NFL Power Rankings: Cardinals rise, Packers fall in Week 17

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Dec 28, 2015; Denver, CO, USA; Cincinnati Bengals quarterback AJ McCarron (5) reacts during the first half against the Denver Broncos at Sports Authority Field at Mile High. Mandatory Credit: Chris Humphreys-USA TODAY Sports


Last week: 7
Change: -2

The Cincinnati Bengals’ overtime loss to the Denver Broncos could be devastating for the Bengals’ Super Bowl hopes. Cincinnati is in desperate need of the first round bye as Andy Dalton continues to recover from his thumb injury. If he is able to return in time for their playoff game, the Bengals are in business.

But as it stands, the Bengals would host the New York Jets on Wild Card weekend. The Jets are a red hot team with a top-10 offense and defense. Dalton could find success against the Jets defense, but A.J. McCarron would find Todd Bowles’ defense that much tougher.

The hope for Cincinnati is they find a way past Baltimore this week, with San Diego upsetting Denver. In this scenario, the Bengals would take the No. 2 seed and have the crucial week off for Dalton to recover.

For one and a half quarters, it looked like the Bengals were going to stroll past the Broncos. McCarron marched the team down the field on two excellent drives with the Bengals going up 14-0. But the Broncos made the necessary defensive adjustments and the Bengals offense had no answer.

Next: No. 8