Heading into the final week of the NFL season, we’re turning PFPod’s Power Rankings into our playoff predictor. We’ll start picking playoff winners and losers next week. This week, we just rank the 12 teams we know or believe are headed to the postseason.
Think of PFPod’s Rankings as the half-breed love-child of traditional “Power Rankings” and the NFL playoff format: from Best to Worst, we rank the 8 Division Leaders and 2 Wild Card Contenders from each conference. Our Top 12 rankings give you all the fun of a college poll AND a meaningful outlook on the NFL playoff picture!
Top 4: Bye-week bound Divisional Leaders
1. Denver Broncos. (12-3). Peyton Manning looks to follow up last week’s record-breaking 51st TD of the season with the 266 passing yards needed to break Drew Brees’ single-season record. With home-field advantage still up in the air heading into Sunday’s late afternoon games, Denver actually need Manning at the helm until the outcome is certain.
2. Seattle Seahawks. (12-3). Seattle’s Super Bowl prospects look much cloudier after suffering a home loss to Arizona. While the Seahawks’ defense did its part by snagging four interceptions from Carson Palmer, Russell Wilson and the Seattle offense could only muster 10 points and a woeful 192 yards. Watch this week’s game to see if the Rams’ defense can repeat Arizona’s success in containing Wilson’s passing and rushing yardage.
3. New England Patriots. (11-4). LaGarrette Blount had 16 carries for 76 yards and 2 TDs against the Ravens. In case you were wondering, Corey Dillon averaged 18 -24 carries during the Pats’ last postseason run to the Lombardi Trophy, and gained at least 73 yards #BelichickBringsBackTheRunGame #CoreyDillon4ProHOF
4. Carolina Panthers. (11-4). I’d like to speculate on the Panthers’ postseason chances, but there’s no point before they play at Atlanta on Sunday. A first-round bye is not a “gimme” for Carolina.
Best of the Rest: NFL Power Rankings 5-12
5. San Francisco 49ers. (11-4). The 49ers are the only wild card team with a serious shot to make their conference’s championship game.
6. Cincinnati Bengals. (10-5). The AFC North Champions will host the Ravens in this week’s fiercest head-to-head matchup. While Baltimore prays to clinch a wild card berth, the Bengals will be hoping for a win on Sunday (and a Patriots’ loss). Cincinnati desperately wants a first-round bye, something they haven’t experienced since their 1988 Super Bowl run.
7. Philadelphia Eagles. (9-6). The NFL had anticipated a classic Vick v. Romo season finale in the NFC East. Let’s see if the Foles-Orton bout delivers anything remotely close to Must-See TV.
8. Indianapolis Colts. (10-5). Indianapolis proved naysayers wrong with a road win at Kansas City last week. I’ll admit it: Andrew Luck just might win his first playoff game this year.
9. New Orleans Saints. (10-5). New Orleans need a Carolina loss next week to have a shot at the Super Bowl. Simply put, the Saints suck too hard on the road to win four in a row during the postseason.
10. Kansas City Chiefs. (11-4). The AFC’s best Wild Card contender couldn’t even beat the AFC’s weakest divisional leader at Arrowhead last week. Who are they gonna beat on the road in the playoffs? Andy Reid better dig deep in the playbook. And he better start looking for another QB to lead his squad in 2014.
11. San Diego Chargers. (8-7). Yes, we got the Chargers sneaking into the last AFC Wild Card. Prediction: Ravens lose to the Bengals, and the Jets defense blow the Dolphins’ O-line away on the road to victory. BTW, We’re kinda pissed that the Cardinals can’t steal the AFC’s second Wild Card spot. Let’s see if Tampa Bay can upset the Saints and open the door for Bruce Arians’ team to make the NFC playoffs.
12. Green Bay Packers. (7-7-1). Who wants to win the NFC North? If it’s Aaron Rodgers, then maybe the rest of us will pay attention.