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freeland1787's Power Rankings: Week 14

Patriots are still the top rated team in the AFC, although the recent drop is a bit concerning unless the coaching staff fixes the mistakes that have plagued them the last two weeks.

Stew Milne-USA TODAY Sports

For the second week in a row, the Patriots hold the 2nd spot in the rankings and the top spot among AFC teams. The Patriots still boast the league's best offense in terms of season score, but the offense is moving back towards the other top offenses. The defense now ranks 10th in the league after 13 games to go and will have to be the focal point of the team while the offense gets healthy at the skill positions. Despite the Special Teams disaster against the Eagles, they ranked as the 3rd best unit in the NFL behind the Ravens and Cowboys. While the Patriots don't control their own destiny for Home Field Advantage, no reason to think this team can't get a bye.

The Top 10 Teams after Week 13 are:

  1. Carolina Panthers, 12-0
  2. New England Patriots, 10-2
  3. Cincinnati Bengals, 10-2
  4. Denver Broncos, 10-2
  5. Arizona Cardinals, 10-2
  6. Kansas City Chiefs, 7-5
  7. Seattle Seahawks, 7-5
  8. Green Bay Packers, 8-4
  9. Pittsburgh Steelers, 7-5
  10. Minnesota Vikings, 8-4
Even though the Steelers are ranked higher than the New York Jets, the Jets currently hold the 6th seed in the AFC playoffs and face a tougher schedule in the final four games. However, the Steelers are a much tougher opponent than the Jets with Roethlisberger at QB. After being left for dead three weeks ago, the Seattle Seahawks have come back alive and uncharacteristically it's been their offense that's been the spark-plug. Russell Wilson is coming off arguably the best three-game stretch of his career, and the Seahawks now look like a tough out in the NFC even at home. They won't win the division, but they will certainly give trouble to whoever wins the NFC East and North division winners. Seattle and Kansas City are the two teams that could win 3 straight road games to make a Super Bowl and shouldn't be taken lightly.

If you're looking at the playoff picture, here's where the rankings compares to the actual standings:

Seed AFC Actual NFC Actual AFC Projected NFC Projected
1 Bengals Panthers Patriots Panthers
2 Broncos Cardinals Bengals Cardinals
3 Patriots Packers Broncos Packers
4 Colts Redskins Texans Eagles
5 Chiefs Vikings Chiefs Seahawks
6 Jets Seahawks Steelers Vikings

The big disparagement between the projected model and the actual standings right now shows how close the race is for the AFC South, NFC East, and the 2nd AFC Wild Card spot. In addition, the difference in seeding possibly illustrates that the Patriots will certainly benefit from the Cincinnati vs. Denver game and could get some help from the Steelers to get the #1 seed. In order to get a top 2 seed, the Patriots need to win out. The model has the Patriots doing that, although they will face a tough Jets team in Week 16.

50 Club:

  1. Carolina Panthers 58/68/54/99
  2. New England Patriots 70/54/66/86
  3. Cincinnati Bengals 65/60/59/80
  4. Kansas City Chiefs 58/61/61/68
  5. Pittsburgh Steelers 58/53/64/58
  6. Buffalo Bills 53/52/50/55
The Bills are on tenuous ground here, but they certainly aren't out of the playoff race by any means. With a game to catch on the Jets, the Bills really can't afford to lose any more games from this point forward because 7 losses means no playoffs this year with the 5-loss Chiefs, Steelers, and Jets fighting for two playoff spots right now. One slip up for the Bills means Rob Gronkowski is throwing them out of the club.

The next opponent for the Patriots is the 13th ranked Texans. The Texans lead the Colts in the projected standings, but lag behind in the real standings. Their offense isn't anything the Patriots should have problems with if they double Deandre Hopkins all night. Defensively, the Texans could give the Patriots banged up offense some problems, especially up front with JJ Watt. If this is a close game, the difference could come up on Special Teams. That gives the Patriots a significant edge due to the fact the Patriots are vastly superior in that area and also I expect them to come out hungry for redemption after last week's meltdown.