Happy New Year, everyone! Now that all 17 weeks of the regular season have been completed, it's time for the final Top 12. It's been a fairly crazy season with no team really dominating and lots of teams flying up and down the board.
Overall, six of our Top 12 managed to make it onto this list after starting the season here as well - Seattle, San Fran, New England, Denver, Green Bay, and Cincinnati. The six who are no longer with us? Dallas, Baltimore, Chicago, Washington, Atlanta, and Houston. At least the first three that I just listed were potential playoff teams as of Week 17. As for the other three... yikes! Just goes to show that you can never predict what will happen in the NFL.
Eleven of our twelve will continue onto the post-season. Philly dropped off the board as a result of Aaron Rodger's return catapulting the Packers back into the Top 12. Arizona is the lone team on the list without a playoff dance partner.
#1 - Seattle Seahawks
The Seahawks have been the best team in the league seemingly from start to finish. That being said, they're going to face two brutal tests to make it to New York. Don't be surprised if it's someone else representing the NFC in New Jersey.
Last Week: 1 Change: +1 Record: 13-3 Next Game: Bye Week
#2 - San Francisco 49ers
San Fran finished strong, knocking off the determined Cardinals. If the Niners and Seahawks meet in the playoffs, it will be a battle for the ages.
Last Week: 4 Change: +2 Record: 12-4 Next Game: @ Packers
#3 - New England Patriots
The X-factor for the Patriots: LeGarrette Blount. He has come on strong the past two weeks and could run this team to the Super Bowl.
Last Week: 3 Change: 0 Record: 12-4 Next Game: Bye Week
#4 - Carolina Panthers
With so much on the line, a mere 1-point victory over the lowly Falcons did little to inspire confidence in this team moving forward.
Last Week: 1 Change: -3 Record: 12-4 Next Game: Bye Week
#5 - Denver Broncos
They put on a clinic against the Raiders, but whoever comes to Mile High next weekend won't already be checked out and on vacation.
Last Week: 5 Change: 0 Record: 13-3 Next Game: Bye Week
#6 - Indianapolis Colts
Nobody's picking them, but you can't count out a team with a solid QB. The Colts have one.
Last Week: 6 Change: 0 Record: 11-5 Next Game: vs. Chiefs
#7 - Cincinnati Bengals
I don't see Andy Dalton winning two road playoff games, if they survive the charging Chargers on Sunday.
Last Week: 7 Change: 0 Record: 11-5 Next Game: vs. Chargers
#8 - New Orleans Saints
It will be four straight road games to the Lombardi for the Saints. At Philly will be the easiest of the four, without a doubt.
Last Week: 9 Change: +1 Record: 11-5 Next Game: @ Eagles
#9 - Arizona Cardinals
Nothing but respect for the heart the Cardinals showed down the stretch with the odds stacked highly against them. Almost every year there's a Top 12 team on the outside looking in. It's unfortunate.
Last Week: 8 Change: -1 Record: 10-6 Next Game: None
#10 - Green Bay Packers
They fell off the Top 12 when Rodgers went down. Now that he's back, so are the Pack. I have major concerns about that defense, though. The Niners will not be an easy first-round draw.
Last Week: N/A Change: N/A Record: 8-7-1 Next Game: vs. 49ers
#11 - San Diego Chargers
The biggest compliment I can pay to San Diego, is that out of the three potential teams, they are the one that I hope ends up going to Mile High. If I were a Broncos fan, I would have real concerns that Philip Rivers and this team could upend Denver on the road again.
Last Week: 12 Change: +1 Record: 9-7 Next Game: @ Bengals
#12 - Kansas City Chiefs
I think the Chiefs peaked a few weeks ago. That may be an understatement when they've followed a 9-0 start with a 2-5 finish. They're going to have a difficult time ending that long playoff-win drought.
Last Week: 10 Change: -2 Record: 11-5 Next Game: vs. Chiefs