Some divisions were wrapped up, while the NFC East and AFC North were blown wide open. Who is on the rise and who is asking Santa for a redo this year?
Let’s count them down from 32 to your number one team heading into week 16.
#32 Kansas City Chiefs – At 2-12, the Chiefs and their fans are looking forward to April when they hear, “And with the first pick in the 2013 NFL Draft, the Kansas City Chiefs select…”
#31 Jacksonville Jaguars – The Jags are the only other team that seems to want the opportunity to battle it out for the first pick of next year’s draft with the Chiefs. At 2-12 and two games left, who knows who will come out on top of this battle.
#30 Philadelphia Eagles – The Eagles are 4-10, but after watching them play all year, many are surprised that they have managed to pull out four wins. The team looked like they were going to challenge the Bengals on Thursday night. Instead, they challenged themselves and turned the ball over five times. Unfortunately, they took another hit in front of the 100 fans that still care to come to the games at Lincoln Financial.
#29 Oakland Raiders – The Raiders won! The Raiders won! They shut out a team, albeit it was a Chiefs team, it was still a real NFL team. Good Job Oakland; 4-10 is better than 3-11, right?
#28 Detroit Lions – The Lions are 4-10 after a loss to the Cardinals. You heard me right; the Arizona Cardinals. If it isn’t too late already, the Lions need to step it up before personnel changes are forced to be made.
#27 San Diego Chargers – San Diego finds themselves sitting at 5-9. They were massacred at home by Cam Newton and DeAngelo Williams. Enough said.
#26 Arizona Cardinals – Christmas came a little early for Cardinals fans. Just when everyone thought the door had closed on Arizona for the rest of the season, the team put up 38 points in the win over the Lions. Will they play spoiler next week in Chicago?
#25 Tennessee Titans – The Titans are 5-9 after their win on Monday Night Football. Though they still need to improve a lot before next year, Tennessee made a fool out of Mark Sanchez and the Jets, which isn’t a hard task.
#24 New York Jets – At 6-8, the Jets don’t know if they are coming or going this season. They made some questionable coaching decisions on Monday Night and Mark Sanchez didn’t make matters any better. Gang Green is officially shut out of the playoffs and can turn the lights off on this season.
#23 Buffalo Bills – The 5-9 Bills had a horrible week 15 in NFL play, getting trampled by the Seahawks 50-17. The once hopeful Bills, are just another casualty of the 2012 season.
#22 Cleveland Browns – Cleveland had every opportunity to win out over the Redskins and their second string quarterback, but costly turnovers by their own rookie quarterback cost them the game. Their record now stands at 5-9.
#21 Tampa Bay Buccaneers – The Bucs are 6-8 and must win to stay alive after laying a giant goose egg on the road. They were shut out in New Orleans and their once promising season is quickly falling away after losing their past four matchups.
#20 Carolina Panthers – Carolina has turned it on in the last leg of the season. They are now 5-9 and have won three of their last four, heading into games with a struggling Oakland team and an inconsistent New Orleans team. Can they win out and prove to their fans there is hope on the East Coast?
#19 St. Louis Rams – The Rams are 6-7-1 after allowing Adrian Peterson to run all over them in week 15. St. Louis still has a shot to get into the playoffs, but it is a long one that requires them to win out in the remaining two games on their schedule and keep their fingers crossed for four other teams to get knocked out for the count.
#18 Miami Dolphins – Miami took care of business last week, improving to 6-8 and keeping themselves in playoff talks. The team has been up and down all season, but if they want a chance, they will have to get the “W” over Buffalo at home and New England in Foxboro.
#17 New Orleans Saints – The 6-8 Saints made the Buccaneers walk the plank in their 41-0 rout of Tampa Bay in week 15. Brees and the boys looked back to form with the Bounty case on the players closed. Is this team for real?
#16 Pittsburgh Steelers – What is going on in Pittsburgh? The Steelers are 7-7 and have dropped four of their last five, taking one on the chin last week in overtime due to a turnover. Ben Roethlisberger is letting everyone know how unhappy he is with Haley’s play calling again, pointing his finger at the new coordinator in the loss. If they can’t get the win over Cincinnati this week, their season will be over.
#15 Minnesota Vikings – The Vikes are 8-6 and are currently in possession of a playoff spot, but their next two matchups could prove costly for Minnesota. They won’t be able to rely as much on A.P.’s legs against the Texans run defense.
#14 New York Giants – The 8-6 Giants were shut out by the Falcons last week 34-0. The G-Men have only gotten two wins in their last six matchups and are losing ground fast in the playoff picture. If they don’t turn it around, they will be watching the Super Bowl from home in February.
#13 Chicago Bears – Remember when the Bears were being talked about as early Super Bowl contenders? Me either. Time has flown and Chicago has been as inconsistent as ever, losing five of their last six games and slowly inching themselves out of playoff contention at 8-6. They do have good matchups against the Cards and Lions to end the season. Can they finish on a high note?
#12 Baltimore Ravens – The Ravens are 9-5 and have lost their last three games. Their age and offensive flaws have been exposed over the last few weeks and this team is in danger of losing their AFC North lead. Their week 16 matchup doesn’t look good for the team to get any reprieve either.
#11 Dallas Cowboys – The 8-6 Cowboys are turning the heat up in the NFC East and the NFL in the final stretch of the season. Dallas has put themselves in the position to possibly take the division title rights and steal a playoff berth. They are matching up well against their opponents week after week.
#10 Washington Redskins – The Skins are 8-6 and leading their division in the hunt for the NFC East title. Even in uncertainty last week with their starting quarterback out, the team and Kirk Cousins stepped up and got a big win over the Cleveland Browns. They kept their playoff hopes alive as they head into a great matchup this week against the Philadelphia Eagles.
#9 Cincinnati Bengals – Cincinnati is 8-6 and with a little help from their division rivals, they were able to take sole ownership of the last AFC playoff spot. The Bengals found themselves in a pickle at the half mark in the game last week, but the defense came up big to force the offense to get the big win over the Eagles on the Thursday night. They are on the road for a head to head matchup against the Steelers for the playoff spot and possible AFC North title game against Baltimore. Will the Bengals drop the ball or get another big win in week 16?
#8 Indianapolis Colts – The Colts lost last week to the Texans and are now 9-5 at the end of the season. Indy faces the Chiefs next week before going on to end the season against Houston. This is a huge improvement from last year at this time.
#7 Seattle Seahawks – Seattle is 9-5 after routing the Bills 50-17. Enough said.
#6 Green Bay Packers – This team continues to piece it together even through all of their injuries. They took the NFC North title last week in their win over the Chicago Bears and have a favorable matchup next week against Tennessee. Go Pack Go.
#5 Denver Broncos – They won in Baltimore for the first time in club history and move on to 11-3. Peyton Manning is putting up a good argument for comeback player of the year as he orchestrates this offense to win, after win, after win, after win.
#4 Atlanta Falcons – The 12-2 Falcons shut out the Giants 34-0, but lost two weeks ago to the Carolina Panthers. I am having a hard time allowing Atlanta to recover from that loss. So number four it is.
#3 Houston Texans – At 12-2, the Texans got a big win over the Colts last week, but were blown out by New England the week before. They are still a tough team, but three is as high as they can go right now.
#2 New England Patriots – The Pats didn’t stay at the top for long. The 10-4 New England team had won their past seven matchups before last week’s loss. Not only did they win, they dominated teams all over the field. Last week, they had a terrible first half against the 49ers, but Brady orchestrated a comeback, only to lose in the final minutes of the game by a score of 41-34.
#1 San Francisco 49ers – We have another new number one! The 49ers are 10-3-1 after taking New England to school in their own house. Can San Fran hold on to the top spot after their big matchup next week against the surging Seahawks?