This week's rankings show the Panthers, Patriots, and Cardinals as the top 3 teams in the NFL. Those 3 teams are clear Super Bowl favorites at this stage. After the top 3, the Steelers and Chiefs are looking to usurp the Broncos and Bengals in the AFC. Coming off back-to-back wins off the Bengals and Broncos, the Steelers are the dark horse team in the AFC to run the table with an offense that can score 30 points on any defense right now. The Chiefs are another team that are looking to surge ahead, even though it's unlikely they win their division unless crazy stuff happens. I believe the AFC will come down to whoever wins between New England and Pittsburgh.
The top 10 teams in the NFL are:
- Carolina Panthers 14-0
- New England Patriots 12-2
- Arizona Cardinals 12-2
- Cincinnati Bengals 11-3
- Denver Broncos 10-4
- Kansas City Chiefs 9-5
- Pittsburgh Steelers 9-5
- Green Bay Packers 10-4
- Seattle Seahawks 9-5
- Minnesota Vikings 9-5
At this point, all 10 of these teams are ticketed towards the playoffs. The Panthers, Patriots, Cardinals, and Bengal have already clinched their division with the Panthers and Patriots already clinching a bye and most likely Home Field Advantage this week. The Texas and Redskins are ranked 12th and 13th respectively, so there hopefully won't be a bottom half team making the playoffs. Week 16 will determine the AFC playoff picture.
Here are the members of the 50-Club:
The AFC will likely come down to Patriots/Steelers and the NFC to Panthers/Cardinals. I can almost guarantee that there will be a game between the two AFC and NFC powers this postseason. The Patriots can ensure that their game will be played in Foxboro with a win over the Jets.
The Patriots' next opponent is the 11th ranked Jets. The Patriots can inflict a major blow to their postseason aspirations with a win. The Jets are strong on the defensive side on the strength of a dominating front, but there are exploitable match-ups against their secondary. The Jets have two big and physical WR that gave them trouble in the Week 7 win. The Patriots will look to erase Brandon Marshall, but Eric Decker could give them trouble as he matches up well against the 5'10" Pro Bowl CB Malcolm Butler. One area the Patriots can hurt them is in the kicking game, where the Jets are laughably bad covering punts. While the Patriots have had issues corralling punts, there could be an opportunity to swing the game open. The Patriots should have no issues getting ready for the Jets in a hostile, playoff-type atmosphere with the Jets making their biggest stand and fighting for their playoff lives.