NFL Power Rankings: Examining How League Stacks Up Heading into Week 13

Jesse Reed@@JesseReed78Correspondent INovember 28, 2013

Nov 10, 2013; New Orleans, LA, USA; New Orleans Saints quarterback Drew Brees (9) signals at the line against the Dallas Cowboys during the second half of a game at Mercedes-Benz Superdome. Mandatory Credit: Derick E. Hingle-USA TODAY Sports
Derick E. Hingle-USA TODAY Sport

After the Denver Broncos fell to the New England Patriots on Sunday night, we have a new team atop the NFL power rankings as Week 13 approaches.

There are just five games left in the season for teams to solidify playoff spots, and there are just a couple of divisional leaders that can feel comfortable at this time. In the NFC, there are 10 teams with a record of .500 or better, but incredibly, just five AFC teams have won at least half their games. 

This means that the final weekends of the 2013 season will be filled with high drama, as most of the teams are still mathematically alive to make the playoffs. 

Here's an updated look at where every team stands in the rankings leading up to Week 13.

1. Seattle Seahawks

With a six-game winning streak and just one loss on the season, there isn't a hotter team in the league than the Seahawks. Percy Harvin is healthy and should spark the team's offense, and the defense has been as impressive as ever.

It'll be interesting to see if Brandon Browner's impending one-year suspension will have a negative impact on Seattle heading down the stretch, however.

2. New Orleans Saints

The Saints impressively took down the San Francisco 49ers at home in Week 11 before turning around on a short week to win in Atlanta, improving to 8-2 on the season and staying one game ahead of the streaking Carolina Panthers. 

Featuring a multifaceted offense that is amongst the most explosive in the league and a resurgent defense under Rob Ryan, the Saints have an incredibly balanced attack. 

New Orleans will be in Seattle on Monday Night Football, and the winner of that game will be atop these rankings next week. 

3. New England Patriots

It's amazing how Bill Belichick's New England Patriots find ways to win games. 

Last weekend's overtime win against Denver was just one of many improbable victories the Pats have pulled off over the years, and it put this team in excellent position to cruise to the AFC's best record with a favorable schedule in the final weeks of the season. 

At 8-3, it's not crazy to think the Patriots will finish the season at 13-3, with contests against Houston, Cleveland, Miami, Baltimore and Buffalo remaining.

4. Denver Broncos

As if we needed any further proof, Sunday night's performance in New England was another clear-cut example of Peyton Manning's allergy to playing in cold weather. 

The Broncos should bounce back with a win at Kansas City this weekend, though, thanks to injuries to Tamba Hali and Justin Houston for the Chiefs. 

5. Carolina Panthers

The win in Miami wasn't pretty, but it was Carolina's seventh in a row, and Cam Newton won the game with a signature late-game touchdown drive after he'd struggled all game long. 

A Week 14 battle at New Orleans will shape the NFC South the rest of the way, but the Panthers can't look past the surging Tampa Bay Buccaneers this weekend. 

6. Kansas City Chiefs

Losing Tamba Hali and Justin Houston was a crippling blow to Kansas City's defense against San Diego last weekend, and it led to the team's second loss in a row. After winning nine in a row to open the season, suddenly the Chiefs are in danger of falling into a wild-card spot in the AFC.

7. San Francisco 49ers

Calm down, 49ers fans. It was just Washington that you beat in Week 12. 

To this point in the season, the only team San Francisco has beaten that has a winning record is the Arizona Cardinals.

That said, the team's blowout performance in Washington was impressive on both sides of the ball, and the 49ers are continuing to get healthy at the right time with wide receiver Michael Crabtree slated to return this week, as noted by Tom Pelissero of USA Today

8. Cincinnati Bengals

A big win against Cleveland before Cincinnati's bye was the perfect way to gear up for the playoff push.

The Bengals are terrific on defense, and when Andy Dalton is on his game, this team is hard to defeat. However, he's been wildly inconsistent, and Cincy won't go far in the playoffs if he doesn't improve in this regard.

9. Arizona Cardinals

The Cardinals destroyed Bruce Arians' old team last weekend, taking down the Indianapolis Colts 40-11 at home. It was the fourth win in a row for Arizona, which is now tied with San Francisco for the final wild-card spot with a record of 7-4. 

Carson Palmer didn't turn the ball over for the second game in a row, and Arizona's defense is starting to play incredibly well. 

10. Philadelphia Eagles

Philadelphia is suddenly in great shape to make the playoffs as the NFC East champion after winning three games in a row before taking a bye in Week 12. 

Nick Foles hasn't thrown a single interception this year, and his strong play has the Eagles soaring after the team opened the season with a 1-3 start.

11. Indianapolis Colts

The Colts are still in control of the AFC South at 7-4, but this team is reeling, thanks to a couple of blowout losses to the St. Louis Rams and Arizona Cardinals, respectively. In between those losses, Indianapolis managed to barely take care of business against the Tennessee Titans. 

Reggie Wayne's absence has proved to be a mighty blow to Andrew Luck's ability to run the offense with efficiency. Making matters worse, the team's offensive line has struggled to protect him as well as open up running lanes. 

Still, if the Colts get hot down the stretch, this team could go deep in the playoffs. 

12. Dallas Cowboys

Brilliant one week and disgustingly inept the next—that's the way the Dallas Cowboys roll. 

The team's secondary did a fantastic job shutting down Victor Cruz and the New York Giants down last weekend, but this is still the second-worst pass defense in the NFL. 

Tony Romo must be perfect the rest of the way for Dallas to earn a spot in the playoffs, meaning it's likely the Cowboys will be on the outside looking in once again this January. 

13. Chicago Bears

Someone might want to let the Chicago Bears know that the NFL is still a tackling league, despite the stringent new safety rules. 

The Bears must win with their offense these days, because the team's defense stinks. 

14. Detroit Lions

NEW ORLEANS, LA - NOVEMBER 10: Quarterback Tony Romo #9 of the Dallas Cowboys calls a play against the New Orleans Saints during a game at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome on November 10, 2013 in New Orleans, Louisiana.  (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)
Ronald Martinez/Getty Images

At some point, the Detroit Lions will come to the conclusion that Jim Schwartz isn't the man to lead this team to the promised land. His lack of discipline comes through almost every week, as his team continually shoots itself in the foot in critical situations. 

The latest loss to Tampa Bay will either be a wakeup call that spurs the Lions to finish strong, or it will be the final straw for this season. 

15. San Diego Chargers

Offense isn't an issue for the San Diego Chargers. Philip Rivers was on fire at Arrowhead Stadium on Sunday after Hali and Houston exited the game with injuries.

However, San Diego's defense is troublesome, and it it will likely doom the team's playoff chances.

16. St. Louis Rams

DETROIT, MI - DECEMBER 30:  Head coach Jim Schwartz of the Detroit Lions looks on during the second half while playing the Chicago Bears at Ford Field on December 30, 2012 in Detroit, Michigan. Chicago won the game 26-24. (Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Im
Gregory Shamus/Getty Images

When the Rams are firing on all cylinders, this team is capable of competing with most teams in the league. Unfortunately, it doesn't happen very often.

Kellen Clemens isn't consistent as a passer, and the team's secondary has been exploited badly at times this year. A loss to San Francisco would likely be the final nail in St. Louis' coffin for this season. 

17. Tennessee Titans

If the playoffs started today, Tennessee would be in the playoffs as the No. 6 seed in the AFC. 

But the Titans have yet to beat a winning team this year, and this team has significant holes on both sides of the ball. With games against Indianapolis, Denver and Arizona upcoming, it's likely the Titans will lose significant ground in the next three weeks. 

18. Green Bay Packers

Nov 24, 2013; St. Louis, MO, USA; St. Louis Rams wide receiver Tavon Austin (11) carries the ball for a 65 yard touchdown during the first half against the Chicago Bears at the Edward Jones Dome. Mandatory Credit: Jeff Curry-USA TODAY Sports
Jeff Curry-USA TODAY Sports

Three losses and a tie have followed Aaron Rodgers' injury.

At 5-5-1, the Packers are still in the hunt for the NFC North crown—just a half-game behind Chicago and Detroit—but Rodgers' injury isn't the only reason the Packers have struggled. The team's defense ranks in the bottom half of the league against the run and the pass. 

19. Pittsburgh Steelers

Pittsburgh is my pick to sneak into the playoffs as the No. 6 seed in the AFC.

Ben Roethlisberger has started to play much better of late, and the Steelers have won three games in a row. A big game against Baltimore on Thanksgiving night will have a huge impact on the rest of the season. 

20. Baltimore Ravens

Baltimore features one of the league's most impressive defensive lines, and the Ravens are tied for the league lead in sacks with 37. But the team's secondary is open to exploitation, and Joe Flacco's offense is far from hot these days. 

21. Miami Dolphins

Ryan Tannehill can't succeed playing behind a porous offensive line. The second-year quarterback has been sacked more times this year than any other signal-caller in the league (44), and his development has suffered as a result.

On a positive note, the team's defense has played well of late, and there is a lot to like about the future of the Dolphins. 

22. New York Jets

Geno Smith won't last long as an NFL quarterback if he continues to turn the ball over like he has in his rookie campaign. He's thrown zero touchdowns and seven interceptions in his past four games, during which time he has failed to compete half his passes in every game but one. 

23. New York Giants

The New York Giants need a full blown makeover in 2014. 

The team's offensive line is in shambles, and the secondary has been a problem for years. Furthermore, it's time to invest in some new offensive weapons for Eli Manning, who is having his worst season in recent memory.

24. Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Winners of three games in a row, Tampa Bay is a team on the rise.

Mike Glennon appears to be exactly what the Bucs need at quarterback, and the team's offense will be much more potent next year when Doug Martin returns from injury. 

25. Cleveland Browns

It's going to be fun watching Michael Lombardi make his moves this upcoming offseason, as he continues to rebuild Cleveland's roster. In particular, his decision at the quarterback position will shape the future of this franchise for the next five-plus years. 

26. Buffalo Bills

BALTIMORE, MD - NOVEMBER 24: Quarterback Geno Smith #7 of the New York Jets walks off the field after the Jets failed to convert on third down against the Baltimore Ravens in the first quarter at M&T Bank Stadium on November 24, 2013 in Baltimore, Marylan
Rob Carr/Getty Images

It's been a frustrating first season for rookie head coach Doug Marrone, but Bills fans should be excited about the future of this franchise. EJ Manuel appears to be the real deal at quarterback, and he'll be even more explosive with a dynamic tight end at his disposal. 

27. Oakland Raiders

The Oakland Raiders have been playing better than anyone this year, winning four games. The team has been trying to figure out if it already has a franchise quarterback, but after 11 games, it seems clear that the Raiders need to go in a different direction next season.

28. Minnesota Vikings

It's starting to look like Christian Ponder is doing just enough to make the Vikings think they don't need to draft a quarterback next year. 

This is bad news for Vikings fans, because Ponder is never going to put this team over the top. 

In addition to a quarterback, Minnesota desperately needs to revamp its defensive line next season and in the years to come. 

29. Washington Redskins

CLEVELAND, OH - OCTOBER 3: Quarterback EJ Manuel #3 of the Buffalo Bills passes during the first half against the Cleveland Browns at FirstEnergy Stadium on October 3, 2013 in Cleveland, Ohio. (Photo by Jason Miller/Getty Images)
Jason Miller/Getty Images

Washington must absolutely consider firing Mike Shanahan after the disastrous campaign he and his team has had this season. Robert Griffin III has been atrocious, as has the entire defense, and it seems like the team has given up on the season. 

30. Jacksonville Jaguars

Incredibly, Jacksonville won its second game of the year last weekend, beating Houston, which has fallen into a deep, dark pit. Clearly, Gus Bradley hasn't lost his locker room, which is great news for the future of this franchise. 

31. Atlanta Falcons

Injuries to key starters decimated the Falcons early in the year, and the team never recovered.

Atlanta will likely win another game or two this year, but 2013 was lost before it ever began for the team that earned the top seed in the NFC last year. 

32. Houston Texans

Watching the Texans struggle with even the most basic of tasks on the gridiron in 2013, it's hard to believe Houston won 12 games last year. Even the team's two wins this year are almost an illusion, as the Texans were down in both games before miraculously coming from behind. 

Teddy Bridgewater, anyone?

Follow me on Twitter @JesseReed78 


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