As I see it, here are the five best teams in the NFL right now.
1. Denver Broncos (12-3)
Not only does Denver’s defense rank 22nd, but their best player (Von Miller) is out for the rest of the year. Yet, the Broncos are still favored to make it to the Super Bowl. That says a lot.
Although Wes Welker hasn’t played since December 8th and Knowshon Moreno is averaging only 48 yards rushing over his last four games, the Broncos have scored an average of 36 points per game in that span.
2. Seattle Seahawks (12-3)
If the Seahawks win or the 49ers lose on Sunday, Seattle will be the No. 1 seed throughout the NFC playoffs. Before last week’s loss to Arizona, Seattle had won 14 straight home games.
The only team that I see beating Seattle in Seattle is the 49ers, but they got smoked when they went north in Week 2, losing 29-3.
And if you wanted any more evidence that Seattle is a real threat, Vegas picks them as the favorite to win Super Bowl XLVIII.
3. Carolina Panthers (11-4)
Cam Newton isn’t great and has a lot of improvement ahead of him, but no longer can I deny his evolution and on-field leadership. The Saints are not a good road team, but that game last Sunday was essentially the NFC South championship, and Newton, down late, led his team to victory.
It feels like the Panthers will go as far as Newton takes them, and if his head is right, that could be all the way. Think about it. With that defense and Ted Ginn’s blazing speed on special teams, the Panthers are going to be awfully hard to beat in January.
4. San Francisco 49ers (11-4)
With the 10th-best scoring offense and the 3rd-best scoring defense, San Francisco seems to be close to another Super Bowl run. If they’re going to play against teams like Carolina or Seattle in the playoffs, they’re going to have to find a way to get Vernon Davis the ball more.
He’s averaging only three receptions per game in his last nine, but is one of the few players in the league that can match the physicality and athleticism of the Panthers and Seahawks defenders.
5. Philadelphia Eagles (9-6)
If Peyton Manning and the Broncos are No. 1 in terms of offense, Nick Foles and the Eagles are No. 1-A. This offense is breathtaking, literally. Defenses can’t keep up, and as a fan it’s fun to watch.
We know LeSean McCoy will just do cruel things to defenders in the open field and their defense is getting better. How long can Foles keep up his league-leading passer rating? Even though the Cowboys are horrible against the pass, he can’t take anything for granted in Arlington on Sunday.
Game of the week: Eagles (9-6, 3-2 NFC East, 5-2 road) at Cowboys (8-7, 5-0 NFC East, 5-2 home), Sunday night at 8:30 on NBC. This will be the final game of the 2013 regular season. It will also be the third straight year the Cowboys will play in a de facto NFC East championship game in Week 17 against a different divisional opponent (2012 at Washington, 2011 at New York).
Ravens playoff position: The Ravens are currently the No. 7 seed in the AFC playoffs. To get into the playoffs, they need to:
• Win this week and have either Miami or San Diego lose/tie
• Tie and have the Dolphins lose and the Chargers lose/tie, or they would need the Dolphins to tie and have the Chargers lose
• Lose and have the Dolphins and Chargers lose and have the Steelers lose/tie
Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays to you and yours! Enjoy the games this weekend.