NFL Power Rankings: Where Every Team Falls Heading into Week 17

Donald WoodFeatured ColumnistDecember 26, 2012

DENVER, CO - DECEMBER 23:  Quarterback Peyton Manning #18 of the Denver Broncos walks out to shake hands with members of the Cleveland Browns after a game at Sports Authority Field at Mile High on December 23, 2012 in Denver, Colorado. The Broncos defeated the Browns 34-12. (Photo by Dustin Bradford/Getty Images)
Dustin Bradford/Getty Images

With the NFL already heading into Week 17 of the regular season, the last chance to power rank all 32 teams is upon us.

This is where every team falls into the final week of football in 2012.


1. Denver Broncos (12-3): While the Atlanta Falcons have the better overall record, the Denver Broncos are the most complete team in the league right now. With a dangerous defense and a potent offense led by the battle-tested Peyton Manning, Denver is a serious Super Bowl favorite.


2. Atlanta Falcons (13-2): The Atlanta Falcons boast one of the best passing attacks in the NFL, but they have been exposed recently because of their mediocre defense and subpar rushing attack. If they don’t shore up those two areas, they will be in trouble during the playoffs.


3. Green Bay Packers (11-4): The Green Bay Packers continue to round into postseason shape led by the elite passing of Aaron Rodgers, but the addition of a veteran running back like Ryan Grant has changed how the opposition views this team.


4. New England Patriots (11-4): After almost falling to the Jacksonville Jaguars before remembering there was a game to play Sunday, the New England Patriots are reeling a bit heading into Week 17. The Patriots will be looking for redemption this week.


5. Houston Texans (12-3): After watching star running back Arian Foster miss substantial time in the Houston Texans' Week 16 loss, the lack of depth on offense proves the team isn’t as good as everyone thought. With the defense being burnt regularly, the Texans have begun to slide down the rankings and could be in trouble during the postseason.


6. San Francisco 49ers (10-4-1): The San Francisco 49ers have been playing mediocre football in the latter stages of the second half of the season, but a team predicated on a great rushing attack and a stout defense is exactly what it takes to win in the NFL playoffs. The 49ers are legitimate contenders.


7. Seattle Seahawks (10-5): Another team predicated on an elite rushing attack and great defensive play is the Seattle Seahawks. Led by Marshawn Lynch running the ball and a group of defensive players that have truly become a well-oiled machine, Seattle is one of the best teams in the NFC.


8. Baltimore Ravens (10-5): While injuries have hurt the chances that the Baltimore Ravens will be a serious Super Bowl contender, the real issue is on the offensive end of the spectrum with quarterback Joe Flacco. If the young quarterback doesn’t start making better decisions, the team will not go far in the postseason.


9. Washington Redskins (9-6): As long as Robert Griffin III stays healthy—and judging from his running style, that won’t be very long—the Washington Redskins could make a serious splash in the playoffs. While the team will have to put up huge offensive numbers because of their defensive inefficiencies, RGIII can do it.


10. Indianapolis Colts (10-5): While RGIII is tearing it up in D.C., No. 1 overall pick Andrew Luck is leading the Indianapolis Colts from the worst team in football in 2011 to one of the biggest threats in the 2012-13 AFC Championship race this year.


11. Cincinnati Bengals (9-6): After beating the Pittsburgh Steelers in Week 16, the Cincinnati Bengals are feeling good about making the playoffs. While they are still struggling to be consistent, the fact that they made the postseason is a testament of the team’s raw talent.


12. Minnesota Vikings (9-6): Minnesota Vikings quarterback Christian Ponder has yet to turn into the elite player the team thought he’d become when they drafted him in the first round of the 2011 NFL draft, but running back Adrian Peterson has more than made up for it with his unbelievable play all year. That domination will continue into Week 17 as well.


13. Dallas Cowboys (8-7): While the Dallas Cowboys haven’t looked elite for most of the regular season, the stellar play of quarterback Tony Romo and the entire offense recently has turned the tide of the season. With a chance to sneak into the playoffs, Dallas could be a real threat if they play this well in the postseason.


14. Chicago Bears (9-6): The Chicago Bears are still fighting to make the playoffs, but no one can complain about the play of the team's defensive unit this season; they have been amazing. Jay Cutler has been mediocre at best, though.


15. New York Giants (8-7): After winning the Super Bowl last year, the New York Giants are on the cusp of being eliminated from playoff contention. While the Giants control their own fate, there are serious doubts about whether New York can pull a win off in Week 17.


16. St. Louis Rams (7-7-1): The St. Louis Rams have built a stellar offensive unit that is just a few pieces away from being really dangerous, and the same can be said about the defensive unit. With another two seasons under head coach Jeff Fisher, St. Louis will be a contender.


17. New Orleans Saints (7-8): Led by veteran Drew Brees, the New Orleans Saints have managed to play hard in each game since being eliminated from playoff contention. With another tough game in Week 17, the Saints will look to get back to .500 after a horrid start to the season.


18. Miami Dolphins (7-8): Despite boasting one of the best run defenses in the NFL, the Miami Dolphins offense has been the picture of inconsistency. From Reggie Bush to Ryan Tannehill, the Dolphins haven’t been able to string two solid performances together all year.


19. Pittsburgh Steelers (7-8): The Pittsburgh Steelers hoped that the return of Ben Roethlisberger from an injury would be enough to catapult the team into the postseason, but the Steelers will miss the playoffs in a stunning turn of events.


20. Carolina Panthers (6-9): Second-year quarterback Cam Newton and the Carolina Panthers have turned the season around a bit, but have still struggled to maintain any sort of consistency on either side of the ball. Injuries played a role, but the Panthers need major upgrades across the depth chart.


21. San Diego Chargers (6-9): With quarterback Philip Rivers and head coach Norv Turner possibly auditioning for their next jobs, expect the San Diego Chargers to play amazing now that the season doesn’t matter. That would be poetic justice.


22. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (6-9): After the Bucs were exposed as frauds on the offensive side of the ball, the porous secondary has also given out completely. If it wasn’t for one of the league’s top run-stopping defenses, Tampa Bay would be awful.


23. New York Jets (6-9): With enough quarterback controversy to hold anyone over for a decade, the New York Jets continue to limp towards an offseason full of upheaval. All fans can hope for is a very public team fire sale and house cleaning.


24. Cleveland Browns (5-10): While there aren’t too many experts giving the Cleveland Browns any credit this season, there is an obvious abundance of talent on this team. The Browns just need to have their top stars utilized to their fullest in a better system.


25. Tennessee Titans (5-10): While many Tennessee Titans fans hoped that this would be the coming-out party for the young team, many glaring weaknesses reared their ugly heads this season. The biggest question mark surrounds young quarterback Jake Locker and his future with the team.


26. Buffalo Bills (5-10): The inconsistent offensive attack form the Buffalo Bills has as much to do with Chan Gailey and the coaching staff as it does with Ryan Fitzpatrick and the skill players. If anyone should be removed in the offseason, it should be Gailey.


27. Philadelphia Eagles (4-11): With Philadelphia Eagles quarterback Michael Vick back as the starting quarterback after rookie Nick Foles broke his hand, the team has officially called it quits for the season. After being heralded as a Super Bowl favorite, this is one of the most disappointing seasons in the franchise’s history.


28. Detroit Lions (4-11): The Detroit Lions are so much better than their record indicates, but a lackluster secondary and an imbalanced offensive attack have made the team predictable. While wide receiver Calvin Johnson is still amassing huge numbers, they are coming in garbage time.


29. Arizona Cardinals (5-10): After starting the season 4-0, the Arizona Cardinals have spent the last three months amassing an astonishing 1-10 record. There is so much raw talent in Arizona, though, that this is the kind of project that can be salvaged in 2013.


30. Oakland Raiders (4-11): The Oakland Raiders are dealing with a plethora of injuries at key positions, and the loss of Carson Palmer is a huge blow. Don’t expect much from the Silver and Black in Week 17.


31. Kansas City Chiefs (2-13): The Kansas City Chiefs have one of the most dynamic running back duos in the NFL with Jamaal Charles and Peyton Hillis, but that’s where the success ends. The Chiefs need a quarterback fast.


32. Jacksonville Jaguars (2-13): With a team full of injuries and a lack of talent across the board, there is no worse team in the NFL than the Jacksonville Jaguars. Despite playing New England tough in Week 16, the Jaguars need Tim Tebow.


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