NFC Power Rankings: Week 17

Richard ReschCorrespondent IDecember 29, 2009

GREEN BAY, WI - DECEMBER 27: Referee Walt Coleman #65 breaks up an altercation between Nick Barnett #56 of the Green Bay Packers and Matt Hesselbeck #8 of the Seattle Seahawks at Lambeau Field on December 27, 2009 in Green Bay, Wisconsin. (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)
Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

Tier 1 (The Elite)


Tier 2 (In The Playoffs)

1. New Orleans Saints (13-2)

They have clinched home field advantage and a first round bye, which also gives them the No. 1 spot in power rankings. But They have now lost two in a row, and if I were Sean Payton, I would let my players play in Week 17 in the hopes that they can get back into a groove before they sit at home for a week. (Last Week: 1)

2. Philadelphia Eagles (11-4)

The Eagles can clinch a first round bye this week, which would give them another week off to get fully healthy. Expect them to play hard against the Cowboys with the division crown on the line. But they might not want to fully tip their hand, as a first round matchup between these two teams is also possible. (2)

3. Green Bay Packers (10-5)

Their last-second loss to the Steelers seems to have had no ill effect on the Packers.  They absolutely thrashed the hapless Seahawks, and they will enter the playoffs on a roll. I take back some of the negative things I've said about this team. As long as Aaron Rodgers is at the helm, they'll always have a chance to score points. (6)

4. Arizona Cardinals (10-5)

The Cards still have an outside shot at the #2 seed, and they need to beat Green Bay for it to happen.  But like the Eagles, the Cardinals could be facing the Packers in the first round.  It should be interesting to see how they go about their week 17 game, with the division already locked up. (4)

5. Minnesota Vikings (11-4)

How can someone as talented as Adrian Peterson be so awful at holding on to the football. It's possible that his game-losing fumble will make him a better player in the long run, but until he proves he can hold on to the football, there is one giant flaw in his otherwise almost-perfect game. 

As for the entire team, they looked much better this week, but their defense couldn't stop an okay Bears offense. (3)

6. Dallas Cowboys (10-5)

The Cowboys took care of business and have now locked up the sixth NFC playoff spot.  With a win over the Eagles this week, they clinch the NFC East. Tony Romo and company are doing a good job dispelling the Cowboys December myth. (5)

Tier 3 (In The Hunt)


Tier 4 (Life Support)


Tier 5 (Playing For Pride)

7. Carolina Panthers (7-8)

The way they've been playing lately, it's easy to see why this team was a Super Bowl favorite last year. Jonathan Stewart proved he could be one of the top backs in the league, with a 200 yard performance against the Giants. 

Matt Moore has announced his intentions to stick around as the starting QB. (9)

8. New York Giants (8-7)

The Giants picked the worst time to play their worst game of the year. This may have been their worst performance since they got shut out at home by the Panthers in the 2005 playoffs. 

It's anyone's guess as to how they will play in a meaningless Week 17 game, but once the season ends, a lot of questions will be answered, and a lot of jobs will be lost. (7)

9. Atlanta Falcons (8-7)

The Falcons missed the playoffs, largely due to injuries to their two best players. But with a win this week against the Bucs, they will have back to back winning seasons for the first time in ages, and that's something to build on heading into next year. (8)

10. San Francisco 49ers (7-8)

If not for one fluke Brett Favre touchdown pass, things could have gone so much different for the Niners. But with a win over the Rams, the Niners will finish at .500, which is better than most predicted for them coming into the season. The future could be bright. (10)

11. Chicago Bears (6-9)

Jay Cutler had one of his best performances of the year against a good Vikings defense.  Maybe now that the pressure is off, he is free to play the way we all know he can.  Bears fans hope to see much more of this in his second year. (12)

12. Washington Redskins (4-11)

They weren't embarrassed this week, but they lost at home to the Cowboys, taking away their last chance to make their fans happy. (11)

13. Seattle Seahawks (5-10)

Another horrific loss. With two touchdowns and eight interceptions in the last two weeks, Matt Hasselbeck is making himself expendable. (13)

14. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (3-12)

Another impressive win has elevated the Bucs into the "playing for pride," and the players should have a lot to be proud of. Let's give Raheem Morris another year before we bury him as a head coach. (14)

Tier 6 (In The Hunt...For The No. 1 Pick!)

15. Detroit Lions (2-13)

I remember the days when two wins was enough to get you the No. 1 pick... (15)

16. St. Louis Rams (1-14)

Just one more loss and the No. 1 pick is theirs! Sooo close! (16)