NFL Power Rankings: Predicting Which Teams Will Continue Rising

Ryan PhillipsContributor IIIDecember 21, 2011

SAN DIEGO, CA - DECEMBER 18:  Quarterback Philip Rivers #17 of the San Diego Chargers drops back to pass against the Baltimore Ravens at Qualcomm Stadium on December 18, 2011 in San Diego, California.  (Photo by Jeff Gross/Getty Images)
Jeff Gross/Getty Images

The San Diego Chargers have life all of a sudden, and the Seattle Seahawks are looking like a playoff team as well. Five weeks ago you would have been crazy to predict that, but now both squads are inexplicably playing fantastic football.

The Chargers won their third-straight game on Sunday night by spanking the Baltimore Ravens 34-14. That win was as thorough and impressive as any team's win over an opponent this season. Over the last three weeks San Diego has suddenly found its footing and the Bolts look as good as any team in the league. 

The key to the team's turnaround has been quarterback Philip Rivers righting the ship on what had been a horrible season for him. Over the past three games Rivers has completed 63 of 84 passes (75 percent) for 804 yards, with seven touchdowns and no interceptions. If San Diego can continue to protect its quarterback and give him time in the pocket, the Chargers should continue to rise.

Sitting at 7-7 right now, the Chargers need a lot of help to reach the postseason. Either the Denver Broncos or New York Jets must lose out while the Bolts have to win out. It's a highly unlikely scenario, but there is a glimmer of hope in San Diego.

Like the Chargers, the Seahawks are 7-7 and on a three-game win streak, also winning five of their last six games. Pete Carroll's team has turned its season around with a slowly improving offense and a stout defense. 

While Seattle ranks 28th in the NFL in total offense, averaging just 301.9 yards per game, the team has been far more efficient on that side of the ball over the past few weeks.

What has really kept the Seahawks surging is a defense that ranks eighth in the NFL in yards allowed (327.0 yards per game). The Seahawks are also allowing just 19.5 points per game this year, which ranks sixth in the league. 

Seattle has really improved over the past month-and-a-half, and with a little luck over the final two weeks of the season, the Seahawks could be headed for the postseason.


NFL Power Rankings, Week 16
1. Green Bay Packers (13-1)
2. New Orleans Saints (11-3)
3. New England Patriots (11-3)
4. San Francisco 49ers (11-3)
5. Baltimore Ravens (10-4)
6. Pittsburgh Steelers (10-4)
7. Houston Texans (10-4)
8. Atlanta Falcons (9-5)
9.  Detroit Lions (9-5)
10. San Diego Chargers (7-7)
11. Cincinnati Bengals (8-6)
12. New York Jets (8-6)
13. Dallas Cowboys (8-6)
14. Denver Broncos (8-6)
15. Seattle Seahawks (7-7)
16. Arizona Cardinals (7-7)
17. New York Giants (7-7)
18. Oakland Raiders (7-7)
19. Tennessee Titans (7-7)
20. Philadelphia Eagles (6-8)
21. Miami Dolphins (5-9)
22. Kansas City Chiefs (6-8)
23. Buffalo Bills (5-9)
24. Carolina Panthers (5-9)
25. Washington Redskins (5-9)
26. Chicago Bears (7-7)
27. Jacksonville Jaguars (4-10)
28. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (4-10)
29. Cleveland Browns (4-10)
30. Minnesota Vikings (2-12)
31. St. Louis Rams (2-12)
32. Indianapolis Colts (1-13)