Matt Vensel's Monday morning NFL power rankings

FootballSportsBaltimore RavensNew England PatriotsDenver BroncosHouston TexansGreen Bay Packers

Every Monday morning -- even during the playoffs -- I bring you my weekly premature NFL power rankings.

Why Monday? Because who wants to wait until Tuesday or Wednesday for power rankings?

Why 11 teams? I don’t really have a good answer for that one. I’ve always liked odd numbers.

What am I basing them on? Who my gut tells me are the toughest teams to beat that week.

Why isn’t my team on the list!?!?! Take a deep breath and try not to take these too seriously.

1. Denver Broncos (last installment -- 1): The Broncos haven’t lost since October. They have a Hall-of-Fame quarterback and one of the NFL’s best defenses. They have one of the league’s best home-field advantages as well. Yeah, Saturday’s game is probalby going to be a rough one for the Ravens.

2. New England Patriots (3): The Patriots scored 557 points this season -- 76 more than the next-closest team. And they just got tight end Rob Gronkowski back. They will be a very tough out.

3. Green Bay Packers (4): We’ll see if it’s a good thing or a bad thing that they were unable to secure a first-round bye, but they will head into San Francisco with momentum this weekend.

4. Seattle Seahawks (8): I took a flyer on the Seahawks as a playoff team when making picks before the season, but I never thought they would be this good. They will give Atlanta a battle.

5. Atlanta Falcons (5): They secured the top seed in the NFC and a first-round bye before coasting into the playoffs. Their prize? A showdown with one of the NFL’s hottest teams. They are really going to have to earn that first playoff win of the Matt Ryan era.

6. San Francisco 49ers (2): We will soon find out if 49ers head coach Jim Harbaugh made the right call by benching steady veteran Alex Smith in favor of electric youngster Colin Kaepernick.

7. Houston Texans (6): Considering how awful they played the last time they traveled north to Gillette Stadium, they should probably leave the lettermen jackets at home this time around.

8. Baltimore Ravens (NR): For a fifth straight year, the Ravens are in the divisional round, which is quite an accomplishment (don't take that for granted). But in order to make it two straight trips to the AFC championship game, the Ravens -- and quarterback Joe Flacco -- will have to land their best shot to beat the Broncos.

9. Washington Redskins (7): I know they lost on Sunday, but what an encouraging turnaround, led by their rookie quarterback.

10. Indianapolis Colts (9): See above. Robert Griffin III and Andrew Luck both met to the hype in Year One and will only get better.

11. Minnesota Vikings (NR): Tough break with Joe Webb having to make the emergency start for Christian Ponder, but Adrian Peterson had already carried them as far as he could. They must get him a lot more help.

On the rise: Kansas City Chiefs. I like the Andy Reid hire, assuming he is all there mentally and emotionally after a difficult year personally and professionally. He brings stability to an organization that desperately needs it.

Free-falling: Cleveland Browns. Does anyone want to coach this team? What about you? You busy next fall?

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