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With only a few weeks remaining in the season, the power has shifted in the NFL.
The NFC looked much stronger in the middle of the season, with only the Houston Texans being a likely possible Super Bowl contender in the AFC. However, things have changed dramatically and some teams are looking worse than originally thought.
Now, it seems like the AFC is the side that is set to dominate the remainder of the season.
Week 13, specifically, was full of some season-changing losses that have changed the perception for a few squads on the decline.
Here are the latest power rankings following the past week of games.
1. Atlanta Falcons
By avenging their only loss against the New Orleans Saints, the Falcons have solidified themselves as the top team in the NFC. Despite constant criticism from the national media, the Falcons continue to win week after week. Now the team has to learn what it takes to win in the postseason.
2. Houston Texans
The Texans defense got back to form after two miserable performances in consecutive weeks.
After allowing 68 points to the Jacksonville Jaguars and Detroit Lions, Houston held the Tennessee Titans to only 10 points in the win. This team looks back on track.
3. New England Patriots
New England has been dominant against some of the weaker teams in the NFL and some of the average teams. However, these next two weeks will really prove the team's skill level.
Home games against the Texans and San Francisco 49ers will mean more mentally than in the standings.
4. Denver Broncos
Another week, another win for the Broncos, who have now won seven in a row.
This team is very well-rounded and have the ability to beat anyone with Peyton Manning at the helm.
5. Green Bay Packers
Although the Packers got back on track with a win over the Minnesota Vikings, there are still three more divisional games remaining.
These games will end up deciding arguably the toughest division in the NFL.
6. Baltimore Ravens
A win over the Pittsburgh Steelers and a loss by the Cincinnati Bengals would have clinched the AFC North for the Ravens.
Unfortunately, the team now only has a two-game lead with four weeks remaining in the season.
Joe Flacco completed only 16 of his 34 passes and was largely outplayed by a 37-year-old Charlie Batch. Joe Flacco, was touted as the newest NFL Elite has seen his stock fall recently.
For some reason, Ray Rice only had 12 rushing attempts in the loss, even with an average of 6.5 yards per carry.
Despite the 9-3 record, the Ravens have some serious question marks that must be answered before they can win in the playoffs.
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7. Chicago Bears
The team fought hard just to reach overtime but still ended up with a loss as the legend of Russell Wilson continues to grow.
This game could end up hurting down the line as a tiebreaker, even though there are still plenty of big games remaining in the season. But, we must ask, where has the "vaunted Bears defense" gone?
8. San Francisco 49ers
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It looks like we have a quarterback controversy once again.
Colin Kaepernick earned the starting job over Alex Smith with his great play against the Bears and New Orleans Saints, but a loss to the St. Louis Rams should have the coaching staff rethinking the situation.
The second-year quarterback had a few great plays, but there were more bad decisions than good ones.
This team has the ability to win a Super Bowl with steady quarterback play, but the question remains of which player is the better option.
9. New York Giants
No team in the NFL had a bigger win last week than the New York Giants. The win not only gave the team confidence after a losing streak, but it extended the team's division lead.
However, a loss to the Washington Redskins on Monday Night Football would put the team right back where it started. Is the Atlanta Falcons' win on teh road vs. RGIII now looking better?
10. Indianapolis Colts
What Andrew Luck has done with this team is simply outstanding. After a 2-14 season, the Colts are now in line for a playoff spot with an 8-4 record.
Luck should not only be in consideration for Rookie of the Year but also, quite possibly, the Most Valuable Player award.
11. Pittsburgh Steelers
It is hard to get a read on the Steelers, as they followed up an awful loss to the Cleveland Browns with a great win on the road against the Ravens.
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The only thing that is certain is that this team is full of fighters, and they will not give up on the season, regardless of who gets injured. Good for Charlie Batch and came out and played with tremendous heart in a tough environment. Wonder how his performance made Joe Flacco feel??
12. Seattle Seahawks
The Seahawks have a very impressive resume of wins this year, including the Patriots, Packers and now the Bears. The latest win might be the biggest because it proves that they can defeat a good team on the road.
This will be a team that no one wants to see in the postseason.
13. Cincinnati Bengals
After losing four straight games, the Bengals have now won four in a row and are tied for the last wild-card spot in the AFC.
Quarterback Andy Dalton has been outstanding during the current run, and this team will be dangerous for the rest of the year.
14. Tampa Bay Buccaneers
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Four wins in a row put the Buccaneers squarely in the playoff hunt at 6-4. A couple of better bounces and the team defeats the Atlanta Falcons and are only two games away from the division lead.
Unfortunately, a one-point loss to the Falcons was followed by another close defeat at the hands of the Broncos.
This brings the team to 6-6 and in a desperate situation for the playoffs.
There is still a lot of talent on the offense for the Bucs, but the entire team will need to step up over the next four weeks in order to keep the season going.
15. Minnesota Vikings
It does not matter how close the losses are, dropping four of five this late in the season is enough to make reaching the postseason a longshot.
16. St. Louis Rams
Although the Rams were close to tying the 49ers for the second time in four weeks, Greg Zuerlein came through and kicked the game winner.
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Even if the team does not reach the postseason this year, the young squad should have a lot of confidence going into 2013.
17. Washington Redskins
The season truly comes down to the Monday night game against the Giants. A win puts the Redskins in the hunt for the division, but a loss drops them three games back without a tiebreaker. No pressure or anything.
18. Dallas Cowboys
Defeating the Philadelphia Eagles keeps the season alive, and the offense has the ability to beat anyone it plays. The question is whether they can remain consistent.
Drew Brees picked a bad day to have one of the worst games of his career - against the rival Falcons after declaring on National Television that the NFC South was their division. Ooopsie.
He gave his team no chance of winning with five interceptions and no touchdowns against the division leaders, and it might have effectively ended the season for the Saints.
20. Buffalo Bills
Buffalo has been solid at home this year with a 3-2 record, including a one-point loss to the Tennessee Titans.
With three more games at Ralph Wilson Stadium, this struggling team can end up with a respectable final record.
21. Detroit Lions
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Of the Lions' eight losses, only one of which was by more than a score.
This week was more of the same as the Lions fell to the Colts on a last-second touchdown pass by Andrew Luck.
While the close defeats show the talent, it also proves that this team is undisciplined. Little mistakes have cost the team all year, whether those are by the players or the coaches.
The organization has to have a serious discussion if they can win with Jim Schwartz leading the team.
22. Miami Dolphins
The Dolphins have still been better than their preseason expectations, but four losses in the last five games have taken the team out of the running for the playoffs.
23. Cleveland Browns
First, the Browns prove they can beat the Steelers. Then, the team shows it can win on the road.
With these mental blocks out of the way, Cleveland can be on the way towards more wins this year and next.
24. Tennessee Titans
Jake Locker might be better than Matt Hasselbeck, but with five interceptions in the past two games, he still does not look like a franchise quarterback.
25. New York Jets
Mark Sanchez finally got pulled for Tim Teb...I mean Greg McElory. Either way, the backup received a standing ovation when he entered the field.
After three more interceptions on Sunday, a monkey in a Jets jersey would have excited the crowd more than Sanchez.
26. San Diego Chargers
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For the second week in a row, the Chargers had a 13-10 lead in the fourth quarter.
For the second week in a row, the Chargers gave up the lead and looked bad doing it.
Philip Rivers throws a lot of passes, but he has been completely ineffective, and he is getting worse. With the game on the line, few quarterbacks would be less trustworthy at this point.
It is about that time of year for the team to start assessing which pieces will be part of the future.
27. Philadelphia Eagles
Bryce Brown can be part of the future of the team, but Nick Foles still needs to prove he can be more than a backup. Mike Vick, where have you gone? Where will you go?
28. Carolina Panthers
It was a difficult week for all involved, but that does not excuse the Panthers for the other eight losses this season. At least Cam Newton had a good game with three touchdowns and no interceptions. No time for pouting, pussy cats, as the Atlanta Falcons come to call on December 9.
29. Arizona Cardinals
Whether John Skelton, Ryan Lindley or Kevin Kolb is at quarterback, this team is not winning any games in the near future.
The offense managed to score only six points and averaged only 2.5 yards per play. Yuck.
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30. Jacksonville Jaguars
The team is way out of a playoff spot, but the Jaguars are getting a chance to evaluate talent for the future. The good news is that receivers Justin Blackmon and Cecil Shorts will be part of that future.
31. Kansas City Chiefs
You never know how a team is going to responded after a tragedy, but the Chiefs took care of business in an emotional home win over the Panthers.
Regardless of what else happens this year, they should feel good about this victory.
32. Oakland Raiders
Five losses in a row. The offense cannot score. The defense cannot stop anyone. Even when healthy, this team is simply pathetic.
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