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Football Relativity: Wild-card weekend

Each week, we compare all 32 NFL teams using our Football Relativity comparison. On the comparison, the 10 level is reserved for the best teams, and the 1 level for the worst. Normally, we note throughout where teams have moved up or down from last week. But this week, we go from comparing all 32 teams to focusing on the 12 playoff teams. All of these teams were at the 7 level or higher last week.

Broncos QB Tim Tebow makes his playoff debut this week, via orlandosentinel.com

10 – Green Bay Packers – The Packers closed out the season with a win even after sitting QB Aaron Rodgers and CB Charles Woodson, among others. At 15-1, Green Bay is not a perfect team, but they have a dynamic offense and a defense that causes turnovers. We’ve seen in recent years that this is a potent combination in the postseason. Green Bay may not be built to win a slugfest, but there aren’t many teams that could force the Packers into that kind of game.

9 – Baltimore Ravens, New Orleans Saints – The Saints closed with a flourish to finish 13-3, but it wasn’t enough for them to get a bye week. The Saints are nearly the Packers’ equal, and are built in much the same way. But the path New Orleans will have to take – a home game against a dangerous Detroit offense, followed by a road trip to San Francisco – may be too much. We see the Saints winning this week (something like 45-31), but we’re not sure they’ll even get to Green Bay for a rematch of Week 1.

The Ravens, meanwhile, earned a bye by locking down the AFC North. That’s key, because it takes away the possibility of laying an egg in the first round. We rate the Ravens above the Patriots because we like their ceiling more, but Baltimore hasn’t always been the most consistent team. But we can certainly see them gearing up for two big games and making it to the Super Bowl.

8 – New England Patriots – The Patriots earned home-field advantage throughout the AFC playoffs, but their defense once again showed major holes against Miami in Week 17. New England won’t be able to survive against Baltimore or Pittsburgh if they fall behind early like they have in the last two weeks. But we’re not sure those problems can be solved during a single bye week.

7 – San Francisco 49ers – The 49ers are unlike any of the other top teams in the NFC and maybe even in the league in that they’re built around an elite defense. If they can turn their divisional-round game (likely against the Saints) into a slobberknocker, they might be able to get a playoff win. But Alex Smith, Frank Gore and company don’t have enough firepower to keep up with the Saints and Packers and Patriots. The 49ers simply aren’t good enough on red-zone offense to make a long playoff run.

6 – Pittsburgh Steelers – The Steelers are an odd team. They have the look of a contender, since they are coming off a Super Bowl appearance last season and have a championship pedigree. But it will be interesting to see if the Steelers really are at that level. While the offense has incredible punch with WRs Mike Wallace and Antonio Brown, we don’t think the Steelers can beat the Patriots or Ravens on the road. But they should have enough firepower to get through a trip to Denver this week.

5 – New York Giants, Detroit Lions – We put these teams above other wild-card weekend participants because of ceiling. The Lions have a high ceiling because of offensive firepower. The defense can’t stop the pass, which is a bad omen heading into a game against the Saints, but if the Lions somehow create a few turnovers, they could outscore the Saints.

The Giants, meanwhile, looked like a team that’s finally getting healthy against the Cowboys. With playmakers like WR Victor Cruz on offense and DE Jason Pierre-Paul on defense, the Giants can put together a peak performance. We see them winning this week against Atlanta, and if so they’ll challenge the Packers because they always seem to rise to the occasion.

4 – Atlanta Falcons – The Falcons are a good team but not a great team. They can beat lesser teams, but they really haven’t risen to the occasion to beat a better team at any point this year. That’s enough for a playoff berth, but it’s not enough to advance now that the postseason has arrived. We see them being one-and-done again this year.

3 – Houston Texans – The Texans aren’t the team they could have been without major injury problems, but they still have enough upside to get a home win this weekend. Who knows who will play quarterback, but with a strong running game and an attacking defense should be enough for a feel-good moment in the franchise’s first playoff game.

2 – Cincinnati Bengals – The Bengals are a junior version of the Panthers, beating lesser teams but never rising to the occasion against a better opponent. They even lost to the T.J. Yates-led Texans a month ago. Credit to Cincinnati for making it to the good level in QB Andy Dalton’s rookie year, but the run ends this week.

1 – Denver Broncos– The bloom seems to be off the Tim Tebow rose after a three-game losing streak, but the real problem is that the defense has also declined. We believe Tebow has shown enough to earn an offseason of development as the starting quarterback, but that doesn’t mean we expect him to overcome the Steelers this week. At least Broncos fans get to enjoy the buildup to a home playoff game.

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Football Relativity Week 16

Each week, we compare all 32 NFL teams using our Football Relativity comparison. On the comparison, the 10 level is reserved for the best teams, and the 1 level for the worst. We’ll note throughout where teams have moved up or down from last week. Also, next week we will shift the comparison to focus on just the 12 playoff teams.

Saints QB Drew Brees broke the NFL passing-yards record vs. the Falcons, via nola.com

10 – Green Bay Packers – Green Bay bounced back from its first loss of the season with a convincing Christmas night win over the Bears. The blowout serves as a reminder that the Packers are the class of the league, after a week full of noise based on their worst performance of the season. Green Bay also claimed home-field advantage throughout the playoffs with the win.

9 – Baltimore Ravens, New England Patriots, New Orleans Saints, Pittsburgh Steelers – These four teams have serious shots to beat the Packers, although they wouldn’t be favored. We like the Ravens and Saints the best of this bunch, because at their best they are most dangerous. Baltimore can’t afford a let-down during the playoffs like they had in the regular season; clinching a bye next week would help. The Saints need to take a lead, because when they do they are deadly. Again, a bye would help avoid a trip to San Francisco that could be problematic. The Steelers will likely have to go to the wild-card route, which they have done before, but it seems like a longer shock this year because of Ben Roethlisberger’s health. The Patriots clinched a bye and still can land home-field advantage, but their defense raises too many questions.

8 – Atlanta Falcons, Detroit Lions (UP A LEVEL), San Francisco 49ers – The 49ers got another win and still can land a bye, but while we can see them winning a playoff game at home, we don’t expect them to go to Green Bay and come out victorious. The Lions blasted the Chargers. They will be the most dangerous wild-card team in the NFC and maybe in the entire league. Explosiveness is scary, and the Lions have that offensively. The Falcons once again showed that while they are consistent, they aren’t dynamic enough to win playoff games.

7 – Cincinnati Bengals (UP A LEVEL), Dallas Cowboys, Denver Broncos, Houston Texans (DOWN TWO LEVELS), New York Jets (DOWN A LEVEL), New York Giants (UP A LEVEL), Philadelphia Eagles (UP A LEVEL) – The Bengals took control of the race for the AFC wild-card spot with a win and a Jets loss. Cincinnati hasn’t beaten any elite teams, but credit to them for not losing any upsets either. The Jets lost to the Giants and seem to have a mess of problems. But they have had such problems before and still made playoff runs. If they make it in, you can’t completely count them out. The Cowboys and Giants will face off for the NFC East title. Neither team is great, but both have ceilings that can scare opponents. The Giants especially raise questions, because of the way they rose to the occasion against the Patriots and Packers this year. We’re writing off the Texans at this point. T.J. Yates can’t get the ball downfield, and as a result the offense isn’t scary enough. We don’t think even Andre Johnson can make a big enough difference. The Broncos fell apart in Buffalo and must show that their defense isn’t cracking. But with a win, they’re in. The Eagles are eliminated but are finally playing at a playoff level.

6 – Oakland Raiders, San Diego Chargers (DOWN A LEVEL), Tennessee Titans – The Raiders stayed alive with an overtime win against the Chiefs. But even if they make the playoffs, the Raiders are not a major threat to win in the postseason. The Chargers lost their momentum in Detroit and fell out of the playoff picture. The sum never equalled the parts in San Diego this year, and it wasn’t all Philip Rivers’ fault. The Titans stayed in the playoff picture with a win over the Jaguars, but playoff berth or no they aren’t serious threats.

5 – Arizona Cardinals, Carolina Panthers (UP A LEVEL), Chicago Bears, Seattle Seahawks – The Cardinals and Seahawks fell below .500, but both teams had game efforts. The Cardinals lost in Cincinnati, while Seattle couldn’t hold off the 49ers at home. Both teams have improved during the season to the point where they are at least competitive. The Bears fell apart after losing Jay Cutler and Matt Forte, but the talent across the board still merits mid-level placement in the comparison. The Panthers are streaking at the end of the season and have tons of reasons for hope for 2012. They need to add pieces defensively, but Cam Newton is the real deal.

4 – Buffalo Bills (UP A LEVEL), Miami Dolphins – The Bills finally broke a long losing streak by blowing out the Bills. The Dolphins fell after taking a 17-point lead against the Patriots. Both teams have been competitive, at least in stretches, but both need more help in order to make a run at the playoffs in 2012.

3 – Cleveland Browns, Jacksonville Jaguars, Washington Redskins (DOWN A LEVEL) – The Redskins had some momentum but fell apart against the Vikings last week. It’ll be interesting to see who Washington rates as keepers and who the Redskins reject. The Browns have some nice pieces on defense but need a huge upgrade offensively if they are going to compete in 2012. The Jaguars also will need to figure out who to keep defensively as they address several huge issues.

2 – Indianapolis Colts (UP A LEVEL), Minnesota Vikings – The Colts have built something the last couple of weeks. Dan Orlovsky has probably earned another job as a backup quarterback somewhere, and some of the defensive pieces have demonstrated value as well. The Vikings got a win in Washington, and Joe Webb is forcing himself into the quarterback of the future conversation.

1 – St. Louis Rams, Tampa Bay Buccaneers (DOWN A LEVEL) – Both the Rams and Bucs looked like ascendant teams at the end of last season,but this year they have completely fallen apart. Tampa Bay has lost nine straight, while the Rams could end up with the No. 1 overall pick for the second time in three years.

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Football Relativity Week 15

Each week, we compare all 32 NFL teams using our Football Relativity comparison. On the comparison, the 10 level is reserved for the best teams, and the 1 level for the worst. We’ll note throughout where teams have moved up or down from last week.

LB Aldon Smith and the 49ers sacked Ben Roethlisberger and the Steelers, via kansascity.com

10 – Green Bay Packers – We discussed why the Packers are still ahead of the rest of the pack in Rise/Sink/Float.

9 – Baltimore Ravens, Houston Texans, New England Patriots, New Orleans Saints, Pittsburgh Steelers – It was carnage week in the AFC, as three of the conference’s four 10-win teams lost. The Patriots were the only ones to get a win, with a 41-23 win in Denver. All of the sudden, they control their own destiny for home-field advantage with home games against Miami and Buffalo remaining. The Ravens laid an egg in San Diego but caught a break when the Steelers lost in San Francisco. Baltimore still holds the tiebreaker in the AFC North. We discussed the Texans’ loss in this game post. In the NFC, the Saints kept the pressure on the 49ers by throttling the Vikings. The Saints now face a Monday-night home game against the Falcons.

8 – Atlanta Falcons, New York Jets, San Francisco 49ers – The Falcons continued their pattern of taking care of business against poor teams with a dominant win over Jacksonville. It clinched Atlanta’s fourth straight winning season and should be enough for Atlanta to cruise to a wild card. The 49ers got a key win against the Steelers, but we still see them as a notch below the Saints in the NFC. Still, if San Francisco can hold onto a bye and get the Saints at home in the playoffs, they have a chance to advance. The Jets were blasted by the Eagles and now must rebound quickly against the Giants in a game key to both teams’ playoff hopes.

7 – Dallas Cowboys, Denver Broncos, Detroit Lions, San Diego Chargers (UP A LEVEL) – We discussed the Chargers’ power surge in Rise/Sink/Float. The Cowboys thumped the Buccaneers on Saturday night but must beat a soaring Eagles team at home this Saturday if they want to win the NFC East. That may be the game of the week. The Lions got a comeback win in Oakland to clinch a winning season, and they need just one more win to roar into the playoffs for the first time in forever. A home game against the Chargers this week will be a tough place to do it, however. The Broncos lost to the Patriots at home, which wasn’t unexpected. But Denver still has a game lead in the AFC West and a favorable road matchup in Buffalo this week.

6 – Cincinnati Bengals, Oakland Raiders, New York Giants (DOWN A LEVEL), Philadelphia Eagles (UP A LEVEL), Tennessee Titans – We covered the Giants in Rise/Sink/Float. The Bengals beat the Rams to stay in the AFC playoff hunt. If the Jets slip up and the Bengals beat the Cardinals at home this week, they could sneak in. The Raiders lost a lead against the Lions, which could be costly in the AFC West. The Raiders must win in Kansas City to stay alive this week. The Titans laid an egg against the previously winless Colts, and that will probably close off their playoff hopes. They can rebound against the Jaguars this week to keep pushing toward a winning record. The Eagles smashed the Jets and now have a chance to resuscitate a season that looked DOA if they can win in Dallas this weekend.

5 – Arizona Cardinals, Chicago Bears (DOWN A LEVEL), Seattle Seahawks – All of these teams are 7-7, but they got there in different ways. The Bears have fallen apart since injuries to Jay Cutler and Matt Forte. The Cardinals (who edged past the Browns) and Seahawks (who thumped the Bears) have moved up to 7-7. Arizona and Seattle have less-than-stellar quarterback situations, but the teams are growing despite that. They can stay in the playoff mix this week, with Arizona visiting Cincinnati and Seattle hosting the 49ers.

4 – Carolina Panthers (UP A LEVEL), Miami Dolphins, Washington Redskins – These three teams are showing some late-season friskiness. We discussed the Panthers’ upset win in Houston in this game post. The Dolphins went to Buffalo and ran the ball down the Bills’ throats. The Redskins dominated the Giants in a game the Giants needed playoff-wise.

3 – Buffalo Bills (DOWN A LEVEL), Cleveland Browns (UP A LEVEL), Jacksonville Jaguars (DOWN A LEVEL) – The Bills lost at home to the Dolphins, while the Jaguars were blasted in Atlanta. The Browns were competitive in Arizona and move up as a result.

2 – Minnesota Vikings (DOWN A LEVEL), Tampa Bay Buccaneers (DOWN A LEVEL) – The Vikings fell to 2-10 as the Saints destroyed them. They are Jared Allen but little else at this point. The Buccaneers were blown out at home against the Cowboys.

1 – Indianapolis Colts, St. Louis Rams – The Colts finally got a win at home against the Titans. The Rams got yet another loss against the Bengals.

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Rise/Sink/Float Week 15

Each week, we look through the Sunday NFL results to find one team that’s rising, one team that’s sinking, and one team that stays at the same level. You’ll see these changes reflected in our weekly Football Relativity comparison of all 32 teams.

DT Tommie Harris and the Chargers took down QB Joe Flacco and the Ravens, via baynews9.com

Rise – San Diego Chargers – The Bolts dominated the Ravens at home on Sunday  night, posting a 34-14 win. Whatever their midseason problems were, San Diego appears to have figured them out. It may still be a case of too little, too late, because San Diego remains a game behind the Broncos in the AFC West. But they are playing much better, and that has them on the rise.

Sink – New York Giants – The Giants followed up a key win in Dallas in Week 14 with a stinker at home against Washington in Week 15. As a result, they once again fall a game behind the Cowboys in the NFC East. If the Giants were going to be a playoff game, Sunday’s game was one they had to win. Instead, they fell apart at the least opportune time.

Float – Green Bay Packers – Yes, the Packers lost for the first time all season. But that doesn’t change our belief that they’re still the class of the league. Now Aaron Rodgers and company must show that they can decipher and overcome the strategies the Chiefs used against them so that they can avoid being limited to 14 points in future games. We have every belief that the Pack will be able to do that.

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Football Relativity Week 14

Each week, we compare all 32 NFL teams using our Football Relativity comparison. On the comparison, the 10 level is reserved for the best teams, and the 1 level for the worst. We’ll note throughout where teams have moved up or down from last week.

*Note: We are reconfiguring the top of the comparison to better separate playoff teams, which may change the levels of some team

Texans QB T.J. Yates had a game-winning throw vs. the Bengals, via gannett.com

10 – Green Bay Packers – The Packers ran their record to 13-0 in a game we discussed in detail in this game post. Next up for the Packers is a trip to a Chiefs team that just fired its coach.

9 – Baltimore Ravens, Houston Texans, New England Patriots, New Orleans Saints, Pittsburgh Steelers – These are the teams that we believe could beat the Packers in a one-off situation. The Ravens, Texans, Steelers, and Patriots are all 10-3 and fighting for the top seed in the AFC. Houston got a last-second win in Cincinnati, while the Patriots got a tough win in Washington. The Ravens took care of business against the Colts, and the Steelers did the same against the Browns. The schedule gets tougher for the Steelers (at San Francisco), the Ravens (at San Diego), and the Patriots (at Denver) this week. The Saints won in Tennessee and now face another road game, but this one on turf in Minnesota.

8 – Atlanta Falcons, New York Jets, San Francisco 49ers (DOWN A LEVEL) – This level features legitimate playoff teams who we don’t believe could beat the Packers. We discussed both the Falcons and the 49ers in Rise/Sink/Float. The Jets blasted the moribund Chiefs and now face a dangerous game in Philadelphia. The 49ers will host the Steelers, and they need a win to keep hold of a first-round bye. The Falcons host Jacksonville on Thursday night in a game they need to stay in the wild-card hunt.

7 – Dallas Cowboys, Denver Broncos, Detroit Lions, New York Giants – This level features borderline playoff teams who are good enough to make a run. Both the Cowboys and Giants are likely playing for the same spot out of the NFC East. The Giants put together an incredible rally to win the first meeting between the teams, which means Dallas will need to win the Week 17 rematch. Both teams need wins this week as the Giants host Washington and the Cowboys visit Tampa Bay. The Lions jumped out to a huge lead against the Vikings but barely held on. Still, the win was big in the playoff hunt. They need another one in a trip to Oakland this week. The Broncos kept winning close, low-scoring games by overcoming the Bears late. But Denver will likely need to score a lot more this week as it hosts the Patriots.

6 – Chicago Bears, Cincinnati Bengals, Oakland Raiders, San Diego Chargers (UP A LEVEL), Tennessee Titans (DOWN A LEVEL) – These are teams that have played well at moments this year but who ultimately fall short of playoff caliber. We discussed the Chargers in Rise/Sink/Float and the Raiders in this game post. The Bengals lost a last-second game to the Texans and haven’t shown they can beat a truly good team. The Bears lost in Denver despite another strong defensive performance. Chicago needs to beat the Seahawks this week or fall further down this list. The Titans lost a tough game to the Saints but have a chance to rebound in Indy this week.

5 – Arizona Cardinals (UP A LEVEL), Philadelphia Eagles (UP A LEVEL), Seattle Seahawks (UP A LEVEL) – These teams have officially entered spoiler territory. The Cardinals knocked off the 49ers to move to 6-7, while the Seahawks also moved to 6-7 by thumping the Rams. The Cards can move to .500 against the Browns this week, while the Seahawks could do the same in chicago. The Eagles got their fifth win in Miami and now host the Jets in a game that could determine New York’s playoff fate.

4 – Buffalo Bills, Jacksonville Jaguars (UP A LEVEL), Miami Dolphins (DOWN A LEVEL), Washington Redskins – The Jaguars got a blowout win at home against the Buccaneers, and Blaine Gabbert started to build a little momentum. Jacksonville needs that continue for the last three games. The Redskins played the Patriots tough but lost 34-27. The Dolphins saw their recent strong streak snapped by the Eagles in Miami, while the Bills lost yet another game. These teams can put a scare in opponents, even good opponents, but ultimately don’t have the quality to compete consistently.

3 – Carolina Panthers, Minnesota Vikings, Tampa Bay Buccaneers – We would have moved the Vikings down had Joe Webb not provided a spark as a backup quarterback and nearly rallied the team against the Lions. We’ll have to see if Webb can keep the Vikings afloat this week at home against the Saints. The Buccaneers got blasted in Jacksonville and probably should be slipping even further. The Panthers blew a lead against the Falcons and now face off against the Texans.

2 – Cleveland Browns (DOWN A LEVEL) – The Browns couldn’t mount any offense against the Steelers, continuing their season-long dilemma. That has to be job 1 in the offseason.

1 – Indianapolis Colts, St. Louis Rams (DOWN A LEVEL) – The Colts lost to the Ravens on the road by two touchdowns and now host the Titans. Indy has had a little more punch with Dan Orlovsky under center. The Rams had a decisive 30-13 loss to the Seahawks on Monday Night Football.

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Football Relativity Week 13

Each week, we compare all 32 NFL teams using our Football Relativity comparison. On the comparison, the 10 level is reserved for the best teams, and the 1 level for the worst. We’ll note throughout where teams have moved up or down from last week.

QB Drew Brees and the Saints beat the Lions on Sunday night, via hitfix.com

10 – Green Bay Packers – The Packers overcame perhaps their greatest hurdle to an undefeated regular season with a 38-35 win in New York against the Giants. The fact that the Pack won a close game is a great sign. Now the question is whether they will keep their foot on the gas or put it on cruise control heading into the playoffs. Next up is a visit from the Raiders.

9 – Baltimore Ravens, Houston Texans (UP A LEVEL), New England Patriots, New Orleans Saints, Pittsburgh Steelers, San Francisco 49ers – We covered the Texans in Rise/Sink/Float. This level is crowded, but all of these teams can make an argument that they are the biggest threats to the Packers. In the AFC, The Ravens took care of business in Cleveland and have a chance to continue to move toward the No. 1 AFC seed with a home game vs. the Colts. The Steelers host the Browns on Thursday night after blasting the Bengals at home. The Patriots cruised against Indy and should do the same this week in Washington against the Redskins. The Texans face a tough trip to Cincinnati this week. In the NFC, the Saints beat the Lions on Sunday night but face a tough trip to Tennessee this week. The 49ers, meanwhile, got back on track by blanking the Rams and have a chance to move toward a playoff bye with a trip to a surging Cardinals team.

8 – Atlanta Falcons, New York Jets (UP A LEVEL) – The Falcons lost in Houston, which isn’t a bad result. But they must rebound in Carolina this week to stay a step above the other NFC wild-card competitors. The Jets pulled off a win in Washington to move to 7-5, and they seem to be starting to build a little momentum as they traditionally have in December under Rex Ryan. Next up is a home game against a battered Chiefs team that is still fighting hard.

7 – Dallas Cowboys, Denver Broncos (UP A LEVEL), Detroit Lions, New York Giants, Tennessee Titans (UP A LEVEL) – We discussed why the Cowboys stay in place in Rise/Sink/Float. The Lions stay in place because, while they are self-destructing, they are still very dangerous in terms of playoff contention. But there’s no question this week’s home game against the Vikings is a must-win. The Giants fell to 6-6 but showed well against the Packers. They must beat the Cowboys in JerryWorld this week to stay in the NFC East race. The Titans and Broncos both move up after moving to 7-5. The Broncos control their own destiny in the AFC West, but they have to keep winning against the banged-up Bears this week. The Titans face a harder road to the playoffs, but they have been taking care of business lately. A win over the Saints this week will be a tough task, but it’s essential to their playoff hopes.

6 – Chicago Bears (DOWN A LEVEL), Cincinnati Bengals (DOWN A LEVEL), Oakland Raiders (DOWN A LEVEL) – The teams on this level have fallen out of being serious playoff contenders in our view. We discussed why the Raiders are falling in Rise/Sink/Float. The Bears lost RB Matt Forte, and backup QB Caleb Hanie laid an egg against Kansas City. Now a road game to Mile High to face the surging Broncos looks like a recipe for disaster. The Bengals showed yet again that they aren’t ready to compete against the Ravens and Steelers. That makes us believe a home game against the Texans will be another loss.

5 – Miami Dolphins (UP A LEVEL), San Diego Chargers – The Chargers righted the ship in Jacksonville on Monday night. Now a home game against the Buffalo provides another change to keep flagging AFC West hopes alive. The Dolphins won again, and while their record doesn’t show it, they’re playing quite well. That could lead to another win against the Eagles this week.

4 – Arizona Cardinals (UP A LEVEL), Buffalo Bills, Philadelphia Eagles (DOWN A LEVEL), Seattle Seahawks – The Eagles laid an egg in Seattle and now must go to face a solid Dolphins team. Things have completely fallen apart for the dream team. The Seahawks and the Cardinals (who beat the Cowboys in overtime) both moved to 5-7. That’s not going to get either team in the playoffs, but it is a sign that they are starting to grow. Seattle should get another win against the Rams on Monday night; the Cardinals have a chance to upset the 49ers in Glendale. The Bills lost another close one and now must go across the country to face the Bills.

3 – Carolina Panthers, Cleveland Browns, Jacksonville Jaguars, Kansas City Chiefs, Minnesota Vikings, Tampa Bay Buccaneers (DOWN A LEVEL), Washington Redskins – We discussed the Panthers and Buccaneers in detail in this game post. The Browns lost to the Ravens and continue to struggle offensively. The Jaguars played well for a half against the Chargers but then fell apart. The Chiefs got a win in Chicago, which is a strong statement about the character of the team. The Vikings lost a close game to the Broncos, while the Redskins couldn’t hold off the Jets.

2 – St. Louis Rams – The Rams were blanked in San Francisco and now must show off their pitiful offense (and third-string quarterback) on Monday night in Seattle.

1 – Indianapolis Colts – The Colts lost to the Patriots in a game that wasn’t as close as the seven-point final margin. Now they visit the Ravens in what figures to be loss 13.

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Rise/Sink/Float Week 13

Each week, we look through the Sunday NFL results to find one team that’s rising, one team that’s sinking, and one team that stays at the same level. You’ll see these changes reflected in our weekly Football Relativity comparison of all 32 teams.

RB Arian Foster and the Texans ran past the Falcons, via yahoo.com

Rise – Houston Texans – The Texans keep losing quarterbacks, but they keep on winning. They moved to 9-3 behind T.J. Yates and a strong running game with a 17-10 win over the Atlanta Falcons. Houston’s run game and defense will allow it to win more traditionally down the stretch, and with just another couple of wins they should be safe to make the playoffs. No matter what happens in January, that would be a huge step forward for the franchise.

Sink – Oakland Raiders – The Raiders lost 34-14 in Miami to a surging Dolphins team, and while the loss in itself isn’t terrible, getting blown out like they did is. Now the Raiders are in a dogfight with the Broncos for the AFC West title. Both teams are 7-5, and Oakland’s trip to Green Bay this week means that he Raiders have the worst of the schedule draw. That means the Raiders need to bounce back in a big way, and quick, if they want to finally make it back to the playoffs.

Float –  Dallas Cowboys – The Cowboys lost 19-13 in overtime in Arizona, which isn’t a terrible loss. But it is a missed opportunity to seize control of the NFC East. Dallas still has a one-game lead, in large part because everyone else in the division lost as well. But if the Cowboys are going to be serious contenders, they will need to take care of business in games like the one they just lost. Instead, Dallas must now be very careful about its two matchups against the New York Giants, the first of which happens this week in JerryWorld.

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Football Relativity Week 12

Each week, we compare all 32 NFL teams using our Football Relativity comparison. On the comparison, the 10 level is reserved for the best teams, and the 1 level for the worst. We’ll note throughout where teams have moved up or down from last week.

Patriots QB Tom Brady and WR Wes Welker celebrate a big win vs. the Eagles, via huffingtonpost.com

10 – Green Bay Packers – The Packers moved to 11-0 with a win in Detroit on Thanskgiving Day. This week’s trip to the Giants is another upset alert, but Green Bay continues to prove it is the most consistently great team in the league.

9 – Baltimore Ravens (UP A LEVEL), New England Patriots (UP A LEVEL), New Orleans Saints, Pittsburgh Steelers, San Francisco 49ers – We covered the implications of the Ravens’ big win over the 49ers in Rise/Sink/Float and the Saints’ win over the Giants in a post coming later Tuesday. We didn’t dock the 49ers for losing across the country on a short week, but we’d like to see them take care of business easily at home against the Rams this week. The Patriots whipped the Eagles in Philadelphia and seem to have recovered from their early November swoon. The Steelers won ugly in Kansas City, but they will need a better effort at home against the Bengals this week.

8 – Atlanta Falcons, Houston Texans – We covered the Texans’ QB quandary in this post and in Rise/Sink/Float. They host the Falcons this week, which is no bargain, because the Falcons are building momentum. Atlanta jumped out to a big lead against the Vikings and held on for another win to stay in the NFC playoff hunt.

7 – Chicago Bears (DOWN A LEVEL), Cincinnati Bengals, Dallas Cowboys, Detroit Lions, New York Giants, New York Jets, Oakland Raiders (UP A LEVEL) – We covered the Jets’ win over the Bills in this post and the Giants’ loss to the Saints in a post coming later today. The Bears lost in Oakland, and while that’s not a bad loss, the Caleb Hanie experience didn’t get off to a good start. Hanie and company can get well against the Chiefs this week. The Raiders travel to Miami this week, and they need a win to stay ahead of the Broncos in the AFC West. The Bengals broke a two-game losing streak against the Browns, but they still need to prove they can play with the big boys. This week’s home game against the Steelers is a chance to do that. The Cowboys overcame a slow start to beat the Dolphins on Thanksgiving, and with the Giants loss they now have a one-game NFC East lead. They will try to build on that lead in Arizona this week.

6 – Denver Broncos (UP A LEVEL), Tennessee Titans (UP A LEVEL) – The Broncos and Titans both moved to 6-5. The Broncos won in San Diego, and their defense continues to play at an elite level. They need to keep their hot streak going in Minnesota this week. The Titans beat the Buccaneers at home to stay in the playoff hunt. They are two games behind the Texans, but given Houston’s quarterback situation, that’s not an insurmountable lead. Tennessee needs a win in Buffalo this week to keep up the pressure.

5 – Philadelphia Eagles, San Diego Chargers (DOWN A LEVEL) – We covered the Chargers’ collapse in Rise/Sink/Float. The Eagles were blasted at home by the Patriots to fall to 4-7. We leave these teams above the ones below not because of results but because their talent level means they remain dangerous.

4 – Buffalo Bills, Miami Dolphins, Tampa Bay Buccaneers (DOWN A LEVEL) – We discussed the Bills in detail in this game post. The Dolphins lost in Dallas but again played well. Miami is going to spoil some playoff pushes, perhaps beginning with Oakland’s this week. The Buccaneers lost in Tennessee and cannot seem to win a close game. They finally get a bit of a schedule reprieve by hosting the Panthers this week.

3 – Arizona Cardinals, Carolina Panthers (UP A LEVEL), Cleveland Browns, Jacksonville Jaguars, Kansas City Chiefs, Minnesota Vikings, Seattle Seahawks (DOWN A LEVEL), Washington Redskins (UP A LEVEL) – The Redskins beat the Seahawks in Seattle 23-17. Washington has had more offensive punch since Rex Grossman returned to the lineup at quarterback. The loss showed that the Seahawks, while they have played well at times, still have a long way to go. The Jaguars played well defensively against the Texans, but their offense is epically bad. The Chiefs played the Steelers close on Sunday night, and now that Kyle Orton is in town, their offense should get at least a little better. The Vikings played the Falcons close on the road but fell to 2-9. The Browns lost a lead against the Bengals, and while it was a game effort, it was another loss. The Cardinals beat the Rams and the Panthers beat the Colts, but while the wins are nice, they were both against inferior competition.

2 – St. Louis Rams – The Rams played the Cardinals close but ultimately lost. While they have two wins, the Rams are playing as poorly as any team in the league.

1 – Indianapolis Colts – The Colts had a chance at home against the Panthers but lost again. A trip to New England this week should lead to a 12th loss on the season.

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Rise/Sink/Float Week 12

Each week, we look through the Sunday NFL results to find one team that’s rising, one team that’s sinking, and one team that stays at the same level. You’ll see these changes reflected in our weekly Football Relativity comparison of all 32 teams.

Haloti Ngata and the Ravens beat up 49ers QB Alex Smith, via telegraph.co.uk

Rise – Baltimore Ravens – The Ravens once again showed that they can compete with and beat the top teams in the league with a 16-6 win over the 49ers on Thanksgiving night. The win featured nine sacks, which is a huge statement. The Ravens have had their downs, but at their best they can outperform any other team in the AFC.

Sink – San Diego Chargers – The Chargers got Tebowed, losing to the Broncos 16-13 in overtime. Once again, the once-potent Bolts offense struggled to put up points. It’s hard to pinpoint what’s wrong with Philip Rivers and company, but something is undoubtedly wrong, and that has left the Chargers looking up at the rest of the AFC West.

Float – Houston Texans – In their first game without QB Matt Schaub, the Texans lost backup Matt Leinart for the rest of the season as well. But Houston still found a way to get the win 20-13 over the Jaguars. Now with T.J. Yates, Kellen Clemens, or a mystery guest (David Garrard? Brett Favre? Y.A. Tittle?), the Texans must try to protect their two-game lead over the Titans in the AFC South. It won’t be automatic, but Houston’s strong running game and defense right now appears to be enough.

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Football Relativity Week 11

Each week, we compare all 32 NFL teams using our Football Relativity comparison. On the comparison, the 10 level is reserved for the best teams, and the 1 level for the worst. We’ll note throughout where teams have moved up or down from last week.

RB Ray Rice and the Ravens beat the Bengals, via guardian.co.uk

10 – Green Bay Packers – The Packers had a fight on their hands against Tampa Bay but prevailed with a 35-26 win. They’ll likely face another test on Thanksgiving Day in Detroit. But Green Bay has played in this game in 2007 and 2009, so it won’t be completely new to them. It’ll definitely be an appetizing matchup.

9 – New Orleans Saints, Pittsburgh Steelers, San Francisco 49ers – The Saints and Steelers were on bye. Pittsburgh tries to keep the pedal to the metal in Kansas City this week, while the Saints host the Giants on Monday night. The 49ers took care of business against the Cardinals and now prep for the Thanksgiving night Harbaugh bowl in Baltimore.

8 – Atlanta Falcons, Baltimore Ravens, Chicago Bears, Houston Texans, New England Patriots – The Falcons held off the Titans and should face an easier time at home against the Vikings this week. The Ravens beat the Bengals in a key AFC North battle, but they face a harder challenge when San Francisco visits Thursday night. The Bears, who beat the Chargers, and the Texans try to adjust to life without their starting quarterbacks this week. It will be tough to stay in the playoff hunt with Caleb Hanie and Matt Leinart, respectively. The Patriots whipped the undermanned Chiefs, but this week’s trip to Philadelphia is a sterner test.

7 – Cincinnati Bengals, Dallas Cowboys, Detroit Lions New York Giants (DOWN A LEVEL), New York Jets – We covered the Giants’ decline and the Lions’ relevance in Rise/Sink/Float. The Bengals lost another tough AFC North game in Baltimore but have a shot to rebound against the Browns this week. The Cowboys won in Washington, and even though it wasn’t pretty, it keeps them in the NFC East race. They face the Dolphins in their traditional Thanksgiving Day home game. The Jets lost in Denver and need to rebound at home against the reeling Bills this week.

6 – Oakland Raiders, San Diego Chargers – The Chargers fell in Chicago, and while that isn’t a terrible loss, they are unquestionably falling apart. They must rebound this week against the Broncos, or else the AFC West will slip away. The Raiders won in Minnesota and now host the Bears this week. A win would be a statement for them as they continue to seek to move up the charts in the NFL.

5 – Denver Broncos (UP A LEVEL), Philadelphia Eagles, Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Tennessee Titans – We covered the Broncos’ ascent in Rise/Sink/Float. They suddenly face a key AFC West game in San Diego this week. The Eagles got off the schneid at the Giants, showing they are still a threat to win either week. They have a chance to get back in the playoff host with a home game against the Patriots this week. The Buccaneers, who have faced the NFL’s toughest schedule, lost in Green Bay. Now they visit Tennessee in a game that’s tough but necessary for them if they want to make the playoffs. The Titans come into that game off a loss in Atlanta.

4 – Buffalo Bills (DOWN A LEVEL), Miami Dolphins (UP A LEVEL), Seattle Seahawks – The Bills are falling apart, and a trip to the Jets this week is not a recipe for a rebound. The Seahawks got another win at St. Louis and should add to that total at home against Washington this week. Seattle has a solid defense, but the offense still struggles. The Dolphins have found some answers and gotten some wins. Now they travel to Dallas to show off their improvement on Thanksgiving Day.

3 – Arizona Cardinals, Cleveland Browns (UP A LEVEL), Jacksonville Jaguars, Kansas City Chiefs, Minnesota Vikings – The Browns got a win over the Jaguars, while the rest of this group lost. But these teams have had some highs and are still competitive most weeks, which is a tribute given their lack of success.

2 – Carolina Panthers, St. Louis Rams (DOWN A LEVEL), Washington Redskins – The Panthers blew a big lead in Detroit, but they could get a win in Indy this week. The Rams and Redskins have completely fallen apart, and it’s hard to see them getting wins at this point.

1 – Indianapolis Colts – The Colts were on bye. They have a chance at a win this week against the Panthers and still stay in pole position for the No. 1 pick.

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