A few weeks ago, it appeared the NFC was loaded with power teams, several having the Super Bowl look.
But as we head to the final week of the NFL season, warts have showed up on several of those teams.
The New Orleans Saints suddenly have major defensive issues.
The San Francisco 49ers surprisingly do as well.
The Seattle Seahawks lost at home against a big underdog in the Arizona Cardinals Sunday, and they've lost two of their last three games.
The Green Bay Packers might be the team with the fewest issues after their beatdown of the Minnesota Vikings. But, remember, they had issues on the road at San Francisco and against the Chargers.
All those teams still have a chance to be the top seed in the conference in the playoffs, and all are considered power teams.
But that doesn't mean issues haven't popped up. Where the Baltimore Ravens, winners of 11 straight and the top seed in the AFC, have the look of a clear Super Bowl favorite in that conference, that's not the case in the NFC.
The Ravens are the top team in my Power Rankings again this week and they will go into the playoffs that way because this week's game against the Steelers doesn't mean anything to them and they will rest players.
The New England Patriots and Kansas City Chiefs look like true contenders in the AFC, but the Ravens are the clear favorite – a team with few warts.
The NFC suddenly now has teams with issues.
Whichever of those teams can clean those up in the next few weeks will emerge as the team to beat in the conference. For now, we have a lot of teams with sparkling records, but issues from the past month have us questioning them as we head to the postseason.
|Their mission is accomplished: It's time to rest guys this week after locking up the top seed.||--||11-5-0|
|Is there any doubt that they are an elite team. If their lines dominate like they did against the Vikings, they will be a tough out.||--||13-3-0|
|The way the defense has played the past month, they are a real threat again to win it all. We know the offense is good.||--||14-2-0|
|Are the Patriots getting it going at the right time? The offense looked much better against the Bills, and that's a sign of progress.||1||7-9-0|
|The defensive issues we saw against the Rams have to be concerning. The Seahawks will certainly challenge that defense this week.||1||6-10-0|
|They won a tough game on the road against the Titans, but the defense struggled again. That's not a good trend heading to the playoffs.||1||12-4-0|
|They have a ton of injuries that showed up in a big way in the loss to the Cardinals. Even so, if they beat the 49ers they win the division.||3||12-4-0|
|The Packers mauled them Monday night at home. Now they will have to take the rough road in the playoffs as the sixth seed.||--||7-9-0|
|They showed in the loss to the Patriots that they could be a tough out in the playoffs. The defense is legit.||--||13-3-0|
|As division champs, they can still get the third seed, although unlikely. But they didn't look good beating Tampa Bay last week.||--||4-12-0|
|They just aren't that good, even if they beat the Ravens this week and get into the playoffs. The quarterback situation is a mess.||--||12-4-0|
|They need to beat the Texans this week to earn a playoff spot. They have to play better than they did two weeks ago when they lost to them at home.||--||11-5-0|
|Carson Wentz has been on a tear lately and has the Eagles one victory away from the playoffs. It won't be easy this week against the Giants, though.||1||4-11-1|
|The Cowboys are in grave danger of missing the playoffs after losing to the Eagles. If it happens that way, it will be the end for Jason Garrett.||1||6-10-0|
|They just dealt with the Super Bowl hangover. The offseason will be challenging for a team that went all-in on this season.||--||10-6-0|
|The offense was way too limited this season, which we saw again against the Chiefs on Sunday. How can they fix it?||--||8-8-0|
|The inconsistency of Jameis Winston is the story with this team, but the defensive improvement needs to get more attention. That side has made big strides.||--||11-5-0|
|There is talk that the team could draft a quarterback after missing the playoffs with Jacoby Brissett. Would that be the right move?||--||11-5-0|
|As strange as it sounds, they can still make the playoffs. Can you believe it? They need to beat Denver and get some help.||4||8-8-0|
|That was an impressive victory at Seattle. This will be a dangerous team next season.||--||8-8-0|
|Have they done enough to save Dan Quinn's job by winning five of their last seven? That's going to be a tough decision.||--||4-12-0|
|With such a youthful roster, including rookie quarterback Drew Lock, there is a lot to like about this team. They have played much better the past month.||3||5-11-0|
|They've really fallen on hard times and the decision to play Will Grier at quarterback didn't pay dividends. The offseason can't get here soon enough.||4||5-11-0|
|Is Freddie Kitchens coming back as the coach? It sure doesn't look that way now.||--||11-5-0|
|This season is officially a disaster. When you can't beat the Raiders at home, it's done. The question now is whether Philip Rivers is too.||1||7-9-0|
|There have been some good things this season, like beating the Steelers this week, but there haven't been enough of them.||1||2-14-0|
|It's too bad Dwayne Haskins got hurt. They needed to see him play more.||1||7-9-0|
|With Daniel Jones and Saquon Barkley, the Giants have a nice 1-2 punch for the future. They are moving in the right direction.||1||6-10-0|
|They continue to win more games than most expected. Tanking has gone better than expected.||1||10-6-0|
|So much for the idea that firing Tom Coughlin would light a fire under this team. They are just flat out bad.||8||1-15-0|
|The injury to Matt Stafford wrecked this team, but the defense has been terrible as well. That's on Matt Patricia, who came as a defensive wizard.||--||5-11-0|
|They are now locked in as the team picking first in the April draft. That's a good thing.||--||4-11-1|