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A new round of NFL Power Rankings are out, and there's finally a new team at the top, the undefeated Carolina Panthers.
The New England Patriots suffered their first defeat of 2015 after losing to the Denver Broncos on Sunday Night Football. It was a game in which the Pats led 21-7 in the fourth quarter, but collapsed down the stretch and ultimately lost 31-24 in overtime.
That's why the undefeated Carolina Panthers are now at the top spot in most rankings this week. Sitting at 11-0, as the NFL's only team without a loss, the Panthers are clearly the team to beat in the NFC and will continue to remain as such until they lose.
As for the Cincinnati Bengals, they're not far behind at 9-2 overall following their 31-7 win over the St. Louis Rams. It was the kind of dominating performance Cincy needed to bounce back from a two-game losing streak with both losses coming in gut-wrenching fashion.
However, not only was this win not enough to boost the Bengals' standing in many rankings, but some even dropped Cincy a spot in favor of the Broncos following their win over the Patriots. Yahoo's Frank Schwab was among them, though he does like how Jeremy Hill finally had a big game.
Jeremy Hill had 86 yards on 16 carries, while Giovani Bernard had 16 yards on 10 attempts. Bernard has been the better runner this season, but perhaps Hill is getting ready to carve out a bigger role as the playoffs get closer.
USA Today also dropped the Bengals one spot while also getting a slight jab in about the team's primetime woes.
They continue to be money at 1 p.m. on Sundays. Unfortunately a bye might be at stake in Denver on Monday night in Week 16.
ESPN kept Cincinnati at the fifth spot and really like Andy Dalton's success in the middle of the field.
Andy Dalton owns the middle of the field: 72.8 completion percentage, 11-1 TD-INT ratio and an NFL-best 95.4 Total QBR passing between the painted field numbers this season.
NFL.com's Elliot Harrison kept the Bengals ranked fourth thanks to a big game from cornerback Leon Hall.
Kudos, Leon Hall. Not too many guys come back from one Achilles injury, much less a twofer. Nice to see the long-time Bengal putting away the Rams with a second-half pick-six on Sunday. With the Steelers' loss putting them three games behind Cincy in the AFC North, the division race is all but over with five games to play. #WhoDey
CBS Sports' Pete Prisco also kept the Bengals ranked fourth in his latest power rankings:
That was an impressive bounce-back win against the Rams after two losses. They can catch the Patriots now if they win out and New England stumbles.
Amazingly, the Bengals' 24-point win over the Rams led to more decreases in rankings than increases. They moved up one spot in SB Nation's ranking, but fell in two other rankings and stayed the same in the other four. It's rare you see a team beat anyone by three-plus touchdowns and drop in the rankings, but then again, that's probably just how the Bengals like it. Don't give them any praise, just keep taking shots and doubting them while adding fuel to their fire.
They may not be the favorites to win the Super Bowl or even to win the AFC, but it's becoming more and more clear the margin between the Bengals and the NFL's other top teams is small; there may not be much of a margin at all. Hopefully, they'll be proving that in the playoffs when it's really time put up or shut up.
Here's a roundup of each major power ranking from this week compared to last week.
|CBS Sports (Pete Prisco)||4||4||0|