Week Seventeen Team Rankings

Dallas Cowboys QB Tony Romo is starting to put together the kind of consistency that the team has been looking for from him for some time. Can he keep it up? Where does Dallas rank overall? Details inside.

1) Indianapolis Colts: Can they keep their players fresh and still be ready to compete at a high level in the playoffs in two weeks? Time will tell, but the Colts have been through this issue before. It remains to be seen whether or not rookie Curtis Painter is worthy of being starting QB Peyton Manning's backup.

Record: 14-1

Last Ranking: 1

Needs Still to be Filled: QB (veteran depth), RT (veteran depth), SLB (veteran depth), MLB (veteran depth)


2) New Orleans Saints: The offensive line play still is a problem for the Saints. The loss of starting LT Jammal Brown has been evident in recent weeks. The defense hasn't been able to put the same high level of pressure on opposing quarterbacks in recent weeks as they were able to do earlier in the season.

Record: 13-2

Last Ranking: 2

Needs Still to be Filled: LT (veteran depth), RT (veteran depth), DT (depth), SLB (veteran depth)


3) San Diego Chargers: You have to be impressed with the consistency this team shows from both sides of the ball each week. There isn't much not to like with from their play over the last two months or so.

Record: 12-3

Last Ranking: 3

Needs Still to be Filled: LT (veteran depth), G (veteran depth), CB (veteran depth), S (veteran depth)


4) Philadelphia Eagles: The loss of starting C Jamaal Jackson is an issue, but how much of one remains to be seen. Keeping the timing and continuity together on the offensive line is going to be a challenge.

Record: 11-4

Last Ranking: 4

Needs Still to be Filled: LT (veteran depth), C (depth)


5) Dallas CowboysTony Romo is starting to give the team the kind of consistency that they've been looking for from him. While his numbers have been much improved of late, however, NFL Film's Greg Cosell notes that Romo still doesn't always make the right read and correct throws enough each game. That's been an ongoing issue for him. That's what has prevented him from becoming an elite quarterback.

Record: 10-5

Last Ranking: 6

Needs Still to be Filled: LT (veteran depth), OLB (pass rushing depth), CB (veteran depth), S (veteran depth)


6) Minnesota Vikings: It's alarming how the efficiency from both sides of the ball has regressed in recent weeks. We've been saying for some time that their offensive line was average at best and it has shown. Even the defense is struggling, especially in the secondary. Unfortunately, because of a lack of depth, there isn't much that can be done.

Record: 11-4

Last Ranking: 5

Needs Still to be Filled: C (veteran depth), G (veteran depth), MLB (veteran depth), WLB (veteran depth), SLB (veteran depth), SS (veteran depth), FS (veteran depth)


7) Arizona Cardinals: As long as they can protect starting QB Kurt Warner, this team can go far again in the playoffs. And they finally have found their long lost running game.

Record: 10-5

Last Ranking: 7

Needs Still to be Filled: LT (veteran depth upgrade), RT (veteran depth), G (veteran depth), C (veteran depth), CB (depth), S (veteran depth)


8) New England Patriots: Many are still not convinced that this team is as good as their record indicates. Still, a healthy Tom Brady can move the ball against any defense, and they are running the ball fairly well. The defense, however, remains as the issue. Can they stop good passing teams?

Record: 10-5

Last Ranking: 9

Needs Still to be Filled: QB (veteran depth), WR (veteran depth), G (veteran depth), ILB (depth)


9) Cincinnati Bengals: The problem this team has is if they have to pass to win, it appears that the can't do it. The lack of a downfield passing threat is a major problem.

Record: 10-5

Last Ranking: 8

Needs Still to be Filled: WR (speed), LT (veteran depth), G (veteran depth), CB (veteran depth/nickel), S (depth)


10) Green Bay Packers: The coaches have done a nice job of getting the players to stay the course despite some mid-season struggles on both sides of the ball. The biggest problem this team will have in the playoffs is against good passing teams. The secondary clearly is the weakness of the defense.

Record: 10-5

Last Ranking: 10

Needs Still to be Filled: QB (veteran depth), G (veteran depth), DE (veteran depth), OLB (pass rushing depth), CB (veteran depth)


11) Houston Texans: The offense continues to be the strength of this football team. However, the defense finally started to make strides this season. Still, there must be depth upgrades at several positions on that side of the ball.

Record: 8-7

Last Ranking: 15

Needs Still to be Filled: G (depth), DE (veteran pass rushing depth)


12) New York Jets: This team probably has underachieved a bit this season. The defense hasn't been nearly as dominant as some thought it would be. They played well against the weaker offenses, but had problems against the better ones.

Record: 8-7

Last Ranking: 18

Needs Still to be Filled: WR (slot), G (veteran depth), RT (veteran depth), DE (depth), OLB (veteran depth)


13) New York Giants: The defense has completely fallen apart and you have to wonder if it's the players or the scheme?

Record: 8-7

Last Ranking: 11

Needs Still to be Filled: RT (veteran depth), G (depth), S (veteran depth upgrade)


14) Baltimore Ravens: Pass protection continues to be a big problem for their offense. The secondary lacks good enough cover defenders for Baltimore to win consistently.

Record: 8-7

Last Ranking: 12

Needs Still to be Filled: G (veteran depth), ILB (veteran depth), OLB (veteran depth), S (veteran depth)


15) Pittsburgh Steelers: At least this team is still competing for a playoff spot despite suffering some key injuries on defense. Still, the lack of quality depth at various positions on both sides of the ball is an ongoing issue.

Record: 8-7

Last Ranking: 17

Needs Still to be Filled: G (veteran depth), RT (veteran depth), LT (veteran depth), C (veteran depth), OLB (depth)


16) Denver Broncos: The reality is this team was not close to as good as their record indicated it was earlier in the season. Kyle Orton is a very limited thrower and is probably a much better backup than a starting quarterback.

Record: 8-7

Last Ranking: 13

Needs Still to be Filled: LT (veteran depth upgrade), G (veteran depth), C (veteran depth)


17) San Francisco 49ers: This team is what many thought they would be this season--very average. They have mostly average talent on both sides of the ball save RB Frank Gore and ILB Patrick Willis. Upgrades are needed at several positions on both sides of the ball if they want to be a playoff contender next season.

Record: 7-8

Last Ranking: 22

Needs Still to be Filled: G (depth), RT (veteran depth), OLB (pass rushing depth)


18) Tennessee Titans: Vince Young had been playing very well up until last week's performance against the Chargers. He needs to stay in the pocket more and to go through his passing progressions better.

Record: 7-8

Last Ranking: 14

Needs Still to be Filled: G (veteran depth), LT (veteran depth), RT (veteran depth), WLB (veteran depth), MLB (veteran depth)


19) Atlanta Falcons: The problem the Falcons have on offense is their inability to get big plays from the running game as they did last season. Getting back veteran RB Michael Turner healthy next season is paramount to the success of the offense. But the defense is really the biggest issue with this team. Upgrades and depth at several positions on that side of the ball.

Record: 8-7

Last Ranking: 20

Needs Still to be Filled: WR (depth), RT (veteran depth), SLB (depth), MLB (depth), WLB (depth), S (veteran depth upgrade)


20) Miami Dolphins: Starting QB Chad Henne is throwing the ball way too much of late, but you can still see how talented he is. He puts the ball usually only where his intended pass target can catch the ball. The defense still is way too inconsistent for Miami to be a realistic playoff contender.

Record: 7-8

Last Ranking: 16

Needs Still to be Filled: G (veteran depth), LT (veteran depth), RT (veteran depth), NT (depth), ILB (depth)


21) Carolina Panthers: At least the team is showing improvement of late despite being eliminated from playoff contention. However, the major problem for this team is still at quarterback. It would also help if they could develop a few young receivers.

Record: 7-8

Last Ranking: 21

Needs Still to be Filled: WR (veteran depth), LT (veteran depth), RT (veteran depth), G (veteran depth), SLB (veteran depth), WLB (veteran depth), CB (nickel/depth)


22) Jacksonville Jaguars: The offense needs to be more consistent. However, that's not this team's biggest problem. The pass rush and secondary play has been horrific way too many times lately. It looks like the front office missed badly on Derrick Harvey and Quentin Groves.

Record: 7-8

Last Ranking: 19

Needs Still to be Filled: WR (veteran depth), C (depth), DE (depth), OLB (veteran pass rushing depth), ILB (veteran depth), CB (veteran depth)


23) Chicago Bears: We saw a glimpse of the enormous potential from Jay Cutler in last week's game against the Vikings. He just needs to mature and trust the offensive system. The running game and offensive line, however, remain huge issues.

Record: 6-9

Last Ranking: 24

Needs Still to be Filled: QB (veteran depth), G (depth), OT (depth), DE (depth), MLB (depth)


24) Cleveland Browns: Head coach Eric Mangini is getting his players to still play hard despite the lack of talent at several positions on both sides of the ball. This is yet another team that still has to find their starting quarterback of the future. The defense needs upgrades and depth at just about every position.

Record: 4-11

Last Ranking: 27

Needs Still to be Filled: WR (speed), LT (depth), RT (depth), NT (depth), ILB (veteran depth), OLB (pass rusher), CB (veteran depth), S (veteran depth)


25) Oakland Raiders: Head coach Tom Cable deserves to come back for another season. He's getting just about all he can from the talent he's been given from both sides of the ball. However, this team has no shot at the playoffs until they solve their problem at quarterback.

Record: 5-10

Last Ranking: 23

Needs Still to be Filled: G (depth), MLB (depth), SLB (depth), CB (depth)


26) Buffalo Bills: No team has been hit by injuries worse than the Bills. Even so, the offensive line still needs upgrading. The defense needs help and depth at linebacker.

Record: 5-9

Last Ranking: 25

Needs Still to be Filled: TE (veteran depth), G (depth), RT (depth), LT (depth), WLB (upgrade/veteran depth), SLB (depth), MLB (depth)


27) Seattle Seahawks: Since the team has nothing to play for, why not take a look at rookie QB Mike Teel? Justin Forsett may have played himself into a significant role for next season. The defense needs upgrading and improved depth at several positions.

Record: 5-10

Last Ranking: 26

Needs Still to be Filled: RT (depth), G (veteran depth)


28) Washington Redskins: With Mike Shanahan expected to come on as head coach next season, you wonder if he would want Jason Campbell back as the starting quarterback. Shanahan is one of the best teachers of that position in the NFL.

Record: 4-11

Last Ranking: 28

Needs Still to be Filled: G (veteran depth), LT (veteran depth), RT (veteran depth), WLB (depth), S (veteran depth)


29) Kansas City Chiefs: The Chiefs have perhaps the NFL's worst offensive line. Once they get that straightened out, it will become a lot easier to evaluate the performance of QB Matt Cassel. The talent on defense still needs upgrades and depth at several positions.

Record: 3-12

Last Ranking: 29

Needs Still to be Filled: LT (depth), G (depth), DE (depth), OLB (pass rushing depth), CB (veteran depth), S (depth)


30) Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Say what you want about head coach Raheem Morris, but he's getting his players are still competing hard. The one thing Tampa Bay can hang their hat on offense is their running game. The problem they have is on defense. The talent level on that side of the ball remains a big issue.

Record: 3-12

Last Ranking: 31

Needs Still to be Filled: G (depth), C (depth), LT (depth), RT (depth), DT (veteran depth), DE (veteran depth), CB (depth/nickel), S (depth)


31) Detroit Lions: It's too bad rookies QB Matthew Stafford and TE Brandon Pettigrew are out because the Lions have enough talent on offense to move the ball fairly well each week. The defense, however, needs major work.

Record: 2-13

Last Ranking: 30

Needs Still to be Filled: LT (depth), DE (veteran depth), SLB (veteran depth), S (depth)


32) St. Louis Rams: Rookie QB Keith Null, despite his statistics, has shown some positive signs during his four starts. Still, the Rams need a major upgrade at quarterback if they are to be a realistic playoff contender in years to come.

Record: 1-14

Last Ranking: 32

Needs Still to be Filled: LT (veteran depth), G (depth), DT (veteran depth), SLB (veteran depth), WLB (veteran depth), MLB (veteran depth), CB (veteran depth)

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