NFL power rankings, Week 12: 49ers are knocking on the door

Kirby Lee-US PRESSWIRE

San Francisco looked like a juggernaut on Monday night.

With the 49ers dumping on the Bears on Monday Night Football, we have a change near the top of our Week 12 NFL power rankings. The 49ers move up to the third spot while the Bears drop but remain in the top 10. Our top two teams, Houston and Atlanta, who both won last weekend, remain the same.

These are the rankings but I can't say I'm overly confident with the teams at the top. Are the Texans really better than the Falcons? Is Baltimore the most complete team in the league? Didn't the 49ers play like the best team on Monday night?

A lot to be debated. Let us know in the comments section where we got it wrong.


More: QB controversy in San Fran | Plax visits the Steelers | Charlie Batch time?


1. Houston Texans (LW: 1, 9-1): Good teams find a way to win. That's what I can say about the Texans' overtime victory over the Jaguars. Even with what appeared to be a game-killing interception from Matt Schaub, the Texans found a way to win. That's what you can expect from a good team. Things tend to fall its way.

2. Atlanta Falcons (LW: 2, 9-1): Like the Texans, the Falcons are a good team. Despite five Matt Ryan interceptions and six total turnovers, the Falcons found a way to beat the Cardinals. Atlanta has to feel good about itself, to get tested like that and respond.

3. San Francisco 49ers (LW: 8, 7-2-1): Wow. The 49ers applied the beat down to the Bears. Colin Kaepernick looks like a starting quarterback. But so does Alex Smith. The 49ers have the league's best defense and a good problem to ponder: Two quarterbacks playing so well you don't know who to start.

4. Baltimore Ravens (LW: 5, 8-2): The Ravens seemed to exit the best team conversation when the Texans dumped 43 points on them a month ago. Now they're 8-2 and standing steady as the AFC's second best team.

5. New England Patriots (LW: 9, 7-3): The Patriots are averaging 42.5 points per game on their four-game winning streak. Think about that -- averaging 42.5 points. When was the last time your team scored 42 points? Sunday's 59-pointer didn't hurt.

6. Green Bay Packers (LW: 7, 7-3): At one point in time the Packers were 2-3 and we were questioning whether they'd even make the playoffs. Five straight wins later and the Packers are the favorites for the No. 2 seed in the NFC. Packers-Giants on Sunday will go a long way to determining who wins that first-round bye.

7. Denver Broncos (LW: 6, 7-3): Fun fact: Every time the Broncos have scored more than 30 points this year, they've won. Every time it's been under 30 points, they've lost.

8. Chicago Bears (LW: 3, 7-3): Blame the fact that the Bears only scored seven points in Monday's game on Jay Cutler getting hurt and a backup quarterback stepping in. But blame the Bears defense for imploding and making Colin Kaepernick look like Steve Young.

9. Pittsburgh Steelers (LW: 4, 6-4): Ben Roethlisberger went down. Then Byron Leftwich went down. What happens if Charlie Batch gets hurt? Where's Antwaan Randle El when you need him?

10. New York Giants (LW: 11, 6-4): They've lost two straight, holding a one-game lead over the Cowboys in the NFC East, with a game coming up against the Packers. Are they about to lose their hold on first place?


Previous Power Rankings: Week 1 | Week 2 | Week 3 | Week 4 | Week 5 | Week 6 | Week 7 | Week 8 | Week 9 | Week 10 | Week 11


11. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (LW: 14, 6-4): I still think the Bucs are being underrated. They're not being talked about enough. This is a top five offense right now.

12. New Orleans Saints (LW: 12, 5-5): The Saints are making their case to be the first team in 20 years to start 0-4 and make the playoffs. The biggest test of the season comes in the next three games: San Francisco, at Atlanta and at New York Giants. Sweep that and they deserve a postseason bid.

13. Seattle Seahawks (LW: 13, 6-4): I see four more wins on their schedule: at Miami, Arizona, at Buffalo and St. Louis. Ten-win season coming in Seattle?

14. Indianapolis Colts (LW: 10, 6-4): The Colts defense is their liability but they had been playing better in the last month. You know, before the Patriots nearly dropped a 60-burger on them.

15. Minnesota Vikings (LW: 15, 6-4): Adrian Peterson is on pace for 1,800 yards. Over or under?

16. Dallas Cowboys (LW: 18, 5-5): It really would be something if the NFC East came down to the Cowboys and Giants again.

17. Cincinnati Bengals (LW: 22, 5-5): I experienced the greatness that is A.J. Green in person this weekend. Green looked like a man among boys.

18. San Diego Chargers (LW: 16, 4-6): The more interesting question here is whether Norv Turner makes it through the season.

19. Detroit Lions (LW: 17, 4-6): The Lions are in trouble. They still have to play four of the 10 best teams in the NFL the rest of the way, including the Texans, Packers, Falcons and Bears.

20. Washington Redskins (LW: 20, 4-6): Here's to the Redskins running the table and making the playoffs so we can see more RGIII.


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21. Miami Dolphins (LW: 21, 4-6): Finishing second in the AFC East would be an accomplishment.

22. New York Jets (LW: 27, 4-6): Credit Rex Ryan for getting the Jets together to beat the Rams. This team looked like a disaster from the outside looking in, and maybe they are. They have their backs against the wall now.

23. Tennessee Titans (LW: 24, 4-6): The Titans defense can't catch a break. They won't see Blaine Gabbert this weekend.

24. Buffalo Bills (LW: 25, 4-6): For the first time since beating the lowly Chiefs in Week 2, the Bills had a turnover free game against the Dolphins.

25. St. Louis Rams (LW: 26, 3-6-1): It's kinda looking like Sam Bradford isn't the answer. Sholudn't he be showing more by now? Or is this on the lack of talent around the Rams offense? I can't figure it out.

26 Philadelphia Eagles (LW: 19, 3-7): Train wreck. Blow it all up.

27. Arizona Cardinals (LW: 23, 4-6): Probably not a good sign when something called a Ryan Lindley is playing meaningful snaps for you.

28. Oakland Raiders (LW: 28, 3-7): Well, that was expected. One of the league's best offenses (Saints) crushed one of the league's worst defenses.

29. Cleveland Browns (LW: 30, 2-8): For an hour or two there, we were all Browns fans, rooting for them to beat the Cowboys.

30. Carolina Panthers (LW: 29, 2-8): Anytime I think I know what I'm talking about, I look back at what I wrote about the Panthers in the preseason. That brings me back to earth.

31. Jacksonville Jaguars (LW: 32, 1-9): The Chad Henne era is here. We hope.

32. Kansas City Chiefs (LW: 31, 1-9): This team gets blown out more than anyone else.

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