2011 NFL Power Rankings: Week 16

Updated: December 20, 2011, 1:41 PM ET
ESPN.com
Week:

The Packers are a prominent part of this week's theme, and not because they just suffered their first loss of the season.

A year ago at this time, Green Bay was 8-6, banged up and had yet to clinch a playoff spot. Few could have predicted it, but Aaron Rodgers and Co. were about to go on a magical run that included a Super Bowl title and a 13-game winning streak to start 2011.

Is a similar rise -- 8-6 to Super Bowl champion -- in store this season? Let's take a look at the possibilities.

The Bengals, Broncos, Cowboys and Jets all stand at 8-6. None has clinched a postseason berth, but three of the four (Dallas, Denver and New York) control their destinies.

Of the group, our voters (ESPN.com's John Clayton, ESPN.com's Ashley Fox, AFC South blogger Paul Kuharsky, NFC West blogger Mike Sando and AFC East blogger James Walker) believe Dallas (No. 10) has the most potential, but not by much. Denver, the Jets and Cincinnati are Nos. 11, 12 and 13, respectively.

So are any of the 8-6ers poised to take off? No one knows for sure; we do know many quality teams stand in their way.

Still, there's always a chance someone will find lightning in a bottle. It's happened before.

• How they voted | Bloggers' analysis | NFL Playoffs Predictor Insider | Vegas rankings Insider | Mike & Mike Listen | Team Power Rankings charts since 2002

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