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Week 13 Power Rankings

Unlike Alex Smith, Colin Kaepernick's team won't kiss its sister.

We’re 75% of the way through the regular season. We know the Patriots, Broncos, and Texans are elite teams in the AFC, the Ravens and Colts aren’t as good as their gaudy records, and the Bengals and Steelers will consistently be inconsistent. In the NFC, the Giants remain the benchmark for consistent inconsistency. But if December plays out as another Groundhog’s Day for Daniel Snyder and Jerry Jones, the NFC East will again go to New York. The Falcons are going to grab the #1 seed and the NFC North will likely come down to the winner of the Green Bay-Chicago matchup in week 15. The last wildcard is up for grabs — the first is reserved for the NFC North runner-up — but unfortunately the likely prize is just a road game against one of the last two Super Bowl champions.

So let’s take a moment and look at how the 49ers tie against the Rams could impact playoff seeding. In retrospect, that tie was no better than a loss for San Francisco. As an initial matter, the team is battling Seattle for the NFC West crown. San Francisco plays in Seattle in week 16; if the Seahawks win, they have a legitimate shot at the division. Right now they’re 1.5 games behind the 49ers, and the rest of the Seahawks schedule (ARI, @BUF, STL) is manageable; meanwhile, San Francisco also has to go to New England. If the Seahawks run the table and the Patriots beat the 49ers, the Seahawks win the NFC West.

Had the 49ers defeated the Rams, even losing to Seattle and New England in the last two weeks wouldn’t cost them the division. That’s because Seattle already lost in Arizona, St. Louis, and San Francisco, so the 49ers would have won the tiebreaker. A win would have been helpful, while that tie against the Rams comes out as no more helpful than a loss — in either case, San Francisco would have 10 wins to Seattle’s 11. Since they would have had the tiebreaker, the difference between a win and a tie was much larger than the difference between a tie and a loss (which was essentially nothing).

But perhaps the more important race is against the Packers for the #2 seed. San Francisco is unlikely to lose to both Seattle and New England while the Seahawks run the table, so I think 49ers fans are more concerned about securing that bye. Right now, the 49ers are just a half-game ahead of Green Bay. Since the 49ers defeated the Packers, they would have held the tiebreaker if the two teams finished with the same record. Therefore, just like in the case of the Seahawks, “salvaging” a tie against the Rams will end up having been meaningless.

With that, perhaps it is time to turn our attention to the bottom of the list. We can skip from the top to the bottom after this short break

The Jets, the Eagles, Rex Ryan, the Chargers, Tim Tebow, Andy Reid, Mark Sanchez, Norv Turner

Now that that’s covered, the race for the #1 draft pick is on. Jason Lisk did a nice job handicapping the race, placing the Chiefs in the pole position but giving both the Raiders and Jaguars a better than 20% chance of the top pick. Football Outsiders sees things slightly different, giving both Kansas City and Jacksonville a two-in-five chance of shouting “We’re #1″… in April.

Atlanta Falcons11-1141310.422214-2 but with a Matt Ryan-sized monkey on their backs.
Houston Texans11-1131300.5942The game of the regular season takes place in New England on Monday Night.
Denver Broncos9-3131300.3592From 2-3 to 13-3? The Broncos will be streaking towards the playoffs and Peyton Manning is the favorite to earn his 5th MVP award
New England Patriots9-3121200.5393A win in Houston gives the Patriots a chance for the 1 seed; a loss means they may have to beat Pittsburgh and win in Denver and Houston to get to New Orleans.
San Francisco 49ers8-3-111.512.5-10.5312Hey, at least they didn't tie the Rams!
Green Bay Packers8-4111100.4382At 2-3, who would have guessed that Green Bay could still end up with a first round bye? They're only a half-game behind San Francisco.
Baltimore Ravens9-3111100.6092Stage 1 of regression to the mean happened last week.
Chicago Bears8-4111100.4221That was a tough loss to Seattle, but the Bears still control their own destiny in the NFC North with one game left against each rival.
Indianapolis Colts8-4101000.5472The difference between the 5 and 6 seed in the AFC is enormous, because it's a tall order asking Andrew Luck to win at Denver/NE/Houston.
Pittsburgh Steelers7-510910.4383Ben Roethlisberger may be back this weekend; the Steelers still have enormous upside but rarely flash it.
Seattle Seahawks7-510910.4843Russell Wilson is climbing up the Rookie of the Year charts. He doesn't have to do as much as Luck or Robert Griffin III but he's been excellent.
New York Giants7-5910-10.5632After week 8, I had them at 11 wins. Early in the season I had them at 9. The lesson: don't get confused by what happens to the Giants in the middle of the year.
Cincinnati Bengals7-59810.5162Starting to come around on the Bengals, although that may just be because the bar known as the rest of the conference keeps falling.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers6-689-10.5082Close losses against the Falcons and Broncosshow how far the team has come but are likely season killers.
Dallas Cowboys6-68800.5312It's December - can Tony Romo rewrite history?
Washington Redskins6-68800.4382Own the tiebreaker over the Giants and a much easier schedule.
St. Louis Rams5-6-17.56.510.4841Being able to go toe-to-toe with the 49ers should be a huge confidence booster for a young team.
New Orleans Saints5-778-10.4692Playing out the string in a disappointing season. Saints should consider giving some younger players playing time.
Miami Dolphins5-77700.5232Losing a close game to the Patriots doesn't drop your win total.
New York Jets5-77610.3441Anything between 5-9 and 9-7 is possible. But I doubt Mark Sanchez, Tim Tebow, or Greg McElroy quarterback the next Jets team that makes the playoffs.
Buffalo Bills5-77610.4923Another below-average but not terrible year for the Bills. At least they have a great running game.
Minnesota Vikings6-667-10.6642Percy Harvin out for the year is the final nail in the coffin for the Vikings' playoff hopes.
Tennessee Titans4-86600.4842Figuring out how to turn Jake Locker into the quarterback of the future should be the only goal for the rest of the year.
San Diego Chargers4-86600.4062This team started 2-0 but hasn't beaten anyone but the Chiefs since then.
Detroit Lions4-856-10.6412Calvin Johnson's pursuit of Jerry Rice is the only drama left in Lions land.
Carolina Panthers3-956-10.4842It's hard to reconcile this team with their record. Cam Newton still leads the league in yards per attempt.
Arizona Cardinals4-856-10.5862Kevin Kolb looks like Joe Montana compared to Ryan Lindley. The Cardinals were 0-15 on third down against the Jets.
Cleveland Browns4-85410.5312Cleveland is 3-2 in their last five games, which would inspire more confidence if this wasn't a lost season under a dead-end regime.
Oakland Raiders3-945-10.4222A good candidate to steal the #1 pick from KC and Jacksonville due to their weak SOS.
Philadelphia Eagles3-94400.5312Will the Eagles be able to win one last game under Andy Reid? At this point, I'm not counting on anything.
Jacksonville Jaguars2-103300.5002Best case scenario is Chad Henne plays well enough to convince the team to move on from Blaine Gabbert but not so well as to convince them in Henne himself.
Kansas City Chiefs2-103210.5001A tragic week in Kansas City. Thoughts and prayers go out to those impacted by the horrific events.