NFL Week 13 Power Rankings: Patriots, 49ers have historic defenses in era of wide-open offenses

Who says in an era of wide-open offenses, defenses can't dominate in the NFL?

Look at the San Francisco 49ers and New England Patriots. They are two of the three best teams in the league – the Ravens are the other team – and both are being led by historically good defenses.

The Patriots really need it, too.

At a time when Tom Brady and his banged-up offense seem to be out of sync and there are cries – not by me – that Brady is looking his age, the Patriots are 10-1 behind the top-ranked scoring defense in the league. The 49ers are also 10-1 behind a defense that is also doing special things, although the offense has been much better than New England's.

The Patriots took on the Cowboys' top-ranked offense Sunday and limited Dallas to nine points. Dak Prescott could never get into a groove, all but ending his MVP chances. The Pats are second in total defense to the 49ers but tops in scoring defense, giving up 10.1 points per game. That would break the NFL record for points allowed in a season if they stay on that pace.

The 49ers made Aaron Rodgers look awful Sunday night in a blowout of the Packers, and it was the defense that keyed the victory. They sacked Rodgers five times – marking the eighth straight game they've had at least that many. The 49ers' margin of victory is 169 points – the largest point differential for a 49ers team since 1948 – after 11 games.

Think about that. The great Joe Montana-led 49ers teams, which are considered some of the greatest teams of all time, weren't better after 11 games than this group.

Russell Wilson's Seahawks won again in primetime while Kirk Cousins and the Vikings fell short, and there's a lot to go over. Luckily, Will Brinson and the Pick Six Podcast Superfriends are here to break everything down, size up the top five coaches and more. Listen below and be sure to subscribe for daily NFL goodness.

The schedule gets a lot tougher for the 49ers down the stretch, but for now they stay in the third spot just behind the Ravens and Patriots in my Power Rankings. That can change this week – the 49ers play at the Ravens Sunday.

Defense, defense, defense. It's winning. 

Biggest Movers
6 Browns
6 Raiders
Rk
Teams
 
Chg
Rcrd
1 Ravens Can anybody slow down Lamar Jackson and the offense? It doesn't look like it. The defense is getting better as well. But here come the 49ers. --14-2-0
2 Patriots They are winning games, but the offense remains a major concern. Is it fixable? It better be. --12-4-0
3 49ers They just beat the daylights out of the Packers. They dominated in every facet of the game. They are legit, but we'll know how legit after they play at Baltimore and at New Orleans. --13-3-0
4 Seahawks At 9-2, they are clearly in the chase to be the top seed in the conference. They face a big one against the Vikings this week, but the defense is improving. 311-5-0
5 Saints It wasn't pretty against the Panthers, but they found a way. But play that way against good teams and it's going to kill them. --13-3-0
6 Packers That was a horrible showing against the 49ers. The good news is the schedule is soft the rest of the way, other than one game against the Vikings. 213-3-0
7 Vikings They come off their bye with a tough road game at Seattle. It really is a big game for Kirk Cousins. 110-6-0
8 Bills They look to be in good shape for a playoff berth, but now the schedule toughens up in a big way. Their game at Dallas Thursday will be fun. --10-6-0
9 Texans They are alone in first place in the division race, but now have to face the Patriots at home. They've struggled with them in most of the games so they have a lot to prove. 310-6-0
10 Chiefs They come off their bye with a big game against the Raiders. If they win it, the division is over. That's a big one. 512-4-0
11 Steelers They had to make the quarterback change after Mason Rudolph struggled the past few games. Now comes the rematch with the Browns. It will be nasty. 58-8-0
12 Colts They better be prepared to play Derrick Henry and his power running style. The Colts have been a run-heavy team lately, but they need more from the passing game. 17-9-0
13 Titans We know Henry is running wild, but Ryan Tannehill has impressed. They face a huge division game with the Colts this week. 59-7-0
14 Cowboys They didn't do enough offensively against the Patriots. Now they have a fast turnaround to play the Bills on Thanksgiving. 48-8-0
15 Raiders What happened against the Jets? Did they get caught looking ahead to the Chiefs? Their season could hinge on that outcome. 67-9-0
16 Rams They aren't going back to the playoffs. It's been one of those Super Bowl hangover seasons. 39-7-0
17 Eagles Even at 5-6, they are alive in the division race and the schedule gets soft. But they have so many injuries. 39-7-0
18 Buccaneers The young defense showed major improvement against the Falcons. That pass rush was impressive. 47-9-0
19 Browns They've won three straight to keep their playoff hopes alive. Here comes the rematch with the Steelers in what should be a nasty game. 66-10-0
20 Panthers There is talk of changes after the season. But at least Kyle Allen got back to playing good football against the Saints. 35-11-0
21 Chargers They come off the bye barely alive in the playoff hunt and with talk of Philip Rivers maybe in his final year with the team. That can't be fun to hear. 25-11-0
22 Bears At least Mitch Trubisky showed some life against the Giants. There were points in the game where he was actually impressive. 18-8-0
23 Cardinals They come off their bye with an eye on building for next year. The offense has certainly come alive in the past few games. 15-10-1
24 Jets They've won three consecutive games and all those cries to fire Adam Gase seem way in the past. Sam Darnold is improving by the week. 47-9-0
25 Jaguars The way they tackle, I think I could run for 100 against that defense. Big changes are coming. 56-10-0
26 Broncos How much longer before they go to Drew Lock? The offense was awful against the Bills. 37-9-0
27 Redskins They went out and won a game, which will hurt their draft position. But do they care? Probably not. 43-13-0
28 Falcons So much for that push to keep Dan Quinn. That bad home loss to the Bucs will probably be the end for his tenure in Atlanta. 17-9-0
29 Lions Without Matt Stafford, they just aren't good team. Is Matt Patricia safe? Should he be? 63-12-1
30 Giants The question now is whether Pat Shurmur will be back. It sure doesn't look like it. --4-12-0
31 Dolphins They didn't really compete against the Browns. The good news is there isn't much time left in this season. 55-11-0
32 Bengals Have they found out enough about Ryan Finley? Is Joe Burrow their guy? --2-14-0
CBS Sports Senior Writer

Pete Prisco has covered the NFL for three decades, including working as a beat reporter in Jacksonville for the Jaguars. When he's not watching game tape, you can find Pete on Twitter or dreaming of an... Full Bio

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