You’ve probably already noticed that these power rankings look slightly different than you are used to. After being on hiatus for two weeks, I figured that a fresh look was needed. There is only one week left in the season and many playoff spots haven’t yet been snatched up. The Patriots, Jets, Steelers, Ravens, Chiefs, Eagles, Bears, Falcons and Saints have all punched their postseason tickets. But, the Colts, Jaguars, Giants, Packers, Buccaneers, Rams and Seahawks are still battling for spots. Only twelve teams make the big dance, but as you can see my rankings list 15 teams (16 if you count the Jags, but I don’t see Indy losing to the Titans). Who has the best shot to make it to Super Bowl XLV? There are always surpises, but the teams to beat right now are the Patriots in the AFC and the Falcons in the NFC.
Every team has question marks. Some more than others.
The Patriots have been the best team in the NFL all season even though they have one of the worst defenses in the league. Will that come back to bite them in the playoffs? Is Tom Brady’s hair magical? Only time will tell.
The Falcons could have wrapped up the #1 seed if they had beaten the Saints, but they blew it. Are they even actually better than the Saints? How ridiculous is Michael Turner? Can Roddy White be shut down and if so, who takes over?
The Bears are sitting pretty after a big win over the Jets, but struggled to beat the Detroit and then got blasted by the Patriots a few weeks back. They are 7-1 in their last 8, but can they carry that momentum into a long playoff run? Big primer against Green Bay this week.
This Ravens team has cemented itself near the top of the AFC for years to come, but are young Joe Flacco and Ray Rice ready to handle the pressure of the playoffs? Also, is Ray Lewis immortal?
The Saints started off slow, but might be the best team in the NFC (if not the whole NFL). The biggest question mark is in the running game (or lack there of). Who is going to carry the load for the Saints and take pressure off the passing game?
The boys in Steeltown don’t have many question marks. Rashard Mendenhall is a beast who can easily take over a game, but star receiver Mike Wallace is a different story. Will Wallace’s ‘no fear’ attitude and lack of experience come into play? Does Hines Ward have enough left to pick up the slack? Will James Harrison find something to complain about?
People really aren’t sure how good the chiefs are. They won a lot of games, but it’s very hard to go from one of the worst teams in the NFL to a Super Bowl champion. Are the Chiefs really ready for this yet?
There is only one question that could float or sink the Eagles: Is Michael Vick healthy and will he be healthy throughout the playoffs? If no, say bye bye to the Eagles. If yes, watch out.
All season long the Jets have looked like one of those overrated teams that was bound to choke in the playoffs. Maybe I’m just a bitter Bills fan, but which Mark Sanchez will show up in the playoffs, doctor Jekyll or Mr. Hyde?
How are the Packers only 9-6? Probably because they aren’t nearly as good as we all imagine them to be. They may not even make the playoffs. If they do, which team will show up? The team that lost 7-3 to the hapless Lions or the team that spanked the G-men 45-17?
Two straight losses is not a good way to make a playoff push. It almost looks like the Giants gave up and decided that they weren’t good enough to make the playoffs this season. The biggest question mark deals with the insanely inconsistent play of QB Eli Manning. He’s thrown 24 picks this season. How many more will he throw at costly times if they make the big dance?
The Colts are definitely the most disappointing team still left in the playoff hunt. If they win this week they are in. If they lose and the Jags lose, they’re in. If they get in, will the fact that they have no running game (do they even have runningbacks?) ruin any chance of a playoff run?
Now that the Bills are out, the Bucs are my favorite team. Sadly, they blew it down the stretch and need a lot of help to get in. Can they beat the Saints this week and get some help to get in? Very unlikely.
Will the Rams beat the Seahawks and get into the playoff? Are they this season’s version of the 2007 Cardinals? Is Sam Bradford ready for this? Can anyone name a single receiver on this team?
Do the Seahawks deserve to make the playoffs at 7-9? NO