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NFL 2018 SQ NFL Power Rankings: Week 13

Zimbio

Which of the NFL’s powerhouses will claim to top spot in the rankings?

There is a clear dividing line between the top three teams in the league and everyone else. Each has an electric offense. Each has a defense that has looked suspect for stretches but can put together a game-changing play or a good game at any time. The New Orleans Saints lead in points scored and point differential and lead our rankings heading into Week 13. Check out how the rest of the teams stack up below.

   Ranking (Change)

1 (-)

New Orleans Saints (10-1)

New Orleans Saints (10-1)

The Saints are the best team in the NFL: a top-five offense, an above-average defense, a freak of nature in RB Alvin Kamara, a great head coach, and an MVP candidate in Drew Brees. A record of 10-1 isn’t a joke. It isn’t a dream. It’s one loss more than this team should have. (Hunter Bonge)

2 (-)

Los Angeles Rams (10-1)

Los Angeles Rams (10-1)

Los Angeles’s much-needed bye week was bittersweet, as although they got to rest their bodies on the heels of their impressive 54-51 win over the Chiefs, they watched their biggest NFC competition—and their only loss for that matter—comfortably handle their division rivals Thursday night. Drew Brees and the Saints easily defeated the Atlanta Falcons on Thanksgiving, and thus, the Rams will continue to remain second in our, as well as most, power rankings. A frustrating development, considering they are still widely-recognized as the best all-around team in football. However, the last thing Sean McVay and company are concerned about is where they stand rankings-wise. Los Angeles has all but locked up the NFC West with five games left and a four-game lead over Seattle. Additionally, the return of Marcus Peters will bolster a secondary that’s currently surrendering 252.6 passing yards per game—good for 19th in the NFL. (Ryan Grube)

3 (-)

Kansas City Chiefs (9-2)

Kansas City Chiefs (9-2)

The Chiefs are hungry for a win in Oakland after losing a hearbreaker to the L.A. Rams last Monday. That, plus the bye week, and it will have been three weeks without a win for the Chiefs by kickoff. That’s a lot of time to dwell and get too far into one’s head. Kansas City has been living a bit of a lie this year. Here are who the Chiefs have beaten: Arizona, Cleveland, Denver, Cincinnati, Jacksonville, San Francisco, and Pittsburgh (in week two, when the Steelers were still trying to find their way without RB Le’Veon Bell, and still scored 37 points). Now that I take a step back and look more carefully at this Chiefs team, I’m ready to sell my stock. One more thing: they have the NFL’s 30th-ranked defense. That’s not going to cut it in the postseason. (Hunter Bonge)

4 (+1)

New England Patriots (8-3)

New England Patriots (8-3)

Following their shocking, abysmal loss to the Titans, the Patriots responded well and took care of business with a 27-13 victory over their division rival, the New York Jets. Although they were expected to win—FPI gave them an 85 percent chance to come out on top—and the game was never in any question, it was still the bounce back effort Bill Belichick and company needed to get the ball rolling again. Tom Brady stole the show on Sunday, as the 41-year-old gunslinger became the NFL’s all-time leader in total passing yards in the regular season and playoffs. Brady threw for 283 yards and two touchdowns, including one to Rob Gronkowski, who found the endzone for the first time since Week 1. Moreover, Sony Michel continued his impressive campaign, rushing for 133 yards and a touchdown on 21 carries. This Patriots team is finding its grove at the right time and seems poised for another playoff run, as they currently sit at 8-3 with a three-game lead over the Dolphins in the AFC East. (Ryan Grube)

5 (+1)

Chicago Bears (8-3)

Chicago Bears (8-3)

The Bears are 8-3 and still have hopes of claiming a first-round bye in the NFC playoffs. With a matchup against the Rams looming, they can’t lose focus against the Giants this week. Mitch Trubisky will most likely be back under center, giving the offense a big boost from last week. (Max Vukelich)

6 (+1)

Los Angeles Chargers (8-3)

Los Angeles Chargers (8-3)

The outcome of Sunday’s matchup between the Chargers and Cardinals was never really in any question, and Los Angeles lived up to predictions, delivering a 45-10 thumping to Steve Wilks’s struggling bunch. Philip Rivers was nothing short of magnificent. The 15-year veteran completed an astonishing 28-of-29 passes—a 96.5-percent completion rate—for 259 yards and three touchdowns, while tying the NFL record of most consecutive completions along the way with 25. His potential record-breaking pass unfortunately fell incomplete, and so Rivers will have to live with sharing the throne with Ryan Tannehill—a difficult task, I must imagine. Nevertheless, it was an all-around dominant victory for a Chargers team that has now won seven of eight and currently find themselves just one game back of Kansas City in the AFC West at 8-3. They’ll have a difficult task if they want to continue their momentum this week, however, as Rivers and company prepare to travel to Pittsburgh for a Sunday night showdown with the equally hot Steelers. (Ryan Grube)

7 (-3)

Pittsburgh Steelers (7-3-1)

Pittsburgh Steelers (7-3-1)

Pittsburgh lost a thriller in Denver last week, but the Steelers still sit comfortably at 7-3-1. They are easily the best team in the AFC North and are fighting for home field advantage down the stretch of this season. This week’s SNF matchup against the L.A. Chargers will give us a great look at who the Steelers really are. They were my pick to make it to Super Bowl LIII at the start of the season (back when everyone figured that RB Le’Veon Bell would eventually return from vacation). I’m not entirely sure I want to give up on that prediction just yet. (Hunter Bonge)

8 (+1)

Minnesota Vikings (6-4-1)

Minnesota Vikings (6-4-1)

In a must-win situation for playoff purposes, the Vikings delivered, as Kirk Cousins and company were able to pull away from the Packers in the second half en route to an impressive 24-17 divisional victory. The win came on the heels of a demoralizing Sunday night loss to both teams’ fellow division rival, the Chicago Bears. Unfortunately, for Minnesota’s sake, Chicago was also able to pull out a win, as they defeated the Lions on Thanksgiving. However, teams can only control what they do in this league, and the Vikings did just that. Cousins, in a rebound effort, was incredibly efficient, throwing for 342 yards and three touchdowns, while completing 76 percent of his pass attempts. His magnificent play negated sub-par rushing efforts from Dalvin Cook (10 carries for 29 yards) and Latavius Murray (11 carries for 33 yards). With matchups against the Patriots, Seahawks, and Bears still on the schedule, the Vikings will need more performances like Sunday’s from their $84 million quarterback. (Ryan Grube)

9 (+1)

Houston Texans (8-3)

Houston Texans (8-3)

The Houston Texans are scorching hot. They’ve won eight straight games and find themselves leading the Colts in the AFC South by two games with only five games to go. While Deshaun Watson will get all the headlines, the key for this team has been the defense. Houston has the fifth-best scoring defense in the league. Every game they enter they have a decided advantage in the trenches when they bring out Jadeveon Clowney and JJ Watt. With those two, the Texans should be well positioned to make some noise in the postseason. (Adrian Nelson)

10 (-2)

Carolina Panthers (6-5)

Carolina Panthers (6-5)

As the Saints continue to emerge as a Super Bowl favorite, the rest of the NFC South continues to trend in the opposite direction. The Panthers are no exception, as they dropped their third straight game to the Seahawks in what was another heartbreaking defeat. As of today, Carolina is on the outside looking in for a playoff spot, and with two matchups against New Orleans down the stretch, they certainly have their work cut out for them. (Kyle Trapp)

11 (+2)

Seattle Seahawks (6-5)

Seattle Seahawks (6-5)

Seattle is currently the sixth and final team in the playoffs right now, and they’re playing like a team that deserves it. A late win against Carolina helped them leapfrog the Panthers in the standings. Here’s some food for thought on the recent dominance of the Seahawks: Seattle has led or been within one score during the fourth quarter of 104 out of 107 games during the Pete Carrol-Russell Wilson era. Thank Sheil Kapadia for that one. (Matt Fowler)

12 (-)

Baltimore Ravens (6-5)

Baltimore Ravens (6-5)

Make that two straight victories for Lamar Jackson as the starting quarterback for the Baltimore Ravens. Once again, the rookie was by no means perfect, but he tossed his first career score while piling up 71 yards on the ground. What’s most important is that the Ravens picked up a much-needed win, and at this point its fair to wonder if they’re a better team with Jackson at the helm. This week’s matchup in Atlanta should serve as a solid litmus test. (Kyle Trapp)

13 (+4)

Indianapolis Colts (6-5)

Indianapolis Colts (6-5)

Just a short while ago, the Colts found themselves at the bottom of the league standings with a 1-5 record. But five straight victories later, they are one of the NFL’s hottest teams and squarely in the playoff mix. They are two games back in their division, but there is room to be enthusiastic. They have a better point differential than the division-leading Houston Texans and have figured it out offensively. Before the streak, they were average 25 points per game, and during the streak, they are 10 points better. They have one of the league’s best offenses and in today’s NFL, that makes them a serious threat. (Adrian Nelson)

14 (+2)

Dallas Cowboys (6-5)

Dallas Cowboys (6-5)

Critics of the Cowboys’ decision to trade for Amari Cooper were silenced in Week 12, as Cooper went for a 8/180/2 line against Washington on Turkey Day. The offense’s third down conversion rate has improved tremendously since Cooper’s arrival, and Dak Prescott’s passing yards per game have increased by 45 yards in the same span. The NFC East is the Cowboys’ to lose, but the race will be tight up through Week 17. Up next for Dallas are the Saints, who are playing better than anyone in football right now. A loss is likely, but a win could push Dallas into the NFC contender conversation. (Nick Cardozo)

15 (+5)

Philadelphia Eagles (5-6)

Philadelphia Eagles (5-6)

Philadelphia is climbing back into playoff contention, coming off of a division win versus the Giants. The winner of the NFC East isn’t going to have over nine wins, and maybe not even nine. The conference is too stacked and the division is too tight. The Eagles are in third place right now, but they are one game out of first place. I think they will sweep the Redskins and go 1-2 in their matchups against Dallas, the L.A. Rams, and Houston. That puts them at 8-8 to end the year. Dallas’ schedule isn’t a cakewalk. The Cowboys have yet to face New Orleans and red-hot Indianapolis. Calm down, Philly fans: there is hope. (Hunter Bonge)

16 (-5)

Green Bay Packers (4-6-1)

Green Bay Packers (4-6-1)

The road woes have continued for the Green Bay Packers. After dropping their most recent game to the Minnesota Vikings, the Packers find themselves as 0-6 on the road. Their 4-0-1 record at home has them hovering around .500 with a 4-6-1 record. It seems all but over for the Pack, who would need to win out with some help in order to sneak in. In the long run, this could be a good thing. Mike McCarthy is bad and has been bad for a while. Perhaps this remedial offense will get a boost if they let him go. (Adrian Nelson)

17 (-3)

Washington Redskins (6-5)

Washington Redskins (6-5)

Ever since Alex Smith went down, there hasn’t been much hope for Washington’s playoff chances. A crucial matchup with the Eagles awaits them Monday night after a critical loss to the Cowboys on Thanksgiving. Time’s running out for Washington to figure out a solution to the unfortunate injury, and sorry to disappoint, but Mark Sanchez ain’t it. (Matt Fowler)

18 (-3)

Tennessee Titans (5-6)

Tennessee Titans (5-6)

The Titans led early against Houston, but Lamar Miller and Deshaun Watson couldn’t be contained as the Texans solidified themselves as one of the league’s best. Meanwhile, Tennessee is struggling to find their identity. One week, Dion Lewis and Derrick Henry are getting 20+ carries, the next, a tight end is running the ball on fourth and short near the goal line. The Titans need to clean it up if they want to compete. (Matt Fowler)

19 (+2)

Denver Broncos (5-6)

Denver Broncos (5-6)

Denver squeezed out another win, relying on its incredibly efficient run game, and now has back-to-back wins against some of the AFC’s premier teams. First-round rookie Bradley Chubb has nine sacks on the year and has formed quite a tandem with Von Miller, and together they are capable of wreaking havoc on any quarterback each week. While Case Keenum has been unspectacular all year, the team’s upcoming schedule is mouth-watering and gives the Broncos a real chance at an AFC wild card spot. (Nick Cardozo)

20 (-1)

Atlanta Falcons (4-7)

Atlanta Falcons (4-7)

The Falcons’ season continues to unravel, as a third straight loss may have been the nail in the coffin for any remote playoff hopes. There’s no shame in a loss in New Orleans, but the same issues that have been plaguing Atlanta all year reared their ugly head once again. With as many playmakers as the offense has, they still struggle immensely to finish drives. It’s difficult to beat any team with such a lack of efficiency. (Kyle Trapp)

21 (-3)

Cincinnati Bengals (5-6)

Cincinnati Bengals (5-6)

The Bengals’ playoffs hopes are likely finished with Andy Dalton going on season-ending injured reserve. Their defense has played arguably the worst in the entire league, but if this team has any hope of remaining, it will be because of Joe Mixon and the rushing game. They need to play keep away and control the clock in nearly every game from here on out to remain competitive. (Max Vukelich)

22 (-)

Detroit Lions (4-7)

Detroit Lions (4-7)

The Lions gave the Bears a good fight on Thanksgiving, but a late Matthew Stafford interception sealed Detroit’s fate. With some key injuries on offense, the rest of the Lions’ season is shaping up to be unexciting. The team is average to below-average in just about every important measure, and it will take a couple offseasons for the front office to build the roster. One bright spot has been the run defense since Damon Harrison’s arrival, as it hasn’t yielded more than 56 yards on the ground over the past three weeks. (Nick Cardozo)

23 (-)

Miami Dolphins (5-6)

Miami Dolphins (5-6)

Sunday’s loss marked four of five for the Dolphins, as Miami squandered a 10-point fourth quarter lead en route to a 27-24 defeat at the hands of Andrew Luck and the blistering Colts. A team that was among the league’s early-season surprises, leading the AFC East at 4-2 through Week 6, now find themselves three games back of New England with their playoff chances rapidly decreasing. Although Ryan Tannehill was efficient in his first game back from injury, completing 17 of 25 passes for 204 yards and two touchdowns, his return was spoiled by poor defensive play down the stretch. Defense has been an Achilles’ heel for the Dolphins all season, as they surrender an average of 398 total yards per game (29th in the league). If they want to salvage any playoff aspirations they have left, Matt Burke will certainly have to solve the mystery that is his defense. (Ryan Grube)

24 (+1)

Cleveland Browns (4-6-1)

Cleveland Browns (4-6-1)

How’s that, Hue? The Browns embarrassed the Bengals and their own former coach on Sunday, racking up 35 points en route to an easy win. Nick Chubb had a fantastic game and Baker Mayfield continues to progress. The talent on this team is finally beginning to shine through, and Cleveland’s hunt for its next head coach will be a massive decision. The Browns will fill the playoff spoiler role the rest of the year and can be expected to make some noise as the regular season winds down. (Nick Cardozo)

25 (+2)

Tampa Bay Buccaneers (4-7)

Tampa Bay Buccaneers (4-7)

The Bucs blew out the Niners last week but their concern should be the quarterback position. The position has been a revolving door because of the inconsistent play of Winston and Fitzpatrick. Neither guy seemingly wants the job, but Winston gave the organization something to think about last week. The main goal for the remainder of the season is to see if Winston is your guy for the long term in Tampa. (Matt Fowler)

26 (-)

New York Giants (3-8)

New York Giants (3-8)

The rest of the Giants’ season needs to be about figuring out if Eli Manning can be trusted as their quarterback next season. Saquon Barkley is already one of the best running backs in the league and Odell Beckham is a star, so the Giants need to know going into the draft if they are looking for Eli’s successor or for an offensive lineman to protect him. (Max Vukelich)

27 (-3)

Jacksonville Jaguars (3-8)

Jacksonville Jaguars (3-8)

It seemed as if Jacksonville would be headed back to the AFC Championship game. They started of 3-1 and even dealt a double-digit loss to New England. They’ve lost seven straight games now. Everyone has been quick to blame Jalen Ramsey and the defense, but it really isn’t their fault. Last year Jacksonville’s defense was historically great, giving up only 16.8 points per game. No one can keep up that level of play. This year they are still a top-10 defense at 22.1 points per game, but with Blake Bortles at QB, those six points mean a world of difference. (Adrian Nelson)

28 (-)

San Francisco 49ers (2-9)

San Francisco 49ers (2-9)

The 49ers’ biggest game left on the schedule is this weekend against Seattle in Richard Sherman’s revenge game. However, it may be in the 49ers’ long-term interest if they lose out and get the first overall pick in next year’s draft as they look to improve a roster that took another huge hit when Reuben Foster was released on Monday. (Max Vukelich)

29 (+1)

Buffalo Bills (4-7)

Buffalo Bills (4-7)

The highly anticipated showdown between Josh Allen and Jalen Ramsey, surprisingly, went Allen’s way, as the rookie led the Bills to a 24-21 victory over the Jaguars. The young signal-caller didn’t exactly set the world on fire, but he protected the ball and took what the Jaguars’ defense gave him, especially on the ground. He still has a long way to go as a passer, and the Bills have a long way to go as a team, but the foundation for future success is in place. (Kyle Trapp)

30 (-1)

New York Jets (3-8)

New York Jets (3-8)

The Jets have been without Sam Darnold the past two games, but upon his return, the Jets’ efforts need to be toward helping Darnold figure out how to turn the ball over less. He is leading the league in interceptions, despite playing in only nine games. Darnold is the future for the Jets, so they need to find better ways of making him look good going forward. (Max Vukelich)

31 (-)

Oakland Raiders (2-9)

Oakland Raiders (2-9)

Oakland has the worst record and worst point differential in the league. They are truly awful. It’s getting difficult to keep showing how tremendously bad they are, but how about this one: Their over/under number of wins before the season was 8.5. Through only 11 games this season they’ve already secured the under. Congrats to those who took the “funder.” (Adrian Nelson)

32 (-)

Arizona Cardinals (2-9)

Arizona Cardinals (2-9)

The Cardinals were on the wrong side of history on Sunday, as they allowed Phillip Rivers to complete an NFL-record 25 straight passes to kick off what was a 45-10 rout. The blowout was especially unfortunate, considering Arizona scored on their first two possessions. It was all downhill after that, as Josh Rosen and company managed just 149 yards of offense in the contest. Things will eventual get better for the Cardinals, but that improvement doesn’t appear imminent. (Kyle Trapp)

Edited by Emily Berman.

SQuiz
Who led the NFL in points in 2017?
Created 11/28/18
  1. Los Angeles Rams
  2. New England Patriots
  3. New Orleans Saints
  4. Philadelphia Eagles

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