Matzek's NFL Power Rankings: Week 17
BIGGEST JUMP: Cincinnati Bengals (from 16 to 12)
BIGGEST DROP: Arizona Cardinals (from 17 to 20)
1 (1). GREEN BAY PACKERS - Not sure that any playoff contending team needs a bye week more than the Packers. The starting offensive line hasn't played together since week 3, but should be on the field for the divisional playoff round.
2 (2). NEW ORLEANS SAINTS - Drew Brees is the new record holder for passing yards in a single season (5,087). He threw a pair of interceptions against the Falcons on Monday night and the Saints still scored 45.
3 (3). NEW ENGLAND PATRIOTS - I can't imagine the Patriots are taking their #1 seed in the AFC for granted. They were in the same position last season and lost in their first playoff game.
4 (4). SAN FRANCISCO 49ers - In the year of the quarterback, I just can't see Alex Smith rising above the rest to win a championship.
5 (5). PITTSBURGH STEELERS - One of these two teams will win the AFC north...
6 (6). BALTIMORE RAVENS - ...the other will be a wild card. The division, and seeding will be decided on Sunday.
7 (10). DETROIT LIONS - They haven't won in Wisconsin since 1991. That streak could end on Sunday at Lambeau. I don't think Detroit is ready to be a Super Bowl team, but they certainly won't be an easy out.
8 (11). NY GIANTS - A win Sunday will mean an NFC east division title and home playoff game.
9 (7). ATLANTA FALCONS - Boy did they get their tails kicked by the Saints. The Falcons would be the six seed in the NFC if the playoffs started today.
10 (8). DALLAS COWBOYS - See Giants comment.
11 (9). HOUSTON TEXANS - Arian Foster ran for 158 yards, and TJ Yates completed 81% of his passes without turning the ball over...and the Texans still lost to the Colts last Thursday.
12 (16). CINCINNATI BENGALS - Not only would a win over Baltimore secure a playoff berth, but it would also make others take the Bengals seriously. They need to clear this hurdle.
13 (12). NY JETS - A playoff season without Rex Ryan would be a delightful late Christmas gift.
14 (13). SEATTLE SEAHAWKS - Their playoff hopes were dashed after losing a close one to the 49ers. Still, a 7 win season (with potential to be an 8 win season) is better than I anticipated.
15 (18). PHILADELPHIA EAGLES - They woke up waaaaaay too late. The Eagles will be watching the playoffs this season.
16 (14). DENVER BRONCOS - I can only imagine the Tebow madness if the Broncos beat the Chiefs this weekend. A win will secure a playoff berth, and AFC west division title.
17 (15). SAN DIEGO CHARGERS - Two steps forward, one giant step back. The Chargers were pounded by the Lions. Could Sunday be Norv Turner's last game as head coach of the Chargers?
18 (19). TENNESSEE TITANS - Who is Jared Cook? He's the next matchup-nightmare-hybrid tight end. All he did was catch 8 passes for 169 yards and a touchdown last weekend. Keep this guy on your fantasy radar for next season.
19 (21). OAKLAND RAIDERS - Needed that win over the Chiefs to keep their playoff hopes alive. They need a win over the Chargers and a Denver loss to win the AFC west and earn a playoff berth.
20 (17). ARIZONA CARDINALS - Similar to Seattle, I didn't see the potential for an 8 win season for the Cards.
21 (20). CHICAGO BEARS - I don't even know what to say about the Bears anymore. Their defense is aging, their offense is a mess without Jay Cutler and Matt Forte. They may have found something in Kahlil Bell however.
22 (24). CAROLINA PANTHERS - Fans of the Panthers must be extremely encouraged with what they've seen this season. They can win their 7th game of the season on Sunday.
23 (25). BUFFALO BILLS - There was a short period of time when I thought their season finale against the Patriots could decide the Bills playoff fate. I was wrong.
24 (22). MIAMI DOLPHINS - Sundays game will be the final one for future hall-of-fame DE Jason Taylor.
25 (23). KANSAS CITY CHIEFS - Kyle Orton will have a chance to start against his former team (Denver) this weekend. A Chiefs win could prevent the Broncos from making the playoffs. Interesting.
26 (26). JACKSONVILLE JAGUARS - Are they still playing?
27 (28). WASHINGTON REDSKINS - With all of the money that Daniel Snyder has spent on aging veterans, its shocking that he has yet to pull the trigger on a quarterback.
28 (25). TAMPA BAY BUCCANEERS - What a disaster.
29 (29). CLEVELAND BROWNS - Along with some other team that I can't remember, the Browns are the most forgettable team in the NFL.
30 (31). MINNESOTA VIKINGS - They should write the NFL a letter asking to skip their final game of the season. They can't afford to lose more players to injury.
31 (32). INDIANAPOLIS COLTS - Are the fans happy the Colts have won a pair of games, or would they prefer the top draft choice?
32 (30). ST LOUIS RAMS - If the Rams land the #1 pick in April's draft, will they keep it and draft Andrew Luck, or trade the pick for multiple picks and trust Sam Bradford can be the man?