NFL Power Rankings: Final 2013 Rankings

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SLR’s Final 2013 NFL Power Rankings: 24-17 Dec 29, 2013; Minneapolis, MN, USA; Detroit Lions head coach Jim Schwartz and Minnesota Vikings head coach Leslie Frazier meet following the game at Mall of America Field at H.H.H. Metrodome. The Vikings defeated the Lions 14-13. Mandatory Credit: Brace Hemmelgarn-USA TODAY Sports

24. Buffalo Bills (6-10) NC

The Bills and six-win seasons man, I swear it’s an addiction. It seems like they’re never quite good enough, but they never bottom out, either. Still, it’s probably a good sign that they were able to tread water with a rookie head coach and rookie QB. They should be a real contender next year. But “should” isn’t “will be.”

23. Detroit Lions (7-9) ▼2

Their epic late-season collapse ended last week with their loss to the Giants, but if it hadn’t, it would have this week against the Vikings. In the event that the Lions were playing for the job of their head coach, I wouldn’t want to be Jim Schwartz right now.

22. New York Giants (7-9) ▲1

They did a good job recovering from an 0-6 start to finish a mediocre 7-9.  It’s the same kind of late-season push that has won them Super Bowls in recent years, but their start this year was a little rougher than usual. Their primary question this offseason has to be whether Eli Manning can figure out whatever issues he had this year.

21. Tennessee Titans (7-9) ▲1

Ryan Fitzpatrick proved that he was a decent backup quarterback this year, and chances are, that will be his role for the rest of his career. They took some solid steps forward this year, including the development of Jake Locker, but they still need to pepper the offense with more weapons.

20. Chicago Bears (8-8) ▼1

The decision by Marc Trestman to sit the hot hand in Josh McCown and go with Jay Cutler resulted in a 1-2 record and a missed opportunity at the playoffs. They were outscored by 41 points in that stretch, and their only win was a comeback against the Browns. You can’t blame Cutler for all of that, especially considering the Bears’ league-worst rushing defense, but it’s a compelling case regardless.

19. New York Jets (8-8) ▲1

With the win in their final game, they eliminated the Miami Dolphins from the playoffs, secured a .500 record, and maybe tipped the scale that saved Rex Ryan’s job. They only figure to get better fielding Geno Smith next season with a year’s worth of experience. But then, people said that about Mark Sanchez, too.

18. St. Louis Rams (7-9) ▼3

They finished an up-and-down season on a decidedly low note. With a chance to get to .500 and spoil the Seahawks’ first-round bye, they turned in a sloppy, penalty-laden game complete with ejections and defensive touchdowns going the other way. At least they’ve found a heck of a pass rush to build that defense around. The offense needs some more skill players, preferably a downfield threat of some kind.

17. Dallas Cowboys (8-8) NC

There’s barely anything more than can be said. The Cowboys looked like an average team for most of the season, stumbled their way into a play-in game, and they lost it because of a game-ending interception. The only difference between this season and every other recent season is Tony Romo didn’t throw the interception.