NFL Power Rankings, Week 12 edition

Arian Foster and the Texans (with help from the refs and Lions) stay atop our weekly rankings.

1. Texans (10-1): Houston might have been gift-wrapped a win by the referees (and Jim Schwartz’s total imcompetence) on Thanksgiving, but they’ll take it. For the second straight week, Matt Schaub proved he might be the most underrated quarterback in the league. Of course, it doesn’t hurt having Andre Johnson — who set a record with 461 yards receiving in the past two weeks — available in crunch time.

2. Falcons (10-1): Is Atlanta the most unappreciated team in the NFL? They went into a hostile environment against a red-hot Tampa team and rallied for a comeback win.

3. 49ers (8-2-1): Colin Kaepernick is high risk and very high reward, and Jim Harbaugh can take that risk because the kid has the most dominating defense in football.

4. Ravens (9-2): “Hey diddle diddle, Ray Rice up the middle.” Fourth-and-29 keeps the Ravens on track and spawns the best slogan of the season.

5. Bears (8-3): Jay Cutler might rub some people the wrong way, but he’s game on. Let’s see how the Bears respond after suffering key injuries.

6. Broncos (8-3): What’s the ultimate compliment? Beating a team and then having its star running back ask for your autograph. That’s the Peyton Manning effect.

7. NY Giants (7-4): In the battle of Good Eli vs. Bad Eli, the Good Eli Manning showed Aaron Rodgers why two Super Bowl rings are better than one.

8. Patriots (8-3): As always, New England is peaking at the right time of the season. The Pats are 19-0 in the second half dating back to 2010.

9. Packers (7-4): The Pack looked  vulnerable without Clay Matthews anchoring the defense — and the offensive line did Aaron Rodgers no favors.

10. Colts (7-4): This team is no fluke as they continue to prove that tanking for a season isn’t a bad philosophy when a franchise quarterback is waiting in the draft.

11. Bengals (6-5): Might have the toughest trenches (O-lines, D-lines) in the league. A three-game winning streak has Cincy buying back in.

12. Buccaneers (6-5): Ronde Barber’s discovered the Fountain of Youth, and we want an invite. They have a big test this week, on the road in Denver.

13. Seahawks (6-5): Seattle just can’t win outside the Pacific Northwest (1-5 away record), and now Pete Carroll faces Adderall-Gate.

14. Steelers (6-5): Don’t blame Charlie Batch. It’s not his fault the Steelers don’t have a more competent third-stringer. Still, they were in position to win last week even with eight turnovers.

15. Vikings (6-5): Simply out-classed by Chicago. Up next, Green Bay, then a home date with Chicago. Could be out of playoff picture before Christmas.

16. Redskins (5-6): Stop comparing RG3 to other mobile quarterbacks. He’s better than Mike Vick and Cam Newton. The Skins are chasing an improbable playoff dream.

17. Saints (5-6): The dream of becoming the first team to win a Super Bowl in its home stadium isn’t dead yet — but it’s on life support.

18. Dolphins (5-6): Future is bright in South Beach. After watching “Hard Knocks” the fact that this team is even sniffing .500 is a tribute to Joe Philbin.

19. Cowboys (5-6): Not good enough to make a playoff run, but might be just good enough to ink Tony Romo a contract extension.

20. Lions (4-7): Same old Lions. Bad penalties, costly miscues and terrible decisions all over the field — and sideline. Ain’t that right, Jim Schwartz?

21. Rams (4-6-1): Not great. Not terrible. Have chance to play spoiler over last five weeks as they play four teams with postseason aspirations.

22. Chargers (4-7): Team gave up on Norv Turner in October and would have been riding a seven-game losing streak if Chiefs weren’t on schedule.

23. Cardinals (4-7): Here’s something we never thought we’d say: What would have happened if Kevin Kolb never got hurt?

24. Bills (4-7): C.J. Spiller has 830 yards for the NFL’s seventh-best rushing attack (140.3). No, really, look it up.

25. NY Jets (4-7): Mark Sanchez can’t get out of the way of his own linemen. And Tim Tebow can’t get out the way of his own shadow.

26. Titans (4-7): Enigma wrapped in a riddle. Averaging 35.5 points per game in four wins vs. 13.7 in seven losses.

27. Browns (3-8): Stop us if you’ve heard this before: Cleveland is a few pieces away. Beating Steelers was biggest win since new owners took over.

28. Raiders (3-8): Seems like Shane Lechler has been Oakland’s MVP for the past decade.  Yes, he’s the punter.

29. Panthers (3-8): Cam Newton looked like the old Cam Newton last week. Cam Newton was also playing the Eagles’ defense.

30. Eagles (3-8): Andy Reid is usually fighting for playoff seeding at this point in the season. Now, he’s got one foot out the door and the franchise is fighting for the No. 1 draft pick.

31. Jaguars (2-9): Should have been starting Chad Henne all along. Sigh.

32. Chiefs (1-10): Biggest question, will the KC fans boo Geno Smith?


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