It’s safe to say I found the correct top ranked team two weeks ago when the Seahawks climbed to the summit of the Power Rankings. Seattle is an unstoppable force at home, and they proved it again Monday night, leading New Orleans 17-0 after the 1st Quarter and winning 34-7. It’s not just that the Seahawks get it done. It’s how they do it. Russell Wilson torched the Saints Defense, and his D held Drew Brees to fewer than 150 passing yards for the first time since 2006. Dominance, defined.
This week was actually much different than most. The Saints and Chiefs were the only teams in last week’s top 12 to lose this week, and they fell to the No. 1 and No. 2 ranked teams. It seems we’re very much separating the contenders from the rest of the pack.
Biggest Rise: Giants and Vikings +5
Biggest Fall: Packers -5
1. Seattle Seahawks (11-1, LW: 1): The Stat: 6. Russell Wilson is rolling now for the Seahawks. He threw three touchdown passes Monday night, running his streak of multi-touchdown games to six, best in the NFL. Wilson is now 22-6 as a starting quarterback. That ties Ben Roethlisberger for the best 28-game start in league history. He also is still undefeated at home in his young career.
2. Denver Broncos (10-2, LW: 4): The Stat: 4. Peyton Manning’s not the only one setting records for the Broncos this season. Among the quartet of Demaryius Thomas, Julius Thomas, Wes Welker and Eric Decker, Decker has been the odd man out at times this year in terms of production. With Julius Thomas on the bench Sunday, that all changed. Decker set a franchise record with four touchdown catches. He also joined Jerry Rice and Terrell Owens as the only players since 1990 with 150+ receiving yards and 4 TD in one game.
3. New England Patriots (9-3, LW: 3): The Stat: 78. How much did Tom Brady miss Rob Gronkowski? Brady’s receivers were some of the worst in the league in dropped passes early in the season. In comes Gronk, who now has gone 78 straight targets without a drop. He also has a TD grab in four straight games, longest current streak in the league.
4. New Orleans Saints (9-3, LW: 2): The Stat: 106. It had been 106 regular season games, back to Dec. 31, 2006, since the last time Drew Brees failed to pass for 150 yards in a game. That day Brees threw only five passes in a meaningless loss to the Panthers. The previous week was the last time he did it in a full game. That day Brees threw for 132 yards in a 30-7 win over the Giants. Brees also had a 43 game streak of 200-yard games, two short of the NFL record.
5. Carolina Panthers (9-3, LW: 5): The Stat: 8. The Panthers, after a 1-3 start that made people utter the “same old Panthers” line, have won a franchise record eight straight games to hold a share of the NFC South ahead of this week’s huge game in New Orleans. Carolina’s 9-3 record ties the 2005 and 2008 teams for best 12-game start. It also guarantees the franchise’s fifth ever winning season. They made the playoffs the four other times.
6. San Francisco 49ers (8-4, LW: 7): The Stat: 10. It seems like a very long time since Mike Singletary labeled Vernon Davis as a player he couldn’t win with. Turns out, Jim Harbaugh can do just fine with him. Davis’ touchdown catch Sunday gave him 10 for the season and put him in some pretty good company. He’s now one of three 49ers to have 2+ seasons with 10+ TD grabs. The other two are Jerry Rice and Terrell Owens. Rice did it nine times and Owens four.
7. Kansas City Chiefs (9-3, LW: 6): The Stat: 3. The Chiefs are just the third team to start a season 9-0, then lose three straight games. The other two were the 1969 Rams and the 2009 Saints. The Rams lost their first playoff game, while the Saints won the franchise’s only Super Bowl title. A positive note from Sunday: Jamaal Charles 5,523 rushing yards is the most ever for a player in his first 1,000 carries.
8. Cincinnati Bengals (8-4, LW: 8): The Stat: 3,000. Andy Dalton takes Bengals fans on a roller coaster ride sometimes, but there’s no denying some of the numbers he’s been able to post. Dalton is the second QB to throw for 3,000 yards in all of his first three professional seasons. The only other one is Peyton Manning. It’s also worth noting that this season alone he’s had the better QB Rating in head-to-head meetings with Philip Rivers, Aaron Rodgers, Tom Brady, Ben Roethlisberger and Matthew Stafford.
9. Philadelphia Eagles (7-5, LW: 10): The Stat: 233. Nick Foles is on a roll. The second year quarterback has thrown 233 straight passes without an interception, the longest streak since Matt Ryan went 272 between 2011 and 2012. Also, Foles and the Eagles got the win against the now 7-5 Cardinals, their first against a winning team this season.
10. Dallas Cowboys (7-5, LW: 11): The Stat: 3. Tony Romo’s 18 Thanksgiving touchdown passes are the most all-time, but this Turkey Day game belonged to DeMarco Murray. The young back scored three times on the ground, the first multi-TD game of his career. He also joined Emmitt Smith as the only Dallas players with three touchdown runs on Thanksgiving.
11. Indianapolis Colts (8-4, LW: 12): The Stat: 1.7. Last year the Colts got a number of wins by finding a way to take the close games. That kind of things always tends to balance itself out, but it hasn’t yet in Indianapolis. In fact, based on expected win-loss ratio, Indianapolis is outperforming its expectation by a whopping 1.7 wins, 2nd highest total in the NFL. The ratio says they’ve actually only played well enough for a 6.3-5.7 record.
12. Detroit Lions (7-5, LW: 13): The Stat: 241. The Lions as a running team is a very scary thought indeed for many other contenders in the NFC. Sure it came against a Packers defense that appears to have given up on the season, but Detroit rushed for 241 yards on Thanksgiving, the team’s highest total since 1997. That day Barry Sanders finished with 216 yards on 24 carries in a 32-10 win over Indianapolis. Coincidentally, the last time the Lions won by 30 on Thanksgiving was also in 1997, a 55-20 stomping of the Bears.
13. Arizona Cardinals (7-5, LW: 9): The Stat: 16.1. The Cardinals’ defense is one of the better ones in the league at causing havoc, and Carson Palmer has been better lately, but that Arizona offense just gives up the ball too often. The Cardinals are handing it over on 16.1% of their offensive series, 29th overall. Palmer’s 17 interceptions are the major culprit, and a pair of them helped lead to Arizona’s loss last week.
14. Chicago Bears (6-6, LW: 14): The Stat: 249. For the second time this season, Alshon Jeffery set the Bears’ single game receiving mark. His 249 yards torched the Vikings and broke his team record by 31 yards. Prior to this season, Chicago had two receiving games of more than 200 yards. Now Jeffery has doubled that list.
15. Baltimore Ravens (6-6, LW: 18): The Stat: 68-2. It was a close call, but the Ravens held on for their 22-20 win against Pittsburgh, continuing a run of dominance when grabbing an early home lead. Baltimore is now 68-2 since 2001 when they take a 10+ point lead at home. It would’ve been very strange if they lost this one in Week 13 of 2013 because the two losses in this run came in Week 13 of 2012 (vs. PIT) and Week 13 of 2004 (vs. CIN).
16. New York Giants (5-7, LW: 21): The Stat: 4. Justin Tuck sacked Robert Griffin III four times in the Giants’ win Sunday, the first time since 2007 that a Giants player has racked up four on his own. That time Osi Umenyiora finished with six against the Eagles for a Giants team on its way to winning the Super Bowl. This time, New York is hoping to become the first team since the 2007 Redskins to start 5-7 and make the playoffs.
17. San Diego Chargers (5-7, LW: 15): The Stat: 22. Philip Rivers has been much better this year than in the past couple seasons, and a big part of that might be because his line is keeping him relatively clean. Rivers has been sacked 22 times in 2013, 4th best overall. Last year he was taken down 49 times, 29th in the NFL. They’re on pace for 29 this year.
18. Miami Dolphins (6-6, LW: 19): The Stat: 141, 139. Ryan Tannehill, meanwhile, continues to show his poise in an ever shrinking pocket. Tannehill’s been sacked 45 times, but the Dolphins are 6-6, and he’s been nearly as good in losses as wins. Tannehill’s completed 141-of-213 passes in Miami’s six wins and 139-of-234 in the six losses. He’s throwing for 26 more yards but a half touchdown less in wins. The sacks don’t let up either way with 22 in wins and 23 in losses.
19. St. Louis Rams (5-7, LW: 20): The Stat: 1. The Rams really aren’t far from being a competitive team in the NFC. Their running game is rolling, Kellen Clemens is managing okay under center, and they’re finally figuring out how to utilize Tavon Austin. Statistical proof shows the same thing. Despite being 5-7, St. Louis has actually scored one more point than they’ve given up. That even includes back-to-back 24 points losses against Dallas and San Francisco in September.
20. Pittsburgh Steelers (5-7, LW: 17): The Stat: 212. With his 20th and 21st touchdown passes Thursday against the Ravens, Ben Roethlisberger tied Terry Bradshaw for the Steelers record of 212 career scoring passes. He also got a record to himself, becoming the only Steelers player to throw 20+ TD passes in five different seasons.
21. Green Bay Packers (5-6-1, LW: 16): The Stat: 126. The Packers offense was absolutely putrid on Thanksgiving Day, rolling up 126 yards. Even worse, 70 of those yards came on the game’s final drive when Green Bay was trailing by 30. Up to that point the Packers had 56 yards, which would’ve been the second worst total in team history. The Lions’ Reggie Bush (182 yds) and Joique Bell (128 yds) BOTH out gained Green Bay.
22. Tennessee Titans (5-7, LW: 23): The Stat: 5-7. The Titans are 5-7 and out of the playoff picture right now, but all hope is not lost. Tennessee is only a game out in the top heavy AFC, and history says it’s not out of the question. Since the NFL switched to eight divisions in 2002, two teams (2007 Redskins, 2008 Chargers) started 5-7 or worse and made the playoffs. A win this week against the Broncos is unlikely, but it would be huge. Four teams have made it in with a 6-7 start.
23. New York Jets (5-7, LW: 22): The Stat: 6. It’s safe to say Geno Smith is having a rough time in his Rookie season in New York. The young QB has six games with a Total QBR in the single digits this season. For those who don’t know, that’s not good, at all. In fact, Peyton Manning hasn’t been in single digits for 108 straight games dating to 2006. Even worse for Smith, check the comparison between he and Mark Sanchez’s first 12 games in the league. Smith: 2,256 pass yds, 8 TD, 19 INT, 21.6 QBR. Sanchez: 2,049 pass yds, 11 TD, 17 INT, 31.6 QBR.
24. Minnesota Vikings (3-8-1, LW: 29): The Stat: 10,000. With 211 rushing yards Sunday, Adrian Peterson became the 28th player in NFL history to reach 10,000 career rushing yards. It’s a little more impressive than that, though. Peterson’s just the fifth to do it in his first seven seasons, and getting there in 101 games makes him the 3rd fastest (Eric Dickerson – 91, Jim Brown – 98). He needs 216 yards to pass the next person on the all-time list (Ottis Anderson).
25. Oakland Raiders (4-8, LW: 25): The Stat: 9/12/99. The Raiders didn’t get the win on Thanksgiving, but they did make a little history. When they return an opening kick off fumble for a touchdown against Dallas, they became the first team to pull that feat since September 12, 1999, when the Saints did it to the Panthers. Unfortunately for Oakland, the rest of the day didn’t go quite as well.
26. Buffalo Bills (4-8, LW: 26): The Stat: 394. There are few teams committed to the run more than the Bills and for good reason. Buffalo has C.J. Spiller and Fred Jackson manning the backfield, and they never are too sure who’s going to be healthy enough to be under center. In fact, Buffalo is second in the NFL with 394 rushing attempts, just two behind Seattle.
27. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (3-9, LW: 24): The Stat: 1.1. When talking about the Colts earlier I mentioned how they’ve outperformed their expected win total. For the Bucs, it’s just the opposite. Tampa Bay is 3-9, but based on the way they’ve played they should be 4.1-7-9. The difference of -1.1 is 3rd worst in the NFL, ahead of only the Falcons and Texans.
28. Atlanta Falcons (3-9, LW: 30): The Stat: 23. Matt Ryan led a 4th Quarter comeback for the first time this season Sunday in Toronto. Even though it hasn’t gone well this year, it’s hasn’t been an uncommon occurrence for Matty Ice. In fact, Ryan leads the NFL with 23 4th Quarter comebacks since 2008.
29. Washington Redskins (3-9, LW: 28): The Stat: 431, 41. You can continue putting the blame for the Redskins’ 3-9 record on Robert Griffin III, and he deserves some of it, but think of this. Griffin has thrown 431 passes so far this season. 41 of those came while Washington was leading the game. That means RGIII is passing the ball with the lead just 8.7% of the time.
30. Jacksonville Jaguars (3-9, LW: 31): The Stat: 20. All of a sudden the Jaguars are becoming relevant on offense. Jacksonville scored 20-1st Half points against the Browns Sunday. That’s not just the first time they’ve done it this year. It’s the first time they’ve had a 20-point 1st Half since Week 14 of the 2011 season, nearly two full years ago. It’s also the first time they’ve won back-to-back games since Weeks 13 and 14 of 2010, a run of nearly three years.
31. Cleveland Browns (4-8, LW: 27): The Stat: 261. No one else is really getting the job done for the Browns right now, but Josh Gordon certainly is. His 261 receiving yards Sunday made it two straight games above the 200 threshold, a feat never accomplished before in the NFL. Almost as rare, those 261 yards came in a loss. The only person with more production in a loss with the Jaguars’ Jimmy Smith, who had a futile 291 through the air back in 2000.
32. Houston Texans (2-10, LW: 32): The Stat: 3. No matter how bad the Texans have been, you can’t doubt the effort of running back Ben Tate. Arian Foster’s back up took over the starting role when Foster was lost for the season, and even through broken ribs, he’s played well. In fact, Sunday he became the first player since 2008 to score three rushing touchdowns against New England. Tate only had one TD this season before that outburst and seven for his three year career.