Many of the top teams in the rankings struggled last weekend, resulting in a new-look top 10 this week. The Bears are in, while the Lions and Bengals are out. Several of the top teams – like Denver, New Orleans, and New England – must rebound from tough losses and try to win high playoff seeds.
The excitement of the playoffs is almost here, but there’s still two more weeks of regular season play left to answer all the remaining questions about which teams will play for a Super Bowl and which teams will start to prepare for next season. With the weaker teams playing for pride and the better teams possibly resting their starters, you never know what can happen.
Tell us where you think your team should be ranked in the comments!
1. Seattle Seahawks (12-2, Last Week: 3)
In their 23-0 win over New York, the Seahawks showed why they can win it all this year. Their offense wasn’t great, but played efficiently, and the elite defense didn’t allow a point. That’s what it takes to win in the playoffs, and such performances will make Seattle almost impossible to beat in the postseason.
2. Kansas City Chiefs (11-3, Last Week: 4)
Kansas City has gotten to its 11-3 record largely because of its great defense, but if the Chiefs can score points too, they could be champs in the AFC. In the Chiefs’ 56-31 win over Oakland last weekend, running back Jamaal Charles had a once-in-a-career kind of game, with five total touchdowns. Led by his rushing and receiving skills, the Kansas City offense could propel this team all the way to February.
3. Denver Broncos (11-3, Last Week: 1)
The Broncos didn’t just lose to San Diego, they also produced their lowest point total of the season and looked nothing like the team that was scoring 40 points with ease earlier this year. Their 27-20 loss is probably an exception and shouldn’t be the start of a losing streak. But it should serve as a sign that Denver won’t always be able to dominate.
4. San Francisco 49ers (10-4, Last Week: 5)
The 49ers will probably enter the playoffs as a low seed, but that doesn’t mean they can’t make it to the Super Bowl. Winners of four in a row, San Francisco has an offense that is now much more dangerous with the return of Michael Crabtree, and a defense that hasn’t given up 20 points in one game since mid-November.
5. Carolina Panthers (10-4, Last Week: 6)
Suddenly, the NFC South is up for grabs and Carolina can be the division champs. Its matchup with New Orleans on Sunday will be huge, and could give the Panthers an important boost in confidence as the playoffs approach. The sky’s the limit for this young and talented team.
6. Chicago Bears (8-6, Last Week: 12)
Jay Cutler was a bit shaky in his return from an injury, but he led the Bears to their second consecutive win. Chicago is in first place in a competitive NFC North, and has the weapons to win it all. The Bears can continue rolling with a win against Philadelphia on Sunday.
7. New Orleans Saints (10-4, Last Week: 2)
Just like critics wondered whether Peyton Manning could play well in the cold, there will be plenty of doubters who will claim New Orleans can’t win on the road. After their 27-16 loss to St. Louis last weekend, it’s easy to understand why. Drew Brees threw two interceptions and only one touchdown (he also had a rushing touchdown), and the Saints now must try and beat Carolina on the road on Sunday.
8. New England Patriots (10-4, Last Week: 7)
Tom Brady and the Pats suffered a disappointing loss against Miami last weekend. New England is still the number-2 seed in the AFC, but a win would have tied the Pats with the Broncos at 11-3. New England now has to play a rolling Baltimore team on the road.
9. Baltimore Ravens (8-6, Last Week: 14)
It took a 61-yard game-winning field goal from kicker Justin Tucker, but the Ravens beat the Lions for their fourth consecutive win. Baltimore only allowed 16 points from a good Detroit offense, and didn’t even need to score a touchdown to win. That won’t lead to victories most of the time, but it was enough against the Lions.
10. Indianapolis Colts (9-5, Last Week: 13)
The Colts are hoping their 25-3 win over Houston will end their recent struggles. Andrew Luck led his offense to a productive day, while the defense dominated the Houston offense. Such wins are easy to get against weak teams like the Texans, but after weeks of inconsistent play, maybe this victory is enough to get the Colts to finish the regular season strong.
11. Miami Dolphins (8-6, Last Week: 15)
The Dolphins got an early Christmas present: a clutch win against New England.
12. San Diego Chargers (7-7, Last week: 17)
San Diego didn’t just beat Denver; it made the Broncos look mediocre.
13. Arizona Cardinals (9-5, Last week: 11)
Arizona is a long shot to make the playoffs, but it should still finish with a solid record and high morale.
14. Detroit Lions (7-7, Last week: 10)
The Lions certainly don’t have high morale after their Monday night loss to Baltimore.
15. Cincinnati Bengals (9-5, Last week: 9)
The Bengals had a chance to sweep Pittsburgh this season, but ended up losing to their rivals.
16. Philadelphia Eagles (8-6, Last week: 8)
After losing to the Vikings, Philadelphia needs to beat Chicago to get back on track.
17. Green Bay Packers (7-6-1, Last week: 19)
The Packers’ last-minute comeback against Dallas was one of the best finishes of the year.
18. St. Louis Rams (6-8, Last week: 22)
St. Louis hasn’t had a great year, but the Rams’ win over New Orleans showed they can beat great teams.
19. Pittsburgh Steelers (6-8, Last week: 20)
The Steelers aren’t as good as they once were, but they still have pride. That showed in their win over the Bengals.
20. Minnesota Vikings (4-9-1, Last week: 29)
Even though they were without Adrian Peterson, the Vikings beat a very good Eagles team.
21. Cleveland Browns (4-10, Last week: 21)
With back-to-back close losses to New England and Chicago, the Browns are a lot better than their 4-10 record might indicate.
22. Dallas Cowboys (7-7, Last week: 16)
It’s the same story for the Cowboys: a disheartening late-season loss. This time, Dallas couldn’t hold on to a 12-point lead against Green Bay at home.
23. Buffalo Bulls (5-9, Last week: 27)
The Bills have two divisional games left to show whether they can finish this season on a good note and generate hope for next year.
24. Tennessee Titans (4-8, Last week: 23)
The Titans almost crafted a great comeback against Arizona, but they should get a win against Jacksonville on Sunday.
25. New York Jets (6-8, Last week: 23)
This season has been a roller coaster, but the Jets could finish with a respectable 8-8 record.
26. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (4-10, Last week: 25)
It will be tough for Tampa Bay to win its last two games, against St. Louis and New Orleans.
27. Oakland Raiders (4-10, Last week: 26)
With games against the Chargers and Broncos, this looks like a 4-12 season for the lowly Raiders.
28. New York Giants (5-9, Last week: 24)
The shutout to Seattle was the latest in a season of embarrassing losses for the Giants.
29. Jacksonville Jaguars (4-10, Last week: 28)
Jacksonville had its three-game win streak snapped against Buffalo, but the Jaguars have still won four of their past six contests.
30. Atlanta Falcons(4-10 Last week: 30)
The Falcons got a win against Washington, but they should be prepared for losses against San Francisco and Carolina.
31. Washington Redskins (3-11, Last week: 31)
No team wants the season to be over as much as Washington. 2013 has been a year to forget.
32. Houston Texans (2-12, Last week: 32)
Losers of 12 in a row, the Texans have probably forgotten what it’s like to actually win a game.
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