LBS NFL Power Rankings Week 17

1. New England Patriots (13-2, –)

Securing home-field advantage was obviously very important to the Patriots, as they looked as good as they have all year against the Bills. They forced seven turnovers and committed none and have become historically efficient at protecting the football.

2. Atlanta Falcons (12-3, –)

The Falcons stumbled against the Saints, but New Orleans is one of the best teams in the NFC and Atlanta can still secure a No. 1 seed with a win over the lowly Panthers. Matty Ice finally showed he’s human — especially in the Georgia Dome — when he couldn’t bring the troops back with about 4:00 remaining.

3. New Orleans Saints (11-4, –)

If the Saints’ defense can play like they did against the Falcons on the road, the defending champs could be headed back to the championship. Drew Brees overcame two interceptions to lead his team to a comeback win. No one should be itching to play New Orleans in the playoffs.

4. Baltimore Ravens (11-4, –)

Joe Flacco is going to have to play better in the postseason, but Baltimore’s defense got it done on the road against a tough Browns team. Ed Reed’s two interceptions were the difference in the game, and having him back and healthy is huge for the team heading forward.

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LBS NFL Power Rankings Week 16

1. New England Patriots (12-2, –)

New England has a tendency to make young quarterbacks look like Joe Montana, and that’s what they did with Matt Flynn on Sunday. It’s possible the Packers would have won if Rodgers played, but it’s also possible the Patriots underestimated Flynn. We’re going with the latter.

2. Atlanta Falcons (12-2, –)

Winning in Seattle is no easy task, but the Falcons made it look like one. Atlanta hasn’t really stumbled since week six, and if you believe in teams wearing themselves out that should be your only concern with this team as we head into the postseason.

3. Philadelphia Eagles (10-4, +2)

A mistake from Matt Dodge helped, but the Eagles completed the greatest comeback of the season against the Giants.  We knew Philadelphia had the talent, but now we know they have the fight needed to win a championship.  Michael Vick is a legitimate leader for the first time in his career.

4. Baltimore Ravens (10-4, +3)

After their defense looked pretty soft against the Texans last week, the Ravens were able to hold off arguably the best offense in the NFC with a potent rushing attack. Ray Rice’s return to form will be crucial in determining how far they go in the postseason.

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LBS NFL Power Rankings Week 15

1. New England Patriots (11-2, –)

The Patriots dominated the Bears in a snowstorm, but that’s understandable because they’re a cold weather team. Oh wait, so is Chicago. Tom Brady is playing the best football of his career and the Patriots are looking unstoppable. Anything less than a trip to Dallas would now be a disappointment.

2. Atlanta Falcons (11-2, –)

The Falcons haven’t had the toughest schedule, but they’ve completely dominated it. Since a week one loss to the Steelers, Atlanta has won 11 out of 12 including its last seven in a row. There’s a long way to go, but a Matt Ryan-Tom Brady Super Bowl would certainly be fun to watch.

3. Pittsburgh Steelers (10-3, –)

Fortunately for Pittsburgh, their defense is phenomenal. Otherwise, their struggles on offense would come back to haunt them more frequently. Carson Palmer threw two pick-sixes and the Steelers cruised to a win. Without the play of their defense, they could have lost to a terrible team.

4. New Orleans Saints (10-3, –)

There’s a good chance the Saints’ week 16 game against the Falcons will determine home-field advantage throughout the NFC playoffs. New Orleans stayed red hot with a win over the Seahawks and has now scored 30+ points in its last five games. It’s safe to say their offense is locked in.

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LBS NFL Power Rankings Week 14

1. New England Patriots (10-2, –)

The Patriots are on their own planet after Monday night’s 45-3 victory over the Jets. If anyone tells you they saw that coming, they’re lying. With the win, New England put itself in prime position for a first round by and home-field advantage, where Tom Brady has been unbeatable.

2. Atlanta Falcons (10-2, –)

Atlanta continues to win big game after big game. They followed a huge win over the Packers with a road win over the Buccaneers. Matt Ryan is proving he has ice water running through his veins, as he’s led fourth quarter game-winning touchdown drives in consecutive weeks.

3. Pittsburgh Steelers (9-3, +3)

The Steelers have been struggling recently and were in need of a signature win. Thanks to a fourth-quarter strip sack from Troy Polamalu, they got it. Beating the Ravens in Baltimore was huge for Pittsburgh’s position in the AFC North. Three of their last four are against the Bengals, Browns, and Panthers.

4. New Orleans Saints (9-3, +1)

The mark of a great team is being able to win on the road. It wasn’t pretty, but the Saints are now 5-1 on the road this season after defeating the Bengals in Cincinnati. They’ll need to continue their hot streak to keep pace with the Falcons, who don’t appear to be slowing down.

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LBS NFL Power Rankings Week 13

1. New England Patriots (9-2, –)

The Patriots avoided a letdown in Detroit with a monster second half. Rookie Devin McCourty looks like he could turn into one of the best cover corners in the league. The NFL couldn’t have asked for better circumstances surrounding New England’s Monday night game against the Jets.

2. Atlanta Falcons (9-2, +1)

Time to put the Falcons in the discussion of best team in the NFL. The Packers helped Atlanta with mistakes — like Aaron Rodgers’ fumble on the goal line — but the win cements them as the best team in the NFC. They’re particularly tough to beat at home, which could make for a deep playoff run.

3. New York Jets (9-2, –)

The Jets have not defeated an above .500 opponent since their win over the Patriots Week 2. For that reason, we have them at No. 3 in our rankings. If they’re able to win in New England on Monday night, they’ll shoot up to No. 1. Monday’s game is as big as it gets for the regular season.

4. Baltimore Ravens (8-3, +3)

Like the Jets, it’s been a while since Baltimore has beaten a top-tier team. They’ll get their shot at home against Pittsburgh this weekend. The Ravens could sweep the Steelers with a win and put themselves in prime position to win the AFC North.

5. New Orleans Saints (8-3, +3)

Why is it that everyone seems to have forgotten about the Super Bowl champs? The Saints have won five out of their last six and scored 30+ points five times over that span. They’re a team that’s finding it’s stride at the right time and knows how to win in the playoffs.

6. Pittsburgh Steelers (8-3, -1)

A win is a win in the NFL, but the Steelers’ most recent one was as lucky as it gets. If Steve Johnson catches the ball in overtime, Pittsburgh loses. They have looked a bit lost at times since getting slapped around by the Patriots a few weeks ago. Finding consistency on offense will be crucial.

7. Green Bay Packers (7-4, -1)

Although the Packers lost to the Falcons, it was a road game against the NFC’s best and they hung around until the end. Had Rodgers not committed his first fumble of the season, we’d probably be talking about Green Bay as the best team in the NFC. Their next two are against the 49ers and Lions.

8. Chicago Bears (8-3, +4)

Okay, the Bears might be for real. They made Michael Vick look like a human being in a convincing win over the Eagles at home. Jay Cutler looked like he understood the offense, and that’s a scary thing for the rest of the NFC. Their defense keeps them in games and consistently gives them a chance to win.

9. San Diego Chargers (6-5, +4)

Forget the five losses. The Chargers are a very, very good football team. Philip Rivers would be the MVP if the season ended today. Despite countless injuries in the passing game, Rivers has led his team to four straight wins — including a shellacking of the Colts.

10. New York Giants (7-4, –)

The Giants had to overcome a bunch of injuries on offense against Jacksonville to come away with a win. They came from behind and were able to get a win, whether their fans appreciated it or not.  More importantly, they avoided the “Giants are chokers” talk for at least another week.

11. Philadelphia Eagles (7-4, -7)

The loss to the Bears showed us how average the Eagles can be if Michael Vick doesn’t have a tremendous game. Vick is still the most dangerous quarterback in the league, but he’s bound to start making some mistakes. The question is can Philadelphia overcome them.

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LBS NFL Power Rankings Week 12

1. New England Patriots (8-2, –)

Back-to-back wins over the Steelers and Colts secure the Patriots’ standing as the team to beat in the NFL. Their defense is creating timely turnovers and their offense looks even better without Randy Moss. Their game against the Lions on Thanksgiving has trap game written all over it with the quick turnaround.

2. New York Jets (8-2, –)

The Jets may be the best team in the NFL at finding a way to win. They’ve played some below-average teams and haven’t been able to dominate many games, but they seem to find a way to come out on top. Their Week 13 match-up with the Patriots will probably be the biggest game of the year.

3. Atlanta Falcons (8-2, –)

The Falcons could be the NFL’s best kept secret. They’ve won four in a row, yet no one seems to be talking about them. I’m sure they don’t mind. They have the Packers at home this weekend in what could be a game that does a lot to determine playoff seeding down the road.

4. Philadelphia Eagles (7-3, –)

Michael Vick is undefeated in games where he has played all 60 minutes this season. He also hasn’t thrown a single interception. The fact that he’s able to make plays like he does without turning the ball over is mind blowing. If teams don’t figure out how to stop Vick, the Eagles can reserve their hotel in Arlington.

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LBS NFL Power Rankings Week 11

1. New England Patriots (7-2, +3)

We didn’t want to drop the Pats too far down the list after their loss to the Browns, assuming it was a hiccup. They proved it was nothing but by going into Heinz Field and dominating the Steelers. Tom Brady picked a great time to have his best game of the year and their young defense got after Ben Roethlisberger.

2. New York Jets (7-2, +3)

You could argue the Jets have barely squeaked by mediocre teams the past two weeks, but they’ve done it on the road and it’s safe to say the Browns aren’t what they used to be. Squeezing out back-to-back overtime wins on the road proves that Rex Ryan’s team has enough toughness to make a deep run.

3. Atlanta Falcons (7-2, +4)

There we go. The Falcons have finally grabbed a win that doesn’t leave room for any “yeah, but…” skeptics. One of Atlanta’s two losses was against the Steelers week one on the road. Other than that, they’ve won seven of their last eight. With the Giants losing to Dallas, they become the clear-cut NFC favorite.

4. Philadelphia Eagles (6-3, +5)

How are teams going to stop Michael Vick? He looks better now than he ever had in Atlanta and is emerging as an MVP candidate. Not only is Vick making plays with his legs, he’s standing in the pocket and throwing the ball downfield. He makes the Eagles the most dangerous offense in football.

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