The Top 12 teams in the NFL Playoff Picture all remain the same—it’s their order that’s been jumbled quite a bit since last week’s rankings. Right now the NFC North and AFC Wild Card races are the most exciting in terms of uncertainty—but that’s largely due to inconsistent teams hovering right around .500. Perhaps we’ll see a little more excitement in the top half of the playoff bracket next week: with New England and New Orleans playing in divisional grudge matches this weekend, the Panthers and Bengals might get a chance to snag that #2 seed in their respective conferences… #GetSome
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. (11-2). John Fox returned to the sideline for Denver’s miserably cold victory over the Titans last Sunday. Let’s see if his presence will be enough to guide the Broncos through the AFC postseason and into the Super Bowl.
2. Seattle Seahawks. (11-2). Seattle’s woeful 2nd half on offense Sunday resulted in the Seahawks’ second loss of the season. Nevertheless, Pete Carroll’s team remains seemingly invincible at home. New Orleans couldn’t even beat them during the 2010 season, when the 7-9 NFC West champ stiff-armed the Saints in Seattle.
3. New England Patriots. (10-3). Now that Gronk has suffered a season-ending injury, a lot of league observers expect the Pats to run 4 receiver sets to keep Brady and the passing game going. But don’t be surprised if Belichick is planning to revive New England’s power running game– LaGarrett Blount might be closest thing to feature back since Corey Dillon led team to its last Super Bowl win… Hey, it might be a passing league today, but if the Pats can hold onto the #2 seed in the AFC, the path to the Super Bowl will be cold, with a 50% chance of snow…
4. New Orleans Saints. (10-3). After beating the Panthers in New Orleans, the Saints have a chance to lock the division title up in their penultimate game of the regular season. Before facing the Panthers at Carolina in Week 16, however, New Orleans will have to take care of business on the road against Jeff Fisher’s defensive-minded Rams squad.
Best of the Rest: NFL Power Rankings 5-12
5. Cincinnati Bengals. (9-4). There’s a chance the Bengals could score a bye, the chances of which got slimmer when NE pulled off their last-second fatality against Cleveland. What might make things interesting down to the last game of the season is that Cincinnati holds tiebreakers over New England and the Ravens.
6. Kansas City Chiefs. (10-3). Andy Reid might want to consider playing his backups against Indy in Week 16. Why give Chuck Pagano and his team a chance to prepare for their inevitable Wild Card matchup? #HideThatPlaybook
7. San Francisco 49ers. (9-4). Carolina may hold the tiebreaker over San Fran when it comes to Wild Card seeding, but the 49ers earned the more impressive win against a divisional rival last week. At any rate, why should either the Panthers or 49ers care who is the better Wild Card team? Have you seen the NFC East and North “contenders” that would host them in the playoffs?
8. Carolina Panthers. (9-4). The Panthers can still bounce back from Sunday night’s blowout loss to the Saints and, technically, win the NFC South. We just don’t see it happening while Cam Newton is trying to be a pure pocket passer. Like RGIII and pretty much any of the other breed of new quarterback, the guy is better when his legs are a threat.
9. Philadelphia Eagles. (8-5). Yes, the Eagles currently hold the longest winning-streak in the NFC. But Sunday’s snow-covered victory over Detroit was Philly’s first over a team currently holding a playoff spot today. That’s more of a reason to doubt the Lions than believe in the Eagles.
10. Detroit Lions. (7-6). How are the Lions still not a playoff team? While Jay Cutler and Aaron Rodgers sat out with injuries that should have ended the Bears’ and Packers’ playoff hopes, Detroit has been either winning or losing far too closely the past two months outside of their blowout Thanksgiving victory. The Lions have lost 4 of their last five games against non-divisional foes. Don’t assume this team will beat both the Ravens and the Giants.
11. Baltimore Ravens. (7-6). While they’re not out of AFC North title race, the odds of a victory are slim at this point. They’re going to need to edge out the Dolphins and Jets for the AFC’s last wild card.
12. Indianapolis Colts. (8-5). The first team to clinch a division title looks like the worst playoff bound squad right now. Colts’ fans will be lucky to see their team winning their single home game. But who knows? maybe Tashard Choice will become the catalyst for their latest Super Bowl run #JK #BetterLuckNextYear #PunIntended