The rankings endured a shakeup this week, as four of the top 10 teams lost. The top four remain entrenched, with the Packers sliding past some of their defeated conference rivals and the Steelers passing the Ravens after a late win. The Babinless Eagles looked better, until you remembered they were playing the Cowboys and still lost, while Andrew Luck orchestrated another late-game comeback. And the Redskins could actually make the playoffs, or, dare I say, win the division? Strange times indeed.
Coming up: Who has already clinched their division? Which second-year quarterback isn’t very good? And why is Jim Washburn so mean?
1. Houston (11-1); Last week: 1
Week 13 result: Won at Tennessee, 24-10
This one was about Houston’s defense, as they forced Tennessee into six turnovers and sacked Jake Locker six times. The Texans clinched their second consecutive playoff spot and set a franchise-record for wins in a season. They have a three-game lead in the AFC South with four to play, heading into Sunday’s highly-anticipated matchup with the Patriots.
Next up: at New England
2. Atlanta (11-1); Last week: 2
Week 13 result: Won vs. New Orleans, 23-13
Atlanta forced Drew Brees into throwing a career-high five interceptions and held him without a touchdown pass for the first time in 54 games. With the win and Tampa Bay’s loss, the Falcons clinched the NFC South and have a 2.5-game lead for home-field advantage in the NFC. It wasn’t all good news in Atlanta though - an airport worker quit after egging the Saints’ bus prior to the game.
Next up: at Carolina
3. New England (9-3); Last week: 3
Week 13 result: Won at Miami, 23-16
Another season, another AFC East crown for the Patriots. Tom Brady threw half of his 24 completions to Wes Welker, who had 103 receiving yards and a touchdown, as the Patriots won their sixth straight game. The win assured New England its 12th consecutive winning season.
Next up: vs. Houston
4. Denver (9-3); Last week: 4
Week 13 result: Won vs. Tampa Bay, 31-23
The Broncos could realistically have both the offensive and defensive players of the year. In the team’s seventh straight win, Peyton Manning threw three touchdown passes and Von Miller registered his 15th sack and returned an interception 26 yards for a touchdown. Could the Broncos run the table? They have a trip to Baltimore left on the schedule, but otherwise play Oakland, Cleveland and Kansas City.
Next up: at Oakland
5. Green Bay (8-4); Last week: 9
Week 13 result: Won vs. Minnesota, 23-14
Aaron Rodgers threw for 286 yards and a touchdown, but lost Jordy Nelson to a hamstring injury on the day Greg Jennings returned after missing seven games. The Packers have won ten straight over their division opponents and sit atop the NFC North thanks to their Week 2 win over the Bears.
Next up: vs. Detroit
6. New York Giants (7-5); Last week: 6
Week 13 result: Lost at Washington, 17-16
The Giants very nearly fell victim to Robert Griffin III’s magic in their first meeting this season. They weren’t so lucky the second time. Eli Manning couldn’t answer Griffin’s fourth-quarter touchdown pass as New York lost their third game in four. And offensive lineman Sean Locklear suffered this disgusting leg injury.
Next up: vs. New Orleans
7. San Francisco (8-3-1); Last week: 5
Week 13 result: Lost at St. Louis, 16-13 (OT)
Colin Kaepernick is 0-1-1 against the Rams but 2-0 against Chicago and New Orleans. Go figure. Kaepernick took a safety and his errant pitch late in the fourth quarter gave the Rams their only touchdown of the game. It's probably because he has a bunch of tattoos. David Akers had a chance to win it in overtime but missed a 51-yard attempt. This is what happens when your head coach is Screech’s cousin.
Next up: vs. Miami
8. Chicago (8-4); Last week: 8
Week 13 result: Lost vs. Seattle, 23-17 (OT)
The Bears looked to have things back in order after Jay Cutler returned in last week’s win over the Vikings. It was not so against Seattle, as Chicago never saw the ball in overtime after needing a Robbie Gould field goal at the end of regulation just to get there. After starting 7-1, Chicago has lost three of four. Now the Bears’ defense could lose Brian Urlacher for the rest of the regular season.
Next up: at Minnesota
9. Pittsburgh (7-5); Last week: 10
Week 13 result: Won at Baltimore, 23-20
One week after turning the ball over eight times against Cleveland, Charlie Batch and the Pittsburgh offense turned in a gutsy performance. Despite the offense turning the ball over three more times, Charlie Batch threw a touchdown pass to Heath Miller to tie the game in the fourth quarter. He then drove the Steelers into position for Shaun Suisham’s 42-yard field goal as time expired.
Next up: vs. San Diego
10. Baltimore (9-3); Last week: 7
Week 13 result: Lost vs. Pittsburgh, 23-20
Baltimore came out on the losing end of a battle of third-string quarterbacks. Unfortunately for the Ravens, Joe Flacco is their starting quarterback. Flacco completed just 16 of 34 passes for 188 yards and a touchdown and turned the ball over twice. Baltimore lost despite leading 13-3 at one point and 20-13 in the fourth quarter after Ray Rice’s 34-yard touchdown run, and had their 15-game home winning streak snapped.
Next up: at Washington
11. Indianapolis (8-4); Last week: 11
Week 13 result: Won at Detroit, 35-33
Andrew Luck failed to complete half of his pass attempts and threw three interceptions, but his fourth touchdown pass to Donnie Avery as time expired kept the Colts in the driver seat for a wild-card berth. Indianapolis has won six of its last seven.
Next up: vs. Tennessee
12. Seattle (7-5); Last week: 12
Week 13 result: Won at Chicago, 23-17 (OT)
Seattle won their second road game of the season in stunning fashion. Sidney Rice was knocked out after scoring the winning touchdown in overtime. Russell Wilson has 19 touchdown passes this season, giving him a real shot to match Peyton Manning’s rookie record of 26 in 1998. This headline is misleading, but Wilson is in the conversation for offensive rookie of the year.
Next up: vs. Arizona
13. Washington (6-6); Last week: 16
Week 13 result: Won vs. New York Giants, 17-16
Since Mike Shanahan stated it was time to start evaluating the Redskins for next season, they have won three of four and are very much in the NFC playoff picture. Most of the credit goes to Robert Griffin III, who only threw one touchdown in this one but made it count, an eight-yard toss to Pierre Garcon for the winning score. Even his terrible decisions work out, as evidenced by whatever this was.
Next up: vs. Baltimore
14. Cincinnati (7-5); Last week: 14
Week 13 result: Won at San Diego, 20-13
Andy Dalton threw two interceptions but threw for one touchdown and ran for the winning score with 4:11 remaining in the game. Cincinnati’s defense forced two San Diego turnovers after to seal a fourth straight win. The Bengals are tied with the Steelers for the AFC’s second wild-card berth.
Next up: vs. Dallas
15. Tampa Bay (6-6); Last week: 13
Week 13 result: Lost at Denver, 31-23
Tampa Bay’s second-straight loss hurt their playoff chances. Josh Freeman threw for two touchdowns but gave one back on a pick-six and completed only 18 of 39 pass attempts. Doug Martin rushed for 56 yards on 18 carries. Luckily, they get the Eagles this week.
Next up: vs. Philadelphia
16. Minnesota (6-6); Last week: 15
Week 13 result: Lost at Green Bay, 23-14
It was probably nice for Adrian Peterson earlier in the season when he felt like he wasn’t the only player on the team, but those days are over. Peterson ran for 210 yards to further extend his NFL rushing lead, but Christian Ponder completed only 12 of 25 passes and threw two interceptions in the red zone. Percy Harvin can’t return soon enough.
Next up: vs. Chicago
17. Dallas (6-6); Last week: 18
Week 13 result: Won vs. Philadelphia, 38-33
Normally a comeback win would get a team a somewhat significant bump in the rankings, but the Cowboys beat the Eagles, and tried their hardest to give away the win. Tony Romo did something weird in the second half, completing all his passes and throwing three touchdowns. Morris Claiborne, who had an awful game in the teams’ first meeting, scored what proved to be the winning points on 50-yard fumble return. Must’ve been the threat of playing under Andy Reid next year that did it.
Next up: at Cincinnati
18. New Orleans (5-7); Last week: 17
Week 13 result: Lost at Atlanta, 23-13
This was a game to forget for Drew Brees. With the Saints needing a win to stay in the playoff hunt after an 0-5 start, Brees threw a career-high five interceptions and failed to throw a touchdown pass for the first time in 54 games. The Saints sit in 12th place in the NFC, two games back of a playoff spot. At least they’re not changing their name to the Pelicans.
Next up: at New York Giants
19. St. Louis (5-6-1); Last week: 22
Week 13 result: Won vs. San Francisco, 16-13 (OT)
Greg Zuerlein sent the game into overtime with a 53-yard field goal as time expired and gave the Rams the win with a 54-yard field goal with 26 seconds left in overtime, narrowly avoiding what would have been the second tie between the two teams this season. We were all rooting for it. Janoris Jenkins’ set it all up by recovering a bad pitch by Kaepernick and somehow rolling into the end zone.
Next up: at Buffalo
20. Detroit (4-8); Last week: 19
Week 13 result: Lost vs. Indianapolis, 35-33
The Lions and the Eagles are the only two teams in the NFL to exclusively run the wide-nine. Their combined records are 7-17. That is not a coincidence. Detroit blew a 33-21 lead in the fourth quarter en route to losing their fourth game in a row. And what is wrong with Ndamukong Suh?
Next up: at Green Bay
21. Miami (5-7); Last week: 20
Week 13 result: Lost vs. New England, 23-16
The Dolphins’ defense made life difficult for the Patriots, but special teams errors and turnovers proved costly. A Reshad Jones interception return for a touchdown was negated by a penalty, forcing the Dolphins to settle for a field goal. Ryan Tannehill completed just 13 of 29 passes, though he scored two rushing touchdowns. It was Miami’s fifth straight loss to New England.
Next up: at San Francisco
22. Buffalo (5-7); Last week: 23
Week 13 result: Won vs. Jacksonville, 34-18
The Bill’s defense showed up when it counted again - against a bad team. Buffalo forced two Chad Henne turnovers and sacked the Jaguars’ quarterback four times. Ryan Fitzpatrick accounted for three touchdowns (two passing, one rushing) and Fred Jackson ran for 109 yards.
Next up: vs. St. Louis
23. San Diego (4-8); Last week: 21
Week 13 result: Lost vs. Cincinnati, 20-13
Philip Rivers as the Eagles’ quarterback in 2013? It would certainly be fitting as his nightmare of a season continues. The Chargers blew another lead in the fourth quarter and did not score at all in the second half. Rivers fumbled and threw an interception on San Diego’s final two drives after Dalton’s go-ahead score. Pretty sure that’s not what LL Cool J meant.
Next up: at Pittsburgh
24. Cleveland (4-8); Last week: 26
Week 13 result: Won at Oakland, 20-17
The Browns are 4-3 after an 0-5 start and rocketing up the rankings. Brandon Weeden threw for 364 yards and one touchdown as the Browns ended their 12-game road losing streak. Long live Joe Banner!
Next up: vs. Kansas City
25. Tennessee (4-8); Last week: 24
Week 13 result: Lost vs. Houston, 24-10
Jake Locker could possibly maybe potentially develop into a somewhat viable option as a starting quarterback, but it’s more likely the Titans slog through another season with him next year before drafting another franchise QB hopeful. Locker was responsible for five turnovers against Houston and was sacked five times while completing 21 of 45 passes for 309 yards. Tennessee is 2-5 in games Locker has started this season.
Next up: at Indianapolis
26. New York Jets (5-7); Last week: 25
Week 13 result: Won vs. Arizona, 7-6
Mark Sanchez threw three interceptions and got benched for Greg McElroy. McElroy went on to throw the only touchdown of the game. The Jets won by one point against a team starting Ryan Lindley at quarterback and who had lost seven straight going into the game. Rex Ryan called it “beautiful”.
Next up: at Jacksonville
27. Carolina (3-9); Last week: 28
Week 13 result: Lost at Kansas City, 27-21
Tough situation for Carolina, traveling to Kansas City after Saturday’s events and losing. Cam Newton threw three touchdown passes, one of which went to Steve Smith, who had five catches for 120 yards. Newton also led the Panthers in rushing with 78 yards.
Next up: vs. Atlanta
28. PHILADELPHIA (3-9); Last week: 29
Week 13 result: Lost at Dallas, 38-33
This was the best game the Eagles have played in several weeks. I know, it’s not saying much. Bryce Brown pulled a Bryce Brown and fumbled as the Eagles were looking for a lead in the fourth quarter. Jim Washburn was fired after the Dallas loss, probably for being as clever in his insults (Juanita?) as the wide-nine was effective. Of course, the real question is: Did Andy Reid get fired yet?
Next up: at Tampa Bay
29. Arizona (4-8); Last week: 27
Week 13 result: Lost at New York Jets, 7-6
Eight, count ‘em, eight straight losses for the Cardinals. Pretty impressive when you can play the Jets and cede the edge in the quarterbacking department. Maybe impressive isn’t the right word.
Next up: at Seattle
30. Jacksonville (2-10); Last week: 30
Week 13 result: Lost at Buffalo, 34-18
Chad Henne’s reign of terror came to an end against Buffalo. Henne completed 18 of 41 passes and turned the ball over twice. The Jaguars managed only 236 total yards and watched the Bills score 27 unanswered points after taking a 10-7 lead in the second quarter. Oh, and they were eliminated from playoff contention.
Next up: vs. New York Jets
31. Kansas City (2-10); Last week: 32
Week 13 result: Won vs. Carolina, 27-21
Feel-good win for the Chiefs on what was assuredly an awful weekend. Brady Quinn had his best game with Kansas City, completing 19 of 23 passes for 203 yards and two touchdowns, and Jamaal Charles ran for 127 yards. It was the Chiefs’ first win since Week 3 against the Saints.
Next up: at Cleveland
32. Oakland (3-9); Last week: 31
Week 13 result: Lost vs. Cleveland, 20-17
The Raiders allowed less than 30 points for the first time in four games, but it somehow was not enough to beat the Browns. Carson Palmer again put up mostly shallow numbers, throwing for 354 yards and two touchdowns, but of course threw an interception with the Raiders down just 13-10 that set up Trent Richardson’s touchdown. Oakland has lost five in a row.
Next up: vs. Denver