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NFL Power Rankings: Week 13



The Appalachian Sports Desk will be releasing collaborative weekly NFL Power Rankings. The Appalachian sports reporters will be ranking NFL teams that will be averaged out to determine their rankings. Each writer will cover 2-3 teams and give their take on them.

This week’s biggest riser: Dallas Cowboys and Oakland Raiders moved up 6

This week’s biggest drop: Washington Redskins and Arizona Cardinals moved down 5


1. New England Patriots (10-2) (Last week: 2⬆️)

It was almost a perfect game for the New England Patriots, until superstar tight end Rob Gronkowski decided to give Bills’ cornerback Tre’Davious White the people’s elbow. This unsportsmanlike penalty will cost Gronk next week’s game as he is serving a one-game suspension. This hit is getting all the publicity, but something else happened in the game that might have a lingering effect. Patriots’ quarterback Tom Brady and offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels had a heated argument on the bench after a Patriots drive. Both of them were quickly to say the spat was nothing, but if the offense starts to stall something may be more to this argument. -Michael Pigg

2. Philadelphia Eagles (10-2) (Last week: 1⬇️)

If football was easy, everybody would play it. After nine straight weeks of winning, the Birds got caught napping and ended the streak thanks to Pete Carroll and his veteran squad. Don’t misunderstand for a second, this game was close and the Eagles should have won. They outgained the Seahawks 425-310 in total yardage and only had one three-and-out drive the entire game. Unfortunately, if you don’t put points on the board, you can’t win the game, and that’s exactly what Philly didn’t do. Carson Wentz fumbled in a crucial moment that ended in a field goal instead of a touchdown, and a holding penalty negated a huge run by LeGarrette Blount, leading to another field goal. All props given to the Seahawks, they played an amazing game, but at the end of the day, the Eagles themselves lost the game by giving up points they clearly needed. -Garrett Wold

3. Minnesota Vikings (10-2) (Last week: 5⬆️)

The Vikings were able to put together a gameplan to slow down the high flying offense of the Atlanta Falcons, for an impressive win on the road. Matt Ryan’s streak of 28 straight game with a touchdown pass came to a screeching halt in thanks in part to star cornerback Xavier Rhodes able to shut down Julio Jones for the game. Case Keenum did not have his most impressive game against the Falcons, but he made the throws that mattered. With the Vikings having the ball, Keenum hit wide receiver Adam Thielen to ice the game. The Vikings look to continue this winning streak when they travel down to Charlotte to take on the Carolina Panthers. -Michael Pigg

4. Pittsburgh Steelers (10-2) (Last week: 3⬇️)

Struggling three straight weeks against the Colts, Packers and Bengals is not impressive, but finding ways to climb back into games and win really is what makes Pittsburgh an elite team. Trailing 17-0 nearing the conclusion of the first half, Pittsburgh put a field goal on the board to bring the score within two touchdowns going into the break. Trimming the lead to 10 at the end of the third quarter, Pittsburgh dominated the fourth quarter, scoring the game’s final 13 points. Antonio Brown and Le’Veon Bell again showed up in grand fashion, accounting for 283 of Pittsburgh’s 382 total yards on the evening. Currently sitting at 10-2, Pittsburgh ranks as the top team in the AFC. On Dec. 17, they will have their biggest matchup of the season, hosting New England at home. -Tyler Hotz

5. Los Angeles Rams (9-3) (Last week: 4⬇️)

The LA weather just got a little better after the Rams took another step toward securing a playoff spot in a win against the Arizona Cardinals. The stats may not jump off the page, but the Rams’ offense looked exceptional and very comfortable this week. Jared Goff had a modest game with 220 passing yards and a couple of touchdowns and Todd Gurley impressed with 158 total yards. There’s not much to say on the Rams as they continue to win games as the clock ticks toward playoffs. -Aman Hyrams

6. New Orleans Saints (9-3) (Last week: 6↔️)

The Saints proved this week that they are by far the best team in the NFC South and right up there with the Eagles. The combo of Ingram and Kamara in the backfield is one of the best all time. Not only are they rushing for the league’s leading rushers, but they can be unstoppable in the passing game as well. The Panthers put up their best fight from the beginning but just couldn’t hang with the Saints. This team will be in the NFC Championship game. They are an all-around team and can be extremely dangerous. -Noah Gerringer

7. Seattle Seahawks (8-4) (Last week: 9⬆️)

Russell Wilson stunned the high-flying Eagles in Philadelphia on Sunday night with a 24-10 victory. Wilson threw for three touchdowns and 227 yards. He effectively spread the wealth by connecting with seven different receivers. The dismantled “Legion of Boom” did their job as well by forcing two crucial turnovers and holding Philly to a leading rusher of just 35 yards. With the much needed victory, Seattle is now back in the playoff picture as the second wild card team. It can all wither away if Atlanta catches up with them due to tiebreaking rules. However, the Seahawks still have their eyes set on winning the NFC West. The LA Rams lead Seattle by only one game, but this time the Seahawks own such a tiebreaker. Anyway, Wilson and company must continue their winning ways in order for the goal to become reality this week in Jacksonville against the 8-3 Jaguars.-Shane Harvell

8. Carolina Panthers (8-4) (Last week: 7⬇️)

Simply put, the New Orleans Saints are just better than the Carolina Panthers. Throughout Carolina’s sluggish performance in a loss to the Saints on Sunday, it just seemed Carolina lacked the firepower on both sides of the ball to topple the now sole leaders of the NFC South. Struggling in the second quarter, Carolina got down 21-7 before a Christian McCaffrey 21-yard touchdown reception with just minutes remaining in the first half. In the second half, Carolina squandered multiple opportunities to get back in the game. Alvin Kamara and Mark Ingram shredded Carolina’s defense, combining for 281 total yards. Carolina still has a shot to grab a wild card spot, but it won’t be easy, finishing the season with games against Minnesota, Green Bay, Tampa Bay and Atlanta. To make matters worse, Aaron Rodgers will be back under center for the Packers. -Tyler Hotz

9. Jacksonville Jaguars (8-4) (Last week: 10⬆️)

This ain’t your daddy’s Jaguars football team anymore, as this season has proved there is in fact a culture change going on down in Florida. With their 30-10 victory over the Colts Sunday (eliminating them from playoff contention), the Jags are heading into the postseason with some momentum and enthusiasm for the first time in a long time. Leonard Fournette was relatively quiet all day, which opened the door for on again, off again quarterback Blake Bortles to make a highlight tape out of the Colts’ defense. He threw 26-35 for 309 yards and a pair of touchdowns, giving the Jags their first eight-win season since 2010. The defense looked strong as they always have, and the special teams ran yet another successful fake punt. With the defense they have and the brave calls coming from the sideline, the Jaguars are serious contenders this year, not to be overlooked by anybody. -Garrett Wold

10. Los Angeles Chargers (6-6) (Last week: 12⬆️)

Just like that, the Chargers are in a virtual three-way tie for first place in the AFC West at 6-6. The Chargers barely beat the Browns this week 19-10, but their defense was stellar once again, and wide receiver Keenan Allen went over 100-yards receiving for the third straight week. ESPN now gives the Chargers a 33 percent chance to win their division, and they have the perfect opportunity with games against the Chiefs and Raiders still in place. And the Chargers actually sold out their stadium! At the beginning of this season, they couldn’t even fill it up. Things are looking good for Los Angeles. -Jason Huber

11. Atlanta Falcons (7-5) (Last week: 8⬇️)

Field goals simply will not cut it in the NFL, especially against a defensively stout squad. Matt Ryan’s 28-game streak of throwing at least a single touchdown ended thanks to Minnesota. Both defenses dominated and effectively controlled the flow game, but the Vikings eventually pulled away to a 14-9 victory. Julio Jones had yet another disappearing act of a game with two receptions for only 24 yards. Due to the loss, Atlanta currently lies as the first team to miss out on the playoffs with a record of 7-5. Seattle reclaimed the last remaining wild card slot with a victory of their own against Philadelphia. However, if the Falcons can somehow match Seattle’s record as the season comes to a close, the Dirty Birds will sneak in due to a tiebreaker. The NFC South Division is not out of reach just yet, but Atlanta must jump start the tough journey against the 9-3 New Orleans Saints this Thursday night at home. -Shane Harvell

12. Tennessee Titans (8-4) (Last week: 11⬇️)

Fun fact: the Titans have a -16 point differential this season, and an 8-4 record to pair with it. Yes, somehow Tennessee is tied for the lead in the AFC South despite being outscored by their opponents over the course of this season. By way of tie-breakers, the Titans technically have the division lead at best, and at worst a very tight grip on a wild card spot in the playoffs. In their final four games, they’ll play the Cardinals, 49ers, Rams and Jaguars. They have to win two of those for a double digit winning season and a virtual guaranteed playoff appearance. -Ian Taylor

13. Baltimore Ravens (7-5) (Last week: 14⬆️)

The Ravens fired on all cylinders this week, thumping the Detroit Lions in Baltimore, 44-20. In their best offensive performance yet, Joe Flacco threw for 267 yards and two touchdowns with a 116-yard receiving day from Mike Wallace. Running back Alex Collins also had a good day, racking up 75 yards and two scores. The Ravens’ defense shined again, with Marlon Humphrey and Eric Weddle both grabbing interceptions and Weddle adding a forced fumble after sacking Lions’ quarterback Matt Stafford. The Ravens have now won three games in a row and improve their record to 7-5 with four games remaining, including three divisional matchups and a clash with heated rival Pittsburgh Steelers next week. -Brooks Maynard

14. Dallas Cowboys (6-6) (Last week: 20⬆️)

Beating the Redskins was a bad move by the Cowboys. The playoffs are too far off and the NFC is made up of flat out better teams. The Cowboys should have thrown this game and the rest of the season to bump up their draft picks. Serious work needs to be done in the offseason and there is no wrong place to start. The Dallas secondary is one of the worst in the league and when people get hurt, there needs to be capable backups to get the job done. If the Cowboys are smart, they will throw the remainder of the season and get ready for next year: Super Bowl year. -Noah Gerringer

15. Oakland Raiders (6-6) (Last week: 21⬆️)

Oakland stayed at home this week and faced a terrible Giants squad without their long-time starter Eli Manning. Although the Raiders only won by 7 points, there was some encouragement on offense. Derek Carr looked pretty good this week throwing for over 280 yards and a touchdown. Cordarrelle Patterson took over the duties on catching the football and impressed with four receptions for 97 yards. Marshawn Lynch was the cherry on top for the offense. Lynch topped 100 yards for the first time this season, highlighted by a 51-yard scamper for a score. While the defense has a long way to go before they’re good, the Raiders sit tied for the division lead before a pivotal matchup against the Kansas City Chiefs. -Aman Hyrams

16. Detroit Lions (6-6) (Last week: 13⬇️)

Detroit suffered a 44-20 blowout loss to the Ravens this week. The defense was manhandled all day long by a mediocre offense and the Lions offense failed to put a single point on the board in the first half. Trailing 20-0 at halftime, Detroit showed some life in the third quarter and cut the deficit to just three at 20-17 heading into the fourth quarter. Baltimore then exploded for three touchdowns and a field goal to put the Lions away. Stafford played decently, accounting for 292 yards on 24/29 passing but only found the end zone once and tossed an interception. Stafford left the game due to an injured hand but will most likely be good to go next week in Tampa Bay. Detroit sits at 6-6 on the year and will likely have to win their final four games in order to keep playoff hopes alive. -Silas Albright

17. Green Bay Packers (6-6) (Last week: 22⬆️)

Just when everybody was putting the cheese head back in the attic for another offseason, the heart attack Pack(ers) decided to grind out one of the grittiest wins of the season. After being down for three and a half quarters, Green Bay managed to tie up the game and score on their first possession of overtime, earning them a much needed win to say at .500. Aaron Rodgers returned to practice this week, and rumors are flying that he will be back for the final three games of the season. Whether Rodgers comes back or not, the Packers are still in the playoff hunt and have the ability to shock the world and snag a wild card spot. Hundley needs to stay loose and not get too comfy on the sideline (if he isn’t under center himself) and the defense needs to play the most perfect football of their lives. This team has been in this scenario before. Just remember the golden rule of football, any given Sunday. -Garrett Wold

18. Kansas City Chiefs (6-6) (Last week: 16⬇️)

Last week, I wrote about the struggles of Alex Smith, calling for him to possibly be benched if his poor play continued. He certainly silenced me, throwing for 366 yards and four touchdowns. However, the Chiefs’ defense instead decided not to show up, allowing 38 points to Josh McCown and the New York Jets. Ultimately, Kansas City’s 38-31 loss in New York reveals that this team has multiple issues, ranging from inconsistent quarterback play to a lackluster defense. Amazingly, Kansas City is still in first place in the AFC West, but their four-game losing streak is probably a good indicator of how their season will finish out. The Chargers and Raiders may not be great, but one of them will find a way to win this dismal division. -Tyler Hotz

19. Buffalo Bills (6-6) (Last week: 17⬇️)

The Bills are a team that the whole league should watch out for as they are heading in the right direction. Unfortunately for them, they have the New England Patriots in their division who beat them last week 23-3. It might be time for the Bills to start looking at different options at the quarterback position. While Tyrod Taylor is good, he is not someone who can put points up consistently. There is still a chance for the Bills to get in the playoffs, but not many teams will be sweating having to face them. -Michael Pigg

20. Washington Redskins (5-7) (Last week: 15⬇️)

After dropping the rivalry Thursday night primetime matchup against Dallas this week 38-10, the Redskins are 5-7 this year and will need nothing short of a miracle in order to make the playoffs. Kirk Cousins threw two interceptions and the run game was barely existent, picking up just 56 total yards. In what started as a hopeful season, Washington hasn’t played well enough in the games they needed to win, in order to pick up those key wins. They repeatedly fell short in some close contests and are suffering because of it. The heartbreaking overtime loss to New Orleans two weeks ago is a perfect example of what their season has been like. -Silas Albright

21. Cincinnati Bengals (5-7) (Last week: 19⬇️)

Well done to the Cincinnati Bengals, specifically, Andy Dalton, AJ Green and the Bengals’ defense. Although Antonio Brown had over 100-yards receiving, the more impactful catches didn’t come until late in the game. The Steelers are a great team and the Bengals played them phenomenally. Andy Dalton was an elite quarterback and AJ Green was the top receiver he is. There’s only one thing missing; oh, that’s right, a running game. Even though Joe Mixon left the game injured, he only had 34 yards rushing on seven carries. The Bengals can have an offense that can compete with anyone if they find a backfield. Gio is a good second but not someone who can lead a team. They’re almost there. -Noah Gerringer

22. New York Jets (5-7) (Last week: 25⬆️)

The Jets snapped their two game losing streak this week by defeating the Kansas City Chiefs 38-31. Josh McCown had another solid week, completing 26 passes for 331 yards and a touchdown pass to Jets running back Matt Forte. Their defense had a rough day however, allowing over 300 yards and four touchdowns from Chiefs quarterback Alex Smith. The Jets are still in the hunt for an AFC wild card spot and will need to clean this up if they want to grab it. -Brooks Maynard

23. Arizona Cardinals (5-7) (Last week: 18⬇️)

The Cardinals competed quite well, but the LA Rams were just too much for Gabbert and company to handle. Arizona fell to a record of 5-7 with the 32-16 loss. Gabbert threw for 221 yards, a touchdown and two interceptions. Kerwynn Williams surprisingly rushed for 97 yards on 16 carries. Larry Fitzgerald did his part as well by hauling in 10 receptions for 98 yards and a touchdown. Fitzgerald hit another milestone this season during the game by tying Barry Sanders on the all-time career touchdown list with 109. In regard to the postseason, it’s more than likely that Arizona will not make the playoffs this year. You can thank the injury gods for that. The Cards sit four games out of first place within the NFC West Division but only two back of the last wild card spot. Arizona must win out and hope for the best starting this week in the hosting of the 8-4 Tennessee Titans. -Shane Harvell

24. Miami Dolphins (5-7) (Last week: 26⬆️)

Well that happened. I don’t think many would have guessed that the Dolphins would beat the Broncos by over 30 points. Yes, most people would consider Miami the better team, but since when do the Dolphins play the way they’re supposed to? This had the makings of a trap game, but thanks to the defense stepping up and Adam Gase’s coaching, Miami is sitting at 5-7. The offense is still the physical embodiment of sub-par, but is just good enough to not sink every game. At this point in the season though, you have to wonder what these meaningless wins actually give to the team. -Ian Taylor

25. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (4-8) (Last week: 24⬇️)

Allow me to start this blurb with the customary, “Fire Dirk Koetter” remark. The Bucs lost the Packers (Aaron Rodgers-less Packers at that) and the offense is only averaging 18 points a game as they slide to 4-8. Looking back at who they’ve played, this team should have eight or nine wins at this point based on the old, “what should have happened” model of sports analytics. The question for the rest of the season isn’t about winning on the field, it’ll be about what wins off the field stop this season from happening again. -Ian Taylor

26. Houston Texans (4-8) (Last week: 23⬇️)

The Texans lost a must win divisional game against the Titans Sunday. The team has looked inconsistent especially offensively. Hopefully next year when the Texans have their stars back, we can see how dominant they can be in the AFC South, if those players stay healthy. -Eric Jackson

27. Chicago Bears (3-9) (Last week: 27↔️)

It was a rough game for the Bears as they lost an ugly game against San Francisco. Chicago couldn’t get any offense rolling with Trubisky struggling as well as the run game. Chicago put up less than 150 yards against a defense outside of the top 25 in the league. The only positive of the game was Tarik Cohen’s electric punt return, their last score of the game in the second quarter. The Bears’ offense has really struggled in the past weeks, putting up duds against the 49ers, Eagles and Lions. The Bears’ offense now ranks dead last in the league in total offense, which isn’t going to cut it in a competitive division. At 3-9 they face Cincinatti as they try and salvage an all-around rough season.  -Aman Hyrams

28. Denver Broncos (3-9) (Last week: 28↔️)

The Broncos continue their epic collapse after a 35-9 loss to the Dolphins. The defense has just not  looked consistent and the offense is terrible. In the offseason, the Broncos will need to make some changes if they want to be successful again. -Eric Jackson

29. Indianapolis Colts (3-9) (Last week: 29↔️)

Indianapolis unsurprisingly fell to the Jaguars by a final score of 30-10 this week and now sit at 3-9 on the year. Jacoby Brissett struggled in the contest completing 21 of 36 pass attempts for 174 yards, a touchdown and two interceptions. At this point, the Colts are just trying to finish the season in one piece. They will need to make significant strides on defense and Brissett will have to play better if they want to pick up another win in 2017.  -Silas Albright

30. San Francisco 49ers (2-10) (Last week: 30⬆️)

The 49ers inched their way past the Chicago Bears for their second win of the season, 15-14 in Chicago. We finally saw a complete game out of the recently-traded-for quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo, who completed 26 passes for 293 yards with an interception. Unfortunately, the switch did not net any points as the 49ers relied on kicker Robbie Gould again this week, kicking a perfect five for five field goals for 15 points. Only time will tell if Garoppolo will be the answer for the 49ers in the future. -Brooks Maynard

31. New York Giants (2-10) (Last week: 30⬇️)

One week after the mess and backlash of benching Eli Manning, the Giants officially fired head coach Ben McAdoo and general manager Jerry Reese, making it the first time the Giants have fired a coach mid-season since 1976. If that doesn’t indicate how fast this season has bursted into flames, I don’t know what will. What was supposed to be a season with Super Bowl aspirations, has turned into arguably the worst seasons in franchise history as the Giants currently sit at 2-10, the second worst record in the NFL. It is likely Eli Manning will be back as starter this coming week, but the new question is who will be hired as the new GM and head coach? -Jason Huber

32. Cleveland Browns (0-12) (Last week: 32↔️)

Josh Gordon came back and produced well for the Browns after being out due to suspension for over a year. But other than that, the Browns are still losing and are setting themselves up for the first overall pick in this upcoming draft. Eric Jackson 

Rankings By: Jason Huber, Brooks Maynard, Tyler Hotz, Silas Albright, Eric Jackson, Shane Harvell, Aman Hyrams, Michael Pigg, Ian Taylor, Noah Gerringer and Garrett Wold 

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