NFL Radio Power 12, Week 13: Bears move in, Chiefs move up

Each week, SiriusXM NFL Radio’s hosts vote on the top six teams in both the NFC and AFC. This week’s voters include James Lofton, Bruce Murray, Alex Marvez, Bill Polian, Gil Brandt, Maurice Jones-Drew, Pat Kirwan, Jim Miller, other NFL Radio hosts, Brian Lauvray, Bobby Bonett, and you, the fans! (To participate in the fan vote, visit siriusxm.com/power12poll.)

All channel listings subject to change.


NFC

1. Carolina Panthers (11-0)

Week 13 opponent: at New Orleans Saints, Sunday 4:25 pm ET (XM channel 226, Sirius channel 83, Internet channel 804)

It’s a little rare to see a team sporting not only an MVP candidate (Cam Newton), but also two bona fide candidates for Defensive Player of the Year (Luke Kuechly and Josh Norman); but that’s where we’re at with this Carolina Panthers team. Cam’s case for MVP likely hinges on whether Carolina finishes undefeated, or, at the least, with fewer losses than New England. Voters like a winner, and they also like stats. The superficial stats suggest New England’s Tom Brady is a slightly “more worthy” candidate than Cam, but they’re different players that both run offenses extremely efficiently. The candidacy of Kuechly and Norman is much easier to make, particularly in Norman’s case.

Josh Norman has routinely been tasked with defending opposing offense’s best wide receivers – and he has routinely silenced them. It hasn’t mattered who he has been assigned in coverage. (See Dez Bryant’s nightmarish day on Thanksgiving.) So thorough has his coverage been, that teams are hesitating to even throw to his side of the field, which is arguably the simplest measurement of a defender’s skill and worth. Make no mistake, his four interceptions on the season could be even higher if teams dared to throw at him more frequently.

 

2. Arizona Cardinals (9-2)

Week 13 opponent: at St. Louis Rams, Sunday 1 pm ET (XM channel 230, Sirius channel 108, Internet channel 800)

Struggling all day to get their offense out of first gear against the 49ers in Santa Clara, the Cardinals still found a win. Carson Palmer and crew get an even tougher task with a road trip to St. Louis where they face Aaron Donald and the punishing Rams defensive line in Week 13. While catching Carolina for the overall No. 1 seed in the NFC playoffs seems unlikely at this point, a victory against the Rams would not only avenge Arizona’s sole home loss on the season, it would further bolster the Cards’ playoff seeding, and inch them closer to a first-round bye.

 

3. Minnesota Vikings (8-3)

Week 13 opponent: vs. Seattle Seahawks, Sunday 1 pm ET (XM channel 228, Sirius channel 82, Internet channel 817)

While still in control of their divisional destiny with a game left against Green Bay and Chicago each, the Vikings face off against the Seahawks in the Twin Cities on Sunday with many potential tiebreakers at stake. Seattle likely has more to lose with an “L,” but Minnesota cannot waste the opportunity to distance themselves from the brawling scrum that is the chase for the remaining NFC playoff spots.

 

4. Seattle Seahawks (6-5)

Week 13 opponent: at Minnesota Vikings, Sunday 1 pm ET (XM channel 228, Sirius channel 137, Internet channel 826)

Better than .500 for the first time all season, the Seahawks, even without Marshawn Lynch and, yes, Jimmy Graham, are primed for a playoff push. With a win over Minnesota on Sunday – no small feat – Seattle will close out against a depleted Baltimore, miserable Cleveland, “meh” St. Louis and an Arizona team that will likely be resting its starters in its final regular season game. A loss at Minnesota would drastically lower Seattle’s chances at making the playoffs, mind you, so Week 13 is practically a must-win. But even with a loss, there’s a close to 40 percent chance of Russell Wilson playing meaningful football in January – thanks to the very weak NFC teams not named “Arizona” or “Carolina.”

 

5. Green Bay Packers (7-4)

Week 13 opponent: at Detroit Lions, Thursday 8:25 pm ET (XM channel 225, Sirius channel 83, Internet channel 811)

Having lost four of their past five, including two shocking losses at home to lowly Detroit and Chicago, the point for panic has come and gone in Packer Country. While there’s plenty of blame to go around for what’s happened over the past month or so, Green Bay’s defense – not “good,” by any stretch – is still only allowing 19.5 points on the season (good enough for sixth in the NFL). That defense has to be wondering, like the rest of us, “What’s up with the Packer offense?” The green and gold’s offense has sputtered as of late, averaging a flaccid 19.6 points per game the past five weeks. Still, keeping all of that in perspective, if there’s an offense that can get on track, it’s one that is led by Aaron Rodgers. While “Super Bowl” seems more of a stretch than a certainty for the presumptive preseason favorite out of the NFC, Green Bay still could make noise come January … if that offense gets going.

 

6. Chicago Bears (5-6)

Week 13 opponent: vs. San Francisco 49ers, Sunday 1 pm ET (XM channel 227, Sirius channel 135, Internet channel 805)

Hey, good for you, Chicago Bears. You cracked the Power 12 and it only took you until Week 13. You guys have been playing so good! I’m sure you’re as confused as we are, and I have faith that you’ll discover exciting and new ways to lose to both San Francisco and Washington in the coming weeks.

 

NFC fantasy football spotlight: Cam Newton (QB, Carolina)

2015 stats: 190-for-332 passing, 2,466 passing yards, 20 passing touchdowns, 9 interceptions, 98 carries, 427 rushing yards, 7 rushing touchdowns

Cam Newton has been an absolute monster recently. On the ground, through the air, call the man U-P-damn-S, because he’s delivering for the Panthers and your fantasy team on Sunday against what can only be described as a “generous” Saints defense. ‘Tis the season, Cam. Dab, dab, dab!

 

AFC

1. New England Patriots (10-1)

Week 13 opponent: vs. Philadelphia Eagles, Sunday 4:25 pm ET (XM channel 228, Sirius channel 82, Internet channel 818)

After finally losing in Week 12 in the snow globe that Denver was on Sunday Night, New Englanders were surely relieved that the loss of Rob Gronkowski would be measured in “weeks” and not “months.” With or without the 6-foot-6 question mark at tight end, look for Tom Brady to take out his frustrations over the loss to the Broncos on a hapless Philadelphia Eagles team that just surrendered a gajillion points to Detroit on Thanksgiving.

 

2 (tie). Cincinnati Bengals (9-2)

Week 13 opponent: at Cleveland Browns, Sunday 1 pm ET (XM channel 226, Sirius channel 119, Internet channel 806)

Bouncing back from a two-game losing skid, the Bengals thoroughly manhandled the line of scrimmage and the St. Louis Rams this past week. Now facing the Cleveland Browns and whatever an “Austin Davis” is, the Bengals risk the possibility of looking forward to their Week 14 game against Pittsburgh and forgetting to field a team on Sunday in Cleveland.

 

2 (tie). Denver Broncos (9-2)

Week 13 opponent: at San Diego Chargers, Sunday 4:05 pm ET (XM channel 225, Sirius channel 93, Internet channel 809)

A week after looking competent against the Bears in Chicago, Brock Osweiler delivered once again versus the Patriots. Osweiler’s ability to challenge defenses and force teams to protect against the long ball has opened up Denver’s running game like Peyton Manning simply could not earlier this season. The running game should be on full display this week in San Diego against a Chargers defense that is getting absolutely steamrolled by any and all running backs. CJ Anderson and Ronnie Hillman both could go for over 100 yards.

 

4. Kansas City Chiefs (6-5)

Week 13 opponent: at Oakland Raiders, Sunday 4:05 pm ET (XM channel 236, Sirius channel 113, Internet channel 815)

Playing like a team possessed, the Kansas City Chiefs gave themselves an early Christmas present by defeating the Buffalo Bills, further entrenching their wild-card contender status in the muddy AFC. No defense, save for possibly Houston or Denver, is playing this well right now. There are too many losses on the ledger, but Andy Reid needs to be considered a candidate for Coach of the Year simply because of his ability to rally the Chiefs team once Jamaal Charles went out, and for rejuvenating that offense once Charles went out. Yes, Reid was still the coach when they lost five of their first six, but, I dunno, points for difficulty?

 

5. Pittsburgh Steelers (6-5)

Week 13 opponent: vs. Indianapolis Colts, Sunday 8:30 pm ET (XM channel 225, Sirius channel 93, Internet channel 824)

The shootout loss at Seattle hurts a little, but thanks to the Bills dropping one in KC, the Steelers are still right there for the final wild card in the AFC. The Steelers offense appears perfectly capable of putting up points with either Ben Roethlisberger or Landry Jones under center, and the Steelers would be doing themselves a huge favor if they can defeat Indianapolis at Heinz Field on Sunday.

 

6. Houston Texans (6-5)

Week 13 opponent: at Buffalo Bills, Sunday 1 pm ET (XM channel 225, Sirius channel 136, Internet channel 812)

Pittsburgh would also be doing the Texans a major solid by defeating Indianapolis. The Texans, led by JJ Watt – who at this point I’m convinced eats car doors for breakfast – are tied with Indy, and thanks to their earlier home loss to the Colts would need some help if both teams win out. A Pittsburgh win would be a BIG help for Houston. Of course, the Texans can help themselves this week with a win on the road against the Buffalo Bills. And Buffalo would be doing themselves a big favor by beating Houston, and the Bills are hoping that both Pittsburgh and the Jets lose. The AFC’s wild-card chase remains a cage match where even the winners will be scarred.

 

AFC fantasy football spotlight: Ryan Tannehill (QB, Miami)

2015 stats: 258-for-416 passing, 2,991 passing yards, 20 passing touchdowns, 11 interceptions, 20 carries, 57 rushing yards

It’s been an up and down season for the Texas A&M product, but Tannenhill should absolutely have a field day against a very crummy Baltimore secondary. Fire him up as a QB1 if you’ve got him.

 

 

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