December 18, 2012
A lot changed in the NFL in Week 15. Fans in Washington, Minnesota and Dallas saw their playoff hopes improve dramatically. And if you are rooting for Baltimore, Tampa Bay, New York Giants, St. Louis, Chicago, Pittsburgh or the New York Jets…your hopes either took a major hit and/or are gone all together. Here’s how I have them ranked with two games to go.
1 San Francisco 49ers (10-3-1) — As the Nature Boy Ric Flair always said, “To be the man, you’ve got to beat the man.” The Patriots were at the top last week and the 49ers went into New England and won. San Fransisco is now “The Man.”
3 New England Patriots (10-4) – Tom Brady was on the verge of one of the greatest comebacks in NFL history. But the Patriots couldn’t finish it off and likely cost themselves a playoff bye.
4 Houston Texans (12-2) — One more win ought to be enough to lock up home-field advantage in the AFC. It won’t be easy with the Vikings and Colts both fighting for wild card spots.
5 Denver Broncos (11-3) – The Broncos may be the biggest winner of week 15. Home wins over the Browns and Chiefs will clinch the No. 2 seed and a first round bye.
6 Green Bay Packers (10-4) – The NFC North champs have won eight of nine and have their sights set on the NFC’s No. 2 seed and a first round bye.
7 Seattle Seahawks (9-5) – After putting up 108 points in the last two weeks the Seahawks are one win away from getting into the playoffs (probably) and have an outside shot of stealing the NFC West from San Fransisco.
8 Dallas Cowboys (8-6) – Somehow the Cowboys got off the mat and won five of six. If they can make it seven of eight they should be NFC East champs.
9 Baltimore Ravens (9-5) — Remember when the Ravens were on the verge of earning a bye in the first round of the playoffs? A desperate New York Giant team could give them a fourth straight loss and make the Ravens at Bengals in week 17 for the division title.
10 Washington Redskins (8-6) – Five straight wins have the Redkins at the top of the NFC East. A win at Philly this week will set up a huge week 17 showdown with the Cowboys.
11 Cincinnati Bengals (8-6) – The Bengals can make the playoffs with a win in Pittsburgh. A loss makes things very interesting.
12 New York Giants (8-6) – Did the Giants just sneak in an extra bye week? Sunday’s game in Baltimore is a must win.
13 Indianapolis Colts (9-5) – The Colts should have no trouble with the Chiefs this week. A win should keep them from having to go to New England in the first round.
14 Minnesota Vikings (8-6) – If the playoffs started today….with Houston and Green Bay left on the schedule, they have started for the Vikings.
16 Pittsburgh Steelers (7-7) – Despite losing four of five, the Steelers can make the playoffs by winning the last two games. Their reward for doing so? Probably the Patriots.
17 New Orleans Saints (6-8) – This season cannot end fast enough for the Saints now that they are out of playoff contention.
18 Carolina Panthers (5-9) – Don’t be surprised if the Panthers finish 7-9. This is one team that hasn’t quit.
19 St. Louis Rams (6-7-1) – If everyone in front of them loses, a win would give the Rams something to play for in week 17.
22 New York Jets (6-8) – The Jets looked more like a team playing for the top pick in the draft than a playoff spot on Monday night.
23 Tampa Bay Buccaneers (6-8) – That 41-0 beat down ensured the Bucs won’t have to worry about making a trip to the frozen tundra in January.
24 Arizona Cardinals (5-9) – Nice win for the Cards. With the Bears and 49ers coming up, they were looking at a 12-game losing streak to finish the season.
25 Detroit Lions (4-10) – The Lions are a candidate for most disappointing team of 2012. They could lose their last eight games.
26 Cleveland Browns (5-9) – You heard it here first. Cleveland makes the playoffs in 2013.
27 Buffalo Bills (5-9) – Maybe the Bills are the new Redskins? Let’s see if they try to win the off-season for the second year in a row.
28 San Diego Chargers (5-9) – The window in San Diego is officially closed. Time to rebuild.
29 Oakland Raiders (4-10) – The Raiders haven’t allowed a point in five quarters.
30 Philadelphia Eagles (4-10) – Eagles are headed for 4-12 with two playoff hungry opponents remaining but they would love to knock the Redskins and Giants out of the race.
31 Jacksonville Jaguars (2-12) – GM, Head Coach, quarterback and even franchise location are question marks? That’s not good.
32 Kansas City Chiefs (2-12) – The Chiefs appear to be a lock for 2-14 and the first pick in the draft.