NFL Power Rankings Week 17: Ranking The AFC in The Final Week
Can you believe it, ladies and gentlemen? Week 17 is upon us.
Pro Bowl voting is in, the MVP race has been narrowed (unofficially) to Tom Brady and Michael Vick, and the playoff picture has been more or less solidified.
Take it all in folks, because we still don't know what will come of the NFL next year.
That's a whole different deal for a whole different time, though.
For now, let's break down the AFC for the second to last time this season. Here are the power rankings for the AFC teams as I see them.
16. Denver Broncos
If there is one thing that the Denver Broncos can be happy about, it's the fact that they appear to have found a player that the team can rally behind: Tim Tebow, the Mile High Savior.
On the wings of a good performance by Tebow, the Broncos won their first game since Week 10, when they blew out the AFC West champion Kansas City Chiefs.
The Broncos may be on the bottom of the AFC now, but with Elvis Dumervil back next year, as well as the possibility of a good draft class, Denver could be a force once again.
15. Buffalo Bills
Poor Buffalo, they just can't find a winning groove.
As far as I am concerned, the Buffalo Bills have a lot of promise in their future. Ryan Fitzpatrick appears to be capable of winning games for them, and they are slowly building surrounding talent through the draft.
As it stands, though, getting destroyed by the New England Patriots makes them look very bad.
14. Cincinnati Bengals
The Cincinnati Bengals earned a lot of respect in my book Sunday by blowing out the desperation-charged San Diego Chargers.
Carson Palmer was just barely short of a perfect quarterback rating, and without Chad Ochocinco and Terrell Owens no less.
They may have had a horrible season, but they look like they're ready to end it on a high note.
13. Cleveland Browns
The Browns are improving, there's no doubt about that.
Peyton Hillis has turned out to be one of the best moves of the year, as the Browns cut ties with Brady Quinn for the bruising running back who, should he stay healthy, will do great things for the Browns for a while.
The Browns also appear to have found their quarterback of the future in Colt McCoy. Sure, he's still rough, but he is a rookie after all. If he continues to improve, he's got a bright future.
In the land of the present, though, the Browns have lost three straight games, and the two games they won before that were decided by a collective four points, and they were against an injury-ravaged Dolphins team and the Carolina Panthers.
At least they're not on the bottom.
12. Tennessee Titans
Chris Johnson can only do so much for the Tennessee Titans.
The Titans picked up Randy Moss, but that kind of star power doesn't help when you don't have a quality starting quarterback.
In total honesty, the Titans should probably be lower on this list. The thing is, though, they've won recently (Big Week 15 win over Houston), and they don't seem totally lost.
They probably aren't going any higher on this list, though, considering that they play Indianapolis at Indianapolis next week.
11. Houston Texans
Great offensive play can only get you so far.
The Texans once again managed to lead a very talented team to a very underwhelming season.
With four straight losses behind them, you have to wonder: can the Texans salvage some dignity next week at home against Jacksonville?
10. Oakland Raiders
The Raiders should be happy about where they ended up this year. Sure, they didn't win the division, and sure, they may not end with a winning record, but they seem to be finding some continuity, and they are looking up for next year.
While the Raiders did lose last week, they put up a fight against Indianapolis, so at least there's that.
9. Miami Dolphins
Injuries have been killer for the Miami Dolphins this year. They have been competitive at times, but they have really had a hard time finding a way to win over the past few weeks, losing to Detroit and Buffalo in consecutive weeks.
It's too bad they couldn't pull wins off against Detroit or Buffalo, because they play New England in Foxborough to end the season. Ouch.
8. Jacksonville Jaguars
There was a point in this season where people believed that the Jacksonville Jaguars had what it takes to steal the AFC South from the Indianapolis Colts.
So much for that.
The Jacksonville Jaguars have still had a good season, but they are still a middle-of-the-pack group.
7. San Diego Chargers
When push came to shove, the Chargers fell over backwards.
San Diego came into their game against Cincinnati as hot as any team in the NFL. They were playing great football.
Then they laid a complete egg against the Bengals.
Their season will end next week in Denver, but they can still salvage some dignity.
2. Baltimore Ravens
John Harbaugh has the Ravens right where he wants them.
They are playing great offense, great defense, and they are rolling right now, winning their third straight game last week against the Cleveland Browns.
They're good, plain and simple. It'll be interesting to see how their regular season success translates into the post season.
6. New York Jets
The Jets are having a rough go of it, but they've locked up a post season berth, so at least there's that.
The Jets need to figure out their act. If Mark Sanchez cannot lead this team, they need to find someone who can, because they do not look like the kind of team that can last past the first round.
5. Indianapolis Colts
Looks like Peyton Manning has figured out his act.
The Colts have found a winning groove, and they are looking like their typical selves: bound for the post season and full of potential.
The real question is going to be whether or not Peyton Manning can hold his act together down the stretch.
4. Kansas City Chiefs
At the beginning of the season, I don't think anyone expected something like this to happen.
With Matt Cassel picking up his act in the passing game, and Jamaal Charles and Thomas Jones dominating on the ground, the Kansas City Chiefs not only locked up the AFC West, but look like they have the potential for a promising post season.
3. Pittsburgh Steelers
The loss to the New York Jets is starting to look worse by the week as the Jets continue their slump.
The Steelers haven't quite been the same team without Troy Polamalu, but the star safety should return to the line up before Pittsburgh enters the playoffs.
At this point, though, the Steelers are playing good football, but not great football. They need Polamalu back.
1. New England Patriots
After demolishing the Buffalo Bills last week, the Patriots are looking like the Super Bowl favorites right now.
The Patriots have figured things out. Bill Belichick has gotten their young defense in shape, while Tom Brady leads the offense to near perfection.
Could Bill Belichick and Tom Brady add another Lombardi Trophy to the legacy of the New England Patriots? Only time will tell, but it's looking quite possible.