The NFL regular season is now officially over and it is on to the playoffs. That means it is time to rank the 12 playoff teams in our post season version of the NFL power rankings. Can anyone beat the Patriots this winter? Are the Falcons the team to beat in the NFC? Both of these are good questions and below you will find my attempt at answering them. Here we go...
1. New England Patriots - The Patriots have won 8 games in a row and all but two haven't even been close. They are the only team in the NFL to score over 500 points this season and the only team that has outscored its opponents by over 200 points for the season. They are also the only team to be undefeated at home and one of two teams (Chiefs) to not lose a game to the NFC. Did I also mention that Tom Brady is probably the runaway MVP this year? He has a 65.9 completion percentage, has thrown 36 touchdowns and only 4 interceptions and has a passer rating of 111.0. Someone tell me how this team doesn't win the Superbowl?
2. Atlanta Falcons - The Falcons are definitely the best team in the NFC at this time but they aren't the Patriots. They showed two weeks ago against the Saints they can be beat and be beat at home. With that said they are the most likely candidate to face the Patriots in the Superbowl but they are far from a lock. Matt Ryan is unproven in the post season and althought Matty "Ice" has had a very good season, we all know that the post season separates the men from the boys. If Ryan continues his stellar play they should have a chance to play in February.
3. Pittsburgh Steelers - The Steelers have the best defense in the league again this year, only allowing 232 points against for the season. Their offense, on the other hand, shows up only from time to time. They have probably the best chance of any other AFC team to take down the Patriots this year except for the fact that Tom Brady owns them. If their defense can play at the same level they have all season and they find a way to put the ball in the end zone instead of through the uprights they might have a chance.
4. Chicago Bears - The Bears have a first round bye but at the same time they do have some cause for concern. I know they didn't have anything to play for in the final week of the season but they still lined up their first stringers against the Packers and only managed 3 points. What is more concerning is that Cutler looked shaky and so did their offensive line giving up 6 sacks. This team is still good though and their defense in probably the best in the NFC. If Cutler can hold onto the ball and not turn it over than the Bears have what it takes to play for a chance to go to the Superbowl but I am not sure if they can go further.
5. Baltimore Ravens - The Ravens are almost the exact clone of the Pittsburgh Steelers, they play the same type of football. Their defense has shown at times that they can give up points but their offense is more consistent than the Steelers. Other than the Steelers, the Ravens match up best against the Patriots and I believe it will be either the Ravens or the Steelers playing the Patriots for the right to go to Dallas. If the Ravens can ratchet up their defense for the playoffs and they can continue to run the ball down the throat of their opponents then this team has a chance.
6. Green Bay Packers - The Packers are the most dangerous 6 seed I have ever seen. They are coming into the playoffs on a two game win streak where both games were basically playoff games for them. Aaron Rodgers is the best quarterback in the NFC when he is healthy and that will be the goal of the offensive line of the Packers, keep Rodgers off the ground. It is truly amazing what this team has accomplished with the amount of injuries they have sustained this season. I like the Packers to win this week and go into Atlanta next week with a chance to shock the world.
7. New Orleans Saints - The Saints are not quite the same team they were last year but they are back in the playoffs with a chance to defend their Superbowl crown. They won the lottery and get to face the first sub 500 team to ever make the playoffs this year when they travel to Seattle on Saturday. Stranger things have happened, but I would be surprised not to see New Orleans make it to the divisional weekend of the playoffs. From there, who knows what happens, they proved a couple of weeks ago they can go into Atlanta and win so maybe they can do it again?
8. Kansas City Chiefs - The Chiefs are an interesting team. They, perhaps, run the ball better than any other team in the playoffs and they are very quick on the defensive side of the ball. They have a tough first round game against the Ravens but they will get to play in the friendly confines of Arrowhead Stadium. No one expected this team to be in this position and that is sometimes the most dangerous team out there. They are playing on house money so they could be looser than everyone else because they know they have nothing to lose.
9. Indianapolis Colts - The Colts managed to find a way into the post season again and this time with a JV team around Peyton Manning. On one hand, it is hard to imagine this Colts team making any noise in the post season but on the other hand it is never a good idea to bet against Manning. The Colts are riding a 4 game win streak but two of those games were against the awful Tennessee Titans. I think that the injuries have taken their toll on this team and I can't imagine them being able to beat the elite teams in the AFC this year, could be a one and done this post season.
10. New York Jets - The Jets are a hard team to get a read on. Their defense is no where near as good as it was last year when they made the run to the AFC championship game and their offense has been hit or miss. With all of the off the field distractions, StergerGate, TrippingGate, FootGate and now FavreTextingGate I am not sure if there is any time left to focus on football. This team has all the tools to be a Superbowl contender, but they can't seem to get out of their own way. Mark Sanchez needs a year or two more to mature into a better quarterback and Rex Ryan needs to learn how to close his mouth from time to time. This is not the Jets year.
11. Philadelphia Eagles - The Eagles are limping into the post season after two consecutive losses. Now granted, the loss on Sunday was because of the Eagles resting most of their starters but it is a loss nonetheless. Michael Vick hasn't been as electric recently as he was in the middle of the season, perhaps all of the hits he has been taking are finally taking a toll on him. Their defense has more holes in it than a piece of swiss cheese. Eagles fans should take solace in the fact that after week one they would never have thought they would be in the playoffs. This is going to be a very short post season for the Eagles.
12. Seattle Seahawks - 7-9. First team EVER to make the playoffs with a losing record. They don't even deserve to be in these rankings. Enjoy your home playoff game because that is where your season ends.
There you have it, the power rankings for the 2010-2011 NFL playoff teams. Do you see them ranked differently? Let me know by leaving comments below. Also, don't forget to check out my online NFL picks show, The Mole & Meares show, at www.moleandmeares.com. We will be picking all of the playoff games this post season.