Our thoughts and prayers at Musket Fire go out to the Chiefs and all those affected by Saturday’s tragedy.
1. Atlanta Falcons (11-1) – The Falcons made a statement to the league in their game against the Saints: they’re for real. They had five interceptions against one of the best quarterbacks to ever play the game, and ended his streak of consecutive games with a TD pass.
2. Houston Texans (11-1) – While the Texans have been playing well, they’ve had a relatively cushy schedule and have come close to losing against sub-par teams. This Monday night game against the Patriots will be their biggest test of the season.
3. New England Patriots (9-3) – While their win against Miami wasn’t pretty, they still found a way to come through in the end. The Patriots can prove they are the team to beat in the AFC if they can beat the Texans at home on Monday night. This is a potential AFC championship game matchup.
4. Denver Broncos (9-3) – People are quick to name the Bronco’s the best team in the AFC, but their extremely weak division pads the Broncos’ record. When the playoffs come, it will be interesting to see how well the Broncos fare.
5. San Francisco 49ers (8-3-1) – It’s weird to hear people talk of benching Colin Kaepernick after losing a game. Quarterbacks are allowed to lose a game! The ‘Niners are still a very good team and have depth at almost every position.
6. Baltimore Ravens (9-3) – The Ravens clung to the second seed in the AFC until they faced a determined Charlie Batch. They can take advantage of the Patriots having a difficult two game stretch against the Texans and 49ers and regain that top spot if they get back to winning.
7. Green Bay Packers (8-4) – In my opinion, the Packers got lucky that Christian Ponder isn’t a good quarterback; otherwise they could have lost last week. They are a very good team as long as Rodgers is at the helm, but the defense remains a giant question mark.
8. Chicago Bears (8-4) – It’s hard to believe the Bears lost at home to the Seahawks, but it happened. The defense that started out the season so dominant has regressed. They need to find their mojo again quickly or they will drop playoff spots in a competitive NFC.
9. Seattle Seahawks (7-5) – Russell Wilson lead the Seahawks to win against a very good Bears defense. In my playoff scenario simulation, the Seahawks ended up as the #2 seed in the NFC. It’s a bit of a stretch but not impossible.
10. Cincinnati Bengals (7-5) – The Bengals have been on fire lately and are in hot contention for a wild card spot in the AFC. They have some must-win games coming up, including games against the Steelers and Ravens.
11. Indianapolis Colts (8-4) – Props to Andrew Luck for leading a last second come-back against the Lions. The Colts have their eyes set on a playoff spot and I really hope they end up playing the Broncos in the wild card round.
12. New York Giants (7-5) – The Giants looked completely inept in the second half of their game against the Redskins. Even in the first half, they were able to piece together lengthy drives but only come away with field goals or punts. This team needs to improve if they want to win the division.
13. Pittsburgh Steelers (7-5) – The Steelers snapped their three game losing streak against the Ravens and it came at the hands of Charlie Batch. With this win, the Steelers now have a legitimate chance at a wild card seed. Their playoff run will be very short (if existent at all) if Big Ben isn’t back under center, though.
14. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (6-6) – The Buccs are a good team but will have a tough road to a wild card seed since they have to play the Saints and the Falcons before the end of the season.
15. Washington Redskins (6-6) – I think everyone in Washington is sold on RGIII now. Some may call his win against the Giants luck, but he lead the team when it counted and came up with a win. The NFC East race will be very interesting to follow with three teams in contention.
16. Dallas Cowboys (6-6) – Hard to believe that the Cowboys are in contention for a playoff spot with the way they’ve been playing. They seem to be the worst team that has a shot at the playoffs.
17. Minnesota Vikings (6-6) – This week’s game against the Packers proved that teams win games, not individuals. If individuals won, then Adrian Peterson would lead the Vikings to a win almost every week.
18. Miami Dolphins (5-7) – The Dolphins put up a great fight against the Patriots. They had some costly mistakes, but they forced Brady’s first interception since his game against Seattle at the beginning of the season. This team could be very good in a few years.
19. New Orleans Saints (5-7) – The Saints to a massive step backwards last week and are all but guaranteed to not make a playoff spot. Five interceptions is unacceptable, no matter whom the quarterback is.
20. St. Louis Rams (5-5-1) – I was honestly hoping the Rams and 49ers would tie for a second time this season, just for the interesting playoff mess it would create. Greg Zuerlein has the potential to be one of the best kickers in the league.
21. Cleveland Browns (4-8) – The Browns won their first back-to-back games for the first time since September 2011. Trent Richardson is definitely the future of this franchise.
22. Buffalo Bills (5-7) – Quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick proved he can win games against terrible teams on Sunday when the Bills beat the Jaguars. Other than those teams, I’m not so sure he can get the job done
23. Detroit Lions (4-8) – I had such high hopes for this team this year. I guess I was wrong.
24. New York Jets (5-7) – I don’t care who’s playing quarterback for the Jets, they are not a good team and likely will not finish this season at .500.
25. San Diego Chargers (4-8) – It’s hard to imagine one of the old powerhouses in the AFC is playing so poorly. Wait…no it’s not. Norv Turner needs to go.
26. Tennessee Titans (4-8) – The Titans got overwhelmed early by the Texans and there was no way they were going to come back. They need to have a good offseason in order to be a competitor next year.
27. Oakland Raiders (3-9) – The Raiders have a chance to end the season with two more wins: one against Kansas City and the other against Carolina. If they lose both of those games, they could end up as the worst team in the league.
28. Arizona Cardinals (4-8) – The only reason I have the Raiders above the Cardinals is because they have won a game since week 4. The Cardinals have dropped eight straight and there’s no end in sight. Hard to believe they beat the Patriots early in the season.
29. Carolina Panthers (3-9) – The Panthers have a lot to work on this offseason, in particular searching out defensive talent.
30. Kansas City Chiefs (2-10) – I’m so glad the Chiefs won their game on Sunday in spite of their extreme hardship. A key player that got overlooked this week was Quarterback Brady Quinn who went 19-23 for 201 yards and 2 TDs. It may have been his best game since his Notre Dame days.
31. Jacksonville Jaguars (2-10) – The Bills have one of the worst rush defenses in the league yet the Jags barely ran the ball. The whole coaching staff needs to go.
32. Philadelphia Eagles (3-9) – I honestly don’t see the Eagles winning another game this season. The rest of their schedule is filled with teams fighting for a playoff spot, and I don’t see them as competent enough to play spoiler.