Seahawks march on, but 49ers are hottest team in football
1. Seahawks (12-2): Seattle is two wins away from posting the best record in franchise history. They have at least three players making strong cases for overall MVP— Richard Sherman, Earl Thomas and Marshawn Lynch— and they possess that rare blend of confidence and swagger. The only real question left, can they win a Super Bowl played outdoors in frigid New Jersey?
2. 49ers (10-4): Well, this has to suck for Jim Harbaugh, right? The 49ers, barring an epic collapse by the Seahawks, will probably be stuck with the No. 6 seed and a slate of road playoff games, despite being the hottest team in football.
3. Broncos (11-3): We all knew the blueprint for beating Denver, but San Diego executed it to perfection. Keep the ball away from Peyton Manning, as in 38:49 to 21:11 in time of possession.
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4. Saints (10-4): New Orleans has bounced in and out of the Top 5 all season, rising to as high as No. 2. Still, they are 3-4 away from the Superdome and face a must-win this week in Carolina.
5. Panthers (10-4): Last week was the type of trap game Cam Newton probably loses in previous seasons. Not anymore. It is further proof this Carolina team is legit and can make a title run.
6. Chiefs (11-3): We got a good chuckle over watching Jamaal Charles shred the Raiders for five touchdowns, as he dashed the fantasy football dreams of one of our loyal readers.
7. Patriots (10-4): Sooner or later even Superman makes a mistake— remember when he turned back time to save Lois?— and Tom Brady just couldn’t overcome all the “(expletive) plays.”
8. Bengals (9-5): Cincinnati woke up in an old school house of horrors, only Pittsburgh isn’t Freddy Krueger anymore. The Bengals blew a prime opportunity to embarrass a division rival.
9. Colts (9-5): Ahh yes, Houston, the solution for all that ails you. Perhaps Indy can build off that productive first half and wake up a once-prolific offense.
10. Eagles (8-6): Chip Kelly’s worst game of the season, from the bad play-calling to the decision to go for a fourth down inside his own 30-yard line. This isn’t college, coach.
11. Cardinals (9-5): We’ve said it before and we’re saying it again: Can the NFL figure out a way to get three teams in from the NFC West? Bruce Arians’ team is exciting to watch.
12. Ravens (8-6): Keep an eye on Joe Flacco’s ankle. With that being said, is there any chance Baltimore does not make the postseason? Only if Flacco is seriously hurt.
13. Dolphins (8-6): Can we consider Joe Philbin for Coach of the Year? He’s kept this team afloat after Hazing Gate. Of course, it could be argued Hazing Gate was his fault in the first place.
14. Bears (8-6): Jay Cutler got the win, but somehow we would feel a lot more comfortable with Josh McCown under center— and something tells me Bears fans agree.
15. Chargers (7-7): Philip Rivers has been just as good as Peyton Manning this year. Dead serious. He’s on pace to shatter career highs for completions, completion percentage, passing yards and probably touchdowns.
16. Lions (7-7): When Calvin Johnson starts dropping passes on Monday Night Football, maybe it’s just not your year. Get the resume ready, Jim Schwartz.
17. Packers (7-6-1): Wednesday. Wednesday. Wednesday. That’s the day we find out if Aaron Rodgers returns to the suddenly resurgent Packers.
18. Steelers (6-8): Antonio Brown redeemed himself a week too late. It’s too bad, because the Steelers would be a scary out in the playoffs. Unfortunately for them, it’s too late.
19. Cowboys (7-7): We can count on three things: Death, taxes and Tony Romo losing in December. The quarterback is now 11-17 in the most important month of the season.
20. Rams (6-8): This is why it’s hard to cheer for a dome team. St. Louis has shown flashes this season, especially at home. On the road, they are just 2-5.
21. Titans (5-9): Tennessee is like the fat kid at the playground— always shows up, always hustles, but never wins. Give them an A for effort.
22. Jets (6-8): Does Rex Ryan keep his job? It’s really the only thing left to talk about.
23. Bills (5-9): E.J. Manuel has two more games to prove Buffalo should NOT draft another quarterback in April.
24. Giants (5-9): It looks like the single-season interception record is safe, unless Eli Manning averages 8.5 picks per game the rest of the way.
25. Vikings (4-9-1): Did the Vikes contact Penn State coach Bill O’Brien? Very, very intrigued.
Best of the worst: 26. Browns (4-10); 27. Jaguars (4-10); 28. Raiders (4-10); 29. Buccaneers (4-10); 30. Falcons (4-10); 31. Redskins (3-11); 32. Texans (2-12).