NFC Power Rankings Week 14: Do Tough Losses to Carolina and Seattle Cost Them?

Tom Uddo, Contributor

Just three weeks left of the NFL season and the playoff picture in the NFC is still very much in flux. Both the Seahawks and the Panthers suffered losses this past week, but which hurts more than the other? In a battle in the blizzard, the Eagles were able to secure a huge win against the Lions, and coupled with a Cowboys loss, Philly is in the driver seat in the NFC East. Speaking of the NFC East, the Giants and the Redskins embarrassed themselves over this past week with blowout losses, while the cross-country Niners are inching closer to becoming the best of the best in the conference. Here are my NFC Power Rankings for week 14…

Seahawks 1. Seattle Seahawks (11-2): Say what you want about the Seahawks. Yes, they lost to the Niners this past week. Yes, they are still at the top of my list in the NFC. Yes, they are still the BEST team in the NFC right now, and if Seattle can clinch home-field advantage this weekend, the odds of them booking a flight to New Jersey for the Super Bowl are very high. If not for a busted defensive play that setup the Niners in FG range late in the game, Seattle might be singing a different tune, but nonetheless they are still the team to beat in the NFC. Believe me, the Seahawks will learn from this road loss and only get better, because that is the type of team that they are. Ranking last week: 1


Saints2. New Orleans Saints (10-3): It was an equal mix of offense and defense for the Saints on Sunday night as they routed the Panthers and took sole possession of first place in the NFC South. Drew Brees racked up 313 yards through the air with four touchdowns, while the Saints defense led by defensive coordinator Rob Ryan, put a stranglehold on the Panthers offense, giving up just 239 yards and sending Carolina home with their first loss in eight games. Brees became the fifth quarterback to eclipse 50,000 career passing yards and the Saints look unstoppable at home, but it looks like they will be on the road if they make it to the NFC Championship game with Seattle having home-field advantage as the standings are right now. New Orleans will take on the Panthers one more time on the road in week 16, which could be a huge game if the Seahawks falter down the stretch. Rankings last week: 3

 

49ers3. San Francisco 49ers (9-4): A huge win for the Niners at home as they kept their playoff hopes alive in the NFC by handing the Seahawks just their second loss of the season. It looks like the NFC playoffs will run through Seattle, but the Niners are doing everything they can to change that. Frank Gore had another big week, rushing for 110 yards on 17 carries, including a 51-yarder that set the Niners up in FG territory to drive home the game winner with less than a minute left in the fourth quarter. Colin Kaepernick didn’t have perfect day, but he didn’t have to; San Francisco was able to find a gritty win that was well deserved in my book. This group of guys is starting to look like the team that went to the Super Bowl last year….watch out NFC, the Niners might have your number. Ranking last week: 4

 

Panthers4. Carolina Panthers (9-4): An unfamiliar feeling for the Panthers as they were destroyed by the Saints on Sunday night by a final score of 31-13. Cam Newton and the Carolina offense stumbled all game against a stingy Saints defense, with Newton finishing the day with just 160 yards and a single touchdown. The defense has no answer for Drew Brees and the Saints attack, since not many teams do, but the 31 points allowed were the most all season, and a team that allows under 220 yards passing, gave up over 300 to the future Hall of Famer Brees. Can Carolina hang with the big boys in the NFC? A win against the Niners tells me yes, but the demolishing by the Saints, tells me no. Ranking last week: 2

 

Eagles5. Philadelphia Eagles (8-5): It was easily the most interesting game of the week due to the snowy weather conditions in Philly, the Eagles came away with a big win against the Lions to give them sole possession of first place in the NFC East. With poor visibility conditions and the field being covered in inches of snow, LeSean McCoy had himself a day running the ball, rushing for a franchise-record 217 yards on 29 carries with two critical touchdowns, one that tied the game and the other that put the Eagles in the lead. Nick Foles threw his first interception of the season after throwing 19 consecutive touchdowns, and the weather was easily to blame for his sloppiness. While neither team expected that much snow, it was the Eagles who were more prepared to deal with the wintery conditions and McCoy running was the only thing pretty about the game. Ranking last week: 6

 

Bears 6. Chicago Bears (7-6): The Bears offense looked unstoppable against the Cowboys on Monday night, which isn’t really saying much. Josh McCown had his best game of the season, throwing for 348 yards with four touchdowns and zero interceptions, while Matt Forte supplied a strong running game, racking up 102 yards on 20 carries in the cold tundra that is Chicago. With the combination of McCown, Forte, Brandon Marshall, and Alshon Jeffrey, this Bears team won’t have a problem scoring; it is the defense we have to worry about. Ranking last week: 9

 

Lions 7. Detroit Lions (7-6): The Lions have dealt with their fair share of snow in Detroit, but they were definitely not ready for the weather conditions they faced in Philly. With snow falling fast, the Lions were down even before the game started, as Reggie Bush re-aggravated a calf injury during warm-ups when he slipped on the field; and the day would only get worse for the Lions. While they had the lead with less than a quarter to go, the Lions couldn’t find a way to stop LeSean McCoy and by the time the final whistle had blown, the Eagles had blown the doors off the game. It was a tough due for Matthew Stafford and the offense as they had a difficult time finding any momentum with such bad playing conditions. Stafford finished the game with just 148 yards, completing 10-of-25 passing with no touchdowns and no interceptions, but fumbled the ball a whopping FIVE times, coupled with backup Joique Bell’s two fumbles; the offense was really fighting themselves for most of the game. Ranking last week: 5

 

Cardinals8. Arizona Cardinals (8-5):  Carson Palmer picked apart the Rams defense and led his team to their eighth victory of the season, throwing for 269 yards with one touchdown, while completing 84% of his passes. The Cardinals defense, which has been a strong point all season, picked off Clemens twice, returning one for a touchdown, and held the Rams to just a single touchdown until a meaningless TD late in the fourth quarter. I said it a couple of weeks ago, this team is not going to be an easy out, come playoff time. Ranking last week: 8

 

Cowboys9. Dallas Cowboys (7-6): Everyone knew how bad Dallas’ defense is, but are they really THAT terrible? In the Monday night football game against the Bears, the Cowboys defensive unit allowed 490 yards, 45 points and didn’t force a punt from Chicago the entire game. While everyone can blame Tony Romo, as they usually do, this one isn’t on him; their offense had one heck of a game. The Cowboys find themselves in a tough spot as they are one game behind the NFC East leading Eagles with three games left. Looking at the schedule, games against the Packers and Redskins shouldn’t be as difficult as once imagined; which would cue an division title matchup against Philly in the last week of the season. Ranking last week: 7

 

Green Bay  10. Green Bay Packers (6-6-1): Matt Flynn heard a serious case of the boo-birds raining down from Lambeau Field at halftime as the Packers trailed by double-digits, but found a way to lead his team to victory against the lowly Falcons. Flynn was able to connect with eight different receivers, finishing with 248 yards and went 24-for-32 passing with one touchdown and one interception on the day, while the defense did a good job of holding Matt Ryan and Atlanta scoreless in the second half. Will Aaron Rodgers come back and somehow find a way to get the Pack into the playoffs? If anyone can do it, it’s him. Ranking last week: 11

 

Giants  11. New York Giants (5-8): The team that started the season with six straight losses has finally returned. Eli Manning and the Giants couldn’t find the endzone until the third quarter, while their defense couldn’t put a lid on Philip Rivers and the Chargers offense in a game that was over by halftime with San Diego up 24-0. Do the changes start at the top with GM Jerry Reese? Will Tom Coughlin be around next season? Has DC Perry Fewell and OC Kevin Gilbride sealed their fate? Sounds like it might be a fire-sale for Big Blue in the offseason. Ranking last week: 10

 

Rams12. St. Louis Rams (5-8): Another blowout for the Rams as Kellen Clemens two interceptions (one returned for a TD) and 25 yards on 14 carries by Zac Stacy was about the only offensive contribution by St. Louis in their loss against Arizona. Questions exists on both sides of the ball, and even with Sam Bradford healthy behind center, this team needs some more weapons. Ranking last week: 12

 

Bucs13. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (4-9): Mike Glennon and the Buccaneers only needed 90 yards through the air to seal a victory against the Bills on Sunday. Bobby Rainey had another stellar game on the ground, rushing for 127 yards on 22 carries; and racked up most of the yards on an 80-yard carry on the first drive of the game. The Tampa Bay defense was able to pick off E.J. Manual four times and held Buffalo to just two FG’s. Ranking last week: 13

 

Vikings 14. Minnesota Vikings (3-9-1): The NFL world held their collective breathe as Adrian Peterson went down holding his leg late in the game, but to the hopes of many, an MRI the next day showed no ligament damage. AP might call it a day (see what I did there) and sit out the next couple of games since the Vikings season is down the drain anyway. Minnesota is another team in the race for the #1 draft pick in the draft and a chance at a top QB could be all but signed as of right now. Ranking last week: 14

 

Falcons15. Atlanta Falcons (3-10): The Falcons are poised for a very high draft pick this offseason and tanking the final three games might be useful to them. Their loss to the Packers this past weekend showed faults on both the offensive and defensive side of the ball. It is tough to tell how the Falcons will rebuild once all of their players become healthy, while uncertainty definitely exists with the future of Hall-of-Famer Tony Gonzalez.  Ranking last week: 16

 

Redskins16. Washington Redskins (3-9): It doesn’t get much worse for the Redskins as they were blown out by the Chiefs at home by a final score of 45-10. It is doubtful that head coach Mike Shanahan will be around next season, especially if he is thinking about shutting down RGIII for the remainder of the season. About 25 fans stuck around after halftime, I wonder how many will be around next season. Ranking last week: 15

 

Where do you think these teams rank?

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