NFC West: 2013 NFL Week 11 Power Rankings

A weekly examination of the 49ers' ESPN.com Power Ranking:

Preseason: 3 | Last Week: 5 | ESPN.com Power Ranking since 2002

The San Francisco 49ers are a Power Rankings reminder to all top teams: Losses are much more damaging than victories are rewarding.

During their five-game win streak (which included a bye week), the 49ers could only move from No. 8 to No. 5. However, after a one-point loss to Carolina, all that progress was wiped out. The 49ers are back to No. 8 again, where they were in Week 5 when they were 2-2.

I think some context is needed. It was a one-point defeat to a Carolina team that has won five straight games. It is not a devastating loss for the 49ers. They are still on track for the playoffs, although they very likely are out of the NFC West race as they trail Seattle by 2.5 games.

Still, the 49ers’ overall health is much better than a three-spot drop may indicate.
A weekly examination of the Cardinals' ESPN.com Power Ranking:

Preseason: 26 | Last week: 17 | ESPN.com Power Ranking since 2002

This is a tough crowd. The Arizona Cardinals moved up one spot in this week’s Power Rankings to 16th after surviving a late-game rally by the Houston Texans. If the Cardinals had held on to the 10-point margin they had before running back Rashard Mendenhall fumbled late in the fourth -- which led to a Texans touchdown -- they might have been higher. But what’s done is done.

The teams ranked above the Cardinals are all viable contenders, and it says a lot that Arizona is among that group with seven weeks left in the season. Arizona is finally finding its way on offense. In a stretch of winnable games, the Cardinals have been a more complete offense, using their running game to keep defenses honest, which has given the offensive line more confidence and allowed quarterback Carson Palmer time to throw. The Cardinals have a few issues on offense, such as ball security and red zone and third-down efficiency, but if they can correct them, Arizona could keep on winning and climbing up the rankings.

Power Rankings: No. 20 St. Louis Rams

November, 12, 2013
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A weekly examination of the Rams' ESPN.com Power Ranking:

Preseason: 15 | Last Week: 25 | ESPN.com Power Ranking since 2002

The Rams made a big jump this week, leaping five spots to No. 20 after a convincing (and surprising) 38-8 win on the road Sunday against the Indianapolis Colts. Sitting at No. 20, five spots behind their preseason projection, the Rams could actually be much higher in the rankings and the actual standings had they just been able to make a couple of plays against Seattle and Tennessee in previous weeks.

Kevin Seifert, Jamison Hensley and Dan Graziano offered the highest votes for the Rams, checking in with direct hits in placing the Rams at No. 20. Mike Sando came in the lowest of the six-member voting panel, placing the Rams at No. 23.

In looking at the rankings, the No. 20 spot feels about right for the Rams, though one could make a good argument they should fall in line behind Tennessee. The Titans are No. 21 and beat the Rams in St. Louis a little more than a week ago. The rest of the teams behind the Rams -- Miami, Washington, Pittsburgh, the New York Giants, Buffalo, Oakland, Houston, Atlanta, Minnesota, Tampa Bay and Jacksonville -- probably belong where they are.

Power Rankings: No. 3 Seattle Seahawks

November, 12, 2013
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A weekly examination of the Seahawks' ESPN.com Power Ranking:

Preseason: 1 | Last Week: 4 | ESPN.com Power Ranking since 2002

Playing their best game of the season on Sunday at Atlanta, an impressive 33-10 victory, was good enough to move the Seahawks up only one spot in our weekly Power Rankings.

Seattle (9-1) went from fourth to third, and that only happened because the Indianapolis Colts, who were second, lost to the St. Louis Rams, dropping them to No. 7.

The Kansas City Chiefs remain No. 1, as you would expect for the only unbeaten team in the league, but our voters still don’t believe the Seahawks are as good as the Denver Broncos, who are now No. 2.

The only loss for both Seattle and Denver came at Indianapolis, and both lost by six points (34-28 for the Seahawks and 39-33 for the Broncos).

Judging by those games, it’s easy to make a case that Seattle should rank ahead of Denver. Denver trailed 36-17 early in the fourth quarter at Indy, and the Broncos were behind by nine (39-30) with less than six minutes to go. Seattle led the Colts 28-23 in the fourth quarter before losing on one of quarterback Andrew Luck’s late comebacks.

But the only way anyone really will know if the Seahawks are better than the Broncos -- or the Chiefs -- is if they meet in the Super Bowl.

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