The Playoffs are just around the corner, who has a real shot at immortality?
- Arizona Cardinals 13-2 (2)- The Cardinals have been playing the best football of the second half of the season no doubt about it. I was critical of them not rolling over teams like the Ravens and 49ers but they got the wins. They lost their two games by a combined 14 points. They have not been blown out this season and I don’t see them being out of the game until the last second ticks off the clock. Carson Palmer is playing some of the best football of his long memorable career. The defense continues to play lights out against the likes of Russell Wilson and Aaron Rodgers. That makes me wonder, what quarterback can figure out this defense. We’ve gone a whole season and no one has lit them up for a loss.
- Carolina Panthers 14-1 (1)- I made a bold statement last week that I have to retract. It’s a tad embarrassing but I think I was caught up in the undefeated streak. I said “I believe the Panthers will hold the top spot in the power rankings for the rest of the regular season”. Well one week later and I already change my mind. Even after they lost I thought they would still get the top spot. Then the Cardinals crushed the Packers. Like I said about the Cardinals entry, Arizona is just crushing it. The Panthers have looked beatable and human the last couple of weeks. I even predicted the Falcons might be the one to knock them off. I can’t predict against the Cardinals if they continue to play dominant on all sides of the ball. If forced to pick today, I say the Cardinals beat the Panthers.
- New England Patriots 12-3 (3)- When the Patriots win, you can just tell that this is a team that comes in well prepared and knows their opponents like they were at practice with them. When they lose, something is missing. Maybe the defense is caught out of position or maybe the receivers don’t have the chemistry with Tom Brady like they used too. Well the Jets made them look like the ladder. The Patriots should be able to keep up with the Jets but New York was more hungry. The last couple of seasons New England looked strong going into January but this year they look like teams have them figured out. One thing going strong for them is a proven quarterback who knows how to win championships. So they lost against the Jets, they really are the best team in the AFC.
- Seattle Seahawks 9-6 (4)- The Seahawks fell to the Rams just like nobody predicted. The Rams have always been the team to upset anyone in the NFC West. Before this game Russell Wilson was on a tear. I fully expect him to bounce back, against of all teams the Cardinals. With word that Marshawn Lynch is ready to practice this week, this is easily a team you can’t overlook.
- Minnesota Vikings 10-5 (7)- The Vikings went into Sunday Night football not needing a win. Even if they lost to the Giants, they were still playing for the division title this week. Sure you can chalk this up to the Giants just giving up on the season now that they know their playoff hopes are dead. Still the Vikings could have rested up and take it easy by treating this game like it is in the preseason but instead they put their foot on the gas full steam with their next destination in Green Bay. Ever since the Packers beat the Vikings in week 11, most fans had a feeling the division was going to come down to this game. This is why we are football fans. This two teams have been trading the lead all season long and at the end of the this game, we will have a defiant winner.
- Cincinnati Bengals 11-4 (5)-Without Andy Dalton, this team will not make it far into January. We saw the same thing with the Arizona Cardinals last year. Arizona was rolling to a clear playoff push until Carson Palmer got hurt, and they limped into the playoffs only to get knocked out off the first round. The Bengals defense may be good enough to keep the game competitive but there is just too much talent from the other playoff teams to think only playing one side of the ball well will help them advance. For a long time, this we the second best team in the league. At worst the fourth. Without their QB1, I have little hope they make it past wildcard weekend.
- Green Bay Packers 10-5 (6)- I already touched on the Packers higher in the ranks, so I’ll sum it up here. The Packers did not look like a playoff caliber team against the Cardinals. The offense couldn’t get going and the defense made no real stops. A couple of years ago, they were a consistent favorite to go all the way. Now they look to be merely a stepping stone for a true contender. Of course sometimes the lower seeds can be surprising , you can never count anyone out.
- Denver Broncos 11-4 (9)-Beating a Daltonless Bengals team does not give me enough confidence that they are the Broncos that had Peyton Manning under center. Much like the Bengals, if they can’t get their real starting quarterback onto the field, this is a team that will be making a quick exit.
- Kansas City Chiefs 10-5 (10)- After getting to a 5-5 record, I took a look at the Chiefs schedule and hypothesized that the Chiefs could easily run the table the rest of the season and make the playoffs. Well with a win over Cleveland last week, they fulfilled their duty of beating lesser teams and getting at least one more week in January. Listen to the teams that beat the Chiefs and tell me what they have in common: Broncos, Packers, Bengals, Vikings. All four of those teams are in the playoffs. And the Bears are better than their record shows. If I were a Chiefs fan I would be a bit worried. A majority of their wins have come against teams with losing records. However this very well may be all the momentum they need going forward. Who knows how they will fare once the playoff start. They may not be the favorite but that gives them ample opportunities to lead teams into a trap game.
- New York Jets 10-5 (N/A)- I honestly didn’t think the Jets would make it back into this list. Yes, they have been playing just as good as the Steelers and Chiefs but their schedule didn’t help them get the edge over either of them. They needed some much needed help and they got it. On top of that they had to beat the Patriots. This is a team much like the Chiefs that may be a tad bit under estimated. They have not secured a spot yet but all they have to do is win. Honestly this could be a very fun team to watch make a playoff push if they can beat the Bills and secure the last AFC wildcard spot.
Knocked out of the top ten- Pittsburgh Steelers (8)
Next week the rankings continue as I rank all 12 teams that make the post season. It will look a lot like the power rankings but with an extra two teams.
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