|WEEI NFL Power Rankings, Week 14: Patriots jump to No. 3||12.03.13 at 10:44 am ET|
The dominance continues. Seattle’s reign atop the WEEI NFL Power Rankings has reached its seventh straight week. The Seahawks look like a lock to play in New Jersey in Super Bowl XLVIII.
The Panthers (2), Patriots (3) and Broncos (4) all inch one spot closer while the Saints drop out of the top five after being absolutely dismantled in Seattle. New Orleans won’t have much time to think about the loss because the red-hot Panthers are next on the schedule in a battle for the NFC South.
As the regular season draws closer to an end, we’ll see more teams officially eliminated from the playoffs. It looks like at least five playoff teams from 2012 won’t make a return trip in 2013. The Packers (20), Vikings (27), Redskins (28, already eliminated) Falcons (29) and Texans (32) have not lived up to expectations.
1. (1) Seahawks (11-1) – Good luck to any NFC team that has to go through Seattle to reach the Super Bowl. Russell Wilson hasn’t lost at CenturyLink Field and is 22-6 since becoming the starting QB last year.
2. (3) Panthers (9-3) — Owners of eight straight wins, the Panthers and their highly ranked defense will take on the Saints on Sunday night.
3. (4) Patriots (9-3) — As usual, the Bill Belichick-Tom Brady-led Patriots get stronger and better as the season shifts to November and December. They are one win and one Miami loss away from wrapping up their 11th division title in 13 seasons.
4. (5) Broncos (10-2) — The road to the Super Bowl in the AFC will go through Denver. The Broncos’ remaining opponents have a combined 16-32 record. None of the four teams they will face have a record over .500.
5. (6) 49ers (8-4) — The injuries on the offensive line combined with the inconsistency of the run game over the past two weeks are a concern heading into Sunday’s game against the Seahawks.
|WEEI NFL Power Rankings, Week 13: Patriots top dogs in AFC||11.26.13 at 12:36 pm ET|
The Patriots are the new power team in the AFC as they have surpassed the Broncos for the first time this year in the WEEI NFL Power Rankings. Sunday night’s stunning comeback was good enough to catapult New England from seventh to fourth and drop Denver from second to fifth.
In the NFC, the scene is set for the two top teams to clash on Monday night. The Seahawks have enjoyed the top spot for quite some time, but the Saints, up a spot this week to No. 2, are a real threat with their prolific offense. Monday night’s outcome may not only determine who gets home-field advantage in the playoffs, but ultimately who represents the NFC in the Super Bowl.
At the bottom of the barrel, the Jaguars finally clawed their way out of the most miserable position. The good news for the Texans, our new bottom-feeder, is that they can only go up from here. Houston has plunged week after week after starting the season at No. 7.
1. (1) Seahawks (10-1) — Seattle should be solely focusing on its NFC clash with the Saints, but news that cornerbacks Walter Thurmond and Brandon Browner are facing suspensions has changed that plan.
2. (3) Saints (9-2) — The most important game of the year for the Saints is Monday in Seattle. New Orleans wants to play in the comfort of its dome in the postseason. Winning two games in Seattle in the same year doesn’t seem likely.
3. (4) Panthers (8-3) — We’ve seen many qualities of a Super Bowl-caliber team during the Panthers’ current seven game win streak. The ability to close out tight games is a trait we see year after year from Super Bowl champions during the regular season.
4. (7) Patriots (8-3) — No franchise executes the “next man up” philosophy better than New England. Whether it’s Jerod Mayo, Vince Wilfork, Aaron Hernandez or Wes Welker, the Patriots continue to find a way to win more than they lose.
5. (2) Broncos (9-2) — It’s clear the formula to beating the Broncos is pressuring Peyton Manning. The veteran QB was 0-for-6 with an interception when faced with pressure from Patriots defenders. For the first time this season, Denver doesn’t look like the clear favorite in the AFC.
|Wes Welker: ‘I’ve got a lot of respect’ for Robert Kraft and Bill Belichick||11.25.13 at 1:56 am ET|
FOXBORO — A disheartened Wes Welker spoke to the media about his return to New England following the Patriots’ 34-31 comeback victory over the Broncos at Gillette Stadium.
“It was a little different for sure,” said Welker. “It was great seeing Mr. Kraft. I got a lot of respect for him as a man, as an owner of a team and everything else.”
The former Patriots receiver caught four balls for 31 yards in his first return to Gillette Stadium since signing with Denver this off-season. Before the game, a video tribute highlighting the great moments of Welker’s career in New England was played inside the stadium on the video board.
“It was very classy of them to do something like that and I appreciate it very much,” the wide receiver said.
One of the big storylines coming into the game was the relationship between he and Bill Belichick. In a pregame interview conducted by Tedy Bruschi on ESPN, the 32-year-old receiver said, “I think so” when asked if he still had a good relationship with Belichick. Welker went on to say he was anticipating, “the most awkward situation that could possibly happen” if he and his former head coach were to interact.
After the game, Welker talked about that interaction which took place on the field following the game where Belichick sought out his former receiver.
“It wasn’t awkward at all,” Welker said. “It was good to see him. I’ve got a lot of respect for him as a coach. He came over and was like ‘good job; we’ll see you all again I’m sure.’”
For Welker, a 10-year veteran, he acknowledged he tried to make this just another game, but it wasn’t easy.
“I tried to. You try to make it just a regular game, but it’s hard at times,” he said. “You try and go out there and focus and do your job. I’m sure there were more emotions and things like that going into it for sure.”
In his first time back at Gillette Stadium the game could have marked closure on his time in New England, but ultimately it didn’t go as he would have liked and now it’s time for Welker to put the game behind him and move on to another big game against division rival Kansas City next Sunday.
“It would have been a lot better closer if we would’ve won, but I had a lot of good years here and things like that,” he said. “I feel like I’ve had closure before and I’ve kind of moved on. We have another big game this week against Kansas City and we have to move on to that.”
Ryan Hannable contributed to this article.
|WEEI NFL Power Rankings, Week 12: Pats drop out of top 5||11.20.13 at 11:58 am ET|
The Seahawks are showing no signs of wanting to fly south as winter nears. Seattle continues its reign at No. 1 as it heads into its bye week and prepares for a tough stretch against the Saints (3) and 49ers (8).
The Panthers (4) claw their way into the top five after a statement win in the Monday night game. The Patriots drop three spots to No. 7 and have no time to focus on a controversial call in Week 11 because the Broncos (2) are set to roll into Foxboro. Tom Brady will prepare for his 14th showdown vs. Peyton Manning. Brady has had the upper hand in nine of the 13 meetings between the two stars.
The bottom five welcomes its latest playoff team of 2012. The Falcons plummet to No. 30 and join the Vikings (28) and Texans (31) as teams to have hit rock bottom after reaching the postseason last year.
Many teams still are in the thick of the playoff race as the final quarter of the season approaches. Check back next week to see who’s on the way up and who’s on the way down.
1. (1) Seahawks (10-1) — The Seahawks look to be getting stronger and stronger as they inch closer to capturing the No. 1 seed in the NFC. They go into their bye week with six straight wins.
2. (2) Broncos (9-1) — Manning has been the story all year, but the Broncos offensive line deserves the credit after Sunday night’s performance. The O-line came up huge on the biggest stage by not allowing a sack to the team that led the league in that category going into the game.
4. (7) Panthers (7-3) — Cam Newton and the Panthers finally got the league’s attention. Newton needed to prove he could lead his team late in the fourth quarter against a playoff-caliber team, and he accomplished just that.
5. (3) Chiefs (9-1) — That ferocious Chiefs defense was non-existent Sunday night. Kansas City had a tremendous opportunity to rough up Peyton Manning but was unable to even knock him down. Despite the loss, many of the mistakes are fixable and the Chiefs should be able to rush Manning better when they face him again at Arrowhead.
|WEEI NFL Power Rankings, Week 11: Patriots climb into top 5||11.12.13 at 11:28 am ET|
The Seahawks continue to soar high above the rest in the WEEI NFL Power Rankings. As fellow NFC teams suffer injuries and decline, Seattle seems to be getting stronger, and its big offseason acquisition, Percy Harvin, is set to debut in Seahawk green. The Broncos stand pat at No. 2 as they survived a health scare to their franchise QB. The Chiefs are proud owners of a perfect record and jump the their highest spot all year at No. 3. They sat back and enjoyed their bye week as the Colts (6) and Niners (8) suffered losses and fell in the rankings.
The difference a year makes continues to be the story across the league. Playoff teams in 2012 like the Texans (28), Vikings (27), Redskins (26) and Falcons (25) continue to plummet in 2013. It seems highly unlikely any of those teams will make a return to the postseason. On the other hand, the Chiefs, Panthers (7) and Jets (11) all have exceeded expectations and are in the thick of the playoff race after being completely out of it at this time last year.
Week 11 will deliver one of the most anticipated matchups of the year as the league’s best offense clashes against one of the league’s best defenses in an AFC West battle. The Broncos and Chiefs will duke it out to maintain their position in the NFL’s elite. It should be an exciting week of football.
1. (1) Seahawks (8-1) — Last year Seattle owned a 3-5 record on the road; this year the Seahawks boast a 5-1 record away from CenturyLink Field. As Harvin nears a return to the field following hip surgery, the Seahawks’ lead in the NFC continues to grow.
2. (2) Broncos (8-1) — Peyton Manning re-aggravated an ankle injury, but that won’t sideline him when the Broncos take on the first-place Chiefs. Denver needs to be extra cautious with Manning. It may be even worth considering shutting him down for a week or two. Their chance for a Super Bowl title could be on the line.
3. (5) Chiefs (9-0) — The time finally has arrived for the Chiefs to prove to the rest of the league they are as good as their record indicates. It’s quite simple why Kansas City is at the top of the standings. The defense has been ferocious. The Chiefs have forced a league-high 23 turnovers.
4. (6) Patriots (7-2) — The Patriots are an astonishing 87-24 coming off their bye week since 2001. They’re 26-4 over the last three years alone. There’s no reason to believe Bill Belichick and Tom Brady won’t lead the Patriots to another impressive post-bye week performance when they take on the Panthers on Monday night.
|WEEI NFL Power Rankings, Week 10: Patriots leap to No. 6 heading into bye week||11.05.13 at 10:02 am ET|
A bizarre week in the NFL has concluded, and it’s time to digest exactly we saw. The Broncos and Texans witnessed their coaches have serious health issues. Meanwhile, the Dolphins are making national headlines for the wrong reasons. The spotlight will be on all three of these teams to see how they react to some very unfortunate circumstances.
The Seahawks’ control of the top spot remains intact after a dramatic comeback victory over the winless Buccaneers. In fact, the entire top five stays the same. The Chiefs are undefeated but still stuck at No. 5 as they’ve benefited from an extremely easy schedule the first half of the season.
The Patriots, Bears and Jets all creep higher after impressive wins in Week 9. The Ravens (19) and Falcons (23) are two playoff teams from 2012 that continue to slide.
Who knows what’s in store for football fans in Week 10?
1. (1) Seahawks (8-1) — They’re the best in the league right now because they find a way to win week after week. Super Bowl-caliber teams win the close games, and the Seahawks do just that.
2. (2) Broncos (7-1) — We saw the Colts use the illness of their coach to inspire them last season. It will be interesting to see how John Fox‘s absence following heart surgery affects this talented Broncos team.
4. (4) 49ers (6-2) — Mario Manningham, Eric Wright and Aldon Smith all are set to return as the Niners come out of their bye week locked in a dogfight with the Seahawks in the NFC West.
6. (9) Patriots (7-2) — Many questions surround the Patriots as they limp into their bye week. They have lost many key players on defense. Will they be able to overcome with their leaders missing?
|WEEI NFL Power Rankings, Week 8: Colts leap to No. 2 after edging Broncos||10.23.13 at 11:12 am ET|
A major shakeup is the result of a thrilling and somewhat shocking Week 7. The Broncos relinquished the No. 1 spot, with the Seahawks retaking the crown. Storming all the way up to No. 2 are the Colts. Behind Andrew Luck, Indy knocked off what looked to be an unbeatable Broncos team that falls to No. 3.
The Saints (6), Bengals (7) and Packers (8) all dropped a few spots despite winning or being on a bye. The spectacular Indy win along with the Chiefs (5) improving to 7-0 is the reason why. This goes to show how close the top teams are. Parity is king in the NFL.
Coming off an exciting overtime victory over the Patriots (9), the Jets make a dramatic leap five spots to No. 14. Meanwhile, the Bears (15) continue to plunge, having lost three of their last four and Jay Cutler for an extended period of time.
Three teams have claimed the top spot in the WEEI NFL Power Rankings through seven weeks. Can the undefeated Chiefs be the fourth? Week 8 awaits …
1. (2) Seahawks (6-1) — Percy Harvin‘s imminent return should instill fear throughout the NFC. If the Seahawks get home-field advantage in the playoffs, it will take a perfect game to knock them off.
2. (9) Colts (5-2) — Forget the six fourth-quarter comebacks and nine game-winning drives, Luck’s signature game was this past Sunday when he outdueled future Hall of Famer Peyton Manning. The Colts have another special QB in Indianapolis.
3. (1) Broncos (6-1) — Turnovers at the running back position is a reason for concern in Denver. This team doesn’t have many weaknesses, but running back is one of them.
4. (4) 49ers (5-2) — That’s four straight for the red-hot Niners. The run game has been a major factor for the offense. Frank Gore spoke out about his lack of carries following a Week 3 loss to the Colts and has seen his workload increase dramatically ever since.
5. (7) Chiefs (7-0) — The Chiefs have the makeup of a Super Bowl contender. They win close games, don’t turn the ball over and have a ferocious defense. It’s not the Seahawks but the Chiefs who are allowing the fewest points per game in the league (11.6).
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