As wild as Week 14 was on the field, it was the exact opposite in the Top 12. The Saints and Panthers swapped places, as did the Eagles and Colts. Other than that, everyone decided to stand pat. Have I suddenly figured this league out? My Pick 'Em record would suggest otherwise. We'll see what craziness awaits this coming week. There are strangely enough, no head-to-head battles among the Top 12 teams, but nine of them are on the road this weekend, all but ensuring there will be some suprises.
#1 – Seattle Seahawks
A two point loss on the road to a team like San Francisco? Not enough to drop the Hawks from the top spot. Not when the teams below them have all had similar bad outcomes that were worse and more frequent.
Last Week: 1 Change: 0 Record: 11-2 Next Game: @ Giants
#2 – New England Patriots
I thought about putting the Pats up at the #1 spot following Seattle's loss. You could make a case for them, seeing that they were the #2 team last week and won their game. I felt it might be a way to honor the heart they displayed in pulling off yet another improbable win. However, if I put them that high, I will almost certainly need to drop them at some point, so I'll let them stay put at #2.
Last Week: 2 Change: 0 Record: 10-3 Next Game: @ Dolphins
#3 – Denver Broncos
Looks like Denver decided to follow the Patriots recipe of a bad first half, followed by an explosive second one.
Last Week: 3 Change: 0 Record: 11-2 Next Game: vs. Chargers
#4 – New Orleans Saints
New Orleans shut the door on the Panthers for all intents and purposes this week, meanwhile, they opened a door to the #2 seed and a bye week.
Last Week: 5 Change: +1 Record: 10-3 Next Game: @ Rams
#5 – Carolina Panthers
The Panthers went from a potential bye week to now being a mistep away from being shut out in the tight NFC playoff race. The Cats will need to keep up their torrid pace to ensure they're playing in January.
Last Week: 4 Change: -1 Record: 9-4 Next Game: vs. Jets
#6 – San Francisco 49ers
That was a pride game for the Niners, splitting the season series with their biggest nemesis. It was also a survival game as the NFC race is so close right now. There will be at least one team on the Top 12 list who doesn't make the playoffs.
Last Week: 6 Change: 0 Record: 9-4 Next Game: @ Buccaneers
#7 – Cincinnati Bengals
The Bengals were THIS close to taking the #2 seed from the Patriots until their long-suffering rivals, the Browns blew the game. Come to think of it – do you think there's any chance that Cleveland laid down at the end and let the Patriots win to screw Cincy? Yeah, me neither.
Last Week: 7 Change: 0 Record: 9-4 Next Game: @ Steelers
#8 – Kansas City Chiefs
With the way the Colts are playing, KC could easily be moving on to the divisional round as the de facto #5 seed in the AFC.
Last Week: 8 Change: 0 Record: 10-3 Next Game: @ Raiders
#9 – Philadelphia Eagles
Nick Foles and the Eagles are suddenly making the NFC East respectable.
Last Week: 10 Change: +1 Record: 8-5 Next Game: @ Vikings
#10 – Indianapolis Colts
A Colts/Chiefs Round 1 matchup seems all but assured right now. The Colts have some serious reason to worry that they'll be one and done yet again this year. Playoff wins for Mark Sanches in his first two years: 4. Playoff wins for Andrew Luck in his first two years: 0?
Last Week: 9 Change: -1 Record: 8-5 Next Game: vs. Texans
#11 – Arizona Cardinals
The Cardinals may just be the girl left out of the dance this January, which is a shame seeing as they so rarely get the opportunity to play in the post-season.
Last Week: 11 Change: 0 Record: 8-5 Next Game: @ Titans
#12 – Baltimore Ravens
If the Patriots can pull away with a win in Miami, it's going to be the Ravens who pose the biggest threat to hand them that 4th loss and take away their bye week.
Last Week: 12 Change: 0 Record: 7-6 Next Game: @ Lions