1. Houston Texans (11-1) Last week: 1 This may be the last week the Texans hold the top spot as their banged-up secondary, which lost Brice McCain to a foot injury on Sunday, travels to face the Patriots next Monday night. That said, the Texans have managed to overcome injuries and find ways to win in close road games against the Broncos, Bears and Lions. 2. Atlanta Falcons (11-1) Last week: 2 One week after limiting Buccaneers first round running back Doug Martin to 50 yards on 21 carries, the Falcons defense intercepted Drew Brees five times in a 23-13 win that allowed them to clinch the NFC South when the Buccaneers lost to the Broncos on Sunday. It may not be a coincidence that the defense is coming together just as Sean Weatherspoon returned from an ankle injury. The Falcons can clinch a first-round bye in the NFC with a win over the Panthers and a combination of losses and/or ties from the Bears, Packers and 49ers. 3. New England Patriots (9-3) Last week: 3 They may not have lit up the scoreboard at Sun Life Stadium, but going on the road and doing just enough to win is all that matters in December. New England is the No.1-ranked team in Football Outsiders total DVOA (Defense-adjusted Value Over Average) metric and have the ninth-highest offensive DVOA since 1991. 4. Denver Broncos (9-3) Last week: 5 Ah, that’s better. After scoring just 17 points in a win over the Chiefs in Week 12, the Broncos scored 31 points in last week’s win over the Buccaneers. With four games remaining on the schedule, the Broncos have scored 349 points this season, one more point the 2011 Broncos scored in 18 regular and post-season games. 5. San Francisco 49ers (8-3-1) Last week: 4 Three-quarters of the way through the 2012 season, the 49ers rank in the Top 3 in Football Outsiders’ offensive and defensive DVOA and are likely going to win the NFC West. If they have to go on the road at any point in the post-season, though, they’ll sure lament the 149 minutes and 34 seconds they spent this season battling the Rams to an 0-1-1 record.
Originally posted here:
Week 14 Power Rankings: Texans fend off Falcons, Patriots to hold top spot (Shutdown Corner)