NFL Power Rankings: Packers still on top, Seahawks closing quickly
It appears that the only thing that might slow down the Packers in their quest to reach the Super Bowl is their defense. Or, possibly, the Seattle Seahawks who are coming together and playing well enough to beat any team in the NFL.
Right now it's hard to imagine anyone stopping Aaron Rodgers and that Packers offense, especially when they're playing home at Lambeau Field. The one thing that might slow down the Packers is their defense -- which surrendered 37 points to the Falcons on Monday night.
The Packers remain on top again this week.
The one team that could be up to the challenge of stopping Rodgers and Co. is the Seahawks. Seattle, which moves up this week from No. 5 to third in the rankings, is coming together at the right time. The Seahawks defense shut down Mark Sanchez and the up-tempo Eagles offense.
Speaking of Philly, the Eagles dropped from No. 4 to sixth after that home loss to Seattle. They'll have a chance to right the ship Sunday night in a huge divisional showdown with the improving Cowboys, who come in at No. 7.
In the AFC, the Patriots -- No. 2 this week -- took care of business in San Diego. New England should be in good shape to retain the top seed in the postseason -- and it will be a tough out at home in Foxborough.
And despite losing to the Patriots, the Chargers move up a notch -- from 11th to 10th. San Diego looks like it is ready for the postseason, but still has some work to do in these final three games.
So let's get on with this week's Power Rankings, shall we?
|1||Packers (1): The Packers offense is like a machine and any team playing the Packers at Lambeau Field had better be ready for 40 points being scored on them. The defense could be their Achilles when it comes to winning a Super Bowl.|
|2||Patriots (2): The Patriots stayed in San Diego all week and beat the Chargers in a hard-fought battle. Coach Bill Belichick is now 6-1 against Philip Rivers. The Pats are in good shape to retain the top seed for the playoffs. It will be tough for any team to go into Foxborough and win.|
|3||Seahawks (5): The Seahawks defense is back to championship form and Russell Wilson is playing well enough to beat any team in the NFL. They are set up to win the division if they can beat the Cardinals in two weeks.|
|4||Broncos (3): Peyton Manning will go down in NFL history as one of the greatest to ever play the game. Right now he isn’t at his best, but the team is playing well enough to win games and hold down the No. 2 seed. The next two games are road trips to San Diego and Cincinnati. The Broncos have lost their last two road games so nothing is a lock.|
|5||Cardinals (7): No one can doubt the toughness and resilience of the Cardinals. They continue to overcome injuries to win games. Holding down the No. 1 seed in the NFC is going to be difficult and the next hurdle is a Thursday night game in St. Louis.|
|6||Eagles (4): The Eagles are a very good team, but they just got a reality check from the Seattle Seahawks. A showdown this week at home against the Cowboys will probably decide the division champ. Regular-season loses to Seattle, Green Bay, Arizona and San Francisco could come back to haunt them if they wind up in the wild-card race.|
|7||Cowboys (10): The Cowboys easily beat the Bears last Thursday and will have 10 days to prepare for the game with the Eagles. The Eagles not only lost to the Seahawks, but the last seven teams to play Seattle lost the following week. The Dallas defense wil be under the microscope after giving up 33 points to the Eagles a few weeks ago.|
|8||Lions (8): The Lions got a break in the schedule the last two weeks with wins over Chicago and Tampa Bay. The schedule remains a blessing with the next two games against Minnesota and Chicago.|
|9||Colts (6): It’s just hard to beat Andrew Luck and teams have to play for 60 minutes against the comeback kid. Their two-game lead over the Texans should be enough to win the division and hold down the No. 3 seed. The win over the Bengals earlier in the season will help keep them out of the No. 4 seed.|
|10||Chargers (11): The Chargers are in right now if the playoffs started today, but of course there are three games to go. I think the Chargers can win two of the three -- and a 10-6 record should be good enough to get to the postseason, especially with a win over the Ravens.|
|11||Steelers (15): The Steelers were very impressive in their win over the Bengals and, with a game at home against the Bengals still on the schedule, Pittsburgh is positioned to win the division if it doesn't stumble against the Falcons or Chiefs like they have in the past (when they lost to the Bucs and the Jets).|
|12||Bengals (9): The Bengals still control the race for the division title because of the tie on their record, but they struggle in big games and Denver is still on the schedule -- as is a season finale in Pittsburgh.|
|13||Ravens (12): A gritty bunch of veterans aren’t an easy out for anyone. Joe Flacco has enough offensive weapons to stage a comeback against most teams. The loss of Haloti Ngata didn’t hurt the team in the win over Miami, but with a 4-5 conference record and being swept by the Bengals will not help their cause. The remaining three games are very winnable and Baltimore most likely needs to win them all.|
|14||Texans (19): The Texans are playing like they will make the playoffs, but the last two wins are against Tennessee and Jacksonville. The Texans are 2-5 against teams with winning records.|
|15||Bills (17): The Bills defense has the most sacks in the NFL but they couldn’t get Peyton Manning to the ground. Now they sit with the No. 11 seed and it will be tough to rally back into the playoff picture, but it has been a solid season for a team on the rise.|
|16||Rams (20): I said it last week ‘no one wants to play the Rams right now.' That statement is more valid today with a second shutout in two weeks. Jeff Fisher and his young Rams are aiming for a winning season after a 2-5 start.|
|17||Chiefs (14): The Chiefs still haven’t thrown a touchdown pass to a wide receiver and now they are on a three-game losing streak scoring a total of 50 points (17 per game). Running the table is a necessity but trips to Pittsburgh and a home finale against San Diego make if a bumpy road.|
|18||Browns (18): Right now the Browns are in the No. 12 seed and have a 4-6 conference record so it is probably time for Johnny Manziel. That being said it has been a terrific first season for Mike Pettine and his young team.|
|19||Dolphins (16): The Dolphins' solid defense didn’t show up as the Ravens put up 28 points. The Dolphins are on their way to Foxborough this week in a rematch of a game they won opening day 33-20. New England rarely loses at home and is almost impossible to sweep in a season.|
|20||49ers (13): The 49ers are still in contention on paper but the team isn’t playing like the playoffs are in their plans. Colin Kaepernick is struggling and the issues surrounding coach Jim Harbaugh do not help the focus of the team.|
|21||Vikings (21): Teddy Bridgewater is a rookie learning as he goes, but he has started in five wins and that’s a strong statement for the future. He is 4-2 in his last six games and in the last two games has completion percentage over 70. The next two games are on the road and a great test for Bridgewater.|
|22||Falcons (23): The Falcons lost to the Packers and still lead the NFC South. The Atlanta offense can score points and the division title will be decided on the field with the Saints and Panthers as the last two games of the year. Atlanta already has a win over both teams.|
|23||Panthers (25): All of a sudden the Panthers are back in the race for the division title. Dropping 41 points on the Saints stopped a seven-game winless streak. The Panthers are looking at three games they can win, especially if Cam Newton plays like he did last week.|
|24||Bears (22): The Bears are a big disappointment in 2014 and there aren’t many signs that they will be any better finishing out the season.|
|25||Saints (24): Sean Peyton said "we aren’t very good." That’s tough to swallow, but the reality is they can still win their division which is amazing. The Saint finish with Chicago, Atlanta and Tampa Bay which isn't an impossible task.|
|26||Giants (29): There will be changes in New York, but I don’t think Tom Coughlin will be fired. Eli Manning still has enough gas in the tank to win again in this league.|
|27||Redskins (27): At this point, it should be time to play Robert Griffin III again and give him one more chance to improve. The coaches may not want to hear that scenario, but others in the organization need to see it happen.|
|28||Raiders (32): A Gatorade bath for the head coach when the Raiders won the battle of the Bay was well deserved. More importantly, rookie QB Derek Carr is making progress and the future looks bright.|
|29||Jaguars (28): The Jaguars need to win a game or two at the end of the season to provide hope to the fans. Their last home game is in two weeks on a Thursday night against the Titans, and they need to win that one.|
|30||Buccaneers (26): Getting the first pick in the draft may be a bigger priority than winning another game.|
|31||Jets (30): The players still play hard for Rex Ryan but they just aren’t good enough to win. There will be many changes after the season, but I did have an NFL head coach tell me there is a lot to work with when he studied their roster.|
|32||Titans (31): Zach Mettenberger is done for the season with a shoulder injury and there just weren’t enough healthy offensive linemen to protect him last week.|
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