NFL Power Rankings Week 17: The Final Countdown

John LorgeSenior Writer IDecember 28, 2010

NFL Power Rankings Week 17: The Final Countdown

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    Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

    NFL power rankings are coming to a close as we enter Week 17 of the season.  While Philadelphia and Minnesota still have to play in "Week 16," the rest of the NFL is ready to move on to the playoffs, or the draft.

    Power rankings are a great way to look at which divisions are jokes and who is for real.  All of the NFC West falls in the bottom half of the leagueyes, they will have a playoff team but it doesn't mean they deserve one.  The AFC West and AFC South aren't too impressive either.

    At the top of the NFL, we do have some nice parity between the AFC and NFC.  Atlanta's loss does eliminate the Falcons or Pats argument, but each conference has five teams in my top 10.

    Here is the final countdown, read it before the Chinese do—while doing calculus.

     

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32. Carolina Panthers (2-13)

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    Jared Wickerham/Getty Images

    Despite Jimmy Clausen's best efforts, John Kasay would not be shut out Thursday night as he slammed a 27-yarder through in the fourth quarter.

    It marked the third time this year Kasay has been the only Panther to score.  The kicker hasn't been shut out since 2004.

    (Last Week: 32)

31. Houston Texans (5-10)

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    Doug Pensinger/Getty Images

    The Texans do not know how to win games.

    They have talent on both sides of the ball and have been in plenty of close ones, but they don't know how to finish.

    1-8 since their bye, ouch.

    (Last Week: 25)

30. Denver Broncos (4-11)

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    Doug Pensinger/Getty Images

    Yeah, he has a grenade-toss motion, but winning is the only stat that matters in the NFL and Tim Tebow is showing us that's what he does.

    The rookie is already one of the better red zone QBs because of his True Grit.  

    Whoever takes over the Broncos next year may be inheriting more than they initially expected.

    (Last Week: 31)

29. Arizona Cardinals (5-10)

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    Christian Petersen/Getty Images

    "Merry Christmas, Arizona."—David Buehler

    (Last Week: 30)

28. Seattle Seahawks (6-9)

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    It would be a major travesty if the Seahawks make the playoffs.

    Sure, injuries have played a part, but the guys on the field are getting abused left and right.

    Their QB hurt himself jogging into the end zone. Jogging!

    (Last Week: 29)

27. San Francisco 49ers (5-10)

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    Dilip Vishwanat/Getty Images

    It's about a month late but the Niners finally fired Mike Singletary.

    Without the nervous energy coming from the coaching staff, maybe SF can finally be the team they should have been the past two seasons.

    (Last Week: 28)

26. Minnesota Vikings (5-9)

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    Matthew Stockman/Getty Images

    Without a real QB the Vikings are hurting.  Without Adrian Peterson and Steve Hutchinson?

    They are just plain bad.

    The offseason can't come soon enough for Minnesota.

    (Last Week: 21)

25. Tennessee Titans (6-9)

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    Jamie Squire/Getty Images

    Joke's on me, Tennessee.

    After a decisive win against Houston, I thought the Titans were ready to turn the corner. 

    Instead, they got ran off the field by KC, making it seven L's in their last eight games.

    (Last Week: 20)

24. Cincinnati Bengals (4-11)

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    Andy Lyons/Getty Images

    Since ridding themselves of TOcho, the Bengs are 2-0.  Beating Cleveland is nothing to write home about, but taking down SD by two scores is.

    May be Cinci doesn't need to move Carson Palmer in the offseason.

    (Last Week: 27)

23. Washington Redskins (6-9)

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    If I were to tell you Rex Grossman was going to start against the Jags AND only complete 48.7 percent of his 39 passing attempts; how quickly would you be booking a flight to Vegas?

    Never bet against Rex.

    (Last Week: 24)

22. Miami Dolphins (7-8)

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    Marc Serota/Getty Images

    I've tried to give Miami love all year in the power rankings.  Winning on the road in the NFL is really hard.

    Now that I've sent them down the rankings, an upset of New England wouldn't surprise me the least bit.  After all, they will be on the road.

    (Last Week: 17)

21. Detroit Lions (5-10)

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    Marc Serota/Getty Images

    If Detroit wins by 14 points or more next week against Minnesota, they will be positive in the margin of victory column for the first time since 2000, when they were at 0.

    Fun Fact: Detroit's three-headed QB has a TD-to-INT ratio of 25-to-15 this season.

    (Last Week: 26)

20. Cleveland Browns (5-10)

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    Matt Sullivan/Getty Images

    The Browns' mystique from the middle of the season is gone but this is still a very solid ball club.

    If the Browns drew a schedule like one of the West division teams, their record would be much different.

    (Last Week: 23)

19. St. Louis Rams (7-8)

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    Dilip Vishwanat/Getty Images

    The NFL has flexed the Rams' Week 17 battle with Seattle for the NFC West title into prime time.

    To celebrate, I've flexed the Rams into the top 20 of the Power Rankings.

    Please win, St. Louis.  Please win.

    (Last Week: 22)

18. Oakland Raiders (7-8)

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    Ezra Shaw/Getty Images

    It's great to see Oakland putting a competitive team on the field this season.  

    Even though they are out of the hunt, they continue to give their opponents hell in all three phases of the game.

    (Last Week: 18)

17. Dallas Cowboys (5-10)

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    Christian Petersen/Getty Images

    Many Cowboy haters won't be happy with me leaving Dallas where they are, but I stand by my ranking.

    The Boys have looked good during a tough second half schedule and they will be a playoff contender next season.

    (Last Week: 16)

16. Buffalo Bills (4-11)

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    Rick Stewart/Getty Images

    Yes, I know they're 4-11 but those four wins have come in their last seven games.  

    This team was starting to figure it out before running into the Pats, and they would love to steal one from the Jets, who don't have much to play for in Week 17.

    That being said, seven turnovers is embarrassing. Clean it up.

    (Last Week: 15)

15. Jacksonville Jaguars (8-7)

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    Sam Greenwood/Getty Images

    I was predicting a big fantasy week for Rashad Jennings with MJD out.  He crapped the bed and so did the Jags.

    David Garrard has been nice this season but we know just how important Pocket Herc is.

    The Jags aren't out of the playoffs yet, so I expect MJD to go.

    (Last Week: 14)

14. Tampa Bay Bucs (9-6)

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    They're not great. They haven't even beat a winning team, but they do get it done.

    The offense of Blount, Freeman, Winslow and the real Mike Williams are quickly becoming one of my favorite squads in the NFL.

    (Last Week: 19)

13. San Diego Chargers (8-7)

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    After a sad loss in Cinci, I hope the Chargers get Tebowed next week in Denver.

    Finally their late-season luck has ran out.

    (Last Week: 10)

12. New York Giants (9-6)

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    Matthew Stockman/Getty Images

    As expected, the Giants fell victim to the hangover loss.

    New York has lost their games in pairs this year, suggesting they have a hard time bouncing back.

    Statistically, they are one of the most complete teams in the NFL and they are still capable of securing a Wild Card bid—with a little help.

    (Last Week: 8)

11. Indianapolis Colts (9-6)

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    Had Peyton Manning not thrown a season's worth of picks during a three-game stretch, he might be our MVP this season.

    The Colts brought back Dominic Rhodes recently, and the move looks like it gave their rushing attack some new life.

    (Last Week: 12)

10. Kansas City Chiefs (10-5)

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    Jamie Squire/Getty Images

    Thomas Jones hasn't had a YPC average over five during the second half of the season, but nobody is focused on that because of how outstanding Jamaal Charles has been.

    He's only scored seven times on the year, but Charles is moving the ball at an unbelievable clip.  His career 6.0 yards per carry is fifth best all-time and by far the best for a running back.

    (Last Week: 11)

9. New York Jets (10-5)

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    Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

    Losing three of their last four, it's easy to rip the Jets apart, but they are a much better team than the media is leading on.

    The biggest problem I see for NY is that they can't get a consistent rhythm on offense.  Their erratic heartbeat can lead to big plays and big disappointment.

    (Last Week: 9)

8. Green Bay Packers (9-6)

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    Matthew Stockman/Getty Images

    Is there anything better than watching the ball come out of Aaron Rodgers' hand?

    I was worried the Giants may knock him out, as we've seen them give QBs hell this season.  Rodgers hung tough and put up his best numbers of the season.

    (Last Week: 13)

7. Chicago Bears (11-4)

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    Sure, Jay Cutler is playing good football and bringing in Julius Peppers has solidified their defense.

    But the best move the Bears have made is making Devin Hester their return man again.

    He leads the league in punt return yards and touchdowns.  Splitting time on kick returns, he is notching 35.6 yards in 12 tries.

    It's a third of the game and nobody is playing it better.

    (Last Week: 7)

6. Pittsburgh Steelers (11-4)

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    Thursday's Kick The Crap Out Of The Panthers Bowl was a nice bounce-back for Pitt.  

    Traveling into Cleveland won't be a cakewalk, but it shouldn't stop them from finishing the year with another AFC North title.

    (Last Week: 6)

5. Philadelphia Eagles (10-4)

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    Conspiracy theorists are documenting the NFL's plan to get games on every night of the week as the Eagles gear up for a Tuesday night battle.

    Roughly half of all fantasy football championships are resting on this game, and going Thursday to Tuesday makes it the longest week of NFL ever (I did not look this up).

    Oh yeah, and Mike Vick is really good.

    (Last Week: 4)

4. Atlanta Falcons (12-3)

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    Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

    No crazy Falcons fan, the Saints are dat.

    Instead of leading Atlanta to victory after a nice scramble to open the drive, Matt Ryan couldn't move the chains again, and the Falcons suffered their first home loss of the season.

    Atlanta's comeback kid only completed 51 percent of his passes Monday.

    Their Super Bowl hopes are still alive, but teams won't be as worried about entering the dome anymore.

    (Last Week: 1)

3. New Orleans Saints (11-4)

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    Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

    The Saints went in to the their enemies' house and left an upper-decker.

    If New Orleans has to go back to Atlanta during the playoffs, Monday night's game will have a lasting effect on the psyche of both teams. 

    Matt Ryan isn't invincible at home and he won't capitalize on every late-game drive.

    (Last Week: 5)

2. Baltimore Ravens (11-4)

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    The Ravens haven't been running the ball like they did in John Harbaugh's first two seasons, but they aren't passing the ball the same way either.

    Anquan Boldin, T.J. Houshmandzadeh, and Ed Dickson have produced 101 catches for 1,361 yards and 11 TDs this year, a spread of production they have been missing.

    Defenses have to get much more detailed with their assignments, giving Baltimore the upper hand.

    (Last Week: 3)

1. New England Patriots (13-2)

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    The good times are rolling for New England.  

    Tom Brady is turning watered-down weapons into wine, as six players have five or more scores for the Pats.

    They don't want to get too rusty over two weeks, but the Pats do have the ability to rest players if they wish this week.

    (Last Week: 2)