1) San Francisco—When you go into the top house in the league and defeat them, there’s no question who the Number 1 team is. The first half for the 49ers was a statement to everyone. Yes, they let them back in, but in the end they were able to erase all the momentum that Tom Brady had mustered up for the Pats. Colin Kespernick and his ability to have the entire team play so hard for him, got that one needed big game win he so desperately wanted. With an incredible road win like that, it will be no surprise if the 49ers keep on rolling this week as they travel to Seattle in the Seahawks’ biggest game ever!
2) Denver—The Broncos captured the AFC West and now it’s onward to capture the AFC home field advantage and the Championship flag. With Peyton Manning leading the charge as amongst the best QB’s in the NFL and with the mojo of John Elway, these Broncos have the talent to go all the way. The defense is continually led by Von Miller while Manning handles the Coaches and the offenses. Let’s hope the cornerback problems are not their downfall as all Playoff teams have the personnel to exploit weaknesses.
3) New England—It was amazing to see, though hardly a surprise, to watch Tom Brady take his team back from the jaws of death and make them the Funeral Director by the second half. Brady is awesome!! The rest of the AFC may be more impressed with that second half over anything else they watched in that game including the final score. To think that a 31-3 lead into the second half is not enough makes it’s own statement. Chalk up a win this week for the Pats at Jacksonville and onward to the Playoffs.
4) Green Bay—The Pack went from 2-3 to 10-4 as if Vince Lombardi was the Coach. The NFC North title is theirs and now they can work on healing and playing those players coming off injuries by working the kinks out of them. Can you imagine how good this team would be with Charles Woodson and Jordy Nelson? And Clay Matthews is a game breaker so it’s nice to see him back. But the entire team is a one man show with Aaron Rodgers clearly the face of the Packers. They host Tennessee this week at home.
5) Houston—The Texans looked good in a must needed bounce-back game coming off that embarrassing loss at New England the prior week. The Colts put up a great fight but the Texans prevailed and captures all the marbles including home-field advantage throughout the playoffs. Arian Foster controls the tempo of the game which is huge for the coaches when drawing up their game plans each week. Their weakness is on the other side of the ball and gave up way too many points to a team they needed to beat and against a 31st rated young rookie quarterback.
6) Atlanta—The Falcons placed themselves back on the front page heading into the playoffs. Not only did they show the NFL they could win at home decisively but they crushed the NY Giants. With that win, they now have to win their playoff games at home and move into the Super Bowl. That win proved hove important the home field advantage is in the NFL. Two wins and in (the SuperBowl). They travel to Detroit Thursday to try and keep the momentum going against the Lions.
7) Seattle—The Seahawks have won 2 games on the road to compliment their undefeated home record. That and their defense is scary. But nothing this year will mean anything if they can’t beat the 49ers this week at home. Russell Wilson looks more like a third year pro instead of one looking to get rid of the rookie label. The NFC West is still up for grads and Pete Carroll will lead, praise, hug and high five his entire team for 60 minutes this week as he is showing that his is a players coach and can get the most out of everybody on his team.
8) NY Giants—The Giants were certainly embarrassed last week. It’s a good thing the NY media has the Jets to write about or they would have been all over the first 3 pages with this story. Watching this team is as if we get the feeling the Giants can turn on wins like we turn on water faucets. That may be their downfall. They now have to win out most likely to get a chance to defend. Going to play Baltimore may be something they should have planned on and marked as a very difficult place to win.
9) Washington—Nothing says NFL mess more than a late season quarterback controversy. Robert Griffin III is livid he did not get to play last week. With two rookie QB’s to choose from, Coach Shanahan has some bruised ego’s to sooth. It should help that the Redskins are in first place in the NFC East and have a very solid core on both sides of the ball. They play at Philadelphia, a team with a quarterback trying to impress everybody so nothing would please the Eagles more than a competitive game this weekend. And if the Skins somehow get past the Eagles, they finish with the Cowboys.
10) Cincinnati—With Pittsburgh and Baltimore still to play, this might be the last time they are in the Top Ten. What a difficult task. Week 15 shows the Patriots playing Jacksonville and Cincinnati playing on the road in Pittsburgh. Doesn’t seem fair if you’re a Bengal fan. Pittsburgh continues to be banged up on both sides of the ball. The bad news is that Ben and the Steelers are coming off a loss. It’s in the hands of Andy Dalton and AJ Green. Throw in some options and time consuming ball control of Benjarvus Green-Ellis and the Bengals at least have a fighting chance.
TEAMS LOOKING TO MAKE A DIFFERENCE AND MOVE UP
11) Pittsburgh—This week is a definite “must-win” for the Steelers as they trail the Bengals.
12) Indianapolis—Who would have thought the Colts would be a 6.5 road favorite in week 15?
13) Baltimore—Two season define the Ravens: 9-2 start and 0-3 of late. Rice better get more reps.
14) Dallas—Just beat New Orleans and then it’s all about the Redskins to finish!
15) Chicago—They needed to beat Green Bay last week but at least they finish with Arizona and Detroit.