NFL Power Rankings Week 17: Can the Chiefs Crack the Top 10?
The NFL power rankings for Week 17 have most of the usual suspects in the top 10.
However, there were a number of upsets and surprising outcomes on Sunday.
The 2011 NFL Draft picture is nearly complete and the same goes for the NFL playoffs. With most of the playoff spots already clinched, there are still a few teams battling it out to make it into the postseason with one week left in the regular season.
Heading into Week 17, how are the teams ranked?
Teams That Can't Wait for the 2011 NFL Draft
32. Carolina Panthers
Words cannot describe how bad the Carolina Panthers are right now. Coach John Fox is lucky to have made it this far without getting fired and he'll be gone by season's end.
Jimmy Clausen has struggled mightily and if Andrew Luck declares for the NFL Draft, the team would be wise to select him.
31. Buffalo Bills
Buffalo made strides this season and it appears the Bills have found a competent enough quarterback in Ryan Fitzpatrick, with an emerging star in receiver Steve Johnson.
As long as they don't make a boneheaded draft selection—like taking C.J. Spiller in the first round—they have a chance to turn their fortunes around in a couple of seasons.
30. Cincinnati Bengals
The Cincinnati Bengals surprised everyone when they swept the division and finished 10-6 last season. They were expected to build upon that success from last year and be a competitive team, especially with the addition of Terrell Owens.
However, the Bengals have been pitiful and it looks like the front office is ready to blow up the roster and rebuild from scratch.
29. San Francisco 49ers
The San Francisco 49ers were just manhandled by the St. Louis Rams and they just fired head coach Mike Singletary.
Troy Smith and Alex Smith are not the answer at quarterback and the team has to address several needs in the offseason.
28. Denver Broncos
After Tim Tebow helped lead a comeback effort against the Houston Texans, people were ready to crown him as the team's franchise quarterback of the future.
However, he was playing the Texans. He still has a lot to prove, but it was a valiant and impressive effort on his part.
27. Arizona Cardinals
The Arizona Cardinals need a quarterback and they need one bad. They have one of the best wide receivers in Larry Fitzgerald, but he can't be effective if he doesn't have a good quarterback to get him the ball.
Not to mention, their defense is inept after losing key pieces in the offseason.
26. Houston Texans
Even with the emergence of Arian Foster, the Texans have had no consistency this season.
Their secondary is absolutely putrid and I could find third-string quarterbacks that are capable of throwing on them.
25. Detroit Lions
Detroit had some promise this season, but the injuries to Matthew Stafford have made for a lackluster year. If he can come back strong next season, the Lions may actually have a playoff berth in the near future.
24. Cleveland Browns
Cleveland actually showed some promise this year. The Browns weren't expected to do much, but they've made some strides.
Colt McCoy has a bright future and they found their franchise running back in Peyton Hillis.
Too bad Eric Mangini likely won't be around to see the turnaround.
23. Dallas Cowboys
Dallas started out the season a mess and the Cowboys are ending it the same way.
When they lost Tony Romo early in the season, their hopes for any success went down the drain.
A loss to the Arizona Cardinals only compounds their horrible year.
22. Tennessee Titans
The Tennessee Titans have been awful this season.
They've lost seven out of their last eight games and they were crushed by the Kansas City Chiefs by 20 points on Sunday.
The Titans have shown flashes of brilliance, but they've had no consistency.
21. Minnesota Vikings
The Minnesota Vikings are arguably the most disappointing team this season. This is surely not how Brett Favre imagined going out after last year's run to the NFC championship game.
20. Seattle Seahawks
It pains me to put the Seattle Seahawks at this spot.
The Seahawks have been bad all year long, but the fact that they're still in the playoff hunt due to a weak NFC West conference keeps them at a relatively respectful position.
However, it doesn't help that they were spanked by Tampa Bay 38-15 on Sunday.
19. Miami Dolphins
It's really tough to get a read on the Miami Dolphins.
They beat the New York Jets in Week 14 with a dominating defensive performance, but they followed that up by losing to the Buffalo Bills and Detroit Lions.
Chad Henne is not the answer at quarterback and they need to find a more competent quarterback to get Brandon Marshall the ball. No wonder Bill Parcells wants out of Miami.
18. Washington Redskins
Mike Shanahan's tenure in Washington has been rocky at best. He got into a very public feud with the team's highest-paid player and the quarterback they brought in to turn the franchise around.
Now they've turned to Rex Grossman to turn around their fortunes. They managed to get an overtime win over the Jacksonville Jaguars, but the team is not much of a threat at this juncture.
17. San Diego Chargers
Even with Phillip Rivers in the midst of his finest season as a pro, the Chargers have not been able to find ways to win.
Their offense and defense have consistently been ranked near the top of the league all season, yet they have a middling 8-7 record.
It will take a near miracle for Norv Turner to keep his coaching position after yet another disappointing finish for the team.
The fact that they were crushed 34-20 against the Cincinnati Bengals on Sunday really pushes them out of contention and moves them down in the rankings.
16. Oakland Raiders
The Oakland Raiders finished with a 5-11 record last year, but they've had a decent turnaround this season.
The team is 7-8 and they can finish at .500 with a win next week.
They may not make the playoffs, but they still managed to sweep the division, which bodes well going into next season.
They valiantly battled against the Colts on Sunday and fell just short of beating them.
15. Jacksonville Jaguars
Jacksonville was, at one point, leading the AFC South and the Jaguars were close to keeping the Indianapolis Colts out of the playoffs.
However, after losing to the Colts in Week 15 and in overtime to the Washington Redskins on Sunday, the Jacksonville Jaguars are clinging on to dear life to make the playoffs.
They need to beat the Houston Texans and have the Indianapolis Colts fall to the Tennessee Titans to vault them back into the lead of the AFC South.
14. Tampa Bay Buccaneers
In a season full of surprise teams, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers rank right up near the top.
Josh Freeman has emerged as the team's franchise quarterback and he has a bright future ahead of him. Paired with dynamic receiver Mike Williams, Tampa Bay has a lot to be hopeful for.
Right now, the Buccaneers sit at 9-6 and they have a shot at making the playoffs. While they need a lot to go right for the team to get them in, it's impressive that they're even in the conversation.
13. St. Louis Rams
The St. Louis Rams went from the worst team in the NFL to a possible playoff team in only one season.
The play of rookie sensation Sam Bradford has a lot to do with the team's turnaround. However, he can't take all the credit.
The Rams are improved on all fronts and all they need is a true play-making receiver to make them a dangerous team to contend with.
They thoroughly beat the San Francisco 49ers on Sunday 27-13 and while they can't take full credit, they cost Mike Singletary his coaching position.
If they beat the Seattle Seahawks in Week 17, they clinch the NFC West and a playoff berth.
12. New York Giants
At one point, the New York Giants were considered to be the best in the NFL.
However, they've had a late-season collapse that has them fighting to make the last Wild Card spot.
Their fourth-quarter meltdown against the Philadelphia Eagles had them miss out not only on the lead in the NFC East, but it pushed them into desperation mode, with the playoffs far from a sure thing.
With their backs against the wall and only a win over the Packers needed to push them into the playoffs, the Giants failed to deliver as they were thoroughly beaten 45-17.
Now the team needs a win over Washington next week and a loss by the Packers to get them the final Wild Card spot.
11. Indianapolis Colts
The Indianapolis Colts have been a massive disappointment this season, but they're still on track to make the playoffs.
Peyton Manning has been uncharacteristically turnover prone and he's having one of the worst seasons of his career.
However, the Colts added a much-needed facet to their offensive attack against the Oakland Raiders on Sunday: a run game.
They dusted off Dominic Rhodes and got a 98-yard rushing performance out of him. Even Manning got in on the action, running for a 27-yard scramble in the closing minutes.
Regardless of where the Colts are seeded, they'll still be a dangerous team come playoff time.
10. Kansas City Chiefs
Whatever Todd Haley is doing—aside from not giving Jamaal Charles the ball on 90 percent of the team's snaps—he has the Chiefs at the top of their game and in the midst of a huge turnaround. They have a 10-5 record after finishing last season 4-12 and they're one of the surprise teams this season.
The team not only has a playoff berth locked up, but they clinched the division after their rout of the Tennessee Titans. They actually have the option of resting their starters in Week 17.
Matt Cassel is finally playing like the player they traded for and his 27-to-5 touchdown-to-interception ratio is very impressive.
Even with this magical run, I'm impressed but still not convinced that the team is ready to make any serious noise in the playoffs. The team has had a soft schedule this season and their only win against a team possibly headed for the postseason is a fringe team.
9. Green Bay Packers
The Green Bay Packers had their playoff hopes nearly out of sight after a loss to the New England Patriots last week, but they came into their matchup against the New York Giants determined to control their fate.
Aaron Rodgers was at the top of his game, the offensive line fended off the New York Giants fearsome pass rush and the secondary picked off Eli Manning four times.
The Packers can make some serious noise if they get into the playoffs with one of the best offenses and defenses in the NFL.
Green Bay has its eye on a huge divisional game next week against the Chicago Bears and the Packers will get into the playoffs with a win.
8. New York Jets
These aren't the same old Jets, but they're looking like a very vulnerable team even after they clinched a playoff berth.
The team has lost three out of their last four games and its once fearsome defense is no longer much of a concern for most teams. The Jets gave up 38 points in a loss to the Chicago Bears on Sunday and the team is out of sync on both sides of the ball.
Rex Ryan's recent foot-fetish controversy certainly doesn't help matters, especially when Ryan tries to divert attention towards Mark Sanchez's shoulder injury and away from the team's true problems.
The Jets not only fell short of Ryan's goal of leading the league in wins, but they're starting to look like an afterthought heading into the playoffs.
7. Philadelphia Eagles
The Philadelphia Eagles are fresh off an inspiring comeback win against the New York Giants and they'll be facing off against a reeling Minnesota Vikings team on Tuesday.
Michael Vick is arguably the only player that has a legitimate shot at dethroning Tom Brady in his bid for NFL MVP and he leads the most explosive offense in the entire league.
He has an emerging LeSean McCoy paired in the backfield with him and the biggest deep threat in the NFL with DeSean Jackson. Asante Samuel is playing like a shutdown corner and the team's offensive line is the only thing keeping it from absolutely crushing the competition.
6. Chicago Bears
Even with the offseason additions of Julius Peppers and offensive coordinator Mike Martz, not many pegged the Chicago Bears to not only dominate the NFC North, but be in contention for a first-round bye in the playoffs.
The Bears win over one of the best teams in the AFC, the New York Jets, helped stamp their legitimacy as contenders this season.
Their only loss in the last eight games came against the dominant New England Patriots and they'll be looking to wrap up a first-round bye with a victory over the Green Bay Packers next week.
5. New Orleans Saints
If the New Orleans Saints lose tonight against the Atlanta Falcons, they would require a win over the Tampa Bay Buccaneers next week to clinch a playoff berth.
The Saints lost by six to the Baltimore Ravens last week, but they won six of their last seven meetings and they'll be riding a lot of momentum—especially if they win tonight—going into the playoffs.
New Orleans won in convincing fashion over Tampa Bay in Week 6, but the Buccaneers can easily upset the Saints in the final regular season game.
However, once in the playoffs, it would surprise nobody if the Saints made it back to the Super Bowl. After all, they were favorites to make it to Dallas in preseason and they have one of the most complete teams in the NFL.
4. Baltimore Ravens
A big win in Week 15 over the reigning Super Bowl champions, the New Orleans Saints, will give the Ravens plenty of confidence heading into the playoffs.
Baltimore secured a playoff berth after beating the Cleveland Browns by 10 at home and there's even a sliver of hope that the Ravens manage to grab the No. 2 spot in the AFC and a first-round bye for the playoffs.
Their defense isn't as dominant as it has been in years past, but their vaunted offense should help to offset the decline.
3. Pittsburgh Steelers
Pittsburgh bounced back from a loss to the New York Jets last week with a win over the pitiful Carolina Panthers.
The Steelers have got a date with the Cleveland Browns next week, which should lock them up for a first-round playoff bye.
As long as Troy Polamalu is back for the playoffs, the Steelers should be in good shape for the second round.
The Steelers have the best defense in the NFL and they're a playoff tested team with a winning pedigree. Even New England should be worried about them.
2. Atlanta Falcons
The Atlanta Falcons have been unbeatable at home, Matt Ryan is playing like an MVP and they're clicking on all cylinders.
The team is currently riding an eight-game win streak and tonight's colossal showdown with division rival, the New Orleans Saints, will be a great measuring stick for the team entering the playoffs.
Even if they lose to the Saints tonight, a meeting with the inept Carolina Panthers next week should lock up home-field advantage for the Falcons in the playoffs.
1. New England Patriots
Can anyone handle Tom Brady, Bill Belichick and the New England Patriots right now?
They're riding a seven-game winning streak, with five of those wins coming against top 10 teams. They have the best record in the NFL with a 13-2 mark and they've been unbeatable at home.
With home-field advantage for the playoffs a lock at this juncture, the road to the playoffs goes through the Patriots in the AFC.