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NFL Power Rankings: Pats, Stillers up; Jets, Chargers down

Tom Brady #12 of the New England Patriots

Tom Brady #12 of the New England Patriots celebrates after the Patriots won 45-3 against the New York Jets at Gillette Stadium. (Dec. 6, 2010) Credit: Getty Images

1. Patriots (10-2) (2): In a word: wow. 45-3 thumping of Jets about as convincing a win by any team as we’ve seen all season. Pats looking Super these days.

2. Falcons (10-2) (1): Where have we seen this before: Falcons rally for late win, this time over Bucs. Week after week, they do just enough to get it done. Matty Ice plays big late in fourth yet again.

3. Saints (9-3) (4): Defending champs continue on a roll, albeit by the skin of their teeth. Drew Brees draws Bengals offside on 4th and goal, and converts the mistake into a game-winning TD.

4. Steelers (9-3) (6): Stillers take the lead in the AFC North with the knock-down, drag-out that was expected in Bal’more. Defense sets stage with sack-forced fumble of Joe Flacco to set up winning TD in 4th.

5. Ravens (8-4) (5): Offense still not quite good enough, but Ravens still in the thick of the Super Bowl equation.

6. Bears (9-3) (8): Bears take care of biz in the Motor City against hapless Leos. Now for a real test: at home to surging New England.

7. Packers (8-4) (9): A layup win for Aaron Rodgers & Co. over the Niners at home.

8. Jets (9-3) (3): How do you recover from an unmitigated disaster on the road on a Monday night? Jets will find out soon whether 45-3 rout an aberration or an omen.

9. Eagles (8-4) (10): Iggles get back on track after road loss to Bears by taking care of the Texans at home.

10. Giants (8-4) (12): Giants the only team in New York looking Super this week after 31-7 thumping of Redskins.

11. Chiefs (8-4) (13): This time, Todd Haley and Josh McDaniels embrace at midfield after Chiefs beat Broncos. Who knew it would amount to one big hug goodbye for McDaniels, who was whacked the next day.

12. Buccaneers (7-5) (11): Bucs not quite there yet. Can’t hold a 24-14 fourth-quarter lead at home against division-leading Falcons.

13. Chargers (6-6) (7): Chargers had won five in a row, but appled up against Raiders at home.

14. Colts (6-6) (14): Question no one seems to have an answer for: What’s wrong with Peyton Manning?

15. Raiders (6-6) (19): Massive win in San Diego, as the Raiders cling to hope in the AFC West race.

16. Rams (6-6) (16): Rams finish off Broncos in Denver … and finish off McDaniels as the Broncos’ coach.

17. Jaguars (7-5) (17): Do you trust the Jaguars in this spot? They’ve been here before, only to suffer late-season collapses.

18. Cowboys (4-8) (21): Another win for Jason Garrett, who might soon have the “interim” tag removed if he keeps this up.

19. Dolphins (6-6) (15): Potentially season-destroying late interception from Chad Henne against the Browns. Not that Miami had a legitimate chance, but still …

20. Texans (5-7) (18): Could be final month of Gary Kubiak’s stay in Houston.

21. Vikings (5-7) (20): Is Brett Favre’s ironman streak about to come to an end? Favre will have to overcome shoulder problems to play against the Giants.

22. Seahawks (6-6) (23): Seahawks overcome sluggish start to rout the Panthers and keep pace with the Rams in the NFC West.

23. Browns (5-7) (25): Brownies playing tough for Eric Mangini, as they pull out a late stunner against the Dolphins.

24. Redskins (5-7) (22): From bad to worse: Redskins thrashed by Giants on Sunday, then suspend Albert Haynesworth for the rest of the season on Monday.

25. Titans (5-7) (24): Titans going belly-up once again. Is this it for Jeff Fisher, too?
26. 49ers (4-8) (27): Troy Smith, Alex Smith. What’s the difference?

27. Bills (2-10) (26): First time in a while the Bills never had a shot.

28. Broncos (3-9) (28): After trading away franchise QB, WR and RB, McDaniels gets the gate after less than two years on the job.

29. Bengals (2-10) (29): Bungles live. Final month of Marvin Lewis era?

30. Lions (2-10) (30): Lions once again leave us running out of smart-aleck remarks to describe their ineptitude.

31. Cardinals (3-8) (31): Give this team a quarterback … any quarterback.

32. Panthers (1-11) (32): Russ Grimm the odds-on favorite to take over for John Fox.

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