NFL Radio Power 12, Week 16: Broncos keep on sliding

Each week, SiriusXM NFL Radio’s hosts vote on the top six teams in both the NFC and AFC. This week’s voters include James Lofton, Bruce Murray, Alex Marvez, Bill Polian, Maurice Jones-Drew, Gil Brandt, Jim Miller, Pat Kirwan, The Opening Drive, other NFL Radio hosts, Brian Lauvray, Bobby Bonett, and you, the fans! (To participate in the fan vote, visit siriusxm.com/power12poll.)

All channel listings subject to change.


NFC

1. Carolina Panthers (14-0)

Week 15 opponent: @ Atlanta Falcons, Sunday 1 pm ET (XM channel 231, Sirius channel 804, Internet channel 801)

After surviving ashootout last week against the Giants, Carolina is now the fourth NFL team to start the season 14-0. The 1972 Dolphins, 2007 Patriots and 2009 Colts are the other teams to accomplish this, and all three made the Super Bowl (but only the ’72 Dolphins won the Super Bowl amongst the trio.) Carolina has a gift-wrapped pair of games against Atlanta this week and Tampa next week, with a bye assured in the wild-card round of the playoffs no matter the outcome, the Panthers all deserve some extra cookies around the Christmas tree.

2. Arizona Cardinals (12-2)

Week 15 opponent: vs. Green Bay Packers, Sunday 4:25 pm ET (XM channel 227, Sirius channel 227, Internet channel 800)

Suffering the devastating loss of Tyrann Mathieu last week against the Eagles, Arizona probably has “irreplaceable defensive talent” on their Christmas wish list. Sadly, players of the Honey Badger’s skill level don’t come along every day and the Cardinals defense now have a tremendous chink in their armor heading into the postseason. So long as the Cardinals have Carson Palmer under center, Arizona’s fully capable of causing noise in the playoffs, but the loss of Mathieu is a huge one at the exact wrong time of year. Godspeed, Honey Badger.

3. Seattle Seahawks (9-5)

Week 11 opponent: vs. Green Bay Packers, Sunday 4:25 pm ET (XM channel 227, Sirius channel 225, Internet channel 817)

The Seahawks have averaged a robust 33.8 points per game over their last six games and clinched a playoff berth last week against the Browns. While Arizona’s locked up the divisional crown, the ‘Hawks can guarantee the fifth-seed in the NFC playoffs by winning out with a home game against St Louis this week and a trip to the Cardinals in the final week.

4. Green Bay Packers (10-4)

Week 15 opponent: at Arizona Cardinals, Sunday 4:25 pm ET (XM channel 226, Sirius channel 226, Internet channel 811)

With a tough match this week on the road against the Arizona Cardinals, the NFC North crown (and the three-seed) could be up for grabs in Week 17 when the Packers will face the Vikings at Lambeau Field. Fingers crossed the unseasonably warm weather goes away and the Packers and Vikings treat us all to a “snowglobe game” for the ages in the season’s final week.

5. Minnesota Vikings (9-5)

Week 15 opponent: vs. New York Giants, Sunday 8:30 pm ET (XM channel 225, Sirius channel 226, Internet channel 820)

Continually displaying impressive stores of resiliency, the Vikings, after being mauled by the Seahawks and dropping a close one to the Cardinals, came out against the Chicago Bears firing on all cylinders. Teddy Bridgewater, as inconsistent as he has looked this year, was unstoppable against the Bears and if his play stays at this level, the Vikings, and that still nasty defense of theirs, will be a team nobody wants to face in the wild-card round.

6. Washington (7-7)

Week 15 opponent: @ Philadelphia Eagles, Saturday 8:25 pm ET (XM channel 225, Sirius channel 225, Internet channel 831)

Washington, with a win on Saturday night against Philly, can win the banana republic that the NFC East has devolved into. Mind you, this the NFC East we’re talking about; it’s a quicksand bog of a division that just seems to suck everyone down to the same, terrible, mediocre, gross level. If the Eagles defeat Washington and the Giants win on Sunday, New York still will be alive for the divisional crown at a hypothetical 7-8.

NFC fantasy football spotlight: Darren McFadden (RB, Dallas)

2015 stats: 208 rushes for 898 yards, (4.3 ypc), 3 rushing touchdowns

Serving as Dallas’ only consistent offensive threat, McFadden has delivered two-straight games with 100+ yards rushing on an astonishing, not a joke, 9.6 yards per carry. McFadden is running angry and displaying the patience and vision that had draftniks drooling over him so many years ago at Arkansas. Count on Run DMC to deliver against a very pedestrian Bills D.

AFC

1. New England Patriots (12-2)

Week 15 opponent: @ New York Jets, Sunday 1:00 pm ET (XM channel 226, Sirius channel 82, Internet channel 818)

Beseiged by either injuries or controversy since Week 1, Tom Brady and his merry-go-round of passing options, have been taking out their frustrations against all opponents this year. Facing a very game Jets team on the road this week, New England has to simply win to guarantee a first-round bye in the playoffs. No small task when the opponent is a hated rival that’s all too happy to stymie the defending Super Bowl champs at every step of the way.

2. Kansas City Chiefs (9-5)

Week 15 opponent: vs . Cleveland Browns, Sunday 1:00 pm ET (XM channel 229, Sirius channel 226, Internet channel 815)

Following their five-game losing streak the Chiefs had an 8% chance of making the postseason according to 538’s NFL forecast. That projection now stands at 97% and KC, with a win on Sunday and a Broncos loss on Sunday, will be in first place in the AFC West. The Chiefs, as talented of a roster as their is in NFL, has had one of the most statistically improbable seasons. The five-game losing streak, this bonkers and largely dominant eight-game winning streak, it’s all been nuts. If you like chaos, keep rooting for Kansas City.

3. Pittsburgh Steelers (9-5)

Week 15 opponent: @ Baltimore Ravens, Sunday 1:00 pm ET (XM channel 230, Sirius channel 230, Internet channel 802)

Spotting the Broncos a huge lead in the first half, the Steelers came roaring back in the second half to win at home last week in what appeared to be more or less an exercise in “Naw, we got this, Denver.” Pittsburgh in two straight weeks has dropped 30+ points on the Bengals and Broncos, two teams that, by the way, are ranked top five in scoring defenses in the NFL. Pittsburgh has been an incredibly efficient and high-scoring offense all season, but seem to have kicked into another gear the past month and have to be considered a dark horse for the Super Bowl, if not an outright favorite with New England and the Bengals.

4. New York Jets (9-5)

Week 15 opponent: vs New England Patriots, Sunday 1:00 pm ET (XM channel 232, Sirius channel 232, Internet channel 821)

Stuck behind both the Chiefs and Steelers in the wild-card chase, the Jets, with a win on Sunday against New England coupled with a Chiefs win and Broncos loss, would be right on track for the playoffs in the AFC. This scenario, as thrilling as it would be for Mean Green backers, speaks volumes of how competitive the AFC has been this year and how startling a Broncos collapse would be.

5. Cincinnati Bengals (11-3)

Week 15 opponent: at Denver Broncos, Monday 8:30 pm ET (XM channel 225, Sirius channel 225, Internet channel 806)

Coming off of a tough road win in San Francisco, the Bengals find themselves in the Mile-High City this week in a game with mile-high implications for both Cincinnati and the Denver Broncos. For Cincy a win will assure them of the two-seed and a first round bye, affording Andy Dalton and everyone else another week of rest.

6. Denver Broncos (10-4)

Week 15 opponent: vs Denver Broncos, Monday 8:30 pm ET (XM channel 226, Sirius channel 226, Internet channel 809)

And speaking of the Broncos, a loss to Cincinnati on Monday night would be absolutely devastating to the Broncos chances of making the playoffs. Working in Denver’s favor however is the fact that Denver faces a lousy San Diego at home in Week 17, while the Jets face a tough road game in Buffalo in the final week of the season. Still, Denver’s margin of error, thanks more to the teams below them simply not losing, is razor thin at this point.

AFC fantasy football spotlight: Allen Robinson (WR, Jacksonville)

2015 stats: 69 receptions, 1,689 yards, 15 touchdowns

The better by the week Jaguars’ offense gets the atrocious Saints defense this week. Allen Robinson is the alpha dog in J-ville’s receiving corps. and he should have a field day against what’s been a seriously overmatched New Orleans’ secondary for weeks at this point. 


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