NFL Power Rankings: Biggest Movers Heading into Week 14
When you reach the final month of the NFL season, there would not seem to be a lot of movement in the power rankings. Of course, this is a league that is judged week to week, so everything is going to be under constant scrutiny.
After all, earlier this week on ESPN the question was asked, is Andrew Luck the NFL MVP? Given that the network employs Skip Bayless, they are prone to hyperbole more often than not.
But it is remarkable to look at the standings right now and realize that we are still trying to figure out what is going on with all 32 teams in the league.
In an effort to sort out all the madness, here are the biggest movers and shakers heading into Week 14.
1. Houston Texans (11-1)
No big change at the top. The Texans finally looked like their old selves again in an impressive 24-10 victory against Tennessee. It won't be long before they wrap up the AFC South.
2. Atlanta Falcons (11-1)
The Falcons have the second spot by virtue of their record, but I still believe that they are, at best, the No. 3 team in the NFC.
3. Denver Broncos (9-3)
It is amazing how the Broncos just continue to find ways to win. Peyton Manning is the overwhelming choice for MVP right now, but it still feels like they have yet to hit their stride.
Considering how fast and physical the defense has been, that is a scary proposition for the rest of the AFC.
4. New England Patriots (9-3)
We keep talking about the Patriots' abysmal pass defense, which ranks 29th in the NFL, yet they rank a very respectable 14th in points allowed per game. They are the definition of a bend-but-don't-break unit.
Plus, with an offense as good as this one, the Patriots could be staring at another first-round bye in the postseason.
5. San Francisco 49ers (8-3-1)
Here is where we have our first drop, though it not exactly substantial. The 49ers gave the game against St. Louis away, with stupid penalties, baffling play calls and dropped passes.
The defense did its job, holding the Rams scoreless until the game-winning field goal. Now comes the true test for Colin Kaepernick. Teams have enough film to game-plan against him, so it is on him to make adjustments.
Even with all the quarterback talk, the running game is still excellent and the defense is the best in the NFC.
6. Baltimore Ravens (9-3)
The Ravens had everything setup to runaway with the AFC North. Instead, they gave the Steelers and Bengals life.
7. Green Bay Packers (8-4)
The game against Minnesota was exactly the kind of game the Packers need to start winning. They didn't play great in any phase but still found a way to win. Ugly games tell you all you need to know about a team's resolve.
8. Pittsburgh Steelers (7-5)
The Steelers are going to start inching up this list after getting an emotional win at Baltimore and getting Ben Roethlisberger back sooner rather than later.
Head coach Mike Tomlin isn't making definitive statements about his quarterback, simply telling reporters (via Pittsburgh Tribune-Review) that Roethlisberger must prove he is healthy. With that defense playing as well as it is right now, they could get away another week without Big Ben.
9. Seattle Seahawks (7-5)
For the first time all season, the Seahawks break into the Top 10 following an emotional, hard-fought victory over Chicago on the road. Winning in Soldier Field made this a huge step for a really good, young team.
Before that victory, the Seahawks were just 1-5 on the road with the lone win coming against Carolina. To defeat a playoff team in their building in dramatic fashion could be the boost they need to get into the postseason.
Two years ago the NFC West was a laughingstock. Now, it has two of the best teams in the conference.
10. Cincinnati Bengals (7-5)
Because they play in a division with Baltimore and Pittsburgh, the Bengals' surge has gone largely unnoticed by most people. The defense has given up just 42 points in the last four games.
11. Chicago Bears (8-4)
The Bears are slipping, and it really shouldn't be a surprise. They have beaten one team with a winning record (Indianapolis in Week 1). The good news is they only have to play one team above .500 the rest of the season (Green Bay in Week 15).
12. Indianapolis Colts (8-4)
The optimist in me looks at what the Colts have done in close games and sees them as a valuable learning experience that will pay off. The cynic says that winning games like that isn't sustainable over the long haul.
Given where we thought the Colts were at coming into the season, I tend to lean more toward my cynical side. But it is hard not to root for the team to succeed for Chuck Pagano.
13. New York Giants (7-5)
I hate the Giants. Not in the way that fans hate them, but in the frustrating way when you see a team loaded with talent that never plays consistently. All that talk about Eli Manning being elite because of two hot streaks at the right time is ridiculous.
Being elite means that you are great on a consistent basis. Neither Manning nor the Giants know how to do that, so they are always going to be scratching and clawing to get in the playoffs, then hope everything clicks.
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14. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (6-6)
I don't think the Buccaneers are a playoff team, nor am I positive they are a good team. I do see them being very resilient. That four-game winning streak had us elevating them, even though it was against teams like Minnesota, Oakland, San Diego and Carolina.
15. Washington Redskins (6-6)
You know what? Let's start buying into the Redskins. More specifically, let's give Robert Griffin III more love, because he doesn't get talked about nearly enough.
That defense, particularly against the pass, scares me in a big spot, but something is working for them right now. I trust the Redskins about as much as I do the Giants right now.
16. Minnesota Vikings (6-6)
If the Vikings had any kind of production at quarterback, they would probably be ahead of Green Bay and Chicago in the NFC North.
On the bright side, at least they get to watch Adrian Peterson run over every defense the NFL has to throw at him.
17. New Orleans Saints (5-7)
The last two weeks spelled the end of the Saints in 2012. It was a dreadful start, followed by a great comeback, but ultimately, when you dig yourself an 0-4 hole, you have to walk the tightrope and it is impossible not to fall off.
18. Dallas Cowboys (6-6)
The good news for the Cowboys is that the Giants' inconsistent nature has kept them in the race. The bad news is they are behind the Giants and Redskins in the division.
19. Miami Dolphins (5-7)
Regardless of how the season ends up for the Dolphins, this has to be classified as a success. They have held their own against some really good teams, like Seattle and New England.
20. St. Louis Rams (5-6-1)
If nothing else, the Rams can say that they have the magic formula to defeating the San Francisco 49ers. If only they could put it all together against everyone else.
21. Buffalo Bills (5-7)
If the Bills could play the worst teams in the league every week, they would be a Super Bowl contender. Unfortunately for them, things don't work like that.
22. Detroit Lions (4-8)
As the weeks go by, the Lions continue to find new ways to lose. If the Colts are the luckiest team in the NFL, the Lions are the unluckiest, though most of their problems are self-inflicted.
They have lost their last three games by a total of nine points. Their eight losses have come by a combined 43 points. Can someone make a play at the end of a game? Anyone? Bueller?
23. Cleveland Browns (4-8)
Look, the competition hasn't been great and there are still a lot of issues that have to be corrected before they challenge for anything, especially in the AFC North, but the Browns are 3-2 in their last five games.
Compared to some of the other teams with a 4-8 record, the Browns are starting to look pretty good,. Even Brandon Weeden, who was a pariah early in the season, has come on strong in recent weeks. He has completed 62 of his 97 passes with four touchdowns and three interceptions.
24. San Diego Chargers (4-8)
The Chargers should be thanking their lucky stars they played Kansas City on Nov. 1, otherwise we would be talking about them having lost every game for the last two months.
Norv Turner, enjoy your time remaining in San Diego.
25. Tennessee Titans (4-8)
The final month of the season is going to be critical for the Titans, specifically quarterback Jake Locker. They are not going to be competing for anything, but it is time to start seeing a little more consistency from the offense.
26. New York Jets (5-7)
Mark Sanchez was finally benched! Greg McElroy led a game-winning drive! Tim Tebow is somewhere in Gang Green purgatory! Those are about the only positives to take away from that game against Arizona, which set football back a few decades.
27. Carolina Panthers (3-9)
The Panthers did move up a little bit, though that speaks more to how bad the bottom of the NFL is right now than anything specific they have done.
28. Arizona Cardinals (4-8)
With games against Seattle, Detroit, Chicago and San Francisco left on the schedule, it is easy to envision a scenario where the Cardinals end the season on a 12-game losing streak after winning the first four games.
This is why early hype in the NFL is completely and totally absurd.
29. Philadelphia Eagles (3-9)
The Eagles finally made the announcement that Nick Foles will be their starting quarterback for the rest of the season. For all the things the Eagles have done wrong this season, that is absolutely the right call.
Not that anyone will give him much credit for what he accomplished, but this could also be the final month of the Andy Reid era.
30. Oakland Raiders (3-9)
The Raiders rank 25th in the league in pass defense, 28th in run defense and 29th in rushing yards per game. Other than that, and the Carson Palmer interceptions, the Raiders are doing just fine.
They will get the chance to show just how fine they are on Thursday night against Peyton Manning and the Denver Broncos.
31. Kansas City Chiefs (2-10)
Brady Quinn played the best game of his professional career on an emotional day in Kansas City.
32. Jacksonville Jaguars (2-10)
The Jaguars need to find some kind of direction before they can hope to compete in the AFC South. There are a few pieces on both sides of the ball that can be key contributors, but this offseason will determine how soon things can start to turnaround.
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