NFL Week 13 Power Rankings: Panthers finally usurp Pats at the top
With five weeks left in the NFL regular season, all 32 teams are still mathematically alive in the playoff chase. Obviously, the Clevelands and Tennessees of the world are not headed to the postseason, but the minute possibility that they could speaks to this season’s parity and its overall mediocrity.
A different story is unfolding atop the Power Rankings, where Carolina is the lone undefeated left standing. The NFC, and the No. 1 spot here, is the Panthers’ to lose.
Gronk is OK, more or less, so all else that happened Sunday night—yes, including the loss—is inconsequential by comparison. So long as he has his star tight end, Tom Brady could move the chains with Jimmy Garoppolo starting at receiver. Now the Patriots just need Jamie Collins and Dont'a Hightower healthy (it sounds like Collins will play in Week 13). Without them, as the Broncos proved, their run defense is highly suspect.
The AFC’s second-best team (Cincinnati) and the NFC’s second-best team (Arizona) are interchangeable in the rankings right now. And yes, that’s counting the Cardinals’ narrow, thrilling three-point win over the Bengals a couple weeks back. There are a few tough tests ahead for Marvin Lewis’s team, but the No. 1 seed is no longer out of the question.
Back-to-back wins over Seattle and Cincinnati showed how good this Arizona team can be. The Cardinals, though, have had more sleepy performances than one might expect from a legitimate Super Bowl contender. They spent three-plus quarters against San Francisco playing with all the energy of your 60-year-old uncle after Thanksgiving dinner.
You know that feeling of terror that happens whenever you drop your phone? Holding your breath while you pick it up and flip it over, just to make sure the screen didn't crack? That's how Steelers fans feel whenever Ben Roethlisberger gets hit.
Buffalo has played New England tough twice, and it pushed Kansas City to the limit last week, but great effort isn’t enough to win the Vince Lombardi Trophy. It might be enough to take home the Vince Papale Trophy, though, if that were a thing.
The Bears are very much in this, for which their staff deserves an incredible amount of praise. Adam Gase has done well with a depleted offense, but what Vic Fangio has accomplished for the defense—Chicago has allowed 19 points or fewer in four straight games—is bordering on witchcraft.