About this time every season, we try and figure out the few teams we think have a legitimate shot at playing in the Super Bowl. Well, after watching the New England Patriots absolutely dominate four potential playoff teams in their past five games, I think it’s pretty clear who the favorite is as of right now. It doesn’t matter if they play at home or on the road, in the sun or in a blizzard, Tom Brady and the Patriots are playing the best football I’ve seen any team play in a long while. Brady is playing out of his mind right now, throwing for 19 touchdowns and no interceptions in his last eight games while putting himself in position to win his second regular season MVP award. The Atlanta Falcons are atop the NFC and are in good position to secure home-field advantage throughout the playoffs. And that’s bad news for the rest of the NFC because Matt Ryan has a 19-1 career record at home. Here are the rest of the power rankings for this week:
1. New England Patriots
No other team in the NFL is even close right now.
2. Atlanta Falcons
Home-field advantage throughout the playoffs is looking very realistic right now with two of their three remaining games against the Seahawks and Panthers.
3. New Orleans Saints
The offense is clicking again (30-plus points in five straight games), but two tough road games in a row (at Baltimore, at Atlanta) will tell us a lot about the defending champs.
4. Pittsburgh Steelers
Their defense is providing them with the majority of their points, which works against Buffalo and Cincinnati but won’t work in the playoffs.
5. Philadelphia Eagles
If Michael Vick can survive the last three weeks of the regular season, look out.
6. Baltimore Ravens
A win is a win, but blowing a 21-point lead and allowing 301 yards in the second half doesn’t bode well going forward.
7. New York Giants
They have once again found the old-fashioned formula for winning, rushing for 410 yards while only allowing 10 points in the past two games.
8. Chicago Bears
The Bears came back down to earth very quickly after last Sunday’s beating.
9. New York Jets
Rex Ryan is starting to run out of clever ways to take the focus off of his team losing.
10. Green Bay Packers
If Aaron Rodgers is out for any length of time, the Packers are done.
11. Jacksonville Jaguars
The Jaguars are leading the AFC South with three games to go. Really?
12. Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Graham Gano was the Bucs’ best player last Sunday.
13. San Diego Chargers
They took advantage of a Matt Cassel-less Chiefs team. But let’s see if that slip-up against the Raiders two weeks ago haunts them come January.
14. Indianapolis Colts
The Colts actually have to play their starters with three games to go in the season. Oh, how the tides have turned.
15. Kansas City Chiefs
The gap is quickly closing in the AFC West. The Chiefs need you, Matt Cassel.
16. Oakland Raiders
Darren McFadden gives Raiders’ fans reason for optimism.
17. Miami Dolphins
If only they could win at home.
18. St. Louis Rams
With two divisional games remaining, the Rams control their own destiny in the highly competitive NFC West (insert sarcasm here).
19. Dallas Cowboys
Just think of where the Cowboys would be now if they were this competitive all season.
20. Houston Texans
The first half matters too, guys.
21. San Francisco 49ers
The 49ers are STILL alive in the NFC West. I know, I don’t get it either.
22. Cleveland Browns
If the Browns had any type of vertical passing game to compliment Peyton Hillis, they would be much closer to finishing .500.
23. Seattle Seahawks
Just take a look at the scores of their games this season. Yeah, you try and figure it out.
24. Tennessee Titans
After starting 5-2, the Titans have lost six straight and are in complete disarray.
25. Minnesota Vikings
The Vikings looked about as comfortable on the field last Monday as Brett Favre looked in street clothes.
26. Washington Redskins
What an embarrassment. I guess the “new-look Redskins” will be in need of another facelift next season.
27. Buffalo Bills
Hey, at least Stevie Johnson has provided us all with excitement this season.
28. Arizona Cardinals
The Cardinals’ 43 points last Sunday against the Broncos equaled the total from their previous four games combined.
29. Detroit Lions
The Lions are now 1-19 in their last 20 divisional games
30. Cincinnati Bengals
Jordan Palmer may be taking his brother’s job considering Carson can’t seem to throw to his own team.
31. Denver Broncos
Not even a coaching change could keep them from getting worked by the 155th draft pick out of Fordham, quarterback John Skelton.
32. Carolina Panthers
Is it Jan. 4 yet?
Submitted by Steve Giles