NFL Power Rankings Week 13: Playoff Hopefuls That Need a Life Preserver
There are those teams who have a pretty good shot of making the playoffs this season, then there are those teams that could go either way.
I will be focusing on the contenders that are on the bubble of the NFL playoff picture who don't look so hot at the moment and need a spark down the stretch.
Read on for my Week 13 NFL power rankings, complete with playoff hopefuls that need a life preserver (in italics).
Note: Week 14's Thursday night game has been included.
1. San Francisco 49ers (8-2-1)
The 49ers may not only have the league's best defense, their offense has picked up as of late, highlighted by the dual-threat ability of second-year quarterback Colin Kaepernick. Since the tie against the St. Louis Rams, the 49ers have looked much better.
2. Houston Texans (10-1)
The Texans rank second in points per game and fifth in points allowed per game this season. They have a balanced offensive attack and a defense that makes it difficult to run or pass.
3. New England Patriots (8-3)
The Patriots have a much-improved run defense and haven't scored fewer than 37 points in a game since Week 7.
4. Atlanta Falcons (11-1)
The Falcons have won an astounding amount of close games this season and they continue to find ways to win. They haven't been dominant, but they've gotten the job done. When Drew Brees throws five interceptions against you, you know something magical is on your side.
5. New York Giants (7-4)
The 38-10 shellacking of the Packers shows that Eli Manning and the Giants are back following their bye week. They will have to score a lot of points to beat the Washington Redskins this week.
6. Denver Broncos (8-3)
The Broncos are on a six-game winning streak, led by Peyton Manning and a defense that has improved dramatically since the beginning of the season.
7. Baltimore Ravens (9-2)
The Ravens' defense is back after a rough 43-13 loss to the Houston Texans in Week 7, but the offense has been lackluster since the Week 10 explosion against the Oakland Raiders.
8. Green Bay Packers (7-4)
I don't know what happened to the Packers' defense last week against the Giants, and Aaron Rodgers has struggled more than we've been accustomed to.
9. Chicago Bears (8-3)
The defense has generally been solid for the Bears this season, but the offense has been inconsistent. It's no wonder with the way this offensive line has performed.
10. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (6-5)
Led by a top run defense and an offense that has sprung to life the last few weeks, the Buccaneers are very much in the playoff hunt.
11. Cincinnati Bengals (6-5)
The Bengals have won three straight games as the defense has done a 180 since the 31-23 loss to the Broncos in Week 9. Second-year quarterback Andy Dalton hasn't throw an interception in those three games.
12. Indianapolis Colts (7-4)
Everyone is focused on rookie quarterback Andrew Luck, but the Colts' defense hasn't been that bad this season, minus a couple of letdown games.
13. Pittsburgh Steelers (6-5)
The Steelers are in dangerous territory right now. They currently hold the No. 6 seed in the AFC, but the absence of Ben Roethlisberger really hurts this team and that should show against the Ravens this week.
14. Seattle Seahawks (6-5)
The Seahawks currently hold the No. 6 seed in the NFC, led by running back Marshawn Lynch and a strong pass defense featuring cornerback Richard Sherman, but that can go south in a hurry if Sherman loses his appeal after allegedly using performance-enhancing drugs.
15. New Orleans Saints (5-7)
Where Drew Brees goes, so does this team. That wasn't more evident than in the 23-13 loss to the Falcons on Thursday night. New Orleans still can't stop the run.
16. Minnesota Vikings (6-5)
The Vikings' defense has appeared to backpedal in recent weeks and second-year quarterback Christian Ponder has struggled, to say the least. The Vikings still have Adrian Peterson, but you need some form of a passing game, too.
17. Washington Redskins (5-6)
The Redskins are far behind in the playoff chase, but two straight wins behind rookie quarterback Robert Griffin III has given the team some hope. The running game is explosive, but the defense has struggled throughout the season.
18. San Diego Chargers (4-7)
After starting 3-1, the Chargers have gone 1-6 in their past seven games. Either the offense implodes or the defense does. Rarely do the two units find one game to come together. At some point, this has to fall on Norv Turner's shoulders.
19. St. Louis Rams (4-6-1)
The win against the Cardinals aside, the Rams haven't been able to score much this season and the defense has been inconsistent.
20. Miami Dolphins (5-6)
Even with a 5-6 record, the Dolphins are just one game behind the Steelers for the No. 6 seed in the AFC. The offense is averaging just 19.2 points, though, so you wonder if the Dolphins can make a run.
21. Detroit Lions (4-7)
The Lions have now dropped three straight games and the run defense isn't doing them any favors. They allowed a combined 189 rushing yards on 25 carries to Arian Foster and Justin Forsett last week.
22. Dallas Cowboys (5-6)
The Cowboys' defense imploded against the Redskins last week and they have a turnover differential of negative-11, second-worst in the NFC.
23. Buffalo Bills (4-7)
The defense gets killed by legit offenses and the Bills' offense itself is wildly inconsistent. Committing 22 turnovers in 11 games won't help you, either.
24. Tennessee Titans (4-7)
Tennessee is a team still learning how to win and be consistent, evidenced by some close games and some blowout losses.
25. Cleveland Browns (3-8)
Before the Browns can consistently win, the passing game has to come around, but the win against the Steelers last week was a confidence-booster.
26. Arizona Cardinals (4-7)
With one of the worst offenses in the league, it's no wonder why the Cardinals have only won four games this season. Seven straight losses has to sting.
27. New York Jets (4-7)
The 49-19 defeat to the Patriots last week is a sign that this team is not focused, whether it be on offense or defense. The coaching staff not only puts faith in the wrong players, it doesn't keep everyone on the same page.
28. Carolina Panthers (3-8)
The Panthers have had trouble stopping the run this season and the offense is far from the explosive unit it was last season, but Cam Newton had a big game against the Eagles last week.
29. Philadelphia Eagles (3-8)
The Eagles have lost seven straight games and the turnover problems on the offense and the, well, numerous problems on defense have the team going in the wrong direction.
30. Jacksonville Jaguars (2-9)
The Jaguars beat the Titans last week, but where is this team's future? It's a bad sign when Chad Henne is outshining your first-round draft pick. It's also a bad sign when you are allowing 28.0 points per game.
31. Oakland Raiders (3-8)
The Raiders have the worst defense in the NFL and Carson Palmer loves throwing interceptions apparently. Four straight losses and the Raiders are once again at the bottom of the barrel.
32. Kansas City Chiefs (1-10)
They say it takes a lot to win a game in the NFL. It also takes a lot to win one game in 11 tries. The quarterback situation in Kansas City is a joke and most of the Chiefs' losses this season have been by double digits.
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