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Mason's Week 12 Power Rankings: NFC teams gobble up three of top four spots


1. PHILADELPHIA (9-1) Last week: 1

An injury to kicker Jake Elliott forced the Eagles to keep going for two Sunday night, and they are now 6-of-7 on two-point conversions this season. They should go for two every time.

2. NEW ENGLAND (8-2) Last week: 2

Their last four wins during their six-game winning streak have come by an average of 18.5 points.

3. NEW ORLEANS (8-2) Last week: 3

Their defense finally buckled, which meant the Saints had to win the old-fashioned way -- well, old-fashioned for them, at least. On the Saints' two touchdown drives in the last 5:58 of regulation, Drew Brees went 11-of-11 for 169 yards and two touchdowns. Needless to say, his quarterback rating was a perfect 158.3.


  1. MINNESOTA (8-2) Last week: 5 **

The sizzling Adam Thielen has averaged 104.8 yards per game the last five weeks.

5. PITTSBURGH (8-2) Last week: 6

The Steelers are one of three teams (along with the Eagles and Rams) to rank in the league's top 10 in offensive and defensive per-possession efficiency.

6. JACKSONVILLE (7-3) Last week: 8

Jacksonville's defense has accounted for just 8.8 points allowed per game in its last six contests.

7. L.A. RAMS (7-3) Last week: 4

The Rams are 1-2 against teams with winning records and 6-1 against everyone else, and four of their next five opponents are above .500.

8. CAROLINA (7-3) Last week: 7

No one can say the Panthers won't be battle-tested. By Week 14, they will have played five of their 13 games against teams are among the five clubs with at least eight wins so far this season.

9. DETROIT (6-4) Last week: 11

The Lions are one of two teams (Jacksonville is the other) with five touchdowns on interception or fumble returns.

10. ATLANTA (6-4) Last week: 12

Head-to-head tiebreaker advantages over the Lions and Seahawks could come in handy.


  1. SEATTLE (6-4) Last week: 10 **

Philadelphia, Jacksonville and the Rams loom after this week's game at San Francisco, and that stretch will determine whether the Seahawks can extend their streak of five consecutive postseason appearances.

12. KANSAS CITY (6-4) Last week: 9

Their offense continues to struggle to find the end zone, and it has now scored just eight touchdowns in the last five games.

13. BALTIMORE (5-5) Last week: 16

With Houston, Cleveland and Indianapolis remaining on the schedule, they have a clear path to eight wins, and then they would have to beat one of the Lions, Steelers or Bengals to get to a ninth win that might be enough for a return to the playoffs.

14. TENNESSEE (6-4) Last week: 13

Their next four games are against teams that are a combined 12-28: Indianapolis, Houston, Arizona and San Francisco. Ten wins and a wild-card spot is a reasonable expectation.

15. WASHINGTON (4-6) Last week: 14

Four of the Redskins' last five foes have put up at least 30 points on them.


  1. L.A. CHARGERS (4-6) Last week: 19 **

Only one of their final six opponents has a winning record (Kansas City, Week 15).

17. DALLAS (5-5) Last week: 15

Dallas' offense has failed to record a first down on 10 of 22 possessions the last two games without RB Ezekiel Elliott and OT Tyron Smith.

18. TAMPA BAY (4-6) Last week: 21

The Buccaneers' net yards and first downs per possession are down with Ryan Fitzpatrick replacing the injured Jameis Winston -- from 31.07 and 1.87 to 27.94 and 1.72, respectively -- but their net points per possession are up from 1.56 to 1.94. Fitzmagic!

19. CINCINNATI (4-6) Last week: 24

The Bengals are a respectable 4-4 since firing offensive coordinator Ken Zampese and replacing him with Bill Lazor, and that should be 5-4 if they dispatch the winless Browns this week. But they will need to upset Pittsburgh or Minnesota to have a shot at the postseason.

20. GREEN BAY (5-5) Last week: 17

Some Packers fans are calling for Joe Callahan to replace Brett Hundley after just four starts in place of the injured Aaron Rodgers.


  1. BUFFALO (5-5) Last week: 18 **

Sunday was the worst day for a Peterman since J. Peterman found out that Elaine Benes ate a $29,000 piece of cake from the wedding of Edward VIII to Wallis Simpson. But the Bills' imploding defense is as punishing on one's gastrointestinal system as a butter-based frosting after six decades in a poorly-ventilated English basement.

22. OAKLAND (4-6) Last week: 20

The chess match between newly promoted coordinators Bill Musgrave and John Pagano in Sunday's Broncos-Raiders game will be fascinating to watch.

23. HOUSTON (4-6) Last week: 28

Tom Savage's best game as a pro gives the Texans hope, but their playoff hopes likely rest on upsetting the Ravens in Baltimore next Monday.

24. N.Y. JETS (4-6) Last week: 22

Carolina and Kansas City visit in the next two games, and these are exactly the kind of opponents that the feisty Jets have driven batty at home this season.


  1. DENVER (3-7) Last week: 23 **

The Broncos' defense is the league's best in forcing three-and-outs, ranks third in net yardage allowed per possession and is fourth in first downs allowed per series ... but is 21st in net points allowed per series.

26. CHICAGO (3-7) Last week: 25

The Bears' last four losses have come by a combined 21 points.

27. MIAMI (4-6) Last week: 27

Miami has allowed an average of 34.0 points per game in its last five outings.

28. ARIZONA (4-6) Last week: 26

With Jacksonville on the horizon, the Cardinals' woes seem likely to worsen.

29. INDIANAPOLIS (3-7) Last week: 29

The Colts have played competitive football in their last three games, posting a net point differential of plus-two. In those three games, QB Jacoby Brissett has a 101.7 rating.

30. N.Y. GIANTS (2-8) Last week: 31

The Giants are 2-1 against the AFC West, and 0-7 against everyone else.

31. SAN FRANCISCO (1-9) Last week: 30

With the Seahawks' secondary banged up and the 49ers coming off a bye with momentum, their home game with Seattle this Sunday presents the possibility of an upset.

32. CLEVELAND (0-10) Last week: 32

Dec. 10 against Green Bay or Dec. 24 at Chicago appear to be the Browns' best chances to avoid the ignominy of 0-16.

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