NFL Power Rankings: Playoffs could bring big-time drama the regular season lacked

There isn't much drama in Week 17, which is part of the reason why the NFL decided to abandon Sunday Night Football this week. 

What we have this week instead are a bunch of meaningless games, other than the battle for top seed in the AFC, in the 1 p.m. EST window Sunday, followed by nine games starting at 4:25 EST that day that have playoff implications.

Of the eight divisions, the NFC South is the only one undecided, and that will go to the New Orleans Saints if they beat the Tampa Bay Buccaneers or the Carolina Panthers if they beat the Falcons and the Saints lose.

That's it.

There are some wild-card spots in play in both conferences, which is why there are so many games in the late window being played.

This season, there were four teams that have gone from last to first  – the Los Angeles Rams, Philadelphia Eagles, Jacksonville Jaguars and New Orleans Saints. That's what makes the upcoming playoffs so intriguing. 

Of course, the usual suspect is at the top of the league and atop the Power Rankings this week in the New England Patriots.

They started slowly against Buffalo last week, but turned it on and ended up with a victory that puts them one more away from being the top seed in the AFC. That would make the AFC playoffs go through Foxboro, which means beating Bill Belichick and Tom Brady on the road is the only way any of the AFC teams can get to the Super Bowl.

Good luck with that.

But this hasn't been a normal season, which is why when the final playoff field is locked into place any of the 12 teams can win it all. The one team that gets hot at the right time will be the champion.

The regular season hasn't been as good as in past years, but that could very well make for great playoffs.

Let's hope so.

The big-time drama has been missing this year, and there isn't as much this week as hoped, but the playoffs could be just the opposite. The NFL needs that, and so do we.

Biggest Movers
4 Cardinals
3 Falcons
Rk
Teams
 
Chg
Rcrd
1 Patriots It took them a while to get going against the Bills, but as usual they found a way. Beat the Jets this week, and the top seed is theirs. --4-2-0
2 Steelers They bounced back from the loss to the Patriots by blowing out the Texans on the road. They are the likely second seed heading into the postseason. --3-2-1
3 Eagles They beat the Raiders Monday night, but they just don't look like a Super team anymore. They aren't winning a title with Nick Foles. --3-3-0
4 Saints If the defense plays like it did against the Falcons, they might be the NFC's best team. They still need a victory to lock up the division title. --4-1-0
5 Panthers That wasn't a great effort against Tampa Bay, but they rallied to earn a playoff spot. They can still win the division if they beat Atlanta and the Saints lose. --3-2-0
6 Vikings They are the No. 2 seed in the NFC. There's a chance they could not play away from their stadium the rest of the way - Super Bowl included. 13-2-1
7 Rams They are going to be a real problem for any team in the playoffs. They can run it with Todd Gurley and now the defense is playing better. 16-0-0
8 Jaguars They clinched the division before getting blown out in San Francisco. That was not a good look for a team that some thought could make a Super push. 23-3-0
9 Ravens If they win this week against the Bengals, they are in the playoffs. The defense will be what will make them dangerous in the postseason. 24-2-0
10 Chiefs They have righted things the past three weeks as they head to the playoffs. There are still defensive concerns. 25-1-0
11 Seahawks They are still alive in the playoff race thanks to a nice showing by the defense against the Cowboys. They need Atlanta to lose and then beat Arizona to get into the postseason party. 23-3-0
12 Falcons They just aren't generating enough offense and need to beat the Panthers this week to ensure they make the playoffs. 32-4-0
13 Cowboys Their playoff chances went bye-bye thanks to some questionable coaching in the loss to Seattle. But it looks like Jason Garrett will be back. 33-3-0
14 Bills Their playoff chances pretty much died in New England - unless they get major help. They just aren't good enough and now have to decide what to do at quarterback. --2-4-0
15 Chargers They are still alive, but they need to win this week and get some help. It's possible. --4-2-0
16 Titans They've lost three straight but can still get into the playoffs if they beat the Jaguars this week. They will be limping in for sure. --3-3-0
17 Lions Losing at Cincinnati with the playoffs still possible is not a good look. Is Jim Caldwell in trouble? --2-3-0
18 Packers Shutting Aaron Rodgers down for the season was the right thing to do. They have to make changes to the staff. --2-2-1
19 Cardinals The defense impressed in the shutout of the Giants. That unit has a lot of young players to build around next year. 41-5-0
20 Raiders They showed some fight in Philadelphia Monday night, but this is still a disappointing season. Jack Del Rio will likely be back. 11-5-0
21 Redskins Kirk Cousins had a nice day against Denver. They have to keep him one way or another. 13-2-0
22 49ers They have to be thrilled with the 4-0 start by Jimmy Garoppolo. They need to sign him to a long-term deal as soon as they can. 31-4-0
23 Broncos It's obvious Brock Osweiler isn't the answer at quarterback. Now it's Paxton Lynch for a week. 22-4-0
24 Dolphins This season started in a weird way and it is ending in a disappointing way. Will this be Jay Cutler's last NFL game this week? 24-2-0
25 Bengals They showed some fight in beating the Lions. But is this week's game the last for Marvin Lewis as coach? 14-2-0
26 Bears There is hope for next season with the way they are growing as a team. They have their franchise passer, that's for sure. --3-2-0
27 Jets The Bryce Petty era isn't off to a good start - if there is such a thing as the Petty era. Why not give Christian Hackenberg a try? --3-3-0
28 Buccaneers Is it Jon Gruden time? It looks like this team is giving strong consideration about making a change. --2-3-0
29 Texans Will Bill O'Brien come back? Should he be back? I say he comes back and he should come back. --3-3-0
30 Colts They competed against the Ravens, which is a good sign. Too bad it will be for a different staff. --1-5-0
31 Giants Who will be the next coach and general manager? Whoever they are, they have a lot of work to do. --1-5-0
32 Browns This thing has been done a long time ago, and now 0-16 is happening. They aren't beating the Steelers. --2-3-1
CBS Sports Senior Writer

Pete Prisco has covered the NFL for three decades, including working as a beat reporter in Jacksonville for the Jaguars. When he's not watching game tape, you can find Pete on Twitter or dreaming of an... Full Bio

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