2012 NFL Power Rankings: Week 17

Updated: December 24, 2012, 2:06 PM ET
ESPN.com
Week:

And the trend continues.

For the third straight week, there's a new team on top. With the San Francisco 49ers going down Sunday night, our voters (ESPN.com's John Clayton, ESPN.com's Ashley Fox, NFC East blogger Dan Graziano, AFC North blogger Jamison Hensley and NFC West blogger Mike Sando) have elevated the Denver Broncos, winners of a league-best 10 straight.

Can Denver, which almost fell out of the top 20 in early October, do something San Francisco, New England and Houston could not in recent weeks -- hold serve at No. 1? You have to like its chances.

The Broncos close out the regular season at home against the lowly Kansas City Chiefs (No. 32). A victory coupled with a Houston loss would give Denver the AFC's No. 1 seed for the upcoming playoffs.

So don't expect Peyton Manning & Co. to ease off the throttle in Week 17. There's too much on the line -- including the No. 1 spot in the final 2012 edition of these rankings next Tuesday.

One thing to remember: Denver's last close call came against Kansas City in Week 12 (a 17-9 victory). Still, all signs point to the Broncos bucking our December trend.

• How they voted | Bloggers | Rank 'Em | Playoffs Predictor Insider | Bettors' Poll Insider | Team Power Rankings charts since 2002

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