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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    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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    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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    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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    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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    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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    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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    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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    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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    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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    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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    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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    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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    Last Week: 20

    *Facepalm*

14. Jacksonville Jaguars

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    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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    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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    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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    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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    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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    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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    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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    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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    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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    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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    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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    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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    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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    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.