Each week, we will bring you staff NFL Power Rankings. The overall rankings are a combination of polls submitted by Justin Rozzero, Marc Clair, Chad Campbell, Greg Phillips, Andrew Flanagan & Maurice Pogue. Each team is assigned points based on rank and then compiled and ranked overall based on total points. Managing Editor Brad Woodling has the power to break ties.
- Seattle Seahawks (190 pts): Despite losing the game, Seattle proved its mettle by basically playing the Niners to a draw on the road after dominating them at home earlier in the season. This is the most complete team in the league and could get even more dangerous come playoff time if Percy Harvin can contribute. They now have to hope that injuries and/or suspensions do not derail the train.
- Denver Broncos (187 pts): The juggernaut Broncos offense ran through a good Tennessee pass defense, hopefully quelling the “Peyton Manning can’t play in cold weather” crew for a bit. The main concern for this team still remains on defense, where they had trouble stopping a weak Titans offense. They also need to hope that Wes Welker’s concussion isn’t serious enough to keep him out multiple weeks.
- New Orleans Saints (178 pts): The Saints gave the league a reminder that they are still the team to beat in the NFC South by pounding the Panthers on Sunday night. However, they do need to prove they can win big games on the road, mainly because the road to the Super Bowl is going through Seattle. A win in Carolina in two weeks time will go a long way in easing those fears.
- New England Patriots (173 pts): The Pats continue to struggle in the first half and turn up the heat late to win games. It is a dangerous way to play, because at some point they are likely to come up short, a point we are sure Belichick & Brady are aware of. The loss of Rob Gronkowski is a major blow that totally changes their offense, but the emergence of the versatile Shane Vereen should offset some of the blow. The division is all but locked up, but this team still has a first round bye and home field advantage in the crosshairs.
- San Francisco 49ers (168 pts): The Niners are rounding into form and getting healthy and cohesive at exactly the right time. Winning a tight game over the best team in the league was a great sign and helped them pull away from the Cardinals in the Wild Card race. San Francisco also has plenty of playoff experience, gathered over the previous two seasons. They finish up with a fairly soft schedule and two more wins will render their final game against Arizona meaningless.
- Kansas City Chiefs (161 pts): The reeling Chiefs steadied the ship with a dominant victory over a disintegrating Redskins squad. The defense was back to dominating and the offense looked as smooth as it has all season, marching up and down the season with ease. The question that lingers: was it a product of themselves or their opponents? Based on their remaining schedule, we just may get a chance to find out before the playoffs start.
- Carolina Panthers (159 pts): The Panthers were due for a bad game and there is no shame in losing in the Superdome, but they will need to beat the Saints at home in two weeks to help prove they are a legit contender and not a fringe team. They can bounce back by taking care of business of the Jets before welcoming Brees into what should be a ruckus stadium. Is Riverboat Ron up to the challenge? Time will tell.
- Cincinnati Bengals (148 pts): The Bengals continued their dominance at home, shellacking the AFC South kingpin Colts. A loss by the Patriots would have put Cincy in prime position for a potential bye, but all hope isn’t lost yet as they hold the tiebreaker over the Pats. A bye and home game would be huge for a team that has struggled on the road in playoff games as of late.
- Philadelphia Eagles (143 pts): The Eagles delivered a very impressive signature win Sunday, smothering the Lions in the snow and proving that the Chip Kelly offense can run smoothly in any type of weather. Shady McCoy had a monster game and Nick Foles continues to master the offense. Imagine how good this team would have been if Jeremy Maclin was around? If the defense can make an opportunistic play once or twice a game, taking adavantge of mistakes, this team is in position for a surprising playoff push.
- Indianapolis Colts (132 pts): The Colts are falling apart at the wrong time, having alternating shaky wins and bad losses over the past six weeks. They won the division title by default thanks to the rest of the division also sucking, so the Colts will not be a strong playoff team and could be looking at a quick out at the hands of the Chiefs in round one.
- Detroit Lions (131 pts): The Lions may be in trouble. This division should have been locked up weeks ago and the team should be a bit embarrassed that they have allowed Josh McCown and Matt Flynn-led teams to linger in the race. If Aaron Rodgers returns this weekend and with a hungry Baltimore team on deck for the Lions, things may get tighter very soon.
- Chicago Bears (123 pts): The Bears picked up a very dominant and impressive win over the Cowboys, shutting down a very potent offense while scoring on every possession of the game until the final series of kneel downs. Chicago now has an interesting decision ahead: stick with Josh McCown or install Jay Cutler back into the starter spot? The decision could make or break their playoff push.
- Arizona Cardinals (117 pts): The impressive Cardinals have won five of six and sit just one game back of the 49ers for an unlikely playoff slot. The problem, however, is that after a winnable game at Tennessee, they finish with the Seahawks and Niners, meaning if they make the playoffs they REALLY would have earned it. Regardless, this has been a very positive year in Arizona with a lot of promise to look forward to in the coming years, especially if they finally find a young QB to groom.
- Baltimore Ravens (114 pts): It was not pretty or impressive, but the Ravens yet again found a way to win a game late, a game that kept them clinging to a playoff spot. With the Lions, Patriots and Bengals up next, they have some work to do if they want a chance to repeat as Champions, but good day for Ray Rice and a return to dominant run defense has them feeling better than they did a month ago.
- Dallas Cowboys (113 pts): The Cowboys came up empty on Monday Night, getting thrashed by an amped up Bears team. It was a tough loss, putting them one game back of the Eagles, giving Philly control of their own destiny down the stretch. They now welcome in a Packers team that could have Aaron Rodgers back behind center as well. If they don’t turn things around over the final three weeks, it could be time for Jerry Jones to clean house.
- San Diego Chargers (101 pts): San Diego has been inconsistent throughout the year, but thanks to a solid season from Philip Rivers, they are still on playoff life support. Similar to Arizona, if this team were to make the playoffs, it will have earned it as they still play at Denver and host Kansas City before the season ends. Either way, they have clearly found some very good offensive weapons for the future in Danny Woodhead and Keenan Allen, both of whom have delivered breakout campaigns.
- Miami Dolphins (97 pts): They nearly choked it away late, but the feisty Dolphins hung on to knock off the Steelers in snowy Pittsburgh. Ryan Tannehill’s Wild Ride continues, but he has been playing well as of late. Thanks to Baltimore’s tough schedule, Miami has a very good chance at the final wild card slot, but that would include beating the arch-enemy Patriots this Sunday. Miami was dominating the Pats in the first half back in October, but fell apart late in the game and kicked away a winnable game. This time around, if they jump out to a hot start, they will need to step on Brady’s throat. Their playoff hopes will depend on it.
- Green Bay Packers (93 pts): Just when we want to leave them for dead, the Packers stick their arm up that one last time, wagging their finger defiantly. After a narrow win over the Falcons, the Pack sits just a half game out of the division lead. With Detroit’s loss keeping them alive, it looks like Aaron Rodgers may see game time again this season. If Rodgers can get this team to a division title, he may be the first Comeback Player of the Year that returned in the same season in which he got injured.
- Pittsburgh Steelers (78 pts): They almost pulled out a miracle win over Miami, but Antonio Brown barely stepped out-of-bounds, ending the game for the Steelers. It was actually pretty ironic that he stepped out not too far from where Mike Tomlin tried to trip up Jacoby Jones just ten days before. The Steelers are just about done now, capping off a very disappointing year. They can toss a wrench in the plans of the Bengals and continue to play hard to save Tomlin, who may actually be on the warm seat.
- New York Jets (70 pts): The Jets were due for a big win and with his full complement of weapons finally back on the field, Geno Smith produced his best game in seven weeks. They have a very outside shot at the playoffs but the Ravens’ last second win put a damper on those hopes. This week they face the Panthers on the road, and there is no better chance for Geno to save his job down the stretch. This team has banked more wins than were predicted and word is circulating that it is enough to have saved Rex Ryan’s job.
- Cleveland Browns (70 pts): The Browns had a marquee win in Foxboro at their fingertips, but managed to blow a late 12 point lead in an excruciating manner. With the defense and weapons this team features, you really have to wonder how good they could have been with Brian Hoyer at the helm for a full season. The Browns are in good position as the build for sustained success, but can they get out of their own way?
- Tennessee Titans (62 pts): What could have been a successful season capped by a playoff run has come crashing down in Tennessee. When Jake Locker went down, the team continued to play well but it was just a matter of time before they ran out of gas under the overmatched Ryan Fitzpatrick. They gave Denver a game last week, playing hard for Mike Munchak right to the end. They now have a chance to effectively end Arizona’s season at home.
- New York Giants (62 pts): A lost season in the Meadowlands is almost mercilessly over. The Giants played like zombies in San Diego, sleep walking to another loss. Their dead cat bounce in the middle of the season seems like a decade ago and now they welcome the Seahawks into MetLife. This game will tell us a lot about the pride of Big Blue and how badly they want to give Coach Tom Coughlin a reason (or chance) to stay.
- St. Louis Rams (61 pts): The Rams have been a frustrating team to watch, as the talent is there and it comes out in big ways at times. But when it doesn’t, they are really tough to watch. With some legit weapons in place, the team needs to decide if Sam Bradford is the answer or if they should use one of their many picks on a new franchise QB.
- Buffalo Bills (49 pts): EJ Manuel is back from the DL but has not looked good since returning, capped by a four interception day in Tampa. It is another lost season in Buffalo, a year that will once again end with more questions than answers.
- Tampa Bay Buccaneers (48 pts): Tampa Bay has really turned things around and showed why they were picked as a playoff team by many outlets back in the preseason. Having won four of their last five, the team has to determine if they have found their QB and also if Greg Schiano is still a lock to be canned. You have to think the answer to the second question is still a resounding yes.
- Oakland Raiders (36 pts): The Raiders showed some flashes of promise in the middle of the season, but things have fallen apart very quickly. Coming off a tough loss to the up and down Jets, the Raiders now have to deal with the Chiefs. As the team alternates QB series in an attempt to evaluate, you have to wonder if either is really the best choice for the future.
- Minnesota Vikings (31 pts): It is time to shut down Adrian Peterson. No point in risking further injury in a moribund season. We said it here before week one: this team has serious issues at the QB position that will kill any chance it has to compete. That needs to be rectified ASAP.
- Jacksonville Jaguars (27 pts): Don’t look now, but those gritty Jags have won four of five and actually have a chance to finish in second place in the division. Not sure if that is the best move for the future of the franchise, but good on them for playing hard and continuing to develop. Not that he has been great by any stretch, but too bad they didn’t start Chad Henne from day one, because with such a soft division, anything could have happened.
- Atlanta Falcons (20 pts): Atlanta would be best served to drop some games late because they need a true defensive game changer and a high draft pick could net them a certain Mr. Clowney.
- Washington Redskins (17 pts): What a difference a year makes. The Redskins are in utter disarray and it looks like the ShanaClan is heading out the door at some point in the next three weeks. RG3 should be shut down and rested and prepped for next year. It will be the only way to determine which RG3 is the real RG3.
- Houston Texans (7 pts): What a disaster.
Biggest Rise: Cleveland Browns (+4)
Biggest Fall: Dallas Cowboys (-5)
PTB Game to Watch: Baltimore @ Detroit, ESPN, Monday Night, 8;30PM
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