Which teams have generated the most buzz this season?
The New England Patriots, of course. Their fall and rise has maybe been the story of the NFL season. The Packers and Broncos, with their great quarterbacks. The Cardinals had their time in the spotlight – although they might be getting ushered off the main stage now. The story of the Seahawks’ charge in the West is picking up steam. Dallas’ surprise season has been a hot topic all year. And there’s one elite team that has had surprisingly little said about it, is rarely mentioned as a legitimate Super Bowl contender but might be as good anyone just listed.
The Philadelphia Eagles.
The Eagles rarely fly under the radar, but it has happened this season. There was a little bit of chatter about Mark Sanchez, but even that has died down. They went in and had a dominant performance at Dallas that should have stamped them as legitimate Super Bowl contenders, but by Monday we had forgotten all about it as we start talking again about the Packers and Broncos – and Johnny Manziel, of course.
The Eagles are 9-3 with very close losses to the 49ers and Cardinals on the road. They were blown out by the Packers in Green Bay, but that's not unique to them. Philadelphia's final four games – vs. Seattle, vs. Dallas, at Washington, at N.Y. Giants – give it a real chance to finish 13-3. That would put the Eagles in good position to get the No. 1 seed, although Green Bay and Arizona would each have to lose at least one more because they both have the tiebreaker over Philadelphia.
The Eagles' defense has been pretty good all year, the special teams have been great, and like last year, the offense is getting into a groove. Philadelphia has won four of five and scored 30 points in each win. I don't think the Eagles can win at Green Bay, but it's possible they might not have to. And I don't think anyone would want to play at Philadelphia in January, but then again, nobody is really saying much about the Eagles at all. If the Eagles beat the Seahawks this week, that might start to change.
Here are the post-Week 13 NFL power rankings:
32. Oakland Raiders (1-11, Last Week: 31)
If you needed a hint of how important getting one win was, just look at how badly the Raiders collapsed the week after getting that one win.
31. Jacksonville Jaguars (2-10, LW: 32)
It says something about them and coach Gus Bradley that they kept battling after falling behind 21-0. It says something about the Giants too, but that’s another topic.
30. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (2-10, LW: 29)
Are there any positive signs that Lovie Smith was the right hire? They find new and strange ways to lose every week.
29. Tennessee Titans (2-10, LW: 28)
When you allow six touchdown passes to Ryan Fitzpatrick, everything needs to be evaluated in a harsh light.
28. New York Jets (2-10, LW: 30)
At least they made it competitive for a national audience.
27. New York Giants (3-9, LW: 26)
Tom Coughlin has had a great run in New York, but I wouldn’t be surprised if the loss at Jacksonville is what ultimately ends it.
26. Washington Redskins (3-9, LW: 27)
If Colt McCoy has a solid December, the Redskins face an interesting decision. McCoy will be a free agent. He has run Jay Gruden’s offense pretty well so far.
25. Carolina Panthers (3-8-1, LW: 25)
They voted for Ron Rivera over Bill Belichick for coach of the year last season.
24. Chicago Bears (5-7, LW: 21)
The game plans on both sides of the ball against Detroit were just confusing. They had no chance.
23. Minnesota Vikings (5-7, LW: 22)
I keep thinking Cordarrelle Patterson is too talented to not play at all for this team. He played just three snaps on Sunday. Then I also understand that the coaches know what he brings to the table and know what else the Vikings have at the position, and they’ve decided not to play him much.
22. Atlanta Falcons (5-7, LW: 24)
For as bad as the NFC South is, Sunday showed that Matt Ryan and Julio Jones could orchestrate a playoff upset against a good team if they’re on.
21. New Orleans Saints (5-7, LW: 23)
Drew Brees throwing for five touchdowns on a day that Jimmy Graham didn’t catch a pass is the best sign the offense has had in many weeks.
20. St. Louis Rams (5-7, LW: 20)
I’ll give the Rams credit for this: Most NFL teams would have talked themselves into just rolling with Zac Stacy at running back for another year. The Rams saw a back in Tre Mason they thought was better, and drafted him despite Stacy having a decent rookie year. And it was the right move, obviously.
19. Pittsburgh Steelers (7-5, LW: 17)
When a team constantly plays down to its competition, that’s coaching. The Steelers should have a decent lead in the AFC North by now, but have blown too many games.
18. Houston Texans (6-6, LW: 19)
If J.J. Watt is not the MVP, we’re just telling defensive players they don’t matter.
17. Cleveland Browns (7-5, LW: 14)
I'd stick with Brian Hoyer. I think Johnny Manziel needs a full year of development and he won't have success this year. Also, in a few weeks you can go from Hoyer to Manziel a lot easier than you can go from Manziel back to Hoyer.
16. Buffalo Bills (7-5, LW: 18)
The defense is really good. I just don’t see how they get into the playoffs, which is a shame.
15. San Francisco 49ers (7-5, LW: 12)
Chicken or the egg: Is it Colin Kaepernick’s issues that have caused Michael Crabtree and Vernon Davis to fall off a cliff this season, or vice versa?
14. Baltimore Ravens (7-5, LW: 10)
They beat bad teams and lose to good teams. We shouldn’t be surprised when the pattern repeats itself.
13. San Diego Chargers (8-4, LW: 15)
Don't look now, but Keenan Allen's sophomore slump is over. He has 17 catches, 225 yards and three touchdowns the past two weeks. I'm not sure where that Allen was all season, but he's here now.
12. Kansas City Chiefs (7-5, LW: 9)
Whatever the cause of their issues in the passing game, the Chiefs have to figure out a way to field an offense in 2015 that has a receiver or three who you actually notice over the course of a game.
11. Cincinnati Bengals (8-3-1, LW: 16)
Hard to be too excited for that win in Tampa Bay, but it’s a win, which is more than we can say for the rest of that division this week.
10. Miami Dolphins (7-5, LW: 11)
Take the ugly win, move on, don't look back.
9. Detroit Lions (8-4, LW: 13)
Linebacker DeAndre Levy probably deserves a little more love for what he means to a really good defense. If you watch a Lions game, it won’t take long before you see him around the ball.
8. Dallas Cowboys (8-4, LW: 7)
I’ve preferred the Eagles all season, so that Thanksgiving result didn’t surprise me, but it was a bit of a concern how lopsided it was.
7. Arizona Cardinals (9-3, LW: 3)
I admire Cardinals fans for being so adamant that losing Carson Palmer meant nothing to the outlook of their team this season. And trust me, I think I heard from every one of them. But it was never realistic.
6. Indianapolis Colts (8-4, LW: 6)
Is the Trent Richardson trade top 10 all-time bad? Top five?
5. Seattle Seahawks (8-4, LW: 8)
The Marshawn Lynch retirement talk has never really seemed like an empty negotiating ploy to me, because I can only imagine how his body feels at the end of each season.
4. Philadelphia Eagles (9-3, LW: 5)
I'm glad the Seattle defense has looked like its usual self the past couple weeks, because it makes Sunday's matchup very interesting.
3. Denver Broncos (9-3, LW: 4)
The Broncos once again look capable of winning the AFC, but the problem is this: I don’t think they can win at New England. And I don't think they're getting the No. 1 seed.
2. Green Bay Packers (9-3, LW: 2)
I think the Packers have passed the Seahawks and Saints and anyone else as having the best home-field advantage in the NFL. That’s why the race for the NFC's No. 1 seed is so important.
1. New England Patriots (9-3, LW: 1)
I wasn’t really surprised by Sunday’s outcome at Lambeau, and I doubt many others were either. Nothing that happened on Sunday changed my mind about how good this team is.
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