NFL Power Rankings Week 17: Where Every Team Stands Entering Final Week
I say this with a tear in my eye and a crack in my voice, but the final week of the 2012 NFL regular season is upon us.
Nonetheless, as men, we push forward and gear up for the best time of the season:
Here are your power rankings entering the final week of the 2012 regular season.
1. Denver Broncos (12-3)
Winners of 10 straight, the Denver Broncos are the most consistent team in the NFL.
Each week, opponents line up against them knowing the game plan, yet Peyton Manning and the ponies continue to pile up the wins.
With a first-round bye at stake in Week 17, you can expect the Broncos to go and get it against the Kansas City Chiefs.
2. New England Patriots (11-4)
Now that New England has a rushing game to complement Tom Brady and the Giants may miss the playoffs, the Patriots might have a chance at winning a Super Bowl this season.
New England currently holds the No. 3 seed but still has an opportunity to clinch a first-round bye on Sunday with a win and losses by the Broncos and/or the Houston Texans.
3. Seattle Seahawks (10-5)
Forget RGIII and the Redskins. The Seattle Seahawks are the most thrilling team to watch in the NFL.
Following Seattle's drubbing of the San Francisco 49ers, Russell Wilson & Co. have certainly established themselves as an enormous threat come playoff time.
Having already clinched a wild-card spot, the NFC appears to be in trouble with a surging Seahawks team on the rise.
4. San Francisco 49ers (10-4-1)
The 49ers boast one of the staunchest defenses in the league, but it was nowhere to be seen against Seattle.
San Francisco has yet to lock up the NFC West but still has a chance of clinching a first-round bye with a win over the Arizona Cardinals and a loss by the Green Bay Packers in Week 17.
As long as the 49ers win on Sunday, they'll win the NFC West and will head into January with some momentum.
5. Atlanta Falcons (13-2)
The NFC South champion Atlanta Falcons already own the No. 1 seed and first-round bye, so their matchup with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in Week 17 means about as much as any New York Jets game this season.
Atlanta is a great regular-season team, but we've yet to see them make much noise in the postseason.
Nonetheless, home-field advantage and the No. 1 seed should give the Falcons their best shot at making a deep run in the playoffs.
6. Houston Texans (12-3)
The Texans currently own the No. 1 seed but could possibly fall to No. 3 with a loss and wins by New England and Denver.
Two losses in the last three games, including a Week 16 pounding at the hands of the Vikings, should have Houston fans worried about the status of their squad entering the postseason.
A key matchup with another playoff team—the Indianapolis Colts—should be a decent barometer in Week 17.
7. Green Bay Packers (11-4)
Remember Week 4 when everyone was questioning Aaron Rodgers and the Green Bay Packers?
The Pack own the NFC North and will clinch a first-round bye on Sunday with a win over the Vikings.
8. Baltimore Ravens (10-5)
Baltimore may have demolished the G-Men in Week 16 but it still needs a lot more wins like that one to convince the masses that its an elite team in the NFL.
The Ravens clinched the AFC North but will be tested on the road against a solid Cincinnati Bengals squad in Week 17.
We'll see how Baltimore fares in the postseason, but if it plays similar to Week 16 against New York, the rest of the NFL is in trouble.
9. Cincinnati Bengals (9-6)
Fresh off of their first win over the rival Steelers in the Andy Dalton era, the Bengals already own a wild-card spot and have a defense to back up a solid running game behind BenJarvus Green-Ellis.
Having won six of its last seven, Cincinnati will be looking to gain more momentum against the Ravens and carry it into the playoffs.
10. Indianapolis Colts (10-5)
The Colts are truly the best story in the NFL, and with Chuck Pagano back on the sideline in Week 17, you can expect Indianapolis to go hard on Sunday at home against the Texans.
Indy will be looking to exact revenge on the Texans, who beat the Colts 29-17 in Week 15.
11. Washington Redskins (9-6)
It's pretty simple for Washington: beat the Dallas Cowboys and the Redskins are division champs.
The Redskins went H.A.M. on Dallas on Thanksgiving Day, as RGIII threw four touchdowns and the Cowboys turned the ball over three times.
Playing at FedEx Field in Week 17, Washington is poised to take the NFC East before the home crowd.
12. Chicago Bears (9-6)
Enter the enigma that is Jay Cutler.
I'm still trying to figure out exactly what caliber of a QB Cutler is, but either way, he has a chance to lead his Bears to the postseason.
A Chicago win and a Minnesota loss will do it for the Bears.
13. Minnesota Vikings (9-6)
We all know Adrian Peterson isn't human, so I'm going to skip that whole spiel.
Minnesota needs a big win over the rival Packers on Sunday to clinch the No. 6 seed in the NFC playoff picture.
14. Dallas Cowboys (8-7)
The Cowboys have an uphill battle in Week 17, as they'll require a win over the Redskins and a loss by a couple other NFC teams to play January football.
I'm pretty sure we say this every season, but this is pretty much do or die for Tony Romo.
15. New York Giants (8-7)
To say that this season has been a disappointment would be an understatement for the Giants.
The G-Men can still salvage their season by beating the rival Eagles in Week 17 and hoping for losses by the Vikings, Bears and Cowboys.
Even if New York does somehow claw its way into the postseason, it won't exactly be entering January on its customary run.
16. Pittsburgh Steelers (7-8)
The Steelers not in the playoffs?
It's been that kind of season in Pittsburgh, where Mike Wallace and the entire running back corp has reeked of inconsistency.
There's no doubt the Steelers will rebuild and make the necessary changes to contend next season, but for now, they're cooked in 2012.
17. New Orleans Saints (7-8)
Mathematically, the Saints have been eliminated from playoff contention, but they can end the season on a solid note.
A Week 17 win over the Carolina Panthers would make it three straight wins for New Orleans, which will get its beloved Sean Payton back at the helm in 2013 (h/t USA Today).
18. Miami Dolphins (7-8)
As long as the New England Patriots are in the AFC East, the Dolphins are not winning the division.
Miami needs more weapons around Ryan Tannehill in order to compete in the AFC.
Oh, and the Dolphins will see the Patriots in the season finale on Sunday.
19. St. Louis Rams (7-7-1)
Injuries plagued the Rams this season, but as we've seen, a healthy Danny Amendola can do wonders for St. Louis' offense.
Unfortunately, it doesn't get any easier for the Rams, as they get the red-hot Seahawks on Sunday.
20. San Diego Chargers (6-9)
Personally, I think the Chargers need to clean house (GM, coach and quarterback), but that's just me.
San Diego has had some pretty solid teams in the past but were never able to make it over the hump.
At least the Chargers will get to end the season on a good note with a matchup against the lowly Raiders.
21. Carolina Panthers (6-9)
The Panthers have won three straight and will be looking for four in a row against the Saints in the finale.
If only Cam and Co. would have played like this 10 weeks ago.
22. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (6-9)
The Bucs looked promising in the middle of the season, when they won four straight and saw Doug Martin doing work on the ground.
Martin is still doing work on the ground but his Bucs have been pitiful, dropping five in a row.
That mark will probably move to six in a row, as Tampa gets the Falcons in the Georgia Dome in Week 17.
23. New York Jets (6-9)
Does anyone even know who's starting at QB for the Jets anymore?
Does anyone really care at this point?
Honestly, I'm worn out from all of the drama coming out of New York and you should be too.
The Jets end their debacle on Sunday on the road against the Buffalo Bills.
24. Cleveland Browns (5-10)
The Browns had a nice three-game winning streak rolling until they ran into a hot Redskins team in Week 15, which has resulted in two straight losses.
It doesn't get much easier against Pittsburgh in Week 17, and with Thad Lewis reported to be the starting QB (h/t ESPN), it really doesn't get any easier.
25. Arizona Cardinals (5-10)
The Cardinals were off to such a promising start.
Then they lost nine in a row and started four different quarterbacks.
I hope you're thinking QB in the draft, Arizona.
26. Buffalo Bills (5-10)
Buffalo was a major disappointment this season, as was superstar Mario Williams.
C.J. Spiller finally had the breakout season we've been waiting for, but other than that, it's another lost season for the Bills, who close out their season against the Jets.
27. Tennessee Titans (5-10)
If Jake Locker can stay healthy, he can be a successful QB in the NFL, especially with a back like Chris Johnson behind him.
But that's only if he can stay healthy.
Tennessee will be looking to end the season on a positive note with a win over the Jaguars in Week 17.
28. Detroit Lions (4-11)
Losers of seven straight, the Lions are in for an eighth-straight loss in Week 17 when they host the Chicago Bears.
Calvin Johnson has been the only positive story out of Detroit this season while Ndamukong Suh has been his usual, controversial self.
All is right with the Lions.
29. Philadelphia Eagles (4-11)
The Eagles can play serious spoiler against the Giants in Week 17 and they'd have it no other way.
It's a lost season for Philly, who could see Oregon's Chip Kelly running the show in 2013.
Failed seasons in Philadelphia seem to be the norm these days.
30. Oakland Raiders (4-11)
Hopefully the Raiders brass is thinking defense in the upcoming draft.
Oakland has been torched by opposing offenses and will likely be abused by Philip Rivers in Week 17, which is actually pretty embarrassing.
31. Jacksonville Jaguars (2-13)
Not only will Jacksonville finish the season with no more than three wins, but that mark isn't even good enough to earn the No. 1 pick in next year's draft.
The Jags get Tennessee on Sunday in a battle of two of the AFC's worst.
32. Kansas City Chiefs (2-13)
Hello, No. 1 pick.
The Chiefs aren't beating the Broncos in Week 17, so they'll likely be laying down in order to snag the first pick in the 2013 NFL draft.
I'm thinking quarterback.
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