NFC Power Rankings Week 13: Seahawks Dominate Saints in Conference Showdown

Tom Uddo, Contributor

Seahawks 1. Seattle Seahawks (11-1): It didn’t take long for the Seahawks as they proved once again, that home-field advantage could be the deciding factor this year in the playoffs, and luckily for them, it looks like the NFC Playoffs will go through Seattle. The Seahawks had their foot on the gas pedal from kickoff and jumped out to an early lead at the end of the first quarter 17-0. While their offense was impressive, the defense has to be commended for holding future Hall of Famer Drew Brees to just 147 yards through the air, a number that just doesn’t look right next to Brees’ name as he usually racks up 300+ yards a game. Russell Wilson & Co. didn’t look back and routed the Saints by a final score of 34-7. If Peyton Manning wasn’t having the year he is, Wilson would have to be considered for MVP. Face the facts, the Seahawks are easily the best in the NFC. Ranking last week: 1


Panthers2. Carolina Panthers (9-3): Praying for a Saints loss, the Panthers got their wish, setting up a matchup against New Orleans with first place in the NFC South on the line. Carolina won their eighth straight game against the Buccaneers, and their defense shined, holding Tampa Bay to just two FG’s. Cam Newton had another mediocre game, throwing two touchdowns accompanied by two interceptions, but it didn’t matter in the end. Maybe his mind was still on Auburn shocking Alabama just a day earlier, who knows. But the Panthers are on a roll, and when teams end the season hot, it can only bode well for them. Will the Panthers defense eat up the Saints like the Seahawks did? My money is on Carolina. Ranking last week: 3

 

Saints3. New Orleans Saints (9-3): The Saints walked into a buzz saw on Monday night. An intense atmosphere with record-breaking crowd noise, a team that looks almost unbeatable at home and defense that just wasn’t prepared. New Orleans’ defense was picked apart by the Seattle offense and before anyone could even blink, they were down double-digits. Brees couldn’t decipher the Seattle defense and looked lost for the first time in a while. More importantly, he couldn’t find any receivers down field, and even though he completed 23-of-38 passing, finished the game with just 147 yards with a 20-yard pass to Jimmy Graham being his longest of the night. Right now, the Saints look vulnerable, and a game against the Panthers, is something they really don’t need…at least it’s at home. Rankings last week: 2

 

49ers4. San Francisco 49ers (8-4): For two weeks straight, Anquan Boldin has been a major part of the Niners offense, and they have rebounded well from two straight losses off of their bye week, with two consecutive wins, this past week against the Rams. San Fran is clutching on to the final wildcard spot in the NFC, even with an 8-4 record due to Seattle putting a hurting on the entire conference. With the running game quiet during the win against the Rams, Colin Kaepernick spread the ball around the field and welcomed the return of Michael Crabtree who debuted in his first game this season since recovering from an Achilles injury.   Ranking last week: 4

 

Lions 5. Detroit Lions (7-5): A stellar performance on Thanksgiving as the Lions were firing on all cylinders against the Packers and scored 40 points for the second time this season. Reggie Bush finished the day with 117 yards on 20 carries, while Calvin Johnson had his third straight game of 100+ yards and caught a touchdown. The Lions took sole possession of first place in the division with the Bears OT loss to the Vikings. Ranking last week: 9

 

Eagles6. Philadelphia Eagles (7-5): Nick Foles continues to impress, 19 touchdowns and not one interception, which is pretty amazing when you really think about it. Foles had passes of 20+ yards or more to four different receivers and Zach Ertz raked in two touchdowns. The Eagles held off a late Arizona comeback after jumping out to a 24-7 lead and remain tied atop the NFC East with the boys from Dallas. Ranking last week: 6

 

Cowboys7. Dallas Cowboys (7-5):  Dallas rallied from being down 21-7 in the second quarter on Thanksgiving to beat the Raiders and remain tied at the top of the NFC East at the end of the weekend. Tony Romo, who was battling sickness, relied heavily on running backs Lance Dunbar and DeMarco Murray, with Murray reaching the endzone three times in the Dallas victory. Ranking last week: 7

 

Cardinals8. Arizona Cardinals (7-5):  It was asking a lot from the Cardinals to travel across the country to Philly and deal with the cold weather and a hot quarterback after their stunning beat down of the Colts just a week earlier. Carson Palmers threw three touchdowns in the loss to the Eagles, but two costly interceptions doomed Arizona. This team is 2-4 on the road and if they want to earn that final wildcard spot in the NFC, a trip to Seattle in week 16 could be a HUGE game for them. Ranking last week: 5

 

Bears 9. Chicago Bears (6-6): Now you can debate all you want about kicking a FG on third or fourth down, but what was head coach Mark Trestman thinking? Letting Robbie Gould kick a 47-yarder in overtime on second down was WAY too risky, especially with the Bears needing a win to keep pace in the NFC North. I am in the school of thought that you should always try and gain extra yards, even on third down, as we rarely see kicks go wrong where they have to dive on the ball and retry. With Matt Forte in the backfield and Alshon Jeffrey having a record-breaking day with 249 yards on 12 catches, how can you not even attempt to gave even a couple of yards to make the kick easier? Yes, Gould has been golden over the past few years (see what I did there), but you cannot risk it, especially in overtime. Ranking last week: 8

 

Giants  10. New York Giants (5-7):  A breakout game for Justin Tuck as the veteran broke through the Redskins offensive line four times to bring down RGIII. It was good seeing Brandon Myers finally getting some touches with the ball and finding the endzone, but it looks like Hakeem Nicks is done as a Giant. Andre Brown had a tough day on the ground rushing for 35 yards on 14 carries, but it was the defense of the Giants that kept them in the game. After allowing a touchdown on the first drive of the game, Big Blue’s defense did a great job of containing Alfred Morris and the Washington offense, and denied the Skins from reaching the endzone in the second half. Ranking last week: 13

 

Green Bay  11. Green Bay Packers (5-6-1): Tough to criticize an offense that scores just 10 points when your defense allows 40, but Matt Flynn completed just as many passes as his team scored points and the Packers were blown out by the Lions on Thanksgiving. With no scoring in the first half, it looked like it was going to be a defensive battle, but by the fourth quarter the Lions had a double digit lead and Green Bay had nothing to be thankful for. Ranking last week: 10

 

Rams12. St. Louis Rams (5-7): A tough day for the Rams who couldn’t get anything going on offense and kept the game close against the Niners until the fourth quarter. Kellen Clemens completed 19-of-37 passing for 218 yards, but didn’t have a single receiver over 50 yards on the day. St. Louis is in for a rude awakening when they face another solid defense this week in the Arizona Cardinals. Ranking last week: 11

 

Bucs13. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (3-9): Another team that had the odds stacked against them on Sunday as they were dominated by the streaking Panthers. Mike Glennon was sacked five times by the gritty Carolina defensive line and didn’t find the endzone all day. Ranking last week: 12

 

Vikings 14. Minnesota Vikings (3-8-1): Another big day for Adrian Peterson who rushed for 211 yards on 35 carries, but the focus was on the kicking game between the Vikings and Bears. After missing a 39-yarder due to a penalty, Blair Walsh kicked Minnesota to victory in overtime with a 34-yard shot through the uprights. The Vikings would lose starting quarterback Christian Ponder early in the game, but backup Matt Cassel did a solid job in relief, finishing the day with 243 yards, one touchdown and one interception. Greg Jennings had seven catches on the day, his most all season and reached the endzone for the first time since his week four performance where he scored twice. Ranking last week: 15

 

Redskins15. Washington Redskins (3-8): Tough break for the Redskins on their final drive after confusion among the referees denied them a first down, even though they believed they had gotten one. It didn’t matter with Pierre Garcon having the ball ripped out of his hands to end the game on the Skins final drive to tie the game against Big Blue. Washington started off hot, scoring on their first possession of the game and then jumped out to 14-0 lead, but by halftime, their defense had given it away. Their offensive line couldn’t contain the Giants pass rush, mostly Justin Tuck and RGIII was sacked five times. Ranking last week: 14

 

Falcons16. Atlanta Falcons (3-9): Maybe the Falcons should relocate to the Toronto since they looked much better playing in neutral territory against the Bills on Sunday. Matt Ryan finished the day without an interception, which is saying a lot and racked up 311 yards through the air. After two turnovers by Buffalo, the Falcons were able to pull out an overtime win on the leg of Matt Bryant. Is anyone more relieved to see Roddy White finally tally up some yards? White had his biggest performance of the year on 10 catches and 143 yards. Ranking last week: 16

 

Where do you think these teams rank?