NFL Power Rankings Week 17: Playoff Picture Comes Into Focus

There really weren't many shocks in week 16 of the NFL season. The Cowboys getting beaten soundly at home by Philly was a mild surprise, but otherwise the main contenders performed as expected. The NFC East and AFC West are still mediocre and will produce a mediocre winner and the Texans continue to look like the easiest out in the first round.

There is some real intrigue happening at the bottom of the rankings this week however. After an entire season with everyone assuming the Colts would get the #1 seed and take Andrew Luck, they suddenly started winning and now find themselves tied at 2 wins with the Rams. Should St. Louis get the #1 seed, that would make for a fascinating draft day.

With that, onto the week 17 power rankings.

1) Green Bay Packers - Locked up the #1 overall seed in the NFC. The only question now is whether they decide to rest starters next week against Detroit. LW (1)

2) New England Patriots - Can lock up the #1 seed in the AFC with a win next week. LW (2)

3) New Orleans Saints - Drew Brees broke Dan Marino's single season yards record last night and kept his team in the hunt for a first round bye. (LW 3)

4) San Francisco 49ers - Need only a win against the lowly Rams to secure a first round bye. (LW 4)

5) Baltimore Ravens - Ravens are still in the hunt for the #1 seed in the AFC, but seem more likely to get that #2 seed and a bye. (LW 5)

6) Pittsburgh Steelers - Yes it was just the Rams, but any time you shut an opponent out in the NFL is a big deal. (LW 7)

7) Detroit Lions - Detroit is humming right now and you would have to think they'd be favored to beat whatever team comes out of the NFC East in the first round. (LW 9)

8) Cincinnati Bengals - Earlier this year I half jokingly said that I wouldn't buy the Bengals as a real playoff contender until they beat the Steelers or Ravens. Now, that's actually become true. They need to beat Baltimore next week to secure the final seed in the AFC. (LW 13)

9) Atlanta Falcons - Falcons were embarrassed in New Orleans last night, which is bad news considering that a trip back there for the first round of the playoffs seems pretty likely. (LW 8)

10) Houston Texans - The Texans hit a low point with their loss to the awful Colts this past week. They look like the easiest out of any playoff team this season. (LW 6)

11) New York Giants - Giants took care of business against the Jets and now only need a win at home against Dallas for a playoff spot. That said, it's hard to trust a team that's lost 5 of it's last 7 to be consistent. (LW 15)

12) Denver Broncos - They will clinch the final AFC playoff spot with a win or Raiders loss, but whether Tim Tebow continues his sharp decline will be what Broncos fans are watching. Four picks for him against the Bills last week. (LW 11)

13) Oakland Raiders - An OT victory over the Chiefs means that the Raiders need a win and a Broncos loss to win the AFC West.. (LW 16)

14) Dallas Cowboys - While Tony Romo's swollen hand will get the coverage, Dallas should be more worried about how the Eagles controlled every other aspect of their game. (LW 10)

15) Philadelphia Eagles - The Eagles are finally playing like everyone expected them to, but it has turned out to be too little too late after a Giants win eliminated them from the playoffs. (LW 19)

16) Tennessee Titans - Here's the Titans crazy playoff scenario. They would clinch the No. 6 seed with a win and a Bengals loss and either a Jets win or both a Broncos win and Raiders win (but not all three). (LW 20)

17) New York Jets - Whipped by the Eagles and Giants in back to back weeks and now need a win plus four other teams to lose for a playoff spot. In other words, they're done. (LW 12)

18) Seattle Seahawks - Eliminated from the playoffs, but can finish the season winning 6 of their last 8 with a win against the Cardinals Sunday.. (LW 17)

19) Arizona Cardinals - John Skelton looked like he was about to lead yet another 4th quarter comeback until early Doucet fell down on what is likely the most embarrassing play of the NFL season. (LW 18)

20) San Diego Chargers - The Chargers resurgence came to a screeching halt thanks to a drubbing from Detroit. Word is that San Diego will clean house after this season. (LW 14)

21) Carolina Panthers - Put a beating on the hapless Bucs and now get a real test in the final weekend against New Orleans. (LW 26)

22) Chicago Bears - The Bears fifth straight loss finally eliminated them from postseason competition. Seems like backup QB will be a priority for Chicago in the offseason. (LW 21)

23) Miami Dolphins - It's really all about evaluation for Miami at this point, who will have a new coach and likely a new QB next season. (LW 22)

24) Buffalo Bills - The Bills ended their seven game losing streak with a blowout win over the Denver Tebows. It was their first win since giving Ryan Fitzpatrick that $59 million deal 8 weeks ago. (LW 25)

25) Kansas City Chiefs - The good feelings after their upset of the Packers are gone after an OT loss to the rival Raiders. (LW 23)

26) Washington Redskins - It's hard to understand these Redskins. They play incredibly hard and beat the Giants on the road one week and then lose at home to the lowly Vikings the next week. (LW 24)

27) Cleveland Browns - Cleveland has failed to score more than 20 points in all but one game this season. (LW 27)

28) Jacksonville Jaguars - The lone bright spot for the Jags this season is that Maurice Jones-Drew is all but a lock to win the NFL rushing title. (LW 28)

29) Minnesota Vikings - They're trying to stay positive about Adrian Peterson being ready for the start of next season, but all of our experience with knee injuries that bad makes that sound like a pipe dream. He probably won't be 100% until 2013. (LW 30)

30) Indianapolis Colts - Two straight wins mean they're dangerously close to losing the #1 pick and Andrew Luck. The Rams could get that pick and either take Luck or ransom it for a huge return. (LW 31)

31) Tampa Bay Buccaneers - They've now lost 9 straight, which is the longest streak in the NFL. They don't have the worst record, but it's hard to find any team playing worse right now. (LW 29)

32) St. Louis Rams - If the Rams do get the #1 pick, would they take Luck and deal Bradford? After this awful season, you have to think that's a possibility. (LW 32)

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