A sub-par performance by a top team can lead to drastic results on any given Sunday in the NFL and can make all the difference in deciding a team's fate. Every week, it seems, the Houston Texans and Atlanta Falcons "Just Win."
Here are the updated power rankings following Sunday's games.
1. Atlanta Falcons
The Falcons continue to prove week after week that all they do is win. Despite many "experts" picking the Falcons to lose this week at Media Darling Tampa Bay, Atlanta pulled out the "W", momentarily silencing the naysayers and maintaining the best record in the NFC. Nothing the Falcons have done in the past three weeks has looked pretty. However, the team is now 10-1 and is in full control of the NFC South.
2. Houston Texans
Although the Houston Texans still have the best record in the AFC, they are having some serious problems.
The once-dominant defense has now allowed 68 points in the last two weeks combined. At least the staff finally realized that Andre Johnson is still pretty good. Matt Schaub v. Matt Ryan in Super Bowl XLVII?
3. San Francisco 49ers
Colin Kaepernick has solidified his hold on the starting job after winning two of the toughest games on the entire schedule against the Chicago Bears and at the New Orleans Saints. Many pundits pick the Niners as the NFC favorites. With a Rookie QB at the helm, we'll see.
4. New England Patriots
In the last four games, the New England Patriots have averaged 47.5 points. It does not matter whom you are playing; that is dominant. It will be difficult for anyone to stop this unit. The Pats have the longest current winning streak in the NFL at 5 games. Brady is still Brady.
5. Denver Broncos
Although the offense struggled against the Kansas City Chiefs, no one is calmer under pressure than Peyton Manning. The Broncos should be able to clinch the AFC West within a few weeks.
6. Baltimore Ravens
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The Ravens were one miraculous Ray Rice catch-and-run away from a loss on Sunday. While the team should earn credit for resolve, there are some serious concerns in this organization.
Joe Flacco is one of the more inconsistent quarterbacks in the league, and he is a deterrent to his team when he is not playing well. Flacco is the true definition of a "game manager."
For the season, he has a Total QBR of 54.1, which ranks No. 18 among qualified players. This rates him behind three rookies and Jake Locker.
Quite simply, Joe Flacco is over rated.
Meanwhile, both the run defense and pass defense are rated in the bottom third of the NFL in yards allowed.
The 9-2 record is nothing to sneeze at, but a lot of improvements must be made before this team can be considered a Super Bowl contender.
7. Chicago Bears
The Chicago Bears have a good enough defense to avoid any bad games. However, they will not be considered elite until they are able to defeat one of the top teams in the NFL.
This squad might be on pace for an early exit in the playoffs.
8. New York Giants
There is nothing quite like a bye week. After a few terrible performances by Eli Manning, he woke up against the Green Bay Packers and helped quiet the critics for the moment.
9. Green Bay Packers
The blowout loss against the Giants exposed the secondary, but this team is still getting healthy and should be right there with the top contenders by season's end.
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10. Cincinnati Bengals
No team has changed its perception more in the past couple of weeks than the Cincinnati Bengals. They have won their last three by outscoring opponents 93-29 in that stretch.
This team will be a scary opponent down the stretch.
11. Indianapolis Colts
The schedule gets tougher for Andrew Luck and company with two games against the Houston Texans remaining. However, the Colts have the ability to sneak into the playoffs if they win the games they should.
12. Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Tampa Bay lost for the first time in five games, but it does not change what we already know about this team.
This is a very talented young offense that will only go as far as the defense will allow.
13. Seattle Seahawks
Few teams are better at home, but it will be difficult to reach the playoffs until they can start winning on the road. A 1-5 record is not going to get it done.
14. Pittsburgh Steelers
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Every team has to deal with injuries. The Steelers might have had a few more problems with both Ben Roethlisberger and Byron Leftwich out this week, but that is still no excuse for Sunday's performance.
The offense turned the ball over eight times in the loss to the lowly Cleveland Browns.
Although Charlie Batch was responsible for three interceptions, four different running backs fumbled the ball. It gave the team no chance to come out with a victory.
Pittsburgh will quickly fall out of the playoff hunt if the offense continues to play this poorly without Roethlisberger.
15. Washington Redskins
Robert Griffin III has thrown eight touchdown passes in the last two games with only one interception. This production has gotten the Redskins back in playoff contention after a 3-6 start.
16. Philadelphia Eagles
Heading into the Monday night game against the Carolina Panthers, the defense is playing poorly and the offense is running out of players.
Bryce Brown and Nick Foles are not what Eagles fans were hoping to see at this point of the season.
Wonder how many Atlanta Falcons fans are missing Mike Vick about now?
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17. Minnesota Vikings
Like Seattle, the Vikings will not be able to reach the postseason unless it starts winning on the road. Unfortunately, the schedule only includes one more game against a team with a losing record.
18. Miami Dolphins
The Dolphins came back from the dead with a win over the Seahawks. The team's five wins are already more than many were expecting this season.
19. Dallas Cowboys
After a couple steps forward, the Cowboys took a major step back with an embarrassing loss to the Washington Redskins on Thanksgiving. Sadly for the apparently curious Jerry Jones, the "Glory Hole" days seem far, far away.
20. Detroit Lions
At 4-7, the playoffs look like a long shot for this team. However, the fight that they showed on Thanksgiving is very encouraging.
This is still a young team and should be a contender for the playoffs next year. There's always next year.
21. St. Louis Rams
There are a lot of question marks going forward for the Rams, but rookie Janoris Jenkins is not one of them.
He returned two interceptions for touchdowns against the Cardinals and could someday be one of the best cornerbacks in the NFL.
22. San Diego Chargers
Close losses mean something earlier in the year. At this point, all that matters in games is which team finishes with more points.
The Chargers have not beaten a team besides the Chiefs since Week 2.
23. Tennessee Titans
Jake Locker and Chris Johnson gave reason to believe in this team after a Week 10 win over the Dolphins. After losing to the Jaguars, however, all of that good feeling is gone.
24. Arizona Cardinals
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After a 4-0 start, the Cardinals have lost seven straight games and are now in last place in the NFC West.
The offensive line is not only the worst in the NFL, but it is the worst that this league has seen in years.
Unheralded rookie quarterback Ryan Lindley got the start over John Skelton, and he responded with four interceptions against the Rams.
Even the return of Beanie Wells did not provide much spark as he was only able to manage 2.8 yards per carry.
This could be a long final month for Arizona.
25. Buffalo Bills
The Bills are no longer getting blown out of games. Only once since Week 5 has a game been decided by more than one touchdown. Now they just need to start finishing on top more often.
26. Cleveland Browns
Defeating the Steelers should go a long way towards giving this young team confidence going forward. The defense should certainly be proud of forcing eight turnovers.
27. New York Jets
The Jets usually feel confident heading into their rivalry game against the Patriots.
After falling behind 35-0, that confidence was completely gone, along with any hope of reaching the playoffs this season.
No team has as much controversy in the locker room as New York, and the media circus has finally gotten to the players.
One would think that Tim Tebow would get his chance to play at some point, but his supporters will most likely have to wait until next season.
28. New Orleans Saints
A loss to the 49ers is nothing to be ashamed of, but the Saints have very little margin for error.
Albeit a long shot, Thursday's game against the Atlanta Falcons might be a must-win at this point of the season.
Their detractors don't call them the "Taints" for nothing....
29. Carolina Panties
Although the organization was hoping for more than two wins by now, a matchup against the injured Eagles should help.
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30. Oakland Raiders
The Raiders put together an embarrassing performance against Cincinnati on Sunday.
If the defense cannot stop the run, they will continue to lose regardless of what the offense does.
31. Jacksonville Jaguars
Chad Henne may or may not be the answer for Jacksonville. The only certainty is that Blaine Gabbert is not the answer for the long term. How is that Mike Mularkey working out for you?!
32. Kansas City Chiefs
Once this team gets a quarterback, they will go from awful to bad.