The Week 16 losses by the 49ers and Giants have thrown a monkey wrench into the NFC playoff picture, where the 13-2 Falcons have locked up home field advantage throughout the playoffs. The Packers (11-4) were given a Christmas gift by the Seahawks and will play a home game at Lambeau Field in January. The scramble is on for the wild card spots keeping the Bears, Giants and Cowboys playing for their playoff lives.
Over in the AFC, the teams have been determined. The AFC North will have two teams in the playoffs, but a disappointing loss by the Steelers slammed the door shut on an eerie season. This week, CBS Sports came closest to matching the consensus, getting the top-4 teams correct. Here’s your IBTimes ultimate consensus power rankings for Week 17 (The aggregate ranking points are in parentheses). 1. Denver Broncos (15) With every passing week, Peyton Manning looks more like the leading candidate for the MVP, and comeback player of the year awards. The 12-3 Broncos can earn the first seed with a win and a loss by the Texans, also at 12-3. The Broncos never received a vote below second, and should bolster their record when the 2-13 Chiefs come calling in Week 17. 2. Atlanta Falcons (32) The Falcons boast the NFL’s best record at 13-2. Rankings varied between first and sixth, but the NFC road to the Super Bowl will go through Atlanta, who has had a problem getting past the first playoff round in recent years. That first round bye will be a big step forward. The Falcons host Tampa Bay in Week 17. 3. New England Patriots (43) The 11-4 Patriots have a lock on the AFC East crown and will host a wild card team in the first round. Will TE Rob Gronkowski be available for the playoffs? The Pats, who were ranked in a range between second and fifth, host the 7-8 Dolphins in the regular season finale 4. Green Bay Packers (45) The Packers jumped two spots in our rankings after slips by Houston and San Francisco. They’ve won the NFC North and get a first round bye and the possible return of several injured players. The Packers travel to Minnesota for a finale with playoff implications for the sixth seeded 9-6 Vikings, who will be desperate for a win. 5. Seattle Seahawks (57) The trashing of the 49ers sent a message to the NFC as the ‘Hawks jumped two spots in the rankings. Behind rookie Russell Wilson and one of the leagues best defenses, the 10-5 Seahawks can nail down a wild card home game with a win over the visiting Rams. 6. San Francisco (62) The 10-4-1 Niners dropped 5 spots in the rankings, but hold on to the third playoff seed. They should find their misplaced mojo when the 5-10 Cardinals come to “the city.” 7. Houston Texans (84) The 12-3 Texans only dropped three spots after a loss to the 9-6 Vikings. Ranked between sixth and ninth, the Texans face a hungry 10-5 Colts team in Indianapolis, where the Texans hope to regain traction going into the playoffs, along with home field game in the wild card round. Great matchup between AFC South rivals. 8. Washington Redskins (103) That play-option running game (like the Seahawks) just wears down even the best defenses. Meanwhile, the 9-6 Redskins defense seems to get better with each passing week. With the NFC East crown on the line, Washington will host the 8-7 Cowboys in the game of the week next Sunday night. 9. Baltimore (115) Crushing the 8-7 Giants in Week 16 locked up the AFC North crown for the 10-5 Ravens, who will visit the 9-6 Bengals in a game where a home field playoff game is at stake. Another great Week 17 matchup. 10. Cincinnati Bengals (122) Hot on the Ravens heels, the 9-6 Bengals will be looking for their third straight wins after a Week 16 win which eliminated the Steelers from the playoff hunt. Ravens vs. Bengals will be must-see TV. 11. Minnesota Vikings (137) The 9-6 Vikings kept their playoff hopes alive with a stunning road victory over the 12-3 Texans. RB Adrian Peterson is going for the NFL season rushing record when the Vikings, who need some help, hope to keep their playoff chances alive when they host the 11-4 Packers in a must win game. 12. Indianapolis Colts (141) The surprising 10-5 Colts have a wild card spot locked up after a slim victory over the 2-13 Chiefs. The 2012 version of the darlings of the NFL will host a Texans team with a chip on it’s shoulder. Let’s see who sends a message goung into the playoffs. 13. Chicago Bears (149) The 9-6 Bears need a lot of help to get that sixth seed in the post-apocalyptic playoff scenarios. They can help themselves with a win in Detroit (4-12), but also need losses by the Vikings and Redskins to make it. 14. Dallas Cowboys (170) The up-and-down Cowboys are 8-7 after a bitter loss to the 7-8 Saints last week. Despite their record, a victory over the 9-6 Redskins in Washington will be enough to earn a playoff spot. It’s win, and in for the Cowboys. 15. New York Giants (179) The 8-7 Giants laid an egg in Baltimore last week and now find themselves in a must win situation against the struggling 4-11 Eagles plus a parley of a Cowboys win, or tie, plus losses by Chicago and Minnesota. The Giants playoff scenario amounts to winning the lottery. 16. New Orleans Saints (195) The Saints stole the Cowboys Christmas in Week 16 with a last minute win. Having been eliminated from the playoffs, the 7-8 Saints will try to even their record when the 6-9 Panthers pay a visit to NOLA. 17. Pittsburgh Steelers (206) The 7-8 Steelers were eliminated by division rival Cincinnati last week. A nominee for the most disappointing NFL team of 2012, the Steelers have a date in New Jersey with the Giants, where they can a play spoiler role. 18. St. Louis Rams (211) The Rams are 7-7-1, and will ensure a winning season with a win in Seattle. That’s the good news. The bad news is that the Rams are playing Seattle, who aren’t taking any prisoners of late. 19. Miami Dolphins (226) Another good news, bad news story. The 7-8 Dolphins hope to avoid a losing season, but face the 11-4 Patriots who don’t like loose ends. 20. Carolina Panthers (233) The 6-9 Panthers have won three straight. Their Week 17 matchup in New Orleans (7-8) should be competitive and entertaining. 21. San Diego Chargers (254) The Bolts have underperformed with their 6-9 record, but can finish the season with two straight wins when arch rival Oakland (4-11) come calling in Week 17. A postseason housecleaning will commence soon after the final whistle. 22. Tampa Bay Bucs (265) The 6-9 Buccaneers are in free fall after losing five straight games. Their finale in Atlanta promises more of the same as the Bucs have become a speed bump for upper echelon teams. 23. Cleveland Browns (280) The 5-10 Browns have won one more game than last year, but it seems half the team will be on the injury report, or IR as the Browns travel to Pittsburgh, who will be a nest of hornets coming off an elimination loss. 24. New York Jets (293) The QB situation couldn’t be worse. The locker room is polarized. There’s talk of firings. The 6-9 Jets soap opera travels to 5-10 Buffalo, where it’s not inconceivable for them to finish the season with three straight losses. 25. Buffalo Bills (306) Ryan Fitzpatrick will likely make his last start for the 5-10 Bills, who have lost three straight. With Mark Sanchez’ Jets coming to town for the finale, we could see a game with double-digit turnovers. Chan Gailey deserves better. 26. Tennessee Titans (318) The 5-10 Titans come off a walloping by the Packers, 55-7. As a consolation prize, the Titans get a shot at six wins when they host the 2-13 Jaguars. Failing to win here could lead to an overhaul in the postseason. 27. Detroit Lions (319) The 4-11 Lions are arguably the most disappointing team in the NFL. They hold the NFL’s current longest losing streak (7) and will host the 9-6 Bears, who are fighting for a wild card berth. Calvin Johnson can surpass 2,000 receiving yards, and Matt Stafford needs 305 yards for a second straight 5,000 yard passing season. 28. Arizona (326) The 5-10 Cards started the season with four straight wins, then dropped a season record nine straight. After beating the Lions, the cards went back to their losing ways in Week 16, losing to the Bears. The Cardinals travel to San Francisco for a game that can best described as mission impossible after the Niners ugly loss last week. 29. Philadelphia Eagles (336) Another nominee for the most disappointing NFL team, the 4-11 Eagles are a mess both on, and off the field. Before the postseason purge begins, the Eagles will visit the Giants, whose dim playoff aspirations coming off a bad loss means trouble for Andy Reid and Philly. 30. Oakland Raiders (359) The 4-11 Raiders will be blown up by the Davis family next week, after Oakland loses to the inept, but modestly more talented 6-9 Cgargers. Will Jon Gruden return as head coach? Stay tuned! 31. Jacksonville Jaguars (372) The 2-13 Jags are already looking at Tim Tebow (?) as an alternative for next year. The Draft is unlikely to provide any immediate relief. They travel to 5-10 Tennessee for the bitter end to a bitter season. 32. Kansas City Chiefs (381) The worst team in the NFL will clean house as soon as next week. At 2-13, the Chiefs will win the first pick in the 2013 draft after next week’s blowout in Denver. That wraps up the 2012 IBTimes internet poll of NFL power rankings. While the results do not match the draft order, the consensus of where every team fits in the pecking order is pretty accurate. I’ll be back in 2013, where we will once again start tracking NFL Power Rankings during the preseason. For those who would like to view the full results, highlight the link below: https://docs.google.com/spreadsheet/ccc?key=0Ao6HfBXFL76ydGdURzRXeFNfR2FpeFpkdm1iWGtONmc#gid=0