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Week 16 power rankings

Peyton Manning

Denver Broncos’ Peyton Manning throws as he prepares before an NFL football game against the Houston Texans, Sunday, Dec. 22, 2013, in Houston. (AP Photo/David J. Phillip)


1. Broncos (12-3; No. 2): They started the regular season 6-0 without Von Miller. They’ll now have to try to win half as many postseason games without him.

2. Seahawks (12-3; last week No. 1): Some would say the Cardinals gave the rest of the NFC playoff field hope by winning in Seattle. Chances are the Cardinals simply gave the Seahawks a wake-up call.

3. Panthers (11-4; No. 3): Luke Kuechly may have won defensive player of the year based on Week 16 alone.

4. Patriots (11-4; No. 4): And just when it looks like the wheels are coming off, the car is once again cruising at top speed.

5. 49ers (11-4; No. 6): NaVorro Bowman went from Bill Buckner to David Ortiz in roughly five minutes of real time.

6. Saints (10-5; No. 5): Before the Saints will earn the right to lose on the road in the playoffs, they’ll have to win one more game at home.

7. Eagles (9-6; No. 9): Before Philly sends out the playoff tickets, the Eagles need to figure out how to score more than three points against the Cowboys.

8. Cardinals (10-5; No. 10): In some respects, 2013 will be even more important to the franchise than 2008.

9. Chiefs (11-4; No. 7): Andy Reid brought John Harbaugh in to the NFL, and Reid can help take Harbaugh’s team out of the 2013 playoffs by resting starters at San Diego.

10. Bengals (10-5; No. 11): With a 7-0 record at home and the AFC North title nailed down, this could be the year the Bengals break the curse of Bo Jackson’s hip.

11. Colts (10-5; No. 13): If the Colts could play as well in a meaningful game as they played in a meaningless game, they could go far in January.

12. Ravens (8-7; No. 8): It’s too bad Justin Tucker couldn’t kick 14 field goals on Sunday.

13. Chargers (8-7; No. 16): Before we carve a name on the coach of the year trophy, let’s not forget the guy who once got more than anyone ever has out of Tim Tebow.

14. Steelers (7-8; No. 19): The Steelers were left for dead after losing at home to the Bengals. Just like in 2005.

15. Cowboys (8-7; No. 17): When it comes to NFC East title games, maybe the third time will be a charm.

16. Packers (7-7-1; No. 14): Maybe the Packers should put their “organizational decisions” to a vote of the shareholders.

17. Bears (8-7; No. 12): On the bright side, it could be getting a lot cheaper to re-sign Jay Cutler.

18. Dolphins (8-7; No. 15): Winning games a team is supposed to lose makes it even harder to not lose the games a team is supposed to win.

19. Rams (7-8; No. 18): With seven wins and the first pick in the draft, the Rams could win 11 games next year. And still finish last in the division.

20. Jets (7-8; No. 21): Rex Ryan deserves credit for coaxing seven wins out of a horrible roster.

21. Bills (6-9; No. 22): One of these years, the Bills will make it back to the playoffs. We think.

22. Giants (6-9; No. 25): In any other division, the Giants would need major surgery to contend in 2014. In the NFC East, they don’t need to do much to get back to the top.

23. Lions (7-8; No. 20): If the Lions couldn’t win the division this year, maybe they never will.

24. Titans (6-9; No. 24): It’s fitting that Mike Munchak’s three-decade run with the Titans could end with a game against the team that plays in the city where Munchak got started.

25. Jaguars (4-11; No. 22): Find the right quarterback, and the Jaguars could find their way to contention.

26. Vikings (4-10-1; No. 26): Three years after the roof collapsed on the Metrodome, the curtain falls for a team that needs to get the hook.

27. Buccaneers (4-11; No. 27): They’ve got a chance to get some company in their misery, if they can beat the Saints.

28. Browns (4-11; No. 28): Is it too late for Jimmy Haslam to get a refund?

29. Falcons (4-11; No. 29): At least the most recent last-second loss to the 49ers didn’t cost them a Super Bowl berth.

30. Raiders (4-11; No. 30): Dennis Allen isn’t setting Terrelle Pryor up to fail. It will happen naturally.

31. Redskins (3-12; No. 31): Plenty of cap space and a high first-round draft pick will help turn this mess around. Oh.

32. Texans (2-13; No. 32): At least their free agents won’t look as attractive to other teams this year.