1: Seattle Seahawks (10-1) Last Weeks Ranking: 1
The top dogs in the NFC have a game lead on the Saints for home field advantage throughout the play-offs, and are beginning to get healthy. Week 11 before their bye gave us a glimpse of what's to come from Percy Harvin who had an impressive Seahawks debut against his former team. It's tough to envisage the Seahawks losing at home, or losing in general actually.
2: New Orleans Saints (9-2) Last Weeks Ranking: 3
The Saints are another team that dominate on their home field against all opponents and will be tough to beat in the post-season, but don't have that same dominance the Seahawks have. All of their skill position players are beginning to find some form at the right time, making them a legitimate Super Bowl contender.
3: New England Patriots (8-3) Last Weeks Ranking: 7
Coming from 24-0 down at the half to win against the Denver Broncos was nothing short of spectacular. The way they conducted themselves scoring 31 unanswered points, then being pegged back and going on to win in overtime proves that teh Patriots have the capability to beat any opposition from whatever deficit.
4: Denver Broncos (9-2) Last Weeks Ranking: 2
Denver failed to capitalise on a 24-point lead in the second half to put away the Patriots and further the gap between not only them and the Pats, but the Chiefs who also lost in Week 12, leaving the race for the number one seed in the AFC wide open. Questions continue to mount of Peyton Manning and whether he can produce in cold weather.
5: Carolina Panthers (8-3) Last Weeks Ranking: 6
Reeling off their seventh-straight win against the Miami Dolphins with a game-winning drive with under a minute to go in the fourth quarter virtually puts to bed any argument there is that Cam Newton isn't a 'clutch' player. The race for the NFC South is still alive, and the Panthers have gone from wildcard dark-horses to Super Bowl contenders in the space of a month.
6: Kansas City Chiefs (9-2) Last Weeks Ranking: 4
A poor loss in a shoot-out at home to the San Diego Chargers raises more speculation that the Chiefs are a hoax. Their 9-0 start which included games against several backup quarterbacks, succeeded by a number of poor defensive performances suggests that they aren't all that. The game at Denver in Week 13 becomes pivotal.
7: San Francisco 49ers (7-4) Last Weeks Ranking: 10
The Niners have a real race on their hands for the final wildcard spot in the NFC with the Cardinals closing the gap in the NFC West. These two teams appear to have distanced themselves for the time being from the Bears, Lions and Packers, but the question remains: when will the Niners offense really take off?
8: Arizona Cardinals (7-4) Last Weeks Ranking: 12
On the back of a four-game win streak, the Cardinals have quietly gone about their business and just played great football. Quiet no more. A blow-out win over the Colts brought the Cards to the national spotlight, and they are receiving the respect they deserve. Carson Palmer is playing like a top-7 quarterback in the NFL, completing over 71% of his passes in the last four games. An error-free Carson Palmer, is a very good Carson Palmer, very good indeed.
9: Indianapolis Colts (7-4) Last Weeks Ranking: 5
An embarrassing loss to the Cardinals on Sunday really damaged any hopes the Colts had of a first-round bye in the play-offs, but thanks to the lack of competition in the AFC, their division is firmly out of reach from the Titans. The Colts have very much been a Jekyll and Hyde team, with wins against the Niners, Seahawks and Broncos, but then crushing defeats at the hands of the Cardinals and Rams; I don't know what to make of them.
10: Cincinnati Bengals (7-4) Last Weeks Ranking: 8
Despite winning, the Bengals fall because of the excelling teams in the NFC. They aren't really convincing in their wins. Their last game came in Week 11 where they took down the Browns, but Andy Dalton only threw for 93 yards (and three touchdowns) but he really didn't play well in what was eventually a blow-out. The Bengals again look like a one-and-done team in the play-offs.
11: Philadelphia Eagles (6-5) Last Weeks Ranking: 11
The enigma that is the 2013 Philadelphia Eagles continues to captivate audiences with their unique offensive style. In a tie for first place in the NFC East with the Cowboys, the Eagles are unable to string wins together and sustain any sort of lead in the division. A massive game this week as they take on the rampant Cardinals.
12: Dallas Cowboys (6-5) Last Weeks Ranking: 14
The Cowboys continue to just get by in the NFC East and remain in touching distance of the Eagles. The dramatic win over the Giants all but ended the G-Men's play-off hopes, leaving it a two-horse race. The Cowboys are the better team to me, but no one wants to win this division. It's going to the wire, folks.
13: Chicago Bears (6-5) Last Weeks Ranking: 9
Another defeat for the Bears means they fail to extend their lead in the NFC North, which like the East, has no clear superior. Taken apart by the Rams in Week 12 does not make good viewing for Bears fans, and it looks like they'll have to win the division if they want to make the play-offs.
14: Detroit Lions (6-5) Last Weeks Ranking: 13
A disappointing loss for the Lions who fail to take advantage of a bad week in the NFC North. You can't lose to a two-win team if you want to be taken seriously as a post-season contender. They have the ability to win or lose any game they play, that's the odd querk with the 2013 Lions.
15: Pittsburgh Steelers (5-6) Last Weeks Ranking: 20
Three-straight wins for Big Ben and the Steelers, who have brought themselves back from the brink into play-off contention, which really is a a testament to how bad the AFC is. In the hunt for that sixth-seed in the AFC, the Steelers are getting hot at the right team, and are probably the favourites for that spot.
16: Green Bay Packers (5-5-1) Last Weeks Ranking: 17
Matt Flynn kept the Packers alive coming in for Scott Tolzien and salvaging a tie for Green Bay against the Vikings. With Aaron Rodgers expected back for Week 13, their hopes of winning the NFC North are still alive, but cannot afford any mistakes from here on out.
17: San Diego Chargers (5-6) Last Weeks Ranking: 22
A statement win at the Kansas City Chiefs late on only added to the unknown that is San Diego. Still in the hunt for an AFC Wildcard spot, the Chargers have no specific pattern, much like the Lions. Philip Rivers is playing exceptionally well, and he is the key to their success past, present and future.
18: St. Louis Rams (5-6) Last Weeks Ranking: 19
The Rams have dealt two blow-out wins against teams vying for the play-offs in Indianapolis and Chicago, and continue to throw up great performances along with some absolute stinkers. It's hard to believe that is 5-6 team is actually the worst their division has to offer.
19: Baltimore Ravens (5-6) Last Weeks Ranking: 16
I don't like the way the Baltimore offense is running this season. They lack any consistency and explosiveness. They are still in the hunt for an AFC Wildcard, along with virtually all of the AFC, but they don't look like a team that can challenge.
20: New York Giants (4-7) Last Weeks Ranking: 15
The loss to the Cowboys virtually ends all hopes of winning the NFC East and play-off hopes in general. Just when the Giants were getting things going they failed to win the game they absolutely had to win. They're now playing for 2014.
21: New York Jets (5-6) Last Weeks Ranking: 21
First back-to-back game results of the season for the Jets. Unfortunately, they were back-to-back losses and brings them back to the chasing pack for that final AFC Wildcard spot. Geno Smith is not guaranteed the start in New York despite being a nice surprise this season with limited options in the passing game. The Jets need some skill-positiion players to be a real contender, their defense is legit.
22: Miami Dolphins (5-6) Last Weeks Ranking: 18
Losing three starters to an already poor offensive line can only be bad for you. The Miami Dolphins have some pieces in place to be a good team but are not yet the complete package. The organisation needs to do more to help Ryan Tannehill.
23: Tennessee Titans (5-6) Last Weeks Ranking: 25
A last-gasp win over the Raiders helped keep the Titans' play-off hopes alive in that cluster of teams at 5-6 in the AFC. Ryan Fitzpatrick has his good and bad days, but he is doing enough to keep them afloat while Jake Locker is sidelined through injury.
24: Buffalo Bills (4-7) Last Weeks Ranking: 26
The Bills have been good in parts this season but are not close to competing in the AFC. Some good young players on both sides of the ball, but require consistent quarterback play from E.J. Manuel, which they hope will come with more game time as his rookie season draws to a close.
25: Tampa Bay Buccaneers (3-8) Last Weeks Ranking: 28
Three-straight wins for the Buccaneers following an 0-8 start. Mike Glennon is looking real good as they are building towards next year. Glennon is playing well enough to retain the starting job next season, and arguably looks better than both Geno Smith and E.J. Manuel.
26: Oakland Raiders (4-7) Last Weeks Ranking: 23
The Raiders are a competitive team, but that's all right now. Simply put, there isn't enough talent on the roster right now. Undrafted rookie quarterback Matt McGloin looks solid filling in for Terrelle Pryor, and may have taken his starting job. The Raiders are moving out of the quarterback market.
27: Cleveland Browns (4-7) Last Weeks Ranking: 24
The more we see of Brandon Weeden, the more the Browns lose. Totally inept of playing good football at the position, Weeden filled in for the injured Jason Campbell as the Browns appear down in the AFC Wildcard race. A quarterback away from competing.
28: Washington Redskins (3-8) Last Weeks Ranking: 29
They lack the explosiveness and reliable quarterback play which lead them to the play-offs last season. RG3 hasn't found a rhythm as a passer, and the rift between him and the coaching staff doesn't help either.
29: Minnesota Vikings (2-8-1) Last Weeks Ranking: 31
Althoigh they fought hard against the Packers to come away with the tie, the Vikings are still a very bad team. Sub-par quarterback play combined with a terrible defensive effort week in, week out doesn't result in wins. The Vikings need to add talent across the board.
30: Atlanta Falcons (2-9) Last Weeks Ranking: 30
The injury-plagued Falcons gave an admirable performance against the Saints on Thursday night but failed to come away with a win. It's hard to judge this team because of injuries, but they need to find some defensive talent in the upcoming draft. Teams can drive all over the Falcons with ease.
31: Jacksonville Jaguars (2-9) Last Weeks Ranking: 32
The spirited Jaguars team has played well the past few weeks picking up their first wins of the season, but they are still devoid of talent going into 2014. This is a rebuilding process and they're a year or two away.
32: Houston Texans (2-9) Last Weeks Ranking: 27
When you lose at home to the Jaguars, you deserve this spot. The Texans cannot put a game together and continue to set franchise records weekly for consecutive losses - now at nine.