Wednesday, January 8, 2014

NFL Playoff Power Poll, Divisional Round

Yes, there should have been a wild card edition of the playoff power poll, but I was unable to get it up in time. The last week's ranks are accurate, as I did make up the power poll for that week, it simply got lost in the editorial process. 

Just a reminder: unlike the regular season power polls, which try to capture where each team is at that point in the season, this poll tries to handicap the ability of each team to hoist the Lombardi trophy. It takes into account both how the team is playing at this time AND the possible roads they could take to the end goal.

Rank (Last)
Record/     Seed
1 (1)
13-3           NFC1
I believe the two best teams in the league hail from the NFC West, and I don't believe it's all that close. Seattle gets the top spot for two reasons: 1) their road (NO at home) to the NFC championship game is easier, and 2) they would play said championship game on their home field.
2 (3)
12-4          NFC5
But as a Seahawks fan, I am petrified of this 49ers team. Seattle's recent vulnerabilities on offense make it less likely that they could jump out to a big lead over the 49ers and force them to chase the game.
3 (2)
12-4               AFC2
What can I say, I simply do not trust Peyton Manning in the playoffs against Brady and Belichick right now. Not with a defense that is every bit as bad as New England's.
4 (4)
13-3           AFC1
We're right where we were a year ago, with the Broncos set up nicely to move on to the AFC Championship game. Good news? Denver's offense is better than it was last year (especially with Wes Welker ready to play). Bad news? Their defense is no better than it was last year (it might even be worse).
5 (7)
11-5          AFC4
If there's a team in the AFC capable of going on a run like the one Baltimore went on last year to get past both Denver and New England, it's Indianapolis.
6 (6)
12-4          NFC2
They would likely have to go through San Francisco (at home) and Seattle (on the road) in back-to-back weeks to make it to the Super Bowl. I'm not sure there's a team in the league that could accomplish that.
7 (11)
11-5            NFC6
Winning on the road against a Philadelphia team you are better than is a very different animal from going into Seattle to face what might be the best team in the league.
8 (12)
9-7                AFC6
I don't believe the Chargers are punching above their weight class, and I fully believe they could go into Denver and shock the Broncos again, but I don't believe they could then get up the following week to face the Patriots/Colts winner.
9 (10)
8-7-1            NFC4
Green Bay gets the top eliminated spot thanks to having the best quarterback of these 4 teams (and possibly in the league). But at some point they're going to have to put some resources into improving their defense, even if it's only to be able to defeat the 49ers (they are 0-4 versus San Francisco in the last 2 seasons).
10 (8)
10-6          NFC3
In year one of the Chip Kelly era, he led his team to a 10-6 record, a division title, and lost a playoff game by less than 3 points to a better team. As he gets more and more of his players onto the roster, the Eagles should get better and better.
11 (9)
11-5           AFC5
They can get better, merely by being healthier and adding some more depth to the roster (especially at the skill positions). But their ceiling will remain limited as long as Alex Smith remains their quarterback.
12 (5)
11-5           AFC3
As you might be able to tell, I'm not a big believer in Alex Smith. But I'd take him right now over Andy Dalton and it's not close. The Bengals have a big decision to make on Dalton as he's going into the last year of his rookie contract, and Dalton has given them zero indication that he has what it takes to elevate his team in the playoffs.

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