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WEEI NFL Power Rankings — Week 13

12.01.09 at 9:17 am ET
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Drew Brees and the Saints cemented their hold on the top spot with Monday night's rout of the Patriots. (AP)

Drew Brees and the Saints cemented their hold on the top spot with Monday night's rout of the Patriots. (AP)

Any doubts that the Saints were the best team in the league certainly went out the window after their Monday night shellacking of the Patriots. MVP candidate Drew Brees played arguably the best game of his career in the Saints’ biggest game of the season. They remain at the peak of the WEEI NFL Power Rankings.

The Bengals jump two spots and leap into the top five after completing a sweep of the AFC North with a win over Cleveland on Sunday. The Bengals now have the luxury of having one of the best 1-2 running back combinations in the league when Cedric Benson returns on Sunday.

The Patriots are looking up at three AFC teams that now have better records than them. The embarrassing loss to the Saints has many questioning if the Patriots can actually compete with the top teams in the NFL.

Arguably the best story of the year is the Titans’ resurgence. Five straight wins for the Vince Young-led Titans and they continue to move up the ladder. Despite having a worse record than some teams behind them, the Titans stand tall at No. 12. The rankings aren’t based on records, they are based on how teams currently are performing, and Tennessee can compete with anyone right now.

New Orleans Saints1. (Last week, 1) 11-0 A dominating performance for the best team in the NFL. Monday night’s blowout of the Patriots was a statement to the rest of the league. Drew Brees and the offense moved the ball with ease, while the defense pressured Brady and held Randy Moss and Wes Welker to a combined nine catches.

2. (2) 11-0 The Colts have come back in the fourth quarter in five straight games. They don’t get frazzled in crunch time, they get better. A true sign of a championship team. Congrats to the 2009 AFC South champs.

Minnesota Vikings3. (3) 10-1 Brett Favre has thrown just three interceptions all year and leads the league in passer rating. The Vikings remain unbeaten at home after demolishing the Bears. Favre is a true MVP candidate.

Cincinnati Bengals4. (6) 8-3 The Larry Johnson signing really paid off for the Bengals on Sunday. Props go to Marvin Lewis for preparing this team and putting Cincinnati in a position to win each week. This team is soaring with confidence.

5. (5) 8-3 The Chargers started the season 2-3 and now are contending for a first-round playoff bye in the AFC. It has been a great turnaround for the San Diego defense, which forced four turnovers in the win over the Chiefs Sunday.

New England Patriots 6. (4) 7-4 The Patriots looked silly against the Saints. They need to improve on both sides of the ball if this team expects to contend for a Super Bowl. The red zone offense has been mediocre at best and the defense has looked awful against strong offenses.

Arizona Cardinals7. (7) 7-4 The Cardinals ran into one of the hottest teams in the league without their starting quarterback. Arizona’s run game is improving week after week, and that has been the one thing the Cardinals have been without for most of the season. With a solid run game, Kurt Warner and the Cards could be a tough team to beat down the stretch.

Dallas Cowboys8. (8) 8-3 Tony Romo is known for struggling in December, and the Cowboys’ schedule gets tougher going forward. The next three games (at Giants, vs. Chargers, at Saints) will show how good this Cowboys team really is.

9. (9) 7-4 The Eagles have a big game in Atlanta on Sunday and will have the luxury of facing a quarterback who hasn’t started a game since 2007.

Green Bay Packers10. (11) 7-4 The Packers defense leads the league in fewest yards allowed per game. The month of December won’t be an easy one for the cheeseheads; Green Bay will play three of its final four games on the road.

Denver Broncos11. (15) 7-4 The tough part of the schedule is over for the Broncos. Three of their remaining five games are against the Chiefs (twice) and the Raiders.

12. (14) 5-6 The first team in the NFL to win five straight games after losing the first six. Vince Young finally is developing into a solid quarterback. Young showed how talented he can be when he led the Titans on an incredible final drive to win the game.

Pittsburgh Steelers 13. (10) 6-5 The Steelers can’t afford to lose more than one game in their remaining five. Ben Roethlisberger will be back next week against Oakland and should be ready to lead the Steelers into the playoffs.

14. (17) 6-5 If the Ravens have trouble winning a game against a third-string quarterback, how are they going to do against players such as Peyton Manning, Tom Brady and Ben Roethlisberger on the road in the playoffs?

15. (19) 6-5 Matt Ryan already has been ruled out for Sunday’s big game against the Eagles. The Falcons are about to enter must-win territory and are being forced to do it without their starting quarterback and running back.

Jacksonville Jaguars16. (12) 6-5 Pathetic performance for the Jaguars against a mediocre 49ers team. The Jags had a great opportunity to greatly improve their chances of making the playoffs, and they came out flat.

17. (13) 6-5 Eli Manning‘s foot injury should be a major cause for concern among Giants fans. His foot has bothered him most of the season and it has showed.

Houston Texans18. (16) 5-6 The Texans can compete with the best teams in the league, but they can’t find a way to win.

San Francisco 49ers19. (20) 5-6 Alex Smith was mistake-free on Sunday against the Jaguars and turned in one of his best performances all year.

Miami Dolphins20. (18) 5-6 Any hopes of making the playoffs went out the door Sunday when the Dolphins lost to the Bills.

New York Jets21. (23) 5-6 The Jets have some good young talent. Darrelle Revis is the best cornerback in the league.

Chicago Bears22. (21) 4-7 Many picked the Bears to win the NFC North before the season started. Twenty Jay Cutler interceptions later, the Bears find themselves out of the playoffs before December rolls around.

Buffalo Bills23. (28) 4-7 Despite all the adversity, the Bills still managed to upset the Dolphins on Sunday. Buffalo scored an impressive 24 points in the fourth quarter.

Washington Redskins24. (24) 3-8 The Redskins have played well their last three games and took the Cowboys and the Eagles to the brink. Washington will face the ultimate test Sunday against the Saints.

Carolina Panthers25. (22) 4-7 I’m not buying the Jake Delhomme broken finger story. The Panthers are protecting their QB after another embarrassing performance. This is the second time this season Delhomme has thrown four interceptions in one game. I would be shocked to see him touch the field again in 2009.

Seattle Seahawks26. (27) 4-7 It’s about time the Seahawks running game stepped up. The Seahawks can be a solid offensive unit if the run game can contribute and complement the passing game.

Kansas City Chiefs27. (25) 3-8 Kansas City is at the bottom of the league in many offensive and defensive categories. Could Charlie Weiss be a solution at offensive coordinator for the Chiefs next year?

Oakland Raiders28. (26) 3-8 The Raiders are dead last in the NFL with just 10.5 points per game.

St. Louis Rams29. (29) 1-10 The Rams should be looking for a quarterback come draft day in 2010. Marc Bulger is not the answer, and St.Louis will have a top-three pick to select a franchise QB.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers30. (31) 1-10 Josh Freeman has played well since he took over at quarterback. He completed 20-of-29 passes and threw for 250 yards against the Falcons.

Detroit Lions31. (30) 2-9 The Lions have given the ball away a total of 26 times this year.

Cleveland Browns32. (32) 1-10 The misery continues in Cleveland. The Browns lost their best player on defense, lineman Shaun Rogers, on Sunday. This might be a blessing in disguise. The loss of Rodgers could help determine whether the Browns pick first or second in the draft.

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