1. Carolina Panthers– Last Sunday was just the second time that the Panthers have trailed all season. A lot went wrong for them. The defense struggled to prevent the big play down the field, they ran a season low 35 offensive plays and it looked as if the undefeated streak would come to an end, right? Wrong. This was a game the Panthers had to grind out and climb out of a hole to win. That was Cam Newton’s MVP moment because he had to carry this team on his shoulders. 16 straight wins for the Panthers now. Will they run the table and go undefeated?
2. Arizona Cardinals– This is one team I’d try to avoid come playoff time. They are the most complete team in the NFL and in their conference. This is a legit title contender and Carson Palmer has had a great comeback season. I was asked on the air who are two teams that can beat the Panthers in the NFC and the two I listed right off the bat were the Seattle Seahawks and the Arizona Cardinals. They are closing in on their first division title since 2009 and will more than likely be the two seed in the NFC.
3. Denver Broncos– Since Brock Osweiler has become the starter, the Broncos have found their running game. They’re averaging 161 yards per game and 4.5 yards per carry. With Peyton under center, they were averaging 86 yards per game and 3.8 yards per carry. The Broncos are on a three-game winning streak and have clinched their fourth straight ten win season. The only thing we are concerned about now is what they will do when Peyton comes back. Do they put the legend back under center or will they continue to roll with the hand that’s hot? Only time will tell.
4. Cincinnati Bengals– If the playoffs were to begin today, they’d be the one seed in the AFC. That’s something, isn’t it? A.J. Green has recorded 1,000 yards receiving once again. He’s done that each year in his career. That’s five seasons and only two men have accomplished this. A.J. Green and Randy Moss. That’s some pretty impressive company. With a win today against the Steelers, the Bengals will clinch the AFC North for the fourth time in Marvin Lewis’s tenure.
5. New England Patriots– They’ve lost consecutive games for the first time since the 2012 season. That’s a long time. Injuries are taking a toll on this team and Brady has been without Gronk and Edelman. Well, Gronk is expected to come back tonight in Houston. The Patriots offensive line is a cause for concern right now because they are losing each battle in the trenches. After all, this is still the reigning Super Bowl champs at the end of the day and you will have to beat them to get to the top.