With one week remaining in the NFL season, the playoff picture is nearly set, and all 32 teams have a good idea of where they rank among the rest of the league.
The NFC race is pretty wide open right now with only three teams clinching playoff berths so far, and two games involve teams going head-to-head for division titles this week. Meanwhile, the AFC picture is almost completely set, with just one wild-card spot up for grabs between four teams.
Below is a complete list of power rankings for all 32 teams, followed by a breakdown of some of this year's most underrated teams through 16 weeks.
|Week 17 NFL Power Rankings|
|4||New Orleans Saints|
|5||San Francisco 49ers|
|6||New England Patriots|
|11||Kansas City Chiefs|
|13||San Diego Chargers|
|17||St. Louis Rams|
|19||Green Bay Packers|
|22||New York Jets|
|23||Tampa Bay Buccaneers|
|24||New York Giants|
St. Louis Rams (7-8)
At 7-8, the St. Louis Rams are still somehow dead last in the NFC West, but considering the circumstances, this has been a very successful season for the team.
Things did not look good for the Rams after losing Sam Bradford to a torn ACL in Week 7 against the Carolina Panthers, but the team didn't quit. Since that game, the Rams have gone 4-4 with impressive wins over the Indianapolis Colts, Chicago Bears and New Orleans Saints.
Kellen Clemens hasn't been terrific, but he's been about as good as you can expect for a backup quarterback. Luckily, he's had some help in the backfield with Zac Stacy and Benny Cunningham. The two have combined for 1,219 yards and eight touchdowns this year, averaging 4.3 yards per carry.
The real story for this team has been their impressive front seven. While their secondary has struggled, especially without Cortland Finnegan, others have stepped up in the box. With a league-leading 18 sacks, Robert Quinn has made a very strong case for the Defensive Player of the Year award, while both Chris Long and Michael Brockers have done a good job getting to the quarterback as well.
If the Rams didn't play in the NFC West, things might have been different this season. But with two more first-round draft picks and a lot of developing talent, this could be a very dangerous team in 2014.
San Diego Chargers (8-7)
High-powered offenses are always a ton of fun to watch, yet it seems like no one is talking about the San Diego Chargers this year, even though they're still in the playoff race with a game to go. If they can beat the Kansas City Chiefs and hope for both the Baltimore Ravens and Miami Dolphins to lose, then they'll be the third AFC West team heading to the postseason.
The Chargers are hot right now, going 4-1 over their last five games, even taking down the Denver Broncos, 27-20, back in Week 15. As a team, they're averaging 392.5 total yards and 24.6 points per game. Philip Rivers is having one of the best seasons of his career, completing 69.7 percent of his passes for 4,249 yards, 29 touchdowns and 10 interceptions.
While the defense struggled to start the year, it's really improved over the past few weeks, allowing 20 or fewer points in five of the last six games. They still allow 263.3 passing yards per game, but the Chargers are also allowing just 21.6 points per game, which ranks 11th in the league.
Overall, the Chargers don't have the best chances to make the playoffs, but the fact that they've done this much in the first year under head coach Mike McCoy has to say a lot about this team.
Arizona Cardinals (10-5)
I know that I already talked about one team in the NFC West, but when it's the best division in the NFL and the Seattle Seahawks and San Francisco 49ers get all of the attention, the other two teams deserve some love.
Bruce Arians should be a legitimate candidate to win his second straight Coach of the Year award, because he's completely turned the Arizona Cardinals around this season. After the Cardinals went just 5-11 last year, they now have a chance to go 11-5 and make the playoffs with a win over the 49ers and a loss from the New Orleans Saints.
While Carson Palmer hasn't been the perfect quarterback, he's definitely been better than any of the quarterbacks that played in 2012. He's been able to get the ball to both Larry Fitzgerald and Michael Floyd, even with an unreliable offensive line. Meanwhile, Andre Ellington has been a breakout rookie running back, running for 622 yards and three touchdowns while averaging 5.7 yards per carry.
The defense has carried the Cardinals all season, making big plays throughout the year. They've allowed just 313.6 yards and 21.0 points per game, ranking seventh and sixth, respectively, in the league in both categories. Also keep in mind that they've played some tough opponents all year, as Football Outsiders has them graded as the second-best defense in terms of weighted defense.
Considering the likely outcomes after this week, the Cardinals will likely be the best team not playing in the playoffs, and it won't even be close. They have a great defense and a lot of talent on offense. With a reliable offensive line next year, they could give the 49ers and Seahawks a run for their money for a division title.
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