NFL power rankings

By Brian Billick

Brian Billick is an acclaimed NFL game analyst for FOX Sports and a Super Bowl-winning coach.

Watch out for the 49ers — they’re winning with a new quarterback taking the lead. I’ve got a line on who’s hot and who’s not going into Week 13.

1 49ers 8-2-1 +3

You hate to see a player lose his starting role due to injury, especially one that has been as successful as Alex Smith the past two seasons. But backup quarterback Colin Kaepernick gives this offense an explosive quality Smith couldn’t.

2 Texans 10-1 -1

The Texans played two overtime games in the span of just five days. Much like the Falcons, you wonder if they can continue to win the close games heading into the playoffs.

3 Broncos 8-3 -1

It wasn’t the offensive success we have grown accustomed to seeing out of Peyton Manning as of late, but the Broncos found a way to beat a desperate Chiefs team on the road on Sunday. No matter the record, that isn’t an easy thing to do in the NFL.

4 Falcons 10-1 -1

The Falcons have won four games by four points or fewer, and there’s something to be said about a team that consistently finds a way to win.

5 Patriots 8-3 +1

The Patriots are finally looking the part of a championship-caliber team. The home loss to the Cardinals is way back in their rear-view mirrors at this point.

6 Ravens 9-2 +1

The Ravens better hope they can surpass the Texans to get home-field advantage in the playoffs, because the Baltimore offense has looked awful on the road this season.

7 Bears 8-3 +1

Jay Cutler made some eye-popping throws on Sunday, some that I don’t think any other quarterback in the NFL could make, or even attempt to make. That can be a really good thing at times or a really bad thing at other times.

8 Giants 7-4 +5

Welcome back, Giants! Tom Coughlin and his players must have been sick and tired of hearing all the talk about how they stink in the month of November.

9 Packers 7-4 -4

It was an embarrassing loss to the Giants on Sunday, but they were missing key players along the offensive line and without their best two defensive players, Charles Woodson and Clay Matthews. They will bounce back but need to get healthy in a hurry.

10 Bengals 6-5 +4

The Bengals have been on a tear since beating the Giants at home three weeks ago. Their playoff chances will come down to a head-to-head matchup against the Steelers in Week 16 and then a divisional game against the Ravens, who might not have much left to play for, in Week 17.

11 Buccaneers 6-5 -2

The Bucs didn’t help their playoff chances by losing on Sunday, but then again, they weren’t hurt either. The Vikings, Saints and Seahawks all lost, too.

12 Steelers 6-5 -2

This three-headed rushing attack was supposed to compensate for the loss of Big Ben, Byron Leftwich and a depleted receiving corps. But all the running backs did Sunday against Cleveland was hurt them, with each of them fumbling the ball at least once in the game.

13 Colts 7-4 +2

Bringing Reggie Wayne back may have been the most underrated move of the offseason. He is having arguably his best season ever and is now the first player since 1960 to have 70-plus receiving yards in each of his first 11 games of the season.

14 Seahawks 6-5 -3

It’s been the same story all season long for the Seahawks . . . win at home, lose on the road. It may be downhill from here if both their corners get four-game suspensions as reports are suggesting.

15 Saints 5-6 -3

It was a tall order for the Saints to contain the 49ers pass rush of Aldon and Justin Smith with a converted reserve guard playing tackle for New Orleans on Sunday. They are still in the playoff hunt but probably dug themselves too deep of a hole to start the season.

16 Redskins 5-6 +2

The Redskins had a great Thanksgiving weekend with a win over the Cowboys and everyone else that is competing for the final NFC wild-card spot losing. Not sure they have the sustainability that some of the others do, though.

17 Vikings 6-5 -1

If you have Adrian Peterson in your backfield and you need to gain two yards for a first down with two downs to do it . . . you give it to Adrian Peterson two straight times.

18 Cowboys 5-6 -1

Ladies and gentlemen, please keep your hands and feet inside the car for the duration of this roller-coaster ride.

19 Lions 4-7

At least Jim Schwartz might help to finally convince the NFL to change the ridiculous rule of not reviewing a scoring play if improperly challenged by a coach.

20 Dolphins 5-6 +3

The Dolphins snapped a three-game losing streak on Sunday, but it took a very questionable roughing-the-passer call to do so.

21 Browns 3-8 +4

I’ll give the credit to the Browns for winning the game, but it was a little too tough for a team that was playing an opponent starting its third-string QB and a wide receiver they found on the street this week.

22 Rams 4-6-1 +4

This is the first season since 2004 in which the Rams have swept a divisional opponent and they have yet to lose a divisional game all season. They do have that one tie, though.

23 Jets 4-7 -3

I don’t think he is the answer, but why not start Tim Tebow at this point? It can’t really get any worse, can it?

24 Bills 4-7 -2

It may be time for Chan Gailey to relieve himself of play-calling duties, but it is unacceptable for WR Stevie Johnson to call out his coach publicly like he did after the game.

25 Cardinals 4-7 -4

It seems like an entire season ago that we were talking about the Cardinals finally arriving and being a threat in the NFC West.

26 Panthers 3-8 +3

Welcome back, Superman!

27 Chargers 4-7

Norv Turner is going to catch the blame for losing another lead late in the game, but can you really fault him for his team surrendering a conversion on fourth-and-29 while missing at least six tackles on the play? That’s not coaching.

28 Jaguars 2-9 +2

QB Blaine Gabbert wasn’t the answer, but even with his recent success, neither is Chad Henne.

29 Titans 4-7 -5

Once the Titans got within three points in the fourth quarter on Sunday against Jacksonville, Jake Locker ended the final two possessions of the game by throwing two interceptions. Those are the types of growing pains you get out of a raw quarterback.

30 Eagles 3-8 -2

It looks like this defense has given up on the season . . . or are they just that bad in pass coverage?

31 Raiders 3-8

So Carson Palmer’s homecoming didn’t quite go as he would have liked.

32 Chiefs 1-10

The Chiefs actually played well defensively against what was a hot Broncos offense that was averaging 33.2 points per game in their five prior games heading into Sunday.