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NFL Week 13 Power Rankings: America’s Team rises to the occasion

Amari Cooper and the Dallas Cowboys have the inside track in the NFC East.

NFL: Washington Redskins at Dallas Cowboys Tim Heitman-USA TODAY Sports

There is an old adage that says the NFL does not truly begin until Thanksgiving. So here is where everyone ranks at the beginning of the season, I guess:

1. New Orleans Saints (10-1; won 31-17 vs ATL) (- No change from last week)

The Saints train kept of chugging this week and the Falcons were caught in its tracks. New Orleans’ offense was not the explosive cask it usually is, but the defense made a mess of the Falcons offense and put this game away early.

2. Los Angeles Rams (10-1; BYE) (-)

Los Angeles got a week off. A Seattle win denied them an early clinch of the division title so they have extra motivation and an extra week to prepare for the Detroit Lions. Welp.

3. Kansas City Chiefs (9-2; BYE) (-)

Chiefs got a week off after that wild shootout in Los Angeles, and they get another week off in Oakland this week.

4. Chicago Bears (8-3; won 23-16 vs DET) (+1)

Chicago’s defense continued to generate turnovers at an amazing rate as they left Detroit with a season sweep over their division rivals. The offense looked fine under Chase Daniel, and the team is rolling as they head into the homestretch.

5. New England Patriots (8-3; won 27-13 vs NYJ) (+1)

Rob Gronkowski came back as the Patriots continued their dominance over the AFC East. The Jets were never a real part of this game, and New England kept within arms reach of the Chiefs for home field advantage in the playoffs.

6. Pittsburgh Steelers (7-3-1; lost 24-17 vs DEN) (-2)

Everything that could have possibly gone wrong for the Steelers did in Week 12. Two goal-line turnovers highlighted a sloppy day for Pittsburgh as they dropped a winnable game to the Denver Broncos. The team had over 500 yards of total offense, but only scored 17 points in a disaster of a day. While they will be okay going forward, they lost ground in the playoff race in a winnable game.

7. Los Angeles Chargers (8-3; won 45-10 vs ARI) (-)

Philip Rivers completed his first 25 passes on the day and finished with only one incompletion and three touchdowns. The MVP candidate added to his resume and the Chargers stayed within reach of the Chiefs in the AFC West.

8. Houston Texans (8-3; won 34-17 vs TEN) (-)

Deshaun Watson and the Texans won their eighth straight on “Monday Night Football.” Their high-flying offense continued to roll, and the Texans are only a few wins away from sealing up a surprise division title.

9. Seattle Seahawks (6-5; won 30-27 vs CAR) (-)

Seattle and Carolina played yet another close game against each other, but this time the Seahawks got the best of their rivals. Chris Carson and the league’s best rushing attack failed to get going, but a big day from Russell Wilson kept the offense on track. They will not win the NFC West, but they now have control of their own wild card destiny with an easy path ahead of them.

10. Minnesota Vikings (6-4-1; won 24-17 vs GB) (-)

Kirk Cousins had 342 yards and three touchdowns as the Vikings got a huge Sunday night victory over their arch-rivals. The oft-maligned quarterback managed to silence doubters yet again as Minnesota took another step towards a wild card spot.

11. Dallas Cowboys (6-5; won 31-23 vs WAS) (+3)

Amari Cooper has been everything the Cowboys could have wanted from him a month after Dallas nabbed him from the Raiders. He had 180 yards and two scores on Thanksgiving as Dallas took down their arch-rivals to take over first place in the NFC East.

12. Indianapolis Colts (6-5; won 27-24 vs MIA) (+4)

Andrew Luck, T.Y. Hilton, Marlon Mack and Eric Ebron all shined as the Colts won a huge game in the AFC Wild Card race. Malik Hooker and Darius Leonard both looked great on the other side of the ball, as well. Indianapolis is shaping up nicely as a team, and just in time to compete for a surprise playoff berth.

13. Carolina Panthers (6-5; lost 30-27 vs SEA) (-1)

Carolina looked like a much better team than the Seahawks Sunday, but a few crucial mistakes cost them. Cam Newton played a great game but a key interception near the goal line cost the team valuable points. Kicker Graham Gano missed a potential game-winning field goal in the final minute as well. Carolina has now dropped three straight and will need to get back on track fast if they want to stay in the NFC wild card race.

14. Baltimore Ravens (6-5; won 34-17 vs OAK) (-1)

Lamar Jackson is now a perfect 2-0 as the Ravens are tight back in both the AFC North and AFC wild card race. The rookie did not play his best game, but the defense dominated a bad Raiders team and kept the team on track.

15. Denver Broncos (5-6; won 24-17 vs PIT) (+5)

Denver has now defeated the Chargers and Steelers in back-to-back weeks as they have entered the playoff race. The offense has some real problems still—depending on Phillip Lindsay going forward probably will not end well—but their defense is carrying the load. They have one of the best pass rushes in the league and are giving almost everyone they face absolute hell.

16. Washington (6-5; lost 31-23 vs DAL) (-5)

Colt McCoy was a mixed bag in his first start in replacement of Alex Smith. He threw two touchdowns and three interceptions. McCoy definitely did not do much to inspire confidence in Washington fans, but they are hoping that he will improve as they race the Cowboys for the NFC East title.

17. Green Bay Packers (4-6-1; lost 24-17 vs MIN) (-2)

Green Bay’s season is on life support. The offense has been a mess the past few weeks as they have now dropped back-to-back crucial games in the wild card race. Good defense and an easy schedule going forward is their one reprise, but even winning out may not be enough for Aaron Rodgers and the Packers.

18. Tennessee Titans (5-6; lost 34-17 vs HOU) (+1)

Marcus Mariota played a great game but execution errors, poor coaching decisions and bad defense cost the Titans there last chance to get a foothold in the AFC South race. The wild card race is still wide open, though, and they have a chance to get right back in the mix against the Jets next week.

19. Philadelphia Eagles (5-6; won 25-22 vs NYG) (+4)

The Super Bowl champions managed to survive a great first half by the Giants offense and put together a second half run of their own to sneak away with a win. While the team still has many concerns, they are right back in the NFC East race and have a chance to take out one of their rivals as they face Washington next week.

20. Miami Dolphins (5-6; lost 27-24 vs IND) (-2)

Miami started the season on fire but they have all but been extinguished. Injuries have hampered the offense but health is not Miami’s only problem. Ryan Tannehill is not playing well since returning to action from a shoulder injury. Conservative play calling is hurting them as well. The Dolphins playoff hopes are all but dead barring a huge turnaround in the final month.

21. Cleveland Browns (4-6-1; won 35-20 vs CIN) (+3)

Baker Mayfield had the best game of his young career as the Browns rolled over their division rivals. With former Cleveland head coach Hue Jackson on the opposite sideline, the rookie took some time to spill tea post game.

22. Cincinnati Bengals (5-6; lost 35-20 vs CLE) (-5)

The Bengals awful defense continued to be bad. Andy Dalton has a terrible game and his season is now over due to a thumb injury he sustained late. Mathematically, Cincinnati still has a very real chance at the post season. In reality, their promising season is all but over.

23. Detroit Lions (4-7; lost 23-16 vs CHI) (-2)

The Lions actually did not look that bad against the Bears. This was a winnable game that they let slip through their fingers due to a few late mistakes by quarterback Matthew Stafford.

24. Atlanta Falcons (4-7; lost 31-17 vs NO) (-2)

Atlanta got buzz-sawed by the Saints, and they could not avoid turnovers in the red zone. Same old Falcons, nothing to see here.

25. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (4-7; won 27-9 vs SF) (+2)

Jameis Winston and Mike Evans had huge days as the Bucs rolled over a poor 49ers team. They are out of the playoff race and are currently just seeing which pieces they have are worth keeping around has they head towards a huge rebuild this offseason.

26. Buffalo Bills (4-7; won 24-21 vs JAX) (+2)

Josh Allen threw for 166 yards and ran for another 99 as the Bills got revenge on the Jaguars for booting them from last season’s playoffs. This team still sucks, but all four of their wins have been absolutely incredible this season. Sunday included a 75-yard Allen touchdown pass and an all-out brawl.

27. Jacksonville Jaguars (3-8; lost 24-21 vs BUF) (-2)

The Jaguars lost to the Bills. Offensive coordinator Nathaniel Hackett got fired. Blake Bortles got benched. Leonard Fournette got suspended. Remember when they almost made the Super Bowl?

28. New York Giants (3-8; lost 25-22 vs PHI) (-2)

New York took Saquon Barkley out of the game after a huge first half performance and the Eagles were able to steal the game late. The team’s season is all but over but a win against their division rival could have been a nice feather in the cap of a bad year.

29. New York Jets (3-8; lost 27-13 vs NE) (-)

The Jets lost to the Patriots again. Who could have seen this coming?

30. San Francisco 49ers (2-9; lost 27-9 vs TB) (-)

Nick Mullens looked awful in the 49ers’ Week 12 loss to the Bucs. The third-string quarterback underperforming is not really a huge issue, though. The loss keeps the team on pace to nab the first overall pick in the draft and add another piece to their young corps.

31. Oakland Raiders (2-9; lost 34-17 vs BAL) (-)

Oakland could not take advantage of a rough day for the Ravens defense and the circus continues its road to Las Vegas.

32. Arizona Cardinals (2-9; lost 45-10 vs LAC) (-)

The Cardinals had no answer for Philip Rivers and the Chargers. This is the worst team in football and, outside of developing a few young stars, there really is not much for the Cardinals to look forward to the next month.