NFL Power Rankings: A Cloudy Playoff Picture


Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers (12) reacts after a failed 2-point conversion attempt in the fourth quarter during the game against the Detroit Lions at Lambeau Field. The Ljons beat the Packers 18-16. Mandatory Credit: Benny Sieu-USA TODAY Sports

This week’s NFL power rankings show that outside of the clear division leaders (there are just five), the wildcard picture is as murky as ever. There are three tight division races in the AFC South, NFC East and NFC North. That leaves five divisions filled with teams duking it out for the four wildcard slots.

The AFC has seven teams within two games of the top wildcard spot. At 6-4, the Steelers currently hold the top wildcard spot and thanks to the Bills’ win over the Jets on Thursday Night Football, Buffalo holds the sixth spot at 5-4. The Jets, Dolphins, Chiefs, Raiders and Texans are all within one game of the final wildcard spot. If you’re asking me, I don’t think Buffalo will hold onto that spot throughout the rest of the season, but they have as good a chance as anybody to end up there after Week 17. Good luck trying to choose the six seed.

The NFC has eight teams within two games of the top wildcard spot. Currently, Green Bay and Atlanta hold the wildcard spots, each at 6-3. While all six teams chasing sit two games back at 4-5, Atlanta has lost three of their last four and Green Bay has lost three straight. The NFC wildcards are far from set. In the mix are, surprisingly, Washington, Tampa Bay, and St. Louis followed by Seattle, Philadelphia and the Chicago Bears. Yes, the Bears are still alive.

While the Lions are the only team in the NFC North that’s out of the playoff picture, they got a pretty sizable consolation prize, winning in Wisconsin for the first time since most fans can remember. I mean, I was seven years old the last time the Lions did that. Part of me wants to see Detroit salvage their season and show that they’re not as bad as their 1-7 start. The other part of me is screaming “WHY WOULD YOU PLAY YOURSELF OUT OF A TOP 5 DRAFT PICK?!?!?!?!” If you’re not playing for a playoff spot, you’re playing for a draft pick, but I like the fight this Lions team is showing.

This week’s biggest riser is Kansas City. The Chiefs moved up seven spots from 20 to 13 in large part because there are eleven 4-5 teams. The Chiefs have won three straight and have games against Buffalo, Baltimore and Cleveland along with four division games split between the Chargers and Raiders. It’s setting up nicely for a team that started 1-5.

Our biggest drop this week was split between the Cowboys, Colts, and Saints who all fell four spots from 26, 17, and 18, respectively. The Cowboys lose. It’s what they do. The Colts are struggling to keep pace in the worst division in football. The Saints had a perfect opportunity to claim a wildcard spot early. They lost two straight to bad teams. Boo. Boo them all.

That about does it for the big movers and shakers in this week’s NFL power rankings, so without further ado:

Previous: . New England Patriots. 1. team. 47. The Patriots are really good. Sometimes it’s better to be lucky than good.. (9-0)

team. 87. The Panthers dispatched of the Titans fairly easily. It must be nice to get a walkthrough after the schedule they’ve faced lately.. (9-0). Previous: . Carolina Panthers. 2

Cincinnati Bengals. 3. team. 56. The Bengals couldn’t manage any offense on Monday night. They’re still leading their division by 2.5 games. Must be nice.. (8-0). Previous:

Arizona Cardinals. 4. team. 32. The Cardinals went into Seattle and left with a W.. (7-2). Previous:

5. team. 60. Why do the Vikings keep winning?! They are NOT this good. They’ve only played one team with a winning record. They lost that game. 3 of their next 4 are against winning teams.. (7-2). Previous: . Minnesota Vikings

45. The Broncos dropped their second straight after Peyton Manning played horribly and was benched for Brock Osweiler. Oh, and he’s hurt.. (7-2). Previous: . Denver Broncos. 6. team

44. Hopefully the Falcons used the bye week to figure out their stagnant offense.. (6-3). Previous: . Atlanta Falcons. 7. team

(6-3). Previous: . Green Bay Packers. 8. team. 49. Even a blind squirrel finds a nut once every 24 years. The Packers had plenty of chances to win on Sunday. They just didn’t capitalize on any of them.

Landry Jones was hurt early in their contest with the Browns. Roethlisberger came off the bench and put up over 300 yards and 30 points.. (6-4). Previous: . Pittsburgh Steelers. 9. team. 55

16. All red unis and consecutive wins after the London heartbreaker.. (5-4). Previous: . Buffalo Bills. 10. team

team. 30. The defense continues to not be good enough to make up for the offense.. (5-4). Previous: . New York Jets. 11

31. The Giants took a gut punch from the Patriots on Sunday but they’r 5-5 and on top of the NFC East. Right now that’s good enough.. (5-5). Previous: . New York Giants. 12. team

124. The Chiefs knocked off the Broncos to win three in a row after a 1-5 start. They’re back in the playoff picture with a favorable second half slate.. (4-5). Previous: . Kansas City Chiefs. 13. team

14. team. 36. The Seahawks are 2-2 at home and they still host the Steelers and Rams. Where’s the 12th man at?. (4-5). Previous: . Seattle Seahawks

15. team. 51. The Rams lost a close one to the Vikings and followed that up by getting walloped by the Bears. Get it together Rams.. (4-5). Previous: . St. Louis Rams

Previous: . Oakland Raiders. 16. team. 28. The Raiders lost a close one to the Steelers and followed that up by getting walloped by the Vikings. Get it together Raiders.. (4-5)

Previous: . Miami Dolphins. 17. team. 59. The Dolphins have a pretty tough remaining schedule. There are some winnable games to be sure, but it will be tough to get to 8 wins.. (4-5)

Previous: . Philadelphia Eagles. 18. team. 54. The Eagles are perfectly average which means they’ve got about three wins left in them.. (4-5)

57. The Bears followed up two close losses with a pair of wins. Now they face the Broncos and Packers back to back.. (4-5). Previous: . Chicago Bears. 19. team

A new team is on top of the AFC South, but for how long?. (4-5). Previous: . Houston Texans. 20. team. 10

46. Hasselbeck is HasselBACK BABY! Andrew Luck should be out for an extended period of time and the Colts are fighting to stay on top of the AFC South.. (4-5). Previous: . Indianapolis Colts. 21. team

Previous: . New Orleans Saints. 22. team. 15. Man, the Saints had their future in their hands and just botched it. Rob Ryan paid the price as he was fired yesterday. Hopefully the defense can play better now.. (4-6)

24. team. 48. Tampa Bay is exceptional at avoiding streaks. They’ve alternated wins and losses for the past six weeks.. (4-5). Previous: . Tampa Bay Buccaneers

52. The Jags have won some games that they shouldn’t have and they’ve lost some games that they shouldn’t have. With six one score games including their last three, the Jaguars are among the most entertaining teams to watch.. (3-6). Previous: . Jacksonville Jaguars. 25. team

26. team. 42. Road trip to Seattle is up next for the Blaine Gabbert experiment. That one should be fun to watch if you like blood baths.. (3-6). Previous: . San Francisco 49ers

team. 26. The Ravens got hosed at home against the Jaguars. Oh well. Their season’s in the tank anyway.. (2-7). Previous: . Baltimore Ravens. 27

(2-7). Previous: . Tennessee Titans. 28. team. 35. Up next for Tennessee: A Raiders sandwich on Jaguars bread. They travel to Jacksonville for Thursday Night Football and follow that up with consecutive home games against the Raiders and the Jags again.

team. 13. Five consecutive one score losses after a 2-2 start. I think I actually feel bad for Rivers who is playing lights out.. (2-7). Previous: . San Diego Chargers. 29

123. Hey remember when Dallas just had to not blow it while Romo was out? They’ve lost seven straight. They are garbage from the top on down and I hope they never win another game.. (2-7). Previous: . Dallas Cowboys. 30. team

Detroit Lions. 31. team. 50. I don’t know if it was Masthay, Crosby, or the football gods sneezed or something but I’m so happy that field goal fell lame. It’s certainly enough to keep Detroit out of the doghouse for a week.. (2-7). Previous:

Cleveland Browns. 32. team. 53. Speaking of doghouse, the Dawg Pound is whimpering but they get to tailgate for three weeks in a row. Silver linings.. (2-8). Previous: