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Dan Pompei's NFL power rankings

Dan Pompei

On the NFL

6:42 PM CST, December 11, 2012

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1. Patriots (3 last week): Step into Bill Belichick's web, Colin Kaepernick.

2. Broncos (2): They need to beat the Ravens to keep their hopes alive for a first round playoff bye.

3. Packers (7): Mike McCarthy believes this team can be better than the 15-1 Packers of a year ago. Can the Bears make him look wrong Sunday?

4. 49ers (6): Beating the Dolphins was one thing; beating the Patriots would be something else.

5. Texans (1): In three of their last four games, they have a blowout loss to the Patriots and close call victories over the Jaguars and Lions. Any question about which direction the Texans are headed?

6. Falcons (4): Was their loss to the Panthers a blip, or was it the start of a tailspin?

7. Giants (13): If NFL teams had no secondaries, the Giants would be No. 1.

8. Colts (8): The best teams can win games in different ways. The Colts have done that.

9. Ravens (5): The Ravens defense needs a savior. What do you know, here comes Ray Lewis.

10. Seahawks (10): They are starting to have the look of a team you would not want to be playing in January.

11. Redskins (12): You know things are going their way when Kirk Cousins can lead them to an overtime victory over a formidable opponent.

12. Bengals (9): Their litmus test will be against the Steelers in two weeks, but they can't look past the Eagles on Thursday.

13. Bears (11): The more passes Bears receivers drop, the more the Bears drop in the power rankings.

14. Cowboys (16): Could they ride a wave of emotion all the way to the postseason?

15. Vikings (17): They have the best one-dimensional offense in the NFL.

16. Steelers (14): Against the Raiders, Browns, Titans and Chargers, they are 0-4. Good thing their next two games are against contenders.

17. Rams (18): It's not saying much, but this is the best Rams team that St. Louis has seen in quite some time.

18. Jets (21): The fact that they may be a playoff team does not speak well to the quality of the AFC this year.

19. Buccaneers (15): Any team that can blow a 21-10 lead with four minutes left against the Eagles is not a good bet to be playing on Feb. 3. Or Jan. 20. Or Jan. 12, 13, 5 or 6.

20. Browns (24): If the season started three weeks ago, they would be a top five team.

21. Saints (19): Joe Vitt describes his team as "fragile." And the Giants did not handle with care.

22. Chargers (25): It might be too late to save jobs, but that was an impressive effort by Norv Turner and the Chargers Sunday.

23. Dolphins (20): Bad news: they have dropped five of six. Good news: Up next are the Jags and Bills at home.

24. Bills (22): Who needs to use C.J. Spiller when you are 5-8?

25. Panthers: (29): Cam Newton is starting to look like the 2011 version of Cam Newton. Where was this guy in September?

26. Lions (24): Their fifth straight loss has clinched them last place in the NFC North.

27. Eagles (30): Nick Foles has begun making his argument for why he should be the Eagles' staring QB in 2013.

28. Titans (27): The Titans can write off the season to the education of Jake Locker.

29. Raiders (28): It might be Terrelle Pryor time in Oakland.

30. Cardinals. (26): Fifty-eight points separated them from the Seahawks in their ninth straight loss. Change is coming in Arizona.

31. Jaguars (31): Look at the bright side, Jacksonville — only 19 days until it's the offseason.

32. Chiefs (32): Getting blown out by the Browns might not do much for team morale.