NFL Power Rankings (Week 17): Panthers Join Broncos, Seahawks In Top Three

Chris Chambers

The top three teams in our Power Rankings are the Broncos, Seahawks and Panthers - in that order.

The Broncos reclaim the top spot in our final power rankings of the season after the league saw that the Seahawks are no longer invincible at home. Elsewhere in the top 10, only the Saints and Cardinals have not yet locked up a playoff spot as they battle for the last remaining wildcard spot this weekend.

RANK TEAM W/L Power_rankings_logo_medium MOVE (LW)
1
Den_medium 12-3
The Broncos now have the most prolific touchdown-throwing quarterback ever. Even with the loss of Von Miller, they still appear to be able to outscore anyone in the AFC, as no one else has shown themselves to be particularly dominant. (Tom) Gn-arrow-up_medium (2)
2 Sea_medium 12-3
Was the loss to Arizona a blueprint for other teams, or a blip on the way to the Super Bowl? It may actually make them play better now that they know they are not invincible at home. (Tom) Rd-arrow-down_medium (1)
3
Car_medium 11-4
My sort-of-adopted team, as I've picked them to turn the corner prior to the last two seasons. The rhetoric around Cam Newton has been incredibly biased since he joined the league, as witnessed by people now saying "he's playing much better" even though his stats are down. Of course, rhetoric is just that. Go 'head, Cam. (KD) Gn-arrow-up_medium (4)
4
Sf_medium 11-4
Since an early November rough patch, the 49ers have been playing as well as any team in the league. They are the only playoff team that hasn't lost in the last month, and they've been winning by comfortable margins; in the last five games, all wins, they have outscored their opponents 136-74. (Rabble) Gn-arrow-up_medium (5)
5
Kc_medium 11-4
All season long there has been a question of just how real this Chiefs team is. With four losses in the last six games, including two to division rival Denver, the answer seems to be that, while they are a lot better than last year, they aren't quite ready for the big time yet. (Tom) Rd-arrow-down_medium (3)
6 Ne_medium 11-4
New England may be the most dangerous team in the playoffs right now. Do you really ever want to bet against Tom Brady, no matter who he is throwing the ball to? (Tom) Gn-arrow-up_medium (7)
7 No_medium 10-5
A few weeks ago, before the embarrassing Chicago loss and Green Bay collapse, I opined that I'd rather face New Orleans in a wild card game and then take my chances in Carolina. The Saints are 3-5 on the road this year and strangely have a chance to either miss the playoffs or get a bye week. That will determine their fate for the season. (KD) Rd-arrow-down_medium (6)
8 Cin_medium 10-5
Although Denver and New England will have the top AFC seeds, playoff byes, etc., a strong case can be made that the AFC's best team right now are the Bengals, who have won four out of five, and scored 41 or more points in three of those wins. (Rabble) (8)
9
Ari_medium 10-5
Bruce Arians is better than your favorite coach. Not only did he carry Indy after Chuck Pagano's illness, but look at what he's doing with the ghost of Carson Palmer as his QB in Arizona. That defense is for real, as Arizona has an outside chance of giving the NFCW 3 playoff teams. (KD) (9)
10 Ind_medium 10-5
A strange team. On one hand, they were blown out by both St. Louis and Arizona. On the other, they notched impressive wins against the league's elite: San Francisco, Seattle, Denver, Kansas City. I suppose this bodes well for their playoff chances, so long as they get past the first round home game against a mediocre AFC fifth or sixth seed. (Rabble) (10)
11 Phi_medium 9-6
The Eagles have been red-hot, but now their young quarterback gets his first uber-important game in front of a nationally televised audience. Dallas was able to corral the Philly playmakers in the first contest using defensive principles they've since abandoned. What kind of adjustments will Chip Kelly's explosive offense make with everything on the line? (KD) Gn-arrow-up_medium (12)
12 Sd_medium 8-7
They have to be hoping for Miami and Baltimore to both lose. If they do, then San Diego can go to the playoffs with a win. Unfortunately, they face the Chiefs. Maybe KC will rest its starters, since it really can't improve it's position. Good thing Andy Reid is coaching KC, and not Chip Kelly. (Tom) Gn-arrow-up_medium (15)
13 Dal_medium 8-7
The Vegas oddsmakers quickly moved the line from -3 to -7 in Philadelphia's favor when news of Romo's injury broke yesterday. The Cowboys have long held that they have the best backup QB in the league (or at least they're paying him like one), so it's time to find out what Kyle Orton can do for the Cowboys. (OCC)
Gn-arrow-up_medium (18)
14
Chi_medium 8-7
I have a sneaky suspicion that Marc Tressman was ordered to reinsert Jay Cutler into the starting lineup so the team would know whether or not to invest $100m in him this offseason. Sunday night's performance against Philly with a chance to clinch the division says otherwise. They'll have a win-or-go-home match of their own next week against Green Bay now. (KD) Rd-arrow-down_medium (11)
15 Bal_medium 8-7
The Ravens' biggest obstacle is having to play the Bengals. The game doesn't mean as much for Cincinnati, but would it be wise to cede momentum to a possible playoff opponent? Ironically, even with a win, they have to wait for the outcome of the Chiefs-San Diego game to know if they make the playoffs or not. (Tom) Rd-arrow-down_medium (14)
16
Stl_medium 7-8
The Rams really don't care too much about the last game against the Seahawks, they just want to see Washington lose to improve that draft pick they got in the RGIII trade as much as possible. And that doesn't seem too unlikely with the run the 'skins are on. (Tom) Gn-arrow-up_medium (20)
17 Mia_medium 8-7
Miami is caught in the weird Twilight Zone of teams fighting for the last AFC playoff spot. No one "controls their own destiny", with every team needing certain combinations of wins and losses by the other three teams. They are possibly the strongest of the four, but not by much. (Tom) Rd-arrow-down_medium (13)
18 Pit_medium 7-8
If Miami, Baltimore, and San Diego all lose, Pittsburgh could make the playoffs by beating the Browns. It's a slim hope, but given some of the things that have happened this season, would you really be surprised if it happened? (Tom) Gn-arrow-up_medium (19)
19 Gb_medium 7-7-1
Will Aaron or won't he? The Pack now has a chance to make the playoffs, improbably enough, and with the Bears reeling from the crushing they got in Philadelphia, you know Aaron Rodgers wants to get out there. It's all on the doctor now. If Rodgers can't go, Matt Flynn gets a chance to be a hero, and embarrass Jay Cutler. (Tom) Rd-arrow-down_medium (16)
20
Det_medium 7-8
Up 6-3 at one point this season, the Lions looked like they could get their first division title in two decades. Six games later, the Lions are 7-8 and eliminated from playoff contention after going 1-5 and blowing fourth-quarter leads in all five of those losses.(OCC) Rd-arrow-down_medium (17)
21 Nyj_medium 7-8
Rex Ryan allegedly told his players that "word on the street" was that he was being fired after the season. Be that as it may, he got a lot more out of the dumpster fire in New York than many had expected prior to the season. (OCC) (21)
22 Buf_medium 6-9
The Bills have had only one winning season this millennium, and hardly anybody cares. (OCC) (22)
23 Ten_medium 6-9
The Titans win one after a three-game skid, but it's too little, too late for Coach Mike Munchak. (OCC) Gn-arrow-up_medium (24)
24
Nyg_medium 6-9
There's a lot of talk about rebuilding in New York, but can they really rebuild with Eli Manning still on the team? This will be Manning's third season leading the NFL in interceptions, and those two improbable Super Bowl runs can only carry you so far. It's time to face some hard truths in the Big Apple. (OCC) Gn-arrow-up_medium (27)
25 Min_medium 4-10-1
It's sad to see Adrian Peterson's best years wasted on a team that has had only one winning season over the last four years. (OCC) Rd-arrow-down_medium (23)
26 Tb_medium 4-11
Hats off to Greg Schiano: he lasted much longer than anybody expected, but next week's trip to New Orleans will be the end of his tenure in Tampa. (OCC) Rd-arrow-down_medium (25)
27 Cle_medium 4-11
Whatever happened to the Browns? They were 4-5 heading into their bye week but have dropped six straight since then. (OCC) Rd-arrow-down_medium (26)
28 Oak_medium 4-11
The Raiders played hard, but it wasn't enough. Many had the Raiders pegged as the worst team in the league heading into the season. They are not the worst team in the league, but too many teams are simply better. (OCC) (28)
29 Atl_medium 4-11
The Falcon's 2013 season provides a harsh lesson in what happens to older teams when the injury bug bites, especially when it attacks a specific position group. It's a nasty bug, too: from the brink of the Super Bowl in 2012 to a top five pick in 2013. (Rabble) (29)
30 Jac_medium 4-11
The Jaguars drop to 4-11 and finish the season with a road trip to Indianapolis next week, where the Colts still have a playoff seed to play for. (OCC) (30)
31 Was_medium 3-12
The Skins ended the 2012-season with an improbable 7-game winning streak. They are now on a 7-game losing streak, and can make it 8 against the Giants next week. Bummer about that draft pick. (OCC) (31)
32 Hou_medium 2-13
The Texans travel to Tennessee next week to lock up the No. 1 overall pick. (OCC) (32)

This is the final power rankings table we'll publish this season. A big thank you to my fellow writers for helping out with a task that was much more time-consuming than initially anticipated.

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