NFL power rankings: 49ers leap back into Top 3

December 11, 2012, 4:30 pm
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New England's tour de force against Houston on Monday Night Football gave us a new No. 1 atop the weekly power rankings and Cam Newton's show as an icon and entertainer versus Atlanta provided further shakeup at the top. Three weeks remain in the regular season and jockeying for playoff positions is getting fierce…

1 (4) New England Patriots (10-3) Death, taxes and Tom Brady looking unbeatable in December. Some things never change.
2 (3)  Denver Broncos (10-3) For all of the talk about Peyton Manning, the defense has yet to allow a 300-yard passing game.
3 (5) 49ers (9-3-1) Can Kaepernick join  Morton, Bradshaw, Ferragamo, Plunkett, Hostetler, Dilfer, Brady and Delhomme, QBs who started season on bench but took team to Super Bowl?
4 (1) Houston Texans (11-2) Too trite to write, "Houston, you have a problem" here? Meh…
5 (2) Atlanta Falcons (11-2) Players can’t go Rodney Dangerfield route this week and complain about a lack of respect.
6 (6) Green Bay Packers (9-4) Aaron Rodgers' 35-game streak with a TD pass in a home game comes to an end…in a win.
7 (7) Indianapolis Colts (9-4) With 3,759 yards passing, Andrew Luck passes Peyton Manning for No. 2 on NFL's single-season rookie list. Up next: Cam Newton's 4,051 yards.
8 (9) New York Giants (8-5) David Wilson's franchise-record 327 all-purpose yards fourth-most in NFL since 2000.
9 (11) Seattle Seahawks (8-5) The 58-0 blowout of Arizona is third-largest shutout victory in NFL since 1941.
10 (8) Baltimore Ravens (9-4) The last time they played a game without both Ray Lewis and Terrell Suggs? Try Dec. 29, 2002.
11 (15) St. Louis Rams (6-6-1) Three of Sam Bradford's four career fourth-quarter comebacks have come this year, and Rams have won three straight for first time since 2006.
12 (17) Washington (7-6) RG III's passer rating of 134.7 over last four games highest by rookie QB over such a stretch since 1960.
13 (18) Minnesota Vikings (7-6) Adrian Peterson 506 rushing yards away from eclipsing Eric Dickerson's single-season record.
14 (19) Dallas Cowboys (7-6) Rafael Septien, Dan Bailey is on your tail. Bailey's sixth career game-winning FG is one less than Septien.
15 (10) Cincinnati Bengals (7-6) Sophomore slump? Andy Dalton with two TDs and three INTs in last two games after having nine TDs and no INTs in previous three games.
16 (12) Chicago Bears (8-5) Brandon Marshall's fourth 100-catch season ties him with Rice, Harrison and Welker for most in NFL history.
17 (13) Pittsburgh Steelers (7-6) Plaxico Burress. Remember him?
18 (14) Tampa Bay Buccaneers (6-7) Buc's mid-season four-game winning streak about to be undone with three straight losses, and counting.
19 (16) New Orleans Saints (5-8) Half of Drew Brees' uncaptain-like NFC-leading 18 INTs have come in last three games.
20 (20) New York Jets (6-7) Don't look now, but the J-E-T-S, Jets, Jets, Jets have won three of four.
21 (23) Cleveland Browns (5-8) "Ordinary" Trent Richardson ties Jim Brown's franchise rookie record with ninth rushing TD.
22 (21) Miami Dolphins (5-8) Two of Reggie Bush's three 100-yards-from-scrimmage games have come against the Bay Area teams.
23 (22) Buffalo Bills (5-8) Up next, a "home" game in that football Mecca known as…Toronto?!?
24 (26) San Diego Chargers  (5-8) Zombie Apocalypse Redux. Or, how Norv Turner won't go away.
25 (28) Carolina Panthers (4-9) Looks like Cam Newton received good advice in his suggestion box as he is first QB in NFL history with 250 yards passing, a passing TD, 100 yards rushing, and a rushing TD.
26 (29) Philadelphia Eaglers (4-9) So now the Eagles have won a game more recently than the Phillies. And they can thank Nick Foles for that.
27 (24) Tennessee Titans (4-9) Chris Johnson is eighth player to begin career with five 1,000-yard rushing seasons. 
28 (25) Detroit Lions (4-9) The last time the Lions defeated the Packers in Green Bay? Erik Kramer was the QB and Barry Sanders was the RB, way back on Dec. 15, 1991.
29 (27) Arizona Cardinals (4-9) Shockingly, or not, Larry Fitzgerald has caught just one pass four times this season.
30 (30) Raiders (3-10) What would YOU give up in a trade for Darren McFadden and/or Rolando McClain?
31 (31) Kansas City Chiefs (2-11) Maybe Romeo Crennel won't forget about Jamaal Charles this time around against the Raiders?
32 (32) Jacksonville Jaguars (2-11) At least Chad Henne is consistent. He's thrown an INT in all three starts this season.