Only 12 teams remaining in the mix. With the top seeds in stumbling to the finish of the regular season, it's leaving room for some unusual suspects to lay claim. Starters will be rested and playing this weekend, you can bet on that; It's the LRN Power Rankings: Wild Card Weekend!
Get After It!
1. San Diego Chargers (1) The Chargers have to be putting fear into opponents minds at this point. They haven't lost since October 19th. They finished 7-1 on the road, only losing in Denver over three months ago. Philip Rivers threw 28 touchdown passes to just 9 interceptions including just 3 in last eight games. Their wide receivers are primed for playoff play and don't think they can't beat Peyton & Co. if it comes down to it.
2. Indianapolis Colts (2) Quiet all the doubters please. The Colts lost two games this season, two games they didn't even try to win in order to stay healthy. Patriot receiver Wes Welker going down should have validated what the Colts fears were when they emptied their bench over the past two weeks. The Colts have a little more pressure from us now, but they'll be alright.
3. Dallas Cowboys (6) If this was any other franchise, a franchise who hasn't won a playoff game for over 13 years, we'd be saying something different after their 24-0 NFC East clinching victory over Philadelphia. Instead we say, I'll believe it when I see it. I'm in that same boat, they've got to win a playoff game for me to get on board with the Cowboys and a possible Super Bowl run.
4. Green Bay Packers (7) Green Bay clearly wanted to make a statement in their finale against Arizona, and that is exactly what they did. The Packers are playing just as well as any NFC playoff team, hence the 7-1 finish to end at 11-5. They'll have an opportunity to really show people how far they've come with a victory in Arizona for the second time in two weeks.
5. Minnesota Vikings (8) Stop acting like their 44-7 beatdown of the Giants to close out the season put them back on track. The two losses they took to both Arizona and Carolina are more indicative of what this team is. In the postseason they'll meet teams like Carolina, tough defense and monster running games. In the postseason they'll have to stop big play receivers, they've got to prove they can do that at some point.
6. New Orleans Saints (4) I don't think Drew Brees sat because they wanted him to get rest, he sat because New Orleans knew they weren't beating that Carolina team. The Saints are going into the postseason after losing three straight games and then taking a week off with the bye. If a passing game runs on timing, are they really going to bounce back and get back what they had against New England earlier in the season?
7. New England Patriots (5) The Patriots had nothing to gain by beating Houston this week, but they clearly disagreed. Now with Wes Welker out, New England will have to come up with another way to cause problems for the Baltimore defense. As much as I admire Wes Welker, he only catches what Brady throws him and Julian Edelman catching 10 balls for 103 yards really gave confidence to both he and Brady.
8. Philadelphia Eagles (3) The Eagles had an extremely difficult time with the Cowboy defense on Sunday. McNabb began to throw behind receivers and rush passes, this is one defense that can stifle Philly and their young talent all over the field. On the other hand, they are a team with a very short memory. If this game isn't already in the past, to them it'll be in the past by game time.
9. New York Jets (12) Fact. They're over confident. Fact. Mark Sanchez on the road is a problem. Fact. Jets running back Thomas Jones quietly put together a 1,400 yard season. Rex Ryan has this team believing everything he spews and this may propel a Jets team that runs on trash talking.
10. Arizona Cardinals (10) Who knows? They didn't show their hand to Green Bay this past week and it showed in the result (33-7 loss). The Cardinals have the unfortunate task of trying to stop an extremely hot Packer team who is growing confidence week by week, if any team can turn it on and turn it off at will, it's the defending NFC Champs at home.
11. Baltimore Ravens (13) The Ravens didn't look great against Oakland in their regular season finale. On a more positive note, 7-year veteran running back Willis McGahee had a throwback 167-yard game. Baltimore could be the great question mark of the postseason, Ray Rice has become one of the more dominant weapons in the AFC yet Joe Flacco does lack the needed consistency to put together road playoff wins.
12. Cincinnati Bengals (9) The Bengals couldn't be going in on a worse note. Potential pre-game warmup knee injury to receiver Chad Ochocinco and a 37-0 beat down by the same Jets team they'll see in the first round of the postseason. Since their big November 22nd victory at Pittsburgh, the Bengals are just 3-4 with their only victories coming against Cleveland, Detroit, and Kansas City.
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