NFL Power Rankings for Dec. 27th, 2012

We’re now in the final week of the NFL regular season, which means these are our last power rankings before the playoffs begin. At this point, the Denver Broncos are in the driver’s seat after retaining their top spot from the previous week. However, there are a couple of teams waiting in the wings to take over first place if the Broncos lose. That said, let’s look at these teams along with the rest of the top 10.

1. Denver Broncos (12-3) – There’s little reason to drop the Broncos from our top spot since they dismantled Cleveland last week. Expect a similar result as the 2-13 Chiefs visit Denver this Sunday. About the only negative here is that the Broncos need a Houston loss to secure home field advantage throughout the playoffs.

Last Game: 34-12 win over Cleveland
Next Game: vs. Kansas City Chiefs

2. Atlanta Falcons (13-2) – The Falcons jump up two spots in the power rankings after locking down the NFC’s top spot, home field advantage, and the league’s best record. We were a bit worried about Atlanta a few weeks ago, but they seem to have regained form after outscoring opponents 65-18 in the past two games.

Last Game: 31-18 win over Detroit
Next Game: vs. Tampa Bay Buccaneers

3. New England Patriots (11-4) – We see the Falcons and Patriots as being pretty close in terms of rankings. However, New England falls to number three by the slimmest of margins after clawing past the 2-13 Jacksonville Jaguars. Plus it looks as if the Patriots will have to play on the road at least once during a potential Super Bowl run.

Last Game: 23-16 win over Jacksonville
Next Game: vs. Miami Dolphins

4. Seattle Seahawks (10-5) – We’re not sure how Seattle will fare in the playoffs because they’re currently only the NFC’s fifth seed. However, it’s hard not to like them following a route of the 49ers to win their fourth straight game. Marshawn Lynch had yet another good game after running for 111 yards and a touchdown while Russell Wilson tossed four touchdown passes. If Seattle wins against St. Louis and gets lucky with a Niners’ loss, they’d win the NFC West.

Last Game: 42-13 win over San Francisco
Next Game: vs. St. Louis Rams

5. Green Bay Packers (11-4) – For the Packers, it’s simple: win and they secure a first round playoff bye. Based on how they did in an obliteration of Tennessee, we like Green Bay’s chances of winning – even on the road against the Vikings. Ryan Grant put in a surprisingly good performance after rushing for 80 yards and a TD. Could he provide the running game the Packers need?

Last Game: 55-7 win over Tennessee
Next Game: at Minnesota Vikings

6. Houston Texans (12-3) – Houston still has a chance to grab the AFC’s top seed, but they haven’t exactly looked good over the past few weeks. Injuries have taken their toll on defense, and the Texans must now win a tough road game against the Colts to sure the number one seed.

Last Game: 23-6 loss to Minnesota
Next Game: at Indianapolis Colts

7. San Francisco 49ers (10-4-1) – The Niners fall the farthest in our power rankings after dropping from number three to seven. Their defense was sliced apart by the Seahawks, which creates concerns for the playoffs. At least relatively new QB Colin Kaepernick is still doing fine after throwing for 244 yards and running for another 31 yards.

8. Indianapolis Colts (10-5) – Against all preseason odds, the Colts have went from the league’s worst team to a playoff qualifier. However, there’s no reason to celebrate just yet because Indianapolis’ run defense has been thoroughly exposed this season. Jamal Charles ran for 226 yards against the Colts last week.

Last Game: 20-13 win over Kansas City
Next Game: vs. Houston Texans

9. Washington Redskins (9-6) – Robert Griffin III erased any doubts after missing a game (leg injury) as he threw for 198 yards and two touchdowns against the Eagles. If Washington can win against the Cowboys this week, they capture the NFC East and a playoff spot; assuming they lose, they’ll be at home watching Dallas play in the Wild Card round.

Last Game: 27-20 win over Philadelphia
Next Game: vs. Dallas Cowboys

10. Minnesota Vikings (9-6) – Minnesota has jumped into playoff contention by riding the legs of Adrian Peterson. AP is banged up going into the final game against the Packers, but he’ll still do whatever he can to get the Vikings into the postseason. Minnesota’s defense really stepped up last game to hold Houston to just six points.

Last Game: 23-6 win over Houston
Next Game: vs. Green Bay Packers

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