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1. SEATTLE SEAHAWKS (12-2) [Last week +2] – I was worried about their long trip to play the Giants, but the defense ended that concern. That was dominant. After one week in the No. 3 spot, the Seahawks are back where they belong in the power rankings. One more victory and they lock up the top seed.
2. DENVER BRONCOS (11-3) [Last week -1] – They looked lifeless against the Chargers and the defense isn’t getting the job done. They aren’t close to the unbeatable juggernaut they appeared to be through the first 10 weeks of the year. They will finish with the Raiders and Texans, and should have home field advantage throughout the AFC playoffs.
3. SAN FRANCISCO 49ERS (10-4) [Last week +1] – They look like the 49ers from last season. Colin Kaepernick is playing some of his best ball of the year since Michael Crabtree has returned, while the defense is playing like the dominate squad we all thought they would be. The Niners are getting hot at the right time, and with a playoff spot on the line with a win in Week 16, expect Harbaugh’s team to come out firing.
4. CAROLINA PANTHERS (10-4) [Last week +2] – They can win the division by winning their last two, and with a home game this week against the Saints they are in the drivers seat. Cam Newton has a 8-1 record over the past nine weeks, and if this team can get past the New Orleans this weekend, they will be very dangerous at home in the first round of the playoffs.
5. KANSAS CITY CHEIFS (11-3) [Last week +2] – Jamaal Charles has been a absolute beast this season, and looks to be one of the front runners for MVP of the league. Andy Reid’s offense has taken a step forward the last two weeks and looks to have his team primed for the playoffs. With two wins, and help, they still can win the AFC West.
6. NEW ORLEANS SAINTS (10-4) [Last week -4] - How do they lose that way at St. Louis? The Saints’ run at the top of the power rankings was short-lived, and now Drew Brees and company face a red-hot Panthers squad looking for revenge. The Saints need to find a way to bounce back this Sunday in Carolina, or they could see themselves on the road for the first round of the playoffs.
7. NEW ENGLAND PATRIOTS (10-4) [Last week -2] – Can’t really blame Tom Brady for struggling in the Pats loss to the Dolphins, he’s playing without Gronk, Dobson or Thompkins. They are a playoff team, yes, but not as much of a Super Bowl contender as once thought. The Patriots have two weeks to get back on track, and then it’s off to the playoffs, where a first-round bye and a home game likely await them.
8. ARIZONA CARDINALS (9-5) [Last week +3] – To have a playoff chance, they have to win at Seattle and at home against San Francisco. That will be tough. But whatever the final outcome is, Bruce Arians has this team headed in the right direction.
9. CHICAGO BEARS (8-6) [Last week +3] – The Bears sent a message Monday night, as Chicago’s offense pounded the Cowboys putting up 45 points without breaking a sweat. Josh McCown is making a case for himself to stay the Bears QB, while Jay Cutler recovers from injury. With games against CLE, PHI, and GB, the Bears will have some work in front of them as they chase the Lions in the NFC North.
10. CINCINNATI BENGALS (9-5) [Last week -2] – A loss to the Steelers really hurts the Bengals, as it leaves the door open for the reigning Super Bowl champs to steal the AFC North. Once again, Andy Dalton proves to a horrible passer, possessing the worst total QBR of any quarterback on a division leader (52.8).
11. PHILADELPHIA EAGLES (8-6) [Last week -2] – Even with the bad loss to the Vikings, Chip Kelly’s team still controls its own playoff fate. They will face the Bears and Cowboys to finish the season.
12. INDIANAPOLIS COLTS (9-5) [Last week +2] – The Colts offense woke up against the Texans, but then again who hasn’t put up points against Houston. They are still going to host a playoff game at home, but unless Trent Richardson can find some magic, and the defense has a complete turn around, I just don’t see this team getting out of the Wild Card round.
13. BALTIMORE RAVENS (8-6) [Last Week +2] – With two weeks to go, the defending Super Bowl champions are the No. 6 seed in the crowded AFC and just one game back from the AFC North-leading Cincinnati Bengals. The defense is playing great, but unless this offense, lead by Joe Flacco, can bust out, I don’t see them beating one of the top teams in the playoffs.
14. MIAMI DOLPHINS (8-6) [Last week +2] – Ok, ok, it was a good win against a battered Patriots squad, but once again I’m still not a believer. Ryan Tannehill looked great with three touchdown passes, but why can’t he perform like that on a consistent basis? If they win out, they are a playoff team, they will have to beat the Bills and Jets in their final two weeks.
15. GREEN BAY PACKERS (7-6-1) [Last week +3] – With Aaron Rodgers likely to be back in Week 16, the postseason looms for the Packers. The Packers are currently behind the Detroit Lions and Chicago Bears in the NFC North standings. But with a win next week versus Pittsburgh, the Packers would head to Chicago for a Week 17 showdown that could determine the division winner
15. DETROIT LIONS (7-7) [Last week -4] - As has become too common in Detroit, the Lions’ inconsistencies cost them. They are fighting for their playoff lives. Two weeks to go, and anything is possible.
16. SAN DIEGO CHARGERS (7-7) [Last week +2] – Their takedown of the Denver Broncos on Thursday night not only gave head coach Mike McCoy his signature win of the year, but it also kept the team’s playoff hopes alive for another week. The 2013 season may not end with a playoff berth, but the Chargers are a team to be reckoned with moving forward.
16. DALLAS COWBOYS (7-7) [Last week -5] – That was just embarrassing. Blame Tony Romo, blame Jerry Jones, blame Jason Garrett, the whole team is a joke. Dez Bryant is crying and the defense looks like a pee-wee football team. However, in some miraculous way, the Cowboys control their own playoff destiny by winning their two games against the Redskins and Eagles.
TEAMS NOT WORTH RANKING: Each week I will put a new team in this group, lets hope yours isn’t one of them. Once their in, they can’t come back out. Jets proving me wrong so far, after an early week 2 entry.
- JACKSONVILLE JAGUARS (4-10) – Week 1
- NEW YORK JETS (6-8) -Week 2
- TAMPA BAY BUCCANEERS (4-10) – Week 3
- PITTSBURGH STEELERS (6-8) -Week 4
- NEW YORK GIANTS (5-9) – Week 5
- MINNESOTA VIKINGS (4-9-1) – Week 6
- ST. LOUIS RAMS (6-8) – Week 7
- HOSTON TEXANS (2-12) – Week 8
- ATLANTA FALCONS (4-10) – Week 9
- BUFFALO BILLS (4-9) – Week 10
- WASHINGTON REDSKINS (3-11) – Week 11
- OAKLAND RAIDERS (4-10) – Week 12
- CLEVELAND BROWNS (4-10) – Week 13
- TENNESSEE TITANS (5-9) – WEEK 14