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NFL Power Rankings, Week 14: Saints still at No. 1 despite loss

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The logline of this week in pro football is playing defense.

Yeah, peeps -- it still matters.

During a season in which scoring is at an all-time high, there were quite a few Week 13 games that featured suppressed points. The Jaguars beat the hard-charging Colts by a score straight out of 1934, 6-0. In fact, 14 teams failed to reach 20 points last week. That's darn near half the league right there. Sure, the Chiefs ruined it with their 40-burger -- but for them, that's like only scoring 20, so they don't count. They also played the Raiders, which doubly makes it not count.

The headliner from many games that featured prime defensive efforts came last Thursday, when the Cowboys defense stonewalled what was the highest-scoring offense in the NFL. The Saints couldn't reach the Mendoza line in yardage, even with the help of a few Dallas penalties to extend drives. The age-old mantra still applies: play solid defense, don't turn the ball over, make your kicks ... and you'll win a lot of games.

I thoroughly enjoyed that bout ...

Not everyone agreed ...

Strangely, or not strangely, many fans and people around football don't want to see defensive battles. They only want scoring. Well, what if Leighton Vander Esch and Jaylon Smith -- or Cameron Jordan -- have more skill than the skill players, or your fantasy running back? Playing incredible defense involves as much scheming as offense, even if it unfortunately means your flex spot only scored three points. Talent, strategy and ultimately drama -- I thought that is why we watch the sport?

Football was not the only thing on the mind, as we lost former President (and football fan) George H.W. Bush. The honors, coverage and social media tributes have poured in over the past few days. This one stuck out to me, as I have long supported the charity that provided Sully.

If you are looking for a way to pay tribute to our former president -- and do something important for those who need emotional support -- making a donation to America's VetDogs is worthwhile.

President Bush's favorite team, the Houston Texans, has been worth a watch for the better part of two months. They continue to climb, as there is much change in the top 10. That goes for the rest of the rankings, too. Send your take: @HarrisonNFL is the place.

Let the dissension commence!

PROGRAMMING NOTE: For more in-depth analysis on the updated league pecking order, tune in to NFL Network every Tuesday night at 6 p.m. ET for "The Power Rankings Show." Want to add YOUR voice? Provide your thoughts in a tweet to @HarrisonNFL, and your comments could be featured on air.

RANK

1

SAINTS (10-2)

Previous rank: No. 1

Amidst the sports-talk banter and endless critiques of the Saints' loss in Dallas, at the end of the day, they fell by three points on the road. Sure, without a few penalties on the Cowboys, it could have been worse, but the point is that New Orleans narrowly lost despite Drew Brees being off his game for much of the night (even when he was not under heavy duress). The Saints' defense was fantastic, proving its No. 1 ranking against the run does not stem solely from opponents deciding to ignore the ground game in hopes of catching Brees and the offense through the air. New Orleans bottled up Ezekiel Elliott, or at least held him in check for most of the contest (23 carries for 76 rushing yards, though he did catch six balls for 60 yards). As for Sean Payton's offensive line? Yeah, those guys got destroyed. You can panic about that.

RANK

2

RAMS (11-1)

Previous rank: No. 2

The Rams let the Lions hang around far too long on Sunday. Such is life on the road for even the premier teams -- just ask the Chiefs. The key to L.A.'s win was the disruptive play of Aaron Donald, a few intermediate dimes from Jared Goff and heady play from Todd Gurley. Loved his decision to run parallel to the goal line late to burn clock, doing his best impersonation of DeSean Jackson in the Miracle at the Meadowlands 2.0. Sean McVay's group needed no such miracles at Ford Field, although Detroit was more than game for most of the afternoon. One front on which the Rams keep beating teams: special teams. Johnny Hekker was able to pin the Lions, and Legatron was money again. The Lions didn't return a single punt or kick Sunday. The third phase of the game, which is often overmentioned in the football conversation, might be the difference for this team come mid-January. No, really.

RANK

3

PATRIOTS (9-3)

1

Previous rank: No. 4

Call Sunday's victory a gut-it-out win. The offense milled about without putting points on the board ... until it mattered. Tom Brady engineered two late scoring drives, with Josh Gordon paying off the first and fullback James Develin completing the second, while the defense battened down the hatches, closing off in the fourth quarter whatever leaks sprung early in the third. The Pats stopped Kirk Cousins on downs when the game was in doubt, then secured an interception late to preserve the two-score victory. Top moment: Brady, who reached 1,000 career rushing yards with a 5-yard scamper early, pulled a savvy self-preservation act late. Needing to kneel down at the end of the game, Brady made sure to step forward, then point to the ref as if to show he reached the line of scrimmage. Hall of Famers know their stats, apparently -- even the oddities.

RANK

4

CHIEFS (10-2)

1

Previous rank: No. 3

Small move down for Kansas City, despite the win in Oakland. The Kareem Hunt situation is what it is; the Chiefs made their decision on Hunt, and now former starter Spencer Ware's the guy again going forward. Ware started at tailback, with little-to-no effect -- the Chiefs still scored 40. The concern here is how poorly the defense fared. Patrick Mahomes converted a third-and-goal to Chris Conley late in the fourth quarter, taking the onus off the defense by pushing the K.C. lead to 40-30 with less than two minutes to go. Had Mahomes faltered in the goal-to-go situation, leaving the Chiefs to settle for a field goal, we could be talking about Houston overtaking this group for home-field advantage in the AFC. Allowing 442 yards and 6.4 yards per play to that Raiders offense defies explanation.

RANK

5

CHARGERS (9-3)

Previous rank: No. 5

Can you imagine how good this Chargers team would be if it was at full steam? The operation has been devoid of many of its parts this season. On Sunday, we all saw what Anthony Lynn's group is capable of when both sides of the ball play cohesively. The Bolts lost tight end Hunter Henry and cornerback Jason Verrett -- two Pro Bowl-level players who are difficult to replace -- early in the year. (Verrett has only appeared in 25 of 92 possible games since the Chargers drafted him in 2014, but Henry was supposed to be central to the offense, particularly in the red zone.) Then Joey Bosa, who didn't make his first start this season until Week 11, had his 2018 coming-out party, notching two sacks against the Cardinals in Week 12 -- only for running back Melvin Gordon to be lost in the same game. After all that, there was Los Angeles on Sunday, coming back from a 16-point second-half deficit to defeat a Super Bowl contender on the road.

RANK

6

TEXANS (9-3)

2

Previous rank: No. 8

Nine in a row's nine in a row, no matter who you play in the NFL. The Texans handed the pesky Browns an L, mostly on the strength of a mistake-causing defense that didn't let up Sunday at Reliant Stadium. If you are scoring at home, Houston forced four turnovers while barely budging on third down, rendering much of Cleveland's 428 yards meaningless.

Side note: This is no political column, but we would be remiss if we did not pay respect to a huge football fan, former athlete and, of course, Navy veteran of World War II: George H.W. Bush, who died Friday. The former President of the United States enjoyed attending Texans and Astros games, and he was always acknowledged with tremendous respect for a life in public service. My perspective on Bush changed forever when I read "FlyBoys," and the account of ditching his plane following a bombing run at Chichi Jima. It's an incredible tale that illustrates how remarkable it was that Bush led such a full postwar life after narrowly escaping capture and being rescued by a U.S. submarine. Rest in peace. And in this case, I'm glad the Texans won on Sunday.

RANK

7

STEELERS (7-4-1)

1

Previous rank: No. 6

Not sure what happened in the second half on Sunday night against the Chargers, but the Steelers fell apart, as did their hopes for home-field advantage or a bye in the AFC playoffs. Pittsburgh now trails the Chiefs by 2.5 games and is behind the Texans by 1.5, with only four games left to play and Houston eyeing a (quite) favorable schedule going forward. Back to Sunday: The Steelers came out flat on offense in the second half, couldn't get to Philip Rivers, then stunk up the joint on special teams. Artie Burns jumped three times while this blurb was being typed.

RANK

8

BEARS (8-4)

1

Previous rank: No. 7

Wild weekend for the Bears, who couldn't make it 2-0 with Chase Daniel under center. So much transpired in the waning moments of Chicago's loss to the Giants that it's hard to recollect which sequence was most significant. There was the Cody Parkey field goal, followed by one of the few successful onside kicks in the league this year ... then Taylor Gabriel's drop, which appeared to have cost Chicago the game ... the "Philly" Special from Tarik Cohen ... the three fumbles in OT, all of which somehow ended up in the paws of Bears players. The broadcast blamed the mist, but, at least on the snap out of the shotgun, it appeared Daniel was too eager to glance at his first read before securing the ball. Anyhoo, while many will look at the defeat at the hands of the struggling Giants negatively, Chicago showed much fight to climb back into a game that looked lost with only two minutes to go. Head coach Matt Nagy echoed similar sentiments afterward, while not absolving his guys of mistakes. Many of those (surprisingly) came on defense.

RANK

9

SEAHAWKS (7-5)

1

Previous rank: No. 10

Slowly but surely, the Seahawks are ascending the league hierarchy while converging on a wild-card spot. If Pete Carroll hasn't become a prime candidate for Coach of the Year this season, he never will. At 7-5, Seattle has already surpassed the win total most analysts (including this writer) thought it would reach this season. Statistically speaking, the 43-16 triumph over the 49ers couldn't have looked more odd. At one point, Russell Wilson was 9-of-13 with four touchdown passes. Meanwhile, Nick Mullens threw for well over 400 yards with only one pick -- yet, San Francisco struggled to score points. Bobby Wagner managed his usual ho-hum Bobby Wagner day: 12 tackles, a sack, a pick-six and a forced fumble. He's so money, he doesn't know he's money. But everyone else should.

RANK

10

COWBOYS (7-5)

2

Previous rank: No. 12

Defense rocks. It's not out of vogue, it's not out of print. It hasn't gone the way of CD liner notes, either. No, it's still an integral part of pro football. And the Cowboys own the signature unit in the league. Top to bottom, this group is stacked. After Dallas held the Saints to their lowest yardage total (176) since Week 17 of the 2001 season (when Aaron Brooks was New Orleans' QB), you could see why Cowboys brass had so much enthusiasm for the young secondary. Byron Jones, who has performed at an All-Pro level, probably did the best job anyone has done covering Michael Thomas all season. Even Jones' DPI was merely a result of him slipping and running into Thomas. Leighton Vander Esch should be an All-Pro, as well. Jaylon Smith has become the unit's white-out ... eraser ... whatever you want to call him, possessing enough acceleration to negate mistakes made by himself or his teammates. Couple these studs with a front four that's getting after it, and it makes sense that the Cowboys rank second in the NFL in points allowed per game. Drew Brees threw for 127 yards ... 30 of which came after a roughing-the-punter penalty extended a Saints drive. What an outing.

RANK

11

RAVENS (7-5)

Previous rank: No. 11

The Ravens were seemingly counted out after dropping three games in a row and four out of five -- but a three-game winning streak has this team inching ever closer to locking up a wild-card spot in the AFC. Your friendly writer took plenty of criticism for keeping Baltimore within shouting distance of the top 10 after the Ravens fell to the Steelers a few weeks ago. At the same time, beating the Bengals, Raiders and Falcons does not mean fans should start saving money for Super Bowl LIII tickets. John Harbaugh's group still has much to prove (with the passing game, for starters). On the flip side, that was a productive offense the Ravens' defense shut down. They are still ranked first in points allowed, folks.

RANK

12

VIKINGS (6-5-1)

3

Previous rank: No. 9

The Vikings fall out of the top 10 this week, with the offense unable to follow its strong Week 12 showing. The peaks-and-valleys fortunes of this outfit boggle the mind, as Minnesota is easily a top-five team in terms of talent at the right spots. An area that most analysts will point to is the offensive line -- and yet, even when provided time to survey the secondary, QB Kirk Cousins was ineffective at Gillette. Cousins barely breached the 200-yard mark despite 44 pass attempts. That kind of ratio won't win many games, especially against other playoff contenders. Fortunately for the Vikings, at least in terms of the wild-card race, both the Panthers and Packers lost. The Seahawks didn't. Guess who Minnesota plays next?

RANK

13

COLTS (6-6)

Previous rank: No. 13

There was nothing fluky about the Colts' 6-0 loss Sunday. When facing the teeth of the Jags' rush, the pass protection wasn't as stellar as it's been for the bulk of this season. Ignoring the run in the second half doomed the offense to predictability and ineffectiveness. Too often, Andrew Luck was forced to be perfect, as no Indy wideout outside of T.Y. Hilton could get separation. Didn't love the Colts' fourth-and-goal shuttle-pass call, either. With the Ravens' win in Atlanta, Indy might have blown its chance at a wild-card spot, frittering away an opportunity against a Jacksonville team that had lost seven games in a row and was playing Cody Kessler at QB. The Colts' game at Houston this week = a must-win.

RANK

14

BRONCOS (6-6)

2

Previous rank: No. 16

The Broncos aren't in the holiday mood, at least not when it comes to giving away postseason spots -- or providing breathing room for opposing offenses. Vance Joseph's defense locked down the Bengals' Jeff Driskel-led attack on Sunday, allowing only 10 points while watching Cincy sputter its way to 12 penalties. That stout effort was paired with an effortless running game that piled up yards on the ground ... 218, to be precise. Phillip Lindsay might be closing the gap on Saquon Barkley in the Offensive Rookie of the Year race, accounting for 157 yards of rushing real estate in the win. Lindsay also is on pace to surpass the record for rushing yards by an undrafted rookie with 1,250, with his current figure of 937 trailing only LeGarrette Blount (1,007 in 2010) and Dominic Rhodes (1,104 in 2001) in that mark all-time. Give the offensive line a hug, though, as Lindsay is averaging 3.68 yards per rush before contact, easily the highest figure in the league.

RANK

15

EAGLES (6-6)

4

Previous rank: No. 19

The defending champs are relevant again, toppling the Redskins en route to Sunday's showdown in Big D for first place in the NFC East. JerryWorld has been kind to the visitors from the Northeast this decade: Philadelphia won there last year, lost in overtime the season prior and won in OT the year before that. They also prevailed on Turkey Day 2014, and won the division over Neckbeard and the Cowboys in the last regular-season game of 2013. The Andy Reid Eagles also won two out of three in Dallas back in 2010-2012. So Doug Pederson's version won't be scared. If the Eagles are to take down Dallas again, they must run the football effectively early, which was a problem again Monday night (though they picked it up late). Stopping the run was problematic for Philly the last time it faced the 'Boys, as Ezekiel Elliott scurried all over the place in Week 10. Gotta love this matchup, with all the juice it carries.

RANK

16

PANTHERS (6-6)

2

Previous rank: No. 14

So, which was your favorite Cam Newton interception against the Bucs? It was not the greatest day for the walking embodiment of the Panthers' franchise. The worst of the four picks had to be the one in which he forced the ball into double coverage near the end of the first half, halting a promising Carolina march (which had rolled up 50 yards at that point) while setting up a Bucs touchdown. It was at least a 10-point swing on a day the Panthers could ill-afford such gaffes. They have now dropped four in a row. Amazingly, Ron Rivera's group remains in OK position to snag a wild-card spot, with the Vikings, Packers and Redskins all falling this weekend.

Side note: Christian McCaffrey picked up 161 yards from scrimmage and another touchdown, giving him 1,526 total yards and 11 touchdowns with four games still to go. Those would be MVP-ish numbers if his team were playing better. Hey, Andre Dawson once won MVP for the sad-sack Cubs because he jacked 49 dingers. So you never know.

RANK

17

TITANS (6-6)

4

Previous rank: No. 21

The Titans came up with key plays when they had to. Congrats to them on the win. Now for a reality check: If you need a last-minute drive to beat the Jets -- who are playing for nothing and are featuring their QB2 -- on your home field, no less, you are probably not a playoff team. Still, give Marcus Mariota props for a beautiful deep ball that set up a field goal to get Tennessee within reach, and for coming back two drives later to march the Titans 86 yards for the game-winner.

RANK

18

REDSKINS (6-6)

1

Previous rank: No. 17

Yeesh. Maybe people would notice what bad luck Jay Gruden has absorbed this year if his brother's Raiders weren't so cruddy. As it stands, fans see the standings and see the Redskins plummeting. But, boy oh boy, Washington is coming apart at the laces. Alex Smith is gone for the year. So is the QB2. With Colt McCoy's injury, Gruden's playoff hopes ride on the right arm (and the, umm, decision making) of Mark Sanchez -- who, you'll note, will be throwing to a wide receiver corps sans Paul Richardson, behind an offensive line down multiple starters. The most rotten thing about all this for the Redskins? They are still in prime position to take a wild-card spot, with not one future opponent north of .500 right now. Unreal.

RANK

19

PACKERS (4-7-1)

4

Previous rank: No. 15

The critics, and many Packers fans, finally got their wish Sunday evening: Mike McCarthy is out, following an awful home loss to one of the worst teams in the league. As per usual, McCarthy shouldered the blame for another subpar performance from the offense. Aaron Rodgers was ineffective for the balance of the game. He did avoid throwing any interceptions, which padded his already-outstanding TD-to-INT ratio. But he did go a poor 3-for-14 on throws over 10 yards. His failure to be loving with McCarthy -- or vice-versa -- apparently ended up being a primary factor in the latter's dismissal, the prospect of which had come to resemble a boulder rolling downhill in recent weeks.

Side note: A possible suggestion to help both the interim head coach and the QB1: Utilize Aaron Jones more. Sorry, but 11 carries in a close affair like the contest with the Cardinals sucks. Run the damn ball with the best RB in the stable.

RANK

20

DOLPHINS (6-6)

3

Previous rank: No. 23

A little close for comfort, huh? My goodness, the Dolphins and Bills have played some tight games in their joint 53-season history. Not sure too many came down to a missed deep ball from all the way across the field to a receiver who was open by a country mile in the end zone. You could have laid 25 Patrick Surtains and Sam Madisons down in the paint, and I'm still not sure they would have reached Charles Clay. Maybe that's an exaggeration, but man was Clay open. Either way, Miami will take the win off the strength of a defense that, despite the late breakdown and losing track of Clay on the Josh Allen scramble, kept Miami in the ball game, much as it had in Indy. With the Ravens prevailing over the Falcons, the Dolphins are still a game back in the wild-card race, but they ain't out of it yet.

RANK

21

BROWNS (4-7-1)

3

Previous rank: No. 18

The Browns were a trendy upset pick in a week that ended up being full of upsets ... except they didn't come close to upending the Texans. Baker Mayfield has been playing with (and displaying) plenty of confidence. More often than not, his attitude has been a breath of fresh air for Cleveland. On Sunday, he apparently felt secure enough in his abilities to try and put the ball wherever he wanted against the Houston defense, but it didn't turn out well. His first interception was the worst kind: a forced throw into a zone with a linebacker/hybrid lurking in underneath coverage. Pick-six for Zach Cunningham ... 17-0, Texans. On the next drive, Mayfield pushed another pass into coverage, this decision being worse than the first ... another pick, which led to a Houston field goal. Then came some classic rookie QB pressing, as Mayfield heaved a deep ball into triple coverage when he had room to run for the first-down marker. Interception. Houston notched another field goal on the ensuing drive, and it was 23-zip. For all intents and purposes, that was the ballgame.

RANK

22

LIONS (4-8)

Previous rank: No. 22

The Lions didn't lay down for the juggernaut Rams. But they didn't block No. 99 in white, either. Aaron Darnold wreaked havoc on both Detroit's run game and Matthew Stafford. Donald stopped a drive by deflecting a pass on third-and-7 in the second quarter. He sacked Stafford to thwart another drive early in the fourth. On the next Detroit drive, Donald tracked down the franchise quarterback, closing like an undrafted free agent looking for his first career takedown. Stafford coughed up the football, which set up Los Angeles for a significant touchdown to stretch its lead to 23-13. It was the play of the afternoon in an affair that was much closer than the highlight shows will tell you. Frankly, Stafford should have eaten the ball and lived to play for second down. Then again, I am not typing that while a ridiculously powerful 280-pound DT hones in on my iPad.

RANK

23

BILLS (4-8)

1

Previous rank: No. 24

Not sure your friendly writer has ever seen a player as open in the end zone as Charles Clay was at the end of the game Sunday. The Bills tight end couldn't come up with a Josh Allen throw, and Buffalo failed to take down the Dolphins. Of course, Allen did sidestep two pass rushers, roll right before rolling back left, then unfurl a hurried heave to get the would-be game-winner near Clay in the first place. Maybe he could have dove? Or dove better? It looked almost as if Clay was worried about staying in the end zone instead of doing whatever was necessary to secure the catch. He was open enough to not only make the reception, but check his eBay auction bid on an ornate German beer stein before casually strolling into the paint. Or Buffalo could have scored on the next play. What a way to lose. #BillsMafia

RANK

24

GIANTS (4-8)

2

Previous rank: No. 26

Don't tell the Giants their season is over. A week after failing to close the deal in a game they should've won, New York defeated the Bears at the Big Snoopy. Most interesting was how the season-long source of the Giants' failures was also the primary force in the OT win: the much-maligned offensive line. The blocking on Saquon Barkley's long run to spark the game-winning drive was on point.

Side note: In a spooky turn of events, a lateral-and-throw allowed Chicago to climb back into the contest ... three days after this piece's author wrote about the Bears' lateral to win the first ever NFL Championship Game in 1933 over these very Giants. Big Blue made sure the outcome was incongruous, though. Revenge.

RANK

25

FALCONS (4-8)

5

Previous rank: No. 20

The Falcons pulled off the rare feat of losing to not just one but two backup quarterbacks Sunday. The season has been unkind to Atlanta's defense. The Ravens played like a 2018 cover band, shamelessly copying every other offense in running right over the Falcons' front seven. Chalk up another 207 yards on a unit that's allowed 211, 132 and 150 in successive weeks. Baltimore QB Lamar Jackson's abilities pose a unique threat for any opponent. Especially for Deion Jones, who faced a stiff challenge in his first game this season since Week 1. The dude shook off enough rust to make 15 tackles and sack Jackson.

RANK

26

BUCCANEERS (5-7)

1

Previous rank: No. 27

As impossible as it might seem, the Bucs are in the playoff mix. Actually, they're more than in the mix -- they have a realistic mathematical chance to squeeze into the tournament. Consider: At 5-7, Tampa is 1.5 games back of the Vikings and only a game back of the Redskins and Panthers. The problem: their schedule. The Bucs host the Saints this week, then travel to Baltimore and Dallas for road games before finishing out the season at home versus the Falcons. Going 8-8 might be enough to secure that sixth seed. Not sure Tampa will find the necessary two or three wins with that slate, though.

Side note: This defense intercepted three passes in 11 games coming into Sunday's matchup with the Panthers, then promptly went out and stole four Cam Newton throws. Pirates.

RANK

27

JAGUARS (4-8)

1

Previous rank: No. 28

It's not often that six-nuthin' shutouts come down the NFL pike, but the Jags' defense was up to snuff -- and then some -- on Sunday. Todd Wash's guys made the afternoon uncomfortable for Andrew Luck, providing consistent pressure and blanket coverage. The back seven was ever present, making Luck hold the ball or throw into tight windows, while the secondary made several strong open-field tackles. Cody Kessler didn't provide much of a lift in his first start for Doug Marrone. There was another thing he didn't do, but in a good way -- I bet you can guess what it was. (I'll give you a hint: It rhymes with shminterception.) Kessler also displayed a heavy dose of toughness on his runs out of the pocket. The Jags' shutout was Exhibit A of a gritty division win. Man, did they need it.

RANK

28

BENGALS (5-7)

3

Previous rank: No. 25

Not a fun first foray for Jeff Driskel as a starter. The Broncos, after facing quarterbacks with over 100 career wins in consecutive weeks, were more than prepared to handle the Bengals newbie. At least the rest of the team chipped in to help Driskel by committing 100 yards' worth of penalties. When the yellow flags weren't flying, Broncos RB Phillip Lindsay was, as Cincy allowed 218 more rushing yards to pad the 32nd-ranked run defense's stats. It's been a tough year. Three of the Bengals' next four games are on the road.

RANK

29

RAIDERS (2-10)

1

Previous rank: No. 30

The pundits thought there was no way the Raiders could keep up with the Chiefs' track team Sunday. False. Say what you want about Jon Gruden, but the locker room is still competing for him. Oakland wasn't far off, as they came a stop on third-and-goal away from making matters realllllllllllllllll interesting against the NFL's scariest offense. Derek Carr deserves your respect out there on that field, too, as he performed at a high level despite his most reliable receiver being journeyman tight end Jared Cook, and with no hoss on offense capable of taking over a game. Marcell Ateman, Jalen Richard, Cook ... they're all nice spot players, but they'd have difficulty starting for many other teams. Carr put up 33 with those fellas.

RANK

30

CARDINALS (3-9)

2

Previous rank: No. 32

Unquestionably, the upset of Week 13 came at Lambeau, where the Cardinals' stellar defensive effort annihilated the Packers' postseason aspirations. Green Bay couldn't buy a first down against Steve Wilks' defense. Aaron Rodgers didn't even average 5 yards per throw -- when is the last time that happened? Chandler Jones got another sack in an All-Pro season that nobody is noticing. How about Gerald Hodges, who made 13 tackles, 12 of them solo? Awesome stuff.

Historical note: The stat of the week was this (not) fun fact ... The Cardinals hadn't won at Green Bay since 1949. Truth is, they were one of the strongest post-World War II franchises around. The Cards produced winning seasons every year from 1946 to '49, featuring a deft and talented backfield. Charley Trippi was the star of those teams, the difference maker in the then-Chicago Cardinals capturing the 1947 NFL Championship. A blizzard in Philadelphia hindered the backfield's performance in the 1948 title game, costing Trippi's team a chance at a repeat. (If you check my Twitter profile, you will see the only touchdown from that game -- and how much snow there was that day.) Trippi was inducted in the Pro Football Hall of Fame and is still going strong as its oldest living member. He turns 97 next week. NFL history is so rad.

RANK

31

49ERS (2-10)

2

Previous rank: No. 29

You gotta hand it to Nick Mullens. The kid simply wouldn't give up, despite being down 43-16. Mullens threw for more than 400 yards in Seattle, which is no small feat, regardless of the score or whether it was garbage time. I will tell you what is garbage: When teams lay down late after another crowd-infused Seattle butt-kicking. Too bad Mullens can't give Kyle Shanahan any reps at safety. Russell Wilson feasted on the Niners' secondary when he decided to unleash vertically. It wasn't pretty. Either time. Or in the red zone. Or overall.

RANK

32

JETS (3-9)

1

Previous rank: No. 31

Gotta agree with what Rich Gannon said on the Jets- Titans broadcast. New York was up three, facing a third-and-5, with just over two minutes to play. Tennessee crowded the line of scrimmage with 10 players. Why not take a deep shot with single coverage? Would that be aggressive? Sure. Who cares when you're 3-8? Go win the darn game. The Jets played not to lose. Understandable, given the game situation, but not with Tennessee begging them to make a move. Would be nice to see teams destined for top-five picks in the 2019 NFL Draft take a few chances.

Follow Elliot Harrison on Twitter @HarrisonNFL.

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