WEEI NFL Power Rankings, playoff edition: Patriots enter at No. 5
|01.02.14 at 10:55 am ET|
Fittingly, the Seahawks end the regular season where they spent most of it, at the top of the WEEI NFL Power Rankings. The Pete Carroll-led Hawks have ensured that they’ll be playing any and all NFC playoff games in Seattle, a place where they’ve lost just once over the last two years.
The Niners cling to the No. 2 seed as they prepare to take on a Packers team they’ve been successful against in their prior two meetings. The Panthers (3), Broncos (4) and Patriots (5) round out the top five playoff teams.
As wild card weekend approaches, keep in mind that the last three Super Bowl champions played in the first round of the playoffs. If history has taught us anything, any team that has reached the postseason has a shot at the title. We’re in for another exciting year of postseason football. Let the games begin.
1. (1) Seahawks (13-3) — If defense wins championships, the Seahawks have the best shot at hoisting the Lombardi Trophy in February. The Seahawks finished the regular season at the top of many defensive categories, including points allowed, passing yards and takeaways.
2. (2) 49ers (12-4) — A tough road lies ahead for the Niners, who look to return to the Super Bowl. They’ll most likely have to travel to Green Bay, Carolina and Seattle to get to where they want to go.
3. (3) Panthers (12-4) — Carolina brings one of the league’s best defenses into the playoffs. The Panthers’ ferocious D sacked opposing QBs a league-high 60 times.
4. (4) Broncos (13-3) — The precision and methodical offensive attack Peyton Manning and the Broncos offense deliver makes them the favorite in the AFC. Denver set an NFL record with 606 points scored, averaging almost 40 points per game.
5. (5) Patriots (12-4) — The Patriots are the experienced veteran team in the AFC that no one wants to play. With the number of key injuries this team has suffered, Bill Belichick deserves to be named Coach of the Year.
6. (6) Bengals (11-5) — The Bengals head into the playoffs with lots of momentum after winning five of their last six, including a 17-point rout of the defending Super Bowl champion Ravens to close the regular season.
7. (8) Saints (11-5) — The road hasn’t been friendly to the Saints this year, but they’ll be forced to win away from New Orleans in order to reach the Super Bowl. The Saints currently have a three-game road losing streak and average just 17 points away from the Superdome. Nine of Drew Brees‘ 12 interceptions this season have come on the road.
9. (18) Packers (8-7-1) — The Packers have given up 79 points and 1,073 yards in their previous two games against the Niners. Their defense will have to play a lot better this time around in order to advance, and they’ll have to do it without the injured Clay Matthews.
10. (12) Eagles (10-6) — The NFC East champs are in the position they’re in for one simple reason: Nick Foles. The second-year QB protects the football, has a high completion percentage and owns the best QB rating in the game.
11. (10) Chiefs (11-5) — The Chiefs started the season 9-0 but ended it 2-5. The only team with a winning record they beat in the regular season was the Michael Vick-led Eagles.
12. (11) Chargers (9-7) — Now that the Chargers are in the playoffs, they need to focus on being efficient in the red zone, where they’ve struggled all year. They’ll be going up against one of the best red zone teams in Cincinnati.
Which NFL teams are in your top 10? Leave your opinions/comments below or send via Twitter to @JoeZWEEI.