Free Press sports writers Dave Birkett and Carlos Monarrez preview the Detroit Lions’ game against the Chicago Bears on Thanksgiving.
Dave Birkett and Carlos Monarrez, Detroit Free Press

Free Press Lions’ beat writer Dave Birkett gives his weekly NFL power rankings, where there’s a new No. 1 team: 

1. Saints (9-1)

Last game: Defeated the Eagles, 48-7 | Previous ranking: 4 | The buzz: Saints move up to No. 1 after demolishing the defending champs because they also play defense.

2. Rams (10-1)

Last game: Defeated the Chiefs, 54-51 | Previous ranking: 1 | The buzz: Looking forward to that Rams-Saints rematch in the NFC title game.

3. Chiefs (9-2)

Last game: Lost to the Rams, 54-51 | Previous ranking: 3 | The buzz: Patrick Mahomes or Drew Brees, it’s a two-horse race for MVP.

4. Patriots (7-3)

Last game: Bye week | Previous ranking: 2 | The buzz: Rob Gronkowski expected back this week for New England.

5. Steelers (7-2-1)

Last game: Defeated the Jaguars, 20-16 | Previous ranking: 8 | The buzz: Big Ben isn’t great on the road, but the Steelers are 4-0-1 away from home this year.

6. Bears (7-3)

Last game: Defeated the Vikings, 25-20 | Previous ranking: 10 | The buzz: After four straight last-place finishes in the NFC North, Bears are the class of the division.

7. Texans (7-3)

Last game: Defeated Washington, 23-21 | Previous ranking: 7 | The buzz: If the Texans don’t fix their kicker problems, they’ll be one and done in January.

8. Chargers (7-3)

Last game: Lost to the Broncos, 23-22 | Previous ranking: 6 | The buzz: Primetime games at Pittsburgh and Kansas City loom large next month.

9. Vikings (5-4-1)

Last game: Lost to the Bears, 25-20 | Previous ranking: 9 | The buzz: Week 3 loss to Buffalo might end up keeping Vikings out of the postseason.

10. Cowboys (5-5)

Last game: Defeated the Falcons, 22-19 | Previous ranking: 19 | The buzz: Zeke Elliott and a pretty good defense should carry Cowboys to NFC East title.

11. Seahawks (5-5)

Last game: Defeated the Packers, 27-24 | Previous ranking: 14 | The buzz: – Ex-Michigan star Frank Clark is up to 10 sacks on the season, ready to cash in as a free agent..

More: Why I’m picking Detroit Lions to beat Chicago Bears — and L.A. Rams

More: Detroit Lions mailbag: Why can’t they be more like Los Angeles Rams?

12. Panthers (6-4)

Last game: Lost to Lions, 20-19 | Previous ranking: 5 | The buzz: Riverboat Ron was right to go for two vs. the Lions last week.

13. Washington (6-4)

Last game: Lost to the Texans, 23-21 | Previous ranking: 13 | The buzz: Alex Smith’s injury will keep Washington out of the postseason.

14. Ravens (5-5)

Last game: Lost to the Bengals, 24-21 | Previous ranking: 18 | The buzz: Lamar Jackson ran for 117 yards in his first start at QB, and gets the NFL’s 31st-ranked rush defense this week.

15. Colts (5-5)

Last game: Defeated the Titans, 38-10 | Previous ranking: 25 | The buzz: Big leap in the rankings for Indy, who’s won four straight under first-year coach Frank Reich.

16. Packers (4-5-1)

Last game: Lost to the Seahawks, 27-24 | Previous ranking: 15 | The buzz: Packers can kiss their playoff hopes good-bye if they don’t win at Minnesota this week.

17. Eagles (4-6)

Last game: Lost to the Saints, 48-7 | Previous ranking: 11 | The buzz: Defending champs can’t afford any more losses with three NFC East games up next.

18. Titans (5-5)

Last game: Lost to the Colts, 38-10 | Previous ranking: 17 | The buzz: Rough season for Marcus Mariota got even worse with another injury last week.

19. Falcons (4-6)

Last game: Lost to the Cowboys, 22-19 | Previous ranking: 16 | The buzz: Can we cool the Matt Ryan for MVP talk yet?

20. Broncos (4-6)

Last game: Defeated the Chargers, 23-22 | Previous ranking: 24 | The buzz: If I’m John Elway, I go hard after Teddy Bridgewater this offseason.

21. Lions (4-6)

Last game: Defeated the Panthers, 20-19 | Previous ranking: 21 | The buzz: Big win last week, but can’t see the Lions surviving without Kerryon Johnson, Marvin Jones.

22. Dolphins (5-5)

Last game: Bye week | Previous ranking: 22 | The buzz: Dolphins play their first game in a dome all season Sunday vs. Colts.

23. Bengals (5-5)

Last game: Lost to the Ravens, 24-21 | Previous ranking: 12 | The buzz: Bengals gave up 265 yards rushing last week and it was one of their better defensive games of the year.

24. Browns (3-6-1)

Last game: Bye week | Previous ranking: 26 | The buzz:The whole Condoleezza Rice storyline reminded of the time Tom Izzo was going to become Michigan State football coach. 

25. Jaguars (3-7)

Last game: Lost to the Steelers, 20-16 | Previous ranking: 20 | The buzz: Six straight losses for the NFL’s most disappointing team.

26. Giants (3-7)

Last game: Defeated the Buccaneers, 38-35 | Previous ranking: 30 | The buzz: Eli’s on his last leg, but Giants need offensive line help more than anything.

27. Buccaneers (3-7)

Last game: Lost to Giants, 38-35 | Previous ranking: 23 | The buzz: The Bucs can’t get rid of Jameis Winston no matter how hard they try.

28. Cardinals (2-8)

Last game: Lost to the Raiders, 23-21 | Previous ranking: 28 | The buzz: If not for a bone-headed penalty, Arizona beats Oakland last week.

29. Jets (3-7)

Last game: Bye week | Previous ranking: 27 | The buzz: Jets have scored more than 17 points just three times all year.

30. Bills (3-7)

Last game: Bye week | Previous ranking: 31 | The buzz: How is the AFC East always so bad outside of New England.

31. 49ers (1-7)

Last game: Bye week | Previous ranking: 29 | The buzz: San Francisco would have first pick in the draft if the season ended today.

32. Raiders (2-8)

Last game: Defeated the Cardinals, 23-21 | Previous ranking: 32 | The buzz: So when does Jon Gruden ship Derek Carr out of town?


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