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The NFL Playoffs Power Rankings - Part 2

Please CLICK HERE if you missed Part 1 of the NFL Playoffs Power Rankings. Now clearly, If you have been paying attention there are 6 teams remaining. 4 from the NFC, 2 from the AFC, and all 6 teams seem to either be losing or gaining steam. Honestly, if you said that any of the 6 teams listed below would win the Super Bowl, it wouldn't be a shock, versus the previous 6 listed would be a complete shock. I guess that's the difference of the power structure in the NFL. Let's get back rolling.

6. New Orleans Saints, NFC South Champion (13-3)

It seems kind of nuts now to think that the darlings of the 2009 NFL season could be in such free fall in 3 short weeks. They're #6 for a couple of reasons. Their once vaunted run game has now slowed down from a sprint to a walk. Their pass protection has turned into swiss cheese, leaving Drew Brees exposed. Finally, their defensive front line has wilted against the other teams running game, leaving their back 7 exposed for big plays. For 13 weeks, this was a strong point. The question now is can New Orleans put the "S" back in the Saints...

Biggest Strengths: Phenomenal passing attack, ball-hawking secondary
Biggest Weaknesses: Interior line play: protecting the passer & stopping the run
Most Important Player: Pierre Thomas, his between-the-tackles running could take N.O. to SB44

5. Philadelphia Eagles, NFC Wild Card #6 Seed (11-5)

Philadelphia has been my Super Bowl pick for at least the last 4-5 years. What can I say, I'm a McNabb homer. For the longest time, McNabb's biggest issue has been his (in)consistency and a lack of offensive weapons. In '09, he has no complaints as DeSean Jackson, Jeremy Maclin, Brent Celek, and LeSean McCoy have all been formidable in Andy Reid's pass attack. The issue with Philly is their linebacker play, which I can sum up in two words. Jeremiah. Trotter. Now don't get me wrong, Trotter's had a fine career in the NFL and has been a great player in this league. However, the man's 57 years old playing the Mike. That's a problem. The young linebacker core must step up (Akeem Jordan, Joe Mays, Moise Fouku?) and make plays because Dallas exposed the unit both times this season. Good luck on Saturday Philly.

Biggest Strengths: Relentless passing attack, strong pass rush
Biggest Weaknesses: They have a 57-year old linebacker
Most Important Player: Mac-5, he's done it before. If he plays like an elite QB, they can't lose.

4. Dallas Cowboys, NFC East Champions (11-5)

For all of my hatred of the Dallas Cowboys, I've come to recognize a couple of things about the 'Boys that even I recognize as a good thing for their chances for a title. #1. They have probably the best talent across the board on their 53-man roster. #2. They have an owner who actually gives a damn about them winning. #3. They have a rabid fan base. That #3 reason, especially the "rabid" part is what can get under my skin, but that's another story for another post. Let me just say this now...Tony Romo is a great QB, period. Romo's like McNabb in a sense that, if he's on, he can lead his team to glory. Will it happen? Well...gotta beat Philly for a 3rd time first.

Biggest Strengths: Tony Romo. Tony Romo. Tony Romo.
Biggest Weaknesses: Terrence Newman. Terrence Newman. Terrence Newman.
Most Important Player: Flozell "The Hotel" Adams, if he protects #9 and cuts down (yeah right) on those false start penalties...

3. Minnesota Vikings, NFC North Champions (12-4)

In my opinion, they are the best all-around team in the playoffs. Elite QB, elite RB, elite WR core, and an elite offensive/defensive line. That linebacker core took a hit with the loss of EJ Henderson, and how good would Minny be if they would've kept Darren Sharper, but all in all the defense is still mighty strong. The problem? I think they've heard that their so good all season that they're taking things for granted. Some teams can turn on the light switch for the playoffs, however, this Vikings team is a newer unit without a lot of postseason experience as a team. Can the graybeard do it one time for Eden Prarie? Can Purple Achilles (can't call him Jesus no more, because Jesus wouldn't fumble) hang onto the ball?

Biggest Strengths: Strongest offensive/defensive lineman in football, awesome QB/RB duo.
Biggest Weaknesses: No idea who they want to be, a pass-first offense or a run-first offense.
Most Important Player Coach: Brad Childress, you need to grow a pair and coach this team to glory. Like now.

2. Indianapolis Colts, AFC South Champions (14-2)

With a 2nd Super Bowl, I honestly believe that Peyton can throw his name in the hat as the best QB in NFL history. However, when we really start to think about Indy's legacy...aren't they kinda like the Atlanta Braves? How many 12-win seasons do the Colts have, to then falter in the playoffs? For all of the Colts success, they need another title and that window is starting to creep to a close. Will Bobby Sanders play? Is Jim Caldwell even alive on the sidelines or is he just a figurehead coach?

Biggest Strengths: The most efficient offense in football. Great pass rush.
Biggest Weaknesses: The health of Bob Sanders, turns defense from good to great.
Most Important Player: Duh...Peyton Manning.

1. San Diego Chargers, AFC West Champions (13-3)

An 11-game winning streak will get you the #1 ranking in the ETSF Power Rankings. The utmost props to Kenny and Reeta for touting the greatness of one Philip Rivers. He's a Super Bowl run away from being accepted worldwide as an elite QB. Probably the best TE in football in Antonio Gates (Sorry Dallas & Tony, its the truth) and a top-10 WR in Vincent Jackson. The defense has steadily improved into a bend but don't break unit. The biggest question mark on this team is...LaDainian Tomlinson. You wonder if he's just the ultimate decoy these days or can they still rely on LT to give them one magical postseason. He hasn't shown up in past years, he's got to do it this year for SD to be in SB44.

Biggest Strengths: Elite pass unit, great pass protection. Stout defense.
Biggest Weaknesses: Inconsistent run game, good not great defense.
Most Important Player: Darren Sproles. Mighty Mouse will make or break the Chargers season, I guarantee it.

Final Power Rankings Breakdown
12. New York Jets
11. Cincinnati Bengals
10. Arizona Cardinals
9. Baltimore Ravens
8. New England Patriots
7. Green Bay Packers
6. New Orleans Saints
5. Philadelphia Eagles
4. Dallas Cowboys
3. Minnesota Vikings
2. Indianapolis Colts
1. San Diego Chargers

Its time to decide, who will be #1. Who you got? Who's going to be in Super Bowl 44? My prediction months ago was Philadelphia vs. San Diego. I think I'll stick to it. Who you got?



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