There are two superpowers left in the NFL, one in each conference. The 10-2 Falcons and the 10-2 Patriots have one month to survive before clinching homefield advantage in the playoffs, and then the real fun starts. But before we start setting playoff seeds, we need to figure out who is the best right now. Keep reading to find out where your team landed. And of course, let me know what you think in the comments below!
Last Week: 1
New England Patriots (10-2)If you saw the Monday night massacre, you know that this team can score. But it’s the defense that’s stepped up in the last month, making key plays and allowing an average of 20 points per game in the team’s last four games. That may not sound impressive, but when your offense is scoring over 30 points a game, it will get the job done.
Last Week: 3
Atlanta Falcons (10-2)They keep winning, but it’s by the closest of margins. After last-second wins by 3 and 4 in their last two games, the Falcons sit atop the NFC. Just remember what happened to the Jets after a string of a couple close wins…
Last Week: 5
Pittsburgh Steelers (9-3)The number two seed in the AFC is theirs to lose following that tough victory over the Ravens. If Big Ben can continue to make plays on his broken foot, they should be fine.
Last Week: 6
Baltimore Ravens (8-4)They were one bad play call away from finally beating Big Ben. Unfortunately, that one play (Joe Flacco dropping back to pass late in a game they were winning before being strip-sacked) may drop them from a potential two seed to a potential five seed in the playoffs.
Last Week: 9
Green Bay Packers (8-4)Their offense is as pretty as their throwback uniforms in Week 13 are ugly. The Pack has scored 31 or more in three (all wins) of their last four games to stay right on the heels of the Bears in the NFC North.
Last Week: 2
New York Jets (9-3)Do you realize the only team the Jets have beaten this season with a winning record is the Patriots? And that was when the Patriots were 1-0 in Week 2? It’s only one loss, but Jets fans better hope that big blowout on Monday night was a fluke and not a sign of things to come.
Last Week: 7
Chicago Bears (9-3)It’s better to win a trap game than to lose a trap game, and the Bears did just that in knocking off the Lions. Up next comes the real measuring stick: the red-hot Patriots and Tom Brady. Julius Peppers has five sacks in his last three games, and he needs to continue getting to the quarterback if the Bears are going to have any chance to pull off the upset at home.
Last Week: 10
Philadelphia Eagles (8-4)Michael Vick continues to light up the stat sheet, but every week, he seems to get dinged up just a little more. The Eagles have to protect their quarterback, and Vick has to stay in the pocket more, if Philly wants to make a real run in the post-season.
Last Week: 8
New Orleans Saints (9-3)Drew Brees pulled off the oldest trick in the book by drawing the Bengals offsides on a game-changing 4th and 2 play in Week 13. Obviously Brees is the biggest key to the Saints offense, but don’t sleep on what receiver Marques Colston has done to help spur the Saints five-game winning streak. Colston has 42 catches, 423 yards and four TDs in the Saints last five contests.
Last Week: 4
San Diego Chargers (6-6)Speaking of stinkers, the Chargers got whupped at home by giving up 251 rushing yards to the Raiders. Is this finally the year the Chargers can’t make a late-season push into the playoffs? We’ll find out this week during their HUGE game against the AFC West-leading Chiefs.
Last Week: 11
New York Giants (8-4)The G-Men stomped the Redskins with 197 yards on the ground in their Week 13 win and it’s very clear what they need to do win games. The Giants average 67 more yards rushing per game in their wins than their losses.
Last Week: 13
Kansas City Chiefs (8-4)Betcha don’t know these fun facts: Matt Cassel has the fourth most touchdown passes in the league (23) while also throwing the second fewest interceptions among qualifying QBs (4).
Last Week: 15
Jacksonville Jaguars (7-5)Don’t look now, but the Jags have the second best rushing attack in the league with Maurice Jones-Drew’s five consecutive 100-yard rushing games leading the way. If they can fix up their leaky secondary (the Jags are 27th in the league in passing yards allowed), Jacksonville could surprise some folks before the season ends.
Last Week: 12
Indianapolis Colts (6-6)The Colts would be among those folks surprised by the Jags. Indianapolis hasn’t missed the playoffs since 2001, but currently sits in second place, a game behind the Jags, a team they’ve already lost to once this season.
Last Week: 14
Tampa Bay Buccaneers (7-5)Tampa continues to lose against teams with plus-.500 records, and unfortunately, that might mean missing the playoffs despite recording 10 wins. Those are the unfortunate facts when you share a division with Atlanta and New Orleans.
Last Week: 17
Oakland Raiders (6-6)The Raiders piled up 251 yards on the ground to sweep the Chargers for the first time since 2001. Still, they’re going to stay down here in the rankings until they prove they can handle the attention. Remember when they were riding high on a three-game winning streak and travelled east to play Pittsburgh? That ended with a 35-3 Steelers blowout. Now the Raiders look strong again and are travelling east to play the Jags.
Last Week: 16
Miami Dolphins (6-6)The Dolphins have alternated a win with a loss every week since October 4th. In other words, prepare for an 8-8 season, Dolphins fans.
Last Week: 21
St. Louis Rams (6-6)From the beginning of the 2008 season until two weeks ago, the Rams had only won two road games. TWO. Now, with a win over the Saints in New Orleans, the Rams could become only the third team in franchise history to win three straight on the road.
Last Week: 19
Cleveland Browns (5-7)Cleveland is the best 5-win team in the league, but they still won’t make the playoffs. In that case, their biggest games will be the last two weeks of the season, when they can play spoiler in back-to-back home games against division foes Baltimore and Pittsburgh.
Last Week: 18
Houston Texans (5-7)The timely mistakes continue to dog the Texans, who just can’t finish a game. Houston has been outscored 49-37 in the fourth quarter since November 1st. Over that time span, the Texans are 1-5.
Last Week: 22
Seattle Seahawks (6-6)No team enjoys homefield more than the Seahawks. Seattle has outscored their opponents by nine at home, but been outscored by 58 points on the road.
Last Week: 24
Dallas Cowboys (4-8)They may be out of the playoff race, but the Cowboys will still have a lot to say about who grabs what playoff spot in the NFC. Dallas takes on the Eagles twice in the last month of the season, starting with this Sunday night’s clash.
Last Week: 27
Minnesota Vikings (5-7)300, which represents how many consecutive starts Brett Favre could reach before the end of the season, is about the only meaningful number left in this disastrous Vikings season.
Last Week: 23
Washington Redskins (5-7)Another high profile player gets sent to the bench for coach Mike Shanahan’s reeling Redskins, as Albert Haynesworth has been sent home for the season. For all the star power in Washington, you’d think they’d have more than five wins.
Last Week: 20
Tennessee Titans (5-7)Chris Johnson has 58 rushing yards in his last two games combined. That’s the worst two-game stretch of his career, which is really all you need to know to get a good read on the state of the Titans right now.
Last Week: 28
Detroit Lions (2-10)Another tough call gets all the attention after another tough Lions loss, but maybe we should look at the numbers. Detroit can’t run the ball (89 yards a game) and can’t stop the run (giving up 127.4 yards per game) and until they fix those holes, it’s going to be tough to win games, regardless of the officiating.
Last Week: 26
Buffalo Bills (2-10)The Bills spent the season making a name for themselves as the team that gave everyone a tough fight before eventually losing a close game. But after going to OT in three of their previous six games, there was no doubt about the outcome of their Week 13 contest against Minnesota. Look at it this way, Bills fans, the more losses this year, the more wins next year with prospective first pick Andrew Luck quarterbacking your team.
Last Week: 25
San Francisco 49ers (4-8)The Niners are going back to Alex Smith as their starting QB, even though he lost six times in seven starts. That means Troy Smith heads back to the bench after going 3-2 calling the plays in San Fran. Sometimes, I just don’t understand the NFL.
Last Week: 29
Denver Broncos (3-9)Case in point: I’m not sure I understand the logic in firing head coach Josh McDaniels right now. Sure, other teams have had success with interim coaches, but the Broncos waited until Week 14 to get rid of their guy. Now the best Denver can hope for is to finish on a four-game winning streak with a record of 7-9.
Last Week: 30
Cincinnati Bengals (2-10)Speaking of fired coaches, the last time the Bengals won a game, Wade Philips was coaching the Cowboys, Brad Childress was coaching the Vikings and McDaniels was coaching the Broncos.
Last Week: 32
Carolina Panthers (1-11)I’m letting the Panthers out of the cellar for putting up a fight in Week 13. They even had a two-touchdown lead before they melted down in Seattle.
Last Week: 31
Arizona Cardinals (3-9)Then there are the Cardinals, who have lost seven in a row and struggle just to convert a first down. Arizona has been outscored by 88 during that time span and until they put together a competitive game, they will reside in the basement of the rankings.