Updated: Thursday, January 03, 2013 5:38 PM
The Broncos finish on top and the top seven remain the same in the final TSN.ca NFL Power Rankings for this season.
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This Week1Last Week1Denver Broncos13-3-0
The Broncos haven't lost since a Week Five trip to New England and, as great as the offence has been under the direction of QB Peyton Manning, the defence has come on strong too, ranking third against both the run and the pass this season.
Key Injuries: C J.D. Walton (ankle), RB Willis McGahee (knee).
This Week2Last Week2New England Patriots12-4-0
The Patriots' only loss in the last 10 games was their Week 15 home loss to San Francisco, a game in which they rallied to tie the score in the fourth quarter after trailing 31-3 midway through the third. With TE Rob Gronkowski back in the lineup, the Pats have their full offensive lineup ready for the postseason.
Key Injuries: None.
This Week3Last Week3Seattle Seahawks11-5-0
Won seven of eight to finish the regular season, but will take their show on the road to Washington for the first round of the playoffs. The Seahawks have the playmakers to make life difficult for RGIII and Co., but that 3-5 road record is troubling, especially when one considers that includes an OT win at Chicago and a neutral site win in Toronto against the Buffalo Bills.
Key Injuries: None.
This Week4Last Week4San Francisco 49ers11-4-1
There were a couple of unsightly losses along the way, including in Week 16 at Seattle, but the 49ers have earned a first-round bye and have a blossoming passing attack (WR Michael Crabtree has 538 receiving yards and four touchdowns in the last five weeks) to complement their ferocious defence and strong ground game.
Key Injuries: WR Mario Manningham (knee).
This Week5Last Week5Green Bay Packers11-5-0
Getting FS Charles Woodson back for the postseason adds a veteran playmaker, who has a knack for being around the ball, but the Packers will have to man up against Vikings RB Adrian Peterson, who gashed them for 199 rushing yards in Minnesota during Week 17's Vikings victory.
Key Injuries: ILB Desmond Bishop (hamstring), RB Cedric Benson (foot), OLB Nick Perry (knee), RB James Starks (knee).
This Week6Last Week6Atlanta Falcons13-3-0
Will the Falcons' mediocre ground game trip them up (same question could be asked of the Packers)? They have the weapons in the passing game to beat anyone, but their recent playoff track record isn't terribly impressive, so it's a big leap from qualifying for the postseason dance to being a bona fide contender for the crown.
Key Injuries: SS William Moore (hamstring), CB Brent Grimes (Achilles).
This Week7Last Week7Houston Texans12-4-0
Losing three of four to finish the regular season cost the Texans a bye and makes them an uninspiring lot as they host Cincinnati this week. The talent is here to make a run, but if QB Matt Schaub has an off day, they could also be one and done.
Key Injuries: ILB Brian Cushing (knee).
This Week8Last Week9Washington Redskins10-6-0
Won seven straight to finish the season and win the NFC East title. The Redskins led all NFL teams in rushing yardage (169.3 per game) and rookies QB Robert Griffin III and RB Alfred Morris give them a chance to keep going, but the Seahawks aren't an easy matchup right out of the gate.
Key Injuries: OLB Brian Orakpo (shoulder), DT Adam Carriker (quad), TE Fred Davis (Achilles).
This Week9Last Week8Cincinnati Bengals10-6-0
Won seven of eight to earn a playoff berth and could be a lively underdog in Houston. The unheralded (in some parts) difference maker for the Bengals has been DT Geno Atkins, the best interior defensive lineman in the game this year and if he can collapse the Texans' pocket, that will greatly improve the Bengals' chances.
Key Injuries: None.
This Week10Last Week10Baltimore Ravens10-6-0
ILB Ray Lewis will be active for this week's game against Indianapolis and the future Hall of Famer, who has beem out since Week Six due to a torn tricep, has announced that he will be retiring at season's end. He'll have to turn back the clock if he's going to help a Ravens defence that is a shell of its former glory.
Key Injuries: CB Lardarius Webb (knee), ILB Jameel McClain (back).
This Week11Last Week11Minnesota Vikings10-6-0
RB Adrian Peterson may have come nine yards shy of Eric Dickerson's rushing record, but it's hard to imagine a better season, especially considering that Peterson tore his ACL last January. His superhuman powers give the Vikings a puncher's chance, but only if QB Christian Ponder can provide an efficient passing game with few mistakes.
Key Injuries: WR Percy Harvin (ankle).
This Week12Last Week12Chicago Bears10-6-0
It's a tough business getting fired with a 10-6 record, but the Bears missed the playoffs, through tiebreaker, so Lovie Smith was bounced out the door. There's a decent core of talent, though the windows are closing on the established playmakers on the roster, so it may not be long before a real overhaul is needed.
This Week13Last Week13New York Giants9-7-0
Maddeningly inconsistent, the defending champs had some quality wins and scored at least 35 points six times, but they laid one too many eggs this year, so they'll watch the playoffs from home. With injuries plaguing the offence, and Eli Manning taking a step back (okay, maybe half a step back) in his development, there is work to be done going forward.
This Week14Last Week14Indianapolis Colts11-5-0
The only playoff team to surrender more points than they scored, the Colts won nine of their last 11 games, with losses at New England and Houston, so they're equipped to give the Ravens all they can handle. They could use a bit more accuracy from rookie QB Andrew Luck, who hasn't completed more than 50.0% of his passes since Week 12 at Buffalo.
Key Injuries: WR Austin Collie (knee), CB Jerraud Powers (toe), RB Donald Brown (ankle).
This Week15Last Week17Carolina Panthers7-9-0
Won their last four games to finish with a more respectable record, but it also showed what the Panthers can do, that they were probably better than their 3-9 start suggested. They could still use their running game much more effectively, but if they fill a few holes this offseason, they could be in the playoff mix for 2013.
This Week16Last Week16Pittsburgh Steelers8-8-0
A non-playoff season for the Steelers will be plenty of reason to examine the roster in order to figure out what's needed to get back to the postseason next year. The running game and offensive line are a few areas of need and the future of WR Mike Wallace may not be in the Steel City either.
This Week17Last Week15Dallas Cowboys8-8-0
QB Tony Romo threw for a career-high 4,903 yards, yet his job could be in jeopardy because he came up short, throwing three interceptions, in Week 17 at Washington to prevent Dallas from reaching the playoffs again. Of course, Romo's play, coupled with the emergence of WR Dez Bryant as a week-in-week-out threat was really what gave Dallas a chance in the first place, since injuries decimated the Cowboys' defence.
This Week18Last Week22Tampa Bay Buccaneers7-9-0
Lost five in a row before winning a game that the Atlanta Falcons weren't that concerned about in Week 17, so there is room for improvement, but the Bucs have some interesting pieces around which to build, especially if QB Josh Freeman plays more like he did early in the season.
This Week19Last Week18New Orleans Saints7-9-0
Even the top passing offence in the league (312.3 yards per game) wasn't enough to offset the Saints' disastrous defensive season. With Sean Payton back in charge next season, look for New Orleans to come back with a vengeance.
This Week20Last Week19St. Louis Rams7-8-1
Even if the Rams were generally mediocre, they were competitive and that's a step forward. Now, they need to provide more weapons for QB Sam Bradford so that their offence gives them a shot when they're going against other high-powered attacks.
This Week21Last Week20Detroit Lions4-12-0
Lost their last eight games, just about the right note for a season that was a colossal disappointment after progress in 2011. One piece of good news, WR Calvin Johnson had a record 1,964 receiving yards...so it's the rest of the Lions that need to be better.
This Week22Last Week24San Diego Chargers7-9-0
A new era is coming in San Diego. The Chargers won three of their last four games to finish with a better record than their season might have deserved, but they didn't beat a team with a winning record all year and QB Philip Rivers appears to be regressing, so a new approach is necessary.
This Week23Last Week21Miami Dolphins7-9-0
It was a year of development for rookie QB Ryan Tannehill, who was good, although not to the level of more touted rookie quarterbacks. To take the next step, he can establish a reliable red zone connection with one of his wide receivers since not one Dolphins wideout had more than one receiving touchdown on the season.
This Week24Last Week23Philadelphia Eagles4-12-0
Times are changing in Philadelphia, as Andy Reid has been let go, and QB Michael Vick isn't expected to return in 2013, but the Eagles lost 11 of the last 12 games, so they need more than few small tweaks to get better.
This Week25Last Week25Cleveland Browns5-11-0
While it was another hum-drum 5-11 season, that cost head coach Pat Shurmur his job, the Browns do have some reason for optimism, given the significant roles played by rookies in 2012. If QB Brandon Weeden, RB Trent Richardson and WR Josh Gordon can build on what they did this year, the Browns can improve.
This Week26Last Week26Tennessee Titans6-10-0
RB Chris Johnson rushed for 1,243 yards, but it still seemed like a disappointing year and QB Jake Locker didn't improve as dramatically as some would have hoped so, while they have some potential, Tennessee still has plenty of uncertainty heading into 2013.
This Week27Last Week28Buffalo Bills6-10-0
Presumably whomever takes over in Buffalo will consider getting RB C.J. Spiller more touches, but they will also need to find a starting quarterback because they aren't winning anything if Ryan Fitzpatrick is under centre for 16 games. That's not to pin all of the Bills' woes on Fitzpatrick, either -- he obviously isn't the reason they ranked 31st against the run this year.
This Week28Last Week27New York Jets6-10-0
It seems that a fresh start is necessary for both QB Mark Sanchez and the Jets. Even with a new quarterback, the Jets have a glaring lack of playmakers on the roster, so re-stocking the cupboard is the priority this offseason.
This Week29Last Week29Oakland Raiders4-12-0
Lost eight of nine to finish the season in typical Raiders fashion. They had no running game to speak of (RB Darren McFadden averaged 3.3 yards per carry) and if they are pinning their hopes on a passing game headed by Carson Palmer, well, that may not be enough.
This Week30Last Week30Jacksonville Jaguars2-14-0
On the hunt for a GM, preferably one that won't mind having QB Tim Tebow dropped into his lap, if the rumour mill is to be believed. The good news is that whomever is coming in can feel comfortable improving just about every position on the roster, perhaps with the exception of running back if Maurice Jones-Drew is healthy.
This Week31Last Week31Kansas City Chiefs2-14-0
This isn't a bad coaching job because it will be awfully difficult to be as inept as the Chiefs were in 2012, particularly offensively, as they scored 13 points or fewer in 10 of the last 12 games.
This Week32Last Week32Arizona Cardinals5-11-0
Change is coming in the desert too, as would be expected when a team loses 11 of its last 12 games. Lots of work to do for whomever gets the nod.