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NFL Power Rankings, Week 15: Stability Is Good For The Patriots, But Not The Panthers

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The name of the game this week in in the NFL is stability. Not too many teams moved around.

Casey Clausen #2 of the Carolina Panthers reacts as he walks off the field against the Atlanta Falcons during their game at Bank of America Stadium. (Photo by Streeter Lecka/Getty Images)
Casey Clausen #2 of the Carolina Panthers reacts as he walks off the field against the Atlanta Falcons during their game at Bank of America Stadium. (Photo by Streeter Lecka/Getty Images)
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This week's SB Nation Arizona NFL Power Rankings look a lot like last week's power rankings. I suppose I could have arbitrarily moved around a few teams, but for the most part, teams held their spots. The biggest climb this week was split between the Eagles and Giants, who both rose three spots due to some select NFC North ineptitude.

A couple of teams fell four spots, as the Jets earned their colors by exhibiting an offense that would make the Cardinals blush while the Broncos lost to the Cardinals by 30. Somehow.  

While the Patriots and Falcons have the best records in the NFL, I see absolutely no scenario in which those two teams play in the Super Bowl -- that's just how that stuff works out. 

On to the rankings.

(1) New England Patriots (11-2) - Most teams that play a game in the snow will play a grind-it-out running style of football. The Patriots threw it 40 times and won by 29. The Super Bowl train is cruising. (LW: 1)

(2) Atlanta Falcons (11-2) - As always, I don't acknowledge wins against the Panthers. Ever. (LW: 2)

(3) New Orleans Saints (10-3) - The Saints/Rams game from last week is a potential playoff preview. That's a real thing. (LW: 3)

(4) Pittsburgh Steelers (10-3) - It has always and will always bother me to see the Steelers succeed. Yup, that's good ol' fashion bias. (LW: 4)

(5) Baltimore Ravens (9-4) - I suppose it had something to do with the Christmas spirit, but Matt Schaub just handed Baltimore a win. I don't like this team to go anywhere in the playoffs. (LW: 6)

(6) Philadelphia Eagles (9-4) - Mike Vick, DeSean Jackson, LeSean McCoy -- most athletic triplet in NFL history? (LW: 9)

(7) New York Giants (9-4) - Eli Manning leads the NFL in interceptions. That bodes really well for the Giants in the playoffs. (LW: 10)

(8) Chicago Bears (9-4) - I'm so furious with the Jets that I put them below a team that just got obliterated at home. Aaron Rodgers' loopy head might keep the Bears in the playoffs. (LW: 8)

(9) New York Jets (9-4) - I don't know if this team has what it takes to somehow fall all the way out of the playoffs, but man is that offense bad. Could be bounced quite easily in the wild card round. (LW: 5)

(10) Green Bay Packers (8-5) - As evidenced by their Sunday performance in Detroit, if this team doesn't have Aaron Rodgers, they have absolutely no chance to do anything. Better hope those concussion tests work out for him. (LW: 7)

(11) Kansas City Chiefs (8-5) - If Matt Cassel doesn't recover from his appendectomy then the Chiefs aren't going to the playoffs. It's that simple. Brodie Croyle has never won an NFL start and probably never will. (LW: 11)

(12) Jacksonville Jaguars (8-5) - Is it possible to win five of six games in the NFL any more quietly than the Jaguars just did? This week's game @Indy is their chance to win the division. (LW: 13)

(13) Tampa Bay Buccaneers (8-5) -. Injuries are piling up and they are still a game out of the wild card. Should be able to win two of three, but it probably won't be enough. (LW: 12)

(14) San Diego Chargers (7-6) - Rebounded from embarrassing Raiders loss to punish Brodie Croyle and the Chiefs. Would be an enormous failure of a season if they don't make the playoffs. (LW: 14)

(15) Indianapolis Colts (7-6) - Peyton Manning answered the bell like one of the all-time greats should. I will be surprised if he falters against Jacksonville this week. Very surprised. (LW: 15)

(16) Miami Dolphins (7-6) - Two very winnable games followed by a season finale with a Patriot team that will probably be playing for nothing. Outside shot to snag a wild card. Very outside. (LW: 16)

(17) Oakland Raiders (6-7) - Valiant effort on the road against Jacksonville but their playoff hopes are probably murdered now. Too bad for one of the more interesting stories in the league. (LW: 17)

(18) St. Louis Rams (6-7) - Going on the road in New Orleans isn't quite the same as visiting Denver and Arizona. If the Rams didn't know that before, they certainly do now. (LW: 18)

(19) Seattle Seahawks (6-7) - This team getting their asses kicked has basically become a regular thing. Does it even surprise anyone anymore? (LW: 19)

(20) Houston Texans (5-8) - Their Monday Night Football loss to the Ravens was a microcosm of their franchise -- suck in the fans with hope and ultimately dash it with pure stupidity. (LW: 20)

(21) Cleveland Browns (5-8) - Losing Jake Delhomme's starts shouldn't be held against this team; hopefully he'll just be a bad memory next year when Colt McCoy's fragile body is presumably healthy. (LW: 21)

(22) Minnesota Vikings (5-8) - I hear Brett Favre didn't play for the first time in a while. Now I'm 100% sure he's coming back next year. (LW: 23)

(23) Tennessee Titans (5-8) - Probably going to finish the season on a 10-game losing streak. Randy Moss was such a phenomenal pick up. (LW: 22)

(24) Washington Redskins (5-8) - Year one of the Shanahan/McNabb marriage = complete failure. Beginning to doubt there will be second act. (LW: 24)

(25) San Francisco 49ers (5-8) - Obliteration of the Seahawks keeps these guys right in the thick of the NFC West race. Barely contending might keep Mike Singletary and Alex Smith in jobs -- something all Cardinal fans can be thankful for. (LW: 26)

(26) Dallas Cowboys (4-9) - I flat just can't think of anything interesting to say about the Cowboys anymore. See you and your scumbag fans on Christmas. (LW: 25)

(27) Detroit Lions (3-10) - Well, the Lions figured out the perfect blueprint for beating the Packers: concuss the hell out of Aaron Rodgers. Great strategy. (LW: 28)

(28) Buffalo Bills (3-10) - Yet another low scoring, aethestically displeasing game between the Browns and Bills in Orchard Park. Beating Pick Bot 5000 (Jake Delhomme) is no longer an accomplishment. (LW: 30)

(29) Arizona Cardinals (4-9) - Still worse than the Bills and Lions, but the team finally showed some life and won a game. Jay Feely was the best player on the field Sunday. (LW: 31)

(30) Cincinnati Bengals (2-11) - There's got to be a special level of hopelessness in being a Bengal fan right now. Most of these other teams at least have relatively young teams or young exciting players. The Bengals are old and crappy. (LW: 29)

(31) Denver Broncos (3-10) - If you get blasted by 30 by a team that is starting a project rookie quarterback then you are automatically worse than all the other teams in the NFL. (LW: 27)

(32) Carolina Panthers (1-12) - You may have guessed this from my previous comment, but I no longer count the Carolina Panthers as part of the NFL. As depressing and rapid as the Cardinals' trip from NFC Champs to NFC West cellar dweller has been, Carolina has gone from home field advantage in the NFC to SEC contenders in the same time. (LW: 32)