The Chargers Almost Take Over The Top Spot. Almost. [NFL Power Rankings]
1. Colts, 14-1, Last week: 1
I don't agree with their decision to throw the game against the Jets, and I think it will have long-term repercussions. I already thought they'd lose in the playoffs... now I KNOW they will.
2. Chargers, 12-3, Last week: 3
They're the hottest team in the league right now, and they almost got the top spot. Say what you want about the Colts, but this Chargers team is playing better than anyone right now, and I think they're the team to beat.
3. Saints, 13-2, Last week: 2
I have no idea what has happened in the past few weeks, but they desperately need to catch a win next week. Heading into the playoffs on a 3-game losing streak is a recipe for disaster.
4. Eagles, 11-4, Last week: 5
They have a huge game this week against the Cowboys, which will be for the NFC East, and could decide who gets the #2 seed and a first round bye. Unfortunately for the Eagles, it's in Dallas. Fortunately, it's still December.
5. Cowboys, 10-5, Last week: 7
They went 2-2 in December, but this first one in January against the Eagles will go a long way in determining how successful their month really is.
6. Vikings, 11-4, Last week: 4
Favre wasn't bad, but it's hard to ignore the recent trend of his teams falling apart late in the season. Is there any doubt at this point that Favre would be better off roaming a golf course at this point?
7. Bengals, 10-5, Last week: 6
If they can keep Cedric Benson going in the playoffs, I love their chances to make some serious noise. As long as he's healthy and productive, the Bengals will do well.
8. Cardinals, 10-5, Last week: 8
They've broken the Super Bowl loser's curse, and they're heading back to the playoffs... and the Steelers, who beat them in the Super Bowl, are still on the bubble. Funny how these things work.
9. Patriots, 10-5, Last week: 9
Their win over the Jaguars really didn't prove anything. The Patriots can beat anyone at home, where they went 8-0. The problem is... can they take their act on the road and get a win at San Diego or Indy? Probably not.
10. Packers, 10-5, Last week: 10
The Packers could actually play the Vikings in the first round of the playoffs this year, depending on how things pan out. How awesome would that be? I think they could win Round 3 of that one.
11. Jets, 8-7, Last week: 19
If Mark Sanchez can make some progress next year, Rex Ryan can have this team in a good spot. Either way, a win this week, and they're in the playoffs. That's progress.
12. Ravens, 8-7, Last week: 12
If they pick up a win next week against the Raiders, they're in the playoffs. If not, they have no one to blame but themselves, at this point.
13. Broncos, 8-7, Last week: 11
They need to win, and then have either the Jets or Ravens lose. If that happens, they're in the playoffs... unless the Steelers are the only team tied with them. The Broncos hold the 3-way tiebreaker, but no the head to head tiebreaker with the Steelers.
14. Steelers, 8-7, Last week: 17
They need a win against the Dolphins, and a loss by at least 2 of the following teams: Texans, Jets and Ravens. If that happens, they're in the playoffs.
15. Atlanta, 8-7, Last week: 18
If they stay healthy next year, they'll make the playoffs. Unfortunately, Matt Ryan and Michael Turner missing time was just too much for them to handle.
16. Texans, 8-7, Last week: 20
A win next week against the Patriots will go a long way for this team. And with the way the Patriots play on the road, it's definitely not out of the question at all.
17. Jaguars, 7-8, Last week: 15
To make the playoffs, they need to win, and they need 4 of the following 5 teams to lose: Steelers, Ravens, Broncos, Texans and Jets. Definitely a long shot.
18. Dolphins, 7-8, Last week: 16
If they can beat the Steelers, they can still make the playoffs... as long as the Jets, Ravens, Texans and Jaguars lose. I wouldn't hold my breath.
19. Giants, 8-7, Last week: 13
Their collapse this year has been remarkable. Right now, it looks like Eli's big new contract wasn't quite worth it. He needs to be consistent... and he hasn't been.
20. Titans, 7-8, Last week: 14
They might actually be a little better than some of the other 7-8 teams in the AFC... but they can't make the playoffs. So it really doesn't matter.
21. 49ers, 7-8, Last week: 21
This team will break through... next year. Mike Singletary is a solid coach, and they have a solid amount of talent. If Alex Smith develops more, they'll be fine.
22. Panthers, 7-8, Last week: 22
John Fox will keep his job next year, but I don't think we'll be able to say the same for Jake Delhomme. It's probably for the best, anyway. Matt Moore has been a LOT better.
23. Bears, 6-9, Last week: 23
They beat the Vikings, but at this point, it doesn't even matter. This season is a complete failure. If only they had a bunch of draft picks they could use to rebuild the team. If only...
24. Browns, 4-11, Last week: 28
They're on a 3-game winning streak right now. I'm not sure if this is a good thing or a bad thing. Wins are always good, but it's killing their draft position, and saving Eric Mangini's job. Yeah, that's a bad thing.
25. Raiders, 5-10, Last week: 26
They just lost to the Browns? Really? And Charlie Frye looked a whole lot like JaMarcus Russell. They need bruce Gradkowski back. Wait, did I just say that?
26. Seahawks, 5-10, Last week: 24
The Seahawks got dismantled by the Packers, but Justin Forsett looks like he might be a pretty good player in the long run.
27. Bills, 5-10, Last week: 25
No one wants to coach there, they have very little talent, and... well, that's it, really. This team is a disaster, and they might even get worse from here.
28. Redskins, 4-11, Last week: 27
Once they complete their inevitable Shanahan hiring, it will be interesting to see what they do. As long as Dan Snyder keeps his hands out of the cookie jar, they'll improve quickly.
29. Chiefs, 3-11, Last week: 29
Dwayne Bowe returned this week, and it's clear that they missed him. Their almost-win against the Bengals showed good signs of things to come.
30. Buccaneers, 3-12, Last week: 31
Raheem Morris got thrown in a pretty tough position, and I'm not entirely sure that he even wanted to be a head coach. But he has done alright, really. They almost won too many games, and screwed over their draft position.
31. Lions, 2-13, Last week: 30
The Lions have a good base, and much like a lot of bad teams, they just need to keep building from the trenches, and who knows? They might even win 4-5 games next year.
32. Rams, 1-14, Last week: 32
The Rams will be much better off next year with Ndamukong Suh... and even better if they can shore up their offensive line and find a legitimate QB.
Feel free to let me know where you think I went wrong, or how much of a genius you think I am, in the comments section below.