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NFL Power Rankings, Week 14: Ravens, Steelers storm top 10

Continuity at the top -- that's what we have heading into Week 14.

And you know what? That's what you want.

This is the time of the season where the premier teams in the league should come into clear focus. The first-round exitees and the playoff have-nots shouldn't be sniffing the top five. Thus, as you'll see below, the first four haven't moved even a smidge. That's a good thing, folks.

On to your thoughts -- and there were plenty this week ...

Yep, missed that one in the Game Picks. You know what, though? If Eric Berry gets the W, I don't mind taking the L.

Apparently, the opponent can't properly identify who its starting quarterback is, either.

Seattle remains in the cleanup spot after blowing out the Panthers on Sunday night. Carolina? Yeah ... They're a little lower. For everyone's slot, see below. You might be surprised. Your take is always welcome, as well: @HarrisonNFL is the place.

Let the dissension commence!

NOTE: The lineup below reflects changes from our Nov. 29 Power Rankings.

What a fugly game last Thursday in Minnesota. From the color rush to the discombobulated offense to the botched calls (fumbles that weren't fumbles; the Cowboys losing an important pick on a bogus hands-to-the-face flag that was actually caused by the offensive player; the blow to the head not called on the final two-point conversion), the TNF contest was not this sport's finest moment. Still, Dallas has shown it can win ugly, including with Dak Prescott not making much downfield through the air but being able to extend drives scrambling. Even if Tony Romo is still better, that element of quarterbacking has not been seen on the Cowboys since the halcyon days of Quincy Carter. A gratuitous Quincy Carter mention ... I might have just jinxed this team.

The Patriots stay right on the Cowboys' heels in terms of the top spot in the Power Rankings -- and right on the Raiders' heels in the race for home-field in the AFC. (Quick aside: How weird is that to read, that New England is tied with Oakland -- Oakland -- for the conference's top record?!) In other news -- big news, in terms of NFL history -- Tom Brady's win on Sunday was his 201st as an NFL starter, a new quarterback record. I remember when I couldn't get over Roger Staubach's regular-season mark of 85-29. Brady has doubled that number in the regular season (179th win on Sunday), with a better winning percentage. Yeah, I don't see anyone catching Brady.

These guys are flat-out unreal. Actually, the Raiders looked flat, falling behind 24-9 midway through the third quarter. Derek Carr was on the sideline while the training staff looked at his left hand, not the hand bearing the injured digit. Yet there was no panic -- no Well, we were bound to come back to Earth acceptance on the Oakland sideline. Instead, Carr started ballin', Crabtree went Crabtree on the secondary and the RB-by-committee jointly ran over the Bills' defense. Next thing you know, it's 38-24 Raiders, the Silver & Black are 10-2 and 2016 in Oakland feels like 1976 in Oakland.

One week, the Seahawks limp to 245 total yards and five points. The next week, they steamroll the Panthers like they're a JV team on the way to a 40-burger and more than 500 yards of offense. Football is weird. Seattle looked like a real Super Bowl threat in trouncing Carolina. Minus one deep ball -- and minus the loss of one All-Pro safety -- the night was all Seattle. Can Pete Carroll's 'Hawks play better sans Earl Thomas than they've fared without Kam Chancellor in the past? That is the burning question in the Pacific Northwest. Next up: at Green Bay. Now that's a helluva game.

If you don't follow Eric Berry's career -- because he's a defensive player or because he's not a sack master or because he isn't a loudmouth corner who brags about, of all things, his knowledge of the NFL rulebook -- then you're missing out. Berry once again personally delivered a win to the Chiefs on Sunday. First, he came up with another awe-inspiring pick-six in the final minute of the first half. Then there was the ultra-clutch, fourth-quarter pick-two -- that's right, a pick-two, in the final five minutes of the game. The last points scored in the game, by the way. What a playmaker. Remember his winding interception return for a touchdown in Carolina last month? The guy is so darn good that fans don't think of him as the player who bested Hodgkin lymphoma less than two years ago. The city where he won his battle? Atlanta. Times two, now.

So maybe Paxton Lynch didn't exactly set the football world on fire Sunday in Jacksonville. (Let's be real: Even if he threw for 340 and three touchdowns in Jacksonville, would it even mean anything? Ah, the Jags ... I digress.) Just 104 yards from the first-round pick, in a game plan that called for plenty of runs (28:24 run-to-pass ratio) and short passes while allowing the defense to Bortle. This team is better with Trevor Siemian at the helm, but that defense is almost stout enough to win with Tommy Maddox. That unit will need to be on point, too, because after facing the Titans this coming Sunday, Denver will see the Patriots, Chiefs and Raiders. Buckle up.

The biggest win on Sunday. By taking down the Saints in New Orleans, something that even the best teams have struggled to do (SEE: Raiders, Seahawks, Broncos), the Lions took a major step toward securing a playoff spot. All they need is three wins to clinch the NFC North, no matter what the heck happens in the NFC North. (Maybe less, if other teams cooperate.) And whether you like Jim Caldwell or not -- whether you question his inspirational talents or want him to be more demonstrative -- the man is 26-18 in Detroit during the regular season. You have to go back to the days of Buddy Parker to find a better regular-season winning percentage from a full-time Lions head coach. As in, get your jigowatts ratio right and ride with Marty McFly back to 1955. That's the era we're talking about here.

Joe Flacco was straight-up dealing out there Sunday. The franchise quarterback completed 36 of his 47 throws for 381 yards and four touchdowns (against one pick). You start looking around that Ravens offense, and you wonder why the defense has been forced to carry this team several times this season (SEE: wins versus the Bills, Steelers, Bengals). The talent is there, with Mike Wallace stretching the field, Steve Smith Sr. serving as the pesky underneath receiver and second-year speedster Breshad Perriman showcasing his playmaking ability. The reliable Dennis Pitta has 61 catches. Terrance West and Kenneth Dixon seem to be at least viable as a 1-2 punch at RB. And yet, prior to Sunday's 38-point outburst, the Ravens ranked 24th in scoring offense. Again, football is weird.

Sizable jump for the Steelers, who are up five spots following the convincing win over the Giants at the Ketchup Bottle. The championship-caliber offense managed to inhibit itself with a few drops and penalties, making us all wonder what's going to happen when some poor team feels the brunt of what this explosive group can do when all the stars are aligned. That's something we haven't seen in the last two postseasons due to injuries. I don't care if it's the Patriots, the Raiders or the AFC South sacrificial lamb -- if someone draws a Pittsburgh offense firing on all cylinders, there will be blood. (Minus the sordid bowling-alley scene.)

Not much the Giants could do Sunday. Stop the Steelers' offense? Not exactly. Jump-start their own offense? No dice. While New York owns the better record, there was little question left on the field as to who the better team was on Sunday. Thus, Big Blue plummets to the 10th spot in these here rankings. Many commenters called into question the No. 5 ranking last week, imploring me to drop this team based on a creampuff sked. While I think we still will hear from Eli Manning, Odell Beckham Jr. and Sterling Shepard this December, the readers saw it right with the Giants. Let's see how they handle the Week 14 Cowboys, a whole different animal than the Week 1 Cowboys.

Kirk Cousins will be seeing a safety blitzing off the edge in his sleep for the next several nights. And if we've learned anything about Cousins over the last year and a half, it's that he'll solve any deficiency in his game regarding safeties coming off the edge in those same sleepless nights. So, despite two losses in a row, it is not time to panic. The Redskins' remaining schedule features three struggling teams in the next three weeks: at Philly, home vs. Carolina, at Chicago. Washington very well could go from 6-5-1 to 9-5-1.

Took some grief on Twitter and on Falcons message boards for suggesting that, up until this year, Matt Ryan had been slightly (slightly!) overrated. Ryan has dominated parts of 2016. However, I think we can agree that Sunday's showing was not his best. Even getting past the first-half pick-six, it's hard to excuse the interception on the game-changing two-point conversion. Perhaps the blur of Eric Berry in white-and-red blended in with the colors in the Falcons' end zone. Not attempting sarcasm here -- Berry broke on the ball so obviously that it's hard to figure what Ryan saw, or didn't see. Ryan will rebound, as he usually does. Will it be in L.A.? Next up: at Rams.

Guess all those creeps who picked against the Bucs can shove it. Dirk Koetter's squad is suddenly tied with the Falcons atop the NFC South. If the season ended today, your Tampa Bay Buccaneers would own one of the six NFC playoff spots. While Jameis Winston garnered much credit in the postgame, I thought Mike Smith's defense had much to say about who won the day in San Diego. Smith's unit forced two turnovers while holding Philip Rivers and that Chargers air attack to 211 net passing yards. Heckuva play, Keith Tandy. One more thing to address here ... I have it on backchannel communication from one of the top insiders in the bidness that a member of the Bucs' front office might think I'm sucking at ranking Tampa. I would tell that executive that, yes, I have lagged on recognizing the Bucs recently. Moreover, that exec has killed it this season.

Football feels like football when it snows in Green Bay, especially with the storied rivalry between the Texans and Packers as the centerpiece. Well, maybe not the last part. What's relevant here is A) Aaron Rodgers can throw a snow ball, and B) Green Bay continues to apply pressure to the NFC North-leading Lions. Right now, the Cheeseheads need to keep winning and hope the Lions lose to at least one of their next three opponents: the Bears, Giants and Cowboys. The latter two of those three are on the road. Very possible, although there is something different about this Lions team. #Stafford

Complaints poured in over the Dolphins dropping one spot last week despite pulling out the win over the 49ers. The thinking then was that Miami was not impressive in barely holding off Colin Kaepernick (who got benched this week while his team lost by 20). The thinking now is that the Dolphins were not impressive in their 6-38 contest in Baltimore, either. Adam Gase's group is mired right in the thick of that wild-card morass, though.

Tweeted sometime during the third quarter Sunday that the Bills looked awfully impressive. Then they were just plain awful. Literally five minutes after that thought bubble punctured the Twitterverse, Tyrod Taylor starting playing like Bruce Mathison (look him up), the defense appeared to be transported by Scotty directly from the Gailey years and the rest of the afternoon became a Silver & Black track meet. Now what? Win out. Steelers, Browns, Dolphins, Jets ... Gotta win out.

Andrew Luck wasn't playing Monday night -- as in, he wasn't playing around. Dude. The guy looked perfect. Indy might be a flawed team with a suspect defense and an aging running back, but these Colts hold a huge advantage at quarterback over every other team in their division based on experience, eye test and the ohbythewayhaveyouseentheHoustonoffenselately test. Now, you might have noticed that Luck passed Bert Jones on the Colts' all-time list for touchdown passes. The broadcast team glossed over it, but it's worth noting that Jones was NFL MVP in 1976 and a top-notch player when healthy. In 1977, Jones and the Colts played the Raiders in the Divisional Round in one of the most famous postseason games in league history. We might see that matchup again, 39 years later.

Tough loss for a team trending in the wrong direction. Once again, the offensive line said ole! time and again, as Sam Bradford was under fire for most of the night. That's bullfighting "ole!" not Oil of Olay, although Bradford could've used the latter on that wicked hands-to-the-face on the failed two-point conversion. In fairness, Bradford airmailed the football in anticipation of a rush that had been steadily in his face all night, not because of the blow to the head. That said, it was a badly missed call. The official right there couldn't see the arm that hit Bradford in the head, but this is a hurting team that sorely needed the crew to get it right.

Finance 3770. Terrifically boring class at the University of North Texas, at least for me. Yet, I do remember one major tenet from that snoozefest in the prehistoric Business Admin building: The higher the risk, the higher the return. Bruce Arians lives it on the football field, often. After Jay Gruden inexplicably called a timeout with 2:03 left on the clock, down one point, Arians knew any play he called on the impending second down would only burn a few seconds before the two-minute warning kicked in. So what did the Cardinals do? Go deep! Carson Palmer threw a perfect flutterball to J.J. Nelson halfway into the end zone, and it was 31-23, Arizona. Awesome stuff. Throw in back-to-back high-risk safety blitzes against Kirk Cousins, in a situation when most teams are in prevent, and you get the point here. You know what Arians and staff got? A game-sealing pick.

Not sure what to write about the Chargers in this space. Any ideas? Most everyone thought San Diego would handle a tired, jet-lagged Bucs team in front of the home crowd. Is it me, or does it feel like the Chargers could beat any team in the NFL not the named the Cowboys and Patriots one week ... then lose to the Colts, Saints or whoever else picks off Philip Rivers the next? Love Rivers, but he needn't force that ball on Keith Tandy's late interception. Man coverage is one thing, great coverage is quite another.

Shocking development in New Orleans on Sunday. A secondary that had allowed opposing quarterbacks a robust 106.4 passer rating coming in picked the hottest quarterback in pro football three times. Drew Brees hadn't posted a sub-99 passer rating in two months. Sunday against Detroit, he came in at 63.3. In fact, it was the first time he failed to throw a touchdown pass at home in 61 games. And when it comes to the Saints' defense, well, Golden Tate was so open on that long touchdown reception that he provided me those stats while he was waiting for the football.

The Texans dropped their third straight in Green Bay on Sunday. The real news here is that Houston is now tied atop the AFC South division, which has not been the case all season. Worth noting is that the Texans currently own the head-to-head advantage over both the Titans and Colts. They will travel to Indy next week. The Nashville trip to face the Titans comes on Jan. 1. Anyway, it was neato seeing Texans players throw snowballs during pregame at Lambeau. It would be cooler than snow to see them win another game.

Odd time to own a bye, to say the least, as the Titans were off in Week 13. The advantage for Mike Mularkey and Co. here is that every team in the league is banged up. All of the former players I work with talk about how no one is 100 percent healthy at this point of the season. Especially relevant is the physical style Tennessee plays with, which could provide an advantage this Sunday against an otherwise-talented Broncos front.

The Andy Dalton we came to know over the last couple of years came to play Sunday in Cincinnati. Where has that been? The Red Rifle was simply sterling, throwing for 332 yards on only 31 pass attempts, with a pair of touchdowns passes. If you didn't catch Tyler Eifert's catch in the end zone -- as you were raking the leaves, or doing whatever you do to avoid potentially watching the Bengals lose painfully again -- here it is. Because Cincy was so effective on both sides of the ball (three interceptions off Carson Wentz), maybe you shouldn't watch the Bengals this Sunday, either. Go to Pleasant Ridge Chili for gravy cheese fries, or Arcade Legacy for some "Centipede." Take the girl you met swiping wildly on Bumble to Cooper's Hawk for apps and laughs. OK, I'm done. Nice win.

The downward turn continues for the flightless Eagles. Philadelphia lost for the seventh time in nine games Sunday, on a day Doug Pederson's team couldn't get out of its own way. Ten penalties didn't help. Lifting Andy Dalton out of his slump with generous openings in coverage didn't help. And Carson Wentz's three picks certainly didn't help. On the subject of Wentz, the once-rookie sensation hasn't had a game where he's thrown more touchdowns than interceptions since October. He's tossed three touchdowns and eight interceptions over the last five games. Defensive coordinators have caught up to the FCS.

From 15-1 and dabbing in football heaven to 4-8 and losing 40-7. The only thing crappier than that rap was the Panthers' performance in Seattle on Sunday night. The defense couldn't buy a stop. The offense ... what offense? In the middle of it all was the distraction of Cam Newton, whose postgame (and now pregame) wardrobe has merited more attention than his play on the field. Whether you back Ron Rivera's decision to start Derek Anderson on the first series against the Seahawks or not, we can all agree the subsequent interception felt in line with how his team's follow-up to winning the NFC title has gone.

Another loss for the Rams, this time by the score of 26-10, in a season that is rapidly going in the wrong direction. Los Angeles has now lost seven of its last eight while being outscored by 44 points the last two weeks. Obviously, the correct spin here is that at least these losses are coming while the team gets a chance to evaluate Jared Goff on the field. For all the fans who have commented about coach Jeff Fisher's stewardship, well, that question was answered, too.

Classic Chicago Bears football. Cold weather, snow, limiting the other team to such a pukey outing that the starting quarterback leaves early, one way or another. The Bears were so Bearsy they didn't even know they were being Bearsy. Chicago posted 40 rushing attempts -- 40! -- and a so-so quarterback threw for under 200 yards in a win. Those details and stats fit what you would have expected out of Sid Luckman, Jim McMahon and even Jim Miller (circa 2001) to a T. Although a lot of fans in Chicago would likely rather have a higher draft pick than a victory at his point, the NFL is better when the Bears win -- especially in a defensive, elements-induced struggle like what we saw Sunday.

You know it's bad when the head coach figures out multiple ways to describe that "we got our ass kicked." Hey, maybe Todd Bowles is a creative guy. You know it's bad when a secondary that even Brock Osweiler exploited looked like the Legion of Boom East against your starting quarterback. You know it's bad when your backup was arguably worse. And you know it's bad when security tackles more ferociously than your defense.

The memory of his prolific 2015 campaign continues to be a distant memory for one Blake Bortles, whose season has gone from middling to tough to downright sorry in a matter of weeks. On Sunday, the Jaguars quarterback committed the big mistake that has become an unfortunate trademark of his young career: throwing the game-defining pick-six. The difference for Bortles this season has been the lack of productivity to offset the giveaways. Last year, Bortles fired 35 touchdown passes against 18 picks. This year, that ratio sits at 20:15. He hasn't thrown for 300 yards in a game since October -- and he's working in an offense centered around the passing game.

Not much of interest came out of the 49ers' no-go in Chicago. Well, except for Colin Kaepernick saying he was surprised to be benched in the fourth quarter of the 26-6 blowout. Apparently his 1-of-5-for-4-yards-passing performance didn't prompt any ideas. That stat line was no misprint, by the way. Coach Chip Kelly said he felt the team "needed a spark." Right -- like lighting a match in a blizzard. Next up: Jets.

The Browns joined the Titans in wrapping up the bye weeks for this season, just in time for Cleveland to get healthy enough to lose another game. Or will they? The Browns next host the Bengals, who have struggled mightily on defense in 2016. Cincinnati likely will be without A.J. Green, and the Bengals have won only one game on the road this season (by one point versus the Jets in Week 1). So you're telling me there's a chance. Go Browns.

Follow Elliot Harrison on Twitter @HarrisonNFL.

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