NFL Power Rankings Week 13: Dirty Birds Top the Charts
This NFL season has been one of the craziest in years. There is not one dominant team in the league, and there are several teams that are still very much in contention for each division, as well as the wild-card spots. Each conference has their elite, mediocre and awful teams.
This has been one of the toughest years to predict in some time, and it's almost impossible to predict who gets in the playoffs and who is out.
Here are my rankings for Week 13:
1. Atlanta Falcons (9-2)
The Falcons are the league's hottest team and show no signs of slowing down. Though both their losses have come on the road, they should get home-field advantage for the playoffs if they defeat the Saints again. The rematch is at the Georgia Dome. With the trio of Matty "Ice" Ryan, Michael "the Burner" Turner and Roddy White, they will be tough to beat.
2. New England Patriots (9-2)
The Patriots have been on a roll since they get destroyed by the Cleveland Browns Week 9. Tom Brady is playing at an MVP level, and their rushing attack inside the red zone has been remarkable (13 rushing touchdowns). Their defense is still shaky, but it has clamped down in recent weeks. Their rematch with the Jets next Monday night will determine the winner of the AFC East.
3. New York Jets (9-2)
Even though the Jets have been playing with fire over the past month with several come-from-behind wins, they are still in first place. Rex Ryan will always claim the Jets are the team to beat, but we'll see if they can beat the Patriots in New England, something that hasn't happened since Brett Favre beat them in 2008.
4. Baltimore Ravens (8-3)
The Ravens head into Week 13 with two straight wins and a healthy defense for the first time in awhile. Ed Reed and Ray Lewis have played inspired football lately, and with the dangerous Terrell Suggs on the outside and Haloti Ngata on the inside, their defense looks fierce again. They need to beat the Steelers this week, though, to move two games ahead in the AFC North.
5. Pittsburgh Steelers (8-3)
The Steelers are in the same boat as the Ravens, but they need to beat them Sunday night to move into sole possession of first place in the AFC North. If they had been beaten by the Buffalo Bills last week, it would've been a devastating blow to their playoff chances. Their offensive line needs to protect Big Ben, or he won't last the year.
6. Green Bay Packers (7-4)
The Packers are one of the toughest teams in the league, but they need to find a way to win the close games. All of their losses this year have been by three points or less. Aaron Rodgers has been playing like an MVP, but he has no running game to help him out. Their defense has been great, but Mike McCarthy needs to find a running game or else they will become one-dimensional. They need to beat the Bears at Lambeau if they want to win the NFC North.
7. Philadelphia Eagles (7-4)
The Eagles were cooled off by the Bears last week, but they still have one of the most dangerous teams in the league. Michael Vick has been brilliant this year and will need to keep it up if the Eagles want to win the NFC East and reach the Super Bowl. Asante Samuel also needs to get healthy to shore up the defense.
8. Chicago Bears (8-3)
The Bears demand respect, and it's time to buy into them. They are a legit contender, and with the way the defense has been playing, they could be a Super Bowl contender. As long as Jay Cutler doesn't turn into bad Cutler, they should make the playoffs and contend for the Lombardi trophy. They have to beat the Packers at Lambeau in Week 17 if they want to win the NFC North.
9. New Orleans Saints (8-3)
The Saints have had a great turnaround after a rough start. Drew Brees has taken this offense and carried it on his back. The defense has been even better than last year, when it relied on turnovers. They now have a healthy Reggie Bush and could have Pierre Thomas back, too. This is a very dangerous team that nobody is going to want to play from here on out. Week 16 against the Falcons will determine who wins the NFC South.
10. New York Giants (7-4)
The Giants almost blew their season when they were down 14-3 at halftime last week against the Jacksonville Jaguars, but the defense clamped down, and they won 24-20. Eli Manning will have to deal without Steve Smith and Hakeem Nicks for a few more weeks, but their running game has turned this offense around lately. Brandon Jacobs has looked like a man on a mission lately, and Ahmad Bradshaw is trying to prove to Tom Coughlin that he's still the best back on the team. They still have to play the Eagles again in a game that could determine who wins the NFC East.
11. San Diego Chargers (6-5)
The Chargers are knocking on the door of every AFC contender right now. They typically play their best games in December and are starting to get hot after a four-game winning streak. Philip Rivers might break Dan Marino's single-season passing record with 3,362 yards in 12 games. He might also win the MVP if the Chargers keep winning. They play the Chiefs next week, and that game should determine who wins the AFC West.
12. Kansas City Chiefs (7-4)
The Matt Cassel to Dwayne Bowe connection has been the best in the league all season long. The combination of the two, plus Jamaal Charles and Thomas Jones, has made this offense explosive. They have what it takes to make the playoffs, either by winning the division or the wildcard.
13. Indianapolis Colts (6-5)
This team just has too many injuries right now, and you can tell it is affecting Peyton Manning. He doesn't have much trust in his receivers aside from Jacob Tamme and Reggie Wayne. They have no running game right now with Joseph Addai and Mike Hart injured. Hart may return this week, which would give this offense a huge boost. They need to get back to what they do best, and that's winning.
14. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (7-4)
The Bucs lost a tough one against the Ravens last week, and they need to beat the Falcons this week if they want any chance at making the playoffs. Josh Freeman has had a great year and continues to improve.
Who will win the Super Bowl?
15. Jacksonville Jaguars (6-5)
The Jaguars don't really look like a playoff team, but they are in first place right now. They have to find a way to win on the road and shore up their defense. David Garrard and Maurice-Jones Drew are having nice years and are the only reasons why this team is in first place.
16. St. Louis Rams (5-6)
The Rams may not look like a great team, but Sam Bradford has been very impressive this year. They have found a way to stay competitive in every game this year and have Steven Jackson to lean on late in games. They still don't play well on the road, but winning in Denver last week gave this team a ton of confidence.
17. Miami Dolphins (6-5)
They don't have much hope to make the playoffs, with the Jets and Patriots still on the schedule, but they may win nine games this year, which would be a remarkable improvement, considering their injuries this year. Chad Henne needs to finish the year strong if he wants to be the starting quarterback in 2011.
18. Houston Texans (5-6)
The Texans have blown several opportunities to make noise this year, but they have been competitive in every game and have the league's leading rusher in Arian Foster. The offense isn't really the problem, it's the pathetic defense. They have the worst defense in the NFL this year, and you can't make the playoffs if your defense can't stop anybody.
19. Tennessee Titans (5-6)
Things were looking promising early on this year, but everything started to collapse after the Vince Young drama. Lucky for them, they get Kerry Collins back this week, who's a huge upgrade over Rusty Smith. They are still only a game back in the division, so they have some time to turn things around.
20. Oakland Raiders (5-6)
They looked like a very improved team after they beat the Chiefs at home Week 9, but have fallen apart since. Jason Campbell doesn't look like the quarterback of the future, but at least they have Darren McFadden to lead their offense for years to come.
21. Seattle Seahawks (5-6)
Somehow they are tied with the Rams for first place in the NFC West, but they need to learn to win on the road and get a running game after the Marshawn Lynch trade failed. They have a tough remaining schedule, with games against the Falcons, Bucs and 49ers all still to come.
22. Washington Redskins (5-6)
The Redskins have been very inconsistent this year and don't appear headed in the right direction. All their running backs have been either injured or inconsistent. Their offensive line and receivers are shaky, and that doesn't bode well for Donovan McNabb the rest of the year. The defense hasn't been good all year and really needs a face change next year.
23. Cleveland Browns (4-7)
The Browns have been tough all year, but they are not the same team without Colt McCoy. Jake Delhomme still looks like the old Jake and can't bring anything to the table on offense. Peyton Hillis is the toughest back in the league and has had an amazing year. Think Josh McDaniels regrets trading him for Brady Quinn?
24. Minnesota Vikings (4-7)
The Leslie Frazier era got off with a bang after they went down to D.C. and beat the Redskins. Frazier did the right thing and didn't just force Favre to pass like Childress did. He let Favre have the freedom to change plays in the huddle and at the line after reading the defense. It worked well last week, and we may see an inspired team from here on out, much like the Cowboys after Wade Phillips was fired. They had better hope they have Adrian Peterson healthy for the stretch run, or they may not have the strong finish that they need.
25. San Francisco 49ers (4-7)
The 49ers don't look like a playoff team, but they are only a game out of first place in the awful NFC West. Troy Smith looks like a different quarterback and has changed this offense. Mike Singletary will probably have to make the playoffs to save his job.
26. Dallas Cowboys (3-8)
They have played inspired football under new coach Jason Garrett, but they still have a lot of work to do in the offseason. They need to finish strong for Garrett to keep his job, but they have a really tough schedule the rest of the way. How does this team justify keeping Roy Williams and Marion Barber on the team? All they do is make costly mistakes and not enough big plays.
27. Buffalo Bills (2-9)
If Steve Johnson makes that catch last week, that would've been their biggest win of the year. They have still been in every game lately and have looked much improved over last year and the beginning of this year. Fred Jackson looks like a keeper, and one has to wonder why C.J. Spiller was drafted if they had Jackson all along?
28. Detroit Lions (2-9)
Shaun Hill's injury couldn't of come at a worse time for a team trying to finish the year strong. Calvin Johnson still looks like a top receiver in the league and never disappoints. Jahvid Best has had a disappointing rookie season, thanks to a lingering turf toe injury. He needs to get healthy for next year.
29. Denver Broncos (3-8)
Spygate 2010? Josh McDaniels better watch his back if he wants to keep his job. The NFL was too lenient on McDaniels after this latest incident of an official accused of taping the 49ers practice in London. Kyle Orton is still having a nice season, Knowshon Moreno is having a nice sophomore year and Brandon Lloyd is having a career year, but those are the lone bright spots for the season.
30. Cincinnati Bengals (2-9)
Can this season get any worse? Carson Palmer looks like a bad Brett Favre now, and Cedric Benson looks like the slow and lethargic guy who was on the Chicago Bears. This team is full of holes and needs to start from scratch next year, starting with the coaching staff.
31. Arizona Cardinals (3-8)
Talk about a monumental collapse, the 2010 Cardinals are the latest example of that. After Kurt Warner retired this year, people didn't know what to think of the Derek Anderson experiment going into the season, and it has been an epic failure. They still don't know what they have with Beanie Wells after his stellar rookie season last year. The defense is just as bad as the offense, and things can't go anywhere but the rest of the way.
32. Carolina Panthers (1-10)
I think some people forgot they were still an NFL franchise, they've been so bad. John Fox better start looking for a new job now. This team needs everything, and the Panthers may have to look for a new home soon. Things don't bode well for this franchise.
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