With Week 13 of the 2012 NFL season already underway, the excitement over where your favorite teams sit on the power rankings board heading into Sunday’s full slate of action has the fans at a fever pitch.
Every NFL team faces tough tests this week, but how well they handle the adversity and overcome it will determine if they move up or drop down the rankings.
As for right now, this is where every team lands.
1. San Francisco 49ers (8-2-1): After deciding to ride with second-year quarterback Colin Kaepernick, the San Francisco 49ers will host the St. Louis Rams this Sunday in a tough NFC West battle. With the last meeting between these two teams ending in a tie, the 49ers will be looking for a definitive ending.
2. Houston Texans (10-1): The Houston Texans are the cream of the AFC crop and will look to build on their success by traveling to the Tennessee Titans Sunday. Expect a huge win for the tough Texans.
3. New England Patriots (8-3): As solid as the Miami Dolphins have been so far, they are facing their biggest test of the season against the New England Patriots. Despite being on the road, Tom Brady and the Patriots will win big and continue to climb up the rankings.
4. Atlanta Falcons (11-1): After a tough win over New Orleans Saints to open Week 13, the Atlanta Falcons looked better than they have over the last month, but they are still far from perfect. If Matt Ryan can continue to protect the ball, there is too much raw talent on the Falcons to not be a serious threat in the playoffs.
5. New York Giants (7-4): The New York Giants were flat-out tired this season, and a Week 11 bye is exactly what everyone on the roster needed. With their batteries recharged, Eli Manning and the entire Giants team will have to be ready for an intense fight Monday night against the Washington Redskins.
6. Denver Broncos (8-3): While the Patriots and Texans are the sexier picks out of the AFC this year, the Denver Broncos and Peyton Manning can’t be counted out. With a defense-first mentality and Manning under center, the Broncos are built to win in the postseason.
7. Baltimore Ravens (9-2): Even with devastating injuries across the board on defense and an offensive unit that has been lackluster at best, the Baltimore Ravens are still one of the best teams in the AFC and will destroy a Ben Roethlisberger-less Pittsburgh Steelers team Sunday.
8. Green Bay Packers (7-4): With a tough divisional matchup against the Minnesota Vikings this week, the Green Bay Packers are looking to bounce back after being dismantled by the New York Giants. Look for Aaron Rodgers and the entire team to play angry and destroy the Vikings.
9. Chicago Bears (8-3): As stellar as the Seattle Seahawks have looked at home this season, when they travel to Chicago to play the Bears, they will be destroyed. Led by the amazing play of the defensive unit, Chicago has remained one of the better teams in the league despite the lackluster showing and injuries to the offensive unit.
10. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (6-5): One of the biggest surprises of the season has been the evolution of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers into a viable playoff contender. With the running game led by Doug Martin complementing the Josh Freeman led pass attack, the Buccaneers will give the Denver Broncos everything they can handle Sunday.
11. Cincinnati Bengals (6-5): The Cincinnati Bengals have been playing better in the second half of the season by getting their passing and rushing attacks to complement one other, while allowing the defense to step up and play strong fundamental football. With a tough matchup against San Diego this week, the Bengals must win to keep their playoff hopes alive.
12. Indianapolis Colts (7-4): Led by rookie Andrew Luck, the Indianapolis Colts are one of the most dangerous offenses in the league. After winning just two games last season, if the Colts can beat the Detroit Lions Sunday, they will be the biggest success story of the 2012-'13 season.
13. Pittsburgh Steelers (6-5): With star QB Ben Roethlisberger still trying to heal from a serious rib injury, the Pittsburgh Steelers will go to battle with their arch rival Baltimore Ravens Sunday in what could become the end of the playoff line for the Steelers. If Ben isn’t back in the lineup in Week 14, Pittsburgh is done.
14. Seattle Seahawks (6-5): While there may be only a handful of teams as good as the Seattle Seahawks at home, the team is totally different once it hits the road. As if the road trip this week wasn’t tough enough, the fact that the Seahawks are traveling to Chicago to play the Bears has ‘loss’ written all over it.
15. Minnesota Vikings (6-5): After a hot start to the season, the Minnesota Vikings have come back to earth, but still have a chance to make the playoffs. The biggest stepping stone comes in the form of the Green Bay Packers in Week 13. If the Vikings can stun Green Bay this week, they’ll be the favorites to steal a Wild Card spot.
16. Washington Redskins (5-6): As great as Robert Griffin III has been this year for the Washington Redskins, the lack of elite play from the defensive unit has doomed the team’s chances of postseason glory. If the Redskins don’t win Monday night, their season is over.
12. New Orleans Saints (5-7): Another tough loss has effectively ended the hopes that the New Orleans Saints might make the playoffs after one of the worst starts in the recent history of the franchise. Drew Brees and the boys will be looking to build toward next season by finishing 2012 strong.
18. San Diego Chargers (4-7): With a legitimately tough matchup against the Cincinnati Bengals this week, the San Diego Chargers have watched their chances of making the playoffs diminish. If Philip Rivers can't lead the team to a win Sunday, the team’s hopes of finishing the season .500 will disappear as well.
19. St. Louis Rams (4-6-1): While there are plenty of NFL fans that believe the St. Louis Rams have a fighting chance against the San Francisco 49ers Sunday because the previous game ended in a tie, that’s not the case. With the defense back in elite form and Colin Kaepernick ready to dominate, the Rams will be trounced.
20. Miami Dolphins (5-6): The Miami Dolphins have a great run defense and an above-average rushing offense, but they have yet to get all of their elite pieces on the same page. With the New England Patriots traveling to South Beach, the Dolphins don’t stand a chance.
21. Detroit Lions (4-7): With an incredibly tough matchup against the upstart Indianapolis Colts, the Detroit Lions will be pushed to the limit Sunday. With all playoff hopes likely gone, the Lions are now fighting for pride and trying to build momentum for 2013.
22. Dallas Cowboys (5-6): There is still hope from the Dallas Cowboys that they can sneak into the playoffs via a Wild Card spot, but they must win this week against the putrid Philadelphia Eagles and win the remainder of their games. While winning out will be tough, beating the Eagles will be easy.
23. Buffalo Bills (4-7): While the matchup against the Jacksonville Jaguars should be an easy win for the Buffalo Bills, it won’t be. After proving their defense can’t stop anyone, the Bills will be involved with an offensive showcase that could see them on the losing end of one of the worst games of the year.
24. Tennessee Titans (4-7): The Tennessee Titans have all the right pieces in place to have a great team, but have yet to put it all together in a dominant win over a serious contender. With Houston the next team on the schedule, this won’t be the week the Titans showcase their ability to beat the best.
25. Cleveland Browns (3-8): With a tough game against another struggling franchise, the Oakland Raiders, the Cleveland Browns are looking to build for 2013 by getting their rookies enough experience now to avoid any kind of sophomore slump next season. If Trent Richardson can get running strong early, expect the Browns to walk away with a big win Sunday.
26. Arizona Cardinals (4-7): After starting the season 4-0 and being heralded as one of the surprises to snag a playoff spot, the Arizona Cardinals came crashing to earth and now boast seven straight losses. Unless the Jets take the afternoon off, this will be a big loss for the Cardinals.
27. New York Jets (4-7): The New York Jets have been as hot-and-cold as any NFL team in the league this season, but they should have no problem beating the Arizona Cardinals Sunday. With that said, I wouldn’t be shocked at all if the Jets fail to walk away victorious despite being the better team.
28. Carolina Panthers (3-8): The Carolina Panthers have no chance this season, but if they can get sophomore QB Cam Newton out of his slump now, next season should see the enigmatic star return to the form he had in his rookie season.
29. Philadelphia Eagles (3-8): After a tough loss to the Carolina Panthers on Monday Night football, the Philadelphia Eagles are done for the 2012 season. Add in the fact that Michael Vick and LeSean McCoy will miss this week’s game, and the Dallas Cowboys walk away with a huge win.
30. Jacksonville Jaguars (2-9): While the emergence of Chad Henne and a passing attack is a great sign for the future, the team has still only won two games this season. With newly acquired Jason Babin putting pressure on Ryan Fitzpatrick and the Buffalo Bills, the Jags could steal a win.
31. Oakland Raiders (3-8): The Oakland Raiders continue to struggle this season, and a meeting with the Cleveland Browns could expose just how bad they really are. Look for the Browns to shellack the silver and black on the road.
32. Kansas City Chiefs (1-10): The Kansas City Chiefs head into Sunday with a heavy heart, and a tough matchup against a Carolina Panthers team starting to get hot will only result in a huge loss.
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