NFL Power Rankings Week 12: New NFL Bookends

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SLR’s Week 12 NFL Power Rankings: 16-9 Nov 17, 2013; Philadelphia, PA, USA; Philadelphia Eagles quarterback Nick Foles (9) scrambles during the fourth quarter against the Washington Redskins at Lincoln Financial Field. The Eagles defeated the Redskins 24-16. Mandatory Credit: Howard Smith-USA TODAY Sports

16. New York Jets (5-5) ▼6

They are the first team in NFL history to alternate wins and losses in their first 10 games. The weird thing is, that mediocrity is an accomplishment for the Jets, which looked to all the world like a bottom-feeder coming into the season.

15. Dallas Cowboys (5-5) ▲4

They would really have preferred the Eagles lose during their bye week, but there’s nothing they can do about that. They come out of their bye as the second-place team in the NFC East, and will try to pull back even with the Eagles next week when they play the red-hot Giants.

14. St. Louis Rams (4-6) ▲2

It’s hard to say what their exact goals are for the rest of this season. The defense has been punishing, and the offense under Kellen Clemens has been adequate, largely due to the emergence of Zac Stacy. With a little winning streak, a wildcard spot is reasonable, but is that even the expectation? Regardless, they’re dangerous for any team, if they keep doing what they did to Indianapolis.

13. Philadelphia Eagles (6-5) ▲5

I’ve been hard on the Eagles this season, mostly because I grow weary of extensive hype surrounding rookie head coaches. But they deserve respect for pulling themselves up from the mat to take the lead in the NFC East. Granted, being the best NFC East football team is like being Puerto Rico’s best snowboarder.

12. Chicago Bears (6-4) ▲1

It’s unlikely that 34-year-old Josh McCown is making a case for himself as the Bears’ starting quarterback of the future. But he could be making the case that Jay Cutler isn’t, as the veteran backup appears to be outperforming the entrenched starter. He’s 2-0 as the Bears’ starter, and despite all indications to the contrary, they’re right in the thick of the NFC North race.

11. Arizona Cardinals (6-4) ▲1

Don’t look now, but the Cardinals are two games over .500, and Carson Palmer just had a 400-yard passing game. They’re on a three-game winning streak, and have pulled even with the San Francisco 49ers in the NFC West. That said, that winning streak came against teams with a combined 5-25 record. Let’s see if they can keep it going next week against the Colts.

10. Detroit Lions (6-4) ▼2

Just when it looked like they could take some control in the NFC North, they lay an egg in Pittsburgh. Inconsistency has plagued this team all season (and then some), and that combined with their inability to stop anybody’s passing game is going to be the biggest obstacle for them down the stretch.

9. San Francisco 49ers (6-4) ▼2

The defense is still good, but not dominant. The offense isn’t moving the ball any better than it did in the Alex Smith era. Never mind making the Super Bowl, this team has issues to work out just to get to the playoffs. With the loss to New Orleans, they’ve basically already conceded the NFC West to Seattle.