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Week 17 NFL Power Rankings (Contenders)

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As  much fun as it is to write about the also-rans, there is really no point. With that said, here are the power rankings for teams that still have a shot of making the playoffs:

1. (1) New England Patriots (13-2) – The Pats took apart a Bills team that had been playing better as of late. They look like a juggernaut, but their defense has no problem allowing points, so one bad game from Brady may stop them… that may be the only thing that can.

2. (2) Atlanta Falcons (12-3) – Matty Ice and the Falcons couldn’t get it done against the Saints. It remains to be seen if they were hiding some of their playbook thinking that they may see New Orleans week 2 of the playoffs. Some experts still don’t believe in the Falcons, but at 12-3, with home-field throughout they are hard to ignore.

3. (3) Pittsburgh Steelers (11-4) – The Steelers destroyed the Panthers, like they should have, but still don’t move up. After all, beating the Panthers isn’t exactly something to be proud of. A win this week and they get a much-needed bye to get Troy Polamalu healthy. With him, the sky is the limit, without him, they are beatable.

4. (6) New Orleans Saints (11-4) –.Drew Brees and the Saints had a chance to make a statement at Atlanta and they did just that. They solidified their #4 seed and first round bye in the form of a playoff game against the Rams or Seahawks. After that anything is possible as this team has been flying under the radar all year and is starting to get healthy when it counts.

5. (5) Baltimore Ravens (11-4) – I may be underrating the Ravens here considering they did beat the Saints just a week ago, but something about them just doesn’t pass the eye-test for me. Maybe it’s watching their defense give up drive after drive, who knows, but #5 seems about right to me. The first round game against could be a classic, and if asked, I’ll take the Colts.

6. (7) Chicago Bears (11-4) – The Bears have clinched a first round bye and the #2 seed overall in the NFC. They are silencing all of the naysayers, but a 2nd round matchup against the Eagles or defending Super Bowl Champion Saints could be their downfall.

7. (4) Philadelphia Eagles (10-5) – The Eagles have locked up the #3 seed and will be resting most of their starters this week. They lost their chance at a playoff bye on Tuesday night with a joke of a performance against Joe Webb and the Vikings. Instead it looks like they will be taking on Aaron Rodgers and the Packers.

8. (10) Green Bay Packers (9-6) – The Packers embarrassed the flailing Giants and built momentum as they head toward the playoffs. As of now a win and they are in with a first round game against the Michael Vick-led Eagles. They can get in with other scenarios, but they will want to take care of business against the Bears, if they can.

9. (11) Indianapolis Colts (9-6) – Last year the Colts offense peaked in week 15, this year they are peaking as they head into the playoffs. That makes them very dangerous, but they still need a win this week or a Jaguars loss to get in. Once they are in, a probable first round matchup with the Ravens will be the premier game of playoff week 1.

10. (9) New York Jets (10-5) – This team just isn’t what many expected. Sure Mark Sanchez is living up to the hype (read: terrible), and they are 10-5, but it’s a weak 10-5, and after giving up 38 to the Bears, they are in deep trouble. Their only saving grace is a probable first round matchup with the Chiefs, but with the Jets, nothing is a gimme.

11. (9) New York Giants (9-6) – The Giants are taking on water at a Titanic-like rate. They need a win and a Packers loss to qualify, and in all probability save Tom Coughlin’s job. Eli Manning has been paying tribute to Brett Favre this season with 24 INTs to go along with his 30 TDs… let’s hope he doesn’t start sending out cell-phone pictures.

12. (12) Kansas City Chiefs (10-5) – Of the teams currently qualified for the playoffs, the Chiefs, in my eyes have the least possibility of winning the Super Bowl. This squad simply is simply playing above their heads. They have earned themselves a home game in Wild-Card weekend, but they will be one and done.

13. (15) Tampa Bay Buccaneers (9-6) – In order to qualify, the Bucs need to beat the Saints and have the Packers lose to the Bears and Giants lose to the Redskins. I don’t see it happening, and a 10 win team may not make the playoffs. In the case of the Bucs, I don’t see this team anywhere near 10 wins next year, so that makes it doubly disappointing.

14. (14) Jacksonville Jaguars (8-7) – The Jags have to beat the Texans and need the Colts to spit the bit against the Titans. It will be even tougher without Maurice Jones-Drew this week. They can hope, but I think they will come up a little bit short, and continue the pattern of Jack Del Rio teams fading down the stretch.

15. (20) St. Louis Rams (7-8) – The winner of the Sunday night matchup against the Seahawks wins the CFL South and earns the right to get destroyed by the Saints next week. Lost in the Sam Bradford love-fest is that he has a passer rating lower than Alex Smith, but at least it’s higher than last-year’s version: Mark Sanchez. Not saying Bradford won’t be good, I think he will, he just isn’t yet.

16. (21) Seattle Seahawks (6-9) – If Seattle wins, they will win the CFL South with a 7-9 record. Even if they lose, Pete Carroll with his 6 wins will still be bowl eligible. I’m sure he would like to make the playoffs, but given how he reacted after Jim Harbaugh and Stanford embarrassed his Trojans last season, he may want to stay away from the Saints.

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