Updated: Friday, January 03, 2014 5:14 PM
The Packers, Titans and Jets rise while the Chiefs, Bears and Dolphins slide in the season's final TSN.ca NFL Power Rankings.
Follow Scott Cullen on Twitter at http://twitter.com/tsnscottcullen and e-mail him at Scott.Cullen@bellmedia.ca.
This Week1Last Week2Denver Broncos13-3-0
Had the Broncos ranked number two in the preseason, so their success comes as no surprise, but Peyton Manning was even better than anticipated and the Broncos offence generated better-than-expected production from the likes of RB Knowshon Moreno and TE Julius Thomas. After losing OLB Von Miller, will they be able to defend enough to get the job done in the postseason?
Key Injuries: LT Ryan Clady (foot), OLB Von Miller (knee).
This Week2Last Week1Seattle Seahawks13-3-0
Ranked fifth in the preseason, the Seahawks have been even better on defence than anticipated, with the league's best secondary but, more impressively, they've continued to move the ball offensively, even with WR Percy Harvin missing nearly the entire season and WR Sidney Rice suffering a season-ending injury.
Key Injuries: WR Sidney Rice (knee), CB Brandon Browner (suspension), WR Percy Harvin (hip).
This Week3Last Week4Carolina Panthers12-4-0
Had the Panthers at No. 12 in the preseason, expecting better things than they showed in 2012, but it wasn't looking good when they lost three of their first four games. However, after their lockdown defence led them to win 11 of the final 12 games, the Panthers are surprise contenders.
Key Injuries: RG Garry Williams (knee), FS Charles Godfrey (Achilles), LG Amini Silatolu (knee).
This Week4Last Week3San Francisco 49ers12-4-0
Third in the preseason, the Niners have rebounded from a couple of early losses to win 11 of the past 13 games and their defence is formidable, but expectatiosn were higher for QB Colin Kaepernick and the 49ers passing game after his remarkable 2012 performance.
Key Injuries: None.
This Week5Last Week5New Orleans Saints11-5-0
Ranked 15th in the preseason, the Saints' offensive performance was no surprise, but their defence was dramatically better than last season. Even if that's not considered the specialty of head coach Sean Payton (who returned from a one-year suspension), he has to get some of the credit for the turn around.
Key Injuries: G Jahri Evans (hip), CB Jabari Greer (knee).
This Week6Last Week7New England Patriots12-4-0
The top-ranked team in the preseason couldn't generate enough of a passing game with veteran QB Tom Brady unable to find a consistent threat, aside from the seven games in which Rob Gronkowski was mostly in beast mode. An even bigger concern, however, has been how injuries have decimated the Patriots' front seven, leaving them with the 30th-ranked run defence.
Key Injuries: NT Vince Wilfork (Achilles), OLB Jerod Mayo (chest), DT Tommy Kelly (knee), TE Rob Gronkowski (knee).
This Week7Last Week9Philadelphia Eagles10-6-0
A big jump from 21st in the preseason, but the performance of QB Nick Foles was not expected, not even from the Eagles, who started the season with Michael Vick under centre. Seven wins in the past eight games has rookie head coach Chip Kelly guiding a dangerous team into the postseason.
Key Injuries: WR Jeremy Maclin (knee).
This Week8Last Week8Cincinnati Bengals11-5-0
Sitting at 13 in the preseason, the Bengals have been better than expected and have one regulation loss in the past dozen games, a span during which they've been without two of their best defenders and yet Cincinnati still ranks fifth against both the run and the pass.
Key Injuries: CB Leon Hall (Achilles), DT Geno Atkins (knee).
This Week9Last Week19Green Bay Packers8-7-1
Needed obscene amounts of good fortune to get into the postseason, but now that they have QB Aaron Rodgers and WR Randall Cobb back in the lineup, the team ranked sixth in the preseason has a chance, though they will need their defence to play better for a championship run.
Key Injuries: LT Bryan Bulaga (knee), OLB Clay Matthews (thumb).
This Week10Last Week12Indianapolis Colts11-5-0
Ranked 14th in the preseason, the Colts finished strong, winning four of the last five games to come into the playoffs a little better than expected. Impressive, considering that they lost their starting tight end and number one receiver during the season.
Key Injuries: TE Dwayne Allen (hip), WR Reggie Wayne (knee).
This Week11Last Week6Kansas City Chiefs11-5-0
Ranked 26th in the preseason, the Chiefs made a massive jump from last year's two-win team, though losing five of seven down the stretch tempers some of the enthusiasm for an 11-win club.
Key Injuries: None.
This Week12Last Week14San Diego Chargers9-7-0
Won four in a row to finish the season, and QB Philip Rivers had a phenomenal season, even after losing a couple of receivers to season-ending knee injuries. The development of rookie WR Keenan Allen was huge to filling that void and lifted the Chargers, ranked 24th in the preseason, to a much better final ranking.
Key Injuries: WR Danario Alexander (knee), WR Malcom Floyd (concussion/neck), RT Jeromey Clary (clavicle).
This Week13Last Week10Arizona Cardinals10-6-0
Ranked 22nd in the preseason, the Cardinals were even better than expected, finishing strong with seven wins in the past nine games, with both losses coming by a field goal margin.
Key Injuries: FS Tyrann Mathieu (knee).
This Week14Last Week17Pittsburgh Steelers8-8-0
A bit behind their preseason ranking of 10th, the Steelers couldn't dig out from their early-season hole, going 8-4 after a 0-4 start. You might think that when a team gets 10 touchdowns out of WR Jerricho Cotchery, they can't help but finish better than anticipated, but...
Key Injuries: ILB Larry Foote (bicep), C Maurkice Pouncey (knee).
This Week15Last Week15Detroit Lions7-9-0
Pegged for 16th in the preseason, the Lions were well on their way to a higher ranking, but losing six of seven to wrap up the year left them with a sub-.500 record and, justifiably, will bring a coaching change. There is enough talent here to be a playoff team.
Key Injuries: None.
This Week16Last Week21Tennessee Titans7-9-0
Two OT losses contributed to four losses by a field goal or less, yet the Titans finished with a couple of wins and, even without starting QB Jake Locker, earned a much better ranking than the 27th they were handed in the preseason.
Key Injuries: QB Jake Locker (foot).
This Week17Last Week11Chicago Bears8-8-0
Had the Bears at 11 before the season started though, to be fair, that was before the injuries starting flattening their defence. The good news was that they performed well even when starting QB Jay Cutler was hurt, so credit to veteran backup Josh McCown, but consistency was elusive, especially after opening the season with three wins.
Key Injuries: DT Henry Melton (knee), DT Nate Collins (knee), MLB D.J. Williams (pectoral), OLB Lance Briggs (shoulder), CB Charles Tillman (triceps).
This Week18Last Week24New York Jets8-8-0
Turns out the Jets were much better than their preseason rank of 30th, and while I'd like to attribute that to QB Mark Sanchez missing the season, it's hard to give credit to rookie QB Geno Smith, who threw 12 touchdowns and 21 interceptions. Nevertheless, the Jets' strong defensive line -- anchored by Sheldon Richardson, Damon Harrison and Muhammad Wilkerson -- helped keep them competitive.
Key Injuries: None.
This Week19Last Week18Dallas Cowboys8-8-0
Ranked the 'Boys 20th in the preseason, so this shouldn't come as any kind of surprise, but they had a team that was capable of so much more. Four losses by two points or less left them with a mediocre record, but it could have easily been a 10 or 11-win team; they just found a way to get back to .500.
Key Injuries: ILB Sean Lee (neck), QB Tony Romo (back).
This Week20Last Week16Baltimore Ravens8-8-0
Had the defending champs at No. 8 in the preseason, which was low compared to others, but QB Joe Flacco played more like Joe Flacco and RB Ray Rice had his least productive season since his rookie year.
Key Injuries: None.
This Week21Last Week13Miami Dolphins8-8-0
Dolphins made a spirited charge winning four of five before dropping the last two games of the season, but the ups and down left them still a little ahead of their preseason ranking of 23rd. Second-year QB Ryan Tannehill had some strong moments, but the story of the season was how off-field issues cost the Dolphins two offensive linemen.
Key Injuries: LT Jonathan Martin (personal), LG Richie Incognito (suspension).
This Week22Last Week20St. Louis Rams7-9-0
Got some pushback on the Rams being ranked 25th in the preseason, but they won four of the last seven games on the schedule to finish with a better ranking, even without QB Sam Bradford.
Key Injuries: QB Sam Bradford (knee).
This Week23Last Week23New York Giants7-9-0
Wasn't overly optimistic about the Giants' chances, ranked 20th prior to the season, but couldn't have imagined a worse season for QB Eli Manning, who threw 27 interceptions and finished with his lowest QB Rating since his rookie year, 2004.
Key Injuries: SS Stevie Brown (knee), C David Baas (knee), RB David Wilson (neck), WR Victor Cruz (knee).
This Week24Last Week22Cleveland Browns4-12-0
Seven losses in a row to finish the year cost first-year head coach Rob Chudzinski his gig, which wasn't altogether fair since he had to use three quarterbacks and expectations shouldn't have been all that high for a team that was 28th in the preseason. One positive: WR Josh Gordon was unstoppable, even with mediocre quarterbacks.
Key Injuries: QB Brian Hoyer (knee).
This Week25Last Week25Minnesota Vikings5-10-1
Made a relatively bold call to put the Vikings at 19 in the preseason, even with a healthy RB Adrian Peterson but, not surprisingly, Peterson couldn't pull off a second straight monster season and that's what the Vikings needed if they were going to have another winning season.
Key Injuries: TE Kyle Rudolph (foot), QB Christian Ponder (concussion).
This Week26Last Week30Buffalo Bills6-10-0
Had the Bills at 29 in the preseason, due to uncertainty at quarterback -- it was only a few days before the opener that the Bills decided they weren't going with undrafted free agent Jeff Tuel -- and when RB C.J. Spiller couldn't get in gear (then got hurt), well, the going got tough.
Key Injuries: QB E.J. Manuel (knee).
This Week27Last Week26Atlanta Falcons4-12-0
Safe to say expectations were a tad higher for the Falcons. Had them seventh in the preseason, but when RB Steven Jackson got injured in Week One and WR Roddy White limped his way through a high ankle sprain for most of the year, there was trouble. The clincher was when WR Julio Jones, who was off to a great start, suffered a season-ending foot injury in the fifth game.
Key Injuries: DE Kroy Biermann (Achilles), WR Julio Jones (foot).
This Week28Last Week27Tampa Bay Buccaneers4-12-0
Had the Bucs 27th in the preseason, but didn't know that head coach Greg Schiano would be changing quarterbacks after three weeks. Knock out a couple of running backs, including Doug Martin, and it's no surprise this was a down year, leading the Bucs to bring in Lovie Smith as their new head coach.
Key Injuries: RB Doug Martin (shoulder), RG Carl Nicks (infection), RB Mike James (ankle).
This Week29Last Week29Oakland Raiders4-12-0
Had the Raiders at the bottom of the barrel in the preseason, but it turned out for a little while, that QB Terrelle Pryor managed to have some success. The emergence of RB Rashad Jennings helped the Raiders' cause a little too.
Key Injuries: LT Jared Veldheer (triceps).
This Week30Last Week32Jacksonville Jaguars4-12-0
Not far ahead of their preseason ranking of 31st, but the Jaguars did win four of five games from Week 10 through Week 14.
Key Injuries: WR Justin Blackmon (suspension).
This Week31Last Week28Washington Redskins3-13-0
Did not expect the bloom to come off RGIII so quickly, and had Washington at 12 in the preseason, but there was some assumption about his being healthy that -- based on early games -- was optimistic.
Key Injuries: None.
This Week32Last Week31Houston Texans2-14-0
There's a lot of talent on this two-win team, but injuries combined with QB Matt Schaub's propensity for throwing a pick six early in the season sent this season off the rails in a hurry. Considering they were ranked fourth in the preseason, they easily qualify for the most disappointing team of the year. Congrats!
Key Injuries: ILB Brian Cushing (leg), TE Owen Daniels (fibula), RB Arian Foster (back), RB Ben Tate (ribs), QB Case Keenum (thumb).