Sorry for no rankings last week, guys!
1. San Francisco 49ers (8-2-1) – I feel bad for Alex Smith, but Colin Kaepernick gives this offense a deep passing attack and a mobile quarterback. Coach Harbaugh has gone as far as he can with Smith and after Kaepernick defeated the Bears and Saints in back to back weeks, there’s no way Smith will get his job back.
2. Houston Texans (10-1) – The Texans look like a very tired team. They’ve had to play late into OT in both of their last games, both of which should have been won during regulation. They are going to need to step up their game if they want to compete against the Patriots and Broncos during the playoffs.
3. Atlanta Falcons (10-1) – The Falcons may be the weakest 10-1 team I’ve seen in a long time. Make no mistake, they are very talented and deserve credit, but Matt Ryan seems to be losing the fire he had at the start of the season. It will be interesting to see how they end the season.
4. New England Patriots (8-3) – The Patriots absolutely demolished the Jets on Thanksgiving. They are making the most of their opportunities and are scoring on both sides of the ball. If they can defeat both the Texans and 49ers in a couple weeks, I will be ready to declare this team ready for another Super Bowl.
5. Denver Broncos (8-3) – While I don’t agree with Peyton Manning leading the MVP talk, he has been incredible for this team. He should have man-handled the lowly chiefs this week, however, and since the Patriots have beaten them this year I’m forced to rank them lower. Any power ranking that has the Broncos at #1 should be disregarded.
6. Baltimore Ravens (9-2) – It’s no secret that Joe Flacco and the Ravens are not the same team on the road that they are at home. They need to maintain their winning streak in order to hold on to home field advantage. The rumors of Ray Lewis returning by week 15 are unbelievable, and if they are true, this team will get a huge shot in the arm that could carry them deep in the playoffs.
7. Chicago Bears (8-3) – The Bears clearly need Jay Cutler because without him they are a completely different team. He made some ballsy throws on Sunday that could have easily been picked off, but luck, skill, or whatever you want to call it played to his favor. The injuries to Forte and key defensive players could play an impact going forward, though.
8. New York Giants (7-4) – I guess the Giants got sick of all the negative talk surrounding their November performance and wanted to make a statement against the Packers. It was clear from the beginning of the game that they were hungry for the win and there was no way the Packers were going to come back.
9. Green Bay Packers (7-4) – This team really needs to get healthy before the post-season. They are in a tight race with the Bears for control of the NFC North but the wild card race is just as competitive. They’ll need to play better than last week if they want a playoff spot.
10. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (6-5) – The Buccs got lucky that the Vikings, Saints, and Seahawks all lost as well on Sunday, so their playoff chances didn’t take a big hit. The fact that they were one point away from beating their NFC South rival Falcons is impressive. They’ll need to play even better this weekend, though, to beat the hot Broncos.
11. Cincinnati Bengals (6-5) – The Bengals are peaking at the right time, and Big Ben sitting on the Steeler’s sidelines helps improve their chance for a playoff spot. They have pivotal games within the division against the Steelers in week 16 and Ravens in week 17.
12. Pittsburgh Steelers (6-5) – Losing to the Browns makes this team look really, really bad without Ben Roethlisberger. Every single running back on the Steelers fumbled the ball on Sunday, though, so the blame can’t be solely placed on the QB. They need to shape up or they’ll lose their playoff spot.
13. Indianapolis Colts (7-4) – The Colts were able to bounce back after the beating they took from the Patriots last week. I’m so excited at the potential of seeing a Broncos/Colts matchup in the playoffs.
14. Seattle Seahawks (6-5) – The Seahawks really need to figure out how to win on the road or their playoff run will be very short, if existent at all.
15. Washington Redskins (5-6) – I don’t think there’s a player in the NFL more electrifying to watch than RGIII. I doubt they’ll be able to scrounge up a playoff spot this year, but next year it’s a definite possibility.
16. New Orleans Saints (5-6) – The Saints had their playoff hopes all but extinguished by the 49ers this past weekend. Even if they were to make the playoffs, their defense is so abysmal I doubt they would have gone far. They have many offseason adjustments to make.
17. Minnesota Vikings (6-5) – If only Adrian Peterson could have the ball on every snap…
18. Miami Dolphins (5-6) – The Dolphins were very lucky to pull off a win this weekend, but their upcoming matchup against the red-hot Patriots will be much more difficult. Ryan Tannehill needs to peel himself off the “rookie wall” he’s hit and perform like he did at the beginning of the year.
19. Detroit Lions (4-7) – I felt bad for the Lions on Thanksgiving, it seemed as if the referees didn’t want them to have the win. Even with all of the bad calls, they should have been able to pull out a win if it weren’t for that missed kick in OT. This team is undisciplined and it goes all the way up to the head coach.
20. Dallas Cowboys (5-6) – So much for the Cowboys stealing the division crown from the Giants in November. I don’t think anyone can predict how the Cowboys will play each week; they can’t find any semblance of consistency. If I were Jerry Jones, I’d start talking to Mike Holmgren about that head coaching job.
21. Cleveland Browns (3-8) – Props to the Browns for capitalizing on the abundance of turnovers the Steelers had on Sunday. It’s a shame Brandon Weeden got hurt, but they still have Trent Richardson to tear apart defenses on the ground.
22. St. Louis Rams (4-5-1) – The Rams will face the 49ers again this week at home after tying with them in San Francisco three weeks ago. If they can hold the ‘Niners to a tie on their own turf, it will be interesting to see what they do when they have the home-field advantage. Stopping Kaepernick will be a challenge though for this talent-scrapped defense.
23. Buffalo Bills (4-7) – I don’t think Chan Gailey should be fired, but someone else should be calling the plays. Injuries have hurt this team in a big way and their defense hasn’t lived up to the hype at all.
24. Carolina Panthers (3-8) – It took the abysmal Eagles for Cam Newton to look good again this season. He played well, but I’m not impressed.
25. New York Jets (4-7) – Mark Sanchez running into his own lineman’s behind sums up their whole season… a joke.
26. Arizona Cardinals (4-7) – The Cardinals have lost seven straight games and don’t look good at all. They need to draft more than one offensive lineman this year.
27. San Diego Chargers (4-7) – I actually thought the Chargers had a chance to upset the Ravens last weekend in OT. Leave it to Phil Rivers to prove me wrong.
28. Tennessee Titans (4-7) – Firing the Offensive Coordinator is a start for the Titans but they are still a long way away from being competitive.
29. Jacksonville Jaguars (2-9) – At least Chad Henne is playing better than Blaine Gabbert did. He’s not the answer at their QB position though, not by a longshot.
30. Oakland Raiders (3-8) – The only reason I have the Raiders above the Eagles is because Carson Palmer occasionally shows flashes of being a real QB. I’d rather him than Nick Foles.
31. Philadelphia Eagles (3-8) – The Eagles game on Monday showed the Eagles have quit. They’re an embarrassment to Philadelphia and might as well just hang up their helmets for the season now. They won’t win another game this year.
32. Kansas City Chiefs (1-10) – Jamaal Charles asked for Peyton Manning’s autograph after Sunday’s game because it’s not often he gets to see a real NFL player.