NFL power rankings: Packers, Bills, Browns rise; Raiders, Cardinals see playoff chances slip for Week 13

Week 12 in the NFL created a little more normalcy at the top with the league’s best teams flexing their muscles. Down at the bottom, however, some teams were able to dig themselves out while others stayed buried.

There are plenty of changes in this week’s Sporting News’ NFL power rankings ahead of Week 13. While there’s no shakeup on who’s the best, the mudded middle has seen considerable shuffling.

Here’s the latest look at the league’s pecking order, from No. 1 through 32:

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NFL power rankings

1. Kansas City Chiefs 10-1 (last week: 1)

The Chiefs kept rolling in Tampa Bay by trusting Patrick Mahomes and Tyreek Hill to make enough big plays. Their defense was complementary and they did what they needed to do without help from the running game. It’s hard to see Kansas City losing before Super Bowl 55.

IYER: Mahomes outduels Tom Brady, paving own path to GOAT

2. Pittsburgh Steelers 10-0 (2)

The Steelers refuse to lose and keep making the Chiefs sweat with the potential to take their home-field advantage and bye away. The Steelers now get a shell of a Ravens team looking for a sweep, with only a tough matchup at the Bills ahead.

3. New Orleans Saints 9-2 (3)

The Saints were handed their easy victory in Denver, with Taysom Hiill being the one and only true quarterback on the field. Their defense and running game are also peaking at the right time to make them the team to beat in the NFC.

4. Green Bay Packers 8-3 (5)

The Packers are making sure Aaron Rodgers’ MVP case is alive and well, even though Mahomes has gained a comfortable lead. They still struggle stopping running backs everywhere, but they also run well and play good situational pass defense. With the NFC North in hand again, they can focus on trying to catch the Saints, whom they beat.

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5. Buffalo Bills 8-3 (6)

The Bills needed to put together a strong, complete performance, and despite some shakiness from Josh Allen, they got that job done against the Chargers. The encouraging development was the defense clamping down again and making needed plays.

6. Seattle Seahawks 7-3 (7)

The Seahawks have a big opportunity to take control of the NFC West again with the Rams and Cardinals both losing as favorites. They look like they are back to helping Russell Wilson with the running game and defense formula.

7. Tennessee Titans 8-3 (10)

The Titans have found their smashing selves on the road again with Derrick Henry setting the tone for entire offensive big-play potential. The defense is improving despite have some limitations. They are emerging as an established AFC power vs. a flashy one.

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8. Cleveland Browns 8-3 (11)

It’s been an amazing turnaround in Cleveland under Kevin Stefanski, who’s refocused the team on its strengths in the running and short passing games. The defense has holes but continues to grind without key players. 

9. Los Angeles Rams 7-4 (4)

The Rams couldn’t solve the 49ers twice and that might end up costing them the NFC West title. Their defense still came through, but they need more offensive consistency, especially from Jared Goff.

10. Tampa Bay Buccaneers 7-5 (8)

The Bucs really need their Week 13 bye to regroup and fine-tune offensively and defensively. The talent and potential are still there for big things, but they need to fix the little ones around Tom Brady or will be headed to a quick stay in the playoffs.

11. Miami Dolphins 7-4 (13)  

The Dolphins got their second gimmie game against the Jets at the right time, taking advantage of the Raiders and Colts losing as favorites. The Chiefs in Week 14 and at the Bills in Week 17 are their biggest obstacles left as Brian Flores also vies for coach of the year.

12. Indianapolis Colts 7-4 (9)

The Colts used to be a dominant defense but injuries and other issues have suddenly made them more vulnerable, which is putting undue pressure on Philip Rivers to come through. They might be headed to just missing out on the playoffs once again.

13. Baltimore Ravens 6-4 (15) 

The Ravens will try to find enough healthy minds and bodies to field against the Steelers in their most critical game of the season after bad losses to the Patriots and Titans. They only solace is that they have a favorable closing schedule, starting with the Cowboys in Week 14.

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14. Arizona Cardinals 6-5 (14)

The Cardinals have fallen hard a couple times with a banged-up Kyler Murray, losing two close games they could have easily won. With their defensive issues, they still might be a year away from being a real playoff factor.

15. Las Vegas Raiders 6-5 (12)

The Raiders couldn’t afford to lose that Falcons game but their emotions of losing the Chiefs game definitely carried with them as their offense and defense melted down. Their upcoming games against the Colts and Dolphins now become must wins.

16. San Francisco 49ers 5-6 (17)

The 49ers are getting healthy in a hurry and remain one of the league’s best-coached teams with their strong offensive and defensive systems. They refuse to roll over and that’s a big testament to Kyle Shanahan.

17. Minnesota Vikings 5-6 (19)

The Vikings got sloppy with the football twice and it nearly cost them against the Panthers. But their defense is starting to play better at the right time to keep them in contention, while their offense keeps showing good balance and explosiveness when not making mistakes.

18. New England Patriots 5-6 (20)

The Patriots’ defense rose to the occasion in key situations against Murray. They also got a massive lift from James White to prop up Cam Newton. Like the 49ers in the NFC, they won’t die in the AFC until mathematically eliminated.

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19. Chicago Bears 5-6 (16)

The Bears’ 5-0 start based on big comebacks was an absolute mirage. The passing game issues persist with either quarterback and now the defense is wearing down and struggling in key spots all over the field.

20. Philadelphia Eagles 3-6-1 (23)

The Eagles are now in third place in the NFC East stepping on to their home field on Monday night. They need the best offensive and defensive performance of the season to save them against the Seahawks.

21. Houston Texans 4-7 (25)

The Texans have gotten off the mat post Bill O’Brien nicely with Deshaun Watson having his best passing season yet in the NFL. The defense needs a major overhaul still, but it was nice to see some vintage J.J. Watt on Thanksgiving.

22. Atlanta Falcons 4-7 (28)

The Falcons have played more inspired football with Raheem Morris. When Matt Ryan plays well, they usually win now. The defense has found a few more things that works. too. They have good momentum for their new coach, who could be Morris.

23. New York Giants 4-7 (26)

The Giants are in first place in the NFC East after surviving the Bengals but there should be concern going forward over the health of Daniel Jones, a QB reliant on his mobility. At least the defense and running game are stronger support.

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24. Denver Broncos 4-7 (28)

The Broncos had no healthy quarterbacks for the Saints game and the results were predictable. Their defense had been playing better, but it has simply gotten worn down with all kinds of bad offense.

25. Detroit Lions 4-7 (21)

The Lions’ latest loss was the last straw for Matt Patricia and Bob Quinn. Let’s their players finish strong to save some respectability after two bad losses to bad teams.

26. Washington Football Team 4-7 (29)

WFT briefly enjoyed first place in the NFC East after sweeping the Cowboys, but then the Giants, who swept WFT,  jumped them. The schedule is too tough for WFT to win the division.

27. Carolina Panthers 4-8 (26)

The Panthers have inconsistent offense and defense and their situational coaching also has let them down quite a bit this season under Matt Rhule and Joe Brady. In other words, they are about what we thought they were going into their Week 13 bye.

28. Los Angeles Chargers 3-8 (24)

The Chargers stopped losing a close game in Buffalo. Instead, they couldn’t even close the gap well against the Bills. Anthony Lynn’s game management has put him on the hot seat despite Justin Herbert’s season.

29. Dallas Cowboys 3-8 (27)

Mike McCarthy hasn’t coached well at all in his first season with the Cowboys, as that Vikings game proved to be an anomaly. He’s being further exposed by bad QB play and even worse defense.

30. Cincinnati Bengals 2-8-1 (30)

The Bengals are just trying to hang on and be competitive without Joe Burrow. The good news is they can probably add a franchise pass protector in the draft now.

31. Jacksonville Jaguars 1-10 (31)

The Jaguars said goodbye to general manager Dave Caldwell but Doug Marrone will get a chance to coach out the string. At. least undrafted running back James Robinson has been a season highlight.

32. New York Jets 0-11 (32)

The Jets are sticking with Adam Gase until the bitter end, even though it seems to get more embarrassing by the week.

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