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 Hello everyone.  Hope you all had a very Merry Christmas.  The Stack joins you on the day after Christmas ready to talk some football.  NFL power rankings and playoff picture so let's get right to it and see what's in "the stack" for today, Wednesday, December 26:

NFL week 16 power rankings

1. Denver Broncos 12-3

It's going to be really hard for anyone to go into Denver and beat Peyton Manning and the Broncos in the playoffs if things play out right in week 17.

2. Atlanta Falcons 13-2

Falcons may have given up the receiving yards record to Calvin Johnson, but they got what they needed to accomplished and that's homefield advantage throughout the playoffs.  Let's hope it goes better than last time.

3. Houston Texans 12-3

Willing to give Houston the benefit of the doubt and that they just had an off week.  Must win game at Indy though if they want the road to the Super Bowl to come through Houston.

4. Green Bay Packers 11-4

Some show the Packers put on against the Titans.  With a possible two seed in the NFC up for grabs, the Packers will be all healthy hands on deck against the Vikings.

5. New England Patriots 11-4

A win is a win, but explain to me again how the Patriots only beat the Jaguars by seven points?  Something is missing and I'm not sure what.

6. Seattle Seahawks 10-5

No one wants to go to Seattle to play the Seahawks in the playoffs and it is entirely possible that could happen.

7. San Francisco 49er 10-4-1

One bad night in Seattle does not kill a season, but the 49ers have some questions to answer and solutions to find if they want to make a big playoff run like last year.

8. Baltimore Ravens 10-5

Ravens came through in a must win game with a resounding performance against the world champion Giants.  Still though, the Ravens look like a team that can be beat fairly early in the playoffs.

9. Washington Redskins 9-6

RGIII looked good in his first game since his knee injury.  Now a winner-take-all game with the Cowboys awaits the rookie phenom and his team in our nation's capital Sunday night.

10. Indianapolis Colts 10-5

What a team effort to get a playoff birth secured and getting head coach Chuck Pagano back for the road ahead.  Such a great story.

11. Cincinnati Bengals 9-6

Andy Dalton may not have had a pretty game, but that throw to A.J. Green was the type of throw the Bengals needed to see to know that Dalton has what it takes to make the Bengals a threat in the playoffs.

12. Minnesota Vikings 9-6

Haven't seen a defensive performance like that from the Vikings in a long time.  Still hoping Adrian Peterson can break the rushing record and the Vikings can get in.

13. Chicago Bears 9-6

When the defense scores two touchdowns as they did Sunday, this team is very difficult to beat.

14. New Orleans Saints 7-8

Don't know if the Saints helped their cause or not by beating the Cowboys, because the rumors of Sean Payton going to the Cowboys will persist if a new deal isn't done soon.

15. Dallas Cowboys 8-7

"America's" average team faces another "win and you're in game" this week.  If it's anything like the last two years, the Cowboys will miss the playoffs again.

16. St. Louis Rams 7-7-1

Jeff Fisher has really turned this team around.  Not quiting on the season shows a lot about where this team is heading into next year.

17. New York Giants 8-7

What has happened to the Giants the last two weeks?  They've slept-walked through both games and as a result will miss the playoffs barring a gigantic miracle (no pun intended).

18. Pittsburgh Steelers 7-8

Off year for the Steelers.  Mistakes doomed them against the Bengals, but that's hardly a surprise if you've seen the Steelers play this year.

19. Miami Dolphins 7-8

Dolphins I think have clearly exceeded many people's expectations (including my own).  A win over New England would be a great way to end the season and instill some life into a fan base that needs something to awaken them.

20. Carolina Panthers 6-9

The Panthers recent win streak and good play may be enough to save head coach Ron Rivera's job.  I'm guessing if this were to happen a third time, change will come.

21. San Diego Chargers 6-9

Very difficult to figure the Chargers out.  Beat the Steelers in Pittsburgh on an early kickoff, get blown out at home by the Panthers and then beat the Jets in New York on an early kickoff.  Dr. Jekyl and Mr. Hyde anyone?

22. Tampa Bay Buccaneers 6-9

Things have gone downhill fast for the Bucs.  Hard not to wonder if they really will be a better team next year.

23. Cleveland Browns 5-10

Browns shouldn't feel that bad losing to the Broncos by 22.  The Broncos beat everyone.  Still won't help head coach Pat Shurmur's job status if the lose by double digits again this week at Pittsburgh.

24. New York Jets 6-9

This spot may be too high for the Jets.  Don't think Greg McElroy envisioned getting sacked eleven times in his starting debut.  Then you have the whole Tim Tebow saga.  What a mess.

25. Arizona Cardinals 5-10

Don't think Santa brought the Cardinals a better quarterback over the holidays.  That's going to have to wait until free agency and the draft.  A new coach may be making that decision however.

26. Buffalo Bills 5-10

Outside of C.J. Spiller, do the Bills have any big weapons on offense?  Do they have much on defense either?

27. Tennessee Titans 5-10

55-7 loss is ugly, no matter how you slice it.  The Titans flat out quit at Green Bay.

28. Detroit Lions 4-11

Congrats to Calvin Johnson on getting the single season receiving yards record, surpassing Jerry Rice.  Too bad it's on a really bad team.

29. Philadelphia Eagles 4-11

Michael Vick will have one final opportunity to prove to teams that he still has something in the tank.  We know the Eagles won't keep him and aren't going anywhere.

30. Oakland Raiders 4-11

Matt Leinart and Terrelle Pryor ahead of Carson Palmer makes the Raiders look as though they are giving the Cardinals a run for their money for worst quarterback situation in the league.

31. Jacksonville Jaguars 2-13

Great effort against the Patriots.  They almost had them.  Shows that this team has some signs of life.

32. Kansas City Chiefs 2-13

Over 350 yards rushing in a game and you still lose?! That is why this team will hold the number one overall pick in April's draft.

 

NFL playoff picture thoughts

By now, you've all seen the playoff picture and the what needs to happen for each team to get in.  So instead of going through all of those technicalities, here are just some general thoughts...

All six playoff teams have been decided in the AFC, but homefield advantage remains up for grabs.  Houston, Denver and New England all have a chance.  Houston plays in the early game at Indianapolis while Denver and New England play the late afternoon kickoff.  After Houston's loss last week, I think they'll really bunker down and get to work and go into Indy and beat a Colts team that is already in the playoffs.  Though they've never beaten the Colts in Indianapolis, I think they get it done this week.  Denver will get the number two seed while New England gets number three.

The NFC remains far more murky.  Five of the six playoff spots have been decided, but there is still plenty of jockeying for position.  Atlanta has the top seed locked up, but the two seed is up for grabs with Green Bay, San Francisco and Seattle all having a chance to get it.  The NFC West has yet to be won, but San Francisco plays at home against Arizona and they will win that game easily, therefore winning the NFC West.  Can they get the second seed though?  Green Bay is at Minnesota, a surprise team in the running for the sixth seed in the NFC.  Win and the Vikings are in.  Green Bay may rest several starters to get them healthy for the playoffs like Randall Cobb and Jordy Nelson, maybe even Charles Woodson.  Then again, if the Vikings win, that is likely the Packers opponent so perhaps it would be in the Packers best interest if they just tried to knock the Vikings out.  I think the Vikings will win and get in, but not one hundred percent sure just yet on that pick.  Regardless, there is a lot to be determined and will make week 17 a fun one to watch.

 

Coming up Wednesday: Reaction to biggest stories in the world of sports

Little Ceasars Bowl predicted winner: (Western Kentucky vs. Central Michigan 7:30 PM ET ESPN)...Western Kentucky

 

 

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