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

NFL Power Rankings for December 20th, 2012

Just last week, the New England Patriots ascended to the top of our power rankings following a domination of the Houston Texans. However, they didn’t hold the spot for too long after a shootout with the San Francisco 49ers. Speaking of which, who would’ve thought that the Niners would be relying on a high-powered offense to beat teams? With only two weeks left in the NFL’s regular season, let’s look at which teams are still in contention for the number one ranking.

1. Denver Broncos (11-3) – There were a number of questions surrounding the Broncos to start the season – namely Peyton Manning coming off of neck surgery. He’s certainly cleared up any questions while Knowshon Moreno continues to provide Denver with fresh legs at the end of the season (22CAR, 118RYDS, 1TD against Baltimore).

Last Game: 34-17 win over Baltimore
Next Game: vs. Cleveland Browns

2. San Francisco 49ers (10-3-1) – Over the past two seasons, most people have talked about San Francisco’s hard-nosed, defensive approach. But last game against the Patriots was more about the offense as they relied on young Colin Kaepernick. The Nevada product certainly lived up the challenge by throwing for 215 yards, four touchdowns and just one interception. The celebration will be cut short though because a tough road game against Seattle looms ahead.

Last Game: 41-34 win over New England
Next Game: at Seattle Seahawks

3. New England Patriots (10-4) – Despite throwing for 443 yards, Tom Brady had his struggles against San Francisco after tossing just one TD against two picks. Plus the team had major fumbling issues while playing the Niners and fell behind 31-3 early. But we still tab New England as one of our top two bets to represent the AFC in the Super Bowl.

Last Game: 41-34 loss to San Francisco
Next Game: at Jacksonville Jaguars

4. Houston Texans (12-2) – Due to defensive injuries, we’re not quite sure if these are the same Texans as in the first half of the season. But they looked good against the Colts with Adrian Foster running for 165 yards and Andre Johnson adding 151 receiving yards and a touchdown. For the second straight year, Houston is the AFC South champion.

Last Game: 29-17 win over Indianapolis
Next Game: vs. Minnesota Vikings

5. Atlanta Falcons (12-2) – Atlanta looked the most impressive that they have in weeks after stomping the New York Giants 34-0. The only problem is that a few teams above them also played well enough to keep their top spots. Even still, the Falcons are poised to grab the NFC’s number one seed with a single win.

Last Game: 34-0 win over New York Giants
Next Game: at Detroit Lions

6. Seattle Seahawks (9-5) – This was a close call over the Packers, but who can deny the Seahawks with how they’ve been playing? QB Russell Wilson and RB Marshawn Lynch are proving to be quite an offensive duo. The two combined for 205 rushing yards and four touchdowns on just 19 carries against the Bills.

Last Game: 50-17 win over Buffalo
Next Game: vs. San Francisco 49ers

7. Green Bay Packers (10-4) – Green Bay has done an admirable job of being successful through a number of big injuries. Linebackers Clay Matthews and A.J. Hawk are back on the field, while Jordy Nelson and Charles Woodson figure to be back soon. Will this be enough to propel the Pack to the Super Bowl?

Last Game: 21-13 win over Chicago
Next Game: vs. Tennessee Titans

8. Indianapolis Colts (9-5) – We like the Colts’ chances to win their final two games against Kansas City and Houston. First off, the Chiefs have put up little fight against most good teams this year. And the Texans may not have anything to play for in their final game if they lock up the AFC’s top seed.

Last Game: 29-17 loss to Houston
Next Game: at Kansas City Chiefs

9. Dallas Cowboys (8-6) – It’s no coincidence that Dallas’ run game returned after DeMarco Murray came back from injury. Now the Cowboys have a multi-faceted offense with the way Murray and QB Tony Romo have been playing over the past few weeks. Will it result in a playoff berth? A Week 17 contest against the Redskins may answer this question.

Last Game: 27-24 win over Pittsburgh
Next Game: vs. New Orleans Saints

10. Washington Redskins (8-6) – It was no easy challenge winning in Cleveland with rookie backup Kirk Cousins starting for the injured Robert Griffin III. However, Washington grabbed a huge win and are currently battling with the Cowboys and Giants for the NFC East title.

Last Game: 38-21 win over Cleveland
Next Game: at Philadelphia Eagles

NFL Power Rankings for Dec. 13th, 2012

Ever since we began doing NFL power rankings this season, it’s been the Houston Texans or Atlanta Falcons at the top. However, an off-week for both teams has a new team rising above them and into first in our power rankings. This being said, let’s get straight to the number one team.

1. New England (10-3) – The Patriots have been quickly moving up the ranks over the past few weeks. Last week they checked in at number three, but now they’re easily the best team following an obliteration of the previously top-ranked Texans. Tom Brady tossed TD passes to Brandon Lloyd, Aaron Hernandez (twice) and Donte Stallworth during the route. What’s funny is that we didn’t even know Stallworth was still in the league until the 63-yard bomb he caught.

Last Game: 42-14 win over Houston
Next Game: vs. San Francisco 49ers

2. Denver Broncos (10-3) – While Peyton Manning still threw for 310 yards, the Broncos put much of the focus on RB Knowshon Moreno while playing the Raiders. Moreno carried 32 times for 119 rushing yards and tallied 48 receiving yards too. Assuming he can continue at this pace without wearing down, Denver truly has a complete offense.

Last Game: 26-13 win over Oakland
Next Game: at Baltimore Ravens

3. San Francisco 49ers (9-3-1) – Colin Kaepernick appears to have solved the quarterback controversy in San Francisco after throwing for 185 yards and rushing for 53 yards and a touchdown. Aldon Smith is having an outstanding season for the Niners after adding two more sacks against the Dolphins to set a franchise record at 19.5 sacks.

Last Game: 27-13 win over Miami
Next Game: at New England Patriots

4. Houston Texans (11-2) – Last week we discussed how CB Brice McCain will be out for the season following a foot injury. And this certainly put a major dent in the Texans’ pass defense, which was thoroughly exposed against New England. Of course, one blowout to the league’s top team doesn’t erase an 11-2 season.

Last Game: 42-14 loss to New England
Next Game: vs. Indianapolis Colts

5. Atlanta Falcons (11-2) – Carolina QB Cam Newton is no doubt a major talent, but nobody expected him to carry the three-win Panthers over Atlanta. However, 272 pass yards and 116 rushing yards later, Newton pulled off the improbable. At least Falcons QB Matt Ryan came out of his mid-season funk after throwing for 342 yards and two touchdowns.

Last Game: 30-20 loss to Carolina
Next Game: vs. New York Giants

6. Green Bay Packers (9-4) – For now, we put the Packers at number six; however, this could change greatly when they get Clay Matthews, Charles Woodson and Jordy Nelson back. Plus they pulled undrafted running back DuJuan Harris out of nowhere and watched him run for 31 yards and a score against the Lions.

Last Game: 27-20 win over Detroit
Next Game: at Chicago Bears

7. Seattle Seahawks (8-5) – Seattle is another team with tremendous upside since Russell Wilson has evolved into a legitimate starting quarterback while the defense has been outstanding. Of course, anybody who saw the 58-0 dismantling of Arizona already knew this. Watch out for this team in the playoffs!

Last Game: 58-0 win over Arizona
Next Game: at Buffalo Bills

8. Indianapolis Colts (9-4) – Defying all preseason prediction logic, the Colts are on the verge of making the playoffs. All they need is one win in their last two games. Of course, this will be easier said than done when you consider that they play the Texans in two out of the last three games. But with how the Colts have played this year, you can definitely expect them to win at least one more regular season game….if not the AFC South with a couple victories against the Texans.

Last Game: 27-23 win over Tennessee
Next Game: at Houston Texans

9. Baltimore Ravens (9-4) – It’s hard to have much confidence in Baltimore right now after they fired offensive coordinator Cam Cameron. And it’s difficult to see a scenario where the offense is better with quarterbacks coach Jim Caldwell suddenly thrust into the play-calling role. Taking all of this into account, we have trouble seeing the Ravens making it very far in the playoffs.

Last Game: 31-28 loss to Washington
Next Game: vs. Denver Broncos

10. New York Giants (8-5) – Over the past few years, the Giants have traditionally come alive at playoff time. And they looked pretty good during a recent route of the Saints. But we’re not ready to throw our full support behind New York just yet since they’ve won just two out of the past five games. Plus a tough road game against the Falcons looms ahead.

Last Game: 52-27 win over New Orleans
Next Game: at Atlanta Falcons

NFL Power Rankings for December 5th, 2012

Both Atlanta and Houston have played some outstanding football this season. And in our last power rankings, we thought that the Texans had played just a little better than the Falcons. But as most fans know, the NFL is quite a grind and injuries can really take a toll on power rankings. That said, let’s reveal who our new number one team is along with the rest of the top 10.

1. Atlanta Falcons (11-1) – Much of the focus to open this season was on the Falcons’ high-powered offense that features Matt Ryan, Julio Jones, Roddy White and Tony Gonzalez. However, the defense has been taking center stage lately after intercepting Drew Brees five times last game, and holding rookie standout RB Doug Martin to 50 rushing yards the previous week.

Last Game: 23-13 win over New Orleans Saints
Next Game: at Seattle Seahawks

2. Houston Texans (11-1) – The Texans drop out of the top spot this week simply because they lost another good defensive player in CB Brice McCain to a foot injury. But Houston has found ways to win all season, so we’ll see if McCain’s season-ending injury is devastating or just another bump in the road.

Last Game: 24-10 win over Tennessee Titans
Next Game: at New England Patriots

3. New England Patriots (9-3) – Since the early part of the year, few teams have played better football than the Patriots. In fact, you could even say that they’ve been the league’s best team over the past few weeks. New England gets a chance to prove this in a huge game against the Texans.

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

4. Denver Broncos (9-3) – Who knew a surgically-repaired Peyton Manning would make this big of a difference? The Broncos have skyrocketed up the rankings over the past few weeks because, well, they just keep winning.

Last Game: 31-23 win over Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Next Game: at Oakland Raiders

5. Baltimore Ravens (9-3) – Once you get past Denver, things get a lot more muddled – especially with many top teams losing last week. As for Baltimore, they dropped a game to the Charlie Batch-led Steelers, which doesn’t exactly inspire confidence. However, with just three losses on the year, it’s hard to bash Baltimore for one recently terrible game.

Last Game: 23-20 loss to Pittsburgh Steelers
Next Game: at Washington Redskins

6. Green Bay Packers (8-4) – One week after getting walloped by the Giants, Green Bay came back strong with a win against their division rival Vikings. Unfortunately RB James Starks could miss the rest of the year after an injury, but Alex Green will try once again to fill this role.

Last Game: 23-14 win over Minnesota Vikings
Next Game: vs. Chicago Bears

7. San Francisco 49ers (8-3-1) – As long as the 49ers don’t have to face St. Louis in the playoffs, they should do alright. San Francisco fell to 0-1-1 against their lesser division foes last week. Still, they have one of the league’s best defenses and Colin Kaepernick now has two games as a starting QB under his belt.

Last Game: 16-13 (OT) loss to St. Louis Rams
Next Game: vs. Miami Dolphins

8. Indianapolis Colts (8-4) – Indianapolis is far from a complete team as the Calvin Johnson-torching of their secondary showed last week. But with super-rookie Andrew Luck at the helm, the Colts have played to the AFC’s fourth best record thus far.

Last Game: 35-33 win over Detroit Lions
Next Game: vs. Tennessee Titans

9. Seattle Seahawks (7-5) – For the time being, Seattle looks like a top 10 team after beating Chicago in a close game. Rookie QB Russell Wilson is finally hitting his stride and looks poised to carry this team. Unfortunately, starting cornerbacks Richard Sherman and Brandon Browner are likely to be suspended for PEDs.

Last Game: 23-17 (OT) win over Chicago Bears
Next Game: vs. Arizona Cardinals

10. Chicago Bears (8-4) – Just a few weeks ago, we were admonishing ourselves for not putting the Bears as the league’s number one team….then injuries happened. The latest involves what could be a season-ending hamstring injury for Brian Urlacher.

Last Game: 23-17 (OT) loss to Seattle Seahawks
Next Game: at Minnesota Vikings

NFL Power Rankings for Nov. 29th, 2012

One thing that we’ve been preaching about with the Houston Texans all year is how good they could be if Matt Schaub came alive. And the 31-year-old QB has done just that after throwing for 842 yards and six touchdowns in the last two games. He’s a big reason why the Texas are now firmly-entrenched as our number one team. As for where all the other top teams rank, check out this week’s NFL power rankings.

1. Houston Texans (10-1) – With Arian Foster heading a strong running attack, Andre Johnson showing a late-season burst, and Schaub getting unhinged, the Texas offense is finally looking as good as the defense. Houston gives the AFC a strong chance to end the NFC’s reign atop the league.

Last Game: 34-31 (OT) win over Detroit
Next Game: at Tennessee Titans

2. Atlanta Falcons (10-1) – For most of the season, Atlanta has headed our power rankings. However, the recent struggles by Matt Ryan – who has thrown six picks in the past two games – are somewhat alarming. It looks like Jacquizz Rodgers is finally overtaking Michael Turner in the Falcons’ backfield. Could make for an interesting twist in the offense moving forward.

Last Game: 24-23 win over Tampa Bay
Next Game: vs. New Orleans Saints

3. New England Patriots (8-3) – Is this the same team that lost a home game to the Arizona Cardinals earlier this year? Sure doesn’t look like it as Brady is dominating (like usual), and the Pats have two strong running backs in Shane Vereen and Stevan Ridley. The defense has done a solid job at forcing turnovers too.

Last Game: 49-19 win over New York Jets
Next Game: at Miami Dolphins

4. San Francisco 49ers (8-2) – With Colin Kaepernick now named the starter for the second week in a row, it looks like he’s officially replaced a now-healthy Alex Smith at quarterback. He has just as good of an arm as Smith – if not better – along with decidedly-faster wheels.

Last Game: 31-21 win over New Orleans
Next Game: at St. Louis Rams

5. Baltimore Ravens (9-2) – Despite a number of key injuries on defense, the Ravens continue to find ways to win. Last week was a perfect example as Baltimore was down 13-10 and facing 4th-and-29 with under two minutes left in regulation. Joe Flacco found Ray Rice for a short pass, which Rice turned into a 29-yard play. Justin Tucker’s following field goal sent the game into overtime, where the Ravens pulled out the victory.

Last Game: 16-13 (OT) win over Cleveland
Next Game: vs. Pittsburgh Steelers

6. Chicago Bears (8-3) – After an incredible start, the Bears hit a stumbling block after losing in Week 10 and 11. However, they were able to right the ship after a big win over division rival Minnesota. But with RB Matt Forte out with an injury now, things won’t get easier for Chicago. Much like he did in Oakland, Michael Bush will now be carrying the running workload thanks to the starter being out.

Last Game: 28-10 win over Minnesota
Next Game: vs. Seattle Seahawks

7. Denver Broncos (8-3) – Despite facing one of the league’s toughest early season schedules, the Broncos have looked fantastic. Peyton Manning is his old self while both Demaryius Thomas and Eric Decker have become star receivers.

Last Game: 17-9 win over Kansas City
Next Game: vs. Tampa Bay Buccaneers

8. New York Giants (7-4) – It wouldn’t be at all surprising to see the Giants in the Super Bowl again this year – especially after what they did to Aaron Rdogers and the Packers last week. Rodgers had absolutely no time to throw thanks to a terrorizing New York pass rush. Depending on which Giants show up in the playoffs, they could make another big run.

Last Game: 38-17 win over Green Bay
Next Game: at Washington Redskins

9. Green Bay Packers (7-4) – While we want to rank the Pack lower after last game, it’s important to realize that it’s just one week. Before facing the Giants, Green Bay was rolling along on a hot streak. We still expect to see them fighting the Bears for the NFC North title moving forward.

Last Game: 38-10 loss to New York Giants
Next Game: vs. Minnesota Vikings

10. Indianapolis Colts (7-4) – The Colts make their first appearance in our top 10 after winning five out of their last six games. Can Indianapolis really run with the league’s best teams? The jury is out on this after a 59-24 loss to the Patriots two weeks ago, but they are still playing like a playoff-caliber team overall.

NFL Power Rankings for Nov. 9th, 2012

As we shift into the second half of the season, it’s hard to deny how good the NFC looks right now. Our weekly power rankings heavily reflect this too since five out of the top six teams are from the NFC. At this point, we can’t see a scenario where an AFC team is walking away with the Lombardi Trophy, but who knows…..maybe something will change in the coming weeks. Now here’s a look at our Week 10 power rankings.

1. Atlanta (8-0) – The slumping Dallas Cowboys gave Atlanta a tough test last game, but not enough to tarnish the Falcons’ undefeated record. Next up for Matt Ryan and company is a matchup against the surging Saints. If the Atlanta pass rush can slow down Drew Brees, there’s no reason why the Falcons won’t be right back at this spot next week.

Last Game: 19-13 win over Dallas
Next Game: at New Orleans Saints

2. Chicago Bears (7-1) – The Bears were running high on all cylinders after stomping the Tennessee Titans last week 51-20. Chicago had two defensive touchdowns during this rout and WR Brandon Marshall added three touchdowns too. If not for an early season loss to the Packers, we’d be ranking the Bears number one.

Last Game: 51-20 win over Tennessee
Next Game: vs. Houston Texans

3. Houston Texans (7-1) – Although last week’s game against the Bills didn’t turn out to be the blowout everybody expected, it was still a fairly easy win. However, nothing will be easy about the upcoming road game against Chicago. We have to favor the Bears thanks to their stout defense and home field advantage, but if QB Matt Schaub can make some plays, the Texans have a strong chance.

Last Game: 21-9 win over Buffalo
Next Game: at Chicago Bears

4. San Francisco (6-2) – The Niners fall one spot from our previous rankings just for the simple fact that the Bears were so impressive. However, they’ll no doubt remain a top Super Bowl contender moving forward.

Last Game: Bye
Next Game: vs. St. Louis

5. Green Bay Packers (6-3) – After a tough start, the Packers are really beginning to take form. And perhaps they’ll be even stronger now that RB James Starks is providing something of a ground game.

Last Game: 31-17 win over Arizona
Next Game: Bye

6. Baltimore Ravens (6-2) – It’s no secret that the Ravens defense isn’t living up to the name brand this year following a rash of injuries. But as they recently showed in Cleveland, Baltimore does whatever it takes to get in the win column. You can bet on another W this week against a Raiders team with a decimated backfield.

Last Game: 25-15 win over Cleveland
Next Game: vs. Oakland Raiders

7. Pittsburgh Steelers (5-3) – Most of the talk surrounding Pittsburgh this year is how their defense and running game haven’t measured up to past seasons. However, we seem to be witnessing something of a resurgence lately after a tough road win in New York. Isaac Redman rushed for 147 yards while the Steelers D held Eli Manning to just 125 yards passing.

Last Game: 24-20 win over New York Giants
Next Game: vs. Kansas City

8. New York Giants (6-3) – In recent years, the Giants have had a knack for coasting through the regular season, only to come alive during the Playoffs. As of now, they’re coasting through the once-tough NFC East with a 2.5-game lead over the closest competition. That said, they should definitely have another chance to heat up in the postseason.

9. New England Patriots (5-3) – The Pats get an easy home game coming off the bye as they face downtrodden Buffalo. If the past is any indication – where New England has blown the Bills out in every game since 2001 – the Patriots should be one win closer to another playoff berth.

Last Game: Bye
Next Game: vs. Buffalo Bills

10. Denver Broncos (5-3) – Thus far, the Broncos have been the only real standout in the AFC West. Peyton Manning has played like his usual self and LB Von Miller has been a terror to opposing backfields. With a winnable upcoming game in Carolina, Denver will hope to keep distancing themselves from the AFC West pack.

Last Game: 31-23 win over Cincinnati
Next Game: at Carolina Panthers