There are plenty of questions left to be answered heading into the final week of the 2012 NFL regular season. Which side will finish as the AFC’s best? Will it be Washington or Dallas who wins the NFC East? Is there any way the defending champs can actually qualify for the upcoming postseason? One thing seems very clear; either KC or Jacksonville is finishing at the bottom of regular season NFL power rankings next week.
2012 Week 17 NFL power rankings
32. Kansas City Chiefs (2-13): Covering the spread was about the only gift KC could give to their fans. Better than nothing, I guess.
31. Jacksonville Jaguars (2-13): Another team that deserves a pat on the back merely for not getting blown out at home in Week 16.
30. Detroit Lions (4-11): Calvin Johnson making history is the only real bright spot of Detroit’s campaign. 2013 can’t come soon enough for the disappointing Lions.
29. Philadelphia Eagles (4-11): Normally I’d be upset about the Eagles doing my Giants no favors, but it’s not as if it would have mattered, anyway.
28. Oakland Raiders (4-11): Oakland’s offense is one of several that needs to hit the reset button this winter. A new pass defense wouldn’t hurt the Raiders, either.
27. Buffalo Bills (5-10): Being the worst team in the AFC East is especially noteworthy in 2012, and not at all for a good reason.
26. Arizona Cardinals (5-10): Story remains the same for the Cards: This team desperately needs a QB. I hear Mark Sanchez is going to need a new job
25. New York Jets (6-9): In the time it takes you to read this sentence, Greg McElroy will have been sacked; twice.
24. Tennessee Titans (5-10): When a coach’s team gives up 55 unanswered points in a December game, he deserves to lose his job. That was as heartless a performance as we’ve seen this season.
23. Cleveland Browns (5-10): That win streak earlier in the year was fun. Time to shut Brandon Weeden and Trent Richardson down for the season.
22. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (6-9): Greg Schiano still has plenty to learn, as does his team. A potential six-game losing streak to close things out is no way to build for 2013.
21. Miami Dolphins (7-8): New England still has something to play for, so an 8-8 finish does seem unlikely. Still, an overall record of 7-9 would be an impressive feat for this team.
20. Pittsburgh Steelers (7-8): Too harsh to rank Pittsburgh this low in power rankings? I’d say not, as these are not your standard Steelers.
19. San Diego Chargers (6-9): There was once a time when 7-9 would have been good enough to win the AFC West. Too bad that darn Peyton Manning had to go and ruin everything.
18. New York Giants (8-7): Big Blue took December collapses to a new level this holiday season. Truth be told, I don’t even want to see this Giants side in the postseason.
17. Carolina Panthers (6-9): It really is a shame that the Panthers got hot a few weeks too late. Imagine if Carolina hadn’t lost to TB and KC in the past month.
16. St. Louis Rams (7-7-1): Jeff Fisher has to be a COTY candidate, even if the Rams get blown out at Seattle this coming Sunday. St. Louis will contend for a playoff spot next year.
15. New Orleans Saints (7-8): It won’t have any impact on the upcoming postseason, but this weekend’s Carolina at New Orleans game could be very fun to watch.
14. Chicago Bears (9-6): Facing two must-win games in order to keep their playoff dreams alive, the Bears took care of business at Arizona. A true postseason team beats a lackluster Lions team in Week 17.
13. Dallas Cowboys (8-7): How Jerry’s Boys rebound from a heartbreaking loss could determine more than just Dallas’ postseason future. I’ll believe the coaching staff is actually safe when I see them with the franchise this spring.
12. Minnesota Vikings (9-6): The Vikes won without Adrian Peterson rushing for 100 yards. That’s no small deal. They will now host what is essentially a playoff game against division rivals Green Bay.
11. Cincinnati Bengals (9-6): Cincy has quietly become the second best team in the AFC North, if only for this season. They’ll have to be road warriors if they are to put together a significant run next month.
10. Baltimore Ravens (10-5): Is Baltimore really “back,” or are the Giants just that bad? We shall see.
9. Washington Redskins (9-6): The ‘Skins don’t rise in power rankings despite winning because they haven’t yet guaranteed themselves anything other than a home “playoff game” against Dallas. I like them to win that game and thus get a big bump in next week’s list.
8. San Francisco 49ers (10-4-1): They’re still favorites to win the division, but that fact doesn’t erase that they were humbled in front of a national TV audience last Sunday night.
7. Indianapolis Colts (10-5): Indy may have more promise for the immediate future than any other team in the NFL. Andrew Luck might not be ROTY, but I’m honestly not sure I’d take any other rookie QB over him right now.
6. Houston Texans (12-3): It’s been awhile since the Texans looked like champions. Hopefully for them, this is merely a dry spell for a team that has the talent to win it all.
5. Seattle Seahawks (10-5): Their offense is clicking, and their defense is playing well enough to stop any offense in the league.
4. New England Patriots (11-4): The Pats didn’t need to be at their best at Jacksonville, but there’s no denying that they haven’t looked like world beaters in their last eight quarters of football.
3. Atlanta Falcons (13-2): The NFC road to the Super Bowl will go through Atlanta. That’s a job done, at least for now.
2. Green Bay Packers (11-4): I still see Green Bay as the most underrated, and maybe the most dangerous, team in the league. Aaron Rodgers would be a MVP candidate if not for Peyton and Peterson.
1. Denver Broncos (12-3): The hottest team in the NFL and kings of all power rankings still need one more win to secure home field throughout the playoffs. A home game against KC shouldn’t trouble Denver too much.