Final NFL power rankings: Falcons are true contenders


Credit: Michael Cunningham

Credit: Michael Cunningham



1. Patriots (14-2)

They didn’t need a victory over the Dolphins but went all out and beat them down, anyway. QB Tom Brady tossed 28 TDs vs. 2 INTs over 12 games, the best ratio in history for players with at least 300 attempts.

2. Cowboys (14-2)

They played it safe in meaningless finale against Eagles so the only intrigue was former starting QB Tony Romo throwing a TD pass. The Cowboys are the NFC’s top team but hardly a juggernaut by historical standards.


3. Steelers (11-5)

The backups beat the Browns on Sunday. Now the Big Three of QB Ben Roethlisberger, WR Antonio Brown and RB Le'Veon Bell will all play in the postseason together for the first time.

4. Falcons (11-5)

That first half against the Saints showed just how unstoppable the offense can be. That fourth-quarter defense showed why Dan Quinn left Matt Ryan and Co. in the game for so long.

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5. Chiefs (12-4)

Chiefs beat the Chargers to clinch AFC West title and first-round bye. Their fate depends so much on defensive takeaways and that can come down to luck.

6. Packers (10-6)

Packers beat the Lions to win the NFC North and enter the playoffs with six straight Ws. Suddenly no one wants to face surging QB Aaron Rodgers, who had 15 TDs and no picks during win streak.


7. Seahawks (10-5-1)

They should have little trouble handling the Lions at home this weekend but still can’t see them winning at the Dome. This team just isn’t as powerful as Pete Carroll’s Super Bowl contenders of recent years.

8. Giants (11-5)

They’ve got a good D and they beat the Cowboys twice. Can QB Eli Manning still find his postseason mojo?

9. Dolphins (10-6)

The big home loss to the Pats is an indication of the gap between the teams. RB Jay Ajayi is a weapon but that’s the only really great part of Miami’s game.

10. Lions (10-6)

This is an average team that enjoyed average luck all season. Too bad for the Falcons they won’t get a shot at them even if they upset the Seahawks.

11. Raiders (12-4)

In the first game missed by injured QB Derek Carr, the Raiders scored just six points in loss at Denver. That’s a preview of what’s to come.

12. Texans (9-7)

Texans lucked out in drawing Derek Carr-less Raiders at home. They still are favored by only 3 ½ points.


13. Buccaneers (9-7)

14. Washington (8-7-1)

15. Titans (9-7)

16. Broncos (9-7)

17. Ravens (8-8)

18. Eagles (7-9)

19. Saints (7-9)

20. Bills (7-9)

21. Vikings (8-8)

22. Cardinals (7-8-1)

23. Colts (8-8)

24. Panthers (6-10)

25. Bengals (6-9-1)

26. Jets (5-11)

27. Chargers (5-11)

28. Rams (4-12)

29. Jaguars (3-13)

30. Bears (3-13)

31. 49ers (2-14)

32. Browns (1-15)