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NFL Week 12 Power Rankings roundup: Bengals still a top 5 team

The Week 12 NFL Power Rankings reflect the belief that the Patriots are still the team to beat, but the Bengals are a strong contender that shouldn't feel bad about a close loss in Arizona.

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The latest NFL power rankings are out as we head into Week 12, and the New England Patriots are once again at the top spot in every major ranking.

The Pats didn't look too impressive in a 20-13 win over the Buffalo Bills on Monday night, but it's hard to remove them from the top spot since they're 10-0 and the defending Super Bowl champions. However, New England will get a nice test this week when they head to Denver for a matchup with the Broncos. Considering how well Buffalo's defense stifled the Patriots, Denver should be able to do the same and make this a close and competitive game.

As for the Cincinnati Bengals, a second-straight loss was not enough to knock them out of the top five in any major ranking. It really speaks to how good the Bengals have looked this season, and even during Sunday's narrow loss to the Arizona Cardinals.

However, the Bengals did drop in most rankings by a spot or two, and the team that jumped them were those very Cardinals. It's quite frankly a move that's hard to justify when you realize both teams played right down to the wire Sunday as the Cardinals escaped with a close win at home. With the way the game went, despite all of the injuries and mistakes the Bengals were plagued with, Cincinnati made a good case that they're the better team and still deserve to be ahead of the Cardinals.

As SB Nation's Danny Kelly wrote, Sunday was the kind of game Andy Dalton and the Bengals needed, to show they were for real after their Week 10 setback against the Houston Texans.

I think that the way that Cincy played, it proved that it's no fluke, either. Andy Dalton didn't fold even after the Bengals fell behind in the third quarter, and they nearly pulled off the come-from-behind upset on the road against one of the NFL's best teams. It's a loss, obviously, but they proved they belong in the discussion for potential Super Bowl teams.

Kelly has the Bengals ranked fifth this week. NFL.com's Dan Eliot offered up the most in-depth and interesting take on the Bengals being No. 4 in his rankings:

Don't let this loss consume you, Bengals fans. Arizona has become a much more difficult place to play than it was even in the Kurt Warner era. Given that the game was decided by about five or six plays, don't go squeezing your wubby like Kenny in "Mr. Mom" over Cincinnati's two-game losing streak. Here are some more reasons to stay calm:

a) Going UN-defeated is OVER-rated.

b) The loss to the Cardinals was by three points, with the Bengals' secondary decimated. Various reports indicate that a senior drive-thru manager at Dairy Queen got a phone call about whether he could play free safety.

c) This football team is not going anywhere. The Bengals will finish with at least a 12-4 record, win the AFC North and probably nab a playoff bye, too.

Still, it's frustrating any time you lose, and ESPN summed up how frustrating these past two weeks have been as the Bengals lost in very different fashions on Monday and Sunday.

After an 8-0 start, the Bengals have lost two in a row in very different fashions. In Week 10, they allowed 10 points and lost. In Week 11, they lost despite scoring 31 points.

As for the Bengals' next opponent, the St. Louis Rams aren't getting much love in this week's round of power rankings. They're coming in at the 22-27 range after their gut-wrenching loss to the Baltimore Ravens this past week. Now sitting at 4-6, this week is a must-win for the Rams if they want to keep their fading playoff hopes alive.

Then again, you could argue this is also a must-win game for the Bengals after losing two straight. You'd be hard-pressed to find many teams that ever made the Super Bowl after enduring a three-game losing streak in the regular season. The Ravens did it in 2012 while the New Orleans Saints did it in 2009, but that was after starting their season 13-0.

In other words, the Bengals need to win this week.

Here's a roundup of each major power ranking from this week compared to last week.

SOURCE CURRENT LAST WEEK CHANGE
ESPN 5 4 -1
Yahoo! Sports 4 3 -1
NFL.com 4 3 -1
SB Nation 5 5 0
USA Today 4 3 -1
B/R 5 5 0
CBS Sports (Pete Prisco) 4 3 -1
AVG. 4.42 3.71 -0.71