1. Seattle Seahawks (8-3-1) – Seattle looked dominant again on Sunday as the man-handled the Panthers. Earl Thomas suffered a season ending injury in the victory. Despite that injury, Seattle has been looking hot at the perfect time, just before the playoffs.
2. Dallas Cowboys (11-1) – Dallas became the first team in the NFL to earn a playoff spot. The Cowboys have legitimate options for MVP, Offensive Rookie of the Year, and Coach of the Year on their team which has really helped their success this season. Their defense is still their biggest issue. If they want to continue their success come January the defense will have to start forcing more turnovers.
3. Oakland Raiders (10-2) – Oakland jumped back into the top spot in the AFC playoff race thanks to a tiebreaker. They staged a second half comeback in their victory on Sunday. The defense stiffened up and shut the Bills down in the second half. Khalil Mack is a game changing weapon on defense that could dominate the playoffs.
4. New England Patriots (10-2) – The Patriots are coming off what is probably their best defensive performance of the season. That would carry a little more weight if it weren't for the fact that they faced west coast team with a 1 pm Eastern kickoff and a rookie quarterback. The Patriots have a tough game this weekend as they face the only team in the NFL that isn't afraid of the Patriots, the Baltimore Ravens
5. New York Giants (8-4) – The Giants may have lost their last time out but they have a quarterback who knows how to win better in December and January than any other quarterback in the league not named Tom Brady. Eli Manning's veteran know how at this point in the season could carry the Giants to a deep playoff run.
6. Kansas City Chiefs (9-3) – Currently sitting just one game behind the Oakland Raiders, the Chiefs have a huge date with Oakland on Thursday night. The winner of that game probably earns themselves a first round bye in the playoffs. Eric Berry is as dangerous in the secondary as anyone in the NFL. The only question with Kansas City is can they come from behind if they find themselves trailing?
7. Detroit Lions (8-4) – Detroit got their first win of the season where they didn't have to take the lead in the fourth quarter on Sunday. Somehow Matt Stafford has transformed himself into one of the better quarterbacks in the game this season. Their last three games are brutal, which could knock them out of the playoff picture.
8. Baltimore Ravens (7-5) – Baltimore might be hitting their stride at the perfect time. They have won two straight and their defense is back to the dominant Ravens defenses of old. They have a huge game on Monday night in Foxboro. Upsetting the Patriots at Gillette would go a long way to helping Baltimore's playoff hopes.
9. Pittsburgh Steelers (7-5) – Pittsburgh got a big win on Sunday against the Giants. Like Baltimore, Pittsburgh could also be hitting stride at the right time. Their game on Christmas Day against the Ravens could prove large as to which team ultimately wins the division.
10. Denver Broncos (8-4) – Denver is back in the final wild card spot in the AFC for now. If they want to keep it then Trevor Siemian will have to play much better down the stretch. Asking the defense to carry them for a second straight season may have proven to be too much for Denver.
11. Atlanta Falcons (7-5) – Atlanta is starting to come back to Earth late in the season as they have done in the past. They suffered a heart-breaking loss on Sunday against the Chiefs. With the Rams and 49ers being the next two games on the schedule for Atlanta, that may be the medicine they need to find themselves in the playoffs.
12. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (7-5) – Don't look now but the Buccaneers have quietly found themselves tied with the Falcons for the lead in the NFC South. Not only that, they have leapfrogged the Redskins for the final wild card spot in the NFC. In a race this close for the division, Tampa's three remaining divisional games are looming large.
13. Washington Redskins (6-5-1) – Washington was looking like they'd easily find themselves in the NFC playoffs until recently. Now after losing two straight they are on the outside looking in. With a relatively easy remaining schedule, the Redskins might still find themselves with a wild card berth.
14. Miami Dolphins (7-5) – Miami was riding high until facing Baltimore on Sunday. After suffering a loss on Sunday, the Dolphins currently find themselves outside of the playoff picture. If Miami can keep pace with Denver, an interesting scenario could play out in week 17 in which the Patriots could determine whether Miami or Denver make the playoffs.
15. Green Bay Packers (6-6) – The Packers have now won two games in a row and sit behind two games behind Detroit with four remaining. If they win out then Green Bay finds themselves in the playoffs. A date with Seattle on Sunday could end any playoff hopes for the Packers.
16. Tennessee Titans (6-6) – After a bye in week 13, the Titans find themselves in a three way tie for the AFC South lead. Their next two games come against the Broncos and at the Chiefs. If they win those two games they could have clear sailing to the division lead.
17. Indianapolis Colts (6-6) – The Colts looked good on Monday night against a Jets team that looks like it had just given up. Like the Titans, Indianapolis is tied for the AFC South lead. The Colts have the best quarterback of the three teams. Despite that, Andrew Luck still doesn't have enough help around him.
18. Buffalo Bills (6-6) – Buffalo is still mathematically still alive in the AFC's playoff picture. At this point they are still probably just playing the role of spoiler the rest of the way.
19. Minnesota Vikings (6-6) – The wheels have quickly come off the car in Minnesota. They are two games behind division leader Detroit, without much of an offense that two game deficit might be too much to overcome at this point.
20. Houston Texans (6-6) – Houston is technically the leader of the three way tie in the AFC South. They have gotten almost nothing out of Brock Osweiler this season. They will need to get more from the offense if they want to be the team that represents their division.
21. Arizona Cardinals (5-6-1) – The Cardinals still have slim playoff hopes at this point. The schedule isn't the easiest in the world over the final four games. Their upcoming game against the Dolphins is vital for both teams' playoff hopes.
22. San Diego Chargers (5-7) – Phillip Rivers is second in the NFL in interceptions thrown. Part of that is probably due to having to come from behind so often. At the same time, it is also fair to wonder whether his regression has already started.
23. New Orleans Saints (5-7) – Drew Brees isn't getting any younger and the Saints aren't getting any better. The salary cap situation isn't the best in New Orleans but this offseason may be the time for the Saints and Brees to go their separate ways.
24. Philadelphia Eagles (5-7) – During the first quarter of the season the Eagles were flying high. Things certainly have changed from that point. Philadelphia's 1-6 road record hasn't helped the cause.
25. Carolina Panthers (4-8) – The Panthers were embarrassed on Sunday night in Seattle. Things didn't get off to a good start as Cam Newton was benched to start the game for disciplinary reasons. That seems to be the story for Newton, when things are going good you don't hear a peep about him. When Carolina is losing like they have this season his maturity gets called into question.
26. Cincinnati Bengals (4-7-1) – The Bengals won on Sunday as their offense showed up for once. Scoring has been the biggest issue for Cincinnati this season as they failed to replace their top weapons. That might be their main concern this offseason.
27. Los Angeles Rams (4-8) – The Rams are coming off a bad loss in Foxboro on Sunday. After looking good last week, Jared Goff didn't have the same success against the Patriots. During Hard Knocks Jeff Fisher said that the Rams wouldn't go 8-8, or 7-9, or 9-7. He might actually be right about that, they could do even worse.
28. Chicago Bears (3-9) – Surprisingly, Matt Barkley hasn't looked that bad since becoming the Bears starter. Some people are questioning whether Chicago may have stumbled into a decent long term option. On the bright side, Jordan Howard has had a solid rookie season for the Bears.
29. New York Jets (3-9) – After almost beating the Patriots in week 12, the Jets seemed like they rolled over and died against the Colts on Monday night. The good news for the Jets is that with Bryce Petty starting the final four games of the season New York will be able to see if they have an answer at quarterback.
30. Jacksonville Jaguars (2-10) – The Jaguars were able to keep the game close against the Broncos last week but ultimately ended up losing by 10 points. After spending big money of Chris Ivory this offseason, Jacksonville has gotten almost nothing out of the running game this season as TJ Yeldon leads them in rushing with only 373 yards.
31. San Francisco 49ers (1-11) – The 49ers looked awful in the snow against the Bears on Sunday. Colin Kaepernick was even benched in the loss. After beating the Rams on opening night, San Francisco has now dropped a woeful 11 straight games.
32. Cleveland Browns (0-12) – The Browns don't exactly have the easiest final few games if they want to avoid the winless season. With the struggling Bengals up ahead this weekend that may give Cleveland their best chance to win a game this season.