This year is shaping up to feature one of the most exciting playoff races in NFL history. Now 12 and a half weeks into the season, the AFC Wild Card race is no clearer than it was in Week 1 – with five teams tied at 5-6, and three more teams still in the mix with a 4-7 record. Currently, Tennessee is at the top of the 5-6 heap for the sixth seed; but that could easily change over the next five games.
Divisional races don’t look much clearer since the NFC East, NFC North and AFC West titles are still up for grabs. Taking all of this into account, our job for the Week 13 NFL power rankings is a VERY difficult one! But here goes anyways…
1. Denver Broncos (9-2); lost to New England 34-31 (OT), retains same ranking – Denver easily looked like the NFL’s most dominant team against New England as they jumped out to a 24-0 halftime lead. However, the Patriots came storming back and scored on their first five possessions of the second half. But provided this game was at Mile High, we think the Broncos would’ve walked away.
2. Seattle Seahawks (10-1); bye week, moves up one spot – With losses by the Broncos and Chiefs, Seattle suddenly finds themselves with the league’s best record. They’ll have to fight to keep this pretty 10-1 mark as the Saints come to town in Week 13.
3. New Orleans (9-2); beat Atlanta 17-13, moves up one spot – Road wins usually aren’t easy to come by, even against a two-win team. The Saints didn’t look their sharpest, but they did enough to get the job done. Now a huge road contest against Seattle looms ahead.
4. Kansas City Chiefs (9-2); lost to San Diego 41-38, drops two spots – Nobody expected the Chiefs defense to give up 41 points to the Chargers at home. So this one was a definite shocker for a top-3 defense. But we do have to say that the Kansas City offense looked the best it has all year – especially Alex Smith, who threw for 294 yards and three touchdowns in keeping pace with Philip Rivers (392YDS, 3TD).
5. New England (8-3); beat Denver 34-31 (OT), moves up one spot – Tom Brady sparked a huge comeback as he threw all three of his TD’s in the second half. The Patriots got a little help in overtime, as Denver’s Tony Carter ran into Ray Allen’s punt, giving New England the ball at the Broncos’ 13-yard line. From here, it wasn’t difficult for Stephen Gostkowski to kick the game-winning field goal.
6. San Francisco 49ers (7-4); beat Washington 27-6, moves up one spot – The Niners’ vaunted running game wasn’t at the level it usually is (76 yards on 33 carries). But Colin Kaepernick made up for this with one of his best games after throwing for 235 yards, 3 TD’s and no interceptions.
7. Carolina Panthers (8-3); beat Miami 20-16, moves up two spots – Aside from the Chiefs, the Panthers have quietly become the NFL’s second-biggest surprise team. They’ve now won seven straight games and are looking like a playoff team for sure.
8. Arizona Cardinals (7-4); beat Indianapolis 40-11, moves up two spots – Yet another surprise team among our top 10, Arizona is quickly moving up the ranks. Their defense was particularly stout against the Colts, led by a Karlos Dansby 22-yard interception TD. Carson Palmer continues to make all the difference at quarterback, after throwing for 314 yards and two TD’s.
9. Cincinnati Bengals (7-4); bye week, drops one spot – A road win against the Chargers would go a long way towards sewing up the AFC North title for Cincinnati. But San Diego is playing at a high level right now, so it won’t be easy.
10. Indianapolis Colts (7-4); lost to Arizona 40-11, drops five spots – The Colts continue their struggles with Reggie Wayne shelved for the season. A team that has road wins over Seattle and San Francisco, they’ve now been blown out by the Rams and Cardinals at home. This team should still win the AFC South, but that could change if they under perform yet again at home against Tennessee.
11. Dallas Cowboys (6-5); beat New York Giants 24-21, moves up two spots – Dallas finally cooled off New York and their four-game winning streak. Tony Romo (250YDS, 2TD) looked particularly good in leading a 14-play drive that set up the game-winning field goal.
12. Philadelphia Eagles (6-5); bye week, moves up two spots – Nick Foles is riding the hot streak to end all hot streaks as he’s thrown 16 TD’s and no INT’s in the last four games. He’s going to need to continue being this good against a tough Cardinals defense.
13. Detroit Lions (6-5); lost to Tampa Bay 24-21, drops two spots – Matthew Stafford filled up the stat box in both good and bad ways after throwing for 297 yards, 3 TD’s and 4 INT’s. His last interception could be contributed to Calvin Johnson, though, as it went in and out of the star receiver’s hands on a potential game-winning drive.
14. Chicago Bears (6-5); lost to St. Louis 42-21, drops two spots – Nobody can seem to pull away in the NFC North as both the Bears and Lions failed to capitalize on great opportunities. In Chicago’s case, their run defense was atrocious as they gave up 258 rushing yards on just 29 attempts.
15. San Diego Chargers (5-6); beat Kansas City 41-38, moves up three spots – San Diego’s remaining schedule isn’t exactly the NFL’s easiest. But they still remain in the thick of the AFC Wild Card race thanks to a difficult win at KC. Their reward: hosting a tough Bengals team this week.
16. Green Bay Packers (5-5-1), tied Minnesota 26-26 (OT), drops one spot – After horrendous stints in Seattle and Oakland, Matt Flynn is back with a team where he can excel. The career backup came in for an ineffective Scott Tolzien and threw for 218 yards and a TD, helping Green Bay close a 16-point deficit. With Aaron Rodgers still out, Flynn will start against Detroit.
17. Baltimore Ravens (5-6); beat New York Jets 19-3, moves up two spots – Joe Flacco connected with Jacoby Jones on a 66-yard touchdown throw, and that’s pretty much all Baltimore needed to dust off a struggling Jets team.
18. Miami Dolphins (5-6); lost to Carolina 20-16, drops one spot – Miami was dominated in the second half, as they were outscored 14-0. With a complete lack of a running game, the Dolphins may be one 5-6 team that’s not truly in the AFC Wild Card race.
19. New York Jets (5-6); lost to Baltimore 19-3, drops two spots – Geno Smith is playing awful right now as he’s thrown 7 INT’s and no TD’s in the last four games. With New York in the midst of a playoff race, you have to wonder how long he’ll remain the starter.
20. Tennessee Titans (5-6); beat Oakland 23-19; moves up two spots – Ryan Fitzpatrick played really well in this contest, as he threw for 320 yards, 2 TD’s and no turnovers. Most importantly, he threw a 10-yard touchdown to Kendall Wright with just 10 seconds remaining, which kept Tennessee very much alive in the playoff hunt.
21. Pittsburgh Steelers (5-6); beat Cleveland 27-11, moves up three spots – After starting the year 0-4, Pittsburgh has now made a miraculous comeback, winning 5 of their last 6 games. The Steelers ended Jason Campbell’s good run at quarterback, after giving him a head injury and forcing him out of the game.
22. St. Louis Rams (5-6); beat Chicago 42-21, moves up three spots – Whether it’s Zac Stacy or Benny Cunnhingham running the ball, St. Louis has suddenly put together a very good running game. Of course, they’ll hope that Stacy is ready to go after he was forced out of the Chicago contest with a mild concussion.
23. New York Giants (4-7); lost to Dallas 24-21, drops two spots – New York has definitely played better over the past five weeks, after starting the year a miserable 0-6. However, they missed a big chance to beat a quality opponent at home.
24. Cleveland Browns (4-7); lost to Pittsburgh 27-11, drops four spots – Cleveland can’t seem to run or pass the ball, which really puts pressure on their solid defense. Now they’re back to Brandon Weeden at quarterback, who gets a fairly soft matchup at home against the Jaguars.
25. Oakland Raiders (4-7); lost to Tennessee 23-19, drops two spots – The Raiders really have to be disappointed with how they gave up a near-last-second touchdown pass to lose. If only Sebastian Janikowski hadn’t missed two late field goals…
26. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (3-8); beat Detroit 24-21, moves up two spots – Is it too late to save Greg Schiano’s job? If Tampa Bay keeps winning, anything is possible.
27. Buffalo Bills (4-7); bye week, retains same ranking – Buffalo finally got a much-needed bye week. Now let’s see if CJ Spiller comes out fresher from his injuries and can live up to the preseason hype.
28. Washington Redkins (3-8); lost to San Francisco 27-6, drops two spots – Bad teams seem to find controversy throughout the season. Last week, it was RG III seemingly bashing the coaching staff; this week, it’s his dad causing a stir by coming into the Washington locker room right after the game.
29. Minnesota Vikings (2-8-1); tied Green Bay 26-26, moves up two spots – Minnesota really missed a chance to grab a win in Green Bay. But a tie is no doubt better than a loss.
30. Jacksonville Jaguars (2-9); beat Houston 13-6, moves up two spots – For the first time all year, Jacksonville moves out of the league cellar! A big reason for this is running blocking and MJD, who ran for 84 yards and a TD against Houston.
31. Atlanta Falcons (2-9); lost to New Orleans 17-13, drops one spot – Atlanta overachieved last season, and they certainly weren’t built for injuries this year. But at least the defense showed some life against an excellent New Orleans offense.
32. Houston Texans (2-9); lost to Jacksonville 13-6, drops three spots – A team that was built to win a championship this season, Houston has truly been the NFL’s biggest disappointment. And now, they lose to the league’s former worst team at home.