Power Rankings: Hot streaks result in rapid rises
The Seahawks were a .500 team and flailing about in mediocrity. The Chargers had been tagged underachievers, with their new coach taking the blame. And the Vikings? Sorry, but they weren't even on the playoff radar screen.
Then ... poof! Somehow, someway, each team turned on the ignition switch, found the accelerator and has yet to stop. The Seahawks have won five straight, the Chargers have won three straight and the Vikings have won four straight. Consequently, all three teams are taking up residence in the top 12 -- the playoff 12, if you will -- in this week's rankings.
The Seahawks, in fact, have already clinched their playoff spot by winning the NFC West. The Chargers will win the AFC West this week if they beat the Lions (more about them later), and if the Broncos lose at Houston on Thursday. And the Vikings now control their own fate; if they just keep winning, they'll claim one of the NFC's wild-card spots.
Such is the way of life in the NFL, where parity can send you on a rollercoaster ride. For those teams who happen to get hot for an extended length of time, it doesn't take long to go from disappointment to playoff contender.
Of course, on the flip side, it doesn't take long for a promising season to completely unravel. Consider the Lions, who reached the halfway mark of the season with a 6-2 record and the No. 8 spot in our Power Rankings. Five losses later, the Lions have fallen to 20th while living up (living down?) to their reputation as second-half choke artists.
The Ravens have been even worse, losing seven straight after a 4-2 start and dropping from 7th to 25th in the rankings. That would be one spot ahead of the, ahem, Raiders.
So how would you rank the Seahawks, Chargers and Vikings, as well as the 29 other teams, after Week 14? Click here to access SportsNation's ranking tool.
BIGGEST RISE: Denver Broncos from 20th to 15th. BIGGEST DROP: Chicago Bears from 16th to 23rd.
(Editor's note: LW indicates each team's ranking last week.)