The NFL is now closing in on the end of the season and there are only eight teams left with a chance to reach the Promised Land. Miraculously (pun intended), the Denver Broncos are one of those teams. It was a foregone conclusion that the Steelers were supposed to beat the Broncos, but instead, the legend of Tim Tebow grew to new heights. Pittsburgh came into the game with the best passing defense in the NFL, only to get torched by Tebow for 316 yards, including the now-famous game-winning 80-yard touchdown pass on the first play of overtime.
The win took Tebow to a whole other level of pop culture status. NFL.com posted a photo gallery of what Tebow's kids would look like if he married any of an array of celebrities. Conan O'Brien reenacted the final play of last week's game using peanuts (which is basically a shot-for-shot remake). ESPN dedicated an entire hour of programming on SportsCenter to Tebow. And that just adds to the list of pop culture moments Tebow has had this season, including a spoof on SNL and an awesome musical mash-up by DJ Steve Porter.
As a Patriots fan, I can't wait to see what happens this weekend and I know there are millions of fans who think the same way. Here are the Divisional Round NFL Game Power Rankings:
1. Baltimore Ravens vs. Houston Texans
Average Ticket Price: $319.75
Now that the Steelers are out of the playoffs, the Baltimore Ravens were able to get over a playoff hurdle without even playing a snap of football this postseason. Prior to this season, the Steelers finished first in the AFC North ahead of the Ravens while also eliminating Baltimore from the playoffs in two of those three seasons. This year, the Ravens finished at the top of the AFC North and are primed to make a run at the Super Bowl. They will start this Sunday against a Texans team that features a rookie quarterback behind center.
Just a few short months ago, 32 teams began their seasons with hopes of going to the playoffs and a chance at a Super Bowl. That quest for a Super Bowl championship is down to 12 teams, starting this weekend with four Wild Card playoff games.
This week's top game in the power rankings is the NFC match-up of the New Orleans Saints and Detroit Lions at the Louisiana Superdome. The game features two quarterbacks, Drew Brees and Matthew Stafford, who exceeded 5,000 passing yards this season, which has now only happened five times in NFL history (three of those five came in 2011 as Tom Brady also exceeded the mark). Combine that with the mediocre defense that both teams have and this should be a high-scoring affair. In fact, the odds makers have put the over/under at 59 points, the highest ever for a playoff game.
The winners of these games get the privilege of heading out on the road next week for the Divisional Playoffs against the four teams who had byes this week: the New England Patriots, Baltimore Ravens, Green Bay Packers and San Francisco 49ers. Here are our Wild Card Weekend NFL Game Power Rankings:
1. New Orleans Saints vs. Detroit Lions
Average Ticket Price: $258.14
These two teams faced each other just a few weeks ago, in a game that was won 31-17 by the Saints. The Lions didn't do themselves any favors that game, accumulating 11 penalties for 107 yards, including multiple personal fouls after plays were over. They also did not have Pro Bowl DT Ndamukong Suh, who was serving a two-game suspension. The Lions will have to cut down on all the mental mistakes if they want a chance to win, especially considering the Saints are the hottest team in the NFL right now.
Here we are, the last week of the regular season in the NFL…it's kind of sad, actually. These past 16 weeks just flew by; everyone blinked and it's over. At least we get to look forward to some great games in Week 17 and into the playoffs.
The best game this week is also the most important. Both the Cowboys and Giants have been consistently inconsistent all season, looking like top teams in the NFC one week, only to look awful the next. One of the teams will have a chance to redeem its season this week when the two teams face off on Sunday Night Football. The teams are currently tied atop the NFC East, and the winner of this game will get to play next week in the playoffs, while the other team will have to head home.
The Cowboys and Giants aren't the only teams playing for a playoff spot this week. The Bengals, Broncos, Raiders, Titans and Jets will all be vying for the two remaining playoff spots in the AFC. The Bengals and Broncos just have to win to secure the spots, while the others all need some breaks along the way.
Here is the NFL Game Power Rankings for Week 17:
1. New York Giants vs. Dallas Cowboys
Average Ticket Price: $204.29
The game was originally scheduled to be played at 1 p.m., but NBC had the choice to flex (a.k.a. move the start) to primetime for their Sunday Night Football game. It’s probably a good choice. Two of the most popular teams facing each other with playoff implications should equal some of the highest television ratings for a game all season.
The NFL never fails to produce incredible storylines every week and Week 15 was no exception. The Green Bay Packers (13-0) and Indianapolis Colts (0-13) were both on the fast track to historic seasons, although for opposite reasons. Last week, that all changed.
The Packers were favored by two touchdowns over the Chiefs, but thanks to constant pressure on QB Aaron Rodgers the Packers only managed to score 14 points, resulting in a 19-14 loss in Kansas City. Meanwhile, the Colts were outplaying the Titans in Indianapolis on their way to a 27-13 victory. The ultimate destinies of both teams may not be that different than what they were going to be, but thanks to the events of Week 15, neither will have their names in the record books.
Week 16 has plenty of great games on the schedule, many of which have playoff implications. Here are the NFL Game Power Rankings for Week 16:
1. Green Bay Packers vs. Chicago Bears
Average Ticket Price: $231.99
Although the Packers' undefeated season is no more, the defending Super Bowl champions are still in the driver's seat for the number one seed in the NFC. If they can win either this weekend's game against the Bears or next week's against the Lions, the Packers will have home field advantage throughout the postseason.
With the NFL entering the final three weeks of the regular season, a total of four teams have now clinched their spots in the postseason. The Green Bay Packers and San Francisco 49ers had their spots wrapped prior to last week, but the New Orleans Saints and Houston Texans were able to clinch their spots with tight victories last Sunday. This week could see a lot more of the playoff spots taken with the Patriots, Steelers and Ravens all in position to clinch with wins in Week 15.
The top match-up in our power rankings pits two of the top defenses in the NFL against each other. The 49ers have by far the league's best rushing defense, having allowed 200 fewer yards on the ground than any other team while allowing no rushing touchdowns. Meanwhile, the Steelers are the best in the league against the pass, but they will be without LB James Harrison, who was suspended for his vicious hit on Browns QB Colt McCoy last week.
The Niners-Steelers game will be a good one, but this week is full of intriguing match-ups. Take a look at this week's games in our NFL Game Power Rankings for Week 15:
1. San Francisco 49ers vs. Pittsburgh Steelers
Average Ticket Price: $176.19
The 49ers have been ingrained as the second place team in the NFC since early in the season, but the Niners have lost two of their last three and are now tied with the Saints at 10-3. If they want that first-round bye in the playoffs, they will have to regain their swagger, which is no easy task against the talented Steelers.