My father taught me years ago that close only counts in horseshoes and hand grenades. It’s easy to drop both Atlanta and Houston in NFL power rankings after their performances in Week 12, but the fact remains that those teams found ways to win. It’s for that reason that they are again one and two in this week’s list. The AFC West dominates the bottom spots of Week 13 NFL power rankings. I’m not sure you’d have a winning team if you combined the rosters of the Chiefs and Raiders.
2012 Week 13 NFL power rankings
32. Kansas City Chiefs (1-10): Not getting blown out by Peyton Manning and the Broncos may be some sort of moral victory for KC. It doesn’t get the Chiefs out of the basement of NFL power rankings, though.
31. Oakland Raiders (3-8): Oakland has devolved into one of the more forgettable teams in the league. I wouldn’t be shocked if they lose to the Browns at home.
30. Philadelphia Eagles (3-8): Only one more month of misery left, Philly fans. Big changes are coming to this franchise and soon.
29. New York Jets (4-7): Wow. Losing to hated rivals is one thing, but the J-E-T-S were humbled at home on a national stage by the Pats. Perhaps most telling is how lost Rex Ryan looked on the sideline during that defeat.
28. Arizona Cardinals (4-7): Oh what could have been for the 2012 Cards if only they had a quarterback. Any chance Kurt Warner can still go?
27. Tennessee Titans (4-7): Tennessee blew out the Dolphins in Miami earlier this month. Boy does that game feel like it occurred ages ago.
26. Carolina Panthers (3-8): The Panthers showed on Monday night that they’re slightly not as bad as are the Eagles. Carolina fans should take what they can get at this point.
25. Jacksonville Jaguars (2-9): Chad Henne has injected life into the Jacksonville offense. How long it lasts has yet to be determined, but at least the Jags look like an actual NFL team right now.
24. Cleveland Browns (3-8): Do you believe in miracles? All kidding aside, the Cleveland defense can hang with any opponent as long as Joe Haden is an available option.
23. Detroit Lions (4-7): The Lions were victims of some awful calls, but a real playoff team closes that game out against Houston. Detroit had at least three chances to pick up the win on Thanksgiving, and that’s why I don’t at all feel sorry for them.
22. Buffalo Bills (4-7): The Bills gave Indy more of a fight than I expected. I suppose that should count for something. Ryan Fitzpatrick continues to play himself out of a starting gig.
21. San Diego Chargers (4-7): 4th-and-29. That really says it all about the 2012 Chargers.
20. Dallas Cowboys (5-6): The standings tell you that Dallas still has a chance to make the playoffs and even win the division. They’ll need a lot of help to do so, though, such as injuries to RG3, Eli Manning, Aaron Rodgers and Drew Brees.
19. St. Louis Rams (4-6-1): Too little, too late for the Rams. Their playoff hopes are still alive, but the team’s overwhelming weaknesses will keep them from taking that next step this holiday season.
18. Miami Dolphins (5-6): Just when you think it’s safe to close the book on Miami’s playoff chances, they go and earn an important win. Their biggest game of the season thus far, a home match-up versus New England, occurs this coming Sunday.
17. New Orleans Saints (5-6): Their run had to end at some point. One more loss could be the one that ends the best team comeback story of the campaign.
16. Seattle Seahawks (6-5): You have to have serious doubts about Seattle’s ability to win a road playoff game. If they really are on the cusp of losing two starting CBs for four games, just making the postseason could be quite the ask for the surprising Seahawks.
15. Pittsburgh Steelers (6-5): Roethlisberger or not Roethlisberger, eight turnovers is inexcusable. A better opponent would have beaten the Steelers by 20.
14. Minnesota Vikings (6-5): It could all be going downhill for the Vikes. After losing at Chicago by 18 points, Minnesota must now travel to Green Bay to take on a Packers team that was embarrassed on national TV on Sunday night.
13. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (6-5): How does Tampa Bay move up in NFL power rankings? They nearly knocked off the conference’s top side, and several other NFC teams failing to win kept the Bucs in an OK spot in the Wild Card race.
12. Cincinnati Bengals (6-5): Watch out for the Bengals. They’ve won three in a row, and each of their final five games are winnable considering Big Ben’s health is still in question and Baltimore may not have much to play for in Week 17.
11. Washington Redskins (5-6): Yep, this is how much I, a Giants fan, fear the ‘Skins right now. They’ve knocked off two straight division foes, and they’ll host Big Blue in a game that could ultimately determine which team wins the NFC East.
10. Indianapolis Colts (7-4): Indy’s incredible run continues, and ten wins should, in theory, be enough to earn them a postseason berth. Looking ahead at their schedule, a 10-6 record seems to be a very realistic goal for the Colts.
9. Green Bay Packers (7-4): We were reminded on Sunday night that a team living and dying on a single player can be a very dangerous thing, even when that player is Aaron Rodgers.
8. New York Giants (7-4): I’m hesitant to catapult Big Blue up NFL power rankings because I’ve seen this movie before, and I know that there’s still time for a late-season collapse. I’ll feel better about the Giants if they take care of business at Washington next Monday.
7. Chicago Bears (8-3): And some of you were worried about the Bears. Jay Cutler’s return, an impressive victory over division rivals Minnesota, and Green Bay’s loss at the Giants all have the Bears in the driver’s seat in the NFC North.
6. New England Patriots (8-3): New England looked like world beaters on Thanksgiving night, but that was partially because the Jets were embarrassingly bad. The Pats won’t be facing the likes of pitiful Gang Green in the playoffs.
5. San Francisco 49ers (8-2-1): I’m not yet able to envision Colin Kaepernick hoisting the Lombardi Trophy, but you can’t deny that he’s got the hot hand right now. If that continues, San Fran will be the team to beat this January.
4. Denver Broncos (8-3): Not every win can be a highlight reel special or a gem. Denver went into the house of a rival and emerged victorious. That’s good enough as December approaches.
3. Baltimore Ravens (9-2): “Winners find ways to win” has been a mantra that I’ve repeated on a weekly basis while creating these rankings. Baltimore did just that at San Diego this past Sunday, showing the heart of a true champion in the process.
2. Houston Texans (10-1): Don’t punish Houston because of a mistake made by the refs coupled with the stupidest rule in the NFL. The Texans are still atop the conference standings, and thus deserve to be ranked as such.
1. Atlanta Falcons (10-1): They keep tempting fate, but another close win has landed the Falcons back at the top of NFL power rankings. Atlanta is just a few weeks away from securing home field advantage throughout the postseason.