The season is winding down and at this point, we've seen what most contending teams have to offer. When making these power-rankings, I think in terms of head-to-head matchups, in other words, 'if both these teams brought their best, who would win'. Other things are balance, leadership, likelihood to advance in the playoffs, talant on the depth chart, injuries, and anything else.
1. Seattle Seahawks - As I've mentioned before, I think this is the best team I've seen in years. They remind me alot of the super-bowl winning Steelers teams of the recent past. Dominant defense, dominant running-game, creative playmaking QB. When this team brings its best, they can beat anyone. I can list a bunch of stats or I can link you to this article that does it for me. Its just a matter of watching them play. Every aspect of the team is balanced and exceptional. They can win in so many different ways. Their biggest challenge will be New Orleans. Beyond that, I think they can convincingly beat Denver in the superbowl.
2.New Orleans Saints - I think there are two teams in the NFL who are elite on both sides of the ball, and both those teams I put at 1 and 2. In a pass-happy league, they are the 2nd best passing offense and have the 3rd best passing defense. The key-word is balance. Head to head I think the difference between the saints and seahawks is the running-games. I think Lynch would be the difference maker. I would take the Saints O vs Den D as opposed to Den O vs Saints D. Its really as simple as that. People still have the image in their minds that the Saints defense is soft. They are a completely different team this year. Last year they were by FAR the worst defense in the league. They gave up the most rushing yards a game, and 2nd most passing yards a game, as well as the 2nd most points per game. This year they are the 5th best scoring defense.
3. Denver Broncos - Even though I think this is too much of a 1-sided team, this is one of the best offenses I've ever seen. Its comparable to the 07 patriots. But even the 07 patriots fell victim to a great pass-rush. But the fact is, when trying to beat the broncos, you need to have some degree of luck, hoping that Manning makes mistakes and you play a flawless game. I think the elite 4-man rush combined with the lock-down defensive backs of the Seahawks can slow the Broncos just enough to let the offense outscore Manning.
4. Carolina Panthers - One of the best, if not the best defense in the league. Combined with a solid run game, combined with a nice set of receivers, veteren leadership with the one and only Steve Smith, and a QB who continues to get better. I'm not a fan of Newton, but I gotta give it to him, he's been playing better and better. I think this teams weakness is its passing defense. Brady was able to exploit it, and Brees will be able to as well. I wouldn't be surprised if the Saints take both games versus Carolina. But I think their defense will keep em in any game. They robbed the patriots but what goes around comes around, the Patriots robbed the Saints, Saints robbed the Niners, Niners robbed the Packers. The Packers' cheap victory is yet to come. I feel like thats how they'll beat the Lions.
6. San Francisco 49ers - Its as if you have to be a niners homer or niners hater. It makes no sense. This is where they deserve to be. Tier 2 of NFL teams. A great defense no doubt, a good running game, and banged up receivers who are returning soon. Davis, Crabtree, Boldin, Manningham should be an effective bunch when all healthy. I'm not a big Kaepernick fan, I'll post about this later, but I think he's good enough in that offense, with that playcalling to put up more points than most opposing teams. More points than KC, not as many points as carolina. I think this is where they belong.
7. New England - Still an elite offense, especially with Gronk back. The defense is just way too banged up. They were playing scrubs against carolina. But the fact is the Belichick and Brady combo is always a threat to win and always a threat in the playoffs. They got robbed against Carolina, otherwise that would mean they'd have beaten the Saints and Panthers. Brady's offense made the Panthers defense look weak. Since about half-way through the 2nd quarter, the Patriot offense looked like they were going to drive at will.
8. Kansas City Chiefs - Kind of the same reasons as the Panthers, great defense, good rushing attack, good coaching, good receivers, but I would take Newton and Kaepernick over Smith. Simple as that. I think Newton and Kaepernick's playmaking abilities would be enough to allow their teams to score points while their defenses hold solid. I dont think Alex Smith would be able to move the ball effectively on any of the 6 teams above. I trust the New England offense vs KC def more than I do the KC Offense vs New England D.
9. Indianapolis Colts
10. Green Bay Packers
11. Cincinnati Bengals
12. Detroit Lions
13. Chicago Bears
14. Arizona Cardinals
15. New York Giants
16. Philadelphia Eagles
17. Dallas Cowboys