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Week 14 power rankings

Deion Branch

New England Patriots wide receiver Deion Branch (84) celebrates a touchdown-reception in the first half of an NFL football game against the Chicago Bears in Chicago, Sunday, Dec. 12, 2010. (AP Photo/Charles Rex Arbogast)


Sure, the playoff picture is coming into focus. But that’s only six teams per conference.

Power rankings compare teams across AFC/NFC lines, including the 20 teams that have no chance of finishing as the undisputed No. 1.

Hey, we gotta do something to get you to read these things in the final weeks of the season.

1. New England Patriots (No. 1; 11-2): The 2010 Pats are looking like more and more like the lovechild of the 2007 Pats and the 1999 Rams.

2. Atlanta Falcons (No. 2; 11-2): The road to the Jerry Dome will be going through the Georgia Dome.

3. New Orleans Saints (No. 3; 10-3): Though the Saints are playing more like the Saints, the quest for “Two Dat” could require them to win three on the road in January.

4. Pittsburgh Steelers (No. 4; 10-3): Ugly wins are still wins, and the Steelers could win ugly all the way to the Super Bowl.

5. Baltimore Ravens (No. 5; 9-4): The Patriots’ favorite team will be whichever team faces Baltimore in the wild-card round.

6. Philadelphia Eagles (No. 10; 9-4): Forget about Super Bowl matchups -- more than anything else, we want to see the Eagles face the Falcons in the playoffs.

7. New York Giants (No. 11; 9-4): They’ve looked good the last two weeks, but the Redskins and Vikings definitely aren’t the Eagles.

8. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (No. 13; 8-5): Though they may not win many/any games once they arrive, the Bucs are bound for the playoffs.

9. Jacksonville Jaguars (No. 12; 8-5): The toupee is currently soaking in lighter fluid.

10. Miami Dolphins (No. 19; 7-6): Could Tony Sparano finish with a winning record, miss the playoffs, and get fired?

11. Chicago Bears (No. 6; 9-4): Thanks to Brett Favre’s shoulder and the Metrodome’s roof, the Bears have a great chance to quickly put that thrashing from the Pats behind them.

12. San Diego Chargers (No. 17; 7-6): That sweep at the hands of the Raiders could come back to haunt the Chargers -- and possibly cost Norv Turner his job.

13. Indianapolis Colts (No. 14; 7-6): A year after a Week 15 game against the Jaguars was meaningless, a Week 15 game against the Jaguars couldn’t have more meaning.

14. Green Bay Packers (No. 7; 8-5): If the Packers actually had a traditional owner, that owner could be thinking about firing Mike McCarthy.

15. New York Jets (No. 8; 9-4): At Pittsburgh followed by at Chicago means the Jets will have to beat the Bills on January 2 to avoid staying at home for the playoffs.

16. Kansas City Chiefs (No. 9; 8-5): Under the classic definition of MVP, Matt Cassel has earned a few votes.

17. Oakland Raiders (No. 15; 6-7): Start the “Tom Cable will be fired after the season if not sooner” speculation.

18. St. Louis Rams (No. 16; 6-7): Though they’re not ready to contend for a Super Bowl appearance, winning the division would be one of the biggest accomplishments in the history of the league.

19. Cleveland Browns (No. 18; 5-8): Eric Mangini’s future in Cleveland arguably hangs in the balance, and whether he can win two of the last three games.

20. San Francisco 49ers (No. 26; 5-8): If Jon Gruden wants to coach the 49ers, he may have to wait a year.

21. Minnesota Vikings (No. 20; 5-8): And now we know why the Vikings insist on playing Brett Favre no matter how injured he may be.

22. Dallas Cowboys (No. 22; 4-9): The Cowboys aren’t far off from being one of the best teams in the conference.

23. Houston Texans (No. 23; 5-8): If the Texans only played teams that currently are or used to be in Baltimore, maybe they’d make the playoffs.

24. Seattle Seahawks (No. 21; 6-7): So if Pete Carroll drafts Cam Newton, does he get Reggie Bush’s Heisman?

25. Detroit Lions (No. 30; 3-10): The latest sign of the Apocalypse? The Lions scored more points at Ford Field in Week 14 than the Packers and Vikings combined.

26. Buffalo Bills (No. 27; 3-10): Despite their struggles, the Bills have finally found an answer at quarterback.

27. Arizona Cardinals (No. 29; 4-9): If John Skelton is the quarterback of the future in Arizona, the future is bleak.

28. Washington Redskins (No. 24; 5-8): Somewhere in Tennessee, Albert Haynesworth is laughing his ass off.

29. Tennessee Titans (No. 25; 5-8): The Titans’ season won’t get really interesting until it ends.

30. Denver Broncos (No. 28; 3-10): The latest proof of the consequences of concussions? John Elway actually wants to rejoin the Broncos.

31. Cincinnati Bengals (No. 31; 2-11): Carson Palmer’s time in Cincy is so short that he shouldn’t even buy yellow bananas.

32. Carolina Panthers (No. 32; 1-12): Steve Smith says Jimmy Clausen isn’t at Notre Dame anymore. And that’s a good thing, because Notre Dame probably could beat the Panthers.