NFL Power Rankings Week 13

It was an interesting five-day weekend.

First, on Thanksgiving Day, the Bears, Chase Daniel and all, snapping their five-game losing streak at Ford Field, followed by the Cowboys handing Colt McCoy his 19th loss in 26 lifetime starts, and then, in the nightcap, the Saints struggling to cover the spread against struggling Atlanta.

After spending Friday keeping an eye on how Central Florida was doing (I was hoping that they would win so they could stay undefeated and thus unfairly miss the FBS playoff for the second year in a row), I went against my usual routine and actually spent Saturday afternoon watching college football. I started off with the Alabama/Auburn game, and once the Crimson Tide had the game safely salted away, I switched to the Michigan State/Rutgers game, mainly because my man Rashad Evans (who I have met several times, including at his afterparty at UFC 92, the event at which he defeated Forrest Griffin for the UFC light heavyweight title) wrestled at Michigan State.

The long blond locks protruding from the back of Michigan State quarterback Rocky Lombardi's helmet brought a smile to my face, debunking as it does the myth that all Italians have dark hair and "olive" skin — see also current Saints linebacker Alex Anzalone and two-time NCAA Division I wrestling champion Steve Mocco, who went on to finish a disappointing seventh in the 2008 Summer Olympics (Herschel Walker was also an Olympic seventh-place finisher, in the bobsled no less, at the 1992 Winter Olympics, four years after the iconic Jamaican bobsled team that inspired the 1993 movie "Cool Runnings" competed in the same event), then tried his hand at mixed martial arts, as many collegiate wrestlers do these days.

Then came the main course on Sunday, when first I got to see Carson Wentz pull off a rare comeback win over a Giants team that had looked pretty good in their two previous games (the Jets/Patriots game was also on locally, but who cared about that?), and then witnessed the Steelers lose what was a trap game from the word "go" in Denver. In the Sunday night game, something had to give, in that either Kirk Cousins had to win on prime time or the Packers had to win on the road. The former is what we got.

The five-day odyssey ended with the Houston Texans continuing their quixotic quest to overcome an 0-3 start with a decisive win in their first game since the death of their owner and founder, Bob McNair, on Monday night.

Let's move on to the Week 13 power rankings.

1. New Orleans Saints (10-1) — Only knock is that their lone loss came at home in Week 1. Only one team that lost at home in Week 1 has ever won the Super Bowl (the 2002 Buccaneers). Last year's Patriots lost at home to the Chiefs in Week 1 and got to Super Bowl LII, but they lost to the Eagles.

2. Los Angeles Rams (10-1) — In addition to losing to the Saints head-to-head, they also rank lower than New Orleans in defense despite an edge in on-paper talent. But a tough schedule for the Saints (Carolina twice, at Dallas, Pittsburgh at home), gives them a definite shot at the number-one seed in the NFC, as they have only one realistically losable game remaining (at Chicago).

3. Kansas City Chiefs (9-2) — Even though they won the first meeting over the Chargers at L.A. in Week 1, they are no lock to win the rematch at home on Thursday night in Week 15 because they're basically a finesse team, and as such they may not find the almost certain cold weather to their liking. Their Week 12 bye cost a lot of fantasy owners a packet.

4. New England Patriots (8-3) — Already assured of the tie-breaker advantage over the Chiefs and Texans, and tie-breakers won't come into play vs. the Steelers due to Pittsburgh's Week 1 tie at Cleveland. So another December to remember for Tom Brady, who is 58-11 lifetime in that month, could mean that the road to Super Bowl LIII in the AFC will go through Foxborough after all.

5. Los Angeles Chargers (8-3) — Toyed with the lowly Cardinals last week but have a cold Sunday night test at Pittsburgh coming up, which they will pretty much have to win if they are to have any chance of winning the AFC West, thanks to their hiccup at home against Denver, who the Chiefs swept, two weeks ago.

6. Houston Texans (8-3) — Poised to become the first team to make the playoffs after an 0-3 start since 1998, but no team has ever made it to the conference championship game after starting 0-3, and they could need help to get a first-round bye.

7. Chicago Bears (8-3) — With everyone making excuses for Houston's 4-12 record last year because of Deshaun Watson's injury, they are the league's designated surprise team. But a primitive offense and Mitch Trubisky's own injury-proneness figures to keep this team from making a deep playoff run.

8. Pittsburgh Steelers (7-3-1) — Championship-caliber teams don't lose the kind of trap games like the one they lost last week, especially with James Conner losing a fumble for only the second time all season. And they have three very losable games in their last five — Chargers at home, Patriots at home, at the Saints.

9. Minnesota Vikings (6-4-1) — Even in today's pass-happy NFL, you can't go very far on 85.3 yards rushing per game. At least Kirk Cousins won a prime-time game, even if it was at home over a team that can't buy a win on the road.

10. Seattle Seahawks (6-5) — Tell the truth now. Who had them in the top 10 at this point? And the defense, ranked 16th in the league, has vastly exceeded expectations.

11. Carolina Panthers (6-5) — Looking back on their season once it's over, it will very likely be argued that Ron Rivera's ill-advised decision to go for two in Detroit two weeks ago kept them out of the playoffs. They have lost three in a row after a 6-2 first half, and now must go on the road, where they're 1-4 on the year, to face a rejuvenated Jameis Winston.

12. Dallas Cowboys (6-5) — If they can somehow steal this coming Thursday night game against the Saints at home, they have an excellent shot to run the table, and with it win the NFC East. And hopefully Amari Cooper will deter blitzes, protecting Dak Prescott, who has been sacked a co-league-high 38 times.

13. Indianapolis Colts (6-5) — Who's dissing their offensive line now? After giving up 56 sacks a year ago, the most in the league, this season they're tied for allowing the fewest sacks. With 32 touchdown passes (only Patrick Mahomes has more, with 37), Andrew Luck is dollars to dynamite to be named Comeback Player of the Year.

14. Baltimore Ravens (6-5) — Lamar Jackson has almost as many net yards rushing (329) as passing (389), which is probably why they won't still be playing in January, and both John Harbaugh and Joe Flacco are likely headed elsewhere once the season ends. Their top-ranked defense is withering on the vine, and their offense, ranked 11th in the league, is underachieving.

15. Washington Redskins (6-5) — Alex Smith's gruesome, season-ending injury has destroyed their season, so much so that they are 7-point underdogs to the injury-dismembered Eagles this Monday night. Jay Gruden will always be Jon's little brother.

16. Philadelphia Eagles (5-6) — Carson Wentz engineered just the fourth game-winning drive in 38 career starts to edge the Giants last week, and they remain at home to take on Colt McCoy and the Redskins, where a win will create a three-way tie atop the NFC East unless the Cowboys upset the Saints Thursday night. Josh Adams, who wasn't even drafted despite gaining 1,430 yards at Notre Dame in 2017, could be a James Conner redux.

17. Tennessee Titans (5-6) — If Marcus Mariota can learn to stay in the pocket more often, their record would be better and they would rank higher in future columns such as this — and like Ron Rivera, Mike Vrabel has a tale of woe to tell about an ill-advised two-point conversion attempt that cost his team a potential win — against the Chargers at London in Week 7.

18. Denver Broncos (5-6) — Have probably found their best stride too late to get in the playoffs, despite a crushing schedule that has seen them play five likely playoff teams in their last six games, going 3-3 in them, with the three losses coming to the Rams, Chiefs, and Texans by 3, 7 and 2 points, and upsetting the Chargers and Steelers the last two weeks.

19. Miami Dolphins (5-6) — Their narrow defeat to the red-hot Colts caused Ryan Tannehill's record in his last 14 starts to "fall" to 10-4, and Frank Gore and Kenyan Drake are providing a powerful one-two punch on the ground. If they only had a defense: they're 29th in both total defense and against the run, and 21st against the pass.

20. Cincinnati Bengals (5-6) — Just placed Andy Dalton on injured reserve with a thumb injury whose exact nature is as of yet undisclosed after letting the Browns avoid tying the all-time consecutive road loss record at their expense. At long last, this should be all for Marvin Lewis

21. Green Bay Packers (4-6-1) — Mike McCarthy is also on the hottest of hot seats as the team's road woes continued on Sunday night. But three of their last five are at home, all against domed-stadium teams, and one of the road games is at the woeful Jets. So who knows?

22. Cleveland Browns (4-6-1) — Now that they have broken that near-record road drought, they can be taken seriously, and Baker Mayfield is proving those who said that he was the wrong choice with the number one pick wrong themselves.

23. Atlanta Falcons (4-7) — Dan Quinn is another hot-seater, largely due to an atrocious defense and an even more atrocious running game, if that's possible. Matt Ryan leads the league in passing yards. He must know how Jeff George felt throughout essentially his entire career.

24. Detroit Lions (4-7) — Having a good season, for them, running the ball. But Matthew Stafford is having a bad season, for him, throwing it. And now the fun really begins: their 23-50 record in December since 2001 is the NFL's worst over that span.

25. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (4-7) — After being benched twice this year, Jameis Winston came storming back last week, even if it was over a 49ers team that gave up on this season the instant Jimmy Garoppolo went down. But even if Winston goes on with it the rest of the way, it probably won't be enough to save Dirk Koetter's job.

26. Buffalo Bills (4-7) — It's awkward to say the least how they win when they do. But they have still beaten both of the losers of last year's conference championship games, one of them by three touchdowns, and also blew out the Jets on the road by 31. And Leslie Frazier's hustling defense is second overall and first against the pass.

27. Jacksonville Jaguars (3-8) — At least the fact that they beat both of the other two 3-8 teams head-to-head makes my job of ranking them easier. And while I am not now nor have I ever been a Blake Bortles fan, if you think that Cody Kessler, who is a maiden (0-8 as a starter) gives them a better chance to win, then I own a certain bridge in New York City that I will happy to sell you at a reasonable price. This is nothing but a temper tantrum by a sure-to-be-outgoing head coach.

28. New York Giants (3-8) — Saw a 19-3 lead evaporate against perhaps the worst come-from-behind team in the league last week after having showed promise with back-to-back victories. Pat Shurmur has a long-term rebuilding project on his hands - and I'm not sure that he's the man to carry off such a thing.

29. New York Jets (3-8) — After a reasonably promising start, turnovers by, and now an injury to, Sam Darnold has left this team in shambles. Todd Bowles is also on the endangered list.

30. Arizona Cardinals (2-9) — Not only are they 2-1 against the Raiders and the 49ers head-to-head (vs. Oakland's 1-1 and San Francisco's 1-2), but they have played the toughest schedule of the three (.533 to Oakland's .517 and San Francisco's .455). And how's this for a stat: Baker Mayfield is 3-5 as a starter, vs. Sam Darnold's 3-6 and Josh Rosen's 2-6.

31. San Francisco 49ers (2-9) — Once the 30th spot is awarded to Arizona, it becomes a two-way tie for 31st between them and the Raiders, and since the 49ers plastered the Raiders 34-3 in Week 9...

32. Oakland Raiders (2-9)) — Opened as a 15-point home underdog to the Chiefs this week. That should tell you all you need to know.

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