SLR’s Final 2013 NFL Power Rankings: 16-9 Dec 29, 2013; San Diego, CA, USA; San Diego Chargers head coach Mike McCoy celebrates the Chargers 27-24 overtime win over the Kansas City Chiefs at Qualcomm Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Stan Liu-USA TODAY Sports
16. Miami Dolphins (8-8) ▼3
All they had to do is beat the Jets, and they punched their ticket to the playoffs. They scored a single touchdown all game. Jets defensive tackle Sheldon Richardson also scored a single touchdown. Enough said.
15. Baltimore Ravens (8-8) ▼1
It’s hard to blame the Ravens for falling to the AFC North Champion Bengals, but with a playoff berth on the line, you might have expected more out of the defending Super Bowl Champions. But the reality is, they just lost too much in the offseason, and Ray Rice fell off a cliff in terms of production.
14. Pittsburgh Steelers (8-8) ▲2
They were a few inches on a Ryan Succop field goal from one of the more improbable playoff berths in recent memory. Instead, they finish a respectable 8-8 in a season that appeared lost early on. They still need to get younger and faster on defense, and improve the offensive line, or that mark will only get worse. Le’Veon Bell and Antonio Brown made them look like geniuses for letting Mike Wallace walk.
13. Green Bay Packers (8-7-1, NFC No. 4 Seed) ▲5
This is probably not the path to the playoffs Packers fans thought they would take when this season began. It’s certainly not the record anyone predicted. But playoffs is playoffs, and now Aaron Rodgers is healthy enough to play. They just have to hope the 49ers allow him to stay that way next weekend.
12. San Diego Chargers (9-7, AFC No. 6 Seed) NC
They made the playoffs in improbable fashion, and maybe they shouldn’t have. But that’s drama we can discuss another time. The question now is whether a team that barely held on at home against the Chiefs’ second team has any shot to do anything of note in the playoffs. Odd stat: this is the only team to finish 9-7 this year. Meaningless, but interesting.
11. Philadelphia Eagles (10-6, NFC No. 3 Seed) ▲2
At one point, it looked like the winner of the NFC East might finish the season under .500, but the Eagles closed the season out with a couple of statement wins, and they now look like a tough out in the playoffs. Even the defense has been playing better of late.
10. Arizona Cardinals (10-6) ▼4
The Arizona Cardinals get to be that team this year. You know, the one that finishes with 10 wins and out of playoff position, while an 8-win divisional team (the Packers in this case) plays on. It’s not always fair (see the 2008 New England Patriots for more details), but it’s at least a functional playoff system. The Cardinals can take solace in knowing they far exceeded expectations this season, and will improve greatly with a little attention to the offensive line.
9. Kansas City Chiefs (11-5, No. 5 Seed) NC
They played mostly their second team against the playoff-hungry Chargers, and essentially dominated the majority of the game. The Chiefs didn’t even have anything to play for. That says something about the mindset Andy Reid has instilled in this team. Can’t really consider dropping them for taking a game to overtime when they weren’t even really trying to win.