SLR’s Final 2013 NFL Power Rankings: The Top 8 Dec 29, 2013; Atlanta, GA, USA; Carolina Panthers quarterback Cam Newton (1) runs the ball in the first half against the Carolina Panthers at the Georgia Dome. Mandatory Credit: Daniel Shirey-USA TODAY Sports
8. New Orleans Saints (11-5, NFC No. 6 Seed) ▲2
They played like their playoff lives were on the line, and they were. They won big at home, as usual, but that’s a luxury they won’t get for the rest of their season. If they’re going anywhere in the postseason, they need to beat the Eagles in Philadelphia, and then the Seahawks in their house, where they were embarrassed mere weeks ago.
7. Indianapolis Colts (11-5, AFC No. 4 Seed) NC
The Colts are playing some of the better ball they’ve played this season, and they’ve already beaten basically all of the top teams in the league. If you’re not hoping to see an Indy-Denver rematch in these playoffs, I charge that you are either a Chiefs fan or a Communist, and in either case, you’re way too red.
6. Cincinnati Bengals (11-5, AFC No. 3 Seed) ▲2
Andy Dalton threw four interceptions, including one in the end zone, and the Bengals won in a blowout. That’s downright scary when you think about what they could do if Dalton can play even a reasonably clean game. That’s an “if,” not a “when,” though.
5. San Francisco 49ers (12-4, NFC No. 5 Seed) NC
Their playoff life was never in any danger, but their seeding was, and they were able to hold on against the Cardinals to secure the No. 5 seed in the playoffs. They’re as dangerous as any team in the playoffs, because while they’re unlikely to see any more games at home, they have no issues winning on the road.
4. New England Patriots (12-4 AFC No. 2 Seed) NC
Look at the Patriots. I mean, really look at their roster. Now ask yourself: How, how did this team win 12 games this season? And how many more can they win? They only need three.
3. Seattle Seahawks (13-3, NFC No. 1 Seed) NC
The most dangerous home team in the NFC just locked up home field advantage throughout the playoffs. That doesn’t bode well for the other five NFC playoff teams, but anything can still happen.
2. Denver Broncos (13-3, AFC No. 1 Seed) NC
They just broke basically every offensive record known to man, and beat the Oakland Raiders so hard in the first half, Peyton Manning didn’t even have to come out for the second. If they lose in the playoffs, especially in their first game, it will be the most Peyton Manning season of all time.
1. Carolina Panthers (12-4, NFC No. 2 Seed) NC
They don’t have a perfect team, they don’t have the best record, and they don’t have home field advantage in the playoffs. But they’ve won 11 of their last 12, and the one loss was to New Orleans at the Superdome, which won’t be happening again this season. They’ve been the hottest team in the NFL over the last three quarters of the season, and those are the teams that win playoff games. Why would they stop now?
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