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NFL Power Rankings Week 13: Playoff races heating up

Read as Nick Springer takes us through his weekly NFL Power Rankings, which are uploaded every Tuesday during the NFL season.

  1. Dallas Cowboys (10-1)- Previous rank: 1- Eventually, you just run out of adjectives to use when describing Dak Prescott and Ezekiel Elliot. The offensive line is the glue that holds this whole thing together. Maybe the O-line can win the MVP? Interestingly enough, there is no rule stating that an entire unit cannot win the award. They’ve got my vote.
  2. New England Patriots (9-2)- Previous rank: 3- The Pats survived against New York, and it looks like Tom Brady and company might not wrap up the division so early. Miami is sitting just two games back, but let’s be real, New England was going to win this division from the start. At this rate, they’ll continue that for long time.
  3. Kansas City Chiefs (8-3)- Previous rank: 10- The Chiefs escaped Denver in what was by far the most exciting game played in the NFL this season. This game had everything, and the Chiefs offense stepped up when it needed to, which is huge. Things won’t get easier for the Chiefs in the next two weeks as they will head to Atlanta before taking on Oakland on a short week.
  4. Oakland Raiders (9-2)- Previous rank: 4- Oakland picked a critical win against Carolina after throwing away a 17-point lead in the second half. This win is big because Oakland now maintains a game lead over Kansas City in the division. Here’s the problem: The Raiders still have to travel to KC, Denver, and San Diego in their final 5 games.
  5. New York Giants (8-3)- Previous rank: 5- The New York Giants are probably the quietest 8-3 team I have ever seen. Apparently, no one wants to talk about them. This is a team that can make a legitimate postseason run as long as Eli is on point down the stretch. The running game has been laughable most of the season, but Rashad Jennings has provided a boost in the backfield of late. The front office deserves a pat on the back for all the offseason moves they made on the defensive side of the ball. That D has improved dramatically form last year.
  6. Detroit Lions (7-4)- Previous rank: 7- The Lions are now in firm control of the NFC North with their narrow victory over Minnesota on Thanksgiving. Matt Stafford continues to impress, and the Lions just keep winning close games. Is this sustainable for the rest of the season? I don’t see why not since they’ve made it this far.
  7. Seattle Seahawks (7-3-1)- Previous rank: 2- I guess the entire Seattle offensive line decided to take the week off against Tampa. There was no running game, and no pass protection for Russell Wilson. Losing to Tampa Bay isn’t the end of the world for the Seahawks, but it does raise some red flags this late in the season.
  8. Denver Broncos (7-4)- Previous rank: 6- What a heartbreaking defeat at home for Denver. There’s no reason to panic though, because the Broncos still get Oakland and San Diego at home, and they are still in prime position to at grab a wild card at the least. They will have to go to KC, and the Miami Dolphins have suddenly caught fire as well.
  9. Atlanta Falcons (7-4)- Previous rank: 9- The Falcons can’t afford to take their foot off the gas pedal with Tampa Bay starting to creep up in the division. Atlanta’s got this division on lock, assuming they win the games they’re supposed to win. Arizona was a game they were supposed to win, and they did just that.
  10. Washington Redskins (6-4-1)- Previous rank: 8- Kirk Cousins. A man that has taken his fair share of criticism. By the way, all he did was throw for 449 yards, 3 TDs, and no picks against Dallas. The only thing that could’ve made his day better is if Washington won the game. This is a team that could potentially go further than anyone predicted at the beginning of the season.
  11. Pittsburgh Steelers (6-5)- Previous rank: 11- The Steelers picked up a solid win on the road against Indy. Let’s be honest though, if the Steelers couldn’t beat Scott Tolzien, I think there would have been much more cause for concern. Baltimore also won, and they currently own the tiebreaker.
  12. Miami Dolphins (7-4)- Previous rank: 13- The Dolphins are 7-4. I say again, the Dolphins are 7-4. I’ve talked all season about how this team probably wouldn’t make the playoffs but they could spoil it for someone else. Well, I stand corrected. But seriously, could the Dolphins realistically steal a wild card away from Denver or even Kansas City? I still feel like that’s highly unlikely.
  13. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (6-5)- Previous rank: 15- Don’t look now, but the Bucs have won two straight against KC and Seattle. Tampa’s defense played a flawless game against Russell Wilson and the Seahawks, and Doug Martin is starting to come along after missing so much of the season with injury. If he can really get going, and Jameis Winston protects the ball, the Bucs have a realistic chance of making a run at the division title. Remember, Tampa already owns a win over Atlanta in the season opener.
  14. Buffalo Bills (6-5)- Previous rank: 16- The Bills let Jacksonville hang around. Maybe they wanted the Jaguars to feel a little better about themselves. Either way, Buffalo still picked up the victory to remain in the playoff hunt. I still feel like if the Bills don’t make the playoffs, Rex could get the axe.
  15. Houston Texans (6-5)- Previous rank: 13- As I said last week, Brock Osweiler doesn’t need lasers in his eyes to make bad decisions. I was willing to cut the guy some slack earlier in the season, but if his play doesn’t improve, the Texans may lose control of the division.
  16. Baltimore Ravens (6-5)- Previous rank: 17- The Ravens are going to win the division, aren’t they? That doesn’t seem right, but Baltimore currently sits atop the AFC North with Pittsburgh nipping at their heels. It should be interesting to see which team will pull out the division title, but I get the feeling somehow Baltimore will be in the postseason even if Pittsburgh is probably the better team.
  17. Tennessee Titans (6-6)- Previous rank: 18- Marcus Mariota is finally beginning to come into his own as an NFL quarterback. Tennessee’s next priority should be finding him some more weapons at wide receiver. With Houston losing, the Titans are still in the division hunt with four games left to play. That’s something that hasn’t happened in a long time.
  18. Philadelphia Eagles (5-6)- Previous rank: 12- Tough loss for a Philly team that started off the season hot. Nobody expected this team to make the playoffs, and now it looks like they won’t.
  19. New Orleans Saints (5-6)- Previous rank: 20- If the Saints were any better, Drew Brees would be the frontrunner for MVP. In my opinion, he should be anyways.
  20. Green Bay Packers (5-6)- Previous rank: 22- Green Bay’s playoff hopes are on life support, but they would’ve been dead with a 5th straight loss to Philadelphia. The Packers pretty much can’t afford to lose another game.
  21. Minnesota Vikings (6-5)- Previous rank: 19- Not much to like in a disappointing loss to Detroit. The Vikes really need to win the division, because at this rate, it will be very difficult to steal a wild card away from teams like Washington, New York, and potentially Tampa Bay.
  22. San Diego Chargers (5-6)- Previous rank: 24- The Chargers may be out of postseason contention, but this win over Houston certainly makes the AFC South race more interesting. The Chargers still have KC and Oakland at home to finish out the season as well. With how tight those teams are, the Chargers could potentially create even more chaos before the season’s end.
  23. Indianapolis Colts (5-6)- Previous rank: 21- Scott Tolzien tried his best. He really did. The poor the guy never really had a chance against Pittsburgh. Indy’s plan of giving Andrew Luck all the money and then trying to scrape together a team to put around him has not worked.
  24. Carolina Panthers (4-7)- Previous rank: 23- It was a good comeback effort, but Carolina fell to 4-7, and they have no chance of making the playoffs.
  25. Los Angeles Rams (4-7)- Previous rank: 25- I don’t think there’s any player in the league who has had a more disappointing season than Todd Gurley. This guy was supposed to be the next big superstar. It’s not like he doesn’t have the talent.
  26. Arizona Cardinals (4-6-1)- Previous rank: 26- David Johnson continues to carry this team offensively with little to no help from anyone else besides Larry Fitzgerald every once in a while. The Cardinals need to reevaluate their long-term plan at quarterback, and they must improve at the linebacker position.
  27. Cincinnati Bengals (3-7-1)- Previous rank: 27- By the way, did I mention last week that the Bengals are done? I seem to recall I did. Well, now they’re doubly done. Oh, and Marvin Lewis is done too. Lots of stuff getting done in Ohio.
  28. New York Jets (3-8)- Previous rank: 29- Fitzmagic didn’t throw an interception, but he did fumble the ball. More importantly, the Jets lost the game. But then again, who didn’t expect that? For a team that had such high expectations coming into the season, this team might as well be in rebuild mode right now.
  29. Jacksonville Jaguars (2-9)- Previous rank: 28- The Jaguars are in football games. There’s a big difference between being “in” football games and winning football games. Just ask Gus Bradley and Blake Bortles.
  30. Chicago Bears (2-9)- Previous rank: 30- It’s time to seriously consider the post-Jay Cutler era in Chicago. Could Matt Barkley be the guy? Potentially, but right now Chicago needs to start zeroing in on who they’re going to take with that top 5 pick they’ve basically secured.
  31. San Francisco 49ers (1-10)- Previous rank: 31- Overall, this was a really great game for San Francisco. They didn’t get the win, but they had a chance late. The 49ers need a plan of attack heading into next season. Is Chip the guy? Is Kap the guy? These are questions the organization needs to answer before the draft.
  32. Cleveland Browns (0-12)- Previous rank: 32- I feel for Hue Jackson. He’s a good guy being put in a bad situation while trying to make the most of it. At this point, if the Browns win one game this season, it will be considered a success. Plus, if they win I can finally stop seeing all the posts about how Johnny Manziel was the last Browns QB to win a game.

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Feature photo courtesy of Keith Allison.