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

There's now just one undefeated team left in the NFL, and as a result, there's a new No. 1 in our Power Rankings heading into Week 13. 

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. 

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1. Carolina Panthers

PREVIOUS: 2

RECORD: 11-0

• KING: Undefeated season in reach for the Panthers 

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2. New England Patriots

PREVIOUS: 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.

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3. Cincinnati Bengals

PREVIOUS: 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.

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4. Arizona Cardinals

PREVIOUS: 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.

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5. Denver Broncos

PREVIOUS: 7

RECORD: 9-2

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6. Kansas City Chiefs

PREVIOUS: 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.

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7. Minnesota Vikings

PREVIOUS: 8

RECORD: 8-3

•​​ KING: Peterson running his way toward a third rushing title 

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8. Seattle Seahawks

PREVIOUS: 10

RECORD: 6-5

•​​​ FARRAR: Seahawks rediscover old magic in win over Steelers

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9. Pittsburgh Steelers

PREVIOUS: 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.

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10. Indianapolis Colts

PREVIOUS: 12

RECORD: 6-5

•​​​ BURKE: How Colts, Texans saved their seasons 

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11. Houston Texans

PREVIOUS: 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.

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12. Green Bay Packers

PREVIOUS: 6

RECORD: 7-4

•​​​​ PARLAPIANO: Bears spoil Packers’ special night 

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13. Buffalo Bills

PREVIOUS: 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.

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14. Chicago Bears

PREVIOUS: 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.

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15. New York Jets

PREVIOUS: 19

RECORD: 6-5

•​​​​​ WATCH: Jets’ tandem of Decker, Marshall continues to thrive

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16. Washington Redskins

PREVIOUS: 22

RECORD: 5-6

•​ KLEMKO: Kirk Cousins making the case that he belongs

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17. Oakland Raiders

PREVIOUS: 20

RECORD: 5-6

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18. Tampa Bay Buccaneers

PREVIOUS: 15

RECORD: 5-6

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19. New York Giants

PREVIOUS: 13

RECORD: 5-6

•​ FARRAR: How to fix every mediocre team in the NFC East

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20. St. Louis Rams

PREVIOUS: 18

RECORD: 4-7

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21. Detroit Lions

PREVIOUS: 26

RECORD: 4-7

•​ VRENTAS: Martha Firestone Ford’s patience has run out

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22. Dallas Cowboys

PREVIOUS: 16

RECORD: 3-8

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23. Atlanta Falcons

PREVIOUS: 21

RECORD: 6-5

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24. New Orleans Saints

PREVIOUS: 23

RECORD: 4-7

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25. Miami Dolphins

PREVIOUS: 25

RECORD: 4-7

•​ BEDARD: How can we fix NFL officiating

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26. San Diego Chargers

PREVIOUS: 32

RECORD: 3-8

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27. Jacksonville Jaguars

PREVIOUS: 24

RECORD: 4-7

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28. Baltimore Ravens

PREVIOUS: 28

RECORD: 4-7

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29. San Francisco 49ers

PREVIOUS: 29

RECORD: 3-8

•​ Fantasy: Complete Week 13 player rankings

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30. Philadelphia Eagles

PREVIOUS: 27

RECORD: 4-7

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31. Tennessee Titans

PREVIOUS: 30

RECORD: 2-9

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32. Cleveland Browns

PREVIOUS: 31

RECORD: 2-9