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Monday, May 21, 2018

LBS NFL Power Rankings Week 13

1. New England Patriots (9-2, –)

The Patriots avoided a letdown in Detroit with a monster second half. Rookie Devin McCourty looks like he could turn into one of the best cover corners in the league. The NFL couldn’t have asked for better circumstances surrounding New England’s Monday night game against the Jets.

2. Atlanta Falcons (9-2, +1)

Time to put the Falcons in the discussion of best team in the NFL. The Packers helped Atlanta with mistakes — like Aaron Rodgers’ fumble on the goal line — but the win cements them as the best team in the NFC. They’re particularly tough to beat at home, which could make for a deep playoff run.

3. New York Jets (9-2, –)

The Jets have not defeated an above .500 opponent since their win over the Patriots Week 2. For that reason, we have them at No. 3 in our rankings. If they’re able to win in New England on Monday night, they’ll shoot up to No. 1. Monday’s game is as big as it gets for the regular season.

4. Baltimore Ravens (8-3, +3)

Like the Jets, it’s been a while since Baltimore has beaten a top-tier team. They’ll get their shot at home against Pittsburgh this weekend. The Ravens could sweep the Steelers with a win and put themselves in prime position to win the AFC North.

5. New Orleans Saints (8-3, +3)

Why is it that everyone seems to have forgotten about the Super Bowl champs? The Saints have won five out of their last six and scored 30+ points five times over that span. They’re a team that’s finding it’s stride at the right time and knows how to win in the playoffs.

6. Pittsburgh Steelers (8-3, -1)

A win is a win in the NFL, but the Steelers’ most recent one was as lucky as it gets. If Steve Johnson catches the ball in overtime, Pittsburgh loses. They have looked a bit lost at times since getting slapped around by the Patriots a few weeks ago. Finding consistency on offense will be crucial.

7. Green Bay Packers (7-4, -1)

Although the Packers lost to the Falcons, it was a road game against the NFC’s best and they hung around until the end. Had Rodgers not committed his first fumble of the season, we’d probably be talking about Green Bay as the best team in the NFC. Their next two are against the 49ers and Lions.

8. Chicago Bears (8-3, +4)

Okay, the Bears might be for real. They made Michael Vick look like a human being in a convincing win over the Eagles at home. Jay Cutler looked like he understood the offense, and that’s a scary thing for the rest of the NFC. Their defense keeps them in games and consistently gives them a chance to win.

9. San Diego Chargers (6-5, +4)

Forget the five losses. The Chargers are a very, very good football team. Philip Rivers would be the MVP if the season ended today. Despite countless injuries in the passing game, Rivers has led his team to four straight wins — including a shellacking of the Colts.

10. New York Giants (7-4, –)

The Giants had to overcome a bunch of injuries on offense against Jacksonville to come away with a win. They came from behind and were able to get a win, whether their fans appreciated it or not.  More importantly, they avoided the “Giants are chokers” talk for at least another week.

11. Philadelphia Eagles (7-4, -7)

The loss to the Bears showed us how average the Eagles can be if Michael Vick doesn’t have a tremendous game. Vick is still the most dangerous quarterback in the league, but he’s bound to start making some mistakes. The question is can Philadelphia overcome them.

12. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (7-4, -3)

On the road against one of the best teams in the AFC, the Bucs refused to quit. Tampa is a team that shows plenty of toughness and will probably be left out of the playoffs because of the division they play in. They should feel good about their future with Josh Freeman continuing to grow.

13. Indianapolis Colts (6-5, -2)

Injuries are catching up to the Colts. The Chargers own Peyton Manning, so it’s tough to jump to conclusions after Sunday’s game. However, their offense is clearly out of sync and their defense isn’t good enough to pick up the slack. Indy is allowing everyone to stay alive in the AFC South.

14. Kansas City Chiefs (7-4, +1)

We told you the Chiefs had a shot at an 8-4 record in last week’s rankings. Handling the Seahawks was step one. They now face the Broncos in a very winnable game before taking on the Chargers. Thanks to a slow start by San Diego, Kansas City is still very much alive in the AFC West.

15. Miami Dolphins (6-5, +1)

Getting Chad Henne back was important for Miami, as the Dolphins were able to cruise to a win over the Raiders. Unfortunately, Miami still has games against the Patriots and Jets on the road remaining. If they can win one of those two and beat bad opponents, they’ll have an outside shot at the wild card.

16. Jacksonville Jaguars (6-5, -2)

After melting down in the second half against the Giants, the Jaguars still have a shocking 6-5 record. David Garrard has played like he has something to lose and they’ve had a lot of success running the ball. This, too, shall pass.

17. Houston Texans (5-6, +4)

Poor play by the Colts has kept the Texans’ playoff hopes alive. They’re only a game out of first place despite a 5-6 record. Andre Johnson won’t be suspended for fighting Cortland Finnegan, which is obviously huge for Houston. They have two tough ones coming up against the Eagles and Ravens.

18. Oakland Raiders (5-6, -1)

The Raiders had put together a nice little three-game win streak before the Steelers and Dolphins dominated them in back-to-back weeks. The Chargers will probably do the same on Sunday in San Diego. They’re too inconsistent to come out on top in the AFC West.

19. Washington Redskins (5-6, -1)

The Redkins had to have thought they could beat the lowly Vikings at home. Unfortunately for them, Minnesota rallied around its new coach and celebrated the firing of Brad Childress. Injuries at running back have left Washington with a very depleted backfield.

20. Tennessee Titans (5-6, -1)

How’s Randy Moss working out? Tennessee has lost four straight — three since acquiring Moss. Moss has caught exactly five passes for 57 yards and no scores since joining the Titans. This is a team that doesn’t seem to care, so we shouldn’t either.

21. St.Louis Rams (5-6, +3)

The Rams have to be the favorite in the lowly NFC West. They have the most consistency at quarterback and a defensive front that can get after it. They may do it with an 8-8 record, but I expect St. Louis to win the worst division in the history of football.

22. Seattle Seahawks (5-6, -1)

Again, the Seahawks play in the NFC West. That means they could still make the playoffs. They could do it with a relatively weak schedule, but their a team that makes another team’s schedule weak. They play fairly well at Qwest Field but are lifeless on the road.

23. Dallas Cowboys (3-8, +3)

Although the Cowboys lost to the Saints on Thanksgiving, they managed to show a level of toughness once again. They could have easily rolled over when New Orleans took a commanding lead early, but they battled back and came up just short. Give credit to Jason Garrett for getting his guys to try.

24. Minnesota Vikings (4-7, +5)

We will now get to see how much the Vikings’ players really hated Brad Childress. So far, they’re 1-0 without him. They won’t make the playoffs, but it will be interesting to see if they salvage some pride under interim coach Leslie Frazier.

25. Buffalo Bills (2-9, +1)

If Steve Johnson didn’t drop a pass in the end zone in overtime, the Bills would have beaten one of the best teams in the AFC to win their third straight game. There aren’t many people who saw that coming. They’ve improved a ton since the season started.

26. San Francisco 49ers (4-7, +2)

If the 49ers can get some consistent play from Troy Smith, they could challenge for the division crown in the NFC West. If Smith and Michael Crabtree can establish some chemistry, they have the talent on defense to keep them in the hunt.

27. Cleveland Browns (4-7, -4)

You wouldn’t expect a team that beat the Patriots and Saints to nearly lose to the Panthers, but that’s what happened. Cleveland spent a lot of energy trying to upset some of the best teams in the NFL, and it could hurt them down the stretch.

28. Denver Broncos (3-8, -3)

The Broncos’ defense was nowhere to be found in a 36-33 loss to the Rams. When your offense scores 33 points, you have to win the game. If Josh McDaniels is going to videotape opponents’ signals, he should at least have more than a 3-8 record to show for it.

29. Arizona Cardinals (3-8, -1)

There’s nothing funny about losing to the 49ers at home — just ask Derek Anderson. The Cardinals are a bad team with a worse quarterback. Six straight losses has to be tough for Ken Whisenhunt to swallow.

30. Detroit Lions (2-9, –)

The Lions looked like the better team for a full half against the Patriots. A second half meltdown changed that in a hurry. These are the types of losses that can deflate a team — especially one without much air left to begin with.

31. Cincinnati Bengals (2-9, -2)

At halftime, it looked like Cincinnati had a chance at finally coming up with a big win in 2010. The real Bengals showed up in the second half and let the Jets pull away. We want to blame one player when it’s the Bengals, but their terrible season has been a group effort.

32. Carolina Panthers (1-9, –)

A 23-24 loss could be as close as it gets for the Panthers the rest of the way. The poor play of Jake Delhomme allowed Carolina to stay in the game, but they were unable to capitalize. Instead, the story continues.

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