NFL Power Rankings Week 12: Parity? 18 Teams at .500 or Better After 10 Games

Phil Watson@FurtherReviewCorrespondent INovember 23, 2011

NFL Power Rankings Week 12: Parity? 18 Teams at .500 or Better After 10 Games

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    The bye weeks are over and Thanksgiving is here, which means it’s time for the contenders to begin to separate themselves from the pretenders in the National Football League.

    While the Green Bay Packers and San Francisco 49ers have separated themselves from the pack, there are 18 teams with records of 5-5 or better jostling for the 12 available playoff berths.

    The New England Patriots, who faced questions about their awful defense before putting up back-to-back solid efforts in wins over the New York Jets and Kansas City Chiefs, are now two games clear of the Jets and Buffalo Bills in the AFC East.

    The AFC North is still very much a three-team race, with the 7-3 Baltimore Ravens ahead of the 7-3 Pittsburgh Steelers thanks to their season sweep and the Cincinnati Bengals still just a game back, but with losses to both of the teams ahead of them.

    The Houston Texans were waltzing away with the AFC South and may still do so, but they’ll do it the rest of the way with backup quarterback Matt Leinart at the helm. The Cowheads still lead the Tennessee Titans by two games.

    The Oakland Raiders may be starting to pull away from the AFC West pack. At 6-4, the Silver and Black are a game up on the Denver Fighting Tebows and two clear of the Chiefs and fading San Diego Chargers.

    The NFC is more clearly defined. Green Bay and San Francisco are running away with the NFC North and West, respectively, while the New Orleans Saints lead the Atlanta Falcons by a game in the NFC South.

    The much-ballyhooed Philadelphia Eagles, meanwhile, kept themselves in the NFC East discussion with their win at the Meadowlands on Sunday night. While the Eagles still trail the Dallas Cowboys and New York Giants by two games, they have a 3-1 record in the division and still have games remaining with the Cowboys and lowly Washington Redskins.

    The Chicago Bears and Detroit Lions, meanwhile, lead the wild-card pack while trailing the actual Pack by three games in the NFC North. Chicago, however, lost quarterback Jay Cutler on Sunday to a broken thumb, so if there is a playoff berth to be had, it will come with Caleb Hanie calling the signals.

    These rankings reflect a team’s body of work to this point in the season and do not reflect future projections or busted-up quarterbacks.

32. Indianapolis Colts (0-10)

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    Last week’s ranking: 32

    This week: Mumbling “please don’t hurt me” while curled up in the fetal position

    Next: vs. Carolina

    Strength-of-victory factor: Ah, I make funny joke!

    The Colts return from their bye to face Cam Newton, which could be an interesting proposition given just how bad Indianapolis’ secondary has been.

    The team will give a shout out to its glory years (you know, like last year) when Marvin Harrison is inducted into the Ring of Honor at Lucas Oil Stadium on Sunday. That should be a depressing experience for a fanbase that had enjoyed nine consecutive playoff berths.

    This game could mark the Colts’ best opportunity to avoid joining the 2008 Detroit Lions in the 0-16 club as well. After this, Indy visits New England and Baltimore, hosts Tennessee and Houston and closes at Jacksonville.

31. St. Louis Rams (2-8)

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    Last week’s ranking: 31

    This week: Lost to Seattle 24-7

    Next: vs. Arizona

    Strength-of-victory factor: 11

    The Seahawks shut down Steven Jackson and hounded Sam Bradford as the Rams were held to 185 yards, the second-worst offensive output of the year for the league’s lowest-scoring team.

    Bradford continued to have fumble problems, dropping a pair against Seattle to run his season total to nine, six of which have been recovered by the opposition.

    St. Louis kept losing the battle of down and distance, managing one yard or less on first down 12 times.

30. Minnesota Vikings (2-8)

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    Last week’s ranking: 30

    This week: Lost to Oakland 27-21

    Next: at Atlanta

    Strength-of-victory factor: 5

    Adrian Peterson left the loss to Oakland in the second quarter with what has been diagnosed as a high-ankle sprain, and his status for Sunday’s game in Atlanta is in doubt. The Vikings are 2-8 for the first time since the franchise’s second season in 1962.

    Minnesota trailed 27-7 heading into the fourth quarter, but rallied when Christian Ponder connected with Percy Harvin for a 26-yard touchdown and then converted a turnover into a one-yard touchdown pass from Ponder to Kyle Rudolph.

    The Vikings' last gasp fell short when Ponder’s pass to Harvin on fourth down was broken up with less than three minutes to play. Ponder was 19-for-33 for 211 yards and two touchdowns, but was picked off three times.

29. Carolina Panthers (2-8)

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    Last week’s ranking: 29

    This week: Lost at Detroit 49-35

    Next: at Indianapolis

    Strength-of-victory factor: 6

    The Panthers led by 17 points in the second quarter and 27-14 at halftime before the Lions came back to put up 35 points after intermission.

    After squandering the lead, Carolina came back to tie it with 4:59 to go on a six-yard run by Cam Newton and the ensuing two-point conversion pass from Newton to Steve Smith. But the Panther defense was carved up on Detroit’s next possession, as the Lions moved 80 yards in just seven plays to take the lead for good.

    Newton sealed Carolina’s fate when he threw his fourth interception of the game on the first play after Detroit kicked off. Newton was 22-for-38 for 280 yards and a touchdown pass and also ran for two scores.

28. Kansas City Chiefs (4-6)

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    Last week’s ranking: 26

    This week: Lost at New England 34-3 (Monday night)

    Next: vs. Pittsburgh

    Strength-of-victory factor: 12

    The Chiefs weren’t expected to do much on offense with untested Tyler Palko making his first career start at quarterback, and they played down to those expectations, as Palko threw three interceptions and Kansas City managed just a field goal late in the first quarter before surrendering 34 unanswered points.

    The Chiefs now have a winning-streak sandwich going, with two three-game losing streaks bookending a four-game winning streak. Kansas City was outscored by 82 points during an 0-3 start, then won four straight and have now lost three in a row by a margin of 66 points.

    It was just a 10-3 game at halftime, but New England rolled 85 yards in nine plays to start the second half and open the floodgates for the rout.

27. Arizona Cardinals (3-7)

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    Last week’s ranking: 24

    This week: Lost at San Francisco 23-7

    Next: at St. Louis

    Strength-of-victory factor: 8

    The Cardinals struggled with both a chilly rain and a rugged 49er defense, as they converted just two first downs in the first half and didn’t cross the 50 until late in the third quarter.

    John Skelton lost for the first time in three starts since replacing the injured Kevin Kolb and wound up being yanked to start the fourth quarter in favor of Richard Bartel after going just 6-for-19 for 99 yards and throwing three interceptions.

    The only fight Arizona seemed to show was when Early Doucet squared off with San Francisco defensive back Dashon Goodson after Goodson had sacked Bartel. Otherwise, the Cardinals were dominated, outgained 421-229 and mustering just 15:44 time of possession.

26. Washington Redskins (3-7)

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    Last week’s ranking: 25

    This week: Lost to Dallas 27-24 (OT)

    Next: at Seattle

    Strength-of-victory factor: 11

    The Redskins have lost six straight, the longest slide since Dan Snyder purchased the team in 1999, and extended the longest run of losses in coach Mike Shanahan’s career. But at least they put up a fight this week.

    Washington scored more points against the Cowboys (24) than it had in its previous three games combined (20). Rex Grossman found Donte’ Stallworth on a four-yard fade pass with 14 seconds left to force overtime and nearly won when Graham Gano’s 52-yard field goal was wide right on the first possession of overtime.

    Jabar Gaffney had seven catches for 115 yards and a touchdown for the Redskins, who took another hit on their banged-up offensive line when left tackle Trent Williams hurt his knee on the missed field goal in overtime.

25. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (4-6)

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    Last week’s ranking: 23

    This week: Lost at Green Bay 35-26

    Next: at Tennessee

    Strength-of-victory factor: 15

    The Buccaneers kept it close behind Josh Freeman and LeGarrette Blount, but the Packers got a late touchdown and an interception to hold off Tampa Bay.

    Freeman threw for 342 yards and two touchdowns, but was intercepted twice and the Buccaneers lost their fourth straight game. Blount ran for 107 yards, including a scintillating 54-yard touchdown in the second quarter, where it seemed nearly every Green Bay defender couldn’t bring him down.

    Tampa Bay trailed by four points when it tried a surprise onside kick before halftime. It appeared the Bucs had recovered, but video replay showed that kicker Michael Koenen touched the ball first, before it had traveled 10 yards. Green Bay scored on the ensuing possession for a 21-10 halftime lead.

24. Jacksonville Jaguars (3-7)

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    Last week’s ranking: 22

    This week: Lost at Cleveland 14-10

    Next: vs. Houston

    Strength-of-victory factor: 12

    Blaine Gabbert’s pass into the end zone on the final play of the game fell incomplete after bouncing off the hands of receiver Mike Thomas, and the Jaguars couldn’t come back to beat the Browns.

    Cleveland lost the previous week on a botched field-goal try, and Jacksonville’s final possession was set up by a missed kick from 38 yards out. Gabbert drove the Jags down the field, and Jacksonville got some help from a pass-interference call on a key third down.

    Maurice Jones-Drew was stopped twice inside the five-yard line, and Jason Hill had a pass bounce off his chest in the back corner of the end zone with three seconds to go before the final incompletion. Gabbert was 22-for-41 for 210 yards, and Jones-Drew ran for 87 yards on 21 carries.

23. Cleveland Browns (4-6)

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    Last week’s ranking: 28

    This week: Beat Jacksonville 14-10

    Next: at Cincinnati

    Strength-of-victory factor: 10

    The Browns escaped with a win when the Jaguars threw an incomplete pass on the game’s final play from inside the Cleveland five-yard line.

    Colt McCoy threw a three-yard touchdown pass to Josh Cribbs in the fourth quarter to give the Browns the lead, but Phil Dawson missed a 38-yard field goal that he argued was over the top of the right upright, and Jacksonville had a final chance with 2:49 to go.

    Chris Ogbonnaya finished with 115 yards rushing and a touchdown, as Cleveland finally ended a drought of more than 158 minutes without scoring a touchdown at Cleveland Browns Stadium.

22. San Diego Chargers (4-6)

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    Last week’s ranking: 19

    This week: Lost at Chicago 31-20

    Next: vs. Denver

    Strength-of-victory factor: 14

    The Chargers took their fifth straight loss, their longest slide since starting the season 0-5 in 2003. Philip Rivers threw for 280 and looked a lot more like a Pro Bowl quarterback than a guy leading the NFL in interceptions—at least until late in the game.

    Rivers uncorked two interceptions late in the game—running his NFL-high total to 17. The first was a pick in the end zone after Antoine Cason had returned an interception 64 yards to the Bears’ 16-yard line.

    He was also picked off in the closing minutes on a ball he was trying to throw away. Rivers was 21-for-31 for 280 yards and threw two touchdown passes. Vincent Jackson had a strong game for San Diego, catching seven balls for 165 yards and a score.

21. Miami Dolphins (3-7)

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    Last week’s ranking: 27

    This week: Beat Buffalo 35-8

    Next: at Dallas (Thanksgiving Day)

    Strength-of-victory factor: 12

    The Dolphins defense got tough, setting up two touchdowns with interceptions and mounting a goal-line stand to continue Miami’s improbable midseason surge. Matt Moore threw for three touchdowns and the Dolphins won their third straight game after an 0-7 start.

    It is Miami’s first three-game winning streak since 2008, and they’ve outscored their opponents 86-20 in the three victories.

    The Dolphins came into the game tied for last in the NFL with four interceptions, but twice were able to get picks off balls that deflected off Bills receivers.

20. Seattle Seahawks (4-6)

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    Last week’s ranking: 21

    This week: Won at St. Louis 24-7

    Next: vs. Washington

    Strength-of-victory factor: 18

    The Seahawk defense turned in a punishing performance, and wide receiver Sidney Rice did a little bit of everything, completing a 55-yard pass on the first play of the game and later catching a touchdown pass and drawing a pass interference penalty to set up a field goal at the end of the first half.

    Chris Clemons had three of Seattle’s five sacks and also forced a pair of fumbles as the Seahawks held the Rams to 185 total yards, the defense’s best effort of the season.

    Marshawn Lynch had a touchdown for the fourth straight game, but just missed his third consecutive 100-yard day, finishing with 88 yards on 27 carries.

19. Denver Broncos (5-5)

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    Last week’s ranking: 20

    This week: Beat the New York Jets 17-13 (Thursday night)

    Next: at San Diego

    Strength-of-victory factor: 24

    Tim Tebow’s 20-yard touchdown run with 58 seconds to go capped a 95-yard drive and sent the Broncos to a their third comeback win in a month.

    Denver had punted on its previous eight possessions before taking the ball at its own 5-yard line with less than six minutes to go, trailing 13-10.

    The Broncos are 4-1 since Tebow replaced Kyle Orton as the starting quarterback and trail the division-leading Oakland Raiders by just a game.

18. Philadelphia Eagles (4-6)

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    Last week’s ranking: 18

    This week: Won at the New York Giants 17-10

    Next: vs. New England

    Strength-of-victory factor: 17

    A year after wrecking the Giants’ season with 28 points in the final seven minutes at the Meadowlands, the Eagles methodically tightened the NFC East race with an 18-play, 80-yard drive in the fourth quarter to get another win at New York’s new home.

    Philadelphia took the lead with 2:45 to go when Vince Young—starting in place of injured Michael Vick—hit Riley Cooper from eight yards out to cap a drive that took nearly nine minutes. Young was 23-for-36 for 258 yards and threw two touchdowns and three interceptions.

    Jason Babin saved the win when he forced a fumble after the Giants had marched to the Philadelphia 21-yard line in the closing minutes.

17. Tennessee Titans (5-5)

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    Last week’s ranking: 15

    This week: Lost at Atlanta 23-17

    Next: vs. Tampa Bay

    Strength-of-victory factor: 18

    The Titans nearly came back behind rookie quarterback Jake Locker, who led the team to two late touchdowns after Tennessee fell behind 23-3.

    Locker took over after Matt Hasselbeck left with an elbow injury and threw two touchdown passes to Nate Washington to make a game of it late, but Atlanta was able to run out the clock to thwart the comeback.

    Tennessee made too many mistakes, taking 10 penalties—two on third down to extend Falcon scoring drives—and Hasselbeck threw an interception that also led to Atlanta points. Chris Johnson’s revival was also short-lived. Johnson finished with 13 yards on 12 carries a week after gashing Carolina for 130 yards.

16. Buffalo Bills (5-5)

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    Last week’s ranking: 13

    This week: Lost at Miami 35-8

    Next: at New York Jets

    Strength-of-victory factor: 24

    The Bills have been outscored 106-26 while losing three straight, and the injury problems continued to pile up for Buffalo. NFL rushing leader Fred Jackson left in the third quarter with a bruised calf, and wide receiver Donald Jones and cornerback Terrence McGee both left in the second quarter.

    Ryan Fitzpatrick is still winless since signing a six-year, $59 million contract last month and has 12 turnovers in his last six games. Jackson was held to 17 yards on seven carries, and Buffalo fumbled four times and were a combined 0-for-14 on third- and fourth-down conversions.

    The Bills have just two touchdowns during their losing skid, one of which came in garbage time in Miami.

15. New York Jets (5-5)

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    Last week’s ranking: 14

    This week: Lost at Denver 17-13 (Thursday night)

    Next: vs. Buffalo

    Strength-of-victory factor: 21

    The Jets were stunned after a solid defensive effort was undone by allowing the Broncos to drive 95 yards in the final six minutes for the go-ahead touchdown. It was Gang Green’s second loss in four days.

    Left guard Matt Slauson scored the Jets only touchdown of the night, recovering a fumble by rookie running back Bilal Powell at the Denver one-yard line and diving across the goal line eaerly in the third quarter to put New York up 10-3.

    But Mark Sanchez threw his third pick-six of the season later in the third quarter on an ill-advised throw to the right flat intended for Plaxico Burress.

14. Oakland Raiders (6-4)

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    Last week’s ranking: 17

    This week: Won at Minnesota 27-21

    Next: vs. Chicago

    Strength-of-victory factor: 27

    The Raiders overcame a serious injury to wide receiver Darrius Heyward-Bey, a costly fumble by running back Michael Bush and a dozen penalties to get the win.

    Carson Palmer threw for 164 yards and a touchdown and ran for a score. Bush had 109 yards and a touchdown on the ground for Oakland, who barely survived a mistake-filled fourth quarter.

    Heyward-Bey was hurt in the fourth quarter when he was hit in the back of the head by a Minnesota defender’s knee while being tackled. Coach Hue Jackson said after the game that Heyward-Bey had full movement of his extremities and was diagnosed with a neck injury.

13. Atlanta Falcons (6-4)

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    Last week’s ranking: 16

    This week: Beat Tennessee 23-17

    Next: vs. Minnesota

    Strength-of-victory factor: 22

    The Falcons hung on for the win as Roddy White caught seven passes for 147 yards and Atlanta held off a comeback by Tennessee rookie Jake Locker.

    The Falcons struggled to finish drives, getting three short field goals from Matt Bryant and nearly squandering a 23-3 lead late.

    Matt Ryan was 22-for-32 for 316 yards for the Falcons, and Michael Turner ran for 100 yards on 21 carries.

12. New York Giants (6-4)

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    Last week’s ranking: 12

    This week: Lost to Philadelphia 17-10

    Next: at New Orleans (Monday night)

    Strength-of-victory factor: 24

    The Giants couldn’t get the Eagle offense off the field when it mattered most, allowing six third-down conversions as Philadelphia marched 80 yards in 18 plays for the go-ahead touchdown.

    Eli Manning had tied the game in the fourth quarter with a 24-yard touchdown pass to Victor Cruz and had New York in position for a potential game-tying score until he was hit from behind and fumbled deep in Philadelphia territory with less than two minutes to play.

    The loss dropped the Giants into a tie with Dallas for first place in the NFC East.

11. Cincinnati Bengals (6-4)

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    Last week’s ranking: 10

    This week: Lost at Baltimore 31-24

    Next: vs. Cleveland

    Strength-of-victory factor: 21

    The Bengals nearly came back from 17 points down in the fourth quarter as the offense tore up the Ravens vaunted defense for 483 yards.

    Rookie quarterback Andy Dalton was 24-for-45 for 373 yards and a touchdown for Cincinnati, but also threw three interceptions. It was the Bengals’ second straight loss to an AFC North contender.

    Cincinnati played without rookie wide receiver A.J. Green, who hurt his knee in the loss to Pittsburgh the previous week.

10. Pittsburgh Steelers (7-3)

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    Last week’s ranking: 9

    This week: Not getting any help from Cincinnati in the divisional race

    Next: at Kansas City

    Strength-of-victory factor: 28

    The Steelers get ready for the home stretch having won five of six. Ben Roethlisberger suffered a fractured thumb in the win at Cincinnati two weeks ago but says he will play through the problem.

    Pittsburgh’s schedule is favorable to close out the season, with just two of its final six games against teams with a winning record. The Steelers have a home date with the Bengals and go to San Francisco.

    The big question is whether or not the Steelers will be able to pass Baltimore in the AFC North standings. The Ravens hold the tiebreaker over Pittsburgh with a season sweep.

9. Dallas Cowboys (6-4)

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    Last week’s ranking: 11

    This week: Won at Washington 27-24 (OT)

    Next: vs. Miami (Thanksgiving Day)

    Strength-of-victory factor: 28

    Tony Romo was at his scrambling best, hooking up with Laurent Robinson to tie the game in the fourth quarter and later finding Jason Witten to give the Cowboys the lead. In overtime, he used his feet well enough to get Dez Bryant open to set up Dan Bailey’s game-winning field goal.

    Romo was 23-for-37 for 292 yards and three touchdowns. Rookie DeMarco Murray ran for 73 yards on 25 carries and also caught six passes for another 32 yards.

    The Cowboys moved into a tie with the New York Giants for the lead in the NFC East with both head-to-head matchups still ahead on the schedule.

8. New Orleans Saints (7-3)

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    Last week’s ranking: 5

    This week: Enjoying the division lead

    Next: vs. New York Giants (Monday night)

    Strength-of-victory factor: 29

    Drew Brees spent the bye week making the rounds on the talk-show circuit, appearing with Jay Leno and Ellen DeGeneres.

    The Saints also learned of a schedule change, as their Dec. 4 game against the Lions at the Superdome has been “flexed” into prime time by NBC.

    New Orleans also gets an extra day of bye week, given its return game after the break is on Monday night against the Giants.

7. Chicago Bears (7-3)

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    Last week’s ranking: 8

    This week: Beat San Diego 31-20

    Next: at Oakland

    Strength-of-victory factor: 29

    Jay Cutler led the Bears to their fifth straight win, but may miss the rest of the regular season after suffering a broken thumb on his throwing hand that will require surgery.

    Cutler finished with 286 yards passing and two touchdowns. He also ran for a score. His injury means Caleb Hanie—who has never started an NFL game—is elevated to the top of Chicago’s depth chart, but the team is also auditioning veterans. Rookie Nathan Enderle is the only other quarterback on the roster.

    Major Wright helped hold off a Charger rally with his third interception in as many games, and Corey Graham also had a pick in the closing minutes.

6. Detroit Lions (7-3)

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    Last week’s ranking: 6

    This week: Beat Carolina 49-35

    Next: vs. Green Bay (Thanksgiving Day)

    Strength-of-victory factor: 30

    Matthew Stafford bounced back from two early interceptions, matching a career-high with five touchdown passes and leading the Lions to a record-setting comeback win over the Panthers. Detroit scored five touchdowns in the second half and became the first team to win three games in a single season in which it trailed by at least 17 points.

    The Lions now host a huge game in front of a national audience when the defending Super Bowl champion Packers come to Ford Field on Thanksgiving.

    Stafford finished 28-for-36 for 335 yards, and Kevin Smith had the breakout performance of the season. The one-time feature back for the Lions, who was out of football until two weeks ago after a devastating knee injury, finished with 140 yards rushing on 16 carries and added a receiving score.

5. New England Patriots (7-3)

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    Last week’s ranking: 7

    This week: Beat Kansas City 34-3 (Monday night)

    Next: at Philadelphia

    Strength-of-victory factor: 33

    Tom Brady had two touchdown passes to Rob Gronkowski, and Julian Edelman returned a punt 72 yards for another score as the Patriots grabbed a two-game lead in the AFC East.

    Kyle Arrington had two more interceptions, running his league-high total to seven, as New England shut down a Chiefs offense led by untested Tyler Palko, who was making his first career start.

    Gronkowski’s two scores give him 20 touchdown receptions in just 26 career games, the fewest games ever by a tight end to reach that milestone. Hall of Famer Mike Ditka scored 20 touchdowns in his first 31 games.

4. Houston Texans (7-3)

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    Last week’s ranking: 3

    This week: Getting Matt Leinart ready for the stretch run

    Next: at Jacksonville

    Strength-of-victory factor: 26

    While the Texans contemplate life without quarterback Matt Schaub after already losing Mario Williams from the other side of the ball for the year, Houston may get a couple of happy returns in Jacksonville.

    Wide receiver Andre Johnson is expected back after missing several weeks with a hamstring injury, and safety Danieal Manning practiced Monday after fracturing his tibia last month in a win at Tennessee.

    Houston also auditioned some veteran quarterbacks, bringing in Jeff Garcia, Trent Edwards, Chase Clement, Brodie Croyle and Kellen Clemens.

3. Baltimore Ravens (7-3)

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    Last week’s ranking: 4

    This week: Beat Cincinnati 31-24

    Next: vs. San Francisco (Thanksgiving night)

    Strength-of-victory factor: 37

    The defense was uncharacteristically leaky without injured Ray Lewis, but Joe Flacco threw for 270 yards and two touchdowns, and the Ravens held off the Bengals.

    Baltimore nearly blew a 17-point lead in the fourth quarter, and the defense surrendered a season-high 483 yards. But Ray Rice ran for 104 yards and two scores, Torrey Smith caught six passes for 165 more and the defense made the stops when it had to.

    Cincinnati got to the Ravens seven-yard line before Terrell Suggs forced an intentional grounding call and Pernell McPhee sealed the deal with a sack on fourth down.

2. San Francisco 49ers (9-1)

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    Last week’s ranking: 2

    This week: Beat Arizona 23-7

    Next: at Baltimore (Thanksgiving night)

    Strength-of-victory factor: 41

    Alex Smith threw for 267 yards and two touchdowns, and the 49ers forced five turnovers to secure their first winning season since 2002. San Francisco could also win its first division title in near-record style. With a win at Baltimore and a loss by Seattle this week, the 49ers would win the NFC West.

    The 49ers can join the 1985 Chicago Bears by clinching in 11 games. Donte Whitner, Patrick Willis and Dashon Goldson had interceptions for San Francisco, although Goldson faces disciplinary action after being ejected for throwing a punch at Arizona’s Early Doucet in the fourth quarter.

    The 49ers outgained the Cardinals, 421-229, and held the ball for more than 44 minutes.

1. Green Bay Packers (10-0)

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    Last week’s ranking: 1

    This week: Beat Tampa Bay, 34-26

    Next: at Detroit (Thanksgiving Day)

    Strength-of-victory factor: 41

    Aaron Rodgers wasn’t as sharp as usual, but he was still good enough to beat the Bucs. Rodgers threw a 40-yard strike to Jordy Nelson with 2:55 left to seal the win.

    Rodgers was 23-for-34 for 299 yards and three scores—two to Nelson—but threw a fourth-quarter pick that allowed Tampa Bay to keep it close. The Packer defense continued to surrender yards by the truckload, allowing 455—including 334 through the air.

    Green Bay got its first score on a one-yard run by defensive tackle B.J. Raji. Thankfully for the patrons in the first row, the 337-pounder opted to forgo the Lambeau Leap.