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NFL power rankings 2017, Week 13: Chargers have real playoff hopes after an 0-4 start

The Chargers are red-hot and might actually make the playoffs after starting in the league’s cellar.

NFL: Los Angeles Chargers at Dallas Cowboys Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports

The Los Angeles Rams couldn’t get through the Minnesota Vikings in Week 11 but showed they are very much the real deal a week later by getting a 26-20 win over the New Orleans Saints.

That snapped an eight-game winning streak for the Saints and shuffled the seeding in the NFC playoff picture. It also sent the Rams into the top five of our power rankings, one spot ahead of the Saints.

With five weeks left to play in the regular season, the top two spots firmly belong to the Philadelphia Eagles and New England Patriots, but all the teams in the top 10 — including the Saints — have reason to feel good about where they currently stand.

And that even includes a team with a 5-6 record:

Riding high

Los Angeles Chargers

Despite a losing record, the Chargers are in the top 10 after a 28-6 domination of the Dallas Cowboys on Thanksgiving.

The offense is lighting up scoreboards, the defense is creating chaos, and the Chargers are just one game behind the Chiefs for the AFC West lead. They’re also just a game behind the Ravens and Bills for a wild card berth.

The only team left on the Chargers’ schedule with a winning record are the floundering Chiefs, so there’s reason for hopes to be sky high for Los Angeles.

Minnesota Vikings

The Vikings are the owners of a seven-game winning streak after beating the Lions, 30-23, on Thanksgiving.

It essentially closed the door on the NFC North race, giving the Vikings a three-game lead with five weeks left in the season. But it also bumped Minnesota into the No. 2 seed in the NFC.

That Week 11 win over the Rams looks even better a week later, and the tiebreaker over Los Angeles could prove important.

Atlanta Falcons

They only climb one spot in the rankings this week, but that’s mostly because it’s crowded at the top. What’s important is that the Falcons have one of the NFC Wild Card spots and are beginning to resemble the offensive juggernaut of 2016.

With 34 points in back-to-back games and Julio Jones running wild against the Buccaneers, the Falcons look like a legitimate contender once again.

Low spirits

Kansas City Chiefs

Dropping the Chiefs to the bottom half of the rankings feels a little unfair for a team with a winning record, but Kansas City looks broken right now. That’s four losses in the Chiefs’ last five games, and they’ve come against low competition.

The Raiders and Chargers are a game behind the Chiefs for the AFC West lead and now Kansas City’s high hopes of a Super Bowl are far in the rearview mirror.

Dallas Cowboys

With Ezekiel Elliott suspended and injuries up front, the Cowboys offense has disappeared. For the first time ever, Dallas has been held to fewer than 10 points in three consecutive games.

Jerry Jones thinks the Cowboys can turn things around, but with the Eagles so far ahead in the NFC East and a bunch of teams doing well in the NFC Wild Card race, he’s wrong. It’s over for Dallas in 2017.

Full hope rankings

Weekly disclaimer: These aren’t your average power rankings and are instead an attempt to measure the current state of mind — or “hope” — for each team and fan base.

The NFL can be an emotional roller coaster, and one big week can shoot a team’s spirits through the roof and tank another’s hopes of finishing with the Lombardi Trophy in February or beyond. Teams near the top are feeling great after Sunday, while those at the bottom aren’t feeling too optimistic.

If you’re looking for a ranking of who would beat who, this isn’t always going to be the best gauge:

Hope rankings, Week 13

# Team Last week
# Team Last week
1 Philadelphia Eagles 1
2 New England Patriots 2
3 Minnesota Vikings 5
4 Pittsburgh Steelers 4
5 Los Angeles Rams 8
6 New Orleans Saints 3
7 Carolina Panthers 7
8 Atlanta Falcons 9
9 Jacksonville Jaguars 6
10 Los Angeles Chargers 15
11 Tennessee Titans 13
12 Seattle Seahawks 14
13 Baltimore Ravens 12
14 Detroit Lions 10
15 Washington 16
16 Buffalo Bills 22
17 Oakland Raiders 18
18 Cincinnati Bengals 20
19 Kansas City Chiefs 11
20 Arizona Cardinals 25
21 New York Jets 19
22 Tampa Bay Buccaneers 21
23 Houston Texans 23
24 Dallas Cowboys 17
25 New York Giants 24
26 Indianapolis Colts 28
27 Green Bay Packers 29
28 San Francisco 49ers 27
29 Chicago Bears 26
30 Denver Broncos 31
31 Miami Dolphins 30
32 Cleveland Browns 32

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