Antonio Brown and the Steelers have won six in a row and are tied for the best record in the AFC
Thanksgiving and the NFL are a perfect match but the caliber of play we saw this week (during Thanksgiving Day itself and in the leftovers phase) was as sharp as you would have hoped it would be given some of the matchups. The playoff picture remains as muddled as ever but the flip side is that nearly everybody save the Browns and 49ers are still in the hunt to do some damage down the stretch.
Doing as much as one can to sort through all that and factoring in everything from overall roster strength, to quarterback play, to the coaching staff, here is the latest edition of NFL power rankings and where every team stacks up from 1 to 32.
Week 13 NFL Power Rankings
1. Philadelphia Eagles
Last week: 1
Steamrolling bad teams isn’t something that every NFL team can do but it seems like the Eagles are making quite the habit of it, looking even better than you’d think in potential letdown spots. The next two road trips will showcase if this team is truly capable of making it to the Super Bowl and they looked primed to sweep them both the way things are going.
2. New England Patriots
Last week: 2
It kind of felt like the Patriots took Thanksgiving week off and played at about 60 percent on Sunday but still easily romped over the Dolphins. Tom Brady remains as good as ever and that MVP talk needs to keep getting louder and louder given the kind of year he is having.
3. Minnesota Vikings
Last week: 4
Though they let the Lions back into the game over the course of the final few quarters, that was an impressive early effort to all but lock up the NFC North when you factor in tie-breakers. Case Keenum has been playing fantastic and you wonder if a longer-term extension could be in the work shortly as he looks like the guy under center in the Twin Cities.
4. Pittsburgh Steelers
Last week: 5
Not exactly the best of efforts against the Packers, as the defense uncharacteristically gave up plenty of big plays on the back end to Brett Hundley and that receiving corps. Luckily, Antonio Brown is the best in the game right now and the team is still right there with the Patriots in the race to lock up the AFC.
5. Los Angeles Rams
Last week: 6
If you didn’t believe this team was for real before, that win over the Saints solidified them as a true contender in the NFC. That head-to-head victory could play a huge role down the stretch in jockeying for top playoff positions too and might be the final thing Sean McVay needed to wrap up Coach of the Year.
6. New Orleans Saints
Last week: 3
All good things must come to an end and that includes the Saints’ winning streak. That was a good test on both sides of the ball over in the other LA and if there’s a rematch in the NFC title game you can bet that Drew Brees and company will play much sharper than they did against the Rams.
7. Carolina Panthers
Last week: 7
The offense still isn’t clicking like it should — especially on the road against a bad team — but that defense is so, so dangerous to play against. It didn’t feel like the Panthers gave their best effort of the year but they keep closing the gap with New Orleans by the week it seems.
8. Atlanta Falcons
Last week: 10
The NFC South is suddenly the most interesting race in football and the reigning division winner is right back in the thick of things. While it’s taken half a season to get going, the offense is finally finding its rhythm as Julio Jones (above, right) remains the most terrifying wide receiver in the game.
9. Los Angeles Chargers
Last week: 16
That’s now five wins in seven games and, even at a notch under .500, this is one of the teams that nobody really wants to play right now. Philip Rivers is playing great right now and that defense is a load to deal with up front on every snap. Suddenly a team that felt like it was in disarray could win the AFC West.
10. Tennessee Titans
Last week: 11
Not the cleanest of victories against a bad team but they’ll take it to remain ahead in the division by the slimmest of margins. Still, this coaching staff remains frustrating to watch given the amount of talent on the roster and some of these types of performances.
11. Detroit Lions
Last week: 8
The division seems like a lost cause after that loss to the Vikings but given how jumbled things are in the NFC playoff picture, this is still a potential playoff squad that, if they play up to their potential, could be pesky come that Wild Card Round.
12. Jacksonville Jaguars
Last week: 9
If you are going to live by Blake Bortles, you’re going to lose by Blake Bortles too, as was the case against Arizona. The defense is still incredibly nasty but losing to Blaine Gabbert in that manner wasn’t a great look for a team that needs to be peaking and not trending downward.
13. Seattle Seahawks
Last week: 14
That 7-4 record seems like a bit of a misnomer because the Seahawks have posted it using a lot of smoke and mirrors. If Russell Wilson is rolling then Seattle has a chance, but given all the injuries this team has suffered, even that is no sure thing no matter the opponent.
14. Washington Redskins
Last week: 15
There’s an underrated fight in this team each week, even with all the injuries. D.C. fans still have some frustrations with this franchise but making it over .500 on the year and keeping pace with others in the NFC isn’t too much to ask.
15. Baltimore Ravens
Last week: 17
Play defense, run the ball, make a few special teams plays. It’s Baltimore’s formula that might not look pretty if you watch their games, but it does work well for them. Given how well guys like Terrell Suggs are running around, maybe this is a team that surprises folks in January.
16. Dallas Cowboys
Last week: 13
Even with Ezekiel Elliott out, the offense should not be looking this inept. This is clearly Dak Prescott’s team but he isn’t quite taking his game to the next level with more riding on his shoulders and that’s spilling over to hamper other areas like the defense.
17. Oakland Raiders
Last week: 18
The loss of Michael Crabtree for a potential two games will be interesting to navigate but even despite this team not looking like the Super Bowl contender we thought they would be, there’s still a really good shot at winning the division thanks to the Chiefs’ struggles. For a franchise that seems like it’s in disarray, the Raiders finding a way to rally and make the playoffs would be quite a run.
18. Buffalo Bills
Last week: 20
Tyrod Taylor didn’t exactly win the Bills the game against the Chiefs but he didn’t lose it either. This remains such a confounding club and yet they’re still right there for a playoff spot in the AFC with a favorable slate to close the year.
19. Kansas City Chiefs
Last week: 12
There’s no doubt about it, this is a straight-up collapse the past few weeks for Andy Reid’s squad. Alex Smith has to play better and the offense has to be better or else this team won’t hold off the hard-charging Raiders and Chargers.
20. Arizona Cardinals
Last week: 22
Blaine Gabbert gets his revenge game and the Cardinals have managed to claw their way back to being decent despite injuries all over the place.
21. Cincinnati Bengals
Last week: 24
It says much more about the AFC playoff picture that this team is still on the fringes of making the postseason. Schedule has a lot to do with that though and finishing .500 on the year after the way this season started would probably be a solid accomplishment for the Bengals before sending Marvin Lewis on his way.
22. Houston Texans
Last week: 19
The way things are trending, you wonder if Bill O’Brien makes it through the end of December. At least it’s worth tuning into see DeAndre Hopkins keep fighting tooth and nail for yards and catches despite the lackluster quarterback play.
23. Green Bay Packers
Last week: 21
Heck of an effort on the road in a tough place to play even if they took the loss. That was the first time in a while we saw how good the team, beyond the quarterback position, really was and gives Packers fans a little bit of hope should Aaron Rodgers return quicker than expected.
24. Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Last week: 23
As the Falcons were going up and down the field on this team, you had to stop and wonder what the “highlight” for this team was so far this season and appearing on Hard Knocks might be just be it.
25. Miami Dolphins
Last week: 25
Even when they were playing their hardest, the gap between the Dolphins and the Patriots on an off day was stark. Even with the muddled wild card race, there’s not a soul on South Beach who thinks this team can rally over the next few weeks to make it in.
26. New York Jets
Last week: 27
All things considered, that was an excellent effort against the Panthers given the mismatch in rosters that New York had. While a few plays seemed to turn a potential shocker into a loss, Todd Bowles needs to get some Coach of the Year consideration for how hard he has gotten his guys to play in what was supposed to be a lost year.
27. Denver Broncos
Last week: 26
Lost amid the literal fracas on the field Sunday afternoon, the fact was Paxton Lynch was the team’s leading rusher and second-leading passer (despite starting). That vaunted receiving corps hasn’t been great and the defense isn’t it’s old self either so here the Broncos are at 3-8.
28. Chicago Bears
Last week: 28
It’s not a good sign when Mitchell Trubisky leads the team in rushing and throws two interceptions at the same time but that was a defensive effort that might be one of the worst the Bears have put on in ages. The Eagles did whatever they wanted on Sunday and whatever chance John Fox and company had of returning for another year probably went out the window by halftime.
29. New York Giants
Last week: 29
Let’s hope the tryptophan hit Giants fans hard on Thanksgiving so that they slept through the Redskins game instead of watching it. It felt like that’s what happened to the offense on Thursday night, that’s for sure.
30. Indianapolis Colts
Last week: 30
That’s back-to-back home games where the Colts took control but ultimately let superior teams leave with a win. Perhaps that will be good long term when it comes to draft positioning but it has to be awfully frustrating to watch as a fan.
31. San Francisco 49ers
Last week: 31
The Jimmy G era is upon us! It wasn’t the way fans or 49ers brass wanted it to come about but it certainly seems like it’s here and the one reason to tune in to watch this team next week.
32. Cleveland Browns
Last week: 32
While there were some early flashes against the Bengals on the road, the Browns nevertheless let the game get away from them with some bad mistakes typical of teams in this position. You figure there are really only three halfway decent chances left at avoiding a winless campaign and the odds they can close the gap to capture a victory look slimmer by the week.
— Written by Bryan Fischer, an award-winning college football columnist and member of the Athlon Contributor Network. You can follow him from coast-to-coast on Twitter, Instagram and Snapchat at @BryanDFischer.