Each week, we will bring you staff NFL Power Rankings. The overall rankings are a combination of polls submitted by Justin Rozzero, Marc Clair, Chad Campbell, Greg Phillips, Andrew Flanagan & Maurice Pogue. Each team is assigned points based on rank and then compiled and ranked overall based on total points. Managing Editor Brad Woodling has the power to break ties.
- Seattle Seahawks (192 pts): Seattle got to rest up at home and set themselves up for the home stretch. With Percy Harvin back in action, Seattle may now be the most complete team in the league. They have a chance to grab a chokehold on home field advantage when they face the Saints at home.
- Denver Broncos (182 pts): Denver got off to a flying start in frigid Foxboro Sunday night but quickly went into safe mode and allowed the Patriots right back in the game. A costly punt return gaffe in overtime sealed their fate and now the questions are starting to pile up: Can Peyton Manning win in the cold? The run game looked fantastic, which should help down the stretch but this team has now given the Pats reason to believe they can win the conference, even if it goes through Denver.
- New Orleans Saints (181 pts): Things got tight on the road Thursday night but the Saints took care of business and beat the hapless Falcons. With the red-hot Panthers close on their heels, Monday’s game in Seattle looms as a major test for a few reasons, one of which includes taking a hack for home field advantage in the playoffs.
- New England Patriots (174 pts): The Patriots provided a comeback for the ages for the dedicated fans that braved the subzero temperatures and trucked to Foxboro on Sunday night. After spotting the Broncos 24 points, the Pats battled all the way back and won the game in OT after a costly fumble late in the period. The Pats proved they can hang with the big bully and now will have plenty of confidence down the home stretch that they can emerge from the AFC come February.
- San Francisco 49ers (169 pts): The Niners were impressive in dismantling the Redskins in what was perhaps their most impressive win since week one. Michael Crabtree is set to return Sunday so it looks like this team could be coming together at just the right time to make that final playoff push.
- Carolina Panthers (167 pts): The Panthers picked up an impressive win in what was gaping up to be a letdown game in Miami. After picking up huge wins over San Francisco and New England, they showed guts in coming back late to knock off the Dolphins. With Tampa Bay up next, Carolina has a good chance at being tied for the division lead come Tuesday morning.
- Kansas City Chiefs (163 pts): The Chiefs followed up a tough loss in Denver by giving up 41 points to the Chargers at home to fall even further back in the race of the AFC West. They are still in healthy position for a playoff berth but a win at home over the Broncos this Sunday could get them right back in the division hunt. The defense needs shake this one off and hope the injuries to Hali and Houston aren’t serious or long-term.
- Indianapolis Colts (145 pts): The Colts caught an ugly beating in Arizona on Sunday and at this point are winning the division thanks to the lowly chum below them rather than anything positive they have been doing. The comeback magic has seemed to run thin and big time losses are piling up. Trent Richardson looks like a bust and the Reggie Wayne injury has really sidetracked the passing game. They have a chance to get things right when the Titans visit the Dome this weekend.
- Cincinnati Bengals (139 pts): As the Bengals wasted a few opportunities to lock things up, the rest of the division has quietly gained ground and tightened things up considerably. They need to pick up a tough road win in San Diego whole Pittsburgh and Baltimore beat each up on Thursday night. Can Andy Dalton stay consistent and lead this team to a North crown?
- Dallas Cowboys (139 pts): The Cowboys finally won the big game and smacked the big bully Giants in the mouth with a tight win in the Meadowlands last weekend. This win was an absolute must as they pushed the Giants down in the division and swept the season series. Next up is a beatable Raiders team on Turkey Day, another chance for Dallas to prove they can win the games they should.
- Arizona Cardinals (132 pts): Don’t look now, but the Cardinals are 7-4 and right in the thick of the playoff race with a big game against prime competition San Francisco still to come. Carson Palmer has been on fire and if he can limit the mistakes, he has the weapons and defense to compete. There were small signs of a winning team in 2012 and it is all coming together a year later.
- Detroit Lions (129 pts): The NFC North continues to be a jumbled mess as no team is interested in taking control. Just when it looked like the Lions were the class of the division, they suffer a brutal home loss to the Bucs. They had a chance late but a Calvin Johnson fumble in the red zone sealed the deal. Their Turkey Day showdown with the Packers has a lot riding on it for both teams.
- Philadelphia Eagles (119 pts): The Eagles come off the bye and will look to stay in the division hunt with a game against a suddenly dominant Cardinals squad. Arizona’s defense against Philly’s offense will be an interesting battle. If Nick Foles can throw and put up gaudy on this defense, it may be time to consider him as the legit starter for this team going forward.
- Chicago Bears (111 pts): The Bears couldn’t get out of their own way on Sunday, taking a tough loss in St. Louis to hamper their chances at taking first place in the North. Josh McCown has filled in admirably but the defense has completely fallen apart. They have a good opportunity to straighten out the ship as the Vikings are up next. The Bears are in the playoff mix, but they need to start winning winnable games.
- San Diego Chargers (108 pts): The Chargers marched into Kansas City and hung a 41 spot on the vaunted Chiefs defense, continuing an impressive bounce-back season. This week they welcome in the Bengals and a win would be big in helping enhance their inter-conference record. The offense has the weapons, with Phil Rivers, Danny Woodhead and Keenan Allen having great seasons, but with their roller coaster defense, San Diego will have to win a lot of high scoring affairs.
- Green Bay Packers (101 pts): The Packers fought to a disappointing tie with the Vikings on Sunday. They had a chance to play aggressively and go for a game winning TD at 4th and goal from the two yard line, but instead they kicked the field goal that would represent the last points they would score on the day. Scott Tolzien was yanked midway through the game for old friend Matt Flynn, who should be expected to start until Aaron Rodgers returns. A Thanksgiving win in Detroit would have them thinking playoffs yet again.
- Baltimore Ravens (101 pts): The offense struggled outside of one big play, but the defensive stood tall and led the team to a very big win that gets them back into the playoff picture. That sets up the biggest game of the year for Baltimore: a visit by the Steelers that sets up as a playoff elimination game. Joe Flacco has been pedestrian for most of the season and if there was ever a time for him to step up, now is it.
- New York Jets (84 pts): The Jets have swiftly fallen apart and blown two golden opportunities to take the pole position in the wild card race. The offense has gone into a shell as Geno Smith has been reeled in thanks to an obscene number of turnovers and the receivers continue to drop passes when he does connect. The defense is there, but until the offense can begin to score at a reasonable pace, this team will be closer to the bottom than the top.
- Pittsburgh Steelers (82 pts): The Steelers will not die. Just when it looked like this could be the year that they bottomed out, here they sit, tied for the wild card slot with a huge Thanksgiving showdown in Baltimore looming. Their opening week loss to the Titans looks even worse now, but all they can worry about is winning the games that lie ahead.
- Miami Dolphins (76 pts): The Dolphins almost pulled off the upset but they crumbled down the stretch and fell to the Panthers. This weekend, the face the Jets in a make or break game. The loser will most likely be eliminated from contention. Ryan Tannehill continued his solid QB play and finally found Mike Wallace for a couple of big plays, but this team has shown a lot of trouble in closing out games, which will kill you in a tough playoff race.
- Tennessee Titans (71 pts): We have to give the Titans credit. When Jake Locker went down, it looked like Tennessee was cooked, but as of today, they own a playoff spot after a gritty come from behind win in Oakland. They own all the major tiebreakers, so they control their own destiny down the stretch.
- St. Louis Rams (69 pts): The roller coaster ride continues as the Rams manhandled the Bears, picking up another impressive win just two weeks after they curb stomped the Colts. Upcoming, they have a chance to play spoiler for the 49ers, a team they always play well. Kellen Clemens has done his job and the running game, whether it be Zac Stacey or Bennie Cunningham, has led the way. Jeff Fisher and company will have a lot to build upon, but they need to decide if Sam Bradford is the answer or the problem.
- New York Giants (67 pts): The Giants had a chance to make things uncomfortable for the Cowboys and Eagles but folded on the last drive and allowed the Cowboys to take home a big road win and virtually eliminate the G-Men from the playoffs. It has been a disappointing season for a team loaded with talent and you wonder if it is time for a change at the top…although we say that every year, don’t we?
- Buffalo Bills (60 pts): With EJ Manuel back behind center, the Bills have looked better but they are still a longshot for the playoffs, meaning another lost season in Buffalo. Sunday they host the pathetic Falcons in a game that has big draft implications. Both team have plenty of holes and will benefit more from a loss than a win.
- Cleveland Browns (47 pts): When Brian Hoyer went down, the Browns season quickly followed. Jason Campbell has struggled mightily and Brandon Weeden has been borderline useless. Despite a monster day from Josh Gordon, the Browns couldn’t knock off their rival Steelers. The brass needs to decide if Hoyer is the future or if they need to spend yet another draft pick on a QB.
- Washington Redskins (39 pts): Another week in the books and another poor performance along with it. RG3 was smothered by the 49ers defense on Monday night and could not produce a touchdown, coming up with two measly field goals. There are a lot of issues here, but there is also plenty of talent in place. The Redskins need to assess ways to improve the overall quality without sacrificing the long-term for once.
- Tampa Bay Buccaneers (37 pts): Tampa Bay continues to fight and pick up wins after a moribund start to the season. Riding a three game winning streak, Mike Glennon continues to impress and this is looking like the team many expected to compete for a playoff spot. It still looks like Greg Schiano is a goner, but the franchise doesn’t look to be in as awful shape as it did a month ago.
- Oakland Raiders (36 pts): The Raiders briefly had a glimmer of wild card hope but that was quickly squashed in the closing minutes against the Titans. They can make things miserable for Dallas on Thanksgiving, but the playoff drought will continue in the Black Hole.
- Minnesota Vikings (28 pts): The Vikings played well Sunday, battling the Packers to a tie but they still have a complete black hole at quarterback and it has completely tanked their season. They need to clean house and rebuild at the position yet again.
- Houston Texans (13 pts): Case Keenum did look pretty good at one point but that has all come crashing down very quickly with an ugly home loss to the Jaguars. A year ago, this team was cruising to the playoffs and now they slowly are death marching to the draft. Gary Kubiak probably needs to go and the team should search out a new franchise QB come April.
- Atlanta Falcons (12 pts): The Falcons gave the Saints a game but some questionable decisions and a missed field goal down the stretch cost them the win. Atlanta is in prime position for a quick rebuild as they have a franchise QB and a high draft pick, meaning they can focus on an impact defensive player, which is a glaring need for them.
- Jacksonville Jaguars (11 pts): The Jags ticked off another win, but that may have been costly as the Texans will now own the tiebreaker for the number one pick. Luckily, it is a loaded draft, but the Jags should be conscious not to win again.
Biggest Rise: Arizona Cardinals & Pittsburgh Steelers (+4)
Biggest Fall: Cleveland Browns (-5)
PTB Game to Watch: New Orleans Saints @ Seattle Seahawks, Monday Night, 8:30PM, ESPN
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