NFL Power Rankings Week 14: The Elite Tier

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SLR’s Week 14 NFL Power Rankings: 16-9 Dec 1, 2013; East Rutherford, NJ, USA; Miami Dolphins wide receiver Brian Hartline (82) is tackled by New York Jets defensive back Ellis Lankster (21) during the game at MetLife Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Robert Deutsch-USA TODAY Sports

16. Chicago Bears (6-6) ▼1

They just refuse to seize any momentum or opportunities. That game against the Vikings was one of their easiest games left on the schedule, and they choked it away in overtime after giving up a 10-point lead. It’s starting to get ugly.

15. Miami Dolphins (6-6) ▲8

Is the Dolphin defense figuring things out, or was that just a side effect of playing the Jets? Either way, that was a big win that puts them on the inside track for a playoff spot. This is a good time for Ryan Tannehill to start making a name for himself.

14. Baltimore Ravens (6-6) ▲5

At .500, they’re (oddly enough) in good position to make a playoff push with a run in the season’s final quarter. If they get there, who knows what could happen? You all remember the 2012-2013 playoffs.

13. Arizona Cardinals (7-5) ▼4

Just as they were starting to roll, Bad Carson Palmer showed up again with two interceptions. Then the good one came back and tried to lead them back into the game, but it was too little, too late. Still have to love the way the defense plays, even though the Eagles got the best of them this week.

12. Dallas Cowboys (7-5) ▲2

That was an efficient performance by the Cowboys to take down the Raiders at home, and it ensures that they keep pace in the divisional race. Fantasy players will talk about DeMarco Murray’s great game, but really he had just a decent game with some good goal-line carries. Meanwhile, Tony Romo is quietly having one of his better overall seasons.

11. Detroit Lions (7-5) ▲2

They righted the ship against the surprisingly hapless Packers, and now have a cushion and all the tiebreakers to win the NFC North for the first time since it was the NFC Central. But still, they trailed early because of some very ugly turnovers and bad mistakes. Those are the types of things that hurt them against top-caliber competition.

10. Philadelphia Eagles (7-5) ▲1

Nick Foles and the Eagles keep rolling, and it’s getting harder and harder to doubt them every week. Even the defense played well against Arizona, and that’s been the bane of the whole team this year. Their best football may be ahead of them if this is a sign of them coming together.

9. Indianapolis Colts (8-4) ▲1

Thank goodness for Adam Vinatieri. The kicking game was the Colts’ primary mode of offense for most of the game. If not for the Colts’ uncanny fourth-quarter magic, we’d be talking about Andrew Luck’s sophomore slump right now, because he has looked extremely shaky at times this season. But then, that receiving corps is depleted without Reggie Wayne, and despite the Colts’ misguided efforts, the running game is a mess.