NFL Power Rankings Week 13: 10 Teams Feeling It in Preperation For The Playoffs
There are only five games of football left in the season, much to everyone's chagrin, but with the end of the regular season comes the always exciting playoff games.
Aside from a great football team, one thing that has helped many teams going into the playoffs in years past is getting on a winning streak near the end of the year.
A string of wins put together near the end of the season shows that the whole team is clicking together, and that nobody is capable of stopping that team.
Teams gain confidence with every first down, every big play, every touchdown, every win, and every win streak, and if there is one thing that playoff, and Super Bowl worthy teams for that matter, need, it's confidence.
So, here are the top ten teams in terms of confidence building win streaks at this point in the season.
10. Jacksonville Jaguars
This is the only team on the list with a loss in the past week, and with good reason.
Jacksonville had won three in a row against Dallas, Houston and Cleveland until their streak was ended Sunday against Giants.
One positive they can take from that game, however, is that they played the Giants, a very good team, to a very close decision, losing 24-20.
They gave up the lead with three minutes to go, and if not for two consecutive horrible plays by David Gerrard, leading to a fumble, there could be a very different story today.
The main reason for their confidence, however, is the Indianapolis Colts lack of it.
The Colts were 6-3 two weeks ago and looking like the division was theirs for the picking, two losses later and the anybody can win the AFC South, with the Jaguars looking more and more like the likely candidate for that spot.
9. San Francisco 49ers
This may very well be the goofiest thing that I have ever written, but the 4-7 San Francisco 49ers look playoff bound.
They have won three of their last four games with a single quarterback who not only looks capable of running an offense, he looks capable of not screwing things up so badly that the fans are pleading for David Carr to come in.
Troy Smith has unexpectedly come in and brought a calm to Mike Singletary's once erratic offense, and the loss of Frank Gore doesn't even look that bad at this point.
Two months ago, if you were to say that Frank Gore went down, this offense would be handcuffed, but suddenly playmakers are emerging and doing things with the ball to move the 9ers down field.
No, they haven't beaten a good team all year, but residing in the NFC West it doesn't really matter all that much, and at a measly 4-7 they are sitting just one game out of the division lead.
And who would have thought that Brian Westbrook still had a performance in him that he put up on Monday night?
8. Pittsburgh Steelers
Sitting tied atop the AFC North, the Steelers are on a roll that they always seem to get on late in the season.
They have won three of their last four against the likes of Buffalo, Oakland and Cincinnati.
At the very least, their victories against teams that they are supposed to beat has kept quiet the fact that they haven't beaten a superior team in their last three tries, losing to New England, New Orleans and Baltimore since week three.
Their winning over the past month has allowed Ben Roethlisberger to get in sync with the rest of the offense and the defense to continue to work as a cohesive unit.
It has also seen Rashard Mendenhall emerge with a very good run game since beating Cincinnati a month ago, as he is averaging 3.8 yards per carry over that time.
7. Baltimore Ravens
A slot ahead of the Steelers as the last team that they beat is one of the better teams in the league.
The Ravens have played great football this year, and it has shown in the past month, as they own victories over Miami, Carolina and Tampa Bay, with their lone loss coming to one of the best teams in the NFL against Atlanta.
They held 7-4 Tampa Bay to their second lowest point total all season Sunday, allowing only ten points and keeping the exciting Josh Freeman under wraps.
In that time, they have quelled questions that their defense isn't what it used to be, holding opponents to fewer than 13 points in each of their three wins.
The winning streak has seen Ray Rice get back on track, as he was not living up to his production from a season ago this year. He has gone on a tear since though, averaging four yards per carry since their bye week a month ago.
6. New York Jets
They have a chance to rocket up to number one this week if they can beat the New England Patriots, but for now, they are sitting at a solid number six.
The Jets have won four straight over decent opponents in Cincinnati, Houston, Cleveland and Detroit, but haven't won against the best teams in the league, save for a week two victory over New England.
New York has reeled off four wins, two of which were decided in overtime, and two by three points or less. They have won these games that, if the game had gone the other way would have been absolute confidence killers.
They have been able to scratch across wins, which in preparation for the playoffs is an invaluable thing to do, as these are the types of games teams are likely to play in in the postseason.
5. New Orleans Saints
The Saints started off the four game win streak they are currently on with a big win over the Pittsburgh Steelers.
They were struggling before that game, with losses coming in two of the previous three weeks against Cleveland and Arizona, leaving them looking in shambles.
The Saints then went out and reeled off wins against the Steelers, Panthers, Seahawks and Cowboys, with the latest coming in a thriller.
Malcolm Jenkins stripped Roy Williams with less than two minutes left in order to set up a game-winning drive by Drew Brees' offense, avoiding a monumental collapse on Thanksgiving.
This allowed them to keep all of their momentum going forward, as they have to end the season with games against Baltimore, Atlanta and Tampa Bay.
4. Chicago Bears
The Bears are currently one more marquee win away from full-on all-out Eff You Mode.
Leading up to this point, nobody outside of Chicago believed that the Bears were any bit of a good team, they have responded by winning four in a row against Buffalo, Minnesota, Miami and Philadelphia, with each win being more impressive than the last.
The Chicago defense absolutely shut down the high powered Michael Vick led Philadelphia offense for three quarters on Sunday, allowing only 13 points until Philly put on a small comeback attempt and did the impossible this season, intercepted Vick.
They have a much easier game this week against Detroit but go to New England in two weeks, and if they win that game, the doubters should all but be extinct.
3. San Diego Chargers
Raise your hand if you didn't expect this from the Chargers.
One...two...forty-two. Only 42 people in the whole country didn't see this coming Chargers.
Oh, so the Chargers struggled early in the season only to come roaring back and put themselves in playoff contention? That's not news, they've done it since 2006.
Do us a favor and do something surprising next season, like win early on, then the world will be shocked, until then, good win streak.
2. New England Patriots
Unlike the previous four teams, New England only has a three game win streak going for them, but two of their wins are against two of the better teams in the league.
While others have feasted on the likes of the Carolina Panthers and Buffalo Bills, New England has beaten Pittsburgh and Indianapolis, along with Detroit in the past three weeks.
They have reeled off at least 31 points in each of those games and are looking to continue it on one of the most brutal stretches of any team this season.
They play the Jets next week in Foxborough, followed by games against Chicago and Green Bay before playing the Bills and then finishing with the suddenly resurgent Miami Dolphins.
Their winning streak can only get more impressive at this point.
1. Atlanta Falcons
The Falcons' five wins in a row is the longest in the country right now, and is easily the most impressive of any team.
In five weeks they have beaten Cincinnati, Tampa Bay, Baltimore, St. Louis and Green Bay. Not too shabby eh?
They will look to add on to their streak as they try to beat Tampa for the second time during their run and wind down the season with Carolina, Seattle, a tough game against New Orleans and then another against Carolina.
The best team in the NFC can only get better with those games sitting on their schedule, and they look like they are running hard enough to take down any team in the league.