WEEI NFL Power Rankings, Week 13: Patriots top dogs in AFC

November 26, 2013 - 7:36 am

The Patriots are the new power team in the AFC as they have surpassed the Broncos for the first time this year in the WEEI NFL Power Rankings. Sunday night's stunning comeback was good enough to catapult New England from seventh to fourth and drop Denver from second to fifth. In the NFC, the scene is set for the two top teams to clash on Monday night. The Seahawks have enjoyed the top spot for quite some time, but the Saints, up a spot this week to No. 2, are a real threat with their prolific offense. Monday night's outcome may not only determine who gets home-field advantage in the playoffs, but ultimately who represents the NFC in the Super Bowl. At the bottom of the barrel, the Jaguars finally clawed their way out of the most miserable position. The good news for the Texans, our new bottom-feeder, is that they can only go up from here. Houston has plunged week after week after starting the season at No. 7. 1. (1) Seahawks (10-1) -- Seattle should be solely focusing on its NFC clash with the Saints, but news that cornerbacks Walter Thurmond and Brandon Browner are facing suspensions has changed that plan. 2. (3) Saints (9-2) -- The most important game of the year for the Saints is Monday in Seattle. New Orleans wants to play in the comfort of its dome in the postseason. Winning two games in Seattle in the same year doesn't seem likely. 3. (4) Panthers (8-3) -- We've seen many qualities of a Super Bowl-caliber team during the Panthers' current seven game win streak. The ability to close out tight games is a trait we see year after year from Super Bowl champions during the regular season. 4. (7) Patriots (8-3) -- No franchise executes the "next man up" philosophy better than New England. Whether it's Jerod Mayo, Vince Wilfork, Aaron Hernandez or Wes Welker, the Patriots continue to find a way to win more than they lose. 5. (2) Broncos (9-2) -- It's clear the formula to beating the Broncos is pressuring Peyton Manning. The veteran QB was 0-for-6 with an interception when faced with pressure from Patriots defenders. For the first time this season, Denver doesn't look like the clear favorite in the AFC. 6. (8) 49ers (7-4) -- Michael Crabtree is set to be activated and make his season debut for the Niners. This will be a tremendous addition to an offense that has been pretty inconsistent in the passing game this year. 7. (12) Cardinals (7-4) -- An offense has emerged in Arizona, and thus the Cardinals. This team scored 250 points all of last year. The Cards already have surpassed that number in 2013. 8. (5) Chiefs (9-2) --  The Chiefs pass rush has disappeared and probably won't be returning any time soon after Tamba Hali and Jeff Houston went down with injuries. With just three sacks in the last three games, Kansas City's D is struggling in the pass rush at the worst possible time. Peyton Manning and the Broncos are on their way to town. 9. (9) Bengals (7-4) -- The play of Andy Dalton will be key as the Bengals head into the final part of the season. Dalton has been very inconsistent throughout the year. He's thrown eight interceptions in his last three games. 10. (6) Colts (7-4) -- Colts general manager Ryan Grigson knew his team needed an effective running game, so he made a bold trade. The acquisition of Trent Richardson certainly hasn't worked out the way he had hoped. Without a run game, Andrew Luck and the Colts offense struggle to move the ball down the field. 11. (14) Cowboys (6-5) -- The Cowboys control their own destiny in the back-and-forth division that is the NFC East. Jason Garrett's team boasts a 4-0 record against division opponents. 12. (13) Eagles (6-5) -- Coming off a bye week and three straight wins, the Eagles will have their work cut out for them Sunday against the red-hot Cardinals. Nick Foles will face the toughest defense he's seen all year. 13. (10) Bears (6-5) -- Some teams can sustain injuries, others can't. The Bears have lost Jay Cutler and many key players on defense like Lance Briggs, Henry Melton, Charles Tillman and D.J. Williams. 14. (17) Ravens (5-6) -- Dominant defense earned the Ravens a win on Sunday, but the Super Bowl hangover hasn't been cured yet. Baltimore has been extremely inconsistent on both sides of the football and has a difficult stretch ahead. 15. (21) Rams (5-6) -- St. Louis has to be extremely optimistic with the young core in place. Rookies Tavon Austin, Zac Stacy and Alec Ogletree have made an immediate impact. 16. (22) Chargers (5-6) -- Philip Rivers has had an amazing turnaround year. The Chargers QB is completing over 70 percent of his passes, which is well above his career average. 17. (15) Packers (5-5-1) -- Luckily for Green Bay, the Lions have been unable to capitalize on the injury to Aaron Rodgers. The Packers haven't won since their QB went down. This Thursday would be a perfect time, against their division rival.  18. (19) Steelers (5-6) -- The Steelers are playing their best football of the season at just the right time. They're winning the turnover battle, protecting Ben Roethlisberger, and playing physical on defense. 19. (18) Dolphins (5-6) -- Miami hasn't scored a touchdown in the second half since September. The Dolphins watched their 13-point lead slip away Sunday in a 20-16 loss to the Panthers as they collapsed once again late in a game. 20. (11) Lions (6-5) -- The Lions are playing the type of low-quality football that gets people fired and released. They're playing undisciplined football and are a minus-8 in turnover differential in their last two games. 21. (16) Jets (5-6) -- Geno Smith's stock is in a free fall after another subpar performance. The rookie is completing under 40 percent of his passes in his last three games. 22. (20) Giants (4-7) -- Looks like the Giants will miss the playoffs for the second consecutive year after winning the Super Bowl in 2011. Turnovers have been the story for Tom Coughlin's team all year. The G-Men have given the ball away 29 times. 23. (24) Titans (5-6) -- The Titans would be in the playoffs as the sixth seed if the season ended today. They'll be on the outside looking in three weeks from now after games against the Colts, Broncos and Cardinals. 24. (23) Bills (4-7) -- EJ Manuel will be happy to get Stevie Johnson and Robert Woods back on the field Sunday. The combination of Manuel, Johnson and Woods has the potential to be one of the most lethal in the league 2-3 years from now. 25. (29) Buccaneers (3-8) -- Mike Glennon has improved week after week. The rookie's ability to protect the ball is one of the key reasons why the Bucs have rattled off three straight wins. Glennon has thrown just one pick in his last six games. 26. (25) Browns (4-7) -- You can't blame the Browns, they've tried to bench Brandon Weeden but he always seems to be able to find his way back on the playing field. Weeden has lost all four games he's started this year.  27. (26) Raiders (4-7) --   The once-proud franchise hasn't had a winning season since it reached the Super Bowl in 2002. 28. (28) Vikings (2-8-1) -- First-round pick Cordarrelle Patterson had the best game of his young career on Sunday. The Vikings desperately need more skill players on offense to be productive other than Adrian Peterson. Patterson is showing promise. 29. (27) Redskins (3-8) -- This team is in shambles. The offense is a joke. Washington gained 30 yards in the entire second half against the Niners. 30. (30) Falcons (2-9) -- Matt Ryan should pray he makes it through the season in one piece. The QB has been annihilated all season and has had to endure a poor offensive line.  31. (32) Jaguars (2-9) -- Hopefully the win over the Texans doesn't hurt the Jags' chances of selecting the QB they want in the 2014 draft. 32. (31) Texans (2-9) -- They've officially hit rock bottom in Houston. They Texans' dramatic plunge reached a new low with the loss to the Jaguars.  Which NFL teams are in your top 10? Leave your opinions/comments below or send via Twitter to @JoeZWEEI.