New England’s reign at the top lasted just one week, after suffering a loss to the San Francisco 49ers on Sunday night. The Pats tumbled three spots and into fourth place.
The Texans are back following a big victory over the Colts, with Peyton Manning and the Broncos also in the mix, after a dominating performance against the Ravens.
After Houston and Denver, it’s the 49ers in third place, followed by the Patriots. Atlanta and Seattle both gained significant ground, yet remain in fifth and sixth place, respectively.
Meanwhile, the Washington Redskins took a share of the NFC East lead, hold the division tiebreaker and earned a spot in this week’s top ten.
Here’s where each squad sits in the rankings after Week 15, featuring some stats, notes, thoughts and figures for every team in the NFL.
KP’s NFL Power Rankings: December 19, 2012
*Stats, records and information through Week 15 of the 2012 NFL season
1. Houston Texans (253 points)
Houston posted a quality 12-point win over the Colts and have a one-game lead for the top overall seed in the AFC, leaving the Texans back in the top spot, but just barely.
2. Denver Broncos (251 points)
Peyton Manning and the Broncos have now won nine straight games, and last weekend’s 17-point victory over the Ravens almost put Denver into first place in the rankings.
3. San Francisco 49ers (240 points)
Colin Kaepernick showed composure, leading the 49ers to a huge victory on the road in New England.
4. New England Patriots (239 points)
Following its loss to San Francisco, the Pats took a step back, falling three spots this week.
5. Atlanta Falcons (210 points)
The Falcons posted a 34-0 shutout of the Giants and gained plenty of ground this week. Still, with a rushing offense and run defense that has struggled statistically, Atlanta remains in 5th place.
6. Seattle Seahawks (181 points)
The Seahawks posted 50-plus points for the second consecutive week, setting up a key Sunday night matchup at home versus the 49ers.
7. Green Bay Packers (151 points)
Green Bay’s win over the Bears clinched the NFC North division title, and a bye week is still within reach.
8. Cincinnati Bengals (144 points)
After Pittsburgh’s loss to the Cowboys, the Bengals now sit in the sixth spot in the AFC and control its destiny to get into the playoffs.
9. Chicago Bears (129 points)
The Bears have now lost five of six, but by having a defense that is ranked in the NFL’s top 12 against both the run and the pass, Chicago still finds itself in the top ten.
10. Washington Redskins (120 points)
The Redskins didn’t skip a beat with Kirk Cousins under center, winning its fifth straight game, and now controlling its destiny in the NFC East.
11. Baltimore Ravens (110 points)
The Ravens clinched a playoff spot over the weekend, despite getting blown out by the Broncos and losing its third straight game.
12. New York Giants (103 points)
The Giants now will need help to win the NFC East, after getting thrashed by the Falcons and falling into a three-way tie for the division lead.
13. Pittsburgh Steelers (90 points)
The Steelers suffered another tough loss, falling to 7-7 on the year, including 3-5 on the road. This weekend’s game against the Bengals is pivotal.
14. Dallas Cowboys (80 points)
The Cowboys posted a huge win against the Steelers and kept pace with the red-hot Redskins for the NFC East division lead.
15. Minnesota Vikings (74 points)
Adrian Peterson posted another 200-yard game and is less than 300 yards away from breaking the NFL’s single season rushing title.
16. Indianapolis Colts (64 points)
Andrew Luck has thrown 10 passing touchdowns and 9 INT’s over his last five games.
17. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (58 points)
After getting blown out by the Saints 41-0, the Bucs have now lost four straight.
18. Carolina Panthers (38 points)
The Panthers have won three of four, scoring 30 or more points in each of the victories.
19. St. Louis Rams (31 points)
The Rams couldn’t hold Adrian Peterson in check, and now will finish the season on the road for its final two games (at Tampa Bay and at Seattle).
20. Miami Dolphins (27 points)
In three December games versus the Jaguars, Patriots and 49ers, rookie Ryan Tannehill threw no interceptions.
21. New Orleans Saints (25 points)
The Saints have scored 28 or more points in each of its six victories this season.
22. San Diego Chargers (18 points)
Ryan Mathews suffered another collarbone injury and will finish the season as the team’s leading rusher, with 707 yards and just one touchdown on the ground.
23. New York Jets (11 points)
Mark Sanchez (2,678 passing yards, 13 TD, 17 INT) has officially been benched.
24. Detroit Lions (-2 points)
The Lions have lost six straight games, with opponents scoring 34 or more points in four of those defeats.
25. Cleveland Browns (-13 points)
Trent Richardson has 11 rushing touchdowns and is 103 yards away from a 1,000-yard season with just two games to go.
26. Buffalo Bills (-31 points)
C.J. Spiller officially has his first ever 1,000-yard rushing season and is averaging 6.5 yards per carry.
27. Philadelphia Eagles (-44 points)
Checking in on the quarterback stats for the year in Philly: Michael Vick, 58.5% completion and a 79.2 QB rating and Nick Foles, 59.4% completion percentage and 77.7 QB rating.
28. Arizona Cardinals (-46 points)
Arizona’s 38-10 win over the Lions was its first since September 30.
29. Tennessee Titans (-46 points)
The Titans forced five Mark Sanchez turnovers on Monday night and officially eliminated the Jets from playoff contention.
30. Oakland Raiders (-78 points)
Darren McFadden has 617 rushing yards on the year and is averaging just 3.4 yards per carry.
31. Kansas City Chiefs (-114 points)
With just two wins on the season, it’s surprising to note that the Chiefs are actually 7th in the NFL in rushing and 7th in opponent passing yards allowed.
32. Jacksonville Jaguars (-148 points)
Rookie Justin Blackmon has 51 receptions, 707 yards and 3 TD’s on the season.
* All stats per NFL.com
The Wife Hates Sports’ NFL Power Rankings system has a method to its madness, attempting to be different and not just rank by popularity and record. It mixes a secret formula of eight completely different categories, meshed into a points system. The categories don’t just include team results regarding record, but how each team has performed on the road, as well as incorporating some statistics on both a team’s offense and defense, too.