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NFL Power Rankings, Week 13: Bengals rocket into top 10, while Cowboys tumble out of top five

The Packers moved to 5-0 at Lambeau with a high-profile win over the Rams that has returned them to the top of the NFL Power Rankings.

This might seem unfair to last week's No. 1, the poor Cardinals, who did nothing but enjoy a well-earned bye. The good news is that Green Bay is idle in Week 13, providing Arizona with a golden opportunity to take back control of the metaphorical luxury rooftop suite.

The funny part? There's a very good chance all this drama is playing out with no one on either team even vaguely aware that the fate of the Power Rankings hangs in the balance. The Packers and Cardinals think they're sizing each other up for a potential rematch in the playoffs when, in actuality, the battle is already being waged on a weekly basis right here.

Soak it in, folks. We're at the epicenter of the football universe.

Watch the NFL Power Rankings show with Dan and Matt "Money" Smith every Tuesday at 3 p.m. ET on NFL Network.

NOTE: Up/down arrows reflect movement from the Week 12 NFL Power Rankings.

Previous rank: No. 2

Aaron Rodgers was limping around Lambeau Field by the end of Sunday's win over the Rams, but a bum pinkie toe is the extent of the bad news around Green Bay these days. The Packers dressed down the "all in" Rams and hit the bye at 9-3, a mark that gives them a commanding lead in the NFC North and leaves them just a half-game behind the top-seeded Cardinals, whom they have the head-to-head tiebreaker over, thanks to their Week 8 win. On Sunday, Green Bay got key contributions from Rasul Douglas (the game-icing pick-six), Randall Cobb (95 yards and a touchdown before he left at halftime with a groin injury) and A.J. Dillon, who out-touched Aaron Jones despite the latter's return from a knee injury. This is a deep and talented team.

Previous rank: No. 1

General manager Steve Keim deserves a bonus star in his eventual end-of-year evaluation for the Zach Ertz trade. The Cardinals acquired the three-time Pro Bowl tight end from the Eagles in exchange for rookie sixth-rounder Tay Gowan and a 2022 fifth-round pick, and Ertz has already earned back that investment and then some. Ertz has stepped into a playmaker role in five games in Arizona, collecting 22 catches for 269 yards and three touchdowns -- two of them coming in the Week 11 win over the Seahawks. His presence has been especially vital at a time when injuries have knocked Kyler Murray and DeAndre Hopkins out of the lineup. Don't be surprised when Ertz is making big catches in the playoffs. He's been known to do that.

Previous rank: No. 3

Leonard Fournette was seen as a complementary piece when he landed with the Bucs just before last season kicked off. Cut to the present, and the running back has turned himself into a vital part of what Tampa Bay does. Fournette accounted for four of the Bucs' five touchdowns on Sunday, including the go-ahead 28-yard run in the final minute of a 38-31 comeback win over the Colts. Not bad for a former first-round pick who was cut by the Jags after three seasons of decent production and repeated clashes with coaching and management. On Sunday, Fournette rushed for 100 yards on 17 carries with seven catches for 31 yards, and he added an emotional halftime speech that Bucs teammates credited with sparking Tampa's second-half surge. Tom Coughlin just spit out his drink. 

Previous rank: No. 4

Led by Chris Jones, the Chiefs piled up five sacks in their Week 11 win over Cowboys. It was a nice change of pace for the Kansas City defense, which entered the day with just 14 sacks in its first 10 games. Jones is the unquestioned star of the unit, but Steve Spagnuolo now has a collection of seasoned pass rushers to do his bidding. In Jones, Jarran Reed, Melvin Ingram and Frank Clark, the Chiefs now deploy four players in their front seven who have registered a 10-sack season in their respective careers. If they can continue to cook up pressure on the quarterback, good things will continue to happen.

Previous rank: No. 6

The win streak has reached six games for the Patriots after a wipeout of the undermanned Titans. Mac Jones fared well in his first cold-weather outing at Foxborough, but it was the defense that once again played the starring role for New England. The Pats forced four turnovers, including an end-zone pick by cornerback J.C. Jackson, who also had a crucial forced fumble when the game remained in doubt. Said Bill Belichick after the win: "You leave any trash laying around, he's going to pick it up." The Pats have announced themselves as a player in the AFC, but a challenging three-game stretch that includes two matchups against the Bills will give us a greater understanding of where this team stands.

Buffalo Bills

Previous rank: No. 7

The Bills went to New Orleans on Thanksgiving night and overwhelmed an injury-decimated Saints team, an important bounce-back win for a team on the edge of crisis after a blowout loss to the Colts four days earlier. The news wasn't all good, however: one-time All-Pro cornerback Tre'Davious White went down with a non-contact left knee injury later diagnosed as a season-ending ACL tear. This Bills season will be defined, in part, by how Sean McDermott can pivot and adapt without his most important player on defense. You can imagine Bill Belichick is already scheming ways to attack the White-free Buffalo D with a huge divisional showdown up next.

Previous rank: No. 15

Sunday felt like a changing-of-the-guard day in the AFC North. After years of Steelers dominance, it's now the Bengals who have emerged as the more talented, more physical, more promising team. That was on clear display during the Bengals' 41-10 win at celebratory Paul Brown Stadium, the second Cincinnati blowout of Pittsburgh this season in what feels like a role reversal with potential long-term legs. Joe Burrow had four incompletions across 24 attempts, Mike Hilton delivered the game-clinching pick-six to extend Cincy's lead to 31-3 at halftime, and Joe Mixon's big season continued with 165 rushing yards, the most ever for a Bengals back against the Steelers. Times, they are a changin'.

Dallas Cowboys

Previous rank: No. 5

The Cowboys have lost three of four after a 6-1 start and feel like a team taking on water. Injuries have played a major role in the slump: Amari Cooper (COVID-19), Tyron Smith (ankle) and CeeDee Lamb (concussion) have all missed time, while Ezekiel Elliott has a lingering knee issue that could limit him the rest of the way. It has made the Dallas attack less formidable, and even the week-to-week excellence of Micah Parsons has been unable to sustain a defense that's missed DeMarcus Lawrence (foot) and Randy Gregory (calf). The bad news continued to roll in on Monday, when it was learned that coach Mike McCarthy and several others will miss Thursday night's game against the Saints after entering the NFL's COVID-19 protocols.

Baltimore Ravens

Previous rank: No. 13

Lamar Jackson threw four interceptions in a game and the Ravens beat a division rival. That says something about John Harbaugh's team (and, specifically, his defense), which picked up its quarterback time and time again in a 16-10 win over the Browns on Sunday night. The Ravens stacked the box to neutralize Nick Chubb and Kareem Hunt, daring Baker Mayfield to beat them downfield. The strategy worked, as Mayfield completed less than half of his 37 attempts and managed just one (borderline) touchdown pass. "Defense was just off the charts," Harbaugh said after the win. "That's one of the best defensive performances that we've seen out here in a long time."

Previous rank: No. 16

The 49ers received huge contributions from unexpected places in a gutty win over the Vikings. Azeez Al-Shaair was a star at linebacker, first on the weak side and then in the middle calling plays once Fred Warner went out with a hamstring injury. Elijah Mitchell, playing with that steel pin in his finger, piled up 133 yards and a touchdown. And when Deebo Samuel was lost to a groin injury, it was Trent Sherfield who stepped up with a huge third-down catch that allowed San Francisco to burn precious seconds in the final quarter. The victory moved the Niners into playoff position in the NFC and reaffirmed what's become increasingly apparent as the month has progressed: Kyle Shanahan's team has found itself and is ready to make some noise. 

Los Angeles Rams

Previous rank: No. 9

Jalen Ramsey admitted after the Rams' third straight loss, a marginally competitive 36-28 defeat to the Packers, that he's shocked by his team's November swoon. "Of course I am," the star corner said. "We have guys that are way too good for us to be losing games like this and losing games on the road." Odell Beckham caught a long touchdown pass in his second game with L.A., but Von Miller has yet to make an impact -- in fact, the Rams are winless since pulling the trigger on the Miller deal that prompted their increasingly awkward "all in" tweet. A Sunday home matchup with the Jaguars should provide cover, but nothing is to be assumed for a team that's lost its last three games by an average of 13.7 points.

Tennessee Titans

Previous rank: No. 8

The Titans can't seem to stop the bleeding right now. Mike Vrabel's team turned the ball over four times in Sunday's 36-13 loss to the Patriots, a level of sloppiness that simply won't play for an injury-wracked team working with such a small margin for error. Ryan Tannehill continued to struggle without his promised complement of weapons, but there was good news in the form of a running game that piled up 270 yards against New England's stout defense. It was the first time the ground attack has shown life since Derrick Henry hit injured reserve. The Week 13 bye comes at an opportune time for a team that desperately needs to get healthy.

Indianapolis Colts

Previous rank: No. 12

What a deeply disappointing outcome on Sunday at Lucas Oil Stadium. The Colts had a 10-point second-half lead over the defending Super Bowl champions and the opportunity to close within one game of the division-leading Titans. Then, disaster struck. Shaq Barrett's strip-sack and fumble recovery sparked a Bucs comeback and was part of an avalanche of mistakes by the Colts, who piled up five turnovers in a 38-31 loss. Criticism over Frank Reich's reluctance to lean on Jonathan Taylor in the second half is warranted, but this loss went beyond the usage of the team's electric running back. The Colts had the chance to deliver a huge statement win and make the AFC South race incredibly interesting -- and blinked.

Minnesota Vikings

Previous rank: No. 10

The Vikings have shown they can beat anyone in the NFL when they're on top of their game ... but consistency continues to elude Mike Zimmer's team. The Vikes jumped out to another seven-point lead on Sunday -- they've done that in every game this season -- but still found themselves on the wrong side of a one-score loss to the Niners, who now possess a potentially critical head-to-head tiebreaker in the race for a wild-card bid in the NFC. The injury news is bad, as well: Dalvin Cook was carted off with a shoulder injury and diagnosed Monday with a dislocation and torn labrum. Alexander Mattison is a quality backup, but an extended absence on Cook's part will have a trickle-down effect on the entire operation.

Previous rank: No. 11

The same issues continue to crop up for the Chargers, who have lost four of six after their latest setback to the Broncos. The defense can't stop the run or make game-changing plays, and the offense is painfully inconsistent. The Bolts continued their trend of playing poorly after a win, and an offensive line compromised by injuries has been exposed by a roll call of veteran defensive-minded coaches. Justin Herbert isn't blameless: He missed open receivers and threw two costly interceptions, but the talented second-year QB isn't getting enough help. After a 4-1 start to the season, the Chargers have looked like an average team. This just might be what they are.

Cleveland Browns

Previous rank: No. 14

First, it was Odell Beckham Sr. sounding off on Baker Mayfield. On Sunday night, it was Kareem Hunt's old man who went public with his opinion that the Browns are incapable of running their offense with a physically compromised starting quarterback. Mr. Hunt makes a fair point: Mayfield deserves credit for gutting through multiple injuries, but he's not making enough plays to justify his continued inclusion in the lineup. In Case Keenum, the Browns have a highly qualified (and well-compensated) backup who once nearly took the Vikings to the Super Bowl with Kevin Stefanski as his quarterback coach. Yes, benching Mayfield could lead to hurt feelings and possible estrangement, but if winning football games is the top priority? It's time.

Las Vegas Raiders

Previous rank: No. 22

How huge does the DeSean Jackson signing look right now? The veteran speedster started the scoring in a huge Thanksgiving win over the Cowboys with a 56-yard touchdown and was a key factor throughout the 36-33 overtime thriller at Jerrah World. The stunning departure of Henry Ruggs III left a huge hole in the Vegas attack, but Jackson possesses the skill set to fill it -- if he can stay on the field. Derek Carr threw for 373 yards thanks to connections with Jackson, but also because of the portions of the field that were opened up by Vegas' deep-strike ability. "(Jon) Gruden used to tell me, don't ever take your arm out of a game," Carr said. "So when we call these things, let's rip 'em."

Miami Dolphins

Previous rank: No. 24

This was the Dolphins team we expected to see. The defense is humming and the offense is on the rise, with young Tua Tagovailoa healthy and efficient under center. Tua finally reached the 16-start mark in Sunday's 33-10 win over the Panthers, and his career numbers may surprise you: 67 percent completion rate, 3,515 yards, 27 total touchdowns, 12 turnovers and a 90.5 passer rating. That's the production of an above-average starter, and given his age (23) and limited experience, one can reasonably expect the former first-round pick to continue to improve. Deshaun Watson to the Dolphins has sometimes felt like a fait accompli, but Tua can flip the script with a strong close to the season.

Denver Broncos

Previous rank: No. 23

When the Broncos traded Von Miller to the Rams, it signaled the start of a new era for the defense. The kids were alright in Sunday's 28-13 win over the Chargers. Denver heavily featured four rookies on defense and harassed Justin Herbert into three sacks, 10 QB hits and two interceptions. Both picks came courtesy of first-year corner Pat Surtain II; one snagged in the end zone with the Chargers looking for the tying score, the other a pick-six that effectively put the game on ice. At 6-5, the Broncos have the chance to move into a first-place tie in the AFC West with a win over the division-leading Chiefs on Sunday Night Football. This Broncos relevance snuck up on you, didn't it?

Previous rank: No. 21

Newsflash out of Washington: The Football Team is alive and well. The winning streak is up to three after a 17-15 victory over the Seahawks, a prime-time conquest that moved Washington into the seventh seed in the NFC playoffs and brought them within shouting distance (two games back) of the slumping Cowboys in the NFC East. Washington beat the Seahawks by using Ron Rivera's most beloved formula: Run the football and play stout defense. Washington's defense forced Seattle into five consecutive three-and-outs at one point, leading to over 41 minutes of possession time for Taylor Heinicke and Co. Washington isn't the most talented team ... but it believes.

Pittsburgh Steelers

Previous rank: No. 19

After years -- decades, really -- of battling it out with the Ravens while beating up on bumbling also-rans in Cleveland and Cincinnati, the tables have turned. There are no more gimmes for Pittsburgh. The Bengals reminded them of that in the rudest way imaginable on Sunday, building a 31-3 halftime lead before coasting to a 41-10 win to complete a punishing season sweep. The Steelers are plainly, painfully ordinary: They have a defense that is typically good but rarely great, and a middling offense led by a veteran quarterback who looks ready for the exit door. A playoff push is still within reason, given the wide-open nature of this NFL season, but the true reality here is impossible to ignore.

Previous rank: No. 17

The Eagles' momentum fluttered away in the winds of the Meadowlands. Jalen Hurts threw three interceptions, Boston Scott had a costly fumble and Jalen Reagor missed two opportunities to play hero in the final minute of a grim 13-7 loss to the Giants. Reagor let two well-placed Hurts passes clang off his hands near the goal line -- tough catches, sure, but balls that a player drafted one spot ahead of Justin Jefferson is expected to come down with. Hurts wasn't blameless: The second-year QB tried to force the action too often and threw the ball up for grabs in multiple instances, with calamitous results. The league's easiest closing schedule will help the Eagles in their push for the playoffs, but Sunday's preventable loss could haunt them.

New York Giants

Previous rank: No. 25

The dismissal of Jason Garrett did little to help the Giants' offense, which remained abysmal Sunday against the Eagles. Luckily, the defense had a better time of it against Philly, forcing four turnovers and (with some Jalen Reagor-related luck) getting the final stop in a 13-7 win at the Meadowlands. Hard as it may be to believe, the Giants remain on the periphery of the NFC wild-card race, though it would take a miraculous turnaround from the offense to end the team's five-year playoff drought. One player who benefitted from Freddie Kitchens' ascension to play-caller was Kenny Golladay, who garnered two end-zone targets (both unsuccessful) and converted a pair of 18-yard completions on New York's final field-goal drive. It's a start.

Carolina Panthers

Previous rank: No. 20

Week 12 represented a doomsday scenario for the 2021 Panthers. Consider the setbacks in a 33-10 loss to the Dolphins: Cam Newton imploded with a career-worst performance that once again led to Matt Rhule answering questions about who will be his starting quarterback moving forward. The defense -- the supposed bedrock of this team -- got pushed around for the second straight week. And then there's Christian McCaffrey, who suffered another injury -- this time to his ankle -- deemed severe enough to end his season. CMC has now lost back-to-back years of his prime to assorted ailments. The Panthers have to face some hard truths this offseason, including the wisdom of building an offense around a supremely talented but injury-prone running back.

New Orleans Saints

Previous rank: No. 18

The bottom has fallen out for the Saints. Playing without Alvin Kamara for a third consecutive week, New Orleans managed just 44 rushing yards (1.8 yards per carry) and 190 total yards in a ghastly 31-6 setback to the Bills at the Superdome. That’s four straight losses for the Saints, who have simply sustained too many personnel losses to operate as an efficient offense. NFL Network Insider Ian Rapoport reported Monday that Sean Payton appears ready to change quarterbacks, and it makes sense: Trevor Siemian is a born journeyman, and logic dictates the team take an extended look at Taysom Hill before making some very important decisions in the offseason. At the very least, Hill provides some juice to an attack that could use it.

Seattle Seahawks

Previous rank: No. 26

It's all over now. The Seahawks had one last chance to pump some life into their cursed season with a prime-time win over the Washington Football Team, but it ended up being more of the same: Russell Wilson struggled with accuracy, Seattle couldn't run the ball, DK Metcalf was entirely detached from the game plan and OC Shane Waldron couldn't make the necessary adjustments in a 17-15 loss. The conversation will now begin to shift to the future: Should Waldron return for a second season? Has Pete Carroll worn out his welcome? Does it make sense to actually entertain trading Wilson away? Does Wilson want to be here? Sleepless in Seattle, indeed.

Chicago Bears

Previous rank: No. 27

Imagine Matt Nagy’s relief when it was the head coach on the other sideline catching all the heat on Thanksgiving in Detroit. The Lions kicked away another chance at victory by calling back-to-back timeouts in the final minute, a mental miscue that helped the Bears escape with a 16-14 win. It was a week that began with a refuted report that Nagy was coaching for his job in Week 12. Nagy is still here, and it’s likely he will be for the balance of another lost season in Chicago. But the clock is ticking, and it hangs over everything this team will do between now and January. 

Atlanta Falcons

Previous rank: No. 28

It won’t be long before this middling Falcons team is consigned to the dustbin of history, rarely to be referenced by future historians of the sport. But I’ll remember Cordarrelle Patterson, and how Arthur Smith helped turn a veteran wide receiver and special teams ace into one of the league’s most productive running backs. Patterson was on his game again on Sunday, tallying 135 total yards and two touchdowns in a win over the Jaguars. With Calvin Ridley absent and rookie tight end Kyle Pitts a hit-or-miss contributor, Patterson has been the most dependable aspect of Atlanta’s attack all season. Never forget.

New York Jets

Previous rank: No. 31

The NFL’s last-ranked defense came alive in the second half against the Texans, holding Houston to just 45 yards and zero points over the final two quarters en route to a 21-14 win. It was a much-needed confidence boost for Robert Saleh’s side of the ball, but the Jets had to be less enthused about the play of Zach Wilson, who struggled with accuracy and decision-making in his return to the lineup after missing four weeks with a knee sprain. Credit offensive coordinator Mike LaFleur for cooking up an adjusted game plan that put his QB in the back seat as New York dug out of a 14-3 first-half deficit. Growing pains are always expected with a rookie under center, but Wilson’s have been especially uncomfortable.

Houston Texans

Previous rank: No. 29

There’s no question Tyrod Taylor makes the Texans more competitive on offense, but let’s not mistake basic competence with actual quality. Taylor threw two touchdown passes in the second quarter as Houston took an early 11-point lead on the visiting Jets, but the Texans’ attack went to sleep after that in an eventual 21-14 loss. How bad was the offense after its quick start? The Texans managed just 45 yards in the second half and were unable to score a point in their final seven drives against the league’s No. 32-ranked defense. Meanwhile, Justin Reid is still trying to figure out why he didn’t play. January 10th can’t get here fast enough.

Previous rank: No. 30

Trevor Lawrence has had precious few open receivers to throw to this season, and now he’s lost the only guy who seemed to gain consistent separation on a weekly basis. Tight end Dan Arnold went down with a potentially season-ending knee injury in Sunday’s loss to the Falcons, further emptying the cupboard for Lawrence in what’s been an extremely frustrating year for the No. 1 overall pick. It will be interesting to see what changes Urban Meyer makes to address the offense in 2022: Offensive coordinator Darrell Bevell is an obvious replacement candidate if Meyer believes the struggles go beyond personnel. 

Detroit Lions

Previous rank: No. 32

The Lions find ways to lose. Six holding penalties by the offensive line. A coverage bust on one touchdown. The mind-numbing (and illegal) double timeout that helped doom them in the final minutes. Dan Campbell has his team fighting hard week after week, but it’s not just the players who need to learn how to close out a game. The miscommunications and mental errors reflect poorly on the coaching staff, and when you combine them with a roster bereft of elite talent, well, that’s how you get to 0-10-1. “These guys, they’re fighting their tails off,” Campbell said after Thursday's 16-14 loss to the Bears. “But until we get out of our own way, we won’t quite get over the hump.”

Follow Dan Hanzus on Twitter.

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