NFL Nation: 2013 NFL Week 13 Power Rankings

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

Preseason: 28 | Last Week: 23 | ESPN.com Power Ranking since 2002

The slide continues, though it’s too gradual to call it a plummet. The Cleveland Browns' position at No. 25 in the ESPN.com Power Rankings is their lowest of the season.

The last four weeks, they have dropped from 18 to 19 to 23 to 25.

Given the way the last two weeks went, it’s surprising the Browns aren’t lower.

The team had a chance two weeks ago to get back in the middle of things in the AFC North. The response: eight turnovers and being outscored by 50 points the last seven quarters.

Bill Parcells always said a team is what its record is, that eventually it will find its level.

The Browns seem to be finding theirs. And the way they’ve played the past two weeks, it almost seems like a miracle that Rob Chudzinski could find four wins in the first nine games.

Power Rankings: No. 29 Washington

November, 26, 2013
11/26/13
2:00
PM ET
A weekly examination of the Redskins' ESPN.com Power Ranking:

Preseason: 10 | Last Week: 27 | ESPN.com Power Ranking since 2002

The Washington Redskins fell in ESPN.com’s Power Rankings. In related news, it’s Tuesday.

The Redskins have spent the season playing poorly and their ranking has reflected that; nobody is about to argue that point. They’re 29th and propped up only because the voters consider Atlanta, Jacksonville and Houston worse. But if the Jaguars beat Houston on Thursday and the Redskins lose to the New York Giants, they could plummet further. The Redskins went south for training camp, and then the season went that way in a hurry.

The question is, where do they go from here? Washington’s players and coaches must prove that they are indeed going in the right direction. But the voters keep sending them in the other direction.

I’ve seen defeated teams at the end of seasons. Oftentimes they’re not surprised by what’s happened when they’re being honest. This team is more confused and shocked by what’s happened. But if it continues, nobody should feel that way. The groundwork has been laid; the precedent has been set.
A weekly examination of the 49ers' ESPN.com Power Ranking:

Preseason: 3 | Last Week: 9 | ESPN.com Power Ranking since 2002

The San Francisco 49ers are a top-10 team. Could they be ranked higher? Perhaps, but it is not the end of the world to be ranked at No. 7.

The convincing win at Washington was good for the team and moved them up two spots. The 49ers continued to dominate defensively and the offense showed much-needed spark.

The 49ers were down in the dumps after back-to-back losses to quality teams, Carolina and New Orleans. Even though the two losses were by a total of four points, those losses had hurt the 49ers in the Power Rankings.

But as 49ers coach Jim Harbaugh said after the victory in Washington, the team was not worried about style points. The 49ers just wanted to win.

So the 49ers remain a top team in the rankings. But most importantly, they remain in the playoff hunt.
A weekly examination of the Lions' ESPN.com Power Ranking:

Preseason: 24 | Last Week: 11 | ESPN.com Power Ranking since 2002

Here comes the Power Rankings slide. The Lions dropped two spots for the second straight week -- this time from No. 11 to No. 13 -- and if not for the hideousness of what is going on in the AFC, the Lions might be a lot further down the list. Simply, Detroit is not playing like a particularly good football team right now. The Lions are turning the ball over and continuing to give up big plays.

And right now, Detroit is playing its way right out of the NFC playoff picture. The Lions are still technically in the playoffs today because of the tiebreaker over Chicago. But the Lions aren't playing like a team that, if they make the playoffs, would have a long stay there. Maybe this is all that needs to be said about the NFC North this season: Despite the struggles, the Lions are still the top-ranked team in the division in this week's Power Rankings.

Power Rankings: No. 3 Denver Broncos

November, 26, 2013
11/26/13
2:00
PM ET
A weekly examination of the Broncos' ESPN.com Power Ranking:


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

A biting wind out of the north was strong enough Sunday night to induce plenty of turnovers in the New England Patriots' overtime win over the Broncos, but also strong enough to push the Broncos down two spots to No. 3 in ESPN.com’s Power Rankings.

That and 334 passing yards and three touchdowns from Tom Brady.

And this week, the Broncos (9-2) will face the Chiefs for the second time in three weeks, after winning a 27-17 meeting in Denver in Week 11.

“Each week there’s a new story. I mean, two weeks ago, it was Kansas City, ‘Oh, my God, if we don’t win this ...’ It’s not that,’’ Broncos interim coach Jack Del Rio said. “It wasn’t that then. It was a big game, big divisional game. [Sunday] was a big conference game, an opportunity. Now, those two games -- they’re gone. And the ones before are gone. We’re sitting here, we’re tied for first. We’re 9-2. We’ve won a lot of games. We’ve got some ball in front of us and we’re getting excited for the very next one. That’s where we are.’’

The Broncos expect to get some help defensively this week. Cornerback Champ Bailey, who has played in just two games this season because of a left foot injury he suffered in August, is slated to practice through the week and play against the Chiefs.

The Broncos still have the opportunity to earn home-field advantage in the AFC playoffs if they can bounce back quickly from Sunday’s loss. They are 5-2 in AFC games, just behind the Chiefs’ 6-2 mark. New England (8-3) is 5-2 in AFC games as well. The Broncos have three AFC West games remaining, and all five of their remaining games are against AFC teams.

“We still have a lot of work to do and everything is out there for us if we do our part,’’ cornerback Chris Harris said.
A weekly examination of the Steelers' ESPN.com Power Ranking:

Preseason: 17 | Last Week: 19 | ESPN.com Power Ranking since 2002

The Steelers, near the bottom of the pack after their first 0-4 start since 1968, have finally climbed above their preseason ranking. The Steelers are easily playing their best ball of the season, and the biggest key to the three-game winning streak that has also vaulted them into the AFC playoff picture: The Steelers are plus-seven in turnover differential during that span. They had four takeaways Sunday in their 27-11 win at Cleveland.

Here is a breakdown of the voting:

Ashley Fox: 16
Mike Sando: 11
Kevin Seifert: 19
John Clayton: 19
Dan Graziano: 17
Jamison Hensley: 17

The Steelers now rank ahead of teams such as the Packers, who had the look of a Super Bowl contender before quarterback Aaron Rodgers broke his collarbone, and the Ravens, who are the defending Super Bowl champions. The Packers and Ravens are No. 17 and No. 18 in the rankings, respectively, and I'm not sure the Steelers have done quite enough to pull ahead of those teams. They can answer any questions about their ranking Thursday night by beating the Ravens in Baltimore. A win would give the Steelers their first sweep of the Ravens since 2008.
A weekly examination of the Cardinals' ESPN.com Power Ranking:

Preseason: 26 | Last Week: 13 | ESPN.com Power Ranking since 2002

Welcome to the top 10. Arizona officially staked its claim this season as an upper-echelon team by cracking the top third of ESPN.com's Power Rankings. And with how they played against the Colts, it is deserved. Even during the game, some Colts fans began complaining that Arizona was beating up on them without Reggie Wayne and Vick Ballard. It doesn't matter who the Colts did or didn't have, the way Arizona played on offense (Wayne and Ballard don’t play defense) said more about this team than anything else.

Say it however you want: It clicked. The light bulb went on. It's working. It all means the same thing. Arizona's offense is finally on track after months of learning the intricacies and nuances. When paired with one of the best defenses in the league, this is the result. It's not the final product, coach Bruce Arians insists, and he doesn't think teams fear the Cardinals just yet, but this offense has too many pieces to stop. Its rotation is deep at running back, wide receiver and tight end, always bringing in fresh legs. There's plenty of season left, but if the offense keeps gaining steam, this is a team to watch out for come January.
A weekly examination of the Raiders' ESPN.com Power Ranking:

Preseason: 29 | Last Week: 26 | ESPN.com Power Ranking since 2002

While the Oakland Raiders seem to be sinking in real life, they are merely treading water in our Power Rankings.

Despite losing to the Tennessee Titans in especially frustrating fashion -- allowing the Titans to go 80 yards in six minutes and score a game-winning touchdown with 10 seconds to play -- the Raiders did not move in our Power Rankings.

True, they remain one game out of the AFC playoff race at 4-7. But had Oakland held on at home, the Raiders would have been the No. 6 seed in the playoff race with five games left, including Thursday’s national TV game at the Dallas Cowboys. Instead, falling to Tennessee continued a disturbing trend of the Raiders dropping winnable games, along with the season opener at the Indianapolis Colts, the Matt Flynn game against Washington and the Terrelle Pryor "knee-gate" stumble at the New York Giants.

The Raiders are getting healthier with the return of left tackle Jared Veldheer, whose rustiness will be offset by his freshness for a banged-up offensive line on a short week, and possibly running back Darren McFadden, though the emergence of Rashad Jennings may make the heretofore Run DMC more of a change-of-pace back.

Power Rankings: No. 5 Carolina Panthers

November, 26, 2013
11/26/13
2:00
PM ET
A weekly examination of the Panthers’ ESPN.com Power Ranking:

Preseason: 23rd | Last Week: 5th | ESPN.com Power Ranking since 2002

Despite a recent 24-20 victory over New England on national television and league-best seven-game winning streak, the Carolina Panthers trail the Patriots in ESPN.com's Power Rankings and with Las Vegas oddsmakers.

The Panthers stayed at No. 5 in the Power Rankings after Sunday's 20-16 come-from-behind victory over Miami. New England jumped two spots to No. 4 with its overtime victory over Denver.

The Denver win also played heavy in Vegas as New England ranks third among favorites to win Super Bowl XLVIII. Carolina ranks fifth.

Still, those who put money down on Carolina to win the championship after Week 2 are looking pretty good.

The Panthers, whose odds of winning the title were 100-1 when they were 0-2, are at 10-1 after extending their winning streak at Miami.

According to Bovada, an online betting website based in Las Vegas, the Seattle Seahawks (10-1) are the Super Bowl favorite at 3-1. Next is Denver (9-2) at 7-2 odds, New England (8-3) at 13-2 odds, New Orleans (9-2) at 13-2 odds and then Carolina (8-3).

Still, not bad considering that two weeks into the season, 24 teams had better odds of winning the big game than the Panthers.

Carolina has a chance to improve those odds with two of its final five games against the Saints, including a big NFC showdown in two weeks in New Orleans.

Power Rankings: No. 1 Seattle Seahawks

November, 26, 2013
11/26/13
2:00
PM ET
A weekly examination of the Seahawks' ESPN.com Power Ranking:

Preseason: 1 | Last Week: 2 | ESPN.com Power Ranking since 2002

Back on top for the Seahawks, and they didn’t even have to play a game to get there.

Seattle, 10-1 and the only one-loss team left in the NFL, is No. 1 this week in the ESPN.com Power Rankings, mainly because the team ahead of them last week lost. Denver (9-2) lost in overtime Sunday night at New England and fell to No. 3 overall.

That moved the 9-2 New Orleans Saints to No. 2, which makes the Monday night game between the Saints and Seahawks at CenturyLink Field an even bigger matchup.

Regardless of where each team ranks, it’s the biggest regular-season game of this year for both teams up to now, because it could decide home-field advantage in the NFC playoffs.

It’s the first time these teams have faced each other since the 2010 playoff game in Seattle that the Seahawks won 41-36.
A weekly examination of the Ravens' ESPN.com Power Ranking:

Preseason: 8 | Last Week: 20 | ESPN.com Power Ranking since 2002

In what has become an up-and-down season for the Baltimore Ravens, at least they're becoming consistent with the ups and downs. The Ravens moved up two spots after dominating the New York Jets on Sunday. This comes a week after the Ravens fell two spots after a loss in Chicago. This marks the fourth straight week that the Ravens have been ranked in the bottom half of the Power Rankings. The Ravens hadn't been ranked in the bottom half for one week from 2009 to 2012.

It's a fair spot for the Ravens (5-6). Only two teams with losing records -- the San Diego Chargers at No. 15 and Pittsburgh Steelers at No. 16 -- are ahead of Baltimore. Four of the Ravens' five losses have come against teams currently ranked No. 21 or worse.

As far as the AFC North goes, the Cincinnati Bengals remained No. 8 during their bye, the Cleveland Browns dropped two spots to No. 25, and the Steelers climbed three spots to No. 16.

NFL Power Rankings: No. 11 Eagles

November, 26, 2013
11/26/13
2:00
PM ET
A weekly examination of the Eagles’ ESPN.com Power Ranking:

Preseason: 25| Last Week: 12 | ESPN.com Power Ranking since 2002

The Eagles had a pretty productive bye week. They had the chance to rest, get healthy and step up one spot in ESPN.com’s weekly NFL Power Rankings. Like last week, the most compelling aspect is the company the Eagles are in. Four of their five remaining games are against teams ranked within three spots of them, starting with this week’s game against the No. 9 Arizona Cardinals. The Eagles also play the No. 13 Detroit Lions and No. 14 Chicago Bears. They finish their season against the 12th-ranked Dallas Cowboys.

The Eagles received one top-10 vote. Panelist Mike Sando had them 10th, while the other five voters had them at 11 or 12.

A weekly examination of the Packers’ ESPN.com Power Ranking.

Preseason: 5 | Last week: 15 | ESPN.com Power Ranking since 2002

Packers left guard Josh Sitton said after Sunday’s 26-26 tie against the Minnesota Vikings that it felt like a loss. Our panel of voters agreed. The Packers continued their free fall in the rankings, dropping two more spots and into the bottom half of the league for the first time since they were ranked 24th in the final poll of the 2008 season.

With an 0-3-1 record since quarterback Aaron Rodgers broke his collarbone in the first quarter of the Nov. 4 loss to the Chicago Bears, the Packers have fallen from eighth in the rankings to 11th then 13th then 15th and now 17th. One of the six ESPN voters placed them way down in 24th.

In a sign of how weak the NFC North appears right now, no division team ranked in the top 12. The Lions were 13th and the Bears 14th.

As always, you can rank all 32 teams yourself.
A weekly examination of the Vikings' ESPN.com Power Ranking:

Preseason: 17 | Last Week: 31 | ESPN.com Power Ranking since 2002

The Vikings moved up three spots this week in ESPN.com's NFL Power Rankings, after they left Lambeau Field on Sunday with something other than a loss for the first time since 2009. The Vikings blew a 23-7 lead in the fourth quarter and fell behind the Green Bay Packers in overtime, but came back to force a tie on Blair Walsh's field goal. Their last tie had come in the same stadium, almost 35 years ago to the day; the Vikings tied the Packers 10-10 on Nov. 26, 1978.

With five games left, three of them at home, the Vikings are hoping to scrape together a couple of wins. They won't face Jay Cutler this Sunday against the Chicago Bears, but backup Josh McCown has been playing well, and the other four teams the Vikings will face the rest of the way (Baltimore, Philadelphia, Cincinnati and Detroit) are all fighting for a playoff spot. That might be good news for Vikings fans rooting for a higher draft pick; Minnesota currently would pick fourth in the draft next spring, but two of the teams in front of the Vikings (Jacksonville and Houston) still play each other.

Don't expect a higher draft pick to be the goal of any Leslie Frazier-coached team, though. The Vikings coach still seems to have his players working hard, and has talked extensively about his only goal being to win as many games as possible. And with his future in jeopardy, Frazier's best play is probably to keep the team together and try to finish on a positive note. It's certainly not to secure a higher draft pick for his potential successor. The Vikings also have won just once in front of their home fans at the Metrodome this season, so you can expect they'll try to close the building down on a positive note, particularly in their two remaining division games.

Power Rankings: No. 4 New England

November, 26, 2013
11/26/13
2:00
PM ET
A weekly examination of the Patriots' ESPN.com Power Ranking:

Preseason: 6 | Last Week: 6 | ESPN.com Power Ranking since 2002

The Patriots improve two spots after their thrilling 34-31 overtime win over the Broncos, but it isn't enough to leapfrog Denver (No. 3) in this week's Power Rankings.

That could be debated, but considering the game could have gone either way, can anyone really argue? If the voters could have said 3A and 3B, they probably would have.

A couple of other thoughts:

1. Mental test as much as physical this week: Sunday's opponent, the 2-9 Texans, has fallen on hard times. Houston is last in the Power Rankings after losing to the Jaguars at home. So the Patriots, after two big-time games against the Panthers and Broncos, take a step down. Does their performance step down with it? It's a natural letdown situation. This game sort of reminds me of last year's late December trip to Jacksonville.

2. A feel for the remainder of the schedule: Lining up the Power Rankings of the Patriots' remaining opponents -- Texans (32), Browns (25), Dolphins (21), Ravens (18) and Bills (24) -- shows that all are currently in the back half of the league. Anything can happen in any game, but the Patriots should be favored the rest of the way.

3. Monday night -- Seahawks vs. Saints: I know this is an all-things Patriots blog, but if you're a football fan like me, consider this a reminder to clear the schedule for Monday night. It's the Saints (No. 2) at Seahawks (No. 1) on ESPN's "Monday Night Football." Seattle, to me, has the best home-field advantage in the NFL and a Seahawks-Saints game looks like it could be one of the games of the year.

SPONSORED HEADLINES

Insider

NFL SCOREBOARD