NFL Power Rankings Week 17: Michael Vick, Tom Brady and the Battle for No. 1

Brian DiTullioSenior Writer IDecember 27, 2010

NFL Power Rankings Week 17: Michael Vick, Tom Brady and the Battle for No. 1

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    EAST RUTHERFORD, NJ - DECEMBER 19:  Michael Vick #7 of the Philadelphia Eagles rushes against the New York Giants at New Meadowlands Stadium on December 19, 2010 in East Rutherford, New Jersey.  (Photo by Nick Laham/Getty Images)
    Nick Laham/Getty Images

    NFL Power Rankings are starting to look like the NFL Playoff Picture as we head into the last week of the regular season.

    That's just a byproduct of the rankings, and it certainly isn't the function. There still are two games to play as these power rankings go live, so those teams' rankings are based on my prediction of how those games turn out.

    Michael Vick and Tom Brady may end up battling it out for the MVP vote, but they also have their teams battling it out for the top spot in the Power Rankings.

    The bottom isn't in question. Let's see how the rest of the order worked itself out.

    UPDATE: With the Falcons loss last night, that shuffles the order slightly. Drop the Falcons to one slot below the Saints and shift the rest up one slot accordingly.

The Bottom Two

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    PITTSBURGH - DECEMBER 23:  Jimmy Clausen #2 of the Carolina Panthers is sacked by Brett Keisel #99 of the Pittsburgh Steelers during the game on December 23, 2010 at Heinz Field in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.  (Photo by Jared Wickerham/Getty Images)
    Jared Wickerham/Getty Images

    32. Carolina Panthers: The Panthers have locked up the No. 1 spot in the draft, so let's see if the Panthers win the Andrew Luck Sweepstakes.

    31. Buffalo Bills: The Bills got their butts handed to them, and Ryan Fitzpatrick finally had a down week. The Bills still probably are out of the Andrew Luck Sweepstakes, but we'll see what happens.

One Step Up from the Bottom

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    SAN DIEGO, CA - DECEMBER 16:  Head coach Mike Singletary of the San Francisco 49ers reacts to a call by the officials during their game against the San Diego Chargers at Qualcomm Stadium on December 16, 2010 in San Diego, California.  (Photo by Donald Mir
    Donald Miralle/Getty Images

    30. San Francisco 49ers: The 49ers are facing a complete rebuild beginning next season. Besides a new head coach, they're looking at a new general manager and a new quarterback. Not a good time to be a 49ers fan.

    29. Cincinnati Bengals: The Bengals stunned the Chargers, but that's not going to change a whole heck of a lot going into the last week of the season. The Bengals are going to do some serious overhauling on their team as well this offseason.

Playing Out the String

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    DENVER - DECEMBER 26:  Quarterback Tim Tebow #15 of the Denver Broncos greets members of the Houston Texas at midfield after the game at INVESCO Field at Mile High on December 26, 2010 in Denver, Colorado. The Broncos defeated the Texans 24-23.  (Photo by
    Doug Pensinger/Getty Images

    28. Denver Broncos: Tim Tebow looks like the future at quarterback for the Broncos, but they have far too many other questions to be answered in one offseason.

    27. Houston Texans: The collapse of the Texans this year could cost Gary Kubiak his job, but the Texans need to rebuild that defense.

Scrambling for Answers

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    GLENDALE, AZ - DECEMBER 25:  Quarterback John Skelton #19 of the Arizona Cardinals scrambles with the ball past Jay Ratliff #90 of the Dallas Cowboys during the NFL game at the University of Phoenix Stadium on December 25, 2010 in Glendale, Arizona. The C
    Christian Petersen/Getty Images

    26. Arizona Cardinals: The Cardinals squeaked out a victory over the Dallas Cowboys, but that means little to the franchise at this point. There will be a lot of personnel changes this offseason.

    25. Detroit Lions: If Matthew Stafford can stay healthy next year, the Lions have a shot at staying competitive and maybe even making it to the playoffs in 2011.

No New Direction

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    CINCINNATI, OH - DECEMBER 19:  Head coach Eric Mangini of the Cleveland Browns on the sidelines while playing the Cincinnati Bengals at Paul Brown Stadium on December 19, 2010 in Cincinnati, Ohio.  (Photo by Matthew Stockman/Getty Images)
    Matthew Stockman/Getty Images

    24. Cleveland Browns: At the very least, the offense will have a new coordinator next season, but it's looking more and more likely that the entire coaching staff will be fired after next week's game.

    23. Dallas Cowboys: The Cowboys are sputtering out as the end of the season nears, but Jason Garrett still has the Cowboys moving in the right direction.

Waiting for Next Year

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    KANSAS CITY, MO - DECEMBER 26:  Head coach Jeff Fisher of the Tennessee Titans looks on from the sidelines during the game against the Kansas City Chiefs on December 26, 2010 at Arrowhead Stadium in Kansas City, Missouri.  (Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Ima
    Jamie Squire/Getty Images

    22. Minnesota Vikings: The Vikings have a pretty solid base for next year. They just need a new coach, a new quarterback and some missing pieces to solidify the defense.

    21. Tennessee Titans: If Jeff Fisher goes so Vince Young can stay, you can pencil the Titans in for a top five 2012 draft pick.

20. Washington Redskins

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    JACKSONVILLE, FL - DECEMBER 26:  Kicker Graham Gano #4 of the Washington Redskins celebrates after kicking the winning field goal in overtime during the game against the Jacksonville Jaguars at EverBank Field on December 26, 2010 in Jacksonville, Florida.
    Sam Greenwood/Getty Images

    Last Week: 29

    All it took was Rex Grossman and Graham Gano to make the Redskins look a little more respectable. It probably won't last.

19. Seattle Seahawks

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    TAMPA, FL - DECEMBER 26: Head coach Pete Carroll of the Seattle Seahawks directs his team against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers during the game at Raymond James Stadium on December 26, 2010 in Tampa, Florida. (Photo by J. Meric/Getty Images)
    J. Meric/Getty Images

    Last Week: 23

    The Seahawks move up by default, as they still remain in play for the NFC West crown. This team somehow manages to stay in the playoff race despite not being any good.

18. Miami Dolphins

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    MIAMI - DECEMBER 26: (L-R) Quarterback Chad Henne #7, coach Tony Sparano and running back Ricky Williams #34 of the Miami Dolphins look on from the sidelines against the Detroit Lions at Sun Life Stadium on December 26, 2010 in Miami, Florida.  (Photo by
    Marc Serota/Getty Images

    Last Week: 15

    The Dolphins are out of the playoffs, and Tony Sparano may be out of a job. The guy never had a quarterback worth the franchise though, but that doesn't excuse all the losing at home this year.

17. Oakland Raiders

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    OAKLAND, CA - DECEMBER 26:  Jason Campbell #8 of the Oakland Raiders sits on the ground against the Indianapolis Colts during an NFL game at Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum on December  26, 2010 in Oakland, California.  (Photo by Jed Jacobsohn/Getty Image
    Jed Jacobsohn/Getty Images

    Last Week: 17

    The Raiders are out of the playoffs, but they played the Colts hard and have a good core to build on next year. If only they had a first round draft pick.

16. San Diego Chargers

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    CINCINNATI - DECEMBER 26: Kelley Washington #87  of the San Diego Chargers runs with the ball while defended by Keiwan Ratliff #34 of the Cincinnati Bengals in the NFL game at Paul Brown Stadium on December 26, 2010 in Cincinnati, Ohio.  The Bengals won 3
    Andy Lyons/Getty Images

    Last Week: 12

    The Chargers are proof that you can have top five rankings in offense and defense and still not make the playoffs. San Diego is in the argument for "Best Team by Stat Category to Never Make the Playoffs."

    Just embarrassing.

15. St. Louis Rams

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    ST. LOUIS, MO - DECEMBER 26: Sam Bradford #8 of the St. Louis Rams passes against the San Francisco 49ers at the Edward Jones Dome on December 26, 2010 in St. Louis, Missouri. The Rams beat the 49ers 25-17. (Photo by Dilip Vishwanat/Getty Images)
    Dilip Vishwanat/Getty Images

    Last Week: 20

    *Facepalm*

14. Jacksonville Jaguars

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    JACKSONVILLE, FL - DECEMBER 26: Quarterback David Garrard #9 and Mike Thomas #80 of the jacksonville Jaguars celebrate following a touchdown during the game against the Washington Redskins at EverBank Field on December 26, 2010 in Jacksonville, Florida.
    Sam Greenwood/Getty Images

    Last Week: 10

    The Jaguars have to win next week to even have a chance at the playoffs, but a Colts win seals their fate in the wrong direction. This team is just not the same without Maurice Jones-Drew coming out of the backfield.

13. Tampa Bay Buccaneers

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    TAMPA, FL - DECEMBER 26:  Quarterback Josh Freeman #5 of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers throws a pass against the Seattle Seahawks during the game at Raymond James Stadium on December 26, 2010 in Tampa, Florida.  (Photo by J. Meric/Getty Images)
    J. Meric/Getty Images

    Last Week: 18

    The Bucs move up big-time with Sunday's win, but they still have a rough road ahead of them. The Bucs are going to need some help to get a wild card, but anything is possible.

12. New York Giants

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    GREEN BAY, WI - DECEMBER 26:  Coach Tom Coughlin of the New York Giants on the sidelines against the Green Bay Packers at Lambeau Field on December 26, 2010 in Green Bay, Wisconsin.  (Photo by Matthew Stockman/Getty Images)
    Matthew Stockman/Getty Images

    Last Week: 9

    The New York Giants' late-season fade continues after the Packers handed them another bad loss. The Giants offense was pressing, causing Eli Manning to revert to "Bad Eli," and the defense couldn't stop Aaron Rodgers.

11. Green Bay Packers

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    GREEN BAY, WI - DECEMBER 26:  Aaron Rodgers #12 of the Green Bay Packers rolls out of the pocket against the New York Giants at Lambeau Field on December 26, 2010 in Green Bay, Wisconsin.  (Photo by Matthew Stockman/Getty Images)
    Matthew Stockman/Getty Images

    Last Week: 16

    The Green Bay Packers, after taking a serious blow to their playoff hopes last week against the Patriots, rebounded nicely against the Giants, and now they are the team who would be in the postseason if the season ended today.

    The Packers don't have the spot locked up yet, but it's now theirs to lose.

10. New York Jets

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    CHICAGO, IL - DECEMBER 26: Mark Sanchez #6 of the New York Jets tries to escape from Israel Idonije #71 of the Chicago Bears at Soldier Field on December 26, 2010 in Chicago, Illinois. The Bears defeated the Jets 38-34. (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Ima
    Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

    Last Week: 7

    Let's hear it for the Jets, because nothing says victory, or inspires more hope in your fans, like backing into the playoffs for the second year in a row.

9. Indianapolis Colts

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    OAKLAND, CA - DECEMBER 26:  Peyton Manning #18 of the Indianapolis Colts celebrates after a throwing a touchdown against the Oakland Raiders during an NFL game at Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum on December  26, 2010 in Oakland, California.  (Photo by Jed
    Jed Jacobsohn/Getty Images

    Last Week: 6

    The Colts win but drop a few spots because of other upward movement. The Colts held off the Raiders and still have to win next week to guarantee a postseason spot.

8. Chicago Bears

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    CHICAGO, IL - DECEMBER 26: Matt Forte #22 of the Chicago Bears runs against the New York Jets at Soldier Field on December 26, 2010 in Chicago, Illinois. The Bears defeated the Jets 38-34. (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)
    Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

    Last Week: 13

    The Bears showed everyone this team is getting better. I'm still not sold on them going very far in the playoffs, but I'm now willing to concede they could win one playoff game.

7. Kansas City Chiefs

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    KANSAS CITY, MO - DECEMBER 26:  Quarterback Matt Cassel #7 of the Kansas City Chiefs scrambles during the game against the Tennessee Titans on December 26, 2010 at Arrowhead Stadium in Kansas City, Missouri.  (Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images)
    Jamie Squire/Getty Images

    Last Week: 11

    The Chiefs are playing great football right now, and with Matt Cassel back under center and recovered from his emergency appendectomy, the Chiefs look like they're ready for the playoffs.

6. New Orleans Saints

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    BALTIMORE, MD - DECEMBER 19:  Head coach Sean Payton of the New Orleans Saints walks off the field after the game against the Baltimore Ravens  at M&T Bank Stadium on December 19, 2010 in Baltimore, Maryland. The Ravens defeated the Saints 30-24. (Photo b
    Larry French/Getty Images

    Last Week: 8

    It's hard to rank the Saints before this game, especially considering the Eagles haven't played yet either. Even if they lose to the Falcons tonight, they still have a chance at the playoffs, and they still are a pretty good team.

5. Baltimore Ravens

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    CLEVELAND - DECEMBER 26:  Running back Ray Rice #27 of the Baltimore Ravens runs by linebacker Eric Barton #50 of the Cleveland Browns at Cleveland Browns Stadium on December 26, 2010 in Cleveland, Ohio.  (Photo by Matt Sullivan/Getty Images)
    Matt Sullivan/Getty Images

    Last Week: 4

    The Ravens drop one spot in the rankings, as the Steelers' win over Carolina helped solidify their claim to the AFC North crown.

4. Pittsburgh Steelers

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    PITTSBURGH - DECEMBER 23:  Shaun Suisham #6 of the Pittsburgh Steelers is congratulated by teammates after kicking a field goal against the Carolina Panthers during the game on December 23, 2010 at Heinz Field in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.  (Photo by Jared
    Jared Wickerham/Getty Images

    Last Week: 5

    The Steelers rise one spot with a victory over the lowly Panthers, and they're now in line for a first-week bye with a victory over the Browns this week. Lose, and Steelers fans won't be very happy.

3. Philadelphia Eagles

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    EAST RUTHERFORD, NJ - DECEMBER 19:  Michael Vick #7 of the Philadelphia Eagles against the New York Giants at New Meadowlands Stadium on December 19, 2010 in East Rutherford, New Jersey.  (Photo by Nick Laham/Getty Images)
    Nick Laham/Getty Images

    Last Week: 3

    The Eagles haven't played yet, but they definitely are a top three team. It's difficult to see them losing to the Vikings. Michael Vick has too much to prove, and the Eagles are on their way to a deep postseason run.

2. Atlanta Falcons

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    SEATTLE, WA - DECEMBER 19:  Quarterback Matt Ryan #2 of the Atlanta Falcons audibles to Jason Snelling #44 during the game against the Seattle Seahawks at Qwest Field on December 19, 2010 in Seattle, Washington. (Photo by Otto Greule Jr/Getty Images)
    Otto Greule Jr/Getty Images

    Last Week: 2

    The Falcons could lose to the Saints on Monday Night Football, but I just don't see it happening. Still, the matchup tonight is a good one, and the Saints are capable of winning the game.

    If the Falcons lose, that drops them out of the top five and seriously damages their home-field advantage hopes in the playoffs.

    UPDATE: Yes, The Falcons lost, drop them to No. 6, which Raises the Falcons, Ravens, Steelers and Eagles all one spot.

1. New England Patriots

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    ORCHARD PARK, NY - DECEMBER 26:  Tom Brady #12 of the New England Patriots stands on the sidelines  against the Buffalo Bills  at Ralph Wilson Stadium on December 26, 2010 in Orchard Park, New York.  New England won 34-3.  (Photo by Rick Stewart/Getty Ima
    Rick Stewart/Getty Images

    Last Week: 1

    The Patriots have locked up all the playoff goodies, the division, the first-week bye and home-field advantage throughout the playoffs.

    Do you think they'll take next week off?

    No. The answer to that is no. Bill Belichick doesn't take preseason games off; he's not taking Week 17 off.