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Week 15 Power Poll and Picks

With the Giants falling, the Panthers and Steelers rising, and Tennessee leading us to believe the Jets game was an aberration, there is a logjam of championship-caliber teams at the top of the poll. Check it out.

1. Tennessee Titans (12-1) The Titans have responded well since the Jets disaster, pounding the Lions and Browns by a combined 75-19. A Week 16 bout with the Steelers could be a preview of the AFC Championship if the seeds hold true.

2. New York Giants (11-2) Plaxico Burress aside, the G-Men ran into a desperate Eagles team last Sunday. At this time of the year the more desperate team tends to prevail. Up next for the champs? The desperate Cowboys in Dallas.

3. Pittsburgh Steelers (10-3) The statistics say the ’08 Steelers boast a historic defense. Those who doubted the numbers were surely silenced after watching the Pittsburgh D rise up and stun the Cowboys last week.

4. Carolina Panthers (10-3) The Panthers ran all over the Bucs on Monday night. Now they’re in position to run the Giants off course and steal home field throughout the playoffs. The two heavyweights meet on Dec. 21 in Carolina.

5. Indianapolis Colts (9-4) At one point the Colts were 3-4. Seems about time to start talking about “that team” nobody wants to face in January.

6. Baltimore Ravens (9-4) The Ravens need 11 wins to be assured of a playoff spot. That means a split against the Steelers and Cowboys is essential over the next two weeks. Easier said than done.

7. Dallas Cowboys (8-5) Just a devastating collapse in Pittsburgh last week. That said, Atlanta’s loss swung the wild card tiebreaker in the Cowboys’ favor. The remaining schedule (NYG, BAL, at PHI) may be treacherous, but Dallas now controls its own playoff destiny.

8. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (9-4) It’s December and we’re still waiting for the Bucs to present some proof that they won’t be one and done in the postseason. The “top-notch defense” argument suddenly holds less water after the Carolina game.

9. New England Patriots (8-5) Junior Seau played 28 snaps in the Patriots’ comeback win in Seattle last week. Five days prior to that he was surfing the Pacific. Need you hear any more about the adaptability and resiliency of New England?

10. Philadelphia Eagles (7-5-1) The final score may have read 20-14, but the Eagles thrashed the Giants in their house. Suffice to say it was a timely and resonant first division win for McNabb and company.

Now for the Week 15 picks (home teams in CAPS)

CHICAGO over New Orleans

Washington over CINCINNATI

ATLANTA over Tampa Bay

Seattle over ST. LOUIS

MIAMI over San Francisco

NY JETS over Buffalo

INDIANAPOLIS over Detroit

JACKSONVILLE over Green Bay

San Diego over KANSAS CITY

ARIZONA over Minnesota

Tennessee over HOUSTON

Pittsburgh over BALTIMORE

CAROLINA over Denver

DALLAS over NY Giants

New England over OAKLAND

PHILADELPHIA over CLEVELAND

Last Week: 13-3

Overall: 134-72-1

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