Week 12 power rankings: Falcons ascending

1.) Saints — Survived short week on road; still banking on them to peak when it counts.

2.) Patriots — The ability to simply pull away from people in the fourth quarter is special.

3.) Falcons — Another superb effort against a top opponent. If they hold on to top seed could be quite a playoff run.

4.) Chargers — They own Nov./Dec. … but better get something done in January.

5.) Jets — Can’t help but wonder if their good fortune turns at some point.

6.) Ravens — Ugly but effective win. Joe Flacco has been very good. If they sweep Steelers will win the division.

7.) Packers — Tough, tough assignment on road and came awful close.

8.) SteelersBig Ben looking banged up. Got pushed around by the Bills at times.

9.) Bears — I may have totally whiffed on this team. Didn’t think they’d overcome the play of the offensive line. Still not convinced they get in playoffs.

10.) EaglesAsante Samuel is a very good corner, but come on. They utterly fall apart in the secondary without him?

11.) Giants  — Must-win game against wounded Redskins offensive line. Should be able to get after the passer.

12.) Colts — Gonna win that division, but if they have to go outside the dome I don’t see them doing playoff damage.

13.) Chiefs — I know it was against a porous rush defense, but steamrolling Seattle like that isn’t easy.

14.) Bucs — Winning on road in Baltimore was never gonna be easy. Showed very well. Still in the wild card hunt.

15.) Jaguars — Get another crack at Colts. Let one slip away against Giants that could haunt them.

16.) Browns — They’re gonna give every team a fight down the stretch.

17.) Rams — One weekend can turn it all around in the NFC West. If they can win again on road — at Seattle specifically — could take that division.

18.) DolphinsChad Henne been through an awful lot the last few weeks. Big, big win for him with some weapons out.

19.) Bills — I love this spunky bunch of upstarts. Quietly one of the better stories in the league. Could have beat Pats, Ravens and Steelers.

20.) 49ers  — Last week I wrote: “It’s over. Troy Smith magic runs out.” I underestimated the ineptitude of the NFC West.

21.) Vikings — Finally win on road. Nice effort for Leslie Frazier, but losing AP for any period of time now would be crushing

22.) Redskins — Can’t really sustain much of anything on either side of the ball from week to week.

23.) Raiders — Could Tom Cable coach his way right back on the hot seat? Maybe a better question is: Has he ever coached his way off of it?

24.) Seahawks — You can’t go getting spanked like that at home. Schedule still sets up pretty well for them, however.

25.) Cowboys — Where was this mentality the first half of the season?

26.) Texans — Kings of too little, too late.

27.) Titans — Could be the exact opposite of how they finished a year ago.

28.) Broncos — No team does more in garbage time! And few teams are worse through the first three quarters. This video taping scandal won’t die easy.

29.) Lions — They can stay with you for three quarters, but they can’t close yet.

30.) Cardinals — To be relatively non-competitive in the NFC West tells you something.

31.) Bengals — 2011 could be sans Marvin Lewis, Chad Ochocinco, Cedric Benson, T.O. and Carson Palmer

32.) Panthers — Just gonna go with what I wrote last week: “Hearing Russ Grimm and Ron Rivera could be guys they look at as head coach in 2011.

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