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. Seattle Seahawks. (10-1). The ‘Hawks have their bye this week. If home field didn’t give Seattle a big enough advantage, the Seahawks’ extra week of rest and mental prep will boost their edge over New Orleans even higher come Week 13.
2. Denver Broncos. (9-1). Are the Broncos ready to win a championship? Their next two games will show if Peyton Manning has the gumption to snatch home-field advantage away from AFC rivals New England and Kansas City.
3. New Orleans Saints. (8-2). The 49ers would have beaten New Orleans if Drew Brees were more than five feet tall. Saints’ fans should start praying for San Fran to miss the playoffs.
4. New England Patriots. (7-3). Pats’ fans should be thanking the refs for Monday night’s loss— New England may not lose another game this season #SuperBowlRun #ReturnOfGronk
Best of the Rest: NFL Power Rankings 5-12
5. Carolina Panthers. (7-3). Cam Newton outplayed Tom Brady last week. Now he needs to beat Drew Brees TWICE if the Panthers hope to win the NFC South.
6. Kansas City Chiefs. (9-1).The Chiefs’ defense played admirably versus Peyton Manning in their first meeting of 2013. Look for KC’s front four to get off the block faster at Arrowhead Stadium when Denver comes to town. In the meantime, however, no one should be surprised if Phillip Rivers outplays Alex Smith this week, and if the Chargers upset the Chiefs.
7. Cincinnati Bengals. (7-4). The Bengals move up one spot to #7 after crushing the Browns. The Bengals are only two games ahead of their three AFC North rivals, but their path to the divisional crown is clearer than their record suggests: the Browns and Steelers have yet to play their two head-to-head games, and the Ravens will run a gauntlet of playoff-bound teams in their final three games: at Detroit, vs. New England, and at Cincinnati.
8. Indianapolis Colts. (7-3). Another week, another weak win. Hey, Indy could be worse about playing down to their opponents– see Detroit Lions, infra note 9.
9. Detroit Lions. (6-4). The Lions score 27 points in the second quarter last week. Then Detroit screwed the pooch in the second half at Pittsburgh. Don’t be shocked if the Shutdown-Corner-Formerly-Known-As-Revis-Island has a vintage performance when the Bucs’ secondary takes on Calvin Johnson this week.
10. Chicago Bears. (6-4). Fresh off their OT win against the Ravens, the Bears remain in control of the NFC’s second wild card spot. Bargain bin QB Josh McCown is looking so good right now, Chicago might be wise to cut Cutler and his $14 million price tag next season. The Bears will be better off in the long-term if they pick a QB early in the 2014 draft and then let him develop for a year behind McCown. Frankly, Chicago will be better off in the short term too if they spend more money on pass catchers suited to Trestman’s vertical attack.
11. Philadelphia Eagles. (6-5). During Dallas’ bye-week, Philly got back to a winning record for first time since Week 2. The Eagles eliminated the ‘Skins from the NFC East battle last week, but the Giants’ four-game winning streak means that New York has officially crept into Philly’s rear view mirror …
12. Pittsburgh Steelers. (4-6). The battle for the second AFC Wild Card spot just got pathetic. The Jets, Ravens, Chargers, and Browns all lost last week. The Titans have lost Jake Locker for the season, and the Dolphins have lost 40% of their starting offensive line to an HR dispute (and a PR nightmare). Though the Raiders’ win at Houston has stirred up an intriguing QB controversy, Terrell Pryor and Matt McGloin have played a mere 14 NFL games combined. By default, we have to call the Steelers’ win over Detroit the most impressive performance lately amongst the AFC’s mediocre band of Wild Card Contenders.