NFC West: 2013 NFL Week 12 Power Rankings

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

Preseason: 3 | Last Week: 8 | ESPN.com Power Ranking since 2002

The 49ers’ tumble this week wasn’t drastic, which was the right call. The 49ers have lost two straight games by a total of four points. They have gone from No. 5 to No. 9 in the ESPN.com Power Rankings.

Last week, after a 10-9 home loss to Carolina, I didn’t think the 49ers should have dropped three spots. But after their last-second loss at New Orleans this week, the voters dropped the 49ers only one position after a stellar defensive effort against Drew Brees.

That’s fair. The 49ers are the highest-ranked 6-4 team, which is probably the right call.

Power Rankings: No. 21 St. Louis Rams

November, 19, 2013
11/19/13
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A weekly examination of the Rams' ESPN.com Power Ranking:

Preseason: 15 | Last Week: 20 | ESPN.com Power Ranking since 2002

After enjoying a bump of five spots in the right direction on the heels of a dominant 38-8 win against the Indianapolis Colts in Week 10, the Rams fell one spot this week despite not playing a game. With teams around them jockeying for position, the Rams lost a little ground by simply taking their bye week. It's interesting to note that Dallas, which was also on bye, actually moved up to No. 14 from 15th.

It's also worth noting that the Rams' average position in the rankings among the six voters is 20.5, which is technically tied with Baltimore for No. 20. Mike Sando had the highest opinion of the Rams this week, placing them at No. 16, while Kevin Seifert had the lowest vote for the Rams at No. 23.

In the season's final six weeks, the Rams will have plenty of opportunities to move up as they take on five teams ranked ahead of them. It starts this weekend with a home game against the No. 10 Chicago Bears.
A weekly examination of the Cardinals' ESPN.com Power Ranking:

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

Moving up in the ESPN.com Power Rankings is a simple formula: Win and advance -- and it’s not even March yet. The Cardinals jumped four spots after recovering from a spotty first quarter to all but shut down the Jacksonville Jaguars in a 27-14 win. And this just wasn’t your typical win over the Jags, it was the coming-out party for an offense that’s finally evolved 11 weeks into the season. Carson Palmer threw for 419 yards because he was given time and didn’t have to fend off waves of pass-rushers. It’s amazing what a running game can do for an offense, and Arizona is finding out firsthand that it can’t be a dominant team in the NFL without a threatening run game.

That brings us to a legitimate question: Just how good are the Cardinals? If their offense had been playing like this all season, they would’ve beaten St. Louis and San Francisco, and possibly even Seattle. A record of 6-4 could easily be 8-2. Four teams still left on their schedule sit in front of them, so the final six games will be a litmus test for just how good this offense is. It has beaten up on Atlanta, Houston and Jacksonville -- not exactly the upper echelon of the NFL.

Power Rankings: No. 2 Seattle Seahawks

November, 19, 2013
11/19/13
1:00
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A weekly examination of the Seahawks' ESPN.com Power Ranking:

Preseason: 1 | Last Week: 3 | ESPN.com Power Ranking since 2002

Back-to-back convincing victories have enabled the Seahawks to move up each of the last two weeks in the Power Rankings, from fourth to third last week and third to second this week behind Denver.

Seattle is 10-1 heading to its bye week after winning the last two games by a combined score of 74-31, including the 41-20 victory over Minnesota on Sunday at CenturyLink Field.

The Seahawks are in the unusual situation of heading into the last five games of the season almost fully healthy. Offensive tackles Russell Okung and Breno Giacomini returned Sunday after being out for two months, and receiver Percy Harvin got everyone's attention in his debut game as a Seahawk with a 58-yard kickoff return that gave fans a glimpse of his explosiveness.

The only major injury for Seattle right now is starting cornerback Brandon Browner with a severe groin pull. However, it looks as if Browner might be able to return for the playoffs, or possibly even the end of the regular season.

And the secondary may be the deepest area of the team. Walter Thurmond, who started for Browner on Sunday, had a 29-yard pick-six in the second half.

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