- 1. Green Bay Packers (10-3): It’s gotten to the point with the Packers that if you don’t see double-digits on the board within the first few minutes of the game, you wonder if there’s been a major injury or something. The Packers had just seven points after one quarter Monday night. But by halftime, they were up 31-7 on the Falcons.
- 2. New England Patriots (10-3): Since Halloween, the Patriots have faced the Broncos, Colts, Lions, Packers and Chargers. They got through that brutal stretch with just one loss and clearly look like the best team in the AFC. Your weekly nit-pick: Tom Brady has had a quarterback rating over 100.0 in just one game (at Packers) in the past six weeks.
- 3. Seattle Seahawks (9-4): If the Packers and Seahawks met right now on a neutral field, you’d have to think long and hard about which team to place a bet on. Seattle has faced Arizona, San Francisco and Philadelphia the past three weeks and has given up an average of 6.6 points per game.
- 4. Denver Broncos (10-3): Remember that stretch in October when the Broncos were routinely beating teams by three touchdowns? That seems like a decade ago at this point. Denver didn’t wow anyone with its seven-point win over Buffalo Sunday and Peyton Manning hasn’t cracked 200 yards passing in the past two weeks.
- 5. Philadelphia Eagles (9-4): LeSean McCoy’s not-quite-DeMarco-Murray streak of 100-yard rushing games ended at two against the Seahawks on Sunday as Shady was held to 50 yards on 17 carries by the Legion of Boom. It’s all NFC East the rest of the way for Philly, starting this Sunday night against Dallas.
- 6. Indianapolis Colts (9-4): Give the Colts credit for grabbing a one-point road win over the Browns but in no way does this team look like a Super Bowl contender. Andrew Luck threw a pair of interceptions against Cleveland and had a 59.8 QB rating.
- 7. Detroit Lions (9-4): When Calvin Johnson is healthy and when the Lions are at home, they’re nearly unbeatable. Johnson had averaged 152 yards receiving over the past two weeks. Expect another big day from Johnson this Sunday at home against Minnesota.
- 8. Dallas Cowboys (9-4): That Thanksgiving Day loss to the Eagles still stings despite the Cowboys putting up 41 points on the road against Chicago last Thursday. Dallas can shut up its detractors by handing Philly its second straight home defeat this Sunday. It won’t be easy, but nothing this time of year is easy.
- 9. Arizona Cardinals (10-3): Calling fraud on this team right about now. In the past three weeks they’ve lost two games by 11-plus points and had a three-point home win. They’re the Colts of the NFC – bad opponent bullies.
- 10. San Diego Chargers (8-5): The Chargers nearly beat the Patriots at their own game on Sunday night, employing the old bend-but-don’t-break strategy as they made Stephen Gostkowski kick three field goals. But the Chargers need more out of Ryan Mathews and Philip Rivers to become a top five team.
- 11. Baltimore Ravens (8-5): The Ravens are back into their old mode of being the average team no one wants to face down the stretch. They’re another team that is a long, long shot to hoist the Lombardi, but that road win at Miami was mighty impressive last Sunday.
- 12. Pittsburgh Steelers (8-5): If only the Steelers took care of business against the league’s dregs earlier in the season – they’d be battling with the Pats, Broncos and Colts for the top seeds in the AFC. Instead, the Steelers have to scrap to get into the postseason this December with games against Atlanta, Kansas City and Cincy (again) remaining.
- 13. Cincinnati Bengals (8-4-1): Every game from here on out is obviously a playoff game for the Bengals. They’re at Cleveland this Sunday, home against the Broncos in Week 16 and at Pittsburgh in Week 17. You should have little faith in Cincy though, considering it was outscored 25-0 in the fourth quarter this past Sunday at home against the Steelers.
- 14. Buffalo Bills (7-6): Buffalo is 3-0 against the NFC this season. It will be hard to maintain that unblemished mark considering it hosts the Packers this Sunday. But if the Bills can upset the Packers there is a scenario where they could make the postseason. They have Oakland in Week 16 and they play at New England in Week 17. Hope and pray the Pats don’t need that Week 17 win and 10 wins, maybe, possibly could get them in.
- 15. Houston Texans (7-6): The Texans haven’t beaten a sure-fire playoff team all season, so it hard to believe that they’ll somehow become one themselves over these next three weeks. They’re at Indy this weekend and have Baltimore the week after.
- 16. Cleveland Browns (7-6): I guarantee that Johnny Manziel has been called much worse than a “midget” by any number of club-goers in the past week. For the record, Manziel is 6-feet tall. Brian Hoyer is 6-foot-2. Neither will play big enough down the stretch to get the Browns into the postseason.
- 17. Miami Dolphins (7-6): The Dolphins had the look of a playoff team right up until the second half of Sunday’s home loss to the Ravens. The Dolphins could muster only three second half points against Baltimore. They will need to go into Gillette Stadium this Sunday and beat the Patriots to have any shot at the postseason. Not an easy thing to do in December.
- 18. St. Louis Rams (6-7): In the past two weeks, the Rams have scored 76 points. They’ve allowed zero. You read that correctly. Sure, the opponents were Oakland and Washington, but things are absolutely getting interesting in the House That Isaac Bruce Built.
- 19. San Francisco 49ers (7-6): How much actual game film do you think Jim Harbaugh is looking at on a weekly basis these days? I guarantee that the web history on his work computer shows at least 5.6 hours spent at Zillow.com in the past two days alone.
- 20. Kansas City Chiefs (7-6): Things have finally caught up to Kansas City when it comes to having Alex Smith as its quarterback. The Chiefs have lost three straight games and will have to win out against the Raiders, Steelers and Chargers if they want to have any shot at sneaking into the playoffs.
- 21. Minnesota Vikings (6-7): Teddy Bridgewater has been efficient for the Vikings as he hasn’t thrown more than two interceptions in a game since Week 7. In wins over the Panthers and Jets the past two weeks, Bridgewater has had QB ratings over 115.0. They are at Detroit, at Miami and home against the Bears the rest of the way.
- 22. Carolina Panthers (4-8-1): Cam Newton’s injuries are thankfully not as bad as originally feared after his scary car crash Tuesday. In fact, Newton now has the same back issues that Tony Romo has. Carolina is the only team in the NFC South that won this past week.
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