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WEEI NFL Power Rankings, Week 13: Patriots move up to No. 4

11.27.12 at 9:39 am ET

The bye weeks are over and now every team in the NFL has played the same number of games. If we’ve learned anything through the first three months of the current season, it’s that there are a lot of mediocre and below-average teams. There are six teams with a 4-7 record, five with a 6-5 record, and four with a 5-6 record. The Steelers (10) are practically begging to be dropped out of the top 10, but no one is worthy to rise into that elite group.

The Texans (1), Falcons (2) and Niners (3) have maintained stability at the top. At a combined 28-4-1, those three teams continue to roll. Inching closer and closer are the red-hot Patriots. They jump up one spot for the second straight week and sit at No. 4. Aaron Rodgers and the Packers get sacked out of the top five and drop to No. 8.

Week 13’s Monday night matchup should be a much more enjoyable game to watch than last night’s painful display of two equally uninspiring 3-8 teams — the Panthers (27) and Eagles (28). The Giants (7) take on RG3 and the Redskins (15) in an NFC East showdown.

Click here to listen to Mut and Merloni discuss this edition of the Power Rankings.

1. (1) Texans (10-1) ‘€” Ten quarters of football in just five days. It’s amazing they have been able to endure and come out on top in both games. Super Bowl-caliber teams are resilient, and the Texans have proven they can overcome any deficit. Expect the Texans to bounce back defensively next week against the Titans.

2. (2) Falcons (10-1) ‘€” Week after week the Falcons continue to find ways to win, and doubters continue to question if Matt Ryan‘s team is capable of being successful in the playoffs. It’s a fair question due to the fact that Ryan is 0-3 in the postseason, but the Falcons still deserve to be considered one of the best in the NFL since they’ve found a way to win 10 of 11 times this year.

3. (3) 49ers (8-2-1) ‘€” No defense is as physical and dominant as the Niners. San Fran’s D proved its dominance once again against one of the hottest offenses in the league. Going into Sunday’s game, the Saints were clicking on all cylinders in the month of November. They were averaging 32 points per game and Drew Brees had a 72.5 completion percentage with a 125.5 QB rating. Against the Niners, the Saints offense was held to just 21 points (its second-lowest total of the year). Brees’ completion percentage dropped nearly 10 points and his QB rating dropped nearly 40 points. 

4. (5) Patriots (8-3) ‘€” There is just one team in the NFL averaging over 30 points per game, and that’s the New England Patriots. Bill Belichick‘s team has stampeded over opposing defenses and has averaged 37 points per game. The last four games have been even more impressive. The Pats have put up 190 points. That’s more points than the Chiefs, Cardinals, Eagles and Jaguars have scored all season.

5. (6) Ravens (9-2) ‘€” What are they feeding their linebackers in Baltimore? First it was Terrell Suggs remarkably returning from his torn Achilles much earlier than expected. Now, Ray Lewis reportedly will return before the regular season ends after many thought the veteran linebacker’s career might be over due to his triceps injury.

6. (7) Broncos (8-3) ‘€”Peyton Manning helped the Broncos extend their winning streak to six games in Kansas City on Sunday. The Broncos offense sputtered a bit in it’s first game without Willis McGahee. Facing one of the worst run defenses in the game, Knowshon Moreno and Ronnie Hillman rushed for 94 yards. Going into the game, the Chiefs were allowing an average of more than 125 yards.

7. (9) Giants (7-4) ‘€” The Giants did exactly what they had to do coming off their bye week and two straight losses. If they can stay healthy, no team in the NFC will want to face them in the playoffs.

8. (4) Packers (7-4) ‘€” The Packers were forced to reshuffle their offensive line after starting tackle Brian Bulaga was lost for the season. Facing a strong Giants pass rush, Aaron Rodgers was sacked five times. The Packers have a major problem on their hands if the pass protection doesn’t improve.

9. (8) Bears (8-3) ‘€” A rash of injuries has hit the Bears at an inopportune time. Aside from the fact that key players like Matt Forte, Lance Briggs and Charles Tillman all went down, Chicago suffered injuries on its already weak offensive line. Starting guards Lance Louis and Shane Spencer also left Sunday’s game. Jay Cutler probably will be under even more duress for the foreseeable future.

10. (10) Steelers (6-5) ‘€” It’s real simple, the Steelers can’t survive without Ben Roethlisberger. The loss of their starting quarterback has seriously jeopardized their season. Even if Pittsburgh is able to sneak into the playoffs, the team lost its ability to win the division and host a postseason game with Big Ben’s injury.

11. (11) Seahawks (6-5) ‘€” All five losses have come on the road for the Seahawks. Even if Brandon Browner and Richard Sherman win their appeals and Seattle is able to squeeze into the playoffs, the Seahawks will have to play without their “12th man.”

12. (12) Saints (5-6) ‘€” Drew Brees is another elite quarterback dealing with injuries on his offensive line. Brees was sacked five times Sunday in his team’s loss to the Niners. He also threw two interceptions that were returned for a touchdown. When the offense plays poor it’s extremely unlikely the Saints 31st-ranked defense is capable of capable of carrying the load.

13. (14) Buccaneers (6-5) ‘€” The Bucs have been defeated five times this year by an average of 4.2 points. Last year, Tampa lost 12 games by an average of 18.9 points. If that doesn’t show how dramatically improved the Bucs are, nothing will. Greg Schiano is a strong candidate for Coach of the Year.

14. (15) Colts (7-4) ‘€” One of the feel-good stories of the NFL is the Colts. At 7-4, this team is poised to make the postseason after winning just two games all of last year. On top of that, the players, the coaches, the fans, and the city of Indianapolis have bonded due to Chuck Pagano‘s battle with leukemia.

15. (21) Redskins (5-6) ‘€” It wasn’t long ago that Mike Shanahan told reporters after his team’s third straight loss that the rest of the season will be an “evaluation” for next year. Since, the Redskins have rattled off two impressive victories and are right back in the playoff hunt. How quickly things change.

16. (19) Bengals (6-5) ‘€” The Bengals saw an opportunity and have taken advantage. Since Ben Roethlisberger‘s injury, Cincinnati is 2-0 while the Steelers are 0-2. In their current three-game winning streak, the Bengals have outscored their opponent 93-29.

17. (13) Cowboys (5-6) ‘€” In two full seasons, Jason Garrett has a 13-14 record. Dallas is an average team with above-average talent. Yes, this team has endured a boatload of injuries. However, poor coaching and undisciplined play has made a bigger impact on the Cowboys’ record.

18. (23) Dolphins (5-6) ‘€” With their overtime victory, the Dolphins salvaged their season and remained in the AFC playoff race. In last week’s Power Rankings we talked about Reggie Bush‘s limited role in the offense. In Sunday’s win, the Dolphins running back saw his most carries since Week 8 and produced a touchdown along with 6.2 yards per carry. He averaged just 3.4 during the three-game losing streak.

19. (16) Vikings (6-5) ‘€” Without Percy Harvin, the Vikings offense is very limited. Christian Ponder has very few weapons in the passing game, and if opponents focus on stopping the run, they have a good shot at beating the Vikings. It also doesn’t help when Adrian Peterson arrives late and fumbles twice.

20. (17) Lions (4-7) ‘€” Offseason arrests, costly penalties, and on-field mistakes makes it extremely hard to be successful in the NFL. It seems like Jim Schwartz‘s team is constantly hurting itself.

21. (18) Chargers (4-7) ‘€”Squandering a 24-point first-half lead is tough to do. Allowing a key fourth-and-29 conversion is even more difficult. The Chargers have managed to do both in one season.

22. (26) Rams (4-6-1) ‘€” Give credit to the Rams for having the best divisional record in the NFC West. That could very well change after next week when they play the Niners, but the Rams have yet to lose in the division. Steven Jackson ran for over 100 yards for just the second time this season and the Rams defense forced four turnovers after having just nine all year going into Sunday’s game.

23. (22) Titans (4-7) ‘€” The Titans are one of the most inconsistent teams in the league. Last week they blew out the Dolphins by 34 points, the week before that they lost to the Bears by 31 points. In Week 12, they were defeated by a team that won its first and only game of the season in September.

24. (20) Cardinals (4-7) ‘€” Bad luck at the quarterback position has plagued the Cardinals since the departure of Kurt Warner. Terrible performances and injuries have prevented the team from being successful. Kevin Kolb can’t come back soon enough. Who would’ve thought that sentence would have been written before the season started?

25. (24) Jets (4-7) ‘€” It doesn’t get much more embarrassing. The Jets haven’t even been competitive in the majority of their defeats. They’ve been outscored by 132 points in seven losses, which includes one overtime game. That means in six losses during regulation they’ve fallen by an average of three touchdowns.

26. (25) Bills (4-7) ‘€” For the 13th straight season fans in Buffalo won’t be able to watch their team in the postseason. High expectations have turned into great disappointment. Chan Gailey has won just 14 games in three seasons. His predecessor, Dick Jauron, won 21 in his first three before being fired in the middle of his fourth season with the team.

27. (29) Panthers (3-8) ‘€” The Panthers have been unable to close games out all year but finally put one away Monday night against the Eagles. They have a great shot at winning back-to-back games for the first time this year next week against the Chiefs.

28. (27) Eagles (3-8) ‘€” The Eagles showed on a national stage why they have lost seven straight games. Turnovers and penalties have become a regular occurrence in their games. The end of the season can’t come soon enough for Philly fans.

29. (30) Browns (3-8) ‘€” The Browns defeated the Steelers for just the fourth time in their last 26 meetings. They also forced a staggering eight turnovers against their division rival. It’s a rare joyous occasion in Cleveland.

30. (31) Jaguars (2-9) ‘€” In two weeks, Chad Henne has sparked the Jags offense and has thrown six touchdowns. It took Blaine Gabbert six games to throw six touchdowns. Henne gives the Jaguars their best chance to win.

31. (28) Raiders (3-8) ‘€”It’s been yet another miserable season for Raiders fans. Oakland now has lost four straight games and has allowed an average of 42.2 points in that stretch.

32. (32) Chiefs (1-10) ‘€” It’s difficult to put into words how bad the Chiefs have been offensively. They have just one passing touchdown and two rushing touchdowns since Oct. 1.

Which NFL teams are in your top 10? Leave your opinions/comments below or e-mail them to You also can send comments via Twitter to @JoeytheFishWEEI.

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