Seahawks solidify first with rout of Saints
1. Seahawks (11-1): Russell Wilson should buy a pair of stilts and walk around on them during Super Bowl week, just so he can trash-talk his detractors face-to-face. He possesses the mobility of Mike Vick and the brains of Drew Brees. Wilson is entering elite status, if he wasn’t there already.
2. Broncos (10-2): Knowshon Moreno’s teary-eyed ode to the National Anthem is what people are still talking about today, not Peyton Manning’s 403 yards and five TDs. Go figure.
3. Panthers (9-3): Three weeks ago, this defense was underrated. Not anymore. Thank the “Legion of Whom”— No. 1 in points allowed, No. 1 in yards per game— for eight straight wins.
4. Saints (9-3): Even Drew Brees can look human in Seattle. That’s not an indictment on the Saints, that’s a tribute to how good (unbeatable?) the Seahawks are in front of the 12th Man.
5. Patriots (9-3): Haters are still calling the Pats lucky. Sure, they sleep-walked through the first half, but when Tom Brady is under center, it’s never just luck.
6. 49ers (8-4): It’s no coincidence Anquan Boldin had his best day since Week 1 on the same week Michael Crabtree returned. The 49ers are healthy and might be the scariest wild card since the NFL added it.
7. Bengals (8-4): This had trap game written all over it, flying out to the West Coast against a hot opponent. Nope. The Bengals took care of business, even if the box score looked rather pedestrian.
8. Colts (8-4): Indy isn’t the same team since Reggie Wayne went down. They might never be. That being said, they have a three-game lead in the AFC South and can wrap up the division title with a win and a Titans loss.
9. Chiefs (9-3): We would never tell a 9-3 team to hit the panic button, but that’s three straight losses for KC. Clearly, something is a little rotten in the state of Missouri.
10. Eagles (7-5): Not only has Nick Foles earned the starting job for this season— and most likely 2014— there’s also a small chorus of MVP chants (right, Deion Sanders?) gathering momentum behind him.
11. Lions (7-5): Like a box of chocolates, you just never know which Lions team you’re going to get. They really have no excuse not winning the NFC North, which is starting to give the NFC East a run for its money as being the worst division in football.
12. Cowboys (7-5): Say what you want about Dallas falling behind early against an inferior opponent, they rallied when they had to— again. And Tony Romo is leading the charge.
13. Cardinals (7-5): Arizona has a right to gripe about some very suspect calls against Philly— were those replacement refs?— but at the end of the day, they shouldn’t have dug that deep of a hole for themselves.
14. Ravens (6-6): Are you really going to count the Ravens out? As up and down as they’ve been this season, they would be the AFC’s second wild-card team if the season ended today.
15. Dolphins (6-6): Miami jumps a whopping six spots in our poll! That’s unheard of in the history of our power rankings! Maybe it has something to do with them playing the New York Jets.
16. Chargers (5-7): San Diego lost all the momentum they had after that dramatic, last-minute win over KC. Thirteen weeks in, they still have no running game.
17. Bears (6-6): Jay Cutler is running on a treadmill, but hasn’t been cleared to play. Marc Trestman might decide to bring him in on second down, instead of first down.
18. Steelers (5-7): Pittsburgh is one two-point conversion catch away from being in prime playoff contention. Don’t count this group out just yet.
19. Titans (5-7): Sorry to ruin it for everyone but Tennessee isn’t making the playoffs. However, they will make life miserable for other teams trying to get in.
20. Giants (5-7): See above— especially if Justin Tuck legitimately got his mojo back.
21. Rams (5-7): While his contract runs through 2015, questions about Sam Bradford’s future in St. Louis should become a hot water-cooler topic.
22. Packers (5-6-1): The Packers aren’t out of it because of their division. However, if reports that Aaron Rodgers might be shut down for the year are true, then start cutting the cheese. It’s over.
23. Raiders (4-8): They showed a lot of heart in that loss at Dallas— and irritated a lot of sports bettors by kicking that pointless field goal and beating the spread.
24. Jets (5-7): Geno Smith will apparently keep his starting job. But will Rex Ryan?
25. Jaguars (3-9): Back-to-back victories— three total— for a team that was supposed to go winless. All aboard the Gus Bus.
Best of the worst: 26. Bills (4-8); 27. Browns (4-8); 28. Redskins (3-9); 29. Falcons (3-9); 30. Vikings (3-8-1); 31. Buccaneers (3-9); 32. Texans (2-10).