New England’s win over Denver changed the look of the power rankings. Seattle and New Orleans are now the top teams, while Denver and Kansas City - which lost its second consecutive game - both fell. As the top and middle sections of the rankings change, we’ll get a better idea of who will fill the playoff spots in each conference.
Right now things are still wide open, which means we’ll probably see a lot more movement as the regular season nears its end.
Tell us where you think your team should be ranked in the comments!
1. Seattle Seahawks (10-1, Last Week: 2)
Seattle enjoyed a bye week, but moves up to the top spot because of Denver’s loss. The Seahawks have the best record in the NFL, and will become even bigger favorites if they can secure home-field advantage during the playoffs. Now that the hype around Denver and Kansas City will die down, expect the Seahawks to get more attention — though Seattle does have to deal with cornerback Brandon Browner, who is facing a suspension.
2. New Orleans Saints (8-3, Last Week: 4)
The Saints weren’t at their best against the Falcons last Thursday, but they improved their record and remain one game behind Seattle in the NFC standings. They can tie the Seahawks by beating them on Monday night, but that will be a tough task with New Orleans playing on the road.
3. New England Patriots (8-3, Last Week: 6)
As if it wasn’t already clear, New England’s win over Denver once again showed that you can never count out the Patriots. Tom Brady didn’t let the cold get to him, as he threw for three touchdowns and more than 300 yards in New England’s win. The Patriots are in position to finish in the top 2 in the AFC and receive a first-round bye for the playoffs.
4. Denver Broncos (9-2, Last Week: 1)
The Broncos lost a heartbreaker to the Patriots after going up 24-0 in the first half. Peyton Manning had his worst passing performance of the season, and key mistakes cost the Broncos the game. Now the Broncos play Kansas City for the second time in three weeks, and need a win to stay in the hunt for the No. 1 seed in the AFC.
5. Kansas City Chiefs (9-2, Last Week: 2)
The Chiefs have gone from 9-0 to 9-2 after losses to Denver and San Diego. Their defense gave up 41 points to the Chargers, and hasn’t played at an elite level lately. With Denver’s loss to New England, the Chiefs are still tied with the Broncos for first in the AFC West. Their matchup this weekend will go a long way in determining who eventually wins the division. But no matter what happens, the Chiefs will be a tough playoff opponent.
6. Carolina Panthers (8-3, Last Week: 5)
Winners of seven in a row, the Panthers are clearly one of the best teams in the league. They’ll be dangerous in the playoffs, and there’s still time for them to take the division lead from the Saints. No NFC team is comfortably ahead of the pack, so the Panthers could very well be one of the conference’s top contenders by the end of the regular season.
7. Arizona Cardinals (7-4, Last Week: 12)
Along with the Panthers, the Cardinals are one of the league’s new threats. We knew Seattle and San Francisco would be competitive in the NFC West, but Arizona must be included in that group, as they’re now tied with the 49ers at 7-4. Carson Palmer and Larry Fitzgerald have formed a great quarterback-wide receiver duo, and the Arizona defense is eighth in points allowed.
8. San Francisco 49ers (7-4, Last Week: 10)
The 49ers needed a win on Monday night against Washington, and they got one. Colin Kaepernick threw for more than 200 yards for the first time since October 13, and the defense held Washington to only six points. This is the kind of performance the 49ers need to fend off Arizona for second place in the NFC West and keep their playoff hopes alive. The 49ers aren’t the dominant team they were in recent seasons, but they can still be great.
9. Cincinnati Bengals (7-4, Last Week: 8)
As of now, the Bengals are in first place in the AFC North, but Pittsburgh and Baltimore could make the division race very interesting if they keep winning. Quarterback Andy Dalton must lead his offense to a win over San Diego this weekend to keep Cincinnati ahead in the standings.
10. Indianapolis Colts (7-4, Last Week: 7)
Just a few weeks ago, the Colts had beaten the Broncos and were considered an elite team. But now, the Colts are more like Cincinnati than Denver: they can be great some weeks, but can also be mediocre. The Colts must use the remainder of the regular season to figure out what kind of team they are. An early exit in the playoffs would be a big disappointment for Indianapolis.
11. Detroit Lions (6-5, Last Week: 11)
The Lions could have taken control of first place in the NFC North, but instead lost a home game to Tampa Bay.
12. San Diego Chargers (5-6, Last week: 24)
If they continue their great play, the Chargers could join division rivals Denver and Kansas City in the playoffs.
13. Tennessee Titans (5-6, Last week: 21)
The Titans got an important win over Oakland, and could make a run for a playoff spot.
14. Chicago Bears (6-5, Last week: 9)
The Bears lost to the Rams, but should win their divisional game against Minnesota this weekend. They also must hope the Lions lose to Green Bay.
15. Dallas Cowboys (6-5, Last week: 15)
The Cowboys got a huge win over the Giants, and now must keep winning to take control of the NFC East.
16. Pittsburgh Steelers (5-6, Last week: 16)
The Steelers have won three in a row and could challenge the Bengals for the AFC North.
17. Philadelphia Eagles (6-5, Last week: 13)
With games against contenders like Arizona, Detroit and Chicago, the Eagles have a tough rest of the season remaining.
18. St. Louis Rams (5-6, Last week: 17)
It’s probably too late for the Rams to challenge for a playoff spot, but they’re playing great.
19. Miami Dolphins (5-6, Last week: 14)
Miami has had an inconsistent season, and must finish strong to make the playoffs
20. Baltimore Ravens (5-6, Last week: 25)
It would be really tough to do, but it’s not too late for the Ravens to try and defend their championship with a trip to the playoffs.
21. Green Bay Packers (5-5-1, Last week: 22)
The Packers could have been tied with Detroit and Chicago for first place in the NFC North, but had to settle for a tie against Minnesota.
22. New York Jets (5-6, Last week: 18)
The Jets finally ended their win-one-lose-one streak, but not in the way they wanted to: They’ve now lost two in a row.
23. Cleveland Browns (4-7, Last week: 23)
The Browns lost to the Steelers, and have to monitor quarterback Jason Campbell, who injured his head during the game.
24. New York Giants (4-7, Last week: 20)
Dallas snapped the Giants’ four-game win streak, and now New York must start a new win streak to compete in the division.
25. Buffalo Bills (4-7, Last week: 19)
The Bills are in last place in the AFC East, but within range of Miami and New York.
26. Oakland Raiders (4-7, Last week: 27)
The Raiders could have made a loud statement by beating a good Tennessee team, but instead suffered a late loss.
27. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (3-8, Last week: 31)
The Bucs got a great victory against Detroit, and are on a three-game win streak.
28. Washington Redskins (3-7, Last week: 28)
After its third loss in a row, the season is probably over for Washington.
29. Minnesota Vikings (2-8-1, Last week: 30)
The Vikings should have beaten the Packers after taking a 23-7 lead, but they let Green Bay come back to tie the game.
30. Atlanta Falcons(2-9, Last week: 31)
The Falcons are now tied for the worst record in the league, and it’s hard to find any good in their season.
31. Jacksonville Jaguars (2-9, Last week: 32)
Any hope for a winning season ended early for Jacksonville, but late-season victories could provide a morale boost.
32. Houston Texans (2-9, Last week: 29)
After the Texans lost to Jacksonville, Houston wide receiver Andre Johnson said his team was the worst in the league. He’s probably right.
Photo: AP Photo/Ted S. Warren