Last week of the 2011 NFL season and the playoffs start this Saturday. Huzzah!
As usual, there were a few surprise teams going into the playoffs. This year it's the Broncos, 49ers, Bengals, Lions, and Texans. So we know who not to like next season already.
Here are the standings for Week 17:
So overall, Peter King did the best. He was 165-91. For the record, I came in third, with a record of 158-98. The last three weeks really killed me.
Here are the Rankings for Week 17:
1.) New Orleans (13-3) [no change]
Much like last week, I probably should have moved the Packers into the top spot. But I'm rolling with the Saints since they won their last seven and looked ridiculously good doing it. So both are great teams. Of course, we'll see what happens if they both reach the NFC Championship Game, but these are regular season Rankings and have nothing to do with the playoffs.
2.) Green Bay (15-1) [no change]
Even when Aaron Rodgers takes a day off, the Packers' offense just keeps producing. It's hard to believe Matt Flynn can reproduce those numbers with another team, assuming Green Bay lets him go after the season. I think the Packers have the best chance to get back to the Super Bowl. They've got home-field throughout and have the strongest QB and offense. I can't imagine anyone beating them, before the Super Bowl, so it should be a fairly substantial upset. If it happens.
3.) New England (13-3) [no change]
Speaking of things that are hard to believe, the Patriots didn't beat a single team with a winning record. How do things like that happen? Well, they lost to Pittsburgh and the NY Giants. And the rest of their division was pretty crappy. That said, if not for their utterly terrible defense, I think the Pats have a decent shot of doing "something" in the playoffs. That assumes that they avoid the mishaps that got them beat by Baltimore and the Jets in the last couple seasons.
4.) San Francisco (13-3) [no change]
Despite having a first-round bye and a home game in the Divisional Round, I'm not too high on the 49ers' chances in the playoffs. They'll likely have to play the Saints, and I don't see them stopping Drew Brees.
5.) Baltimore (12-4) [no change]
Assuming Joe Flacco finds some consistency (and leans on Ray Rice heavily), the Ravens could do something in the playoffs. Then again, they'll probably have to beat the Steelers again, and I find it hard to believe they could do that three times in a season. But if Cam Cameron goes back to his old tricks (i.e. having Flacco throw it up to 50 times), the Ravens aren't getting past their first game.
6.) Pittsburgh (12-4) [no change]
It's not out of the realm of possibility that the Steelers have the best chance of making it out of the AFC. They have a favorable matchup in Denver this week. Assuming a Cincinnati win, they head to Baltimore to face the Ravens for a third time. Even if Cincinnati doesn't win, the Steelers get the Pats again, whom they already beat. Now if only Ben Roethlisberger's ankle hadn't "regressed". That injury could potentially derail my prediction for them.
7.) Atlanta (10-6) [+3]
As expected, the Falcons pulled it together and made the playoffs again. It looked dicey when they were getting beat by Chicago and the like, but Matt Ryan and company rounded into form at the right time and are the 5th seed in the NFC. They get the "good" matchup, going into Jersey to play the Giants. It's a lot better than having to play the Saints again.
8.) Houston (10-6) [-1]
I'm not really surprised that the Texans went on a swoon to end the season. Luckily for them, they had already clinched the AFC South and will host Cincinnati this weekend. I don't like their chances.
9.) Detroit (10-6) [-1]
Despite the awesomeness of Matt Stafford, it looks like Detroit is going to be one-and-done in the playoffs. Unless the defense somehow figures out how to stop Drew Brees in the next couple days, they're going into a shootout just a few bullets shy of being able to win. The one factor to look out for is how Ndamukong Suh plays; he wasn't in the lineup for the Lions the last time they played the Saints. We know Stafford and Brees will throw bombs all day.
10.) Cincinnati (9-7) [-1]
Andy Dalton and A.J. Green took the Bengals to the playoffs. Not only that, but they have a good chance of advancing to the Divisional Round. Who'd a-thunk it? I was hedging for most of the season, because I just wasn't sure what would happen. And as it turned out, the Bengals backed in. But hey, they're in and Dallas isn't, so there's that.
Surprisingly, none of the teams in the Rankings last week dropped out. But let's not forget the other two teams that made it into the playoffs, the NY Giants and the Denver Broncos.
Well, I guess we don't necessarily have to remember them. After all, it doesn't appear that they'll be around after this week.
I hope I didn't just jinx it.
That's all for this week and this year. Thanks for reading, and I'll see you next season.