No new teams crack the top ten again, but a former Super Bowl champion rises high while a front runner falls hard
- Carolina Panthers 14-0 (1)- The Panthers once again show their dominance in a couple different ways in their win over New York. The first was surging to a big lead, the second was not getting rattled when they blew that lead. I’ve been saying all season, the best teams won’t always win by a 28 point margin, it’s how they handle the tough games that keep them on top. Cam Newton gave one of the best responses once New York tied the game. He simply nodded he’s head and got to work. The two minute drill the Panthers put on is a clinic on how you get your team in position to win games. Next up is another tough divisional game in Atlanta. If I may be honest, this is where I think they fall, but rest assured, I believe the Panthers will hold the top spot in the power rankings for the rest of the regular season.
- Arizona Cardinals 12-2 (2)- It almost seemed like the Cardinals were toying with the Eagles on Sunday night. This may be hard to fathom considering the final score but at one point the game was tied at ten, then the Cardinals scored 28 unanswered points and made the Eagles D look as sloppy as can be. Sam Bradford did everything he could do get the offense moving but the Cardinals top ranked defense was too much for him to overcome. The final stretch for the Cardinals is going to be a rough one as they host the Packers and Seahawks to end the season. Winning both of those games very well could propel them right into the NFC Championship game on a wave of momentum.
- New England Patriots 12-2 (3)- The Titans really had little chance. The Patriots are just such a dominant team that very rarely do they let lesser teams get the better of them. Obviously it happens but this is still the best NFL team in the last decade. Much like the Panthers, I have no problem with this team never moving back down in the power rankings especially this late in the season. This is where Tom Brady really begins to shine. I can’t imagine anyone else getting in his way.
- Seattle Seahawks 9-5 (6)- Much like the Patriots, the Seahawks did exactly what everyone thought they would do and made the Cleveland Browns look like a second rate team. The defense is still something I wouldn’t want to mess with while Russell Wilson continues to be a field general that puts him in the same breath as Tom Brady and Peyton Manning. If they Seahawks can get back one of their star running backs in time for the playoffs, they may very well wreck havoc over some NFC favorites.
- Cincinnati Bengals 11-3 (4)- It is not often times I move down a team who won, but the Seahawks are the better team as of right now. The Bengals were able to take down a 49ers team that has been a joke of a team all season. That is nothing to write home about. They are still playing without Andy Dalton and if he does not come back in time for the playoffs, this will be another quick exit from the playoffs for Cincinnati
- Green Bay Packers 10-4 (7)- Green Bay went into Oakland and had a bit of trouble at first before finally getting it together towards the middle of the second half. Once Aaron Rodgers found his footing there was no catching them. This is one of those teams that you can never count out. They know how to make the proper adjustments to either put themselves out of reach if they are ahead, or make the necessary comeback if they are trailing. Next week they travel into Arizona in what should be the must see game of the week. Arizona has been playing the good teams tough all season, the Packers very well may have too much on their plate after that one is all said and done.
- Minnesota Vikings 9-5 (8)- With the Packers continuing to win, the Vikings are going to have a real hard time over taking them for the North. I figured Chicago would give them a tough game but Teddy Bridgewater had a career game that tried to quiet all the doubters. But honestly, he didn’t stop me from thinking he is still a mediocre quarterback with the best running back in the league and a head coach that knows how to game plan. With the Giants coming into their house next week, they might as well be able to start looking into the last week of the season where they will have a showdown with the Packers.
- Pittsburgh Steelers 9-5 (9)- I have already stated I was quite mistaken in thinking the Steelers needed the Jets to lose to take a playoff spot. It turns out simply by winning they now have hold of their own destiny. They have a better common game record over the Jets simply by coming together and winning three straight to give them the last wildcard spot. It should come as no shock that you shouldn’t count out Ben Roethlisberger. If he is on the field, the Steelers are always going to make a strong playoff push.
- Denver Broncos 10-4 (5)- Usually after a single loss I don’t drop a team by four slots in the rankings. The reason the Broncos fell so far is because I believe any team ranked higher than them can beat them. Brock Osweiler is still green. Sure he has shown shades of being something memorable but for this being his first season actually taking snaps, I can’t imagine him beating a healthy Bengals team or even overtaking the Patriots in the playoffs. This upcoming Monday night game is about as perfect of a chance you can have to show you are not a short term solution.
- Kansas City Chiefs 9-5 (10)- The Chiefs won their eighth straight game by easily dismantling the Ravens, This comes of the shock to no one. The Chiefs schedule the last six weeks has been one of the easiest so I fully expect them to make the wildcard. Still though, winning the games you are supposed to win is the sign of a playoff contender.
Photo-Elsa/ Getty Images North America