NFL Week 13 Power Rankings: Panthers finally usurp Pats at the top

2:07 | NFL
SI's NFL Power Rankings: Week 13
Wednesday December 2nd, 2015

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. 


  • 1
    1Carolina Panthers
    last week: 2
    record: 11–0
    What’s the bigger threat to a 16–0 finish: the four remaining games with NFC South rivals (at New Orleans, vs. Tampa Bay, home-and-home with Atlanta) or a road trip to the perfection-killing Giants? The answer might be neither if the Panthers keep playing like they have been. Wins No. 9, 10 and 11 on the season came by an average of three touchdowns.

  • 2
    2New England Patriots
    last week: 1
    record: 10–1
    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.

  • 3
    3Cincinnati Bengals
    last week: 4
    record: 9–2
    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.

  • 4
    4Arizona Cardinals
    last week: 3
    record: 9–2
    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.

  • 5
    5Denver Broncos
    last week: 7
    record: 9–2
    Is Brock Osweiler an upgrade over a healthy Peyton Manning? Hard to say, though the former looked the part Sunday. We can say that Osweiler is definitely a step up for headline writers. SI’s cover this week (“Brock On!”) is just the tip of the iceberg—Brock & Roll, Brocktoberfest, Brocky Thrower Picture Show ... the list goes on and on. Maybe don’t use that last one.

  • 6
    6Kansas City Chiefs
    last week: 9
    record: 6–5
    Credit Alex Smith for spending, like, 10 seasons setting up Sunday’s unexpected deep-ball onslaught. It only can help the Chiefs if they keep testing the waters downfield. Jeremy Maclin is averaging 13.5 yards per catch on the season; he finished at 17.8 on Sunday.

  • 7
    7Minnesota Vikings
    last week: 8
    record: 8–3
    In general, only very good teams succeed away from home with any degree of consistency. Case in point, check out the teams with road win streaks of at least four games this season: New England, Carolina, Arizona, Denver, Cincinnati and now, as of last Sunday, Minnesota.

  • 8
    8Seattle Seahawks
    last week: 10
    record: 6–5
    A handful of uninspiring outings combined with the Seahawks’ defensive domination in recent years might be clouding judgment on the 2015 team. Even after surrendering 538 yards and 30 points to Pittsburgh, Seattle still ranks top 10 in points allowed, yards allowed, passing defense and rushing defense. Oh, and it picked off four passes Sunday.

  • 9
    9Pittsburgh Steelers
    last week: 5
    record: 6–5
    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.

  • 10
    10Indianapolis Colts
    last week: 12
    record: 6–5
    QB wins are a debatable metric, at best. Still, due credit to Matt Hasselbeck for helping pull Indianapolis’s season back from the brink. The last time he ran off four consecutive victories as a starter, as he’s done this year? 2007, the same year Andrew Luck committed to Stanford.

  • 11
    11Houston Texans
    last week: 14
    record: 6–5
    The Saints had scored a touchdown in 155 straight games and Drew Brees had thrown a TD pass in 45 consecutive outings, until the Texans snapped both runs Sunday. J.J. Watt is up to 7.5 sacks ... in the past four games.

  • 12
    12Green Bay Packers
    last week: 6
    record: 7–4
    The last Green Bay QB to lose at home to both Chicago and Detroit in the same season was Mike Tomczak (1991), also the last Packers starter prior to the Brett Favre/Aaron Rodgers run. Suffice it to say, the expectations were lower for the Tomczak era Packers (is one year an era?) than for this year’s club.

  • 13
    13Buffalo Bills
    last week: 13
    record: 5–6
    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.

  • 14
    14Chicago Bears
    last week: 17
    record: 5–6
    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.

  • 15
    15New York Jets
    last week: 19
    record: 6–5
    The good news is that the Jets are 6–5, placing them among a cluster of teams battling for the AFC wild-card spots. The bad news is that they don’t play the Dolphins anymore, so they’ll have to find another team to pummel down the stretch.

  • 16
    16Washington Redskins
    last week: 22
    record: 5–6
    The new “team to beat” in the NFC East can’t win on the road and is 0–4 against opponents currently above .500. But the results are there: no NFC East team has been as impressive this season as Washington has been at FedEx Field. Can it steal a win in Chicago, Philadelphia or Dallas?

  • 17
    17Oakland Raiders
    last week: 20
    record: 5–6
    The Raiders won three, four and four games the past three seasons, respectively. So they’re not going to apologize for winning ugly against Tennessee, a franchise currently trapped in the NFL's basement. Beat the Chiefs this Sunday, and things get really interesting in Oakland.

  • 18
    18Tampa Bay Buccaneers
    last week: 15
    record: 5–6
    Week 12 marked the first game all season in which Tampa Bay did not produce a turnover. Quite frankly, the defense didn’t do much of anything in the second half, coughing up 16 unanswered points to the Colts.

  • 19
    19New York Giants
    last week: 13
    record: 5–6
    Odell Beckham Jr. probably has a decent idea what, let’s say, Justin Timberlake felt like before breaking away from NSYNC. He’s clearly carrying the load here, without much help. Outside of Beckham and Eli Manning, who are the Giants’ go-to guys this season?

  • 20
    20St. Louis Rams
    last week: 18
    record: 4–7
    Nick Foles threw 46 passes against the Bengals. Todd Gurley ran the ball nine times. Do we need to keep going here? Sure, St. Louis was behind much of the game, but not to the point of that lunacy. Whenever Foles hits 30 attempts, they should tie his right arm behind his back.

  • 21
    21Detroit Lions
    last week: 26
    record: 4–7
    I've started calling my laptop “Jim Bob Computer.” It's not necessarily running any better but I do seem to be getting more done. Oh, and how about Calvin Johnson on Thanksgiving? His career stats in Turkey Day games: 769 yards receiving and 11 touchdowns.

  • 22
    22Dallas Cowboys
    last week: 16
    record: 3–8
    Unless Matt Cassel gets bit by a radioactive spider or something, he’s probably not going to show much improvement. That means the Cowboys are all but destined to keep drifting toward the bottom of the Power Rankings.

  • 23
    23Atlanta Falcons
    last week: 21
    record: 6–5
    Well, this has gone terribly awry. The Falcons can’t seem to stop the bleeding, and there is no denying Matt Ryan is a significant part of the problem. Dan Quinn has done a fine job in his first season, but he has to find an answer to the building adversity.

  • 24
    24New Orleans Saints
    last week: 23
    record: 4–7
    If the offense is joining the defense in calling it a season, the Saints aren’t going to win many more. Drew Brees & Co. mustered all of six points at Houston on a measly 268 yards of offense. Haven’t quite figured out how yet, but it’s probably Rob Ryan's fault.

  • 25
    25Miami Dolphins
    last week: 25
    record: 4–7
    The Dolphins are running out of coaches to fire, a decent indicator that the season has not gone according to plan. They were knocked around physically by the Jets, again, a development that had to drive Dan Campbell nuts.

  • 26
    26San Diego Chargers
    last week: 32
    record: 3–8
    How disappointing has Melvin Gordon’s rookie season been? His 60 yards rushing and 4.3 yards per carry vs. Jacksonville stand as his second-best marks in those respective categories. He needs to use the final five weeks to generate some momentum into 2016.

  • 27
    27Jacksonville Jaguars
    last week: 24
    record: 4–7
    Jacksonville ventured into the San Diego red zone four times Sunday. Those possessions resulted in one touchdown, three field goals and two penalties on Blake Bortles for throwing a pass beyond the line of scrimmage.

  • 28
    28Baltimore Ravens
    last week: 28
    record: 4–7
    The Ravens had three straight games decided by three points or fewer headed into Week 13, then knocked off Cleveland by returning a blocked field goal attempt for a touchdown. Like a reality show you hate-watch, the Ravens may not be good, but they are entertaining.

  • 29
    29San Francisco 49ers
    last week: 29
    record: 3–8
    There remain some very recognizable names on this roster: Anquan Boldin, NaVorro Bowman, Torrey Smith. There also are times when it appears the 49ers are running some sort of NFL football fantasy camp.

  • 30
    30Philadelphia Eagles
    last week: 27
    record: 4–7
    Compared to its defense, Philadelphia’s underachieving offense is a freaking juggernaut. “Maybe the other team will screw up” is not a viable defensive game plan.

  • 31
    31Tennessee Titans
    last week: 30
    record: 2–9
    At the risk of damaging Marcus Mariota’s confidence, the Titans actually are well beyond the point where they would be better off losing. This franchise needs all the additional talent it can get, and being at or near the very top of the draft is the best way to go about finding some.

  • 32
    32Cleveland Browns
    last week: 31
    record: 2–9
    Maybe no one was banking on Baltimore’s walk-off special teams touchdown Monday night, but be honest: Did you expect Cleveland to hit a 51-yard field goal for a last-second win?

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