FOXSports.com NFL power rankings
By Brian Billick
Brian Billick is an acclaimed NFL game analyst for FOX Sports and a Super Bowl-winning coach.
Peyton Manning and the Broncos keep their hold on the top spot, while the Pats and Falcons sit right behind them. I’ve got a line on who’s hot and who’s not going into Week 17.
1 Broncos 12-3
Peyton Manning now has nine 12-win seasons, and with his three touchdowns performance on Sunday, he has tied Brett Favre for most three-touchdown games (72) in NFL history.
2 Patriots 11-4 +1
The Patriots have started a scary trend by scoring only three points in the first quarters of the last two games. Come playoff time, they can’t afford to come from behind the way they have lately.
3 Falcons 13-2 +1
With home-field advantage secured for the second time in the last three years, Mike Smith and Matt Ryan can now focus on removing the large monkey on their backs.
4 Packers 11-4 +2
The 48-point trouncing of the Titans is the fifth highest margin of victory in Packers’ history and put the Packers in the driver seat to secure a first-round bye in the playoffs.
5 Seahawks 10-5 +2
The Seahawks will have their first 10-win season since 2007 and have ensured a second postseason in Pete Carroll’s three years. In their last three games alone, the Seahawks have outscored their opponents 150-30 … the second highest point total in a three-game span in league history. Isn’t this supposed to be a ball-controlling defensive team?
6 49ers 10-4-1 -4
Aldon Smith gets the glory, but this defense doesn’t click without Justin Smith manning the middle. By the way, the 49ers were gaining more yards and had fewer turnovers when Alex Smith was the quarterback.
7 Ravens 10-5 +2
Snapping their three-game losing streak, the Ravens won their second consecutive AFC North title and secured their fifth straight postseason appearance dating back to 2008.
8 Redskins 9-6
The Redskins have won all six games since their bye in Week 10 but must win a seventh next week in order to finish first in the division.
9 Texans 12-3 -4
Arian Foster was held to just 15 yards rushing by the Vikings, his fewest in any of his 42 career starts, and Matt Schaub was held to under 200 yards passing for just the third time this season.
10 Vikings 9-6 +2
Most importantly, the Vikings won, but Adrian Peterson failed to reach 100 yards rushing for the first time in nine games and is now 208 yards shy of Eric Dickerson’s single-season rushing record.
11 Bengals 9-6 -1
With the win over Pittsburgh, the Bengals secured a playoff spot and have qualified for postseason play in back-to-back seasons for the first time since 1981-82.
12 Colts 10-5 -1
With their win over Kansas City, the Colts clinched a playoff berth and became just the seventh team in the modern era to have the first overall selection in the draft and then make the playoffs in the same year. What a masterful job by Bruce Arians and the entire Colts organization.
13 Bears 9-6 +1
The Bears defense scored two more touchdowns on Sunday, one of which was an interception return that leaves them one shy of the NFL record for most interceptions returned for touchdowns since 1940. The 1961 Chargers hold the record with nine.
14 Cowboys 8-7 -1
Despite the loss to New Orleans, the Cowboys still control their own destiny in the NFC East. If they beat the Redskins next week, both teams will finish with a 9-7 overall record, a 1-1 head-to-head record, a 4-2 divisional record. The deciding factor would be the best record against common opponents, which the Cowboys would be stronger at 9-5 to 8-6.
15 Saints 7-8 +2
With his performance on Sunday, Drew Brees jumped ahead of Peyton Manning to second place for the most 400-yard passing games in the history of the NFL. Brees has nine, and Dan Marino leads the way with 13.
16 Steelers 7-8
The Steelers will miss the playoffs for the first time since 2009 and just the second time under Mike Tomlin. With eight losses, it will also be Tomlin’s first non-winning season as a head coach.
17 Giants 8-7 -2
The Giants allowed the Ravens to gain a season-high 533 total yards, 347 more yards than the Giants could muster. The Giants have now been outscored 67-14 in the last two weeks.
18 Rams 7-7-1
The Rams have won four of their last five but nonetheless have been eliminated from playoff contention. Still, a win on Sunday would mean their first winning record since 2003.
19 Dolphins 7-8
The Dolphins have had back-to-back games with 180+ yards rushing and were a perfect 3 for 3 inside the red zone. Despite their win over Buffalo, they have now been eliminated from the playoffs.
20 Panthers 6-9
The Panthers matched their 2011 win total, but Cam Newton did throw an interception, snapping what was the league’s longest active streak of passing attempts without an interception at 177.
21 Browns 5-10 +1
The Browns were just 3 for 12 on third-down conversion attempts against Denver and failed to translate their only takeaway into points.
22 Buccaneers 6-9 -1
The Bucs had more total yards, more first downs and more passing yards than the Rams but surrendered 28 points off of five turnovers in the loss.
23 Chargers 6-9
The Chargers failed to reach 225 yards of total offense for the second consecutive week but were able to tie a franchise record with 11 sacks on defense, the most sacks in a game by any team since week 4, 2007.
24 Eagles 4-11 +3
Nick Foles earned his second career 300-yard passing day but will move back to the sidelines in favor of Michael Vick. This is perhaps the last game for Vick and Andy Reid in Philadelphia.
25 Cardinals 5-10
So seriously, can the reporter from Ken Whisenhunt’s week 14 postgame press conference really play quarterback? They might actually need him.
26 Titans 5-10 -2
The Titans were outgained by 280 yards and allowed the Packers to score touchdowns on six of their seven red-zone attempts.
27 Jets 6-9 -1
Greg McElroy played behind a better offensive line at Alabama.
28 Lions 4-11
The Lions lost, but at least Calvin Johnson set two records in the process. Not only did he record his eighth consecutive 100-yard receiving game, but he also surpassed Jerry Rice for the most receiving yards in a single season. With 1,892 yards, Megatron now has a legitimate shot at 2,000.
29 Bills 5-10
CJ Spiller rushed for 138 yards on 22 carries and is now averaging 6.5 yards per carry this season … 0.5 better than the franchise record held by OJ Simpson since 1973.
30 Raiders 4-11
The Raiders have now lost 10 straight 1 p.m. games in the Eastern Time Zone dating back to Week 13 of 2009.
31 Jaguars 2-13
If nothing else this season, the Jaguars have to like the way Justin Blackmon has come on the latter half of the season. He has a bright future in this league.
32 Chiefs 2-13
With a loss in Week 17 against the Broncos, the Chiefs will hold the first overall selection in the 2013 NFL Draft.