1. Carolina Panthers– 17. That’s how many games the Panthers have won in a row dating back to last season. They just simply continue to be dominant on both sides of the football and remember when we all said Cam Newton didn’t have a go to receiver outside of Greg Olsen? Ted Ginn has stepped up and become that guy for Cam on the outside and down the field. Despite them playing great football, they’re having fun doing it. You see the antics on the sideline, the dancing, Cam just looks like a kid out there at recess when he’s on the field. With a win today against the Giants, they will clinch the one seed in the NFC, no shocker there.
2. Arizona Cardinals– They continue to roll and show why they are the most complete team in all of football. Around this time last season, Bruce Arians was down to his third-string quarterback and the Cardinals were looking for answers at the position. That hasn’t been the case this year. Carson Palmer would be my pick for comeback player of the year and he’s definitely been an MVP candidate this season. Their last game was a tough one, but they found a way to grind it out and get the win and are closing in on winning the NFC West for the first time since 2009. They are also playing for a bye in the NFC playoffs.
3. New England Patriots– After a two-game skid following a 10-0 start, the Patriots bounced back only the way they could. Last Sunday night was the most complete game I’ve seen the Patriots put together all season long. Gronk was back and you saw the immediate impact he had and nobody was happier to have him back than Tom Brady himself. What truly impressed me was their defense and how active they were. They put a ton of pressure on Hoyer, they shut down Hopkins as Belichick has been known to take away the other teams best player and they neutralized J.J. Watt. I see the Pats winning out and getting the one seed in the AFC playoffs meaning the road to the Super Bowl in the AFC will travel through Foxborough.
4. Seattle Seahawks– Finally, they’ve cracked the top four! I know they hadn’t looked like a team that represented the NFC in the Super Bowl the last two seasons, but don’t count them out. Russell Wilson is showing us all that he’s more than capable of throwing the football down the field and staying in the pocket. Since Jimmy Graham went down with the knee injury, the Seahawks offense has been clicking on all cylinders. Baldwin has emerged as Russell’s go to guy and the running game has been solid. The defense is slowly but surely getting that swagger back. Come January, this is a team I don’t want to see especially with the way they are playing right now.
5. Pittsburgh Steelers– Right now if the playoffs started, the Steelers would not make it and that would be tough because they’ve played so well to be in the position they are. I still see the Steelers getting in and making a nice run come January. With a healthy Ben under center, they will be a tough team to be. The other day on the radio, I considered them to be the Arizona Cardinals of the AFC. Just like Arizona, the Steelers receiving core is stacked because Bryant and Wheaton can also have big games against your defense. Their game against the Denver Broncos will have heavy playoff implications.