2011 NFL Power Rankings: Week 17
We still don't know who will claim the AFC West and NFC East titles. We do know that the eventual winner of both divisions will have fewer than 10 victories.
Do any of the teams vying for these crowns -- Broncos, Raiders, Cowboys and Giants -- have a chance to make significant noise in the big picture? 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) don't appear sold.
The Cowboys boast the highest ranking of the group at No. 11 -- not exactly a ringing endorsement heading into the playoffs. The Giants are next at No. 12, with the Broncos (No. 13) and Raiders (No. 14) rounding out the group. It probably will take a Cincinnati loss in Week 17 for any of the four to crack the top 10 next week.
Of course, our rankings aren't the be-all, end-all. The main objective is making the playoffs, which the Broncos, Cowboys and Giants (New York and Dallas play each other) can accomplish by winning in Week 17. To win the AFC West, the Raiders need to beat San Diego and have Denver fall at home to Kansas City. (Oakland needs to win Sunday and get help to earn a wild card.)
No matter how this weekend's games shake out, each of the four teams in focus here will still have single-digit win totals -- but at least two will have their playoff tickets punched. Hey, sometimes it pays to be mediocre.