We’ve been consistent in only using NFL.com’s Power Rankings this season. The San Francisco 49ers have been No. 1 for a few weeks, but a loss to Baltimore allowed the Ravens to take over the top spot. With the loss, the Niners fell to No. 3. Here’s what the author had to say:
The 49ers showed they were up to the challenge in a showdown with the red-hot Ravens, but their inability to make the big play in the second half -- not to mention, the impossibly accurate leg of Baltimore kicker Justin Tucker -- haunted the visiting team in a 20-17 loss. The defeat, coupled with a Seahawks win on Monday night over the Vikings, drops San Francisco from No. 1 all the way to No. 5 in the NFC playoff picture. Yep, the top of this conference is as loaded as we’ve seen in recent memory. The Niners play their third straight opponent with an .800-plus winning percentage on Sunday, when they travel to the Superdome to meet the NFC South champion Saints. It’s a historically difficult stretch of games that will ensure Kyle Shanahan’s team is playoff-tested before the real playoffs begin.
I wouldn’t say the inability to make the big play hurt San Francisco as much as their inability to execute on “money” downs slowed them down. It wasn’t just one side of the ball, either. As George Kittle said, “They made one more play than us.”
I know Power Rankings don’t hold any significance, but the author bumped the Seahawks up to No. 2. Here’s what he said about Seattle:
Was there ever really a doubt? We have nearly a decade of evidence telling us Russell Wilson will never lose a game like that at CenturyLink Field. With the stakes sky-high, the home crowd roaring and millions of fans watching on TV ... the Seahawks and their star quarterback always find a way. A 37-30 win over the Vikings shifted the complexion of the NFC: The Seahawks, on the strength of their 10-2 record and head-to-head win over the Niners, jump into the No. 2 seed in the NFC and move into first place in the NFC West with a Week 17 rematch vs. San Francisco looming. The combination of Chris Carson and Rashaad Penny was brilliant against Minnesota, the two backs combining to go over 200 scrimmage yards with three touchdowns. Penny finally seems to have found his role and it makes the Seattle offense that much more difficult to stop.
Holy prisoner of the moment. Wilson’s primetime and December numbers are off the charts, there’s no arguing that. Let’s not pretend like Seattle didn’t get a handful of bounces that helped them win. As for Penny, he’s had two good games in a row. Before that, he was an afterthought in the offense that couldn’t hold onto the ball, and every Seahawks fan wanted nothing to do with him. I can’t wait for Week 17.