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2012 NFL Power Rankings Week 7: Falcons remain on top, Cardinals continue free fall

The Arizona Cardinals fell out of the top half of the NFL with their third consecutive loss this past weekend while the Atlanta Falcons got some rest and remained on top.

Hannah Foslien

1) Atlanta Falcons (6-0) - Coming off their bye week the Falcons are the only undefeated team in the NFL but it remains to be seen how long that can last. Their upcoming schedule isn't the easiest with two NFC East opponents (at Philadelphia, Dallas) before facing a potential shootout in New Orleans then the tough Arizona defense. If they can make it through that stretch alive, they'll have a real chance at running the table. Previous Ranking: 1

2) Houston Texans (6-1) - How do you bounce back after being handed your first loss in embarrassing fashion in front of a Monday night audience? Well, you could always give last year's AFC runner up a throttling of their own with a 43-13 victory in front of your home crowd. That usually does the trick. Previous Ranking: 2

3) San Francisco 49ers (5-2) - The Niners won a throwback game Thursday evening with their overwhelming defense and chain-moving run game. After observing Alex Smith's play the past two games though, one has to wonder if his sprained finger is more troublesome than he's letting on. After throwing only one pick in his first five games, he's thrown four the past two weeks. Previous Ranking: 4

4) New York Giants (5-2) - Ain't it crazy that G-men can be victorious even when so many things aren't going their way? I guess you can give up 480 yards of offense when you have Eli Manning, A.K.A Captain Clutch on you team. The man has 1,108 yards, a 64.8 completion percentage, eight touchdowns and three interceptions when trailing in games this season. Sounds pretty elite to me. Previous Ranking: 5

5) Chicago Bears (5-1) - The Bears seem to have found their winning formula on offense with Jay Cutler taking what the defense gives him and Matt Forte keeping the time of possession battle in their favor. Throw the NFL's best defense in the mix and there's no reason to think this team can't get back to the NFC Championship. Previous Ranking: 6

6) Baltimore Ravens (5-2) - The losses of CB Ladarius Webb and LB Ray Lewis were glaring Sunday with the team giving up the most points since the Peyton Manning led Colts hung 44 on them back in 2007. But more concerning than anything was Joe Flacco's play. He likes to pretend he's one of the NFL's best but his Total QBR Sunday (0.3) was the lowest rating since for a quarterback since 2008. Previous Ranking: 3

7) New England Patriots (4-3) - Having to go to overtime against a wounded Jets team in Gillette is never a good sign. A win is a win and all but with this defense giving up 376 yards a game it remains to be seen if the Patriots will be able to contend with the high-scoring offenses of the AFC. Previous Ranking: 7

8) Green Bay Packers (4-3) - Remember when the Packers lost a heartbreaker to the Colts and everyone in Green Bay was ready to throw in the towel? Well don't look now but Aaron Rodgers has thrown nine touchdowns in their past two wins. The loss of Charles Woodson hurt but he isn't what he used to be. They'll survive. Previous Ranking: 11

9) Denver Broncos (4-3) - Remember when the Broncos lost a heartbreaker to the Patriots and everyone in Denver was ready to throw in the towel? Remember when I used this exact line in the previous blurb? Sorry for being a broken record but the combined win percentage of the Broncos' remaining opponents is .333. Get ready for strong finish from Manning and friends. Previous Ranking: 9

10) Seattle Seahawks (4-3) - Can't fault a young roster like the Seahawks' too much for losing a road game on a short week against a team of San Francisco's caliber. It was encouraging to see Marshawn Lynch (103 yards) put the team on his back against dominating run defense like the Niners, especially when you look ahead at the front sevens they still have on their schedule. Previous Ranking: 8

11) Minnesota Vikings (5-2) - Since when is the Vikings defense good enough to win a game where Christian Ponder only has 58 yards and eight completions? Still have to drop Minnesota a spot though with this team looking too sloppy to be worthy of a playoff spot Sunday. Previous Ranking: 10

12) Philadelphia Eagles (3-3) - You heard it hear first: the Iggles will hand the Falcons their first loss of the season next Sunday. If you're a Philly fan, please don't throw batteries at me if I'm wrong. Previous Ranking: 13

13) New York Jets (3-4) - If I had a say in things, I'd pick Rex Ryan as the early favorite for Coach of the Year. Sure, one game under .500 isn't impressive under normal circumstances but when you factor in all the Jets' injuries, it's shocking they have a win at all. Ryan somehow put his team in position for a chance at beating the Patriots and Texans in the final minutes of the game. Foot fetish FTW. Previous Ranking: 14

14) Miami Dolphins (3-3) - The Dwayne Bowe trade rumors didn't make much sense when the Dolphins already dumped off their headcase (Brandon Marshall) in the offseason. Then again, Ryan Tannehill does deserve better. An argument could be made that he's been the second best rookie QB behind RGIII, particularly when you look at what he's working with. Previous Ranking: 15

15) Pittsburgh Steelers (3-3) - Mike Tomlin's decision to go for a two-point conversion with 24 seconds left in the second quarter is just another in a string of questionable calls the head coach has been making lately. With that in mind, I find it interesting that the national media hasn't been more critical of him over the past couple weeks. Then again, it's hard to question a natural born winner. Previous Ranking: 21

16) San Diego Chargers (3-3) - Hopefully Norv Turner decided scale back the passing game during the bye week because it's clear Phillip Rivers can't win games by himself anymore. Expect Ryan Matthews to have a big second half after averaging 116 total yards over the past two contests. Previous Ranking: 18

17) Dallas Cowboys (3-3) - The Cowboys might have had the quietest win the history of the franchise this past weekend when they downed the Panthers in Carolina 19-14. Next Sunday won't be nearly as quiet with Dallas set to play a Giants team that's thirsty for revenge. Previous Ranking: 20

18) Arizona Cardinals (4-3) - There are only eleven teams in the NFL with four or more wins but the artists formally known as the Cardiac Cardinals are undoubtedly the worst. LaRod Stephens-Howling's 104 yard outburst Sunday was a pleasant surprise but this team is heading in the wrong direction fast. Arizona will very likely have six losses by the time December rolls around. Previous Ranking: 12

19) Washington Redskins (3-4) - It's a telling sign that the Washington Redskins might have played their best possible game Sunday and still came up short. They'll be competitive all year but don't expect a realistic wild card run. Previous Ranking: 17

20) St. Louis Rams (3-4) - The Rams basically had to play a road game Sunday with so many cheeseheads making the short trip to the S-T-L. Luckily, they remain at the Edward Jones Dome this week...what's that? They have to travel to London to play the Patriots and it counts for one of their eight home games? Man, Jeff Fisher can't catch a break... Previous Ranking: 16

21) Cincinnati Bengals (3-4) - So the Steelers figured out the blueprint to beat the Bengals: take away A.J. Green and Andy Dalton pisses down his leg. Why did it take so long for someone to try this strategy again? Previous Ranking: 19

22) Tennessee Titans (3-3) - The Titans offense is considerably less flashy with Matt Hasselbeck in there but you can't deny the results. The team is 2-2 with the former clipboard holder behind the wheel beating Buffalo on the road and earning a sneaky victory against the Steelers. Chris Johnson is clearly a Hasslebeck fan too as the roller coaster running back has averaged 112.8 rushing yards per game across the past four. Previous Ranking: 25

23) Indianapolis Colts (3-3) - The Colts played the ball control game Sunday, with their offense holding the ball for more than ten minutes more than Cleveland's. That's all with their starting running back, Donald Brown, still on the shelf with a knee scope. Then again, it always helps when Andrew Luck turns into a goal line back (two rushing touchdowns). Previous Ranking: 26

24) New Orleans Saints (2-4) - Guys! Guys! The Saints are on a two-game winning streak! Perhaps I should lower my voice though with Drew Brees and company heading to Denver to take on a Broncos team who has had an extra week to prepare. Previous Ranking: 27

25) Tampa Bay Buccaneers (2-4) - If Greg Schiano does so many things wrong then why does it all feel so right? I think the Bucs are buying into his program and you could see this team take the next step by season's end if they manage to stay healthy. Previous Ranking: 24

26) Buffalo Bills (3-4) - Even with how awful this defense has been, the Bills remain one game behind New England for the division lead. Actually, to get more specific, they're one Ryan Fitzpatrick gift of a pick away from being tied with the Pats on top the AFC East. Yeah, that's real life. Previous Ranking: 23

27) Detroit Lions (2-4) - I can't believe I'm saying this but I wouldn't be surprised to see Jim Schwartz's head to roll if this keeps up. Besides the Jacksonville game, I don't see a single matchup on their remaining schedule where the Lions should be considering a sure thing. Previous Ranking: 22

28) Oakland Raiders (2-4) - Just win, baby. Even if it takes the Jags losing their starting quarterback and running back. Previous Ranking: 30

29) Carolina Panthers (1-5) - Cam, your team is struggling big time in close games with you coughing up nine turnovers; what are you going to do differently to turn your season around? Direct the blame at everyone besides yourself? Okay, sounds good. Previous Ranking: 28

30) Cleveland Browns (1-6) - Not sure why the Browns are risking their greatest asset by letting Trent Richardson play through his rib injury. Guess that preseason goal of four wins was really important to them. Previous Ranking: 29

31) Kansas City Chiefs (1-5) - It's official: Brady Quinn has been selected as the man to lead the Chiefs out of the AFC West cellar. At least the standards weren't set to high with Matt Cassel. Mr. Quinn, may the odds be ever in your favor. Previous Ranking: 31

32) Jacksonville Jaguars (1-5) - Wow, so it turns out there is someone worse than Blaine Gabbert after all. His name is Chad Henne. Previous Ranking: 32