1) New England Patriots (Last week: 1 = E)
They did what everyone expected them to do at the end of the day against the Bills. However, the main concern that has been brewing for several weeks now is the poor performance of Tom Brady who has thrown interception in five straight games for the first time since his second year in the league. Whether it’s this or having his lowest completion percentage in a single games since 2004, there are things that the former ageless quarterback hasn’t done in forever that he’s doing this year.
In past years, Patriots teams have been so well rounded that they could overcome Brady being a little below his usually performance but not this year. Me saying in previous weeks that New England was going to cruise to the Super Bowl was all predicated on Brady being himself and right now he isn’t as I said on yesterday’s show:
2) Los Angeles Rams (Last week: 3 = +1)
LA overcame losing their kicker Greg Zuerlein (had a monstrous impact in this game alone) and a slower than usual offensive day and still beat the Titans. At this point I am becoming more and more bullish on the Rams every single day. The secret sauce that has somehow gone relatively under the radar until this week is Todd Gurley. Up until this point I have stressed that I am confident in the Rams in the regular season but not the post. However, if Gurley continues to put up the numbers he is, maybe LA can actually win a round in the playoffs despite their inexperience.
3) Philadelphia Eagles (Last week 2: = -1)
After last week — in which some people were impressed Nick Foles looking half decent agains the Giants — the Eagles fell right back down to earth and what they are going to be without Wentz. At this point they have obviously had a very impressive season by clinching the number one overall seed in the NFC, but which Wild Card team are they going to beat at this point? Rams? Nope. Saints? Panthers? Falcons? No, no and no.
It’s been a crazy unexpected run (hence why they are so high on this list despite an unimpressive win) and one that will end in their first playoff game.
4) Pittsburgh Steelers (Last week: 4 = E)
The Steelers took care of business against the Texans who had to play T.J. Yates and Taylor Heinicke at quarterback…yes really. At this point my confidence has grown in Pittsburgh’s chances at making it to the AFC Championship game. My questions remains what happens when they face the Patriots in that game and at this point I remain confident they will lose.
5) Minnesota Vikings (Last week: 5 = E)
The Vikings took care of business against the Aaron Rodger-less Packers and their defense looked super impressive in the process even against a muddled down offense. Their playoff legitimacy remains in question, but at this point, how can they not be the favorite in the NFC…at least right up there with the Saints.
The rest of my top 10:
6) New Orleans Saints (Last week: 7 = +1)
7) Carolina Panthers (Last week: 6 = -1)
8) Kansas City Chiefs (Last week: 10 = +2)
9) Jacksonville Jaguars (Last week: 8 = -1)
10) Atlanta Falcons (Last week: 9 = -1)
-Article by Nick Friend
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