NFL Power Rankings Week 12: New NFL Bookends

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SLR’s Week 12 NFL Power Rankings: The Top 8 Nov 17, 2013; Denver, CO, USA; Denver Broncos running back Montee Ball (28) scores a touchdown against Kansas City Chiefs inside linebacker Akeem Jordan (55) in the second quarter at Sports Authority Field at Mile High. Mandatory Credit: Isaiah J. Downing-USA TODAY Sports

8. Cincinnati Bengals (7-4) ▲3

They snapped their losing skid with a very loud blowout win over the Browns. Now have a bye week with a 2.5 game advantage over the rest of the AFC North, so they can focus their efforts towards a playoff run. Step one: Figure out how to limit Andy Dalton’s interceptions.

7. Indianapolis Colts (7-3) ▲2

They’re getting into a disturbing habit of letting their opponents set the tone for the first half, then pulling out tight comeback wins. The only thing that’s good for is running up Andrew Luck’s “fourth quarter comebacks” stat. Sure, that looks good for the kid, but the Rams showed them that isn’t always a possibility.

6. New England Patriots (7-3)▼1

In a game that close, it just feels wrong to move anybody up or down too much. The Patriots are still one of the AFC’s teams to beat, but that Panthers defense, which is making the case to be considered the NFL’s best, just overpowered them. And with Danny Amendola, Rob Gronkowski, and Shane Vereen all healthy for the first time all season, they have nothing to blame other than just being outplayed.

5. Carolina Panthers  (7-3) ▲1

At halftime of the Sunday Night Football broadcast on NBC, Tony Dungy said the Panthers were the best team in the NFC. Certainly the Saints and Seahawks would have something to say about that, but that’s six straight wins now, the last two coming against playoff teams. The defense is stifling, and the offense does enough to support them. I said it last week and it bears repeating: This team is a better San Francisco 49ers team than the actual 49ers.

4. Kansas City Chiefs (9-1) ▼3

Okay then, they finally lost, and they move down accordingly, as it should be. But they were not dominated by the Broncos, as some expected they would be.  Losing to the Broncos doesn’t make them a bad team, it makes them not the best team. It is concerning that the offense wasn’t able to move the ball against an exploitable Denver defense, but the defense was still as advertised. This is going to be a great rematch at Arrowhead Stadium.

3. New Orleans Saints (8-2) ▲1

That was a big win for the Saints to keep the surging Carolina Panthers at bay. They appear, along with the Seahawks, to be among the class of the NFC. We’ll find out which is which when they match up in two weeks.

2. Seattle Seahawks (10-1) ▲1

There are worse things in the NFL than going into a bye week at 10-1 with divisional dominance all but assured. Getting Percy Harvin back after playing this well without him seems almost unfair. With their closest competition being the Cardinals and 49ers at 6-4, they can basically coast into the playoffs. All they need to worry about now is whether they can stay healthy and keep home field advantage over the Saints.

1.  Denver Broncos (9-1) ▲1

Well, there’s very little doubt now, is there? The Broncos have taken control of the AFC West with the win over the Kansas City Chiefs everyone appears to have been waiting for. It wasn’t a blowout, but the fact that the Broncos faced considerable adversity in this game and pulled through is a good sign for the rest of the season.