NFL power rankings

By Brian Billick

Brian Billick is an acclaimed NFL game analyst for FOX Sports and a Super Bowl-winning coach.

The Texans’ December slide is complete. Can they turn it around in the postseason? I’ve got a line on who’s hot and who’s not going into the playoffs.

1 Broncos 13-3

The Broncos’ 11th straight win moved them into the No. 1 overall seed in the AFC playoffs. They have won each of those 11 games by at least seven points and are the hottest team heading into the postseason.

2 Patriots 12-4

With their win and Texans loss, the Patriots jumped into the No. 2 seed and get a first-round bye. New England’s 28-0 win over the Dolphins on Sunday was the Patriots’ first shutout since 2009.

3 Packers 11-5 +1

Saturday’s NFC wild-card game will be the third time the Packers play the Vikings over the course of the last six weeks. Green Bay will do some serious self-scouting and make the necessary adjustments to stop Adrian Peterson.

4 Falcons 13-3 -1

The Falcons have a first-round bye and the road to the Super Bowl in the NFC goes through Atlanta. But after starting the season 11-1, the Falcons are just 2-2 in their last four games.

5 49ers 11-4-1 +1

The 49ers have won back-to-back NFC West titles for the first time since doing so in every season from 1992-95. The loss by the Packers also gave them their second straight first-round bye for the postseason.

6 Ravens 10-6 +1

The Ravens sat the majority of their starters on Sunday and lost their fourth game over the last five weeks of the season. The Ravens will play in their fifth straight postseason, making the playoffs in each of John Harbaugh’s years as head coach.

7 Bengals 10-6 +4

The Bengals have won seven of their last eight and their defense is allowing just 12.8 points per game during that span, best in the NFL. The Bengals are going into the playoffs with a ton of confidence and will be playing a Texans team that may be lacking it.

8 Redskins 10-6

The Redskins won their first NFC East title since 1999 and will go to the playoffs for the first time since 2007. I like them to win in the wild-card round, but I don’t think they have the defensive strength to go any further.

9 Seahawks 11-5 -4

Pete Carroll gets my vote for Coach of the Year for what he has done with the Seahawks this season, but I think they go one and done in the playoffs. Washington is a tough place to play, especially for a team that has had their struggles on the road this season.

10 Texans 12-4 -1

The Texans lost their third consecutive game against the Colts when playing in Indianapolis and only led Sunday’s game for a total of 12 seconds. The Texans enter the postseason having won only one game out of the last four.

11 Colts 11-5 +1

The Andrew Luck/Peyton Manning comparisons continue to be eerily similar. Reggie Wayne finished with 1,355 yards on the season, the same exact total he had in 2010, his previous season with Peyton Manning.

12 Vikings 10-6 -2

The Vikings have won their last four games, and quarterback Christian Ponder is playing his best football of the entire season. Still, I think they are the worst team in the playoffs and will get exposed by the Packers at Lambeau Field.

13 Bears 10-6

Despite the win on Sunday, the Bears missed the playoffs and Lovie Smith was fired after winning 10 games during the season.

14 Cowboys 8-8

Tony Romo’s career statistics aren’t that dissimilar from Troy Aikman’s, but Romo doesn’t do himself any favors at all by completely flopping in big games.

15 Panthers 7-9 +5

The Panthers won their final four games of the season, and that may have been just enough to save Ron Rivera’s job. The 44 points they scored on Sunday were the fifth-highest total in team history.

16 Rams 7-8-1 +2

Steven Jackson finished the season with 1,042 yards, his eighth consecutive 1,000-yard season.

17 Steelers 8-8 -1

The Steelers led the NFL in total defense for the 10th time in franchise history — an NFL record.

18 Giants 9-7 -1

Despite the 35-point win on Sunday, this is the fourth time the Giants have missed the playoffs under Tom Coughlin in his nine seasons with New York.

19 Saints 7-9 -4

Just as people joked that Peyton Manning should have won the MVP last season because the Colts were in such disarray without him, the same could be said about Sean Payton for Coach of the Year this season.

20 Buccaneers 7-9 +2

The Bucs snapped a five-game losing streak with the win on Sunday and have some momentum to carry through the offseason. Josh Freeman now holds the franchise record for career TD passes as well as single-season TD passes.

21 Chargers 7-9 +2

The Chargers won their finale Sunday despite being outgained by the Raiders and being less efficient on third downs. Philip Rivers had a season-high 142.0 passer rating and pushed his December record to 26-5 for his career.

22 Browns 5-11 -1

Pat Shurmur is out in Cleveland after posting a 9-23 record. Shurmur makes the fifth coach since the Browns returned to the NFL in 1999 to post a record that was at least 10 games under .500.

23 Bills 6-10 +6

The win on Sunday wasn’t enough to save Chan Gailey, as his record moved to 16-32 in his three seasons at Buffalo. No coach has completed four years with the Bills since Marv Levy retired in 1997.

24 Dolphins 7-9 -5

Ryan Tannehill was sacked a season-high seven times, threw an interception and also lost a fumble. The Dolphins were 2-6 this season when Tannehill had just a single turnover.

25 Cardinals 5-11

The Cardinals started the season 4-0 but won only one of their last 12 games to seal the fate of Ken Whisenhunt. The defensive staff remains intact for now and Ray Horton may very well become the next head coach of the Cardinals.

26 Lions 4-12 +2

Matthew Stafford broke the record for pass attempts in a single season with 727, but playing from behind and lacking a consistent rushing attack will do that to you.

27 Titans 6-10 -1

The Titans went out with a bang in 2012 with two interception returns for touchdowns and two punt returns for touchdowns in the 38-20 win over the Jaguars on Sunday. Tennnessee became just the second team in NFL history to have four return touchdowns in the same game.

28 Eagles 4-12 -4

The Eagles started the season 3-1 but finished by losing 11 of their last 12 and missed the playoffs for the second consecutive season. How owner Jeffrey Lurie and Andy Reid handled the farewell press conference was pure class.

29 Raiders 4-12 +1

QB Terrelle Pryor was more effective than I thought he would be on Sunday against San Diego, but he simply doesn’t have the skills to be an everyday starting quarterback in the NFL.

30 Jets 6-10 -3

Mark Sanchez completed less than 50 percent of his passes in eight of his 15 games this season and also had 10 multiple-turnover games. It doesn’t matter who the coach or the GM is, no one wins with that type of play from the quarterback.

31 Jaguars 2-14

The Jaguars have plugged some much-needed holes on offense with Cecil Shorts and Justin Blackmon but still need to find a consistent quarterback to get them the ball. Neither Blaine Gabbert nor Chad Henne is the answer.

32 Chiefs 2-14

With the first pick in the 2013 NFL Draft, the Kansas City Chiefs select . . .