The final week of the 2011 season has arrived, and three playoff spots are yet to be determined. The final Sunday Night game of the season will feature a winner-take-all matchup as the Dallas Cowboys will travel to face the New York Giants.
Elsewhere around the league, the Jekyll and Hyde division, aka the AFC West, is still up for grabs while one final AFC Wild Card spot is also available.
As for the rankings, last week we had a new No. 1, and this week we have a new No. 32, as the Indianapolis Colts have finally vacated the bottom spot with two straight wins.
And of course, I would be remiss if I didn’t mention how Tony Romo cost me (and likely many others) a fantasy football championship (and a rather large check). But alas, the NFL playoffs are right around the corner, and so here are the rankings as we head into the season’s final week.
Teams’ previous ranking in ( ).
1. New Orleans Saints (1): Congratulations to Drew Brees for breaking Dan Marino’s record (in just 15 games, no less). The Saints look like an unstoppable force right now.
2. Green Bay Packers (2): The Packers have allowed more yards this season than they have gained, and they are 14-1. Think about that.
3. New England Patriots (3): Hard to see the Patriots as a real threat after nearly losing against the Redskins and Dolphins.
4. San Francisco 49ers (4): In three seasons, Mike Singletary won 18 games with San Fran. In 15 games, Jim Harbaugh has won 12.
5. Pittsburgh Steelers (5): The Steelers are still legitimate, but how healthy is Big Ben going to be with that high ankle sprain?
6. Baltimore Ravens (6): Despite being the third-best AFC team in the rankings, I still think the Ravens might be the best of the three. They’ll have a good road test this week against Cincy.
7. Detroit Lions (10): The Lions are back in the playoffs for the first time since 1999. They need to win one more time to avoid facing the Saints in the first round.
8. Atlanta Falcons (7): Atlanta is in the playoffs, but their defense continues to be a big question mark.
9. Houston Texans (8): The Texans are defining the phrase "backing into the playoffs."
10. Dallas Cowboys (9): This week’s Sunday Night game could be one for the ages if Dallas’ previous matchup against the Giants is any indication.
12. Cincinnati Bengals (14): The old Bengals team would have completed the choke job this past week. However, this young team stepped up and is one win away from the playoffs.
13. Denver Tebows (11): It seems as if God is only on Tim Tebow’s side on Sundays. Of course, I am kidding, but is it just me or does it seem like Tebow gets all the credit when they win and virtually no blame when they lose?
14. New York Jets (12): I guaranteed last week the Jets would lose their final two games. For once, I might actually have said something that pans out.
15. Philadelphia Eagles (20): If the Eagles can carry this momentum into next season, they could be a force.
16. Seattle Seahawks (16): Marshawn Lynch became the first player this season to score a rushing touchdown against the 49ers, but they came up just short, ending their playoff hopes.
17. Oakland Raiders (21): If the Raiders make the playoffs, does the Carson Palmer trade become justified? I’m inclined to say no.
18. Tennessee Titans (19): They need a win and a lot of help, but the fact they still have playoff hopes in the final week of the season is impressive. Where would they be if Chris Johnson played like Chris Johnson?
19. San Diego Chargers (15): If the rumors of Bill Cowher coming to town are true, I believe the Chargers will be a Super Bowl contender immediately.
20. Carolina Panthers (23): I believe wins are important, but when it comes to the Rookie of the Year award, it has to be Cam Newton, hands down.
21. Arizona Cardinals (18): The Cardinals quarterback situation is just atrocious. Do they dare draft a quarterback with their first pick in the draft after signing Kevin Kolb to a monster deal?
22. Chicago Bears (17): The season started out so promising for Chicago. If they bounce back next year, they could still finish third in arguably the toughest division in football.
23. Buffalo Bills (25): The Bills finally ended their losing streak and made sure they wouldn’t be Tebow-ed.
24. Kansas City Chiefs (22): The Chiefs were unable to follow up their emotional win against Green Bay with a win against Oakland. Regardless, I still believe they could contend for the playoffs next year with a healthy team.
25. Miami Dolphins (24): The Dolphins have played excellent football over the past couple of months and nearly took down the mighty Patriots. They could be a factor next season in the AFC East.
26. Washington Redskins (26): Losing at home to the Vikings after they lost Adrian Peterson and Christian Ponder is puzzling. It's tough to see this team being much of a threat next season.
27. Jacksonville Jaguars (27): The Jaguars have to draft a receiver with their first pick, don’t they? Justin Blackmon or Michael Floyd would be a huge help for Blaine Gabbert.
28. Minnesota Vikings (30): No one is really saying it yet, but will Peterson ever be the same? As a fan of football, I hope he is, but that was a gruesome injury, and I find it hard to believe he will ever come close to being the best back in football.
29. Cleveland Browns (29): The Browns nearly pulled off the comeback, but like many games this season, they came up short. Could there be a quarterback controversy in camp next season between Colt McCoy and Seneca Wallace?
30. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (28): Hard to believe the Bucs won 10 games last year. With the way they’ve played lately, it’s also hard to believe they have four wins this year.
31. Indianapolis Colts (32): The Colts are on a winning streak! But a win this week could cost them the No. 1 pick. Will they tank on purpose?
32. St. Louis Rams (31): If the Rams get that first pick, do they trade it? Do they take Andrew Luck and trade him? Do they take Luck and trade Sam Bradford?