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NFL power rankings, Week 12: Packers, Chiefs move up while Broncos, Lions slide

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The top five looks a lot different this week after big wins by Arizona, Green Bay and Kansas City.

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Week 11 of the NFL season is in the books. The Cardinals passed another huge test by knocking off the red-hot Lions, previously ranked No. 4, at home. That's no small feat while relying on backup quarterback Drew Stanton against the league's top defense. Stanton replaced Carson Palmer, who is out for the rest of the season with a torn ACL, and quickly threw two touchdown passes on Arizona's first two possessions. Those throws would prove to be enough for the 14-6 victory, as Arizona's stingy defense held the Lions without a touchdown for the first time since 2009. It's anybody's guess whether the Cardinals can do what Bruce Arians has proclaimed they can do -- win a Super Bowl with Stanton under center -- but with that defense, anything is possible.

Meanwhile, the Patriots continue to nip at their heels for the top spot after dispatching a strong Colts squad in Indianapolis, 42-20. New England did the New England thing and leaned on the recently promoted Jonas Gray as its featured player, and he delivered to the tune of 199 yards and four touchdowns, the most prolific stat line for a running back in the NFL this year. The Patriots racked up 501 yards of offense while converting 9 of 12 on third downs and pushed their win streak to six games.

Green Bay, not to be outdone, smashed the previously fifth-ranked Eagles 53-20 at home, drawing even with the Lions in the NFC North at 7-3. There's no player hotter than Aaron Rodgers right now. While Seattle's CenturyLink Field was the place that no one in the NFC wanted to go to in last season's playoffs, Lambeau Field might hold that distinction this year. Rodgers has tossed an NFL-record 29 straight touchdowns without an interception in the friendly frozen tundra of Green Bay, and over their last four games there, the Packers have completely stomped visiting teams, outscoring opponents 66-0 in the first quarter, 128-9 in the first half and 167-23 over the first three quarters. The fourth quarter of those games has been inconsequential, obviously.

Parity Rules

The Chiefs took down the Seahawks in a Sunday slugfest, showing incredible toughness late in the game to stuff two Seattle fourth-down attempts, including Seattle's last-ditch effort for a game-winning 96-yard drive. Kansas City ran the ball well and wore out the Seahawks' defense with Jamaal Charles and the run game. Alex Smith only needed to complete 11 of 16 passes for 108 yards to move the Chiefs into a 7-3 tie with the Broncos in the AFC West.

In perhaps one of the more shocking upsets this week, the Rams knocked off the Broncos in fairly dominating fashion at home (by the way, the Rams have now beaten both of Super Bowl XLVIII's two teams this season). Denver has lost two of its last three games, and its second-half drive chart in St. Louis has to be a little disconcerting. The Broncos' possessions ended as such, in order: punt, punt, interception, turnover on downs, interception, turnover on downs, end of game. They also lost Julius Thomas, Montee Ball and Emmanuel Sanders throughout the matchup, so they'll look to get those guys back to health for the stretch run.

Parity remains strong this season, and the Steelers, 49ers, Dolphins, Bengals and Chargers all won in Week 11. And although they lost, the Broncos, Lions and Eagles all still maintain at least partial control of their respective divisions. Even the defending champion Seahawks, despite their fourth loss, could contend down the home stretch with five out of their final six games being division matchups. Meanwhile, the dangerous Cowboys and Ravens rested up on bye weeks, readying for the final push to the playoffs.

Dark Horses

The Browns lost this week to fall to fourth place (technically) in the AFC North at 6-4, but in that crazy division, anything is possible. Conversely, in the anemic NFC South, a Falcons victory over the Panthers combined with a Saints loss to the Bengals puts Atlanta in first place in the division at 4-6. Meanwhile, a Colts loss dropped them to 6-4, and thanks to the Texans' upset over Cleveland pushing them to 5-5, the AFC South just got a lot more interesting.

RANK WEEK 12 SB NATION BLOG
1 Arizona Cardinals, 9-1 (Last Week: 1) Revenge of the Birds
2 New England Patriots, 8-2 (Last Week: 2) Pats Pulpit
3 Green Bay Packers, 7-3 (Last Week: 6) Acme Packing Company
4 Kansas City Chiefs, 7-3 (Last Week: 7) Arrowhead Pride
5 Denver Broncos, 7-3 (Last Week: 3) Mile High Report
6 Detroit Lions, 7-3 (Last Week: 4) Pride of Detroit
7 Philadelphia Eagles, 7-3 (Last Week: 5) Bleeding Green Nation
8 Dallas Cowboys, 7-3 (Last Week: 9) Blogging the Boys
9 Indianapolis Colts, 6-4 (Last Week: 8) Stampede Blue
10 Cincinnati Bengals, 6-3-1 (Last Week: 15) Cincy Jungle
11 Pittsburgh Steelers, 7-4 (Last Week: 12) Behind the Steel Curtain
12 Baltimore Ravens, 6-4 (Last Week: 13) Baltimore Beatdown
13 Seattle Seahawks, 6-4 (Last Week: 10) Field Gulls
14 San Francisco 49ers, 6-4 (Last Week: 14) Niners Nation
15 Miami Dolphins, 6-4 (Last Week: 16) The Phinsider
16 San Diego Chargers. 6-4 (Last Week: 18) Bolts from the Blue
17 Cleveland Browns, 6-4 (Last Week: 11) Dawgs by Nature
18 St. Louis Rams, 4-6 (Last Week: 20) Turf Show Times
19 Houston Texans, 5-5 (Last Week: 22) Battle Red Blog
20 Buffalo Bills, 5-5 (Last Week: 17) Buffalo Rumblings
21 Atlanta Falcons, 4-6 (Last Week: 23) The Falcoholic
22 New Orleans Saints, 4-6 (Last Week: 19) Canal Street Chronicles
23 Minnesota Vikings, 4-6 (Last Week: 21) Daily Norseman
24 Chicago Bears, 4-6 (Last Week: 28) Windy City Gridiron
25 New York Jets, 2-8 (Last Week: 24) Gang Green Nation
26 Tampa Bay Buccaneers, 2-8 (Last Week: 30) Bucs Nation
27 New York Giants, 3-7 (Last Week: 25) Big Blue View
28 Carolina Panthers, 3-7-1 (Last Week: 27) Cat Scratch Reader
29 Washington, 3-7 (Last Week: 26) Hogs Haven
30 Tennessee Titans, 2-8 (Last Week: 29) Music City Miracles
31 Jacksonville Jaguars, 1-9 (Last Week: 31) Big Cat Country
32 Oakland Raiders, 0-10 (Last Week: 32) Silver and Black Pride