1. Seattle Seahawks – This team boasts many strong spots: A tough secondary, a quarterback who can improvise big-plays, and the loudest home fans in the NFL. I wouldn’t be shocked at all to see them in New York in about a month.
2. Denver Broncos – A legendary quarterback at the helm. Let’s see if this year if different for Peyton Manning, who has had an unimpressive playoff history.
3. Carolina Panthers – A tough defense will look to continue to help carry the Panthers in the playoffs.
4. New England Patriots – After a long tremulous year, Tom Brady and company are back where they are most comfortable: The postseason.
5. Green Bay Packers – The team has been rejuvenated with the return of quarterback, Aaron Rodgers. Green Bay is dangerous again.
6. Indianapolis Colts – Andrew Luck’s second-straight postseason berth. Last year he was one-and-done, maybe this year will be his year.
7. San Francisco 49ers – The 49ers will have a tough road to travel to make it back to the game’s biggest stage for a second-straight year.
8. Philadelphia Eagles – The Eagles will look to keep momentum on their side as they host the New Orleans Saints.
9. Kansas City Chiefs – It’s time now for the Chiefs to show if they are a true playoff team or not.
10. Cincinnati Bengals – A convincing win over the defending Super Bowl Champions to close out the regular season has helped this team’s validity.
11. New Orleans Saints – This team has had success in postseasons past. However, this year one glaring thing sticks out: The Saints road record. Hopefully they don’t take that with them to Philadelphia.
12. San Diego Chargers – The Chargers fought tooth-and-nail to make it to the playoffs…against Kansas City bench warmers. They also had a lot of lucky breaks. Let’s see if they can pull a full 60-minute game out on their own merit.
This article was written by David John.
1) Seattle Seahawks (12-2) – Arguably one of the best secondaries in the NFL had a field day with Eli Manning, picking him off 5-times.
2) Denver Broncos (11-3) – In the Broncos loss, the defense still showed as the team’s weak link. The team will look to bounce back against the hapless Houston Texans.
3) San Francisco 49ers (10-4) – The 49ers won big against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, keeping the playoff hopes alive and well.
4) Kansas City Chiefs (11-3) – For the second-straight week, the Chiefs put up points in bunches.
5) New England Patriots (10-4) – Tom Brady and company lost late against a division rival. Let’s see how they bounce back in Baltimore against the defending champions.
6) New Orleans Saints (10-4) – The road woes for this team continues. The team’s only touchdown didn’t come until the fourth-quarter.
7) Carolina Panthers (10-4) – A team exceeding all expectations, as they inch closer to first-place in its division.
8) Indianapolis Colts (9-5) – The Colts had a convincing win against a division rival, only giving up three-points.
9) Chicago Bears (8-6) – With Cutler back at quarterback, the team continued its win-streak, and now at first-place in the NFC North.
10) Miami Dolphins (8-6) – The Dolphins got a must-win against the New England Patriots. The team wraps up its season with games all against division opponents.
San Diego’s 27-20 win over Denver made them 7-7 and still postseason-eligible, while Denver (11-3) is now deadlocked with Kansas City for the AFC’s best W-L mark. Ryan Matthews rushed for 127 yards and a TD, while Philip Rivers and Keenan Allen teamed up for two scores.
Kirk Cousins threw for 381 yards and 3 TDs, but seven turnovers doomed the Redskins in a 27-26 loss to Atlanta. A failed two-point conversion attempt with 18 seconds remaining sealed the win for the Falcons (4-10). Cousins, subbing for Robert Griffin III, was impressive other than the turnovers as Washington fell to 3-11.
Jay Cutler threw for three TDs, while Matt Forte topped 100 yards rushing for the third straight game as Chicago topped Cleveland 38-31 to improve to 8-6 and a one-game lead in the NFC North. Trailing 31-17 as the fourth quarter began, the Bears roared back, dropping the Browns to 4-10.
Andrew Luck’s two TD passes provided all the offense the Colts needed and Indy’s defense throttled the Texans in a 25-3 win to improve to 9-5, dealing Houston their 12th straight loss. NFL sacks leader Robert Mathis and teammates got to Houston QB Case Keenum four times for the Colts.
A dramatic last minute Miami defensive stand held off Tom Brady and the Patriots for a 24-20 victory. Ryan Tannehill’s three TD passes led the Dolphins (8-6) into a temporary lead over Baltimore for the final playoff slot. The loss dropped New England to 10-4 but they still have a two-game lead in the AFC East.
Trailing by 23 points at halftime, Green Bay, led by Matt Flynn’s four TD passes, overcame Dallas with a thrilling 37-36 win, improving to 7-6-1 and kept their own postseason aspirations breathing. Tony Romo’s two late-game INTs let the Packers back into the game, dropping the Cowboys to 7-7.
Minnesota rallied behind Matt Cassell’s two TD passes to end Philadelphia’s five-game winning streak, 48-30. Playing without Adrian Peterson, the Vikings prevented the Eagles from tightening their NFC East lead with the win, improving them to 4-9-1 while dropping Philly to 8-6. Nick Foles had 428 yards passing for the Eagles, who maintain a one game division lead over Dallas.
The 49ers won their fourth straight, improving to 10-4 behind Colin Kaepernick’s steady guidance in a 33-14 victory over Tampa Bay. The ‘Niners defense held the Bucs to 183 total yards, while Frank Gore, Vernon Davis and Michael Crabtree all made big offensive contributions.
Jets WR Santonio Holmes’ comments regarding Carolina’s secondary as a “weak link,” helped to motivate Captain Munnerlyn and his Panther teammates and helped the team to a 30-20 win over New York. The win moved Carolina (10-4) back into a first-place tie in the NFC South. Munnerlyn’s INT return for a TD sealed the victory.
Two uncharacteristic first quarter INTs by Drew Brees led to St. Louis scores and the Rams went on to shut down the New Orleans offense for a 27-16 victory, dropping the Saints into a first-place NFC South tie. Zac Stacy shredded New Orleans for 133 yards rushing while the Ram defense held Saint rushers to 61 yards on the ground.
QB EJ Manuel tossed three TD passes to lead Buffalo to a 27-20 win at Jacksonville, upping the Bills to 5-9 while dropping the Jags to 4-10. Buffalo ran for 198 yards in the victory, controlling the clock with Fred Jackson and C.J. Spiller combining for 147 yards for the Bills.
For the second straight week, Kansas City’s offense exploded, this time racking up a season-high 56 points in a 56-31 romp over Oakland, improving to 11-3. The Chiefs defense forced seven Raider turnovers, while Alex Smith threw for a career-best five TDs, four to RB Jamaal Charles, who also scored on a 1-yard run.
Combining rock-solid defense (five INTs, allowing 25 yards rushing) with a steady Russell Wilson-led offense, Seattle improved to 12-2 with a 23-0 whitewashing of the New York Giants. The Seahawks, winning their sixth road game of the season, were led on defense by Richard Sherman, who picked off Eli Manning twice.
After blowing a 17-point fourth-quarter lead, Arizona recovered in overtime to win their sixth in their last seven with a 37-34 win over Tennessee, improving to 9-5 and still hopeful for an NFC Wild Card slot. Jay Feely’s 41-yard FG capped the victory, offsetting a four TD, 402-yard performance from Tennessee QB Ryan Fitzpatrick.
In a sluggish cold-weather performance on both sides, Pittsburgh pulled out a 30-20 victory at home over Cincinnati. Antonio Brown’s two TDs and sloppy execution by Cincinnati highlighted the game, which saw the Steelers jump out to a 24-0 lead before Cincinnati bounced back.
1. Denver Broncos (11-2) – Despite being down going into half-time, the Broncos put up a plethora of points in the second and won big against the Tennessee Titans.
2. Seattle Seahawks (11-2) – The team was handed its second loss on Sunday, but the road to the Super Bowl still looks like it will be going through Seattle. I expect the Seahawks to come out of this game unscathed.
3. New Orleans Saints (10-3) – New Orleans won big in its division game against the Carolina Panthers. The game was in New Orleans, which brings back up the questions surrounding the unit’s performance on the road.
4. New England Patriots (10-3) – The Patriots came back to win after being down most of the game. It was a costly win though, as the unit lost Rob Gronkowski for the remainder of the season.
5. Carolina Panthers (9-4) – The team didn’t respond well at all to the challenge of the New
Orleans Saints in the Super Dome. Granted this is no easy task for any team.
6. San Francisco 49ers (9-4) – The 49ers had an efficient day against the tough Seattle Seahawks. Let’s see how the unit finishes out 2013 season.
7. Kansas City Chiefs (10-3) – The Chiefs broke its three-game losing streak with a lopsided win on Sunday. However, it was against a team struggling bad, in the Washington Redskins.
8. Philadelphia Eagles (8-5) – The Eagles offense continues to roll. This time it was the ground game that helped the team get the W.
9. Cincinnati Bengals (9-4) – The Bengals had another impressive game in front of its home crowd. The Bengals lead in the AFC North continues to grow.
10. Chicago Bears (7-6) – The Bears routed the Dallas Cowboys, especially through the air.
The day after his Texans lost their eleventh straight, head coach Gary Kubiak was relieved of his duties and Wade Phillips was named as interim coach. Jacksonville’s 27-20 victory was the third straight for the Jaguars (4-9) and fourth in their last five games. Chad Henne’s two TD passes and an opportunistic defense led the Jags, while Houston, which lost their eighth game by seven points or less, fell to 2-11.
The Bengals pulled out a 42-28 win over Indianapolis, with Andy Dalton throwing for three TDs. Cincinnati improved to 9-4 and the loss dropped the Colts to 8-5. Andrew Luck threw for four TDs in the loss for the Colts, who still clinched the AFC South when Tennessee lost.
Green Bay snapped a five-game winless streak with a 22-21 victory at home over Atlanta. The victory kept the Packers (6-6-1) playoff hopes alive while compounding Atlanta’s (3-10) season-long misery. Matt Flynn’s 258 passing yards led the Packers.
A questionable pass interference penalty allowed New England to pull out a 27-26 comeback win over the Browns, improving to 10-3 and clinched a playoff berth. TE Rob Gronkowski suffered a season-ending knee injury.
In a driving snow storm, the Eagles pulled out a 34-20 win over turnover-prone Detroit, erupting for 28 fourth-quarter points, led by LeSean McCoy’s 217 rushing yards and two scores to improve to 8-5. McCoy set a franchise record for rushing yards in a single game, offsetting two kick return TDs by Detroit’s Jeremy Ross. The loss dropped the Lions to 7-6 but still a half-game ahead of Chicago in the NFC North.
The New York Jets improved to 6-7 and kept their slim postseason hopes alive with a 37-27 win over Oakland. The win snapped a three-game losing streak and was the team’s highest point total of the season. Geno Smith’s first-quarter TD pass was his first since Week 7.
Matt Prater’s record-setting 64-yard FG at the end of the first half energized Denver, which erupted for 31 second-half points to demolish Tennessee 51-28 and clinched a playoff berth for the 11-2 Broncos as Peyton Manning threw for 397 yards and four TDs.
In a wild finish, Joe Flacco’s TD pass to Marlon Brown gave Baltimore (7-6) a 29-26 victory over Minnesota and kept the defending Super Bowl champion’s playoff hopes alive. With the Ravens holding a 7-6 lead going into the final quarter, the two teams exploded for a combined 42 points in the final 15 minutes. Minnesota’s Adrian Peterson suffered a foot injury, with an MRI scheduled for Monday to determine the severity of the injury.
Ryan Tannehill’s three TD passes in snowy weather led the Dolphins to a 34-28 victory over Pittsburgh, keeping the 7-6 Dolphins in the hunt for a Wild Card berth while all but eliminating the Steelers from contention despite Ben Roethlisberger’s 349 yards and three TD passes.
Led by a ferocious defense, Tampa Bay overwhelmed Buffalo for a 27-6 win on Sunday, leaving both teams with 4-9 W-L marks. Tampa Bay intercepted Buffalo’s EJ Manuel four times and sacked him seven times. Despite throwing for only 90 yards, Mike Glennon connected for two TD passes.
Colin Kaepernick’s clutch play helped his 49ers to a win over division rival Seattle, 19-17, with Phil Dawson’s 22-yard FG providing the winning margin. The victory improved San Francisco’s Wild Card chances, while the Seahawks, coming off a resounding romp over New Orleans, had a seven-game winning streak snapped.
Philip Rivers and the Chargers eliminated the Giants from playoff contention with a 37-14 victory while keeping their own slim postseason hopes alive. Rivers’ three TD passes, including two to Keenan Allen, upped their record to 6-7, while the Giants, who opened the season at 0-6 before winning five of their next six, fell to 5-8.
With their fifth win in six games, Arizona remained solidly in contention for an NFC Wild Card berth with a 30-10 romp over St. Louis. Carson Palmer threw for 269 yards and a TD for the Cardinals (8-5), who snapped an eight-game winless streak versus NFC West opponents.
Kansas City snapped a three-game losing streak by demolishing the Washington Redskins 45-10 on the ‘Skins home field Sunday, blowing out to a 31-0 lead. The Chiefs improved to 10-3 by recording six sacks and limiting Washington to 65 yards rushing. KC’s Jamaal Charles gashed the ‘Skins for 151 yards and two TDs.
After a sluggish first quarter, Drew Brees riddled Carolina with short and intermediate passes to help the Saints to a 31-13 Sunday night victory and a one-game lead in the NFC South. Carolina’s franchise-best eight-game winning streak was snapped, but they still remain in great shape for a postseason berth with a 9-4 record.
1. Seattle Seahawks (11-1) – The Seahawks primetime matchup against the New Orleans Saints is a scary sign of things to come for other NFC playoff teams that may have to make the trip to Seattle.
2. Denver Broncos (10-2) – Peyton Manning found a soft-spot in the Kansas City Chiefs secondary, hitting Eric Decker for multiple scores through the air. The team is the sole leader in the AFC West.
3. Carolina Panthers (9-3) – Cam Newton continues to help his team put points on the board, and the defense makes sure no one else can.
4. New England Patriots (9-3) – It seemed like an upset was imminent. Then, Tom Brady went to being Tom Brady, and led his team back into the win column.
5. San Francisco 49ers (8-4) – The 49ers passing attack was in full force in the last win. I also believe its defense is the most formidable for upcoming NFC playoff opposition.
6. New Orleans Saints (9-3) – The Saints road woes showed-up again in Seattle. Then again, that’s a hard place for any team to play.
7. Kansas City Chiefs (9-3) – The team blew a cushy lead against the Denver Broncos, and have now lost three-straight.
8. Philadelphia Eagles (7-5) – Nick Foles came out of the BYE week and picked up right where he left off. His touchdown and no interception streak continues, as the Eagles are starting to look primed for a playoff run.
9. Cincinnati Bengals (8-4) – The Bengals won all three phases of the game in a tough road challenge against the San Diego Chargers.
10. Detroit Lions (7-5) – The onslaught of offensive talent is starting to present itself as the season goes on.
Detroit snapped a nine-game Thanksgiving Day losing streak with a 40-10 romp over Green Bay behind Matthew Stafford’s three TD passes, Reggie Bush’s 182 yards of offense and an anemic Packer offense (126 total yards). The Lions sacked Matt Flynn seven times in improving to 7-5 while dropping Green Bay to 5-6-1.
Trailing 21-14 at halftime, Dallas dominated the second half to up their record to 7-5 with a 31-24 Thanksgiving Day victory over the 4-8 Oakland Raiders. DeMarco Murray’s three TDs led the Cowboys, while their defense held the Raiders to 50 yards rushing.
The Steelers and Ravens resumed their fierce rivalry on Thanksgiving night, with Baltimore pulling out a 22-20 win to improve to 6-6 while dropping Pittsburgh to 5-7. The Steelers failed on a potential game-tying two-point conversion with a minute remaining to clinch the win for the host Ravens, who got five FGs from Justin Tucker.
Blair Walsh’s 34-yard FG in OT clinched a 23-20 NFC North win over Chicago, improving Minnesota to 3-8-1 and making the Bears 6-6. Adrian Peterson rushed for 211 yards and helped to offset big games from Chicago’s Josh McCown (355 yards, two TD passes) and WR Alshon Jeffrey (12 catches, 249 yards, two TDs).
Behind Tom Brady’s 371 yards and two TD passes, New England improved to 9-3 with a tougher-than-expected 34-31 win over Houston. Julian Edelman and Rob Gronkowski combined for 15 catches and 228 yards against the Texans, who lost their tenth straight game after opening at 2-0.
Despite an overall sluggish performance, the Indianapolis Colts withstood AFC South foe Tennessee on Sunday by a 22-14 score, improving them to 8-4 and increasing their division lead to three games. Adam Vinatieri booted five FGs to provide all the offense needed in dropping the Titans to 5-7.
Jacksonville won for the third time in four games when Chad Henne and Cecil Shorts hooked up on a 20-yard scoring play with 40 seconds remaining to give the Jags a 32-28 victory over host Cleveland, despite big performances from Cleveland’s Brandon Weeden and Josh Gordon. Jacksonville was helped by four Browns turnovers.
The red-hot Carolina Panthers won their franchise-record eighth straight with a 27-6 victory over Tampa Bay, improving to 9-3, setting up a Week 14 showdown with New Orleans. The Panthers defense held the Bucs to 206 total yards and sacked QB Mike Glennon five times. Cam Newton passed for two scores and rushed for another for Carolina, which hasn’t lost since October 6th.
Nick Foles threw three TD passes, giving him 19 on the season (with zero INTs) to help the Eagles to a 24-21 win over Arizona, which had won four straight. The victory kept the Eagles tied with Dallas atop the NFC East. Carson Palmer threw for 302 yards for the Cardinals, who fell to 7-5.
Ryan Tannehill and Brian Hartline teamed up for two TDs and a stifling Dolphin defense limited the Jets to 177 total yards as Miami improved to 6-6 and still alive for an AFC Wild Card berth. The Dolphins employed a ball-control attack against New York, who dropped to 5-7.
The 49ers used a strong aerial performance from Kaepernick, Boldin, Davis and Crabtree to zip past fellow NFC West rival St. Louis by a 23-13 score on Sunday, improving to 8-4 while dropping the Rams to 5-7. San Francisco sacked Kellen Clemens four times and solidified their NFC wild card hopes.
Atlanta needed overtime to squeeze past Buffalo in Toronto by a 34-31 score to capture their third win in what’s been a disastrous 2013 season. Matt Bryant’s 36-yard FG provided the winning margin as Matt Ryan teamed up with Roddy White for 10 catches and Steven Jackson rushed for two TDs against the 4-8 Bills.
AFC North-leading Cincinnati improved to 8-4 with a hard-fought 17-10 road victory over San Diego behind Andy Dalton’s steady guidance. The Bengals forced three Charger turnovers and shut down the San Diego passing game in the second half in dealing the ‘Bolts (5-7) a serious blow to their postseason hopes.
Peyton Manning (403 yards, five TDs), Montee Ball (117 yards rushing) and Eric Decker (eight catches, 174 yards, four TDs) were the big performers for Denver as they held on for a 35-28 road win over Kansas City, dealing the Chiefs (9-3) a third consecutive defeat after opening at 9-0. The 10-2 Broncos gashed KC’s defense for 535 yards in the win.
The visiting New York Giants won for the fifth time in six games, keeping their slim playoff hopes alive with a 24-17 road win over Washington behind Eli Manning’s solid performance. The Giants were also helped by Justin Tuck’s four sacks and several critical penalties committed by the Redskins (3-9).
1. Seattle Seahawks (10-1) – The Seahawks are the only team with double-digit wins so far. However, some off-field issues may cost one of the league’s most dominate secondary a player.
2. New England Patriots (8-3) – The team was shut-out in the first half, but the team told another tale in the second. This team will only be getting stronger, as Tom Brady and Rob Gronkowski re-build their chemistry.
3. New Orleans Saints (9-2) – The Saints won in a big divisional game. The offense continues to get better too. Especially when Jimmy Graham gets his mits on the ball.
4. Denver Broncos (9-2) – The Broncos blew a 24-point lead in it match-up against the New England Patriots. Peyton Manning also had a pedestrian day throwing, something he is known for when the weather turns cold.
5. Carolina Panthers (8-3) – One of the biggest surprises of 2013 recorded its seventh-straight win. Cam Newton also continues to play mature football, using all his talents to move his offense along.
6. Kansas City Chiefs (9-2) – The Chiefs have now lost two-in-a-row, and was dealt some big injuries on their prolific defense. The team’s merit will be tested this week, when they host the division rival Denver Broncos.
7. San Francisco 49ers (7-4) – The 49ers kept its playoff hopes alive with a dominating win over the Washington Redskins. Colin Kaepernick also found production through the air, especially with receiver Anquan Boldin.
8. Arizona Cardinals (7-4) – With key returns on defense, the Cardinals have begun to stack wins, and find themselves in the thick of the playoff hunt.
9. Philadelphia Eagles (6-5) – During the team’s BYE, they watched the Dallas Cowboys move up the ranks on the NFC East. The two are now tied for first-place. Let’s see if Nick Foles hot streak helps them pull ahead.
10. The Cincinnati Bengals (7-4) – The battered Bengals probably made the most of its BYE to get healthy. The team still has a cushy lead in the AFC North.