NFL Power Rankings: Week 13

All Tom Brady and Bill Belichick could do was watch, as their hopes of spoiling the Saints' perfect record ticked away.
1. New Orleans Saints (11-0) The Saints dominated a good New England Patriots team 38-17, proving that they know how to rise to a challenge. Drew Brees was near perfect, throwing for 371 yards and 5 TDs. Not to mention that he threw to seven different receivers and put Marques Colston and Devery Henderson over the century mark. The Saints D was also smothering, holding New England to 17 points and forcing 3 turnovers, including two Tom Brady interceptions.
2. Indianapolis Colts (11-0) How many weeks can this team survive? After trailing the Texans this past week by 17 in the second quarter, Manning and the Colts did it again, as they won the game 35-27. I see their winning streak coming to an end next week, however. They get the red hot Titans, followed by the suddenly rejuvenated Denver Broncos in Week 14. Even if they win both of these games, the likelihood of the Colts going unbeaten isn’t high. As soon as they clinch the #1 seed in the AFC, Mr. Manning will meet Mr. Bench.
3. Minnesota Vikings (10-1) When I look at the Vikings, I see a dangerous and explosive team that lost a fluke game to Pittsburgh. They are as balanced as any team in the NFL, as the defense is as big-play capable as the offense. Plus, Brett Favre has 24 TDs and 3 interceptions. When has Brett Favre, the sometimes careless gunslinger, ever thrown three interceptions this far into a season. Oh yeah, never! Usually it’s not uncommon to see three picks in one game for the sure Hall of Famer. In addition to his impressive play, the Vikings have one of the most potent rushing attacks in the NFL with “fumble-maniac” Adrian Peterson leading the charge. They get the Cardinals next week, and will show the league how much better they are than last year’s NFC Champions.
4. San Diego Chargers (8-3) Following their blow-out win against the Chiefs this past weekend (43-14), the Chargers extended their winning streak to six games. LaDainian Tomlinson actually looks like at least half the player he used to be, instead of the complete scrub he was during the first few weeks of the season. This team is rolling, and I feel sorry for whoever gets in their way from here on out. Oh! The Browns are next, I’m calling a 49-10 San Diego win. Sorry Cleveland, you just don’t rock right now.
5. Cincinnati Bengals (8-3) After beating their in-state rival Cleveland Browns this weekend, the Bengals are up two games in the division over the 6-5 Steelers and Ravens. With Larry Johnson rolling once again (22 carries for 107 yards vs. Cleveland) and the Lions coming up this Sunday, the Bengals can afford to give star running back Cedric Benson one more week to recover. With a healthy Benson and Johnson in the backfield, the Bengals will have the most feared rushing attack in the NFL.
6. Dallas Cowboys (8-3) The Cowboys are looking strong following a 24-7 win over the Oakland Raiders. The schedule gets tough in the next three weeks, however, as they get Giants, Chargers, and Saints. I look for them to avenge their early loss to the Giants, but the games versus the Chargers and Saints will allow us to see what America’s team is really made of.
7. Arizona Cardinals (7-4) Despite the last-second loss to the Titans, the Cardinals looked pretty good without Kurt Warner. Hopefully, he is back this week, as the Cardinals will most definitely need him against the Minnesota Vikings (10-1). Although I look for Minnesota to win the game, Arizona is a tough team with a real-shot to mirror their playoff performance from a year ago.
8. New England Patriots (7-4) How many times can Bill Belichick get outcoached this year? After making a game-altering decision against Indianapolis, he was completely out of his league against Saints Coach Sean Payton. Payton’s play-calling was superb, as he only needed 26 minutes of the game clock to pick apart the Patriot defense. Meanwhile the Pats and Tom Brady had the ball for 34 minutes, but failed to score a passing touchdown on the supposed “weak” Saints’ secondary. If they don’t show up this Sunday against Miami, their lead will shrink to a game over the pesky Dolphins.
9. Philadelphia Eagles (7-4) The Eagles get the Atlanta Falcons this Sunday after defeating the Redskins 27-24. I look for the Eagles to win easily and continue to put pressure on Dallas in the NFC East. Philadelphia is loaded with young weapons, including LeSean McCoy, DeSean Jackson, and Jeremy McClain. However, the 175-pound Jackson left Sunday’s game with a concussion. Donovan, don’t you have any Chunky Soup for the youngster?
10. Green Bay Packers (7-4) This past week, the Packers had a lot to give thanks for. First, they had to be thankful that Aaron Rodgers fell to the 24th pick in the 2005 NFL Draft. Secondly, they got to play the Detroit Lions on Thanksgiving, whom they defeated easily 34-12. In the next three weeks, however, their strength of schedule skyrockets, as they play the Ravens, Bears, and Steelers.
11. Pittsburgh Steelers (6-5) Alright, so they’ve lost three straight games, but so what! They are still going to get into the playoffs as one of the two wild-card teams. Big Ben should be back this week, but even if he isn’t around the next two games, the Steelers should be fine, as they play the Raiders followed by the Browns. Keep an eye on this team, especially since they are getting their problems straightened out before the playoffs. Do you remember what happened last year? They started slow, finished 11-5, and went on to carve their name into the Lombardi Trophy in February.
12. Denver Broncos (7-4) The Broncos ended their four-game skid on Thanksgiving with an impressive win over the New York Giants. Despite only allowing 6 points and showing signs of the Denver team that started the year 6-0, they will need to be more consistent before I start believing in them again.
13. Baltimore Ravens (6-5) One name is all that is necessary to justify the Ravens’ ranking. He went to Rutgers and plays running back…Mr. Ray Rice.
14. Tennessee Titans (5-6) Vince Young’s Salary: $7,227,520Matt Leinart’s Salary: $6,175,280

A touchdown pass from Vince Young to Kenny Britt to win the game with no time remaining and reminding everyone of a certain Rose Bowl that left Leinart on the losing end once again: priceless.

15. Miami Dolphins (5-6) Looky Here: The Bills aren’t that bad. Sure they are 4-7, but it’s way better than losing to the Rams. Of course, the Dolphins missed a huge opportunity to come within a game of the division-leading New England Patriots, but now they have to do it the hard way. And indeed they will, as I’m picking the Dolphins to upset the Patriots in Week 13.

The Best of the Rest (16-32)

16. New York Giants (6-5)

17. Atlanta Falcons (6-5)

18. Jacksonville Jaguars (6-5)

19. Houston Texans (5-6)

20. San Francisco 49ers (5-6)

21. New York Jets (5-6)

22. Chicago Bears (4-7)

23. Buffalo Bills (4-7)

24. Seattle Seahawks (4-7)

25. Carolina Panthers (4-7)

26. Washington Redskins (3-8)

27. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (1-10)

28. Kansas City Chiefs (3-8)

29. Detroit Lions (2-9)

30. Oakland Raiders (3-8)

31. St. Louis Rams (1-10)

32. Cleveland Browns (1-10)

-Jon Harris

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