Power Rankings, Week 17

| January 2, 2014

power-rank-2013-WK17The final PFF Power Rankings for 2013 show a solidified Top 10 and some significant falls from our initial ranks dragging teams into the Bottom 5.

As the playoffs ready, each conference’s top seeds stay in the Top 5 and the 49ers round out that group at the front table. The tough-luck Cardinals are the highest-ranked team to not advance and the Packers get the lowest rank among playoff squads.

Arizona, Carolina and San Diego made the biggest jumps up from the preseason while Houston, Atlanta and Washington lead the way in the other direction. Two teams, Chicago and St. Louis, end up right where they started and 14 teams landed within two spots of their rank at the outset.

Here’s how our analysts see the league at the end of the regular season, and the cumulative rank (below) that comes of their ballots.

  BEN GORDON KHALED NATHAN NEIL RICK SAM STEVE
1 SEA SEA SEA SEA SEA DEN DEN SEA
2 DEN DEN DEN DEN DEN SEA SEA DEN
3 NE NO SF CAR SF SF SF NE
4 SF NE CAR SF NO NE NE CAR
5 CAR SF NO NO NE CAR CAR SF
6 CIN CAR NE NE KC NO NO NO
7 PHI KC KC PHI CAR KC KC CIN
8 NO CIN CIN KC CIN CIN CIN KC
9 IND IND IND CIN BAL PHI PHI ARZ
10 GB ARZ ARZ GB CHI ARZ IND PHI
11 KC CHI PHI STL ARZ IND SD GB
12 SD PHI GB ARZ MIA CHI GB IND
13 ARZ DET SD SD PHI SD ARZ SD
14 PIT MIA DAL IND DET BAL CHI MIA
15 CHI SD CHI PIT SD MIA MIA DET
16 BAL BAL BAL CHI IND GB DAL CHI
17 MIA DAL MIA MIA PIT DAL PIT DAL
18 DAL GB DET BAL GB DET BAL BAL
19 DET PIT PIT MIN DAL PIT TEN PIT
20 TEN NYG NYG TB STL NYG DET TEN
21 STL STL TEN NYG TB TB STL STL
22 MIN TEN NYJ NYJ MIN STL NYJ NYJ
23 NYJ TB STL DAL TEN TEN MIN TB
24 CLE NYJ MIN TEN ATL MIN NYG NYG
25 BUF CLE BUF DET NYJ NYJ TB MIN
26 NYG BUF TB BUF BUF BUF BUF BUF
27 JAX JAX ATL ATL NYG CLE CLE CLE
28 OAK MIN JAX JAX OAK OAK ATL ATL
29 TB OAK CLE CLE JAX JAX JAX JAX
30 ATL ATL OAK OAK CLE WAS OAK OAK
31 WAS WAS WAS HOU WAS ATL WAS WAS
32 HOU HOU HOU WAS HOU HOU HOU HOU

 

With the votes tallied, here’s how the list looks to end the season: (last week’s rank, change from last weekand each team’s preseason rank in parentheses)

THE TOP 10

1. Seattle Seahawks (1, 0, preseason: 2)
The NFC’s top seed opened the preseason rankings as our No. 2 overall and hung around near the top all year. They’ve got a week off after taking the title in the NFL’s best division, finishing things with another home win, this time over the Rams. ReFocused: St. Louis at Seattle

2. Denver Broncos (2, 0, preseason: 3)
As was the case with Seattle, movement from the start of the season to the end netted a small step up, but more importantly a wire-to-wire run near the top. Taking the top seed in the AFC, the Broncos await their next challenge after wrapping the season with a half game’s worth of a tune-up in Oakland. ReFocused: Denver at Oakland

3. San Francisco 49ers (3, 0, preseason: 1)
Our No. 1 entering the season, San Francisco fell with some early stumbles but have made the long road back to serious contender status and wind up finishing in the Top 3. Healthy now, their defense is in order and their offense is finding late-season form for another playoff push. ReFocused: San Francisco at Arizona

4. New England Patriots (4, 0, preseason: 6)
Navigating a season that saw them play some closer than may have been expected, the Patriots win four of five in December and end with a bruising victory in the rain, showing off their winter-ball talents. The No. 2 seed, they get to rest and watch as the playoffs open. ReFocused: Buffalo at New England

5. Carolina Panthers (5, 0, preseason: 22)
Making the second-highest climb up the ranks from their preseason start (up 17 spots), the Panthers have proven themselves time and again. The South crown and a playoff bye in hand, Carolina gets to heal up while they wait for first-round fights to be settled.  ReFocused: Carolina at Atlanta

6. New Orleans Saints (6, 0, preseason: 10)
A surprising defense a shaky road record define the dangerous Saints who saw their grip on the South slip away by losing three times in the season’s last month. Traveling to Philadelphia in the first round will test them on both accounts. ReFocused: Tampa Bay at New Orleans

7. Kansas City Chiefs (7, 0, preseason: 17)
The Chiefs followed a 9-0 start with a 2-5 finish but still end with the AFC’s third-best record. After resting starters in the finale, they’ll travel to Indianapolis for a rematch of their Week 16 home loss to the Colts. ReFocused: Kansas City at San Diego

8. Cincinnati Bengals (8, 0, preseason: 9)
Staying right around this spot all year, the Bengals were marked as one of the best teams just outside of the best teams and it’s tough to see them differently now. Riding Dalton’s hot hand down the stretch, they’ll need more of the same in Round 1 against San Diego. ReFocused: Baltimore at Cincinnati

9. Philadelphia Eagles (10, 1, preseason: 21)
Wild swings in their rank during the first half of the season gave way to consistent climbs that eventually saw them up 12 spots and into the Top 10. They’ll host a playoff game for their troubles after taking the East on the last day of the season. ReFocused: Philadelphia at Dallas

10. Arizona Cardinals (9, -1, preseason: 29)
The largest gain from preseason rank where we had them started at No. 29, the Cardinals’ defense held and the offense settled, but they get the hard-luck award for being the best team not to qualify for the postseason. Had they found a way in, they’d have been the sixth team from the West to make it. ReFocused: San Francisco at Arizona

THE PACK

11. Indianapolis Colts (13, 2, preseason: 15)
Consistency being an issue for much of the season, the Colts managed to sandwich a win at Arrowhead between walks past the Texans and Jags to end the year. They host the Chiefs again armed with the knowledge they’ve already beaten four playoff teams.  ReFocused: Jacksonville at Indianapolis

12. San Diego Chargers (15, 3, preseason: 27)
Forcing their way into the playoff race, the Chargers snuck in assisted by a non-call against Kansas City’s B-team. Regardless, they got the spot and head to Cincinnati after their new-look offense helped them climb 15 spots from their preseason rank. ReFocused: Kansas City at San Diego

13. Green Bay Packers (16, 3, preseason: 4)
The 0-4-1 stretch that nearly saw them out of the race now just makes for a good story as Rodgers returned in time to take the division from the Bears in the last minute of the season. Not the Top-5 team we touted them to be early on, but primed to play host to a familiar playoff foe in the shape of San Francisco. ReFocused: Green Bay at Chicago

14. Chicago Bears (11, -3, preseason: 14)
Handing the reins back to Cutler, the Bears were in good shape after a big fourth quarter against Cleveland in Week 15, but a thrashing by the Eagles and a heart-breaker in the finale against Green Bay spelled the end. Chicago lands at 14, their spot to open the year. ReFocused: Green Bay at Chicago

15. Miami Dolphins (14, -1, preseason: 18)
Never sure how much they wanted it, we saw Miami position themselves to slot in as the final wild card with a late-season win over New England only to give it away with losses to their other division mates in the weeks that followed. ReFocused: NY Jets at Miami

16. Baltimore Ravens (12, -4, preseason: 7)
Another would-be wild card that handed the job to the next in line by slowing at the wire, the Ravens ensured a repeat was not in the cards and that they’d be stuck in the middle of the draft’s first round.  ReFocused: Baltimore at Cincinnati

17. Pittsburgh Steelers (19, 2, preseason: 16)
Fingers crossed for the help they needed on the regular season’s final afternoon, the Pittsburgh playoff recipe came up one ingredient short. A fine run given their rough start but they settle in to the final rankings just about where they were at the outset.  ReFocused: Cleveland at Pittsburgh

18. Dallas Cowboys (18, 0, preseason: 12)
With the East there for their taking, Dallas found a way to lose three of four down the stretch. They’ll be watching the playoffs as draft prep kicks into gear with many in the building gritting teeth at the thought of a postseason missed. ReFocused: Philadelphia at Dallas

19. Detroit Lions (17, -2, preseason: 24)
If there’s a late-season swoon to make Dallas feel better, it’s Detroit’s. Dropping six of their last seven, the Lions took themselves out of the race and turned a promising 6-3 into a disappointing 7-9. Good points to be taken from the year, but short of what was possible. ReFocused: Detroit at Minnesota

20. St. Louis Rams (20, 0, preseason: 20)
The fourth team in the NFC West, St. Louis put some feathers in their cap with wins over New Orleans, Chicago and Indy in the second half, but couldn’t get past their division mates outside of an opening day win over the Cards. Another team to end where they started, ranked No. 20. ReFocused: St. Louis at Seattle

21. Tennessee Titans (21, 0, preseason: 28)
A decent climb up from their preseason No. 28 never saw the Titans challenge to emerge from the middle of the pack. They avoid Bottom 10 status in the end, but also avoided a Top-10 draft pick. ReFocused: Houston at Tennessee

22. New York Giants (22, 0, preseason: 11)
One of the four biggest falls from our initial rankings, the Giants’ 0-6 start and penchant for giving the ball away proved too much for them to overcome, even with a 7-3 mark in their last 10. ReFocused: Washington at NY Giants

THE BOTTOM 10

23. New York Jets (25, 2, preseason: 31)
Posting an 8-8 record has to be considered something of a win. The Jets, afterall, entered the season with a coach and a quarterback expected to be clinging to the end of the rope. Some nice steps forward got Ryan a reprieve, but there’s a long road ahead. ReFocused: NY Jets at Miami

24. Minnesota Vikings (24, 0, preseason: 19)
We get into ‘lost season’ territory in this section of the rankings and the Vikings are as good as any to start it off. Coming from a playoff season where Peterson’s rebound captured so many minds to seeing things in the tank from the get-go, it was quite a turnaround. ReFocused: Detroit at Minnesota

25. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (23, -2, preseason: 23)
Ending up just about where we had them from the start doesn’t show the eight games of stumbles that led to a 4-4 finish. Time to start over in Tampa, but the defense has some building blocks in place.  ReFocused: Tampa Bay at New Orleans

26. Buffalo Bills (26, 0, preseason: 25)
Kinks remain in need of ironing, but the Bills showed some fight and with that defensive line and a talented rookie linebacker in the middle, there’s already plenty to look forward to for 2014 – just have to keep the QB on field to be sure of what they have in him. ReFocused: Buffalo at New England

27. Cleveland Browns (27, 0, preseason: 26)
A seven-game slide to end the year washed away any of the good vibes the team had created with a 4-5 first half. A pair of first-rounders – including No. 4 overall – will be attractive for the next head coach and his staff. ReFocused: Cleveland at Pittsburgh

28. Atlanta Falcons (28, 0, preseason: 5)
Three of the rankings’ biggest fallers land in the Bottom 5, Atlanta being second among them with a drop of 23 spots from the Top-5 position they were handed to open the year.  ReFocused: Carolina at Atlanta

29. Jacksonville Jaguars (29, 0, preseason: 30)
No real surprise here other than the four-of-five winning run they posted in the second half of the year. Another Top-3 pick awaits as the Jags continue to build. ReFocused: Jacksonville at Indianapolis

30. Oakland Raiders (30, 0, preseason: 32)
Moments of positivity lost out to their second straight 1-8 finish to a season. With cash in hand and nearly a full slate of draft picks, the excuses are gone and the next phase of the rebuild begins. ReFocused: Denver at Oakland

31. Washington Redskins (31, 0, preseason: 13)
Down 18 spots from our preseason rank, the Redskins couldn’t recapture the magic of 2012 and watched as things deteriorated around their head coach and quarterback. Change should do them good. ReFocused: Washington at NY Giants

32. Houston Texans (32, 0, preseason: 8)
The prize for the biggest start-to-finish fall goes to Houston as the preseason Top 10 solidly secures to foot of the rankings having lost all direction at some point early on. ReFocused: Houston at Tennessee

 

 

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Comments (3)

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  1. PFF_RolandB says:

    Nathan, how do you have STL ahead of ARZ?

  2. Fintasy says:

    How did Miami rank as high as they did? They only scored one time after mid-Dec, against two bottom-tier teams.

  3. Kevin says:

    I’m curious how people have Chi above GB when GB just beat the Bears in Chicago.

    GB has been ravaged by injuries this year but over the last month have proven capable of winning(barely) without Rodgers. The defense is suspect but the offense is hands down one of the best in the NFL with Rodgers back.

    I have to imagine GB is a team that no team is excited about meeting in the playoffs, including the 9ers.