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Senior NFL Columnist

Power Rankings: Even the best teams have flaws, and it's time to fix them


It's mid-November, and the NFL season is past the halfway point, yet I get the feeling that all of the top teams have issues and nobody is powerfully good.

That point was hammered home Sunday as I watched all the action, including seeing the NFC's top team in Atlanta lose on the road, the Super Bowl champion New York Giants get blown out on the road by the Bengals, the 49ers tie the Rams at home as a 13-point favorite and the Patriots get pushed by a bad Buffalo team at home.

This is a time for contenders to emerge.

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Not submerge -- under the sewage line.

But as we study the 12 teams that would be in the postseason party if the playoffs started today, they all have flaws, including the Texans, who take over the top spot here in our CBSSports.com Power Rankings.

Here are the main flaws from the teams in the playoff pool as is (stats from before Monday's game):


Texans: Are the Texans good enough on offense? They are 24th in the NFL in yards per play. The defense can carry them for only so long.

Ravens: You have to rush the passer to win a title, and the Ravens are 25th in sacks per pass play. Having Terrell Suggs back healthy now should improve that.

Patriots: The Patriots are 31st in the league in third-down defense. They don't get off the field. That puts a lot of pressure on Tom Brady to put up points.

Broncos: In the year of Peyton Manning, the Broncos are 26th in rushing yards per attempt.

Colts: They have a lot of negative numbers, but the minus-9 turnover ratio is the worst of any of these potential playoff teams.

Steelers: The vaunted Steelers defense went into Monday's game ranked 26th in the league in third-down defense. Ouch. But the big concern now is Ben Roethlisberger's shoulder.


Falcons: They are 30th in rushing yards per attempt and their tackling hasn't been good.

Bears: Chicago is 30th in sacks per pass play. It's tough to win a title when your quarterback is on the ground.

49ers: They are 28th in passing yards per game. Is that good enough in a pass-happy era?

Giants: The Giants are 26th in the league in passing yards per attempt and rushing yards per attempt. Where's the defense?

Packers: Green Bay is 29th in sacks per pass play and now must play the rest of the season without starting right tackle Bryan Bulaga.

Seahawks: They are last in the NFL in passing. Is that from protecting rookie passer Russell Wilson?

So as you see, the good teams all have flaws, some more than others. Whichever teams fix them the best in the final seven weeks and on into the playoffs will be the teams that get to the Super Bowl.

The Giants did it last year. Which team is it in 2012?


Pete Prisco has covered the NFL for three decades, including working as a beat reporter in Jacksonville for the Jaguars. He hosted his own radio show for seven years, and is the self-anointed star of CBS Sports' show, Eye on Football. When he's not watching game tape, you can find Pete on Twitter or dreaming of an Arizona State national title in football.

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