The rankings stayed relatively calm this week despite some big games. Let's see how that plays out with the Seahawks and Niners, Panthers and Saints, and Bengals and Colts all set to do battle. Of note, Chicago has officially fallen off the board after a whole season of hovering near the bottom. The NFC North is now the lone division not represented in the rankings.
#1 - Seattle Seahawks
Homefield is all but sealed. That's a powerful statement for a team that thrives at home like Seattle. Could we see a Super Bowl return eight years in the making?
Last Week: 1 Change: 0 Record: 11-1 Next Game: @ 49ers
#2 - New England Patriots
In the first half, the Patriots play like they don't even deserve to be on this board. Then in the 2nd half, they look like they should be ranked #1.
Last Week: 2 Change: 0 Record: 9-3 Next Game: vs. Browns
#3 - Denver Broncos
Unless they stumble, Denver will have home field throughout. Surprises always happen, but Brady/Manning XV seems like it's destined for late January.
Last Week: 4 Change: +1 Record: 10-2 Next Game: vs. Titans
#4 - Carolina Panthers
I don't know if Carolina can go into New Orleans and win this Sunday, but on a neutral field, I'm taking the Cats.
Last Week: 5 Change: +1 Record: 9-3 Next Game: @ Saints
#5 - New Orleans Saints
And the Saints have set up the nightmare scenario where the scorching Panthers can overtake them and send New Orleans on the road. Drew Brees will counter that the Saints are the winningest road team since 2009, and he'd be right. Still, you gotta want to play in the Super Dome this winter if you're the Saints.
Last Week: 3 Change: -2 Record: 9-3 Next Game: vs. Panthers
#6 - San Francisco 49ers
Seattle has little to play for this weekend, but the Niners need this game to stay ahead in the playoff hunt.
Last Week: 7 Change: +1 Record: 8-4 Next Game: vs. Seahawks
#7 - Cincinnati Bengals
Big game for the Bengals this week, in a game which very may well determine who gets to be the #3 seed.
Last Week: 8 Change: +1 Record: 8-4 Next Game: vs. Colts
#8 - Kansas City Chiefs
The Chiefs follwed up nine straight wins with three straight losses. Their record may indicate otherwise, but they deserve to start on the road in January after completely falling apart during this latest stretch.
Last Week: 6 Change: -2 Record: 9-3 Next Game: @ Redskins
#9 - Indianapolis Colts
If you love drama, there's few scenarios greater than the #4 seed Colts heading to Denver to open the Divisional round. A loss to Cincy this week would get that possibility all teed up.
Last Week: 11 Change: +2 Record: 8-4 Next Game: @ Bengals
#10 - Philadelphia Eagles
I don't believe it for a second, but one look at the stat sheet could lead you to the argument that Nick Foles is the best QB in the league right now.
Last Week: 12 Change: +2 Record: 7-5 Next Game: vs. Lions
#11 - Arizona Cardinals
I don't want to kill the Cards after winning four out of five, but I have to rank the Eagles higher than them after Sunday.
Last Week: 9 Change: -2 Record: 7-5 Next Game: vs. Rams
#12 - Baltimore Ravens
Back from the dead. The Super Bowl champs refuse to go away.
Last Week: N/A Change: N/A Record: 6-6 Next Game: vs. Vikings