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NFL Power Rankings, Week 13: Chargers hit top 10; Chiefs drop

We've passed the Thanksgiving holiday -- a marker for when every game begins to truly carry weight, and we all gain weight watching football with our loved ones. (Well, loved ones is a relative term. You know what I mean.)

Don't know about you, but I had the pleasure of watching Giants-Redskins with my brother's family. My nephew might not be old enough to drive, but he didn't pump the brakes on some hot sports opinions fresh out of the oven.

"Why doesn't the commissioner help out the Browns?"

What do you mean?

"Well, can't he, like, give them three first-round draft picks so they're not so bad?" (Said in all seriousness. He really thought the commish could do this.)

You see, Thanksgiving is about spending quality time with the family around the television. Oh, and since this is an intro (sort of) to your Week 13 Power Rankings, the Giants and Browns are 31st and 32nd, respectively. You see, in the spirit of giving, I saved you a scroll down. Although, this article never shortchanges the bad teams. There's just as much meat on the bone for those turkeys as the good teams.

On to your football thoughts ...

Totally cool. Los Angeles would be the 30th-most excited city about that game, too. Really jazzed.

Elvis Patterson was a fine special teams player. He got beat at CB so much that his Giants teammates started calling him "Toast" Patterson. I interviewed former Cowboys special teams coach Joe Avezzano before he passed -- he chuckled at the memory of Patterson thinking he was a Hall of Famer. Hey, it takes confidence to play corner, even if you're not very good at it.

A double rainbow. *What does it mean?!*

As for some of Fujita's former employers, one looks fantastic (even after a loss), while another's in freefall. You'll see how far the Saints dropped -- if at all -- and where the Chiefs stand after yet another L. Your thoughts on any and all teams are welcome: @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 "NFL Power Rankings" show. Want to add YOUR voice? Provide your thoughts at the bottom of this page or tweet @HarrisonNFL, and your comments could be featured on air.

EDITOR'S NOTE: The lineup below reflects changes from our Week 12 Power Rankings.

The Eagles are rolling through the league right now -- or electric sliding, if you happened to catch the late stages of their declawing of the Bears. Carson Wentz continues to be the talk of the league, but as my colleague Steve Mariucci pointed out this weekend, general manager Howie Roseman must be given credit for the depth he's acquired to bolster Doug Pederson's roster. Is this group stronger than the 2004 Philly team that made the Super Bowl with Terrell Owens? Or Dick Vermeil's boys in 1980, the first Super Bowl squad in franchise history? If you're really old school, maybe Wentz can equal Norm Van Brocklin, the last Eagle to win MVP, in 1960 -- then really earn some kudos by winning the championship, like Van Brocklin's team that year. Exciting times in Eastern PA.

The Belichicks stay atop the AFC, closely trailing the Eagles in the 2 spot. Maybe this is a good thing for New England, to not be the favorite. If ever there were a year in which the Patriots marched to a subtle drum beat, this is it. With Philadelphia dominating while surprise campaigns from the Vikings, Rams and Saints steal headlines for the NFC, no one seems to care about the other conference. The video game totals opponents racked up on the Patriots' defense early in the year also spawned a large sect of doubters. Somehow, said doubters seemingly failed to notice the greatest team of the Y2K era slip seven straight wins past their collective noses.

The Vikings prove every week that they are a principal player in the Lombardi chase. Case Keenum might not be in the MVP stratosphere, but the journeyman has certainly tabled the "When will Teddy Bridgewater start again?" discussion for now -- and the foreseeable future. Keenum provides Minnesota with the best chance to win the Super Bowl this year, and that is what the Vikes should be playing for ... right? Wonder if last Thursday the Lions noticed Minnesota using Latavius Murray and Jerick McKinnon -- neither of whom is the Vikings' RB1 -- and thought, So THAT'S what a running game looks like! Wow. Cool. Can we get one of those? Jim? Jim Bob? Bueller?

Shocking that the Steelers played down to an opponent -- or not. After I gave coordinator Keith Butler and his defense much props on NFL Network last week, that group laid an egg smothered in melted cheese against the Packers late at Heinz on "Sunday Night Football." Green Bay quarterback Brett Hundley got hot, posting easily the finest performance of his career. Of course, a couple of those drives were short, seeing as how they followed Ben Roethlisberger picks. (One resulted in a TD, the other a missed field-goal try.) Still, on paper, this was supposed to be a 30-14 Pittsburgh win. Of course, football games aren't played on paper. That's never been more true than with the Mike Tomlin Steelers.

Favorite sequence Sunday: The Rams, trying to put the game away in the third quarter, deep in their own territory, get a huge run by Todd Gurley to spark the offense. Holding, 77, white. Andrew Whitworth, far and away Los Angeles' top lineman, was the culprit. So the Rams go right back at it on first-and-15, with Gurley churning right through the teeth of the Saints' defense for 14 yards. Second down, couple feet to go.

I loved this because of the commitment Sean McVay has to using Gurley, and how he's using Gurley, and because Gurley, whom some questioned last year, put the previous play in the rearview instantly to run right up the Saints' @$$. It's not simply the uptick in quarterback play that's placed McVay's group atop the NFC West. Helluva rebound game, Cooper Kupp.

Maybe, in a prepping in December/calming things down kind of way, the loss at the L.A. Coliseum was not such a bad deal. The Saints came in having won eight games in a row, setting a new Super Bowl-era mark for teams that started a season 0-2. They escaped the wily Redskins last week -- even the most ardent New Orleans fan with a Vaughan Johnson jersey and Fred McAfee bobblehead would admit that. Get the lumps out now. Sean Payton will have even more talking points in meetings this week (which should come with a post-loss edge), while the young players on the roster will be less prone to drinking their own Kool-Aid than if they'd only tasted winning from September to January.

Was afraid that the Panthers might fall flat at the Big Snoopy. Called it in my "Game Picks" column and on the "Power Rankings Show" last week, in the "Rankings Wrecker" segment. What was nice to see from Carolina -- despite the scare from Josh McCown and Gang Green (to clarify, McCown doesn't have gangrene) -- was the defense and special teams stepping up when the outcome was on the line. For the Panthers to be successful, especially in January, it can't be solely the Cam Newton show. Luke Kuechly's fumble recovery for a TD, then New York being forced into a three-and-out followed by a punt-return touchdown was encouraging for a Panthers outfit too often spoken for by the franchise quarterback in the, uh, loud outfits.

Not the time to bail on these Jaguars. Yes, it was the artist formerly known as "Blame" Gabbert dealing Doug Marrone's group a narrow if unanticipated loss to, yes, the Cardinals. Fun to see Calais Campbell get a touchdown in his return to Arizona. Seriously, what are the chances of a defensive lineman the size of Herman Munster scoring in his first game against his former team in front of his old crowd? Weird but rad. Not rad: letting Gabbert hit on successive passes to push Arizona into field-goal range, and Phil Dawson hitting a high-degree-of-difficulty kick to seal the Jacksonville defeat. I think if that game goes to OT, the Jags' D prevails.

Who doesn't like it when Mohamed Sanu rares back and launches a moon ball, a la Steve Bartkowski circa 1980? Awesome stuff, man. Julio Jones (253 yards) looked like he might go for three bills a little over a year after doing just that against the Panthers. The huge day masks what has been a disappointing season for Jones, who, up to this point, has endured his worst campaign since missing a sizable chunk of the 2013 season. If he gets going, look out for the Falcons in the NFC.

 **Side note:** The Jerry Glanville era jerseys were nice, but I'll take the Bartkowski red-and-grays six days a week and Sunday. 

Happy for Philip Rivers, man. That dude has always been a baller, even when he hasn't been playing his best ball. He gives wicked savage looks, too. (I've noticed "savage" has become the new savage word to use. So lit.) Much respect to the defense, as well, which imposed its will against the Cowboys on Turkey Day. The pass rush, which has been the usual instigator, was not dominant -- this time, the secondary held the fort, made its stops and produced turnovers. The Chargers need nine wins to reach the postseason. The remaining slate: Browns, Redskins, at Chiefs, at Jets, Raiders. They can get to nine wins.

Glad nearly 2,000 throws isn't enough to evaluate a franchise quarterback. On to Thanksgiving night ... After that ball caromed off the running back's hands and careened into Janoris Jenkins' mitts, who didn't think, Ain't no way the Giants are winning this game! ? Right? Come on. Washington deserved a win, even if the political discourse in this country is a decided L. The 'Skins have been competing their tails off, despite persistent engine failure, coolant leaks and Chuck Yeager asking them repeatedly to change their spark plugs. This football team just won't go away. Thanks to Kirk Cousins and especially -- understatedly -- thanks to Ryan Kerrigan. He's more of an animal in the tight spaces than Ogre from "Revenge of the Nerds." The dude crashed the pocket late when Washington needed it.

 **Aside:** Not to be a Negative Nancy, as we're all tacos and margaritas over here with the hard-luck 
 Redskins finally winning ... but was that timeout by Jay Gruden and Cousins 
 that resulted in a delay-of-game penalty as bad a timeout as we've ever seen? Is that an exaggeration? 
 Redskins fans? Sonny Jurgensen, want to weigh in here? 

The Seahawks don't worry about what anyone thinks -- they merely keep playing their schedule. When everything went wrong against the Falcons and Seattle fell to 6-4, the annoying "their window is closing" and "the Seahawks aren't even a playoff team" storylines surfaced. Annoying, because Pete Carroll's squad has made the postseason five straight years and in six of the last seven. They'll be cooked when they're cooked. Of course, no one will give Seattle an ounce of credit for the win Sunday because it came over the Niners. (Watch the highlights shows: It was all Jimmy G talk 'til you drop.) Fact is, the Jimmy Garoppolo portion of that touchdown drive came in three plays, when he took over at the Seahawks' 18 -- in garbage time. Prior to the final drive, San Francisco had gained all of 205 yards.

Titans fans won't be downing Jim Beam (er, Jack) and Coke's celebrating this ranking. Rather than winning, Tennessee has survived against, uh, call 'em non-contenders. Dominating the matchup in Indianapolis could've been the first step in a strong stretch-run push. Instead, this game devolved into a middling affair between two teams waiting for their offenses to wake the hell up in the fourth quarter. Marcus Mariota's up-and-down season resumed, as his two picks put the third-year quarterback at nine touchdowns and 12 interceptions on the year.

Hey, give Mariota credit, because much like in Cleveland or against the Bengals, he marched the offense down the field when it was go time -- sort of. Forty-four of the 77 yards on the go-ahead drive came via the ground game, and another 5 by penalty.

Worth repeating, again and again: Where would this team be without Matthew Stafford? The Lions quarterback was not at his best Thursday -- he was banged up and had a ball picked. He also, once again, kept Detroit in the Thanksgiving Day classic by hanging tough and making the offense move somehow with zero -- zero! -- threat of a run game. The headscatcher (or manescratcher) for the Lions is why they took sooooo long to line up for that extra point after the would-be Daniel Fells touchdown. Just enough time to review (and overturn). Just the Lionsy thing to do. #Lions

Defense and running game -- that's how these Ravens will punch their ticket to the playoffs. On the subject of the former, the Monday night broadcast teams on both TV and radio referred to Terrell Suggs as a sure Hall of Famer. When you think about it, his 120-some odd career sacks, many game altering plays (like the strip sack of Tom Savage), Defensive Player of the Year award and Super Bowl ring make his candidacy as probable as not. Less probable: Joe Flacco running a bootleg for 26 yards. It was reminiscent of a game of "Clue" I played recently, when Mrs. White took down Mr. X in the billiard room with the rope. You don't expect the frumpy maid with the perm being athletic enough to pull it off, like Flacco running for 10-plus yards.

What a statement win for the Bills. Not in a traditional sense, like a good team announcing its viability by taking out another quality team, 40-10. No, Buffalo's performance Sunday was a statement about this group's pride -- that they're not mailing it in, playing for next season or, more importantly, torn apart by the ill-fated decision to start Nathan Peterman in Week 11 (and the subsequent debacle). While we're here, though, football fans around the country should start noticing Tre'Davious White, who has been an impact player in his first year and saved the day for the Bills on Sunday. Especially after that horrific personal-foul call extended the Chiefs' make-or-break drive.

Nice rebound for the Raiders, who find themselves not only in the thick of the wild-card race but one game back of the division leader with a head-to-head win over the Chiefs already under their belt. That's the first thing we learned in Sunday's win over the Broncos. Lesson 2: Never mess with a man's gold chain. Look, there's no way the Raiders make the playoffs last year without Michael Crabtree. The best way to characterize him this season, though, is absentee. Oakland needs him this week, especially with Amari Cooper in the concussion protocol.

A few weeks ago, I penned a treatise in this space about not panicking over the Chiefs' poor run in late October/early November. Yeah, so, it's totally cool to hit the self-destruct button now. You know, the big circular red one that appropriately matches Kansas City's hue. Andy Reid made it clear postgame that he has a few problems to handle -- quarterback is not one of them. If it's not clear already, Reid doesn't seem inclined to even gesture in Patrick Mahomes direction this season. Moreover, Reid need only look across the field on Sunday at the Bills' head coach to imagine how starting an unprepared rookie plays out when a team is in the playoff hunt.

So 7, 9, and 6 points are what they are. The poor offensive performances aren't Zeke's fault, or a straight byproduct of Tyron Smith's absence. And it sure as heck isn't because of Sean effing Lee. All those folks who were ready to get rid of Tony Romo, including many in the organization itself, need to take a hard look at the last three games. Dak Prescott has been wholly ineffective. The same people who anointed Prescott an MVP candidate -- and better than Carson Wentz -- last year should see how the latter has played without his starting left tackle. Here's the point: It was this past season and offseason, not 10 years ago, when the team refused to give Romo a chance to win his job back. Fans who are jumping on Prescott now were all in last year, and damn near dropkicked Romo out the door. Well, the 30-something A) is unquestionably the superior player, and b) should have been provided the chance to retake the reins. It's not about Prescott in Year 2 versus Romo at the same stage. It's about who was better for 2017. This team is ready to win now, so you play the best guy, irrespective of what the locker room thinks. If Romo were to get hurt again (a real possibility), you'd have a fine backup in Prescott. If Prescott is the future, he must play like the future even when the chips are down. I think Prescott will respond. I believe in his moxie. I also know that Romo won plenty of games with Julius Jones in the backfield, and went 8-7 in 2013 with the worst defense in franchise history. These next three games sans Elliott are an opportunity for Prescott to show his mettle, not a time for iron-clad excuses to be made on his behalf. Pro football ain't a popularity contest.

Despite opining that the Bengals could make the postseason in the Week 9 Power Rankings, even I didn't believe it at the time. Now, after looking at the updated playoff picture, the thought process has altered a smidge. A crudd... a creative team like this can actually make the playoffs. At 5-6, Cincinnati is only one game back of the sixth-seeded Ravens. It will probably take at least nine wins to stay afloat in January. Thus, the Bengals will need to pluck four wins from a stretch run that features games against the Steelers, Bears, Vikings, Lions and Ravens. Welp. At least three of those contests are at home.

Gotta hand it to Blaine Gabbert, who spread clutch passes around in the fourth quarter as easily as he purportedly spread blame around while in Jacksonville. While myriad factors played into the former No. 10 overall pick's failures with the Jags, Gabbert is a different player now. Despite seemingly never getting any credit, Gabbert always competed in San Francisco -- and had a few moments of glory -- before eventually being overshadowed by the Colin Kaepernick question (pre-kneeling). Gabbert clearly outplayed Kap in 2015, before giving way last season. When I saw him perform in the Hall of Fame Game in Canton this past August, I thought some folks might have bailed on him too early. Gabbert was 9 years old when Phil Dawson started launching field goals in 1999. What a kick.

At 4-7, even an unthinkable run won't get the Bucs into the postseason. At this point, it will take 10 wins to earn an NFC wild card. The Falcons and Panthers both winning Sunday pretty much took care of that. With that macro accounting out of the way, the micro here centers on the lack of a rushing threat and the secondary. Tampa hasn't enjoyed the benefits of a 100-yard rusher to help out the quarterback all season. However, opposing quarterbacks have enjoyed the benefits of facing the Bucs' secondary. Those two areas have breached the Pirate Ship this season. Ryan Fitzpatrick has kept it from completely going under.

Not too many quarterbacks outplayed Brett Hundley in Week 12. Unfortunately, Hundley's three touchdown passes (and no turnovers, mind you) weren't enough to deliver the win. And the three-point defeat probably eliminated Green Bay from playoff competition. Had the Packers mounted a successful final drive (instead of the screen pass for nothing on second down and run call on third), you would've seen a whole bunch of probability models this week on how long it takes to truly return from a broken collarbone.

The Colts don't take much of a trot backward here, despite yet another close loss. Indianapolis was felled by a familiar foe on Sunday: the fourth quarter. Positively awful would be the best way to describe the Colts' offense in football's most important period. Coming into Sunday, Indy totaled 589 offensive yards in the fourth, at 3.3 yards per rush and 5.1 yards per pass. Those numbers complement each other in that they're both terrible. Indy has scored two touchdowns in the final quarter. All season. In the loss to the Titans, the Colts had the ball three times in the fourth. They gained 5 net yards and punted three times. Get excited.

This space has defended the Bears and their poor record just about every week ... Well, that's a little tough this time around. Sure, those were the one-loss Eagles out on the field Sunday. Chicago has not graduated to that level. Maybe Mitch Trubisky pulls a Wentz next season. That aside, the Bears got absolutely throttled. By every measure. They got outscored 31-3. Outrushed 176-6. Out-time of possessed, 37 minutes to 23. Time of possessed -- sounds like a Rob Zombie flick. Fitting. That was a horror show from John Fox's team.

Too often, we look at a coach's win-loss record as an indication of whether he is exemplary ... or not so exemplary. When a group appears to give up, like the Jets seemed to do last season in that awful Saturday night loss to the Matt Moore-led Dolphins, the criticism comes like an avalanche. What about when a team that's deficient in star power takes the proficient teams to the final bell -- like every week? What then? Do we blame Todd Bowles for New York's 4-7 record, or commend him for motivating his guys to play over their heads? Maybe New York is not evaluating the young quarterbacks enough for the national media's liking. Or maybe the Jets know what they have, and it ain't a room full of Chad Penningtons. So they stick with Josh McCown, play their tails off and make every Sunday interesting. At the end of the day, the Jets will still get a high pick, while being able to look at themselves in the mirror.

Learned something new Monday night. Who knew DeAndre Hopkins stayed on the field the field that much? The broadcast pointed out Hopkins' durability (a la Greg Olsen -- who, until this year, never came off the field for the Panthers' offense). It's wonderful seeing guys who leave it all out on the field -- like Hopkins, Olsen and Joe Thomas -- receiving praise for effort stats. Not to mention, the Ravens couldn't cover Hopkins with Jimmy Smith and renter's insurance. Hopkins' quarterback will get criticized this week, though it's important to note Baltimore's D has made other passers look far worse than Tom Savage, including name brands like Andy Dalton. Real. Comfortable. Jeans. Oh, wait -- that's Brett Favre.

The Paxton Lynch experiment came and went. Just like that, it's over ... at least for now, anyway. In what amounts to an organizational catastrophe, Lynch doesn't look ready to play (he thinks he played well!) and the franchise has said no to Brock Osweiler (thrice). That leaves Trevor Siemian, which, while not representing the sunk cost of a first-round pick (ahem, Lynch), does represent a desperate team turning to the same answer over and over. Siemian looked so promising in two games early in the year. I still think he can play better than he's shown. But the window may have closed for a once-elite defense in need of a viable offense. As far as the mindset of Lynch, Aqib Talib's leadership and the overall tenor of the day, think the Denver Post's Mark Kiszla summed it up pretty well here. I don't even want to pain Broncos fans with the CliffsNotes.

Watching "Sleepless in Seattle" with a special ladyfriend the other night, my thoughts drifted to how much the Dolphins could use a Rob Reiner film. You know, some kind of feel-good flick, where Adam Gase discovers Ryan Tannehill and a healthy knee at the top of the Empire State Building, clutching a backpack full of highly skilled defensive linemen who also happen to be motivated to play every run down like its their last. Hypothetically speaking, of course. That's five losses in a row, including three by 18 or more points, for the hapless Miami Dolphins.

There are many reasons watching pro football is important. For instance, without pro ball you might think James Van Der Beek's railing against authority ( I donnn't wont ... yer life) in "Varsity Blues" is what life is really like in a locker room, or that "Any Given Sunday" represents NFL team fashion. (Well, maybe the Jags' helmets.) In the case of the 49ers on Sunday, the headliner from the loss was that Jimmy Garoppolo led the Niners to a touchdown on his only drive of the game. Then you go back and watch NFL Game Pass, and you're forced to blow up the hope bubble of an entire city by admitting out loud that it was C.J. Beathard who marched San Fran down the field, and got hurt, before Garoppolo took the field at the Seahawks' 18. Jimmy G completed TWO passes ... and the good fellas scored. Don't let facts get in the way of a story, right?

There's nothing like watching the Giants put together a garbage-time drive, down two scores, and realizing the late frenzy pumped their yardage total to 170. That's how ugly Big Blue's offensive ball was Thursday night. Thanksgiving night, in fact, a time to give thanks for Kyle Rote, Frank Gifford, Phil Simms, Lionel Manuel, Mark Bavaro and Charles Way. Not sure what in the Joe Pisarcik has happened to this Dave Brown-fueled attack (other than all the wideouts getting hurt), but Big Blue looks like it's suffering from projectile dysfunction. Wasn't it on this side of the ball that Ben McAdoo ascended the ranks? The offense was certainly rank Thursday.

The Browns simply can't find their way out of the jungle that is the fourth quarter, and couldn't manage late in Cincinnati, either. It's been swampier for Hue Jackson's guys than where Luke Skywalker parked his ride in "Empire." The Browns were down one score to the Bengals in the final stanza, before letting Joe Mixon glide past them on three meaty runs to put Cincy back up two scores. Gleaning positives from Cleveland's weekly performances is getting tired, but promising signs are apparent from DeShone Kizer. Is he the future? Maybe, maybe not. Either way, the repeated losses are about much more than the quarterback.

*Follow Elliot Harrison on Twitter @HarrisonNFL. And be sure to tune in to the "NFL Power Rankings" show on NFL Network every Tuesday night at 6 p.m. ET. *

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