing more than to knock the Jets (was a Jet last season) from Playoff contention, in his final NFL game.
Week 17 – vs. NY Jets
MVP – WR – Brandon Marshall – 'Baby TO' will probably be getting a new quarterback next season. But who?
Weak Link - RT - Marc Colombo – Dolphins fans will be sad to see Jason Taylor go. The same can not be said for Colombo.
20. Oakland Raiders - 8-7 – Last week #19 – Every time I think of all the good things Head Coach Hue Jackson has done this season, I always end up recalling the controversial Carson Palmer trade he made.
Week 17 – vs. Chargers
MVP - DT – Tommy Kelly – If any Raider lineman deserves to go to the Pro Bowl this season, it's Kelly.
Weak Link – CB - Lito Sheppard – Stanford Routt may be overpaid ($10 million this season) but he's still been the only reliable corner the Raiders have had this season.
21. San Diego Chargers - 6-9 – Last week #15 – The pathetic Chargers can give exiting Head Coach Norv Turner a late Christmas present by keeping the hated Raiders out of the Playoffs.
Week 17 – @ Oakland
MVP - FS - Eric Weddle – Weddle has clinched his first ever trip Pro Bowl. Maybe next year the Chargers can give him some help in the secondary.
Weak Link – RT – Jeromey Clary – It looks like San Diego will clean house during the off-season. I wonder if Clary still be around after said cleaning.
22. Chicago Bears – 7-8 – Last week #23 – It took a broken thumb for Bears fans to show quarterback Jay Cutler some much deserved love. I wonder what overblown occurrence will make Bears fans start hating him again.
Week 17 - @ Minnesota
MVP – DE – Julius Peppers – Peppers got his second sack of the season on Aaron Rodgers last week. It happened to be his 10th on the year. Peppers now has seven 10 sack seasons in his career.
Weak Link – RT - Lance Louis – Louis is a back-up guard that has been starting at right tackle. That's almost always a BAD idea.
23. Tennessee Titans – 8-7 – Last week #24 – The Titans aren’t dead yet but they're running low on life support.
Week 17 - @ Houston
MVP – LT – Michael Roos – Roos will finish the (regular) season off against one of the NFL's newest big-time pass rushers... Connor Barwin.
Weak Link – LG LeRoy Harris – Going into the off-season, Harris should be one of a number of Titans feeling insecure about his job security.
24. Buffalo Bills – 6-9 – Last week #26 – The Bills are among those who do not believe in 'Tebow Time'.
Week 17 – @ New England
MVP – DT - Marcell Dareus – Hopefully Pro Bowler Kyle Williams can return to 100 percent going into next season. That way the Bills can pair him with the impressive youngster, Dareus.
Weak Link – CB – Aaron Williams – Williams has improved a little of late but he's still a major liability, for Buffalo's secondary.
25. Washington - 5-10 – Last week #25 – Minnesota lost their starting quarterback (Christian Ponder) and the best running back in the NFL (Adrian Peterson) during last week's game, in Washington. In the end, the home team still couldn't pull out the victory.
Week 17 - @ Philadelphia
MVP - MLB – London Fletcher – Fletcher notched 16 tackles last week for the fourth time this season. Fletcher was a true Pro Bowl snub, this past week. There's a reason he's been called the 'Susan Lucchi of the NFL'.
Weak Link – QB Rex Grossman – Grossman was having trouble beating opposing starting quarterbacks. Now he is even having trouble beating back-ups.
26. Kansas City Chiefs - 6-9 – Last week #20 – The Raiders kept giving the Chiefs the game last week but Kansas City kept giving it back. The Chiefs would be hard pressed to play so carelessly during 'Tebow Time”.
Week 17 – @ Denver
MVP – OLB – Tamba Hali – Justin Houston was drafted in the 2nd round during the off-season to help take pressure off the ferocious Hali. Houston only has four sacks on the year and will have a lot of work to do in the off-season if he's to become Hali's permanent partner in crime.
Weak Link – RB – Thomas Jones – In the last eight games Jones has carried the ball 15 plus times he's failed to go over 80 yards rushing. This could and should be Jones's last season, playing in the NFL.
27. Minnesota Vikings - 3-12 – Last Week #28 – The Vikings finally won their third game of the season. But they lost future Hall Of Fame back, Adrian Peterson, for the year and probably longer. Get well AP!
Week 17 – vs. Bears
MVP - DE - Jared Allen – Vikings fans still have one thing to root for. Allen has a half a sack lead on Cowboys linebacker DeMarcus Ware, with one week to go.
Weak Link – FS – Mistral Raymond – The 6th round rookie made his first NFL interception last week. That interception was off Rex Grossman so...
28. Cleveland Browns – 4-11 – Last week #27 – The Browns couldn't beat the Ravens last week. Maybe they'll have better luck with the AFC Champs this week... or maybe not.
Week 17 – vs. Steelers
MVP - LT - Joe Thomas – Thomas is probably looking ahead to some off-season fishing.
Weak Link – FS Usama Young – Young has a grand total of one pass deflection this season. Seahawks defensive lineman (323 pounds) Red Bryant has two interceptions on the year.
29. Jacksonville Jaguars – 3-12 – Last week #29 – The Jaguars are three and a half point favorites over the Colts this week. Seriously Vegas?
Week 17 – vs. Colts
MVP - RB - Maurice Jones-Drew – I wonder how much he misses David Garrard.
Weak Link - QB - Blaine Gabbert – T.J. Yates couldn't beat Dan Orlovsky. Can Gabbert?
30. Tampa Bay Buccaneers - 4-11 – Last week #30 – I'm guessing the Buccaneers won't re-sign Albert Haynesworth this off-season.
Week 17 – @ Atlanta
MVP – DE – Adrian Clayborn – He only has seven sacks but he's looked better and better as the season has gone on.
Weak Link – RT Jeremy Trueblood – Trueblood and Haynesworth are probably on their way out of Tampa. Will Head Coach Raheem Morris be gone as well?
31. Indianapolis Colts - 2-13 – Last week #32 – The Colts have won two in a row. Be careful Indy or you'll take that Colts Draft hat right off Andrew Luck's valuable head, if you make it three.
Week 17 - @ Jacksonville
MVP – C – Jeff Saturday – Saturday is 36-years-old and he's still one of the better centers in the game.
Weak Link – QB – Dan Orlovsky – Last week, Orlovsky proved he can lock on to Pro Bowl receiver Reggie Wayne in relentless fashion. Hey it worked!
32. St. Louis Rams - 2-13 – Last week #31 – If the Rams lose to the 49ers and Colts beat the Jaguars the Rams will get the #1 overall pick in the NFL Draft for the second time in three years. Let the intense speculation begin???
Week 17 – vs. 49ers
MVP – RB – Steve Jackson – Defenses keep stacking the box against Jackson. But for the seventh straight year he's gone over 1,000 yards rushing. And he's one of my Pro Bowl snubs, for this season.
Weak Link – LG Bryan Mattison – Harvey Dahl can't play every spot on the Rams offensive line.