2012 NFL Power Rankings Week 13: Patriots jump back into top-3

Mike Ehrmann

There has been some major shuffling in the top five after a weekend of highly competitive games in the NFL.

1. Houston Texans (11-1) - Taking care of business in Tennessee last weekend was nice and all but the real test will come this Monday in New England. The Texans won't be considered the favorites in the AFC until they can overcome those pesky Patriots. Previous Ranking: 1

2. Atlanta Falcons (11-1) - Man, if Saints vs. Falcons turns out that ugly than perhaps it's time to scrap the Thursday night games after all. At least Atlanta was able to pull it out to inch one victory closer to the one seed in the NFC. Previous Ranking: 3

3. New England Patriots (9-3) - Anyone else think the Patriots fudged up by wasting their "designated for return" spot on TE Visanthe Shiancoe? Julian Edelman (broken foot) would have been a much more useful piece down the stretch with his 15.5 punt return average and underrated offensive ability. Previous Ranking: 4

4. San Francisco 49ers (8-3-1) - I think Colin Kaepernick and the Niners would take the Saints or Bears any day of the week as long as they never have to play those damn Rams again. Previous Ranking: 2

5. Denver Broncos (9-3) - The only thing standing in between the Broncos and 11 straight wins entering the playoffs is a Dec. 16 visit to Baltimore. Previous Ranking: 6

6. Baltimore Ravens (9-3) - I doubt even the great Ray Lewis can save a team that just lost a rivalry game at home to the dubiously decrepit Charlie Batch. Previous Ranking: 5

7. Green Bay Packer (8-4) - Although the numbers don't exactly show it (27-of-25, 286 yards, one touchdown, one interception), Aaron Rodgers had one of the best quarterback performances of the season Sunday with his pass catchers continuing to drop like flies. And there's no telling how far this team could go if he continues to will his team to victories like that. Previous Ranking: 10

8. Chicago Bears (8-4) - The Bears simply ran into a team that refused to lose Sunday so it's difficult to read too much into the loss even though it did makes things considerably tighter in the NFC North. Come playoff time, this team will be as frightening as they come. Previous Ranking: 7

9. Indianapolis Colts (8-4) - If everything plays out like it should, fans could be treated to a must-see first round matchup between the Colts and the Broncos in early January. Talk about too good to be true. Previous Ranking: 9

10. New York Giants (7-5) - This is the time of the year when the Giants begin their annual get their act together routine. This go around, they'll be trying to fend off the RGIII and the Skins as they face a murderer's row of games that includes visits to Atlanta and Baltimore. Previous Ranking: 8

11. Pittsburgh Steelers (7-5) - Even though old man Batch showed some serious zip on his fastball against the Ravens, Steelers' fans will gladly welcome Big Ben back into the lineup as Pittsburgh continues to cling on to the six seed. Previous Ranking: 12

12. Seattle Seahawks (7-5) - The Seahawks have to be praying they'll be able to hold onto Brandon Browner and Richard Sherman with how close the NFC wild card race is. Russell Wilson may have played out of his mind last weekend but Seattle's secondary is still what makes teams afraid of these birds. Previous Ranking: 14

13. Cincinnati Bengals (7-5) - The rest of the world needs to stop and take a second to appreciate just how amazing DT Geno Atkins is. While Ndamukong Suh is busy stealing headlines for kicking people in the junk, Atkins is quietly becoming the best interior defensive lineman in the league. Previous Ranking: 13

14. Washington Redskins (6-6) - Unless you're a fan of another NFC East squad, the Washington Redskins are probably your favorite team to watch besides your own. It's nearly impossible to not root for them to make the playoffs at this point with how electrifying their offense can be. Previous Ranking: 16

15. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (6-6) - I'm not sure why it took so long but the rest of the NFL has finally figured out how to stop the Bucs: contain Doug Martin. In the Tampa Bay's six losses, the Muscle Hamster has been held to a meager 3.4 yards per carry. And after the Falcons and Broncos secured wins with that technique the past two weeks, you can be sure that opponents will continue to stack the box. Previous Ranking: 11

16. Minnesota Vikings (6-6) - Are we sure that doctors didn't make Adrian Peterson a ruthless rushing android when they operated on his knee last year? The monster of a man is averaging 120.5 yards a game this season and is currently estimated to come up only 72 yards shy of 2,000 at the pace he's going at in 2012. Simply remarkable. Previous Ranking: 15

17. Dallas Cowboys (6-6) - With the way the NFC East usually plays out, I wouldn't be surprised at all if Dallas' Week 17 visit to Washington was a division determining game. Previous Ranking: 19

18. Miami Dolphins (5-7) - The fighting Ryan Tannehill's as Ryan Bafaloukos calls them battled hard against the Patriots this past Sunday but ultimately couldn't muster enough offense. Still, Fins fans have to encouraged with what they've seen in 2012. This team is one go-to wide receiver away from being a legitimate wild card contender. Previous Ranking: 17

19. New Orleans Saints (5-7) - Isn't it crazy that if the Saints just went .500 out of the gates instead of 0-4, they'd probably be a lock of an NFC Wild Card spot? I know it won't happen but at this point it might just be worth throwing the rest of the season to get someone like Jarvis Jones or Manti Te'o in the draft who can shore up their sieve of a defense. Previous Ranking: 18

20. St. Louis Rams (5-6-1) - So if the Rams got to play the 49ers 16 times a year, what would their record be? Worse case scenario, they'd probably be looking at 10 wins...and six ties. Previous Ranking: 21

21. Buffalo Bills (5-7) - The Buffalo Bills aren't as bad as popular belief. The worst game they've played in the last two months was against the Texans and losing to the best team in the NFL by 12 points is nothing to be ashamed about. Previous Ranking: 23

22. New York Jets (5-7) - Although I've always been a fan of Greg McElroy's work, I hate the fact that he helped the Jets win the worst game ever to be played. Now, we're going to have to hear for weeks of how the Jets can still back into the playoffs at 9-7 or 8-8. Previous Ranking: 24

23. Detroit Lions (4-8) - There's probably no way to confirm this statement but I believe that the Lions will be the best 11 loss team in NFL history once the Packers, Falcons and Bears hand them three more defeats. Previous Ranking: 20

24. San Diego Chargers (4-8) - San Diego is the perfect landing spot for Andy Reid. I'm sure he'd prefer a half empty Qualcomm to a stadium full of irrational hot heads who are more than willing to throw snowballs at an unsuspecting Santa. Previous Ranking: 22

25. Cleveland Browns (4-8) - In 2012, Cleveland is 4-3 when CB Joe Haden starts and 1-0 in weeks in which he proclaims the Brownies field a top-five defense. True story. Previous Ranking: 26

26. Arizona Cardinals (4-8) - How can I put this mildly...Ryan Lindley played as bad against the Jets as a NFL quarterback has ever played in the history of modern society. Yeah, that sounds about right. Previous Ranking: 25

27. Tennessee Titans (4-8) - Thank goodness the Titans finally found an offensive coordinator that realizes what type of assets Kenny Britt and Jared Cook actually are. Unfortunately, the results were much the same Sunday as Tennessee failed to break the three touchdown barrier for the fourth time in their last five games. Previous Ranking: 27

28. Philadelphia Eagles (3-9) - Looks like it will be the Nick Foles show from here on after he turned in his best performance as a pro Sunday night (22-of-34, 251 yards, one touchdown). And once he gets comfortable, this offense could be quite dangerous as it now features the best two-headed backfield in all of the National Football League. Previous Ranking: 28

29. Carolina Panthers (3-9) - Good to see that Cam Newton is finally Cam Newton again but this team still needs a lot of work. A Brady Quinn lead Chiefs team has no business hanging 27 points on anybody even if they're playing inspired football. Previous Ranking: 29

30. Oakland Raiders (3-9) - I'm calling it now: Carson Palmer will be benched for Terrell Pryor within the next two weeks. Previous Ranking: 30

31. Kansas City Chiefs (2-10) - It was refreshing to see this team show up motivated for the second consecutive week but they could be losing out on the chance to choose their next franchise quarterback because of that. Previous Ranking: 32

32. Jacksonville Jaguars (2-10) - Even with Sunday's ugly start, Chad Henne has now thrown one less touchdown in four games than Blaine Gabbert threw in 10 appearances this season. The Jags would be wise to save their top pick and instead spend a mid-round selection on a quarterback to give Henne a real chance in 2013. I still believe the man can be a respectable NFL signal caller. Previous Ranking: 31

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