In a week marked by little change, the rankings seem to be settling… at least at the top.
The Eagles steal away a spot at the edge of the Top 10 by pushing the Colts out, but the rest of the top group stays steady. The true jockeying has taken place in the middle ranks as the pack teams elbow each other for position (and for many, a wild card spot in the playoffs).
At the end of things, the Redskins are the latest team to challenge for the bottom as they slip below Jacksonville, hot on Houston’s trail.
Here’s how our analysts see the league after 10 weeks, and the cumulative rank (below) that comes of their ballots.
With the votes tallied, here’s how the list looks after Week 13: (last week’s rank and change in rank in parentheses)
THE TOP 10
1. Seattle Seahawks (1, 0)
Convincingly defending their new spot at the top, the Seahawks and their home crowd made short work of the visiting Saints. They’ll try to bump the division foe 49ers from the NFC’s final playoff spot next week.
2. Denver Broncos (2, 0)
Maybe they can just outscore everyone. Still holding a step on New England for the AFC’s home field, Denver gets a couple of teams holding out wild card hopes in the next two as Tennessee and San Diego travel to Mile High.
3t. New England Patriots (4, 1)
Coming out on top of identical 34-31 scores in consecutive weeks, the Patriots got by a team at each end of the scale, taking down the Texans days after outlasting the Broncos. Finding a way to win is all that matters at this point.
3t. New Orleans Saints (3, 0)
Never really in it, New Orleans wasted a Monday Night trip to Seattle and slipped back into a tie atop the South. The Panthers come calling in Week 14 and host the Saints two weeks later.
5. Carolina Panthers (5, 0)
Winners of eight straight, the Panthers couldn’t have hoped for a better set up – tied for the division lead and facing New Orleans head-to-head twice in the next three weeks.
6. San Francisco 49ers (6, 0)
Battling a season-long search for form, the 49ers have stayed in the hunt and are positioned to make a statement hosting Seattle in Week 14. With the pack on their heels, a win here would mean more than pride.
7. Kansas City Chiefs (7, 0)
Giving up just 111 points while winning with defense during their 9-0 start to the season, Kansas City has given up 103 in the three-game losing streak that has followed their bye. A trip to Washington could cure ills, but will the Chiefs have to win with offense going forward?
8. Cincinnati Bengals (8, 0)
Battling an O-line shuffle and the inconsistent play of their QB, the Bengals held on against San Diego and took another step toward wrapping up the AFC North. They get the Colts in Week 14 in a matchup of second-tier teams.
9. Detroit Lions (9, 0)
Now alone atop the NFC North with a Turkey Day win over Green Bay — and holding a Top 10 spot here for the sixth week in a row — the Lions head into an expected shootout with Philadelphia. Their tie-breaking edge over Chicago effectively gives them a two-game cushion to ride.
10. Philadelphia Eagles (11, 1)
Displacing the Colts from the Top 10, Philadelphia holds a share of the East lead after four straight wins and they’ll be looking to take another step up with Detroit next on the schedule.
11. Indianapolis Colts (10, -1)
Far from showing they really want it, the Colts drop from our Top 10 but still control the suffering AFC South and their Week 13 win made it a three-game lead. A pre-playoff test in Cincinnati is up next.
12t. Arizona Cardinals (12, 0)
Familiar issues kept the Cardinals short of a win in Philadelphia and ended a four-game winning run. Falling a game off the pace for the NFC wild card, the next two (STL and TEN) look like “gotta have ‘em” games.
12t. Dallas Cowboys (13, 1)
A strong second half against Oakland brought home a Thanksgiving win, kept the Cowboys on the pace in the East, and helped them move back up a spot here. A weather game in Chicago awaits.
14. Baltimore Ravens (15, 1)
Their miserable overtime loss in Chicago being the only defeat logged in their last four, the Ravens have grabbed hold of the final AFC playoff spot. Welcoming the Vikings in Week 14 is a must-win with three contenders to follow.
15. Chicago Bears (14, -1)
Given a second life in overtime, the Bears were still not able to snatch a win. At 6-6 and looking up at the Lions, Chicago has dug a hole that may prove too deep. They fall in the ranks for the second straight week.
16. Green Bay Packers (17, 1)
Apparently the QB does make a difference as the Rodgers-less Packers fall again and continue their slide. They get bumped up a spot here as the Chargers trade down in the ever-shifting belly of the rankings.
17. Miami Dolphins (19, 2)
The Dolphins have traded in their streaky early-season ways for more of an up-down pace in the second half, swapping wins and losses weekly. The Steelers stand between them and a run through the AFC East to end the year as they push for the final playoff spot.
18. San Diego Chargers (16, -2)
Dropping four of their last five, the Chargers fall two spots but find themselves still just on the outside edge of the wild card race. With three home games to come, all is not lost.
19. Pittsburgh Steelers (18, -1)
Losing a controversy-laden game on Thanksgiving, the Steelers slip in the ranks as well as the wild card race and help the Ravens move up in both. A strong December could see Pittsburgh climb back in and that’ll start with taking on the inconsistent Dolphins.
20. New York Giants (22, 2)
The same Giants who lost each of their first six just won five of their second six. Likely too little too late to climb back into a wild card race that’s marked three games ahead with four to go, but it’s been an encouraging fight regardless.
21. St. Louis Rams (20, -1)
The loss to SF left St. Louis three games out of the playoffs with four left and all but squashed their thin hopes of qualifying, but with games against contenders still to come, they’ll have more reason to continue scrapping.
22. Tennessee Titans (21, -1)
It says a lot about the AFC playoff race when the Titans can lose three of four and remain just a game out with a 5-7 overall mark. A trip to Denver when the ship needs righting is not what they would have ordered.
THE BOTTOM 10
23. New York Jets (23, 0)
The Jets emerged from their Week 10 bye to lose three straight and have mustered only a field goal in each of their last two. With issues galore, they’ll host the bad-traveling Raiders in Week 14.
24t. Buffalo Bills (25, 1)
A trip to Toronto to fall to the Falcons? That’s what the Bills offered in Week 13. In Week 14 they get the rising Bucs as their three-game Florida swing begins and a frustrating season winds down.
24t. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (24, 0)
Streak snapped but the Bucs have settled up and out of the cellar. Facing off with the Bills next to determine once and for all who’s rightfully No. 24.
26. Cleveland Browns (26, 0)
Making a late push toward the bottom, the Browns become Jacksonville’s latest victim. Heading to New England next, things aren’t looking brighter in the immediate future.
27. Oakland Raiders (27, 0)
Still struggling to hold early leads, the Raiders let another slip away in their T-Day loss to Dallas. Better than originally thought, Oakland still has a way to go.
28. Minnesota Vikings (29, 1)
It took an extra few minutes, but the Vikings found a way to an overtime win and stayed a half game ahead of (behind?) the NFC’s group on the bottom rung. Their four final games feature opponents with playoff thoughts.
29. Atlanta Falcons (30, 1)
A forced fumble early in the extra frame saw Atlanta pull out an overtime win and end a five-game fall. They climb a spot in the ranks for the first time since Week 6.
30. Jacksonville Jaguars (31, 1)
Suddenly finding ways to win, the Jags have three W’s in four tries since their bye. This week they get a rematch with Houston, the team that stole their No. 32 spot two weeks ago.
31. Washington Redskins (28, -3)
The week’s big fall sees the Redskins slip into the Bottom 2 to fit in below Jacksonville. An overtime win being their only positive in the last six games, it’s tough to blame them if they’re glancing past December to the season’s final gun.
32. Houston Texans (32, 0)
Despite a valiant effort against the Patriots, Houston takes loss No. 10 and becomes the lead dog in the race to the podium.