Week 13 of the 2012 NFL regular season saw three teams clinch division titles and another secure a spot in the postseason. The NFC East continues to be the most interesting and perhaps the most “meh” division in the league, and there is also a new worst team in football. There’s no change at the very top of NFL power rankings, as the two best teams in the league again took care of business.
2012 Week 14 NFL power rankings
32. Oakland Raiders (3-9): When you lose to Cleveland at home, you’re playing some pretty poor football. The Raiders may not be the worst team in the league on paper right now, but they deserve to be in the basement of NFL power rankings.
31. Philadelphia Eagles (3-9): Nick Foles showed promise and gave Philly fans reason to hope, but the Eagles again couldn’t get out of their own way. Their 2013 campaign has essentially already begun.
30 Kansas City Chiefs (2-10): Can’t really analyze this team right now. Congrats on a hard fought and emotional win.
29. Arizona Cardinals (4-8): Can you throw a football with OK accuracy? Have decent arm strength? Can you walk? If you answered yes to those questions, the Cards may have a job for you!
28. Jacksonville Jaguars (2-10): A not very good team to begin with, the Jags have been decimated by injuries and a lack of confidence. Perhaps they should wait before going all-in on the Chad Henne era.
27. Tennessee Titans (4-8): The roller coaster Titans couldn’t put together a good performance against the best team in the conference. With that said, I do believe they’re better than their record.
26. Carolina Panthers (3-9): Just as I can’t rate KC right now, I also can’t drop the Panthers in NFL power rankings. They were victims of special circumstances.
25. Detroit Lions (4-8): Detroit literally doesn’t know how to close an opponent out at this point. This team has taken leaps in the wrong direction in the past calendar year.
24. San Diego Chargers (4-8): The San Diego ship continues to sink. Critics can say what they want about Norv Turner, but this team needs more than just a new head coach.
23. New York Jets (5-7): Won an ugly game against a bad opponent and started a true QB controversy in the process. The Jets really can’t do anything right sometimes.
22. Miami Dolphins (5-7): The ‘Phins had a chance to make a real statement at home, but they were instead downed by the Pats. I’m ignoring the math and calling their playoff hopes dead.
21. Buffalo Bills (5-7): Buffalo beat up on Jacksonville. Take it away, McKayla.
20. Cleveland Browns (4-8): I know I took a shot at the Brownies earlier, but they’ve won four of their last seven, and the team’s defense continues to play very well when Joe Haden is on the field.
19. New Orleans Saints (5-7): Consecutive defeats have landed the Saints nearly out of the Wild Card race. They may need to win out AND get plenty of help to qualify for the playoffs.
18. Minnesota Vikings (6-6): One extremely talented player does not a playoff team make. Christian Ponder’s second half of the season struggles continue to hurt the Vikes.
17. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (6-6): My main criticism of the Bucs throughout 2012 is that they’re an OK team that will beat bad teams, but not one capable of knocking off the best of the best. My opinion on the matter hasn’t changed.
16. St. Louis Rams (5-6-1): All playoff teams in the NFC need to call Jeff Fisher at least once before January arrives. He sure has the Niners figured out.
15. Dallas Cowboys (6-6): A somewhat nervy win coupled with Washington beating New York on Monday night keeps Dallas in the division race. Which NFC East team will prove to be the least mediocre?
14. Seattle Seahawks (7-5): I was one of many critics who wouldn’t give Seattle real props until they beat a good team on the road. They did just that on Sunday, and they’re now a couple of wins away from earning a spot in the playoffs.
13. Chicago Bears (8-4): Uh oh. Chicago is still in a good spot in the standings, but they’ve lost three of their last four. Now’s not the time for a backslide.
12. Pittsburgh Steelers (7-5): Everything’s coming up Milhouse for Pittsburgh at the start of December. They knocked off the hated Ravens in Baltimore, and Big Ben is improving and could be ready to go this coming weekend.
11. Cincinnati Bengals (7-5): The hottest team in the AFC North has now won four straight, and they’ve got two very winnable games against Dallas and Philly ahead of them. Casual football fans continue to sleep on the Bengals, but I still see them finishing the season with ten wins.
10. Washington Redskins (6-6): I stated three weeks ago that I, as a Giants fan, feared Washington more than I feared any other division foe. Anybody still disagree with me?
9. New York Giants (7-5): Yet another December where Big Blue just can’t make things easy. The Giants are still in first place, but I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t nervous about the next few weeks.
8. San Francisco 49ers (8-3-1): San Fran fans shouldn’t panic, because the Niners (probably) won’t have to face the Rams in January.
7. Baltimore Ravens (9-3): I still like the Ravens to win the division, and I also understand that Pittsburgh winning in Baltimore is nothing new. With no Big Ben on the field, though, the Ravens had no business losing this past Sunday; period.
6. Indianapolis Colts (8-4): Team of destiny? Indy may not match up well with the better teams in the conference, but I sure wouldn’t want my favorite side facing off against the Colts in a one-and-done elimination game.
5. Green Bay Packers (8-4): Another holiday season where Aaron Rodgers and the Packers are favorites to win the division. Maybe that blowout loss to the Giants a couple of weeks back was just what Green Bay needed heading into the final stretch of regular season games.
4. New England Patriots (9-3): So that Pats won the division again. In other news, snow is still wet and cold.
3. Denver Broncos (9-3): We’re inching closer and closer to that Denver vs. Indy playoff game. Boy, that could be a lot of fun.
2. Houston Texans (11-1): Playoff bound after smacking around the lowly Titans, Houston is just a couple of wins away from earning a first round bye in the playoffs. That’s not enough to lift them to the top spot in this week’s list, though.
1. Atlanta Falcons (11-1): A solid win over their hated rivals earns Atlanta the top spot in NFL power rankings and also a division title. Not a bad week for the Dirty Birds.