This is it, the final Top 12. After seventeen weeks of rankings, it's time to put this meaningless exercise to bed and let the players do the talking on the field.
#1 - New England Patriots
The Patriots are healthy heading into their playoff bye week and coming off a shut-out performance. How much more could you ask for at this point? The only team beating New England this post-season is themselves.
Last Week: 3 Change: +2 Record: 12-4 Next Game: Bye Week
#2 - Denver Broncos
I have respect for their streak as rolling off 11-straight wins in the NFL is no small task. Still, I have a hard time envisioning this team making it 14-straight and hoisting the Lombardi. The first good team they beat all season will be the next team they beat.
Last Week: 4 Change: +2 Record: 13-3 Next Game: Bye Week
#3 - San Francisco 49ers
After a tremendous first half against the Patriots, San Francisco hasn't played the most inspiring ten quarters to end their season. Still, I like them to win the NFC.
Last Week: 2 Change: -1 Record: 11-4-1 Next Game: Bye Week
#4 - Atlanta Falcons
Not a fan of Atlanta tanking down the stretch, especially when they are the team that needs to be playoff-ready the most.
Last Week: 1 Change: -3 Record: 13-3 Next Game: Bye Week
#5 - Green Bay Packers
Will the Vikings upset the Packers in back-to-back weeks? I think not. If it isn't the Niners coming out of the NFC, then my next guess would be the Pack.
Last Week: 5 Change: 0 Record: 11-5 Next Game: vs. Vikings
#6 - Seattle Seahawks
They were a single victory away from a bye-week and a divisional round home game. You put the Seahawks in that situation and there's a good chance they could be New Orleans bound. Having three straight road games, however, makes it much, much less likely.
Last Week: 6 Change: 0 Record: 11-5 Next Game: @ Redskins
#7 - Indianapolis Colts
Don't look now, but the Colts may be able to rid Chuckstrong all the way to the AFC Championship game.
Last Week: 9 Change: +2 Record: 11-5 Next Game: @ Ravens
#8 - Houston Texans
This team has not looked very good for about six straight weeks. I don't like their odds of turning things around in the playoffs.
Last Week: 7 Change: -1 Record: 12-4 Next Game: vs. Bengals
#9 - Washington Redskins
RGIII leading the Skins to the playoffs is a great story. However, I'm not sure this team is ready to hang with the NFC Elite.
Last Week: 8 Change: -1 Record: 10-6 Next Game: vs. Seahawks
#10 - Cincinnati Bengals
The Bengals have a hot hand and could slow down Houston's offense. I'm just not so sure that Andy Dalton will be able to lay the wood on the Houston D.
Last Week: 11 Change: 0 Record: 10-6 Next Game: @ Texans
#11 - Baltimore Ravens
You would think that Ray Lewis should win his final home game in Baltimore, but the eyeball test the past 5-6 weeks makes me think the Colts are the better team right now.
Last Week: 12 Change: +1 Record: 10-6 Next Game: vs. Colts
#12 - Minnesota Vikings
Usually, the 12th team at this point of the season is on the outside looking in, while an inferior team sneaks into the playoffs by virtue of a weak division. This year, however, I think the Top 12 teams all made the playoffs. Congrats to Minnesota.
Last Week: N/A Change: N/A Record: 10-6 Next Game: @ Packers