1. Falcons: “The 10-2 Falcons have to like their chances with two of their final four games against Carolina.” (Sando)
2. Patriots: “The Patriots look unbeatable at home, which bodes well for the playoffs.” (Clayton)
4. Ravens: “Despite big names, the offense needs to score more consistently to win down the stretch.” (Walker)
19. Texans: “The Texans still have a chance at the playoffs, but Baltimore probably will kill it Monday night.” (Kuharsky)
1. Patriots: “Any questions left? New England’s now beaten Pittsburgh, Indianapolis and the Jets in a four-week span, with a Thanksgiving rout of Detroit sprinkled in. If the defense plays like it did Monday, considering how balanced and potent the offense is, the Patriots may be unstoppable.” - Chris Burke
2. Falcons: “Never count the Atlanta Falcons out! Staring a 10-point deficit in the face with just 10:30 to play on Sunday, Matt Ryan did what he’s done six times this season -- put together a game-winning drive in the fourth quarter or overtime. This team is starting to bring it’s magic out on the road, which isn’t a good thing for the rest of the NFC.” - Knox Bardeen
8. Ravens: “It’s an uphill battle now for Baltimore, which has three straight tough games (at Houston, vs. New Orleans, at Cleveland) before closing with Cincinnati. A playoff spot’s probably a given, but Sunday’s loss likely means the Ravens will be headed on the road in the postseason.” - CB
22. Texans: “Over the last three years, Houston has gone 7-0 at home and 10-4 overall in the month of December. That’s the good news. The bad news is that the Texans have lost five of their last six games and need almost everything to go right for them over the remainder of the schedule. What are the odds of that happening?”
1. New England Patriots: “Given the way New England sliced up Gang Green at the Big Razor Blade on Monday night, I’m feeling pretty good about my decision to move the Patriots atop these here power rankings three weeks ago, when there were other more trendy choices out there, like the Falcons, Jets or even Packers. The stat for me that absolutely defines New England’s dominance in the Belichick era is this: The Patriots still haven’t lost twice to a division opponent in the same season since 2001, the year before realignment. This makes it nine consecutive years that New England will not be swept by anyone in division play. Remarkable.”
2. Atlanta Falcons: “If the Falcons do make their second Super Bowl trip in franchise history, it will complete a cycle of sorts for the NFC South. Since 2002’s realignment, that would be the first of the NFL’s eight divisions to qualify all four of its teams for the Super Bowl. The Bucs and Panthers went in 2002 and 2003, respectively, and the Saints made it last year. No other division even has more than two Super Bowl qualifiers over that same span, and the AFC’s four divisions have just one Super Bowl team each from 2002 on (see above, re: Patriots, Colts, Steelers and Raiders).”
5. Baltimore Ravens: “As much success as they’ve had in his first three seasons on the job, there’s something about John Harbaugh’s Ravens that just can’t stand prosperity. I’m only half kidding when I say I’m starting to believe Baltimore prefers to go the wild-card route in the playoffs, rather than take the easier road that winning the AFC North would bring. They couldn’t beat the Bengals when it mattered last season, and they couldn’t finish off the Steelers on their own home field when they had the chance this season.”
23. Houston Texans: “No wonder the NFL’s not hip to the idea of more expansion any time in the near future. The Browns and Texans are the league’s last two expansion teams, and they’ve made a combined one playoff trip (Cleveland in 2002) in their first 19 seasons of action. Once they both miss the postseason again this year (and they will), it’ll be 1 for 21.”
The Patriots take my number one spot. That’s an easy decision after watching them smash the New York Jets. It’s funny how high the Jets were before Monday and now in most rankings, they don’t even make the top five. They won’t make my top five either. The Patriots are such a dominating force at home and Tom Brady (Uggs and all) looks to be on a mission this season. Losing to the Browns seemed to light a fire in that locker room and they’ve looked dominating ever since.
The second spot has to go to the Falcons. They consistently are good; especially at home, which is most likely where they’ll be all of the playoffs. I don’t think there’s a team they can’t beat right now other than the Patriots.
I unfortunately have to give the third spot to the Steelers and for one reason: they find a way to win every week. Well, I guess Big Ben and Troy Polamalu have something to do with it too, but either way they just win. Even with broken noses, feet and concussions they get it done and, unfortunately for the Ravens, in the fourth quarter most of the times.
As for the Ravens I’m going to look past my bias towards them and give them a sixth ranking. There’s just too many questions on offense for them to be any higher and at this point the Saints and Packers are consistently better. If the Ravens can fix their offense they have the opportunity to be dominating. Guess we’ll have to wait and see.