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2012 NFL Power Rankings: Houston Remains At The Top

Houston played five quarters against Jacksonville, then traveled to Detroit to play the Lions on Thanksgiving and won that game in overtime as well. That's good enough to keep them atop our rankings for another week.

Gregory Shamus

1. Houston Texans (10-1) - The Texans escaped Detroit with a narrow 34-31 victory on Thanksgiving. For Houston to come off an OT victory last week and play on a short week, and win on the road is very impressive. Houston sits as the No. 1 seed in the AFC, they are 5-0 on the road and have outscored their opponents by 116 points. Previous Ranking: 1

2. San Francisco (8-2-1) - Two weeks and two victories for Collin Kaepernick, as the 49ers defeated the Saints in New Orleans 31-21. When your defense scores two touchdowns, and you can run the football like San Francisco can, you are going to be pretty successful in the NFL. The 49ers rank second in the NFL in point differential (+116) and is the clear favorite in the NFC as of now. Previous Ranking: 2

3. Atlanta Falcons (10-1) - The Falcons beat Tampa Bay by one on the road to improve to 10-1. Again, it was not pretty for the Falcons (unless your name is Julio Jones, 6 catches 147 yards), but Atlanta got the job done. The Falcons hold the second best passing offense in the league, and face New Orleans on Thursday night. Previous Ranking: 3

4. New England Patriots (8-3) - The Patriots feasted on the Jets on Thanksgiving to the tune of 475 total yards and a 30-point victory. New England has won their past two games by a combined 65 points. Previous Ranking: 5

5. Baltimore Ravens (9-2) - The Ray Rice catch on 4th and 29 that yielded 29 and 1/2 yards was the best play of the NFL season so far (unless you are a fan of the Chargers). Baltimore may get the services of Ray Lewis back, who suffered a torn triceps injury but looks to return at the end of the season. Previous Ranking: 4

6. Denver Broncos (8-3) - A little closer than most thought, but Denver got the job done with a 17-9 victory over the Chiefs in Arrowhead on Sunday. As Cody Ulm pointed out last week, Denver has the longest winning streak in the NFL right now at six games and are currently the fourth seed in the AFC playoffs. Previous Ranking: 6

7. Chicago Bears (8-3) - The Bears halted a two game losing streak with a 28-10 victory over Minnesota. However, Matt Forte, Devin Hester and Charles Tillman were all injured in that game and their statuses are crucial to the success of the team the rest of the season. Previous Ranking: 8

8. New York Giants (7-4) - A few weeks ago it looked like a sure thing that the Giants would win the NFC East. However with Washington playing week, New York got a huge victory over Green Bay to keep some breathing room in the division. Eli Manning threw for three touchdowns in New York's 38-10 domination of Green Bay. Previous Ranking: 10

9. Indianapolis Colts (7-4) - The feel good story of the NFL continues to win, as the Colts put away Buffalo 20-13 on Sunday. The Colts have won five of six and now they have cheerleaders shaving their heads in honor of Chuck Pagano. There is nothing bad I can say about them. Previous Ranking: 13

10. Green Bay Packers (7-4) - The Packers had a chance to take the lead in the NFC North, but got spanked by the Giants 38-10. The loss snapped a five game winning streak that the Packers put together. The division is still theirs, as they play four of their final five games against the NFL's black and blue division. Previous Ranking: 7

11. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (6-5) - Tampa Bay snapped a four game winning streak with a one point loss to Atlanta. The Bucs lead the league in rushing defense, but are last in passing defense. The muscle hamster (Doug Martin) went over 1,000 yards on the season and leads all rookies in rushing. Previous Ranking: 12

12. Pittsburgh Steelers (6-5) - The fact that the Steelers only lost by six when they turned the ball over six times. I don't fault Pittsburgh too much for losing a divisional game on the road with their third string quarterback. Previous Ranking: 9

13. Cincinnati Bengals (6-5) - The Bengals are finally starting to play good football, as the have won three in a row. The Bengals play three straight teams from the AFT West, they have already beaten Kansas City and Oakland and now they face the lowly San Diego Chargers next week. Previous Ranking: 16

14. Seattle Seahawks (6-5) - With Tampa Bay, Minnesota and New Orleans all losing, the Seahawks had a chance to move closer to the playoffs. They failed. Losing to the Miami Dolphins 24-21 on a last second field goal. They also lost their two starting cornerbacks to drug suspensions. Needless to say, things could be better in Seattle. Previous Ranking: 11

15. Minnesota Vikings (6-5) - The Vikings began a brutal final six games with a road trip to Chicago. The Vikings fell 28-10, committing three turnovers and holding the ball 15 minutes less than the Bears. Minnesota's final five games: Green Bay twice, on the road against St. Louis and Houston and the Bears at home. Yikes! Previous Ranking: 14

16. Washington Redskins (5-6) - After the Redskins lost to Carolina, many counted them out of the playoff race. However after two consecutive wins and losses by four teams in front of them, Washington has life. The Skins are two games back in the NFC East and one game back in the wild card race. Previous Ranking: 19

17. Miami Dolphins (5-6) - The fighting Ryan Tannehill's are 5-6 with their 24-21 victory over the Seahawks. Who would have thought that the Dolphins would be in second place in the AFC East after 11 games? Miami faces New England and San Francisco in the next two weeks, a tough stretch for a rookie quarterback. Previous Ranking: 20

18. New Orleans (5-6) - The Saints have come back from 0-4 to the brink of playoff contention. Their chances took a hit with a 31-21 loss to the 49ers, but the Saints are only a game back. The schedule (@ ATL, @ NYG, TB, @ DAL, CAR) is not favorable for Drew Brees and company. Previous Ranking: 15

19. Dallas Cowboys (5-6) - Dallas lost its first Thanksgiving game in the Romo era to the Redskins. Dallas ranks last in the league in rushing offense but Tony Romo fantasy owners were happy with Romo's performance on Thursday. Previous Ranking: 17

20. Detroit Lions (4-7) - The Lions played very well in their 34-31 OT loss to the Texans. The Lions were a made field goal away from winning and being in playoff contention. You know what Al Pacino says. "Life is a game of inches." Previous Ranking: 18

21. St. Louis Rams (4-6-1) - Coming into the game against the Cardinals, without forcing a turnover in their last five games. That all changed against Ryan Lindley, as the Rams intercepted the rookie four times and returned two of them for TD's. I'm going to say what we are all thinking: that one in the last column just looks weird. Previous Ranking: 24

22. San Diego Chargers (4-7) - This may be a stretch but I'm pretty sure the staff of this website could have stopped the Ravens on 4th and 29. The Chargers have lost three in a row and it does not get any easier with the Bengals coming to town this week. Previous Ranking: 21

23. Buffalo Bills (4-7) - The Bills were respectable in their 20-13 loss to the Colts. The Bills rank 7th in the NFL in rushing and the good news is they play Jacksonville and St. Louis at home in their next two games. Previous Ranking: 22

24. New York Jets (4-7) - Jets fans did not have much to be thankful for this Thanksgiving. The Jets lost by 30 points to a division rival, their offense continues to be a diaster, and Rex Ryan is on a very hot seat. Previous Ranking: 23

25. Arizona Cardinals (4-7) - The only thing you have to know about this team is that the Arizona Diamondbacks have won a game more recently than the Cardinals. Previous Ranking: 25

26. Cleveland Browns (3-8) - The Cleveland defense forced six turnovers in their 20-14 victory over the Steelers. The Steelers were playing Charlie Batch, but nonetheless Cleveland won their third game of the year. Previous Ranking: 29

27. Tennessee Titans (4-7) - The Titans lost to the Jaguars 24-19 on Sunday. They have been outscored by their opponents by 97 points and five of their seven losses have been by double digets. Previous Ranking: 26

28. Philadelphia Eagles (3-8) - With their eight point loss to Carolina this week, the Eagles have lost six games in a row. Nick Foles has not been the answer so far, with three interceptions and four fumbles in two starts. Previous Ranking: 27

29. Carolina Panthers (3-8) - Cam Newton won't have to call anyone out this week as the Panthers won 30-22 against the Eagles. Newton had 350 yards and four total touchdowns against Philly. Previous Ranking: 30

30. Oakland Raiders (3-8) - The Raiders have lost three straight games by 10 points or more. They rank 29th in the NFL in rushing yards and 28th against the run. Previous Ranking: 28

31. Jacksonville Jaguars (2-9) - Jacksonville picked up their second win of the season over Tennessee. Chad Henne is showing what a decent quarterback means to a team. Previous Ranking: 31

32. Kansas City Chiefs (1-10) - The Chiefs have lost eight games in a row and have been outscored by 110 points over the course of the season. Previous Ranking: 32