1. Seattle Seahawks (11-1)
With home-field advantage in the playoffs a near certainty and a 14-0 record at home over the last two seasons, there’s no reason to believe the Seahawks don’t have an inside track to this year’s Super Bowl.
2. Denver Broncos (10-3)
Peyton Manning is within striking distance of Tom Brady’s NFL record 50 touchdown passes set in 2007 with four games left. Manning’s 41 passing scores are 10 more than any other quarterback in the NFL.
3. New England Patriots (9-3)
The Patriots struggled in the first half against a hapless Houston Texans team, but roared back on the strength of an offense clicking on all cylinders over the last few weeks.
4. New Orleans Saints (9-3)
After spending last season playing with the NFL’s softest defense, Rob Ryan’s unit is a shocking 5th in total defense in 2013.
5. Kansas City Chiefs (9-3)
Two losses to the Broncos in the last three weeks have the Chiefs looking at a first-round playoff match-up on the road despite a 9-0 start to their season.
6. Carolina Panthers (9-3)
Behind a much improved Cam Newton and a defense only giving up an NFL-leading 13.1 PPG, the Panthers have a legitimate shot at a postseason run.
7. San Francisco 49ers (8-4)
The return of Michael Crabtree allowed a struggling 49ers passing attack to post their most yards through the air since Week 1.
8. Cincinnati Bengals (8-4)
The Bengals have been coasting through a bad division all season. For them to make any kind of noise this year, Andy Dalton has to play better. Period.
9. Detroit Lions (7-5)
Boasting the 3rd best run defense in the NFL and an offense led by Matthew Stafford and Calvin Johnson, the Lions can make some serious noise in the stretch run of the 2013 season.
10. Indianapolis Colts (8-4)
Donald Brown is picking up the slack that Trent Richardson couldn’t give, but the holes on defense might become too much for Andrew Luck to overcome.
11. Philadelphia Eagles (7-5)
Chip Kelly said Nick Foles is his quarterback for the next 1,000 years. I don’t know if that’s a good idea, but with a 19:0 TD:INT ratio, I can understand him getting a little loopy and emotional about the success of his second-year quarterback.
12. Arizona Cardinals (7-5)
Despite a setback in Week 13 against a red-hot Eagles team, the Arizona Cardinals and (gulp) Carson Palmer have been impressive over their last five games (4-1).
13. Dallas Cowboys (7-5)
A 4-0 division record should pay huge dividends in the Cowboys NFL east title hopes, but we all know which Tony Romo shows up in December….
14. Chicago Bears (6-6)
Jay Cutler has a shot to return in Week 14, but I’m not sure even he can overcome the NFL’s last ranked run defense that’s given up over 150+ yards per game in 2013.
15. Baltimore Ravens (6-6)
Joe Flacco’s 78.5 passer rating this season lands him 28th in the NFL, so he can thank a weak AFC for having his team in position for the conference’s final playoff spot.
16. San Diego Chargers (5-7)
After taking advantage of a weak early-season schedule, the Chargers have fallen back (but not out) of the AFC playoff race with a 1-4 showing in their last five games.
17. Miami Dolphins (6-6)
Speaking of weak schedules, the Dolphins have won only two games this season against teams that are .500 or better. Fortunately for them, they only one match-up left against a .500 or better team this season, the Patriots in Week 15.
18. Green Bay Packers (5-6-1)
Oh, that’s why Matt Flynn got released by three teams in a season and a half.
19. New York Giants (5-7)
Would anybody really be shocked if the Giants won out, took the division, and rode the momentum to a Super Bowl? It’s the foundation of the Eli Manning era. They just won’t die.
20. Tennessee Titans (5-7)
I like “Fitz-Magic” just as much as the next guy, but the Titans sealed their 2013 fate by losing to the Jaguars and Texans earlier this season.
21. Pittsburgh Steelers (5-7)
I’m not so sure Mike Tomlin hasn’t been standing in the way all season–of his teams playoff chances, that is.
22. St. Louis Rams (5-7)
If the Rams were in the AFC–even with Kellen Clemons at quarterback–there’s a good chance they’d be a playoff team. The entire NFC West has has scored more points than points scored upon (stick with me here) in 2013.
23. Buffalo Bills (4-8)
Kiko Alonso has been one of the few bright spots on the Bills in 2013. The standout leader for AFC Defensive Rookie of the Year is second in the NFL in tackles with 125.
24. Cleveland Browns (4-8)
The only good thing I can say about the Browns this year is I really want Josh Gordon on my fantasy team.
25. Oakland Raiders (4-8)
The Raiders could quite possibly have the least talented team in the NFL, so kudos to second-year head coach Dennis Allen for squeezing four wins out of this squad.
26. Atlanta Falcons (3-9)
Tony Gonzalez deserves a heck of a lot better than what the Falcons have done on the field this year. Just a lost season all around.
27. Minnesota Vikings (3-8-1)
Giving up an NFL worst 30.5 PPG this season, it’s blatantly clear the Vikings have a lot of holes to fill on defense this off-season.
28. New York Jets (5-7)
Geno Smith became the first quarterback since Tim Tebow to complete less than 10 passes in four straight games and hasn’t thrown a touchdown since October 20th. My only question is: how come Rex Ryan hasn’t tried Geno at punt protector yet?
29. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (3-9)
With a roster much loaded with much more talent than their record would suggest, it’s fair to wonder just how much of a mess of an NFL head coach Greg Schiano is.
30. Washington Redskins (3-9)
I’m not going to say the Redskins need a new head coach, but I will say that they’d most likely be better off with someone coaching their team was a little less tan…
31. Houston Texans (2-10)
They’ve played a couple good teams (the Seahawks and Patriots of note) very well as of late. It’s been a weird season in Houston to say the least.
32. Jacksonville Jaguars (3-9)
They could win out the rest of the way and I’d still consider them the dumpster of the NFL looking at their roster.