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Red-hot Broncos take over top spot in power rankings
December 27, 2012 - Andy Heintz
With just one week to go in the National Football League regular season, there is a lot still to be decided before the postseason. The top seed and final playoff berth is still up for grabs in the AFC, while seeds two through six are still in the air for the NFC. Plenty of scenarios and must-win games this weekend will have fans of their favorite teams watching on the edge of their seats. Here are my latest power rankings heading into Week 17.
10. Washington Redskins, 9-6
Robert Griffin III can lead his team to the postseason in his rookie year Sunday when the Redskins take on Dallas. A win for Washington would mean the Redskins would host the red-hot Seattle Seahawks as long as San Francisco does what it needs to do against lowly Arizona.
9. Baltimore Ravens, 10-5
The defense is still banged up and the offense is shaky. They weathered a midseason slump but still can play for no better than a four seed in the postseason. That will give them one playoff home game, which will be against the Indianapolis Colts.
8. Minnesota Vikings, 9-6
The win against the Houston Texans was impressive and winning in Houston was even more shocking. The work is not done though as the Vikings still have to beat arch rival Green Bay at home to get into the postseason. The Packers will be playing for a first-round bye.
7. Seattle Seahawks, 10-5
I like the way the Seahawks are playing. And it says something when you blowout the 49ers and torch that top-ranked defense. But the Seahawks are 7-0 at home and 3-5 on the road, and will most likely have to play every playoff game away from the “12th Man.”
6. Houston Texans, 12-3
The Texans could play their way out of a first-round bye on Sunday but the Colts won’t be playing for much more as they already have the No. 5 seed locked up. The home loss to the Vikings this past weekend was a stunner, but it may be a one-week hiccup.
5. New England Patriots, 11-4
Tom Brady is still Tom Brady. That is what it is very important for Denver and Houston to win this weekend. Beating the Patriots at home during the postseason is virtually impossible.
4. San Francisco 49ers, 10-4-1
One week after winning an emotional game in Foxboro against the Patriots, the Niners go to Seattle and get throttled by a red-hot Seahawks squad. Throw into a season-ending injury to Mario Manningham and another injury to Vernon Davis and the future may not be bright for an already inconsistent offense.
3. Green Bay Packers, 11-4
The Packers have won nine of 10 games and seem to be peaking at the right time. It would be hard to predict that Aaron Rodgers would lose a game that decides a first-round bye, but if anyone would do it, it would be the hated Vikings in Minneapolis.
2. Atlanta Falcons, 13-2
The Falcons have nothing to play for Sunday as they already locked up the first-round bye in the NFC. Some say the Falcons are soft, but all they have done this year is win. And now, anyone who wants to advance to the Super Bowl will have to win at the Georgia Dome, a place nobody has won this season.
1. Denver Broncos, 12-3
Since Week 6, nobody has been better than the Broncos. They have won 10 straight games and are one win away from homefield advantage and a first-round bye. That shouldn’t be too hard to capture as they take on the lowly Kansas City Chiefs. A win also would guarantee that the arch rival Chiefs land the top pick in the upcoming NFL Draft.
Bottom Five: 5. Arizona Cardinals (5-10), 4. Detroit Lions (4-11), 3. Oakland Raiders (4-11), 2. Jacksonville Jaguars (2-13), 1. Kansas City Chiefs (2-13).
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