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AFC holds down top three spots in latest power rankings
November 8, 2013 - Troy Hyde
10. Carolina Panthers, 5-3
Cam Newton is quietly having an MVP-type season and the Panthers have scored 30 or more points during their current four-game win streak. To move up the ladder and prove they belong in the conversation of the other elite teams, they must go to San Franciso and beat a Super Bowl contending Niners team whose offense is right on track with theirs right now.
9. Detroit Lions, 5-3
The Lions have been hovering around this spot on my list for most of the season. The loss to Green Bay dropped them out of contention but they have since moved back in. Calvin Johnson’s big game two weeks ago has made this team seem viable again. Throw in Reggie Bush, Matthew Stafford and a dominant defensive line and they may just be the team to beat in the NFC North, especially with Aaron Rodgers now out for a period of time.
8. Cincinnati Bengals, 6-3
Just when we start getting high on the Bengals, they lay an egg against a team like the Miami Dolphins on the road. If the Bengals are going to go anywhere this year, they will have to do it on the road, and the way they played this past weekend, that just means a one-and-done scenario.
7. New Orleans Saints, 6-2
The Saints had a chance to really pull away in the NFC with Seattle’s injuries and the fact that they play San Francisco at home. But an unexpected road loss to the Jets will no doubt derail those plans. There are two different versions of this team at home and on the road. New Orleans hosts Dallas this weekend. The Cowboys are desperately in need of a win, but losing two straight will ultimately move the Saints from homefield advantage throughout to hosting a first-round game only.
6. New England Patriots, 7-2
Tom Brady looked like Tom Brady last weekend with Rob Gronkowski and Danny Amendola back in the lineup. They put up 50 plus points and finally won a game with ease. To think they won the games they did with such little talent on the field just amazes me. Bill Belichik may be the coach of the year at this point.
5. Seattle Seahawks, 7-1
The Seahawks continue to get regarded as the best team in the NFC despite coming up with fortunate or lucky wins against much inferior teams. Winless Tampa Bay should have won at home this past weekend but choked it away late. I am not buying the Seahawks right now, especially since injuries have come into play. A loss to Atlanta this weekend would give San Francisco a big edge in the division race.
4. San Francisco 49ers, 6-2
The Niners were off last week but have averaged at least 30 points per game during their five-game win streak. The walking wounded – and Aldon Smith – are all looking to return soon. Giving Colin Kaepernick more weapons in Mario Manningham (this weekend) and Michael Crabtree (soon) will only help the Niners get back to the NFC title game for a third straight season. This weekend’s game against Carolina is going to be tough and could ultimately be a decider with the Saints and Seahawks for homefield advantage.
3. Indianapolis Colts, 6-2
The Colts showed their mettle when they rallied from a large road deficit against Houston last Sunday night. Andrew Luck is not messing around and he proved he can still do some damage without Reggie Wayne. Insert T.Y. Hilton as the Young Colts receiver broke through with a big second half. The Colts have a lot to play for still, including homefield advantage and a first-round bye.
2. Denver Broncos, 7-1
Denver still may be a better team than Kansas City. The Broncos had their bye last week and the Chiefs will be off this week. The following Sunday, the two teams play for the first of two games in a three-week span. That Broncos offense against the Chiefs defense should be something to take in.
1. Kansas City Chiefs, 9-0 No matter what the Chiefs keep winning. I was one who thought the road game at Buffalo may be one to trip up Kansas City but the Chiefs came through despite scoring an offensive TD. Anyone who thinks the defense is not the real deal isn’t really watching the games.
5. Atlanta Falcons
4. Minnesota Vikings
3. Pittsburgh Steelers
2. Tampa Bay Buccaneers
1. Jacksonville Jaguars
Rising: Panthers, Patriots, 49ers Falling: Seahawks, Packers, Bears
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