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Matt Tabeek's Wildly Important NFL Power Rankings: Saints stay put, Steelers slip, Falcons fall


Well, we've reached that point in the season where practically every single game feels like it has playoff implications – whether it's for seeding, to simply stay in the hunt or to dash another team's chances from squeaking in – every score is worth checking.

And for some teams – like the Falcons and the entire NFC East for that matter – every game feels like an elimination game right now. 


What's really crazy is when you look at this week's Wildly Important NFL Power Rankings, no team beyond eighth-ranked Steelers appears to be a shoo-in for the postseason right now. And outside of three teams – the Saints, Rams and Bears – the NFC is wide open as we head into Week 13. And I love it. How can you not?

There weren't a ton of major jumps of falls this week. The biggest movers were the Titans, who fell 10 spots down to No. 22. Other somewhat considerable moves included the Steelers (down four spots), Ravens (up four spots) and Browns (up five spots). The streaky Falcons, who have now dropped three straight after winning just as many, slip a spot to No. 23.

You can check out the rest of my rankings below:

Table inside Article
1 Saints (10-1) Their final five games begin with three straight road games. They’ll face the Cowboys, Steelers and Panthers twice down the stretch. 1
2 Rams (10-1) BYE WEEK. Up Next: Road game vs. the Lions. 2
3 Chiefs (9-2) BYE WEEK. Up Next: Road game vs. the Raiders. 3
4 Chargers (8-3) They bounced right back with a win and have a big one Sunday night against the Steelers; will have playoff implications, too. 5
5 Patriots (8-3) They’re still eyeing a top seed and face a Vikings team that’s trying keep pace for a wild-card spot in the NFC. 6
6 Texans (8-3) Since that 0-3 start they’ve reeled off eight straight wins. Now they’ll face two streaking teams – the Browns and Colts – in back-to-back weeks. 7
7 Bears (8-3) Their defense is legit. They’ve won five straight games and now sit in the driver’s seat for the NFC North crown. Keep an eye on this team. 8
8 Steelers (7-3-1) Tough loss in Denver snapped a six-game win streak (that started vs. the Falcons). Playing the Chargers in Pittsburgh will be an advantage. 4
9 Vikings (6-4-1) They’re in position for a playoff berth … for now. Their final five games include games vs. the Patriots, Seahawks, Dolphins, Lions and Bears. 10
10 Seahawks (6-5) They might have the easiest path to a wild-card berth with three of their final five games against teams currently with 2-9 records. 11
11 Panthers (6-5) They had no business losing their last two games, yet here they are on a three-game skid. Four of the final five games are vs. NFC South foes. 9
12 Cowboys (6-5) They’re riding high and suddenly eyeing an NFC East crown. Next up, however, is a home game against the hottest team in the land, the 10-1 Saints. 13
13 Ravens (6-5) The exciting, elusive (and sometimes mistake-prone) Lamar Jackson has led them to a pair of wins. Will he or Joe Flacco get the start against the Falcons? 17
14 Colts (6-5) They’ve now won five straight behind a healthy Andrew Luck. Can they catch the Texans in the South? Their final three division games are all on the road. 16
15 Redskins (6-5) Crucial game vs. the Eagles, their second straight road game vs. an NFC East foe. Can they rally behind and Colt McCoy? He’s got to cut down on the mistakes. 14
16 Browns (4-6-1) The talent they’ve amassed over the years is finally starting to show up – and they’re playing good football. Laughingstocks no more. 21
17 Eagles (5-6) The defending Super Bowl champs pulled one out against the Giants. Can they make a late-season run and squeak in to the playoffs? 19
18 Packers (4-6-1) They’ve looked very good at times, even in defeat (see the Rams game). But the reality is they’ve lost four of their last five and are in big trouble. 15
19 Broncos (5-6) They’re coming off two very impressive wins against the Chargers and Steelers. Was it enough to quiet Vance Joseph’s critics? I’m not so sure. 23
20 Dolphins (5-6) This team has some talent but not enough to get over the hump. I didn’t trust them when they were 3-0 and they’ve proven me right. 20
21 Bengals (5-6) Their fading playoff hopes were dealt a major blow with Andy Dalton being placed on injured reserve for the rest of 2018. 18
22 Titans (5-6) They were feeling pretty good about themselves with wins over the Cowboys and Patriots, but two straight NFC South losses could prove costly. 12
23 Falcons (4-7) In a season that’s been up and down and full of streaks, can they put it all together for one more winning streak? That’s the big question in Atlanta. 22
24 Buccaneers (4-7) Jameis Winston led them to a win over the lowly 49ers, but can he do enough down the stretch to keep his job in Tampa beyond 2018? 26
25 Bills (4-7) Rookie QB Josh Allen was 8 of 19 for 160 yards and had a team-high 99 yards rushing in their win. Is that an encouraging stat line? The Bills will take it. 28
26 Lions (4-7) Matthew Stafford has no legitimate game-breaking weapons around him and it shows. 24
27 Giants (3-8) They played well against the Eagles for a half and seemingly folded down the stretch. They’re now 1-9 against Philly in their last 10 matchups. 25
28 Jaguars (3-8) Never mind Blake Bortles, what the heck has happened to their once-mighty defense? Seven losses and counting. Wow. 27
29 Jets (3-8) What do you say about a team that’s winless in their division, lost four straight and starting 39-year-old Josh McCown? 29
30 49ers (2-9) The one thing you’ve been able to say about this team is that they play hard and are competitive, even in defeat. Not so much vs. the Bucs. 30
31 Raiders (2-9) They might be projected to have the first pick in the draft right now, but that could change with a brutal final stretch that includes two games vs. the Chiefs. 31
32 Cardinals (2-9) They jumped out to a 10-0 lead against the Chargers … and then surrendered 45 unanswered points. It’s that kind of year for Arizona. 32

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