- Green Bay Packers (12-3)
Last Week: 1
The Packers notched their fifth straight win Sunday against Cleveland. They will be favored in each of their last two games and figure to be the top seed in the NFC. To win it all, they need to find the dominant run game they had earlier in the season and someone to serve as a consistent compliment Davante Adams on the outside.
- Kansas City Chiefs (11-4)
Last Week: 2
Sunday’s blistering of the Steelers made it eight straight wins for KC and yet another division crown. The Chiefs are on the road for their last two games, but they will be favorites to win out. The Titans are a game back and have the same conference record, so there can be no mistakes.
- Los Angeles Rams (11-4)
Last Week: 3
The Rams have stepped up their game and taken advantage of the late season slide by Arizona. Cam Akers is getting healthy, and the defense is stopping the run – only one opponent has totaled over 100 yards on the ground in the last five contests (103). To win it all, Matt Stafford will need to do more than he has of late. The QB is in a slump, and the Rams can ill afford it in the post season.
- Tampa Bay Buccaneers (11-4)
Last Week: 4
The Bucs managed the lowly Panthers Sunday. They should win out easily with two of the league’s worst teams left on the schedule. It doesn’t matter. The Bucs can’t win against playoff-caliber opponents without a healthy Mike Evans on the field. With Godwin out for the year. Evans must be near 100% for the Bucs to challenge for the title.
- Dallas Cowboys (11-4)
Last Week: 5
The competition hasn’t been great, but you can see the Cowboys rising as the season reaches its peak. Dallas may be the NFC’s top challenger to the top-seeded Packers. Their surge is largely attributable to the defense, which has held each of the last four opponents to 20 points or fewer. Micah Parsons has 13 sacks and a lot of GM’s regretting their pick in the first round of the draft.
- Indianapolis Colts (9-6)
Last Week: 8
The Colts have won four straight and figure to make it six in a row to finish the year. Covid may ruin a nice run for Indy as starting QB Carson Wentz has tested positive and is unvaccinated. The last two games of the season are soft, but it will be a crapshoot with a backup under center.
- Buffalo Bills (9-6)
Last Week: Unranked
The Bills exorcized their demons Sunday with a statement win in New England. The defense held the Pats to 114 yards on the ground after allowing over 200 in their first matchup. The Bills will need to win out to hold the division, and they have the schedule to do it. Eventually they will need to win on the road, likely in KC to take the season where they would like it to go. They won in KC in week five, and they have the defense to stop the high-powered Chiefs when they are playing their best.
- Arizona Cardinals (10-5)
Last Week: 7
The Cardinals are in trouble. They clinched a playoff berth but have fallen to the five seed from the conference’s top seed in just a few weeks. They have lost three straight and don’t figure to fare well this week in Dallas. They just don’t have anyone at WR that can consistently get open. The run game is faltering under the pressure and Kyler Murray is running for his life as his receivers struggle to create daylight. DeAndre Hopkins might have a shot to return by the conference championship, but this team will be long gone by then.
- New England Patriots (9-6)
Last Week: 6
The Patriots were dominated at home on Sunday in the biggest game of the season. The Pats have dropped two in a row after running off seven straight wins. The running game disappeared Sunday after steam rolling the Bills in the first meeting. Matt Jones had his worst day as a starter given the game’s significance. This teams challenges on offense were in prime view Sunday and will be in the post season as well.
- Cincinnati Bengals (9-6)
Last Week: Unranked
The Bengals took care of the Ravens Sunday to take control of the division. The Bengals have the chance to show people just how good they are with top-seeded Kansas City visiting this week. Both teams need the game. The Bengals appear to be ahead of schedule in their rise from the draft’s first overall pick to playoff challenger. Sunday will tell us exactly w