NFL Power Rankings Week 13: AFC, NFC Standings and Pre-MNF Predictions

Kristopher Knox@@kris_knoxFeatured ColumnistNovember 26, 2018

NEW ORLEANS, LA - NOVEMBER 22:  Drew Brees #9 of the New Orleans Saints reacts against the Atlanta Falcons at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome on November 22, 2018 in New Orleans, Louisiana.  (Photo by Chris Graythen/Getty Images)
Chris Graythen/Getty Images

The 2018 NFL playoff picture is getting awfully interesting after a Week 12 that saw its fair share of impactful finishes.

The Pittsburgh Steelers got knocked off by the Denver Broncos, the New Orleans Saints picked up a 10th consecutive win, and the Los Angeles Chargers bounced back from a disappointing Week 11 loss.

The Indianapolis Colts and Seattle Seahawks continued to increase their playoff odds, while teams like Denver, the Philadelphia Eagles and Minnesota Vikings essentially saved their seasons.

Week 12 wasn't chock full of upsets, but it did have a significant impact in the upper standings. We're going to take a look at just where the top teams stand heading into Monday night, along with our power rankings based on how we see the Houston Texans and Tennessee Titans tilt playing out.


Pre-MNF Power Rankings

1. New Orleans Saints (10-1)

2. Los Angeles Rams (10-1)

3. Kansas City Chiefs (9-2)

4. Chicago Bears (8-3)

5. Los Angeles Chargers (8-3)

6. Houston Texans (8-3, projected)

7. New England Patriots (8-3)

8. Pittsburgh Steelers (7-3-1)

9. Baltimore Ravens (6-5)

10. Minnesota Vikings (6-4-1)

11. Dallas Cowboys (6-5)

12. Seattle Seahawks (6-5)

13. Indianapolis Colts (6-5)

14. Carolina Panthers (6-5)

15. Denver Broncos (5-6)

16. Tennessee Titans (5-6, projected)

17. Washington Redskins (6-5)

18. Philadelphia Eagles (5-6)

19. Cleveland Browns (4-6-1)

20. Miami Dolphins (5-6)

21. Green Bay Packers (4-6-1)

22. Atlanta Falcons (4-7)

23. Detroit Lions (4-7)

24. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (4-7)

25. Cincinnati Bengals (5-6)

26. Buffalo Bills (4-7)

27. New York Giants (3-8)

28. Jacksonville Jaguars (3-8)

29. New York Jets (3-8)

30. Arizona Cardinals (2-9)

31. San Francisco 49ers (2-9)

32. Oakland Raiders (2-9)


There really aren't too many surprises at the top of our power rankings after Week 12. The Saints stay in the top spot thanks to their dominant Thanksgiving victory over the Atlanta Falcons. The Kansas City Chiefs and Los Angeles Rams, who were both on bye, round out the top three.

The Chicago Bears managed to win with backup quarterback Chase Daniel on Thursday, and they're trending as a top-five team. The Steelers remain in the top 10 despite falling short to the Broncos on Sunday.

Surging teams include the Ravens, who continue to play strong defense and who now have a dynamic offense behind Lamar Jackson. The Seattle Seahawks, who rallied to beat the Carolina Panthers, find themselves in this group along with the Colts, winners of five straight.

Falling teams include the Falcons, who have lost three in a row, and the Green Bay Packers. The biggest faller, though, is the Cincinnati Bengals.

The Bengals once looked like a team destined for the postseason. They've since lost five of their last six games, and they just got blown out by the Cleveland Browns. Bengals head coach Marvin Lewis insists his team doesn't have a preparation issue.

"I think I said it about three or four times over—it's not [a preparation or discipline issue]," Lewis said in his postgame press conference. "Our guys just need to relax and do their jobs. Just execute your assignment."

Sorry, Marvin, but when your team goes down 28-0 early against a team with a rookie quarterback, an interim coaching staff and with its former head coach on your sideline, it isn't prepared.

The Bengals are going nowhere fast, and now starting quarterback Andy Dalton is dealing with a thumb injury:

Ian Rapoport @RapSheet

#Bengals QB Andy Dalton will undergo more tests on his thumb, but source says X-Rays were negative. No break. At the least, a good sign initially.

NFC Standings

1. New Orleans Saints (10-1)

2. Los Angeles Rams (10-1)

3. Chicago Bears (8-3)

4. Dallas Cowboys (6-5)

5. Minnesota Vikings (6-4-1)

6. Washington Redskins (6-5)

7. Seattle Seahawks (6-5)

8. Carolina Panthers (6-5)

9. Philadelphia Eagles (5-6)

10. Green Bay Packers (4-6-1)

11. Atlanta Falcons (4-7)

12. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (4-7)

13. Detroit Lions (4-7)

14. New York Giants (3-8)

15. Arizona Cardinals (2-9)

16. San Francisco 49ers (2-9)

ARLINGTON, TEXAS - NOVEMBER 22: Dak Prescott #4 of the Dallas Cowboys shakes hands with Colt McCoy #12 of the Washington Redskins after the game at AT&T Stadium on November 22, 2018 in Arlington, Texas. (Photo by Richard Rodriguez/Getty Images)
Richard Rodriguez/Getty Images

The NFC standings are locked for the week, and we've had a couple interesting developments over the last few days. With their win on Thursday, the Saints took over the No. 1 seed in the conference, while the Dallas Cowboys moved into a tie for first place in the NFC East.

The NFC East is also looking like Dallas' division to lose. The Washington Redskins have lost two games in a row and are playing without starting quarterback Alex Smith—he's on injured reserve with a broken leg. The Eagles are still alive in the race, but they barely squeaked out a win over the lowly New York Giants.

While the Chicago Bears have a strong grasp on the NFC North lead, the Vikings managed to keep themselves in that division race by knocking off the rival Packers. They did so thanks to Kirk Cousins' best game as a Viking (342 yards, three touchdowns). Cousins shined under the bright lights of Sunday night, whereas Aaron Rodgers did not.

"He knows guys are trying to get open on the outside for him and do their job, so he plays football. He's just a baller," Vikings receiver Stefon Diggs said of Cousins, per Mike Jones of USA Today.

Minnesota could be trouble in the postseason, as could Seattle. Those two will face off in Week 14 in what could be a battle for one of the NFC's wild-card spots.


AFC Standings

1. Kansas City Chiefs (9-2)

2. New England Patriots (8-3)

3. Houston Texans (8-3, projected)

4. Pittsburgh Steelers (7-3-1)

5. Los Angeles Chargers (8-3)

6. Baltimore Ravens (6-5)

7. Indianapolis Colts (6-5)

8. Miami Dolphins (5-6)

9. Tennessee Titans (5-6, projected)

10. Denver Broncos (5-6)

11. Cincinnati Bengals (5-6)

12. Cleveland Browns (4-6-1)

13. Buffalo Bills (4-7)

14. Jacksonville Jaguars (3-8)

15. New York Jets (3-8)

16. Oakland Raiders (2-9)

Jack Dempsey/Associated Press

If we assume the Texans win on Monday night (we are), then we have to view Week 12 as a huge week in the AFC playoff race. We've already seen one big change, as the Steelers' loss and the New England Patriots' win dropped Pittsburgh out of the No. 2 seed in the conference.

This means the Patriots now control their own destiny as it pertains to earning a first-round bye. They play the Steelers in Week 15.

If the Texans do win, Pittsburgh also drops to the No. 4 seed. This could be problematic because it means the Steelers will be hosting a dangerous team like the Los Angeles Chargers in the Wild Card Round. These two teams face off next week.

Of course, there's no guarantee the Steelers even win the AFC North. The Ravens aren't too far behind in the division, and their offense has found new life behind rookie quarterback Lamar Jackson. Of course, Ravens head coach John Harbaugh isn't ready to name Jackson the full-time starter over Joe Flacco yet.

"I'm not going to get into any of that, for a lot of reasons," Harbaugh said, per Jamison Hensley of ESPN.com.

With games against the Chargers, Patriots and Saints left on the schedule, Pittsburgh could realistically finish 9-6-1, meaning the Ravens can catch them by winning out.

We also have to keep an eye on the Broncos, who have knocked off the Chargers and Steelers in consecutive weeks. They're sitting at 5-6 and have some work to do, but they also have an extremely easy schedule to finish the season. Cincinnati has the best record of any team Denver will face before the season finale against the Chargers.