Week Fourteen Team Rankings

It's been a while since the Cincinnati Bengals have been a contender in the AFC. Where do they stack up against the rest of the NFL? Who's moving up? Who's moving down?

1) New Orleans Saints: What an amazing win last week. The bottom line is this team has too much firepower on offense to keep down all game. Gregg Williams is finally getting to run a defense like he wants to and we're seeing the quality results.

Record: 12-0

Last Ranking: 1

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

2) Indianapolis Colts: The good thing is they are finding a way to win close games. That will come in handy during the playoffs. Getting back starting CB Kelvin Hayden will help as the season progresses. The coaches need his experience in the secondary.

Record: 12-0

Last Ranking: 2

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

3) Minnesota Vikings: Brett Favre, for the first time all season, reverted back to his shaky ways from some previous seasons. He simply made some bad decisions last week. The key for this team is to stay ahead of the down on offense and not make him play from behind. The defense lost one of the better middle linebackers in the NFL last week in E.J. Henderson. The depth on defense is not good enough for this team to withstand any injuries at linebacker or in the secondary.

Record: 10-2

Last Ranking: 3

Needs Still to be Filled: C (veteran depth), MLB (veteran depth), WLB (veteran depth), SLB (veteran depth), S (veteran depth)

4) San Diego Chargers: There probably has not been a better turnaround defensively this season. Ron Rivera has gotten the players to perform with more discipline in many areas. And Rivera has been able to do it despite losing NT Jamal Williams for the season and without getting much out of injured OLB Shawne Merriman. It will be very difficult for any defense to stop San Diego's offense. This actually could be the best team executive vice president and general manager A.J. Smith has put together during his tenure with the Chargers.

Record: 9-3

Last Ranking: 4

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

5) Cincinnati Bengals: While they have a great running game, the lack of a downfield threat in the passing game has been showing lately. The coaches will have to find a way to move the ball down field in the air at some point. That could be a major issue in the playoffs. Have to like the discipline this team plays with on defense. In past years, they seemed to give up too many big plays. That's not the case this season and credit the secondary for that improvement. 

Record: 9-3

Last Ranking: 5

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

6) Arizona Cardinals: Very impressive win last week against the Vikings. They just have to limit the big plays against their defense week since the offense is good enough to score against any opponent.

Record: 8-4

Last Ranking: 9

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

7) Philadelphia Eagles: Despite injuries on both sides of the ball, this team continues to play at an efficient level on both sides of the ball. The red zone offense still isn't scoring enough touchdowns, however.

Record: 8-4

Last Ranking: 8

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

8) Dallas Cowboys: The coaches need to find more pass rush help opposite OLB DeMarcus Ware. Eli Manning had too much time to throw the football last week. Lets face it, they have a passing offense now and make little effort to run the ball consistently. That's not going to help Tony Romo in the long run.

Record: 8-4

Last Ranking: 7

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

9) Denver Broncos: Have to like that the running game is back on schedule, but the loss of starting RT Ryan Harris for the season could become problematic. The defense has really started to come on after a mid-season swoon.

Record: 8-4

Last Ranking: 10

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

10) Green Bay Packers: It's very impressive that despite the losses of two key defensive players (OLB Aaron Kampman and CB Al Harris), this team continues to play at a high level. Credit the coaching staff for keeping this team on course.

Record: 8-4

Last Ranking: 11

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

11) New England Patriots: Despite adding seemingly quality depth in the secondary earlier this year, their pass defense has been porous for a while. That will be this team's downfall if they lose early in the playoffs or don't even make it that far.

Record: 7-5

Last Ranking: 6

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

12) New York Giants: The defensive changes last week seemed to have a positive effect. But will those moves wind up working the rest of the way? They have to find a way to run the ball better. Eli Manning struggled big-time last week and left a lot of big plays on the field. This team still has a lot of issues on both sides of the ball.

Record: 7-5

Last Ranking: 14

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

13) Miami Dolphins: Couldn't be more impressed with Chad Henne last week. While he could improve a little bit with his footwork and accuracy, he clearly is on his way to becoming a good quarterback. But several upgrades are needed at receiver if Henne is to become a franchise signal caller in the future.

Record: 6-6

Last Ranking: 18

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

14) Jacksonville Jaguars: Somehow, they have to find a way to play better on the road. Defensively, the pass rush continues to be a major problem. Derrick Harvey and Quentin Groves are not providing anything when it comes to rushing the passer. The defense needs depth upgrades at cornerback.

Record: 7-5

Last Ranking: 17

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

15) Baltimore Ravens: While Joe Flacco isn't currently playing well, he's not getting much help. The receivers can't get open with any consistency and the lack of big plays of late on offense is really evident. It also doesn't help that the defense has taken a major step down this season in performance over previous years.

Record: 6-6

Last Ranking: 12

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

16) New York Jets: Thank goodness that they have a good running game because rookie QB Mark Sanchez has really struggled with his decision making and accuracy. The defense still is able to hold the opponent to low scores, so the Jets have a chance to win most games if they can move the ball fairly well on offense.

Record: 6-6

Last Ranking: 21

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

17) Pittsburgh Steelers: Offensive coordinator Bruce Arians should be dialing up more running plays in order to keep their struggling defense from being on the field. There's no reason why Rashard Mendenhall should ever have less than 20 carries in each game. Obviously, the absence of SS Troy Polamalu is killing their defense, but the breakdowns in the secondary last week from several players was alarming.

Record: 6-6

Last Ranking: 13

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

18) Tennessee Titans: The coaching staff is finally willing to let Vince Young throw the ball and the results have been surprisingly good thus far. Defensively, the lack of pass rush help opposite Kyle Vanden Bosch is a major issue.

Record: 5-7

Last Ranking: 15

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

19) Atlanta Falcons: Injuries on the offensive line and at running back have really stifled the offense overall. The defense needs help at end and major upgrades at cornerback next season if this team wants to make a playoff run in the future.

Record: 6-6

Last Ranking: 16

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

20) Houston Texans: While the defense has improved this season, they still can't seem to make a big stop when it's needed. As noted many times here, they need to find another quality pass rusher to play opposite Mario Williams. The biggest problem the defense has is in the secondary. Upgrades and better depth at safety are paramount for this team to take a big step next season.

Record: 5-7

Last Ranking: 19

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

21) San Francisco 49ers: As long as Alex Smith is in shotgun formation, he has a chance to be a successful quarterback. He simply is much more comfortable in that scheme. Because the team is finally deep at receiver, they could continue to find success in the passing game. But offensive coordinator Jimmy Raye still needs to find a way to get RB Frank Gore the ball. Defensively, a few quality pass rushers need to be added. Upgrades in the secondary are also needed.

Record: 5-7

Last Ranking: 20

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

22) Carolina Panthers: In an interesting twist for this week's matchup, the Panthers will be looking at a quarterback on the other sideline on Sunday who could have been their future at quarterback. They had very strong interest in undrafted rookie Brian Hoyer, but didn't wind up signing him.

Record: 5-7

Last Ranking: 22

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

23) Chicago Bears: If the Bears make a change at offensive coordinator next season, Charlie Weis would be a great fit. Look at what he did with Tom Brady. He would command instant respect from Jay Cutler. Good to see Jamar Williams, a talented player, perform well last week. The secondary is going to have to be upgraded next season.

Record: 5-7

Last Ranking: 25

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

24) Seattle Seahawks: Matt Hasselbeck has been wearing down of late, and it's time that the coaching staff starts to develop his eventual successor. Rookie QB Mike Teel has enough upside and should get a chance to win the No. 2 job next year. Something is missing from their defense. They have individual talent, but they don't come together on that side of the ball as a unit.

Record: 5-7

Last Ranking: 24

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

25) Buffalo Bills: The coaching staff is making a big mistake by not letting Trent Edwards play. Ryan Fitzpatrick clearly doesn't have what it takes to be an effective starting quarterback on a consistent basis. And they need to make a decision on the running back position and stick with that player. The defense has major issues at both outside linebacker spots and depth is a major problem. The good news is the secondary depth is good and that's one area that doesn't need much upgrading.

Record: 4-8

Last Ranking: 23

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

26) Oakland Raiders: Bruce Gradkowski may have a well below average NFL arm, but he doesn't turn the ball over much. The defense is good enough to keep the team in most games, so it wouldn't be a surprise if the Raiders won a few more games before the end of the season.

Record: 4-8

Last Ranking: 28

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

27) Washington Redskins: Give QB Jason Campbell credit for rebounding from a tough start. He's playing as well now as he ever has. It's good to see them finally getting something out of WR Devin Thomas.

Record: 3-9

Last Ranking: 27

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

28) Kansas City Chiefs: The players play hard for head coach Todd Haley, but there's an overall lack of talent on both sides of the ball. While QB Matt Cassel is not playing well, it would help him if the offensive line would be upgraded. Jamaal Charles is showing that he should figure in prominently at the running back position next season. They must add at least two quality pass rushers next season to help their struggling defense.

Record: 3-9

Last Ranking: 26

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

29) Detroit Lions: This team has enough weapons on offense to be pretty proficient on that side of the ball for years to come. However, the defense will need major upgrades in the front-seven. The secondary, other than FS Louis Delmas, needs upgrading as well.

Record: 2-10

Last Ranking: 29

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

30) St. Louis Rams: It's getting harder for this team to win without quality play from the quarterback position. Give RB Steven Jackson credit for playing through a bad back. Defensively, they need upgrades at several positions.

Record: 1-11

Last Ranking: 30

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

31) Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Despite throwing for five interceptions last week, rookie QB Josh Freeman has been making improvement the last few weeks. The defense will need a major overhaul next season at several positions and depth remains an issue on that side of the ball.

Record: 1-11

Last Ranking: 31

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

32) Cleveland Browns: This team is clearly in the evaluation phase for jobs for next season. They might as well let Brady Quinn throw from the outset of each game so that he can be evaluated properly.

Record: 1-11

Last Ranking: 32

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)

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