Week 7 of the NFL season cleared up the power rankings picture a bit, with a mighty, undefeated team finally falling and a previously winless squad getting a much-needed victory.
The results of these contests certainly shuffled the order of this 1-32 list around since last week, so let’s take a look at what has changed in my latest 2013 NFL power rankings.
32. Jacksonville Jaguars
The Jags once again lost by a wide margin and continue to remain arguably the worst team in football. The only franchise that can even compare in terms of lowliness is this next one.
31. Tampa Bay Buccaneers
The Bucs had yet another opportunity to capitalize on an opponent’s weakness and garner a “W” but squandered it away against the Atlanta Falcons. With running back Doug Martin now out for the rest of the year, it could get worse—much worse—before it gets better in Tampa.
30. Minnesota Vikings
The Vikings attempted to save their season by picking up quarterback Josh Freeman off the scrap heap. It was a bad move then, and it was a bad move on Monday Night Football, as the club was embarrassed by the atrocious New York Giants.
29. New York Giants
The G-Men finally have a mark in the win column and—not coincidentally—managed to keep their turnovers down in the process. While Peyton Hillis may not be the week-to-week answer for Big Blue’s running back woes, the veteran stepped up and delivered in this prime-time contest.
New York isn’t out of the playoff picture yet in the dreadful NFC East, and a win next week could have fans talking about capturing the division.
28. Houston Texans
The Texans tried third-string quarterback Case Keenum as a starter against the Kansas City Chiefs and were almost successful. They lost by a single point to the last remaining undefeated NFL team in 2013 and have to build on that performance.
It may be difficult, as a rash of injuries and other problems have plagued Houston. That list includes rib damage for Ben Tate, a hamstring issue for Arian Foster, a season-ending knee injury for Brian Cushing and three rookies cut for rule violation.
At least there is a bye for this beleaguered franchise in Week 8.
27. Cleveland Browns
The Browns are significantly regressing and are who we thought they were with Brandon Weeden back under center. This team simply isn’t going to win many games until he improves or a replacement is found.
26. Oakland Raiders
The Raiders had a much-needed bye to get their injuries in order and fix the issues along the offensive line. If they addressed these two major concerns, this team could be a force to be reckoned with during the second half of the 2013 campaign.
25. Washington Redskins
The ‘Skins picked up a win in a shootout victory over the Bears. They did get quite a bit of aid from injury, as Chicago lost star linebacker Lance Briggs and quarterback Jay Cutler during the contest.
Regardless, the win was impressive and allows Washington to remain alive in the NFC playoff hunt.
24. Arizona Cardinals
The Cards didn’t stand much of a chance in Week 7 against the tough Seattle Seahawks, but they have the talent to beat up on some mediocre opponents. For that reason, it’s hard to see them lurking high in the power rankings, but it is almost certain they will never bottom out.
23. Atlanta Falcons
The Falcons added that second tally to the win column this past Sunday and must parlay that into a streak if this team doesn’t want to watch the ship sail on its playoff chances. Wideout Hugh Douglas must continue to step up and play at a high level on a week-to-week basis if that is to happen.
22. Pittsburgh Steelers
The Steelers are bringing a two-game win streak to the Black Hole in Week 8, hoping to steal a tough road victory against the Raiders. If Le’Veon Bell continues to generate yardage on the ground and opens things up for Ben Roethlisberger via the passing attack, anything could happen.
21. Buffalo Bills
The Bills are .500 in the Thad Lewis era and have a strong chance at remaining competitive until the return of EJ Manuel. This underrated defense is quickly developing into one of the league’s top units and should have Buffalo in the AFC East conversation down the stretch.
20. Philadelphia Eagles
The Eagles have some concern under center after quarterback Nick Foles suffered a concussion in Week 7. While that’s a major issue, Philadelphia won’t have to worry about remaining competitive if the defense can’t stop bleeding yards and giving up easy scores to opposing passing attacks.
19. St. Louis Rams
With Sam Bradford done for the season with a torn ACL, it’s hard to imagine the Rams making an improbable playoff run out of the NFC West. This team will have to rally around Kellen Clemens and hope that rookie Zac Stacy can continue to make big strides out of the backfield.
18. Miami Dolphins
The once 3-0 Dolphins have slipped to .500 after Week 7’s loss to the Bills. This team needs to find its identity in a hurry if it is going to stay afloat in a division where the New York Jets are rallying and the New England Patriots are always competitive.
17. Baltimore Ravens
The Ravens are going to struggle to make it back to the Super Bowl, let alone the playoffs, in 2013. This group just isn’t the same without Ray Lewis leading the defense and has a number of offensive woes.
16. Carolina Panthers
The Panthers are one of the hottest teams in football and seem to have nowhere to go but up from here. They are blowing out opponents as Cam Newton is living up to his No. 1 overall pick billing. Unfortunately, Ron Rivera is still the head coach, and that alone may lead to a few more crucial losses in 2013.
15. Tennessee Titans
The Titans returned Jake Locker last week, but he wasn’t able to get it done against the 49ers. However, his reemergence gives this offense some balance and hope that it can emerge from the AFC South that is seemingly wide open at the midpoint of the season.
14. San Diego Chargers
The Bolts took care of business against the Jags and continue to stay near the top of the power rankings, but it’s hard to see them doing anything major with the Denver Broncos and Chiefs in their division. Their best bet at returning to the postseason is to win as many games as possible, forget about the AFC West crown and concentrate on nabbing the final wild-card spot.
13. New York Jets
Gang Green needed some help from the officials to oust the Pats, but that doesn’t mean that they weren’t the better team this past Sunday. Geno Smith is simply a game-winning quarterback, leading the Jets to four come-from-behind victories in his first seven starts.
12. Chicago Bears
The Bears are have been stricken by injury, and that is going to make it extremely hard for them to remain competitive in the brutal NFC North. Backup signal-caller Josh McCown can only take this group so far, and the defense—already conceding plenty of yards—will need to be even more opportunistic in order to keep the team in ballgames.
11. Detroit Lions
The Cincinnati Bengals narrowly edged the Lions this week, but an elite performance by Calvin Johnson gave fantasy owners and fans hope for better days. Megatron is clearly the key to this offense, and great things can and will happen when he’s scoring touchdowns and generating yardage.
10. Green Bay Packers
The Packers are another injury-riddled NFC North club that is remaining afloat through will, determination and Aaron Rodgers’ elite ability to play the quarterback position. If key players can get healthy in time for the playoffs, Green Bay is absolutely a Super Bowl contender.
9. Dallas Cowboys
The ‘Boys are in position to capture the NFC East crown for the first time since 2009, the last time this prestigious organization made the playoffs. As long as Tony Romo keeps slinging the rock from under center and carving up opposing defenses, you have to feel good about Dallas’ chances of making a run.
8. New England Patriots
The Pats have a right to feel jobbed by the officiating in Week 7, so expect head coach Bill Belichick and Co. to take it out on the visiting Dolphins this coming Sunday. It would be surprising if this team didn’t pull out all the stops and attempt to run up the score against a divisional foe after the heartbreaking loss to the Jets.
7. Cincinnati Bengals
The Bengals secondary is demolished by injury, and the loss of Leon Hall is going to severely hurt Cincinnati's chances of locking down the opposition’s top wideout. Regardless, the combination of a fierce defensive front and the offensive clinic that Andy Dalton and A.J. Green are putting on makes this a fearsome team that won’t go down easily and won’t roll over against anyone.
6. New Orleans Saints
The Saints are going to come out of the bye with a renewed energy and focus. They possess one of the most explosive offenses in the league, and it should only get better in the second half of 2013. As long as the defense lives up to its abilities, the Saints could be headed to a championship.
5. San Francisco 49ers
The 49ers are proving that power football isn’t dead. They are utilizing a brick-wall defense and smashmouth running game to pound opponents into submission. That is exactly how playoff contests are won, and this team is built for the winter.
4. Indianapolis Colts
The Colts felled the mighty Broncos this past week, with Andrew Luck proving he is ready to take over the mantle from Peyton Manning as one of the league’s best signal-callers. This team has now beaten the Seahawks, 49ers and Colts and looks primed to take on all comers down the stretch.
3. Seattle Seahawks
It’s hard to see many teams beating Seattle this year, as the club boasts one of the top defenses, and Russell Wilson is quickly emerging as the unquestioned best dual-threat signal-caller in the NFL. The Seahawks are a favorite to lock up the NFC crown and will be close to impossible to beat at home during the playoffs.
Despite the loss in Week 7, the Broncos are arguably still the best overall team in the league.
The offense is unstoppable when it is firing on all cylinders, whilst the defense continues to improve and should only get better as superstar linebacker Von Miller gets acclimated after being suspended for six games.
1. Kansas City Chiefs
The last remaining unbeaten team deserves to occupy the top spot in this week’s edition of the power rankings. Until the Chiefs fall, they cannot be discounted.
It may not be the prettiest or toughest brand of football around, but Kansas City’s style of pounding the rock, creating turnovers and bleeding the clock is the recipe to win a ton of games during the regular season and playoffs.