Week 14 in the NFL was an interesting one to say the least. Instead of the playoff picture getting clearer, it got muddier than ever.
The Giants, Cowboys, and Redskins all won while the Steelers, Ravens, and Bengals all lost, making the NFC East and AFC North races, as well as the wildcard races, tighter than they have been in quite a while.
We had one of the largest point totals in a shutout win when the Seahawks destroyed the Cardinals 58-0, which sent the Cardinals, who at one point were the No. 3 team in these rankings, into the bottom four. Meanwhile, a butt-whooping by the Patriots over the former No. 1 Texans puts them in the top spot for the first time all season.
Previous week's ranking and current record in parentheses
1. (2) New England Patriots (10-3) - The Patriots take over the top spot in the rankings thanks to a four touchdown game by Tom Brady as he led a balanced offense to a big win over the Texans.
2. (4) Green Bay Packers (9-4) - Despite not putting up big yardage, the Packers finally showed that they can win a game without relying on Aaron Rodgers to carry them. The win puts the Pack atop the NFC north and still a half game out of the second seed.
3. (7) New York Giants (8-5) - The Giants needed a win to hold onto the NFC east lead and got a big one, trouncing the Saints 27-52. Rookie David Wilson paced the G-men with three total touchdowns including a 97 yard kick return that killed the Saints' early momentum.
4. (1) Houston Texans (11-2) - The Texans got embarassed by the Patriots on Monday night and have a tough stretch to close out the season if they want to hold onto the top seed in the AFC with one game against Minnesota and two against Indianapolis.
5. (5) Denver Broncos (10-3) - Peyton Manning and Knowshon Moreno led the Broncos to an easy win on the road in Oakland. The win with the Baltimore loss puts Denver in sole possession of the #3 seed in the AFC.
6. (6) San Francisco 49ers (9-3-1) - The 49ers wore out the Dolphins at home, scoring 21 of their 27 points in the second half. Colin Kaepernick had an efficient day going 18-23 with 238 total yards and one rushing touchdown.
7. (3) Atlanta Falcons (11-2) - All season I've been saying "The Falcons are good BUT..." and on Sunday the BUTs came to fruition as the Panthers killed the Falcons at home. This game was never as close as the final score led one to believe.
8. (9) Indianapolis Colts (9-4) - Another come from behind victory even with a sub-par day from Andrew Luck. This Colts team is proving that their record is no joke, but last year's abomination probably was.
9. (13) Seattle Seahawks (8-5) - A massive 58-0 win over Arizona is the third highest point total in a shutout win in the modern era. I'd move them further up the list if it wasn't against the woeful Cardinals.
10. (10) Baltimore Ravens (9-4) - The Ravens finally got the ball to Ray Rice and FINALLY put some points on the board, but they just couldn't manage to put away the Redskins even after knocking RG3 out of the game. The only reason they don't fall in the standings is their record and the performances of the other teams around them.
11. (8) Chicago Bears (8-5) - The Bears were able to put up some big yardage against the Vikings, but just couldn't seem to put enough points on the board. Losing Jay Cutler to injury late basically doomed their chances of keeping pace with the Packers for the division lead. This weeks game at home against the Pack will be huge.
12. (11) Pittsburgh Steelers (7-6) - After an emotional win against the Ravens, it looked like the Steelers weren't ready to play on Sunday. Having just got Ben Roethlisberger back seemed to be a detriment as the whole team thought having their star QB back would make this game a cakewalk.
13. (14) Washington Redskins (7-6) - The Redskins got a great win over the Ravens, but it's uncertain how long they'll be without rookie of the year candidate Robert Griffin III. Backup quarterback and fellow rookie Kirk Cousins could make himself a ton of future cash if he performs well while RG3 is out.
14. (12) Cincinnati Bengals (7-6) - What a choke job by the Bengals. Blowing a nine point lead with six minutes left is bad enough, but it looked like the Bengal receivers all had a case of the drops in this game. Luckily their loss doesn't kill their playoff chances...yet.
15. (17) Minnesota Vikings (7-6) - Adrian Peterson keeps on running and Christian Ponder continues to struggle. But the Minnesota defense were the ones who came up big, shutting down the Chicago Bears and knocking Jay Cutler out of the game.
16. (16) St. Louis Rams (6-6-1) - Once again, the Rams do just enough to get the win. Close wins have been the story of their season and this team needs to upgrade their firepower if they want to take a step forward next year.
17. (18) Dallas Cowboys (7-6) - The cowboys didn't look very good at all through most of this game, but scoring 10 consecutive points in a great comeback wiped it all away as Dan Bailey kicked a 40 yard field goal as time expired to keep Dallas within a game of the division lead.
18. (15) Tampa Bay Buccaneers (6-7) - Three losses in a row, and this one has to hurt the most. The Bucs looked like one of the hottest teams in the league a few weeks ago, but they've been too streaky to believe they're playoff bound. Or they could catch fire and make a deep run, who knows.
19. (20) Miami Dolphins (5-8) - The Dolphins couldn't get the ball rolling, only gaining 227 yards of total offense at San Francisco.
20. (21) Detroit Lions (4-9) - Again, the Lions allow an opposing team to come from behind, giving up 17 points in the second half. This team might be the biggest disappointment in the league outside of Philadelphia.
21. (19) New Orleans Saints (5-8) - The Saints could never seem to get a consistent attack going against the Giants thanks to four turnovers on the day.
22. (24) Cleveland Browns (5-8) - Three wins in a row! It's been an exciting few weeks in Cleveland, capped by their 30-7 victory at home over the Chiefs. The Browns have played all of their opponents tough so it shouldn't be a surprise that they've been picking on the bottom feeders of the league the past two weeks.
23. (27) San Diego Chargers (5-8) - The Chargers can be a very streaky team. Luckily for them, the part of their streaky side where they give up games late was bailed out by the clock hitting all zeros.
24. (25) New York Jets (6-7) - There's nothing more painful than watching the Jets on offense...except maybe watching the Jaguars on offense. New York did just enough to pull out the win and stay in the playoff hunt, though there may be no team more undeserving of a playoff spot still in the race.
25. (22) Buffalo Bills (5-8) - So much for the offensive woes being cured. Buffalo only managed 12 points on the day at home but still had the lead until giving up the game winning score with only 48 seconds left.
26. (29) Carolina Panthers (4-9) - Many thought this might happen after the Panthers played the Falcons close on the road, but nobody thought Carolina would look as dominant as they did on Sunday. Cam Newton's three touchdowns and over 400 yards of total offense was huge as he carried his team to victory.
27. (23) Tennessee Titans (4-9) - Another good game in terms of yardage, but the Titans defense gives up too many points. This team will need some serious rebuilding on the defensive side at least this offseason.
28. (28) Philadelphia Eagles (4-9) - Filly gets their first win since September thanks to a game winning pitch and catch from Nick Foles to Jeremy Maclin as time expired in Tampa. This team is still bad, but at least they broke their eight game losing streak.
29. (26) Arizona Cardinals (4-9) - The Cardinals gained more yards this week, but not by much, tallying only 154 total yards while turning the ball over eight times. They still have a better record than I thought they would, but this team is horrendous.
30. (30) Jacksonville Jaguars (2-11) - I've completely run out of words for how bad the Jags are. Every week, except their two week outburst of points, it's the same old story.
31. (31) Oakland Raiders (3-10) - The Raiders couldn't seem to get anything going on Thursday night against the Broncos. I've said it before, but this team needs a complete overhaul and should be spending the next few weeks in evaluation mode.
32. (32) Kansas City Chiefs (2-11) - After an emotional win last week, the Chiefs came crashing back to earth in a bad loss to the Browns. If not for Jamaal Charles, this team would have no hope for the future.
J. Lance Moose is a contributor and lead football writer for CraveOnline Sports. You can follow him on Twitter, and subscribe on Facebook facebook.com/CraveOnlineSports
Photo Credti: Getty