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NFL Power Rankings: Wild Card chasers rise as New England fall out of top 3 after Week 13

As the 2015 season goes into its final quarter and teams start to fall out of the playoff race, our NFL power rankings get a big s



As the 2015 season goes into its final quarter and teams start to fall out of the playoff race, our NFL power rankings get a big shakeup in Week 13. It’s the teams contending the Wild Card spots that seem to have had the biggest boosts this week – the Bucs, who move to the effective ‘seventh seed’ in the NFC, are the big risers with a move of seven places, but the Seahawks, Steelers, Chiefs and Bills all also moved up. On the other hand, the biggest losers this week were the Rams, who, after being potentially in the Wild Card race just three weeks ago, have now plummeted down the provisional seeding, and equally down our power rankings. Other big drops came from the Jags, who were upset by the previously 31st-ranked Titans, the Chargers, who are all but done, and the Vikings, who received a beat down from the Seahawks, though they hold on to the NFC’s #5 seed spot – for the moment, at least.

One other move of note in our NFL power rankings this week. When we launched our NFL power rankings in Week 2 of the season, the Patriots were at #2, but they quickly moved up to #1 and had stayed there until last week, when they dropped back down to #2. They’ve now fallen to a tie for fourth-place, following their second straight loss and their drop to the #3 seed in the AFC. Could it be that the team that, no matter what happens now, will have spent more time at #1 in our NFL power rankings than any other in 2015 could end the season not even in the top three? Check out the full NFL power rankings below!

Panel: Gur Samuel, David Venables, Edd Hodsdon, Remy Cabache, Toby Durant, Brandon Hamme, Alex Perry, Nathan Hards

1. Carolina Panthers (12-0)

Last week: #1 GS = 1, DV = 1, EH = 1, RC = 1, TD = 1, BH = 1, AP = 1, NH = 1

The Panthers saw off a strong challenge from the Saints to become the first team to clinch a playoff spot this season. At 12-0, the Panthers claimed their third consecutive NFC South title, and look like true Super Bowl contenders thanks to a strong offense led by MVP candidate Cam Newton and one of the league’s most disruptive defenses. (EH)

2. Arizona Cardinals (10-2)

Last week: #4 GS = 2, DV = 3, EH = 2, RC = 2, TD = 4, BH = 5, AP = 4, NH = 2

The Cardinals should tie up the NFC West sooner rather than later, despite the resurgence of the Seahawks. More importantly, they could go a long way to deciding who will be joining them in the postseason, particularly in the NFC North. The have both the Packers and Vikings left to play. (DV)

3. Cincinnati Bengals (10-2)

Last week: #3 GS = 4, DV = 5, EH = 5, RC = 3, TD = 2, BH = 3, AP = 2, NH = 4

The Bengals are also coming off a dominant win against the Browns and also moved to 10-2. The Bengals are now in a three way battle for the number 1 seed in the AFC with the Pats and the Broncos – and they still have to play the Broncos. This should be fun. (RC)

=4. Denver Broncos (10-2)

Last week: #5 GS = 3, DV = 4, EH = 4, RC = 4, TD = 5, BH = 2, AP = 5, NH = 3

Denver are riding Brock Osweiler and the league’s best defense to another AFC West title. Osweiler is a perfect fit for Gary Kubiak’s offense and could keep Peyton Manning off the field for good. The defense is the best in the AFC for sure, and should serve the Broncos well for postseason football. (EH)

=4. New England Patriots (10-2)

Last week: #2 GS = 5, DV = 2, EH = 3, RC = 5, TD = 3, BH = 4, AP = 3, NH = 5

Two straight losses for the Patriots, while also losing their number 1 seeding in the AFC. Yet, they are still the favourites for the Super Bowl, and for good reason: Julian Edelman and Rob Gronkowski (both missing in their past two games) will be back by then. Nothing to see here. (DV)

6. Seattle Seahawks (7-5)

Last week: #9 GS = 8, DV = 6, EH = 6, RC = 6, TD = 6, BH = 6, AP = 9, NH = 6

The Seahawks offense is coming alive at just the right time. Again. They punished the Vikings this weekend with Thomas Rawls on the ground and Doug Baldwin through the air. Then there was Russell Wilson, who seems to be taking his usual place in defensive coordinators nightmares. His ability to escape pass rushers, punish lax contain and pick apart coverages was on display once again on Sunday. The division is probably beyond them now but they will be a difficult task for any team in the playoffs. (TD)

=7. Green Bay Packers (8-4)

Last week: #7 GS = 9, DV = 9, EH = 9, RC = 8, TD = 9, BH = 7, AP = 6, NH = 7

The Hail Mary may be named the Hail Rodgers after Thursday, with Aaron and Richard rescuing not only the game for the Packers, but possibly their season too. The race is tight in the NFC North. Fortunately, the Packers and Vikings will square off in the final week. Tasty! (DV)

=7. Kansas City Chiefs (7-5)

Last week: #8 GS = 6, DV = 8, EH = 8, RC = 9, TD = 7, BH = 8, AP = 8, NH = 10

The Chiefs have won 6 straight games and are taking over the 5th AFC playoff spot – especially considering they beat the Texans and Bills earlier this year. They have an identity and the players to execute it. Run the ball, make big plays through the air, don’t turn the ball over and play good defense, they’re rolling. (RC)

9. Pittsburgh Steelers (7-5)

Last week: #10 GS = 7, DV = 7, EH = 7, RC = 7, TD = 8, BH = 11, AP = 10, NH = 11

The Steelers look like a dark horse in the AFC playoff race after laying 45 points on the Colts while allowing just 10. Ben Roethlisberger is healthy and leads the most potent offense in the league, while the defense has enough young talent to keep opponents down. (EH)

10. Minnesota Vikings (8-4)

Last week: #6 GS = 10, DV = 11, EH = 10, RC = 10, TD = 11, BH = 9, AP = 7, NH = 8

The Vikings confirmed what I thought of them in this game. They’re a good team who took advantage of a friendly early schedule, but they aren’t good enough to beat the great teams. They have to travel to Arizona next this week and with their loss to the Seahawks, they could drop to the 6th seed in the NFC. (RC)

11. New York Jets (7-5)

Last week: #11 GS = 11, DV = 10, EH = 11, RC = 11, TD = 10, BH = 12, AP = 12, NH = 12

Gang Green are pointing in the right direction once again after seemingly coming apart in the middle stretch of the season. A victory over the Giants will not only be a huge morale booster, but propels them back in the right direction for the AFC wildcard race. (DV)

12. Buffalo Bills (6-6)

Last week: #13 GS = 12, DV = 12, EH = 12, RC = 12, TD = 12, BH = 10, AP = 13, NH = 17

Sammy Watkins seems to have taken being shut down by New England in Week 11 personally. In the two games since then, he’s put up 267 yards and 3 touchdowns in an effort to push the Bills into wildcard contention. The real surprise, however, is that the Bills offensive line kept JJ Watt away from their quarterback this week. Last Buffalo met the Texans, Watt had 9 QB hits, leaving him on a goose egg is a testament to how far this line – and the offense as a whole – has come. (TD)

13. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (6-6)

Last week: #20 GS = 15, DV = 13, EH = 14, RC = 15, TD = 13, BH = 16, AP = 14, NH = 14

Don’t look now, but the Buccaneers are knocking on the door of the playoffs. Overhauling the Falcons in the NFC South, they are a long shot for the playoffs despite being the current number 7 seeds, thanks to the superiority of Seattle and Minnesota/Green Bay. But you shouldn’t forget where they were just one year ago. Jameis Winston is almost certainly going to be Offensive Rookie of the Year. (DV)  

14. Houston Texans (6-6)

Last week: #14 GS = 13, DV = 14, EH = 13, RC = 14, TD = 17, BH = 18, AP = 11, NH = 15

Houston fell to 6-6 with a loss against the Bills to put their playoff hopes in doubt. Though they are still tied for 1st in the AFC South, the Colts have a tie break and the Texans still have to play in Indy. (RC)

15. Indianapolis Colts (6-6)

Last week: #12 GS = 14, DV = 18, EH = 16, RC = 13, TD = 16, BH = 14, AP = 15, NH = 16

Matt Hasselbeck is continuing to show signs of wear and tear, and Andrew Luck is not expected to be back for another game at least. Still tied with the Texans for first in the AFC South, the Colts need to start to make a break for the division. Indianapolis struggle to control the line of scrimmage on either side of the ball and have a stagnant rushing attack. (EH)

16. Atlanta Falcons (6-6)

Last week: =#15 GS = 17, DV = 17, EH = 22, RC = 18, TD = 14, BH = 17, AP = 16, NH = 9

I don’t know what has happened to the Falcons. They started 5-0, they’re 6-6. The Buccaneers have now leapfrogged them for 2nd place in the NFC South and put them even further back in the playoff race. (RC)

17. New York Giants (5-7)

Last week: #19 GS = 16, DV = 19, EH = 21, RC = 20, TD = 20, BH = 13, AP = 19, NH = 20

Since leading the NFC East (fleetingly), the Giants have lost two games, and have seen their playoff hopes dampened. Their loss to the Jets will sting even more, because of the way they yet again let a fourth quarter lead slip, courtesy of a poor fourth down decision. (DV)

18. Oakland Raiders (5-7)

Last week: =#15 GS = 22, DV = 21, EH = 15, RC = 17, TD = 15, BH = 15, AP = 23, NH = 21

The Raiders are still hanging on in the AFC playoff race, but the offense is no longer able to carry them to wins. The defense is one of the league’s weakest, putting extra pressure on Derek Carr & Co. It will be a tall order for Oakland to make the playoffs. (EH)

=19. Chicago Bears (5-7)

Last week: #18 GS = 24, DV = 20, EH = 20, RC = 16, TD = 21, BH = 22, AP = 17, NH = 13

The Bears regressed to their 2014 selves on Sunday, with Jay Cutler cramping mentally more the once. Robbie Gould, one of the most automatic kickers in the NFL, was stuck in neutral, missing field goals within 40 yards with aplomb, including one with the game on the line. The Bears will look to forget and move on quickly. (DV)

=19. Washington Redskins (5-7)

Last week: #17 GS = 21, DV = 16, EH = 18, RC = 19, TD = 19, BH = 24, AP = 18, NH = 18

Nobody wants to win this division. The Redskins should’ve been able to take a one-game lead over the Eagles and Giants against a poor Cowboys side but they couldn’t. This division is so bad, it’s amazing they have had so many prime time games. (RC)

21. Philadelphia Eagles (5-7)

Last week: #23 GS = 19, DV = 15, EH = 17, RC = 21, TD = 24, BH = 19, AP = 21, NH = 19

If there is a God, he was wearing an Eagles jersey on Sunday. Nobody expected them to topple the Patriots, but they did just that, which not only will give them a huge confidence boost, but has also hauled them back into contention in everyone’s favourite division: the NFC East. (DV)

22. Detroit Lions (4-8)

Last week: #21 GS = 20, DV = 26, EH = 19, RC = 20, TD = 25, BH = 20, AP = 24, NH = 26

Quite how the Lions managed to lose a 17-0 halftime lead and fall to Green Bay is still amazing, but face masks and Hail Marys aside, the Lions have improved a lot over these last few weeks and most of it is thanks to their defense getting pressure on the quarterback at a fantastic rate. This week they managed 11 hits on Aaron Rodgers and 3 sacks as they flattened an already stressed Packers O-Line. (TD)

23. New Orleans Saints (4-8)

Last week: =#25 GS = 18, DV = 25, EH = 23, RC = 27, TD = 18, BH = 28, AP = 22, NH = 27

The Saints, though they lost, managed to make bring the Panthers defense down after some dominant performances. But the defense once again gave up 40+ points – for the 3rd time in 5 weeks. (RC)

24. Miami Dolphins (5-7)

Last week: =#25 GS = 26, DV = 22, EH = 28, RC = 26, TD = 26, BH = 23, AP = 20, NH = 22

I would be surprised if anybody has worked out how the Dolphins won on Sunday, but they did and that’s what matters. Now with Bill Lazor gone along with Joe Philbin, Ryan Tannehill has no more excuses left for a performance like Sunday’s against the Ravens. (DV)

25. Dallas Cowboys (4-8)

Last week: =#27 GS = 25, DV = 27, EH = 29, RC = 25, TD = 23, BH = 21, AP = 25, NH = 25

The Cowboys managed to come out of Monday Night’s game with a win in Washington and are now one game out of a share of 1st place in the NFC East. But what confused me about this game is that Dez Bryant was targeted so little. In the 4th quarter, he had 3 receptions for 62 yards on his last 5 targets. They have to involve him. Dallas is also very lucky to have Dan Bailey. (RC)

26. San Francisco 49ers (4-8)

Last week: #29 GS = 23, DV = 23, EH = 27, RC = 28, TD = 28, BH = 25, AP = 26, NH = 23

The 49ers are 4-8, sat at the bottom of their division alongside the Rams. Normally this would count them out at this stage, but they are still in the running, technically. One more loss will knock them out, though, and they still have to face the Bengals. (NH)

27. St. Louis Rams (4-8)

Last week: #22 GS = 27, DV = 30, EH = 24, RC = 23, TD = 22, BH = 31, AP = 29, NH = 24

The Rams are struggling so badly that they may not even reach their customary 7-9 finish. One has to wonder how much longer the clearly inept Jeff Fischer will continue to be the head coach. Nick Foles has been benched for Case Keenum again, and offensive coordinator Frank Cignetti’s failure to utilise game-breaking weapons like Todd Gurley and Tavon Austin properly resulted in his being fired yesterday. The defense is not the dominant unit it was billed to be as another season of mediocrity beckons for the Rams. (EH)

28. Jacksonville Jaguars (4-8)

Last week: #24 GS = 28, DV = 24, EH = 25, RC = 24, TD = 30, BH = 26, AP = 28, NH = 28

The Jaguars lost in a straight up shootout against the Titans. The defense couldn’t stop a nose bleed but Blake Bortles and Allen Robinson looked great and are developing a dangerous partnership. When Hurns is healthy again, these 3 could continue to grow and become quite formidable. (RC)

29. Tennessee Titans (3-9)

Last week: #31 GS = 29, DV = 29, EH = 26, RC = 30, TD = 29, BH = 27, AP = 30, NH = 30

Marcus Mariota outdueled Blake Bortles on Sunday, no mean feat for the rookie. An 87-yard touchdown scramble harked back to his college days, while he looked more comfortable than ever in Mike Mularkey’s new offense. Mularkey might be sticking around for 2016. (DV)

30. Baltimore Ravens (4-8)

Last week: #30

GS = 30, DV = 28, EH = 31, RC = 31, TD = 31, BH = 30, AP = 27, NH = 29 Matt Schaub throws pick-sixes. It is an unwritten law of football, and it is biting the Ravens in the butt. They face the Chiefs, Steelers, Seahawks and the Bengals in their last 4 games. They’re going to finish 4-12. (RC)

31. San Diego Chargers (3-9)

Last week: =#27 GS = 31, DV = 31, EH = 30, RC = 29, TD = 27, BH = 29, AP = 31, NH = 31

The Chargers have failed Philip Rivers this season. With virtually no healthy weapons to throw to, Rivers has done well to orchestrate one of the league’s best passing offenses. Melvin Gordon looks like a bust, while the defense has been severely limited with injuries. A top five draft pick should allow the Chargers to draft the big defensive star that they sorely need. (EH)

32. Cleveland Browns (2-10)

Last week: #32 GS = 32, DV = 32, EH = 32, RC = 32, TD = 32, BH = 32, AP = 32, NH = 32

Johnny Football will return next Sunday, so that’s something to look forward to, at least. Kinda. I’m sorry Browns fans, that’s all I have. (DV)


Gur Samuel

Hi! I'm Gur and I'm RealSport's Editor-in-Chief. I'm also currently the site's tennis editor, and contribute to our NFL, wrestling and Formula 1 coverage as well. I'm also an NFL analyst for CNN International and contributor to SB Nation, and have contributed to, or been interviewed by, various print, broadcast and online media, including the BBC, Mail Online, ABC, NBC, CBS, the Boston Globe, and Yahoo! Sports.

NFL Power Rankings: Wild Card chasers rise as New England fall out of top 3 after Week 13

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